Grace, Mercy and Truth

On Fridays I join the community at Kate Motaung’s blog. We write for five minutes on a prompt. Today’s word is: TRUTH

It was one of those nights—I woke up at 2:00 am and could not go back to sleep. I picked up a Bess Crawford mystery, thinking that I would just read a couple chapters. Three hours later I put the book down, hoping to get a couple hours of sleep before my day began.

Bess Crawford is a fictional character drawn from the imagination of a mother/son writing team (Charles Todd). Bess is a WWII nurse that goes to the front as a surgical nurse. Sometimes she has a reprieve, and she is assisting convalescing soldiers or tracking down relatives. But always she is pursuing truth and serving the patients she encounters with compassion.

The end of each book brings a sense of satisfaction. The truth has been discovered and Bess has acted with courage and kindness. //

There is a deep yearning in the human heart for truth.

David, the shepherd and later the king, lived through a turbulent time in Israel. His thoughts are captured in the Psalms. Psalm 25 is attributed to David.

All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm 25:10 KGV

Another translation of this verse adds insight.

All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm 25:10 ESV

When life takes unexpected turns we can trust the faithfulness of God. His word stabilizes us. The importance of truth is highlighted in this verse:

Send out your light and truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Psalm 43:3

God is the source of truth. We need the word of God in our lives. When our world is chaotic we can find truth by following Jesus.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

Did you notice that mercy and truth are connected in scripture? Only the Lord Jesus can offer us grace as we confront the reality of sin. Praise God that he provides mercy and grace for us!

I’m sharing this post with Five Minute Friday, Faith on Fire and Grace & Truth

Flowers in Winter

The lilacs are blooming in my backyard.

Blue Lilac

The choke cherry tree extends it branches fluttering with green leaves and tiny white blossoms. Spring is in full bloom and Sunday is Mother’s Day. My husband and I will travel to Michigan to visit Mom in the nursing home.

My mother is in the winter of her life. Mom is confused about who I am—a sister? a daughter? Her mind is in the past. As her dementia slowly progressed I did not always respond well. I was frustrated by her behavior. I didn’t understand.

A friend pointed me to Alzheimers Reading Room. It has been a big help. (Note: this is a great resource for understanding dementia and alzheimers.) I wasn’t going to fix Mom. I needed to enter her world and support her.

My goal is to give thanks for  Mom  and  her sacrificial care for me, to  honor her. I am thankful for the people that have prayed for me during this time. The Bible encourages us to pray for one another.

Is there someone you can pray for? Or a woman that you can honor?

The Bible also encourages us to put our trust in God in all circumstances.
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62: 7-8

I am joining the community at Five Minute Friday  and Faith on Fire with this post.

We Should Pray

It’s Five Minute Friday! We write for five minutes and share our posts at Kate Motaung’s community. Today’s prompt is: should

Likewise the Spirit helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26 KGV

Bible

Are you ever in the position of not knowing how to pray for a situation? You have great concerns but you don’t know what you should ask?

My husband and I are spending more time in prayer. Over the years we have prayed together for our family and our church—sporadically. I can say that we have never prayed enough.

Now we are retired. We have a devotional book of the Psalms that we read every morning and then we spend some time in prayer. We pray for our children and grandchildren, for my mother, brothers and sisters. We pray for people in our church. We pray for leaders in government.

Sometimes the situation is complex and we don’t know what should be done. It is a great comfort to raise the concern to the Lord, knowing that the Holy Spirit will intercede for us. //

Spending time in prayer provides a release of tension and I believe that the Holy Spirit gives us gentle nudges to point us in the right direction.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Philippians 4:6 MSG

Prayer

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The Health Benefits of Dates and a Muffin Recipe

Dates have some surprising health benefits for expectant mothers.

Women often receive a prescription for iron during pregnancy.  During pregnancy a woman’s blood volume increases by 50% and the red blood cells increase by 30%. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin that carries oxygen; iron is a component of hemoglobin.

Iron is a vital mineral during pregnancy. A low hemoglobin level is associated with fatigue and is a risk factor during childbirth.

I looked up iron-rich foods in my nutrition almanac and found this list:

Organ meats and meats, eggs, fish and poultry

Blackstrap molasses

Cherry juice

Green leafy vegetables

Dried fruits [including dates]

 

A research study, published in March of this year, looked to see if eating dates in the last trimester of pregnancy had an impact on a woman’s     labor, childbirth experience. The study demonstrated that women who consumed dates had less of a need for medication to augment their labor.

Here is a muffin recipe that has iron-rich ingredients, including dates. Brown rice flour or a gluten-free blend works fine.

Date Muffins

Ingredients:

1 + ½ cup flour
½ cup almond meal
2 + ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup pitted and chopped dates
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup honey
3 Tblsp. unsulfured dark molasses
2 eggs
½ cup almond milk (or other milk of choice)

Preheat oven to 350°

Combine flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt. Stir the chopped dates into flour mixture until well combined.

Mix together the melted butter, molasses, honey, lightly beaten eggs and milk.

Then mix the liquid ingredients into the dry. The batter will be a little lumpy. Fill the muffin cups—I had enough batter for 14 regular size muffins.

