The First Week of Advent: Hope and Time

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” John 1:1-5.

“He, through Whom time was made, loved us so much He was made in time for us.” Augustine, qtd. in God Above All.

Christ came from outside time to experience its limitations–days that were too short–nights, too long. He suffered in time without relief or reprieve.

It’s hard for us to imagine being outside time. How often every day do we check the clock or wonder how to get to the next task or place on time? We vacillate between wishing for more time and hoping minutes would pass more quickly.

We understand that He placed us in time but did not intend for us to remain in it always.

“. . . He has also set eternity in the human heart . . .” Ecclesiastes 3:11.

Since eternity is in our hearts, we squirm under the pressures of time–too much or not enough during our earthly lives.

Even so, Christ calls us contemplate the true meaning of His birth, life, and death. He invites us to respond to His call and so find hope.

“He came to this poor earth of ours to carry on an exchange; to say to us, as only the Good God could say: ‘you give me your humanity, and I will give you my Divinity; you give me your time, and I will give you My eternity; you give me your broken heart, and I will give you Love; you give me your nothingness, and I will give you My all,” Fulton J. Sheen

This exchange requires our time and devotion. In our humanity, in time, with broken hearts, and in our nothingness, we find hope in Him.

This first week of Advent when we ponder hope, hush your waiting heart. Hush your hurrying heart. His all awaits. Welcome, Christmas. Welcome Christ.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Faithfulness, No Matter What

“Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, . . . and he said, “When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live. So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.” So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them, Exodus 1:15-20, (NASB).  

It hadn’t always been like that for the Hebrews in Egypt. Joseph had risen in influence and authority. In a time of famine, he brought his father, his brothers, and their families to the land where food was available. Over time, the famine subsided, but Joseph died, and a new Pharoah ascended. Life for the Hebrews in Egypt changed.

Did they notice small changes, little limitations, and growing oppression? Or did life change all at once in one day?

Do we notice the changes around us?

Throughout our lives, era blends into era almost without our noticing. Social mores take on different hues and shades and before we know it, society has taken itself to a new place.

Jake Meador: “In a hedonistic world [during the 1990s to 2010s], hostility to Christianity . . . was mostly centered around Christians being a moral buzzkill. But in our new moralistic world [from the 2010s to today], it’s not simply that Christianity is boring or not fun, but that Christianity is actively harmful because it suggests that there are some types of authentic selves [identities] that are actually bad and should not be privately accepted or publicly expressed.”

This change from a hedonistic era to a moralistic one happened gradually yet arrived more suddenly than we imagined it could.

Our times never stand still. We move forward and backward as a culture, not in a linear fashion. We’ve moved forward, for example, by establishing fairness in workplace laws regarding ethnicity and gender, but backward in other ways, embracing sin, then celebrating it, then insisting on approval for it.

Leonard Sax, MD, PhD, and Louise Perry in their respective books agree that Americans assume societal movement is always progress and always good. As Sax says, in this viewpoint, progress “has a smooth, upward trajectory albeit with a few hiccups.” Such a viewpoint, Perry points out, “encourages us to ignore both the ways in which things may have become worse over time and the advice offered by older generations.

That so many see our faith as not only passe but also “bad” for society is not something Christians can simply ignore. The crucial question becomes: How do we maintain our faith and faith communities in such an environment?

More from Meador: “What will primarily sustain the church in this moment is plain to any student of church history, for it is what has always sustained the church: the grace of God offered to us through the preaching of the Word and the Sacraments, which equip us to live lives of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. What sustained the church then was a quiet confidence in the providence of God, a patient resilience amidst suffering, and a humble reliance on God to give what is needed, in life and death. If we would lean upon those resources, they could sustain us today as well.”

The Hebrew midwives in Egypt knew honoring God was more important than obeying a wrong decree. God blessed them by placing them within families, perhaps providing a measure of safety not otherwise available. For many Hebrews, life got harder–until God sent a rescuer.

Today we wait for our promised rescuer.

And like the midwives of long ago, we must remain faithful until the day.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Taking Sex Seriously: The Case Against the Sexual Revolution by Louise Perry

Sex Must Be Taken Seriously.

Men and Women Are Different.

Some Desires Are Bad.

Loveless Sex Is Not Empowering.

Consent Is Not Enough.

Violence Is Not Love.

People Are Not Products.

Marriage Is Good.

Those are the chapter titles in Louise Perry’s book The Case Against the Sexual Revolution: A New Guide to Sex in the 21st Century. It’s the kind of information and advice a mother (one who is wise or became so the hard way) would give her daughter to help her understand how to navigate youth and early adulthood with minimal wounds of body and soul.

I write often about the consequences of abortion on all involved. Yet abortion isn’t an isolated wound. It’s one in a series of injuries that often begins with the idea that we need not take sex seriously, that sex is not about commitment, reproduction, and raising the next generation, but that it’s about amusement and recreation and can be devoid of negative consequences.

Perry asserts that women have been deceived into believing that sexual freedom benefits them even while “it so obviously serves male interests.”

Society has further convinced us that men and women are the same, which has led to the idea that women can take care of themselves without extra precautions. Such an approach. Perry argues, often places women in “the perfect environment for the would-be rapist.” There is “cultural pressure,” she says, to reject messages encouraging women to “stick together on nights out, to keep their friends safe.” Cultural pressure doesn’t end there.

Our society has fallen victim to a belief that there are no “bad desires.” This modern tenet presses us to suppress our natural and protective “moral intuition. And not just “disregarding [our inclinations against that which is unnatural] but actively resisting moral intuition” (emphasis Perry’s), such as the need to protect not only ourselves but also our children. We shouldn’t be surprised to see, she says, that after the breakdown of “sexual taboos,” all taboos would be “considered fair game.” Hence we see the assertion that children are capable of sexual desire and consent and the efforts to sexualize children and instill in them the foundational premise that “loveless sex” is harmless.

Not only is “loveless sex” not empowering, but it’s also not all that enjoyable. Perry provides solutions to help us avoid falling victim to a “sexual culture that is fundamentally not geared toward protecting your safety or wellbeing.”

Further, she does an expert job explaining inconsistencies in the jargon and results of the sexual revolution. For example, laws draw arbitrary lines between statutory rape and consensual sex because a girl has reached a particular birthday of consent.

The same girl is abused and assaulted one day and the legal prize of desire the next.

Acknowledging that there “is no other way the law could function,” Perry states that “consent has more layers to it.” That a female has said yes “may do as a legal defence, it is not a convincing moral defence” (sic) (Perry’s emphasis) because consent can be urged, manipulated, or even coerced.

Consent to sex, manipulated or otherwise, can lead to a twisted notion of consent to violence. Women who are “inexperienced or overly trusting” can “confuse jealousy for fidelity and so be drawn to” those who would have them believe that violence is love.”

Sexual manipulation extends itself to prostitution as well. When Perry explains that people are not products, she highlights contradictory, even schizophrenic, efforts in England, on one hand, to legalize prostitution, and on the other, to legally forbid sex for rent, exchanges that have emerged in college towns within the UK.

“The whole point of paid sex is that it must be paid for. It is not mutually desired by both parties — one party is there unwillingly, in exchange for money, or sometimes other goods such as drugs, food or shelter.” Perry argues, among other assertions, that sexi should be done “with” someone else, not “to” someone else (emphasis Perry’s). “Once you permit the idea that people can be products, everything is corroded.”

This book culminates in a final full chapter with a surprising chapter title considering its writer holds an evolutionary viewpoint. “Marriage Is Good” illustrates that we live in “a natural human life cycle,” either dependent on someone else or “giving away some portion of your freedom, which runs counter to what we’re all supposed to want” for the sake of someone else.

Marriage is protection for women and children, not just a ball and chain of patriarchy as many feminists have claimed for decades.

Perry’s Conclusion “Listen to Your Mother” offers advice “I would offer my own daughter” urging readers to trust their moral intuition, learn how to recognize sexually aggressive men, and protect themselves by only having “sex with a man if you think he would make a good father to your children.”

She ends with optimism that women are wising up to the harm the sexual revolution has foisted upon them.

The Case Against the Sexual Revolution is well-researched, well-documented, well-argued, and easy to read. Perry stumbles across biblical principles through study and science although not completely as she supports same-sex marriage.

She avoided any argument of abortion except to say this: “And whatever you think about the ethical status of the foetus, we should all be able to agree that an abortion is not a good thing for a woman to go through, given such medical risks as uterine damage or sepsis, not to mention the emotional consequences, which are not trivial.”

I recommend this book for the evidence she provides in support of much that Christians have argued all along with a minor caveat about a smattering of unsavory language.

The sexual revolution was a lie. Perhaps you knew that from your youth. Perhaps you, as many of us did, learned it the hard way. When an evolutionary-feminist like Louise Perry writes a scholarly book backing up that claim, liberals and conservatives alike would be wise to consult it.

The sexual revolution was a lie.

“It was a lie all along. It’s time, at last, to say so.”

And may her message be heard and heeded far and wide to the healing and wholeness of many.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Not We Ourselves

“Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture,”
Psalm 100: 3 (NIV).

“Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture,” (KJV).

Two different versions of the same verse provide different but not contradictory messages. Some scholars favor the first version; others the second.

“He . . . made us, and we are His”–or–“He . . . made us, and not we ourselves.” The Bibles I most often use for study provide these different versions, but each includes the other in a footnote.

Both provide insight and wisdom. We are His. We do not make ourselves.

A distinctive quality of our times is that people insist on creating versions of themselves, remaking their own identities in the likeness of an image they’ve conceived and propose to give life to.

Proponents of self-creation assert that sexuality is fluid, yet they argue for permanent alterations for those too young to truly know themselves or be able to separate their own desires from those of others.

The more young people hear about transgenderism, the more it grows in popularity–a previously unheard-of phenomenon before it became a topic of pop conversation.

Chantel Hoyt writes, “The cultural phenomenon of transgenderism is growing at an astonishing rate. The number of gender reassignment clinics in the United States has increased from one in 2007 to 50 today. In her book, Irreversible Damage, Abigail Shrier reports that most Western countries have seen a 1,000-5,000 percent increase in teenage females seeking treatment from gender clinics and psychologists—many of whom recommend that these girls socially and physically transition through hormones and sometimes surgery.”

The change in numbers reflects a change in sociology rather than scientific breakthrough.

Who of us would like to be held to an irrevocable decision we made in our teen years–or even earlier? Now many are stuck with the ramifications of such decisions for the rest of their lives.

Years ago, Europe leapt ahead of the US in allowing transgender treatments for the young. Now several countries have wised up and back-pedaled. We should take heed.

Mairead Elordi explains:

“The United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, and France have all taken steps recently to pull back on transgender medical treatments for seemingly gender-dysphoric children.

“Sweden has been one of the most progressive nations on transgender health care for decades. Back in 1972, Sweden became the first country to allow transgender people to change their legal gender.

“Last year though, Swedish hospitals halted the use of puberty blockers in five of the country’s six clinics for minors with gender dysphoria. The last clinic only uses puberty blockers in clinical trials. The country now emphasizes psychotherapy for minors with gender dysphoria instead.”

America needs to push on the brakes too.

Attempting to “make ourselves” rejects God’s image within us. Making ourselves rejects the person whom He made us to be–who we authentically are.

The young will not find themselves by looking in the mirror and imaging someone else looking back.

Human beings can only truly find themselves in God–the one who made the image they see in the mirror and knows them completely.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Literacy: A Hard Thing to Do

What appealed to me about his story is that he picked the hard thing to do.

It wasn’t that he had played football at the University of Georgia. Not my team.

It wasn’t that he later played for the New England Patriots. Not my team either.

It was that he found something hard and decided to work at it anyway. And then he did something to encourage others who also find it hard.

Malcolm Mitchell has a Super Bowl ring. But he told CBS News that getting to the big game isn’t his biggest accomplishment. Reading well is. He found reading hard. But he didn’t give up. He just worked harder.

And he didn’t let his image as a star athlete get in his way.

A chance meeting in a Barnes and Noble bookstore enhanced his literary journey. A woman invited him to her book club. It was a club of readers, and he had become a reader.

Nevermind that everyone else in the group was an over forty woman. Malcolm joined anyway.

Malcolm realized when he got to college that his reading skills weren’t what they needed to be for him to succeed as a student. He decided he wouldn’t rest on the laurels of his athletic prowess.

He picked up a book whenever he could.

Then he wrote one. He was still a college student when it was published. The Magician’s Hat encourages young readers to open themselves up to the magic of reading.
Magic?

Malcolm Mitchell would say, yes, reading is magical. Hard too? Yes, sometimes it is.

But maybe that’s how we find magic. We decide to do the hard thing. And the world opens up to us.

Sadly, Americans are reading fewer books, and the current numbers don’t reflect an earlier decline in the number of us who read books of literature. The downward slide in reading has been steady over decades.

Malcolm Mitchell established the Children’s Literacy Foundation to “introduce book ownership to students in households where reading is not a priority and to improve literacy in schools with below grade-level reading skills.” He still writes books.

He didn’t play on any of my football teams, but go, Malcolm. I’m on your team now. Dust may settle on his Super Bowl ring. But magic will be with him for the rest of his days.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

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The Violent Bear It Away

Flannery O’Connor published The Violent Bear It Away in 1960. I read a short story or two by her when I was in college and recently decided to give one of her two novels a try.

O’Connor provides much to ponder in this book that becomes a page-turner the closer you get to the end.

Her characters in this book are among the best devised I’ve ever read.

An old man who is a self-proclaimed prophet is raising his nephew Tarwater to follow in his footsteps.

A worldly-wise cousin wants to draw Tarwater into the “reasonable”, “modern” world of faithlessness.

Tarwater himself is torn between two worlds, wanting to be his own master but having to choose between what he believes his destiny is and a life of self-determination.

O’Connor was a one-of-a-kind author whose texts are satire filled with irony. You won’t read another like it.

This book has dark, but not graphic moments. So dark I couldn’t see how she would redeem them.

But she did.

A fascinating, faith-affirming book–but only if you read to the end.

Photo Cover: The Violent Bear It Away Cover

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Caption My Christmas Card, Please

On a light note:

I like to get an early start on holiday preparations, and I’ve been saving these pictures of my husband Paul and our dog Bindi since last Christmas.

The above picture is for the front of the card. The one below is for the back.

Provide a caption (for both if you like) in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Nancy E. Head

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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The Way to Healing and Wholeness

To heal my wounds, I worshiped myself.
I found the wrong path to healing and only stumbled on my way.
Self-worship became wounds wrapped in chains.
Scars lingered.
Birthmarks for my children,
Who received their own wounds.

We seek our heading on life’s path,
To heal wounds,
To break chains.
Christ is that Way,
The Rock on which chains break,
To make us free.

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When the Sexual Revolution Meets Reality

There’s a scene in the movie When Harry Met Sally in which the curtain comes back for a moment on the ideology of the sexual revolution.

Harry and Sally met upon graduating from college and later became friends. Their challenge became maintaining their male/female relationship without letting it become sexual.

Ultimately, they faltered in that quest. The pair had come to a crossroad, and they couldn’t turn the clock back and pretend it hadn’t happened. At their best friends’ wedding, they had this exchange.

Her: “You want to act like what happened didn’t mean anything.”

Him: “I’m not saying it didn’t mean anything. I’m saying, why does it have to mean everything?”

Her; “Because it does.”

I remember being shocked at that acknowledgment the first time I viewed the movie. Here was Hollywood, the purveyors of free love, explicitly pointing out that sexual encounters are not insignificant.

In her new book The Case Against the Sexual Revolution: A New Guide to Sex in the 21st Century, Louise Perry tears away the curtain on the “sexual disenchantment” within our culture whose population largely “believes sex means nothing.”

“[We] pretend that this particular act is neither uniquely wonderful nor uniquely violating, . . . [and] there is another kind of cost. . . [which] falls disproportionately on women.”

Perry stakes the ground of her argument somewhere between that of conservatives and liberals, yet her “complaint is focused more against liberals than against conservatives for a very personal reason: I used to believe the liberal narrative.”

She asks why “so many women desire a kind of sexual freedom that so obviously serves male interests? What if our bodies and minds aren’t as malleable as we might like to thinK? What do we lose when we prioritize freedom above all else?”

I first learned about this book from a somewhat negative review. Despite the reviewer’s input, this “feminist” author intrigued me with her willingness to buck the accepted way of thinking in a culture so eager to cancel dissent.

Austin Lamb writing for The American Conservative is the not so intrigued reviewer: “Perry’s book is good as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.”

His view of her book (which I’ve not finished yet) reminds me of my reading of Aborting America by Dr. Bernard Nathanson when it was newly published in 1979. Nathanson was an atheist whose acquaintance with abortion began with him acquiring an illegal abortion for his girlfriend when he was a student on his way to becoming an OB/Gynecologist.

Nathanson went on to become part of the effort to legalize abortion via his efforts as a member of the NARAL (the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, later the National Abortion Rights Action League). He claimed to have presided over 60,000 abortions as the attending physician (one including his own child) or through his position managing abortion facilities.

He knew how abortion worked.

Aborting America is Nathanson’s account of his journey from urging abortion deregulation to advocating for the unborn. New to a movement accused of wanting to impose religious views on others, Nathanson had come to his pro-life convictions solely on humanitarian grounds. He showed that one could hold such beliefs without a reliance on faith.

A few years ago, I read Nathanson’s final book The Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor Who Changed His Mind (1996).

The reference to life in the title is a bit of a play on words. Nathanson had come to the pro-life view first through the technology of ultrasound where he saw the humanity of the unborn.

He became aware that others were praying for him. He began to research Christianity and so realized he carried all the sins of his life.

Through his pro-life journey, Bernard Nathanson gave himself to Christ and thus found new life.

Louise Perry enters the discussion of “sexual freedom” from an atheist perspective with great reliance on evolutionary arguments and more reliance on Christian morality than she realizes.

Like many Christians, Perry doesn’t understand that God’s prohibitions on pre- and extra-marital sex are protective, not just prohibitive.

Perry changed her mind about the “liberal narrative” about sex by working with rape victims. Like Nathanson, she arrived at her new beliefs through humanitarian convictions.

The pro-life movement welcomed Nathanson and prayed for him.

Rather than criticize her work because it stops short of embracing our full convictions, we can congratulate her about her new realizations.

We can welcome her to the discussion and pray her journey leads her to faith.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

To Not Live in Fear

Christianity has ebbed in flowed in America since the pilgrims landed. There was ebb; then Awakening. Another ebb, another Awakening. In that second waking time, America freed slaves, prohibited abortion, introduced mandatory education, and enacted child labor laws. We regulated medical care to protect people from untrained quacks. We required employers to take steps to protect employees, steps that often required businesses to lose money.

We weren’t perfect. But we were better than we had been.

World War I came, an ebbing, the Roaring ’20s, more ebbing. Then the Great Depression, a flat line, followed by World War II, a resurgence of faith.

Then the ’60s came with the sexual revolution. And even with the ups and downs of the economy over the years, comfort and ease increased. In the 1980s, Christianity, especially the Christian Right, enjoyed an influence unparalleled since the Second Great Awakening.

Yet another ebbing followed with continued comfort for many and a discouraged malaise for others.

Through the last few decades the sexual revolution escalated. It became the Culture War. It gained intensity, declining into a shouting match. Angry people spewed hate from both sides.

It’s a delicate balance to speak truth and show love. Shouting, name calling, and snarky social media posts are not loving. They don’t make people yearn to have what we have or to be what we are.

If we show love and speak truth and suffer persecution, then we get what Jesus promised us. “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you,” John 15: 18.

If we show love and speak truth and people’s lives are transformed–if there is another awakening, where will we go from there?

Back to our comfort? Or beyond to a new mission?

In his travels to places where Christians aren’t as comfortable as America, pastor and author Francis Chan sees a contrast between the comfortable but angry Christians here and the persecuted but joyful ones in countries hostile to the Gospel.

“[I]n China, believers in the underground church told Chan about the persecution they endure from the government. But what surprised the American pastor was that they had so much joy and were laughing when they told stories of being chased by police and authorities shooting guns to scare them. They thought it was normal to be persecuted and that Christians everywhere suffered like them, explained Chan. The underground Christians in China pointed to Philippians 1:29, which states, ‘For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him.’

“Chan shared that in America, Christians change churches over better worship music, service time, or daycare programs. The Chinese Christians laughed at him thinking he was telling a joke because it did not make sense.”

We cannot be a church that is fearful. Fearful that our freedom will dissolve. Fearful we will suffer persecution. Fearful that America will stop being America.

To not live in fear, we must ask ourselves this question: Do we really fear the loss of our freedom or simply the loss of our comfort?

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Desire to Know

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

“All men by nature desire to know.” Aristotle

In the Disney Pixar short film La Luna, a grandfather and father initiate their grandson/son about their employment. The viewer realizes that the boy is “going to work” for the first time to follow in the footsteps of his forebears.

The task ahead fills the boy with wonder. The men disagree about the best way to proceed and seem to have arrived at a place of tedium in their duty.

The boy reminds them to marvel at their work.

I taught with a fellow instructor who was learning Ancient Greek. The university’s Latin teacher was fluent in Ancient Greek. The two spent time in lessons every week.

My colleague told me, “I wanted to remember what it’s like to have to learn something hard.” And Ancient Greek is hard. A character in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar explains something he doesn’t understand by saying, “It’s Greek to me.”

Sometimes we have to work at learning. Sometimes it’s hard. Still, it’s in our nature to want to know.

In his Inferno, Dante Alighieri relegates the world’s great non-Christian thinkers to Limbo. In an endnote in Dante’s Purgatorio, Anthony Esolen points out that new knowledge is something unattainable for the souls in this first circle of hell.

Those who sought knowledge in life have no ability to find new ideas in death. In Dante’s view, all that is the wonder of eternity will be lost to those who inhabit the dark and colorless regions.

It’s a challenge to bring wonder into a classroom of young ones today. More than a century ago, education largely stopped being about who students would grow up to become and instead became about what they would grow up to do.

Wonder seeped out of the classroom. Schools became larger, more uniform. Education became about, as Alberto M. Piedras says, “not the communication of knowledge but the sharing of social experience.”

Some students overcome the tedium of colorless education. The vibrant colors of learning for its own sake, wonder, are within them. Too many shuffle through their days feeling like the walls are all gray as is the world around them.

It’s up to us to show them the colors of the real world. The desire to know is within each of us, but someone must feed it or it will die.

“Our job is not to direct the imagination but to raise it from the dead.” Anthony Esolen

True education calls students to be better people, dutiful citizens, faithful family members.

Wonder plants seeds to pursue truth and excellence. A well educated populace is the living fruit of such pursuit.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Spindle Chair

When a man and woman become one in marriage, each life meld’s with the other one’s baggage, even when neither fully understands his or her own past.

Shellie Arnold’s The Spindle Chair delves into this dynamic after Pierce, a pastor taking over his father’s ministry, and his wife Laurie suffer a miscarriage.

Both of them yearn for a child. Laurie is gleeful when she learns she is pregnant again. Pierce, however, withdraws, full of fear that he will lose Laurie because of the miscarriage–and because of trauma and rejection of his past which he has yet to resolve within himself.

Throughout that journey, both characters develop well in this nicely drawn and realistic community of faith.

Arnold weaves a well-researched tale that helps us understand her characters–and perhaps ourselves as well.

Shellie Arnold is a speaker and writer dealing with family and marriage concerns.

https://www.shelliearnold.com/

Shellie Arnold’s You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5IjrabLL7FnbWV7IZt4wsA

Photo Credit: Spindle Chair cover

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Living for this World or the Other?

“to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Ephesians 4:12 (NIV)~

“For three decades, maybe more, churches have been stripping themselves of compassion, community and commitment in favour of butts in the seats, bucks in the bank and broadening their sphere of influence. Once you feel like a number on an attendance sheet, a source of revenue or just one of many in a target group you are forced to ask yourself, why attend?” J. David Peever

The Western Church faces many challenges today not the least of which is a reduced number of “butts in the seats.”

Peever provides a harsh answer–but one we’d be wise to heed.

“At some point people just get bored. The entertainment loses its luster and the desire to leave the comfortable surroundings of the house disappears. For some this marks the end of regular attendance, while others continue to show up out of some sense of duty or tradition. Entertainment can inspire us, influence us, make us laugh or make us cry, make us feel good or make us feel guilty but the one thing it cannot do is make a permanent change in who we are.”

Church leadership, Peever asserts, sees the service “as a way to connect with people and with God but . . . [don’t] value people or God.”

It’s a simple diagnosis: The Church has been trying to connect without realizing that connecting occurs in truly valuing others. We don’t value others by entertaining them. We value them by serving them and calling them to service.

An example I read long ago: When you move into a new place, don’t offer to do a favor for your new neighbors. Ask them for a favor–even if it’s just the proverbial borrowing a cup of sugar.

When you do something for people, they feel beholden to you. That makes them feel uncomfortable. When they do something for you, they feel good about themselves.

That’s not to say we don’t fill needs as we see them. But part of filling someone’s need is helping him to see his own possibility and purpose.

The “butts in the seats”–all of us–need purpose in our faith. We need to feel useful, not just encouraged that God loves us. That’s important, but it’s far from all there is to living the Christian life.

The all-wise God knew that His love for us would require great sacrifice on His part.

He invites us, not to comfort and entertainment, but to sacrifice. To service.

If we issue that same invitation to fill the seats, we do better than inviting people into a fabulous showtime that lacks true connection, meaning, or purpose.

Our invitation is for others to live beyond themselves. We take our eyes off the comforts of this world, look to eternity, and invite others to do the same.

That’s how we value them. That’s how we value God.

Sarah Orne Jewett tells a story in which a community of women serve an outsider and learn this lesson:

“You know plain enough there’s somethin’ beyond this world; the doors stand wide open. There’s somethin’ of us that must still live on; we’ve got to join both worlds together an’ live in one but for the other.” 

Living in this world for our own sake is comfortable. Living for the other world isn’t always comfortable.

But it’s the richest life possible.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Innocence Lost: Pearls of Innocence

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3~

Based on a true story, Pearls of Innocence: Shattered and Restored, by Karen Ciccarone, helps us understand the methods abusers use to capture their victims and shows us how God can heal the wounds of those who’ve suffered such abuse.

Protagonist Kiersten MacKenna’s first-person account begins with her childhood wounds as she witnesses the results of her father’s alcoholism–estrangement from the neighbors and beatings for her mother.

Abusers prey on children who endure such circumstances, often distorting scripture to add credence to the power they hold over their victims. Kiersten’s experience follows that path to a place where she believes suicide is her best option.

Yet, that’s not where her journey ends.

From the Introduction: “Tangled knots on the chain are what keep a necklace from being seen for its real beauty and purpose. A jeweler who crafts a beautiful necklace never intends for it to become tangled, yet he possesses the right tools and expertise to fix it if it ever does. Our Creator God did not intend for our priceless souls to become ensnared by the trauma of abuse, yet he can provide what’s needed for our healing.”

A companion text Restoration for the Brokenhearted: A Study Guide to Healing from Abuse is a workbook for individuals or small groups to work through over 12 weeks.

Kiersten’s story will stay with you long after you close the book. And you will be changed for having opened it.

Photo Credit: Pearls of Innocence; cover by Andy Mylin

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Meaning and Purpose in Pain

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

I wanted to entertain a bored grandson when I thought of the movie. The boy was intrigued because I said the football scenes were actual footage from Penn State’s games in the early 1970s.

Before long the story grabbed him. The movie, like all sports movies, wasn’t about a game as much as it was about something much larger. Character, sacrifice, love, family, and even suffering.

The movie was Something for Joey, the story of John Cappelletti’s quest to be the first Penn State football player to win the Heisman Trophy. But, as I said, it’s more than that.

The crux of the story is an internal conflict John and Joey’s parents felt. Joey’s mom and dad had signed him up for experimental treatment for leukemia. Of course, they wanted their son to live.

But he suffered.

At one point, their mother lost hope. She decided to pray for Joey to die “because if Joey has to die, I’m going to ask God to let him die now so he won’t suffer anymore.”

But Joey didn’t die. Joey’s journey through illness continued. It had ups and downs. But every time John had a game, Joey was up. Their mother encouraged John to devote himself to playing well because it meant so much to Joey.

In his Heisman Trophy acceptance speech, John gave his trophy to Joey since “it’s more his than it is mine because he’s always been such an inspiration to me.”

It seemed like the film had reached its highest point. But when the actor portraying Archbishop Fulton Sheen stepped forward to give the benediction, it went higher yet. Sheen did something I’ve never heard of anyone else in his position ever doing. Instead of praying, he made a brief statement that is probably more memorable than a prayer would have been.

He told the audience that perhaps for the first time in their lives they had “heard a speech from the heart rather than from the lips.

“You have heard that triumph is made from sorrow. That John was made in part by Joseph. I was supposed to pronounce the blessing at this point, but you do not need a blessing tonight. God has blessed you in the person of John Cappelletti.”

I love this story partly because I remember it unfolding. I remember the hubbub when Cappelletti won the Heisman. I remember the news coverage the day after he gave his acceptance speech. A speech that brought a roomful of celebrities and big league athletes to tears. I remember the radio relaying Sheen’s statement.

And later I remember hearing that Joey had died.

His young life and his suffering had not been meaningless. He had blessed his family. And through his suffering, he helped shape their love and their souls. And now through book and film, the story lives on to inspire us.

Photo Credit: Heisman.com

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sangre de Cristo: A Review

Christopher S. Swan, the author of Amos–a story/dramatization of the biblical book of the minor prophet, has published a very different kind of text, an action-adventure with Christian influence.

Sangre de Cristo (translated as the Blood of Christ) presents a metaphorical “shepherd”, a marshal on the hunt for a prison escapee. What Rawlings, the marshal, doesn’t know is that a gang of anarchist “wolves” seek the same escapee intending to kill him to protect their operations.

Caught between the two sides is Clay the convict escapee who realizes he’s better off with Rawlings than he is with his former friends who are willing to pay any price to bring about his death. Rawlings relies on the Holy Spirit and shows Clay how to do the same.

The bulk of the book contains various battles as this newly formed team of Rawlings and Clay strive to fight off the anarchists.

The text is filled with compelling descriptions, vivid conflict (sometimes with explicit violence), and occasional humor. Swan narrates in the present tense giving a sense of urgency to the action.

Full disclosure, I helped Swan edit the text.

At times, I couldn’t stop reading.

If you love action-packed adventure: Sangre de Cristo just may fill the bill for you.

Photo Credit: Sangre de Cristo cover

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Unexpected Turns in Life

“God’s ways are at times like heavy wagon tracks that cut deep into our souls, yet all of them are merciful.” ― Charles Haddon SpurgeonGrace God’s Unmerited Favor*

Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. Something bad happens. And the landscape of our story changes completely. We have a new perspective, a new direction. A bad thing works for good that we did not foresee.

I have a friend who worked in an ice cream truck when he was 17 years old. That seems like a job that would have few challenges. But one day, he was robbed and beaten. The event changed the trajectory of his life.

He became a career prosecutor. He devotes his life’s work to pursuing justice for those who are robbed, beaten, cheated, or worse.

A neighbor’s grandchild was born with serious handicaps. He and his parents faced challenges most of us cannot imagine. But two of his aunts found inspiration and, because of him, became occupational therapists.

A former student’s younger sibling was born with a genetic disorder. This student graduated from a prestigious Ph.D. program after studying genetics for years. She may change the life trajectory of others who suffer from similar conditions.
 
We Christians love to quote Romans 8:28–“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” NASB

But we sometimes neglect the following verse: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” We are creations still in the shaping process–being conformed to the image of Christ.

Most of us can look back and clearly see our turning points.

We can realize now that we found our path because life changed one day. Unexpectedly. Unpredictably. Even unpleasantly and painfully.

But never without purpose.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Habakkuk: A Bible Study by Dannah Gresh

“Look among the nations, and see;
    wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
    that you would not believe if told.” Hab. 1:5, ESV~

Dannah Gresh’s Habakkuk: Remembering God’s Faithfulness When He Seems Silent is a six-week study that immerses us in the minor prophet’s three chapters with side journeys to the writings of a major prophet, Daniel, and other passages, Old and New Testament. Related weekly podcast episodes enhance the study. Videos are available for group study.

Habakkuk presents questions we often ask in our time of cultural disintegration and moral decline:

“Why do you make me see iniquity,
    and why do you idly look at wrong?
“Destruction and violence are before me;
    strife and contention arise.
“So the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never goes forth.
“For the wicked surround the righteous;
    so justice goes forth perverted.” Hab 1:3-4
, ESV~

Habakkuk provides context for our own times.

Providing the means to deep study and meaningful meditation. Dannah leads us on a journey from wrestling with God when we live in unsettled times, to watching for God to work, asking questions embedded with truth, watching for God’s answers, fearing God, and singing praise to Him.

It’s discouraging to watch the news or even go to the grocery store today, yet we can trust that God is doing a work in our days that we cannot imagine.

Dannah Gresh reminds us of that truth through her study of Habakkuk. Do the study. Reap encouragement.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

So That the World May Believe

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:20-21, NIV~

I once had a conversation with a Chinese dissident, a man who had been a leader at the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, who was arrested and imprisoned, and who later made a dramatic escape to America.  

In the course of our conversation, he mentioned that he was a Buddhist, nominally, and that Christianity, “because there are so many kinds,” was confusing.

That’s a difficult criticism to answer.  There are real differences among our traditions.  Take, for example, communion, confession of sins, and the role of Mary and other saints in our lives. Christians from different traditions view these issues differently.  

Many of us have some view of why other traditions teach what they do.  Sometimes, these views are accurate; many times, what we think we know about each other’s beliefs is actually a distortion, an out-of-focus picture that keeps us from understanding where we might actually agree.

It’s ironic that our confusion began with actual confusion.  In 451 AD, the eastern part of Christianity in the Middle East and the western part of Europe were trying to discern where they agreed and where they disagreed.  They got stuck on a point about the nature of Christ.  Was He truly God and truly man?  Was He always both all at the same time?  

Our Eastern brothers were working hard to explain that Christ’s two natures were inseparable, that He was ALWAYS God and ALWAYS man.

The biggest obstacle in the discussion was language.  The two sides did not speak the same language.  In such a situation, comprehension is only as good as the best translator in the room at the time.

For much of the last 1,500 years, most Christians in the West have known very little about the doctrines of Eastern believers. Those who knew even a little operated largely under the misunderstanding that those in the East believed that Christ had two natures but never had them both at the same time.  We in the West thought that those in the East believed that Christ was God only sometimes and man only sometimes.

We were wrong.

The translator, perhaps tired and overworked, gave us a distorted view of Eastern faith.  This distortion led many in the West to decree that Christians in the East, with their supposed view of the dual natures of Christ, were not true believers.  Our distortion of their faith separated them from our faith communities.  We became distinct groups, not because we actually disagreed about the nature of Christ, but because of a bad translation in an area of agreement.  How creatively the evil one employs confusion.

And our misunderstanding was not the end of his creativity.  Because of our misunderstandings, we have spent these last 1,500 years splitting into smaller and smaller communities, each presuming to be more right than all the others, many of us pointing to each other with disdain rather than showing the love Christ commanded us to pour out for each other.

