Esteeming Women and the Family

On Sunday and Wednesday evenings the World Prayer Network meets on the internet. Prayers are raised for concerns around the world.

This past Sunday prayers were offered in support of the 34 nations that have signed the Geneva Consensus Declaration. It was encouraging to learn about this document written in support of women’s health and the family unit.

Shannon Wixom lists the four pillars of the Geneva Consensus Declaration in an article posted on the United Families International website. She also lists the 34 nations that have signed the document.

Our numbers may be small, but our cause is just and our unity knows no bounds. Let each of us-whether individuals, organizations or nations-go forward holding steadfast to the pillars of the Geneva Consensus Declaration: concern for women’s health, protection of human life, strengthening the family as the basic unit of society, and defending the sovereignty of nations in creating their own life protection policies.

In 2020 the United States was a co-sponsor, along with Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia and Uganda. Sadly, in January of 2021 the United States withdrew its support.

I was surprised to learn about this. It has not been mentioned in any news story that I have come across. It encourages me to know that the health and wellbeing of women and the family unit is a high priority in 34 nations.

You can find the text of the Geneva Consensus Declaration here

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When the King George Asked All the People to Pray

Over the past few weeks, I have been reading How to Pray by Pete Greig and discussing the chapters with friends from our church. Chapter 6 focuses on intercession.

In this chapter Greig gives an example from WWII. He recounts the events of 1940 when allied troops were trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk. The Nazi troops were advancing toward them.

It was a desperate situation.

King George addressed the nation and asked people to go to church on Sunday, to pray for deliverance. As a result three amazing things happened. Citizens who possessed any size of boat prepared to make trips across the English Channel to rescue the soldiers—hundreds of boats assembled. The weather, clouds and storms, helped conceal their rescue mission and prevented an attack from the air. And for an unknown reason Hitler halted his ground troops. The soldiers were rescued.

We face a great challenge in our country with the pandemic and political strife. In the discussion of intercession, Grieg titles one section–Get informed: Engaging with the Facts.

With so much censorship taking place it is a challenge to get to the facts.

We have fear of covid, pressure to get vaccinated and cases of vaccine injury. There are protests over the vaccine mandate. Nurses, EMTs, pilots, firefighters and police are choosing to leave their jobs when their religious exemption is denied. 

Next week, November 8 to 11, truckers will strike, protesting the mandate.

My heart goes out to the vaccine injured who have been pretty much abandoned by our health care system. Recently a conference was held in Washington D.C. with vaccine injured people, Senator Ron Johnson and Dr. Peter Doshi. A young woman who was in a vaccine trial explained how her data was removed from the trial when she developed neurologic systems. A teenage girl was in the Pfizer trials and she in now in a wheelchair and has a feeding tube. A Pilot explained his symptoms and what happened when he was piloting a plane. A surgeon told his story. 

In order to have a deeper understanding of the vaccine issue I have been tuning into theHighWire.com. Del Bigtree was once part of the team that directed the medical talk show, The Doctors. He now has a team of lawyers and a medical journalist doing a deep dive into research. He has interviewed doctors and scientists who are raising questions. You can view the conference I mentioned on the High Wire.

When we are informed, we can ask for God’s help and guidance. 

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday Writing Community

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

A Rainy Afternoon at the Post Office

It is a complicated time in our country. I want to be gracious and patient, but . . .

In the middle of the afternoon on a rainy Wednesday, I went to the post office. I expected few people would be there and my errand would be quick, but there was a long line. Just one postal clerk at the counter.

The postal clerk and the man at the desk were in a discussion about the envelope he had chosen. She asked him to fill out a different one, while she looked over what he was doing and we waited. Ten minutes later the same detailed procedure took place with the next customer.

The manager came out from a back room and asked the next in line if he was just mailing packages. The man said, “yes.”

The manager said, “Come with me.” He led the man into the back room. The customer never reappeared. After a while, the manager led another customer away. He never reappeared. My imagination began to take over. Was there a back exit to the post office.? Maybe I read too many murder mysteries.

