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

When the News is Bad

Newspapers have been running stories about the sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church. The Chicago Tribune has had a series of articles about sexual abuse at Willow Creek Church. The lead article in the current issue of World Magazine addresses sexual abuse in Protestant churches. It is all around us.

It is grievous that that there is so much abuse and confusion about sexuality. I know that many Christians and Catholics are deeply saddened.   It is tragic that  God’s  plan  for  sex,  marriage  and family is torn and distorted in our culture AND the church.

What can we do? We must rush to the Lord in prayer. We can pray that the abusers acknowledge their sin and repent. We can pray for healing for the victims. We can pray for those in church leadership to be wise and establish boundaries of behavior that are enforced.

Prayer
photo courtesy of pixabay.com

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

As people of faith we can pray for our families  and  be willing to discuss sexuality with our children and grandchildren. The family is God’s foundational unit for passing along truth.

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: RUSH.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

Finding an Enduring Loyalty

The Five Minute Friday writing community looks forward to the prompt that Kate Motaung gives each week. We pause to think about the word and then write as ideas begin to flow. This week the prompt is: LOYAL

The dictionary offers this, as a definition of loyal: faithful to a cause, ideal or custom.

Over the years I have found a variety of causes to invest in.

During my college years, and after I graduated from the University of Michigan, I have been a loyal fan of the football team. My family is amused by my attachment to college football. I must admit that I am a little uncomfortable with the big business aspect, but I continue to cheer for my team.

After practicing as a labor & delivery nurse for a few years I was drawn to the Lamaze movement. I took Lamaze classes during my first pregnancy and later became certified as a Lamaze teacher. I taught for 18 years and received feedback from my students.

Sometimes students felt that the Lamaze techniques just didn’t work when their labor was induced. Interventions and the hospital environment were overwhelming. As induced labor and epidurals became more common, interest in the Lamaze method began to fade.

And then I made decision to leave the hospital labor/delivery unit and join a group of physicians and midwives that were attending home birth.  I observed that women were more able to relax and work with their labor in the home environment.   I loved working  in  the  home  environment and promoted home birth to my daughters.

But it is true that sometimes the hospital is needed. Sometimes interventions are needed that require the equipment in the hospital. I would like to see better communication and teamwork between home birth attendants and hospital staff.

Each of these ideals has limitations.

Currently I am reading a biography of  Susannah Surgeon  (book  to  be released September 4). Susannah and her husband, Charles, shared a faithful loyalty to the gospel. They worked together as a team with a love for the Lord God.

The best and most enduring loyalty is to the gospel, to God’s love and plan of salvation. I want this to be my passion.

You can visit the Five Minute Friday Community and read more reflections on LOYAL by clicking here.

We Are Loved

Our deepest need is to be loved. The Bible testifies of God’s love for us. God’s amazing love!

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praise to your name, O most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night. Psalm 92:1-2

Jesus explained God’s plan of salvation to Nicodemus. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9

Paul states the enormity of God’s love. “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We are called to love God and obey his precepts.

Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. Joshua 22:5

Jesus taught the two greatest commandments. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: you shall love your neighbor as your self. Mark 12;30-31

I have been musing on these verses. What does it look like to live out the two greatest commandments? I know that I often fall short. God knows our human frailty. That is why Christ died for us. When we stumble, we confess and we learn and we go on.

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: LOVED Visit this community of writers here.

Midwife: With Woman

With my third pregnancy I chose a new medical practice. I chose a practice that included an ob-gyn doctor and a certified nurse midwife. Even though my previous births were cesarean sections, followed by complications I wanted the perspective of a midwife in my care.

During my prenatal visits I saw the doctor a couple times, but the majority of my appointments were with the midwife. We talked about my history and the current pregnancy. We discussed whether I should go into labor (some benefits for baby) or schedule the cesarean section (optimal for having all medical personnel ready).

Unfortunately I had both a horizontal and vertical scars on my uterus. At one time I was advised to avoid another pregnancy. We talked through the risks and eventually I agreed with the midwife that it would be better to schedule the surgery.

The day of surgery my midwife was in the operating room with me. Her role was emotional support. My husband was there too.

Midwives have a special place in childbirth care. Their training, skills and practice are focused on the health of women and infants. They are more sensitive to the emotional aspects of labor and birth.

The term midwife originated in Middle English, the combination of mid [with] and wife [woman]. To be a midwife is to be with woman.

Midwife: With Woman
Midwife gives Virgin Mary first bath: courtesy of http://welcomecollection.org

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday community is: WOMAN

Reading About Women: Fictional Characters and Real Women

The local library is a great institution. When I was a child my parents brought us to the public library regularly. I have always enjoyed reading stories.

Now I read widely to be informed, to learn and for enjoyment. I read to become a better writer. Today I picked up a book on canning and preserving in small quantities. I enjoy making jams and jellies from the berries in my yard.

