Listening to the Children

It’s Five Minute Friday! I am joining Kate Motaung’s community where we gather to write like crazy for five minutes on the one word prompt. Today’s word is: sing

Our granddaughter’s school held a Spring Sing in their new gymnasium. People filled the seats, the bleachers and the space along the walls.

The Children

The children (first, second & third grade) sang with enthusiasm with motions that they performed in unison. The theme of the program was songs from countries around the world. The opening song was We Are the World. Here is the chorus:

We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day
Just you and me.

The children are the future. We are blessed to be the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. We have a sacred trust to guide, nurture and advocate for them.

We are imperfect but we can seek God’s help. We have the avenue of prayer.

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5 Questions About Vaccines

Over the past week I have been watching a documentary series, The Truth About Vaccines. Because one of my children had varying vaccine reactions—first to the MMR and then to the hep B—I continue to follow this issue. I am concerned about the health of the next generation.

One of the key issues is the inclusion of mercury and aluminum in vaccines. Mercury is used as a preservative for multi-dose vials of vaccine. Mercury is in the flu vaccine. Aluminum is an adjuvant. It is added to a vaccine to increase the body’s reaction to the virus in the vaccine. Both mercury and aluminum are neurotoxins, meaning they can cause nerve damage.

By watching the series I have developed a list of questions to pursue when making decisions about getting a vaccine.The flu vaccine is being recommended for pregnant women. Does the benefit of the vaccine (might be effective in preventing the flu) outweigh the risk of harm to the developing baby?    At this  point  no    research has been done on the safety of this vaccine during pregnancy.

Why does a newborn infant need the hepatitis B vaccine—commonly given the first day of life? Hepatitis B is transmitted by sexual contact or by needle sharing.

Have any studies been done to look at the effect of giving multiple vaccines in one dose? (The MMR is three vaccines: measles, mumps and rubella.) We usually do not fight three diseases at one time. It has been documented that when a child did get both the  measles  and  mumps  naturally, in close proximity, the child developed inflammatory bowel disease.

What is the cumulative amount of aluminum and mercury that a child is having injected into their system when they receive all 69 doses of vaccine recommended by the CDC?

Have doctors and pediatricians been trained to recognize signs of vaccine injury? Some studies are also associating tics with vaccines. A medical journal describes the relationship  of  pots (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) with the HPV vaccine. Read the article here.

The National Institute of Health has a report on the increasing number of boys that have developed tics–with association to mercury in vaccines. Read the article here.

Please take the time to educate yourself about vaccines, and be prepared to ask questions!

I’d love to read your comments.

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The Women at the Empty Tomb

It is Holy Week, and as I reflect on God’s awesome plan of salvation, I am paying attention to the women that were present during Jesus’ life, crucifixion and death. The women of the New Testament show a devotion and spiritual sensitivity that inspires.

It begins with the angel’s appearance to the virgin. Mary gives an amazing response to the angel Gabriel. And Mary said, “Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1: 38

The Annunciation
The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci

Elizabeth was able to respond to Mary’s unusual situation with joy. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”  Luke 1 :41-45

Mary & Elizabeth
The Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne

The widow, Anna, was there when Jesus was presented at the temple in Jerusalem.   [Anna] did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2: 37-38

Most of the disciples fled when Jesus was crucified, but a group of women were at the scene. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. John 19:25-27

The women remained devoted to carrying out final care for Jesus. When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.   And  very  early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. Mark 16: 1-2

They were the first to learn of Jesus’ resurrection. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.

Women at the Empty Tomb
Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb by Fra Angelico

But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” Mark 16: 5-7

He is Risen

God has gifted women in a way that is different from men.   I appreciate the sensitivity,  the nurturing and the care that  these  women   demonstrated. We can be inspired by their example as we rejoice in Jesus’ sacrifice for us and his resurrection.

Now adding a few words as I write for #FMF

If I read one verse further in Mark I can see the dips and turns that take place in a life of faith. The angel gave the good news to these devoted women but they were bewildered.

And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. Mark 16:8

At times I see they way God is working in my life, but at other times I am fearful, wondering how things will turn out. But our Lord will never leave us there. He loves us with a love that is sometimes more than we can comprehend.

Wishing you a joyous Easter!

