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Monthly Archives: April 2008

Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.  ~Kahlil Gibran

There are many ideas about what is truly beautiful in our society.  Is it a tall, thin, tan body? Perfectly straight, bright-white teeth? Thick, bouncy hair? Flawless skin? No imperfections? No signs of aging? Sadly, that is what many women are striving for. Teenagers are buying whitening strips for their teeth, every expensive hair product under the sun, as well as using dangerous acne prescriptions in order to have perfect skin. Many are anorexic, and even 9 and 10 year olds are worried about their weight. High school and college kids (as well as other ages) are willing to risk having melanoma in order to get the perfect tan at the local tanning salon, and some are receiving breast implants as graduation gifts.

All ages are having plastic surgery, liposuction, and botox injections. About the only thing real on some people is their eyes, and those probably have artificially colored contacts in them!

How did we come to this? Why are we promoting the idea that all our worth is found in the way we look? How many people (particularly women) go to bed at night crying, because they feel they aren’t attractive. And even the most beautiful people, feel they aren’t beautiful enough.

When someone values us only because of our outward appearance, they will be sorely disappointed as time takes its toll. (And it most surely will.) Our bodies were made to age gradually, and it’s a shame that we can’t accept it. Many stars that I see these days look like they just walked out of the wax museum. It’s really creepy that their faces don’t move when they talk or laugh. After a while, they begin to look like a corpse walking around. (I mean there’s only so much than even plastic surgery can do.)

Aging gracefully is a truly beautiful thing. Being at ease with ourselves, at any stage of life, is so wonderful. I think it is the pressure of society that has thrown us into a frenzy about the way we look. Computers can produce the perfect, customized magazine cover-girl. Air brushing takes care of the rest. The images that we are so often trying to emulate aren’t even real! They are carefully manufactured.

If you have even a pleasant face, be grateful, because you cannot imagine what someone who is considered ugly, flawed, or disfigured goes through in this superficial world. The taunting, teasing, and shunning has no doubt caused many to take their own lives. To be so totally rejected must be the worst kind of pain and misery. And yet there are those who will take time to see beneath the surface of the beautiful, and not so beautiful. I have known many gorgeous women, who were no longer beautiful to me, once I got to know them. (Who they really were spoke so much louder than how they looked.) On the other hand, I have known both men and women who would not be considered attractive in any way, that just glowed with radiance, because they were beautiful on the inside, and their features just didn’t matter.

You want to know someone that I thought was beautiful? Dale Evans. The older she got, the more beautiful she became, because the more of Jesus I saw in her. She always had something good to say about everyone. She loved people, and she let them know it. There was a light that radiated from within. The Bible tells us that man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. How I wish more of us did…

Please see other articles that I have written here: http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

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For what is it to die,

But to stand in the sun

And melt into the wind?   Kahlil Gibran

I was reading an article the other day that said the only thing that prevents us from dying a good death is fear and regret. I believe that is profoundly true. If we know where we’re going, and we are at peace about it, there will be little fear about eternity. When people are secure in their knowledge of God and salvation and heaven, I think their greatest fear is not about those things, but rather about dying a painful death–a death where one suffers. It seems that we have done quite well at keeping people alive longer, but not so good at keeping them healthy. Therefore, 2 out of 3 people die in hospitals or nursing homes. That is what we fear the most-suffering and dying away from home and our loved ones. It seems to me that a natural death should be treated with as much attention as a birth.  A person should be surrounded by loved ones, in his or her own bed, if possible. I think we fear nursing homes even more than hospitals. (But hospitals have their own demons.) So fear plays a great part in our thoughts about death. It’s not so much the dying that frightens us, but the process.

And then there’s the question of regrets. Regret means “to be very sorry for.” We can have regrets about things that we’ve done, or things that we haven’t done. While we can’t do a lot about the fear that surrounds the circumstances of our death, we can certainly do a great deal to prevent having regrets. It’s so important at every stage of our life, to take inventory of our relationships with others, of our dreams and goals, and of our satisfaction with ourselves. All these things are crucial if we are to die without regrets. Is there anyone we’re estranged from? We may not always be able to remedy this, but the least we can do is forgive that person to the best of our ability. While God’s heart is always reconciliation, his greatest desire is forgiveness. We can only control what we do and say, and find peace within. Many people live lives of bitterness because they cannot let go of an offense, and the person who hurt them is not suffering at all.

