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Midwives are Muscle Relaxants 
I had the pleasure of hosting the Christian Midwives International board retreat meeting this past week. The days leading up to their arrival were busy ones: purchasing and prepping food, planning itineraries, investigating restaurants (what a chore, huh), getting all the needed items moved into our congregation’s hospitality house, to include my own clothes for the five-day stay. I expected to be exhausted by the time they arrived.

Not so! I was eager to see these dear women I usually only see once yearly at the annual CMI conference (this year, April 22-25, in lovely Pigeon Forge, TN – see www.christianmidwives.org) and was energized by the thought of the visit.

Now, it is important to note I’ve been seeing a massage therapist almost weekly for a while. Someone hastily backed up smack into my driver’s side door in May, and I’ve had constant pain and stiffness in my neck and jaw muscles since, so much so at times I couldn’t open my mouth more than the width of my thumb. I’ve tried various herbs, tried mouthpieces, cervical neck rolls, cranio-sacral therapy, investigated possible problems with my teeth, driven five hours to see my favorite and superb osteopathic doc friend for osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT), and even tried various forms of conventional medical therapy. The result of all this: with OMT and weekly massage, I can at least function, but nothing causes release of the muscles in my neck.

In roll the midwives. We laugh. We work. We laugh until we wheeze. We cry. We laugh until our stomach muscles ache. We affirm what is good in the other. We laugh because receiving those affirmations is hard. We address issues needing work in the other. We laugh because it’s not like those things are big secrets we’ve been able to hide. We eat much food, and we giggle ourselves to sleep each night.

The five days are up in no time, and two by two, the midwives departed last Monday. I had much catch-up to do at home and business. This past week’s days were busy. Then came Friday, my first massage in several weeks – I’ve been getting ready for midwives, remember. As Polly, my superb massage therapist at Aspirations Spa in Monroe, Louisiana, begins to work on my neck, I notice something slightly different, so I ask, “Do you feel something different?”

Polly says, “Yes, your neck is not a piece of steel beneath my fingers.” Now, things are still sore and tight, but without question to either Polly or me, I’ve relaxed a little bit, perhaps allowing healing to begin on my neck and shoulders.

I drive home thinking, “why now when these past couple of weeks have been full of busy days beginning earlier than I like and busy nights ending later than I like?” The answer I’ve decided upon: Midwives are muscle relaxants.

The very nurturing nature of their calling causes hugs and soft touches to occur when you look like you’re hurting. And, these women love life; they live each day in service to God-breathed new life. These generous-hearted women resonate with joy; being near them inspires, at least in this woman, a relaxing into being the woman I am today and a contentment that God will continue His work in me until it is finished when my last breath is taken. And, when we are able to find contentment in today, who we are now without worrying over who we are not yet, laughter overflows…and muscles relax.

A hearty thank you to Brandi Wood, Lori Luyten, Ireena Keeslar, and Rebekah Knapp: love that accepts heals.

And, to those of you who are birth interested or practicing, go to the CMI website now and sign up for the April conference. I'll see you there. We'll laugh. We'll hug. We'll eat. We'll affirm. We'll accept. Your muscles will relax.

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T 
Aretha sang about it. Parents admonish children to show it. Husbands and wives are told in the Bible to have it for one another. Rodney Dangerfield just couldn’t get any. And, all too often, neither does the consumer/patient in a healthcare system geared toward viewing patients as a run-down vehicle coming in for tune-ups or a broken-down vehicle needing diagnostics to reveal parts broken and in need of repair or removal. If we were simply a frame holding in parts, this might work, but we are so much more.

We think. We feel. Our body physically reacts to what we think and feel, to what we eat, what we do, to our surroundings – what others are thinking and feeling and eating and doing. We are marvelously complex creatures, created by a Creator who desires to interact with us. A health care system aimed at reducing us to images created by ionizing radiation, powerful magnets, sound waves, or the content of drops of blood or urine is a health care system desperately in need of reform.

