Another guest editorial by Dr. Duane Rommel, FAAP, member of Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society, and Board Certified Pediatrican, practicing at Children’s Medical Center in Palm Harbor, Florida.

 

I was surprised at the overwhelming response to my previous post. The first article surveyed the current situation and treatments regarding Covid 19 in the U.S.  I received a number of questions from people who are at higher risk, according to the current knowledge,  of Covid 19.   Time to talk about risk.

We now know some people have a higher mortality risk.  We also know that some populations seem to be almost immune from the virus.  Clearly, age is the biggest risk factor.  The older you are, the more risk of dying from the virus.  Children’s deaths are so rare, the numbers can be counted on one hand.

My response to the question of risk is that each individual must make decisions about their life choices with input from your own physician.

Everyone makes risk judgments every day.  Often we don’t even know the exact amount of risk, but we know there is some risk involved. Older people commonly climb on ladders to paint or clean gutters.  We know that if an older person falls, he has a much higher risk of permanent disability or death.   I see this same risk assessment played out in my office every day.  We recommend the flu vaccine for everyone.  About one half of the patients choose not to get the vaccine which is proven safe.  Some patients are more concerned about their perceived possibility of getting sick from the vaccine, than dying from the flu.  Even when I try to convince them that the vaccine is safe and that you cannot become ill from the vaccine, they choose the riskier path of not getting vaccinated.  They have the responsibility and right to make this personal decision.

The same risk responsibility should apply regarding Covid 19.  Physicians should be informing patients about how to manage the new reality with Covid 19.   We need to inform our patients about the level of risk they face according to the best medical knowledge so that the patient can decide what course of action to take. Our knowledge of Covid 19 is continually expanding so these risk assessments may change over time.

As I stated previously, the latest scientific data has been very encouraging regarding the risk of mortality. Even today, according to the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine,  Covid 19 will be fatal in a flu-like 0.1% to 0.36% of cases.    The large majority of the deaths from Covid 19 would be in the over 65 years population.  The mortality rate for people under 65 is .001%.

We have accepted these mortality rates as a society many times in the past with other serious flu epidemics without panic and shutting down the country. Unfortunately, instead of helpful data, for the last weeks we’ve only been inundated with daily death counts.  These numbers, out of context, have no meaning other than to create hysteria. That number tells me nothing about my individual risk or the risk that we face as a country. Our government leaders, standing on the best medical knowledge, need to educate citizens about risks they are facing.  Then each person may determine what risk they will take and make decisions on their own activities .  This is, basically, what Sweden is doing.

For the last few weeks, I gave government the benefit of the doubt about their leadership.  They were just being cautious in their heavy response to Covid 19. Now the time has come to stop needlessly frightening us.

I live in Pinellas County, Florida.  After watching yesterday’s County Commission meeting, I must speak out again.  The Commissioners were meeting to decide whether to reopen the beaches and swimming pools.   Citizens were allowed to comment on their decision.  Fear dominated much of their discussion and some public input.  A majority of citizens pled for freedom from the government restricting activities that under all other circumstances would be obvious rights we have as Americans.

The commissioners finally voted to open up the beaches and pools next week. However, it was obvious that they are very reluctant to give away the powers that they have assumed during this crisis.  Even though Sheriff Gaultieri told them that some current guidelines are unenforceable for a number of reasons, they still wanted to keep some restrictions on people at the beach.  The idea of restricting beach activities has no valid medical basis.  There are miles of beach in Pinellas county and people can easily social distance at the beaches.  The commissioners don’t trust that people know how to do that.   Or there might be a few people who don’t social distance enough.  This is ridiculous.   Government must give up these emergency powers which they are currently abusing.   They need to allow people to determine their own activities, such as beach-going, since they want to accept the miniscule level of risk.

Yesterday’s meeting illustrates the bigger issue:  who will decide our health choices?  The government, or patients under a physician’s care?  Our current crisis has become a major health mess.  The government has scared the community so much that the risk of Covid 19 has disproportionately eclipsed every other health risk.   Medical professionals who are able to understand and apply medical decision making must be involved in their patient’s health.  Many patients are now too afraid to even go and see their doctors.

