This blog is where I can pour out my heart with my longing for God.

Archive for the ‘health’ Category

The Old Paths: The Thrill of the Scare

**This was originally published on Thursday, October 31, 2013, in my newspaper column, “The Old Paths,” in The Stokes News. Due to a website change a few years ago, the publishing company broke all links to our old articles which were archived online. This was a tragic mistake and resulted in the loss of thousands of newspaper articles. Little by little, I am putting my old columns on this blog so that they can be preserved. Each column may be updated to reflect present times when transferred to this blog.**

“Where is my golden arm?”ghost stories

Just hearing those classic ghost-story words around a late-night campfire always made the hair rise up on my arms. I wouldn’t go to the bathroom alone on the way to bed, and I would lie awake in the darkness for a bit longer than normal, just expecting to see the dead man looking for his golden arm.

Oh, you did that, too, huh?

And how ‘bout the one where the couple picks up the hitchhiker who mysteriously disappears from the backseat or the one where you’re working a jigsaw puzzle late at night and when you get done, you realize it’s the very picture of your room with a man’s face staring in through the window behind you?

Versions of these and other stories have long been part of the old paths of campfires and sleepovers. And if you were lucky back in the day, your friends’ parents would let all of you pajama party kids stay up late to watch “Shock Theater.” You’d all scramble into your sleeping bags in the living room floor after that creepy show—feeling cold chill bumps upon cold chill bumps, scared to talk above a whisper.shock theater

Everything seemed magnified in that atmosphere of fear. What might have been the family dog banging his tail on his doghouse suddenly becomes the ghost of Great-Aunt Marge rap-rap-rapping on the door to take revenge on the family. The leaking bathroom faucet down the hall becomes blood dripping from the ceiling.

Yet you giggle and shiver simultaneously, knowing that you’ll tell the same stories at the next sleepover or on the next camping trip. How can something so spooky be so fun?

I don’t get it. Why do we LIKE to be scared? It is obviously part of human nature, because children (and adults) have told ghost stories throughout history. There is something in the human psyche that finds such fear “delicious.”

Why else did we all rush right out to see “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” years ago? And then we watched sequel after sequel of these and other cult classics. Scary movies are big business. Hollywood ain’t dumb.halloween movie 1978

When I taught high school, my 11th-grade American Literature students might drowse through the Puritan poets or Longfellow. But let me start teaching Edgar Allan Poe, and those kids were on the edges of their seats. Not one student ever told me they had had enough of Poe.

Yet his writings were macabre, dark, depressing. Someone is bricked up to die in the cellar. A tell-tale heart beats underground. A raven is rapping at your chamber door “once upon a midnight dreary.”

Yet we cry, “Give me more, give me more!” Sometimes I would like to reply, “Nevermore! Nevermore!” (Kudos to those who get the Poe reference.)poe book

I know I am in the minuscule minority, but I don’t like for my children to tell ghost stories or watch scary things on TV. They still inevitably do when the cousins get together. “Scared?” you may ask. Goodness, no. My hubster laughs at my irrational fear of mice because he considers me a woman who is pretty much fearless and would fight a roomful of literal demons.

But I believe that what we fill our minds with becomes a part of us. To make a Sunday School reference, the Bible tells us to think on things that are lovely, pure, honest, praiseworthy. It also says that however a man thinks in his heart, so will he become.

Whether or not you subscribe to the Good Book, you must admit that even logic tells us that whatever we feed ourselves is what we become. Junk food will eventually beget a junky body. I tend to believe that theory holds true for things that go deeper than the physical.think-on-these-things--brain

A Purdue University professor, Glenn Sparks, did extensive research on how scary movies affect us physiologically. He found that palms sweat, heartbeats increase as much as 15 beats per minute, muscles tense up, skin temperature drops several degrees and blood pressure spikes. Sparks says that although we tell ourselves what we’re seeing is not real, our brain hasn’t adapted to technology and still reacts as though what we see is factual.

Shouldn’t we be conditioned to seek things to give us pleasure rather than what elicits these unpleasant side effects of fright? Being thrilled AND scared is paradoxical, isn’t it?

Media researchers have found that indulging in this type of media actually makes the viewer feel more hostile, view life in a more hostile way and be haunted by the images that have entered their brains to make a memory—whether real or not.brain--horror movies

Joanne Cantor, PhD, director of the Center for Communication Research at University of Wisconsin, Madison, is acclaimed as an expert in this subject. She has found in surveys of her students that almost 60 percent of them admit that scary things they watched before age 14 had created disturbances for them, both while sleeping and awake, to this present day. She notes hundreds of students who have told her they became afraid of clowns or battled horrible images running obsessively through their minds for years after watching frightening movies.

Her thought is that the brain possibly stores the movie images as memories in the amygdala—the storehouse of memories which generates emotions based on them. If this is true, the same emotional problems that can be caused by memories of actual trauma from childhood can also be caused by memories of fake violent, frightening images in movies since the brain may not be able to differentiate between reality and the big screen.

That makes me question how many adults are struggling through life with depression or anxiety and panic attacks or horrible nightmares and sleepless nights because their brain stored up the scary movie images as real. These people wonder what’s wrong with them and wonder how to get to the root of the darkness in their lives……never thinking to question the horror movies and scary images they filled themselves with once upon a time……

I know, I know—I’m a spoil sport on Halloween, aren’t I? Go ahead and see the latest horror movie without me; at least you’ll save money by not having to buy me a ticket. Keep the machete; I’m running through fields of daisies. And the only man with a golden arm that I’ll acknowledge is whoever wins the Cy Young Award next baseball season.

