April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Children should be loved, nurtured, and protected–not rejected, neglected, and abused.
Learn more in this short video.
It’s fitting to observe these two special days at the same time. Martin Luther King Jr was a Christian pastor who frequently quoted Scripture in his eloquent speeches that often sounded like sermons. His Christian faith undergirded his passion for social justice and equality, and he followed the non-violent path of Jesus Christ. He led people to great strides in civil rights in a time before political correctness removed faith from the public square.
Many people say that our country is more racially divided today than for many years. I suspect the curtailing of religious freedom has a lot to do with that. Instead of peaceful protests by people of faith, we have riots by unruly mobs. Instead of prayer for better relationships, we have violent demands. Instead of increased unity and peace, we have disunity and rancor.
Today as we give thanks for Dr. King’s accomplishments, let us vow to protect religious freedom. May we heal the wounds of division and hate and share the love and peace of the Lord.
O LORD Jesus Christ, who saidst unto thine Apostles, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; Regard not our sins, but the faith of thy Church; protect religious freedom in the United States; and grant to thy Church and to this country that peace and unity which is according to thy will; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen. (Adapted from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer)
Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr, shares some words of wisdom for today in this video.
There are more people in slavery today than at any time in history! January is Slavery & Trafficking Prevention Month and January 11th is Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
According to Free the Slaves,
Although there are more people in slavery today than ever before, slavery represents the smallest percentage of the world’s population than at any other time in history.
We all need to educate ourselves about slavery today and as my husband Jack would say, “Be part of the solution and not part of the problem.” Learn industries that use slaves and try to find alternate sources so you’re not contributing to the profits of slavers to the detriment of those who are enslaved. Speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. Pray for an end to this evil in the world today.
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 the sorrows of thy servants who are enslaved for forced labor or sexual exploitation. Remember them, O Lord, in mercy; endue their souls with patience; protect them from their captors; comfort them with a sense of thy goodness; lift up thy countenance upon them, and give them peace. Open the hearts and minds of Your people to bring an end to this evil; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Adapted from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer)
Image: © Depositphotos.com/yellomello
January 9th is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day (L.E.A.D.).
I admit a degree of bias–my late husband served in law enforcement for many years. I know how dedicated he and his fellow officers were to protecting and serving the public.
These men and women risk their lives for the safety of others. Of course, I recognize there are bad cops, just as there are bad writers, bad teachers, bad doctors, and bad fill-in-the-blanks. And when a bad cop–or a bad anything else–is discovered, they need to lose their job and be held accountable for their actions.
However, the vast majority of law enforcement officers are conscientious and dedicated. They make personal sacrifices for the benefit of those they serve. They care about everyone they protect, regardless of race, ethnicity, or anything else. They want to stop crimes, and when a crime occurs, police officers want to catch the perpetrator and see that person punished.
Today, show your support for law enforcement. You can follow some of the suggestions on the L.E.A.D. webpage. You can thank police officers, and you can pray for them.
O LORD God of Hosts, stretch forth, we pray thee, thine almighty arm to strengthen and protect the law enforcement officers of our country. We humbly beseech thee to bless them and give unto them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, that they may discern the truth, and impartially administer the law in the fear of thee alone; through him who shall come to be our Judge, thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. (Adapted from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer)
Image: © Depositphotos.com/ronfromyork
We bemoan the commercialism of Christmas but keep on buying useless, extravagant gifts, going to parties we don’t enjoy, and rushing to and fro trying to check everything off our list. We overwhelm ourselves with places to go and things to do. This year, let’s try a better way with the Advent Conspiracy. Worship fully. Spend less. Give more. Love all. The video below explains a little more about the Advent Conspiracy.
Our church and I personally make our Advent Conspiracy gifts to Love for the Least,
a MOVEMENT born from the fifteen-year missionary work of its first field workers, dozens of church partners in America from a broad range of traditions and thousands of Believers who pray daily and invest in God’s Kingdom. The mission of L4L is to share the compassion of Christ with an unreached world.
The donations received by Love for the Least for Advent Conspiracy will be used to provide relief for Christian refugee families in Iraq. Muslims and Yezidi in the refugee camps receive help from the UN, but Christians do not. There are 1,380 Christian refugee families, and $75 will feed the whole family for a month as well as give them some treats and toys for the children. I’d love for you to support Love for the Least, as well, but there are hundreds of good causes that can use your donations more than your aunt can use another box of dusting powder.
I have been a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s twice in my life—first for my father in the late 1980s and early 1990s, then for my husband two decades later.
I was one of several caregivers for my father. One of the other caregivers was my sister, Nancy Nicholson. Nancy was so impacted by the experience that she returned to school and earned her degree as a social worker. She has worked now for many years as a social worker in nursing homes. She is wonderful with all elderly and ill people, but she is especially compassionate and talented in working with patients with dementia.
She was an incredible help to me during the years I cared for Jack. Sometimes I just needed to call her and vent. I knew she would understand exactly what I was dealing with. Sometimes, she just listened and sympathized, but oftentimes, she gave me much-needed advice. I am so blessed that I was able to care for Jack at home until the end, and Nancy’s help was important in making that happen.
Nancy has written a short, easy-to-read book for caregivers: Help! What Do I Do Now? Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s. It’s a simple book, but oh-so-helpful for caregivers, especially in the early stages of caring for their loved one.
If you have a loved one with dementia, even if you aren’t the primary caregiver, I think you’ll find it enlightening. You’ll understand the disease much better and appreciate what caregivers do. And if you are a caregiver, the book will be really helpful to you.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I hope you have no personal experience with domestic violence, but if you don’t, I hope you are or will become aware of the issue. We all need to be alert to the signs of abuse and to know what to do if we see them in someone around us.