The most important thing for our government leaders to do now is get out.  People must go back to their physicians to get the medical information they need to determine personal life choices based on their own risk tolerance.  To continue down the current path of trying to control the virus by restricting activities and controlling our behavior until a treatment or vaccine is developed, is unwise.  From the feedback that I received, the longer our leaders dawdle in that direction the more people will suffer and die.

 

Disclaimer:  My views may not reflect views of Children’s Medical Center where I work.  Please seek medical advice for you own situation with your doctor.

The following is a guest editorial by Dr. Duane Rommel, M.D.  Duane graduated Alpha Omega Alpha, with highest medical honors, from Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago; trained in Pediatrics at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and now practices Pediatrics with Children’s Medical Center in Palm Harbor, Florida.

 

Fantastic News!  The coronavirus pandemic is not as scary as we thought.

In the last 2 weeks, surveillance data has shown that the Covid 19 virus is much more widespread than testing had been able to show, because of the limited testing previously available.  As a medical doctor, I’ve been anxiously waiting for these results of antibody testing.  The surveillance statistics from this shows the real numbers of people who have been infected with Covid 19.  Two of the most recent surveys were reported in the Wall Street Journal’s  interview (April 25, 2020) with Dr. John Ioannidis, professor at Stanford’s school of Medicine.  He’s a well regarded expert in statistics, biomedical data, prevention research and health research and policy.  The surveillance testing showed that in a random population in the Stanford area,  the infection rate was between 50 to 85 times the number of previously confirmed cases.  This data has  been confirmed by  surveillance studies in high incidence areas in New York recently.

This is great because it demonstrates that the Covid 19  fatality rate is between .12 to .2%.  This is far less than the initial reports of a fatality rate of 2 to 4 %.  Also, of the fatalities, only 1% of the deaths involve people under the age of 65.  Therefore the fatality rate for Covid 19 is .0012 to .002% for people under the age of 65.  This rate is the same of most seasonal flu illnesses every year.  This is the key statistic that all public health decisions are being based on.

I’m excited about this new data because I’m a primary care physician.  My son and daughter-in-law are also primary care physicians.  We are uniquely qualified to analyze this data, as practitioners in the medical community.  We  routinely digest research and statistics from the the ‘experts’ in university and government programs, such as the CDC and FDA.  We continually have to make judgments for our patients based on real life applications of  medical .research and statistics.  We practice evidenced-based medicine, which means we make decisions based on scientific data.  However, statistics can be interpreted in different ways, depending on the biases of the physician looking at the numbers.  Medicine is not an exact science.

The first rule of medicine is “Do no harm.”  The next rule is that when a patient comes to us, we weigh the risks versus the benefits of the treatment which we are prescribing.  As this applies to our current situation, the nation’s physicians, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx have prescribed a “stay at home” treatment program for our country.  Based on their knowledge at the time when they made this prescription, this was the best treatment course of action.  Now, with the new information about the surveillance data,  we need to adjust our treatment program.

In light of the latest scientific data, we are doing more harm than good with our treatment program.  .  First, in the field of medicine, I am referring to the delaying of medical treatments and prevention.  The statistics are clearly showing that childhood, life-saving immunizations are being delayed.  Screening tests for breast cancer and colon cancer are not being done.  Patients are afraid to go to the doctor to get their diabetes or chest pain evaluated.   Medical problems are being caused by our current treatment program which are leading to an increase in mortality greater than the pandemic.

Other ancillary problems of our national shut downs are more difficult to quantitate.  Job loss leads to lack of meaning in life which leads to depression.  How will we tabulate the suicides related to our isolating treatment program? Fear and anxiety contribute to physical illness.  This is where primary care physicians are in a unique position.  We see the whole patient, not just the Covid related concerns.  We see the stress to our patients which is being caused by our treatment.   I have not even touched on the economic pain and disruption since I am not an economist, but that is interwoven with our current treatment.

The major objection to changing our current treatment plan is that people will die.   As physicians, we know that people die every day.  We also know that there are many illnesses for which we have no good treatments.  When a child comes to see me with a stomach virus, I routinely tell parents that the infection has to run its course.  I have no treatment for the infection.  I can make sure the child does not get dehydrated but I cannot cure the virus.