It’s also vital to examine our dreams and goals periodically. The great thing about dreams is that they can change and evolve. Perhaps we haven’t achieved exactly what we once desired, but we have managed to capture the essence of it in some other way. We may not be the professional dancer, but we can be the dance teacher. We might not have reached all our goals, but we can mentor someone who can carry on our vision. All through the Bible, I think that it is evident that God calls generations. Perhaps it is not just one man who can totally fulfill the vision, but in time it will be completed. It is the same in our lives. It is good to view the unfolding of our time on earth this way.

I once lamented to my counselor that I felt I had not achieved as much as I had hoped, and that I had always wanted to be somebody. (Whatever the heck that means.) She pointed out that I had enjoyed so many opportunities that many people do not. I have had my own radio show, been ordained as a minister, been a Bible teacher, taught sign language worship, been a grief counselor, owned a Christian coffeehouse, been a freelance writer and a professional singer, etc. I began to see and accept what she was saying, and realized how blessed I have been, as I have always wanted to be creative. And I have had many opportunities to express my creativity. So when you review or assess your life thus far, look at the opportunities you’ve had to do the things that you enjoy, and are good at. That counts for a lot. And you will often find that you have touched many more people than you ever dreamed. And remember, famous people, and very frequently wealthy ones, are not often happy. It is rare to find those who are. So take joy in your position in life, and your abundant blessings. Some people spend their entire lives just trying to put food on the table, and they never have a chance to think about what makes them happy or fulfilled.

And finally, how do you feel about yourself? Are you always displeased with who you are? Do you worry about how you look? Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time with my elderly, widowed mother, and I have noticed the longings of her heart to enjoy the things of youth again. Whenever we’ve been in the stores this spring, she has noticed the sun dresses, and always remarks how she wishes she could wear them once again. And her skin bruises very easily, and she feels that it is ugly, and I keep telling her that most people aren’t really staring at her bruises, though I understand that it bothers her, that her skin is discolored with black and blue marks. The doctors have said that it is aging, thin skin, and there is little to be done. Growing old is painful in so many ways, because there are so many losses, and when we were younger, we did not think that our lives would pass so quickly. But we can mourn the losses continually, or we can enjoy what we have left, treasuring every moment.

I think one of the greatest things about getting older, at least for me, is that I do accept myself more. I am not so vain as when I was younger. I am not so preoccupied with things that are superficial and really don’t matter, because I have suffered through the loss of loved ones, and I am finally beginning to learn what is really important in life. I do not push myself so hard for perfection, because I have decided that it is not even something that I desire. I learn from my mistakes, and find them valuable. I am learning to like myself a little more, and to do things that make me happy, because I am so much more aware of the passing of time.

So there you have it. There is only fear and regret that can rob us of a good death. We must turn to God with our fears, trusting in His love and care, and look to ourselves to make sure that we have no regrets…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

Santa Claus is the only make-believe character that is more readily recognized by school children than Ronald McDonald, according to Erich Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation. But fast food in America is not just for kids. We are an obese nation, and most of us spend more time than we’d like to admit, eating fast food. It has become a way of life for those who rush from one activity to another, with no time to grocery shop or cook. Most of our fast food decisions are not even planned. As the television ad says, “Life comes at you fast”, and we don’t spend a lot of time on meal planning. And why should we, when there’s plenty of fast food available on every street corner? It’s at the sports stadium, the carnival, Kmart, the shopping mall, concerts, the circus, the movies, the beach…well, you get the picture.

The Survey of Consumer Expenditures for 2006 reports that the average family in the United States spent almost half of its food budget on meals away from home. (No doubt the majority of that was spent on fast food.) The family-owned restaurant is becoming a faint memory, while fast food chain restaurants are springing up all over the cities and interstates.

Perhaps you’re wondering what’s so bad about a fast food strawberry milkshake now and then? Milk is good for you, isn’t it? And fresh strawberries are certainly healthy. That may be true, but in most fast food shakes you’ll find little milk and no strawberries. But what you will find, according to British research, is 59 ingredients, and 40 of them are chemicals. Let me name a few–amyl butyrate, ethyl heptanoate, methyl anthranilate, and 4-methylacetophenone. Tasty sounding, aren’t they? Nowhere will you find an actual strawberry. The whole “shake” (notice the absence of the word “milk” on the menu board) is made with artificial flavorings. But if you take a whiff, you’d swear you smell strawberries.

