The Healer’s Daughter: My Review

When I think of the Civil War I am saddened by the great battle between the states and the huge loss of life. I am glad that the slaves were finally free. I have never thought much about the years after, the Reconstruction. What happened to the slaves that were freed from the plantations?

After extensive research, Charlotte Hinger has written a novel about a group of former slaves that migrated from Kentucky to Kansas to establish an all-black town. The novel, The Healer’s Daughter, paints a picture of tremendous hardship and perseverance. 

The main character, Bethany, is a strong willed young woman who has some skills in healing but her real passion is teaching. Her mother, Queen Bess, has learned healing arts from doctors whom she assisted on the plantation. I was fascinated by her observation and knowledge of people, her quest to gather medicinal herbs.

Medical care was chaotic in the years following the war. There was no licensing or certification process for doctors. A man might learn as an apprentice and then with limited experience put a shingle out, offering his services.

The story includes instances of normal childbirth, as well as complicated births and tragic situations. The book has intense scenes that caused me to pause and put the book down for a while. It has helped me see how the black family was crushed and torn apart during slavery. Establishing a living as free people was a great challenge.

Hinger’s book is based on the true story of Nicodemus, Kansas. From the author’s notes: It was the first all-black town established on the High Plains.

Photo of prairie by Philipp Reiner on Unsplash

This post is shared with Booknificent Thursday. Visit Tina’s site for more book reviews.

Reproductive Health Act: A Life and Death Law in Illinois

When the Supreme Court issued the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, no one could imagine that 45 years later the number of lives terminated in the United States would be 61 million. Some believed that marriages would be better, women would be happier. Has that happened?

Last Friday the Illinois legislature passed the Reproductive Health Act. I took the time to read through this bill. I am deeply saddened. Section 1-10 states that the life of a child that survived abortion needn’t be preserved. The wording is tortured because it is hard to describe the right to let a living child die.

Section 1-10 “Abortion” means the use of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or device to terminate the pregnancy of an individual known to be pregnant with intention other than to increase the probability of a live birth,to preserve the life or health of the child after live birth, or to remove a dead fetus.

When maternity care is described I wonder what the term, a patient’s legal proxy, means. Are the parents of a teenage girl informed?

“Maternity care” means health care provided in relation to pregnancy, labor and childbirth and the postpartum period, and includes prenatal care, care during labor and birthing, and postpartum care extending through one-year postpartum. Maternity care shall seek to optimize positive outcomes for the patient, and be provided on the basis of the physical and psychosocial needs of the patient. Not withstanding any of the above, all care shall be subject to the informed and voluntary consent of the patient, or the patients’s legal proxy, when the patient is unable to give consent.

Section 1-15

“Every individual has a fundamental right to make autonomous decisions about the individual’s own reproductive health, including the fundamental right to use or refuse reproductive health care.”

This section of the law describes the individual’s rights to make a decision about their health care. This is a precedent for parental rights. When medical procedures have risks and benefits, parents must have the right to consent or refuse for their child.

With all restrictions on abortion lifted, we must continue to educate young people on the facts of abortion, the risks and side effects to a woman. People of faith need to stand in support of a woman experiencing an unexpected pregnancy, especially if she is unmarried and without financial resources.

Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live. Deuteronomy 30:19b

Click here to read the full text of the Reproductive Health Act.

Personhood, Women’s Roles and Herbal Infusions

Most evenings I spend some time reading. Here are a few of the books I am enjoying.

A friend of mine loaned me the book, Love Thy Body, by Nancy Pearcey. Ms. Pearcey addresses many of the controversial issues in our culture. 

She begins by discussing personhood. Some view human beings as simply biological organisms until they display cognitive function which then allows them to be recognized as a person. The assumption is that body and soul are separate. The biblical perspective is that when human life begins it is body and soul united.

I am reading a chapter at a time and learning about some of the events in science history. Sometimes a couple sentences will cause me to pause. After referring to the theory proposed by Darwin (all life occurs in an evolving chain) she considers the impact that Darwin had on science. No special status is assigned to being human—because there is no human species. As a result, “life becomes a set of parts, commodities that can be shifted around” to suit some geneticists’ vision of progress. The floodgates have been flung open for unfettered refashioning of human nature itself. (p. 100)

Thoughts and questions came to mind. As we learn more about the human body are we attempting to redesign what God has created? When do the advances in medicine support health, and when does scientific experimentation cross moral and ethical boundaries? In our desire for control what are we overlooking? What are the longterm consequences?

Today I read a well researched article. I was startled to learn that the use of aborted fetal tissue for research began in the early 1900’s. The article notes research that took place after forced abortions that were allowed under the Eugenic Sterilization Act. Here is a portion of the article (to read more click on the quote):

In just one such research paper, Drs. Thicke, Duncan, Wood and Rhodes graphically describe their work: “Human embryos of two and one-half to five months gestation were obtained from the gynaecological department of the Toronto General Hospital. They were placed in a sterile container and promptly transported to the virus laboratory of the adjacent Hospital for Sick Children. No macerated specimens were used and in many of the embryos the heart was still beating at the time of receipt in the virus laboratory.” (15)

At the same time I am reading North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, a book from our local library. Elizabeth lived in the 19th century and wrote about women’s roles and their relationship to men in the social strata of the time. Her observation of human nature, description of the industrial age and society norms is fascinating. It is also a well-crafted story.

