The Threat to the Delmarva-Atlantic Coastline

This information and commentary concern all Americans regardless of what side of the political aisle one supports.  I believe that most Americans feel our lives are enriched by a healthy environment that gives us so much joy.  Joy that comes from our National Parks, camping facilities, wildlife refuges and our seaside resorts.  One such resort along the Atlantic coastline is a quaint little town called Ocean City, Md.  For many years Ocean City has been a popular vacation spot and a thriving year round residence.  Ocean City and the other small towns in proximity have a robust year round population whose livelihoods rely on the resort and fishing industries.  In fact, all along the Delmarva coast are many places similar to Ocean City.  I would be remiss in not mentioning the renowned refuge of Assateague Island and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  This barrier island spans the coast of Maryland and Virginia and is the home and refuge of beautiful beaches, wild ponies and other wildlife.  Chincoteague’s  famous pony run and auction every July bring visitors from around the world.

Since our current administration advocates for an increase in fossil fuel development, I felt compelled to point out the threat to the Delmarva coastline.  Environmental Impact and Coastal Effects of Offshore Energy System Statements started as early as 1985.  I found many on-line resources and after a few hours consolidated a few facts.  In March of 2015, President Obama banned offshore drilling for 5 years citing the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.  Per a New York Times article of 12/20/16, President Obama announced is executive declaration to indefinitely ban offshore drilling from Norfolk, Va. to the Canadian border.  NYT further says that President Trump is expected to roll back some executive orders or law suits to effect fossil fuel companies and jobs.  “The declaration’s fate will almost certainly be decided by the federal courts”, said Patrick Parenteau, a Professor, Vermont Law School.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, a division of the US Dept. of Interior, recently denied 6 seismic survey permits in January, 2017.  An article on seismic surveys from Earth Justice in January, 2017, titled, “Drilling Halted, The Atlantic Still Faces an Offshore Threat From the Oil Industry” is informative.  Seismic surveys search for oil and gas deposits.  Earth Justice describes seismic “blasting” as “air guns that discharge resounding booms at 12 to 16 second intervals, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for months on end”.  Oceana.org describes seismic surveys as airguns that are used to find oil and gas deep underneath the ocean floor. “Airguns are so loud that they disturb, injure or kill marine life, harm commercial fisheries, and disrupt coastal economies. These blasts are repeated every ten seconds, 24 hours a day, for days and weeks at a time”.  So even if offshore drilling is currently banned, several companies have requested seismic surveys to be completed as early as this year (Earth Justice).  The effects of all marine and wild life would be devastating.  For more information, see http://www.earthjustice.org/blog/2016-april/drilling-halted-the-atlantic-still-faces-an-offshore-threat;  oceana.org/our-work/climate-energy/seismic-airgun-blasting/overview;  and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, at http://www.boem.gov/Atlantic-Oil-and-Gas-Information/

This is an issue very dear to many and requires that we be diligent and pro-active.  With the appropriate research hundreds of incidents of oil spills occur yearly.  I cannot envision Ocean City, Assateague, Chincoteague, Bethany, Rehoboth and all our beautiful beaches and wildlife covered in thick black oil with the environment destroyed for years to come.  Given the disregard for Standing Rock, Environmental organizations, a pro-fossil fuel director of EPA and the possible eradication of the EPA altogether, I beg we be diligent on this issue and not to become complacent.  Alert your representatives, senators, congressmen, the White House and Environmental organizations.  Tell them no to seismic surveys and never to offshore drilling.  Thank you for your time.