Meanwhile, the two men behind me began a discussion of supply chains, the southern border, inflation and gas prices. To be honest I chimed in at one point. Was it incompetence or by plan that we are heading toward a crisis? The two men held differing points of view.

I was relieved when it was my turn at the counter. 

There are many complicated issues in our country. I am concerned about the mandate for the covid vaccine—especially for health care workers. Consider this. If you were in the hospital which nurse would you prefer to have for your care?

  1. The vaccinated nurse who could be infected with mild symptoms and able to transmit the virus.
  2.  The unvaccinated nurse who has had covid and has robust immunity.
  3. The unvaccinated nurse who is being tested weekly for the virus.

We live in a time when critical thinking is important. We need to be in prayer, seeking God’s guidance and help. I surely need God’s help to be gracious and patient. I need His help in decisions.

Why I am Resisting, in Pursuit of Health

The leaves are changing color, flames of red and gold.

The fall roses are still blooming in northern Michigan. God has inscribed color and beauty on earth.

The design of the earth and its seasons, the design of all creatures, the design of the human body comes from God, our creator. We have an intricate immune system to confront infections and disease.

The Bible offers guidance to healthy living. Our daily diet, activity and rest can support the immune system and health. When infection and disease break through the body’s defenses, doctors and medical treatment can help heal. 

I am grateful for the tools that medicine has developed. Recently my husband underwent ablation to correct atrial fibrillation of his heart. This outpatient surgical procedure stopped the arrythmia. Modern medicine is able to assist healing in an amazing way.

We have come to depend on vaccines to prevent disease, but we are still learning about the methods used to produce them, the risks and benefits. The MMR vaccine, specifically the rubella portion, was the first to be developed following experimentation with aborted fetuses. Cooperation between medical researchers at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia and in Finland (abortion was not yet legal in the U.S., but had been legalized in Finland) took place in the late 1960s early 1970s.

Timo Vesikari describes his experience with pregnant women scheduled for abortion in this article, “From Rubella to Rotavirus and Beyond” published in Human Vaccine and Immunotherapies [June 2015; 11(06):1302-1305].

Next, in late 1966, I was incredibly lucky to meet Antti Vaheri (later Professor of Virology) who had just returned to Finland from the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia with all the latest knowledge in rubella research. Rubella virus hemagglutination had been discovered and with hemagglutination inhibition (HI) test available I was soon running a diagnostic rubella laboratory which not only provided material for research but also created real income for the Department and our group. This set a precedent for my later professional life Grants are good but it is better if the research funding can be obtained from outside . . . Under the seniors I was to do much of work: vaccinate pregnant women prescreened to be seronegative for rubella and scheduled to have a legal abortion a week or two later. The plan was to isolate rubella (vaccine) virus from the products of conception and, in fact, we succeeded in doing that.

The article, Isolation of Attenuated Rubella-Vaccine from Human Products of Conception and Uterine Cervix, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1972. Seven doctors (including Timo Vesikari) participated in this study led by Dr. Antti Vaheri.

From the article: “Pregnancy was terminated in 30 cases by hysterotomy and in five cases by curettage . . . Most of the samples obtained by hysterotomy were delivered to the laboratory still surrounded by intact membranes.

It has been reported that just one line of cells from one aborted fetus was used for the vaccine. What is not reported– all the aborted fetuses used in the research leading up to vaccines. Universities who are receiving grants for medical research (tax dollars) continue to utilize baby parts for research. We are sacrificing human life on the altar of medical research.

So, there is the abortion business, but what about about tinkering with the immune system? Early development of covid-19 vaccines relied on research using fetal tissue. But this vaccine is not like any vaccine offered in the past. It does not carry a bit of the virus for the immune system to identify and attack. Instead, it programs the cells of the body to produce a spike protein. It interacts with the immune system in a new way (with unknown longterm effects). 

