Detroit, the Family and Reflections on Racism

My first job as a graduate nurse was in a hospital in downtown Detroit. I worked in a labor/delivery unit with a diverse group of patients. Some women had taken Lamaze classes and some were unwed teenagers. We had a pregnant woman, victim of a gunshot, who was partially paralyzed. The unit had on average 500 births per month at that time.

The head nurse on the dayshift was a black woman. The head nurse on the evening shift was a black woman. Many of the staff were black, and I had a big learning curve.

Most nurses on the unit were experienced, but I was in my first year of practice. I also found an ethnic difference between myself and the nurses that had grown up in a black community. Sometimes I misunderstood them, and sometimes they misunderstood me. But I don’t think this was racism.

I believe that we must listen to others and try to understand our differences. We need to have respect for all people. We can learn this in our families.

I am third generation Finnish. My family held onto Finnish traditions and language (I learned some basic phrases and listened to Finnish pastors as a translator spoke in English). We kept ties with the Finnish community in Upper Michigan where my grandfathers had worked in the copper mines.

 I grew up in a home where my parents instilled a love of learning, took us to libraries and encouraged us to read the Bible.

My family, like all families, has flaws. Yet the family is the design that God put in place for the flourishing of society. My family provided a foundation for me to withstand the challenges of life in a broken world.

The laws of our country need to support the nuclear family. A child’s best advocate is his mother and father. The family is the primary place for learning life skills. Welfare laws inadvertently discouraged the formation of nuclear families. Did this have a disproportionate effect on the black community? 

Planned Parenthood has placed its clinics in poor and black communities. By providing birth control and then subsequently abortions, did these clinics promote promiscuity in the black community? A negative effect on family formation?

It is important to look carefully at the policies that have disadvantaged the black community to understand institutional racism. In an editorial in the Wall Street Journal (9/11/2020) Latasha Fields writes about her opposition to programs that increase dependency on the government. She states:

By subsidizing recklessness and the growing effects of immorality these programs have subverted, undermined and unraveled the tapestry of thriving and healthy families. Ultimately the successes and failures of the black community come from the choices we make. 

We are at a turbulent moment in our country. We need to understand the roots of the unrest and violence in order to find solutions. The police are dealing with complex issues: domestic violence, aggressive resistance to arrest when they are called to a scene, mental illness. Our society has a growing number of young men with autism. 

Please join me in praying for our country.

Are We Making Progress?

Perhaps you saw it in the news. Two people from the Students for Life organization were arrested last Saturday for writing with chalk on the side walk outside of a Planned Parenthood building in Washington D.C. What did they write? Preborn Black Lives Matter.

Remember that the Mayor authorized the painting of Black Lives Matter on the street in Washington D. C. Others painted Defund the Police. 

Students for Life received a permit to be on the side walk outside of Planned Parenthood and had requested permission to write on the sidewalk. They were told to use a temporary paint. When they got there the police told them that they couldn’t paint on the side walk. So they used chalk. Two of their group were arrested and taken to a jail cell. Why were their voices shut down? 

Are we making progress in the health and wellbeing of all women and children?

 “while Black women accounted for 38 percent of reported abortions, population estimates for 2016 (like 2015) show that African Americans made up just 12 percent of the population. This news comes on the heels of deliberate efforts by the abortion lobby to market abortions among women of color as a positive.”

Planned Parenthood was started by Margaret Sanger who had ties to eugenicists. I read her biography and wrote a post comparing the passion of Margaret Sanger with the passion of Lilias Trotter.

Recently I saw an article about Dr. Mildred Jefferson who was the first black woman to graduate from Harvard in 1951. She was also the co-founder of the Right to Life organization. She made these assertions:

I would guess that the abortionists have done more to get rid of generations and cripple others than all of the years of slavery and lynchings.

There are now more abortions than live births in Washington DC, and the same is true for New York City,” 

It seems to me we should review the steps government policy has taken to “help” women in need. What are the longterm consequences? Have we made progress in the health of black lives? 

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing group.

The Changing Ways of Birth

I was born in Michigan, and so was my mother. My grandmother was born in Finland.

My grandmother gave birth to her children at home. My mother gave birth in the hospital during the obstetric practice of twilight sleep and delivery with forceps. I gave birth by cesarean section.

As a nurse I worked in labor and delivery and neonatal intensive care. Hoping to help women avoid unnecessary interventions, I taught Lamaze classes.

Finally after many years in the hospital I worked with a home birth practice alongside doctors and midwives. I learned new ways to assist a woman during labor and birth. I gained new perspectives, able to see the spiritual side of childbirth more clearly. Sometimes, while caring for a woman during labor, she asked me to pray for her. Sometimes I observed the husband praying.