Potential Harm By Christian Division

These days our nation is divided and at times in turmoil.  Yes, I may be considered a lefty snowflake, but my most important title is Child of God. Most days I need to remind myself of that particularly on social media.  I’ll admit that at times I fail miserably.  I hesitate to call this blog a “christian” one as even the word christian can evoke negative emotions for some people.  For a lot of non-believers being christian is associated with judging, condemnation and elitists attitudes.  Non-believers don’t want any part of this and frankly, I don’t blame them.  With the present political division I’ve noticed a trend of increased christian division.  Recently, I had a social media conflict with a sister in Christ in which I overlooked that at the end of the day we both loved the Lord. It then occurred to me that my lack of humility and a sense of pride, because I KNEW I was right, was not how Christ taught. I apologize to anyone I may have offended in my pride filled comments. It is my firm belief that some of the words that we speak are divisive and certainly are not comforting to those who are hurting and seeking rest for their souls.

I believe that my thoughts on christian values are biblically sound and are directly taken from what Jesus demonstrated in His life.  My prayer is that all people find comfort and peace and a feeling of belonging through Christ’s words.

The Old Testament is a wonderful group of books and prophecies that exhibit the love God had for His people.  People will frequently cite O.T. scripture that support their personal beliefs, but it is important to know that when Christ came He had a new agenda.  His ministry was one of love.  Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).  At one time in my life I was weary and I so needed rest for my soul.  I was fortunate that I took in Christ’s words and not those of condemnation and judgment.  I had felt worthless related to bad choices in my life which just led to more bad choices.  In the following words of Jesus, I realized I had worth and value.  Listen with your heart.  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.  Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulder and goes home.  Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep’.  I tell you in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent”  (Luke 15:4-7).  It was easy for this lost sheep to repent because of the shame and remorse over the bad choices I had made.  I remember thinking, “He’s looking specifically for me!”  You may wonder who are His sheep?  His sheep are those who love money above all else, those that hurt with their words or actions, the woman who has had abortions, the man or woman who lie with other of the same sex, the murderer, the thief, the pedophile, the drug addict, the prostitute and so on.  No matter what others may think, no sin is greater than another.  Christ states clearly in Mark 3:28:  “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them”.

Do I still sin or say words that may hurt others?  Absolutely.  I am very imperfect as is all mankind.  Paul says in Romans 3:23-24, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ”.

Although I sometimes forget my principles before speaking or replying on a social media post, I try hardest to remember Christ’s repeated instructions to love one another.  When asked what was the greatest commandment, “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Matt. 22:37-39).  See also, John 15:12-13.

In spite of my best attempts to separate church and state, the most recent divide regarding stewardship over God’s creation and loving our neighbors, hurt me.  So in light o Christ’s Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20, I will try harder and I respectfully request that we all pray to guard our words and that we be kind to one another.  This way if even one person is seeking rest for their soul, they might conclude by our words and, hopefully subsequent investigation, that Jesus was a pretty cool dude.  Thank  you for your time.

Chapter 1 – Your Source of Courage, Saveone Post-Abortion Bible Study

This blog is an accompaniment to the Saveone A Guide To Emotional Healing After Abortion by Sheila Harper bible study.  Hopefully those interested have purchased the study and reviewed Chapter One.

Psalm 34:18:  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in        spirit”.

1 Timothy 1:12-14:  “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.  Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.  The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

The very first question asked in Chapter One was to describe how you picture God.  Having been raised Roman Catholic in the 60’s, I had visions of God with and angry face, flames about Him and a staff, much like the old paintings from masters depicted in the books we reviewed in school.  I was an adult when I learned that God’s very essence is LOVE.  And how He loves us no matter what!

Paul was a persecutor of christians and admits his sins freely.  Paul had known who Jesus was, what his followers had claimed regarding Jesus’ resurrection and about Jesus’ works while here on earth.  Paul was ignorant and was unbelieving, but God was merciful and sent the Lord to Damascus and Paul believed.  Maybe, like me, you grew up believing, but felt unworthy and doomed to hell.  Maybe you just partially believed, but were ignorant to who Jesus was.  Or, maybe your just like Paul.  The bottom line, though, is – it doesn’t matter.  The moment you chose to believe and wanted a relationship with Christ, God bestowed mercy and His grace flowed.  It just happened.  The goodness of our God is amazing!