I nearly fainted when I read an ingredient list of a fast food “Happy Meal” that contained chicken nuggets, fries and a High-C drink. The list of additives was half a page long! Some of the chemical additives in fast food have been linked to tumors, cancer, and other health risks. (For a complete list of the ingredients see my link: Eco Child’s Play.)

Well, what about a fast food burger? Those shouldn’t be so bad. Wrong again. Apparently they’re not even made from the beef of one cow these days, according to Quality Health News. The USDA says that the typical fast food hamburger may contain hundreds of strips of beef from different cattle! I shudder to think how far the contaminated meat (of a cow with mad cow or any disease) could travel. Apparently, this is even true with the ground beef we now buy in the grocery store. Most of us remember the Jack in the Box fast food catastrophe in 1993, when four children died, and 750 were sickened, from a deadly strain of E. Coli bacteria. Even though a new meat inspection system is in place, because of that tragedy, consumers are still vulnerable to serious fast food risks.

And if that’s not bad enough, the buns have dangerous additives, and so much of the fast food is fried, and is heavy on the fat, salt, and sugar. According to Erich Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), there used to be local slaughter houses all throughout the U. S., but today just 13 massive slaughter houses supply most of our country’s fast food hamburger meat. So you can see why an outbreak could spread quickly across the nation.

Fast food has also been found to be psychologically and even physically addictive, because of its high fat and high sugar content. (Please see my earlier article on Food Addiction: Five Foods That Cause Physical and Emotional Dependencies.)

According to Quality Health News 2008, potassium bromate, a dough conditioner and bleaching agent that has been banned in many countries, is still being allowed in the United States and Japan. The International Agency for Research on Cancer labeled it a Category 2B carcinogen (possibly carcinogenic to humans). And yet, it is still currently used in the fast food buns served at Burger King, Arby’s and Wendy’s, as reported by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

I could certainly go on and on, but it might be dinnertime where you are, and I already feel sick after researching this article. I guess the next question they’ll be asking at the fast food drive-thru will be, “Do you want E. Coli and chemical poisons with that? And would you like to Supersize it?”

Please read other articles that I have written here: http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

Sources: http://pameladrew.newsvine.com/_news/2006/09/02/349040-dirty-secrets-of-the-fast-food-nation
http://www.menshealth.com/16secrets/secretburgerking.html
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/features/jan-june01/fast_food.html
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12616402
http://v.mercola.com/blogs/public_blog/Fast-Food-Milkshakes-Exposed-27226.aspx
http://www.guardian.co.uk/food/Story/0,,1759910,00.html
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Health/Story?id=2092568&page=2
http://www.vegsource.com/talk/earthsave/messages/1000270.html
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/01/31/health/main326858.shtml
http://www.qualityhealth.com/psp/6-shocking-fast-food-secrets/featurearticles/featuredArticle.jspa?rf=27712&mc=MTUwMjMyMjg.
http://ecochildsplay.com/2008/02/12/so-whats-in-that-happy-meal-besides-the-cheap-toy/

 

I read an enjoyable, descriptive article today in The Wall Street Journal by Peggy Noonan-one of my favorite writers.  I wrote an abstract for it on Brijit, but alas, it was not the chosen one for today.  I will include it here:

Barefoot, carrying a rubber tub, and exiting a magnetometer, Americans are continually humiliated and harassed in busy airports, as they travel from coast to coast. Middle aged women are ordered into spread eagle stances, grannies are eyed suspiciously, and children are taken from their mommies–all in the name of security. And everyone has the right (in this land of opportunity) to be equally shamed. Noonan paints the perfect picture of the demoralization of our society. At Gate 14, not one weary traveler cares who won the Pennsylvania primaries, because they are convinced that no one can make their lives better.

Here’s the link to Peggy’s article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120906741679842493.html?mod=psp_editors_picks

Sad, but true commentary. All of us want airline travel to be safe. There’s no question about that, but we never bargained for a lifetime of total humiliation. The TSA has workers that have let a little power go their head.

