Tuesday, April 27, 2021

No Longer Running Away, I Discovered God's Love

 

by Helen A. Bemis

 

 

     What is God really like?

     Is He someone to fear and run away from?

     In my youth, I was constantly told to be a good girl, and all my life, I have always worked at being a “good girl,” but….

     Now, I’m told I will not get to Heaven by my “good works” but only by God’s Grace.

     In my youth, I was also told that my God was an infinite, loving God.  I found the words “infinity” and “infinite” hard to understand when I was a little girl. I still find them hard to understand. 

     What I found even more confusing is: if I committed a sin, this infinite, loving God would not hesitate to send me straight to Hell.  The descriptions of Hell not only scared me as a child but still make me shiver in fear today. 

     I looked for love.  Sometimes it was in the wrong places.  I looked to be liked, not the same as being loved, but being liked did feel good.  Yet I found that if I wanted to be liked, I needed to follow the expectations of others, and sometimes that would conflict with my beliefs.

     My solution?  Usually, I ran away.  I ran away from a God I did not understand.  I ran away from difficult decisions.  I continued to long for love, and I wanted to understand the truth of God’s love. As I slowly began to recognize God’s love as compassionate, kind, sensitive, freely given, and so much more, I started to trust in His promises for me.

     As I discovered the truth about God, I recognized His love for me, and I realized fear had no place in God’s world of love. 

     Could the problem with “love” be that we only have one word (in the English language) for love?  Actually, there are at least three forms of love: sexual love, familial love, and compassionate (sometimes referred to as the Greek agape) love.

     The New International Version of the Bible, in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes love as follows:

     “Love is patient; love is kind.  It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud.  It is not rude. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

     One of the places in which I found God’s presence was with Mother Nature.  I took many strolls, and through the sounds, scents, and beauty on the 200-acre farm, I felt God’s presence.

     My childhood home sat on a hill, and at the bottom of this hill was a slow-moving trout stream.  When I walked by this stream, I could hear fish jumping and frogs croaking.    

     Milk-weed plants grew along the river banks. In mid-summer, their sweet perfume filled the air, luring the bees to snuggle inside flowers.  I found the river area a peaceful place, though never a quiet place. Besides the river’s sounds, the birds sang in joy or squawked in protest when I visited its shores.  During these times, it was easy to talk with God as I walked with Mother Nature.

     After high school graduation, I attended a school of nursing.  I did enjoy learning many things at this school, but I still ran away. At first, it was by sleeping ten to fourteen hours a day. Then, after thirteen months of study, I quit nursing school. I ran home. 

     Sometimes, the unknown scared me.  Running away seemed the best decision.

     During this time, I met my future husband. However, when I told my priest that I was planning to marry a Methodist, his response shocked me, “If you marry this man, you will go straight to Hell!”

     My husband and I have had our share of problems, but I never felt myself in Hell after we married.  I felt that my husband helped me to learn how to trust God.  Our firstborn was a son.  At eighteen months, he developed Reye’s  Syndrome, a disorder that, I learned later, would sometimes occur if you gave aspirin to a child who had the flu. 

     This time, I was willing to trust God with my son’s life.  My words were very hard for me to say, but they were my most honest and sincere prayer to God: “God, I realize that my son is really Your child.  I may have no right to ask for his life, but I am asking that You heal him.  I know You always give the highest good in any situation.  I trust You. I will honor whatever You decide in this time of his sickness.  Thy will be done!”

     I had not run away.  I would not run away from praying for God’s mercy and grace for our little boy. He did answer my prayer by healing our son.

 

     Mistakenly, through the years, I fell into the trap of believing in a “vending machine” God.  If I were a good girl and obeyed the rules, God would be “good” to me. 

     I went to church every Sunday, sang in the choir, and made many friends.  The ministers were varied, and as lessons about God continued, I still felt something was missing.  My time in the choir was my personal prayer time with God.  During that time, I had a few special “God Moments,” akin to viewing beautiful sunsets or rainbows. Yet, my longing was echoed in the choir’s hymn, “Nearer My God to Thee.” 