Meditate on this significance of this scripture, please.  Romans 8:1:  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death”.

 

 

 

FOR WOMEN ONLY: POST-ABORTION, PROLOGUE

The following statistics and information and the inability for women to openly come forward prompted me to present the “Saveone” bible study by Sheila Harper, along with God’s Word and His guidance, in a confidential and anonymous way.  Please read this prologue before determining whether this study is for you or maybe someone you know who is in pain, depressed or have any of the below symptoms of Post-Abortion Syndrome.  This study will bring healing to you, like myself, who may carry guilt, shame and feelings of worthlessness.

Rather than asking questions or wanting to review any information directly on this blog, please email me at suzannemarie1223@verizon.net and reference “study”.  Thank you.

PAS, Post-Abortion Syndrome, symptoms:  guilt, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, anniversary syndrome, fear of infertility, irrational fears of losing future children, eating disorders, alcohol abuse.  (from:  ramahinternational.org)

Facts:  women with post-abortion are 3X more likely than other women of child-bearing age in the general population to commit suicide;  81% have at least one mental health issue;  1.5% seek help for mental health issue;  80% suffer from PTSD;  a California Medicaid patient study found a 154% increased risk of suicide;  and, 110%  of women have an increased risk of alcohol abuse.  (from: healthresearchfunding.org dated 3/19/15)

Statistics:  Per a Guttmacher Institute report of 2008, 72.5% of women with past abortion identify as christians;  200,000 christian women abort per year.  Per Lifeway Christian Research Group, 70% of women with past abortion identify as christian. (from:  christianitytoday.com/women/2015/february/secret-shame-of-abortion-in-church)

My Story:  For many women the pain of past abortion is overwhelming.  They live with guilt and shame.  As one of these women I was struggling, particularly in my christian walk and I just couldn’t get close to God.  I joined a community group, did Bible Studies, read the Bible, but I always felt like an outsider looking in.  You see because of my past sin and my guilt I felt unworthy and exempt from God’s grace.  I truly believed that eternal salvation was not in my future.  This also affected my relationships with other christians and again, I felt like an outsider.  I was sure I was the only christian woman who had sinned this way.  I went on feeling far from God, feeling guilt and despair.  Well, God started working on me through meditating, thinking on His Word and through my wonderful community group.  God said to me, “Susie, you are still my child and I can bear your misery no longer”.  Much like God told the Israelites in Judges 10:18.  I started to internalize and recognize in my heart that God did love me, that I was redeemable and that it grieved Him to continue carrying around all that guilt and shame.  Guilt, shame, feeling of unworthiness are not of God.  Of course, the evil one loves it because it keeps us from growing closer to God.  I finally understood what my community group leader tried to explain to me a few years ago…from 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.  How healing and freeing God’s Word became to me.  I was forgiven and now I look forward to eternal salvation and a new heaven and a new earth.

With this Bible Study called “Saveone” by Sheila Harper, God’s Word and His guidance, I pray a healing and redemptive restoration to the heart of any woman who hurts and feels unforgiven from past abortion.  Like myself, you can walk freely and joyfully into the merciful and grace-filled arms of God.

My next blog will be on Chapter One: Your Source of Courage, and blogged on May 28th, 2016, hopefully giving you time to order, receive and read the Forward and Intro.  Please do not read ahead to the chapters.

The book can be ordered on Amazon.com, titled “Saveone” by Sheila Harper, 2008 and is available new or used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solitude and Safety in a Pine Tree

It is Saturday, January 23, 2016, and I am watching the effects of the winds that gusts over 60 MPH from a Nor’easter called Jonas.  Manklin Creek is swollen well above our little dock and the pine trees are swaying.  Although we are constantly sweeping pine needles from our floors and deck, I love them.  They remind me of the solitude and safety I have sought all of my life  Although I risk and fear revealing too much of myself, I write because I have too.

