More Blessed Than I Realized!

I just had an enlightening email exchange with fellow blogger https://kennethmbriggs.com/.  I had inadvertently deleted a comment he entered on my latest posting.  I emailed him instead so I could reply to him anyway.  He’s been praying for my continued recovery from COVID, and it got me thinking just how blessed I am.

Let’s start with my 21 days in an induced coma and on a ventilator.  I already knew that most people don’t survive that; only about 15%.  After Julie’s prayers herself and then with the hospital chaplain – on top of everyone else’s prayers – I woke up the morning after her praying with the chaplain and no longer needed the vent, although they left me hooked up in minimal setting just to be safe.

That already makes me a miracle!  But that isn’t all.  My lung damage from the pneumonia was minimal enough that I don’t need to carry an oxygen tank.  My cardiologist has never heard of someone coming off a vent who doesn’t need to have supplemental oxygen!  That puts me in an even more rarified category of a miracle!

My daughter is a medical assistant at an urgent care clinic and has seen a lot of people post COVID.  Everyone carries an O2 bottle and has secondary conditions related to COVID, like a stroke or other cognitive issues.  I have none!  It almost makes me think I’m in my own category, because every medical professional I’ve seen says they have not seen this complete a recovery from such a bad case of COVID.  It doesn’t mean there’s no one else out there like me, but recovery like mine is extremely rare to the point of possible singularity!

The power of prayer is evident in me!  I didn’t see how powerful at first, because I was my only frame of reference.  I can tell you that both pastors from my church came to pray over me with Julie while I was comatose.  The head pastor came again to see me after I woke up.  He later confided to my daughter it was all he could do to not cry when he saw how completely alive and alert I was.

I still have a lot of work to do to regain my strength and mobility.  I have what is called palliative nerve damage in both legs that can’t be helped; I’ll have to walk with foot braces and a cane for the rest of my life.  All things considered, I’m content with that!  My left arm and hand also have a nerve problem, but we’re hopeful that an operation will improve the grip and dexterity of my left hand at least a bit.  The neurosurgeon says regeneration at my age is problematic, so minimal success is the most we can hope for.

We often hear of miracles in other people’s lives, but those people maybe far removed from us to the point of sounding like rumor and exaggeration.  But now you are hearing of one such miracle directly from the source!

My Testimony

Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor Me.    Psalm 50:15

I know I posted an article about my bout with COVID, being in an induced coma for three weeks in January and on a ventilator, and finally coming home in early April.  I finally got a chance to speak at my church last month to say thank for their prayers and tell them just how everything happened.  The video below is that talk.

I hope it’s useful to you!

God, Sex, and Us – The Transgender Myth

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.    Genesis 1:27

I’ve been slow to write this piece because I just didn’t know how to compose it especially since the overturn of Roe v Wade.  I started out to write about transgender problems.  Then the Supreme Court made its ruling, and I started feeling overwhelmed with these somehow related topics.

I realized two things.  One – As Christians we must speak to people involved with the greatest love we can just as Jesus did for us.  Two – we need to have a greater, biblical understanding of sex.

Let’s start with understanding sex.  If you read the Old Testament sections dealing with all the laws, both religious and civil, you’ll notice God gets especially angry over sex sins.  The punishments are, in my opinion, worse than for anything else.  Why?

The best book I’ve read regarding the role of sex in our lives and our relationship with God is Wild at Heart by John Eldredge.  His explanation of how sex relates to God is this.  God acts as both man and woman.

St. Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit provides feminine nurturing and “…makes intercessions for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”  Indeed, some languages use feminine pronouns when refencing the Holy Spirit.  But make no mistake – God is definitely referred to throughout the Bible as male.

God has the overall male qualities of providing, protecting, setting rules and discipline.

Eldredge makes the argument, which I agree with, that God figuratively speaking split Himself in two when He created Adam and Eve.  When a man and woman marry and have sex, God is symbolically reassembled, if you will.  And having children this way is an act of creation.

When people have sex with a member of their own sex, animals, or whatever, they are symbolically telling God to screw Himself whether they realize it or not.  Small wonder then, that God reserves the worst Old Testament punishments for sexual sins!