To each his own, I suppose. However, just know that if I come to your campfire gathering, I’m gonna sing “Kumbaya” or something. Here’s hoping you’ll join in!

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Faith-Based Fitness: Day 2

EXERCISE:

Why do I not follow through with my goals for each day? I planned to jump on the mini-tramp for some exercise since it was unseasonably warm for early February (70 degrees). But I never jumped, (THUMBS DOWN!) although I did sit outside in the open air doing school with Malachi for a while. At least I got fresh air which is better than being cooped up indoors. (THUMBS UP!)

FOOD:

I started off my day with lemon in water as normal. (THUMBS UP!) Isn’t it ironic that an acidic fruit can have an alkalinizing effect on the body? One thing I’m not doing anymore regularly is having my second glass of water mixed with Barley Green; I really miss that and need to start it back. (THUMBS DOWN!)

For lunch, I resorted to Super Bowl leftovers: 2 small egg salad croissants, Doritos to add crunch, 4 cocktail wienies, handful of spiced oyster crackers, glass of punch. (Too much sugar, MSG, sodium nitrites, carbs.) (THUMBS DOWN!)

I meant to eat a fruit in the afternoon, but I got too busy homeschooling Malachi and fixing supper. (THUMBS DOWN!) My goal is to eat 2 fruits, preferably raw, each day. I had no fruits at all today.

However, I was proud of myself at supper time. I fixed meatloaf, creamed potatoes and bacon-grease-seasoned green beans for everyone else, yet I did not eat a bite of it. (I generally don’t eat supper before teaching on Wednesday nights at church.) (THUMBS UP!)

And something else I did that I am happy about is I remembered to take a bottle of water with me to church to sip while I taught. (THUMBS UP!) I then taught a health seminar about sugar addiction and the need to break it. I am so excited that our church is getting healthy together! (THUMBS UP!)

We tested water tonight at our health seminar using drops to show acidity/alkalinity. My well water was very acidic—the water turned orange; that’s bad! The water I distilled turned very orange as well—very acidic. But the distilled water I ran through my “Perfect Pitcher” filter was nearly purple it was so alkaline! That made me super-happy! That means the water I drink primarily is helping my body become more alkaline—less vulnerable to disease. (THUMBS UP!)

Meghann and Chelsea’s Food Lion-brand distilled water was pretty acidic—turned orange. Mama’s well water was neutral on the pH scale, but when she distilled it, it was yellow—acidic, but not as bad as if it had turned orange. We have the same distiller, but because she starts out with better-quality well water, her distilled water is a bit more alkaline than mine.

Although it isn’t great to eat a late supper (no choice on Wednesday nights), I did choose healthy foods—a spinach salad with a bit of raw broccoli and a lot of raw cauliflower. I try to use Zesty Italian dressing to avoid the dairy of ranch dressing. (THUMBS UP!) I ate a handful of spiced oyster crackers to give me a crunch. I HAVE to have a crunch with a salad! I am still a bit hungry but too tired to fix anything else, so I’m headed to bed with growling stomach.

TALLY FOR 2/8/17: THUMBS UP! = 7     THUMBS DOWN! = 4       YAY!

GOAL FOR TOMORROW:

Jump on the mini-tramp and/or do a Richard Simmons workout.

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My salad tonight—rather skimpy, no more spinach left.

Faith-Based Fitness: Day 1

As a very irregular blogger, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to use this site to chart my daily progress toward better health. Well, guess what? Here it is February 7, and I’m just now starting the daily blog post. There was always some excuse—from too many special events with forbidden sweet offerings to eat……all the way to the Super Bowl with its scrumptious snacks. I felt guilty starting this health-based posting when I wasn’t eating very healthy at all. (THUMBS DOWN!)

But I’ve realized that I need to persevere and document my journey even on my worst days of unhealthy eating. That’s part of it, too. (THUMBS UP!)

You folks who follow my blog don’t have to try to read/digest these daily posts which will always be labeled with the “Faith-Based Fitness” label. You can just tune in when you see one of my normal posts about “The Old Paths” or some Christian subject. I won’t mind.

These daily posts about health are more about me keeping track of what I’m doing right or wrong…..and maybe to encourage others who fight the battle of the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet).

FOOD:

I nearly panicked today when I woke up and thought I didn’t have any fresh lemons to squeeze into my first 8-oz. glass of water. Then the hubster reminded me I had half a lemon in the fridge. YESSS! I am so hooked on my lemon water. I am convinced it has made my body much more alkaline, which is less conducive to disease. I know it has increased my energy levels hugely. (THUMBS UP!)

By the time I got up (slept late), drank the lemon water and talked to the hubster after his night at work, it was time to order our habitual Tuesday lunch from a local diner. Although I did give in to the chicken casserole from the Dan River Restaurant, I resisted the temptation to get creamed potatoes as one of the sides (as I normally do!). I realized that the casserole was already so bread-filled that I didn’t need any more carbs. (I got the cornbread as my bread choice, but only nibbled the very top of it.) (THUMBS UP!)

For the two sides, I opted for corn and broccoli & cheese. I felt pleased to have a yellow and a green veggie. (Yes, I know the creamy cheese sauce wasn’t the best choice, but hey, give me a break—LOL!) (THUMBS UP!)

However, instead of my usual glass of Ocean Spray cranberry juice of some type, I couldn’t resist the lure of the leftover Super Bowl punch. At least it has pineapple juice, lemon juice and orange juice…..not sure if that cancels out the green Kool-aid, sugar and ginger ale. (THUMBS DOWN!)