One would think that growing up in N.E., Washington, D.C. in the 60’s,  there would be little opportunity to find places that offer solitude.  I had many places and the only constraint was to be home before dark.  I found refuge in the beautiful gardens and cloistered areas of the Franciscan Monastery, even sometimes sneaking down the steps to the monastery catacombs.

Across the street from our house there was a patch of bamboo that I would go into and pretend I was Tarzan.  In our backyard there was a bush with branches that grew upward, then downward to the grass.  I would crawl to the trunk of the bush mindless of the bugs and worms, believing I was totally hidden from the world.

There were a couple other places I found, but my favorite place to this nine year old’s perspective, was a huge pine tree across the alley from our backyard.  Once I realized I could climb that tree to what seemed as high as the sky, I knew true safety and solitude.  I am now certain that my Lord’s hands guided me many times from branch to branch.  Other than musing upon a bird’s nest with eggs, then chicks one spring, I can’t recall what my thoughts were.  What I remember so distinctly was how safe I felt.  My child mind had already blocked the unpleasantness in my life, but not the need for feeling safe.  Unfortunately, and without cause, I still find safety in my solitude.

I remember asking my therapist, Sue, of three years, how does such egregious moments so completely be erased from memory.  This gifted woman of God gently explained to me that the events were so horrendous that my child brain could not cope and immediately blocked them.  Then, add that the person who a child loves and trusts above all, my father, was the one who violated the innate needs of this child.  Thus, blocking.  Sue was absolutely correct.  A couple years ago as I was reading through my journals from that period of therapy,  I came across an event written in my own hand, that I had blocked yet again!  Reading the details made the event fresh.  I can say that in addition to memory recall, I also experienced physical recall.  Without adding graphic detail, the discomfort from the act of sitting was very real and lasted over a week.

I need to add, and probably the most important is that throughout therapy, I was never afraid.  Blown away and hurt, yes.  In addition to the fact that my dad was deceased, I had the tangible presence of Christ right next to me.  So tangible, in fact, I could feel His soft clothing, the warmth of His breath and see the tears in His eyes.  As lunatic as this may sound to some, it is fact.  Even if it were my imagination, and it was not (emphatically stated) He saved me.  He saved me as a child and as an adult from addiction.  He saved me from perpetuating the abuse with my own children.  He made Himself tangible, a physical presence, in my life.  Because of this I need to speak about it.  *Most importantly, there may be others in pain and are suffering, who also can seek His presence and find comfort, as I did.  Surely, He is there….He was there for this despairing and sinful soul.

Don’t get me wrong by any means, I am still far from healed.  In spite of my real experiences with Christ, I sometimes forget to reach for Him when feeling confused.  He loves me anyway and I suspect I won’t feel completely healed until I am by His side in Heaven.

I pray that my need for solitude dissipates because, even at 60 years of age, I only feel my safest in my solitude.  There is a true sense of physical and emotional desperation when I feel the loss of this solitude and need to seek it.  I take comfort in knowing that Christ also sought solitude in the mountains.  Unfortunately, this can be difficult on my family and loved ones.   There are not enough words of gratitude to those who understand this.

I thank you, Lord, for my memories that give me clarity and understanding of this soul You created and prepared for service.  I know that in doing so You have suffered the same indignities that I have suffered.  You have always been in and with me.  This thought broke my heart, and I sobbed, when I first realized this years ago.  You have suffered not only for our salvation, but You have and continue to suffer every indignity and torment that Your children endure.  I praise You for that, for always being with me and I will speak of Your love forever.  And I thank You, Lord, for pine trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gary Clark, NFL Champion; Self Limiting Fears and Me

The year is 1970 and I am sitting in Mr. St. Clair’s 9th grade English class at Rollingcrest Junior High in Hyattsville, Md.  Patty Philpott is sitting to my right and I am attentively listening to students give their oral book reports.  The book report is easy for me as I have always loved to read.  Since the age of 7, reading could transport me out of the house where my father had started paying too much attention to me.  My escape was books and Jerry Lewis,  and at the time and unbeknownst to me, the Lord.  I love all three to the depths of my soul, Christ first.