One of the biggest trends nowadays is sex reassignment, which is part of this whole “identifying” craze.  Regardless of how one was made, one can choose to identify as male or female or something else.  One can take things so far as to go through the extreme and very painful sex reassignment process.  In short, the lie of this is that, if a man identifies as a woman, he can become a woman.  And vice versa.

The truth is that a man cannot become a woman, nor a woman become a man.  They simply go through a lot of pain to become disguised as the opposite sex.  Walt Heyer compares it to putting on a Halloween costume.  He was a man with a family and decided in1983 that he was actually a woman and went through it.  After living as a woman for a while, he realized he made a mistake and reversed his surgeries as much as was possible.  What he really needed all along was psychotherapy to deal with his problems.

The same goes for Keira Bell.  She started her reassignment at age 16 with hormone blockers.  She had her breasts removed at 20.  All along she kept asking her therapist if this was the right thing to do.  The therapist kept pushing her through her doubts instead of taking the hint that Keira might have another problem.

At 23, Keira finally hit the brakes after realizing she didn’t want to be a man.  She just didn’t want to be herself after a lifetime of teasing and ridicule.  Sex reassignment wasn’t the answer.  Psychotherapy was needed to help her with her core issues!  Her original therapist obviously had an agenda, and Keira is now suing her for this massive blunder!

You can read my articles on these two.  Sex Reassignment – Part 1 is about Keira and Sex Reassignment – Part 2 is about Walt.

Those were two lone stories about this issue back in 2020.  It’s becoming a more visible issue now.  I recently saw two articles over one weekend on the same topic.

Dialing Back Shocking Policies is about the U.S. barreling toward allowing more children with gender dysphoria to get medical intervention to affirm their new gender identities while several European countries have been ahead of the U.S. on this issue on pumping the brakes.

Some countries initially embraced puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for children several years ago but are now taking a step back.

Sweden has been one of the most progressive nations on transgender health care for decades. Back in 1972, Sweden became the first country to allow transgender people to change their legal gender.

Last year though, Swedish hospitals halted the use of puberty blockers in five of the country’s six clinics for minors with gender dysphoria. The last clinic only uses puberty blockers in clinical trials. The country now emphasizes psychotherapy for minors with gender dysphoria instead.

In France, the country’s National Academy of Medicine warned medical professionals in a March press release that the spike in young people saying they want to medically transition genders may be due to social contagion and urged medical personnel to approach this issue with extreme caution.

“Whatever the mechanisms involved in adolescents – excessive engagement with social media, greater social acceptability, or influence by those in one’s social circle – this epidemic-like phenomenon manifests itself in the emergence of cases or even clusters of cases in the adolescents’ immediate surroundings,” read the Academy’s press release.

Finland has walked a similar path. In June 2020, Finland began deemphasizing medical treatment for children with gender dysphoria and recommended prioritized psychotherapy instead. 

One recent report even suggested that puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones in teens could actually increase the teen suicide rate, rather than decrease it as advocates claim.

In Detransitioned Teens Explain Why They Regret Changing Genders we hear from Chloe who laments, “I was failed by the system. I literally lost organs.”  When Chloe was 12 years old, she decided she was transgender. At 13, she came out to her parents. That same year, she was put on puberty blockers and prescribed testosterone. At 15, she underwent a double mastectomy. Less than a year later, she realized she’d made a mistake — all by the time she was 16 years old.

Now 17, Chloe is one of a growing cohort called “detransitioners” — those who seek to reverse a gender transition, often after realizing they actually do identify with their biological sex. Tragically, many will struggle for the rest of their lives with the irreversible medical consequences of a decision they made as minors.

“My dysphoria was definitely triggered by this online community. I never thought about my gender or had a problem with being a girl before going on Tumblr.”

She said she felt political pressure to transition, too.“The community was very social justice-y. There was a lot of negativity around being a cis, heterosexual, white girl, and I took those messages really, really personally…I started being exposed to a lot of LGBT content and activism,” she said. “I saw how trans people online got an overwhelming amount of support, and the amount of praise they were getting really spoke to me because, at the time, I didn’t really have a lot of friends of my own.”