An hour later, I caved in to the temptation of the chocolate chip cheeseball in the fridge— another Super Bowl leftover. I ate quite a bit with graham crackers. I normally don’t eat sweets until the weekend, but I kept thinking that we might as well get rid of the Super Bowl stuff. (THUMBS DOWN!)

I am not happy with my water intake today. Got so busy at The Well that I forgot to drink any during the afternoon. Then when I stopped by Main Street Diner to get my kids a treat, I broke down and ordered the fried buffalo chips with ranch dressing. (THUMBS DOWN!) 

But when my son Elijah came in from work, I gave him over half of the buffalo chips; I had actually gotten full very quickly. (THUMBS UP!)

By the time I got home from prayer at The Well and had checked Facebook, it was another late supper—about 9:45. I resisted the lure of egg salad croissants and instead ate an organic spinach salad with Zesty Italian dressing, with some spiced oyster crackers on the side for crunch. (THUMBS UP!)

But then I quickly scarfed down five little cocktail wienies—another SB remnant. I wish I hadn’t, but I was still so hungry after the measly salad. I had intended to eat cut-up grapes in plain yogurt sweetened with raw honey. Oh well. (THUMBS DOWN!)

EXERCISE:

I did quite a bit of walking through downtown Walnut Cove today, although never at a sustained brisk pace…..lots of stopping and starting. But I got lots of fresh air and was MOVING at least! During prayer time, I played upbeat praise music and stayed on my feet almost the whole time, clapping, lifting my hands, doing interpretive motions, moving back and forth. It was a good praise workout! (THUMBS UP!)

TALLY for 2/7/17:

THUMBS UP beats THUMBS DOWN 7-5! YASSSSSS!

GOAL FOR TOMORROW: more water!

water-drink-it

Free Country, Ain’t It?

**This was originally published on Thursday, June 16, 2011, in my newspaper column, “The Old Paths,” in The Stokes News. Due to a website change a few years ago, the publishing company broke all links to our old articles which were archived online. This was a tragic mistake and resulted in the loss of thousands of newspaper articles. Little by little, I am putting my old columns on this blog so that they can be preserved. Each column may be updated to reflect present times when transferred to this blog.**

free-country-2

When someone tells me something I can’t do, I am sometimes tempted to spout off that familiar line many of us have used before: “Free country, ain’t it?!” (And yes, you have to use improper grammar to give it that defiant tone.)

Well, there were days back in 2011 that I wanted to shout out that defiant line.

You see, one of my heroes had been arrested. She wasn’t dealing drugs. She wasn’t driving while impaired or embezzling money. In fact, she’s one of the most God-fearing people I know.

Her crime? She had been compassionately and skillfully helping women in North Carolina have their babies at home. She had been by their side to support them, give them excellent medical attention, help them have their babies in an environment that was the only setting used for thousands of years—their own home.

“What’s so wrong with that?” you may ask. “Grandma had all of her kids at home.” Yes, your grandparents (and maybe some of my older readers!) probably delivered their babies in the comfort of their own beds. Thank God we still live in a free enough country that women are allowed to have their babies anywhere they like without fear of prosecution.

baby-feet

But North Carolina has a dilemma. Homebirth is legal, but having a midwife (one who operates independently without physician supervision) on hand to assist is illegal—not for the mother but for the midwife. Had my midwife friend been assisting with a homebirth in Virginia, it would have been legal for her. Such midwifery is also legal in Tennessee and South Carolina (our other bordering states). Yet North Carolina legislators have thus far refused to legalize this practice which is legal in 28 other states.

Let me clarify that Certified Nurse Midwives are allowed to attend homebirths in North Carolina IF they have a medical doctor willing to act as backup (sometimes a tough thing to find), but Certified Professional Midwives—who are also highly trained and usually very experienced—are not allowed to deliver babies at home.

I just don’t get it.

Before you jump on the bandwagon of saying all births need to be in the hospital for the safety of the mother and the child, I suggest you study the statistical evidence for midwifery in the U.S. Then get back to me.

When I am deciding on an issue, I study the statistical evidence, but I also like to talk to those who have been there, done that. Personal testimony is valid and crucial. So when it comes to the issue of having babies at home, let’s find someone who has been on both sides of the fence.

Hmmm, whom can we find? Oh. Okay. ME.

Yep, I’m coming out of the closet. I have had three children in the hospital and two at home in the very bed my parents bought for me when I was five years old.

Am I against hospital births? Absolutely not. I had some great experiences at the hospital—terrific nurses, a doctor I absolutely adored and relatively good care. I even loved the hospital food. So I’m not against hospital births.

I am, however, for the freedom to choose my birth experience.

freedom-sign

As I alluded to earlier, I could pick up roots and move a few miles up the road to Stuart, VA, and have that freedom. But since 1983, homebirth midwifery by CPM’s has been illegal in North Carolina.

I chose my midwife as my pregnancy/delivery/postpartum healthcare provider in 1997. She was a Certified Professional Midwife with extensive education in the field she had felt called to enter. Her experience was massive, her resume impressive.

I heard glowing reports of her skills, although I am sure there were some patients who had bad experiences with her. Lest we think such negative occurrences are limited to midwifery, let us remember that malpractice suits against hospitals and OB-GYNs are big business these days. Nobody who assists with the birth of a baby is going to be immune from what sometimes happens in this fallen world—occasional tragedy—OR what we all face as fallible humans—someone who doesn’t like us or what we do.