Anyway, back to 1970 and oral reports.  As I watched a classmate give his report, I began feeling nauseated, sweaty and fearful, as though 25 catholic nuns, led by Sister Borromeo from St. Anthony’s Catholic School in northeast D.C.,  were marching through the door.  All 25 nuns were holding torture devices, such as rulers, magic markers and they are rubbing their thumbs and forefingers together as though preparing for a championship cheek pinching and ear twisting contest.  Now this is fear with no option of flight.  Again, I am digressing.

As I am listening, or attempting to listen, to my classmate speak I drift away until I hear Mr. St. Clair say, “Suzanne, are you prepared to give your report?”  Losing all concern for a failing grade, I simply replied, “No”.  Those sitting near to me, particularly Miss Patty Philpott, can see the cover of my report neatly printed with, “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo.  The room was quiet until a loud and whiny voice said, “But, Mr. St. Clair, Suzanne’s report is right in front of her”.  This was not my first involvement in Miss Philpott’s school life and I think my life-long aversion to blond women with bouffant hair, blue eye shadow, and immaculately dressed white women began.  Mr. St. Clair said, “Are you prepared?”  Despite the huge elephant sitting on my desk, I again replied, “No”.  In the pause before Mr. St. Clair called the next student, Miss Philpott looked back and forth between me and the teacher repeatedly, without disturbing a single hair!  Miss Philpott was wildly popular and my apologies if she should read this and take offense to my perception of these events.

The previous event indirectly involved Patty Philpott and Dee Dee Catina and her friends.  While in PE class Dee Dee and friends had taken Patty’s dress and stuffed it deeply into the Kotex machine in the bathroom.  Somehow and within seconds rumor started though out the entire student body that I had ratted Dee Dee to Ms. McCollum our 9th grade PE teacher.  I had already learned a healthy fear of authority figures thanks to those misdirected devotees to God and the Catholic Church, starting when I was 5 years old.  I would have never approached a teacher!  As the day passed, I was told I had to meet Dee Dee Catina in front of the school when classes were over so that Dee Dee could tear my skinny limbs asunder and pull out my considerable mop of frizzy and kinky hair.  Just FYI, hair pulling  is an important technique as taught in Girl Fighting 101.  The fight never occurred thanks to a tiny, but tough dynamo named Delores Richter Shaut, who remains my friend to this day.  Delores went down in girl fighting history as a peace negotiator.

You may wonder why this trip down memory lane?  Despite a successful 60 year abstinence from public speaking and developing  a lack of concern of others’ opinions,  I learned last night, “Damn, I’m still that chicken-shit girl from 9th grade”!   Last Thursday I had received phone calls from Samantha Bowie of J.G. Wentworth Home Lending and Tessa Wilborne of The BlackFin Real Estate Network to inform me that I was a winner in the FreeTicketsGiveAway founded by NFL Legends and Super Bowl Champions.   Later in the day, Gary Clark of NFL fame, 8 year receiver for the Washington Redskins and two time Super Bowl Champion, called me.   He is a former member of the infamous  Hogs and The Posse, certainly infamous in D.C.  He was kind and friendly spending many minutes just talking to me.

Throughout my life I have learned to no longer be concerned about others’ perception of me.  I am honest and outspoken, sometime to a fault.  I am eccentric and at times and can be very irreverent.  People sometimes think that I am….gasp….weird!  Sometimes words just fall out of my mouth, totally forgetting my mother’s frequent admonitions, “Jesus Christ, Suzanne, think before you speak”.  I can be brash, profanely opinionated and I love to tell one liner dirty jokes.  All who know me well know Little Johnny’s response when his teacher asked him to use the word “dictate” in a sentence.  I had overcome my fears of what others think of me, until last night.  My excitement slowly turned to fear when thinking about being videoed realizing that I would be talking to strangers, people who don’t know my peculiarities.

