The Lack of Respect for Women

Words. Ugly references to women. It is hard to listen to the political mud slinging. Trump’s words revealed on a recording were vulgar and cannot be condoned. These words have opened wounds that many women carry.

Our culture is saturated in sex. I wonder if we are ready to assess the damage that has been caused by the push for sexual freedom. Perhaps the ugliness of this campaign will encourage discussion.

When sex is separated from a committed relationship, when men do not have responsibility for the potential pregnancy that may result from sex, women are hurt.

Beginning in the 1960s, significant court decisions took place. In 1965 contraception for married women was legalized by the Supreme Court under a right to privacy decision (Griswold v. Connecticut). In 1972 contraception for unmarried women was legalized as a right to privacy (Eisenstadt v. Baird). In 1973 abortion was legalized for all women as a right to privacy (Roe v. Wade).

The Supreme Court has a huge influence on our culture.

These court decisions set laws in place that made sex available to men without commitment or shared responsibility. This is not what God intended. God designed the family and the bond between husband and wife.

In the Bible Jesus reiterates the sacredness of marriage. When Jesus was asked about divorce he said this:

“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”         Matthew 19: 4-6

Some people viewed contraception as necessary to avoid over population. Some people of faith thought that contraception would improve marriages and the care of children. The Bible does not specifically mention contraception, but the word itself is against life.

A couple can deepen their relationship by talking about sex  and  the   potential for pregnancy.  With contraception a woman may feel that she has to be always available.   Sex can be a self-centered act  instead of    affirming the sacred bond of marriage.

What about when we look at the big picture? What has changed?

Failure of contraception led to the “need” for abortion.   The rate of    abortion has increased over time. Millions of babies have been killed in their mother’s womb. Women have been wounded by abortion. The rate of divorce has increased. The number of children born out of wedlock has increased. Women’s health has been impacted by hormonal contraception. And respect for women?

Our human remedies may fail us. We need to seek God’s ways. This text states a hard truth.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools . . . Romans 1:21-22

The current political mud slinging should cause us to pause. We have God’s remedy for the moral descent that is going on.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.       2 Chronicles 7:14

God heals us if we turn to Him.

Bless the Lord , O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
Who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.
Psalm 103:2-3

Prayer:  Lord God, my human nature leads me to seek my own way.     Forgive my sins and guide me in the path of life. I praise you because you are my redeemer and healer.

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Truth that Keeps Us Steadfast

Sometimes the waves of events happening this election season knock me over and I have to catch my breath.   Then I remember that  God  is      sovereign. He has given us his word with timeless truth. I am glad to be studying the book of Romans.

Last Sunday we had a guest speaker at church. His message centered on the gospel truths found in Romans. Here are some key passages:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

We are all sinners. We all need God’s grace.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

Paul explains that we are saved by faith, by turning to God and accepting His way.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

God loves us!

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

We have to accept the gift.

After guiding us through the gospel message, our speaker suggested that we find words to tell our personal story.   He gave us his thirty-second    testimony and asked us to work on doing the same. So, here is my testimony:

I grew up in a Christian home and asked Jesus to be my Savior at a young age. It was the beginning of my relationship with the Lord. During college, Bible study helped me grow and work through questions that I had about my faith. Eventually I married, we had children and we faced a huge challenge. Our son was diagnosed with leukemia. God helped us through faithful friends. When our son passed away I was overwhelmed with grief. I had kept a journal through Steven’s illness and as I reviewed it I saw God’s hand on Steven’s life and His love for our family. God met me in my pain. God is faithful to his promises.

Do you have a testimony of faith?

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Is Birth a Human Rights Issue?

The first debate between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump left me with a sense of incompleteness. Some of the questions posed by the moderator had little relevance to current issues in the United States. After the debate I wrote a letter that was published on the editorial page of our     local newspaper. Here is the text of my letter:

During the first presidential debate the topic of abortion did not come up. Neither candidate was asked about taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. I was thinking about this when I opened the current issue of Midwifery Today. The theme of the issue is: Birth Is A Human Rights Issue.

I wonder if we have lost sight of mothers and their infants in the attention that has been placed on the provision of contraception and abortion.