     Then came the disturbing news: breast cancer.  Oh, I knew that it was not the death sentence that it used to be, but I WAS scared, even as I said to others, “I’m not afraid to die.”

     I did feel I had more to accomplish with my life.  Prayers at church and the stories of others encouraged my resolve to “beat this cancer,” but truly, the key for me was how I began to listen to God.  At that time, the minister’s wife told me about her breast cancer experience.  She said that she felt it was the closest she had ever felt to God, “a very sacred time.”

     As I listened to her story, I knew I wanted to feel that special relationship with God.

     Medical procedures proceeded. After my lumpectomy, I was told the good news that the cancer was not in my lymph nodes.  Yet, the doctors wanted to have me go through a regimen of chemotherapy and possibly even radiation.

     My oncologist assured me she would use a very mild form of chemotherapy.  Even so, I still became very sick.  I did not understand why they needed to give me chemotherapy if the cancer had been completely removed.

     I sought a second opinion.  This oncologist explained the HER-2 factor that had been found in the cancer.  “It’s like your body is stepping on the gas (creating a cancer-forming factor), and chances are great that you would be getting another cancer within as short a time as four years.  The drug they use to stop your body from manufacturing the HER-2 will not work unless coupled with chemotherapy.

     “They have done many trials to see the best combination for each individual.  I believe I can find the one for you that will work without the side effects that you had experienced in the past.”

      He also explained my need for radiation.  “If you were to dig the dandelion weeds from your lawn, you might see some of these dandelion weeds still grow back.  That can be the same with breast cancer.  An occasional cancer cell might still be left in your breast.  Today they can zero in on the exact area of the cancer site and eliminate through radiation any such existing cells that may still be located in this area.”

     I agreed to the treatments of chemotherapy and radiation.

     During this time, I found that sometimes I could not fall asleep, even though I was exhausted from the treatments.  However, I discovered some wonderful blessings that only came by trusting God’s care for me.  I had learned to rest my body and not worry about every little “speed bump.” I called them “speed bumps” because these concerns could shake you up or make you worry without killing you. I began to recognize that most of these situations were not worth the time to be considered. 

     My priority became to look for laughter as well as things to be grateful for.  I listened to the silence and to the delightful sounds of the world around me.  I heard the birds singing, the soft sound of the wind tickling the trees, and the buzzing of the insects. I appreciated the blue of the sky, the shape of the clouds, the bright colors in the flowers around me.  I adopted the expression, “Stop and smell the roses,” as I smelled the fragrant air after a rainfall or the lawn after it had been freshly mowed.

     I discovered a sweet and precious friendship with God.  It surprised me.  It was like discovering a very special new Friend, and I wanted to learn more about Him.  We shared comfortable silences, as when you share a cup of coffee or a moment of companionship with a loved one. But it was so much better than that.  I now understand why some say that their relationship with God can be hard to explain.

     But is God’s love real only when He grants us our wishes?  He is certainly not a wish-dispenser!  He is not a God only to be valued only when giving us our desire!  What I discovered during this time may be a hard-to-describe love, a love like a precious jewel or like a profound solace.  It is often referred to as “a peace beyond understanding.”

     I discovered my God to be a very personal God.  He knows me and has showered me with awesome love.  He does what is best for me, even if I feel that it is not good for me.  He strengthens me in my weakness and blesses me with his gifts, gifts greater than I ever imagined.

     Discovering this personal God is an experience I wish for others. It satisfies the longing we endure, and it fills the emptiness that only He can fill. 

     I found in God’s love, indescribable peace and joy. Because I discovered God’s infinite love, I realized that I no longer wanted to run away.


Helen A. Bemis is a novelist who has written over a dozen books about the fictional Upstate New York town of Riverview and about the Riverview Animal Shelter and the pets, loves, conflicts, and kindness of these country people.