Several years ago, I was traveling home from my father’s funeral in South Carolina, with my husband. We checked our bags, as usual, and then abruptly I heard my name being called over the loud speaker. My husband and I looked at each other with a questioning dread, and went straight to the counter. I identified myself, and then asked what was wrong. The most rude, abrasive man that I have ever met, dismissed my questions, and told me to get my arms off of his counter! I could hardly believe this. They would not tell me anything, and they would not let me sit down. They then proceeded to question me publicly about all the medications that I was taking. I tried to answer calmly, but was disgusted that all the passengers in line around me were able to hear my medical history. At any rate, the persistent rudeness caused me to cry. I watched as they rummaged madly through my carefully packed luggage, and I just could not imagine what had triggered all this. (My greatest crime was clean underwear.)

It turns out that the machine they run the luggage through, had pinpointed my suitcase for explosives! I almost passed out right there. They questioned where my luggage had been, and what my travel history had been. With tears in my eyes, I explained that I had just attended my father’s funeral, and was grieving. I told them that I had purchased the luggage at T. J. Maxx, before leaving home, and that it went through airport security just fine on the way to the funeral. My husband was afraid they might arrest me, and encouraged me to keep my emotions under control. I did, though I felt very violated, and couldn’t understand how a thing like this could happen. I was now a terrorist on the way home from my father’s funeral. Eventually, (a long eventually) they let us through, with no explanation of what had just happened, or why I was now allowed to pass through security. I sat at a table trying to eat, as we waited on our boarding time, and all I could do was cry. I was already depressed about my father’s death, and now I was embarrassed and confused. A friend of mine, now in the military, who works in the EOD (explosive ordinance) field,  told me that those machines are always giving false positives for explosives, and that they are not at all accurate. At any rate, when I finally arrived home in our small beach town, I returned the luggage (along with sharing my accused terrorist story), and the store obliged me with a refund. I did not however, make an exchange, as I was rather “gun shy” (excuse the pun) at this point. To this day, I have no idea what could have caused the machine to go off, and apparently neither did the TSA. However, they did not apologize or explain anything.  They treated me like a common criminal even when they decided to let me go on through security. I did write a letter of complaint, and received a letter in return. Nothing spectacular though, as the TSA receives numerous complaints daily, and it was more or less a “form letter” response.

This nightmare, or a similar one, occurs often these days. Most Americans are more than willing to endure a certain amount of indignities for safety, and we understand the need for hyper-vigilance. I am more than happy to cooperate with any needed procedures. I once offered to remove my wig (in public) when my hair clips set off the dreaded machine.  (Something most women wouldn’t do for any amount of money.)  So I am very accommodating! All I am objecting to is the  rudeness, and abuse of power, that some of the TSA workers exhibit. It seems that they fail to understand, that most of us are just normal people, trying to make the journeys of life, and are already under a fair amount of stress.

So I can really relate to Peggy Noonan’s article about Americans with glazed eyes, and fixed stares, resigned to being treated worse than cattle, and suspiciously regarded as terrorists in every airport in the U. S.  I’m all for security, but please, how about security with a heart (and a brain)?…

 Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

 

 

“Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.” Grace Hansen 

Fear is what makes us lose this moment, while worrying about the future. Many of us search for security, and a comfortable existence. Don’t rock the boat; don’t stir the nest. But boats that don’t rock are quite boring, as are ships that never sail the seas. They are safe in harbor, but that is not the purpose of a boat. And when mother eagles feel it’s time for their little ones to fly, they begin to stir the nest, and make them uncomfortable. For who will ever learn to fly, if the nest holds all our dreams? 

Life was meant to be exciting, but fear imprisons us with warnings of, “Better be careful. Better take it easy. Don’t get your hopes up.”  Well what good are hopes that are down? Low hopes never helped anyone achieve anything. I say let your hopes rise to the sky, and never let them falter. If we view everything with hesitancy, we will always be afraid to move forward, because there are no guarantees about anything. But how much better, at the end of life to be able to say, “I tried.” If you tried, you did not fail. The only real failure is not making an effort to make your dreams come true.