The article written by Jan Tritten quotes a point listed under Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations 1948):      Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Some would like us to believe that the most important issue for women is the freedom to have an abortion.   Is anyone paying attention to        maternal/infant morbidity and mortality? Why is the United States one of the few countries where the maternal death rate is increasing?

More attention needs to be directed at healthy choices that support life. Countries that have a greater percentage of midwives have better outcomes. Many states in the U.S. have limited the practice of midwives. In Illinois midwives have been fighting for legislation that would license them to attend homebirths.

Healthy women want to have the option of giving birth at home with a midwife.

Recently a law that requires pregnancy care centers to offer referrals to abortion clinics (SB 1564) was signed into law in Illinois. This law strips away the conscience rights of health care workers. I hope this law is challenged. In the meantime I think abortion clinics should have the same standard. They [clinics like Planned Parenthood] should be legally required to offer referrals to pregnancy care centers.

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Family Time and the Gospel

The air was fresh. The leaves on the giant cottonwood trees were rustling with the breeze. My sister, brother and I were sitting at a picnic table at the botanic garden.

We had fresh apple cider and hamburgers. We enjoyed our lunch as we absorbed the joy of nature. We watched a blue heron standing in a nearby pond. I felt blessed with this interlude of rest from stressful thoughts.

My brother’s health is declining and as his guardian I have been asked to look into possible care situations. For a time the weight of concern was lifted.

My brother has a mental illness and his thoughts about God, about relationships, is tangled up. He has had a difficult life. But I believe that God loves him and can heal his emotional wounds.

My attempts to share my faith with him have varied responses. I feel like I am stumbling along. Conversations with my brother can be calm or erupt suddenly in an angry outburst. During one visit to his group home I asked if he reads his Bible.

He said, “No.”

I said, “The Bible is God’s love letter to us.”

He scowled and yelled, “It is not!” Then he stared at me daring me to say any more. I retreated—for the time being.

But on this day, after spending time in nature, he responded differently. On the way home, in the car, I asked my brother, “What do you think about Jesus?”

His answer came quickly, “He was the most hated man.”

Then I asked, “Why did he come to earth?”

After a long pause my brother said, “I don’t know.”

I said, “I think he came to show us God’s love.”

This time there was no angry outburst, only thoughtful silence.

I want the Bible to infuse my daily life and my conversations. God’s word is the source of our hope. I am still learning about putting this in practice. In the book of Romans the apostle Paul writes:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1: 16

Prayer: Lord God, thank-you for your Word and the example Paul sets for us. As I trust you day by day, may I be a witness of the Gospel.

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Healthy Homemade Applesauce

Apples, fresh from the orchard, are one of the blessings in September. I enjoy making applesauce for the grandchildren. Each year I get a little more efficient.

Healthy Homemade Applesauce

Two appliances have simplified the process of making applesauce for me: a crock pot and a victorio strainer. What is a victorio strainer? For a complete description of this wonderful tool, click here.

I have access to unsprayed wild apples on the old family farm.   The     apples are not so great for eating fresh, but they make a good applesauce. I sort them and cut out the bad parts. Then I simply cut them in four pieces, leaving the skin on, leaving the core intact.   (If I am using   apples that have been sprayed I do remove the skin.)

Healthy Homemade Applesauce

I fill up the crock pot with apple sections turn it on high for a couple hours. Them I turn it down to low, stir and mash the apples, continuing to cook until completely soft.

Healthy Homemade Applesauce

The soft, mashed apples are put through the victorio strainer,  which    removes the apple skin and seeds.  I have nicely pureed and strained    applesauce.

I add honey and Ceylon cinnamon to taste. (Ceylon cinnamon has a milder, sweeter flavor than cassia cinnamon, as well as increased health benefits.) The sauce is then ready to be canned.

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Thanks for visiting. Enjoy this season of harvest!

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Medications: Why I am a Minimalist

If you watch very much TV you will notice that a great proportion of    advertisements are for medications. A medical problem is presented with the solution—a pill. Then a long list of side effects and risks are    recited.

Every medication and medical intervention has side effects and risks. So, should medication be the first resort to an illness? My experiences as a teen, a mom and a nurse have led me to believe otherwise.