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Women’s Rights & Midwifery

Prayer and RestWomen today have more rights than our ancestors. As we have made progress it is odd that the loudest voice in the current women’s movement is for abortion. I would rather support the right of women to give birth in the setting that they choose. Across the world there is unresolved controversy over midwifery and home birth.

At the same time that suffragists were fighting for a woman’s right to vote, the medical system in the United States, was fighting against the practice of midwifery.

For the past few years I have been researching the life of Hanna Pörn and her court case. She was a Finnish midwife that received a certificate of midwifery from the Chicago Institute of Midwifery. She lived and worked in the Finnish/Swedish community of Gardner, Massachusetts. After eight years of practice, having better statistical outcomes than the local doctors, she was arrested for practicing medicine without a license. The case went to the district court, and was appealed several times. In 1909 she was found guilty and sentenced to two months in jail.

Other countries have had lawsuits against midwives. In recent years Agnes Gereb left her position as an obstetrician and trained as a home birth midwife in Hungary. After delivering many babies in the home setting, she was arrested because one baby died. She was placed in house arrest and the case has been moving through the courts. You can read about her case here.

Today my husband handed me the Wall Street Journal pointing out this article, Sweden Blacklists an Antiabortion Midwife. Ellinor Grimmark trained as a midwife in Sweden in response to the current shortage of midwives.

In spring 2013, with one term left in her studies, she asked supervisors at the hospital where she planned to work to accommodate her conscience rights. [She did not want to participate in abortion.]

She received a furious call from one manager. “How could you even think of becoming a midwife with these opinions?” *

It is a strange world if, in order to attend the birth of babies, you must be willing to kill babies. This brings to mind the Biblical account of two midwives.

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiprah and Puah, “ when you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl let her live.” The midwives however feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt told them to do; they let the boys live. Exodus 1: 15-17

Ellinor Grimmark was unable to secure a position in Sweden and is now living and working in Norway. Swedish mothers are coming to Norway to give birth.

Many women are seeking a kinder, gentler way of birth.   Birth  has    physical, emotional and spiritual aspects. Midwives understand this.

So  much  emphasis  is  placed  on  the   physical aspect of birth alone—treating pregnancy like an illness. Frequently, aggressive management of labor takes place in the hospital—and there are consequences. We need to swing the pendulum back. Let labor and birth take place at a natural pace. Midwives have an important role in providing healthy birth care.

In Illinois the Home Birth Safety Act is up for debate in the senate.      Thirty-two states allow midwives to provide home birth care. Illinois should join these states and pass SB 1754. If you live in Illinois, call your state senator and ask him to support SB 1754.

*Sweden Blacklists an Antiabortion Midwife, The Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2017, A17.

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Searching for My Voice, Remembering to Vote

As I walked out of the post office an older gentleman was parking his car. When I got into my car he walked over to my window and tried to say something. His hair was white and he was a little bent over. I was a little surprised and wondered what he needed.

I rolled down my window and he asked,  “How does it feel to live  in  a    foreign country?”

I was flummoxed and finally asked, “What do you mean?”

He pointed to my shirt and said, “I noticed the map on your shirt.”

I was wearing a t-shirt with this slogan:

Michigan girl

“Oh, I see.” I smiled. “I think I have more of a voice in Michigan.”

He chuckled. I wondered if he recognized my frustration with Illinois politics.

We wished each other a good day.

My mind is on politics. My perspectives are quite different from the two Senators that represent me in Washington D.C. Earlier in the day I had tried expressing my thoughts to them in an e-mail,  hoping  that  Neil    Gorsuch would be confirmed for the Supreme Court. I wondered if the effort was worth it.

Perhaps I have a better chance to make my voice  heard  on  the  local   level. We are having an election for the school board and village trustees. I looked into the issues and candidates. I will vote.

Sometimes I am frustrated as I think about the problems in our country and the future for my grandchildren. We have complex social and health issues. What should we do? What is my role as a follower of Jesus?

In a way, the world is a foreign country. The Lord has chosen to place us here so that we can have an impact. He has given us the Word and asks our obedience.

Jesus prayed for his followers: I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17: 15-21

This prayer is a comfort to me and I hope it gives comfort to you too. When we spend time in God’s word we will receive the guidance we need.