This is the case with most viruses today.  We have no treatment for Covid 19.  We cannot stop this infection from infecting 60 – 70% of people eventually, despite the public’s most vigorous practices. When the virus entered our country, medical advice pushed for us to ‘flatten the curve.’  This means that we were trying to spread out the infection over a longer period of time.  There was never a cure. The same number of people are going to get the virus: either now or later.   Covid 19 is a highly contagious virus.  This is the truth that I am not hearing from the leaders of our government, being advised by our medical community.  ‘Mitigation’ does not mean ‘cure.’   Your infection with Covid 19 may not happen in the next month but it will certainly happen in the next 12 – 18 months.  A vaccine is too far off for any help.  No responsible medical expert has promised any cure with our current stay at home guidelines.  Unfortunately, most people think they’re not going to get the virus if they work hard enough.  That is not truth.

We cannot make present medical decisions on “what if” possible treatments.  With the new statistics showing a far lower mortality rate, we must reevaluate our strategy.   We’re creating problems now and for the future with our treatment plan.  As a doctor, I make decisions based in the scientific facts of the here and now.   Consider the fatality rate.  That is the good news.  It is not Ebola virus.  It is proving to be similar to a flu virus, despite what the news has trumpeted with its 24/7 hospital videos and incoherent number counts.

In light of this latest scientific information, government and medicine must lead our country with a new treatment plan.  We need to let the public know that we do not have a cure for coronavirus and it will have to run its course.  We will monitor the course, to make sure it does not overwhelm society, but there are not any cures for viruses.  In mercy, we need to remove the gigantic layers of guilt we’ve laid on the general population; that by our own unhygienic practices, we are causing our loved one’s deaths.

We need to reeducate a panicked populace.  First, we need to remove excessive “stay at home” directives.  Encourage all people to resume all doctor visits.  Start meeting with family and friends.  Open up all retail and restaurants with reasonable social distancing.  Allow all outdoor activities: playgrounds, beaches, kids sports and fitness centers.  Reassess in 2-3 weeks the Covid 19 surveillance data.  If the infection rate is reasonable, make more changes such as opening churches and other larger gatherings.   Allow all domestic travel.  As much as possible get everyone back to work.    Responsible medical scientists will continue to monitor the numbers and statistics as we go forward to adjust for what we need to do.

The bad news, the hard truth that I am not hearing from our government and medical leaders, is that we have no cure for Covid 19 and you likely will get infected with it.  The good news is that Covid 19 is nowhere near as fatal as the original estimates. The really good news is that when you get your infection you probably will not know you had it. Let us start behaving with that reality.  We need to change our treatment plan and not harm the patient (our society) any further.   As more scientific knowledge becomes available, we will continue to adjust our treatment program based on that science and the wisdom which God provides to us.

 

Disclaimer: My views may not reflect the views of Children’s Medical Center.  Please consult your own doctor for specific advice in your situation.

 

I have a little friend that visits me when I sit at my desk.  His mother built her nest in the hurricane shutter outside my window.  I have a ‘thing’ about birds.  It started with J.M. Barrie’s book, “The Little White Bird,” published in 1901.  I found a copy in a bookstore in England when I was there for the Wheaton in England program.  The middle chapters of the book introduce the wonderful Peter Pan.

Birds fly in many chapters of the Bible.  The dove descends on Jesus at his baptism.  A picture of the Holy Spirit.  Whenever I see a bird in flight, or standing near me on my porch railing, I think, “God is here.”  Good news these days.

What have Duane and I been doing these days?  On March 2, we bought a 2 bedroom villa in Countryside, to be nearer to work and church.  We’re keeping the beach condo.  Here’s a picture of our new bedroom.  Duane just got the mirror I found at a consignment store hung.  Outside the window you can see our deck that overlooks a  small retention pond.

Days after we bought the villa, our world began shutting down.  The lady we bought it from left most of her furnishings, so we had beds and chairs.   I’ve painted almost every room in my favorite color, Benjamin Moore’s OC-19, which sounds eerily like the virus.  It’s name is ‘Seapearl,’ a warm white.