I also picked up the latest book in Laurie King’s series about Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell. The title is Island of the Mad. I have read all the previous books in the series and appreciate Mary’s influence on the character, Sherlock Holmes.

Another series of books that I have thoroughly enjoyed follows the life of a character, Maisie Dobbs, from WWI through WWII. Maisie participates in WWI as a nurse.   Following the war she becomes a  private  investigator. The development of her character kept me reading.   Jacqueline  Winspear is the author of this series.

Recently I finished reading a fascinating story of a young woman fleeing from grief and loss in the aftermath of WWI. Emeline leaves northern France and finds a small town on the Mediterranean, a town on the border between Spain and France. The rich description of place and culture kept me interested. Laura Madeleine wrote Where the Wild Cherries Grow.

The Wonder Years, edited by Leslie Leyland Fields, is a collection of essays written by 40 women over 40. (This is a book that I picked up at a literary conference.) I recognized the names of some of the 40 women: Luci Shaw,  Lauren Winner,  Joni Eareckson Tada,  Madeleine L’Engle.   Other names are new to me. The writing is excellent.

Do you visit your public library? It has much to offer!

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Two Different Viewpoints on Faulty Vaccines

On July 27ththe Wall Street Journal published an article titled China’s Vaccine Scandal. Parents in China have led protests on behalf of their children. I read through the article noting several paragraphs.
     Over the past couple of weeks parents in China have learned that a compulsory public-health program injected an unknown number of children with substandard vaccines. They are understandably furious.  . . .
     Chinese are particularly angry because similar cases have happened in recent years, followed by promises to crack down. In 2010 and 2013 hundreds of children were hospitalized and several died from faulty vaccines. Chinese companies have used official connections to avoid accountability for producing a range of defective products that kill and maim.

Today, July 31st, The New York Times published an article titled Angry Parents Protest in China Over Bad Vaccines for Children. The tone and conclusion of this article was a little different. Here are a few paragraphs:
     The protest followed reports this month that hundreds of thousands of children across China had been injected with faulty vaccines for diptheria, tetanus and whooping cough. . . .
     While the vaccines were not harmful, officials say, they left children at risk of contracting illnesses that they should have been protected against. . . .
     Public officials say that the problems at the two companies [pharmaceuticals] could lead to a broader backlash against vaccines in China, where an aggressive immunization effort in recent decades has helped eliminate polio and drastically reduce the spread of other diseases.

These two articles demonstrate different perspectives on the same situation. Vaccine safety is extremely important issue. I pray that the government in the United States would look carefully at vaccine safety. The pharmaceuticals have been relieved of any liability for harm to children. Who is going to make sure that profit doesn’t become more important than the health of children?

Garden Notes: The Plants, Animals and Pests in My Yard

From spring to fall the garden is a place of wonder, amusement and challenge. Here are thirteen examples.

The tulips are one of the first blooms in my yard.

The Garden

The scent of the lily of the valley is pleasing. I love how the little bells peek out from the green fronds. This is the flower for the month of May—the month that my first baby was born.Lily of the Valley

The elderberry bushes had abundant flowers this year so I picked the flower heads (umbels) and made elderflower syrup. You can find the recipe here.Garden

When the elderberries are ripe—they are also abundant—I  will  make   elderberry juice. You can find the recipe here.Elderberries

This year I picked 6 quarts of cherries from the cherry tree, but this tree requires a lot of tending. You can read about it here.

Labor of Love

The grandchildren enjoy picking the raspberries, mulberries and currants.

Raspberry

It was a delight to see a hummingbird flit among the branches of the cherry tree. I placed a hummingbird feeder close to the tree. The little bird has been back.

The pickling cucumbers are growing well. I have been making lacto-fermented pickles. You can find a recipe here.

lacto-fermented cucumbers

This year I am growing tomato plants in containers. I was so pleased to see the developing tomatoes. And then I noticed a half eaten tomato. The next day I realized that there was a huge tomato worm on the plant. (Where do they come from?) He had devoured the leaves from two stems and was devouring another tomato. I had to call my husband to pick him off. (Didn’t even think about taking a picture this voracious green worm!)

I have become quite good at finding the Japanese beetles on my plants and can readily pick them off. If you find them in your yard, pick them off and drop them in a container of soapy water.

Japanese Beetle

The calendula flowers in glowing colors are blooming. I pick the blooms and dry them for tea. The flowers are also good for making a salve. Read more here.

Calendula Flower
Art Shades Calendula

As I watched from my kitchen window I noticed a squirrel that was busy trying to untangle a burlap strip that I had wound around the base of the plum tree and a steel rod. The plum tree was growing at an angle, and I was trying to help it grow upright. The squirrel ducked in and out of the burlap, gnawing at it. When I went outside he scampered away. He had it shredded the burlap in places, hoping to carry it off.