Doctors and scientists (Geert Vanden Bossche PhD, Dr. Peter McCullough, Dr. Zelenko) have spoken out against the use of the vaccine, claiming that we have no idea what the long-term effects will be. A recent article by Vanden Bossche, gives a different perspective on the way to treat the pandemic. 

I am concerned that the vaccine is being recommended to pregnant women. The New England Journal of Medicine published an article, indicating that the vaccine seemed to be safe even though the data listed was preliminary and incomplete. Later they posted a correction to the article. More data is needed.

The government and the media are so eager to get everyone vaccinated. We live in a climate of fear. And yet I know a number of people that have had covid and recovered. I am puzzled by the way early treatment is being blocked.

Pharmacies won’t fill prescriptions for ivermectin even though it is being used successfully in other countries for early treatment. Regeneron has shown success but the government is limiting access to it. Only lately has the benefit of vitamin D3 been recognized although a study was done in 2020. A more recent study confirming the benefit has been released.

Three years ago lab work showed that I had an insufficient level of vitamin D. In blood work it is called vitamin D, 25-OH. A sufficient level is 30 to 100 ng/ml. After taking daily vitamin D3 supplements for three years my level has improved to 49. The conclusion of the recent study suggests a level of 50 ng/ml completely reduces the risk of death. 

Another article, Twenty Steps to End the Madness, was published by the Brownstone Institute.

A doctor in Orange County, California gives an assessment of the vaccine and the variants emerging. Because of censorship his comments are recorded on bitCHUTE instead of YouTube.

I am deeply saddened by censorship and the division that is taking place between people who have chosen vaccination and those that are pursuing health by strengthening their immune system, planning early treatment if they should get sick.

Over the years, I have read reflections on WWII. I have read a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It has made me think about Germany. Bonhoeffer raised an alarm. How many listened to him? Were people afraid? Did they simply want normal life to continue? Was the evil too great for them to comprehend?

Additional resources that look at the vaccine industry: A former nurse writes about vaccines and Stanley Plotkin (lead researcher at the Wistar Institute). The High Wire provides current information about vaccines, promoting informed consent.

We are at a significant place in time. We need God’s help. 

Updated: The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines do not contain fetal cells but early research and design of the vaccines used a fetal cell line (HEK293T).

Additional resource, published in News Medical Life Sciences: Research suggests Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine reprograms innate immune responses

The Art of Disagreeing

When my daughter was in grade school, she had a class that involved critical thinking. She was encouraged to think through problems. When controversies occur, we need this kind of skill.

As a parent I have tried set an example of working through the issues our family has faced. It is important to be educated, to do a little research and make decisions based on facts. And it is important to pray for wisdom.

There has been disagreement about the vaccine—among medical people, scientists, family and friends. It is experimental.

I like to be educated, finding as much information as possible. What are the risks/benefits of getting the covid vaccine? Is it different for particular age groups? What should a parent do?

Within our extended family the adults have made differing decisions. That is okay. We don’t have all the answers, we are still learning. It is time to respect each person’s decision regarding the way they choose to support their personal health.

Parents know their child’s health history best and should make the decision about their children.

It is human nature to think our opinion is the right one. In the Bible, the disciples had disagreements that they worked through. We can listen to people that disagree with us, respond with respect and gentleness. Ask questions. Pursue truth. Know when to let go. The Bible has good instruction for us.

[Remind them] to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

Titus 3:2

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

Proverbs 15:4

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast to what is good.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-21

Linking this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt today is: DISAGREE

Hope for Recovery

As the pandemic recedes, the tide going out slowly, I hope for recovery in many areas of life.

Renewed care and compassion for the elderly. The last eight months of my mother’s life were increasingly isolated due to pandemic restrictions. I am glad that she knew Jesus as her Savior.

A return to good, basic education for children—reading, writing, mathematics, science, art and music. I am sad that many children in our large cities have only had on-line learning which is so difficult for young children. The children are our greatest treasure.

A revived fertility rate and strength in the family unit. The fertility rate in the United States (and other countries) has dropped below replacement level. Many complex factors are involved. I hope for a renewed value of children, joy in family.