Like the quote says, it’s not about fearing death…it’s about living life–to the fullest.  I can’t imagine anything sadder than to get to the end of life, and have regrets about things that you could have experienced. That’s not to say that we must do grand things, because sometimes the grandest things of all are the simplest. It’s about living every moment–greeting everyday as a great adventure, with anticipation and excitement about what the day holds. It’s about seeing beauty in the things that the some would hardly even notice. It’s about living and loving on purpose. Yes, on purpose. We are not made to blindly roam this earth without an understanding of our brevity here. For while the soul does indeed go on, there is only this one chance to be on earth. There is only this moment to love our families and friends, and to make a difference by our existence. That difference may be as simple as encouraging others, taking care of the elderly, nurturing a child, or giving of ourselves as the opportunity arises. Greatness is not found in the grandness of the task, but in the generosity of spirit.  I am reminded of a quote by Mother Teresa that always touched me deeply. She said, “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”

So, as you can see, it is not the end of life that should give us pause, but rather life itself. I somehow think that the end of life will not be nearly as frightening as we might imagine. What is truly frightening for many, is living life…

 Please see other articles that I have written here: http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

 

As most of you know, I’ve been trying to change my lifestyle in many ways. Eating better, exercising, and losing weight. I feel really good about the changes that I have implemented. I am eating very good nutritional food–no sugar, white flour, white bread, white potatoes, white rice, corn or starchy vegetables. I eat lean meat, vegetables (including beans), low sugar fruit, soups and salads. My weight loss has been nothing to shout about, which makes me want to scream, but if I continue to eat right and exercise, it has to come off right? (I’ve lost 2 lousy pounds.) I have exercised a lot, but can step that up even more also. I am doing pretty good with my sleep schedule. I’ve had about 3 slip ups, which isn’t bad for someone who was staying up all night fairly often, and sleeping in the day. Since I’ve changed my sleep schedule, I’m getting a lot more done, and I look forward to each day! I’ve gotten a lot more writing done at a time when I feel brighter and more energetic.

I asked my doctor if I got to my ideal weight, would I eventually still have to go on the needle (insulin) as a long time Type 2 diabetic? I also asked her what my ideal weight would be. At first, she said, 102. I had to laugh because I was very small in high school, and weighed 115 pounds. At 102, my husband would have to use a magnifying glass to find me! LOL! Then she said that was the low side for my height. (About height…I don’t have any.) I’m a whopping 5’2″. (So you can see the problem.) I presently weigh about 186, but I wear it pretty well, and don’t look too fat. She then changed my ideal weight to 138 on the high end. (My choice would be 135.) So I have quite a way to go, but with God’s help, I can do it!!!

The greatest news is…she said that if I get to my ideal weight, I could not only avoid the needle, but I could come off of some of my other meds, and I am on a lot. All my conditions go together–high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, low thyroid (treated), acid reflux, etc. Weight loss will improve everything! I am on way too many meds, so it would be great to come off of some of them eventually. I hate taking all these medicines.

She did add another dose of Glucophage ER (Metformin), so now I take (2) 500 mg tablets of Glucophage, and one tablet of Januvia for diabetes. Perhaps the added Glucophage will help to bring down the blood sugar even more. It is coming down, but very slowly. (And I had numbers in the 250s to 300.)

Unfortunately, I found out that the vertigo (dizziness) that I have been suffering from, is due to a sinus infection, so once again, I have to take antibiotics. I am so tired of this, and worry that I am taking far too many, but I have no choice. I just got over antibiotics for a second urinary tract infection (since December.) And so it goes. 😦

So I have my work cut out for me, and it’s never been easy for me to lose weight, but if I do my part, I will eventually have success. I am committed to this way of eating, and my husband loves it also, so he is a great support. (He says that if I get down to 138, he’ll have to go on high blood pressure medicine! Cause I’ll look so good.) LOL! 

Please pray for me to achieve my goals. I go back in early July. No, I won’t have lost all the weight by then.  Not even close.  But I’ll be happy with whatever I achieve, as we have a vacation during that time also. I need to lose slow and steady for it to stay off, and be a healthy weight loss.

So my whole life is changing drastically–sleep schedule, eating habits, and exercise schedule. I like the changes, and am feeling better. Change is good…

Please see other articles that I have written here: http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) 

Recently I went through a conflict at an online chat community, and I was amazed at who took up for me…and sadly, who didn’t. As a friend, we are hurt when we don’t receive loyalty. In this politically correct world, few people are able to stand up to the masses, particularly if it will affect their own position or popularity. But the words of our enemies will be long forgotten, while the silence of our friends will not.