But I had nothing but the best experiences with my midwife. She was there in my bedroom when sweet Abigail was born in 1998, and she made it in the nick of time when Malachi made an abrupt appearance in 2004. However, it was not just the actual delivery in which she specialized.

I got prenatal care such as I never got from a standard physician’s practice. Month after month, I made trip after trip to her office where she examined me extensively each time—carefully monitoring my uterine growth, blood pressure, sugar, protein and all of the other factors that must be considered in pregnancy. When she questioned the placement of the placenta, she even sent me for a sonogram.

She made a home visit several weeks before my due date to examine the birth setting and make sure everything was in order, such as me having a birth kit readily available. When labor began, she was Johnny-on-the-spot and never left my side.

As much as I loved my OB-GYN, I labored alone for the majority of my time with my first three children. The doctor came in a time or two for a brief check before finally staying as long as necessary when the nurses said I was ready for delivery. I totally understand that in a hospital, nurses and doctors have many other patients and cannot be attached to a pregnant woman’s side. I am not complaining. But that is one of the perks of midwifery—a steady, comforting presence that is constant, which tends to make for a less stressful delivery.midwifes-hands

Had I been a high-risk case, my midwife would have been sensible and recommended that I deliver in a hospital. Midwifes are not stupid. They do not want babies or mothers to die. In the rare case of an unforeseen complication during labor, the midwife will call for medical transport to a hospital. Statistics prove that the typical midwife’s baby/mother loss record is lower than, or comparable to, that of the average OB-GYN.

Legislation has been introduced in Raleigh several times to legalize midwifery, but thus far, no cigar. The 2011 arrest of my midwife prompted friends of midwifery—including some OB-GYNs, thank God—to speak up once again in favor of this ageless method of birthing babies.

At the time of the 2011 arrest, I empathized with my midwife’s patients who were on the verge of delivery. My Abigail—expected on March 29, 1998—was already four days overdue when my midwife was arrested on April 2 of that year. My panic was not something a pregnant woman needs to experience. Thankfully, my midwife was released on April 4, in time for Abigail’s birth two days later.

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Abigail is 18 now, and little Malachi recently turned 12. As I taught him about midwifery today, he was astounded to learn that general midwifery is illegal in our state when so many other states have legalized it and are seeing great success with it. He looked down at a picture of the beautiful and caring midwife who helped me give birth to him and then at a picture of me holding him in my bed just minutes after his birth. When he looked up at me after that, his eyes were full of fiery determination.

“Mom,” he said very solemnly, “when I grow up, if midwifery is still illegal here, I WILL take it to court and change the law.” I pray things turn around before then, but if not, I do not put it past my amazing son to find a way to successfully reverse this unfair law.

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I worry that physicians who oppose legalizing midwifery are primarily looking at their personal financial picture or feeling that nasty spirit of control which can overtake any of us in any profession. If they argue that it is a case of safety, I will gladly put the statistics for OB-GYN practices and midwives side-by-side and say, “Case closed.”

My first child born in a hospital suffered respiratory distress and complications, due to negligence on the part of the OB-GYN (not my regular one who was on vacation), which resulted in long hospitalization and unnecessary expenditures. My second child—hospital-born—very nearly went through the same traumatic experience. My third child—again, birthed in a hospital—would have had a surgery performed on him accidentally had I not caught the error.

My point is that bad things can happen no matter where you give birth. I do not understand these women I have read about who knowingly chose homebirth, and then when something went wrong for them, blamed the midwife and began lobbying against homebirths. Should I lobby against all hospital births and say all OB-GYN’s should not deliver babies just because things went wrong with my hospital births? How ludicrous.

Since Eve, women on the old paths have been bearing their babies in the comforts of their own homes. Yes, there were losses, but midwifery healthcare has improved by leaps and bounds since those times. Why not let women have the birth experience that they choose—whether it be in a hospital or at home with a dedicated midwife by their side?

Free country, ain’t it?

Or is it?

To read more, check out:

Parents Ask State to Legalize Midwives

The Old Paths: What about the children?

**This was originally published on Thursday, September 26, 2013, in my newspaper column, “The Old Paths,” in The Stokes News. Due to a website change a few years ago, the publishing company broke all links to our old articles which were archived online. This was a tragic mistake and resulted in the loss of thousands of newspaper articles. Little by little, I am putting my old columns on this blog so that they can be preserved. Each column is updated to reflect present times when transferred to this blog.**

Little did I know in early September 2013 when I penned a newspaper column about time healing our hurts that our county would suffer several horrendous hurts that very week. I had used the example of Sonia Luster—the 16-year-old killed in an automobile accident on her way to North Stokes High School in 2008—noting that she died the day before the Stokes Stomp, our county’s signature festival.

NSHS--Dee Luster

Sonia Luster’s mom, Dee, at the North Stokes High School graduation the year that Sonia would have graduated—wearing a shirt with a picture of Sonia graduating from an earlier grade.

Imagine my horror at the 2013 Stokes Stomp when I heard the tragic news that three other Stokes County youth had just been killed in auto accidents—one the night after I wrote my column, two others the night before the Stomp. My heart felt like lead as I was told the heartbreaking details of the wrecks that affected every high school in the county.

One victim was a West Stokes High School student, another a South Stokes High student, another a recent graduate of Meadowbrook Academy in Stokes County. One driver, who survived but was charged with DWI and two counts of felony death by motor vehicle, had attended North Stokes High.

