Give Me a Steadfast Heart

Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards. Give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out. Give us an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Thomas Aquinas (1225 -1274)

A Steadfast Heart

In November of 2013 I wrote this in a blog post:

On Wednesday morning I was still reeling from the news that same-sex marriage was passed into law in Illinois. The trends in our culture weigh heavily on me. I have been studying the book of Ezekiel, and I see many parallels between Ezekiel’s description of the culture then and the present day.  Throughout the ages, people and sin remain the same. We have a tendency to rebel against God’s ways.

Since then the Supreme Court has decided in favor of same-sex     marriage. Our local school district has opened bathrooms and locker rooms to transgender individuals, without regard to their biological identity.

The moral chaos and confusion is disheartening but our role as      Christians is to remain obedient to God and to proclaim the Gospel.

We have instructions and prayer support from Jesus.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28: 19-20

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours . . .

I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one.         John 17: 9, 11

My prayer: Thank-you, Lord Jesus, for your intercession for us. May we, with your help, be steadfast in proclaiming the Gospel.

Linking with Tell it to Me Tuesdays,  Weekend Whispers,  Word of God Speak,  Faith Filled Friday

4 Reasons to be Concerned About the HHS Mandate

HHS Mandate and Little Sisters of the Poor

On March 23rd the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments regarding the HHS Mandate and the Little Sisters of the Poor.    The federal     government is arguing that the Little Sisters must comply with this mandate in the health insurance that they provide for the people they employ. It is important to understand the far-reaching effects of the mandate.  According to the site, ObamacareFacts.com, the Health and Human Services Mandate is this:

HHS issued guidance to clarify the requirement that insurers cover at least one form of each of the 18 FDA approved contraception (birth control) methods. This comes on the back of recent studies that showed that insurers were not covering certain birth control types or charging cost sharing for birth control of a certain category.

The guidance also makes it clear that:

  • Grandfathered plans (plans that started before March 23rd, 2010) are exempt from the rule.
  • Insurers cannot limit preventive services for transgender people based on their sex assigned at birth.

 Birth control methods include morning-after pills and IUDs despite their being looked down upon by some religious and conservative groups for being “abortifacients,” meaning they cause abortion.

Although these methods have risk factors, side effects and some cause abortion they are mandated to be included in health care. One of the devastating risk factors for hormonal birth control is that these pills (or the NuvaRing) can cause blood clots. Women have died as a result of blood clots traveling to the lungs or brain.

Pills readily available to teens and young women pose another threat. Young women who have been taking hormonal birth control for a    period of four years prior to having a full term pregnancy have a higher rate of breast cancer. More information is available at http://www.bcpinstitute.org

Young women who are sexually active, thinking that they are protected from pregnancy by taking contraceptives, are opening themselves up to sexually transmitted diseases including HPV. The HPV infection can lead to cervical cancer (increased risk if a woman has been taking birth control pills for more than 5 years) And so the CDC recommends that all young women get the HPV vaccine which has caused major health issues for some girls. See the warning issued by the American College of Pediatricians here.

Here are four reasons why the HHS mandate is bad for women and why it violates religious liberty.

  1. The medical guidance promoted by the  HHS Mandate  does not      promote health.  The recommendations offer short-term treatment for sexual intimacy, without considering side effects and long-term health.
  2. Girls, who have decided to abstain from sexual relations until        marriage, do not need to get the risky HPV vaccine that is becoming a recommendation for all teenage girls.  A one size fits all health policy that assumes multiple sexual partners is a disadvantage for girls that are making healthy choices and a bandaid for girls that don’t.
  3. Interventions like hormonal birth control and the HPV vaccine are likely to have more of an impact on the health of women who have poor nutrition and underlying health issues. We should be concerned with improving baseline health.
  4. The Little Sisters of the Poor should not be forced to include the 18 forms of birth control in the health insurance that they provide for employees in the elder care homes.  The Catholic Church’s teaching on human sexuality is opposed to contraceptives, always has been. The Little Sisters have the right to live according to conscience in harmony with their faith.
Women are speaking up for their health and   religious freedom at this site.
Women Speak for Themselves
www.womenspeakforthemselves.com

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Linking with 10 on Tuesday,  the Art of Homemaking,  Friendship FridayA Little R & R, Whole Hearted Wednesday,  So Much at Home and Titus 2sday.

Hope of the Gospel Overcomes Shipwreck

HHS Mandate and Little Sisters of the Poor

As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

 I am finishing up my study of the book of Acts,  and I can see how    Isaiah’s declaration applies to Paul.    Several times in Acts, Luke      describes Paul’s call to Rome—and his determination to go there to testify. After being imprisoned in Caesarea for two years he is finally on his way to Rome, by ship. They are traveling in a season not favorable for sailing. He and the 275 other people on board the ship are shipwrecked.  God protects them and they are treated well by the  people of Malta. They wait out the winter there. Luke, the physician, was with Paul and recorded the journey to Rome in the 27th chapter of Acts.

