"Big Four" Highlights


An Unexpected Blessing

Embracing life in all circumstances

By Ashley Kepper

In summer 2009, I was hit with a shock that would test my passionately pro-life views, challenging me to ask a question that spoke to the depths of my heart. Did I truly have a mindset that embraced life in all circumstances?

I received a phone call from my brother, who was one year out of college. He told me that he and his girlfriend were going to have a baby. She was four months pregnant. To say that I was in shock would be an understatement. I felt the breath leave my chest and an overwhelming number of emotions rush into my heart: fear for my brother and what was sure to be the loss of his carefree 20s; anger for his irresponsibility; questions about his girlfriend, whom I had met less than a handful of times; embarrassment; shame; a tremendous amount of anxiety for our family in the months and years ahead.

Today, almost six years later, I now see the selfishness and narrow-mindedness of my gut reaction to his news. Sure, the circumstances definitely weren’t ideal, but my mentality didn’t even thank God for new life. Millions of single women in similar circumstances have chosen to end the life of their unplanned pregnancies. Thankfully, my brother and his girlfriend didn’t.

Around the same time that my brother called, I received my first email from a man on the Catholic dating website I joined months earlier. I had corresponded with other guys on the site before, but his emails over the weeks proved so friendly and engaging that I couldn’t wait to reply.

I decided to tell him about the “unexpected pregnancy” in my family with a long email. I was unsure how he would take it initially, afraid the he would pass judgment on my family and question our values. His response, however, reflected both an invaluable lesson to me and on the quality of his character. He told me that he heard a talk by a priest who encouraged his audience to use the term “unexpected blessing” in place of “unexpected pregnancy.” So my new online friend proceeded to congratulate me on my family’s unexpected blessing, with words that were loving, charitable and understanding. We hadn’t met in person or even spoken by phone, but I knew the man who I had come to see as “Mr. Unexpected Blessing” had a Christ-like heart. I remember thinking to myself, “I hope he is the one.”

God answered my prayers. Less than two years after our initial email correspondence, I married Mr. Unexpected Blessing. He continues to encourage me to grow in love and lead me to Christ. And our family’s original unexpected blessing turns 5-years-old this month. He has brought nothing but overwhelming joy to our entire family. He has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen and a contagious smile that will melt anyone’s heart. He’s creative, imaginative and filled with a love of life. He learned to swim last summer and continues to wow us with his artistic ability. My 2-year-old daughter loves her older cousin to the moon and back, and enjoys playing with him more than anyone else on this planet.

I am thankful for the ways in which an unexpected blessing has changed me and my family for the better. When my nephew was born, our hearts grew in love and selflessness. I learned to truly love a child and embrace life in all circumstances. I am incredibly thankful for the gift of his life and the ways in which God has stretched me through his unexpected arrival. I can now say that I am truly pro-life, when difficult circumstances involve both a stranger, as well as someone close to me.