Carol is a follower of Jesus and a wife, mom & grandma. She worked for many years as a childbirth nurse and prenatal educator. She recently retired from clinical work. She has written articles for nursing journals and devotionals. Her novel, Aliisa's Letter, was published in 2010 and she is currently working on another project.
It was good to hear President Obama quote from Ezekiel 11:19 during the memorial service for the slain Dallas police officers. He was expressing the hope that the people of this country can come together and put aside past hurts and prejudice to resolve our problems. I share this hope. It is helpful to look at the larger context for this verse.
The prophet Ezekiel is speaking to Israel.
Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And when they come there, they will remove from it all the detestable things and all its abominations. Ezekiel 11:17-18
God is our redeemer and healer. We need to turn to God for help. We cannot solve the problems of this age on our own.
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds on their own heads, declares the Lord God. Ezekiel 11: 19-21
Repentance. We need repentance. We need to see where we have strayed from God’s precepts and direction for living. We are self-centered by nature, yet God asks us to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is easy to carry a grudge, but Jesus instructs us to forgive as we have been forgiven. Life is a precious gift given by God—do we honor all life in word and deed? It has to begin within the Church. It has to begin with me.
Search me and try me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:16
Show me my prejudice and my lack of love. Forgive my sins, and tenderize my heart towards the hurting. Be at work in my life so that I can be an agent of healing.
I followed my granddaughter along a rocky path, as waves pounded the shore of Lake Superior. A light wind brushed against my face. The leaves on the birch trees rustled gently.
There they were, bluebells, growing in a crack between the rocks. God created the majesty of Lake Superior and the delicate beauty of the blue flowers—setting them side by side.
I was so blessed to spend time at a favorite park with the grandchildren—exploring the rugged coast of this great lake. It was time to pause and take in God’s creative power. It was a break from the news of sad and violent events taking place in our country and throughout the world.
The Psalms come to mind and the beautiful rhythm of faith displayed in the words of the Psalms. We read heart wrenching prayers and confessions. We are instructed to spend time in the Word. Still, the Psalmist takes time to pause and observe God’s power and sovereignty. He sees God’s majesty in nature giving him the glory.
The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; The Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Your throne was established long ago; You are from all eternity.
The seas have lifted up, O Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; The seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea— the Lord on high is mighty.
Your statutes stand firm; Holiness adorns your house For endless days, O Lord.
This letter was first published on the editorial page of the Daily Herald on July 3. I was sorting through my thoughts about the Supreme Court decision when I wrote this:
Is it a victory for women? The Supreme Court overturned a Texas law that would have required safety regulations for abortion clinics.
Two years ago Joan Rivers was in an outpatient surgical clinic that did have safety regulations that were violated, and she died. The outcry was huge, and rightly so. The director of the clinic stepped down and a large settlement was made with River’s family.
What happens when an abortion clinic—which is an outpatient surgical clinic— doesn’t have to meet safety standards? What happens when a woman is injured or dies at this clinic?
Abortion providers aren’t concerned. They are profiting from women in difficult circumstances. Poor women or desperate women are more likely to seek care at a Planned Parenthood clinic. Are we comfortable with the idea that these women deserve less?
I have to wonder if Justices Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayer would feel comfortable having a surgical procedure in a clinic that is unregulated and unsafe. Justice Ginsburg wrote in her opinion that abortion is safer than childbirth. That is a blanket generalization. I have been a childbirth nurse for more than 30 years, and I disagree.
Childbirth ranges from a normal physiologic birth (which is safer than abortion) to high-risk pregnancies and births that require medical intervention. I think I can assume that Justice Ginsburg has never seen the tools that are used in a surgical abortion. Nor is she aware of the medications that may be involved.
It is a sad day for women. Five Justices struck down a Texas law that established common sense safety practices for abortion clinics.
Berries have always been valued in my family as a special treat. When I was a kid it was mainly strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. There are so many more. I am developing an appreciation for gooseberries, elderberries and currants.
