May 12, 2013 by Lillie
Today is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. I wrote in detail about fibromyalgia awareness and my experience with fibromyalgia last year. I have experienced the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia for more than 30 years.
Yet, fibromyalgia is an invisible disease—the pain can’t be seen. Often people think someone with fibromyalgia is lazy or a hypochondriac. Let’s make fibromyalgia visible.
May 6, 2013 by Lillie
I have written a lot about stroke during previous Stroke Awareness Months. Having had a stroke myself more than twenty years ago, I want everyone to know the symptoms of stroke. The quicker someone receives treatment, the more likely they are to make a good recovery.
My earlier posts cover a great deal about stroke, both my personal experience as well as links to other sites:
- May Is Stroke Awareness Month
- National Stroke Awareness Month: My Stroke – the Beginning
- National Stroke Awareness Month: My Stroke – The Next Three Days
- National Stroke Awareness Month: My Stroke – the Aftermath
- National Stroke Awareness Month: Stroke Risk Factors and Symptoms
- Stroke Awareness Month 2011
- Twenty Years Ago Today…
May is also National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. I have not posted about this previously. Generally, I write about causes that are close to my heart, often because I have personal experience. And this year, I have come to have personal experience with asthma and allergy. I’ve been diagnosed with asthma as well as a number of allergies—not only trees and grasses but also food allergies, to oats and bananas and a dozen or so of my favorite foods. I was surprised to be diagnosed with asthma at my age, as I had thought that asthma usually began in childhood. However, it can occur anytime.
I was glad to see that my hometown of San Antonio is now #24 on the allergy capitals list, down from #9 last year. Either we have fewer allergens this year or other cities have more. The situation is better for me as far as asthma triggers go—San Antonio is #66, down from #12 last year.
Asthma creates a huge impact on our society. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America:
Every day in America:
- 44,000 people have an asthma attack.
- 36,000 kids miss school due to asthma.
- 27,000 adults miss work due to asthma.
- 4,700 people visit the emergency room due to asthma.
- 1,200 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma.
- 9 people die from asthma.
I’m still learning about asthma and allergies, so I won’t try to educate you on asthma. However, I do encourage you to visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to learn more.
I knew I had “hay fever” or “cedar fever” like just about everyone I know. But I had no idea I had allergies to food I ate often, and I certainly didn’t know I had asthma. Since I have been diagnosed and started receiving treatment, I feel much, much better. If you or someone you love exhibits any of the symptoms of asthma (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness), find out if asthma is the problem. You can’t improve the symptoms until you’re diagnosed and treated.
April 2, 2013 by Lillie
This is the first time I’ve written about autism. It was not on my radar for a long time, but we have several families with children with autism in our church. I came to realize while I caring for my husband with Alzheimer’s that autism and Alzheimer’s have a lot in common. Individuals with both of these disorders often tend to exhibit inappropriate behavior, poor social skills, and even violent outbursts. They don’t want to behave as they do, but the Alzheimer’s or the autism takes control.
Recognizing that there are many differences between the two disorders, seeing what they had in common helped me to understand and appreciate what parents and siblings of autistic children contend with. Parents love their children so much, but caring for them is challenging. One mother of a sweet little boy with autism said, “I love my son, but I hate autism!”
I was flabbergasted to learn from the Autism Society:
the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 88 births in the United States and almost 1 in 54 boys.
Autism is a development disability, a very complex one, and many people with it exhibit different symptoms. You can learn more at the Autism Society website.
The image in this post is the Alzheimer’s Puzzle Ribbon from the Autism Society:
The puzzle pattern reflects the mystery and complexity of the autism spectrum. The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition. The brightness of the ribbon signals hope—hope that through increased awareness of autism, and through early intervention and appropriate treatments, people with autism will lead fuller, more complete lives.
Often we see children misbehaving or acting in unusual ways, and we assume their parents haven’t trained them well. But maybe it would be good to give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the child has autism, and in spite of how well his parents train him, there are times he can’t control his behavior. Instead of muttering to ourselves about rowdy kids and irresponsible parents, maybe we should take a minute and pray for that family. If the child has autism, they certainly need prayer. And if the child is just behaving badly, prayer will still be helpful.
O MERCIFUL God, and heavenly Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men; Look with pity, we beseech thee, upon all people with autism and their families for whom our prayers are offered. Remember them, O Lord, in mercy; endue their souls with patience; comfort them with a sense of thy goodness; lift up thy countenance upon them, and give them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
March 18, 2013 by Lillie
23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” ~ Mark 10:23-27 (NASB)
Lord God, it’s easy to be lured by money and wealth, yet Jesus told us that riches can keep us from Heaven because our possessions and not You become first in our lives. Thank You that with You all things are possible. Even though I am not rich, other attractions and temptations can become in the same position as wealth for a rich man. Help me to put You above money, position, people, or anything else. In the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.