Yet, when talking about God, I can speak and write without problems because He is guiding me and He is with me.  I can reveal very personal events from my life that led me to Him without any problems.  He guides my hand as I write and give me words to speak.  Earlier today He prompted me to express my feelings in writing.  It occurred to me while more than half way through this blog, that I did not have the faith nor ask Him to guide me this time.  How very blessed I am to have this opportunity to glorify The Great I Am, God.  Last night and this morning I had forgotten, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength”.  Phillipians 4:13   My earthly fear totally eclipsed my faith!  After some thought and hearing His still, small voice, God and I are okay with this earthly mistake.  Life is a learning venture, even at 60.

Does God give us opportunities to speak of His love?  Absolutely!  I inconsiderately texted Mr. Clark at 10:30 this morning, the same time I was supposed to have been there.  Mr. Clark was very kind and patient in his texted responses, ultimately telling me, “Not a problem”.

I thank God for the opportunity to still glorify Him.  I thank Mr. Gary Clark for his kind and patient nature. To him I own my sincerest apologies.   (I thank Patty Philpott too, lol.)  And I thank you for your time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE

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Please look at this picture closely. Notice a hospital bed, a living area, the looks of fatigue and contentment on both faces. This is a picture of my nephew, Tim, and his partner of many years and devoted caregiver, Rick.  Regardless of anything else, Rick loves and Timmy loves and this pic is a true illustration if that. Throughout my life of searching for understanding of my trials, the only meaningful and rational answers come from Christ’ mouth. “A new command I give you: Love one another.” (Jn 13:34); “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”(Jn 15:13); “This is my command: Love each other.”(Jn 15:17) and last, not least, from 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”.

I know what sins are in the Bible and let me tell you that every man, even you believers, sin every day. Only one person is sin free!  And He said, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”. (Jn 8:7b). So I respectfully say to “Those Christians”, and you know who you are, SHUT YOUR CONDEMNING AND JUDGMENTAL MOUTH! Yes, I’m a bit angry, but more than anything, I am sad. Christ said to the Pharisees (the professed believers of the Law, sound familiar?), “But I tell you that men will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned”. (Matt 12:36-37)

I am so very grateful to God that when I was hurting and lost, I was met with words of love and acceptance from lovers of the Lord. Where I was fortunate, so many were not.  I am also so grateful for the love demonstrated by Timmy and Rick.

One last thought. So many believe that we live in an immoral society. I think of what Paul said in Romans 7:b-8a), “For I would not have known what coveting really was if the Law had not said, ‘Do not covet’.  But sin seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire”. I interpret this to mean, the law is good, but in pointing it out, our nature immediately may violate that law. Christ’ mercy and love saves us. So stop naming, pointing out repeatedly others breaking the “law” and keep on task to what Christ commissioned us to do:  love others, serve others stressing that He Loves us, no matter what. We are so very concerned about others’ sexuality. Tell me, please, when did we become more concerned over sex than love? When did we care so about what others do, and in doing so, spew hate and self-righteousness from their mouths, literally erasing another’s value, rather than modeling Christ’ love as He taught us to do? Do you realize that this behavior is mirrored by our children who then mirror this hate to their peers?  Have you not read the suicides in our bullied to death children?  Do those who point fingers or “carry stones” really think they are spreading Christ’ message of love for others?

Now please, look at this picture again. I can tell you that what I see are two men, who I love beyond words, providing comfort and exhibiting love to one another. I do NOT see what some finger-pointers see and can’t wait to condemn. I truly believe it’s time you “pharisees” turn that finger inward, to yourself.

Thank you for your time and thoughtfulness on this matter.