This is getting more coverage than when I first saw articles about this in 2020.  I strongly recommend following all the links to the articles above and reading them in their entirety yourself!

Finally, whether you find yourself talking to someone who is homosexual or dealing with the question of sex reassignment, speak with love.  Don’t hate.  Don’t ridicule.  Respond with Jesus’ love.  Accept the person though not the sin. Just as Jesus would.  Listen to understand, not to argue.  If they ask what you think, know your Bible already and tell them what God intended when He created sex.

In all cases, speak with love!

37 Years

This picture was taken 37 years ago last March.  We were young and giddy to start our lives in marriage.  Like all newlyweds, we were only thinking of the great adventure before us and all the wonderful things we would do together.  Little did we know.

There were indeed great things, the easy times of success and prosperity.  I had a job, the best job I ever had, that afforded the family a couple European vacations.  We raised two wonderful girls who became successful in their fields.  We had a nice house in the suburbs.  There were good times and much to be thankful for.

My health has been an issue since bypass surgery in 2003, but God was merciful, maneuvering me to the best hospital and surgeon around.  Julie was my angel and my nurse…the biggest factor in my recovery.

My life melted down along with the economy in 2008-2009.  There were tensions and fights between me and my wife.  I finally got a job that put me back in a position to rebuild our lives.  It required a move to Memphis, which was very hard for me personally.  A few months after moving in, my gall bladder developed gangrene.  I have no idea how.  When it perforated, they had to open me up all the way to makes sure no gangrene “juice” remained.  They almost lost me.

I’m semi-invalid now after my bout with Covid.  Again, Julie has been my protector, my nurse, and remains the love of my life.

Even though our 37th anniversary was last month, it seems appropriate to commemorate it now, this Easter weekend.  I’ve skidded to the brink of the grave several times now, and God has seen fit to “resurrect” me every time so far to His glory.

37 Years.  How did we make it?  God.  Wedding vows.  Choosing to love, especially when we didn’t feel like it.  We did it by not saying “What’s in it for me?”  We did it be saying “How can I lift YOU up?”  The only way that really works is when we extend to our spouses the same selfless love Jesus extends to us; when He is our model!

For all of you whose marriage is on the rocks, make the decision to ask, “what’s in it for my spouse – not me.”  You’ll be surprised what genuine care and sacrifice can do for a relationship!

For those of you who are sitting in your limo like we were or are about to, remember that bad times will come.  Go ahead and bask in the joy of today and be excited about this adventure.  Just remember two things.  First, adventures are adventures because there are trials along the way.  Second, make Jesus your Lord and Savior and your example of selfless love for your spouse!

Below is the link to the song my best man and I recorded and played on his Bose system at the reception. Lyrics by me. Music, arrangement, singing and recording all instruments on a synthesizer by my best man, Rick. What can I say? He attended the New England Conservatory where his nickname was “The Whiz.” Me sing it? Um… No!

Finally Home

In case you were wondering, I have not decided to quit blogging.  I caught Covid pneumonia in early January and have been in the hospital till last week.  I as on a ventilator most of January and comatose.  Waking up was a slow process as is regaining use of my body.

I’m lucky to be alive!!

I still need lots of therapy but I’m well enough to be home.  I still have trouble with my hands for fine things…like typing, but I intend to share with you all the miracle of my survival.

That’s it for now.  God bless you all!

Smoke and Mirrors

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.    John 8:44

Does anyone really think they can beat the system?  Many do.  Case in point is this guy, Rob Greenfield, who says he has gone off the grid and pared himself down to a mere 44 possessions.  How does he do it?!?

Not to put too fine a point on it…he cheats.  Let’s review the facts.

He has spent a year travelling the US , camping or living with friends.  He sold his 3-bedroom home and built a small shack before hitting the road.  He had his own digital marketing company.  Apparently, he was doing pretty well, confessing to have been a very materialistic person and womanizer.  But hie life-long love of the outdoors called to him to abandon the rat race and become what I would call a hobo.  He camped and washed in rivers and stream or lived with friends and availed himself of their resources.