A unified Church can seek genuine understanding and show love within herself even in the face of real differences.  A discerning Church seeks to determine the foundation for our differences and to overcome our misunderstandings.  Let’s be that Church today.

So that the world may believe.

Photo Credit: Gethsemane, Pixabay

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Joy, Grace, Love

“By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Paradox:

To see my own sin—my own failings and imperfections—

To overlook yours.

Joy:

To have His grace wash over me and splash onto you,

To have His grace soak us both through,

And stain us forever with His love.

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8: 10-11, ESV~

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here! “Paradox” excerpted from the book.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonies.”

The Business of Body Parts

They say, “The Lord does not see;
    the God of Jacob takes no notice.” Psalm 94:7~

In 2016, the National Health Service (the socialized medicine bureaucracy of the UK) was accused of encouraging women whose unborn children had terminal illnesses not to abort their babies. Instead, they could carry the children to term and then donate their organs.

Later reports denied that anyone would ever encourage or pressure a mother not to abort for the sake of finding harvestable organs. Even so, 11 newborn babies between 2014 and 2016 became “organ donors.”

Formerly, British law banned the harvesting of newborns’ organs. But that prohibition came into question when someone discovered that “even for adults,” a newborn’s organs can be useful.

On North America’s side of the Atlantic, Canada has been harvesting organs from euthanasia victims for a few years now. Someone dying of a terminal illness or living with a non-terminal illness can pass their organs along by having themselves killed.

Not just people but countries can be of two minds–not realizing an inherent contradiction in their pursuits.

Currently, Canada’s government is considering bills designed to prohibit transplant tourism and protect citizens and foreign nationals from exploitation.

The primary legislative goal is to stop China from harvesting organs from oppressed people due to their status as outsiders, the Falun Gong, Uighurs, Tibetans, Christians, and political detainees. Organ harvesting is a big business in China garnering $1 billion in profits for the government.

Gingrich 360 reports:

“China’s organ transplant industry began to increase dramatically in 2000.  Hundreds of hospitals offered transplants, thousands of transplant surgeons were trained, transplant research was conducted by the military, and the immunosuppressant industry was subsidized by the state.

“While transplant patients in most western countries wait months or even years for an organ transplant, the wait times for a procedure in China have been as short as weeks, days, or even hours.”

So Canada harvests organs from the euthanized while trying to protect the oppressed of another nation from being euthanized to harvest their organs.

In the meantime, many Canadians travel to China to receive transplanted organs quickly.

Perhaps in an effort to keep these Canadians home, the nation expanded its death “service” to include the mentally ill and handicapped.

“It’s a lot cheaper for the government to offer medical aid and dying than to offer the services people with disabilities need to live full lives,” Jewelles Smith, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, said in an interview from B.C.

“John Maher, a psychiatrist from Barrie, Ont., called expanding access to MAID (Medical Aid in Dying) ‘the moral scandal of the century.'”

“He told CTV National News that the upcoming rules that could allow medical assistance in dying solely because of a mental illness don’t take into account that those suffering from severe illness may not be capable of making the best decision for themselves.”

Those who assist people deciding to die would surely encourage them to donate their organs.

A minor distinction exists between encouraging “donation” and taking advantage of someone who’s finding it hard to understand other possibilities.

While the possibilities may seem limited for someone with emotional and mental challenges, the possibilities to take advantage of people are many.

Back in the UK, researchers have discovered that they can safely harvest organs from those who’ve died of COVID. Organ recipients do not contract COVID from the transplanted part if the virus is absent in that organ (as is common in organs unrelated to the illness). Donor parts qualify if the deceased patient tested positive for COVID more than 20 days earlier.

How nice that, if someone dies in a pandemic, their organs can still be useful. That’s true only if medical was uniformly good and not based on a premise that people considered limited receive limited care.

From the UK: “more than twice as many individuals with learning disabilities died during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic than in the same period last year. “

“‘Do not attempt resuscitation’ (DNAR) notices were added en masse to the medical records of elderly and disabled people in care homes, without proper consultation with either the individuals or their families:

“* At the end of March, three care facilities for adults with learning disabilities in Somerset, Derbyshire and East Sussex were contacted by General Practitioners (GPs) to inform them that all the adults they support should be deemed DNAR.”

Sadly, care rationing is not limited to the UK. Several states in the US also set up rationing plans during COVID that proposed to deny care to those with disabilities.

It’s not a giant leap from determining who doesn’t deserve good care to seeing people who have challenges as spare parts.

One UK analyst proposes that the “normalisation of health care rationing and the wholesale abandonment of the most vulnerable in society is only possible because the NHS has been systematically starved of funds for decades.”

We miss the most important point if we blame a lack of money rather than a lack of respect for human life for the deaths of the defenseless and dependent.

All discussions about unborn life and life limited by illness or disability center on one question—Who are we? Are we sacred souls made in the image of a great God who loves all, weak or strong?

Or are we just a mixture of electrical synapses and chemical reactions, a sometimes useful collection of spare parts?

Answering the last question in the affirmative means there won’t be a stopping point along the way to the continually increasing exploitation of people as human products.

More questions to lead us forward:

Does the one who shaped the ear not hear?
    The one who formed the eye not see?
Does the one who guides nations not rebuke?
    The one who teaches man not have knowledge? Psalm 94:9-10~

We will all stand before the one who shapes, forms, guides, rebukes, and teaches.

A rebuke stands at the gates. And one more question will follow.

What did you do when you knew this atrocity was happening?

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Life or Death for Nikolas Cruz?

“See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” I Thessalonians 5:15 KJV~

On February 14, 2018, Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Now he awaits news of his fate: Will he will serve life in prison or receive the death penalty?

Before his murder spree, Cruz published a post about another mass killer stating, “Elliot Rodger will not be forgotten.”

On May 23, 2014, Rodger killed his two housemates and a friend—then went on a shooting spree near the UC Santa Barbara campus. At the end of the day, he had wounded 14 and killed six. He then killed himself.

In a YouTube video recorded between killings, Rodger said, “You denied me a happy life. And in return, I will deny all of you life. It’s only fair.”

Rodger and Cruz described themselves as incels–involuntarily celibate. Rodger was 22 at his death. Cruz was 19 when he committed his crimes. Cruz’s father died when Cruz was six. Rodger’s parents divorced when he was seven. Both killers had suffered the “injustice” of female rejection.

Amia Srinivasan points out that in 2017 Reddit—an online discussion forum website—shut down a 40,000-member “incel” support group (Incel means involuntarily celibate)— ”for people who lack romantic relationships and sex.” Reddit also banned a second such group for calling for, among other proposals, reduced penalties for the crime of rape.

Incels are an unexpected consequence of the sexual revolution. The marginalized. The lonely. The excluded. The Elliot Rodgers and the Nikolas Cruzes. And others.

It’s a situation Aldous Huxley avoided in his futuristic masterpiece Brave New World. Huxley’s “civilized society” encouraged sex and conditioned children to understand that “everyone belongs to everyone.”

Huxley even created an alpha male character who was less than perfect. Bernard Marx was smaller and less attractive than other men of his social rank–as was Elliot Rodger.

Yet unlike Elliot, Bernard still had his share of the action–so to speak. Conditioned to always say yes, women accommodated even Bernard. There was no rejection. Therefore in Huxley’s book, there were no Elliot Rodgers or Nikolas Cruzes feeling that they had to kill in order to even the tilted score of life.

Some say, “Just take away the guns.” But that would not have saved three of Rodger’s victims. He stabbed his housemates and friend. He could have continued to wreak havoc with a knife–but he chose to attack his other victims with a gun.

Draconian gun laws may have reduced his casualty list. But they do nothing to heal the heart that tells itself everyone else is getting something I can’t have. They do nothing to keep that heart from determining to find revenge through some kind of violence.

We’ve taught more than one generation that their desires and inclinations trump all else. We have reached a shocking place, but we cannot claim to be surprised.

We have simply reached the logical conclusion of the sexual revolution.

If sex is free–all are entitled to participate.

Perhaps it would be a simple thing to teach young children to respect others first and themselves next. To teach them that respecting yourself means not giving yourself away casually. To fill them with enough compassion and respect for others that the idea of forcing themselves on another might become unthinkable–at least less thinkable.

There is much discussion over whether schools do enough to end bullying. Some say no, those administrations look the other way. Another argument says they do all they can. Both are true depending on where you look.

Indeed, schools have to do more than put up posters and hold anti-bullying assemblies, as they avert their gaze from reality. They have to teach that social responsibility is more important than self.

They have to be willing to suffer the discomfort of a difficult public relations scenario. They have to admit that their school isn’t as safe as they pretend it is.

Moms and dads, especially those who parent bullying children, must accept responsibility also. If children hear a message at school and home (and church) as was the case in America in the past, the message has a better chance of sinking in.

We will never be able to take away enough guns and knives to stop all violence. Ending violence requires us to change hearts. It’s a simpler matter than confiscating property. A simple matter–but a harder task. It requires us to face the truth about “free” sex.

Sexual freedom is a lie. It doesn’t give. It only takes. It does not free. It only binds. And its chains forge one scar upon another.

Winston Churchill once said, “Americans can be trusted to do the right thing–once other possibilities have been exhausted.”

How many more will die before we finally admit to that right thing?

Nikolas Cruz faces judgment here and now. He will face judgment again, as we all will sooner or later, in eternity.

He alone holds responsibility for the crimes he committed. He will pay with his life–either in prison or via a lethal needle.

We can hold him accountable.

But nothing will change until we hold ourselves accountable for the culture we have cultivated that seeks to disarm the wounded but never heal their wounds.

Revised from March 26, 2018, “The Brave New World of Sexual Entitlement.”

Photo Credit: Pexels

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Not Some Rapist’s Child: Loving Loud in a Scary World

We think it can’t happen to us. It’s something that happens to other people or in the movies or on television.

Jennifer Christie was on a business trip. After a long day of work, she headed back to her hotel room, unaware that someone followed her.

She saw him after she had opened the door to her room and stepped inside. He hit her in the face. He broke her fingers. He broke her ribs. He violated her.

She told herself he could touch her body but not her soul. She awoke in below-freezing temperatures in the outdoor stairwell of her motel.

Today she suffers from a seizure disorder because of the assault. She’s endured six major surgeries to repair the damage he caused.

“I couldn’t wrap my head around the evil we can do to each other,” she told a central Pennsylvania audience gathered to hear her a couple of years ago. Her story held us spellbound.

Weeks went by after the assault. Her body healed, but sudden noises made her jump. Her husband was supportive, but she could hear him rage in the shower, shouting, sobbing, punching the wall. He would emerge and tell her: “Everything’s going to be okay,” only to rage and sob and punch again the next day.

At the end of six weeks, he suggested she go back to work–to go do what she loved as a sign language interpreter for the deaf. He stayed behind with their four children.

Work in this instance was a previously scheduled cruise. What could be a better way to find healing and restoration?

Unless you get dysentery on day two of the cruise.

When she didn’t bounce back as expected, the ship’s doctor suggested a pregnancy test.

That possibility had not occurred to her. Her youngest child was eight years old. Her husband had had a vasectomy years earlier.

“I was raped,” she told the doctor, having only used the word assaulted until that moment.

Yes, she was pregnant.

Others urged her to have an abortion–to get rid of the reminder sure to haunt the rest of her days.

Imagine the physical pain along with the realization that you lost the sense of security most of us carry within us. Imagine the sense of lost control over your life.

The argument for abortion in the case of rape is supposed to be one of compassion. How can we ask a woman so violated to carry the reminder of her attacker, to bring this reminder to life, to look him or her in the face every day (as we disregard the possibility of adoption)?

Now imagine people telling you what you have to do. What you can’t do. You have to abort. You can’t keep what came from rape. Imagine many people telling you what you MUST do. So many voices saying the same thing.

But she felt protective of the life within her.

“I couldn’t protect myself. Him I could protect. . . . The more I heard how easy it would be [to have an abortion], the more I felt protective.

Her husband’s reaction?

“This is a gift. This is something beautiful that came from something horrible.”

What a gift is such a man.

She says, “My son is a reminder that every day we can rise above our circumstances. . . . He came into our lives when we were hurting and broken and he healed our family.”

Jennifer Christie has lived that reality. She looks into her reminder’s face every day.

But years later, she does not see “some rapist’s child.” She sees “God’s child.” His name is Joshua. And he is beautiful.

The voices that would have snuffed out his life were many. And Jennifer says, “Those voices were loud.

“But little boy, we loved you louder.”

Only a loud love can drown out the voices that would tell us that an innocent life must end because of the evil of someone else.

See beauty. See that there are no rapists’ children. There are only God’s children.

Love loud.

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Psalm 127:3, NASB

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This Thursday! Best You 2022!

Nancy E. Head, is featured in the Leadership Training Track on the topic, Prep for Discomfort Zones.

Airing live on Thursday, July 14 at 1 PM ET, Nancy’s session will help women everywhere embrace unprecedented times of uncertainty while finding peace in God’s Word, God’s workings, and God’s ways. Prepare for the coming unknown as you discover:

How trials draw us close to God

How to walk with someone else going through trials

How to build a community of support to lift others

Summit Director, Marnie Swedberg, is excited to welcome Nancy to the speaker platform because she is the author of Restoring the Shattered, Nancy E. Head was a single mother of five for eleven years. Nancy now teaches, writes, and speaks about God’s providence and grace.

“Mentoring women for 20 years led up to these amazing online programs,” said Summit Director, Marnie Swedberg. “Being able to host them live, on YouTube, and 100% free for attendees, is like a dream come true.”

Swedberg will kick off the summit with a “7-Day Praise Challenge” at 11 AM ET on Thursday, July 14. 

In addition to Nancy’s session entitled Prep for Discomfort Zones, attendees are next invited to select from simultaneous sessions all afternoon, at no cost, including:

  • Supersize Your Hope with Maribeth Ditmars of Sarasota, FL
  • Self-Care Secrets with Shayla Hilton of Jamestown, NC
  • Overcoming Giants with Tammy Kennington of Colorado Springs, CO
  • Master Money Mindset with Laney Houser of Bend, OR
  • Marketing Not Mania with Hannah Conway of Clarksville, TN
  • Break Free of Anxiety with Chikeitha Owens of Dallas, TX
  • Declutter Your Soul with Carla Gasser of Hudson, OH
  • I Dare You to Jump with Georgina Verzal of Tustin, CA
  • Why God Allows Suffering with Darci Steiner of Parker, CO
  • Reframe Your Thoughts with Sara Im of Largo, FL
  • Step Out of Your Doubt with Doris Swift of Edgewater, FL

Attendees are also welcome to request any of the $1500+ of free swag gifts now available, plus listen to any previous summit sessions at your convenience. No limit.

This summit is open to the public with attendees hailing from around the world. Many international participants use the post-summit videos (also free) to host watch parties where interpreters translate the training for local women’s ministry groups.

Our esteemed panel of presenters each provide a 30-minute training session followed by 15-minutes of Q&A for live attendees. Every program is hosted on the trainer’s own YouTube Channel and is available for replay indefinitely. So, if you miss a session or want to share it, or review it, it will be there for you, at no charge.

The Best You 2022 Virtual Women’s Summit has had over 70 speakers and over 2000 attendees so far and the hosts are excited to invite you to join the Summer Summit, Thursday, July 14. After you request your free ticket, you’ll receive a downloadable session schedule in PDF file format. Use it to explore your options, then click to attend the sessions of your choice.

Request your free ticket at http://www.BestYou2022.com.

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ABOUT LOCAL SPEAKER, NANCY E. HEAD & THE BEST YOU 2022 VIRTUAL WOMEN’S SUMMIT

Local speaker, Nancy E. Head, is one of twelve featured speakers at the Best You 2022 Virtual Women’s Summit on Thursday, July 14. This international online conference is 100% online, free and open to the public with sessions on Spiritual Growth, Self-Care, Bold Living, Leadership and Expanding Your Reach. Nancy’s session is Prep for Discomfort Zones, airing live at 1 PM ET on July 14th. Learn more and grab your free tickets now at http://www.BestYou2022.com

The Rape Exception

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13~

It was a flashpoint in the argument to legalize abortion in America during the 1970s: rape. How could anyone be so cruel as to suggest that woman who’s been raped has to carry the child of the rapist to term?

The surprising answer is that abortion is frequently pushed onto these rape victims, and abortion victimizes them further.

We are half a century removed from the complete eradication of abortion laws that Roe v Wade and Doe v. Bolton enacted and in the midst of states reacting to the overturning of those cases along with Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992).

Surprising is the scant discussion of the compelling subject of abortion because of rape or incest aside from an emotionally charged but “dubious” account of a 10-year-old victim who allegedly had to go out of state to be relieved of the child a rapist implanted.

And there seems to be little interest in finding facts to support what was and still is assumed: That women/girls who suffer rape and girls who suffer incest are better off having abortions than they are delivering babies.

We have barely looked beneath the surface of this assumption.

One study of 37 women pregnant from rape showed that a large majority opted against abortion. “Dr. Sandra Mahkorn found that 75 to 85 percent chose against abortion.[1] This evidence alone should cause people to pause and reflect on the presumption that abortion is wanted or even best for sexual assault victims.” (Also, see here and here.)

Multiple factors play into the discussion: the woman’s view of abortion before she was assaulted and the conviction that something redeemable can result from something horrible.

It’s interesting that few have replicated such studies. As if impressions that abortion is best, even necessary, in cases of rape are universally valid, further testing is superfluous.

More likely, it seems researchers fear results that would overturn the public’s impression that abortion after rape is beneficial or even benign.

Those impressions carry the same conclusion into the discussion of incest. But in cases of incest, abortion erases the evidence of a crime and allows abuse to continue.

David C. Reardon, Ph.D.:

“Studies show that incest victims rarely ever voluntarily agree to an abortion.[4]Instead of viewing the pregnancy as unwanted, the incest victim is more likely to see the pregnancy as a way out of the incestuous relationship because the birth of her child will expose the sexual activity. She is also likely to see in her pregnancy the hope of bearing a child with whom she can establish a true, loving relationship, one far different than the exploitive relationship in which she has been trapped.”

So it isn’t the way we thought it was. No matter which study we consider, assault victims are not lining up in great majorities to abort their pregnancies. They are not claiming that abortion saved them from something more horrible.

more recent survey of sexual assault victims–one that includes a much larger sample (192 women) than the studies cited above–states that 80 percent of women who aborted children conceived from assault regretted their abortions. No woman who gave birth expressed regret.

Missing in much of this discussion is the voice of the children. Rebecca Kiessling is one such voice. Conceived as a result of rape and later adopted, she speaks for the tiniest persons involved.

“Most importantly, I’ve learned, I’ll be able to teach my children, and I teach others that your value is not based on the circumstances of your conception, your parents, your siblings, your mate, your house, your clothes, your looks, your IQ, your grades, your scores, your money, your occupation, your successes or failures, or your abilities or disabilities — these are the lies that are perpetuated in our society.”

Our worth comes from our Creator. He values the littlest ones no matter how they came to be. We can value them too by helping their mothers. Those who have suffered such abuse need not suffer more.

It’s time to tell the truth about rape and abortion. Abortion harms women. Abortion kills children–no matter how they came to be.

Speak up for mothers and children.

Photo Credit: Pexels

See also: Not Some Rapist’s Child

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertisement.

Rules to Free Us

“Sin is the failure to live freedom excellently.” George Weigel

When we were children, we told ourselves that, when we grew up, we would do what we want. We would stay up late, drive a car, and watch whatever we want on television.

But then we grew up and wished we could go to bed earlier. We wondered how we’d pay for car repairs. And we wanted to find some time to watch TV. Or when we did have the time, we wished there’d be something on worth watching.

We didn’t realize as children that our extra sleep helped us function and learn. Our parents chauffeured us around while bearing the burdens of car ownership and maintenance. And we enjoyed an innocence about how the world worked–or failed to work well.

We still don’t realize–and often don’t like to admit–rules are good for us.

The Ten Commandments are not just a list of what not to do–the “Thou shalt not’s”–not idolizing, misusing God’s name, stealing, lying, murdering, coveting, and adultering–or something like that.

They also list what to do. The “Thou shalt’s”–honor God, the Sabbath, our parents.

Those three seem less obvious to us. They don’t seem to carry the weight of immediate consequence, at least when we’re older. But they are perhaps even more important than the others. They keep us from the others. The “Thou shalt’s” help us avoid the “Thou shalt not’s.”

Yet every day, we are free to choose. In fact, our ability to choose our actions, according to George Weigel “is what distinguishes the human person from the rest of the natural world[;] freedom is the great organizing principle of a life lived in a truly human way.”

Life is hard. But when we live our freedom excellently we are most free.

Someone pointed out to me that God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites after they left the bondage of Egypt.

I had never thought of that before. I had never pondered why God didn’t give a set of rules written in stone to Adam and Eve upon their departure from the Garden. Or to Noah 120 years before the flood. Or to Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob.

God waited until His own people would be setting up their own society–a newfound society of free people coming out of bondage. He gave them guideposts, like road signs. Go this way. Don’t go that way. Avoid the bondage of sin.

They aren’t rules to limit us. They’re rules to free us.

“Had your law not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” Psalm 119:92.

It’s something every generation must learn on its own. I confess that I learned many life lessons the hard way. When we learn that way, we come to see the rules as protective.
God wrote those rules in stone. They serve or are disregarded by everyone throughout history.

As children, we resented our parents’ rules while they formed a hedge of protection around us.

The wise delight in the rules and in the One who gave them to us as a gift.

Only then are we truly free.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonies.”

HEADlines: What We Don’t Know

In the beginning was the Word,
    and the Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
    and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
    and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5~

“In former times, the most thoughtful people valued the old or the new only insofar as they gave a clue to the eternal and transcendent. In seeking the transcendent, they believed that old things did have a certain dignity on their face: they have the advantage of persistence, which is one part of virtue. Things that have been thought good for a long time are worthy of attention, respect, and study. New things are harder to judge. Nonetheless, both old and new things must meet the test of permanence and transcendence.

“To the modern ear, that sounds antiquated. Today the theme is not permanence, but change; not transcendence, but presence. Change is the master key to everything. Change can be eternal only in the sense that everything changes. But if everything changes, nothing is permanent, and nothing is transcendent. Today we are trying to make a transcendent good out of the one thing that cannot transcend.” Larry P. Arnn

One of my sons was ten or eleven when I asked his teacher whether he taught sentence diagramming.

“I sneak it in whenever I can,” was his reply.

Even during my youth, teaching elementary and middle school children the structured grammar of the English language had to happen through mutiny. My son’s teacher knew diagrams would help his students better understand their own language, but he had to be sneaky to avoid the wrath of an administration that thought it knew better.

During my years as a college composition instructor, I saw the results of grammar poorly taught or not taught at all.

Many of my college students could not identify the parts of speech in a sentence. Too many did not know how to craft a sentence. They wrote in run-ons or fragments. Beyond their inability to construct a sentence, many had no idea how to craft an argument and defend it.

College students.

Why the continuing animus against teaching English in a way proven over the years to work when the lack of teaching has produced such dismal results? Why the failure to teach the pieces of language to students, no matter their major, who presumably are working to learn to communicate in professional and public settings?

I remember an article I read years ago that I’m unable to source and cite today. The writer proposed that teaching grammar had fallen by the wayside because of an evolutionary mindset.

If we had evolved, so had our ability to speak and so had our development of language. From such a view, it would seem imprudent to teach grammar. After all, evolution means change, and if language evolved, ways of constructing language would evolve too.

This new way of thinking dismissed the idea of “correct” grammar and embraced the idea of an individual, self-created “voice”. Educators could no longer interfere with a student’s voice.

Grammar, in such a view, is a social construct, and social constructs are always to be rejected without consideration of what we lose in dismissing them.

Conversely, the author of the article explained, if we are created beings, we received language. God gave words to us along with the capacity to convey complex ideas in thoughtful, developed, structured, and civil ways.

God the Word Himself, the Logos, (John 1) ordained language.

Yes, language changes over time. Old English, the language people on the British Isle spoke around 700 AD, is unrecognizable to English speakers today.

Old words fall out of favor. New ones come on the scene. Few of us would recognize crumpet as a person’s head. If we used the word nithing in writing, we’d be accused of typographical error rather than insult.

Even so, the changing of language supports rather than refutes the need for grammar. A structure of grammar helps us understand new terms through context. Grammar helps us decipher old texts and more easily navigate complex ones.

Language changes, but we don’t invent it from scratch and expect to communicate well with others. Human interaction in any language is made worse when communicators lack vocabulary and reasoning skills as well as the ability to put words in an understandable arrangement.

Today, only a few understand the grammar of, not only English, but also history (what happened where and when and why certain events matter), math (the basics without calculators), literature (revealing the events and beliefs of people in other times), and science (what is verifiable and what is not).

During the Renaissance, people who believed God had created man melded the views and ways of Judeo-Christianity with elements from pagan cultures like logic and mathematics. Learning flowed from, not only Jerusalem, but also Egypt, Athens, and Rome.

The goal of education was (and should be now) to help students discern truth. To understand the first tenet of logic: that a statement cannot be true and false at the same time. To be able to weigh and argue reasons, facts, and ideas and come to logical, supportable arguments. To be able to explain those arguments in a coherent, persuasive way and to do so in with civility.

Such an education enables students to develop a sense of morality based on objective truth and to understand which actions lead to which consequences.

A language that evolved for a people who evolved is ever-changing and never settled in meaning. Not only in meaning by definitive definition but also meaning in having a lasting purpose. There is no room to claim an objective truth. There is no purpose in trying to convey it. There is only one’s lone voice speaking a foundationless language of self.

A created and bestowed language provides the means to use ministry to convey truth. From truth flows morality, purpose, and meaning.

All that from English grammar? Well, no.

All that results from the idea that learning looks back. Learning looks for structure. It seeks meaning. Learning has meaning because life has meaning.

The ultimate outcome of learning is far more than getting a job that pays well, the best we can hope for in the atomized life in which nothing is definitive. Learning builds a citizen, a spouse, a parent for life.

Arnn refers to higher education in the following quote, but his statement resonates no matter the age of the learner:

“Students [today] are not invited to step outside themselves, to step outside their own time, and to look at things as they have been understood by the best over time. If they did that, they would find that the great books are not a parade of agreements but attempts to approximate truth that frequently differ from one another. They would see that some [books] are more successful than others, and they would then learn and grow not by invention but by discovery.”

Not by invention but by discovery.

Modernity and post-modernity have erased the past from many of today’s classrooms. They’ve removed the wonder that comes from discovering ideas that mattered in the past, that still matter today.

Every generation must write old learning on new slates.

In losing such learning, we lose ourselves.

Reposted from The Mustard Seed Sentinel, 6/25/22

Photo Credit: Unsplash, Eric Muhr

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The Fall of Roe

“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings,” J.R.R. Tolkien.

After nearly 50 years, Roe has fallen. The dragon is slain.

The decision overturns the 1973 ruling of seven men who eradicated every law in America that prevented or restricted the destruction of preborn children.

Now states can decide whether and how to limit abortion. Sixteen states have already taken up the mantle of protection for the unborn.

Mississippi’s case, the one SCOTUS ruled on, limits abortion after 15 weeks–more than a third of the way through pregnancy.

Oklahoma passed a law protecting the unborn from fertilization (with exceptions, reported rape or assault, medical emergency, Plan B). Texas’s law restricts abortion after six weeks and provides no exceptions for rape or incest. (See here also)

Arkansas’s law is also quite restrictive, allowing abortion only when the mother’s life is endangered. Aside from cases like a tubal pregnancy in which the non-viable child’s death is assured, ending a pregnancy prematurely because of a mother’s health issue does not require the death of a viable child. That’s an idea pro-abortion advocates have ignored since before Roe. There’s a big difference between seeking the outcome of a dead child and ending a pregnancy early to care for both mother and child.

In anticipation of today, eight states promised legal access to abortion until birth as per Roe. At least New York expanded abortion access so as not to require a licensed physician to perform the procedure.

Efforts to pass expansive abortion laws on a nationwide basis have failed.

That’s where things stand today. What comes next?

For the other side, the battle has risen to a new level where there can be no limitations–and not just inside abortion facilities.

A prime example is the firebombing of crisis pregnancy centers recently.

These incidents rightly remind us of abortion clinic bombings in the late ’70s through the ’80s and into the ’90s. Media outlets widely publicized the bombings and arson of abortion facilities. Pro-life advocates decried the violence.

This time, the media have largely ignored attacks on pro-life pregnancy centers.

Further, legislative leaders (see here and here) have ignored or have gone so far as to support illegal protests outside the homes of SCOTUS Justices. The White House encouraged such demonstrations supporting a clear violation of the law prohibiting citizens from attempting to intimidate the judiciary to achieve a desired decision.

Not prosecuting illegal protesters may have contributed to a more serious form of protest also muted in the media.

The New York Times buried the attempt to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh on page 20.

Did the media tell themselves that one “crazy” person showing up with a knife, gun and other paraphernalia didn’t deserve a prominent headline. We must ask whether there is only one or a crowd of people willing to allow (or perpetrate) assassination for the sake of a political end?

It’s a crowd, and it’s larger than we would have imagined. Forty-four percent of young Democrat males as well as 34 percent of their Republican counterparts affirm “assassinating a politician who is harming the country or our democracy” as a moral good.

The Culture War is getting hotter, more warlike.

With Roe gone, a great deal hangs in the balance.

On the side of life, there are the children, parents, and other family members who become walking wounded after the trauma of abortion.

On the other side, Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion entity recorded its fifth-highest profits in 2017 at $98.5 million. Profits for 2020 were a mere $69.7 million. The University of Pittsburgh garnered millions in federal tax dollars for its companion industry of fetal experimentation.

The entities who make money from the deaths of children won’t give up easily.

Radicals willing to bomb and threaten those who oppose them won’t either.

Those of us on the side of life must continue to advocate peacefully for the innocent. Aside from the Dobbs decision, we have made progress.

As with many other issues, Americans are very divided over abortion although 70 percent of us favor some limitations, and growing numbers now call themselves pro-life.

We see courage in those willing to stand their ground in crisis pregnancy ministries–especially in states where the balance is tipped in abortion’s favor.

A decision has come down. But the argument is not over. Today is a day to proclaim repentance for our nation’s sins.

It’s a day to celebrate.

It’s a day to commit to courage come what may.

“Courage comes from the deepest recesses of our soul, where belief, hope, conviction, and grounded optimism, tempered by life experience, reside. It is seldom needed; when courage is called for, we either have it or not. those who know how to rally, in heart and deed, carry the day. Those who fold to fear slide away,” Robert B. Charles.

Let us not slide away.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9~

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Men Healing from Abortion

You pick up the stone on a Friday. At some time over the weekend, you’re supposed to put it down.

The stone can represent many things–your sin, your bitterness toward yourself, toward someone else. It’s the burden you’ve been carrying. It’s been the rock in the pocket of your heart for years.

But over the next few days, you’ll finally be able to put it down. And you’ll finally find healing you didn’t know was possible.

Such is the experience of many men attending a retreat to heal from abortion.

A typical situation begins with two people who come together in passing or in love–but always in passion.

She becomes pregnant.

He doesn’t resist when she says she’ll have an abortion–even though she may be hoping he will take a stand on behalf of their child–that he will choose to stand by her.

Or perhaps he pushes her to abort the baby.

Or perhaps he will learn of the abortion only after it’s already happened.

He’s often the neglected one in such situations.

Since before Roe v. Wade, we’ve heard that abortion is between a woman and her doctor. It’s nobody else’s business.

Except it doesn’t work that way–even though it may take him years to understand that the wound from abortion is the stone that has been weighing him down.

In The Tears of the Fisherman, Kevin Burke writes:

“[Many men] do not associate the symptoms they are suffering [depression, addiction, inability to maintain relationships] with that abortion event in their past. Even if a man is aware that he is hurting from participating in the death of his unborn child, there is no safe place to share that burden.”

He has no place to go–either because no one else knows about the abortion or because those who do know don’t want to discuss it.

Burke explains why healing is so important:

“When you went through that abortion experience the natural need for you to grieve the loss of your child and your parental relationship with your son or daughter was also aborted. For some men and women, forgiving self and letting go of the burden of self-condemnation feels like letting go of the only real connection with their unborn child or children.”

Yet there is hope–for both men and women. Hope comes, not in forgetting, but in honoring and remembering. Healing ministries provide the opportunity to remember, to name the child, to repent, to find forgiveness.

Burke’s book lists the following:

Abortionforgiveness.com is part of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

Menandabortion.net helps men find healing and works to raise awareness of men’s abortion pain in counselors, pro-life workers, and society at large.

House of Esau offers weekend retreats for men seeking healing from abortion.

And Rachel’s Vineyard is a ministry for married couples, parents, and grandparents. This ministry provides the stone that symbolizes the burden of abortion.

Burke quotes an attendee of a Rachel’s Vineyard Weekend Retreat: “After I picked up my rock, I was inspired to share with the group. ‘I’ve been carrying this rock for 14 years. I’ve been emotionally dead for that long.’”

He is dead no more.

Laying down the burden of death brings new life.

Reposted from 9/26/19

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How Sacrifice Plants Seeds of Hope

“When my mother’s father died of a heart attack–she was sixteen at the time–it was my father, only seventeen, who stepped in and took control of the household. Although they’d been dating less than a year, he cooked breakfast for my mother’s family, did chores in the afternoons, and became a dad to her young brother. . . . He was from my earliest memories, the person others came to. . . . [H]e never complained.” Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom included this account in the book he wrote about a dying Haitian orphan he and his wife cared for during the child’s final days. Chika was a resident in the orphanage Albom sponsors and helps lead. He and his wife provided love, comfort, and care Chika would not otherwise have received.

Albom’s father’s life changed when his girlfriend’s father died. The elder Albom’s sacrifice of time and effort manifests itself today in Mitch’s love and sacrifice, emotional and financial for Chika.

As we might imagine, the emotional and financial toll would be enormous. Yet, Albom says, “Chika gave us the blessing of having a family, even late in life. Her courage was an inspiration and continues to motivate us to take care of all the other kids [at the Haitian orphanage].”

By example, Albom’s father planted the seed of sacrifice in his son. Now, Albom has visited the orphanage more than 130 times, going monthly and staying for days at a time planting seeds into many more lives.

All fathers plant seeds. Some plant loneliness and pain through abuse or absence. Some cultivate crops reaping strength of character and heart.

When I was a small child, I discovered that the house was warm because my father loaded the furnace every winter morning before I got out of bed.

When I was nearly grown, I discovered that my father was the kind of man who stuck by his wife even if she was, as he said, no longer “herself” because of the emotional challenges and trauma she had suffered in her youth.

Our world is imperfect. That makes some people question God’s existence. A perfect God, they reason, would make a perfect world.

Yet this kind of world is the only place where we can learn about strength of character and heart. It’s the only kind of world that can shape heroes.

It’s what a perfect God would realize we need. Not all heroes are dads. Not all dads are heroes.

If your dad has been a hero, thank him. If he’s gone, thank God for him.

“Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26~

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The Languages of Life and Death

 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have placed before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,” Deuteronomy 30:19, ESV~

“For too many of us, freedom no longer means the ability to know, to choose, and to do what’s morally right; rather, it means what the scholar D. C. Schindler described as ‘freedom from reality. . . . As a result, we relentlessly try to reimagine the world to suit our desires, and then coerce others into believing our delusions.” Charles J. Chaput

In 1974 along with some fellow students, I toured a residential facility for the mentally disabled in a nearby county. Patients’ conditions ranged from functional to bedridden.

In those years, seeing someone with challenges was more common. Aborting those with limited capacities or physical challenges had been neither legal nor acceptable when these patients resided in the womb.

A few years later, the center made news. A male employee had raped incapacitated female patients, two of whom had become pregnant as a result.

The parents of the two women took different paths as I recall from news reports of the day.

One family decided on abortion. Their daughter had a genetic disorder they feared would damage the fetus.

The other family’s daughter had been injured in an accident. Her “disorder” couldn’t be passed on. Her baby would be born. Her baby had a mother.

The newspaper reporter further distinguished between the two children. The fetus had tissue, but the baby had blood. Medical personnel would test both to solve the crime.

There was one language for death and another for life.

The language of death is designed to disguise its subject. Fetus is a Latin word meaning young one. Tissue isn’t as graphic as blood–the substance that sustains life. Fetuses don’t have mothers. Only babies do.

Unstated in the reporter’s account, one family would be relieved of a potential new burden the state was already carrying for their daughter since her child would die. The other family claimed an unexpected grandchild. That child got to have a birthday.

Law enforcement used the acquired tissue and blood to identify the perpetrator who paid the price of a prison sentence.

Nearly five decades have passed since SCOTUS handed down Roe v. Wade and companion case Doe v. Bolton eliminating every law limiting abortion (effectively allowing abortion until birth for any reason) across the US. The language regarding the subject continues to distinguish between fetuses to be aborted and children to be born.

Think of hospitals doing late abortions while medical personnel down the hall work around the clock in the NICU to save babies of the same gestational age.

Think of those working where life and death depend on human decisions.

Think of the people making these decisions–irrevocable moments that will resound in eternity.

And think of the babies, as all whose lives hang in the balance are.

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Freedom and Happiness

“Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!” Psalm 144:15b~

I had the great privilege once to meet Harry Wu, a Chinese dissident who spent 19 years in a laogai, a “re-education camp.” Wu was eventually exiled to America. He worked nights in a doughnut shop until he could learn English to become a voice for freedom until his death in 2016.

Something he said still resonates with me. “A barefoot peasant can be happy if he is free.” Happiness and freedom go hand in hand. 

In “The Grand Inquisitor,” Fyodor Dostoevsky presents what at first seems like a different view.

Alyosha, a priest, is generous and loving. His brother Ivan is an atheist who plans to live until he is thirty, then commit suicide. The two discuss a parable Ivan has written. The conversation, a chapter in The Brothers Karamozov, is more of a political statement than a religious one. But sometimes, people substitute politics for religion.

In Ivan’s parable, a 16th-century Cardinal/inquisitor talks to a silent Christ who has returned to earth for the day. Christ sits silently while the inquisitor tells how he and others in power have replaced God, having improved upon His plan. They have convinced the populace to willingly relinquish their freedom.

Christ had brought freedom with the promise of heavenly bread. He had brought no guarantees of earthly bread or even of happiness. The inquisitor offers people earthly bread at the cost of freedom. Not having to pursue their own bread, the people will be happy, the inquisitor claims.

Speaking to Christ, the inquisitor sums up our times:

“Dost Thou know that the ages will pass, and humanity will proclaim by the lips of their sages that there is no crime, and therefore no sin; there is only hunger? ‘Feed men, and then ask of them virtue!’ that’s what they’ll write on the banner, which they will raise against Thee, and with which they will destroy Thy temple.”

Published in 1880, Dostoevsky was prophetic. Much of the world has turned to the bread of socialism. They don’t, however, seem any happier for having done so.

Satan’s promises never pay off.

In the 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson promised America freedom and happiness. He admitted he did not have the “full answer” to America’s woes. But he determined to find “the best thought and the broadest knowledge from all over the world to find those answers for America.” It’s unlikely that he realized his point mirrored the words of the inquisitor.

Johnson’s speech marks a turning in America, not the first nor the last, away from the wisdom of God to the wisdom of man.

“The purpose of protecting the life of our nation and preserving the liberty of our citizens is to pursue the happiness of our people. Our success in that pursuit is the test of our success as a nation.” The government’s new goal became to effect personal happiness in its citizens. Without it, the nation would be a failure.

Johnson’s Great Society would result in “abundance and liberty for all” and require “an end to poverty and racial injustice.”

After having spent more than $22 trillion over 50 years, rates of poverty first dropped from 17 percent to about 12 percent, rose again to hover at 15 percent, then ticked back up to almost 17 percent in 2020. 

Changes to Social Security and Medicare accounted for much of the initial poverty reduction. 

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report shows a murder rate in 1960 of 4.6 (per 100,000). The rate soared to 10.2 in 1980 and was at 4.5 in 2013. Currently, the rate is 6.9. The War on Poverty has failed.

More than half a century since LBJ promised that programs could produce a heyday of peace and prosperity, a heaven on earth utopia has not come to pass.

It cannot be on earth.

The pursuit of happiness is not something that anyone–including the government–can chase on someone else’s behalf. Certainly, no one can pursue happiness without freedom.

In response to the inquisitor, Dostoevsky’s Christ remains silent. His only response: kissing the inquisitor before He departs.

Ivan thought he figured out how to fix the world. But Ivan still wasn’t happy. Before they part, Alyosha kisses him.

Alyosha knows happiness does not come in the form of government-provided bread. It comes in the form of love.

Love shares, provides for needs, and is generous.

That kind of love comes only through Christ.

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Honoring Sacrifice

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget—lest we forget! Kipling

Monday is a day for remembering,

Heroes who fought wars for us,

And didn’t come home.

Wives and sisters and mothers,

Fathers and brothers and sons,

Families,

Children,

Friends,

Left mourning,

Missing hearts,

Purple hearts.

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A Community of Light and Life

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:11-14 (NIV)~

“Today the individual has become the highest form . . . The smallest wound or pain of the ego is examined under a microscope as if it were of eternal importance. The artist considers his isolation, his subjectivity, his individualism almost holy. Thus we finally gather in one large pen, where we stand and bleat about our loneliness without listening to each other and without realizing that we are smothering each other to death. The individualists stare into each other’s eyes and yet deny each other’s existence. We walk in circles, so limited by our own anxieties that we can no longer distinguish between true and false, between the gangster’s whim and the purest ideal.” Ingmar Bergman~

Two religions prevail in America today. Christianity provides community. Modernity imposes isolation.

I had occasion this week to peek at life in a small liturgical church whose traditions I’d not witnessed before. Beauty dwells in that place. A beauty different from the magnificence of grand cathedrals. Natural light pours through clear windows; from within, lit candles stand tall around the altar area and above on a chandelier.

The natural forms of light bring opportunity for contemplation and an appreciation for the preparation before we arrive. Someone lights all those candles. That’s not our usual way today as we expect modern amenities along with efficiency to accompany our worship.

And we expect comfort as well. At this church, while a few benches line the wall, most people stand. Families worship on their feet. Parents carry babes in backpacks or belly slings.

Older children stand, sometimes moving around to light a candle or use the bathroom. No special children’s program separates them. No clenched teeth shushes and admonitions to SIT STILL dampen their affinity for the place and the rites.

Mothers stand holding babies within themselves.

I remember an old British literary work (but I can’t remember which one) in which a character commented that Christianity was for old women and the vulgar.

Yet in this candlelit place, the ratio of men to women is pretty even. The age demographic is nowhere near old. This church is young and burgeoning with life.

As SCOTUS continues to ponder Dobbs and Roe, we see the contrast between an encouraging community and our outer society of atomized individualists walking in circles and denying each other’s existence.

Even to the point of denying each other’s right to exist.

“Abortion long ago became a natural symbol for the loss of a spiritual center. Not divine law, but individual will is the measure, and rejecting the child within the body becomes its expression. Challenging Roe v. Wade is not a matter of standing in judgment against women, but of changing a culture of death.” Glenn Arbery~

By example, the young men and women in this small community of faith challenge this culture of death. As they accept the children they bear, as they take Communion, they renounce modernity’s cry for me, myself, and I.

“Abortion is the Antichrist’s demonic parody of the Eucharist. That is why it uses the same holy words, ‘This is my body,’ with the blasphemously opposite meaning.” – Dr. Peter Kreeft~

This small church is not an ideal community. There aren’t any. God doesn’t expect any church to be perfect, just humble.

There is a way to overcome the darkness of atomization and present the light of Christ’s community to the world.

Such a way begins in small communities loving each other and shining light to the rest.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)~

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A Smaller Church in a Fresh Blossoming

—and blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me!” Matthew 11:6 NET~

In the 1960s, Pope Benedict XVI, then Joseph Ratzinger predicted the following:

“The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.”

“She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . .”–from Faith and the Future ([published online]).

Christianity is in decline in America. Fewer than half of us belong to a church now with attendance having dropped 20 percent over the past two decades.

What might be the social privileges Benedict referred to? Tax-exempt status for religious entities in America comes to mind since most churches couldn’t maintain ministries in their current state and support missions while carrying a heavy tax burden.

In our communities as well as our nation, Christian social influence is ebbing even as we see results from years of toil. On what looks like the eve of the end for Roe v Wade, some states like Texas have already passed effective limitations to protect the unborn. More than half of US states are set to restrict abortion if or when the Supreme Court overturns Roe as many expect, giving the power to regulate abortion back to the states. That would seem like a supreme victory for the Judeo-Christian ethic.

At recent March for Life events, however, we’ve seen tremendous Christian presence accompanied by a growing portion of the crowd representing a Secular Pro-Life position–the stance that all human life deserves civil rights including the right to life, even in the womb, but without the idea that human life is sacred because God created us and endowed us as His image.

If America sees a rebirth of protection for the unborn, will we be able to keep it with a shrinking Church and even with secular allies for life?

We can, but only if we become and remain the Church of old.

Mike Aquilina and James Papandrea write about “Seven Revolutions” Christianity produced causing “radical change in the way human society thought of the individual, the family, work, religion, community, attitudes toward life and death, and even government.”

“For example, in the ancient world, a person’s worth was based on what he or she might produce, or how he or she might be a burden to others.  It was Christianity that would give the world a sense of the intrinsic value of every human being.  In other words, in the worldview of ancient cultures, some people were expendable, and some people were property.  Furthermore, in the Roman Empire the enjoyment of quality of life (along with the freedoms and free time that make that possible) was a luxury afforded to the rich.  Both religion and government existed to serve the ruling classes, which created a hopelessness in the lower classes and a tendency toward selfish hedonism in the upper classes.”

Nearly 50 years of unrestricted abortion (abortion throughout pregnancy for any reason) has done much to affirm the view that some people are expendable based on their limitations, lack of abilities, or inconvenient timing.

Now, more than ever before in America’s history, we see selfish hedonism among the elite and hopelessness growing in every population sector.

With Roe gone, it will be up to the Church to reach out to minister to families, women, and children in need. If we claim victory and celebrate that the fight is over and go home to rest from the conflict, the door will be wide for Roe to be reinstated–and even expanded.

Even with shrinking churches, ministry will have to grow. Christians will have to do more to reach out to those in need of loving service rather than the exploitation abortion offers.

Ministry itself is already taking a different shape. We can expect to see fewer large churches and more pastors managing a church along with an outside job. The number of bi-vocational pastors is now at 40 percent.

Ministry will be more difficult but perhaps more accessible, more real. We may look at the coworker next to us and find he is a pastor.

That sounds harder. More work to provide effective ministry.

Harder sounds bad. But harder isn’t always bad.

More from Benedict:

“It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification [of essential doctrine] will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek.”

And the Church becoming meek will be the seed of awakening in the culture around us.

“. . . . Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.”

Today in the West, authentic churches of all denominations are seeing Benedict’s words come true.

Can we know and explain what it means to be Christian in a way that holds to truth and shows love and grace? Are we willing to let our churches become materially poor in order to stand in truth, love, and grace?

“The real crisis has scarcely begun,” Benedict continued. “We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”

We already see loneliness manifesting itself in the totally planned world Benedict spoke of.

We know the source of life and hope.

As the Church grew through the centuries, stained glass windows and beautiful artwork told the story of Christ to the literate and illiterate alike.

We must now be those story-telling windows letting light shine into lives dwelling in the darkness of their loneliness.

We can ask God to use us to bring about a fresh blossoming of His love in our world.

We can be the seed of that blossoming.

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
    the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
it shall blossom abundantly
    and rejoice with joy and singing. Isaiah 35:1-2a~

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Celebration of Mother

It started with the ancients honoring mothers even though ancient cultures did not regard women as equal citizens. Lauding Mother has rung throughout the ages.

America’s celebration of mothers began on a dark note more than a century ago. It was a day for mothers to mourn sons lost in World War One and work toward peace. As wars came and went, the day became a time to honor all mothers. It became a happy day.

The day’s original crafters would want you to know that it’s not Mothers’ Day–in celebration of all mothers. It’s Mother’s Day–when you’re supposed to visit and thank your own.

Some still hold the babes, wipe the noses, and change the diapers. Others joust with school-borne illnesses, sibling rivalries, and picking up Legos after stepping on one in bare feet. It’s the little ones that hurt the most.

For some of us, the babes grew up and had their own–may still have more. And some of those babes have grown and had their own now too.

Life is a sacred passage. Being a child turns into becoming a parent. The seasons pass too quickly from sleepless nights to piles of laundry on college weekends. Then weddings, then children–we hope.

Over the years, we forget the exhaustion that comes with fussy babies and sick children. We remember our lack of patience and wonder whether what we gave was enough. But even our mistakes don’t have to be wasted.

“Good parents use the mistakes they did in the past when they were young to advise the children God gave to them to prevent them from repeating those mistakes again” (Israelmore Ayivor).

But the next generation will stumble also. And so the seasons unfold. Imperfect humans pass on the stamp of imperfection. Yet we stamp each other with love and understanding too–and the eventual realization that our mothers did their best–and in spite of our exhaustion or fear or life circumstance, we did too.

We have to forgive ourselves and each other for our stumblings.

The stamp of imago Dei–the image we bear–makes it all sacred.

Celebrate your mother–in life or in memory. Celebrate those you hold, those you’ve held, and, if you’re a mom, those who hold you in their hearts for all you’ve done. Celebrate your part in the seasons of bringing others through to their grown-up time.

Celebrate Mother’s Day every day you can.
 


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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Born and Preborn

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16~

“Born and preborn.” That’s how my friend ended the Pledge of Allegiance every time she said it.

In January of 1979, she answered the phone when I called to reserve my seat on the bus for my first March for Life. We’ve been dear friends ever since.

She resides in a home now. I hope she is aware of the news of the day.

It’s sad that someone leaked the decision draft for Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization. I hope SCOTUS moves quickly to officially release the decision. If it is as it appears, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth from the other side.

Yet the abortion business will continue in states like New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and others who prepared for this day by codifying Roe and Doe (Roe‘s companion case)–enacting unlimited abortion until birth for any reason.

Other states have prepared in the opposite way for Roe‘s fall. Pro-abortion entity the Guttmacher Institute says 26 states are ready to “ban” abortion (with limitations).

Our Pennsylvania governor takes pride in his previous service as an abortion escort. He walked pregnant women from their cars and talked to them so they couldn’t hear pro-life people offering alternatives to death for their children.

He is a guaranteed veto on any pro-life bill our majority conservative legislature will pass. His successor must be pro-life if we are to provide any measure of protection for unborn children who are still suffering across our state and at the hands of experimenters at the University of Pittsburgh.

We have marched and talked and prayed and marched some more since Roe and Doe came down in 1973. We felt devastation in 1992 when Casey (a very different Pennsylvania governor) v Planned Parenthood came down too. But now this day has arrived.

Even so, the fight for life goes on. While it appears that the generation calling itself the pro-life generation may finally have succeeded, every generation must stand to protect life.

Dred Scott, Roe, Doe, and Casey were bad decisions. Justice demanded they be overturned. Justice is late for 62 million children, the inconvenient, the imperfect, the wrong gender.

Perhaps today, justice is at the door. For born and preborn.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: No Other Way

Published in the Mustard Seed Sentinel, Saturday, April 23, 2022

“And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction,” Malachi 4:6 (ESV).

“A society based on ‘agape’ [sacrificial love] alone is all very well, but it will not reproduce itself: nor will it produce the crucial relation–that between parent and child–which is the basis on which we can begin to understand our relation to God. Hence, the redemption of the erotic lies at the heart of every viable social order.” Roger Scruton~

Charles J. Chaput includes the above Scruton quote in his book Things Worth Dying For: Thoughts on a Life Worth Living. Earlier in the book, Chaput explains that the word sacrifice “derives from the Latin sacrum facere–to make sacred; to set aside as holy.”

In his chapter on the family, “The Ties that Bind,” Chaput provides four factors that work against the process of strong families forming a strong society.

The first is political: The Christian view of what a family is–mom, dad, and the kids–is “a magnet for ill will” in a society informed by a “pervasive and permissive mass media–permissive toward some causes; bigoted toward others.” Chaput asserts that the independent-mindedness that democratic government fosters ultimately leads to this ill will since the “biblical authority of the Christian family is, finally, undemocratic.”

A family that functions with father and mother, equal in status, wielding authority, and filling different roles, is anathema to today’s liberal thinkers. Even so, the institution of the family is the primary factor in societal stability.

The second factor is economic: “Globalism has served America’s wealthy top tier quite well. But as lower-skilled jobs disappear, middle- and working-class wages have stagnated–or worse, declined . . . [forcing] both parents out of the home . . . [and keeping] many families from saving even for emergencies.” In such an environment, “the liberty and power of most individuals has declined.” We are now “free to make very few significant choices.”

The shift from local production to worldwide manufacturing has made the American Dream, family-sustaining independence, a memory for many.

The third factor is technological advances: “[C]oncern for electronic diversions and their impact on the mental health and development of children is now widespread.” Addiction to screens, addiction to porn, and mental passivity result from our devotion to daily screen time.

Even more concerning are “family-related technology issues” such as “mitochondrial replacement therapy–i.e., in vitro fertilization (IVF) with genetic material from three different adults.”

Chaput quotes Brendan Fohr: “The willingness of the fertility industry to use experimental technologies like three-parent IVF to satisfy the kinship desire of prospective parents, even when it means putting the health of the child at risk, bodes ill for how they will use the even more powerful technologies of genetic engineering now on the horizon.”

We have embarked into a Brave New World in which sex and reproduction continue to lose connection. That connection is the primary tie that binds, the “crucial relation” Scruton cited as a foundation for our understanding of God. The melding agape to eros (romantic, physical love) in families is how God created us to reproduce–physically and spiritually.

Finally, the fourth factor circles back to the first and echoes the third–hostility toward the family and pursuit of increased distance between sex and reproduction. Nineteenth-century “revolutionaries, like Marx and Engels, wanted their economic policies to dissolve the need for traditional families. Where they failed, feminists like Shulasmith Firestone (1945-2012) have not.

She explains: “The end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege, but the sex distinction itself.” She proposes artificial reproduction–“Children born to both sexes equally, or independently of either,” eliminating “the dependence of the child on the mother,” and thereby breaking “the tyranny of the biological family.”

Over the last few decades, society has deprived innumerable children of their fathers. Firestone would remove the influence of mothers as well leaving children to an institutional parent or a set of parents distorting the family model designed to point us to God.

Chaput: “Eros produces the family. Agape sustains it.” Western culture wants to sweep married eros under the carpet, telling us that only our desires matter. Our responsibilities to each other are secondary–perhaps not even worthy of consideration.

Firestone’s radical ideas have become more deeply entrenched as we find ourselves battling public entities over sex education, especially for young children. We’re watching this battle play out as politicians and “educators” sometimes demand the power to overrule the influence of parents.

Roger Scruton tells us that “a society based on ‘agape’ alone” is not enough to turn things around. His statement implies that agape is necessary, but more is needed. Chaput provides this answer:

“Renewing family life will require a healthy skepticism toward the secular culture that surrounds us, an appropriate caution regarding its tools, and an active, convicted Christian witness of courage, intelligence, and love. And that demands a faith rooted in one thing that finally matters: a living relationship with Jesus Christ.”

That relationship often requires sacrifice–something many of us with our independent-mindedness, economic struggles or standing, technological comforts, and aversion to necessary conflict with those who hold “ill will” against our faith would prefer to avoid.

Committed marital physical love forms families. Sacrificial love builds and sustains families. Both sanctify families.

Each generation builds or destroys the foundation of society. We build by committing to pure eros and sacrificial love. We destroy with a sledgehammer of selfishness.

There is no in-between. There is no other way.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Every Day

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20 NIV)

On Thursday, He blessed and broke the bread.
On Friday, the Bread of Life let Himself be broken for us.
On Sunday, He defied death, sin, and oppression.
He rose.
Rise and stand for Him.
Bread of Life.
Living Water.
Messiah,
Lion of Judah.
Lamb of God.
Savior.
Returning King.

The King of kings is coming again.
The King of kings is with us yet.
Remember.
Worship.
Celebrate.
Easter is here.

The tomb is empty.

Not just Sunday. Every day.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Easter Is Coming

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3~

“I remember too how spring came, just when I thought it might stay winter forever, at first in little touches and strokes of green lighting up the bare mud like candle flames, and then it covered the whole place with a pelt of shadowing green blades and leaves. And I remember how, as the days and the winds passed over, the foliage shifted and sang.” (Wendell Berry)

The last part of winter brings Lent, which can be a harsh season–even if you don’t choose to sacrifice something. This March brought us a medical emergency for my husband. Yesterday, not unusual for the first half of April in central Pennsylvania, it snowed.

The chill seems even worse since warm temperatures weeks ago fooled us into thinking spring was already here. Winter lingered. It seemed entrenched. We continue to feed the woodstove, but the time of piling blankets on the bed at night will soon end.

In a few days, the lavender-blue hills will reappear awaiting spring green soon to follow.

Life is a series of seasons. Some are beautiful, warm, and easy. Some are cold and trying. All hold the purpose of drawing us to God and shaping us for eternity, shaping us to live in a beautiful place outside time without sacrifice, without pain.

Shaping us for eternal spring. The Lenten season is short. Warmth and new growth lie ahead.

Easter is coming.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Mother’s Miracle Touch

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139: 13-14 (ESV)~

I remember the wonderful feeling on my belly–the squirming child who was recently inside me was now wiggling on me.

That happened four out of five times. One of my babies came so quickly I didn’t have a sterile drape on me to receive the child. (I warned them, but did they listen?)

None of my five were premature. But a preemie (and sometimes a full-term baby) born today is likely to receive “Kangaroo Care”–their parents will hold them skin to skin. This practice provides warmth and connection for the babe. Mother’s (or Father’s) body heat, voice, heartbeat are all conduits to connection.

The practice began in Bogota, Columbia, when incubators were scarce and babies in distress were in great supply. After implementing the skin to skin care, the mortality rate plunged from 70 to 30 percent. Since then, Kangaroo Care has become more widespread–even when incubators are readily available.

The most interesting aspect of the ensuing research I’ve found is that, during skin to skin time with the baby on or between the mother’s breasts, the breasts change temperature to accommodate the baby’s needs–even going so far that, with preemie twins, one on each breast, the breasts achieve different temperatures to accommodate each baby’s thermal need.

How amazing!

One mother reports using Kangaroo Care with her adopted newborn daughter–allowing the baby to get used to the mother’s body rhythms–to feel and smell her new mother–to get used to the sound of this previously unheard voice.

But the benefits aren’t just for the babies.

One study discusses the effects of Kangaroo Care (KC) for adopting parents. “During KC the mother’s perception of her infant changes: She feels more competent as a care provider, more responsible for her infant, and more in control of her situation.”

Now I think back nearly 38 years to the last time I felt my youngest one on my abdomen–warm and wet through the drape.

These were the days when it was still okay to dispense aspirin even to infants and put them to sleep on their bellies. In spite of all we’ve learned, perhaps there is more yet to learn.

We may just be on our way to discovering how healthy human connections begin at the beginning.

One of those ways–Kangaroo Care–highlights the deft hand of a loving Creator. The Creator who installed a heating and cooling system in the breasts of mothers–the mother’s miracle touch.

We are indeed wonderfully made.

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his –Psalm 100:3a~

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: The Seed, the Root, and the Poisonous Fruit of the Overpopulation Myth

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel March 26, 2022.

I walked through the local mall one day in 1979. I was large enough with my third child for her presence to be obvious. I wore my favorite maternity shirt, red and stating in bold letters: “Yes sir, that’s my baby!” with an arrow pointing down toward the child in utero.

I pushed a grocery cart carrying three other children, my two already born and my nephew, a few months older and larger than my son but with hair the color of my daughter’s. She was the tallest of the three.

It was conceivable for observers to assume the three children in the cart were all mine born in quick succession. The eyes of many observers told me they assumed exactly that.

And such an assumption was not a positive one.

I could almost hear them thinking: “She has too many children.”

Nineteen seventy-nine, you may recall, came eleven years after Paul (and Ann) Ehrlich published The Population Bomb assuring us that we would soon be starving because the earth would not be capable of feeding so many. Most ominously, according to the Ehrlichs, it was already too late.

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970’s and 1980’s (sic) hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”

By 1979 people had so embraced apocalyptic premonitions that they perceived me as immoral for seeming to have produced four children in short order.

Thomas Robert Malthus planted the seed of the fear of overpopulation in 1798. He calculated that the population would grow more quickly than food supplies. The world didn’t check his math, and didn’t seem to notice the failure of his prediction that “there would be standing room only on this earth by the Year of Our Lord, 1890.” Perhaps more than any other philosophy, Malthus’s assertions that too many babies cause disaster became assumed “truth”.

Preventing overpopulation and certain starvation became a moral imperative.

It proved to be a convenient imperative for governments wanting to blame births rather than natural disasters or government decisions for food shortages.

China was one country whose government bought into the Ehrlichs’ theories, completely, officially, and expediently. In the aftermath of a deadly famine, the government looked to shift the blame from unwise policies that caused the deaths of as many as 45 million.

The One-Child Policy China adopted in 1980 required couples to get permission to give birth. With rare exception, the government would grant permission only once.

That’s when the law of unintended consequences kicked in.

Because of the cultural preference for sons, sex-selection abortion became pervasive, and a population imbalance ensued.

Zhuang Pinghui:

“The gender gap only started to soar in 1982, when . . . [China] started to strictly implement the birth control policy that allowed families to have only one child. The preference for boys over girls – boys could perform hard labour and were favoured in inheritance of land in rural areas – encouraged selective abortions that pushed the ratio of boys from 108.47 in 1982 to above 115 since 1994. It peaked nationally in 2004 with 121.2 boys born to every 100 girls, and some provinces even recorded ratios of 130. Demographers estimate that between 20 to 34 million more boys than girls were born in the past three decades.”

The population imbalance in China ignited the exploitation of North Korean women by the tens of thousands. “Women”, by the way, includes girls as young as 12 who have endured forced marriages or a form of conscription into the prostitution or porn industries.

It would take less than 40 years for China to realize its population policy mistake. By 2015, people would be not only allowed but encouraged to have two children, and now, three.

Today, countries like Finland, Estonia, Italy, Japan, and Australia are paying couples to have children. China is considering following suit. But despite the incentives, people are choosing to have fewer children.

Throughout history, children were a blessing although, aside from Judeo-Christian and Islamic cultures, parents often rejected baby girls and the handicapped.

In mostly rural America until the late nineteenth century, children were helpers who would eventually inherit the land and work it with their own children.

During industrialization, much of America’s population transitioned from the countryside to the city.

Instead of families inhabiting tracts of land where having many children was beneficial, they occupied overcrowded tenements.

Abortion shifted from being a rare device of desperate single women who’d been abandoned to a common tool for married women.

Society also responded with laws prohibiting abortion. That effort happened because feminists and physicians lobbied for laws to protect women and children from the exploitation of abortion. By 1900, every state in the US had outlawed abortion.

A century earlier, Malthus proposed a different solution:

“Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country, we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations. But above all, we should reprobate [i.e., reject] specific remedies for ravaging diseases; and restrain those benevolent, but much mistaken men, who have thought they were doing a service to mankind by projecting schemes for the total extirpation of particular disorders. 2

Malthus saw people as an affliction on the world the way Hitler described some as “useless eaters.”

A root of the fear of overpopulation assumes people don’t produce; they only consume.

Terence P. Jeffrey:

“You don’t need to be an economist to see it is a myth that man is a net consumer of material wealth. History proves the opposite. The world is brimming with physical and intellectual improvements made by successive generations of human inhabitants. Its so-called carrying capacity has been determined not by the width of its continents, but by the wit of man.”

We need young people to come up with ideas of how to produce more food more efficiently, how to develop medicines, and how to solve environmental challenges. We need what has happened since the 1970s regarding the development of food production, medicines, and environmental solutions to continue into the next generations.

The poisonous fruit of the fear of overpopulation is the abortion movement, a monster with a voracious and never-satisfied appetite for death.

In the US many states have few or no regulations on the procedure, allowing it until birth.

Legislators were planning to consider a bill in the Maryland House of Representatives that would completely dehumanize the unborn child leaving abortion survivors without protection from death by neglect and/or experimentation.

Under the original, vaguely written bill, not only abortion survivors, but also “peri-natal” children would have no protection. The American Academy of Pediatrics defines the peri-natal period as lasting through “the 28th day after birth” (emphasis mine).

In the wake of push-back for his proposal to legalize infanticide, the bill’s sponsor canceled a committee hearing so he could rewrite the proposal removing references to peri-natal children.

It’s reasonable to assume that all unborn children and abortion survivors will still be subject to a death sentence under whatever is next proposed.

Most of us don’t live on farms today. Most people limit the size of their families. Dangers reside in believing that having a certain number of children is good, and exceeding that number is bad. And that any means to prevent those children from competing for our resources is acceptable.

Fear of overpopulation causes us to excuse the inexcusable as people reject the inconvenient child, the surprise, the one less than perfect.

When modernity made it possible to control our family size, we took that control, and we didn’t look back.

It’s time to look back to where we came from. To look up to the God who creates and controls. To ask forgiveness for our blatant disregard for human life. To show love in restoring a culture of life around us.

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Never the Same

These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also (Acts 17:6b KJB).

Their lives were set. They had worked at their jobs all their lives. They thought they knew which way life would turn for the rest of their days.

There was a hope for a political savior–to free them from the Romans. But mostly there was routine, the everydayness of work and home.

Then they met Him. Perhaps He was the one–the one who would save them from the oppression of Rome.

They were fishermen, a tax collector, others with occupations we don’t know. Simple men.

Disciples.

They listened. They followed. They believed.

Then one betrayed Him. Another denied Him. One stayed close to the end. The rest scattered.

They thought it was over.

The fishermen returned to their boats.

Life would be as it was before.

Then He arose.

Rome stayed, but His followers changed.

They received fire from heaven.

And they turned the world upside down.

His rising, a lie?

You may say so, but who dies for a lie?

Only one would not be killed for believing Him who said, “Follow Me.”

That one would suffer exile and write of encounters with Him. That one followed at the cost of all else–all else but eternal gain.

This story remains today.

To inspire us.

To show us how to follow Him.

To make us never the same.

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Enough or Too Much Time?

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28~

Some of us get more of it than others. None of us knows exactly when it will end for us. We complain that there is not enough of it. Or that there is too much between where we are and what we want.

Some people even say it’s an illusion. But illusory or real, it binds us all.

Time never seems to do what we want it to do. But how to use it is up to us–even in the worst of circumstances.

Natan Sharansky spent nine years in Soviet prisons and camps. He experienced many days in a punishment cell–with little food or warmth. He underwent hunger strikes that weakened his heart.

He endured.

Sharansky filled his solitary time thinking. He devised chess strategies. He filled his mind with memories of loved ones. He resisted the urge to trust those who had taken his freedom.

Consistently, doggedly, he refused to cooperate with the KGB. He did nothing that would ease or shorten his time in captivity. He understood that cooperation was a snare that would never end.

Sharansky watched others. One worked to shorten his time but worked too well. He did not receive his promised release. He had bought a lie and kept doing time.

“During these years, I have met people who have been weakened from constant disappointments. They continually created new hopes for themselves, and as a result, they betray themselves. Others live in the world of illusions . . . in order to prevent real life from ultimately destroying it.”

Sharansky came to a conclusion:

“It’s best if you are left with only one hope–the hope of remaining yourself no matter what happens” (Sharansky 370-71).

Sharansky realized early on in his experiences with the KGB that “nothing they did could humiliate me. I could only humiliate myself–by doing something I might later be ashamed of” (8).

Later on, in freedom, Sharansky realized a great irony:

“In the punishment cell, life was much simpler. Every day brought only one choice: good or evil, white or black, saying yes or no to the KGB. I had all the time I needed to think about these choices, to concentrate on the most fundamental problems of existence, to test myself in fear, in hope, in belief, in love. And now, lost in thousands of mundane choices, I suddenly realize that there’s no time to reflect on the bigger questions” (418).

Each of us today will make a thousand mundane choices.

For the most part, we have spent our lives distracted by a world filled with such choices–voices drowning out the important.

What will we choose today?

Today, ponder the big things. Test yourself in fear, hope, belief, love.

Jesus tells us not to fear those who can kill our bodies. To find our hope and belief in Him. To follow Him, loving Him and all around us.

He holds time. He knows how long our time is. He knows what is real, what is illusion.

In our allotted time, we face challenges and sacrifice. With our trust in Him, we can find purpose and peace.

Peace no one can take away.

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Via, Veritas, et Vita

“You walk into this room at your own risk–because it leads to the future. Not a future that will be, but one that might be. This is not a new world. It is simply an extension of what began in the old one. 

“It has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history since the beginning of time. . . . It has one iron rule. Logic is an enemy and truth is a menace.” Rod Serling, The Obsolete Man

It’s one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes.

The story centers around a librarian (Burgess Meredith) named Wordsworth. Since books and religious faith have been outlawed, the librarian faces execution. According to his society, he has become obsolete.

In this situation, he finds a way to teach the world. He shows them that humans cannot violate each other without violating themselves.

He reads his illegal Bible. He asserts that there is a God. He has peace even in the face of death. The one who condemned him dies pleading and begging. It is the second man who has become obsolete.

It’s fascinating to consider how much the world and network television have changed since that episode first aired in 1961.

The episode was a reaction to, not only the war of those days, the Cold War, but also the previous war, World War II.

The reverberations of Hitler’s institutionalized, horrific, and unjustifiable atrocity still rocked the world. They remained fresh in the minds of those who had lived through that war and its aftermath. Those who knew of the testimonies at Nuremberg.

The world was wide awake to the dangers of those who would overrule logic and truth in favor of oppression and death.

Even in the face of terrorism and today’s political rancor, we have comfort. We have little fear. We sleep.

Ministries offer cruise packages, and families can book Christian vacations. Everyone needs a break. But a vacation isn’t usually ministry minded.