With a new place, we’ve been making frequent trips to Home Depot, staying, as we say in Florida, “an alligator’s distance” from each other.

The owner also left four filing cabinets, and etc., in the garage.  Her move was overwhelming her; she was moving into a senior living facility.  We told her to leave whatever.  Over the last year of 3 or 4 moves we have become adept at Salvation Army, Facebook marketplace, etc.   This picture is after we cleared out, with our friend Dustin McCanse’s help, most of the stuff.

A clean garage, Duane’s pride and joy, because now he has a spot for our bikes.  He has hung my bike on a unique pulley system in the left corner.  Our recumbent tandem is not shown, or Duane’s other bike for riding to work.

We’ve been blessed with 2 of our 4 grandkids being in town.  Last week, Elizabeth and Mike were still in their offices working, so we tried valiantly to oversee Ethan and Sophie’s schoolwork, with schools closed.  Some mornings we had three computers juggling different Zoom meetings.

Then you have to make sure everyone gets lunch.  Sophie counts out the number of Pringles to go with the sandwiches.

After lunch Elizabeth picked up the kids.   We resume the continual small projects of moving, like cleaning dust out of the chandelier from when the popcorn ceilings were removed.    Going to the food store, doing the wash, getting ready for Zoom Bible study, Zoom men’s group, Zoom Adult Bible Fellowship, and church online.

Duane is still working, more part time than ever.  He’s busy with frequent physician telephone meetings to figure out how to best serve their patients.  Things change; another phone meeting.

And we make exercise a priority every day.  At the condo we bike or walk the beach or the neighborhood.  Officially the beach is closed however supposedly if you are in the water you can walk along the shoreline.  It’s pretty deserted but still beautiful.

And we bike.  It’s been easy putting our recumbent tandem, that we’ve had for over 20 years, in the van to transport it between the condo and the villa.  We are thankful we can get outdoors and see God’s beautiful world.  I took this picture because ahead of us is a guy on a bike with a giant front wheel, in the style of the original bikes.

I love this blue flower, a delphinium, in front of the pink geranium.  It won’t last in the Florida heat.  But I’m enjoying it for now.    One of Mother’s favorite questions was, “What are you looking forward to this week?”

If I read the newspaper or watch the news (I’m definitely stopping all news/press conferences as of today) it feels like there’s not much to look forward to.  The government’s idea of ‘soon’ things are opening up, and my definition of ‘soon’ are different!  Not accidentally, I hugged a friend I ran into on an essential trip to Target yesterday.

Each day, the good things prevail .

 

“Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

 

We’re the only country in the world with the motto, “In God We Trust” plastered on our money,  We are a uniquely spiritually based place.  So I’m shocked at the flood of virus fear rocking the U.S.A.  The panic has exposed, like the Emporer in the fairy tale strutting about in his birthday suit, that for many, our faith has rested not on God, but on two powerless gods: Science and Government.

I’m the wife of a scientist; my husband is a doctor, as are two of my children.  I’ve also run for political office, worked on local political campaigns, and investigate candidates before I vote for them.  I admire and respect our scientists and politicians for their work.  But in this crisis, they will not save us.

People can see that.  There’s no way out.  There’s no epidemiological chart that will protect anyone 100%. For all the explanations, there are some people dying that ‘don’t meet the criteria.’  Panic!

We  set ourselves up for this.  We built special schools for our kids called “STEM” schools, because Science (along with math and technology) is the Most Important subject.  We love facts.  Yet science cannot, for as much as it tries, tell us where we came from, what our life’s meaning is, or predict the future.  I’m a Floridian.  I’ve lived through hundreds of Spaghetti models of hurricanes’ track.  Meteorologists  can tell you a hurricane is coming, but not where it will land exactly or how catastrophic the devastation will be.  Ask thousands of cancer survivors about their supposed ‘life expectancy.’