I really don’t care what I lose, if I think a person is correct, I will defend them to my dying day. I also will stand up for someone when they are treated cruelly by others. There is little that hurts me more, than watching someone being mistreated, and no one comes to their aid. I will sacrifice everything to defend them.

As I read this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., I realized that there must have been many times when he felt the silence of his friends. That must have hurt him very much. But he cared enough about equality, to keep fighting a very difficult and unpopular battle. And thank God that he did. At least at the end of the day, he could lie peacefully in his bed, knowing that he had pleased the most important One of all–God.

Our enemies can say and do things to hurt us mightily, but if our friends support us, we can face anything. If we feel that they understand our side of the conflict, and if they speak out about the injustice, we are able to go on. But when there is that deadly silence, we feel betrayed. Betrayal is an excruciating thing to experience. It is very difficult to ever get over. Jesus experienced a betrayal with a kiss, of all things. Judas. A person who appeared to love, but was getting ready to sell Him out–for thirty measley pieces of silver. And yet, once it was done, Judas could not live with how he had betrayed his friend. He committed suicide.

Sometimes we wish our betrayers might come to an awful end, but we don’t wish them death. Still, we do wish that they would come to realize, as Judas did, how wrong their actions were. But it is not likely. People tend to stake out a position and rationalize it. Not many are willing to admit that they were wrong, or that what they did was hurtful.

And so I have found that the only answer is to shake the dust off of your feet, and march on. Sometimes it is a learning experience about who to trust. But often you couldn’t have predicted it. It is so important that you don’t completely lose your trust in people, because we do need each other. There will always be those who let us down, and at times, we will also let others down. Broken trust is a human experience, shared by all, at one time or another. But we must not give up on people.

Friends (and lovers) can be the source of great pain, but also the fountain of our greatest joy…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other. Chinese Proverb

 

I guess that sums up the way I want to live my life. Having the necessary things to survive, but not without the beauty that sustains. A piece of bread can fill the stomach, but a lovely flower feeds the soul.

Even when I’m alone, I light candles, just to watch them flicker and to smell their delightful fragrance. And when I have a cup of tea, I will sometimes put it in my finest china cup, because that is part of the pleasure. And when I sit in my cozy chair, I will cover my lap with an emerald velvet blanket, because it makes me smile.

When I grocery shop, you will sometimes see me with a fresh bouquet, along with my milk and eggs. And I often put on perfume after a bath, when there’s no one but me to enjoy it.

These are the pleasures that see us through the sometimes weary days, without color or laughter. They are the music of life in an orchestra of chaos. They are the small things that give us the strength to endure the difficulties of existence.

So put on your warmest slippers, and your softest robe. Light a fire, even if you’re the only one to feel its warmth. Dance in the kitchen, and sing in the shower. Some day you will need those moments to carry you through…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

 

Visions of human organs being grown in a lab, and body parts that grow back, sounds like the latest science fiction thriller, but it’s happening now! The ability to regrow organs and tissues may soon revolutionize medicine, according to a story by Wyatt Andrews, of CBS news. When Lee Spievack’s hobby airplane propeller cut off his fingertip, he called his brother, Alan, a research scientist, in the field of medicine. Alan sent Lee a special powder to sprinkle on the wound, and much to Lee’s amazement the fingertip grew back. (We are not talking about sewing the fingertip back on. We are talking about regrowing the fingertip, including fingernail, vessels, blood and skin.) Amazing as it sounds, Lee has a new fingertip. This incredible potential to regrow organs and tissues, has made regenerative medicine one of the most exciting fields of research.

Dr. Steven Badylak, of the University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine, explains that the powder sent to Lee was called extra cellular matrix–a mixture of protein and connective tissues made from pig bladders. Surgeons use it to restore tendons. It signals the body to start the process of regrowing tissues, and then helps it decide what type of tissue it should grow, depending on the area of the body where it is placed. Dr. Badylak believes that this could lead to the ability to regrow a missing limb. He is also preparing to use esophagus-shaped matrix material in patients with throat cancer, believing that the body will regrow new tissue.

