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Caution: The Solar Eclipse

A Serious CAUTION about trying to watch the eclipse.

Stella's Place

UPDATE: MORE ECLIPSE INFORMATION AND ADVICE!

This was found on Facebook (posted by our friend, Menagerie) and seems like good information to share.

Michael Schecter:

As an Optometrist , I want to express concern that I have about the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug 21. There are serious risks associated with viewing a solar eclipse directly, even with the use of solar filter glasses. Everyone should keep in mind if they or their children are considering this.

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Did You Know This about Fetal Development and Abortion?

Sometimes we come across something so logical we wish we’d said it that way ourselves. ūüôā Here is an interesting piece, written by a nursing instructor. If you are pro-choice, you owe it to your mind to read this. If you are pro-abortion, you, too, owe it to your mind to read this. And, if you are pro-life, these facts need to be calmly available when someone tries to shout you down for thinking an unborn child matters.

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 2.39.53 PMWhat goes on when a human male’s sperm fertilizes the egg of a human female? Besides morning sickness and expanding waistlines, what is going on inside the womb? And, how does one decide who gets to decide whether that “cluster of developing cells” should be permitted to reach its objective or not and result in another infant’s birth? Basically, what’s it like to be pregnant?

Here, compliments the original post found at Source: How a Formerly Pro-Choice Nursing Instructor Discusses Abortion with her Students is the content of what you would read on that site:

How a Formerly Pro-Choice Nursing Instructor Discusses Abortion with her Students

I have been a labor and delivery nurse since 1980.  During my thirty-six year nursing career, I have also worked in medical units and for hospice. Being a nurse has allowed me to be present with people through their early beginnings of intrauterine life, and with others through their last breaths.  It has been an amazing and rewarding journey. Life is precious and life is fleeting, and life should be respected. I am pro-life.

I am¬†also¬†a nursing instructor¬†and¬†have taught obstetrics to hundreds of young men and women, our future nurses.¬† My students often ask me¬†what my opinion is regarding abortion.¬†¬†‚ÄúAre you pro-life or pro-choice?‚Ä̬†they¬†ask¬†me.¬†¬†I do not ask them the same, as¬†I don‚Äôt want them to fear that their position might affect how I grade them.

When I answer that I am pro-life, the¬†students often assume that my position is based on my religious beliefs, and so they respond that¬†‚Äúyou can‚Äôt force your religious beliefs on everyone else.‚ÄĚ I explain that my argument against abortion is based on the anatomy and physiology of pregnancy,¬†and¬†on logical¬†reasoning.

I was not always pro-life.  In the past I considered myself pro-choice.  During my career I have even assisted with abortions which were considered to be therapeutic, done through inducing labor, and frequently done for Trisomy 21, or Down Syndrome.  It is my understanding of human biology and embryology as well as my own experiences with abortion and thousands of pregnant patients which have shaped my current position on abortion.

Without fail, my students ask me the questions that they hear argued in the media. My students ask these questions even though they, having studied biology, human anatomy, and physiology, already know the answers.

They ask,¬†‚ÄúWhen does life begin?‚Ä̬†¬†I respond with, ‚ÄúYou know the answer to this question.¬† How do you tell if something, such as a cell, is alive or not?‚Ä̬†¬†The students¬†answer correctly that¬†‚Äúliving cells¬†grow and¬†multiply.‚Ä̬†¬†And so of course I must remind them of what they already know: that growth and multiplication is exactly what¬†is happening after the egg and the sperm join¬†to form the zygote.¬†Within twenty-four¬†hours¬†of conception¬†the¬†zygote¬†is¬†dividing rapidly into many cells¬†which will¬†differentiate to form different parts of the human body.

Dead things do not do this.  Dead cells do not replicate their DNA and multiply into more cells.  They do not differentiate to become a brain, a heart, the liver, the skin, muscle and bone.  Life begins at conception, when the fertilized egg begins to grow.

The next¬†question¬†they ask¬†is¬†‚ÄúWhen can it be considered a human?‚Ä̬†¬†I answer, ‚ÄúWhat determines whether we are a human,¬†rather than a bird or a zucchini?‚Ä̬† The answer to¬†this is simple and they correctly reply that it is ‚Äúour genetics, our DNA.‚Ä̬†¬†When the egg and the sperm join, this is the beginning of a new human, with its own set of DNA which also includes hair color, eye color, skin tone,¬†fingerprints,¬†and a multitude of other individual characteristics.¬†¬†The baby is genetically different from the mother, having only half of the DNA coming from¬†her, and half from the father; a¬†distinct human being.

‚ÄúSo now we all can agree that we have established that abortion is killing a living human.‚ÄĚ

Of course, the conversation is not complete without ‚ÄúWhy shouldn‚Äôt a woman be able to do what she wants with her body?‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúThe woman has every right to be in control of¬†and responsible for¬†her body,‚ÄĚ I answer.¬†¬†She has the right¬†and responsibility¬†to use methods to prevent conception¬†if she does not want to become pregnant.¬†¬†Being in control also would include not engaging in activity which is known to lead to pregnancy, which is¬†sexual¬†intercourse.¬†There are a¬†variety of other, easily accessible¬†methods¬†which¬†can be used to prevent conception from occurring.

‚ÄúHowever, once a pregnancy occurs, it is no longer only the woman‚Äôs body¬†that is in question, as¬†the¬†baby is not a part of¬†her body,‚ÄĚ I explain.¬† ‚ÄúTell me how we know that the baby is not a part of the woman‚Äôs body.‚ÄĚ

The students then explain to me that the placenta¬†and the umbilical cord are¬†what separate the baby from the mother.¬†¬†This is important, as most people would view the placenta and the umbilical cord as a means by which the baby is¬†connected¬†to its mother and so make the fetus ‚Äúpart of her body.‚Ä̬† While it is true on the surface, a better and more truthful understanding is that¬†it‚Äôs the placenta and umbilical cord which¬†separate¬†the mother from the baby and prove that the fetus was never part of its mother‚Äôs body.¬† This is because the placenta and umbilical cord exist precisely because¬†the baby has a¬†different¬†and separate¬†circulatory system¬†from the mother¬†and their¬†blood¬†must not¬†intermingle.¬†¬†If something happens, such as a traumatic injury,¬†that causes their blood to mix, it can cause serious complications.