As for the power of our country’s elected leaders to help us in this crisis:  in general, I grew up thinking Democrats thought they could do more, and Republicans expected to do less. But in this event, both Democrats and Republicans are falling over each other to Help.  Two weeks ago our Republican sheriff began posting  “closed signs” at every beach entrance and “non-essential” business.   This to ‘slow the spread.’  The President’s Virus Team, a group of dedicated doctors and politicians (‘politics makes strange bedfellows’!) informs and entertains each evening on the television regarding their Plans For Us.  Unfortunately, for all the testing, shut downs, masks, etc., they cannot control the virus.  If the truth is told, much of what is stated is pure conjecture.  A guess.

They’re not telling us the truth: only God is in control.

“You can’t handle the truth!”  the famous quote from the military film, “A Few Good Men” indicts most of us.  It’s a hard pill to swallow for many in the United States, because with our brilliant scientists and the American Way, God has been on the back burner or off the stove completely.

We now have time in our viral induced seclusion to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask the hard questions about what I believe my life is all about.

Put your trust in God.

Psychoanalyst Viktor Frankl, survivor of the Nazi concentration camps that killed over 3 million, wrote,

“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.”

We can choose faith in God.  I keep hoping to hear, during the televised Virus Team meetings in our capital, some acknowledgment by our leaders, several of whom are people of faith, that our country has a need for deliverance that can only be met by God.  I did hear the word ‘miracle’ used once or twice, but that is not near the credit God deserves.  Medical treatments, lower than expected mortality rates or the coveted vaccine will come, but will the team, or we as individuals, give credit to God,  the source of all healing and good?

In a favorite episode of the comedy “Dick Van Dyke Show”, Laura and neighbor Millie have spent an overnight petrified because they thought they heard robbers in the house.  To drown out their terror,  they blast the TV and radio, and turn on all the lights.   After hearing one more crash, they dash out to the garage.  Millie begins screaming hysterically.  Then, shockingly, Laura slaps Millie in the face.

“Pull yourself together!”  Laura cries.

Millie immediately stops.

During the show, we the viewers were shown some of the harmless events that got translated into high anxiety.   We know the night is not as scary as Laura and Millie’s experience. We’re laughing, because their fear was all nonsense.

This virus is no joke.  But it is something we can trust God with.  And must, if we want to be true to what we say we believe, and the very money we print.

That slap is what we all need right now.

Put our trust in God.  This is our opportunity to see him provide for us.

“This I declare about the LORD.  He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God and I trust him.  For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.”  Psalm 91: 2-3

 

 

 

 

 

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I can still feel the chilly breeze on my cheeks that May morning we visited Hotel Dieu, in Beune, France.  The French word  ‘hotel’ has roots in the Latin ‘hospes,’ meaning ‘a place of caring for a stranger.’  Our word, ‘hospitality.’

In 1443, Nicolas Rolin, a wealthy ‘old man’ of 47, and his third wife, the 18 year old Guigone de Salins, built Hotel Dieu, or the House of God.  The people of the area were destitute and suffering from the plague, a contagious illness that had no cure.

 

On the tour we heard that Nicolas built Hotel Dieu as an act of Christian charity.   His wife, Guigone, was the heart of the work.   An educated noblewoman, she furnished the rooms of the hospital with art because she believed healing the body was inseparable from healing the spirit.   The motto  Nicolas had inscribed on floor tiles and walls, “Seulle,” as a tribute to his wife, means ‘only her.”

After Nicolas died,  Guigone joined the order she and her husband established at Hotel Dieu, “Les sœurs hospitalières de Beaune”, serving the destitute there until she died in 1470.  The mission continued until the 1970s.

The furnishings we saw in The Room of the Poor, above, date from the 19th century, when each bed held two patients!  The chapel sits in the same space, through the wooden gothic arch, so the bedridden could still attend Mass.

In 2020 with a new plague afflicting us,  I remember our visit to Hotel Dieu.  Through the centuries,  Jesus’ followers are the courageous caregivers serving the sick, poor and needy.

“Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you?  Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality?  Or naked and give you clothing?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?”

And Jesus will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”   Matthew 25:38-40

 

 

 

 

 

“I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,

Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong.

The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam…

 

…The delicious singing of the mother,

or of the young wife at work,

or of the girl sewing or washing,

Each singing what belongs to him

or her and to none else….”