Renewed support for new mothers in the weeks after giving birth. I remember caring for women in the post partum unit of the hospital, my role as a mentor mom for MOPS, and the years I led discussion for mothers participating in Baby & Me at our church. These avenues of support dwindled during the past year. Women benefit from the support of other women. If you are a new mom, where have you found support?

I can hope and pray for these things, but ultimately my hope is in the Lord.

This post is linked with Kate’s Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt for today is: RECOVERY

Herbs in the Garden: Nourishment and Remedies

Springtime brings warmer weather, more sunshine, blossoms on the trees and the beginning of a parade of flowers. One of my favorite activities is planting seeds and watching them germinate. Only God can package life in a tiny seed!

A couple years ago I planted nettle seeds—a herb that I was familiar with as a tea. To my delight, little nettle plants sprouted and the plants have come back each year. (I keep them in a pot in a secluded location. The leaves and stems have little hairs that sting when touched; I wear gloves harvesting.)

Stinging Nettle

Susun Weed writes in her book, Herbal for the Childbearing Year*:

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

I have enjoyed nettle tea and have added nettle to soups. When the leaves are cooked the sting is gone. In an old Swedish cook book, I found a recipe for nettle soup.

I have planted seeds for calendula flowers outside and they have begun to sprout. Calendula is a favorite herb in my garden.

The book, Essential Herbs: Treat Yourself Naturally with Herbs and Homemade Remedies** has this note about calendula flowers:

Traditionally said to lift the spirits and encourage cheerful ness, calendula is one of the most popular and versatile medicinal herbs in current use. It is widely available in commercial calendula ointments and creams and is also used internally . . .  

Calendula flower

 I have made myself calendula tea. I have used the tea as a mouthwash for gum irritations and it has brought healing. I have also made calendula salve for skin irritations.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday Writing Community . Also sharing with the Hearth and Soul link-up and Sue’s image-in-ing and Tuesday with a Twist and Inspire Me Monday .

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

**J. Behrens, S. Curtis, L. Green, P. Ody, D. Vilinac, Essential Herbs, New York : DK Publishing, 2020 p. 60

A Little Return to Normalcy

My husband and I will attend a football game at the high school tonight. Each marching band member is permitted two guests at the game. Our grandson and granddaughter will be playing trumpet and flute. It is a bit of a return to normal.

The past year has been hard on children and teens. I am glad my daughter chose to home school the younger children, instead of trying remote learning. 

I had a brief introduction to remote learning during spring break. My daughter signed up the three youngest children for a zoom class on geology. She was unavailable to monitor it, so I agreed to help. The teacher had a great lesson plan and I had the worksheets for the children. There was a fairly wide span of ages participating. As the class proceeded children had questions and comments like “I have a pretty rock. Can I show it to you?” 

The teacher graciously said, “You can take a picture and send it to me after class.”

The child responded, “Oh no, I will go outside and get it for you now.”

A parent jumped in with, “The children need to know which rock you are talking about now.”

As we listened and watched the screen, I tried to steer my three children with the worksheets we were filling in, attempting to get the names of the rocks correctly. I sighed with relief when the 45-minute class was done. 

The teens had remote learning until the beginning of the new year—so many hours on computer screens. After a couple months of part-time in person, they are finally going to school full-time in person. 

In the fall, my hope is that all children will be permitted to go back to school full-time. Without a vaccine mandate to attend. The vaccine is experimental and we don’t know the long-term consequences. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? When will we have enough data? I read an article about the changes some women are seeing in their menstrual cycles following vaccination. 

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Springtime

The First Weeks with a Newborn Infant: 10 Recommendations

Childbirth can be exhausting. There are ways to prepare for this time period and ways to reduce stress during the first few weeks after giving birth.

In the final weeks of pregnancy stock up on basic household needs and staple items (like we have been doing through the pandemic). During the first few weeks after childbirth shopping may be difficult to squeeze in. You may want to have a supply of paper plates to simplify mealtime clean-up.

