Seeking Guidance for Parental Rights

Parents today have difficult issues to confront. As I was driving home from Michigan today I was listening to Janet Parshall on the radio.She was discussing a case that was decided by the Supreme Court of British Columbia. It hit me hard because a friend of our family recently disclosed that he/she is transgender.

In British Columbia the court decided that a 14 year old girl could receive testosterone injections without her parents consent. In addition, her parents could not refer to her with female pronouns or by the name they gave her at birth. If they did they would be guilty of family violence.

This is stunning, but parental rights are being infringed in other ways. 

In Illinois a bill is being proposed that would mandate that all children entering 6th grade receive the HPV vaccine. There has been a lot of controversy over this vaccine. According to the Children’s Health Defense:

. . . during Gardasil’s clinical trials an extraordinary 49.5% of the subjects receiving Gardasil reported serious medical conditions within seven months of the start of the clinical trials. Because Merck did not use a true placebo in its clinical trials, its researchers were able to dismiss the trial participants’ injuries as coincidences, employing the term “new medical conditions,” rather than classifying their injuries as “adverse events.”

Parents should be able to weigh the risks and benefits of this vaccine (which is for a sexually transmitted virus). They should be involved in a decision to vaccinate or not.

It is so important that parents stay alert and informed. Even more important we must bring our concerns to the Lord Jesus. God designed the family, and as we defend our parental rights, the Holy Spirit can guide our words and action.

I am in touch with a group of moms that are very concerned about government mandates. It was refreshing to hear several say, “We need to pray.”

The book of Luke records the Lord’s Prayer. After teaching the disciples to pray Jesus continued with these words: “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9

The book of James reiterates this. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Today I mulled over the prompt, SEARCH, thinking about recent events and the radio program.

A Joyful Answer to Prayer

When I assisted at home births I became more aware of the spiritual nature of childbirth. When labor reached a peak intensity, when the woman felt she couldn’t get through one more contraction, she asked for prayer. Sometimes the husband prayed or one of the attendants. I was asked to pray.

Prayer gave the woman the confidence to release herself to the waves of contractions that were bringing the baby to birth. As I thought about it, it seemed right. In the moments before birth the mother was leaning in to God for assistance.

Prayers rarely took place in the hospital but I remember one. A young woman was in labor.  As I worked with her to alleviate her pain I noticed her anxiety.  She received an epidural for pain management and I hoped it would help her to relax. 

A short while later she grabbed my hand, her eyes wild.  “I am afraid,” she said.  “The pain is much less but I am afraid.” 

This young woman had a circle of friends that had come to the hospital with her. One friend offered to read scripture, but she replied, “No, no I can’t concentrate. I want to pray.” 

In a loud voice she confessed her inadequacy and asked God to help her.  A short while later she gave birth to a healthy boy.  With baby in arms, this new mother gazed at her infant with joy and wonder.

photo credit: T. Adriaenssen

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. Psalm 34: 4-5

This post is part of #Write28Days and is linked to Five Minute Friday.

Wanting to Control: Learning to Release

It feels good when we think we are in control. As a mother I  pursued the health of my children vigorously. I had been trained as a nurse at the University of Michigan. I believed in the medical profession and my ability to protect the health of my children.

The mental illness of my brother and the impact that it had my parents, my siblings and me, infused me with fear. As a mother I was devoted to maintaining the physical and mental health of my children.   

Women and Families

At first I put my trust in the medical field, going to the pediatrician with every concern.The pediatricians and gastroenterologist that we consulted did not resolve the repetitive ear infections and gastrointestinal disturbances of my twins, despite the antibiotics and medication to relax the gut.

So I pursued answers and treatment with a doctor practicing alternative medicine. With allergy testing we made changes in our diet and the health of my children improved.

Soon I was putting all of my energy into allergy diets and nutrition. I was was gradually depending on my own abilities for the health of our family. I wanted to be in control.

When one of the twins developed leukemia I continued to pursue nutrition and supplements to support him through chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant. My husband and I studied research. We prayed, and I was sure that Steven would be healed. We saw God’s love for Steven and our family, but Steven wasn’t healed.

Although we have tools for health we are not in complete control. Medical science is not perfect and does not have all the answers. God was teaching me to trust him. Could I let go of my fears? 

I have learned lessons (and I am still learning). God does not want me to be motivated by fear.

Nutrition and medical interventions are tools. It is important to learn about an illness that we encounter and possible treatments. It is important to ask questions and prayerfully make decisions.