January 22, 2013 by Lillie
Forty years ago today, the Supreme Court legalized abortion. Two court cases, Roe v Wade and the lesser-known Doe v Bolton, made it legal for a mother to end the life of her unborn baby. Since then, nearly 56 million innocent babies have been killed for reasons as serious as severe handicaps or as frivolous as the convenience of the mother.
Did you know, though, that neither Roe of Roe v Wade nor Doe of Doe v Bolton ever had an abortion? Did you know that they are both passionate pro-life advocates seeking the reversal of the laws that were made in their names? You will find fascinating history in Lifesite News.
Watch the powerful video below, with President Obama’s words about the importance of giving children a chance to grow up.
January 16, 2013 by Lillie
The purpose of the day is to educate children and all citizens about the religious freedom guaranteed to us by the First Amendment. Today, we need to realize that precious religious liberty is threatened by government mandates that require businesses to violate their most basic beliefs.
Bible publishers, hospitals and charities run by religious institutions, and secular companies who operate their businesses according to their faith are faced with an unsolvable dilemma. They must choose between two important values: to follow their religious beliefs and violate the mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services to provide abortifacient contraceptives to employees through their health care insurance or to follow the law and violate their religious beliefs that consider abortion the sin of murder.
Religious freedom does not just extend to religious organizations. It applies to every one of us living our day-to-day lives. If we believe what we profess—whether we are Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, pagan, agnostic, atheist, or anything else—we must live our lives according to those beliefs. If the government can take away the right of Christian business owners to exclude abortifacients from the companies’ health insurance, it can take away the right of Jews and Muslims to avoid eating pork and the right of pagans to worship nature.
Whether you are Christian or not, whether you believe that abortion is a sin or a right, you should be alarmed at the government’s intrusion into individual religious beliefs and practices. Today Christians who believe that abortion is a sin are targeted for loss of religious liberty. Tomorrow or next year it could be any faith group, any belief system. To protect your own religious liberty, stand up for the freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
~ Martin Niemöller
ALMIGHTY God, who hast created man in thine own image; Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil, especially the evil of religious persecution, and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our religious freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice among men and nations, to the glory of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. ~ Adapted from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer
January 11, 2013 by Lillie
Do you think that slavery ended with the Emancipation Proclamation? Most of the time when we think of human trafficking, we think of people brought from Africa to work in the Southern plantations before the Civil War. Thanks to God and brave abolitionists, that ended long ago.
Unfortunately, that didn’t mean the end of human trafficking. According to the Human Trafficking Awareness Day page on Facebook:
30 Million people are Trafficked for sex globally each year-3 Million of those are children and 200,000 of those children are right here in the USA. This makes the United States the world’s #1 Sex tourism destination. Sadly, There are twice as many slaves today as their were in Abraham Lincoln’s time. (Note: errors in original; emphasis mine)
OATH (Bringing Abolitionists Together to Expose and End Slavery) lists the following kinds of human trafficking on its site:
- Labor Trafficking
- Sex Trafficking
- Domestic Trafficking
- Child Sex Trafficking
- Child Porn
- Other Trafficking
Today’s slaves aren’t necessarily captured and carried away on a ship as the African slaves were. Often they are enticed and lured. A poor father in a developing country is enticed by the promise of a good job. When he accepts the offer and agrees to the fee, he is brought to the US and put into servitude to work off the debt that never diminishes. A runaway teenage girl is lured into prostitution by a pimp, who then controls her life. A child is sold by his family to a man who uses the child in porn or prostitution. A preteen girl is enticed by a promise of a career in movies and ends up being held captive and forced to perform in porn movies.
Illegal immigration isn’t human trafficking unless the person is brought to the US by someone who refuses to let the laborer go and forces him or her to work with little or no pay.
Prostitution isn’t human trafficking unless the prostitute is controlled by a pimp who controls her life and takes her money.
Child porn and prostitution are always human trafficking because minors cannot legally consent to have sex with an adult, yet consider how prevalent child sex trafficking is (from OASIS):
All children under the age of 18, whether foreign national or U.S. Citizen found in the commercial sex industry (stripping, prostitution or pornography) are victims of human trafficking.
Studies show that 100,000 to 300,000 U.S. kids are moved into the commercial sex industry every year in America. Additionally, 1.5 to 2.4 million vulnerable kids run away from home each year with reports that as many as 2/3 of the runaway girls and boys resort to “survival sex” within 48 hours of leaving home. Reports also show that 1/3 of the these runaway girls are coerced by pimps and traffickers to become underage commercialized sex workers – creating the next generation of prostitutes that will meet the growing demand of men who pay for sex.
The average age of a prostitute globally has dropped to 14 years old. The average age here in the U.S. when a girl is recruited into commercial sexual exploitation by her first pimp is 12 to 13. …
… If a person is found to be manufacturing or distributing child pornography, that can now be prosecuted under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act as human trafficking with a minimum sentence of 20 years to life in federal prison.
Experts estimate that 5 million images of children circulate the Internet each day. Up to 60,000 new images are loaded onto the Internet each day. It is estimated that 20% of the pornography on the Internet is that of children being sexually exploited. The majority of child pornography is prepubescent.