When I was sixteen or seventeen my periods were very irregular. My mother was worried and took me to a gynecologist who prescribed     hormonal pills— better known as birth control pills. I began bleeding so heavily that I stopped using the pills and never touched them again. Today we know that hormonal contraception, pills or injections can cause abnormal bleeding, blood clots and increases the risk of breast cancer.

When my first three children were babies antibiotics were prescribed quickly and frequently. We went through a spiral of declining health. With my fourth child we tried supportive care—rest, fluids, chicken soup—along with a wait and see approach. This fourth child hardly ever needed an antibiotic. Eventually the medical field acknowledged that    antibiotics were being used too frequently.

I graduated from the University of Michigan Nursing program, well versed in the science of medicine. I appreciate the marvels of modern medicine. When our son was being treated for leukemia we pursued the latest research and treatment. Modern medicine has great interventions when we need them. The question is when do we need intervention?

When I worked in hospital labor/delivery units I saw many interventions taking place. Some necessary, some not, some causing complications. I don’t think we even know the long term effects of the increasing use of pitocin, a synthetic hormone used to induce or stimulate labor.

When I began attending homebirths it became clear to me. Many of the interventions in childbirth are unnecessary.  Women are equipped to give birth. My oldest daughter has given birth five times without medication or intervention.

At the same time I will admit that intervention is sometimes necessary. After beginning labor at home, my second daughter went to the hospital and needed intervention to assist the delivery of a healthy baby. But first she learned ways to support a natural birth and asked questions of her health provider.

When do we need intervention? It is a question that we should be asking when 22 vaccines are recommended for children within the first 15 months of life. What is the risk of getting the disease? Could this vaccine be deferred? How serious is the disease? What are the side effects and risks posed by the vaccine? Is there a family history of vaccine reactions or allergies?

Like antibiotics, I believe the day is coming when the medical field will acknowledge that we are giving too many vaccines.   But before that   happens parents and voters will have to respond to the huge push by lawmakers (funded by pharmaceutical companies)  to make all these    vaccines mandatory. California is making news that is unsettling. Read about the doctor who is under review for giving a vaccine exemption. Click here.

With time I have learned to trust the body and do the practical things. It is important to evaluate diet and make healthy changes. Sometimes we need to slow the pace of life and rest.

I have also learned that God has given us some tools for health in nature. I keep garlic in my kitchen. I grow herbs in my garden. I have learned about the benefits of elderberries and the cheerful calendula flower.

Our diet has improved over the years, and I am a minimalist when it comes to medication.

calendula-flowers

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Pregnant Creation: We Have Much to Anticipate!

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

Romans 8: 19 ESV

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting.
Romans 8: 19-25 The Message

This statement by the apostle Paul is both striking and encouraging. And it fits the time we are living in.

Over the summer I have been studying the epistle of 1 Peter.   Peter      describes Christians as sojourners and provides instruction for how we are to live. This fall our Pastor will be teaching from Romans and my precept Bible study is on the book of Romans. I am excited to be spending time learning from Paul the essentials of faith in a culture that is    hostile.

We need grounding from the Word of God and guidance from the Holy Spirit. Then we can shine the light of truth, pointing to Jesus.

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Scenes from the Keweenaw Peninsula

We just returned from a trip to the Keweenaw peninsula of northern Michigan. Calumet (the town where my father grew up) is now a part of the Keweenaw National Historic Park.

Copper World is on the main street of Calumet. The shop still sells my novel.

Copper World

The Rosetta Cafe is a favorite stop for great soup at lunch time–and good coffee all the time.

Cafe Rosetta

Lake Superior is not far from Calumet.

U.P. 7:2015_4728

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Fear, Hype and the Zika Virus

If you look up fear in a Bible concordance you will find hundreds of     entries. Mentions of fear can be divided into two categories: things we should not fear and the instruction to fear God.

Recently the zika virus has been in the news. Photos of babies born with microcephaly are being shown on TV and social media. Pregnant women are being urged to avoid mosquito bites.

It is helpful to get a little perspective on microcephaly. Many people are unaware but the cytomegalovirus has been linked to microcephaly for decades. Because of my nursing knowledge I looked for recent articles about cytomegalovirus. This article was published in February of this year. You can read the complete article here.