– Walt Whitman  (I didn’t quote the entire poem but its worthwhile)

I open the ‘Daily Gleanings’ calendar to “Tuesday March 24, 2020.”  I scan the verse for the day as I set my foot on the plank floor.

“I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.   Micah 7:7

Dating all the way back to the days of Moses and the crossing of the Red Sea, Israel was taught to “Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD…(Exodus 14:13).”

Written thousands of years ago, It’s as if a fortune teller predicted exactly what I needed to read in the present day.

For those of us who are introverts, the present ‘social distancing’ and the idea that we need to stay home is like a Christmas gift.  Except the reality is that with reduced work and nonexistent school hours, I’ve had more people around than usual.  People I love…   But… I need more than solitude to write.  Like Captain Hook, in the Broadway version of “Peter Pan,”  I need inspiration.

“Inspire me!  Play, you dogs, play!”  Captain Hook demands music of his rag tag pirate urchins.

After days of dismal discouragement, fresh air came blowing in the window from listening to Dr. Deborah Birx last evening during a White House press conference.  “Who is this intelligent woman, sharing clear and helpful statistics?” Duane and I wondered.  This morning, I dug around and found she is one of the doctors on the President’s crisis team and she graduated from Houghton, a Christian college, in New York.

And Walt Whitman’s poem inspires me, describing the vibrant  joy of work.  Specifically, the heroism of every American worker.  Some U.S. officials are deciding, these days, what to keep ‘open’ and what is ‘nonessential.’  All work is essential; our efforts to feed, cloth, shelter and protect each other,  all bring meaning and blessing.

Interesting that we have a phrase for our work: ‘what we do for a living.’  Our work isn’t only about a paycheck.  Our work, illustrated in Whitman’s poem, is one of the things that keeps us alive.

For ‘home managers,’ now we’re on the battle’s front lines.  Psalm 84 illuminates the beauty of ‘place.’  Verse 3 describes security,  “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies.”

In Lance Morrow’s excellent article, “What to Do When You’re Sheltering in Place,” he shares practical ideas for creating a haven of peace for our families.

Saturday I planted flowers outside the kitchen window. I’m making simple but tasty dinners, using the recipes on the back of the Stove Top Stuffing box.  Yesterday we listened to Rimsky -Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” while we made S’mores.

The German bombs that killed 43,000 civilians in Britain during WWII created the slogan of resilience its people carried in their hearts, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

We must do the same.

 

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”  John 1:5

 

 

“…we’ve heard the people clammer to shut the beaches,”  stated Janet Long, Pinellas County Commissioner, at last night’s County Commission Meeting.  In spite of Pinellas Sheriff Gualtiera’s objections that the public was using the beach appropriately, they voted unanimously to shut them down.

Welcome to Socialized Medicine.  Democrats, Janet Long being one,  seem to be the ones falling in with the ‘government knows what is best for you’  scare policies.  Politicians, not doctors, telling you what is best for your health.

Unfortunately, there are a few doctors, Dr. Fauci being the leader, terrifying the public with statistics and suggestions of: death.  Yikes!  We are all mortals!  Many other doctors are willing to put those statistics into a larger perspective to calm down the public.  They haven’t been featured on the news, which I gave up watching several days ago because the illogical stories, like ‘how to make candles’ to pass the time while you are isolated at home, have gotten boring.

Time for Americans to stand up for freedom and common sense.  We’ve watched communist and  socialized medicine countries implement draconian policies of shut down that have produced a ‘cure’ far worse than any illness.  Not only are people losing businesses and jobs, but people with significant medical needs  are being overrun by policies that hamper their care.

My husband and I went out for dinner last night.  We waited for our dinner at the outdoor empty seating area of a favorite restaurant and watched many diners come to collect their dinner ‘to go.’  One lady, standing at the curb, puffed on her cigarette as she waited.  When is our government going to stop selling cigarettes and ban alcohol, two health risks that kill more people than the present virus?

Kudos to Gualtieri,  who is trying to remain sensible.  And also to our governor, Ron DeSantis, who seems to be fighting to keep things open.  They are holding fast to their political beliefs.  Governments should serve, not terrify, their people.