I had left the county fair in King on Wednesday just an hour or so before the first wreck occurred on nearby Meadowbrook Road. On Friday, I had left a prayer meeting in Walnut Cove just an hour before the second wreck; it happened on Highway 89—the very road I traveled to get home. Being so near the accidents, both in place and time, made me strangely affected, although I knew none of the victims.

Not knowing them didn’t matter anyway. Mothers lost sons those nights. I am a mother of two sons, so this was heart-wrenching to me.

What was also devastating was the fact that alcohol was involved in both accidents. One driver was of legal drinking age, the other was not. Legal or not, no one should drink and drive. Why is this a problem? And why does Stokes County have one of the highest rates of alcohol-related crashes in the state?

Years ago, I sat on a committee that had received a grant to study the high incidence of alcohol-influenced wrecks in the county. We spent hours searching for the root of the problem and how to resolve it. We even brought in teenagers to help. An initiative was launched to lower the number of these accidents.

And still they happen. Why?

There are many reasons: lack of fulfillment in people’s lives that leads to alcohol abuse, that youthful feeling of invincibility which results in the skewed thinking of “It can’t happen to me,” too little awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, etc.

One of the age groups most affected is youth ages 16 to 25. We can argue that we are not training up our children in the way they should go, that peer pressure to consume alcohol is strong, that irresponsible adults are purchasing alcohol for underage drinkers.

But I will also argue that there aren’t enough worthwhile activities for youth in Stokes County, especially on weekend nights. If you’re in King, it’s a little better; you are near Highway 52 which will take you in a flash to Winston-Salem where there are multiple things to do, such as bowling or going to the movies. In King itself, there may not be too much to do except eat at a restaurant that stays open late. The Stokes Family YMCA is located there, but it closes at 8 p.m. Friday night and 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Late at night in Walnut Cove, you can go eat at a couple of restaurants. That’s about it. You can’t even do that in Danbury, Pine Hall, Lawsonville or Sandy Ridge.

There are those of us in Walnut Cove dedicated to helping local youth prosper through education, recreation, service, a move of God; we are lobbying for a recreational center in town. We argue that kids need a place to shoot basketball, have space for games/seminars/tutoring, watch movies, hold Christian youth rallies and functions.

There are not even any real parks for children. There is an outdoor public basketball court in the London community of Walnut Cove—not ideal late at night or in freezing weather. There is Fowler Park—a lovely place but one which has no bathrooms or playground equipment. What kid wants to just sit under the picnic shelter or walk around the short path? At Lions Park, there is some rather outdated playground equipment, but again, no bathrooms unless baseball games are going on nearby.

So if you are a young person in Walnut Cove on a weekend night, you can either hang out in the Food Lion parking lot or hang out in the Food Lion parking lot. And repeat.

How do we get what we need for the youth? Community involvement is a start. We need more people to care about this issue. Most adults either have children, will have children or have/will have grandchildren who need a place for wholesome recreation in town. So you SHOULD care.

Some of you have lots of money that you can’t take with you. (Yeah, I said it.) Some of you know where to find money/grants, even if you don’t have any money personally. Some of you have land that would be a perfect place to locate a rec center. Some of you have skills that could be used to construct and outfit such a place.

So what’s stopping us? I say we can have a place in Walnut Cove (and other towns) that will give our kids somewhere to go to do something constructive. Would you rather see your kids at the local rec center playing handball, basketball or Uno late on a Friday night or out on back roads drinking illegally and then driving around because there’s no place to go?

If you are willing to put your hand to the plow to make this happen, contact me; I will be glad to welcome you to the group that is pushing to provide something for our youth in this town. My heart is to bless the children. I know the Town of Walnut Cove needs revenue; that’s why the leaders push for businesses to come to Town. But can you imagine how blessed Walnut Cove would be if Town leaders would get behind the effort to bless the Town’s children? Revenue would follow, per God’s promise that if you seek first His Kingdom, everything else you need will be added.

We don’t need any more young people killed on our roads because alcohol was an easy answer for “What is there to do?” That “easy” answer often turns into something hard for all of us to bear. We’ve had enough of that. It’s time to redeem this next generation. Who’s up for the task?

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Praying for Opportunity

mission field

I have long been one who sees everywhere I go as a mission field. I anticipate running into someone at the grocery store who is hurting emotionally and needs to talk, seeing someone at the restaurant who has just been diagnosed with something and wants me to agree with them in prayer, smiling at the person getting gas next to me in hopes they can feel the love of God. Brochures advertising my church are crammed into my purse. Anointing oil is ever-ready in a little container on my keyring.

But when my son Elijah told us all at our church, The Well, one recent Sunday morning that we needed to start praying ahead of time for opportunities to minister to people wherever we go, it really struck me. Yes, I look for such opportunities, but had I been praying beforehand for such opportunities to be created? No.

Hmmm….

Trust God to speak a good word to us and then give us a chance to put it into practice….always with a little twist, I must admit.

Yesterday was my chance. And talk about frustrating! By noon, I was asking God what in the world was going on that I was being hindered everywhere I went. That’s my problem when I have to wait on anything: I often start asking “Why?” rather than trusting His timing.

Because I had stayed up super-late on Wednesday night, I ended up sleeping later than I anticipated. Then I went downstairs to find that Abigail–who had been told to get up early so we could go to the DMV in Kernersville–had forgotten to set her alarm. By the time I got my sons settled with schoolwork to do, it was much later than I had planned on leaving.