The latter three grow well in my backyard. Gooseberries, elderberries and currants don’t seem to mind our clay soil—although I have worked at enriching it with peat and in the fall add a layer of dried grass or shredded leaves. These berry bushes don’t need much care, just need to be picked.
The gooseberries are ripening. My two-year-old grandson was fascinated with the little green globe. He held one in his hand turning it around and gazing at the stripes with wonder. So much to wonder at in nature. God has created so much for us to enjoy!
Have you ever tasted a gooseberry? My grandson took a tentative little bite. It is rather sour but good for jam and pie.
Two cookbooks are helpful in providing directions for gooseberry jam: Cooking with Wild Berries and Fruits by Teresa Marrone and Stocking Up from Rodale Press. According to Teresa Marrone’s book, green gooseberries (not quite ripe) contain enough pectin to make a simple jam without added pectin.
The first step is to cook the gooseberries with a little water (2 or 3 Tablespoons of water per cup of berries). Bring the berries to a boil and then simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Mash the berries with a potato masher. Next add the sugar (or honey) gradually—approximately ½ cup to ¾ cup per cup of berries. I tend to taste the mixture several times as I continue to add the sweetener. A combination of sugar & honey works also. I like a tart jam. When the sugar is well mixed in, bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. When I am using honey as a sweetener I add additional pectin–homemade pectin–in the last minute of cooking. (BTW – If you add a pat of butter to the boiling fruit, it won’t spit at you.)
The final step is to ladle into sterile jars and process in a hot water bath. I process half-pint jars for 10 minutes. Gooseberry jam has an interesting color and rich flavor.
Gooseberries are good in pie also. I freeze some of the gooseberries for apple/gooseberry pies.
Marrone, Teresa, Cooking with Wild Berries and Fruits, Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications, Inc. 2009 p. 70
What is better than singing praise to God with 7,200 women? The only thing I can think of, is praising God with all of the redeemed in heaven. It was so good to be at the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference last week. Women from all 50 states and 38 countries were in attendance.
Each of the speakers focused on a portion of 1 Peter. Over the course of three days they taught all the way through this epistle. Some of the terms that come up in this book are: sojourners, exiles, royal priesthood, God’s people. One of the threads running through the book is suffering and persecution. The other is a living hope!
Peter begins his letter with these encouraging words:
According to God’s great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1: 3-5
God keeps us in his sight! I am memorizing these verses.
Throughout each day Keith and Krysten Getty led us in worship. They introduced songs that are on their newly released CD, Facing a Task Unfinished. One of my favorite songs is, He Will Hold Me Fast. God is faithful and will keep His people in his care.
Jen Wilkin’s message touched a sweet spot. As Christians we are called to give the message of God’s love that offers new life. She compared our Christian role to that of midwife and lactation consultant. Our desire is to nurture growth in new believers.
Peter has instruction for women. And it includes the word submission. We may have trouble with this word, but the truth is that God gives us guidance for relationships. God provides order for healthy relationships. I was a little slow in learning this lesson. My husband and I have a good relationship, but it could have been better sooner. We disagree and argue from time to time but we communicate better when I show him respect.
For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Peter 3: 5-6
At the conference I heard that last phrase and paused. Do not fear anything that is frightening. God invites us to trust him completely. I do not have to fear the outcome of the current election—but I will participate in the process as a citizen of this country.
The first epistle of Peter applies to the current time. I encourage you to read through 1 Peter. You can also listen to the messages given at the conference. The sessions are available on-line. Click here.
Raquela Levy’s family had lived in Palestine for nine generations. Did you know that Palestine, referring to Israel, is a name derived from Philistine? Historically the Philistines were enemies of Israel. Raquela was a nurse midwife during the final years of British rule in Palestine.