90% of these images and videos are homemade by individuals. 6% are of infants or toddlers.
The demand for this market: 99% are men… an estimated 91% are Caucasian. America has long been known as the #1 producer and #1 user of Child pornography. (Emphasis mine)
O GOD, We humbly beseech thee, of thy goodness, to comfort and succour all victims of human trafficking of all kinds and in all places. Give them a right understanding of thy promises; that, trusting wholly in thy mercy, they may not place their confidence anywhere but in thee. Relieve the distressed and protect the innocent; and forasmuch as thou alone bringest light out of darkness, and good out of evil, grant to these thy servants, that by the power of thy Holy Spirit they may be set free from the chains of servitude, and may be brought to newness of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
November 9, 2012 by Lillie
November is National Adoption Month.
Most of the children available for adoption are older children, and many couples want to adopt infants. Because a large majority of babies who would be adopted are murdered in the womb by their own mothers, there are few infants available for adoption. However there are more than 100,000 children currently living in foster care, hoping for a family of their own.
I can tell you there are challenges to adopting an older child, but there are many blessings as well. Children need parents and a family life, and adoption is the way to provide that for the thousands of kids who are stuck in the child welfare system.
O LORD Jesus Christ, who dost embrace children with the arms of thy mercy, and dost make them living members of thy Church; Give to those who have no family, grace, we pray thee, to stand fast in thy faith, to obey thy word, and to abide in thy love; that, being made strong by thy Holy Spirit, they may resist temptation and overcome evil; place them in loving homes so that they may rejoice in the life that now is, and dwell with thee in the life that is to come; through thy merits, O merciful Saviour, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest one God, world without end. Amen. ~ Adapted from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer
November 6, 2012 by Lillie
There are many terrible diseases, but Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is different in that patients lose their memories and their personality. As the disease progresses, they may become very paranoid and believe that their caregivers are going to harm them. Rather than appreciating the care, they may become suspicious and combative.
Most people know that individuals with Alzheimer’s lose their short-term memory, but many do not recognize that the disease affects the entire body. Alzheimer’s is always terminal.
Twice in my life I have been a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Along with several other family members, I helped care for my father, who died in 1995, seven years after being diagnosed with the disease. He had deteriorated to the point that he lay in bed, unable to communicate, to recognize his loved ones, or to control his bodily functions.
For the last couple of years, I have been caring for my husband Jack, who had early signs of Alzheimer’s for several years before he was diagnosed in early 2010. His two biggest fears were that he would not know me and that he would end up in a nursing home. I promised him that I would care for him, and thanks be to God, I was able to honor that promise. He died of kidney failure before AD progressed to the point that he didn’t recognize me. He was in a nursing home for a week after being discharged from the hospital so changes could be made to our home, such as adding(a wheelchair ramp and replacing the king-size bed with a hospital bed, and we could arrange for round-the-clock caregiving help because he couldn’t even sit up by himself. We got a private room, and I was with him constantly while family and friends made the necessary arrangements to take him home. He thought he was still in the hospital and never knew he was in a nursing home. We took him home on Wednesday afternoon, and he died the following Sunday morning.
We were so blessed that I could care for Jack full-time. I set up a laptop in the den so I could work when he was watching TV or sleeping, but whenever he needed anything or simply wanted company, I was there. In spite of the disease, we shared many precious times together during the last years of his life.
Alzheimer’s is becoming more and more common. The major risk factor is age—in the past, people didn’t live long enough to develop the disease. About half the people who reach the age of 80 will have Alzheimer’s. Every one of those individuals will need to be cared for, and most often caregivers are family members. Caregiving can be very stressful, both physically and emotionally. I can certainly attest to the fact that caregiving is challenging. However, I can also tell you from personal experience that caring for someone you love can be a blessing. Anticipating that the time would come that he wouldn’t be able to tell me—perhaps wouldn’t even remember or understand—Jack told me over and over again how much he loved me, and I had the opportunity to tell him often with words and show him constantly with care how much I loved him.
If you know a caregiver for an Alzheimer’s patient, let them know you appreciate what they do. It is not easy. My sister, Nancy Nicholson, was so impacted by being one of our father’s caregivers that she returned to school to become a social worker. She is wonderful with Alzheimer’s patients and with their families. She has written a short little book of helpful advice for caregivers, especially those just beginning the caregiving journey. I highly recommend the book, and it would make a wonderful Christmas gift for a caregiver.
October 15, 2012 by Lillie
Today is Blog Action Day. Thousands of bloggers around the world are posting on the theme of “The Power of We.” I wrote my post a few days early. You can read it at Blog Action Day 2012: The Power of We.
Let’s remember that the “Power of We” can apply to large groups (political activists making a change in government), a midsize group (a neighborhood group building a safe playground for the children of the area), or a small group (a few neighbors getting together to take turns running errands for a disabled person on their street). The size of the group and the size of the project don’t matter—what matters is that people come together to meet a need or accomplish a goal that none of them could accomplish on their own.