The first two days after giving birth should be spent resting and getting to know the baby. It is important to sleep and recuperate. Women who do not get adequate sleep these first two days may develop a sleep hunger that persists.

When you go home with your newborn, be aware that an infant has no concept of night and day. One of your first tasks as a parent is to teach your baby that daytime is for socializing and nighttime is for sleeping. You can get this message across by keeping lights dimmed and avoiding any interaction other than feeding or soothing at night. This practice will help your baby have his longest sleeping stretch at night

In order to feel good, it is important to eat balanced meals, but when you are home meal preparation time is limited with the new tasks of caring for an infant. In the final weeks of pregnancy plan ahead. Whenever possible cook double amounts and freeze extra for meals later. Mornings are usually the best time to organize the evening meal.

Recognize that time for household chores will be limited after the baby is born and begin to organize priorities. Which household tasks are most important to you? How long do they take and how often do they need to be done? By developing some priorities, you will avoid being overwhelmed. Low priority items can be left for the late afternoon when an infant may have a fussy period.

If you have a two-level home be sure to have a changing table and nursery supplies on the first level. Climbing should be minimized at first. Following a cesarean section, stairs should be avoided for two weeks. In that case, have all of your living needs on one level, temporarily. 

Observe your baby and get to know his/her personality. What is her favorite sleeping position? What techniques are most soothing: rocking, being snuggly wrapped, sucking, music? Every baby is an individual and has preferences. As you get to know your infant and begin to read his cues, parenting will become easier and increasingly satisfying.

As your baby grows include her in your morning activities. Place the infant seat in the room where you are working. An alert baby enjoys companionship.

Communicate with your partner specific ways to be helpful. Talk about expectations that you have of each other. How do you see each other’s roles?

Keep healthy snacks available. Fresh fruit, carrots, celery, yogurt, cheese and granola bars provide a quick nutritious boost.

Photo courtesy of Carlo Navarro on Unsplash.

This post is shared with #Alittlebitofeverything Link-up

Birth During the Pandemic

Yesterday I listened to a couple take about their birth experience. They had planned to have a home birth. Having had the experience of assisting at home births, I thought their choice was good—especially during the pandemic.

Unfortunately, the mom needed to be transferred to the hospital after many hours of labor. Soon after arriving she had a cesarean section. I was pleased to hear that they placed the baby on her chest, skin to skin in the operating room—a soothing and a bonding moment for mom and baby.

The baby was then taken to the neonatal intensive care unit due to a low blood sugar. The mom was tested for covid and although she had no symptoms, she tested positive. As a result, neither she nor or husband was allowed to go into the nursery. They were separated from their newborn for ten days.

It saddens me to hear how covid has affected procedures in hospital birth care. The couple has returned home with their baby. They are redeeming time together, bonding with their baby.

So many things are more difficult during this time. My heart goes out to new mothers who are recovering from the emotional experience of birth. How did it feel to be attached to monitors and intravenous lines with care givers coming in with masks and face shields? Did they have a support person with them throughout labor? As they think about the birth experience, they are in a process of physical recovery.

Recently I found a file with notes that I had shared with my Lamaze classes.

The physical changes that occur in a woman’s body in the days and weeks following birth are enormous. The uterus which has grown to a two-pound sac at the time of birth will reduce down to a two-ounce muscle in six weeks (hence the after-birth pains).

Vaginal drainage (lochia), which lasts about two weeks, marks the healing process of the uterine lining.

During pregnancy a woman’s blood volume has gradually increased, supporting the growing baby. In the first week after birth, approximately five pounds of excess fluid are lost through urine and sweat.

Following birth there are major hormonal shifts. Estrogen and progesterone drop off markedly and prolactin levels peak. The body prepares for breast milk production. All of this happens after the exhausting event of labor!

In a future post I will share ways to prepare for the recovery period following childbirth.

Note: photo is courtesy of T. Adriaenssen

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: REDEEM