If the fetus were not a separate human being but were only another part of its mother’s body, it would not need a placenta and umbilical cord to separate them.  It could simply grow inside one of her body cavities like a tumor without any barriers between the two to protect each of them.

‚ÄúNow you¬†have established¬†that even though the baby and the placenta are in the uterus, they are not a part of the woman‚Äôs body. ¬†And even though the placenta is attached to the uterus,¬†it is no more¬†a part of her body than an earring or a watch is¬†when you wear them.¬†¬†So now we have determined that the baby is a¬†genetically¬†distinct¬†human, not a part of the woman‚Äôs body, and¬†that¬†it is alive, growing, and developing.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúWhat about cases¬†of¬†pregnancy that result from¬†rape?‚Ä̬†my students then ask.

According to research, 75-80% of women who become pregnant after rape choose to keep their babies rather than having an abortion.  Abortion is not an easy, consequence-free escape hatch.  It is not a delete button or reset switch.  It is an action all its own, with its own implications and consequences.  As such, it cannot undo a rape and erase the pain and trauma for the rape victim.  Abortion is the ending of a human life, a life which is as much the child of its mother as it is of its father.  It is an additional trauma for the woman, and so it compounds rather than ameliorates the trauma of rape.

Women who are pregnant from rape often choose to carry the pregnancy because they¬†recognize that the baby is still¬†their baby¬†despite the circumstances of its conception.¬† They also feel that having an abortion would be¬†undoing the¬†only¬†positive thing (the baby) that resulted from the rape, as it cannot ‚Äúundo‚ÄĚ the rape.¬†¬†While abortion exacerbates the pain of the rape victim, many find that having the child is a source of healing for them.

Additionally, many¬†rape victims¬†state that they do not want to punish an innocent baby because of the crime of the rapist.¬† If they were to do that, they would feel like they were¬†as bad as the rapist.¬† Victims of rape already suffer from feelings of guilt and shame over what happened to them, and part of the healing process involves releasing those feelings and recognizing that they are not responsible for what someone else did to them.¬† However, if they become pregnant from the rape and have an abortion, they are now burdened with actual rather than imagined guilt ‚Äď actual guilt for having committed a crime against an innocent victim ‚Äď which makes healing tremendously more difficult.¬†¬†Women who have had abortions report¬†suffering from¬†immense guilt afterwards, and they become¬†more burdened by the abortion than by the rape¬†itself¬†because they now feel like a perpetrator and a worse criminal than even the rapist.

My students also ask,¬†‚ÄúWhat about¬†abortion in¬†cases to save the mother‚Äôs life?‚Ä̬†There are statistics reported that less than 1% of abortions are performed to save the life or reduce health risks of¬†the mother.¬†¬†This statistic is¬†unreliable because it includes ectopic pregnancies which would not survive regardless because of¬†where the placenta is implanted.¬† The definition of an abortion is the termination of a human pregnancy to cause the death of a fetus, which is another reason why the removal of an ectopic pregnancy cannot be considered the same as an abortion. ¬†It is not performed for the sole purpose of ending the life of the fetus.¬†This statistic also¬†includes¬†abortions done for the mother‚Äôs mental health, because she allegedly cannot handle the stress of a baby born with¬†a genetic abnormality such as Trisomy¬†21 (Down Syndrome).¬†¬†Subtracting ‚Äúabortions‚ÄĚ to remove ectopic pregnancies and those which are performed for preserving a woman‚Äôs mental health, we find that statistic dwindle down to zero.¬† As the Association of Pro-Life Physicians¬†states,¬†an abortion is never needed to save the life of a mother and this argument should not be used as a support for abortion.

The argument that all abortions should be legal anytime for any reason because sometimes it is performed to save a mother’s life does not hold up under further scrutiny.  If you say that sometimes shooting a person can save the life of another, as in self-defense, can you then conclude that it should be okay to shoot people anytime, for any reason?

In the past when I have assisted with abortions, Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 2.32.59 PMI believed that it was acceptable because I was not actually performing the abortion and I was only taking care of the mother while the physician performed the abortion.  One day, I witnessed a saline abortion.  I watched the baby through the ultrasound as the doctor injected saline solution into the uterus.  Immediately the baby recoiled in pain as the saline started burning its skin.  I started crying and had to leave the room.  Later, when the doctor reprimanded me for my reaction, I told her that the abortion was barbaric and that I would never help with one again.

I¬†continued¬†to care for the women who were having¬†medical,¬†‚Äútherapeutic‚Ä̬†abortions. With these abortions, the labor is induced and the woman delivers an intact baby¬†which¬†will¬†then slowly die by suffocation.¬†¬†We wrap the baby in a blanket and the parents often want to hold the baby they are killing¬†and bond with it while it slowly suffocates, believing the lie they were told that the baby is not suffering.¬†There was one that was performed for what were dubious reasons, but the patient and her family were adamant that it needed to be done.¬†I arrived to work after the baby had already been born and had died.¬†I was supposed¬†to take the baby¬†to wrap it to go to the morgue, but¬†I¬†took the baby to another room and¬†held it while I¬†cried.¬†¬†I never helped with another abortion after that.

When I tell my students this story, it is always with great difficulty and they can tell that it still upsets me to this day.  I can still see that sweet little face of the dead baby.  I am crying while I am writing this, because I helped kill babies.

Although I was personally against abortion and believed that it is murder, I also felt that I could not impose my opinion on others.  I eventually realized that this makes no logical sense.  If I truly believe that abortion is wrong, that it kills an innocent person, and if I understand the facts of science that prove it is murder, then how can I say that it is ever okay for anyone to have the right to make that decision?  That is like saying that I think it is wrong to shoot the guy at the gas station, and I would not do it, but I cannot impose those beliefs on anyone else.  It’s like saying that even though I think it would be wrong to hold a pillow over the face of the stroke patient in the acute care facility, I shouldn’t impose my beliefs on anyone else.