We are invited to pray. Jesus taught us to approach God in prayer as our Father in heaven.

As citizens of this country we have the opportunity to vote. It is a way to use our voice.

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A New Home for the Elephants & Family Day at the Zoo

We visited the Wichita Zoo with our daughter and granddaughter. We were delighted to see the new area, recently opened, that allows the elephants room to roam.

Elephants

Occasionally an elephant was in fairly close view.

Elephant

I was fascinated to see the elephants pick up sticks with their trunks and then strip the bark off with their mouth.

Elephants

The lion had a royal spot on a rock.

The flamingos provided a colorful scene.

Flamingos

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground, according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:24-25

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Making the Transition to Motherhood

It’s Friday and I am joining the community hosted by Kate Motaung. For five minutes we write fast and free. The prompt is: EMBRACE
Five minutes ends at this mark: //

Last week I was at the zoo with my daughter and granddaughter. At the gorilla house we saw two mama gorillas with their infants—one 7 months old and one 3 weeks old.

7 month old gorilla in his mother’s arms. See his head?

The mama gorillas were carrying their infants around as they swung from the ropes or as they sat. The 7 month old baby was allowed to be with one male gorilla but the other males were chased off. These female gorillas had embraced motherhood.

So I have been thinking about the human experience of transitioning to motherhood. In our fast paced culture we don’t give much support to the enormous changes that take place in a woman’s life when she makes the transition to motherhood. //

South Korea has begun establishing post partum care centers. An expectant mother can book a two-week stay at the center. Nurses will care for her infant and bring the babe to mom for feedings. Meals and special treatments like massage are provided for mom. You can read more about it here.

I am grateful that women from my church brought meals and even helped clean my house during the weeks after my twins were born. My mother and mother-in-law came for periods of time. New mothers need to be nurtured as they embrace motherhood.

How can we help the women in our circle of influence with the transition to motherhood?

  1. Bring a nutritious and hearty meal or bring a frozen meal that she can have on hand.
  2. Offer to help clean, do laundry
  3. Listen to her as she processes her experience of childbirth

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Gratitude on International Women’s Day

As women in the United States we can give thanks for the progress that has been made in women’s rights and opportunities. My maternal grandmother and paternal great-grandmothers immigrated to Michigan from Finland. With great effort they raised families while managing subsistence farms. My paternal grandmother wanted to go to elementary school but was needed at home.

I am thankful for these women!

Grandmothers & Gratitude

My opportunities are much greater than theirs were. I have benefited from their sacrifices.

I recently finished reading I Came a Stranger: The Story of a Hull-House Girl*. Hilda Satt Polachek came to the United States from Poland as a child.   Within two years her of family’s arrival,  her father died.    Hilda’s mother was faced with raising the family in a new country. Hilda went to work in a knitting factory at the age of thirteen to help support the family.

In the United States we have made  great  progress,  and  we need to      acknowledge this. Women have equal rights and opportunities.

Currently more young women are going to college than young men. Click here for the research.

I am thankful for God’s word and the assurance that He loves me, a woman. Jesus demonstrated his respect, his concern and his equal treatment of women.

I am thankful for my church and the freedom to worship that we have in the United States. Many women in the world do not have this freedom or the same opportunities.

When we take time for gratitude, we can experience peace and joy.

I bless Yahweh every chance I get;
my lungs expand with his praise.

I live and breathe Yahweh;
If things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:

Join me in spreading the news;
Together let’s get the word out.

Yahweh met me more than halfway,
He freed me from my anxious fears.
Psalm 34: 1-4 MSG

What can you give thanks for?

*Hilda Satt Polacheck edited by Dena Polacheck Epstein, I Came a Stranger: The Story of a Hull-House Girl, University of Illinois Press, 1989

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Moms for Vaccine Safety

At the beginning of the 19th century, in the city of Chicago, the health of young children  was in  perilous condition. The health of both women and children needed focused attention.

In 1916, for example, Chicago’s death rate for children under 2 years of age was 141.4 per 1,000 live births, as compared with 129.3 for Detroit, 88.3 for Philadelphia, 58.1 for New York and 49.4 for Boston.