Shipwreck
Painting by Bonaventura Peeters

Matthew Henry comments on chapter 27 with these words:

No storms or tempests can hinder God’s favour to his people, for he is a Help, always at hand.

The work that God had prepared beforehand for Paul was to proclaim the message of the gospel.  Acts 9:15 states this about Paul:   he is a  chosen instrument of mine [of God] to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. Paul was called to proclaim the message of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection in Rome. He was to tell people about God’s offer of salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

It is easy to get distracted by world events and by tragedies in our    nation. Why are Christians being beheaded?  How did we ever get to the point that medical research seeks baby parts from abortion      clinics? Why did Justice Scalia die now? In some sense our nation is in a shipwreck.

The words from Isaiah and the example of Paul are a great encouragement. Paul was not deterred by the execution of James and or by his own imprisonments.

Even though storms come up, we need to keep our focus on Jesus. God’s word will not return empty. I may stumble but He is faithful to help. We live with a precious hope. May we bring God glory.

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Linking with Weekend Whispers, Word of God SpeakFaith Filled Friday and Friendship Friday

Skillet Corn Bread: A Side Dish for Chili or Soup

On these cold winter days, a bowl of chili is appealing, especially when it is paired with a nice corn bread. Here is a recipe for corn bread with sweet onions that is baked in a skillet—and is gluten free. (If gluten is not a concern you can replace the brown rice flour and arrowroot powder with 1 cup unbleached white flour.)

Ingredients:

1 + ½   Tablespoon coconut oil
3 Tablespoons melted butter
1 large sweet onion (you will use half)
1 C. yellow cornmeal
7/8 C. brown rice flour
2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder
½ tsp. salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup coconut milk (or rice milk)
2 Tablespoons honey

Melt the coconut oil in a heavy 9” skillet. Slice approximately one half of the onion into thin crescents. Make a single layer of onions on the bottom of the skillet. Drizzle a couple teaspoons of butter over the onions.
Skillet Cornbrea_5120
Place the skillet in a cold oven and turn the temperature to 400° F.

Mix the cornmeal, flour, arrowroot, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. In a medium bowl mix the eggs, remaining butter, milk and honey.

When the oven temperature reaches 400° F and the onions are beginning to brown, remove the skillet from the oven.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed. Pour the batter into the skillet and bake at 400° for 20 – 25 minutes, until the edges are brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, and then turn out onto a plate.

Skillet Corn Bread

Linking with Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural,  WholeHearted Home, A Little R & R, and Classical Homemaking

The Best Valentine

The Best Valentine

Over the past few weeks I have been working on memorizing Ephesians 2:1-10. I keep note cards with the passage printed out in my purse. If I have extra time while traveling, a quiet moment when I am babysitting for the grand kids, I can pull out the cards and read over the verses. It takes lots of repetition to charge my memory. I want to be able to refer to these verses, have them clearly in my mind.

Typing out the verses from memory, going as far as I can and then checking myself is another way I am working on memorization.

The whole gospel message is contained in this passage of scripture that Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world,     following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh,     carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works , which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The Best Valentine

God’s great love for us.  Isn’t that the best valentine message?

                            Happy Valentine’s Day!

Recently a devotion that I wrote based on Ephesians 2:10 was published by Upper Room. You can access it here.

Linking with Word of God SpeakWeekend Whispers,  Make My Saturday Sweet,  Faith Filled Friday and Friendship Friday

Midwife Care versus Planned Parenthood

L of L

Two questions that are facing our nation and our state  could  be    connected. Should our tax dollars go to Planned Parenthood?  Will   Illinois certify Professional Midwives (CPMs) to provide home birth care? A number of states do recognize CPMs, but not all. In some states they can bill medicaid for home birth care.

In the United States we have three designations for midwives: Direct Entry who are apprentice trained;  Certified Professional Midwives who have taken courses, are apprentice trained and certified;         Certified Nurse Midwives who have completed a masters program in midwifery and almost exclusively practice in the hospital or in birth centers.   Hospital birth and home birth are different and require     different approaches to care. CPMs are skilled in attending home birth.

In the past I have written about my experience with home birth. After working in hospital labor delivery units for many years—beginning at Hutzel Hospital in Detroit in 1972—I made the surprising decision to sign on to a home birth practice (never thought I would do this). For four years I took weekend call as the birth nurse, attending women in labor, in their home.  A doctor or a CNM came for the  birth.  This    practice closed and attendants for home birth in Illinois are very few.