Ministry looks more like sacrifice. People who sacrifice for a greater good are not asleep.

Once, Germany’s people–and the countries Germany occupied–woke up to learn that they had much to fear.

Germany came to oppression by believing the world had oppressed them. The unfair treaty from the previous war had cheated them. They would show the world. They would rise and be a great people once more.

But they trusted a liar who gave them a twisted sense of justice. He defied logic and denied truth. He seemed great, this author of great horror.

In the meantime, others would rise to greatness. Not other countries. But individuals who lay under the “ripping imprint of a boot” Serling references.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Maximillian Kolbe, Corrie ten Boom. Examples. They were awake.

Bonhoeffer and Kolbe died standing for truth. Corrie ten Boom lived to write and speak the truth of that time.

They endured great suffering and loved their enemies. In simple essence, they lived for Christ.

Meeting at the intersection of justice and truth, they pursued holiness.

And prevailed over evil.

Ego sum via veritas et vita. ~I am the way, the truth, and the life. John 14:6a~

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Christians Speak Up! Podcast

I recently had the honor of appearing on the Christians Speak Up Podcast hosted by Eddie Jones. We had a great conversation! Enjoy!

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/join-us-for-a-conversation-with-nancy-head/id1611619225?i=1000552864263

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Washing Blood Off Our Hands

When World War II ended and the world realized all the Nazis had done, Western Civilization determined never again to go back to what happened at Auschwitz or Buchenwald. Never again would the world see mass genocide based on race or human experimentation without regard for the wellbeing of human subjects. The Nuremberg Code states in part: “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent . . . . “The experiment should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature.” Many today have forgotten Nuremberg, or never heard of it. In our ignoring or ignorance, we have slid back to a dark day. Late-term whole manual abortion (extraction of the child without ripping or crushing) produces living subjects for experiments. It happens more often than you might realize. The CDC estimates that in 2018, 50,000 abortions happened after the baby had reached the gestational age of 14 weeks; 6,200 of those were after 21 weeks. If their mothers “donated tissue” for research, these children were subject to experimentation.  Babies are not capable of consent, and the supposed “fruitful results” of such experiments have proven to be elusive. Melanie Israel writing for The Heritage Foundation in 2019: “Proponents of fetal tissue research claim that it has led to advancements such as creating the polio vaccine, while omitting important details about the difference between historic fetal cell lines (which do not require ongoing abortions) and fresh fetal tissue (which does require ongoing abortions). “The original polio vaccines used monkey tissue and fetal cell lines. No current vaccines are made with fresh fetal tissue.” [That includes COVID vaccines.] Israel points out that fetal research is a $100 million “industry . . . with little to no oversight.” The gains are big, but they don’t land in the realm of improving public health. They land in the wallets of the perpetrators. Societies are not comprised of wallets alone. We are hearts and souls as well as stomachs. When those with deadened souls hold power, society will only increase the level of horror. Kyle Christopher McKenna writes: “Without careful oversight, the fetus could become, like fetal tissue cell lines, merely cells, cultured within the uterus for scientific exploration. All people of good conscience have the responsibility to voice opposition to the use of fetal tissue from elective abortions in order to promote development of alternatives, affirm the value of all human life, and limit scandal.” The scandal is the deadening of our souls to the kinds of practices the Nuremberg Code was supposed to prevent. In promoting alternatives that respect the humanity of the born and unborn, we can be people of good conscience. Where to begin? We follow the money. There is recently acquired government funding from the Biden Administration. Without a new Congress and a new president, it appears that will continue. And there is funding from NIH, credited with paying for a horrific “experiment” in which infants of the gestational age of five-months (23 weeks) are scalped. A mouse or rat receives the new skin with hair. We are left to wonder what “fruitful results” for humanity could possibly follow. The scalp transplant experiment happened at the University of Pittsburgh, which ranks fifth among the top recipients of federal dollars. But cutting the the skin and hair off the heads of late-term abortion victims to see what happens when you attach them to rats and mice is not an aberration. Newsweek, which does not have a conservative, pro-life leaning, published David Daleiden’s account of a “scientist who developed a nightmarish “protocol” for harvesting the freshest, most pristine livers from five-month-old aborted babies in order to isolate massive numbers of stem cells for experimental transplants [none of which has worked]. This technique calls for aborting late-term fetuses alive via labor induction, rushing them to a sterile laboratory, washing them and then cutting them open to harvest the liver.” The majority of those babies were minority children. Intentionally. That also happened at the University of Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania law makes experimentation on a living fetus and failure to provide immediate medical care to a born-alive infant third-degree felonies. Before we ask where law enforcement is, we must wonder where the outrage is from our legislators who market themselves with pro-life slogans every election year. Pennsylvania pays Pitt $151 million currently with our governor asking for a $7.7 million increase in the next fiscal year. It’s ostensibly not money that goes to the labs for fetal experimentation. Perhaps it pays for instructors, secretaries, and janitors. Withholding $151 or $158.7 million would stop the vivisection of those legislators promised to protect. Yet a majority of legislators voted to fund Pitt even after the uncovering of this illegal experimentation. Pitt is among the four state related (as opposed to state owned universities) in Pennsylvania. Legislators fund these institutions with four separate bills. Refusing to fund one, until the killing stops, will not deter the flow of cash to the others. Perhaps Pennsylvanians will convince ourselves that what the right hand does (live fetal experimentation) has no effect on what the left hand does (college classes in English, sociology, chemistry, and sadly misguided ethics). If we do, nearly three-quarters of a century after the Nuremberg Trials, we will relegate civilization’s call for “Never again!” to an unmarked grave. Instead, we can remember that right and left hands wash each other. Some hands marinate in blood. And coming clean only happens when we refuse to continue the horror and cleanse our souls in repentance. Wherever you live, find out what’s happening around you. Call your representatives. Ask how they voted. Act accordingly on Election Day.

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Canada’s Tienanmen

In 1989, Shengde Lian was a college student studying computer science when Hu Yaobang died. Yaobang had been one of China’s highest-ranking officials, having lost his power and influence for supporting reforms like free press and assembly.

After Hu died in April, Lian headed to Beijing as thousands of students gathered to memorialize Hu and ask for the reforms he’d supported.

When the tanks came in on June 4, thousands died. Eventually, Lian was arrested. He served six months before learning his charges, at least one of which was a capital offense. After 18 months, he was released only to learn later that his rearrest was imminent.

At that time there was a covert action in China called Operation Yellowbird, “an underground railroad [to get the Tiananmen dissidents to safety] run by an odd alliance of human-rights advocates, Western diplomats, businessmen, professional smugglers and the kings of the Hong Kong underworld.”

Having escaped through that railroad, Lian now lives in northern Virginia with his wife and children.

In 1998, I was a local reporter for a small town newspaper. Because President Bill Clinton was about to visit China, my editor was interested in stories about China.

Watching CSPAN one afternoon, I came across Lian speaking on behalf of an umbrella organization for Chinese dissidents in the US.

During our interview Lian explained that Tiananmen Square wasn’t the only location for protests in the wake of Hu’s death. That no one knew the fate of the man who provided the most famous image of the protests by blocking a row of tanks.

And that the government had negotiated with the protesters in Beijing–for a time–before moving the military in to take the lives of thousands.

Agree or disagree with the protesters in Ottawa, but realize that their government never talked with the protesters. They just sent in their equivalent of the tanks of June 4, 1989.

The death toll won’t reach that of Tiananmen’s proportions. Machiavellian leaders in the West know that it’s unpopular to use violence beyond its need. But the injustices of Ottawa otherwise reflect that of the Chinese Communist government.

Like the Chinese government of then, Canada will hunt down the truckers who peacefully left Ottawa. Our neighbor to the north has confiscated finances and even threatens to euthanize the pets of those who participated.

For many in the West, Canada’s response to the protests is a surprise. First, that Canadians would rise up in such numbers. Next, that the government would come down with such force.

Before Tiananmen Square, young Chinese revered their leaders as a Confuscian culture had taught them to do. When China turned its army against its own people, the young looked elsewhere for leadership causing Christianity to flourish in China. One protester explains:

“I was raised to believe in our government, but the government shot me in my legs,” [Qi Zhiyong] says. After June 4, “a lot of people lost confidence in the education, policy and ideology of the Communist Party. People no longer had any beliefs.

“As a result, they rushed to church.”

The Chinese government is powerful, but there are now more Christians in China than there are Communist Party members.

The Canadian government has exerted its own power against a people, who like the Chinese students of 1989, wanted to begin a conversation that would lead to reasonable conditions and freedoms.

It remains to be seen whether Canadians will encounter Christ as the Chinese did.

I don’t expect a covert plan to help truckers escape Canada. We can be certain, however, that many Canadians won’t trust their government the same way they did a month ago.

Canadian leadership might benefit from remembering a motto, an old Chinese saying, the leaders of Operation Yellowbird embraced:  “The mantis stalks the cicada, unaware of the yellow bird behind.”

When a predator stalks prey, another watches.

May the One who watched over Chinese dissidents and brought them to truth, prevail in Canada as well.

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Manhood Does, Womanhood Is

“Manhood must be demonstrated. It is largely an action. Womanhood is an essence. Manhood does. Womanhood is.” (Qtd by Stanton)

That’s a statement many would challenge today. That there is a difference–and that the difference is significant.

Some might challenge the statement as religious. After all, it is largely in the orthodox corners of Christianity that such discussion happens at all today.

But this statement comes from a secular person–one who did not advocate biblical marriage and sexual purity.

Margaret Mead was a cultural anthropologist and an advocate of “loosening social strictures on sexuality . . . [which]  could lead to more pleasure, and less pain and suffering.”
Hardly a puritanical perspective. Even so, according to Mead, the differences between men and women are innate–born into us; they matter in our daily lives, and they are universal.

“In every known human society, everywhere in the world, the young male learns that when he grows up, one of the things which he must do in order to be a full member of society is to provide food [and protection] for some female and her young. . . .

“[E]very known human society rests firmly on the learned nurturing behavior of men. . . It is the precise opposite for women. They must be ideologically and politically pressured, with great potency, to abandon and ignore their children.”

There is no lack of ideological and political pressure on women to pursue lives that contain minimal involvement with children–especially their own. Our society has few structures in place to support the essence of women and pass on the model of manliness. This passing on of manliness is not religious pablum.

More from Mead:

“[T]his behavior [manliness], being learned, is fragile and can disappear rather easily under social conditions that no longer teach it effectively.”

And no society that works as hard as ours to ignore the differences between men and women can effectively teach manhood.

Teaching manhood requires a traditional view that effectively works in various cultures. We see it in primitive cultures. In the postmodern West, the Christian perspective is a lone voice in a technological wilderness.

The orthodox corners of the Church are where manhood mentoring can and must still occur. Solid families headed by fathers and mothers can pass manhood’s tasks and womanhood’s essence to their own–and perhaps to others around them.

Neither public education nor industry has the impetus nor the freedom to launch such an effort. We in the Church can pass along the truth science now ignores.

Christ calls us to this work in every generation.


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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Turning Bad into Good

For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow. If we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer. II Corinthians 1: 5-6 (NABRE)

Earthquakes, wildfires, floods, mudslides, blizzards–and war, poverty, abuse, and hunger. If there were a God, atheists claim, such bad events would never happen. Because bad things happen, there cannot be a good God–they claim.

But how good would people be if no one ever had to be a hero? If everyone escaped tragedy, there would be no heroes to celebrate. Without bad things happening–how could we be good?

When bad things happen to us, they help us sympathize with other people who suffer the same fate. No one understands a mother who has lost a child better than another mother who has been through the same experience.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that only survivors of floods can help those facing the duress of rising waters. It does mean that bad events can have meaning. It means a good God can use bad things to turn us into helpers and heroes.

Take Zach Bolster, who lost his mother to cancer.

While she was battling the disease, Zach saw the hardship other patients suffered just trying to get a ride to the hospital.

“My family was shocked by how many cancer patients had difficulty getting to their chemotherapy treatments. We soon realized what a huge financial and family burden transportation during cancer treatments can be. Some patients resorted to riding the bus, others, unfortunately, missed their treatment altogether.”

So Zach and his then-fiancee (now wife) founded ChemoCars to help those in need get to the hospital for their treatment. In only eight months, they had provided 2,000 rides. The ministry continues today.

Cancer is an awful disease. And Zach would prefer his mother had never gotten sick. But his work pays tribute to her. His hardship and hers make other lives better today.
His work brings something good out of something bad.
 
God once took a bad day–Good Friday–and turned it into redemption for us. The Cross was the bad thing for Christ that became the ultimate good thing for His followers.
Heroes who walk around on earth remind us of the greatest hero–the One who gave Himself to a bad thing to bring us to the best thing–Himself.

Revised from 1/29/18


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The Power of One Life

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14.

One cell. And no one knows you are here yet. No one except God.

Eternity has shifted because you are.

All that you will be is within this one cell, you–your cocoa brown hair, your sea green eyes. Your stubborn temperament that will eventually mellow but never become too passive, too gullible.

You will love dancing, playing the piano, and writing stories you think are silly for the brothers who will come after you.

You will not like peas.

In this early part of your life, you are tuned to your mother’s heart as you never will be again.

You reside within her rhythm, the sound of her song, the silence of her musing and her sleep.

You are wonderful.

You are small.

But the world needs you.

Pieces of this life will try to convince you that you are only the dust of your form, an imbalance of chemicals. A misplaced cog in a machine that chugs, spurts, and smokes ugliness and purposelessness.

You are not ugly. You are beautiful.

And you have a purpose.

And just as God is the only one now who knows you exist, He is the only one who can see your purpose.

You are small.

But the world needs you.

In forming you, God has crafted. He has created. He formed you so you could create too. We all have the capacity to reflect that aspect of Him, even if we only teach others to see it in themselves.

You are ideas and smiles, memories yet to be made and lessons to teach. The memories and lessons are for you to carry and bestow to others as a gift.

You are part of the eternal tapestry.  Crimson, azure, and golden threads–that is what your life looks like from above. No one else can see the rich colors of your life yet.

You have power to bring balance and beauty as you live out His plan for you.

You are small.

But the world needs you.

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Revised from January 2016.

HEADlines: Carrying the Torch for Life

Published on January 22, 2022, in the Mustard Seed Sentinel.

In January of 1979, I had two children, a husband and a house, and cable television. The cable company ran scrolling public service announcements, and for the first couple of weeks of that New Year, one announcement, in particular, kept catching my eye.

The message declared that buses would be heading toward Washington, DC, to mark the sixth anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the US Supreme Court decisions that eradicated every abortion regulation in every state.

Two phone numbers ran along the bottom. I called one or the other at different times, finding out what was involved, what I’d need to arrange for my children for the day, what I’d need to wear and bring with me, and how much it would cost. I learned that the two numbers led me to sisters with multiple children, (They would have 14 between them, one or two not yet born).

On January 22, I got on the bus while it was still dark. I had a sandwich and most of a large bag of M&Ms in a brown paper bag. I had on my new boots and coat and thought I looked great.

When we arrived, we walked from the Ellipse to the Capitol where we heard many inspiring speakers. It was a balmy 50-something degree day. I carried one or two of the layers I’d piled on to protect me from the expected cold.

We visited our legislators and walked back to meet our bus—late, even though, or more likely because, one of the organizing sisters Anne was leading our way.

We sat down on the bus physically exhausted. Remember the new boots? I wanted to chop my own feet off.

But we were internally energized.

Over the years, Anne became a mentor to me. My own mother had passed away in 1975. This woman was a wise sage who walked with me through my adventures of young motherhood, held my hand through my years as a single mom, and celebrated with me as I married again.

Her house was a must-stop for me and my kids on trick-or-treat nights. Halloween came before Election Day, which made for enlightening conversation and the chance for me to gather poll working materials.

But Anne was not one-dimensional. She was a fully engaged mother who made amazing homemade pierogis and, with her children, designed elaborately painted (not just dyed) eggs for Easter. She was a Registered Nurse.

And she was our community’s spokeswoman for life. Despite the plates she kept spinning at all times, she was humble.

When I would ask her: How do you do it all—eight kids, a husband, a house, a job, along with volunteer work? She would say, “Sometimes, not very well.”

For anyone who knew her, she led the way by example, sponsoring refugees from Vietnam and housing unmarried pregnant girls.

On January 22, 1980, I stayed home with a new baby. Iranian radicals had invaded the US embassy in Tehran capturing the diplomatic staff. Like today, inflation was high, in double-digits. That winter brought the Miracle on Ice—the 1980 Olympic hockey victories that garnered the gold medal for the US team. I adjusted to having three children, attended the March again in 1981 with my baby, missed 1982 caring for another new baby, attended in ’83, and carried my unborn son, my youngest, there in 1984.

Most of the following years, we attended, various children and I. One year when I had to work, Anne took my younger daughter with her.

When my kids went along, they knew the trip involved a long walk followed by hot chocolate in a legislator’s office. They learned about peaceful protest. They learned about life.

As my children grew up and got busy with school, jobs, and their own families, I began to take students to Washington for the March. In 2002, that meant a few phone calls from parents wanting reassurance of safety in the wake of 9/11 the previous September. The trip came off without incident.

I write as we plan another trip to DC, this year on January 21—the Friday closest to the anniversary—a change from the vision of Nellie Gray, the March’s founder who insisted the event be held on the 22nd every year. This alteration allows for an extended program, helps those who travel from afar (and many do), and more easily facilitates visiting legislators.

Except this year.

Because of COVID, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has forbidden Marchers from entering legislative offices. We are to be allowed inside public buildings only to use the restrooms.

So be it. We go anyway.

It’s been a few years since Anne has gone. Her years of activism were a flaming torch she has passed to those of us still able to make the trip. May we carry it well.

From our private school, we’re to be a small group, my husband and me, several students, a parent, and grandparent or so.

COVID and perhaps the aftermath of January 6 cancelled the March last year.

Pro-lifers head to DC this year with renewed hope, unprecedented hope of seeing Roe and Doe turned into their own grave. Anticipating this turn of events, 15 states are said to have “codified” Roe. Three have absolutely no restrictions “throughout pregnancy.” That means a woman could be in labor, change her mind, and have her baby killed before birth. Others allow abortion until viability, a slippery definition reliant on guesswork and subject to “exceptions” that allow the killing of the allegedly less than perfect.

Further, nineteen states allow “caregivers” to refuse treatment to newborn abortion survivors. Living, breathing little ones, left to die.

Perhaps Roe and Doe will die this year.

There is still much work to be done.

We March on our feet.

We pray on our knees.

We carry the torch of life to the next generations.

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Praying the Pledge

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
The people He has chosen for His own inheritance
(Psalm 33:12 NASB).

On January 7, 2021, I was leading eight 10th graders in the Pledge of Allegiance. Not only could I not finish, I had begun to weep. I felt awful for crying in front of my students and upsetting them.

“What happened?” one of them asked.

I composed myself and explained as best I could. A few of them were aware of what happened the day before, what some call insurrection and others called a large protest, a portion of which became a riot.

I’m not here to argue the terms of that day (and won’t approve argumentative comments about it). I write to propose a way to say the Pledge without hesitation in these days of division.

Over the summer, I mentioned my difficulty to a friend. I told her I was having trouble saying, among other phrases, “One nation, under God, indivisible.”

She gave a simple reply. “Say it as a prayer.”

Oh.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United State of America,

and to the republic for which it stands,

one nation, under God,

indivisible,

with liberty and justice for all.

I add a phrase inspired by a friend. For her, it was a statement, spoken from her heart, from conviction. For me, it’s a tribute to her, still a prayer, spoken softly, not for the ears of those around me.

Born and preborn.

As January 6, 2021, showed us, the United States has divisions that go deeper than issues like abortion. But abortion is part of our bleeding wound of strife and separation.

Say the pledge. Say it as a prayer. Silently pray about the divisions God lays on your heart.

Pray for our nation to honor God and be indivisible in that quest. Pray for the babies, their parents, their families whom we will remember this week as we mark the 49th anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion in all 50 states until birth.

Pray those decisions will be overturned soon. Pray America will indivisibly turn to the Creator who blessed us to be here in this time.

Pray for liberty. For justice. For all. For America.

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Reading in a New Year

It’s been my New Years’ resolution for the past several rotations around the sun. Every year I build a stack of books in no particular order. Some fall by the wayside displaced by new texts that call my name.

This year’s stack seems a bit more solid. Most I waited to obtain. One was a surprise.

It may help that our television rendered itself useless last summer, and we’ve committed to adding more seating in its place for conversation, including the silent kind that moves from writer to reader.

At the top of the pile sits Dante, an ambitious–perhaps even a bit afflictive commitment. A grandson and I began last summer with his youth version and my noteless translation. In the previous school year, we had read middle school versions of Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid in the classroom.

Dante seemed like the next place to go for a youthful foundation in the classics, but I struggled to keep up while googling the confusing parts. So much for a noteless rendering. As the weeks of summer passed, we remained in the infernal regions. I want to climb higher this summer.

For Christmas, his mother found me versions of Inferno and Purgatorio with notes by Anthony Esolen. (His annotated but difficult-to-find Paradisio arrived yesterday. Apparently, it’s an elusive text on the more well-traveled sites of book vendors showing that everybody really does want to go to heaven.

I plan to walk further into Dante’s vision with this grandson when the school year ends. Perhaps we can find Paradise before the start of another academic year.

In the meantime, I rang in the New Year finishing A Canticle for Leibowitz. Sci-fi, post-apocalyptic–even post-post (far after) the flame deluge otherwise known as nuclear war. Dry in spots, hilarious in others, vastly profound overall, Canticle is worth your time. I punctuated my reading of Walter M. Miller Jr.’s final few pages of the text with frequent exclamations of “Wow!”

Toward the bottom of the pile sits my first foray into the works of Isaac Asimov. I’m not quite halfway through Foundation, the first in a series. Both Asimov and Miller emphasize the importance of recording and remembering history.

The men’s divergent worldviews are apparent. Miller’s text presents a secular world in which a Christian remnant champions the effort to rescue literacy and preserve the past in the hopes of preventing humanity’s self-destruction. Miller invites us to remember what the world is, and is not.

Asimov’s text makes no allusion (so far) to faith. His depiction of the political is apt, some may say accurate, others, cynical. Asimov is the easier read. Miller is worth the work.

The rest of the stack is non-fiction. Ross Douthat presents our society, The Decadent Society: America Before and After the Pandemic. He offers us two possibilities for COVID’s ultimate outcome: catastrophe or renaissance. We are truly at a crossroads.

Carl R. Trueman offers The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to the Sexual Revolution. It’s another study of how we got where we are.

The Final Pagan Generation: Rome’s Unexpected Path to Christianity by Edward J. Watts provides insight into what the world was like as the power structure of an empire was turning upside down, from pagan to officially Christian. That seems pertinent in our world as a form of paganism, at least in the West, displaces Christianity.

Uprooted: Recovering the Legacy of the Places We’ve Left Behind by Grace Olmstead discusses the ramifications of the uprooting many (most?) Americans have experienced today.

I remember the local communities of my youth, neighborhoods within our city. The second and third generations removed from immigrants felt a connection to the motherland and to our locale. The grandparents and great-grandparents came here but kept close ties through the fellowships of the Sons of Italy social hall or the Unter Uns (German) Society.

Some of those ties still bind smaller communities together. Many have scattered. Olmstead calls them home, truly and virtually.

The cover jacket calls the book “part memoir, part journalistic investigation.” It promises Olmstead will help us cultivate “rootedness.”

In a similar vein, Sohrab Ahmari’s work The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos proposes a way to find happiness, not in a self-crafted identity, but in pursuing virtue and accepting limits. Ahmari emigrated to the US from Iran and, among other job titles he holds, is a contributing editor for the Catholic Herald. He calls himself a “radically assimilated immigrant” and invites us to examine our lives to “live more humanely in a world that has lost its way.”

Ahmari’s book is the surprise in the pile, a gift from a son who often finds gems I’ve not stumbled over yet.

Finally, Christopher Hollingsworth has crafted The Poetics of the Hive: The Insect Metaphor in Literature. I don’t like bugs, but I anticipate the delight of following a thread of metaphor through literature.

As I write, I realize that, including the bugs, these books are about the importance of remembering history, understanding our own culture, and urging society toward renaissance instead of catastrophe.

Reading can be easy or hard depending on the text. The remembering, understanding, and urging are hard work. But important work, work with eternal purpose.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain (I Corinthians 15:58 ESV).

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The Great Relearning

“Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God.” Numbers 15:37-41~

At the end of the twentieth century, novelist Tom Wolfe recalled efforts to start at zero, to go back to a time before we knew what we now know and try again–and do better. The hippies of the sixties, he pointed out, decided to relearn rules about personal hygiene. What they learned was what non-experimenters already accepted. Wash your hands often, and don’t share someone else’s toothbrush.

It’s a defiance of the common definition of insanity–repeating an activity and expecting a different result. The result in the laboratory communes of San Francisco was a resurgence of long-dead diseases.

In the age of COVID, we wash our hands more often than ever. But we still lean toward this idea that we can begin anew without looking back. Perhaps history is a cycle of such experiments punctuated by remembering, a recurrent remembering that we are not yet in Eden.

Wolfe wrote:

“[T]he painful dawn began with the publication of the Gulag Archipelago in 1973. [Soviet dissident Alexander] Solzhenitsyn insisted that the villain behind the Soviet concentration camp network was not Stalin or Lenin (who invented the term concentration camp) or even Marxism. It was instead the Soviets’ peculiarly twentieth-century notion that they could sweep aside not only the old social order but also its religious ethic, which had been millennia in the making (‘common decency,’ Orwell called it) and reinvent morality . . . here . . . now .”

Modern society continues through a cycle of trying to recreate culture, to turn it into something new. The West won the Cold War in the late ’80s and early ’90s. But we didn’t turn back. Our train of civil movement continued on the same track.

The battle between decency and its opposite has been ongoing. We now tilt toward a social order that is not order but rather its opposite. From newscasts to our personal interactions we see a culture that lacks memory–and manners. History has returned to a day when everyone is doing “what is right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6, 21:25).

In the 1950s, another novelist Walter M. Miller Jr. reminded us that it’s hard to get back what we once knew but now ignore. He wrote about civilization beginning again after apocalypse, starting from zero.

“In the beginning . . . it had been hoped–and even anticipated as probable–that the fourth or fifth generation would begin to want its heritage back. But the monks [preservers of history] of the earliest days had not counted on the human ability to generate a new cultural inheritance in a couple of generations if an old one is utterly destroyed, to generate it by virtue of lawmakers and prophets, geniuses or maniacs; through a Moses, or a Hitler, or an ignorant but tyrannical grandfather. . . . But the new ‘culture’ was an inheritance of darkness,” A Canticle for Leibowitz.

In urban or rural American communities, we see crime, drugs, and lagging education. Mark R. Schneider points out that American literacy rates are lower than those of our 1840s counterparts, “well before the imposition of compulsory public education.” (Note: the figures Schneider sites are pre-COVID.)

Literacy in the America of 1840 included classical and biblical texts that conveyed more than an ability to decode the letters into words and thereby discern meaning. Literacy, faith, and freedom are a three-fold cord, not easily broken. Contemporary culture has undermined all three.

Around 1900 we began education anew. The goals of learning were no longer those of John Adams for his son: “to make you a good Man and a useful Citizen.” Today, school is largely the means to a job, preparation for a career leading to personal fulfillment and material enrichment. It is no longer the formation of character.

I sat in a classroom for a parent-teacher conference not yet 20 years ago when a teacher told me the purpose of his course was that the students would know their rights. I asked if he might tell them their duties.

We will relearn what we have lost. We will learn it by choosing the wisdom of those who came before us or by continuing to reject it and experiencing the consequences of that rejection.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn:

“Over a half century ago [under communism in the USSR], while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” . . . [I]f I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’”

From Miller’s Canticle:

“What did you do for them . . . ? Teach them to read and write? Help them rebuild, give them Christ, help them restore a culture? Did you remember to warn them that it could never be Eden?”

Solzhenitsyn, Wolfe, Miller, and we who remember hold a key to the future. We hold the wine of truth from the past. Chaos offers a sweet purple Kool-Aid reminiscent of another failed experiment.

Offer wine. Speak truth. Remember.

And remind.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Gift Prepared Ahead of Time

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (I Timothy 1:17, ESV)

It was a work of Providence I might have missed. I have no idea how long the book sat on the shelf waiting for me to buy it. But I do know it was there just for me, for us, just for the moment we would need it.

That moment would be one every mother who has watched her son go to war knows. It’s an indescribable emptiness. But an almighty God can reach down to fill a heart’s void. And He can use any little nook or cranny to do so.

My daughter and I were in an antique store passing time as we waited to see my son off. He was deploying to Iraq.

While we shopped, his unit was on base packing equipment. Families would see our soldiers later that evening for a short time before they left for their departure point.

A yearlong deployment lay ahead.

But there on the shelf sat his favorite book. It cost only a couple of dollars. The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck. How good it would be to give him a book he loved.

But there was more.

As we were helping him pack later and preparing to say farewell, my daughter picked the book up and read the back cover flap.

“This book can be sent to a serviceman anywhere in the world for the price of a postage stamp.”

The book was copyrighted in 1942. Published for soldiers during World War II–when my father served–it landed in the hands of my soldier son decades later.

I wondered where it had traveled and who had already read it.

Buck’s masterpiece is about a man who battles hunger and injustice. Not quite war–rather wars of a different sort. He had moments of glory, times he didn’t do the right thing.

He was, in short, like all of us.

Even before my son read it, it was a book I had come to love. I’d read it because it was my husband’s favorite book. Paper ideas about important things in life. Paper becomes glue connecting those who’ve read a book and discussed its meaning.

When my son left for war, he carried a piece of home and history with him.

I still had moments of emptiness, moments of worry during that year. But a great God had put a book on a shelf for us to find that day–to remind us that He sees. He cares. He loves.

This time of year is when we celebrate His coming.

He came to give us more than “chance” literature on a shelf. He came to give Himself to us and for us.

Emmanuel—God with us.

Merry Christmas.

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Renewing Traditions

Last year, I didn’t bake cookies for Christmas. I came down with COVID just before mid-December.

Since neither my husband (He had it too.) nor I could taste our food, and other family members were concerned about contagions, I didn’t have much reason to make treats.

Paul and I found it odd that we could imagine flavors based on the texture of the foods we put in our mouths.

The buttery saltiness of creamy mashed potatoes was a mental conception, an abstraction of memory. As the New Year dawned, our sense of taste began to return.

Twelve months later, I’ve returned to cookie baking mode.

Baking cookies and I go way back.

When I was ten, my mother let me lose on my own in the kitchen. In the cooler weather of fall, I’d bake on Saturday afternoons. She watched football. I have the sense she considered cookie production a chore and was glad to have me step into the role.

When I became a mother, my own little ones took their responsibility to taste-test seriously. As they grew, they developed favorites, and traditions took shape.

What hadn’t improved much over the years was the kitchen.

After my children had grown, one of my daughters realized a local home improvement company was sponsoring an “ugly kitchen” contest. She photographed the room where she had taste tested cookies hoping we could win some free renovations. (Some other poor soul won, apparently having endured a kitchen worse than mine.)

Even so, I remember the wonderful feeling I got entering the “ugly”, poorly equipped heart-of-home to bake cookies one holiday season. I thought, “It feels good to be here.” Good memories overcame limited resources.

In years since, my husband has made significant improvements. Counter space is now sufficient. The children gifted us with a larger mixer to replace my hand-held device. The room is still a pleasant place in which to bake, now convenient and not in danger of qualifying for an “ugly” contest.

After last year without baking, I was eager to get back to it. First out of the oven were cookies to go to the troops through our local Armed Forces Mothers chapter, an event COVID cancelled last year. The Monday after Thanksgiving, packed boxes winged their way to those serving our country. Last week, my great-niece notified me that her box had arrived much to her delight.

Next, I moved to the eight cookie trays for Christmas Day. One for each family household, one for the Christmas gathering, and one for our own table.

Certain recipes are the norm, but this year I added chocolate chip oatmeal at the request of a granddaughter. Something different mixed in with our traditions.

Traditions call us to memory and wonder. The flavors and aromas of Christmas remind us of our early realization of what Christ’s birth means. I go back to the Christmas Eve service of a particular year, to the manger scene under the trees of my childhood, back to the home where I first bowed my head in prayer, when I first began to seek Him.

We wonder at this holiday, part of history now for more than 2,000 years, transformed, to be sure, from its early days to a commercialized version of gadgets and trinkets.

But only if we let it become so.

Every Christmas reminds us that our Savior came as a baby to grow into a Man who would save us from our sins. Christmas calls us to remember all Christ has done for us.

Memory. Hope. Tradition. Christmas.

Emmanuel, God with us.

Merry Christmas!

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Remembering 80 Years

My mother would often tell me the story. It was a Sunday morning. She was sweeping the basement floor and listening to the radio when the announcement came that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.

She shut the radio off as if that would make the news go away.

I’m sad to realize I never got Dad’s story–where he was when he heard.

My parents hadn’t married yet. He joined the navy. She joined the Coast Guard. Dad shipped out as a corpsman to the South Pacific. Mom, ironically, served in Oklahoma, a state that has no coast to guard.

Today, one of my great-nieces is in Texas training to become a navy corpsman.

Eighty years of history have come and gone. There are so few today alive to tell us where they were when they heard about Pearl Harbor.

And we are now at the point where students only know of 9/11 because of their elders explaining where they were when they heard.

It’s an effective way to pass history along. When the young hear our stories, those of our own or those passed down to us, they remember. History becomes real to them.

We must pass along history, for “History is a story written by the finger of God.” (Lewis)

“Lord of hosts be with us yet,

“Lest we forget–lest we forget.” (Kipling)

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HEADlines: Collateral Damage from Abortion

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, 11/27/21~

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20~

The cities of Boston, Pittsburgh, and Portland, Oregon, are now providing 12 weeks of paid parental leave for women who have abortions and for men too. It’s an interesting “perk”.

The ironies abound.

In Boston, the revised benefits plan amends one that provides paid leave for parents who will parent their children and couples who’ve suffered “loss of pregnancy” through miscarriage.

Imagine private companies trying to compete with public entities for employees. A business could enhance the benefits package by adding paid abortion leave and beefing up company IRA contributions.

Remember that supporters of “choice” marketed legal abortion as the way women would be on equal footing with men. Apparently, that’s why men get leave for abortion too.

Also remember, the choice movement promised legal abortion would be safe and not a big deal. If abortion is so safe and simple, why would anyone need 12 weeks to recover?

Planned Parenthood assures readers that surgical abortions are “safe, simple,” and “common.” Such assurances regarding chemical abortion are harder to find. Chemical abortion appears to be a do-it-yourself-in-the-privacy-of-your-home kind of procedure. Just take a few pills as directed, and after some bleeding and cramping, your “problem” is gone.

Simple, right?

Many women are learning the hard way that chemical abortion is far from simple.

For Lifenews.com, Abby Johnson describes her experience enduring and recovering from a chemical abortion.