Ruth Gruber spent nine months with Raquela, gathering information and insights into the life of this remarkable woman. The resulting biography is a story of the babies born to holocaust survivors—and the birth of the nation of Israel. Raquela was sent to refugee camps as a midwife to minister to women that were refused entry into Palestine.
The vivid detail describes life in Israel during the war years: Israel’s War of Independence (1948), Six-Day War (1967) and Arab-Israeli War (1973). The book describes events through the experiences of Raquela and her family.
I could picture Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, the scene of Raquela’s developing romance with Dr. Brzezinski. The description of the delivery room at the Hadassah Hospital reminded me my first experiences as a labor & delivery nurse.
I could feel the sadness when Mount Scopus was lost to the Arabs of Jordan. The hospital was lost, and Israel had to build a new medical center.
Perhaps the most moving was the description of the ships filled with Jewish immigrants fleeing Europe. They were refused entry to Palestine by the British. One of the refugee camps that Raquela served at was on the Island of Cyprus.
I have a much better understanding of Israel’s modern history from reading this book. The book engaged me—it was hard to put it down.
* Ruth Gruber, Raquela: A Woman of Israel, New York; Open Road Integrated Media. 1978.
Eberhard Arnold (1883 – 1935) wrote Innerland: A Guide into the Heart of the Gospel. In the following quote he was commenting on life in Germany in the years leading up to WWII. It speaks to the current time also.
The great agitation in the world of today makes it more and more urgent to gain inner strength in those quiet encounters with Christ that make it possible for us to remain under his rule and authority. Situated as we are in the midst of a world that is so terribly unpeaceful, we need constant nourishment for our inner life. In short, if we want to avoid suffering inward shipwreck in the storm of public opinion and chaos, then our hidden inner being needs daily the quiet haven of communion with God.
We need the quiet haven of communion with God today! We also need to know His Word. The Bible is God’s way of speaking to us.
The Apostle Peter gives us sound instruction in his epistle.
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they may accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2: 11-12
But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3: 15
We are blessed when we spend time in God’s Word. We gain a little bit more of His perspective. We are reminded of the faithful people of God that have gone before us. The first epistle of Peter is a good book to meditate on. I am finding Dee Brestin’s study guide helpful. The title is A Woman’s Journey Through 1 Peter.
The destruction of data by the CDC is a huge news story but the major networks on TV are not covering it. I learned about the documentary, VAXXED on social media. I read that the Huffington Post censored an article about the movie. I wanted to see it myself. I’m glad that it is at a theater in Chicago for a week. Not the suburbs but in the city.
My husband doesn’t like to drive in the city, but he was a peach and drove me to the one theater showing VAXXED. We took the expressway into Chicago, but we also had a long drive on Diversey Pkwy. The traffic was bumper to bumper.
The movie is not anti-vaccine. Medical researchers and parents, like me, have observed significant side effects from vaccines. Parents have raised questions and made a connection between a vaccine and a changed health status. The movie looks at the research that was done in response—and the data that was destroyed by the CDC. The movie is about vaccine safety.
As I watched the movie, events in my life as a parent resurfaced. I listened as a parent talked about multiple doses of antibiotics that her son received before getting the MMR at 15 months of age. As she described the change in her son and their family, I recalled the pattern I had seen in my toddler. I had searched for answers.
My daughter had multiple doses of antibiotic followed by the MMR at 15 months. Soon after she had significant abdominal symptoms, bloating and diarrhea. Her language development came to a standstill, and she seemed to be in pain. The pediatrician prescribed a medication to calm her gut, but it made her worse.
So I had a consultation with a pediatric gastroenterologist. He listened to my observations and then asked me questions about my parenting. He suggested that I should let him admit her to the hospital so he could observe her. He said I should stay at home while she was in the hospital. I cried on the way home from that consultation.
Instead my husband and I took her to a different gastroenterologist. He did an intestinal biopsy and mentioned some inflammation, but no diagnosis. He had no advice or treatment.