Now, while I applaud his change of heart, I hope no one is kidding themselves about how great he is for adopting this lifestyle.  First, he was apparently well-off and had the resources to make this change.  He also uses what society provides when living with friends.  His 44 possessions are all manufactured items of some kind.

Manufacturing doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  You need a lot of people to buy what you make in order to make it efficiently and affordably.  The same goes for society’s infrastructure; you need many participants to support and sustain it.  Rob has essentially become a leech on society.  With no income, he pays no taxes, buys no utilities, and yet does buy manufactured items that require a lot of people buying them too.  He effectively takes advantage of a system he says he’s abandoned, and he’s applauded for it.

Let’s move on to talk about electric cars, which are the proclaimed answer to reducing greenhouse gasses.  Yes, they can greatly reduce gasoline consumption, but we’re moving the carbon-based power from the gas tank to the electric power companies who by and large run on coal.

Smoke and mirrors.

You don’t see the pollution at your car and the outlet you plug it into and congratulate yourself for being green.  Never mind the increased demand and coal consumption that this requires!

What about the miracle that gives us electric cars?  Lithium batteries!  This is the answer for most companies, and it makes sense.  They are low weight and high power compared to, say, lead/acid batteries.

By the way…where does that lithium come from?  Wellll, that would be Africa, the largest lithium source.  And the miners?  They are minors!  Yes, children are the ones digging the lithium out of the ground for our green revolution.  See the article Child labour, Toxic Leaks; The Price We Pay for a Greener Future.

The sales pitches for a greener economy is a lot more smoke and mirrors than anyone lets on or thinks about.  Even those who are “off the grid” are dependent on those of us who are to a greater extent than they like to admit.

Then there’s abortion and euthanasia with all of their pleasant-sounding euphemisms for the horrific thing they are doing.  I always remember an account from Europe about someone who couldn’t defeat his own alcoholism and chose assisted suicide.  They ha d a farewell party, the finale being the doctor killing him.  His brother noted that it would have been beautiful if it hadn’t been so horrible.

What is my point in all this?  It’s all smoke and mirrors.  Look at the bright shiny stuff in this hand while I do bad things with this one!  We are surrounded by lies all the time!  How aware are you of being lied to daily?

It’s because we live in Satan’s world, a world that God gave as a gift to Adam and Eve who chose Satan and gave him the keys to it.  He is a liar and the Father of Lies.

The biggest lies we hear are that all we need to do to obtain heaven is to lead good enough lives.  We hear that there are many ways to God and that He goes by many names.  We hear that there are legitimate alternate lifestyles when God was very specific on the family unit He created.  For some reason people find the demonic entertaining instead of terrifying and pursue it!

Many lies we hear are about current affairs like the true nature of the so-called green movement.  Then there are the lies that are damning, designed to ensnare us unto believing anything but Jesus’ Gospel message.  None of them do us any good.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.    1 Peter 5:8

He will eat us in small bites, acclimating us to bigger lies with the small ones or will devour us whole with the damning ones.  He isn’t choosy that way.  He’ll do whatever will work with you!

Read your Bible!  Study it!  Know it!  Anything else is just smoke and mirrors!

Quote for 11/29/2021

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.    Ephesians 2:8-9

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We’re a country founded and populated by hard-working people.  We’re descended from the crazy people of Europe who wanted freedom and were willing to work themselves to exhaustion.  Our national heritage is to be self-sufficient!

I remember visiting Germany on business.  I commented to a German colleague about how I come from German stock and inherited that work ethic.  He looked at me with some surprise and said, “This is not German!  We Germans think you Americans are nuts!”

People tend to be self-reliant.  Americans are self-reliant cubed!  That’s why today’s verse is so hard to accept.  Salvation is a gift!  We cannot possibly earn it – only accept it!

We like to say, “Just do it!”  This one is so easy, just do it!