“Ten minutes later [after taking Mifeprex, an abortion inducing chemical] I started to feel pain in my abdomen unlike anything I had ever experienced. Then the blood came. It was gushing out of me. I couldn’t wear a pad…nothing was able to absorb the amount of blood I was losing. The only thing I could do was sit on the toilet….

“After several hours on the toilet, I desperately wanted to soak in the bathtub. I was hoping that would make me feel better. Maybe the warm water would help the cramping. Certainly it would make me smell better. I had vomit all in my hair and on my legs, not to mention how sweaty I was. I filled the tub and climbed in. It actually did feel pretty good. I remember closing my eyes and leaning my head back. I felt exhausted. The cramps kept coming, but the water helped soothe them somewhat. I opened my eyes after 15 minutes and was horrified. My bathwater was bright red.”

But more and greater pain was ahead. Johnson wasn’t having just the “heavy bleeding and period like cramping” her Planned Parenthood counselor had assured her would be the case. After passing a “lemon-size blood clot” then several more clots of similar size, she believed her experience must not be normal.

She had spent 12 hours in the bathroom and decided to sleep on the tile floor rather than bleed in her bed. The next morning, she would call PP and report her extraordinary experience–if she survived the night.

She did survive to call the PP nurse who assured her that her experience was not at all uncommon.

She was astonished that what the abortion counselor had told her would happen was so different from what came about.

Mary Szoch of the Family Research Council reports: “Disturbingly, the physical trauma that happens to a woman’s body as a result of a chemical abortion is a sign that the ‘treatment is working.’ According to the Mifeprex medication guide:

‘Cramping and vaginal bleeding are expected with this treatment. Usually, these symptoms mean that the treatment is working…Bleeding or spotting can be expected for an average of 9 to 16 days and may last for up to 30 days [For Johnson, it was eight weeks.] …You may see blood clots and tissue. This is an expected part of passing the pregnancy.'” [Szoch’s text includes endnotes for this information and what follows.]

According to one study Szoch sites, in one out of 10 chemical procedures, incomplete abortion occurs, requiring surgery to finish the process and prevent infection in the mother. These numbers are bad enough until we remember that they include only statistics “voluntarily reported” to the FDA.

In 2019, Nancy Flanders reported that nearly half of US states don’t require reporting of complications. Yet complications happen for both surgical and chemical abortions.

“Lakisha Wilson, 22, died after her abortion at Preterm abortion facility in Cleveland when she suffered uterine atony and hemorrhaged. Tia Parks, 26, died after a first-trimester abortion at the same abortion facility. A 21-year-old woman in Rhode Island suffered a perforated uterus during an abortion at the Providence Health Center this year. Margaret Sanger Planned Parenthood in New York City recently hospitalized nine patients within just eight months. And the abortion pill [chemical abortion], which is hailed by the industry as the safest way to kill a preborn child, has also killed at least 24 women. The true number, however, may never be known since abortion groups advise women who suffer complications from the abortion pill to tell ER doctors that they are having a miscarriage.”

Even voluntary reporting indicates that complications from chemical abortion are “four times” higher than those of surgical abortion. And that’s what the abortion industry calls the “safest way.”

Maybe the “perk” of leave after abortion isn’t such a perk. Maybe it’s a necessity for a procedure that really isn’t so simple after all.

Remember the pro-abortion mantra of the 1990s? Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare?

Those who support abortion have thrown their motto of safe, legal, and rare out with the bathwater and, of course, the baby. The Heritage Foundation reports that the percentage of chemical abortions goes up every year, having risen 120 percent over the last ten years.

Along with the new employment perk of paid leave after an abortion, it seems the powers that be are promoting abortion as it becomes less safe for women.

Safe? Legal? Rare?

Legal is all that matters. And the casualties are just collateral damage.

About the Author

Author Nancy E. Head was a single mother with five children under the age of 14 when many in the Church came to her aid. Her story illustrates common problems in our society such as the fracturing of families and communities, reflecting a splintering Church.

Alienated families and a riven Church cannot minister as effectively to their own members or others until they find accord. Nancy is the author of Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ’s Love Through the Church in One Accord. She leads a small group ministering to the needy in her community.

Photo Credit: Ewelina Karezona Karbowiak in Unsplash.com

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Returning a Favor


CBN reposted my devotional on 11/19/21.

When I moved into my home in 1977, I salvaged an old table my father was discarding. Our family grew from four to seven around that table.

Then we shrank. When their father departed, we were six.

The years began to show on the table. One of its legs began to wobble. Without warning, it would collapse to the floor leaving all the work for the other three legs. We would laugh. But after a while, one of us found the falling leg not so funny.

When my youngest son was eight years old, he found a hammer and some very long nails and played carpenter. He reattached the errant piece, permanently joining it to the table. The repair was effective, but not pretty.

A few years later, I got a “new” dining room table—also recycled. This table was better. It expanded. And our family was expanding. I had remarried. Some of the children had grown and married and had children of their own. 

So the table could be small for everyday dinners, and it could be large for family celebrations. Plus, it was reliable–for a time. Then one of its legs turned mutinous too.

This time, my husband Paul played carpenter, and unless you peeked underneath, you didn’t know the difference.

But our family continued to expand. Eventually, even our stretched out table was too small. Our range of motion became cramped. From fork to plate, to mouth and back. We yearned for extra room for side dishes and elbows.

So last year, Paul and I bought a new table. An Amish carpenter constructed it. 

This table is even more expandable than the last one. And it’s rectangular rather than oval. Now we have room for baked corn, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, and a host of elbows. 

The table was ready just in time for Thanksgiving. 

But in order to use your furniture, you first must get it into the house.

Paul heaved and I pushed. But even in its smallest state, the table was too wide for our front door. It would have to come in through the back door. To accomplish that, we would have to hoist the table over the back rail deck. And that seemed impossible unless we could get someone else to help.

The best candidate seemed like the young man who had just moved in next door. He seemed strong and he was home.

As Providence would have it, he is a mover by trade. God had placed the perfect workman right next to us.

Moreover, there are many workmen with you, stonecutters and masons of stone and carpenters, and all men who are skillful in every kind of work. (1 Chronicles 22:15 NASB95)

All we had to do was ask.

The old table went out the back door and the new table came in.

We had planned to put the old table on the sidewalk with a “Free” sign on it. But Paul found out that this very neighbor and his wife had no table. Now they do. We would never have known their need if we had not asked for his help.

So I’m thankful for my new table. I’m thankful for the craftsman who made a table with legs unlikely to wobble in my lifetime. I’m thankful for the help of a neighbor and that we could help him in return. 

I’m thankful for all the elbows to occupy our table this holiday and those we hope will arrive in coming years. 

Most of all, I’m thankful for the Master Carpenter who places us in each other’s lives and gives us opportunities to help each other.

Give thanks to the God of heaven,
 For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalm 136:26 NASB95)

Copyright © 2017 Nancy E. Head. Used by permission. [CBN]

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A Few Steps from Normalizing Pedophilia?

You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the Lord. Leviticus 18:21~

The proscription in Western Civilization against sexual activities outside God-ordained marriage goes back to the Old Testament. Leviticus, the primary book containing Jewish law, includes in chapter 18 God’s admonition against sex acts with close relatives, within homosexual relationships, and with animals.

Within the 30 verses of that chapter resides verse 21: “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.”

A portion of scripture about sexual behavior contains this decree forbidding child sacrifice. And this admonition comes, not at the beginning or the end ,where we might relegate it to a different section. Sandwiched between proscriptions against incest and adultery in the early part of the chapter and homosexuality and bestiality at the end is this law forbidding child sacrifice.

It’s important to remember that, at this point, the Jews were the only culture with rules limiting sex to husband-wife relationships. Only Jews and later Christians held to the ideas of sexual exclusivity between husband and wife and of heterosexual marriage as God’s ideal.

For other cultures–those in the Middle East, Greece, and Rome–sex was a free for all. Women had little to say about what happened to them sexually. Children had no voice at all.

Writing for Crisis magazine, Dennis Prager explains:

“When Judaism demanded that all sexual activity be channeled into marriage, it changed the world. The Torah’s prohibition of non-marital sex quite simply made the creation of Western civilization possible. Societies that did not place boundaries around sexuality were stymied in their development. The subsequent dominance of the Western world can largely be attributed to the sexual revolution initiated by Judaism and later carried forward by Christianity.

“This revolution consisted of forcing the sexual genie into the marital bottle. It ensured that sex no longer dominated society, heightened male-female love and sexuality (and thereby almost alone created the possibility of love and eroticism within marriage), and began the arduous task of elevating the status of women.”

Along with elevating women came the protection of children.

It’s surprising to those of us who grew up during the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s, to consider this idea of an ancient “revolution” of morality.

The 1960s didn’t ring in a new way of living never before seen. The revolution marked the return to pagan idolatry–without statues and flames. The general acceptance of such practices is nearly complete. Aside from bestiality, the last moral pillar to remain standing holds proscriptions against sex with children.

How long can it stand nearly all by itself?

The American Conservative commentator Rod Dreher quotes Allyn Walker, a “non-binary assistant professor at Old Dominion University,” who writes that “there is evidence to show that attractions to minors can be considered a sexual orientation. . . . MAPs [minor attracted people] often report becoming aware of their attraction to children during adolescence, a trend that is typical of other sexual minorities.”

Notice the change of term from pedophile to MAP and the language that presents the attraction to children as something akin to an awakening rather than a disorder and the notion that pedophiles are part of a “sexual minority.”

We might be tempted to dismiss this view. But seeds planted at the university level often take fruit in our neighborhoods over time.

Dreher comments:

“Surely there must be some way to get these suffering people the help they need without moving towards considering pedophilia just one more ‘sexual orientation.’ Because if it ever should become that, we are halfway to legalizing it, following the same path that standard homosexuality took. If sexual desire is the equivalent of identity, and if to sexually desire minors is at the core of one’s identity, then how can we stigmatize or otherwise suppress pedophiles if we recognize that other kinds of sexual minorities have civil rights?”

The sexual revolution of the 1960s has been a runaway freight train tearing through the years since, leaving pain and trauma in its wake.

It’s time to ask ourselves how we can stop the train. It’s time to get the suffering people help instead of enabling them to harm others. It’s time to stop profaning the name of God by allowing children to be victimized in the name of self-idolatry.

It’s time we stopped the destruction of our very culture through acceptance of sexual sin.

It’s time.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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Prophecy of the Coming King

“To the Old Testament belongs more fear, just as to the New Testament more delight; nevertheless in the Old Testament the New lies hid, and in the New Testament the Old is exposed.” Augustine

The history of man is that God created him, formed a woman-companion from him and for him, and provided a way for the man and the woman to return to God when they rejected Him in sin.

God was clear from the beginning that He would send a Way–the Messiah–to allow rebellious people to return to Him. And the Messiah’s kingdom would last forever.

The scepter will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
    and the obedience of the nations shall be his. Genesis 49:10
, NIV

Israel had big ideas about what that kingdom would look like and what kind of king would garner the obedience of the nations.

Christ was born into a world of darkness and oppression. Israel’s big ideas at this time included a king who would free them from Rome. In their thinking, such a king would not be of humble birth. But prophecy said otherwise.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times. Micah 5:2
, NIV

Seven hundred years before Christ was born, Micah prophesied that the King would be born in Bethlehem.

But which Bethlehem? There were two towns of that name in Christ’s time. The Old Testament foretold Bethlehem, Ephrathah, the Bethlehem that was King David’s home town. The smaller, more obscure town.

The Creator-God came in the most humble of ways–born, not only in a small town, but in a dwelling place for animals.

Throughout Christ’s earthly life, some would reject Him because of his modest beginning. Many wrote Him off as “just the carpenter’s son” (Matthew 13:55).

A question for us today: How often do we expect Him to be who He is not?

He is the same as He was in Micah’s day. The same since Creation. But not always what we expect.

He came through a humble birth, grew with a small-town upbringing, died on a tortuous cross, and walked with His followers outside an empty tomb. Nothing like what Israel expected.

Today, we find Him where we look for Him in spirit and in truth. We find Him when we are willing to let Him surprise us. We find Him in the New Testament and the Old.

Seek Him today.

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Going Down the Rabbit Hole on Purpose

I remember an assignment in a graduate English class for which I purposely did not follow the directions. The teacher had called upon us to analyze a portion of Alice in Wonderland in light of Sigmund Freud’s thinking. It was to be a short paper–just a page or two–the kind of assignment that was due once a week in that class on literary theory.

Most of my graduate classes provided intriguing challenges that engaged my mind and sparked new ideas. More often than not, this work resulted in theory-driven writing assignments, presumably intelligently argued, but inevitably dry.

I wanted to exercise some creativity.

So I wrote a diary entry in Alice’s voice. Alice expressed her frustration at being too big to play in the pretty garden but then too small to reach the key to unlock the door to get to the garden. When the cake she ate made her too large, she expressed her frustration that every calorie she consumed attached itself to the wrong place on her body while her sister could freely eat all she cared to without consequence on the scale. She wondered at the white rabbit whose presence reminded her that she had to grow up.

I enjoyed completing the assignment. Throughout the writing process, I repeatedly reminded myself that I was taking a risk, but I was having too much fun to stop.

I determined not to regret my creativity even if it cost me points.

When the time came to get our graded papers back, the instructor mentioned mine. “I was going to make you do it over, but then I read it again and realized everything you needed was there.”

Life can feel like we’re tumbling down a rabbit hole. We don’t know where we’ll land or how long until we hit the bottom. And we’re often wondering why it’s hard to go back to the small places and, no matter our age, when we’ll grow enough to reach the keys to doors we want to open.

Alice’s great puzzle to solve was to figure out “who in the world” she was.

It is the great challenge for all of us.

Jump down the rabbit hole every so often. Engage in the wonder, Take the risk.

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HEADlines: Will We Let Freedom Slip Through Our Fingers?

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, Saturday, October 23, 2021.

“I cannot help feeling that Tocqueville hit the nail on the head, as he often did, when he wrote that the type of despotism democratic people have to fear will in no way look like the despotism and tyranny our ancestors endured: ‘It would be more extensive and more mild; it would degrade men without tormenting them,’ he wrote in 1840. And, in a way, the fact that it happens more gradually is what makes it arguably even more dangerous. After all, a people that do not realize they are losing their freedom will not fight for it. They will simply let it slip through their fingers.” Eva Vlaardingerbroek~

Freedom is like a plant we hold in our hands. We must be diligent to care for it, or it will fall through our fingers and be gone forever.

The battle for the heart and soul of America challenges every generation. Sometimes, the enemies are readily identified—World War II’s fascism and genocide, the Cold War’s communistic atheism, nuclear threat, and genocide.

In Vietnam, we had trouble identifying the enemy. Those loyal to the North did not have “Viet Cong” tattooed across their foreheads. We faced the same challenge in Afghanistan and anywhere else war plays out in terrorism.

We’ve spent the last 20 years at war, never losing, but never quite winning either. The final act of our tragedy included no semblance of victory. Only capitulation and betrayal.

For those at home, the war remained far away. It required no material sacrifice. Some families saw sons and daughters go who never returned. But for most of us, life went on as usual. We never really felt war’s threat, its reality.

Our prosperity and comfort lulled us to sleep.

As we stew like frogs in our proverbial pot of water that is coming to a full boil, inflation akin to that of the 1970s abounds. A new push to raise taxes comes as we already feel the pincers of higher costs and less availability of goods.

Our country is roiling in fury over COVID regulations and vaccine mandates, which have contributed to empty store shelves and an uneasiness that Soviet-style shortages loom ahead.

Add to that a refusal on the part of many prosecutors to prosecute crimes—to do the job entrusted to them. The ensuing uptick in crime has caused stores to close, cutting law-abiding citizens off from needed goods.

The government suggests a cure-all that will work as all others always have and always will. The cure will spread, not COVID, but emptier shelves and more suffocating costs.

Government intervention has crippled our world-class healthcare system. Bureaucratic vaccine mandates now threaten to finish it off altogether with personnel shortages. Top-notch medical care will be a thing of the past as we come to understand experientially what it’s like to live in a third-world country with Venezuelan inflation, food shortages, and insufficient healthcare.

But some are waking up.

When Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAulliffe stated, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they can teach,” many parents disagreed.

Battle lines formed as parents protest Critical Race Theory and what they consider COVID overreach.

Following outcries at local school board meetings (note, local), the National Association of School Boards has asked the US Department of Justice to intervene. The DOJ readily agreed to step in and determine “how to use federal resources to prosecute offending parents.”

Notice that the organization representing local school boards didn’t suggest climbing a chain of authority starting with cities’ mayors or even the governors of states. They didn’t ask for increased security in the face of what they perceive to be threats, but what reasonable people would define as caring, concerned, albeit angry parents.

An organization representing local school officials went straight to the feds.

And the feds were quick to sign on to the task at hand—shutting down speech that disagrees with the already configured program.

In the meantime, Citizens are fleeing the high taxes and over-regulation of California, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Illinois and are voting with moving vans on their way to Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Ohio, and Arizona.

And even as inflation increases, more parents are placing their children in private schools.

How will events unfold when entities like the DOJ and FBI crackdown on protesting parents? (Note the application of the phrase crackdown to the US, not, as is more typical, China.)

We won’t like the answer to the previous question if we ask Retired Navy Lieutenant Commander Tom Caldwell. Caldwell went to Washington, DC, on January 6 to hear President Trump speak. Caldwell did not enter the Capitol. He did not engage in destructive or violent behavior. He led no group of insurrection-minded agitators.

DOJ now concedes that they were wrong in accusing Caldwell of the crimes listed above, imprisoning him (including solitary confinement for 49 days) and depriving him of life-sustaining medications during his incarceration.

He is “free” (for now) but on the edge of bankruptcy.

We cannot trust those who promised to uphold the Constitution and are supposed to protect us and our God-given freedoms. They betray us at every turn.

When Rod Serling wrote the script to “The Obsolete Man” for The Twilight Zone series in 1961, he may have been looking back to Nazi Germany or around the world to the Soviet Union. Instead, perhaps, he was looking into a crystal ball and seeing us—the boiling frogs who fell asleep.

The speaker quoted below from “The Obsolete Man” episode is a government official sentencing a “useless” librarian to death.

“But their [the oppressors of the past] error was not one of excess it was simply not going far enough! Too many undesirables left around and undesirables eventually create a corps of resistance. Old people for example, clutch at the past and won’t accept the new. The sick, the maimed, the deformed, they fasten onto the healthy body and damage it. So WE eliminate them! And people like yourself, they can perform no useful function for The State, so…we put an end to them.” Rod Serling.

We now know that there are more ways than one to eliminate someone and silence others. How many like Tom Caldwell will the government push toward or into bankruptcy? We may never know since corporate media will not give them a voice.

Those who work to end freedom will not stop while we still sleep.

We must wake up and speak up now, or freedom will slip through our fingers and be gone forever.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Broken Supply Chain Christmas?

The Christmas season comes earlier every year. But this year, a panic seems to be setting in. Will there be toys under the tree? Will we still have Christmas?

Or will all our presents remain in ships off the coast of California?

Our lives have been abnormal for the last two years. Is there a new abnormal coming that we fear even more than a virus? Has America ever seen a time like this one?

Few people are still alive who remember the Great Depression and the joy of getting an orange for Christmas. Just an orange.

In the years since the Depression and World War II, the expectations of many Americans have grown for that one day a year when we know very good things are sure to come. Lots of them.

But we don’t always appreciate the good things in front of us.

I remember the Christmas when I was nine, and it didn’t snow. The weather was unseasonably warm. And Mother baked a ham instead of a turkey.

I didn’t handle it graciously. “It’s like there just wasn’t any Christmas at all this year.”

At least one of my brothers also complained. The other, the eldest at 19, may have had the maturity to show a bit of grace even though turkey was his absolute favorite.

She couldn’t do anything about the weather, but Mother never served ham again on December 25.

I was a young mother when the year of the the Cabbage Patch Doll Christmas occurred. The toys were a big hit, but I’d never stood in line in the dark and cold at 4:00 am, and there was no guarantee that braving the Black Friday ordeal would get me two, one for each daughter.

Well before Christmas, we told the girls that having to wait a year for their Cabbage Patch dreams to come true was likely. With their expectations reduced, they weathered the trauma of waiting until the next year when the dolls were plentiful. They seemed to suffer no harm from the trial of delayed hopes.

Christmases come and go. We’ve had quite a few with turkey but without snow. One recent year, the temperature reached into the 60s. I wore my open-toed red shoes to the Christmas Eve service. Neighbors sat on their front porch as they do during warmer seasons. The unprecedented conditions during that holiday season offered new options, possibilities for making Christmas memorable in a way unlikely to happen again–at least for a long time.

Christmas dinner now includes both ham and turkey. I do the turkey. One of my sons-in-law cooks the ham.

We work together to fulfill expectations that have grown through our varied traditions.

For this year, I’ve already begun to shop, but not any earlier or with more vigor than other years.

Maybe we’ll see more than the usual Black Friday craziness of crowds lining up early and trampling others to get to a hot deal.

Maybe we won’t. Perhaps some will adjust their expectations.

Maybe this year, some will tell kids they might have to wait. With adjusted expectations maybe they’ll see Christmas in a new light.

Maybe we’ll still do the things we usually do. Decorate the tree, play music, hang the lights we already have if we can’t find new ones, wrap the presents we’re able to acquire, cook special foods even if they don’t match our traditional menus, and celebrate with our families.

Maybe we’ll watch Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas and sing along to “Welcome Christmas . . . dahoo dores.” Perhaps our hearts will grow larger.

Maybe we’ll watch George Bailey and realize our lives really are wonderful, despite the trials going on around us.

Maybe we’ll watch Little Women (I recommend the Winona Rider version) and remember that there are Hummel families in our communities too. Maybe we’ll put more in the red kettle this year because we know times are harder for some folks than they are for us.

Maybe we’ll ponder the Babe in the manger whose birth in humble Bethlehem rather than kingly Jerusalem, discovered only by shepherds and foreigners, didn’t meet expectations.

His life disappointed many by ending, not in an earthly kingdom, but in tragedy on a Friday afternoon.

The disappointed and despairing did not expect a Sunday morning unlike any other in history before or since.

But that’s what came to be.

This Christmas will be one to remember for good or for bad. It’s up to us to decide. We can work to remember and honor Christmas as a day much greater than our expectations can dream.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

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The Lesson of Dystopia

One evening during the mid-1970s, I was a young homemaker cleaning the kitchen in my mobile home as the television buzzed along airing Soylent Green (1973). The movie, based on the book Make Room Make! Room! by Harry Harrison, is set in 2022 in New York City. Charlton Heston plays Detective Thorn. Crime and unemployment are rampant.

Apartments come with ‘furniture’ (a woman) if you think she goes with your decor. In this society, women serve no other function but providing pleasure for men. In the 1970s, women were protesting their objectified status as housewives and sexual subservients.

Today, women are the working and sexual equals of men. But do our lives have more purpose and meaning than they once did?

And what is Soylent Green?

Starving masses riot in the streets to get their share of it–a form of food.

That evening, the movie was background noise–a sense of company in the otherwise quiet trailer with my child sleeping and her father at work. Then Thorn began to yell. The volume came up on the background noise. (Spoiler alert.)

“It’s people!  Soylent Green is made of people!”

The moment froze for me. Was human life truly to become commodified?

Since my late-night encounter with cinematic dystopia, I’ve become somewhat of a connoisseur of the written form. Some of my middle-school students will delve into Lois Lowry’s The Giver soon. My high school students are getting ready to read Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. They’ve already read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.  

I teach the high school course every other year. Each time as I approach back to school in an odd-numbered year, I’m astonished at how much more relevant the course material is than the last time I taught it. How much closer we’ve come to some feature in each of the societies these authors have depicted.

Each writer saw humanity’s future lack of meaning and purpose in a different light.

In 1966, Harrison saw the idleness of unemployment (voluntary or otherwise) and how it can lead to rampant crime.

Most of the people he depicted strive to find food to live, but in another way, they’re just waiting to die. They have survival instincts but no purpose.

In 1993, Lowry saw our disregard for life. Jonas’s father dispatches an infant who doesn’t fit in. This “caregiver” doesn’t even realize he’s committing murder. Life in Jonas’s world is about overcoming individuality, filling a role, doing a job. There is an outwardly imposed purpose, but no intrinsic meaning.

Today, we identify people largely by what they do. And we “send away” the children who don’t fit in via handicap or inconvenience to their deaths.

Writing in 1947, Orwell depicted Winston Smith, an everyman whose job is to revise history. He fills a role and is allowed to remain alive as long as he stays in his life lane. Winston experiences the ultimate in cancel culture by going his own way.

Culture-shapers cancel many today; the truth is hard to determine.

Bradbury wrote in the 1950s, imagining a time when no one reads. People view stories on their walls.

We don’t have rooms with television walls that surround us as Mildred Montag yearned to own. But we have televisions and screens in multiple rooms, separating ourselves from those closest to us.

We no longer talk about how much time children watch TV. We talk about their screen time as various devices engage their minds endlessly.

Huxley, writing in the 1930s, best depicts the role of women in a falsely egalitarian society. Sex is for fun as women work side by side with men. Forming families is outdated, even profane. Children are not born, only hatched in assembly-line factories. They are commodities, specially designed to fulfill a predetermined function. Citizens riot to get more Soma, a drug that deadens their sense of worthlessness.

Huxley’s work is an exaggeration of what occurs today. Surrogates produce children as we discard others in abortion. Production is not on a mass scale. The family unit is fading fast. The opioid crisis plagues our communities.

We live 37 years after 1984, mere months before the setting of Soylent Green, 32 years before Fahrenheit 451, and 429 years before Brave New World. Lowry didn’t specify a time when we would all be the same.

These writers were only off on their timing.

Today’s students will grow to be the citizens of tomorrow–a tomorrow fast approaching.

They will live, understanding their immense value, pursuing their purpose, or disregarding both. Seeing themselves as distinct, unique creations or as commodities, trading their time and bodies for paycheck and pleasure.

Comprehending the uniqueness of the children entrusted to them–or failing to do so.

Pursuing truth, or manipulating it to suit their own ends or the goals of others.

Finding their purpose. Or seeking Soma to deaden their hearts and minds.

Demanding equality of their own pleasure and thereby missing out on life’s meaning altogether.

Perhaps without choosing, they will live in a world of constant surveillance, a world where oppressors observe every act.

In each book, characters decided whether to live lies and fit in or to pursue truth and find their own purpose.

No matter the conditions of the world around us, we all choose how we will live this life.

The lesson of dystopia is to choose wisely and well.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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Texas Abortion Update

Federal Court blocks Texas heartbeat bill as expected. Pray for the mothers, babies, families, and those whose hearts are wounded by participating in the killing.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Is Texas the End of Roe or a Temporary Reprieve?

Early in the pro-life movement, I attended a rally for a Pennsylvania bill. A reporter asked one of the bill’s authors if he thought his proposal was discriminatory. The question implied that such a law would make abortion more difficult for low-income women since wealthy women have always been able to travel freely–to go wherever abortion is readily available.

The legislator’s response still rings in my mind.

“Yes, it’s discriminatory. It’s highly discriminatory. It discriminates against the children of the rich whose slaughter will continue unabated.”

That bill eventually ended up before the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

While SCOTUS gutted much of the bill, some of the provisions stood.

Now Texas is trying to nearly eradicate abortion. And SB 8 has been largely successful–so far, saving an estimated 100 babies every day since September 1.

Roland Warren is the President of Care Net, a pro-life umbrella organization comprised of 1,200 affiliate pregnancy centers, 82 in Texas. Warren says in Texas, “The call volumes are up 30% or so.” Pregnant women are seeking help from those who can provide it for mother and child.

SB 8 is the recently passed legislation that allows someone to sue the physician and anyone who aids and abets in an abortion after six weeks’ gestation. That includes Uber and Lyft drivers (whose companies have promised to cover legal expenses for employees involved in an abortion situation).

The minimum cost of a judgment against an abortion purveyor or abettor is $10,000.

In The American Spectator, Ellie Gardey cites a source who says 20 of 23 Texas abortion clinics are still open despite the new law but doing fewer abortion procedures. Planned Parenthood’s open clinics are concentrating on “other missions . . . providing birth control, STD testing, and transgender hormone treatments.”

Even so, some clinics struggle to keep the doors open. Gardey explains that one of the largest Texas clinics saw a staff reduction of more than half when nine of 17 staff members quit the day before the law took effect.

The effort to protect the unborn is not new to Texas.

“In 2010, Texas had more than 40 abortion clinics, but more than half closed altogether during the legal battle over a 2013 Texas law that required doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and for clinics to qualify as ambulatory surgical centers. The Supreme Court struck down the law in a 5-3 decision in 2016.” 

The composition of SCOTUS has since changed. The court’s new conservative leaning has resulted in the current Texas law going into effect despite an “emergency” plea from abortion advocates in late August. The high court did not pass judgment on the law itself. They merely allowed it to go into effect while the arguments make their way through the appellate system.

In the meantime, Gardey says, abortion appointments in nearby Oklahoma have seen a big jump as Texan women travel out of state to get around the law.

Sometimes discrimination works geographically rather than just economically.

Yet, the vast size of Texas does make it more difficult to obtain abortions for those who don’t live in the vicinity of Oklahoma. SB 8 is indeed saving unborn children from death and their mothers from trauma.

The saving of some unborn, and the travel out of state, may only last for Texas until a federal judge (an Obama appointee) hears the first appeal sometime this month. We can expect the Texas case to go back and forth until it reaches SCOTUS for a final determination.

Again in the meantime, before the Texas case can reach the high court, SCOTUS will meet in person to hear the dispute over Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act that has been working its way through appeals since 2018. That law prohibits abortions after 15 weeks except for medical emergencies and severe fetal deformities.

At some point, perhaps in December, the court may choose to make clear the degree of severity fetal deformities must attain to warrant abortion.

In these situations, discrimination isn’t just geographical and economic. It’s based in an ideal of human perfection. An ideal that operates on a sliding scale, condemning some and protecting no one.

At last in the meantime, the US House of Representatives last week fueled the flames of debate by passing the misnamed “Women’s Health Protection Act.” The vote came mostly along party lines with one Democrat lining up with every Republican in opposition to the bill that “codifies Roe” and Doe, the primary and companion 1973 cases that effectively allowed abortion for any reason at any time in pregnancy. Now the bill goes to the Senate.

David Morgan and Richard Cowan write about the bill’s chances in the upper chamber:

“It is not expected to pass the evenly divided Senate, where Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to support it. Republican Senator Susan Collins, [R-Me] a moderate who supports abortion rights, has said she opposes it. She said the House bill would weaken exceptions provided to healthcare providers who refused to perform abortions on moral or religious grounds.”

If the bill dies in the Senate, we may consider America to have dodged a bullet. Not only would children continue to die and mothers continue to be traumatized, but already over-extended medical professionals would be forced to decide between their conscience and their paychecks.

Abounding discrimination would expand to a new population.

If SCOTUS overturns Roe, the chatter about bloating the high court with an unprecedented number of new appointees will become a roar from a minority that is merely loud, not vastly populated.

No matter how many children have died, how many abortion purveyors repent and turn from killing, no matter how many women regret their abortions, this radical, minority voice that calls for unlimited abortion keep singing their song of death.

Even if they have to twist the nation’s arm by forcing medical personnel to participate or get out. Even if they need to add justices to the court that has remained at nine members since 1869.

Imagine new presidents stacking the court every four or eight years.

Those in support of life do not have the ear of the media as do those who sing death. We must raise our voice. We must sing the song of life.

Sing in love. Sing often.

Never stop singing life.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Farewell: a final tribute

We say farewell to Boomer with tears in our eyes today. Thirteen years as part of our family.

He waited faithfully for his master through two deployments.

Here is a tribute post dedicated to Boomer in his “voice” during one of the deployments.

———-

They say he’s coming back soon–my master. It’s that word soon. They keep saying it.

I’ve been here for a long time. Time. It’s a word like soon. Time seems always to be just ahead of us. But we never catch it. Soon never seems to arrive.

It’s been a long time for the humans too.

Since the last time I addressed you, it’s been good. The humans and I get along fine. I’ve made a second home here. I have beds all over the place. The people here think a couple of them are for me. What they call a dog bed sits beside their bed, and a blanket sprawls on the floor in the office. I make do with them when I must.

There are couches downstairs and beds upstairs. When no one else is around–all is mine.

But someone new has moved in upstairs to a bed that had been there just for me. They say he came from far away. He is an exchange student. But he doesn’t seem to exchange anything. They say he is here to study. Aren’t we all? He says he has two homes. That I understand.

My favorite part of any day happens outside. They take me on walks. Sometimes just him or just her. Sometimes both. And now that new kid comes along in the evenings.

When we walk, she carries this big stick. I was afraid of it at first. She’s pretty klutzy. Every so often she drops it when I’m not looking. It’s alarming. So far, no one’s gotten hurt.

She uses the stick to help push herself up the hills. But once when we were strolling down an otherwise quiet street, this big beast of my own species yelled and screamed–you call it barking–and ran at me. I tried to scurry away–but that darn leash!

Get this! She wasn’t running. She just stood there. I tried to say–“Uh, let’s go.” But she stood there and held the stick out–kind of like Charlton Heston pretending to be Moses. Then she yelled back at the beast–“NO!”

And the beast stopped! His master came out and got him. They both looked ashamed. I was dumbfounded. I felt as though the Red Sea had indeed parted.

The rest of our walk was unremarkable.

I’m not afraid of the stick anymore. Well ok, unless she surprises me, dropping it when I’m not looking (as I said–she’s a klutz). But now, I see its purpose. I had been afraid it was there to hurt me. But it’s really there to protect me–and push her up the hill, of course.

So my very own human is expected home soon. Maybe he’s at a second home. Maybe he is pondering time and soon and all that is life.

Maybe he knows that sometimes people drop sticks when you don’t expect them to. You’re afraid, but nothing happens. And when you actually see something to be afraid of, your Protector stands His ground. Stands between you and the big ugly thing trying to scare you.

And you can’t run away because then you wouldn’t understand how the Protector works.

Soon you’ll be home where it’s supposed to be safe. Even if you’re with people who drop a big stick and make loud noises but really take care of you.

Soon.

———

Boomer’s master safely returned to spend years with his faithful companion.

Farewell, Boomer.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: God Calls Us to Cultivate Peace in a Barbarian World

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, 9/25/21~

“The [Benedictine] monks went into barbarian areas to evangelize, and if the barbarians killed them off, the mother house would send more brothers out. Slowly, these men laid the ground for the rebirth of Christian civilization in the West,” Rod Dreher.

I’m waiting for cold weather. Summer hangs on. But the birds are gathering. Earlier this week, my husband pointed out the first foliage he saw that has begun its transformation from green to glory.

Cold is coming, but there is a warm feeling in the frosty cold. Oxymoronic, I know. A chill allows me to wrap a blanket around myself or warm the kitchen with sweets from the oven. Warm cookies and hot tea and maybe a movie or a book. Peace and comfort. Sounds nice.

The world swirls around us in chaos and violence. We find peace when we shut it all out.

God calls us to peace. But He doesn’t call us to dwell in silence and solitude. He calls us to the barbarian world.