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 2.38.41 PMWho do we think we are that we can decide that the preborn baby matters less than any other living human?  Is it okay to kill a person for convenience?  Is this really the kind of society in which we want to live?

I once attended a town hall meeting held by an elected state representative who was strongly pro-choice.  During the meeting she brought up the abortion issue and declared how proud she was of her support for women to have control of their own bodies and reproductive rights.  I thanked her for bringing up the topic and proceeded to explain to her the information I have discussed with my nursing students.  Many in attendance voiced agreement with my statements, and many also indicated they were not aware that the mother’s and baby’s blood do not mix and that the baby really is never a part of the woman’s body.

At this point, the representative told me that not everyone is a Christian and agrees with my opinion and that there is separation of church and state.  I told her that I am a nurse who values human life, and my views are based in biology, human anatomy and physiology, and not a particular religion.  The representative, now entirely frustrated, abruptly ended the meeting.  Afterwards, several people approached me simply to tell me that they had learned a lot and consequently had changed their minds about being pro-choice.

I have come to the realization that Roe v. Wade of 1973 and Planned Parenthood v. Casey of 1992 will likely never be overturned. Abortion is a surgery, it has risks. At the hospitals where I have worked there have been many patients who come to the ER, hemorrhaging and infected after having abortions in clinics. It is obvious from the ruling of the Supreme Court, which undermined the efforts in Texas to improve patient safety by requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as an outpatient surgical center, that the real motivation behind the legalization of abortion is not to protect women from bad doctors and unsafe conditions. Kermit¬†Gosnell, after all, still had plenty of patients.¬†¬†Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 2.56.11 PMNeither is the motivation¬†genuinely¬†‚Äúfor reproductive rights,‚ÄĚ as the Left proclaims.¬†¬†Rather it is, above all, a money making venture.

So what is a pro-life person to do to try to protect the pre-born child from being murdered by its own mother when abortion is legal, easily accessible, and actually applauded as it was at the Democratic National Convention?  I believe we need to become advocates of the preborn through educating people, even if it is one at a time. Every time you can educate one person, hopefully they in turn will educate another about the realities of what abortion is.

From my experiences at the town hall meeting and from teaching my students, I have realized that the majority of people who are pro-choice have taken that position because society has told them that it‚Äôs the reasonable, civilized position.¬† It tells them that there is no logical conflict between being personally against abortion and not willing to ‚Äúimpose‚ÄĚ your feelings on anyone else.¬†Their positions have not been well thought-out or researched.¬† Their positions are based on ignorance at the personal level and trust in a system which they believe to be morally upright and scientifically objective.¬† However, once people become educated in the facts of biology and fetal development and they think about them rationally, they will more often than not come to change their attitudes towards abortion.

I have had numerous students tell me that they were very comfortable being pro-choice even though they were personally opposed to abortion. They say that after our conversation they realize how illogical that is, and that they are now pro-life. Other students were involved in school debates in which they were told they had to represent the pro-choice side of the abortion argument. This was their motivation for asking me what my position is. They said they were no longer pro-choice and could not argue for pro-choice because now they recognized that it is wrong.

What I’d like you to learn from this if you are pro-life is that you need not be afraid of speaking about abortion and your pro-life position with those who are pro-choice.  The internet is full of vocal and volatile abortion advocates who want to intimidate you into silencing your voice, but do not be deceived into thinking that the majority of pro-choice people will be verbally abusive and hostile toward you.  Most of them are actually reasonable people who can be reached and persuaded by the facts, but you have to be willing to present them with your well-reasoned arguments.

You can find similar opportunities to teach people as I do. Be prepared to answer questions with facts, and be polite and calm.  You, too, can attend town hall meetings held by elected representatives.  Regardless of what party the elected official belongs to, she is there to represent everyone, not just the members of the same party.

Pro-life advocates have been too focused on the legality of abortion ‚Äston the supply¬†‚Ästand not focused enough on the demand.¬† I have had patients, who had been planning on having abortions, but developed cramping and bleeding at 16 or 20 weeks and went to the emergency department. They are sent to labor and delivery where we treat them as we do all of our patients, with efforts to preserve the pregnancy. Part of the care includes a lot of teaching about what is going on, listening to the heart beat, and doing ultrasounds.¬† We talk about their baby and what we are doing to make sure the baby is okay. These women will confide that they had been planning on getting an abortion but now that they have seen and heard their baby and see how much we cared about them and their baby, and treated the pregnancy as being important and special, they no longer want to get an abortion.

We can combat the abortion industry through education, through conversation with our friends and coworkers.  It will not matter that abortion is legal if there is a dwindling demand, if the people have decided that they do not want what their progressive government is peddling.  Our friends and family members and coworkers are listening, so it’s time we start offering a different message than the one that the media bombards them with.

Cynthia, DNP, ACNS-BC, is a registered nurse with twenty-eight years experience working in low and high risk obstetrics, and eight years working medical surgical and hospice nursing. Cynthia has also been a nursing instructor for seventeen years. She holds a masters degree in adult health nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice with a certificate in nursing education.

 

 

 

                                            Note from Margery Warder:

I¬†appreciated being able to have “Cynthia’s” blog appear on my website’s blog. Just for your information, the images on this page (and on several other blogs, though not all) come via “Pixabay” which is a great service for those of us who need to add a little “pizazz” to our words. ūüôā You can go to¬†https://pixabay.com for thousands of choices about images to include in your work.¬†

Should I Commit to a “Labor of Love”?

Facebook is, or at can be, a wonderful thing. ¬†For me, it’s like going out on a walk and meeting people I know. Most are people who I’ve cared about and if they’re having a tough day, it’s nice to¬†be able to encourage.Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 10.59.17 AM

If they’re celebrating, I can join in. If¬†they’ve just laughed, I can share their joke.¬†Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 10.59.06 AM

If they’re blowing off steam, I can click “Hide” so others aren’t mowed down by their foul mood or angry spouting. I like to spare¬†people embarrassing moments if I can.