Quote for 11/22/2021

As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.    Psalm 103:13

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We love our kids.  Sure – they may try our patience and anger us, but we still love them.  They make mistakes and do hurtful things, but we pity them, because we know they aren’t really capable of more yet.  And they always come back and apologize in one way or another.

Of course, there are the proverbial bad seeds who just seem incapable of love, respect, or even fear.  At some point pity gives way to resignation as we have no choice but to leave them to their own designs despite our best efforts.

So it is with God.

Wizard of Oz Pandemic

A London Daily Mail article from Monday reports that Sweden is doing very well in managing their COVID situation.  They are doing it their way, which has little to do with how the rest of the world is doing it.  From the article:

Sweden has suffered fewer Covid deaths than most of Europe and is still recording lower infection rates, according to figures that suggest its lockdown gamble has paid off. 

The Scandinavian nation became an international outlier last year when it defied scientific advice and refused to follow the rest of the world in shutting down society to curb the virus’ spread.  

Not only has Sweden’s economy bounced back faster than any other country in the EU, latest data shows that it has also fared better than most in terms of lives lost during the pandemic.

They have also been vaccinating, but at 40% of the population already taking the shot, they still are doing well.  Part of their success has been voluntary measures instead of mandated lockdowns.  They appear to be working well as a community to watch out for themselves and their fellow citizens.  There have been few restrictions.  For example, there have been bans on “groups of eight or more people, limits on numbers in gyms and shops and an 8pm curfew on pubs and restaurants.”

Not a complete lockdown.  Not completely ignoring good, preventive behavior.

To be fair, Sweden, while doing much better than continental Europe, has done much worse than its immediate neighbors.  Overall, they aren’t doing the best, but neither are they doing the worst.  The conclusion I draw is that they have managed COVID well, using less intrusive, panic-driven strategies than, say, the USA.

COVID is certainly real, and some people die.  I don’t deny any of that.  However, the panicked herd behavior we’re seeing is not justified either.  The mortality rate to date is 1.6%.  That’s cumulative of all cases since the beginning.  Mid-2020 saw mortality rates hovering around 5% for a few months.  The current cumulative 1.6% average means that the current rate is lower – perhaps 1.5% or less.

Why am I then calling this the Wizard of Oz pandemic?  It’s because I hear the vaccine pushers and drastic measures proponents telling me to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”  That would be Sweden in this case.  Pay no attention to the country who is faring as well or better than many other countries with non-draconian measures and only a 40% vaccination rate for its population.

As I told my doctor recently, I’m suspicious of anything that gets pushed as hard as the vaccine and keeping schools closed.  The old adage holds true – follow the money.  It’s reported that Bill Gates makes 50 cents on every dose delivered.  A lot of other people and corporations are making cash hand over fist right now.

Is the disease real?  Yes.  Is the vaccine effective?  Qualified yes, because even people who have been vaccinated get COVID.  Some even die.  And booster shots are being predicted to be necessary annually.

I’ve written before how vaccines have been used for secret agendas, so I’m not entirely trusting.  I’m not saying that’s the case this time, but I know it’s possible.  The vaccine was developed in record time – roughly one years as opposed to the next fastest for mumps at four years.  What did they miss?  What shortcuts did they take?

In conclusion, I’m not going to tell anyone what they should do.  If you think you’ll feel better about being vaccinated, please get the shot!  It has shown to be effective much of the time.  I have friends who were vaccinated, and I’m glad for them.  It just isn’t my choice.  I’ve decided what risks I’m willing to take just as they have.

It’s about individual choice.  It’s about not having a paternalistic government or employer telling me what’s good for me.  As I pointed out to my boss, you trust me to manage a multimillion-dollar business portfolio, but you don’t think I’m capable of deciding my own health care properly.  Please tell me when that started making sense.  He, on the other hand, thinks it’s fine to fly in a plane and spend a week at Disney Florida.  Again, in the current climate, how does that make sense?

You just pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Yeah, About COVID

I haven’t spent any time on COVID for a while, but someone read one of my articles from last October, which I then reviewed myself.  Given what I had tracked last year and all the current scary headlines, I thought it prudent to investigate the numbers again.