To the world of people who are hungry, lonely, or cold in a way that is unpleasant and seemingly unending. He calls us to take our peace to the chaos. To take Him to the lost. To light a candle in the darkness.

There is a time to go to the world and speak truth. And sometimes the world comes to us. Once, part of the world came to my friend.

Years ago, Anne was working in her office, a storefront pro-life presence near her home, when a young couple walked in and asked for help. They had spent the last of their resources to come to our city for a promised job that fell through. They found themselves without the means to obtain a place to live. Anne let the couple stay in her office while she worked on finding housing for them.

She paid the security deposit and first month’s rent on an apartment and gave them some provisions until assistance benefits began. Eventually, the couple moved to a new area and found solid financial footing. Their problem was temporary, and Anne’s companionship carried them through it. Her investment of some household supplies and two months’ rent got this couple back into the mainstream of society.

Anne had long since grown from taking in lost puppies to housing unwed pregnant girls and sponsoring Vietnamese refugees. Over the years, she welcomed many road-weary travelers into her home. When my husband Paul first came to Altoona to meet me, he was a guest at Anne’s house.

Anne was the face of the Church extending her hand to those in need. She didn’t just look for people to help. They came to her. She served the ones God placed in her path.

One afternoon, my phone rang. Another friend of mine Cindy had encountered a homeless couple who had come to her office seeking help. Cindy and her husband, and my husband and I split the cost of a hotel for a week for the couple.

It had been 19 degrees Fahrenheit the night before they came to see Cindy. They had been out in that all night. I thought of how easily I could escape the cold and how awful it would be to be trapped outside in it.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn asked: “Can a man who’s warm understand one who is freezing?”

We wanted to be among those who understand.

We helped them a few more times before they disappeared. I don’t know what happened to them. But I do know that, for parts of a harsh fall and winter, they could feel warmth.

When we go to bed tonight, 17 more (on average) Americans will be homeless than were yesterday. And 17 more will become homeless tomorrow. And on it goes.

Long-term homeless people have a life expectancy of 50 years.

And today, tens of thousands of college students are homeless.

A few years ago, I learned that one of the students sitting in my classroom was living in her car. She disappeared before I could offer help.

Many people around us are homeless. Some will escape from the poverty they experience. Some will disappear to the streets for the long-term, to a shorter lifespan, to a prison of the elements—too cold, too hot, too wet.

We may not single-handedly be able to help them out of homelessness the way Anne helped the couple she encountered. But we can bring them encouragement. We can be a light along their way.

Every homeless person is a prodigal or a wounded traveler. Each one is our neighbor. Individuals can help. The church, acting as a local congregation and in union with others, can offer the companionship and community the homeless need to give them a chance to escape the net of poverty.

Portions of this article are excerpted from Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ’s Love Through the Church in One Accord.

Photo Credit: Kevin Schmid, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Lie of Doing Wrong to Do Right

“[T]his is the great Western idea: the proper route forward for the redemption of the individual and for mankind as a whole is as a consequence of the redemption of each individual.” Jordan Peterson

In The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn writes that, in classical works, villains “recognize themselves as evildoers, and they know their souls are black.”

Real people aren’t that honest, even within ourselves. We work to convince the innermost part of our being that, even if we’re doing something others would consider wrong, we’re doing it for a good reason, so that makes it right.

“[T]o do evil,” Solzhenitsyn says, “a human being must first of all believe that what he is doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law.”

Solzhenitsyn dates himself with his mention of natural law–a concept now lost to America–to most of the West. (See Robert Bork.) But Solzhenitsyn was writing in the 1950s about great and obvious evil–the oppression of millions in the Soviet gulag system. And in that day, most still embrace the concept of natural law–of an innate human understanding of right and wrong.

We can credit the existence of natural law with producing the classical villains, the Iagos of Shakespeare, the Bill Sykeses of Dickens, and the Jokers and Riddlers of more modern times. Their authors/creators couldn’t conceive of them not acknowledging their evil.

In reality, clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson asserts, as we prepare to do wrong, we either heed or ignore an inner sense that what we are conceiving is wrong.

Peterson has evaluated why we ignore that small voice inside ourselves and has come to a conclusion he believes is universal: We know what’s right, what’s wrong. But we have the capability to convince ourselves that what is wrong can become right.

He warns that we engage in a “very, very dangerous supposition” when we assume that we would choose differently from the way others have in the past. When we assume we wouldn’t kill millions, that we could handle power correctly. That we can do evil but avoid replicating results the past produced when others decided to do evil.

Peterson says, “I came to believe that the problem was as Solzhenitsyn said . . . that the line between good and evil runs down every human heart.”

Any one of us can and will choose wrong–grave evil–unless we guard against it.

Peterson: “[T]he way to stop such things from happening, to remember [them] properly, is to understand that you could do it, that you could do those terrible things because the people who did them were like you.”

In order to avoid doing the evil we are all capable of we must stop telling “yourself lies you don’t believe in.”

Redemption, for Peterson, occurs through “adherence to the truth and courage in the face of being.”

Peterson won’t talk publicly about his beliefs about God. Perhaps those beliefs are still fluid, still taking shape.

Sometimes people come to a moral code for good through God. Sometimes they come to God by recognizing a moral code and our propensity to violate it.

Redemption comes through truth. Christ is truth.

But we can never come to truth by lying to ourselves about who we are and what is good. We can only come to truth by acknowledging the truth about ourselves.

We need to listen to the still small voice that only speaks truth.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14~

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Restoring the Ruins

“‘The West’ . . . was born from the telling of one sacred story — a garden, an apple, a fall, a redemption — which shaped every aspect of life: the organisation of the working week; the cycle of annual feast and rest days; the payment of taxes; the moral duties of individuals; the attitude to neighbours and strangers; the obligations of charity; the structure of families; and most of all, the wide picture of the universe — its structure and meaning, and our place within it.

The West, in short, was Christendom. But Christendom died. If you live in the West now, you are living among its ruins. Many of them are still beautiful — intact cathedrals, Bach concertos — but they are ruins nonetheless. And when an old culture built around a sacred order dies, there will be lasting upheaval at every level of society, from the level of politics to the level of the soul. The shape of everything — family, work, moral attitudes, the very existence of morals at all, notions of good and evil, sexual mores, perspectives on everything from money to rest to work to nature to the body to kin to duty — all of it will be up for grabs. Welcome to 2021.” Paul Kingsnorth~

It might be hard to find a portion of work that better sums up our part of the world at this place in time than the above two paragraphs. Kingsnorth hits a bullseye as he sums up what the West was, and what we are today.

We wonder how we got here, how we got here so fast, but the decline was subtle and slow. From my childhood, I remember dressing a certain way for church or school, having no trouble finding movies that reinforced the ideas of good and evil, watching evening newscasts that rejected ugly, slanted, or illogical discourse, hearing political commentary capable of reaching an audience of broad perspectives. Our milk cartons advised us to attend our church or synagogue this weekend.

We point to moments. It was that election. It was this event. But the starting point of decline is impossible to pinpoint. History moves from moment to moment as we plan what’s for dinner, what to do on Saturday evening, and where to go on vacation next summer.

Yet, here we are among the ruins of our previously Christian culture.

Where to begin to rebuild?

We begin by feeding souls.

The Gospel is the obvious place to start. But the foundations that once helped Americans easily comprehend God’s truth have crumbled away. That bridge needs rebuilding, restoring.

To begin that rebuilding, churches and individuals can help families, single parents, kids struggling to find their way, perhaps with no one showing them a functional way forward.

That way requires some training–us showing others how to do things. I don’t mean an education that leads to specific employment later on. But learning leading to a satisfying life of doing, of action.

Cultivating relationships, developing skills like cooking, playing a sport or a musical instrument–work of a sort that someone can point to and say: “I can do that.”

Some people can’t say that very often today. Being able to say that is important.

And what can we do to enhance literacy around us? And why does literacy matter?

John Wesley opined that “A reading people will always be a knowing people.” Henry Peter Brougham said, “Education makes people easy to lead but difficult to drive.”

Knowing where we’ve come from helps us understand where our place and time will lead us. The past shows us how we got to our place today and how to get to a new place, a better one.

What can we do?

We can ask God to show us whom we can help, who wants to learn, who is searching for help. His answer may call me to help a neighbor and you to volunteer. He may call us both to donate books to a ministry that reaches out to those in need of soul-feeding–to donate food–to feed soul and body.

It’s up to us to show people “the wide picture of the universe — its structure and meaning, and our place within it.”

Civilizations build bridges–and rebuild them–one stone at a time.

Where will you place your piece of rock to rebuild the ruins around us?

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Until Unity–Drawing the Church Together

“When love is shallow, all it takes is something as trivial as a disagreement to divide us.” Francis Chan, Until Unity~

Christian accord–another word for unity–is something my heart has pursued for years. Now Francis Chan writes from his heart about the necessity for Christians to set aside our differences and move forward as the one Church Christ prayed we would be in John 17.

“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,  I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me,” John 17: 22-23.

But that hasn’t happened. Instead, over the years, centuries even, we have continued to divide ourselves over our interpretations of scripture.

Too often, we point to others as the problem. Maybe, Chan points out in his new book, the problem is us.

“In many ways, we have lost a sense of the true holiness of God, and that has caused pride to grow and fester in the church. Everyone seems to start out with the assumption that his or her opinion of God is right, rather than recognizing that all of us have an incomplete, flawed knowledge of God.”

Scripture permeates Chan’s text. He supports his assertions with God’s Word at every turn.

And Chan is stalwart in his devotion to essential Christian doctrine. He does not promote a false, Kumbaya awakening where we discard the basic tenets of faith for a superficial connection to nominal “believers”.

I recommend a great many books in this space. But this book presents, more than an intriguing read. As Chan points out unity is crucial to the future of the Church–and the eternity of many currently outside the Church.

Christ prays for us to be one “so the world may know.”

For us, unity is “not optional.”

Read this book.

Pray for unity among Christians. Love other Christians who are faithful followers even if they aren’t of your tradition.

Turning our corner of the world around may just be that simple.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Love or Lust

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, August 28, 2021~

Covenant: “a formal agreement or contract, between God and humans or between two human parties to do or refrain from doing something. Sometimes only one party was responsible to carry out the terms (a unilateral covenant, which was essentially a promise). At other times both parties had terms to carry out (a bilateral covenant).”

Commodify: “to turn (something, such as an intrinsic value or a work of art) into a commodity–a good interchangeable with other goods.”

We were unhappy with our cell phone carrier. The pricing was erratic, sometimes shocking. “Customer service” was a frustrating, time-sucking vortex.

When our contract was up, we jumped.

We’d ended the relationship with a business that didn’t seem so interested in serving our needs. We found a business that would serve us better. Much better.

So we begin and end business relationships.

And so, as Dr. Tim Keller explains, do we often treat our romantic interactions today, making them more accurate reflections of business dealings rather than lifetime commitments.

In his sermon/podcast “Love and Lust,” he draws a distinction between the virtue of love as seen in covenant relationships, and the vice of lust, manifested in a business-like approach to romance.

Committed love is a covenant relationship. “Sex is supposed to be a symbol of what you’ve done with your life,” Keller says, that you have fully committed to another person, way beyond a physical relationship.

“You must not do with your body what you’re not willing to do with your whole life.” The language sounds limiting, binding. It is. Yet living love this way provides amazing benefits.

“In a covenant, when you have made a promise, sex becomes like a sacrament . . . . an external, visible sign of an invisible reality. . . . That’s why it’s so meaningful. “

In this way, sex reflects the intimate love God has for our souls.

“When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine.” (Ezekiel 16:8, ESV).

Covenant, Keller says, provides a “zone of safety where you can be yourself.”

Covenant produces deeper feelings. “When you are committed to a person in spite of your feelings, deeper feelings grow,” Keller says. As in parenthood, covenant marriage requires giving without regard to receiving, thereby producing “a deeper, richer kind of feeling.”

“Covenantal relationships bring freedom.” He references Kierkegaard who claimed non-covenantal relationships make us slaves. Commitment brings freedom. Freedom from commitment is oppressive. That can seem counter-intuitive in these days, but it’s true.

Lust, however, is a transaction. Sex outside of marriage is “marketing.” Marketing is anything but meaningful.

Keller says couples who live together outside of marriage are trying to figure out “whether this person is good enough to marry or whether I can do better . . . It’s not trusting. It’s not resting. It’s not giving.”

People who live together before marriage are learning how to live together as consumers.

As we’ve moved further down the highway of consumer/transactional sex, we see the results of sexual self-seeking instead of sexual (and otherwise) self-giving.

Our culture has almost completely abandoned any sign of covenantal love. We are becoming a strictly commodified society. Therefore, fewer are buying into marriage.

Edward Davies in “Forget Race or Class, Marriage is the Big Social Divide,” writes that marriage rates in the UK have “been steadily collapsing since the 1970s. Not just declining but falling off a cliff. Even at the height of the second world war, (sic) one of its previous lowest points, the male marriage rate was almost triple what it is today.”

America’s rates show a big drop too.

Link for graph

As my mother so aptly put it many years ago: “Why buy the cow when you’re getting the milk for free?”

Especially when the metaphorical cow you’re renting is trying harder to close the deal.

Many of us have been that metaphor. We sold ourselves short.

In the meantime, many have turned to pornography, primarily men, but women too. Porn is an enormous form of commodification, second only to prostitution.

Keller says pornography is “so focused on yourself, you don’t even have another person. . . . [It] is everything the Bible says is not what sex is supposed to be.” He says porn affects all our relationships, porn influences social aspects from fashion choices to marriage rates, asserting that the drop in American marriage rates is largely due to porn.

Keller quotes Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker’s book Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying:

“People who use pornography have crushingly unrealistic expectations regarding physical appearance and sexual performance. . . .

“A significant number of male porn users experience a diminished tolerance for the difficulties of real relationships . . . shrink[ing] the marriage pool for women. . . .”

Pornography is “why the number of people getting married is going down.”

That’s easy to see. But fashion trends?

Regnerus and Uecker assert that “All women . . . are increasingly being forced to accommodate sexual behaviors and their appearances to the images and style of pornography.”

The fashion industry influenced by porn? That seems far-fetched.

But Andi Zeisler agrees with Keller, and Regnerus and Uecker. “Porn is now not only represented in, but an indelible part of, everything from high culture to fashion magazines to college curricula,” she writes.

The discussion comes full circle when Zeisler references Naomi Wolf who predicted nearly two decades ago that “far from turning men into the raving, sex-mad predators that anti-porn crusaders . . . once warned against, [porn] is turning them off of regular, nondigital women.”

Marriage rates support Wolf’s thesis. But not all porn watchers are rejecting sex with a partner altogether.

Ponder this: Rod Dreher’s citation of The Telegraph: “A GP [general practitioner physician] let’s call her Sue, said: ‘I’m afraid things are much worse than people suspect.’ In recent years, Sue had treated growing numbers of teenage girls with internal injuries [caused by frequent deviant sex] . . . not, as Sue found out, because she wanted to, or because she enjoyed it – on the contrary – but because a boy expected her to. “I’ll spare you the gruesome details,” said Sue, [I will too.] “but these girls are very young and slight and their bodies are simply not designed for that.”

What else is porn doing to women and girls?

We imagine the stereotypical porn user as a man sitting in his basement (perhaps his mother’s) in the dark in front of a flickering screen (his phone or computer). He is glassy-eyed and probably unemployed.

But Zeisler cites Adella O’Neal, publicist for Digital Playground, pointing out that “in 2000 roughly 9 percent of the company’s consumers were women; four years later, that figure . . . bloomed to 53 percent.”

Fox News reports: “Women aren’t excluded from this heavy porn-watching either. Pornhub released information in 2017 that revealed women spending more time watching porn than men, reports anti-porn advocacy group Fight the New Drug. Women were also more likely to search for harder versions of porn than men.”

That may be how we moved from the idea that porn exploits and victimizes women to the emerging notion that sex work empowers them.

Sadly many in the Church have been drinking the poison too.

Fox News continues: Covenant Eyes [a porn addiction recovery organization]” reports that “64 percent of Christian men and 15 percent of Christian women report watching porn at least once a month.” Take note: Christians.

Porn gives us a distorted view of ourselves and others. And this distorted vision is downloaded into the minds of a majority of Christian men and a significant percentage of Christian women–at least monthly–often daily.

Also this from Dreher: “At a conservative Christian college not long ago, a campus minister told me that every single young man he works with, helping them to prepare for seminary after graduation, is addicted to pornography (meaning that they use it compulsively, and find it impossible to stop, even though they want to). Sixteen young men — conservative, churchgoing men who want to serve God and others as pastors — caught in that trap.”

In Pure Desire: How One Man’s Triumph Can Help Others Break Free from Sexual Temptation, Ted Roberts writes: “Sexual addiction is not just a struggle over a mental perspective; it touches God’s very image, as well as the depths of a man’s soul.”

Here’s an ironic reality. Psychology Today quotes a scholarly study that shows porn use actually lessens sexual satisfaction rather than enhancing it.

“Notably, under no circumstances was pornography use associated with greater sexual satisfaction. These findings, while correlational, suggest that even infrequent use of pornography has negative effects on sexual satisfaction.”

Satan’s counterfeits never match up to what God intended in giving humans the gift of sex.

Where is hope for us?

As mentioned above, Covenant Eyes is a good place to start.

But first, we must recognize the problem. And it’s much more pervasive than we want to think it is.

It’s a heart issue.

We want what we want. We’ve bought so far into materialism and pleasure that we have lost sight of who we are. Of who every other person is.

Each one, imago Dei, the image of God. Each one, His poiema, God’s masterpiece.

Every one.

The child in the womb. The person on the street, homeless, alone, and hungry. The woman on the screen.

And everyone who sits on the other side of the screen.

No one is ever a commodity.

From Ted Roberts: “Numerous authors have written books concerning the clinical aspects of sexual addictions, and even more books call for believers to seek holiness. But our [ministry’s] ultimate focus is more specific . . . . [We want to] persuade the Church to become a place of hope and healing rather than of shame for those fighting sexual battles. .

“We need ruthless honesty that exceeds our comfort zones and pursues God’s heart, no matter the cost.”

Individuals and ministries need to pursue God’s heart. Such pursuit comes with a great cost.

The cost of ignoring this issue is much greater.

“Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin that a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body,” I Corinthians 6: 18-20.

Photo Credit: Ben White, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

From Appalachia to the Seat of Government?

“Whatever talents I have, I almost squandered until a handful of loving people rescued me.” J.D. Vance~

He has become the voice of an unheard America. A part of America that has lost the American Dream. The dream that, if you work hard, you can make a good life.

J.D. Vance grew up in Rust Belt, USA. His grandparents had migrated from Kentucky to Ohio–but never escaped their hillbilly roots–until Vance graduated from Yale Law School.

Yet he doesn’t seek to disassociate himself from his forebears. He carries with him lessons they taught.

His journey to Yale is remarkable. But many of his peers remain in Appalachia living unremarkable lives. Their dreams are not remarkable. They have lost hope.

Many analysts blame the economic downturn for this lack of hope. But as with every sociological phenomenon, there are many factors. 

The economic downturn coincided with the sexual revolution, which coincided with a freer availability of drugs–marijuana, heroin, crack, then opioids.

The Soma of Huxley’s The Brave New World became reality for too many.

There are not only few good jobs, there are also few fathers–fewer male influences to pass down a concept of hard work and traditional manhood. And since the military draft ended, few young men enlist. Few learn, as Vance did in the Marines, what their true capabilities are.

Vance points out that there is “a lack of agency”–“too many young men immune to hard work.”

Small-town America changed too. Gone are the locally-owned mom-and-pop stores. Those places where everyone knew your name.

But there is always someone who does know your name–or at least someone who can find it out.

What made the difference for Vance? A handful of loving people–a few who cared. There were his grandparents; one was an alcoholic. They divorced, but never severed themselves from each other or the rest of the family. While Vance had a series of father figures, his own father was largely absent.

But his father took him to church–at least briefly. And his grandparents pushed him to work hard.

And the Marines made sure he knew how to balance a checkbook. How to buy a car. How to choose healthy food. How he could go to college. Basically, they taught him how to function in life. How to move beyond his limited background.

He navigated the Marines; he accelerated through college; he realized low-income people get a tuition break at Yale Law. He dreamed big; he applied.

And he worked hard. Teachers encouraged him. He met a girl.

She was the one he called once when he needed an answer fast. He was attending a high-stakes dinner where prestigious law firms sorted through prospective associates at Yale.

From the men’s room, he asked her what to do with so many forks beside his dinner plate. She gave him a quick lesson on how to work through his place setting.

That’s something you don’t learn in a typical household in Appalachia.

But in other ways, he was smarter than his Yale peers.

He and some friends went out to dinner. He and another student from a modest background were appalled at how their group had left the table. Vance knew what it was like to clean up after people who were careless and sloppy. Some never fathom what it’s like to do a dirty job.

The elite students grew up knowing they would go to college. They assumed success in the world. They learned how to fit in with other elite crowds. They knew which fork to use. They had table manners.

Vance and his friend helped clean up the table. They had courtesy.

Now Vance is a latecomer to a crowded Ohio US Senate Republican primary race for 2022. It remains to be seen whether his quest to bring the American Dream back to Appalachia will bear electoral fruit.

Ohio may or may not elect Vance. Our nation’s future doesn’t hang in the balance of primary election results. Perhaps it doesn’t depend as much on those who will choose between a life of dependence on feel-good life-numbing strategies or rising above these standstill ways to reach to fulfill their potential.

J.D. Vance blazed a trail of success and kindness.

But let’s remember that loving people helped him along that trail. Perhaps our nation’s future depends on them.

On us, if we are willing.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Freeing Our Children for Excellence

“What’s always struck me about Huxley’s novel [The Brave New World] is that, even amid all this license, the savvier characters still recognize that they aren’t in fact free. Bernard Marx at one point refers to himself as “enslaved by my conditioning,” while the Savage contrasts “freedom” with the World State’s enforced “comfort.” This is the first thing to understand about what we’re doing to our children today: it isn’t liberty so much as the opposite. Huxley’s point is that even liberation can become subjugating if it’s turned into ideology and inflicted upon the young,” Matt Purple~

I remember sitting in a classroom in 1993 for parent-teacher conferences for my then-12th grade daughter. The class was health. I was the parent. The teacher was a woman who’d grown up down the street from my childhood home. We had played with our Barbie dolls together. Now we sat on opposite sides of a desk.

My daughter had told me that this teacher had the class line up, each student holding a placard with the name of a male body part. The supposed goal was to get the students to learn the correct order of placement for male sex organs. The class was co-ed.

An unintended (or not) result of such a classroom activity would be a diminishing of natural self-consciousness among the students, a self-consciousness I would argue is God-given and protective.

Twenty-eight years later, sex education in many districts occurs earlier and is often more graphic than placards with words for male body parts lettered on them.

Now we must ask why some people are working so hard to make sure children (now much younger than my daughter was then) understand all there is to understand about sex, sexuality, and sexual identity while others have ceased to ensure that said children can read, write, and calculate at a functioning level or beyond.

Sharon Slater, co-founder and president of advocacy group Family Watch International, [explains the] ‘harmful elements’ in the United Nations-developed, U.S. government-sponsored Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), including its graphic, pleasure-focused approach toward teaching children about sexual behavior.

“’The publication, ‘It’s Perfectly Normal,’ . . . is in many libraries and school libraries across the United States. [At least one state mandates CSE for classroom use.] It’s very graphic with depictions of children engaging in . . . various sexual acts,’ said Slater.”

Soak that in–children depicted in sex acts. Drawn images, we presume. Otherwise, how would it differ from the kind of pornography explained on our newspaper’s front page last week informing us that the guy who possessed it is now in jail?

And we must note the reference to “pleasure-focused.” Be sure to dust off your copy of Huxley’s The Brave New World, referenced above by Matt Purple. Huxley presents a culture steeped in–and controlled by–pleasure. Oppression through excess of pleasure.

As Purple points out, we have to ask how we got from #metoo to this stuff.

And again, why?

But now to the part most of us assume is the purpose of schools–education, which again, most of us assume is largely comprised of reading, writing, and math. We must be careful not to assume what has previously seemed reasonable to assume.

The state of Oregon is suspending reading, writing, and mathematics requirements for graduating students for at least the next three years.

Perhaps some sort of pleasure indicator will replace the academic requirements.

Maybe other states will follow Oregon’s lead. Even as America continues our decades’ long inquiry into why Johnny still can’t read.

Many dissatisfied parents are moving their children out of such classrooms. As record numbers of families become homeschoolers, private schools are also seeing big enrollment increases.

Newcomers to homeschooling have perhaps found during COVID shutdowns that teaching their own children is positive, effective, doable, and within their control.

Many pilgrims to private schools may just be looking for in-person learning as some shutdowns continue. But Kerry McDonald writes that the “trend [of increasing private enrollment] is likely to continue” when (and if) the COVID crisis abates.

It might be fair for us to conclude that some parents are moving children to new educational environments to enable them to pursue excellence instead of pleasure, to enable them to receive a traditional education of reading, writing, math, etc. Et cetera encompassing science, history, and the arts rather than the simple pursuit of pleasure. These parents know the journey to excellence is not always fun-filled. And it doesn’t happen by accident.

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny,” (Aristotle).

Some in modernity have figured that out too. Even in decadent Hollywood.

The recent anniversary of the death of actor Robin Williams brings to mind his portrayal of an English teacher at a boys’ prep school in Dead Poets’ Society (1989). Williams’ Mr. Keating wanted his students to seize the day–to make sure they didn’t let life slip by without pursuing great dreams.

Such dreams do not come true through hedonism–a devotion to pleasure alone.

“In his immortal performance, Williams gave humanity a great gift of remembering two truths: that we all die, and that the humanities, far from being unserious, drive us toward the serious business of life.” Matthew Becklo.

The serious business of life is the pursuit of full potential, the quest for purpose, the lifelong journey of service to God and people–thereby we find meaning in our lives.

Teaching children that pleasure is the be-all and end-all violates everything education should be.

It sets children up for bondage of all kinds of oppression–public and personal–providing passing good feelings instead of lasting fulfillment. Meaningless pleasure can never be more than a distraction from emptiness. And emptiness is compounded when grown-ups lack literacy and mathematical capability.

The quest for pleasure for its own sake combined with a void of capability creates enslavement as the enslaved one continually seeks more pleasure that provides only more emptiness.

True education fills minds and feeds souls. It recognizes that there is more to each child than a physical body.

Fulfillment comes through a developed character made from challenge and rigor. The work of learning bestows more than knowledge. It instills curiosity and discipline. It enables us to engage in wonder.

Applied thinking, through reading, wordcraft, and calculation, leads children to become people who know when and how to set pleasure aside to reach for a greater good. Only then can they know true pleasure.

Our nation is blessed with many teachers who urge their students toward excellence. Many of them hail from the classrooms of public schools. Not all states and districts have succumbed to the cultural decay of promoting empty pleasure.

Parents must not simply hope for the best. They must not assume all is well in their educational corner of the country.

To assume so is to invite a cost too great and a loss beyond measure. Too many schools ask little or nothing of their students. They promise more than their teachings can ever deliver.

Mr. Keating asks us to reach for more:

“‘[W]hat good amid these, O me, O life?’ Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

From a Dog’s View

This article, guest-authored by Boomer, appeared in Honeyguidemag.com. Boomer is enjoying life with his master once again. This post is a look back.

I’ve been in this house for a few seasons now. I’m here temporarily, until my master comes home. They say he is deployed. I don’t know what that means. I pass the time until he returns.

I’ve gotten to know them–he and she–the two humans, parents of my master, who live here with me. They take care of me. And I take care of them.

For example, there was this BIG adventure. It seemed so to them, at least. He said he had plugged up that pipe sticking up out of the basement floor so nothing could crawl into the house. This particular creature of the rodent variety pushed its way in. I found the creature under the stove. And when the man lifted the front of the stove for me, that thing jumped right into my mouth. It surprised me so much I dropped it. I was quicker than it was and made short work of it.

It was all over before she realized what the horrible racket was all about. Good thing, too. She was afraid of the rodent thing. I didn’t understand why, but I was glad to do my job. He figured out which pipe was the problem pretty quickly, and he told her what he would need to buy the next day to fix the problem. She told him Lowe’s wasn’t closing for 15 more minutes. He had plenty of time to fix that problem that day. And that is exactly what happened.

I thought it was a bit silly that she was afraid of something that I could quickly dispatch. He didn’t want her to be afraid either.

I felt good earning my keep and soaking up their admiration for the work I’d done. He said, “Good job, Boomer.” They aren’t just doing my master a favor. They like having me here.

We don’t always understand each other. They’ve caught on to my cues for when I need to go out. We have a nice routine. We are flexible about it when we need to be. They’ve learned where I like to walk–to sniff and to leave my own scent around the territory. They see that my territory goes beyond what they consider theirs. Yet, they set boundaries. I can’t pee on these light up devices some of the neighbors have in their yards. These devices seem fine for depositing my scent, but they say, no. I comply, reluctantly.

For some time, they didn’t understand why I would get up on their bed and lie on his spot right before he got in at night. He was away again last night. So I crawled onto her spot. I waited there for a while as she got ready to sleep. (Takes them forever! Three circles and I’m set!). That’s when she understood. She saw I was warming it up for her, welcoming her to her own place, to her rest time on a cold night. She understands that I am not here just for the food, water, and occasional pats on the head. I want to give back, too. It’s good that I am here—for them and for me. I don’t know how long I’ll stay.

It seems like it’s been a long time since my master put me here. Time. It’s a word like soon. And wait. They keep saying those words. Time seems always to be just ahead of us, but we never catch it. Soon never seems to arrive. Wait never seems to end. It’s been a long time for the humans as well. They want my master to come home, too.

In the meantime, the humans and I get along fine. I’ve made a second home here. I have beds all over the place. The people here think a couple of them are for me. What they call a dog bed sits beside their bed, and there’s a blanket spread out on the floor in the office. I make do with them when I must. There are couches downstairs and beds upstairs. When no one else is around–all of them are mine. But someone new has moved in upstairs to a bed that had been there just for me. They say he is an exchange student. He doesn’t seem to exchange anything. They say he is here to study. Aren’t we all? He says he has two homes. That I understand. My favorite part of any day happens outside. They take me on walks. Sometimes just him or just her. Sometimes both. And now, the new kid comes along in the evenings.

When I walk with her, she carries this big stick. She calls it her walking stick. She uses it to help push herself up the hills. I was afraid of it at first. She’s pretty klutzy – every so often, it slips out of her hand. She doesn’t do it on purpose; she usually does it when I’m not looking. It’s alarming. So far, no one’s gotten hurt. Once, when we were strolling down an otherwise quiet street, this big beast of my own species yelled and screamed–you call it barking–and ran at me. I tried to scurry away, but that darn leash held me back!

Get this! She wasn’t running. She who feared a rodent. She just stood there. I tried to say, “Uh, let’s go,” but she held the stick out–kind of like Charlton Heston pretending to be Moses. Then she yelled back at the beast, “NO!” And the beast stopped! His master came out and got him. They both looked ashamed. I was dumbfounded. I felt as though the Red Sea had, indeed, parted. The rest of that walk was unremarkable.

I’m not afraid of the stick anymore. Well, ok, unless she surprises me, dropping it when I’m not looking (as I said–she’s a klutz). Now, I see its purpose. I had been afraid it was there to hurt me. It’s really there to protect me–and push her up the hill, of course. My human is expected home soon. Maybe he’s at a second home. Maybe he is pondering time and soon and wait and all that is life. Maybe he knows that sometimes people drop sticks when you don’t expect it. You’re afraid, but nothing happens. And when you actually see something worthy of your fear, your Protector stands His ground. Stands between you and the big ugly thing trying to scare you.

You can’t run away, because you wouldn’t understand how the Protector works. Soon you’ll be home where it’s supposed to be safe. Even if you’re with people who drop big sticks and make loud noises, but really take care of you. Soon.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Amos: A Worthy Dramatization and a Great Read

Christopher S. Swan’s dramatic manuscript of Amos is a wonderful opportunity to dive into a fictionalized version of an often overlooked Old Testament book.

As I read, I envisioned what the staging could look like–a dark stage at times, a well-lit one as workers harvest olives on Amos’ farmland.

The play would be well served with a multi-media approach as some scenes would work better with a closer view for the audience than the stage can allow.

Even so, an apt narrator could provide the details and still allow a stage dramatization to bring Amos’ story to life.

Yet, a play isn’t always a work that requires actors, sets, and a stage. This work is a great read too. Swan does a terrific job helping you imagine the action–which at times is very suspenseful.

Amos and God’s angels do battle against bandits and pagan forces determined to keep the newly commissioned prophet from his sacred mission–presenting God’s message to His rebellious people.

But along with literary tension come moments of peace and the simple work that defined most of Amos’ life. Swan provides cultural insights and historical detail in many of these quieter vignettes.

“Next to Amos is Tab, his youngest son at 7-years-old. He watches his father’s every move in silence. Listens to his father breathe as he works.

“Amos reaches down into a shallow wood box next to Tab’s sandaled feet. Pulls out a long cube of animal fat. Sets it on top of the baking powder. The cube of fat melts within seconds, seeping into the ochre powder, thickening it.

“Tab’s eyes widen. He looks back at his father, who lays four more long fat cubes down across the mound of rust-red powder. Tab watches the cubes melt in succession. He smiles at the satisfying sight.”

Swan has crafted engaging characters in Amos, his family, those who help him in his quest to deliver the message God has given him, and those representing evil forces seeking to kill Amos and end his mission.

Whether you’re looking for a good summer read–or an anytime read–or seeking out a drama for your church or group to enact, this work brings scripture alive, often tying New Testament grace to Old Testament storytelling and prophecy.

Amos, by Christopher S. Swan is worth your time and attention.

Photo Credit: From Amos by Christopher S. Swan

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: Responding to Your Opposition with Grace and Love

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, 7/24/21~

“Even biology tells us that a high degree of habitual well-being is not advantageous to a living organism.” Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Imagine being in a terrible place. The food is beyond bad. The clothing is inadequate. The weather is unbearably hot in the summer and way below what we in the continental United States consider cold in the winter. The work is hard, menial, and endless.

Then imagine you get to go to a better place. The food is better. You can be warm in the winter. You’re not afraid you’ll die from the bad treatment.

But you find out that, in order to stay there, you have to do things you don’t want to do. You have to help your oppressors spy on your fellow citizens. You have to help them send others to the place that is so bad.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn did not have to imagine this scenario.

After spending years in a Siberian gulag, he went where the Soviet government was doing research. In the 1940s, they wanted Solzhenitsyn to help them develop voice recognition technology. If he didn’t cooperate, they would send him back.

So send me back, he told them.

“Even in the camps, human dignity matters,” says Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Alexander’s son who tells the story of his father’s choosing discomfort over betrayal of his fellows. “We always have choices. Even in the camps. Even where everything is decided for you. What clothes you wear, what food … you’re given, and everything is regimented. There is always the choice to behave with freedom and a sense of dignity.”

Freedom in a gulag? Always. Freedom and dignity everywhere? All the time. Solzhenitsyn is proof that Soviet tyrants overplayed their hand.