When visiting the lab of Dr. Anthony Atala, at Wake Forest University, North Carolina, you might think you’re in Dr. Frankenstein’s world. Dr. Atala grows body parts in what he refers to as a “medical factory.” He and his staff have 18 different kinds of tissue that have been created from the cell level. This tissue is growing, and includes whole organs, muscle tissue, and even the heart valve of a sheep. Their plan is to make body parts that can be implanted into humans. Regenerative medicine operates on the premise that every type of tissue has cells that are capable of regeneration, if programmed correctly. Dr. Atala is confident that it won’t be long before the science will exist to grow a human heart.

In a clinical trial, (utilizing the procedure created by Dr. Atala), Dr. Patrick Shenot (Thomas Jefferson Hospital, Philadelphia) has attempted a bladder transplant, using an organ that was created from the patient’s own cells. The cells were grown in the laboratory and then placed on a biodegradable frame, shaped like a bladder. After 8 weeks, millions of cells regrew on the frame, and it was then transplanted into the patient. When the form of the organ dissolves, believe it or not, what will (hopefully) be left is a new, working organ.

The United States military is particularly excited about this new research, and hopes that it will help to regrow organs and tissues (limbs, skin, and muscle) of wounded soldiers. Dr. Steven Wolf, of the Army Institute of Surgical Research, feels there’s a possibility of being able to regrow a leg or an arm. In the future, perhaps there won’t be a need for prosthetic limbs. Millions of dollars have been bankrolled by the military for regenerative medicine research. For burn victims it could provide a way to replace skin without all the horrible scarring that occurs with traditional skin grafts. Injured soldiers will be the first to receive this revolutionary “miracle” treatment.

Regenerative medicine research is a global effort. In a test trial in Germany, a machine has been devised that can spray a patient’s own cells on a burn, which hopefully, will result in the regrowth of the tissue. In America, many are willing to invest in the technology that could bring about the mass production of body parts. (Consider all the people with physical disabilities, who could have new hope, with a regenerative limb or organ.)

Mary Beth Babo is involved in a study at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Her own stem cells have been injected into her heart. Doctors are extremely hopeful that she will grow new arteries. This would be an incredible advancement, and would lessen the need for open heart surgery, and all the complications that arise from it.

One factory, The Tengion Company, is already making the bladders mentioned previously. They believe that instead of waiting for years to get a donated transplant organ, a patient will send their own cells to a lab for a few weeks, and have their own body part regrown. When you think of all the people on organ donor waiting lists, and then you consider the potential of this regenerative medicine research, the possibilities are amazing.

Of course, the other side to this coin, is that scientists could find a way to make man immortal, by having the body regrow all the worn out organs and tissues. This would seriously be going against Mother Nature. Our bodies are programmed to live, reproduce, and then die. According to scientists, aging and death are actually programmed into our genes. From the beginning of our lives, our cells divide and multiply. Old or damaged cells are replaced with new ones. But at some point, the body loses its ability to repair itself, and we begin to experience the devastating effects of old age diseases. Is it possible that scientists could carry this experimentation to the point of full body regeneration? The body would constantly be renewing itself. Scientists are already speculating on what year we will see the first immortal human. (To me, that’s scary stuff.) What about population control, and having the necessary resources to sustain people living forever? What if only a few could afford the procedures? And for those of us with spiritual beliefs, when would we go to heaven, if we lived forever? These are compelling questions. One thing is for sure, as science heads down the yellow brick road of regeneration, the ethical questions will abound.

 Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/03/22/sunday/main3960219.shtml
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/04/12/re-growing-organs-the-future-is-here.aspx
http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/1999/living_forever_script.shtml

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If you ever question the reality of evil, just take a look at your nightmares. Only pure evil knows how to torture you to that degree. I had one of those nights last night. I saw every couple of hours on the clock. Seems like ever since I’ve been committed to correcting my sleep schedule, I’ve had sleepless or very difficult nights. As I said before, it’s truly a spiritual battle. So I finally fell asleep somewhere near the early morning light. And then it happened. The dream from hell.

Now my dream from hell is not likely to resemble yours, because what torments me, may not be what wrecks your nerves. Sometimes I think the dreams that are based somewhat in reality are the scariest, because they seem more believable, and so very real while they’re happening.