And reform is exactly what happens when people begin seeking complementary care physicians, midwives, nutritionists, herbalists, body-work specialists, and so on in their quest for respect. The person with gallstones does not want to be viewed as the “gallbladder” in room 555. We may not mind when our pain is severe and relief is the only thing present in our mind. Yet there is this sense of dissatisfaction accompanying our healing process when we only receive a list of foods we can no longer enjoy, some wound care instructions, and a paper indicating when we should follow up with our primary care doctor.

There is little room for explanations on how health changes affect our lives, or support as we navigate those changes, or how we might respond differently than others to certain therapies or medications. And this is the place mutual respect is most needed. A caregiver can only be as good as the listening ear that values the information being shared so appropriate tests may be ordered or appropriate therapies might be recommended or prescribed.

This is where complementary health care providers shine. The very lack of availability for some of all the diagnostic bells and whistles causes observations skills to be honed, ears to be finely attuned to what is being said verbally, physically…and not said, and compassion to be poured out in time and resources, building an ongoing healthcare relationship of mutual respect for what each bring to the table when visiting.

See this in the skilled midwife in the family home with a laboring mama and her family. Without the routines of elaborate monitoring systems and trails of paper, frequent vaginal exams to “see where you’re at” and ultrasounds to check malpresentations, she observes mama, she listens to what she says and what she cannot put into words, and she responds to mama’s needs, allowing mama to make her choices, giving guidance when asked, and exults in her role of being given the honor to be there with mama while mama gives birth to her child. And all this as safe, or safer, for mom and baby than the mechanistic U.S. maternity system.

See this in the skilled herbalist with a client who wants to take charge of their own healthcare. Without the routines of slam-bam, thank you ma’am ten minutes or less office visits or elaborate, and expensive, diagnostic tests, she takes a long – and sometimes laborious – health and diet history, observes her client, listens with ears finely attuned to what the client says and what they cannot put into words, and responds with education as to standard conventional treatment options and complementary health support, discussing risk versus benefit, allowing the client to make her choices and to own the responsibility for those choices, pouring out compassion and support for the client’s choices, building an ongoing healthcare relationship that weaves the conventional with the complementary to meet client needs.

We were made in a Three-in-One image, in the very image of communal respect for the attributes and roles of the others. We don’t have to understand it; we do need to imitate it - in our homes, in the Church, in our friendships, in our work, in our health care provider relationships.


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Naturally Healthy Cuisine: Real Food for Real Families 
We have a designed interior. We have a cover. We are off to the printer, with a hopeful delivery date of late February or early March (hoping for Feb!). Thought ya'll might want to see what Vickilynn Haycraft, www.realfoodliving.com and I have been working on for the past few years. Pre-Order on our Home Page by clicking on the Holiday Special www.naturallyhealthy.org



Table of Contents:

Part One: Real Foods Make Naturally Healthy Cuisine
The Meaning of Eating
Kitchen Medicine: Carbs, Proteins, Fats
Optimal Nutrient Daily Intake: Vitamins
Optimal Nutrient Daily Intake: Minerals
Setting Up Your Real Food Pantry
Changes Made Easy
You Know You Need to Make Changes When ....
Tools of the Trade
Real Food Substitutions
Real Food Glossary

Part Two: Real Foods for Real Life
Help for the Challenged HomeMaker:
Convenience Foods
Bodacious Breakfasts
Magnificent Midday Meals
Super Suppers
Crockpot Meals
Working Smarter Not Harder…Batch Cooking
Pizza Pizzaz
Homemade Pasta
Surviving Summertime
Heritage Recipes
HomeMade Gift-Giving
“Putting By” for Emergencies

Part Three: “It’s a Keeper” Recipes
Bread
Salads
Soup
Vegetables
Vegetarian Main Dishes
Fish Main Dishes
Chicken Main Dishes
Beef Main Dishes
Desserts

Part Four: The Hospitable Home…Nourishing the Body of Christ
The Hospitable Home
Opening Doors to New Relationships
Being Hospitable…When Life is Challenging
Celebrating the Lord’s Day
Feeding the Body, His Bride

Part Five: Real Weight Loss
Real Weight Loss
Real Food - Real Light

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