God will guide us as we seek him and pray for appropriate care. He will stay with us during times of suffering.

As a grandmother I see the importance of supporting the immune system with a healthy life style—nutrition, adequate rest, physical activity. God has designed the human body with an amazing immune system. It is good to pursue a balance of prayer, healthy lifestyle and medical intervention when necessary. 

Although I started out with fear and a desire to control our health, God has blessed my study of nutrition and support for the immune system. My daughters have learned and their children have been healthier as infants and young children than they were.

One of my daughters is now a pediatric nurse practitioner helping families reach a better level of health.

This post is part of #Write28Days. You can find links to all the posts in the series on my landing page.

Illness, Resilience and Spirituality

Two years ago I began corresponding with Marguerite Bouvard. She was looking for contributors for an anthology on illness and faith. I offered to write a chapter about my family’s experience caring for our son during his treatment for leukemia.

We continued to e-mail back and forth. I wrote my chapter, and Marguerite edited the anthology that includes the stories of twelve people that refer to different faith traditions:Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Native American,Yoga.  The book is titled Illness, Resilience and Spirituality.

Now I have the book in hand, and as I read through the chapters I see vulnerability as well as resilience. The book is not theological. It is the way twelve people have encountered illness and death, along with the questions that come with human frailty.

A serious illness leads to a search for hope. Some chapters have a perspective that seem self reliant. Other chapters find hope through the Bible and prayer. A couple of chapters mention how the faith of a grandmother was influential. 

Victoria Molt’s account of faith and prayer through mental illness touched me. My brother’s illness has sensitized me to the isolation that many with mental illness experience. 

The importance of a faith community stands out in many of the chapters. 

The chapter that I wrote is the first in the book and is titled, “Prayers Through Illness and Loss”. The book is available on Amazon. 

This post is linked with Booknificent Thursday and Literary Musing Monday

When Pain Leads to Prayer

After Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden God said, I will greatly increase your pain in childbearing; withpain you will give birth to children. Genesis 3:16

Was this a punishment or a way of reminding Eve to seek God’s help?

In my own life, periods of suffering have motivated me to communicate with God. When our son was diagnosed with leukemia I experienced great emotional pain. I learned to open my heart and ask God the questions that were weighing heavily. The Psalms were helpful in guiding my prayers. I prayed for God’s help and guidance.

Pain can cause us to pause and seek help.  

For a period of time I attended women who labored and gave birth at home. As labor intensified they sometimes prayed. One mother asked her husband to pray. Another mama asked me to pray.

As I observed the prayers I saw faith and motherhood in a new way. Beginning motherhood with a prayer for God’s help was right.

Christmas is coming. Do you wonder about the birth of Jesus? Certainly Mary experienced pain. What was it like for Mary?

Mary and Manger

Yes, there was pain and stress but God demonstrated great love and grace in the incarnation.

Jesus experienced the ultimate pain as he approached death on the cross. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Father if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22: 42-44

Pain, prayer and love are connected.

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday community is: WITH

The manger scene is courtesy of FreeVintageArt.com

Pray for Our Elected Officials

Whew, the election is over.

The mood in our country has been intense.

For the first time I went door to door,

passing out flyers, in support of my state representative.

Now there is time to pause and reflect.

People have many different burdens and concerns.

Many are hurting.

We are all sinners in need of forgiveness.

The government can’t save us.

Only Jesus can.

The issues facing our country are complex.

Now is the time to pray for our elected officials.

Pray that they will seek wisdom from God.

It is Friday and I am joining the Five Minute Friday writers. The prompt today is: BURDEN

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.

Crisis & Prayer

Today I am joining a community that is writing on the prompt: PAUSE

Life has been on pause.

No, that is not quite right. The nonessentials of life have been on pause.

A week ago my grandson developed a critical illness and has been in a pediatric ICU. My daughter has been at his bedside. My husband and I have been taking care of the other children.

We have been learning their daily patterns, seeing more of their school projects. It has been an intense week. Grandpa has earned the title of Grand Nap Master for his ability to coax the toddler to take a nap.

The days have been stressful but touched with little blessings. We are thankful for the prayers on behalf of our family. A dear friend sent me scripture verses. This one has encouraged me:

Psalm 62:5-6  Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

The evening before major surgery my grandson’s youth group held a prayer meeting. About fifty people, many of his friends, showed up to pray.