“Enteritis under 2” remained as one of the top ten causes of death reported by the Illinois state Board of health each year from 1902 to 1913, and dramatic increases in childhood diarrheal diseases continued to be identified in the hot summer months.*

 Lack of proper sanitation and hygiene contributed to the illness. Malnutrition was another factor. The educated women in Chicago responded to this health crisis. Women from Hull House, the Chicago Women’s Club, women physicians and social workers became involved.

A broad coalition of public health practitioners, social welfare advocates, and women’s rights supporters argued that a sound and democratic future depended on mother’s ability to produce and maintain a robust citizenry.**

Since that time improved sanitation, indoor plumbing, purified water, pasteurization of milk and improved hygiene have made a difference. Public health classes on infant care and nutrition have benefited young mothers.

In addition, the discovery of antibiotics to treat infections has saved lives. These wonderful medicines were eventually overused. Doctors have learned that not every ear infection should be treated with antibiotics. When antibiotics are overprescribed they lose their effectiveness: bacteria become resistant and increasingly difficult to treat.

Is the same thing happening with the heavy use of vaccines?     Is  the  immune system—intricately designed by God—being impaired by too many vaccines?

VAXXED: A Powerful Message
Photo by Naypong@FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Currently 1 in 68 children has been diagnosed with the autism spectrum. Children have more allergies and are being diagnosed with immune system disorders. It is shocking that research data indicating a relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism was destroyed. Click here for a news article.

The number of vaccines recommended for children by age six has dramatically increased. If you count up the doses of each type of vaccine, there are 39 to be administered by age six.  Click here for the recommended vaccine schedule.

Each vaccine injection contains adjuvants. These are additions like mercury and aluminum, which stimulates the immune system to respond. What is the cumulative effect of these additives? We are concerned about mercury in the environment—and yet it is injected into the bodies of young children? Click here for an interview with Robert Kennedy Jr. regarding his research into mercury in vaccines.

Vaccines should be evaluated by their benefits and risks. Why does an infant need to receive a vaccine (hepatitis B) for a sexually transmitted disease? Click here for a school nurse’s concern about the hepatitis B vaccine.

A group of researchers, doctors and parents are working together for the robust health of children in the United States.    A petition  for  vaccine  safety is available on-line.

Click here to join the voices of many others who have concerns about vaccine safety.

*Lynne Curry, Modern Mothers in the heartland: Gender, Health and Progress in Illinois, 1900 – 1930, Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1999. p. 19.

**Ibid. p.1

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Petite Purple Irises and Stinging Nettle

It is the last day of February and my dwarf irises are blooming. I was surprised to see their purple petals as I returned home from a weekend trip. Winter isn’t over, but my tulip and hyacinth bulbs are sprouting leaves.

Dwarf Iris

What will our spring be like? My thoughts turn to garden plans. Every year I like to introduce a new plant to my herb garden.

It is so convenient to have fresh herbs for the kitchen. I have thyme for chicken and broth, sage for turkey, rosemary for potatoes and soups, chocolate mint for coffee, tarragon for salad dressing and basil for pesto and tomato sauce.

This year I want to add stinging nettle. I am familiar with nettle tea, having read about it in the Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year.

The common stinging nettle is a uterine tonic and general nourisher with a special ability to strengthen kidneys and adrenals. Its high mineral and chorophyll content makes it an excellent food and tonic for the hormonal system.*

The New American Herbal has more information about this plant. It is called stinging nettle because the leaves have fine hairs that cause pain and inflammation when touched. It is important to wear rubber gloves when harvesting the leaves of this plant.

Properly handled with gloves and long sleeves the leaves can be easily gathered and then neutralized by the heat of cooking . . . Once you know how to respect them, you’ll find nettles deliciously mild with a deep nutty green taste and a slightly minty finish. **

I saw a recipe for nettle soup in a Swedish cookbook. I think the nettle leaves would be a good addition to broth—adding good mineral content as well as flavor.

And so I will order some stinging nettle seeds from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. Then I have to decide on a safe place to grow them—perhaps in a container.

Do you have some garden plans?

*Susun Weed, Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, Ash Tree Publishing: Woodstock, New York, 1986, p. 2

**Stephen Orr, The New American Herbal, Crown Publishing Group, New York, 2014, p. 330

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