My daughter gave me Healing Herbal Infusions by Colleen Codekas. It is fun to browse through the pictures and recipes in this book. 

I love the springtime when I am adding herbs to my garden. Recipes throughout the book include a variety of herbs. The chapter titles are enticing: Infusions to Boost Your Immunity, Infusions to Relieve What Ails You, Infusions to Nourish Your Skin, Lips and Hair. I will try some of the recipes.

This post is joining the link-up at Literacy Musing Mondays.

Women & Children at Botanica

When we visited Botanica, the Wichita Gardens, I especially enjoyed the focus on women and children. There is a children’s garden area where they can water plants. The children can walk through monster trees and climb the stairs to a fairy house.

The peonies, roses, irises and clematis were in bloom.

Peonies at Botanica

Throughout the gardens sculptures of women graced the landscape.

Sharing this post with Sue’s image-in-ing

Learning from History

Recently I read the novel, Saving Amelie, by Cathy Gohlke. It is historical fiction set in Nazi Germany. The story involves twin girls who were the subjects of medical experimentation. The story was riveting.

I didn’t know that there actually was a doctor (gynecologist) who was working on a vaccine that could surreptitiously cause infertility. Dr. Carl Clauberg’s goal was to have a vaccine for non-Aryan woman that would be given to them during physical examinations. This morning I read an article on-line (salem-news.com; Nov-07-2011) that referenced him. The article titled “Have the Rabbis Forgotten the Experiments on Jewish Women at Auschwitz?” was written by Rachel Goldstein.

Auschwitz was the largest and one of the most infamous of the camps and the site of numerous ‘medical’ experiments. This historical study uses primary source documents obtained from archives in England and Germany to describe one type of experiment carried out at Auschwitz — the sterilization experiments… “

It is immoral to experiment on human beings. The MMR vaccine may have done some good, but it can also be considered an experiment on children. I recently read through the documentation of the licensing of this vaccine. It amazed me that the vaccine was approved. A summary of the document can be read here.

It troubles me to know about all the experimentation on aborted fetuses that led to the development of the rubella portion of the MMR. I wrote about the research on a previous blog

Because children are now receiving so many vaccines and medications for chronic illness it is hard to isolate the cause of autism. A research study describes the possible association between vaccines and autism.

The reason for the rapid rise of autism in the United States that began in the 1990s is a mystery. Although individuals probably have a genetic predisposition to develop autism, researchers suspect that one or more environmental triggers are also needed. One of those triggers might be the battery of vaccinations that young children receive. . . . The higher the proportion of children receiving recommended vaccinations, the higher was the prevalence of AUT [autism] or SLI [speech and language impairment]. A 1% increase in vaccination was associated with an additional 680 children having AUT or SLI. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health 2011;74(14) 903-16  You can access the abstract here.

With have lessons from history. At this time, when there is great concern about measles cases, we have the opportunity to learn about the issue and ask that the vaccines children receive are given greater scrutiny. We can ask that the vaccine schedule be reviewed for safety and effectiveness. I am learning ways to reach out to my legislators with questions and research articles.

This post took me longer than 5 minutes, but it is related to the readings I have done this week. I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community with todays prompt: OPPORTUNITY

Unplanned and Post Abortion Help

Abortion has left a deep wound in our nation, but there are organizations that offer help and healing.

Last weekend my husband and I went to see the movie, Unplanned, with some friends. Some of the scenes were hard to watch. The movie pointed out that uterine perforation is a risk during surgical abortion. Sometimes perforation requires hysterectomy, other times the bleeding is controlled and the uterus develops a scar that can impact future childbearing.

It was hard to see girls and young women deceived about the procedure—the promises that everything was going to be okay.

The best take-away for me was the example of the couple from 40 Days for Life. They interacted with Abby (the abortion worker) and prayed for her. They were patient and available to her. They modeled kindness and loving concern. 

After the movie we talked about Abby’s journey with our friends. It took eight years for her to acknowledge the reality that a baby was being killed. When she saw an ultrasound guided abortion the truth became clear.

Abortion has left a deep wound in our nation, but there are organizations that offer help and healing.

Care-net provides post abortion help for women who have had abortion, for fathers whose child was aborted, for grandparents and for abortion workers. Here is the link to their site.

Rachel’s Vineyard offers weekend retreats for post abortion help and healing. It is a ministry of Priests for Life.

Abby, the former abortion worker, now leads And Then There Were None, an organization that helps abortion clinic workers that want to leave the industry.

ATTWN seeks to end abortion from the inside out. We believe that the end of abortion starts with abortion clinic workers leaving their jobs and finding healing from their past work. That’s why, as former clinic workers ourselves, we’re committed to helping them through the ENTIRE journey.