Every birth is unique. Every baby is a gift of God. I have been blessed with seeing the birth of my grandchildren at home and in the hospital.

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: BORN

The Women at the Garden Tomb

The dictionary gives these definitions for patient: manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain, steadfast despite opposition, difficulty or adversity.

When Jesus was crucified certain women demonstrated steadfast devotion. I have been thinking about them.

There were also many women there, looking from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. Matthew 27:55-56

The women watched as Jesus body was placed in the tomb.

And he [Joseph of Arimathea] rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. Matthew 27:60b-61

These women persisted in their service to Jesus.

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. Matthew 28:1

The book of John gives this perspective.

Now in the place where he [Jesus] was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. John 19:41-20:1

Mary went to tell Peter and John. Then she went back to the tomb.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.”

Having said this , she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary”. She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni” (which means teacher). John 20:11-16

It is hard to be patient and faithful when we don’t understand events that are taking place. We can be inspired by the example of these women and the promises that Jesus has given us in the Bible.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: PATIENT Also Linking up with Anita’s Inspire Me Monday .

Women Who Inspire Us

Today is the final day of March, Women’s History Month. The month has been designated for noting the contributions that women have made in our country. This year celebrates 100 years since women were given the right to vote. 

We remember the suffragettes. Their accomplishment is important, but there are other women who deserve our interest and respect.

Throughout history many women have used their God given abilities and talents for the benefits of others. It is inspiring to know about them.  

Eric Metaxis wrote succinct biographies of women who used their abilities in remarkable ways. In the book, Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness, Metaxis devotes a chapter to each of these women: Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Saint Maria of Paris, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa.

The names of some of these women are familiar, others not so much. I learned new facts about each of these women. I found the chapters about Hannah More and Saint Maria of Paris to be fascinating.

The book reminds me that every age has its challenges. The unique skills and abilities of women are needed. The University of Michigan’s School of Nursing Magazine has a page dedicated to 2020 The Year of the Nurse and Midwife. The timing of this designation is amazing. Nurses are on the frontlines of the pandemic all around the world.

Nurses have had huge roles at other times. Florence Nightingale was very influential during the Crimean War, saving lives. Edith Cavell was a nurse and a heroine during World War I. I wrote about these two nurses in a previous blog post. Read the post here, along with references.

Raquela Levy provided midwife care to Jewish refugees arriving in Israel at the end of World War II. For a review of the book, Raquela: Woman of Israel, by Ruth Gruber click here.

Each of the books mentioned is a good read.

Sharing this post with Anita’s Inspire Me Monday and Tuesdays with a Twist and Classical Homemaking .

Book Review: The Third Daughter

When I scanned the cover of the newly released book, The Third Daughter, I saw that it was the story of a Russian girl in the late 1800s. It is a period of time that I am studying.

If I had read further I would have realized that Talia Carner has written about a tragic period of Jewish history. While the pogroms were taking place in Russia, Jewish men were tricking families to give their young daughters in marriage to wealthy men who lived across the ocean.

But there were no marriages. The author brings to life the horror of sex trafficking. As Carner tells the story we travel with Batya (a fourteen year old girl) from a Russian shtetl across the ocean to Argentina where she is enslaved in a brothel.

Batya is a fictional character, but the brothels were real. They were legal in Argentina and protected by the government from the 1890s to 1939. The prostitutes were owned by their pimps.

Throughout the book there is a thread of hope, and a lingering love of family roots. Batya finds courage as she seeks to reunite with her family.

As I read the book I thought about girls that are trapped in poverty, on the margins of society. Laws that allow abortion without parental consent or provide funds for abortion on demand allow these girls to be sexually abused. Weak immigration laws that allow girls to be brought into this country by coyotes or pimps leaves the door open for the trafficking of girls. The sad truth is that sex trafficking is very much a current evil.

Women Who Took Risks

Yesterday I visited the Hull House museum with my husband. I am gathering insight into Chicago during the 1890s. 

It is impressive to learn about the work that a group of young women undertook to assist the immigrant population during a period of tremendous influx. They had a vision for a settlement house.

The city was growing faster than it could accommodate the immigrants of many languages and cultures. The tenements around Hull House were overcrowded and unsanitary.

Jane Addams, Ellen Gates Starr, Julia Lathrop and others were willing to settle in an unsavory neighborhood. Did they consider the risk to themselves? Or were they filled with a passion to help make a better world?

After a couple hours at the museum we went to the Chicago History Museum. This museum has a wonderful research library. I found pamphlets about the Chicago Bible Society which was founded around 1850. 

The pamphlets detailed the work of the Bible Society, making Bibles available in many languages. The number of Bible Society Workers was also listed.