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 10.59.24 AM

Today, however, I saw that a friend’s outlook had tears because this is the time of year when she misses loved ones. It was her sister’s birthday and near the dates of the deaths of her parents. I thought I’d add a short note to a gentle comment one of her friends had posted. But I should have known the “novelist” part of me would kick in. The note grew. And grew. I hope my words comforted my friend, but in the process of writing, I gained an insight I had been sitting on. ūüôā

The friend of my friend had posted that memories of loved ones are God’s gift to us. I liked that and agreed, interjecting that “good” and even humorous memories of times with our loved ones are God’s gift to us. Isn’t it our hope that our loved ones mostly recall our “good” times with them rather than the times we lost our cool or uttered words we regretted? I spent a sentence or two pondering what our lives would be like if we were incapable of remembering those times and only operated in the present and future. We all do well to remember the best of our past. (Oh, my. There is a rabbit trail sitting here about selective memories and I shall sniff that blog out another day… but the scent is so strong! ūüôā )

I wanted to offer a way I found consolation in the love I had for my mother in the years following her death. She had lived a full life and died as a well-loved and esteemed woman. However, Mom had stories and poems she had wanted to reach a wider audience, and those papers and notebooks and boxes became fixtures in my office after she left for her mansion along a golden street. She may be working on new ones there, but the ones she left here would disappear if I didn’t do something with them.

My husband and a couple others pitched in to help me begin typing Mom’s writings up so I could format them into a book. We added several of her answers to grandchildren’s questions from a couple of those “grandparents” books. I found other materials, like when we kids all wrote Mom and Dad on their 40th anniversary or when Mom, then a widow, was celebrating her 50 years on the farm she and Dad had purchased. I added editorial comment in a few places, and a poem I’d written as an “Ode to the Old Farm House” which Mom never saw. I wrote that as if the house was speaking to Mom as she aged. We kids knew Mom needed to move out and resettled, after 68 years, in a smaller house closer to one of us. It’s a sentimental poem about the love the house and Mom had for each other, and my sister liked it but she said, “Don’t show it to Mom or we won’t ever get her to move out.” (Oh, that’s another rabbit trail with a strong scent. Ignoring those take a lot of self-control!)

A few months later, we brought “Astrid’s Gift to Her Loved Ones” to a family reunion. Now that book is in the hands of her children and grandchildren and will likely remain available on the Internet for years to come. I thought perhaps my friend might consider doing something similar for her loved ones. But as I wrote that, I knew perhaps putting a book together might hold any interest for my friend. That made me stop and think.

Why had I spent countless hours creating Mom’s book of poetry, stories, and answers to grandchildren’s questions?¬†Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 10.45.43 AM

I have often said I brought Mom’s book into being as a labor of love. While working on it, I had feelings similar to the labor of love that had me spending three weeks emptying Mom’s house so it could be rented after we moved Mom across the driveway of my brother and sister-in-law. A labor of love. One doesn’t really count the cost or keep track of the hours in a labor of love. Probably I used the term because I have birthed two children and while I can’t be certain I totally agree we moms forget forever the pain in the delivery (otherwise why was I ready to panic when I had gas pains a few weeks after the births?), it was love for the little one that helped us endure the labor.

But as I wrote on my friend’s post, I realized putting Astrid’s Gift to Her Loved Ones was more than a labor of love on my part. I did it for Mom’s loved ones and for me, but I did it because Mom had wanted her words to reach more people. Why had those words not been published? A few had been published when submitted to editors, but most poems and stories had been neither submitted nor published. Mom, my humble mother, probably liked words of affirmation, because she certainly gave words of affirmation to others, but she likely felt few publishers wanted to affirm her writing. (Poetry rarely gets published in anything, even today and I have a theory on a rabbit trail for that, too, but it has to do with an unwillingness to spend time thinking over the meaning and intention of words.)

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 10.55.49 AM

What insight had I sat on? I think I put together Mom’s book, “Astrid’s Gift to Her Loved Ones”, because it was my way to honor an intention Mom had left undone. Mom had left a task unfinished and I could do something about it. When I held the finished book in my hands and thumbed through Mom’s poems and stories, I thought, “Mom would be so pleased” and “Mom would be so surprised” and with excitement, “Mom, you are now published!”

Before the end of my comment on my friend’s post, I said maybe a book wasn’t a solution for my friend, but perhaps she could think of a little thing her loved ones had left undone that she could do. My caveat, however, was that what she took up to finish for them ought not prohibit her completion of what her life is about. We do, I strongly believe, have a God-given call upon each of our lives and fulfilling that call to the best of our ability has to be a high priority. For me, getting Mom’s writing out to others coincided with what I believe is part of God’s call upon my life.

For others? What did a loved one leave undone? Maybe a loved one left a child who will need someone to remember them on a ¬†birthday. (Mom sent cards to several of her nieces and nephews after their parents died – I should be so thoughtful!) Maybe that loved one sponsored a child in another land. Maybe he/she volunteered somewhere. Maybe it’s an unfinished quilt or a woodworking project. Maybe it’s a garden’s produce or maybe purchasing a plant for a hospital waiting room would be a nice touch as a way to honor the one who died. Maybe the loved one cherished the music at the church that needs a contribution for that new piano. Or loved the church that needs a new furnace or is sorely missing a volunteer to teach children. Maybe a loved one would be honored by supporting a 4-H project or an after-school club or by making a donation to a service organization like Salvation Army or a good veterans program.

Don’t get me wrong. We don’t have to take on any unfinished project of a loved one. Sometimes just tying up the loose ends is closure enough. But if we have a hankering to lock in on finishing one of their incomplete projects or dreams, it might be that it will help us bring about a more peaceful and pleasant closure to our grief. We can’t, of course, let the project of another consume us.¬†We aren’t to live our children’s lives vicariously and we aren’t to relive our lost loved one’s lives. We will be accountable for how we spent our own earth time, but maybe finishing another’s task for them might be part of our mission, too. That’s something to think about. For me, I still miss my parents, but the lump and tears are much less likely because I tenderly worked to be certain they would be remembered more fully with many of Mom’s words about their lives in print.