“You only have power over people as long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power—he’s free again.”

And that statement can apply even more deeply to Christians.

Rod Dreher writes: “The Christian life, properly understood, cannot be merely a set of propositions agreed to, but must also be a way of life. And that requires a culture, which is to say, the realization in a material way—in deeds, in language, in song, in drama, in practices, etc.—of the propositions taught by Christianity. To be perfectly clear, at the core of all this is a living spiritual relationship with God, one that cannot be reduced to words, deeds, or beliefs, (emphasis his).

With little fanfare from the mainstream media, the Washington Supreme Court [in 2017] . . . unanimously sided against Barronelle Stutzman, a 71-year-old florist who refused to provide flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding.

Stutzman battled the legal challenge, which threatened to relieve her of her life’s work and earnings, including her home.

She appealed to the US Supreme Court. A ruling favorable to religious freedom seemed unlikely since the court had already refused to hear an appeal from a New Mexico photographer, also sued for refusing service for a same-sex wedding. These cases are a harbinger of things to come.

Dreher: “Traditional Christians ought to see Barronnelle Stutzman as one canary in the coal mine (and there are many). The State of Washington, the ACLU, and two gay plaintiffs are trying to crush her, financially and otherwise. They may succeed in taking away her livelihood and then bankrupting her. . . . Whatever happens to her, they will not take away her faith and her dignity. She is a rock.”

And Stutzman’s faith has been rock-like. She has consistently reached out to those who oppose her with Christian grace and love.

It’s naive to think that this issue will never land at the doorstep of our churches and private schools.

The SCOTUS ruling legalizing same-sex marriage would seem to reassure churches that in the pulpit religious freedom is secure. But the devil may be found in the details of the local laws that made a florist a civil defendant.

America has reached a point where the primary social imperative is the personal impression of the individual. This impression now trumps all. And it didn’t just begin with same-sex marriage. It’s been going on for quite some time. We have largely looked the other way as moral foundations of life and marriage cracked then crumbled.

Along the way, the Church or at least pieces of it have twisted themselves into pretzel-like contortions trying to—as many might put it—stay relevant.

“50 or 100 years ago, [conservative Christians] were convinced to broaden verses like “there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female in Christ” (Galatians 3, Colossians 4) to justify our support of progressive agendas like feminism, while passing over other verses about sexual roles in the church, family, and society (1 Peter 3, Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, 1 Timothy 3, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 11…). This led us down a road that converged with the Enlightenment’s view of the individual.” David Goodwin

We stopped asking God what He wants for us and began to ask ourselves what we want. And that became our priority.

We have reached a line we cannot cross and still remain the Church because crossing that line would mean we have become something else, no longer the Church. Crossing the line means becoming a false church with a false gospel. The one that tells you it’s okay to worship yourself.

The one that tells you that you are not here to serve God; He is here to serve you.

Baronnelle Stutzman is here to serve Him. Even if it costs her everything. And perhaps it already has.

On July 6, 2021, the US Supreme Court declined to hear her case.

Stutzman’s lawyer Kristen Waggoner says, “This denial paves the way for Washington State and the ACLU to financially ruin Baronnelle.”

The picture is not optimistic. But we are not without hope.

The world rushes in with its noise and threats of coming persecution. We can set ourselves apart—even in the midst of chaos and decadence. We can be the people of hope who shine light in darkness. But only if we stand in the light against the darkness. And we can know we do not stand alone.

And if we do stand, we may see that the American left has overplayed its hand.

In prison, Solzhenitsyn found he could speak freely. He was already in trouble. What else could they do?

Even later in exile, he spoke. His iron will was forged behind the iron curtain. He was a man whose heart was full and whose character was steel.

He said,You can resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.”

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Coming War?

My husband and I visited China for the first time in 2005 as English teachers. We would return to teach again in 2011.

During our first visit, I had occasion to watch some afternoon television. As you might find on some channels in America, old movies were the fare of the day.

More than once I’d turn on the television and find the storyline of a Chinese village being invaded by Japanese aggressors during World War II.

A visit to an amusement park provided a similar form of entertainment. Along with rides and fast food, actors depicted the Chinese villagers overcoming Japanese invaders. Stuffed dummies with red paint on them represented the killed Japanese troops.

Little children and accompanying parents took it all in.

Most American schoolchildren don’t learn about Japan’s occupation of China or about the Nanking Massacre in which the Japanese military murdered hundreds of thousands, raping and pillaging along their way.

Japan has never apologized. And China has never forgotten.

America fits into the picture this way. China and America were allies during World War II. China had been in the midst of a civil war between Communists and the Kuomintang when the Japanese invaded. After Japan surrendered, those who were able of the Kuomintang, America’s ally, escaped to Taiwan and claimed Chinese sovereignty there.

After the Communists won the mainland, America became the ally of both Japan and Taiwan. But history made no standstill there.

In southern China, I saw a memorial to the Chinese soldiers who fought Americans in Korea.

In 1989, China acknowledged having sent more than 300,000 troops into Vietnam to fight US troops and the South Vietnamese.

America and China have been on opposite sides for most of a century.

Even so, sixteen years ago in 2005, the countryside welcomed us. People knew we were there to help their children succeed in the world. We’d often receive smiles and hear, “Hello, Meguaren” or “Hello American.”

Six years later we returned. While our students and hosts were beyond gracious, we no longer heard, “Hello Meguaren” on the streets.

What had changed?

A new American Administration was spending money in such a way that it devalued the dollar. The money our government had borrowed from China was coming back to them in dollars worth less than the ones we had received. Our dollars bought half as much as they had six years earlier. The Chinese yuan bought less than it had six years before too.

The Chinese people felt America had cheated them.

And long-festering wounds continue to fester.

In my interactions with Chinese students–there and in the US–I was surprised to understand how deeply many Mainland Chinese young people want to reclaim Taiwan.

In the same way they learned to view Japan as an enemy, they learned and embraced the belief that Taiwan must come home–one way or another.

Curt Mills quotes Gordon Chang who asserts that the Olympics could be part of what spurs war–not the current Olympics in Japan, but the games slated for China next year.

“The risk of a Chinese invasion—India, Taiwan, Japan, whatever—increases after the Beijing Olympics next year,” said Gordon Chang, a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute. “The fear of a boycott of the February’s Games, it appears, is one of the few things keeping Xi Jinping in check at the moment. This, of course, is not to say he won’t do something awful before then as he calculates his interests and views the world differently than the rest of us.” 

Since China’s new administration took over in 2013, China has turned up the volume on its claim to Taiwan as well as some parts of Japan.

In a recent media broadcast, the CCP government announced that its promise not to employ “first-use” nuclear weapons was off the table if Japan were to join the US in defending Taiwan, implying the Chinese military intends to play its hand soon.

China has also disputed Japan’s sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands last summer and continues to send fishing boats and military vessels into Japanese waters around the islands. The number of ships increased this year.

The Senkaku Islands are close to Okinawa. One Senkaku island is a mere 250 miles from Okinawa, the US base in Japan, and the islands were previously considered part of the Okinawa Prefecture, clearly recognized as Japan’s according to international law.

War drums are beating on that side of the world. The crackdown in Hong Kong was only the beginning.

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Matthew 24:6~

This rattling of sabers might be the beginning of the end. Or maybe not. No matter. When we hear of wars and rumors of wars, we are not to fear.

We are to pray. To watch. To keep faith.

Lord, keep us faithful to truth and what is right.

Photo Credit: Yu Kato, Unsplash (Chinatown in Yokohama, Japan)

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Hot or Cold? Or Lukewarm?

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth,'” (Revelation 3:15-17, ESV).

In his epic poem The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri placed the lukewarm at the gateway to hell, neither in hell nor in heaven. They are “melancholy souls . . ./Who lived withouten infamy or praise,” (Canto III, 35-36). They, in fact, “never were alive,” (64).

They were, Stephen Smith asserts, “souls who have lost truth, have lost God.” The lukewarm “would not exercise their liberty,” and missed out on life and eternity.

Not following God or Satan, Dante explains, they looked out for themselves alone.

Being outside hell sounds better than being inside, but Dante says such souls “envious are of every other fate,” (III, 48). Their end is worse than all others.

Of course, Dante’s poem is literature, not theology.

For theology, we can look to Francis Chan whose discussion of the lukewarm supports Dante’s placement of the lukewarm to either good or evil outside of heaven.

In Chan’s analysis, the lukewarm act like Christians. They go to church. They give money to good causes. But when what is right conflicts with what is popular, the lukewarm “care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives.”

Chan says such lukewarm churchgoers don’t want to be saved from their sin, only from its penalty.

Their “faith” is emotional; they do not live it out with action. Jesus is part of their lives, but not in control of their lives. They structure their lives so they don’t have to live by faith.

In his typical fashion, Chan, as does Dante from seven centuries ago, convicts and calls us to overcome too much comfort, to be real in our faith.

Francis Chan’s new book Until Unity ties our embrace of authentic faith over a lukewarm counterfeit to Christian unity. Steeped in biblical evidence, Chan says “the unsurrendered will always be at odds with the Christ followers, lobbying for their sins to be overlooked and fighting for their own desires in ungodly ways. . . .

“[The lukewarm] find common ground [among themselves] in judging the radicals who dare think Christ calls everyone to deny themselves and pick up crosses. . . . They can even rally together against those who still believe that the commands of Scripture are still valid today.”

We watch this conflict within the Church. It goes on around us daily. It occurs both at high levels and in small congregations.

“[T]here are many people in churches who do not truly follow Jesus, and with them, there can be no unity. It is our responsibility to lovingly confront them and call them higher. But if they remain unchanged, it is never our responsibility to lower the bar in the name of unity,” (emphasis Chan’s).

The lukewarm live among us. Many sleep.

We will not win them by being like them. We must show them Christ. We must love them, but only in truth.

We can be the hot cup of reality in a community drowsy from the lure of the unreal.

And what must overflow from our hot cups are love and truth.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Abortion Survivors: A Small Club

“(Live births) are little known because organized medicine, from fear of public clamor and legal action, treats them more as an embarrassment to be hushed up than a problem to be solved. It’s like turning yourself in to the IRS for an audit. . . .What is there to gain? The tendency is not to report because there are only negative incentives.”~

Willard Cates, M.D., former head of the Centers for Disease Control of the U.S. Public Health Service as quoted in”Abortion: The Dreaded Complication,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 2, 1981~

My son had received THE phone call. As a member of the US Army Reserves in 2003, he was to report for deployment to Iraq.

We scrambled around the next day packing and letting family and friends know. Then my husband, my daughter, and I headed with my son to Meadville, Pennsylvania, where he would report.

After a meeting for the troops and family members, we headed to a restaurant where we stood in line waiting to be seated. A man in front of my son turned around to ask him whether he would deploy soon. Upon my son’s “Yes,” the man reached out to shake his hand. As he did so, he placed $20 in my son’s hand and said, “Let me buy your dinner.”

I told my son, “You just joined the biggest fraternity in the world.”

We feel a kinship with people who share, or are about to share, our experiences. We understand how they feel in a way others without that experience cannot.

When Melissa Ohden was born she joined a club of abortion survivors.

They (the media and those in the abortion industry) called such situations the “dreaded complication”–a baby born alive who was supposed to be dead.

Like Melissa, Gianna Jessen was also a survivor. She emerged alive at seven months gestation from a saline abortion–the now outdated procedure in which an abortion doctor injects a salt solution into the amniotic fluid to burn and poison an unborn child to death.

Gianna was born in 1977, the same year Melissa also survived a saline abortion at 31 weeks gestation.

They wouldn’t meet for decades. But Gianna’s story helped Melissa heal from hers.

In her book You Carried Me, Melissa recounts the pain she suffered at learning at age 14 that someone who should have cared for her had intended her death.

Melissa had been “flipping channels on the television” and “stumbled across” an interview Gianna had done. She writes, “I’ll never forget her words: ‘It’s not that I’m mad at my birth mother at all. I forgive her totally for what she did.'”

And Melissa began to understand “If she could feel that way, maybe I could too.”

Melissa’s book tells the story of her quest to find her birth mother. She found great healing in finally learning that the woman who bore her really did want her. Melissa’s grandmother had coerced her 19-year-old daughter Ruth that fateful day in 1977.

Ruth had not desired Melissa’s death. Melissa had been wanted.

Ruth had believed for more than three decades that her child had not survived that day. She had spent the interim “with tremendous guilt and self-loathing because I thought my child had died in the abortion.”

There is much more to Melissa’s story. But such happy-ending accounts may not happen much in the future.

Saline abortions are outdated today because they had a high “failure rate.”

Willard Cates estimated that, in 1981, 400 to 500 abortion live births occur[red] every year in the United States… literally an everyday occurrence.”

Partial birth abortion largely replaced saline abortions. The success rate was 100 percent. When PBA became illegal, fetal dismemberment became the go to procedure.

In the state of New York, it is now legal for abortion doctors to administer lethal injections as part of the abortion process to kill the unborn. Babies like Melissa, like Gianna, like even older babies, who could otherwise survive abortion.

New York’s and Illinois’s expansive abortion laws of 2019 removed protections for born alive infants. Many states have no protections in place.

We understand there are medical emergencies. Sometimes a pregnancy must end early. But late-term babies who need to come early don’t have to be born dead–unless someone wants them dead.

OB/GYN Anthony Levatino, a reformed abortionist, recently testified before a subcommittee of the US House of Representatives: ‘During my time at Albany Medical Center, I managed hundreds of such cases [life of the mother at risk] by ‘terminating’ pregnancies [via live delivery by C-section] to save mothers’ lives. In all those hundreds of cases, the number of unborn children that I had to deliberately kill was zero.’”

Gianna and Melissa are part of a very special club. Both speak out for life–as does Ruth.

According to the CDC, a few children still manage to survive abortion. But “the number is still likely underreported.” Unreported living babies are often left to die–or worse.

“According to research conducted by Family Research Council, only fifteen states provide strong protections for born-alive abortion survivors, and only eight require reporting on infants who survive abortion.” (For a map showing protections or their lack in US states, click here.

At the federal level, bills protecting babies born alive after abortion failed three years in a row from 2019 to 2021.

Babies who survive abortions and receive care join Melissa and Gianna’s small club.

For many women in situations like the 19-year-old Ruth once experienced, the club is not big enough.

Photo Credit: Alex Hockett, Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Love, Lust, Porn and the Church

Pornography is “so focused on yourself, you don’t even have another person. . . . [It] is everything the Bible says is not what sex is supposed to be.” Dr. Tim Keller

I remember a college class called science, technology, and society, actually a philosophy class, in which the professor posited that the images we watch on television become more real to us than the reality around us.

He gave as his example the first (the second hadn’t happened yet) Challenger disaster. He talked about how the tragedies we watch on television can affect us more deeply than local events we don’t see.

What we watch on screens affects us more than we know. And what others see influences the world around us more than we realize.

In his sermon/podcast “Love and Lust,” Dr. Timothy Keller explains that porn affects all our relationships. That porn influences social aspects from fashion choices to marriage rates, asserting that the drop in American marriage rates is largely due to porn.

Keller quotes Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker’s book Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying:

“People who use pornography have crushingly unrealistic expectations regarding physical appearance and sexual performance. . . .

“A significant number of male porn users experience a diminished tolerance for the difficulties of real relationships, . . . shrink[ing] the marriage pool for women. . . .”

Pornography is “why the number of people getting married is going down.”

That’s easy to see. But fashion trends?

“All women . . . are increasingly being forced to accommodate sexual behaviors and their appearances to the images and style of pornography.”

The fashion industry influenced by porn? That seems far-fetched.

But Andi Zeisler agrees with Keller, and Regnerus and Uecker. “Porn is now not only represented in, but an indelible part of, everything from high culture to fashion magazines to college curricula,” she writes.

The discussion comes full circle when Zeisler references Naomi Wolf who predicted nearly two decades ago that “far from turning men into the raving, sex-mad predators that anti-porn crusaders . . . once warned against, [porn] is turning them off of regular, nondigital women.” 

Marriage rates support Wolf’s thesis. But not all porn watchers are rejecting sex with a partner altogether.

Ponder this: Rod Dreher’s citation of The Telegraph: “A GP [general practitioner physician] let’s call her Sue, said: ‘I’m afraid things are much worse than people suspect.’ In recent years, Sue had treated growing numbers of teenage girls with internal injuries [caused by frequent deviant sex] . . . not, as Sue found out, because she wanted to, or because she enjoyed it – on the contrary – but because a boy expected her to. “I’ll spare you the gruesome details,” said Sue, “but these girls are very young and slight and their bodies are simply not designed for that.”

What else is porn doing to women and girls?

We imagine the stereotypical porn user as a man sitting in his basement (perhaps his mother’s) in the dark in front of a flickering screen (his phone or computer). He is glassy-eyed and probably unemployed.

But Zeisler cites Adella O’Neal, publicist for Digital Playground, pointing out that “in 2000 roughly 9 percent of the company’s consumers were women; four years later, that figure . . . bloomed to 53 percent.”

Fox News reports: “Women aren’t excluded from this heavy porn-watching either. Pornhub released information in 2017 that revealed women spending more time watching porn than men, reports anti-porn advocacy group Fight the New Drug. Women were also more likely to search for harder versions of porn than men.”

That may be how we moved from the idea that porn exploits and victimizes women to the emerging notion that sex work empowers them.

Sadly many in the Church have been drinking the poison too.

Fox News continues: Covenant Eyes [a porn addiction recovery organization]” reports that “64 percent of Christian men and 15 percent of Christian women report watching porn at least once a month.”

Porn gives us a distorted view of ourselves and others. And this distorted vision is downloaded into the minds of a majority of Christian men and a significant percentage of Christian women–at least monthly–often daily.

Also this from Dreher: “At a conservative Christian college not long ago, a campus minister told me that every single young man he works with, helping them to prepare for seminary after graduation, is addicted to pornography (meaning that they use it compulsively, and find it impossible to stop, even though they want to). Sixteen young men — conservative, churchgoing men who want to serve God and others as pastors — caught in that trap.” 

In Pure Desire: How One Man’s Triumph Can Help Others Break Free from Sexual Temptation, Ted Roberts writes: “Sexual addiction is not just a struggle over a mental perspective; it touches God’s very image, as well as the depths of a man’s soul.”

Here’s an ironic reality. Psychology Today quotes a scholarly study that shows porn use actually lessens sexual satisfaction rather than enhancing it.

“Notably, under no circumstances was pornography use associated with greater sexual satisfaction. These findings, while correlational, suggest that even infrequent use of pornography has negative effects on sexual satisfaction.”

Satan’s counterfeits never match up to what God intended in giving humans the gift of sex.

Where is hope for us?

As mentioned above, Covenant Eyes is a good place to start.

But first, we must recognize the problem. And it’s much more pervasive than we want to think it is.

It’s a heart issue.

We want what we want. We’ve bought so far into materialism and pleasure that we have lost sight of who we are. Of who every other person is.

Each one, imago Dei, the image of God. Each one, His poiema, God’s masterpiece.

Every one.

The child in the womb. The person on the street, homeless, alone, and hungry. The woman on the screen.

And everyone who sits on the other side of the screen.

From Ted Roberts: “Numerous authors have written books concerning the clinical aspects of sexual addictions, and even more books call for believers to seek holiness. But our [ministry’s] ultimate focus is more specific . . . . [We want to] persuade the Church to become a place of hope and healing rather than of shame for those fighting sexual battles. . . .

We need ruthless honesty that exceeds our comfort zones and pursues God’s heart, no matter the cost.”

Individuals and ministries need to pursue God’s heart. Such pursuit comes with a great cost.

The cost of ignoring this issue is much greater.

“Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin that a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body,” I Corinthians 6: 18-20.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Updating “Incompatible with Life” Babies

It’s been my most popular post since I began to blog.

How Incompatible Is Incompatible with Life, Really” first appeared on April 1, 2019, and it was no April Fools joke.

The post presented the real-life situations of three families–parents whose doctors encouraged abortion, one whose “caregiver” even demanded it.

Yet, life happened instead.

Mike and Rachael Andrews became Daddy and Mommy to Olenna and Vesper Andrews despite the pleadings of medical personnel to abort Vesper. The pleas of the medical personnel were persistent and presented only bleak possibilities.

The couple decided to exercise faith, not fear, and welcomed two healthy girls who are now 21 months old. The family welcomed a younger sister almost four weeks ago.

Rachael reports that the girls “are doing great!”

Craig and Hannah Sudlow’s pregnancy story is similar–but involved only one child. A doctor demanded the Sudlows abort Evelyn, diagnosed with Trisomy 18–a genetic disorder.

The doctor went so far as to schedule Evelyn’s abortion.

The Sudlows did not comply.

The doctor dropped Hannah from the practice. She spent five weeks seeking medical care.

Evelyn was born with fewer medical disorders than the doctors had predicted–yet still with Trisomy 18.

Nancy Flanders writes for Live Action: “Thanks to doctors who valued Evelyn’s life, she thrived. She became a big sister twice over, she met milestones her parents were told she never would, and she laughed and loved. Though no one could predict how long Evelyn would live or what her future would look like, it was clear that she was happy and that she was well-loved.

Happy and well-loved for three and a half years, Evelyn passed away in April of 2020.

Evelyn’s mother remembers her life, “not for the struggles and challenges, but for the joy and beauty.”

Evelyn Sudlow’s life brought joy and beauty to those who loved her.

A short-sighted person saw himself as an authority to decide life or death. He would have thought the world a better place without Evelyn.

Bella Santorum–like Evelyn Sudlow–has Trisomy 18. Her parents Rick and Karen also received pressure to abort. They know what it’s like to have a doctor tell you that you HAVE TO have an abortion. Like the Sudlow’s, they refused.

On May 13, 2021, Bella Santorum celebrated her 13th birthday.

Her father tweeted: “Our Bella is a miracle, a blessing, a joy, but like all children at times a trial. She is the heart of our family because in her simplicity, fragility and disability she reveals the gift God plants in all his children, His pure love.”

Doctors predicted the deaths of three of these children. They did not expect Vesper Andrews to live to be born.

They did not expect Evelyn or Bella to live beyond a few days after birth.

They did not know what they presumed to know.

Saddest of all is that they could not know the love and joy that comes from loving a child, no matter her state.

Photo: (Olenna and Vesper Andrews), Lakeside Portraits

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Love or Lust: How We’ve Turned Covenant into Commodity

Covenant: “a formal agreement or contract, between God and humans or between two human parties to do or refrain from doing something. Sometimes only one party was responsible to carry out the terms (a unilateral covenant, which was essentially a promise). At other times both parties had terms to carry out (a bilateral covenant).”

Commodify: “to turn (something, such as an intrinsic value or a work of art) into a commodity–a good interchangeable with other goods.”

We were unhappy with our cell phone carrier. The pricing was erratic, sometimes shocking. “Customer service” was a frustrating, time-sucking vortex.

When our contract was up, we jumped.

We’d ended the relationship with a business that didn’t seem so interested in serving our needs. We found a business that would serve us better. Much better.

So we begin and end business relationships.

And so, as Dr. Tim Keller explains, do we often treat our romantic interactions today, making them more accurate reflections of business dealings rather than lifetime commitments.

In his sermon/podcast “Love and Lust,” he draws a distinction between the virtue of love as seen in covenant relationships, and the vice of lust–manifested in a business-like approach to romance.

Committed love is a covenant relationship. “Sex is supposed to be a symbol of what you’ve done with your life,” Keller says–that you have fully committed to another person, way beyond a physical relationship.

“You must not do with your body what you’re not willing to do with your whole life.” The language sounds limiting, binding. It is. Yet living love this way provides amazing benefits.

“In a covenant, when you have made a promise, sex becomes like a sacrament . . . . an external, visible sign of an invisible reality. . . . That’s why it’s so meaningful. “

In this way, sex reflects the intimate love God has for our souls.

“When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine.” (Ezekiel 16:8, ESV).

Covenant, Keller says, provides a “zone of safety where you can be yourself.”

Covenant produces deeper feelings. “When you are committed to a person in spite of your feelings, deeper feelings grow,” Keller says. As in parenthood, covenant marriage requires giving without regard to receiving, thereby producing “a deeper, richer kind of feeling.”

“Covenantal relationships bring freedom.” He references Kierkegaard who claimed non-covenantal relationships make us slaves. Commitment brings freedom. Freedom from commitment is oppressive. That can seem counter-intuitive in these days, but it’s true.

Lust, however, is a transaction. Sex outside of marriage is “marketing.” Marketing is anything but meaningful.

Keller says couples who live together outside of marriage are trying to figure out “whether this person is good enough to marry or whether I can do better . . . It’s not trusting. It’s not resting. It’s not giving.”

People who live together before marriage are learning how to live together as consumers.

As we’ve moved further down the highway of consumer/transactional sex, we see the results of sexual self-seeking instead of sexual (and otherwise) self-giving.

Our culture has almost completely abandoned any sign of covenantal love. We are becoming a strictly commodified society. Therefore, fewer are buying into marriage.

Edward Davies in “Forget Race or Class, Marriage is the Big Social Divide,” writes that marriage rates in the UK have “been steadily collapsing since the 1970s. Not just declining but falling off a cliff. Even at the height of the second world war, one of its previous lowest points, the male marriage rate was almost triple what it is today.”

America’s rates show a big drop too.

As my mother so aptly put it many years ago: “Why buy the cow when you’re getting the milk for free?”

Especially when the metaphorical cow you’re renting is trying harder to close the deal.

Many of us have been that metaphor. We sold ourselves short.

In Western society, we’ve commoditized human beings in more ways than one. Fewer Americans of marriage age are buying. Too many relationships are more like mine was with our cell phone company.

And sadly, more often than not, just as unfulfilling.

This post is part one of a two-part series. (Link to Part Two)

Photo Credit: Unsplash and Zagorsky

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

New PP Video: How to Maximize Payment for Aborted Babies with Living Cells

The Center for Medical Progress has released a new video. When abortion doctors discuss abortions without dig, they mean digitalis, a drug that, if injected into the heart, stops it.

So when they discuss not using dig, they are doing procedures on living children. Note that in many of these cases, they are talking about unborn children at the age of 22 weeks and six days.

And dismemberment means what you think it means. They are dismembering living children.

Center for Medical Progress video

See more at https://www.daviddaleiden.com/work.php

Photo Credit: Freeart.com

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: The Back Alley on the Island of Dr. Moreau

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinal, 6/26/21~

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the way for abortion medications to be available via telemedicine.

The new rule is intended to allow girls and women to end a pregnancy of 56 or fewer days from the comfort and privacy of their own homes without having to see a doctor in person.

However, with this new rule, there is no way to ensure–as an in-person physical examination would–that the unborn child is younger than 57 days–or even that the pregnancy is not ectopic (that the child is not stuck in the fallopian tube rather than residing in the uterus–a condition that is potentially deadly for the mother).

Before last month, an estimated 40 percent of American abortions, according to the AP, occurred through the chemical method. Yet the requirement that patients seeking chemical abortions meet with a doctor before obtaining abortion medications ensured that deadly complications (like ectopic pregnancies) and attempts at dangerous, late-term abortions (after 56 days) would be minimized.

Now, they can be maximized.

The rule change will be a boon to the abortion industry in several ways. For every surgical abortion, someone has to remove the child, through suction or manual dismemberment, or stab the child’s heart with a sonogram-guided injection and induce labor so the mother can deliver her dead child.

After a dismemberment abortion, someone must reconstruct the child to ensure that the abortion was complete–that there will be no parts left behind to fuel infection.

Mail order abortion meds prevent trauma to a worker having to deal with the actual killing or disposal of the bodies of dead children. Mailing pills to faceless women is much less traumatic than piercing a heart or reconstructing human body parts. And the industry will need employees with much less training. How hard is it to mail pills? Not very.

Less complex. And less costly for those in the abortion business.

Now girls and women who are aborting at home will perceive that they can escape a problem–and no one else has to know. They’ll perceive this notion because the telemarketer/abortion advisor they spoke with via phone or internet told them so, that the process will be simple, “like a heavy period,” that it won’t be so bad.

One “pro-choice” woman says her experience was “unimaginable,” “indescribable,” “the worst pain I have ever felt. . . . With every cramp I felt my heart race and my blood pressure plummet.” . . . . [She was] “nauseated, dizzy and lightheaded.” She thought she was dying.

Abby Johnson’s chemical abortion experience was similar.

After reading these accounts and understanding that so many abortions happen this way now, we might conclude that these women’s experiences were outside the norm. Yet, the complication rate for chemical abortion is four times that of surgical abortion.

Four times.

And remember, the girl or woman at home will at some point expel a baby. She is likely to see that baby and understand what she perhaps did not fully grasp at the beginning of the process: a baby who was alive and growing within her is now dead.

Other countries are currently conducting studies regarding chemical abortions for second-trimester pregnancies. That means chemical abortion for a four to six month old unborn baby to be born dead at home.

Once achieved, a quest will begin for medication to abort even older unborn children.

“Death and destruction are never satisfied.” Proverbs 27:20a.

Melanie Israel for the Heritage Foundation:

“And I would just caution people … especially if the abortion lobby has their way and abortion pills are available through telemedicine, getting it through mail order, available in retail pharmacies, or even over the counter. That’s what some abortion advocates want, just abortion pills over the counter, no prescription required, no questions asked. Imagine what that would mean in the hands of an abusive partner, a coercive partner, a trafficker.”

Ms. Israel reports that 19 states prohibit telemedicine abortions. But that the restrictions can be “wiped out at any moment” by an edict from the current administration.

In the historic discussion leading to legal abortion in America from conception to birth–the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision–abortion advocates pleaded that abortion be safe, that desperate girls and women gain protection from the butchers of “back alleys.”

Now the back alley is the very homes of these desperate girls and women. The butcher comes as a specter in the form of pills invited in by their unwary victim.

This new rule provides nothing but benefits for the abortion industry. It shifts all of the burdens from the industry to its victims. The babies and the mothers bear all the trauma, all the risk, all the cost.

It’s a cost we will never be able to count. But the cost continues to mount.

With 40 percent of abortions happening chemically, 60 percent still happen surgically. Many of those are late-term abortions. And many late-term abortions involve children born alive. Organs from aborted children, living and dead provide the means for medical “research”.

While experiments on aborted children, many of them still living, are already ongoing in our cities and at universities, they have, until recently, been privately funded.

With the Biden Administration removing limits on experimentation involving unborn children, taxpayers will now be paying for atrocities many of us would call unimaginable.

HEADlines at Mustard Seed Sentinel

Those doing the research say it’s good.

They’ve usurped the place of God–deciding the functions and fates of people whose lives should be beyond their reach.

What’s happening today in America is reminiscent of H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, the fictional account of a man who washes up on the shore of an island where a mad scientist is creating human/animal hybrids–creatures who are part-human, part-animal.

Wells illustrates how animalistic humans can be, how we can be as savage, perhaps more savage than the beasts of the forest.

In today’s reality, researchers are injecting monkey embryos with hESC (human embryonic stem cells) harvested from late-term unborn children, abortion victims. Fully developed, capable of feeling pain. The goal is to produce human organs within the monkeys for transplant.

Such evil, albeit with good intentions, goes deeper than we realize. Petra Wallenmeyer provides some insight:

“People on one side of this issue [favoring such research] argue this practice is necessary for scientific advancement, will benefit vast numbers of people by developing treatments for various diseases, and is ethical because no valuable human is being harmed in this research (emphasis mine). Therefore, federal and/or state funds should be allocated for such research (i.e., through grants or awards).”

Because of the rules change, funds are now available.

But notice the ethical gymnastics involved in justifying this practice. The end result may (or may not) be something good–“a scientific advancement”–to “benefit vast numbers of people.” This assessment dictates that some humans are deserving of beneficial treatment, i.e. the receipt of transplantable organs to be gathered from animal hosts. But for that to happen, others must be deemed not valuable, therefore deserving of dissection and distribution into vials so animal hosts can produce organs for transplant.

With such methodology, scientists have already developed mice with human skin.

While it goes on around us, few are discussing the ramifications of such “work”.

One of the few, Kristen Matthews of Rice University, explains the ethical questions that may arise from this research.

“Should it (the resulting human/animal living being) be regulated as human because it has a significant proportion of human cells in it? Or should it be regulated just as an animal? Or something else?” Matthews said. “At what point are you taking something and using it for organs when it actually is starting to think and have logic?”

Or at what point will it matter if science deems “it” to be a life void of value–whether human or otherwise? And the questions press us to further ask whether any creature labeled an animal might be entitled to greater protection than one labeled human–but considered to be of no “value”.

Science has derailed when some humans are valuable to save and others are only good for spare parts.

In such a world, every person potentially can become someone not of value, available to be sacrificed for the sake of another, more highly esteemed person.

Yet there remain many who will tell us it is all good.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;

Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;

Who substitutes bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes

And clever in their own sight! Isaiah 5: 20-21~

Photo Credits: Quesada/Unsplash and Bruce/Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Consent of the Governed

“Evil is ancient, unchanging, and with us always. The more postmodern the West becomes — affluent, leisured, nursed on moral equivalence, utopian pacifism, and multicultural relativism — the more premodern the evil among us seems to arise in nihilistic response.” Victor Davis Hanson

Conservative commentator Hanson explains that ancient Greek city-states Athens and Sparta were “antithetical powers.”

Their cultures were very different. Athens was a seaport, dependent on trade. Sparta was landlocked, relying on agriculture. Athens’ government was an aristocratic democracy. Sparta’s, more egalitarian.

America is a country with two vastly different cultures. Vying for influence, the liberal cosmopolitan perspective, more concentrated in our cities, stands in contrast to the traditional way of the countryside.

The Athenses of America today wrestle with unrest, high taxes, exploding costs, or to sum it all up, urban decay.

Many of the modern Spartas have high rates of joblessness and drug addiction–in other words, rural decay.

Neither place is a panacea.

But many in the country still pursue traditional values and standards–life, liberty, gun ownership for hunting and self-defense–and don’t want to add the problems of the cities to their list of local challenges.

Among the awake (not woke) in the US are rural Oregonians who recently voted on the county level to ask their state government to move the Oregon border so they may become part of Idaho.

Idaho stands ready to welcome them. Seven Oregon counties, so far, stand ready to go. The Greater Idaho petitioners hope some northern California counties will jump on board also.

It’s a switch on a population shift already happening as people leave states like New York and California for Florida and Texas.

And Idaho.

This effort proposes to move state lines rather than people.

The rural Oregonian effort requires approval from legislators in both states and Congress.

Approval from Oregon’s governing bodies seems unlikely because city cosmopolitans hold control there. They will be reluctant to allow tax dollars to move to another state.

They also hold to an aristocratic view that rejects local rule. This aristocratic view is not a local phenomenon.

For example, the White House recently announced its commitment to “codify Roe“–that is, to legalize abortion from conception through birth everywhere in the US.

To codify will make it a law rather than a court precedent. Roe v. Wade and companion case Doe v. Bolton were the 1973 SCOTUS decisions that eradicated all state laws restricting abortion. States have been codifying Roe as cosmopolitans fear SCOTUS will overturn the cases that established unlimited abortion.