Well, of course, the gas hand was dipping low, so I had to stop and fill up. Still, I remembered going to the Kernersville DMV–a very well-run place–on another Thursday not too long ago, so I relaxed. It had been nearly empty–we were in and out quickly. Rarely have I waited long there.

Oh, the shock when we pulled in to find a full parking lot and standing room only inside. Most every eye turned to look with pity at us as we walked in. They looked even more sympathetic as they watched me stand at the front desk for over 15 minutes–waiting for an examiner to simply acknowledge I was there. Finally we were able to check in, be given a number and take a seat….on the hard tile floor.

After quite a while, I told Abigail I was going to walk to the License Plate Agency to change my name on my car title. I walked for quite a ways and was relieved to see a short line. Very soon, the kind attendant was doing my paperwork. I paid the $20 fee with my debit card and thought I was on my way….

….until she told me the notary fee of $5 had to be paid in cash. Now in this day of plastic, yours truly does not normally carry cash. She pointed to an ATM inside the building but told me it would cost $3 just to get $5 out. Hmph! No way–I’d go to the CashPoints ATM in the next complex of buildings. She said she trusted me and would let me go get the cash.

Due to the distance to the ATM, I walked all the way back to my car at the DMV, checked on Abigail, then drove to get the cash. With Elijah’s words ringing in my ears, I had prayed ahead of time for an opportunity to minister. But by the look of things, I’d have to wait until later since things were about to wrap up at the Agency. I headed back, cash in hand.

And then came the slowdown. There was now a line at the Agency. Plus, in my absence, two people had come in to buy/sell a car and do a title transfer…..with the very attendant I needed. I prayed she would be free by the time I got to the front of the line. But she wasn’t. So I had to start letting people pass me to go to the other two attendants…..one…..two…..three…..and on up to seven people passing me as I stood there feeling stupid. Meanwhile, the other attendants were glancing suspiciously at me, obviously wondering why this “strange lady” kept letting everyone pass.

I struck up conversations with everyone who passed me, but I sure didn’t feel any ministry opportunities. My mind was racing…..Were they calling Abigail into the office for her test and she needed me there?…..What if she was texting me and my phone was in the car?……How much longer should I wait?

And still, the title transfer dragged on…..and on…..over half an hour of “on.”

Then it happened. Just as I was thinking about giving up and coming back later, a lady–maybe my age–limped in with a cane. My heart quickened within me. I smiled, she smiled, we began to chat. Before long, I learned she had MS and was worried because she was aging so rapidly and rarely felt well enough to get out for such business transactions. Aha–here was my ministry opportunity; I could feel compassion welling up in my very soul.

Then an attendant called, “Next!” It was my turn again, but it wasn’t my attendant. I told the lady she could pass me, and she thanked me kindly. As she finished her transaction and began to hobble out, I heard that still small voice deep within me say, “Follow her out.”

“NOW? Give up my place in line after all this time?!” I asked in panic–seeing that the title transfer was wrapping up with my attendant.

“Yes, GO.”

No more questioning–I took off out that door, catching her before she crossed the parking lot. “I hope you have a good day,” I said. “And I hope you get better.”

She smiled a sweet, trembling smile, “Thank you!”

I patted her shoulder and continued, “I believe in divine healing, and I know it’s God’s will that you be made whole.”

Suddenly she was very moved and said excitedly, “I believe in divine healing, too!”

That’s all it took. Right there in the parking lot, I laid my hand on her back and started praying for healing in the name of Jesus, speaking that by His stripes she was healed. I wasn’t loud, I didn’t embarrass her and I wouldn’t have even done it had I not felt from God that she was receptive.

She was overwhelmed with gratitude and thanked me fervently. We introduced ourselves by first names only and parted with huge smiles–the love of God marvelously flowing between us. Why? Because our good God had advised our congregation–using my son as a vessel to tell us–to pray ahead of time for ministry opportunities everywhere we go. Many Christians are probably already doing that, but I confess that I had not been.

I finally got to pay my attendant. Abigail finally got called in for her test at the DMV; she didn’t miss a question and is now driving! We even had time to enjoy a late lunch before she had to report to work. The hindrances were suddenly gone. What I was thinking that the enemy meant for my harm–the many delays, the many temptations to be frustrated–GOD used for my good! If I hadn’t been delayed at home, at the DMV, at the license tag agency, I wouldn’t have met this precious lady who needed encouragement.

He’s an on-time God. Yes, He is.

I will long remember this sweet lady He placed in my path. I will continue to speak that she is healed of MS. I will believe that wherever she is, she is noticing incredible improvement. I will trust that one day in Heaven, we will be reunited; maybe she’ll come running over to tell me about her miracle!

What if we all went out every day praying in faith BEFOREHAND for the Lord to CREATE opportunities to minister everywhere we go? Wow–what a revolution we would see! May that be our strategy every day for the rest of our lives on this earth.

Luke 10:2– “He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Our Miracle of Healing! Pt. VII: Keeping the Faith

(This story is much too long to share in one blog post, so I have divided it into parts. Be warned that it deals with a sickness that was so severe I must occasionally delve into graphic descriptions of the symptoms. This is necessary for the telling of the story.)

The kids and me just 3 months before the parasites struck.

The kids and me just 3 months before the parasites struck. (See a picture of us NOW at the end of this portion of the story!)

On that Monday, October 26, Keith stayed home with us all day and fielded phone calls for me, since it was ringing off the hook. Finally Vicki called. Again, she had been reading something in the Bible that was meant just for us at this time.