Let’s each spend our day, grateful God gave it to us. We have responsibilities for which we will be accountable. You take up yours and I’ll do my best to take up mine. I’ve not finished all I hoped to do, not even all the writing that rumbles around in my head or sits unformatted on my computer, but if you’re interested, here’s a look at how I’ve handled the “writing” for which I feel accountable.

 

A “PS” to this post —

My husband and I are in the process of figuring out how we can more efficiently guide others through a process of creating a book that could become a keepsake. If you’re interested in more details, email me at margerywarder@gmail.com and let’s talk details. Caution — I like¬†to help others, but I need to heed my own advice: I can’t let other’s¬†projects consume my life. My “helping time” segment is devoted to wholesome writing.¬†

 

 

 

For me, it’s like going out on a walk and meeting people I know. Most are people who I’ve cared about and if they’re having a tough day, it’s nice to be able to encourage.

If You Want to Learn More about Jesus… Part II

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 1.27.44 PMIn an earlier blog, I wrote about the focus of the Gospel of Matthew, and below, I’ll share a few thoughts I have gleaned about the Gospel of Mark.¬†Both of these gospels are found in the first few pages of the New Testament. Just to review, in Matthew, the author highlighted aspects of Jesus Christ’s earthly life that could help demonstrate to those following the Jewish history, that Jesus Christ is of King David’s line, thus giving Him the right to sit on the throne. If you’ve taken time to read Matthew, you might have noticed that the travelers from the East came to King Herod and asked, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews?” Throughout Matthew, Jesus is presented as the Promised One, the anticipated Messiah and the “kingdom of heaven” or “kingdom of God” is an often used phrase. Questions we could ask ourselves might be: Who sits on the throne in my life? Am I determining what to go after in life or am I consulting King Jesus? Perhaps more basic: Have I bowed before King Jesus and asked to become part of His forever kingdom?

The fast-paced second gospel in the New Testament moves quickly through the activities within the ministry years of Jesus’s life. ¬†In Matthew, we learned God’s Son can rightly reign, and will. What we discover in Mark is that Jesus takes upon Himself both the attitude and the role of being a servant. Because He is and was God’s Son, He could have had others wait on Him and continually bow in His presence or rush to see that all His needs are quickly met. That is not how a servant would act. Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. In Mark 10:45, Jesus is speaking about Himself when He says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (New American Standard Version -NASB). We’ll think a bit more about the last half of that verse in a couple paragraphs.

So, what would you expect to read in Mark if God wanted the author to show how willingly Jesus came to earth to be a servant?¬†In Mark, we read instances of Jesus caring for others’ needs. Let’s just wade in a few verses and soak up what we can learn about Jesus. If you have your Bible handy and can mark in it, note how many times the word “immediately” appears. If you don’t have a Bible handy, you can open the book of Mark by clicking here.¬†

In the first chapter of Mark, Jesus encounters a man controlled by an evil spirit, so Jesus commands the evil spirit to leave the man. It does.¬†A few verses later, Jesus and a few of his fishermen-becoming-disciples are in a home.¬† There Jesus heals the woman who is ill. Word spreads “immediately” and Jesus, the Servant, continues caring for the needs of the people. He teaches God’s Truth and He cares of the people. Lepers are healed, demons are cast out, and the news just cannot be kept quiet. So by the end of the first forty-five verses that make up chapter one, crowds are eagerly gathering to meet Jesus.

Interestingly, even within the first chapter, we see that Jesus is in communion with Father God.¬†When Jesus submitted to baptism at the beginning of His ministry, God spoke from heaven saying, “Thou art my beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased” (Chapter 1:11). ¬†In verse 35, we read that after the busy day of healing, Jesus got up during the night and walked out to a quiet place to spend time in prayer. He’s God’s Son. He has the power to heal. He possesses wisdom. He can read hearts and minds. He will, after His crucifixion and resurrection, head on back to Heaven, but Jesus sets aside time to pray, to spend time talking to God in heaven. A question we might ask ourselves could be: Who do I think I am if I try to get through my days without praying?

A question we might ask ourselves: If we had a choice between having a prayer answered for healing or perhaps for a financial or other need we’re concerned about OR having our sins forgiven, which would we choose? Think about that for a moment. We read about the difference in Mark.

Sometimes our eyes are so focused on our “now” instead of “eternity.” In the early part of Mark, Jesus, because He is God, says to a paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven” and the mumblers in the crowd rightfully claim, “No one but God can forgive sins…” It’s easy to criticize them from a distance of about 2000 years, but their statement was essentially accurate. God is the One who forgives sins. We can ‘make amends’ and ‘straighten things out’ when we’ve wronged another, but forgiving the sin to its bottomline? That’s up to God.

The critics in Mark have correct theology about who forgives sins, but they fail to realize God has just spoken to the paralytic. They didn’t grasp the truth that God was standing in their presence. Consequently, Jesus demonstrates His authority to forgive sins by doing a miracle – healing the paralytic. I’m thankful Jesus did the healing, but ponder a bit my earlier question – which is most important to you — healing/answered prayer or forgiveness? One would matter, perhaps, for a few months or years – the other matters for eternity. Forgiveness of sins is the difference between heading for hell or being welcomed into heaven and we cannot earn heaven; God will not permit a speck of sin in heaven and we can’t get all chummy and ask Him to overlook our sins. Jesus died to deal with the penalty our sins have coming. Jesus is our only hope for peace between us and Holy God. If you want a bit more on how Jesus is our only hope of heaven, pray for a heart to understand and peek ahead at the gospel of John and read until God convicts you of your sin, arrests you long enough for you to understand how to be forgiven and become one of thousands in God’s forever family. If you go there, this image will be even more meaningful:Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 12.55.45 PM