Be sure to visit the Five Minute Friday writing community . Today’s prompt is: OFFER. Kate has an offer to check out!

Sunrise of Hope

Many years ago I worked the night shift in the neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Michigan. We had 12 hour shifts, and I worked from 7 pm to 7 am. Around 5:00 am as daylight crept across the sky, we were weary and needed to get our second wind. 

We would take turns, going to get coffee and a muffin from the hospital cafeteria. But what we most appreciated was walking down a hallway of windows that looked out to the sunrise. Morning had come and we would complete our nursing care and documentation. The light of a new day sustained us and promised rest.

We have challenges and a spiritual battle taking place in our world. The battle requires focus on God’s word and obedience to his commands. We must stay alert and look for God’s touch on our life. He will renew our spirit and give us rest.

photo by Cristina Gottardi via unsplash

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.

My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning, more than the watchmen wait for the morning.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. Psalm 130: 6-7

It is Friday and I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt today is: MORE

The Scent of Water: Book Review

Perhaps there is a right time to read a book. I started The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge some years ago, but I didn’t finish it. This time as I read the book I was thoroughly enjoying the writing. I lingered over the descriptions of setting, and the interesting choice of words, the unique phrases. I looked up some words in the dictionary.

The story follows the main character’s move to a village town in England. Mary, like the author, is single and has inherited a cottage from a cousin. She meets the endearing members of the village, each with their human quirks and flaws.  

Throughout the book there are glimpses into a diary of a woman who suffered from mental illness. Mental illness is portrayed with insight and compassion by this author.

There are children in the story also. They are portrayed in a lovely, understanding way. 

I would guess that Elizabeth Goudge understood and delighted in children. I enjoyed the special collection of “little things” that captures the imagination of the children.

The Scent of Water is a gentle story about people with flaws, the pursuit of faith, health and relationship. You have to read the book to catch the significance of the title.

A website about Elizabeth Goudge (1900 – 1984) provides a brief biography. 

This post is part of #Write28Days. To view all the posts in the series click here.

Sharing this post with Literary Musing Monday and Booknificent Thursday.

A Remarkable Woman Doctor

One of the women I admire provided care to childbearing women in their homes. For four years I worked in a home birth practice that followed the principles of care taught by Dr. Beatrice Tucker.

Dr. Beatrice Tucker was the remarkable woman who directed the Chicago Maternity Center from 1931 to 1973.  She had been the first woman resident doctor at the University of Chicago Lying-In Hospital in 1922.

She studied under Dr. J. DeLee who had opened the Chicago Maternity Center. It is ironic that Dr. Tucker once worked under Dr. DeLee.

 As Dr. DeLee’s career progressed he promoted the use of forceps for delivery, twilight sleep (an amnesiac type medication) and episiotomies.  He was highly influential in the developing field of obstetrics, and sadly he was outspoken in his disparagement of midwives.

Even though obstetricians were moving toward aggressive control of labor and birth, Dr. Tucker supported the natural progression of labor and birth.  In her management of the Chicago Maternity Center she set a standard for safe home birth.  

During the Maternity Center’s peak activity (between 1929 and 1941) an average of 360 births took place each month. During her tenure at the Chicago Maternity Center she participated in over 100,000 births.

The Tuscaloosa News (12/3/1975) ran a story about Dr. Tucker.  The article begins: “Shortly after her 78th birthday, Dr. Beatrice E. Tucker reluctantly came out of quasi-retirement to deliver a baby at the mother’s home.  It was a rather easy affair in a clean apartment . . .”

Later in the article she is quoted as saying “Most doctors have never seen a baby born at home and they don’t know how to do it.”  Dr. Tucker was a strong woman willing to go against the current of medical trends to provide safe and economical care to women.  

This post is part of Write28Days. To see the other posts in this series click here.

Book Review: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon

During the reign of Queen Victoria in England (1819 – 1901) women had less freedom, less rights than women today. Susannah Spurgeon lived during this time period (1832 -1903). Yet, she was well educated, developed her literary gifts and was an active partner with her famous husband.

I found it fascinating to read about her, the wife of Charles Spurgeon, in the setting of  Victorian  England.   Although I have heard  of  Charles  Spurgeon, I did not realize the extent of his popularity. I did not know that Susannah was vital to his ministry. Despite physical frailty she was a constant support for him.

The book, Susie: the Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes, shines a light on the marriage relationship of a gospel centered couple, living out their faith.

Susie helped her husband with his sermons and assisted in getting them written down so they could be shared with others. She read theological books with him.

She was also a writer. The inclusion of quotes from her diary and devotional books showed that she was a wordsmith.

Both Charles and Susannah valued books. Susannah wanted to make books with sound doctrine available to poor pastors. She developed the Book Fund a program that reached out to hundreds of pastors. In her day Susie was a beloved woman of God, using her gifts for God’s glory. Ray Rhodes has done thorough research for this book. It is an inspiring read.

For information on purchasing this book click here.  #susiebook #moodypublishers

In full disclosure I received an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Sharing this post with Literary Musing Mondays,  Booknificent Thursday  and Grace & Truth link-up