In the US, about 1% of the 4 million babies born every year are infected with CMV, per the Congenital CMV Disease Research Clinic and Registry at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. While most of them—about 90%—won’t show any symptoms, the rest may have at least one of a variety of abnormalities, including hearing loss and microcephaly. That’s around 4,000 affected babies.

For perspective, only 17 of the roughly 400 microcephaly cases confirmed by Brazilian health officials so far have conclusively tested positive for Zika infection, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization.

So what about all the media attention on zika and mosquitoes?

zika and mosquitoes

It makes sense to use mosquito repellent and to get rid of standing water around our homes. But we don’t need to live in fear. We still do not have a complete understanding of the zika virus and its role in birth defects. An article in the Tech Times suggests that the outbreak of microcephaly in Brazil could have been caused by the use of a neurotoxic pesticide that got into the water supply. Read the article here.

Suggestions are being made in the media that microcephaly is a reason to support late term abortion.

We live at a time when we value individual autonomy and complete control over the events in our life. The truth is that we don’t have absolute control. The Bible gives guidance for sanitary and dietary measures that support health. At the same time it teaches us that we don’t have absolute control.

We should be informed and wise in the actions we choose.   For the     Christian, security is found in God. We fear and trust God. If we are touched by disease or crisis, God will help us.

Here are the words of Isaiah:

Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold your God will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind will be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

Isaiah 35: 4-6

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World Breastfeeding Week and Learning from History

This week is World Breastfeeding Week. Since 1992 the benefits of breastfeeding, for women and their infants, have been promoted during the first week of August. I admit that I was fortunate. My mother breastfed all of her babies, even though formula feeding had become popular by the 1950s. So, I was on track to breastfeed my babies, too.

In the June 12, 2016 issue of the Wall Street Journal, an obituary for one of the founding members of the La Leche League appeared. Here is a quote from Mary White’s obituary.

In the 1950s, breastfeeding was widely considered backward and unsanitary. Around 80% of U.S. mothers chose formula instead, according to the league. Views gradually changed as researchers piled up evidence of the health benefits of natural feeding. As of 2012, about 80% of mothers were at least attempting to breastfeed, according to the latest government     survey results.

I am thankful that my mother persisted in breastfeeding, even though she was discouraged in doing so by hospital staff. I am thankful for Mary White, and the six other women that joined her, in forming the La Leche League.

The women pressed forward, learning and supporting each other. They were persistent when the medical field did not realize the benefits of breast milk. Eventually Mary White helped write The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

Mother Rose Nursing Her Child

As a nurse I can attest to the challenge it has been to recover from the trend of offering formula to infants.   Marketing and financial gain is    involved.

In the years 1929 to 1932, formula companies were limited to advertising their product to doctors. A doctor needed to have a medical reason to substitute formula for breastfeeding.    After 1932 advertising to          consumers was permitted. The market grew and breastfeeding declined.

Before long formula companies were stocking hospitals with gift packs containing sample formula. According to an article in the American     Journal of Diseases in Children(1991) the U.S. formula industry had      developed into a $1.6 billion market.   According to data collected by the  Centers for Disease Control only 33.5% of babies born in 2007 were      exclusively breast-fed for the first three months of life.

We have had to relearn trust in a woman’s body. We are still learning about the negative effects on breastfeeding caused by interventions in childbirth.  Epidural anesthesia and cesarean section may have an         impact.

Breastfeeding
engraving courtesy of wellcome images via creative commons

Women need support and guidance in the days following birth. Here are some guidelines for successful breastfeeding:

  1. Placing the baby skin to skin with mom in the first hour after birth is helpful in getting breastfeeding off to a good start.
  2. Feeding the infant on demand (8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period) builds a mom’s milk supply.
  3. Positioning the baby tummy to tummy with mom, facing the breast, allows the baby to achieve a good latch on the breast.
  4. Good nutrition, plenty of oral fluids and adequate rest support a woman’s milk supply.
  5. Encouragement and support from family members enhances a woman’s efforts.
  6. When difficulties arise a lactation consultant can help.

Medical practice can never be static. It is both a science and an art. In health care, our medical system needs to assess current practice, change where necessary and continue to do research. Economic gain should never be the driving force of medical advice.

Photo by Carin Araujo: courtesy of free images.com
Photo by Carin Araujo: courtesy of free images.com

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