Mark is action-packed.¬†The Servant is on the move in the sixteen short chapters. He calls his twelve disciples, which includes one who will turn away from Jesus. These twelve will spend about three years walking throughout the region, listening as Jesus teaches in synagogues and situations and watching as Jesus ministers to those in need. He is often called “Teacher” in this gospel because teachers serve and teach their students.¬†Incidentally,¬†if you are someone who has trouble reading, you can catch a whole short story about Jesus within a few verses. If you do seem to have a short attention span or need a fast-moving storyline to keep your attention, Mark might become your favorite Gospel. Most of the incidents change rapidly, but you’ll want to try to capture all the truth you can from those short glimpses into Jesus’s earthly life.¬†

Remember I mentioned earlier that we’d return to the second part of Mark 10:45? There we read that Servant Jesus came to give His life as a ransom for many. Let’s take that apart for a moment. What is a “ransom”? In the dictionary we read that ransom refers to a payment in exchange for the release of captives. We sinners were the captives who needed to be ransomed; we needed someone to pay for our release? Otherwise, our sin debt would be left unpaid in God’s eyes and therefore we would have no right to become His family and spend eternity with Him. Would you not agree that our basic nature is selfish and sinful? Holy God cannot allow sinners into heaven. In Romans, we read that the wages we collect for our sinfulness is death, separation from God. That’s not what we’d want, right? Most of us would fear being sentenced to an eternity in hell and eagerly choose to spend eternity instead in the peaceful and loving presence of God. Being with God after our earth time ends is possible because of Servant Jesus Christ who gave up His life by dying on the cross to be the sacrifice for our sins. He was sinless, just as the earlier sin sacrifices had to be without blemish. God demonstrated that He approved of “the price” for our redemption because God raised Jesus Christ to life after Jesus had been buried for three days after the horrific crucifixion. Praise the Lord, the cross and the tomb are empty! Sin’s debt has been paid!¬†Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 1.09.40 PM

Perhaps it is fitting to close this brief summary of Mark with the reminder that each of us can act upon the fact that Jesus Christ has paid our sin debt.¬†Does the price paid, however, do any good in bringing us into a loving relationship with God if we don’t ask that the ransom be applied to our “sin account”? After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to various people. When Mary Magdalene rushed to tell His other followers that she’d seen Him, they were reluctant to believe their beloved dead friend had come back to life. Jesus appeared to two of His followers and it took them awhile to realize it truly was the Risen Jesus. They rushed back to tell others Jesus was risen and those who listened just couldn’t believe that was true. Jesus then appeared to the eleven who had spent most of three years with Him, and the Bible says, Jesus “reproached” them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because of their refusal to believe reports others had given them. But, thankfully, their minds and hearts changed and they began spreading the “Good News” about the Risen Lord, even when it cost them their lives.

Jesus said, in the last verses of Mark,¬†God into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved, but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned….” (Mark 16:15, 16).¬†

Remembering the Campbell Family Reunions in Huntress Park

So, my husband happened to find a paragraph from the Clifton News regarding a family reunion.¬†August is good month for reunions — just before children and teachers head back to school and weather is fairly predictable.¬†I’m not sure of the publication date of the newspaper, but the snippet is about the August 22nd Campbell reunion on a Sunday afternoon in Huntress Park (Clay Center, Kansas) in 1937. It would be almost a decade before I would keep Mom walking the floors as her newborn “night owl”.

My parents were in attendance, having just married a year earlier.¬†The article doesn’t tell who brought what that Sunday after church, but it does tell who was in attendance. Some of the people I knew, and some had died before my birth. It was a “Campbell” reunion and that was because Mr. and Mrs. John Campbell had settled in Kansas somewhere around a half century earlier. How do I know that? Well, by the early 1890’s, my grandfather, A. A. Kisby was married to the Campbell’s daughter, Grace. AA and Grace eventually birthed seven children and though some were still at home in 1937, some married ones were still in the area. A couple of them would remain within walking distance of A A’s wood burning stove.

But the Campbells hosting this reunion had other children¬†besides the daughter that married my grandfather. I believe 13 Campbell siblings survived into adulthood. Several of them were at the reunion. Some, naturally, had scattered to other regions or couldn’t attend the event that required pies made the day before and wood-burning stoves to cooperate while most spent the morning in church before their drive to the park about twenty miles away for a few of them.

Here’s who attended that Campbell reunion:¬†Mr. and Mrs.John Campbell, Mr. and Mrs. Dave Campbell and daughters, Mr. and Mrs. A A Kisby and family, Mr. and Mrs. Earl Kisby, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kisby and family, Mr. and Mrs. George Kisby and Lloyd, Mr. and Mrs. W.W. Cassett, Mr. and Mrs. George Taddiken and family, Mr. and Mrs. Dve Clrk and Marion, Mr.and Mrs. Robert Clark, Mr. and Mrs. Adelbert Loyd and Lorraine and Mr. and Mrs. Fred Renier and family.

That Campbell reunion eventually become less “yearly,” though we grandchildren of Mr. and Mrs. John Campbell certainly spent one Sunday afternoon in Huntress Park for many years.¬†By the time we came along, or shortly thereafter, Huntress Park added a swimming pool which, after renting, yes, renting, swimsuits, we could use while the adults visited under the shade trees following ¬†their business meeting. Funny how the two main things I remember about the rented swim suits heaped together in wire baskets were that they were faded and mine usually came with an oversized shiny silvery safety pin to adjust or attach the strap. Can you imagine renting a bleached out swimsuit these days? Can you imagine outgrowing one and donating it to the swimming pool as an act of charity. On the other hand, for those of us who only swam once or twice a summer, and that was sometimes in a creek after we checked for water moccasins, renting a suit was logical.