I was so oblivious to abuse in early adulthood that I unknowingly failed to report child abuse. I taught a third-grade Sunday School class in a church whose membership mainly came from families stationed at two nearby Air Force bases. These families were patriotic Christians, not anyone I would have even considered could be an abuser.
Yet one morning, when one of my students knocked over a cup of coffee, spilling it on me, he reacted in a way I now recognize as being typical of someone who has been abused. He backed away, holding his hands up in front of his face, and apologized over and over again. I tried to reassure him I wasn’t injured, and the coffee would wash out of my dress. The accident was really my fault for having a cup of hot coffee in a room filled with exuberant third-graders.
I thought his reaction was way out of proportion to the incident. Years later, I realized his reaction wasn’t out of proportion if he was accustomed to being hit for a simple accident. I will always regret not recognizing the signs and taking action right away. His military father was transferred to another duty station not long after that, and I never saw the child again. I have thought of him often over the years. Was that child abused more and more because of my ignorance? Did he turn into an abuser in adulthood as so often happens?
That is my only personal experience with domestic violence, but when I started writing Dream or Destiny, my hero told me he and his sister (a murder victim) had been abused in childhood. I’ve always been skeptical when writers say their characters told them the story, but I experienced it in this book. I had no intention of having domestic violence as a theme of the book, but my characters guided me. I did a lot of research online–including reading first-person accounts of abuse–to make the story believable. One of the best compliments I have received on that book came from a book reviewer, Bluestocking, who asked if I had ever been a victim of domestic violence. She had served as a victim’s advocate for victims of abuse. Bluestocking said my character’s personality and actions were typical of adults who had experienced childhood abuse–so much so that she thought I was writing from personal experience.
Never again will I ignore abuse because I don’t know the signs. I hope you will join me in learning about domestic violence and working to stop it.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. ~ Ephesians 5:25 (NASB)
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. ~ Ephesians 6:4 (NASB)
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 the sorrows of thy servants who are victims of domestic violence. 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. ~ adapted from 1928 Book of Common Prayer
Image: © Depositphotos.com/sdecoret
Disability employment is a cause close to my heart. After my stroke, I spent time in a wheelchair, followed by five years using a motorized scooter. I remember the challenges I faced, and I operated my own business. I didn’t have to depend on anyone else for a job, but I did have to do business with other people who might doubt my ability to manage an interior landscape company when I couldn’t stand on my own two feet.
I remember one particular client visit. I had toured the atrium in the building to check on the work my staff did, then I met with the building manager in her office. We had a cordial discussion about the plants and our services, then I started to leave. However, her office had a short corridor from the office area to the exit, and I discovered that the corridor was too narrow for me to be able to position myself in such a way that I could reach the doorknob from the scooter. I had to back to scooter to her office and ask her to let me out.
The building manager walked over and opened the door. As I was maneuvering the scooter down the narrow passage, she said, “If I had to be on one of those things, I would never go out in public.”
I responded, “Every morning I have to make a choice. Will I lie in bed and feel sorry for myself or will I get up and go out in public on ‘one of those things.’ Every morning, I choose to keep living my life.”
She immediately apologized and explained that she had meant her comment to be a compliment, not a criticism. She didn’t think she would have the courage to make the choice to keep living.
“We never know how we would choose until we’re actually faced with the choice,” I said.
Millions of people with disabilities of all kinds face that decision every day, and they don’t all have the luxury I did of being my own boss. They must find an employer willing to give them a chance and perhaps make accommodations.
Fortunately, the Americans with Disabilities Act makes employment more accessible for many individuals who have disabilities along with great talent. The ADA was a new law when I had the stroke. People with long-time disabilities hadn’t started venturing out in great numbers, so it was common for my car to be the only one in a long row of handicapped parking spaces. Today, it’s more difficult to find a handicapped parking space because people with disabilities are no longer staying at home. They are in the marketplace and in the workplace. May each one have the opportunity to contribute.
Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, a day to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease. This is very close to my heart because of my personal experiences:
You can understand that every time I have a “senior moment” (and I have more of them than I like to admit), I start wondering… I also try to keep my mind active, reading an average of five books a week and doing online activities like jigsaw puzzles and vocabulary quizzes.
If you haven’t experienced loved ones with Alzheimer’s, World Alzheimer’s Day is a good time to learn more about the disease. The virtual dementia tour gives people an opportunity to experience a few minutes of what it’s like to have the disease. My social worker sister Nancy, who is incredible in working with dementia patients, gives the virtual tour periodically. People who go through it are always dramatically impacted.
You can see a little of what it’s like in the following video:
Image: © Depositphotos.com/alexraths
June 27th is PTSD Awareness Day.
PTSD affects many people, including individuals who have been assaulted or involved in serious accidents or other life-threatening situations. However, many, many of the people who suffer with PTSD are those who have been traumatized to protect us—soldiers, police officers, and paramedics.
Even if we don’t anyone personally know anyone with PTSD, we should be concerned. Our safety has been ensured by men and women who endured extreme trauma for our benefit.
If you do know someone personally with the condition, I highly recommend the book I Always Sit with My Back to the Wall. I’m proud to say I edited this book for the authors, a psychiatrist and a chaplain/trauma counselor, both of whom have extensive experience. They address the physiological, emotional, and spiritual affects of PTSD, and most importantly, give clear and simple guidance on managing PTSD. Since most of the authors’ experience is with veterans and active duty military personnel, the book is geared for combat PTSD, but I believe anyone experiencing PTSD from any kind of situation would find it helpful.