BEFORE the healing, I kept asking her, “So what is God telling you? Are you coming across anything in the scriptures?” She had been puzzled because all she kept reading involved false idols and how God’s people needed to get rid of them. That didn’t seem to fit at the time. But after my experience the day before the healing when we had to purify our house from ungodly movies, tapes and even things like totem poles and certain Native American memorabilia, I knew now why those scriptures about false idols DID apply.

(NOTE: Keith and I both have considerable Native American blood and are proud of our heritage. But some—not all—Native American items purchased in the modern marketplace are representatives of heathen gods or are tied to religions other than Christianity.)

Now on this beautiful October Monday morning, Vicki told me she had just finished reading in John. As she closed the Bible, she felt led to open it again. She told the Lord she would open it, and He could direct her to what she should read. She opened immediately to II Chronicles 29. The first word she read was “Hezekiah,” and she smiled. Aha!

This chapter told of Hezekiah sanctifying the Temple, throwing out idols and cleansing the sanctuary. She couldn’t help but think of Keith furiously throwing away anything even questionable. Then she said, “Leslie, when Keith purified your house, what day of the sickness was it?”

I did a mental calculation and said, “The 16th day.”

Vicki began to laugh and then read aloud verse 17 (there’s that 17 again!): “…so they sanctified the house of the Lord…and in the sixteenth day…they made an end.” I nearly came off the couch! I told Vicki I was going to have to run or shout or something. That was amazing!

Then she told me how that, after the Temple was sanctified, people began to bring thank offerings. She said the Lord told her to tell us that people were going to bring thank offerings to us and that when they did, we were not to say, “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” or anything apologetic like that. We were to simply say, “Thank you.”

This seemed strange to me. Thank offerings? I didn’t see why anyone would bring us anything. I said, “Have you talked to someone or something?” Vicki said no, that’s just what the Lord told her to tell us.

Then when I told her how I had awakened and was told at 1:11 a.m. that I would be tested on this, Vicki laughed again. She had finished her Bible reading this morning with the portion of scripture that told how—after the wonders were done in the Temple after sanctification—God left Hezekiah for a time to try him to see all that was in his heart. Now I was even more determined to prove to God that I trusted Him.

I had just hung up with Vicki when my mom called. She was thrilled to hear the news (Keith had told her this morning), and she totally believed. She said that my Great-aunt Fannie (whom I don’t see very often) had brought over a gallon of homemade chicken soup and just felt as if she wanted us to have it. I was stunned.

But the thank offerings had just begun. Someone else came with money for hospital bills. Then Mike Lane called to tell us the church had taken up a love offering for our hospital bill, and he’d bring it to church Wednesday night unless we needed it sooner.

Cordelia Hairston from my church called to say what a miracle it was and how it happened to strengthen our faith at Christ Temple. Then our church friend, Nancy Bullard (Jody and Joy’s mother), called to tell us that the miracle had helped spur a revival of miracles at our church. She said, “Rebuke Satan if he tries to bring something on you to make you think you’re not healed. Bind him.”

My Aunt Darlene Heath from South Carolina called to say, “No weapon formed against thee shall prosper.” I needed that at the moment, because Tracey and I had just been talking on the phone a few minutes before about people voicing unbelief. The last thing she and I had discussed had been how the prophecies seemed to be for Elijah Blue only. Some people had already called her and discussed this.

Darlene knew none of this, yet she said she felt strongly she must tell me that Meghann, Chelsea and I were ALL healed. Every time I had talked on the phone that morning, I had ignored the beep that told me another call was coming in. But for some reason, when Darlene beeped in as I was talking to Tracey, I answered the call—without even knowing who it was (no Caller ID). Thank God I did!

I started to wonder throughout the day what else was going on, because I kept noticing strange things that seemed totally unrelated yet pertinent somehow. For example, the birds had completely left our backyard feeder some weeks before, but suddenly today, I heard their chirping and knew they were back. Then I found a ladybug in the house. They, too, had been gone for a while, and now the first one was back in our den where they like to congregate.

Meanwhile, the phone kept ringing. I couldn’t get all the calls, so some people were calling Vicki and Tracey to check on us. I kept thinking about those scriptures in Hebrews that Joy had read to me on Sunday afternoon about rest, and suddenly, I wanted so desperately to get away and rest. We had been penned inside for so long. But I knew it wasn’t time. I needed to stay home and accept my thank offerings!

A sister in the Lord came and brought so many bags of groceries I didn’t know where to put them all! I had to go to the basement and store many things on the shelves down there. Keith had gone out for a brief time when she brought them. When he came back and saw the multitudes of groceries in the kitchen floor in bags, he said, “We’ve got enough to eat and a bunch more!”

Immediately, I thought of a portion of the scripture Vicki had read to me just that morning about the purification of the Temple. I ran for my Bible and read it to Keith: II Chronicles 31:10—“…Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the Lord hath blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store.” We both started laughing. It was so true!

Tuesday, October 27, dawned—another lovely fall day. Again, the phone was consistently ringing. I called Vicki for a word of encouragement since Chelsea, who was feeling better physically, was still fighting a mental battle. Vicki said she was sitting with the Bible in her lap, waiting for me to call. She knew she had to read Psalm 105 to me. She read it, and oh, what a comfort! It spoke of giving praise unto the Lord for His marvelous works and how we should talk of these works and make them known among the people.

Vicki told me that this morning she had been wondering why Chelsea, at only 8 years old, was the one having to fight this battle of faith. Then Vicki’s mom, Betty Blansett, called her and out of the blue started talking about a dream she had when she was only 8 years old—a dream of two roads—one so well-travelled that dust was rising from it as if it was a cattle trail and the other one narrow but green and shady and refreshing.