¬†There are stories about the reunion events and some of the people who attended, but that’s is for another time. Eventually the reunion moved from the park to a meeting place inside, then to one of the farms of the grand/great-grandchildren of Mr. and Mrs. John Campbell. One of the last gatherings was held at my brother’s in conjunction with my mother’s 95th birthday. We made ice cream, but we plugged in the freezer so it’d churn, so that alone might have made the old-timers think our generation lacked initiative. I think all, though, would have smiled when we guests toured the hoe and fire tool manufacturing operation my brother started a few decades ago. Naturally, like good Campbells, non-essential work is not done on Sundays.

I’m concerned fewer families hold family reunions now.¬†I find that sobering. Siblings scatter far from each other, even out of country. Only with concerted effort, times with grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins happen at least once a year. Families splinter and marriages crumble so that gatherings start having less “history in common” and awkward questions get asked and answered with greater vagueness. The “remember whens” too often leave heads tilted and eyes squinting and then someone realizes the event was with someone not at the reunion, maybe even now part of another less structured family reunion. .

I think one of the saddest comments I ever heard happened a few decades ago around Thanksgiving. A pleasant young man had walked my groceries to the car with me and, being the conversationalist I am, I asked if he was looking forward to a Thanksgiving dinner. He wasn’t. I was so surprised and with but a little, “Really, why not?” from me, he explained. His parents, and I guess, his grandparents, weren’t still married. He said he had so many grandparents he didn’t know them all, but with the various ways his family had been scrambled and recombined, he’d be going lots of places and ¬†none would feel like family. Isn’t that heart-breaking? What has happened? I say this with less levity than it might read: we don’t have family trees anymore; we have family vines.

God intended for a husband and wife to marry and raise a family in spite of the inevitable difficulties. Life can be going right even when it’s hard. When there’s abuse, no question – get out to a safe place. But when the disagreements are because we didn’t get our way, grow up. If I were running the world, and you can rest tonight knowing I’m not, I wouldn’t even let children remain in the home with a live-in arrangement because that is proof there is no commitment to the welfare of anyone but the “number ones” who set up the arrangement. I am sick of stories about maimed and killed children because some sleep in leech lost his temper or some drugged out female couldn’t remember she had children to care for. I love “grace” and “forgiveness” but grow up and assume the responsibilities or take the consequences. Children deserve a good home.

Bottomline? We need more family reunions that celebrate family.¬†That 1937 Campbell reunion had a major war ahead of them and some dust storms and crops would be eaten by grasshoppers. Within the next few years, several who sat at the picnic tables that Sunday afternoon would die. There were farm accidents ahead for some. Marriages and births would come along so there would be happy times, but there would be hard times, too. They would cry together and they would laugh together over the course of the next few years. They would visit in each other’s homes from time to time . . . because they were family and they cared about each other. I know at the elaborate gatherings held at the A A Kisby house, guests would not begin their meals without prayer and they would not get back in the buggies or cars until they had sung together, “God Be with You ‘Til We Meet Again.”

When our line of the Campbell descendants held our several-day reunion last summer, we didn’t go to Huntress Park. We came in from several states and one family came from out of country. Of course, not all could attend, but those who came visited lots of sites our ancestors knew as everyday places. We did a lot of visiting and catching up. We extended our gathering to include both of our parents side of the family for part of the time together. We siblings and our children remembered, because it is how each of us do life, to pray before each meal, and sure enough, as we got ready to pile into cars headed in different directions, we sang “God Be with You ‘Til We Meet Again.”

This ole gal shed a few tears as we sang that parting song.¬†We had one uncle left of the previous generation and we were short several cousins. There are no guarantees everyone who gathered last summer will attend the next reunion. Life is short and in many ways, unpredictable. Bottom-line, if you’ve not had a family reunion lately, August is a good month to hold one. If you hold a grudge instead of a reunion, August is a good month to get rid of the grudge. So was July and so is September. October… You get the picture – grudges get in the way of good mental health and surely you’re old enough now to realize none of us is perfect. Be the best example at your next family reunion so that when you’re no longer able to attend, people will remember your kind and thoughtful ways.

 

 

 

The heresy of worshiptainment

Have you been to “Secret Church” with David Platt? Our church hosted an event and it was six hours, fast-moving information. Would you go to church next Sunday if we were to get out hymnals and sing while the organ played — or a piano? Would you go if there was no music? Hmm. Consider this blog from Mike Livingstone and let me know your thoughts.

Mike Livingstone

The great heresy of the church today is that we think we‚Äôre in the entertainment business. A.W. Tozer believed this to be true back in the 1950s and 60s. Church members ‚Äúwant to be entertained while they are edified.‚ÄĚ He said that in 1962. Tozer grieved, even then, that it was ‚Äúscarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction was God.‚ÄĚ*

More recently, David Platt has asked: ‚ÄúWhat if we take away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would His Word still be enough for his people to come together?‚ÄĚ (Radical)

Would it be enough?

Tozer got it right: ‚ÄúHeresy of method may be as deadly as heresy of message.‚ÄĚ

HALLOWEDNESS, NOT SHALLOWNESS

Like Tozer, we…

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Want Help Deciding What to Serve Dinner Guests?

Let’s suppose you have guests coming tomorrow night for dinner. Maybe now you’ve looked around your home and in your cupboards and you’re wondering what made you think you wanted to have dinner guests.¬†You’re not going to call and cancel, right?

Hooray for you to inviting guests. Too few entertain at home.¬†Sure you might have to fuss a little, but mealtimes are a wonderful way to create or nurture friendships. Have you noticed that it’s so much easier to remember the names of people once you’ve eaten a meal with them? Don’t get upset with yourself for stepping out and inviting company over for a meal. You are investing in others and the benefits for the years ahead may amaze you. Using your kitchen and table is at least as effective as social media interactions, right?

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Two questions will probably arise for most who choose to host others for a meal at home. Either question can be a priority: How do you get ready for guests and what do you serve once the guests arrive?

