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I felt helpless laying flat on the table, doctors talking in hushed whispers as they hovered around me.  I gripped on to my husband’s quivering hand as he sat and sobbed.   As the ultrasound wand circled my swollen belly I felt like a lab-rat being inspected from the inside out.

The pictures on the ultrasound screen spoke two different messages: one to the doctors of deformity, illness, malady, dysfunction; the other to me of a precious silhouette with hiccups, clinched fists, cute crossed legs, sweet nose.

The professionals started urging me to take the “best road”, to terminate the pregnancy and get on with life.  A baby with Edward’s Syndrome has no hope for survival.  They assured me abortion was the best option.

The doctors called my house.  The geneticists called my house. Well meaning family called my house.  Calling to tell me to take this “best road”.

A doctor told me that it would be hard on hospital staff emotionally to deal with my stillborn baby.

All this pressure was astounding.   Married to a husband with a great job, in no medical danger but overrun with pressure to abort my baby.  What must the pressure be like for the woman without all my comforts?

Why do I love the ministry of Deeper Still?  My heart breaks for those who found themselves in a tighter corner than mine and decided to abort.  I know the grief of losing a baby that society gives no worth and the silence and empty arms that follow the pregnancy.  I can relate to the pressure felt from those most respected in our culture.

I do know that this is Christ’s specialty….setting the prisoner free, complete healing and wholeness found through Christ alone.  This Easter season we celebrate Christ and His power to overcome the grave.  Please allow Him to do His special, redeeming work in you, to go deeper still and set you free.

Deeper Still is here to help your abortion-wounded heart.  They will help you find healing, true joy, and lasting freedom through Christ. Please, take the first step and sign up for a retreat.

Our team is here to cheer you on, to point you to lasting freedom found only through Christ.

So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 5:21

In Christ alone,

Tara Dovenbarger

Tara Dovenbarger’s deepest longing is to lead moms to never give up their faith when life pours forth hardship.  Her speaking testifies of God’s faithfulness through her own loss of a child, near loss of another and painful years of marriage. Her story encourages others to tightly grip their faith in Christ during life’s painful circumstances. She lives in Knoxville, TN with her husband of 18 years and four children, is a freelance writer for The M.O.M. Initiative and her own blog. You can read more of her ministry at and  watch her testimony here.  

OCTOBER BABY            Released in Theatres March 23rd, 2012



OCTOBER BABY accomplishes what it intends!

OCTOBER BABY exposes the horrific reality of a late term and incomplete abortion.  It forces us to face what a real life scenario of an abortion survivor would look like.

I think this film strikes a beautiful balance between presenting this hard and hidden practice of killing our children, (with all its painful ramifications), but also by giving us the hope of God’s amazing grace and gentle redemption that can only come through the price Jesus paid with His blood.

The story line gives us at least a half a dozen perspectives from the different characters whose lives were affected by one woman’s choice to abort her child.  I also appreciated that even though the script writers allowed the honest and negative emotions to surface, there was still a “purity of heart” and a respect in the characters that allowed grace to flow.

This film will surely surface abortion wounded hearts.  My prayer is that the Lord will use this film to bring conviction to His church that we must engage in this battle for life and death and that we must become the “first responders” who will bring healing and lasting freedom to the abortion wounded.

Please support the success and longevity of this movie by attending its debut weekend, March 23rd, 2012

Karen A. Ellison, Deeper Still

Founder & President

Below is a letter from a past participant of a Deeper Still Retreat to her sisters in Christ who have just returned home this past weekend. The retreat was just glorious and there will be testimonies of God’s goodness posted on our website later today We, team and participants alike, are still basking in the glory stories of all that the prayers of the saints accomplished in less than 48 hours as we pulled away on a mountaintop with Him. Enjoy these encouraging words from a sister who loves each and every one of you and truly understands as she has been there.

Dear Sister,

You made it through the retreat, and came out a new Creation. You ripped open wounds and poured salt on them by discussing them and sharing them with strangers…but now you feel clean and restored. The hardest part is over….right? Maybe, but you may find yourself in another kind of spiritual battle right now. The enemy may be whispering things to you like, “that wasn’t real” or “you aren’t REALLY forgiven” or any number of things like this.

Before I began my retreat I was really interested in being a part of the Deeper Still ministry, So I sort of felt like I was at an audition of sorts; no one made me feel this way except me and the enemy. So I found myself being guarded in certain emotional situations and even more scared to share my secrets for fear that the whole team would reject me forever. I was really struggling with acceptance the whole time. All of the women there were pouring out unconditional love to me, and yet I was still second guessing my responses and not really letting go. I really tried to fight this, on my own and with prayer. I know that people on site were praying for me as well as prayer warriors outside the retreat, and because of this, I was able to open up enough to receive great healing and restoration! Hallelujah!!