The zinnias are beginning to bloom. At first they have a single layer of petals. And then additional layers appear and the color becomes richer. It is a nice metaphor for the way we grow as Christians. As we follow the Lord obediently, spending time in the Word, our life becomes fuller and richer.

Garden

Today’s prompt for Five Minute Friday is:  THIRTEEN                                Visit Kate Motaung’s blog to see the various ways writers were inspired by this word. Thanks for visiting!

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Reflecting on Childbirth Practices: Will We See More Respect for Midwives?

In the introduction to the book, Modern Mothers in the Heartland, a speech by Dr. Caroline Hedger is referenced. In 1920 Dr. Caroline Hedger gave a speech entitled, “The Relation of Health to Progress”. Like reformers of the time she was calling attention to the health of women and children.

A broad coalition of public health practitioners, social welfare advocates, and women’s rights supporters argued that a sound and democratic future depended upon mothers’ ability to produce  and  maintain  a  robust  citizenry.1

It seems to me that this is still a valid concern.

In an autobiography, Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen wrote about her experience as an obstetrician.

Midwifery exacts a toll of the mental, physical, and emotional reserves of the physician that is comparable to no other specialty, and for this reason, in solving the problem of obstetrical anesthesia, the obstetrician should be considered along with the expectant mother and baby.   For  fifteen  years  after I began practice I delivered patients in their homes, and regardless of assistance it was I, the doctor, upon whom the morale of the patient and family rested. I was called when labor was evident, and I never left my patient until she had been delivered . . . Hospitalization of the obstetric patient decreases the time and inconvenience of the physician by seventy-five percent.2

Dr. Van Hoosen was a proponent of twilight sleep and devised methods to keep disoriented and combative patients in their beds: adult cribs, a patient gown that had one long sleeve that trapped both arms and delivery tables with restraints.

When I began working as a labor nurse at a hospital in Detroit twilight sleep was being phased out, but the labor room still had beds with high side rails that were like those of a crib. Delivery tables still had wrist restraints as well as stirrups with restraints for legs.

These female physicians in the early 1900s worked hard for women and children’s health. Yet, it is unfortunate that trained midwives were sidelined at this time. Midwives and doctors had different skills and perspectives; they could have benefited from working together. As the medical profession grew the gap between midwives and doctors expanded.

I subscribe to Midwifery Today. The summer issue has an article titled, “The Way of Birth”. The author wrote: My friend and assistant midwife in the 1970s, Deni and I would walk the concrete paths of Kansas City, Missouri, and point out who was under the care of a board-certified obstetrician . . . We predicted then what we are living today: that few babies would be born “under the stars”. We predicted that we would see conception become a medical procedure not unlike what we watched happen to birth. That the body of a woman and the making, growing, birthing, and feeding of a baby would be delivered into the hands of medicine and machines. And men. 3

My recent mail included a publication, Panacea, from the University of Michigan School of Nursing. I was pleased to see an article4about the accomplishment of midwives in Liberia. Inspired by midwife Jody Lori, Maternity Waiting Homes have been established in Liberia in an effort to reduce maternal and infant deaths. Expectant mothers come to the homes, which are located close to health clinics, in the last few weeks of pregnancy.

It is my hope that the midwife model of birth would gain greater respect in the United States. Have you given birth? What was your experience like?

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1Curry, Lynne, Modern Mothers in the Heartland: Gender Health, and Progress in Illinois, 1900 – 1930, Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1999, p.1

2Van Hoosen, Bertha, Petticoat Surgeon, New York: Pellegrini & Cudahy Publishers, 1947, p. 272 -273.

3Sister Morning Star, “The Way of Birth”, Midwifery Today, Summer 2018, Issue 126, p. 21

4Meyers, Jaime, “The Road to Maternal Health”, Panacea, School of Nursing University of Michigan, summer 2018, p. 8-11

Required Vaccine Safety Reports Were Not Done

Parents have differing opinions about childhood vaccines. That is okay. I am a nurse and my children received the recommended vaccines in the 1980s and 1990s. But my daughter had vaccine reactions and eventually developed fibromyalgia.

Because of my family’s experience with vaccine reactions I support informed consent and parent involvement in decisions about vaccines.

It is good to understand the history behind our current vaccination program. In 1986 the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act was passed. So many lawsuits were taking place because of vaccine injuries that pharmaceuticals were relieved of any liability. Instead the government would compensate for vaccine injuries. More than 3.7 billion dollars has been paid out through this program.

Robert F. Kennedy has spent years researching vaccines, the ingredients in vaccines and the impact on childrens’ health. He looked at the law that was passed in 1986 and realized that the law included a mandate for improved  vaccine safety. The law required that the department of Health and Human Services submit reports to congress regarding the studies done and progress made for safer vaccines.

In August of 2017 a FOIA request was made for these reports. The result of the FOIA request for these reports has been made public. The reports cannot be found. It appears that they were never done.

Today the prompt for Five Minute Friday is: DONE