Of course, if possible, before guests arrive we’d want to get a few things picked up.¬†I have a theory that very few people live in “company-ready” houses. Why? Houses turn into homes when we really live there. We remember how pristine the place we call home looked before we moved our things in — lots of bare spaces and spotlessness. Now that we’re here, with maybe others we call family, the space just isn’t the same. That’s okay. I think it was Tony Evans who said in a sermon something like, my paraphrase: “When we invite people over and say, ‘Make yourself at home,’ we really just mean, ‘Don’t go around opening doors and looking in drawers. Just stay in the specified rooms.'”

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Either because of work away from the house or because those of us who live inside the house aren’t perfect about keeping everything in its designated place, we probably need a good half hour to get ready for company.¬†I say, or at least I used to say, I could get a few guest areas presentable in half an hour if I worked at heart-attack speed. One tip I learned from a good housekeeper included having a couple “catch-alls” for items that defy order. Attractive baskets or similar spots can “temporarily home” the books we’re reading or the projects we’ve spread around. Life’s not always perfect — no, hold on. Life’s not always orderly, but it might be a lot closer to perfect than we think. I’m glad I do most of the things I do…I just create a little chaos as I do life. How about you?

But before you and I get carried away by cleaning, there’s something else vying for our attention. Even though clutter needs to be gathered, the floor needs going over, and the dishwasher needs to run so guests can have clean plates and silverware when you set the table before the guests arrive, might anxiety be a distraction as we dash here and there? Why? Because we must take a little time to plan the dinner menu. retro-1321069_1280Do we even have items we need to create the total menu?

“De-caff” a minute for a quick jaunt down Memory Lane. Remember when food tasted, well, different? When almost all the food that came to the table left telltale traces of flour dust on a counter rather than cellophane or small cardboard boxes?¬†For some, the journey has to go back one generation; for others, the aproned women who really knew their way around the kitchen labored without many of our conveniences in generations two or three before we began our puttering. What if you could bring back great meals because someone coached you step-by-step?¬†

An option for individuals trying to get comfortable in the¬†kitchen so they can prepare a whole meal that is healthy for family and guests is now available in a newly published cookbook.¬†Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 11.15.46 PM¬†Cathey Cook grew up in the South and knows her way around the garden as well as her kitchen, some of which she’s helped her husband build from the foundation upward. (Our family was able to help a little with one of those when we lived near each other in Texas.)

Cathey’s Simple Cooking recipe book provides the complete instructions for twelve different dinner¬†menus. If you buy her book, you practically have your grocery list in order because she has planned the complete meal, start to finish.¬†I’ve looked the book over, and better yet, I’ve eaten at her table, so I know these are going to be helpful for years to come. You’ll also pick up “down home” tips from her website when you stop by there. Did you know, for example, that not all teaspoons of salt are the same? Click here to go to Cathey’s website and learn more about her cooking.

One final tip: Before you take time to purchase or arrange to have the food delivered to your home, I‚Äôd suggest you politely ask your guests if any of them have a food allergy or require a special diet. Years ago, I never asked, ‚ÄúAre there foods you need to avoid?‚ÄĚ Now I almost always ask. So many today not only have food preferences, they have foods they cannot digest or that are strictly forbidden by their physicians. Asking if there are foods they can‚Äôt eat may seem a little awkward but actually you are showing respect for them and politely asking them to compensate with respect for you. Knowing foods to avoid saves them embarrassment and your time and money. The conversations will flow more easily if someone isn‚Äôt breaking out in hives or trying to make a plate look complete without food. I also often serve a platter with ample thin slice meats and narrow slices of rich desserts. Meats and desserts are generally my most expensive parts of the meal. I can offer seconds much more comfortably than watching fixed-income dollars being scraped into my trashcan or disposal. At our home, we find some leftovers age very well.

So, bottom line, if you‚Äôre having guests, remember why you wanted to have them in your home. You want to show another person honor. You want to know your guests better. Perhaps you want to thank them for past thoughtfulness. Meals are one way to give a blessing (Oh, by the way, saying a blessing at your meal is a great idea, too. Think a little about the prayer you might offer. If you plan to ask one of your guests to ask the ‚Äúblessing‚ÄĚ before the meal, it‚Äôs polite to quietly tip that guest ahead of time.)

We have been guests in many homes, and we‚Äôve had many guests in our home for meals, too. Sometimes that meal builds a framework for years of back and forth friendships. When I taught second grade, we were invited to the home of one of my students whose mother helped occasionally in my classroom. They had come to the United States from Lebanon and I felt so honored to be invited to their home. The day of the dinner, I became horribly ill with a rapid onset of bronchitis and I had to leave school before classes were over. Consequently we had to cancel the evening meal with them. Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 11.13.59 PMWhen we rescheduled for a couple weeks later (I couldn’t teach for a few days because I was so ill), I learned the student‚Äôs father had taken off work to help prepare the meal we did not eat. On the way to the home where we were going to eat, I said to my husband, ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt want to offend our hostess, so if I really can‚Äôt make myself eat some strange dish, I‚Äôm going to say I am so full and will you finish it up for me?‚ÄĚ (Sometime I might tell the story about how I know my husband will eat just about anything.) ¬†He agreed to be ready in case we were served something I couldn’t finish. I cleaned up my plate that evening. All four in our family loved all they served, including spinach pies and cabbage rolls which I’ve since served numerous times. We have such good memories of that evening around their table.

The best part of the dinner invitation, though, happened because that night our two families began a long-term friendship.¬†The hostess taught me to make several Lebanese dishes and long after the daughter left second grade, our families enjoyed activities together. One of the nicest compliments we ever received was when they called one Saturday morning to see if we’d be willing to come for leftovers from a dinner they’d hosted the night before. Friends can do that, and their leftovers were superb!

Eventually both of our families moved out of Texas.¬†It’s now thirty years later, and we’ve been in touch again through social media even though at times we’ve lived, literally, half a world apart. Many Christmas Eve‚Äôs when ministry kept us from gathering with my Swedish relatives, our little family opted for ‚ÄúMiddle Eastern food” because we liked thinking that maybe we were eating a little bit like families ate in the culture into which our Savior was born.

Inviting guests for a meal may do far more than you expect.  Enjoy your guests!