It is interesting that parents called Dr. Wakefield, a gastroenterologist, with stories similar to mine. Dr. Wakefield, along with other doctors, began a study that led him to question whether there was a link between the MMR vaccine, the gastrointestinal symptoms and behavior changes.
I kept a journal with my observations related to the foods my daughter was eating. We went to an alternative medicine doctor and received help. I worked on strict dietary changes that made a difference. I feel very blessed that dietary measures, homeopathic medicine and nutritional support allowed my daughter to regain her health.
The research done by the CDC (in 2001 to 2004) showed an increase risk of autism when the MMR was given to black boys in the time frame 12 to 18 months. Children who had received the vaccine after 36 months had less risk. But the research team decided to destroy this data. Only Dr. Thompson kept a record of the study. His records were forwarded to Congress in 2015, but nothing has been done.
The film pointed out the limited testing that is done prior to approving vaccines. Little is known about the safety of giving multiple vaccines at one time. Our children are participating in an experiment that has consequences for their long term health.
The film recommends contacting our congressmen in the House of Representatives and asking that they:
The topic of vaccines is controversial. I have read through some of the research and followed the issue. My daughter had varying degrees of reaction to the vaccines she received as a child, and after one final vaccine developed fibromyalgia. From my perspective, there is good reason to question the number of vaccines that we are giving children and the timing of essential vaccines.
Attempts have been made to block a documentary on the subject. This film, VAXXED: From Cover-up to Catastrophe is going to be shown in Chicago at the Century Centre Cinema, May 27 to June 2. My husband and I will go to see it the first day. (stay tuned for my review)
In the past fifteen years the CDC has continued to add vaccines to the childhood schedule. It seems that the goal is to replace the child’s immune system with a growing list of pharmaceutical agents.
Japan and Finland do NOT give the chicken pox vaccine routinely. In Japan the chicken pox vaccine, mumps vaccine, hepatitis B vaccine and flu vaccine are voluntary. In addition Japan gives the measles vaccine alone—not in the combined MMR.
My personal experience as a mom has led me to question both the MMR and the hepatitis B vaccine. I wrote about the decline in my twin’s health following the MMR vaccine. If I had it to do over I would have at least delayed the MMR vaccine. No, I would have refused it. This vaccine is developed from aborted fetal cells.
It is reasonable to expect our government to take an interest in the wellbeing of children. The movie trailer for VAXXED points to destruction of data and possible corruption in the CDC. This needs to be investigated.
What can we do to insure vaccine safety? It doesn’t make sense to go down a path of more and more vaccines without carefully checking out claims of corruption. Sometimes we feel powerless against the status quo, but we can contact our congressman in the House of Representatives to press for an investigation. A phone call, letter or e-mail has an impact. What is more important than the health of children?
Update: VAXXED is being shown in Washington D.C. 5/25 – 26. Urge your congressman to attend!
Lily of the valley is blooming in my backyard. I saw the delicate bell shaped flowers when I returned from a visit with my mother. She was placed in a nursing home last week.
The transition to the nursing home is a huge change. New environment. New people. Changing shifts for caregivers. Physical therapy. Occupational therapy. It is not surprising that she is exhausted.
On Sunday morning I wheeled her to the hymn sing taking place in the activity room. We joined a circle of wheel chairs. Favorite hymns were played on the sound system and the words to the lyrics appeared on a large screen. At first Mom was nodding off.
I took her hand and clasped it in mine. Her hand was cool and soft. Gradually she returned the clasp. She looked up and began to softly song the words to hymns that she remembered. One of the hymns was “The Lily of the Valley” by Charles W. Fry (1881).
I have found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me, He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul; The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole. In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay; He tells me every care on Him to roll.
He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star, He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.
I have a vase filled with stems of lily of the valley on my kitchen table. This song continues to play in my heart as I pray for Mom.
These verses in Revelation give hope and comfort. Jesus is the Bright and Morning Star.
Behold, I am coming soon . . . I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the root and offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star. Revelation 22: 12a, 16