Now that I am home, and my retreat has been over for a year, sometimes I hear that familiar whisper of the enemy. Sometimes I think that I wasn’t REALLY healed because I couldn’t let go enough, or that I could’ve received more restoration if I had of been more open….But thenI remember feeling Christ right there with me as I lay on my face sobbing on the floor in front of the big wooden cross at the retreat; I remember the presence of God as a mother held me in her arms and let me cry, body wracked with sobs, healing a wound of abandonment that I didn’t even know existed….God is so big, He is so great, He is so loving!

If I ever begin to doubt the authenticity of my healing and forgiveness, I need only to look at the manifestations of God’s Grace in my life: I am not proud of my abortion, but neither am I ashamed. I am able to share my story without overwhelming guilt and sobs. It still saddens me, yes, but not I see the glorified image of my baby girl with Jesus. I KNOW that I am forgiven and redeemed, set free and set apart!

Don’t let the enemy fool you with his lies; he will try to put a destructive spin on events in your life. Keep you eyes and heart open to God’s Truth! I pray that God would continue to give you wisdom to differentiate between the enemy’s lies and God’s truth. Hold fast to the promise of God. The things that you experience with Him are real, and no one can take those from you, not even the enemy!

What God has given us no one can take away.

Thank you, Ryann, for your precious words of Truth and encouragement to us all. Blessings in return! 

We are so proud of Debbie Picarello and Sandy Sendall for sharing the forgiveness and love of Christ with students of the next generation who will make a stand for Life and Truth. Read their experience at the University of Kentucky here :

These are some thoughts Karen shared with us at our 2nd annual fundraising banquet on March 7th, 2011.


For those of you who are new to Deeper Still … The mission of Deeper Still is to multiply teams who bring healing and lasting freedom to abortion wounded hearts.  So, our mission is not only to do the work of bringing healing & lasting freedom, but to train and raise up others to do the same – whether that’s through a church, a pregnancy center ministry, or through another ministry outreach.


But before you can understand the critical mission of Deeper Still we need to pull back the curtain and show you what the abortion wounded heart looks like.


So, what is an abortion wounded heart?  We all know that abortion is the shedding of innocent blood and that a baby’s life is sacrificed, but beyond that we kind of shut down our thinking about what happens to those involved in the abortion, because it is too uncomfortable to talk about or to even ask any questions about because it becomes a taboo subject.  And no one knows how to talk about it so we don’t.  Therefore, silence & secrets become the new rules that surround abortions aftermath.


(I can’t show you the video, but here’s what it reveals).

When participants sign up for our retreats, we ask them to fill out an information intake form so that we can better understand what is going on inside their minds, hearts and relationships.  Here are some of the most commonly circled symptoms:


Guilt, shame, fear, numb, sad, low self-esteem, marital stress, loneliness, hopelessness, anxiety, depression, anger, suicidal ideas, nightmares, alcohol/drugs, self-hatred, sexual problems, grief, accusing voices, eating disorders, obsessive thoughts, helplessness, indifference.


We also have a self-assessment questionnaire that can be found on our website.  It asks questions such as:


Do you avoid the subject of abortion?

Do you expect bad things to happen to you as punishment for your abortion?

Are you preoccupied with thought surrounding your abortion?

Do you find it hard to even say the word abortion?

Do you work hard to prove you’re a good mother (or father)?

Do you feel like your relationships lack depth and authenticity?

Are you afraid to meet your child(ren) in heaven?

Do you feel like you’ve forfeited the good promises of God?


How far-reaching is the abortion wounded heart?


I believe that God is calling Deeper Still into a “bigger-picture” commissioning.


Matt. 24:14 says: And this gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for the witness to all nations, and then the end will come.


God is inviting DS into this great commission.  There has been a worldwide mission field created by abortion.  Let me just review the statistics for you.  Since 1973 there has been over 50 million abortions in the US, 40-60 % of those have been multiple abortions by the same mother.  And there are men who fathered each one of those children.  Where do you think those men and women are today?  They didn’t just disappear, they live among us, they are us!  We live in an abortion wounded nation.  (You can’t have the blood of 50+ million babies on your hands and think it’s not going to affect your nation). The whole nation of Canada only has a population of 34 Million.


In the bigger world, multiply that by millions.  There are 42-50 million abortions each year around the world.  We live in an abortion wounded world.  (only 2% of the world’s abortions happen in the US).


So, as Deeper Still is able to reach out to the abortion wounded hearts around the world, many women and men will hear for the first time of the:

That there is a Savior that can heal their wounds,

that they can be spiritually reconciled with their children

And that Jesus can save their souls for all eternity.










My name is Debbie Picarello and I am a native New Yorker who came to Sevier County, Tennessee via Pennsylvania in 1995.

My journey with Deeper Still has been a several year one. I have had the privilege of walking alongside many women who have come to the place where they were not

only ready for the Lord to touch those places their abortion wounded so deeply, but they were also genuinely desperate to experience the freedom only Jesus can bring.

Witnessing the transformation from being so deeply broken and heavy laden to being restored and made whole during our retreat weekends, is truly a joy for me.