I care for my elderly, widowed mom, who is an insulin dependent diabetic, and lives alone (by her own choice.) It’s a somewhat precarious arrangement, but I have put every safeguard in place that I can, and I see her often, and talk to her daily. When my dad died, as most of you know, I became her primary caregiver, and I spent the first year (after his death) a basket case, thinking I had to keep her alive. I couldn’t sleep after my dad died, when I realized that I had inherited the responsibility of my mom. (I do have a brother who visits her daily on his lunch hour, but I am responsible for her doctors’ appointments, errands, hair appointments, medicines, etc.) But it has now been 3 years since my dad’s death, and I have calmed down about the care of my mom considerably. I know that only God can keep her alive, and that my job is to care for her the best that I can.

Early this morning, I dreamed that she and I checked into a hotel, and for some crazy reason, there was a couple that I did not know, already in the room, asleep in bed. We had barely stepped into the room, when my mother passed out, and crashed to the floor. In the dream, I immediately knew that it was low blood sugar, so I ran everywhere in the room, looking for orange juice, or something sweet. There was absolutely nothing, and I knew that time was short. For some reason, the couple in the room did not help me, so I flew out the door, and ran (for what seemed like miles) to the hotel office. There I found a man that I had known years ago-an elder in our church, working the front desk. I explained the problem, and together we ran toward the room. But the property was so large, that I could not remember which room it was. (We had barely stepped into the room when she passed out.) I started running everywhere, trying to find her. I even climbed large walls in this dream. In fact, I kept having to scale a very tall, difficult wall. I did everything I could to find her, but I couldn’t get to her. The man named Nate ran on ahead, still looking. Somehow, someone scanned my key, and discovered the room number. (Of course, the front desk would have known the room number all the time, but remember this is a dream.) I was still climbing the large wall, and could not find my mother.

Suddenly, my first cousin, Jack (who I was raised with until the age of 7) appeared, wearing dark shades and a ball cap. I was relieved to see him, but he had a strange look on his face. “Did they find her?”, I screamed frantically. He hesitated, and then shook his head (saying yes.) But not a moment later, he added, “She died.” My heart hurt as though I was having a heart attack, and at just that moment I woke up. I was trembling and shaking all over, just totally upset. It took me a few minutes to realize that I was back in my room, and that it had been a horrible dream. After I got over the shock of it all, I got mad.

Every single night since I have started my regimen to discipline myself, by going to bed at a decent hour, I have been harrassed in some way. First it was a sore throat, then it was vertigo. Yes, for 3 nights, every time that I turned over in bed, the room would spin. It was hell. Once I counted 5 rotations of my fan, and it wasn’t even on! (It must be either sinus, or an inner ear problem. I’ve only had this one other time in my life, following a bad cold.) Finally, yesterday, the dizziness went away, though my ear hurt a little. I went to bed, needing sleep so badly, because today I had to take my mom to a doctor’s appointment in a nearby town, about 2 hours away. It was going to be a rough day for sure, and a very tiring one. So at first I couldn’t go to sleep, no matter how I tried. I listened to a tape for awhile, and still couldn’t sleep. But I stayed there, and did not get up. (For me that was a huge victory.) Then, when I finally fell asleep by the dawn’s early light, I had that horrible nightmare.

I truly believe it is demonic harassment. Yes, I studied psychology..I majored in it! I know how the subconscious works. But the timing on all these ailments and dreams is very suspicious. I just have to stand strong.

I thought I would share with you, what I do when I have a dream like that. I am a Christian, and I pray the blood of Jesus over me, and over the dream. I bind up every vision, image and negative emotion that I experienced. I say that it is a lie, and will not come to pass. I cast away all fear and torment, and I speak out loud  that I will not remember, or be tormented by the dream.  I tell Satan to flee (because the Bible says to resist him, and he will flee), and I get up, and try not to dwell on it, because I believe that is what the enemy wants us to do. He wants to bring in fear, discouragement, and torment.

Think it sounds crazy? All I can tell you is that it works. Sometimes when you’re trying very hard to live your life for Christ, Satan will attack you in your dreams, because that is when you’re most vulnerable, and things are somewhat out of your control. I can tell you that my whole life is better, because I am changing my horrible sleep habits, and I am sure that every demon in hell is trying to stop this effort. But greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world. And in the same way that an earthly father comforts his child after a bad dream, so my Heavenly Father is there to comfort me always…

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