I have had the pleasure of being her editor and writing coach. Her books are readily obtained from Outskirts Press and amazon.com: 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=%22Helen+A.+Bemis%22&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

Sunday, April 11, 2021

CORONA VIRUS - FROM WUHAN LAB OR MARKET?

The Covid-19, a.k.a “Wuhan,” coronavirus has killed a half-million Americans already and sickened many, many times more.

A former head of the U.S. CDC now opines it likely originated in the Chinese government’s virology labs in Wuhan; this opinion is resisted by those who usually treat CDC statements as gospel.

It makes little difference whether the Chinese lab had an accident or the local meat market got unlucky and sloppy. We know the Chinese military has been investigating viruses as biological weapons, as we did at Ft. Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, where I served decades ago.

The Chinese Communists stopped domestic travel from Wuhan once they knew (and lied about) the human-to-human transmissibility of the virus. The CCP kept it a secret and allowed international travel to spread the virus worldwide, the sin for which they deserve to be excoriated, regardless of whether the virus came from Wuhan’s virology labs or its butcher shops.

Spreading the virus worldwide was an act of biological warfare few in the U.S. dare charge, as we would have to face the perfidy of the regime and the ghastliness of this attack on the rest of the world.

Suppose something like this pathogen had spread from Ft. Detrick or Frederick, MD, while I served there. I am sure that the American and international news media would not have hesitated to blame the U.S. government, especially if it were under the Republicans at the time. They would not have suspected the local ShopRite.

The first barrage of World War III was biological. 

Now what?

 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

REVIEW of THE WOKE SUPREMACY

The book's subtitle is "An Anti-Socialist Manifesto," and the author provides just that.  

86% of the over-300 reviews at amazon.com are 5 stars, well earned.

I have listened to the book twice using my Kindle and Alexa. The book made the nuttiness of the Woke Crusade more understandable, though no more attractive. They hate possessions (except theirs). countries (especially the USA), and religion (especially Christianity and Judaism, but not Islam). If you are a white male, you are a target, as I am.

In sum, they passionately maintain there is no right or wrong, except that Trump voters were terribly wrong. Got it?

To get the book:

Sunday, April 4, 2021

REVIEW of BEST-SELLER STATUS

 I generally don't review a book here unless I like it.


Being an author is hard enough without having someone spit on your baby, and there is "no disputing taste," no accounting for taste, an ancient adage warns. Still, testimonials are influential, and, as an author and coach and editor myself, I sure like favorable mentions when I get them.

The first 20 pages or so were merely "here it comes." I wondered whether there would be "beef," and it did come: insights about writing, publishing, promoting, and profiting, covered in the next 60 pages.

I have a love/hate relationship with the book industry, given that some classics were ghostwritten and some authors made up their "true stories" and some best-sellers were written poorly. My favorite movie is Chariots of Fire, and the contrast between the two central characters' methods of achieving success reflects my ambivalence about the best-seller status that has eluded me. Is the best measure of success where you ended or how you got there? Ideally, you would be making it without faking it.

Authors-to-be and authors-right-now would profit from Michael Butler's succinct guide, especially about how to get their work legitimately noticed, heeded, shared, and appreciated.

Intelligent and informed effort is key to best-seller status. This book can help.

Friday, April 2, 2021

REVIEW of FAUCIAN BARGAIN

REVIEW of FAUCIAN BARGAIN

Authors: Steve Deace and Todd Erzen:

 This hard-hitting, extensively documented philippic became a best-seller the first week it appeared, in late March 2021. It is easy to understand why those skeptical of some of the measures taken to attempt to resist the spread of Covid-19, a/k/a the Wuhan coronavirus, greeted the book so enthusiastically.

The virus and responses to it radically changed our lives, and some of these changes seem likely to be permanent. Deace and Erzen blame Dr. Fauci and his acolytes for conflicting advice and Orwellian expansion of government intrusion.