Supporting and assisting these precious women has been an opportunity for me to give back what I myself have received from the Lord. Nearly four years ago, I was in

their shoes; I too have experienced the agonizing results of having an abortion. Like so many retreat participants who show up to the retreats fearful and anxious, not

knowing anyone, I too, quickly began to have my fears quelled the moment I walked through the door. I was met by the most loving, accepting group of women I had

ever met; experiencing the love of God through them throughout the weekend truly showed me what it means to be loved by people who truly are like “Jesus with skin

on”. The Lord met me in such a powerful and tangible way, and nearly 20 years of stuffed pain, grief, shame and so much more was gloriously washed away that

weekend. Having been a Christian for 17 years, this weekend retreat experience left me feeling as if I were born again, again, if that were possible! So, with the comfort

that He has comforted me with, I can now share that with other post-abortive women who wonder, “Will I ever feel better about this?” I can now give a confident

resounding “Yes!”  The same Jesus that did this for me, will do it for you. Just take that courageous leap of faith and trust me, you’re in good hands with this amazing Deeper Still team.

WELCOME TO TEAM MEMBER TUESDAY~ We are excited to feature one of our team members occasionally on Tuesdays here and there. Eileen is a treat and joy to minister alongside at the Deeper Still retreats! We are so thankful that the Lord stirred her heart to step out in faith and serve on the Deeper Still Team! Here is a little about Eileen and her experiences with God through Deeper Still in her own words. Enjoy!

My name is Eileen Sommi and I am a native New Yorker who came to Knoxville, Tennessee in 2008.

I heard about Deeper Still from members of the leadership team who also attend my church, Two Rivers.  I knew nothing about the ministry, but was impressed with the leaders’ passion, love, sincerity, and faith.  So, I decided to take a closer look.

After attending Deeper Still’s annual fundraising banquet and training sessions, I knew God’s heart and desire to heal those affected by abortion was represented and being realized. Even though I had never had an abortion myself, I knew the healing power of God.

His command from the book of Isaiah to bring good news to the afflicted and bind up the brokenhearted is something we are all called to do.  I am grateful for those who have been able to bring me good news and help bind my broken heart in times of need or grief.  I was humbled by the chance to do the same – to stand side by side with other women desperately wanting freedom.

So, I signed up – to help – in anyway I could to tell those wounded by their decision to end a life that God’s love is abounding in grace and that He will mend their broken hearts in ways we can’t even imagine.

The work that God is doing through Deeper Still is real and deep. I would suggest you take a closer look, like I did.

If you have had an abortion, know there is healing to be found.  If you have a desire to walk with others through the process, help is always needed.

For all involved, myself included, Deeper Still’s ministry has been an opportunity to see God work by the power of His love and through the truth of His Word to bring life – life to the full to all who ask.

Welcome! and Ponderings on Truth

Hey Friends,

Welcome to our Deeper Still blog.  We’re excited to launch our new blog communications community.  We want to provide a venue for ongoing sharing about what God is teaching you, or maybe you need a place to share what your struggles are and where you need prayer and encouragement.

This blog is open to anyone who wants to participate in a discussion about our ministry or about the issues surrounding an abortion wounded heart and the healing journey.

You may be one of our past participants and would like to share about your healing journey.  I know you ladies are full of refined wisdom and a healthy compassion for other women on this journey.

Or, you may be one of our ministry team members or one of our intercessors.  If you have any insights to share with us, we welcome them.

I also want to open this blog up to any men out there who may be struggling with an abortion wounded heart and you need a place to start to talk about it.  We can learn from you and you can learn from us.

We just ask that all entries be respectful and would come from an honest heart that desires to grow.  Fly-by venting doesn’t help anyone.

So welcome! I’m going to start by sharing some of my recent ponderings…

TRUTH – why is it that we often see truth as the enemy?  We know that the Bible teaches that Truth is what will make us free (John 8:32).  We also know that Jesus Himself is the Truth (John 14:6), and that He is only good.  So Truth is simply the honest, objective standard of reality, and therefore “it” does not have a personal vendetta against us…right?

Truth only becomes something we fear or resist when it confronts a lie in our heart that we don’t want to see, admit, or deal with.  The Bible also teaches that when we don’t like the Truth, we will suppress it (Rom. 1:18), and even exchange it for a lie (Rom. 1:18).  And sadly, we read in (II Thess.2:10), that those who do not love the Truth will perish.

As I think about all the stories that are shared at our Deeper Still retreats, one of the issues that are true for every woman who receives healing is that at some point she has to surrender to the “Truth” about herself, about her choices, and about her baby.  She must acknowledge and repent of the lies that she once held onto (thinking that they would set her free), and she comes to realize that only a Savior can save her from herself.  At that point she can finally take all those lies that robbed her of so much, and exchange them for the Truth – that glorious Truth that can finally set her free.

I can certainly remember times when I thought the Truth was my enemy.  But I am so thankful that I no longer have to be threatened by the Truth, in fact quite the contraire – the Truth was my ticket to true and lasting freedom.  Thank you Jesus!

Karen Ellison~ founder, Deeper Still