Young women were trained to make home visits and teach the Bible. I read a couple of accounts where women facing difficult circumstances were encouraged by the visit and looked forward to weekly visits.

It is inspiring to read the stories of women who had a positive impact in a city with many problems. 

In the third chapter of Titus, Paul encourages believers to be devoted to good works. He is careful to say that the good works don’t save us. We are saved by grace through Jesus.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior . . . The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. Titus 3: 3-6,8

Sometimes good works involves risk.

This post is linked to the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: RISK Also shared with Inspire Me Monday.

My Experience with Self Publishing

Fifteen years ago I began writing a novel with the intention to honor the immigrant women that came to Upper Michigan during the copper mining boom. My grandmother was one of those women.

As I wrote I was also comparing childbirth experiences in the early 1900s with modern birth experiences.

In 2009 I signed a contract with a publisher that handled self publishing and in 2010 my book, Aliisa’s Letter: Legacy of Faith was published.

The cost of publishing was more than I expected. My daughter took over the role of editor when I realized the limited editing offered by the publishing company. And she did a terrific job!

When the book was completed I needed to promote it. And the costs increased. There were fees for promotional materials and services. In the end I spent more than I received back in book sales. 

I learned a great deal about the publishing industry and myself. This also was the motivation for beginning a blog—which has helped my writing.  

One store has successfully sold my book over the years—Copper World in Calumet, Michigan.

When the publishing company I was contracted with folded in January of 2014, after a year of troubling rumors and accusations, I bought a final supply of books. 

I don’t regret my choice to self publish. It was a hard but good learning experience. Would I self publish again? I would explore more options and ask a lot of questions.

Recently I read another book about women in Upper Michigan in the early 1900s. A best selling author was intrigued by events in Calumet and wrote The Women of the Copper Country. This book focused on the the experience of immigrant women during the 1913 copper miner’s strike.

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

My Finnish Grandmother Was a Copper Country Woman

At the beginning of the twentieth century my grandmother immigrated to a mining town in Upper Michigan, from Finland. She married a copper miner in the Copper Country. Long after my grandmother passed away I learned about the miner’s strike and a disaster that killed 73 people, most of them children, most of them Finnish.

The family story is that my grandmother was at the Italian Hall Disaster in Calumet, Michigan. A Christmas party was organized for the families—the children—of striking miners.

Over five months the tensions between striking mine workers and the mine company had risen to a feverish pitch. The mine company was supported by Citizen’s Alliance (local business owners). Some one shouted fire at the Christmas party, but there was no fire. Children and adults were killed when they ran to exit the building. Bodies fell over each other on a stairway.

My grandmother with her children exited the building a different way, maybe by the fire escape.

I never had a chance to ask my grandmother or grandfather about about this event. It happened before my mother was born and her knowledge was limited.

A friend passed along a newly released book, The Women of the Copper Country, by Mary D. Russell. The book is a novel but the author has done admirable research to bring the year leading up to the Italian Hall disaster to life. The main character is a historic figure. 

Big Annie Clemenc was president of the Woman’s Auxillary of the Western Federation of Miners. The miner’s strike began at the end of July and continued into the following year. The Christmas party was organized by the Women’s Auxillary and  took place on December 24, 1913.

The book showed me a period of time in my grandmother’s life. The author’s description of Calumet resonates with my knowledge. In a few places, I found the fiction stretching my imagination. But the author acknowledged the areas that might not be exactly right in her notes at the end of the book.

The March for Life and the President

Over the years I have attended the March for Life in Palatine and in Chicago. I have paid attention to social media accounts of the March for Life in Washington D.C.

Despite the thousands of young adults and families who have turned out year after year, the coverage by the main stream media has been limited. With relief I can say that this year the coverage might be better.

For the first time ever, the President of the United States attended the March for Life and spoke to the tens of thousands of high school and college students, men and women. It was refreshing to hear the President say, “Mothers are heroes.”

When we hear the defense of a woman’s right to choose, the implication is that careers taken precedence over children. An actress at the Golden Globe Awards stated that if she had continued her pregnancy, she wouldn’t have been able to finish the movie she was in. 

Some women choose to abort the life growing in them, but others don’t really have a choice. They are pressured to abort the baby by parents or boyfriends.

My daughter led a young life group. One of the girls became pregnant and called my daughter for support. She wanted to continue the pregnancy. But her parents threatened to take away all financial support, and she gave in to the pressure.

Another woman told me with tears in her eyes that she had forced her daughter to have an abortion.

Abortion is contrary to life and health. The procedure has risks and longterm consequences for women. We know that from conception the baby is developing as a unique individual.

The President said, “Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God.”

I am thankful for growing number of pregnancy centers that offer support to women that are in a difficult circumstances. I am grateful for groups that help women to heal after an abortion.

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