I attended 66 labors, 61 of which birth took place at home, 5 were transferred to the hospital. Through this experience my understanding of birth expanded. I was consistently attending women all the way through labor, birth and recovery.

Midwives and Birth
photo credit: T. Adriaenssen

All of the skills that I had taught as a Lamaze instructor were easier to include in the home setting. Women were more intuitive about working with their body. Interventions were fewer.

It was very important to carefully observe the progress of labor and recognize risk factors. An observant birth attendant could tell when transfer to the hospital was advisable. Unlike the hospital, where the use of medications, surgical rupture of membranes, a stationary position in bed and anesthesia pumps could set off a sudden emergency, problems became apparent gradually in the home. There was enough time to make a transfer to the hospital. Certification of  professional midwives at the state level could insure that midwives had the skills necessary for home birth.

What maternity care needs is a good communicating system between home birth attendants and hospital staff. Fear of a negative reception at the hospital sometimes leads to a delay in transfer to the hospital. Receiving a home birth patient in crisis can upset hospital staff– but on the other hand they are equipped to handle emergencies. The fear of lawsuits hovers over doctors.

But we should solve this. Midwives are focused on women’s health. They have more opportunities to teach and provide hands on care for women. Doctors are often balancing a very full schedule with minimal time with the patient,  I learned so much  about  the  women  I    attended by seeing them in their home setting. Midwives will bring the cost of maternity care down  and  improve the establishment of       successful breastfeeding.

Instead of putting tax dollars to work at Planned Parenthood,  let’s use the money to invest in health clinics  and  to increase  midwifery    services. CNMs that primarily work in the hospital could do a rotation in home birth, learning from CPMs. CPMs could do a rotation in the hospital with CNMs.  The legislature could work on tort reform  and   relieve doctors from the constant fear of lawsuits.

What can we do to move this forward?

  • Call or e-mail your Senators and House Rep., asking them to defund Planned Parenthood.
  • If you live in Illinois call or e-mail your House Rep. and ask him to support the House Bill, HB 4341.
  • You may also want to visit the website of Women Speak for Themselves. Not all women think that the government should provide funding for abortion.

Midwives and Birth

Linking with Tuesdays with a Twist,  A Little R & R and Whole Hearted Home

A New Season of Life and a Luscious Cup of Coffee

 

A New Season and a Luscious Cup of Coffee

My husband and I are in a new season of life. We are both retired and have supportive roles in our extended family. My mother and brother are in declining health now and require the help of family. We are thrilled to have five of our grandchildren in the area and see them on a regular basis. We are learning new patterns of teamwork.

My husband makes the morning coffee. We have agreed on the recipe for the best coffee (see below). We each fix a light breakfast (mine is oatmeal) and read at the kitchen table. I am developing the habit of prayer and Bible study before I open my computer.

Sometimes I make trips to Michigan to assist in the care of my mother or brother while my husband takes care of the home front. Sometimes he comes with me. He always makes sure that the car is in good shape for travel.

We have different passions. He is an engineer, a problem solver and computer expert. He keeps my computer running and backed up. He enjoys being part of a ham radio group. I like to write, read, knit and support issues related to women’s health and childbirth.

My husband has attended one March for Life with me, but this year he did not want to go to the March in downtown Chicago. When the thermometer showed a reading of 4° F, he said, “Surely you are not still planning to go?!”

And I said, “I will just go to the meet up place and then decide before I get on the bus.”

He said, “Take the ski goggles with you.”

My thought was I will look stupid. But I put the goggles in my purse and headed out the door. I did go to the March for Life. The wind chill at one point was -11°, possibly colder. We were outside for almost two hours and I was very grateful for the ski goggles.

We are enjoying being grandparents. When my daughter needs an evening babysitter, we go together and spend time with the grandchildren. I feel blessed to have this season with my husband.

During our wedding ceremony we committed to encourage each     other. We read from Colossians 1: 9-14 during the ceremony.

And so from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the     domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

romantic-pink-roses

These verses are still a guide for us.

Here is our recipe for a great cup of coffee. We grind our own beans. While I will measure the coffee grounds (8 tablespoons for 11 cups of water), my husband puts the beans in the grinder and dumps all of the ground coffee in the filter paper lined basket. He is certain that he has placed the right amount of beans in the grinder. We add a dash of salt to take away the bitter edge of coffee and some cardamon seeds (a scant ¼ teaspoon).

After the coffee has brewed I add ¼ teaspoon of coconut oil and some cream to my coffee. So good!

coffee_3389

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Linking with Word of God Speak,  Thought Provoking ThursdayA Little R & R , and WholeHearted Wednesday