But first, a quick review of the numbers I encountered last year.  When this whole mess started, I did what I usually do; not take the headlines at face value and did my own research.

My first thought was to establish a base line, so I chose the flu, which, at least to me, is in the same zip code as the coronavirus.

I discovered that your average flu has an historic mortality rate of about .12%.  Very small!  Then I searched the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 (in which my paternal grandmother died).  Records for that time period were obviously not computerized and not always precise.  Still, the Spanish Flu mortality rate was an astronomical 15-20%, several orders of magnitude greater than the average flu!

Next, I took the published figures for number of deaths attributed to COVID divided by the number of cases reported and found that the mortality rate was initially about 4%.  It quickly rose and stabilized at roughly 5%, plus/minus a few tenths.  It held there long enough that I stopped checking.  Plus, my source, The London Daily Mail Online, stopped showing those numbers.  Obviously, a mortality rate of about 5% is much worse than your typical flu but not as catastrophic as the Spanish Flu of 1918!

The mortality rate as of last October was 2.87%.  That includes the time period when it was elevated at roughly 5%, meaning that the rate right at the start of last October was less than 2.87%!

I googled the current numbers and found the following:

Total number of cases so far in the US since they started tracking is 38.7 million.  Total deaths are 636,000 giving us a cumulative mortality rate of 1.643% since the start of this mess.  Those numbers include when the mortality rate was higher, so the current rate must be less 1.643%!

If you’re in a room with 100 other people, and you are told that 2 of you will randomly die, how worried are you?  But that analogy is only for people who already have COVID!  Let’s take a slightly different but more inclusive calculation.

The current US population is 331,449,281.  The number of COVID cases is 38.7 million, which gives us an infection rate of 11.676%.  Just under 12 people in every hundred contract COVID.  What’s the percentage of deaths for the entire US population from COVID?  Divide the number of deaths by the population and you get .191885%.  Call it two tenths of a percent.

So, let’s revise our “people in a room” scenario to include everyone, not just those who contract COVID.  You’re one of 500 people in a room and you’re all told that one person in there will die at random.  How worried are you?

Let’s take this a step further.  Last year I had to research COVID cases in a certain Illinois county before traveling there for work and contacted the county coroner for figures.  He was kind enough to send me a lengthy response, which included this tidbit; the total number of cases is slightly inflated due to people being tested multiple times to ensure they are finally COVID-free.  He couldn’t say by how much.

I doubt that this is an aberration in just that one county in the entire US.

That fact suggests the infection rate may be lower than the figure I gave above.  It could also mean the mortality rate is a bit higher, although I doubt the number would change much more than a few tenths.

All the breathless, scary headlines aside, nationwide, your chances of dying from COVID are still roughly .2%.

Why the scary headlines and the push for vaccinations despite these numbers?  Follow the money!

This from the TheNation.com:

The (Gates) foundation recently reported a $40 million stake in CureVac—one of dozens of investments the foundation reports having in companies working on Covid vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics or manufacturing, according to The Nation’s analysis of the foundation’s most recent tax return, web site, and various SEC filings. The foundation has also announced that it will “leverage a portion of its $2.5 billion Strategic Investment Fund” to advance its work on Covid.

These investments, amounting to more than $250 million, show that the world’s most visible charity, and one of the world’s most influential voices in the pandemic response, is in a position to potentially reap considerable financial gains from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Who are they accountable to? They don’t even have a governance structure that’s clear,” notes Kate Elder, senior vaccines policy adviser to Doctors Without Borders. “Increasingly, I see less information coming from the Gates Foundation. They don’t answer most of our questions. They don’t make their technical staff available for discussions with us when we’re trying to learn more about their technical strategy [on Covid] and how they’re prioritizing certain things.”

I am in no way trying to convince you to not get the vaccine!  What I am attempting here is to give you information to consider in making your choice.  You may have a medical condition which makes you more vulnerable.  You may suffer from anxieties that getting a shot might mitigate.  There are valid reasons for getting the COVID vaccine.

It’s just that I don’t think uninformed fear should be one.