We are blessed by God’s love being displayed by faithful friends.

UPDATE: Our grandson is recovering after two surgeries for a bleeding brain aneurysm. We praise God for answered prayer. We are grateful for the skill of the medical team and the advances in medical technology.

UPDATE on 8/3/18: After a summer of therapy our grandson is preparing to begin high school in a couple weeks. We are praising God for his progress and continue to pray for returning strength and adjustment/healing of limitation in his eyesight.

Visit Five Minute Friday by clicking here.

Call the Midwife: the Spiritual Aspect of Childbirth

It is the 7thseason of Call the Midwife, and I make time to watch it. This weeks episode had me in tears. Death is hard, but I am glad that the current series has reflections on faith. When it first aired I wondered how close it was to the book that it is based on.

In the fall of 2012 I wrote this blog post:

If you liked the new program, Call the Midwife, airing on PBS, you will like the memoir written by Jennifer Worth. A few years ago I came across The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times. Jennifer was a midwife for the east end of London in the 1950s. The TV program is based on her book.

The PBS program is accurate in presenting episodes described in the book. I did go back to check the validity of the  premature  birth  story.    According to the memoir the baby was born at 28 weeks gestation after the mother had taken a bad fall. Despite being very sick and weak the mother refused to let the medical staff take the baby to the hospital.

She kept the baby on her chest, skin to skin. She expressed colostrum from her breasts, and every half hour she used a little glass tube to drip the colostrum into the tiny baby’s mouth. By instinct she was keeping the baby warm and nourished.

This was a 1950s example of kangaroo care motivated by maternal love and instinct.

Jennifer Worth recorded that the baby survived without impairment.

The program left out spiritual messages in the book. As a young midwife, Ms. Worth was frightened by the situations that she was thrust into. She wrote how the prayers of the nuns gave her calmness. Ms. Worth gave insight into the emotions she had while preparing to attend the premature birth.

She wrote: The knowledge that sister Julienne would be praying for us had an extraordinary effect. All the tension and anxiety left me, and I felt calm and confident. I had learned to respect the power of prayer. What change had come over the headstrong young girl who, only a year earlier, had found the whole idea of prayer to be a joke?

Prayer was part of my home birth experiences. At times the husband prayed. Occasionally I prayed.  Although I am not a poet I wrote some lines to remember the  scene  at a birth I attended, assisting a physician.

Labor pains came gently
through the night.
Morning light streamed
on her rocking chair.

Her labor intensified.
She walked, clutched my arm,
And listened for
encouraging words.

Her movements
were intuitive. She labored
with position changes
and firm massage.

She knelt down
and asked me to pray.
No pain medication.
She asked me to pray.

I prayed as she moaned
And released her body
To surging waves of pain
Her body pushed.

A circle of crown,
head and shoulders,
a baby girl was born
in the afternoon glow.

Childbirth is a time to lean into God.

Sharing this post with Literary Musing Mondays  and Booknificent Thursdays.

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Surrendering in Prayer

Today a community of writers will take the prompt that Kate Motaung has given and  write  for  five minutes  (or sometimes a little longer).        I enjoy linking up with Five Minute Friday and seeing where the word takes us. Today’s prompt is: SURRENDER

Every morning my husband and I read a  daily  devotion  from  God’s  Wisdom for Navigating Life by Tim Keller. The verse for this morning comes from Proverbs 3:11-12

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

My thoughts go back to the time that our son was battling leukemia. It has been almost 30 years ago. Steven’s illness was not a punishment—it was suffering that God allowed. God loved us during that difficult time; we experienced it through scripture and the community of friends that stood by us.

My husband and I fought for the life of our son with every means possible. We did research. We eventually accompanied Steven to the Cancer Research Center in Seattle where he had a bone marrow transplant. We provided his care at home.

Throughout this time we were praying. I talked with God during the long nights. I wept and cried out to him in the shower (so Steven would not see my anguish). As the cancer progressed and eventually took Steven’s life I surrendered to God in prayer.

Now, when I look back I can see how that time period refined my faith. I was talking to God, speaking to him about my pain. I saw the way Steven trusted God as we spent time in God’s word. God guided our family through a period of suffering. Steven’s sisters have grown in their faith and are now ministering to their own families.

If you are in a period of suffering the best thing you can do is pray. Lay your pain and suffering before the Lord and trust that He will carry you through, building your faith.

Click here to visit Five Minute Friday.