Bake at 350° for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Date Muffins

You can find the study about the effect of date consumption on labor here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28286995

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Viewpoint of Alternative Science: Breast-feeding is Unnatural

Cathy Areu was a guest on Tucker Carlson Friday night. She argued that breastfeeding was not natural because it put too much pressure on a woman to feed her baby. She insisted that it was natural for a dad to feed the infant formula. She referenced a recent “study”.

I watched the astonished expression on Tucker’s face as she made her case. Lol.

The argument was so bizarre that I looked for the study on-line. Ms. Areu was referring to an article that was published by Heatstreet on April 26, 2017. The article, “Study: Describing Breastfeeding as ‘Natural’ Is Unethical Because It Reinforces Gender Roles” was written by Jillian Kay Melchior. She writes:

It’s “ethically inappropriate” for government and medical organizations to describe breastfeeding as “natural” because the term enforces rigid notions about gender roles, claims a new study in Pediatrics

I checked the link to Pediatrics and found the opinion piece that was published on April 1, 2016, a little over a year ago. Not a recent study.  The article,  “Unintended Consequences of Invoking the “Natural” in Breastfeeding  Promotion,” * was written by Jessica Martucci and Anne Barnhill.

They wrote: Promoting breastfeeding as “natural” may be ethically problematic, and, even more troublingly, it may bolster this belief that “natural” approaches are presumptively healthier. This may ultimately challenge public health’s aims in other contexts, particularly childhood vaccination.

This perspective really startled me. I looked for other viewpoints. CNN had an article about the study and I was grateful that they included an opposing view. Carina Storrs authored the piece entitled, “Are there unintended consequences to calling breast-feeding ‘natural’?”

In her article she included this quote: “(The authors) are using this article to label the breast-feeding group in a very negative way, and to equate breast-feeding with people who don’t want to take immunizations,” said Eidelman, who was lead author of the 2012 AAP policy statement on breast-feeding.

It was troubling to me that, in the Pediatrics article, assumptions were being made about women who breast-feed and women who have questions about vaccines. It is true that some parents are reluctant to vaccinate their child because their child was injured by a vaccine.   Some have studied the issue and are concerned about the risks.    They have   legitimate concerns. The vaccine controversy will not go away by labeling people and denigrating them.

Wow! Over the next few hours I kept thinking about the dismissal of breastfeeding. We know that breast milk has immune factors that formula cannot provide. We know that it is most easily digested and absorbed by an infant. It is recommended that a mother breastfeed her infant for six months to avoid food allergies. The benefits are too many to enumerate.

Breastfeeding

I found that I agreed with one statement that Ms. Areu made. Breastfeeding is hard. The first time a woman breastfeeds she needs support and guidance. But her labor and birth experience have also had an impact .

My observation as a labor/delivery nurse is that the interventions that take place in the hospital can influence the breastfeeding experience. Medications given to induce labor and for pain management can have negative side effects. Women that have cesarean sections have a more difficult time establishing breastfeeding.

How soon the baby is placed in the mother’s arms (hopefully skin to skin in the first hour of life) influences early success in breastfeeding. If the mother has been traumatized by the manner of birth, breastfeeding may be more difficult to establish.

As I tried to understand the upside-down way of thinking that Ms. Areu was demonstrating I wondered what has happened to science.

Are we being asked to consider all medical interventions as natural? When we observe normal physiology and gain practical insights, are these unnatural?

I am sad because the turmoil in science and medicine is only making it hard on parents. My hope is that the medical community will listen to the concerns parents have and treat them with respect.

If you found this article interesting I hope you will visit my Facebook page.

*Jessica Martucci and Ann Barnhill, “Unintended Consequences of Invoking the “Natural” in Breastfeeding Promotion”, PEDIATRICS Vol. 137 No. 4 April 01, 2016

 

 

More to Think About

Another week has gone by. It’s Five Minute Friday! We write for five minutes (well, today I took a little longer to gather my thoughts) and share our posts at Kate Motaung’s community. Today’s word is: more

As a mother and grandmother I have been concerned that more and more vaccines have been added to the vaccine schedule. The United States gives the largest number of vaccines to children.

In 1986 a bill was passed that protected pharmaceutical companies from any liability for vaccine injury—because they were being sued too often.

Since then the number of vaccines recommended by the CDC has risen dramatically.

This past week I have been sending e-mails and making phone calls in opposition to a bill in the Illinois senate that would mandate flu vaccines for health care workers.   The flu vaccine contains  mercury  (a neurotoxin) and has varying degrees of effectiveness. It is documented that following the flu vaccine a person is more susceptible to another viral infection.

The flu vaccine should be a personal choice with informed consent.       Mandates . . . will there be more and more?

I am in favor of supporting the immune system that God has given me; a healthy diet, physical exercise and adequate sleep. The immune system is designed to fight off infections. Still, there are times when a vaccine has more benefits than risk. This should be carefully evaluated.

We cannot let fear dictate health care policy.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139: 14

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.

Sharing this post with Five Minute Friday and Faith on Fire

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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