“When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.” – Winston Churchill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t want to see “1917” because I have two sons, and for a mother, realistic war movies are really horror movies.  I see all kinds of movies but not horror movies.   But with everyone talking about the amazing cinematography, the ‘Best Picture’ nomination, and some of my girlfriends (also moms) seeing it, I decided, bracing myself, that I would go.

Also, Duane and I toured the WWI battlefield in Ypres, Belgium, on a cold rainy June day a few years ago.  We marched around mounds that were once trenches filled with mud soaked soldiers, and saw the fields where some of the millions of horses died.  The opening scenes of 1917 exactly reproduced that landscape of hell.  I watched with eyes squinting to not feel the full impact of the brutality of that war.

Two soldiers are on a mission to reach a major with a life saving message, was what I understood the film was about, without anyone giving away the ending.  I debated whether it would be a story of heroes or a story of the hopelessness of war; the first always inspires me, the second I can do without.

It won the Oscar for best cinematography because the visuals, like a bombed out town lit in the dark by fires and flares,  were amazing.  It was up for best picture because in the details of the story man is portrayed in his humanity: good and evil.  It was a story of two sons; each had pictures of their mother safely tucked inside their uniforms. Was one picture hidden in his small Bible?  One of the soldiers is desperate to find and see his brother.  In meeting a convoy of soldiers, an officer warns, “Be sure to give your message in front of others.  War makes men too eager to fight.”

I often wonder where a film gets its story.  The more fascinating ones are usually based in reality.  Most inspiring, In the end credit, Sam Mendes honors his grandfather, Alfred Mendes with his full military title, as the basis for the idea of “1917.”  We need to share our family stories.

My grandfather, Andrew Telford, served in the Canadian Army in France in WWI.  He had become a Christian the previous year and spent time preaching the Good News, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will have eternal life,” to men who were going off to die.  They respected him; enough that they asked him to keep their gambling money safe in his Bible.

Five stars.

 

 

In June 2019 we sold our house with a pool and moved to the condo that had been our ‘beach place’.  We wanted to simplify life.  We turn 65 in 2020. 

Duane was still taking care of kids at North Pinellas Children’s.  We were loving our small group and friends at church.  I planned to continue serving in BSF.  And the mailings from Medicare arrived on a daily basis.

I loved our condo at the beach. Yet now when we were living here full time and friends smiled, “Aren’t you living the dream?!” I didn’t feel like it.  Maybe it was the mess of the first weeks, but even after the floor was done and closets installed and filled, the unease remained. As I looked out at spectacular sunsets from the bedroom window, instead of marveling at the beauty, the unspoken idea that this might be our last place made me feel sad.  Life felt smaller, which had nothing to do with square footage.

Duane and I talked about what God’s future plans for us would be.  His friends were starting to retire, and that was making him think about what he wanted 

to do.   Duane knew from little things I said, that I was struggling with the change to full time life at the beach.  We asked our friends to pray for us.  

In December, our daughter-in-law Elizabeth mentioned enjoying listening to Carey Nieuwhof’s leadership  podcast.  On a Monday night, while Duane was watching football (again!), I listened to Carey’s 2 hour interview with Gordon MacDonald. He authored the bestsellers “Ordering Your Private World” and “Reordering Your Broken World.”  His thoughts about his life and marriage when he was in his 60s were so inspiring I urged Duane to listen.  We listened to their conversation three times. 

We started talking.  We spent hours asking each other questions about what we expected in the next few years.  We said the things we had been thinking but were afraid to say.  We went to sleep past our bedtime and then woke up in the morning with another fresh idea.  

In 1975, when we began dating at Wheaton, Gordon MacDonald had taught a Special Services week at Wheaton, on “Relationships.”  His ‘appearance’ now, with pivotal insights, was a ‘nice touch,’ God.

We had been looking to God for a new opportunity.  That wasn’t happening.  The only possibly new idea was starting a young couples group at church.  I wasn’t sure how we would do that, since our condo wasn’t too far for us but too far for some.   