Then Betty looked up and saw the skies part for the Lord to appear. The dream terrified her so badly she slept with her grandmother for a while afterward. She didn’t totally got over it until she received the baptism of the Holy Ghost when she was 12 years old. When Vicki heard this dream, she realized Chelsea was certainly not too young to have spiritual things happen to her.

Then my Aunt Sammie Bray stopped by. She “just happened” to have some yard sale clothes she had bought, thinking of my kids. They “just happened” to fit Chelsea—an expensive pair of Nikes, like the ones Meghann had gotten for her birthday, and four cute turtlenecks. I simply said, “Thank you.”

I told my aunt the story of our healing, and she became teary-eyed. She totally believed. Nancy Bullard then called and said she had some cute shoes that her granddaughter had outgrown and that Chelsea might be able to wear. I felt this was a definite confirmation that God was sending thank offerings to Chelsea in particular.

People kept calling, telling us how this miracle had totally changed them. Heather called to say people had told her they were so moved by the miracle that they had made vows to God to give up things that would be difficult to sacrifice. She didn’t mention these people by name, of course, but I was touched just the same.

Parents/relatives of backsliders called to say these backsliders had heard about the miracle and were pricked in their hearts. What if they should need a miracle? Would they have the right to ask God? Some who had shown no interest in God for years suddenly wanted a tape of Sunday’s service. A fairly new believer in the church called someone else to say, “I don’t know why they had to bear this, but this was for the church.”

And still the manifestation of the healing amazed me—no more vomiting, diarrhea or sleepless nights for any of us. Elijah’s bowel movements still became more solid and normal. It was fascinating just to watch the progression! (Yes, it’s strange what things you’ll take pleasure in after you’ve escaped a near-tragedy!)

Vicki called again to say that she had been humming a song all day and had just thought of the name of it: “You Can’t Make Me Doubt Him.” That became my theme song. Then when I told her Keith had just brought me Mexican food from “Mi Pueblo,” Vicki laughed. She had stopped by the same place to take food to the hospital to Robin who had travailed in natural labor while we travailed in the Spirit.

Vicki had told me earlier that morning to anoint my phone so that only those calls that would be uplifting and not doubtful would come through. Then when she went to the hospital later, she found that Robin had been placed in a confidential room—the number of which would not be revealed except to those who absolutely needed to get in to see her. The parallels were incredible!

Wednesday came, and we were so excited about going to church. A faithful saint of God called to say that as she was praying, she felt the Lord told her He had healed us from a parasite—a worm—to show that He was going to restore what the cankerworm and the caterpillar and all those parasitic worms had eaten and stolen from the church. That sounded good to me.

Several people called to say I needed to be writing this down, and I assured them I was taking good notes! I, too, had felt a huge compulsion to write about the experience.

Suddenly I remembered a strange dream I had dreamed the past August—a dream I had recounted to Keith and Vicki at that time because it had such an effect on me. I had been standing in my living room talking to our Stokes County 4-H Agent, April Bowman. As we chatted, snakes began to crawl from my walls and run toward the open front door. I was astounded that April never saw the snakes. As I looked more closely at them, I realized they weren’t snakes, but huge worms. (When I reminded Vicki of this dream, she reminded me that I had told her two months earlier that the worms in the dream had teeth and monster faces like the strongyloides Keith saw in the microscope!)

In the dream, after the 4-H agent left, I went into the bathroom to—guess what? Give Abigail a bath. I couldn’t because the bathtub was dirty (just as it was the night God revealed the parasites to us)! So I went to the back door which was also standing open and looked out at the rolling hills with beautifully-colored fall foliage at the peak of the leaf season. Then I woke up.

I had dreamed that in August. Now here it was October, the peak of the leaf season, as well as the week that ended our official 4-H year (April leaving our house in the dream). And all of these things had happened!

Recalling this prophetic dream that I had forgotten until this day gave me total confidence that the parasites were not only gone from our bodies but from our home as well. I had seen them crawling out the door in the dream.

As I sat on the couch that afternoon just before getting ready for church, I was thinking that the thank offerings had been nice but that they were over now. At that moment, the phone rang, and it was Dee Dennis from church, asking if she could bring our supper to the service that night. As instructed by Vicki, I once again simply said, “Thank you,” just as I did the day before when a 4-H friend brought my lunch and my sister brought my supper.

I smiled as I hung up the phone and then suddenly froze in disbelief. I heard a sound that I had not heard in a while—raindrops. The entire time we were sick, there was no rain at all. The meteorologists kept making a big deal out of the consecutive number of days with no rain. We had noticed how the drought days matched our sickness days. The last rain had come on Thursday, October 8—the very day we started feeling strange before we woke up sick on Friday, October 9.

Now I looked outside and saw that a brief shower was passing through. There was no rain at the airport that day, so the meteorologists didn’t list the trace of rain in their weather record books. But at my house, it truly rained on that Wednesday. I couldn’t resist calling Tracey to tell her that I could hear the sound of an abundance of rain—the latter rain.

God had been faithful and true and right on time once again.

Me with the kids today--with a new child, Malachi, added since our miraculous healing 17 years ago! (Baby Abigail--far left--is now taller than her sisters Meghann and Chelsea--far right!)

Me with the kids today—with a new child, Malachi, added since our miraculous healing 17 years ago! (Baby Abigail—far left—is now taller than her sisters Meghann and Chelsea—far right!)

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