“Faucian” plays on “Faustian,” derived from the legendary story of Dr. Faustus, who gave up his soul to the Devil for 24 years of magical powers and the fame and fortune they provided. This trade did not end well. Dr. Fauci, the Faucian Bargain maintains, has traded his scientific reputation and ethics for the Covid cause and, perhaps, for fame.

The authors maintain that the fear of Covid-19 has generated a cult, and they match it with the seven characteristics quoted next that they say apply to the “Branch Covidians”:

1.    Cults discourage, if not outright oppose, critical thinking.

2.    Cults isolate themselves and their members from the outside world, sometimes even forcibly.

3.    Cults claim to have special knowledge or that only the special can attain their knowledge.

4.    Cults put loyalty to their leader above all else.

5.    Cults seek to detach you from your families.

6.    Cults cross moral boundaries and at times encourage others to as well.

7.    Cults separate you from the true church.


The authors recommend resisting the cult by

Prioritizing truth.

Encouraging critical thinking.

Taking the appropriate health precautions.

Relying on established science.

Reuniting with your family.

Reopening your life.

Trusting in faith, family, and freedom.

Critical thinking can be facilitated by going to some of the 202 footnote sources they reference.

They conclude we will emerge from the pandemic with a somewhat less-free society.

Their advice, “Kick the dust off your sandals, and move on with your way of life.”

 

  


Sunday, March 28, 2021

GRESHAM'S LAW AND EMAIL

 One of my email accounts runs about 20 to 1 spam to desired mail, reminding me of Gresham’s Law, which goes back to Elizabethan days and her great financial wizard Thomas Gresham.

Express his "law" in various ways, such as:

-        “cheap money drives out dear;”

-        “bad money drives out good.”

It means that equal denomination coins of unequal metallic worth will circulate in the economy such that the precious metal coins are hoarded, and the others remain in circulation.

We saw this decades ago during the introduction of copper-nickel quarters that gradually replaced silver quarters in US circulation.

Similarly, when it comes to my email, junk or near-junk grossly predominates, to the point that it is hard to find the email I value.

Fortunately, I have a second, nearly secret, email account to “hoard” the more precious communications. I’m sure many other people do the same.

 

A recent book on Gresham and his times and his law is at: https://www.amazon.com/Greshams-Law/dp/1788162374/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=gresham%27s+law&qid=1616939697&s=books&sr=1-1

My friend William Bauer has today instructed me on using the filter option on my email account to send email from certain accounts to designated categories, including Trash.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, March 19, 2021

Tina Su Cooper Readmitted to Hospital, 16 Mar 21

Friends and Family, 

During an office visit with our new primary care physician on the 11th, Tina was minimally responsive,
and it appeared that she might be over-medicated with seizure-suppressing medication,
Keppra and Dilantin. We were able to get an office visit with a neurologist
on the 16th, and he said she was exhibiting seizure activity (though it was different
from what we had observed before) and he had her taken to the Garnet Medical
Center Emergency Room.

She was admitted to the hospital, is undergoing a 72-hour EEG observation, and has had one
or two MRIs of her brain, where "minor bleeding" has been observed. Had it been more, I
was told, they were ready to send her to Westchester Medical Center.

Yesterday, one of her doctors called to get more information about her and to tell me
what they were doing on her behalf.. She was said to be almost unresponsive, though
she did smile when her name was called.

Tonight the nurse caring for her told me that Tina's vital signs were normal, no sign of
infection (a continuing problem recently), but she did not respond to her name. They
changed her Foley catheter and are giving her an antibiotic (Fortaz) she has had
before. They understand they are to do whatever they can to preserve her life.

Tina has come through some very difficult medical situations in the past, so we
must not count her out, but this seems the most dire thus far. 

We appreciate your hopes and prayers for our heroic Tina.

Love,
Doug