“Have you had any answer to prayer about your future plans?”  asked one of the ladies in my BSF group, when we got together after the Christmas break.

She knew we were praying for direction, even with a specific, “We’d like to know what to do by January 1.”  

One morning at BSF, in a hallway conversation, a mom of one of Duane’s patients mentioned how often his work had been a ministry to their family.  It wasn’t the first time I’d heard that.  Then, a few weeks later, a favorite uncle, now 80, counseled, “The years I worked from 65 to 75 were some of my best.”

We kept searching, as January 1 came and went.

“The LORD directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives.”  Psalm 37:23

“I’m hesitant about living full time at the beach,”  It felt good to confess to a friend.  A little scary, too, as I didn’t have an easy solution.  She wasn’t a bit shocked.  She told me she and her husband, who had downsized, were considering adding on. 

“You need more room, too.  You and Duane like having people over.”

“He’ll flip out,”  I answered.  

She just smiled.  “I’ll pray for your conversations.”

A few Wednesdays ago, on one of those rare, empty of time constraints, open afternoons, we plunged into talking more specifically about what we’re doing, and where and how.   We talked about the size and location of our condo, church ministry plans, and Duane’s work.  

Duane didn’t flip out.  Instead, we figured out new ways to meet our goals.  Age wise, we’re five years shy of seventy, but still in excellent health and love being actively involved with work, friends, church and family.    

Last Sunday afternoon, we visited an Open House at a two bedroom villa (no maintenance!), near work and church.   I could see us hosting friends for dinner in the spacious dining room.  Within a few days, we were under contract.  We’ll keep the beach condo, but  split our time, as we were doing before.  Duane loves his patients at North Pinellas Children’s, and plans to keep on working.  Thursday afternoon we’re meeting with our pastor about a small group opportunity.

We’re ignoring the number 65, with gratitude that we do have our health and Duane has a flexible job.    

I’m glad we’re not dead yet.  

Thank you for praying for us.

 

We Will Dance

     -Steven Curtis Chapman

I’ve watched the sunrise in your eyes

And I’ve seen the tears fall like the rain

You’ve seen me fight so brave and strong

You’ve held my hand when I’m afraid

We’ve watched the seasons come and go

We’ll see them come and go again

But in winter’s chill, or summer’s breeze

One thing will not be changin’

We will dance

When the sun is shining

In the pouring rain

We’ll spin and we’ll sway

And we will dance

When the gentle breeze

Becomes a hurricane

The music will play

And I’ll take your hand

And hold you close to me

And we will dance

Sometimes it’s hard to hold you tight

Sometimes we feel so far apart

Sometimes we dance as one

And feel the beating of each others hearts

Some days the dance is slow and sweet

Some days we’re bouncing off the walls

No matter how this world may turn

Our love will keep us from fallin’

And we will dance

When the sun is shining

In the pouring rain

We’ll spin and we’ll sway

And we will dance

When the gentle breeze

Becomes a hurricane

The music will play

And I’ll take your hand

And hold you close to me

And we will dance

The music will play

And I’ll hold you close

And I won’t let you go

Even when our steps

Grow weak and slow

Still I’ll take your hand

And hold you close to me

And we, will dance

5-star-movie reviews

“Just Mercy”‘s lawyer, Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), heroically fights for truth and justice for his death row clients in Alabama.  Based on a true story, the film exposes flagrant racism too close in time, only twenty five years ago, for comfort. Aren’t we past all that?  Five stars for subject matter: truth and the fight for justice.  Also, a graphic portrayal of the death penalty with a worthy plea to shut it down, in the name of justice and mercy.

However, on a cinematic level, although the acting was believable and writing hammered home the film’s message, the pace of the story in the first half was slow, and visually, something I could have watched at home on a TV screen.  Hence the three stars below.  Best supporting actor for Tim Blake Nelson,  whose characterization of the guy whose lies put innocent Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) on death row sparkled.

The movie could have ended where Foxx’s character realizes that the truth has set him free, while he is still incarcerated.  Powerful scene.  But doesn’t.

Duane wondered why the title was, “Just Mercy”:  Real justice stands alone on the truth, and in this story, that’s all the man needed.  

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