Yet at no point since 1973 have Americans supported unrestricted abortion.

The cosmopolitan goal is to take more laws such as Roe/Doe–those involving other life issues like assisted suicide (legal in places like Oregon, the state of Washington, and DC among others), for example–and pass laws that will uniformly apply across the country.

The Oregon effort pushes back at such uniformity.

America is supposed to operate by the “consent of the governed.” The non-consenting of Oregon have officially called on their leaders to let the people go.

Other regions will follow, regions with less cosmopolitan legislatures, places of the non-consenting.

Southern Virginia is in a similar strait as the Oregonians–with rumblings of readiness to become part of West Virginia but also under cosmopolitan rule.

Pennsylvania, however, whose rural legislative control has only increased in recent elections, has no such departure effort.

Yet.

Many, I would dare to say a majority, of central Pennsylvanians deeply resent the liberalism of Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

Will a domino fall and begin a map-redrawing process of departure for rural areas looking to escape city influence?

Or is Oregon already that domino?

Photo Credit: Unsplash

A version of this piece appeared in the Altoona Mirror on June 3, 2021.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Update: The Measure of a Ministry

Almost a year ago, I wrote about a local ministry that has changed many lives.

Because the measure of any ministry is the lives it has changed.

This week marks a milestone for a local effort working to influence young people growing up in dysfunction.

This organization began as an after school outreach to youth.

But some of the kids had no place to go once they turned 18. A case in point:

A boy participated in the after-school ministry The Door. He found food and mentoring there. Because of the encouragement he received, he finished high school and got a job.

When he came home one day, he found his clothes in plastic bags on the front porch.

His success threatened the household where he’d grown up. If he stayed, the family would lose benefits.

He returned to the place that had fed and mentored him into success. The ministry leader Dave Taylor was frustrated to see that no program offered help to someone without addiction or mental health issues.

Dave spent the next few years working to open Lionheart, a home for young men who “age out” of their own families and find themselves with no place to go. Now they have a place.

Lionheart is an 18- to 24-month long program that provides a home, food, training, transportation, and mentoring. High school graduation is required, so kids in the youth ministry can see that they can have independence–if they work for it.

Lionheart teaches young men how to make basic electrical, plumbing, and carpentry repairs–so when they get their own places, they can take care of them.

Lionheart teaches wise use of money through Financial Peace University.

Lionheart teaches interview skills so these men can find work.

And Lionheart helps them save money, shop for cars, find apartments. The ministry gives them the beds they’ve been sleeping on when they go to their new places. They can leave not only with a bed, but also with a dresser, a desk, a toolbox, and up to $7,500 they’ve saved from working.

Now, Lioness, a similar program for young women has two participants. They graduated from high school this week. They go to work next week.

During their 18-24 month stay in the Lioness home, they will learn basic home repair and maintenance just as their Lionheart counterparts do, so, as Taylor puts it, “no one will have to be dependent on a bad relationship.”

HEFT represents the goals of both Lionheart and Lioness ministries. Housing, Employment, Finances, Transportation.

The ministries support the residents with mentoring and transportation to and from work until they can support themselves and provide their own transportation.

Taylor points out that the program costs the ministries $18,000 per year per participant. He compares that to $1.5 million the government pays over the lifetime of a dependent person.

Government welfare programs are designed to support and provide needs for today. But they do little to prepare recipients for tomorrow. There is no government bridge between dependence and independence.

The Door, Lionheart, and now Lioness provide that bridge to self-sufficiency.

The measure of any ministry is the lives it has changed.

Dave Taylor, a lionheart opening doors of opportunity through life-changing service.

TheDoorKids.com

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Abortion Foisted upon Northern Ireland

When I visited the town of Derry (Londonderry to UK proponents) in Northern Ireland in 2019, I took note of Queen Victoria’s statue in the town’s guildhall.

She was missing her hands and had shrapnel marks all over her.

The tour guide told us that the bomber, an IRA member, got elected to public office upon his release from prison.

The Derry explosion happened in 1972, when the British and Irish were trading bombs and bullets, the former believing they were quelling an insurrection, the latter believing they were fighting to end nearly “500 years of British oppression.”

In 1998, the UK and Irish leaders signed a deal dividing Ireland and Northern Ireland. Ireland would be its own country. Northern Ireland would remain part of the UK but would have the powers of home rule.

In 2018, Ireland voted by referendum to legalize abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, exceptions for late-term abortions are permitted.

Abortion proponents knew they could not win a referendum in Northern Ireland.

So in 2019, the UK took advantage of the breakdown of home rule when Northern Ireland was unable to establish its own government through the parliamentary process.

Despite the agreement allowing Northern Ireland independent rule, the UK Parliament voted to establish legal abortion (and same-sex marriage) in Northern Ireland.

Death won the day when the UK forced abortion upon Northern Ireland, not through a democratic process, but through opportunism.

It is upon such issues that otherwise divided people can unite. Northern Ireland is divided by doctrine and politics but has raised a pro-life effort that calls itself “non-denominational and non-party political.”

And pro-life activists there are pushing back legislatively. Recently, a bill to restrict late-term abortions was successful through two stages of the legislative process in the re-established home rule government. Supporters call it a “first step” toward restoring protections for the unborn.

Should Ireland ever reunite, increasing pro-life activism in Ireland and already established advocacy in Northern Ireland may be enough to end the atrocity of baby-killing throughout the island.

The British over the course of centuries have prevailed in Ireland, but they have not killed the spirit of independence in the Irish.

Forcing undemocratic laws in the North ultimately may weaken British power throughout Ireland to more accurately reflect the handless queen who stands in the Derry guildhall.

Photo Credit: Unsplash, cruisethroughhistory.com

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Tale of Two Brownstones

Two brownstone church buildings once stood in our downtown, a few blocks from each other.

They had once been vibrant communities.

Both sat empty for years.

Last Sunday, we drove past one as it was in the process of being torn down. Piles of rubble surrounded the facade.

We were on our way to the other–about to reopen, refurbished, restored.

I’d driven past both many times over the years. Sometimes I prayed for the second one. One of my sons-in-law had led renovations of the building’s kitchen when he was earning his Eagle Scout award years before.

More than two decades ago I worked in a nearby town writing for the local newspaper, editing the weekly religion page. I got to know a neighborhood pastor. His heart is one of pure ministry. Four years ago, he founded Center City Church. But the church wasn’t in the center of our city.

Now it is.

This past Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, the brownstone was alive with prayer, praise, and worship. It was the fourth anniversary of the founding of Center City Church. And the celebration of the first Sunday at its new location.

A guest pastor preached. His wife had grown up attending the brownstone. At age 95, he was celebrating 82 years of faith and a lifetime of ministry.

We sat under electric lights another son-in-law installed.

History ambles along. Cities’ skylines shift.

But sometimes history reaches back to grab a thread and hang onto a piece of the past.

Resurrection comes for places too.

Welcome to your new/old place, Center City Church.

Photo Credit: Nancy E. Head, Center City Church, May 23, 2021

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HEADlines: To Not Live by Lies: Pessimism or Reality?

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, 5/22/2021.

The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means. Oscar Wilde~

I often show the movie The Natural in the classroom. And unlike what you might predict a teacher would do, I warn students against reading the book.

Spoiler alert for both: The movie ends happily; the book does not.

Bernard Malamud, author of the book The Natural, was born in Brooklyn, the son of Russian Jewish immigrant parents. He grew up to be an acclaimed American writer. When he attended a premiere of the movie based on his book, he exclaimed, “At last, I’m an American writer.”

His book was the type of fiction Russians, over the ages, had come to expect. In Russia and later the Soviet Union, people, Jews especially, lived under oppression. Those who live under such conditions don’t come to expect a happy ending in their literature or in their lives.

The movie, which revised Roy Hobbs’s story without Malamud’s input, has a happy, even joyful, ending. The book’s pessimism marks Malamud as a Russian writer. The movie’s optimism transformed him into an American one.

“It’s the only movie that’s better than the book,” I’ve told my students.

We all like a happy ending. That, perhaps, explains why I’ve discouraged students from the book. I hold the optimism of America in my heart. America has always been the better place–the place others come to escape oppression, famine, and trials.

But I also live in the real world, so I must accept that I have no guarantee of a happy ending just because of geography.

Some might call me a realist. Others could say I’m a pessimist.

Photo Credit: Goodreads

In his new book Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents, Rod Dreher advises that we need to “throw away the crippling nostalgia for the future, especially the habit we Americans, a naturally optimistic people, have of assuming that everything will ultimately work out for the best.”

Many name Rod Dreher among the pessimists of the world, the Eeyores who cannot see good. These critics reject his arguments, claiming “he’s too negative.”

They assume an optimism about America’s future as if it’s a guarantee from God.

Even so, Dreher presents an optimism that begins with the resolve that “Christians must not surrender hope.” The harbingers that testify to coming oppression on the horizon could be delayed, even blocked.

Something positive could turn events around.

Yet, the focus on the book is on what must we do to prepare in case the best-case scenario doesn’t happen?

We can soak in the stories of those who’ve been through persecution and oppression behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. Dreher lets them tell their stories throughout his text.

While he assures us that Christians are not obligated to pursue persecution, we are obligated to honor God through it should it come to us.

And his conclusion? Optimism. But of a sort we didn’t expect,

It’s a great irony of history that Christianity thrives best in persecution and seems to die on the vine of comfort and ease.

He presents the family of Vaclav Benda who embraced discomfort–to the point of Vaclav’s imprisonment. The simple refusal to go along, to deny truth, was all it took.

The mother of the family together with her children pursued truth and worked to undermine the oppressors. The poverty resulting from the absence of the family breadwinner, and his inability to work in his field upon his release meant the children wore clothes that weren’t cool.

While the kids didn’t fit in at school, they were part of an effort, one they understood to be important.

“Vaclav Benda taught that the family does not exist for its own purpose but for the service of something beyond itself.”

Today, in freedom, after the passing of their patriarch, the grown Benda children live in faith.

They know what many today do not. Community with purpose gives life meaning. The isolation and purposelessness our society foists upon us are missing in the lives of dissidents. Dissidents share purpose and meaning. They live in community.

And while living in community is often dangerous, it also lends itself toward ministry in a way isolation cannot.

Dreher quotes Pawel Keska who tells the story of one man who “was constantly observed by the secret police, parked right in front of his home. During the severely cold winters, he would bring them hot tea to warm them up. Because they were people . . .”

Dreher’s primary mandate for readers is that we have our spiritual lives in order.

“A time of painful testing, even persecution, is coming. Lukewarm or shallow Christians will not come through with their faith intact. Christians today must dig deep into the Bible and church tradition and teach themselves how and why today’s post-Christian world, with its self-centeredness , its quest for happiness and rejection of sacred order and transcendent values, is a rival religion to authentic Christianity.”

And the book presents an authentic Christianity unlike what we in the comfortable West have lived. He shows us a picture of what our comfort has taken from us.

Joy is not something Christians can conjure. We often experience pleasure and equate it with joy.

And we don’t imagine having joy in a smelly prison where we and those around us regularly undergo torture–even execution.

Dreher quotes George Calciu: “We were in a cell without windows, without air, humid, filthy–yet we had moments of happiness [joy] that we never reached in freedom. I cannot explain it.”

The book is supremely optimistic in revealing God’s faithfulness to his people who remain faithful in Him, sometimes even unto death.

Dreher’s primary call to action for us: We must put our spiritual lives in order. We must resolve to live not by lies.

We begin with ourselves and our families.

“Christians should stop taking family life for granted, instead approaching it in a more thoughtful, disciplined way. We cannot simply live as all other families live, except that we go to church on Sunday.”

We can hold to the truth that God promises His best to those who remain faithful to him no matter what.

We must reject the lie that He has promised us a happy ending in the here and now without any sacrifice on our part.

We can live not by lies.

Top Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Biting the Apple of Professional Oppression

Imagine being a post-secondary student for 10 years and accruing a debt of $200,000. Then imagine having to decide whether to continue in the profession you’ve dedicated your life to or leaving it behind to save your conscience.

That is the dilemma many face who are part of the medical profession today.

It’s been ongoing since Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton legalized abortion from conception until birth in 1973.

Let’s remember: there’s a shortage of physicians in the US. And that situation is getting worse. America will need to train more physicians. So far, most states protect the rights of medical personnel to not participate in objectionable procedures such as abortion. But in some cases, that is already changing.

The issues are what you might expect: abortion, euthanasia, and transgender drug treatments and surgery.

Some history: In May of 2019, the US Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule stating that health care workers could not be “compelled to participate in abortion, sterilization, or assisted suicide procedures.” But the rule was “vague about other services — such as hormonal and surgical treatments for transgender individuals — that some health professionals may also find objectionable on moral grounds.”

Peter Sullivan quotes Roger Severino, senior fellow and director of HHS Accountability Project at the Ethics & Public Policy Center at the time: “This rule ensures that healthcare entities and professionals won’t be bullied out of the health care field because they decline to participate in actions that violate their conscience, including the taking of human life.”

The rule affected not only doctors, nurses, and other medical staff, but also pharmacists who didn’t want to dispense contraceptives (many of which are abortifacients) and morning-after pills (also abortifacients).

Now the conflict has expanded from abortion and euthanasia (in the states where it’s legal) to transgender treatments and surgeries.

Severino again, “[HHS Secretary Xavier] Becerra is threatening to put doctors and hospitals that disagree with current transgender ideology out of business, including those with medical, religious, or moral objections to conducting sex-reassignment surgeries on minors.”

So if you believe that it’s wrong to surgically alter someone, a child in this discussion, with an operation from which there is no return, the government wants to put you “out of business.”

As things stand today, many medical professionals of faith, including those we’ve praised and lauded during the COVID pandemic, are employed in a hostile workplace.

When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden apple, they had no idea how bad their fall would turn out.

Our government has bitten a poison apple, rejecting Hippocrates’ admonition that medical professionals “first, do no harm,” and placing people of conscience between two bad options.

Damaged career or damaged patients? That’s their choice.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

It’s something my mother quoted to me more than once while I was growing up:

“The hand that rocks the cradle/ Is the hand that rules the world.” William Ross Wallace

Maybe not the world, but definitely the nation. And the battle is ongoing for power over who will wield that hand.

Because now the US government wants to gain more control sooner over the cradle.

Mary Szoch of the Family Research Council explains what the current administration’s proposal (which the FRC says will cost $2.5 trillion over the next seven years) will do. The American Families’ Plan, would be “the replacement of parents by a government-approved agency.”

“[The plan is] trying to fix a problem America has with fatherlessness by creating a culture that promotes motherless as well,” Szoch says.

The president’s plan would provide free preschool for 3- to 4-year-olds and lower-cost daycare through “approved” agencies. The plan makes no mention of faith-based organizations.

And while it offers tax credits for most parents putting their children in daycare, it offers no such break for mothers giving up income to care for their own children–thereby saving the government money.

The program would dictate that caregivers earn at least $15 per hour (they currently earn $12.24 on average). And “those with comparable qualifications would receive compensation commensurate with that of kindergarten teachers.”

 Being required to pay such wages in order to continue to offer subsidized care might put most churches already participating in the current program out of the daycare business.

I went back to work in the late 1980s when my two youngest children were of pre-school age. The daycare was subsidized. I paid $5.00 per week for the care of both children. That included their meals.

Even with a pro-rated increase to account for inflation and the passage of time, such care would still qualify as affordable for any employed person–even the single mother I once was.

When government officials propose plans like the current one, they must assume most people aren’t aware that there is already a service in place to address the problem.

And if that program is underfunded, as some assert, why not increase funding instead of creating a new bureaucracy?

What could be the motivation for making a new program where one already exists? And why exclude faith agencies where some workers might even choose to work on a volunteer basis?

The primary question is not so much whether mothers of young children should work. Many have to. It’s a question about how much say these mothers should have over whether the care their children receive while they work will reflect their own values and beliefs.

Ministries offer the best opportunity for parents to seek childcare that will match the message they work to instill in their children.

While our national government proposes to provide care for low- and middle-income families, many headed by single parents, legislators in one state propose to roll back legislation that has resulted in more single-parent families–liberalized divorce laws.

The state of Texas is proposing to end one-sided, no-fault divorce.

State Representative Matt Krause says, “There needs to be some type of due process. There needs to be some kind of mechanism to where that other spouse has a defense.”

In Restoring the Shattered, I wrote:

“Instead of a liberating cure-all the feminists of that day presented, divorce has wreaked havoc on our society. Throughout the decade of the 1970s, no-fault divorce laws swept across most of the country. In their aftermath, divorce rates nearly doubled. . . .

“[In 2006] NOW—which had led the vanguard in promoting lenient divorce legislation and unrestricted abortion for decades—was protesting the liberalization of New York’s divorce statute. At that time, New York was the lone holdout on no-fault divorce. The proposed divorce bill provided a unique opportunity for NOW to partner with the Catholic Church against allowing one spouse to dissolve a marriage unilaterally. Unfortunately, in 2010, New York finally became the fiftieth state to enact a no-fault divorce law.[ii]

“We don’t have to think hard to understand why the Catholic Church opposed no-fault divorce. But for liberal feminists to turn on a foundational plank of their platform is astonishing. Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique, a catalyst for the women’s movement, had called marriage a “comfortable concentration camp.” She cheered the passage of the first no-fault law in California in 1970. Twenty-seven years later, Friedan—and NOW—realized that the new laws had harmed women instead of helping them.

“Often, men can use custody of the children as a weapon against women. In a perverse game of mental manipulation, the man will agree to forgo a custody battle if the woman agrees to a smaller financial settlement, leaving the woman torn between seeing her children or supporting her children.

“One study found that only 37 percent of women retained ownership of the family home under no-fault divorce, versus 82 percent under fault divorce. . . .

“Under no-fault divorce laws, women tend to come up short in battles over finances and property, and they are more likely to lose their health insurance coverage. Today, divorce places 22 percent of divorced women in poverty as opposed to 11 percent of divorced men.

“Friedan now admits that feminists ‘made a mistake with no-fault divorce.’”[iii]

We often can’t see the results of public decisions until years later. The results of turning young children over to state-controlled daycare won’t manifest themselves for years.

The results of no-fault divorce are already in.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

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[i] New York Times editors, “Is New York Ready for No-Fault Divorce?,” June 15, 2010, https://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/15/is-new-york-ready-for-no-fault-divorce.

[ii] Ashley McGuire, “The Feminist, Pro-Father, and Pro-Child Case against No-Fault Divorce,” Public Discourse, May 7, 2013, http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/05/10031.

[iii] Nicholas Wolfinger, Understanding the Divorce Cycle: The Children of Divorce in Their Own Marriages, as cited by Stephanie Chen, “Children of Divorce Vow to Break Cycle, Create Enduring Marriages,” CNN, September 22, 2010, http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/09/22/divorced.parents.children.marriage/index.html.

Are We Not Human?

While experiments on aborted children, many of them still living, are already ongoing in our cities and at universities, they have, until recently, been privately funded.

With the Biden Administration removing limits on experimentation involving unborn children, taxpayers will now be paying for atrocities many of us would call unimaginable.

Those doing the research say it’s good.

They’ve usurped the place of God–deciding the functions and fates of people whose lives should be beyond their reach.

What’s happening today in America is reminiscent of H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, the fictional account of a man who washes up on the shore of an island where a mad scientist is creating human/animal hybrids–creatures who are part-human, part-animal.

Wells illustrates how animalistic humans can be, how we can be as savage, perhaps more savage than the beasts of the forest.

In today’s reality, researchers are injecting monkey embryos with hESC (human embryonic stem cells) harvested from late-term unborn children, abortion victims. Fully developed, capable of feeling pain. The goal is to produce human organs within the monkeys for transplant.

Such evil, albeit with good intentions, goes deeper than we realize. Petra Wallenmeyer provides some insight:

“People on one side of this issue [favoring such research] argue this practice is necessary for scientific advancement, will benefit vast numbers of people by developing treatments for various diseases, and is ethical because no valuable human is being harmed in this research (emphasis mine). Therefore, federal and/or state funds should be allocated for such research (i.e., through grants or awards).”

Because of the rules change, funds are now available.

But notice the ethical gymnastics involved in justifying this practice. The end result may (or may not) be something good–“a scientific advancement”–to “benefit vast numbers of people.” This assessment dictates that some humans are deserving of beneficial treatment, i.e. the receipt of transplantable organs to be gathered from animal hosts. But for that to happen, others must be deemed not valuable, therefore deserving of dissection and distribution into vials so animal hosts can produce organs for transplant.

With such methodology, scientists have already developed mice with human skin.

While it goes on around us, few are discussing the ramifications of such “work”.

One of the few, Kristen Matthews of Rice University, explains the ethical questions that may arise from this research.

“Should it (the resulting human/animal living being) be regulated as human because it has a significant proportion of human cells in it? Or should it be regulated just as an animal? Or something else?” Matthews said. “At what point are you taking something and using it for organs when it actually is starting to think and have logic?”

Or at what point will it matter if science deems “it” to be a life void of value–whether human or otherwise? And the questions press us to further ask whether any creature labeled an animal might be entitled to greater protection than one labeled human–but considered to be of no “value”.

Science has derailed when some humans are valuable to save and others are only good for spare parts.

In such a world, every person potentially can become someone not of value, available to be sacrificed for the sake of another, more highly esteemed person.

Yet there remain many who will tell us it is all good.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;

Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;

Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes

And clever in their own sight! Isaiah 5: 20-21~

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Headlines: The Loss of True Connection in Our Society

Published in The Mustard Seed Sentinel, 4/24/21~

[T]here were times . . . mainly during the . . . harvest, when we would all be together. The men would go early to have the benefit of the cool of the morning. The women would finish their housework and then gather, sometimes bringing dishes already cooked, to lay on a big feed at dinnertime; and then after the dishes were done, they would go out to help in the field or the barn for the rest of the day. . . . This was our membership.” (Hannah Coulter)

Through most of America’s history, people grew up in small towns. They knew each other and helped each other. Most people were part of a community.

Modern people have accused these forebears of sexual division, relegating women to the kitchen. But women worked in the fields too. Men and women grew food and other crops. Often the division of labor meant he worked harder than she did growing the food. And she worked harder than he did to bring to put it on the table. Children grew up learning a good measure of hard work.

It wasn’t about who did what work. It was about making sure the work got done. Everyone had a part to play, a contribution to make, a purpose to serve.

People worked hard, some just to survive–others, to thrive. They grew old, perhaps at a faster rate than we do. They were tired. But they were not lonely.

That was then. This is now.

A teenage girl stands on her back porch breaking glass jars and cutting her own skin. Trying to cut her way “through the hurt down to the core of things.” Trying to end the pain of her heart.

A man sits alone in a cold cell, isolated from those he loves, those who love him.

Ann Voskamp was the girl on the porch suffering the death of her younger sister, which devastated their family.

She was traumatized. Trauma comes different ways.

Natan Sharansky was a man in a cell. He was a Jew in the Soviet Union, a refusenik, a prisoner of the KGB. His jailers hoped to cultivate Stockholm syndrome within him. That happens when a victim connects with his captors. Trust grows. Secrets spill. Injustice finds new prey.

Voskamp had no one to trust with the pain within her. Sharansky fought to stay connected to those he loved and trusted, if only in his heart and mind. He worked hard not to trust the untrustworthy KGB.

There’s an odd irony in saying that Voskamp and Sharansky are not alone.

In 1985, ten percent of Americans were completely alone in their lives–no confidants, no one to count on. By 2009, that number had grown to 25 percent. Stephen Ilardi calls this nation “perilously isolated.” Isolation numbers continued to grow until COVID only made isolation worse.

And it’s not a problem confined to America. In 2014, an EU survey deemed Britain “the loneliness capital of Europe.” And it isn’t a problem just for those who live alone.

Rebecca Harris: “So why are we getting lonelier? Changes in modern society are . . . the cause.

We live in nuclear family units, often living large distances away from our extended family and friends, and our growing reliance on social technology rather than face-to-face interaction is thought to be making us feel more isolated. It means we feel less connected to others and our relationships are becoming more superficial and less rewarding.”

HEADlines at Mustard Seed Sentinel

More superficial. Less rewarding. Virtual reality gives us virtual connections and produces virtual lives. A virtual life does not contain relationships that can heal our hurts.

We are less real on social media. But sometimes we are too real. We say things to our screens we would never say to someone’s face.

The venom we exuded in the recent election makes us unapproachable to someone smarting from defeat.

If we won, we don’t care. It’s our turn. We build walls against the pain of others. We prove ourselves unworthy of their trust.

If we lost, bitterness can grow inside us. And with it, we build a wall to keep others out. But the wall keeps hurt inside, and we look for ways to let it out.

Voskamp: “Who doesn’t know what it’s like to smile thinly and say you’re fine when you’re not, when you’re almost faint with pain?”

Today, loneliness is an American epidemic. Cigna released a study indicating that most Americans are lonely. We might expect that among the elderly–especially those who live alone–but that isn’t the case. In fact, older people have done the best job of keeping themselves from being isolated.

The loneliest among us are the young.

Cigna says the problem is bigger than social isolation. Cigna is an insurance company. Loneliness is a health problem–as harmful as smoking–making some more prone to heart disease. Loneliness is costly to insurance companies and costly to our society.

And social loss happens in more than dollars. Lonely people are more prone to substance abuse. Loneliness has become a social crisis.

Author of Hannah Coulter, Wendell Berry sums up our problem this way: “We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other.”

An exodus back to the farming life, the farming community, doesn’t seem reasonable. Much of the available farmland has been consolidated or subdivided. But there are things we can do.

Many of these things came more easily to farm folks. Working together, eating together. We can do those things too. But we have to be more intentional than they had to be.

We can grow some of our own food. Some of us already grow tomatoes–even in pots–even in apartments. What better way to show the young that food doesn’t originate in a store? What better way to explain the concept of cultivation?

In cultivating plants, we cultivate purpose.

And we can cultivate relationships. A local faith-based organization developed a program where volunteers talk with nursing home residents once or twice a week. The caregivers found that their residents were happier. I would not be surprised to find that the volunteers were too.

For investing in others cultivates our souls.

When we give ourselves, we find meaning and purpose—elements we lost when we changed our way of living.

When we as a society left the farm for the town or the suburbs, we thought we were moving to a better place, an easier life. Ease has shown itself to be a false promise for peace in our hearts.

With purpose and giving, we find that peace. And that is something we can pass along.

“It is not good for the man to be alone.” Genesis 2:18

Photo Credit: Jilbert Ebrahimi and Barbara Zandoval in Unsplash.com

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Return to the Back Alley

Just last week, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the way for abortion medications to be available via telemedicine.

The new rule is intended to allow girls and women to end a pregnancy up to the 56th day from the comfort and privacy of their own homes without having to see a doctor in person.

However, with this new rule, there is no way to ensure–as an in-person physical examination would–that the unborn child is younger than 57 days–or even that the pregnancy is not ectopic (that the child is not stuck in the fallopian tube rather than residing in the uterus–a condition that is potentially deadly for the mother).

Before last week, an estimated 40 percent of American abortions, according to the AP, occurred through the chemical method. Yet the requirement that patients seeking drug-induced abortions meet with a doctor before obtaining such medications ensured that deadly complications (like ectopic pregnancies) and attempts at dangerous abortions later in pregnancy (after 56 days) would be minimized.

Now, they can be maximized.

The rule change will be a boon to the abortion industry in several ways. For every surgical abortion, someone has to remove the child, through suction or manual dismemberment, or stab the child’s heart with a sonogram-guided injection and induce labor so the mother can deliver her dead child.

After a dismemberment abortion, someone must reconstruct the child to ensure that the abortion was complete–that there will be no parts left behind to fuel infection.

Mail order abortion meds prevent trauma to a worker having to deal with the actual killing or disposal of the bodies of dead children. Mailing pills to faceless women is much less traumatic than piercing a heart or reconstructing body parts. And the industry will need employees with much less training. How hard is it to mail pills? Not very.

Less complex. And less costly for those in the abortion business.

Now girls and women who are aborting at home will perceive that they can escape a problem–and no one else has to know. They’ll perceive this notion because the telemarketer/abortion advisor they spoke with via phone or internet told them so, that the process will be simple, “like a heavy period,” that it won’t be so bad.

One “pro-choice” woman says her experience was “unimaginable,” “indescribable,” “the worst pain I have ever felt. . . . With every cramp I felt my heart race and my blood pressure plummet.” . . . . She was “nauseated, dizzy and lightheaded.” She thought she was dying.

Abby Johnson’s chemical abortion experience was similar.

After reading these accounts and understanding that so many abortions happen this way now, we might conclude that these women’s experiences were outside the norm. Yet, the complication rate for chemical abortion is four times that of surgical abortion.

Four times.

And remember, the girl or woman at home will at some point expel a baby. She is likely to see that baby and understand what she perhaps did not fully grasp at the beginning of the process: a baby who was alive and growing within her is now dead.

Other countries are currently conducting studies regarding chemical abortions for second-trimester pregnancies. That means chemical abortion for a four to six month old unborn baby to be born dead at home.

Once achieved, a quest will begin for medication to abort even older unborn children.

“Death and destruction are never satisfied. ” Proverbs 27:20a.

Melanie Israel for the Heritage Foundation:

“And I would just caution people … especially if the abortion lobby has their way and abortion pills are available through telemedicine, getting it through mail order, available in retail pharmacies, or even over the counter. That’s what some abortion advocates want, just abortion pills over the counter, no prescription required, no questions asked. Imagine what that would mean in the hands of an abusive partner, a coercive partner, a trafficker.”

Ms. Israel reports that 19 states prohibit telemedicine abortions. But that the restrictions can be “wiped out at any moment” by an edict from the current administration.

In the historic discussion leading to legal abortion in America from conception to birth–the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision–abortion advocates pleaded that abortion be safe, that desperate girls and women gain protection from the butchers of “back alleys.”

Now the back alley is the very homes of these desperate girls and women. The butcher comes as a specter in the form of pills invited in by their unwary victim.

This new rule provides nothing but benefits for the abortion industry. It shifts all of the burdens from the industry to its victims. The babies and the mothers bear all the trauma, all the risk, all the cost.

And it’s a cost we will never be able to count.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Pillar of Iron: A Picture of Our Times?

It’s a book I read when I was about 16. I decided to reread it when I was in my 30s. And at the end of 2020, I determined to make my way through the 700 pages a third time.

Taylor Caldwell’s A Pillar of Iron depicts the life of Cicero–who saved Rome once but was unable to protect the republic from its eventual fall. Cicero wavered between hopelessness for his nation and wonder about the Jewish prophesy of the coming Messiah.

Caldwell presents a pessimistic prediction of the inevitable descent of all republics into democracy, more accurately, mobocracy, the oppressive manipulation of the crowd to garner power for the greedy.

Her views are consistently conservative, a bit less compassionate than those of G.W. Bush in 2000, with Cicero’s acknowledgment that some within the mobs had reason to protest. And, as with many predictors of history, (see also Francis Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto) Caldwell’s accounting of Cicero’s Rome comes more closely to resemble our nation as time goes by.

A blurb on the cover of the 1965 edition (first edition) states, “Were Cicero alive in the America of today, he would be aghast and appalled.”

That’s what she thought in 1965. At the time, we had yet to go through the sexual revolution. JFK had already been assassinated, but we had not yet suffered the riots and other violence, including more assassinations, of the late ’60s. And remember the hyper-inflation and terrorism of the ’70s?

Caldwell’s Cicero is a complex character torn between his love for his childhood friend Julius Caesar and his disdain for Caesar’s quest to be the absolute power broker of Rome. Current readers will find parallels in her mentions of Caesar expanding the courts to ensure rulings would go his way as well as the cancel culture Cicero endured before, during, and after his exile.

An important feature of the book is that Caldwell flew from America to Rome and translated Cicero’s letters (to and from others) and his speeches herself. What she includes from Cicero’s own words is the result of her own work.

Despite her pessimism about our nation’s future, she finishes the work on an optimistic note.

Rome fell into tyranny. But before she shattered, the Messiah would come.

And He remains our hope today.

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Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Broken Trust

[I]f my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14~

Another admired Christian leader has fallen. He wasn’t the first. He won’t be the last–unless the Church makes some big changes soon.

Among those who’ve gone before are abusers accused and proven in the Catholic Church child sex abuse scandal that resounded around the world shortly after our new century began. Every few months, the remains of scandal resurface with fresh accusations.

What happened in the twentieth century, when we were less prone to speak of such things, as well as less apt to be believed, was unparalleled in its magnitude but it was not exclusive to one denomination.

In the 1980s Jim Bakker went to jail for misuse of donated funds. Amid a sex scandal. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison. He served less than five.

He was, perhaps, an aberration. Not many pastors who start out on a small local television station ever see the material success Bakker saw. Not many get the chance to sin at such a level.

The ministry grew too large too fast, and Bakker forgot that he was to minister, not be ministered to.

Yet there were those we knew we could trust. Billy Graham at the top of the list. In heaven now, he did not topple into scandal, financial or sexual, on earth.

We knew there must be others. Charles Stanley suffered a divorce–apparently not because of impropriety. He continues in the ministry.

Over the years, we would occasionally hear of the pastor who “ran off with” a church secretary or a congregant. They were shameful, but singular incidents. And as far as we could tell, were consensual–except of course, for those left behind.

Then came Bill Hybels’s scandal. He had led the Willow Creek Community Church for more than 40 years. The church grew to seven campuses with 25,000 in weekly attendance in 2015–before accusations took Hybels down.

Finally, Ravi Zacharias. Considered so far beyond reproach that his staff dismissed accusations of a few years ago until Zacharias died of cancer earlier this year. His devices showed the truth. He’d failed to delete “hundreds” of pictures.

But the horror wasn’t just in photos.

The Zacharias scandal is especially insidious. Ravi was said to never travel alone. He boasted about the care he took to protect his marriage vows. About his efforts to be pure.

Now he is accused of a range of offenses from sexting to rape, including the abuse of massage therapists. The term “sexual misconduct” doesn’t cut it.

The RZIM ministry had dismissed the “misconduct” allegations until his death and the discovery of photos on various devices of his. Now they’re apologizing.

I remember a story Zacharias told. A Christian and an atheist were conversing. The atheist could not believe in God since so many Christians misrepresent Christ. The Christian posited a situation in which a good man is robbed of his coat. Someone commits a crime wearing the coat. The good man receives the blame. The atheist admits that the Christian telling the story “wears [Christ’s] coat well.”

Pretending he wore the coat rightly, Zacharias wore it badly. All our sin tarnishes others’ view of Christianity. The “sexual misconduct” in leaders like Hybels and Zacharias tramples the name of Christ itself.

If my people . . . called by my name . . . will . . . turn . . .

We must never again look away when a wolf wears a sheepskin or worse a shepherd’s cloak. And we must do a better job distinguishing wolf from sheep.

We need to ask hard questions.

Is there such a thing as a ministry too big? Too rich? Too influential? A minister too trusted? Or tenured too long?

Is anyone beyond the reach of sin?

Christ founded a small church. Persecution kept the church humble.

Now some are big, famous, and rich.

We are covered in tarnish and worse.

Christ’s name trampled.

As the lost point to and jeer at the man wearing the wrong coat.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”