Sunday, November 13, 2016

Abortion, Euthanasia, & Controversial Subjects That Shouldn't Be

What an election cycle! I know. We're all thrilled it's over, and we are all left wondering, Now what?

Well, I hope we've each learned some helpful lessons, especially about how misleading reliance on the media can be, and how little we actually know about what motivates people (especially people who are different from us). I can only hope that we will continue to learn with humility and with an open mind from our differences, for this year has provided an unparalleled opportunity by exposing so many biases in all of us. All of us.

Things can change drastically overnight. This, too, is clear, and I feel like I've been changed dramatically.

One way I've been changed through this election cycle is by gaining a new understanding of the level of misinformation and the lack of education "out there" about so many issues. I've also learned that many people look down on the uneducated, not recognizing that their own education is a blessing and privilege, and one that brings with it the responsibility to improve the world, not bring people down through judgment and a sense of superiority.

In the aftermath of the election, I was privileged to have several enlightening conversations with a few young women who are proudly "pro-choice" (as I was while in college so long ago before delivering hundreds of babies and educating myself about the truth about abortion, all of which changed my perspective and heart). While speaking to them, I was saddened to realize just how little they actually knew about the reality of abortion, Planned Parenthood, and the critical difference between what is legal and what is moral, and right, and desirable for women, children, and families. 

Sadly, the "educated" can be quite uneducated, too, and I realized that I share some responsibility in that. I have a responsibility to share what I've learned as I've become educated, even if the subject is uncomfortable, unpopular, or extremely controversial. I have a responsibility to speak what I know and let truth do its work in its time and in its way. Today's post is only one of the outcomes of the changes that began in me this week.

Truth is, abortion has become extremely common. It is, in fact, a form of birth control for many women, especially now that you can obtain a chemical abortion and expel the growing baby quietly in the eery, surreal privacy of your home by taking a few little pills. I know because I see these conflicted and scared women as patients after their abortions, especially because Planned Parenthood often directs them back to their doctors when these women experience post-abortion complications such as continued bleeding and pain. I also see them for their emotional pain, which can last years and sometimes, a lifetime.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 21% (one in five!) of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) in 2011 ended in abortion. And from 1973 through 2011, nearly 53 million legal abortions occurred. At Planned Parenthood alone, there were 323,999 abortions just last year in this country.  

What ever happened to "abortion should be rare?" 

It became swallowed in our culture of death, slowly and steadily, while championed by mothers and grandmothers in politics now calling for abortion-on-demand at every stage of pregnancy right up to birth. Really? Is there even a need or a demand for that??!! 

How does this happen to a nation and its people? Through blindness to the truth of what's happening. Through clever, legal language ("fetus" rather than developing baby, "reproductive rights" and "women's healthcare" rather than ending a pregnancy, destroying a developing embryo/a life). It happens through half-truths, lies, and one campaign of misinformation and lack of education at a time.

It also happens when people who know better stay silent, seeking to avoid controversial subjects so as not to be uncomfortable or deemed old-fashioned, anti-woman (of all things!), or worse. Much worse!

As I continue to ponder the state of our country, I am aware that abortion is a decision that takes place in private after conversations with one or a few people. What if more of these conversations were based on an understanding of the sanctity of life, and genuine concern not only for the life of the unborn child but also for the soul of the woman choosing life or death for the child growing in her womb?

What if a national movement began to #MakeAbortionRareAgain, #OneWomanAtATime? This is what I'm pondering.

The answer, it seems, lies not with the law but with hearts and minds. Beyond what legislators may seek to accomplish with Planned Parenthood and others, I'm talking about an effective movement of truth and dignity to change hearts and minds, one person at a time. A movement consisting of education, encouragement, and equipping of women so that they make life-affirming choices while also being supported as mothers. A movement that sheds light into the blessings of motherhood and parenting, one that reminds young girls and women that motherhood is good, a tremendous blessing, and within the very design of their bodies!

This is what I'm pondering. For it is time for women to become educated. To understand that a child in the womb is a life. A human being. Not a choice. To grasp that abortion robs women (and men, and society at large) rather than empower them

You all know that my blog has never been political. It has always been an expression of what's in my heart, my faith, and what flows from my relationship with God. And defending life is one of those things that should never be controversial! 

So, as a physician and mother and, yes, as a Christian, I stand up courageously for the most defenseless in a culture that's lost its way in the area of life. Mock me. Belittle me. Shun me. I don't care.

I will defend life in the mother's womb and life near and up to its natural end (and in every stage in between)

I stand against both euthanasia and abortion (and the blindness and resultant ignorance and superiority that surrounds both and continues to launch them forward). 

Ponder with me: How is defending life at every stage not the standard for the United States of America? 

Who are we, really? 

How did our society come to accept and embrace a culture of death that it now champions with such pride? 

Again, what ever happened to "abortion should be rare?" Now "mercy killing," too, will start sweeping through our states? I, for one, will never forget that to "first do no harm" is a central tenet of our Hippocratic Oath. 

The human womb should be the safest place on earth. What does it say about us that the mothers of our nation are not fighting for the child within their womb? And what about the fathers? And their grandmas and grandpas? Enough!

One thing is clear. I will not be silent. I will proclaim life as our greatest gift and defend it. And I hope you'll have the courage to do the same.

Defend Life!
Dr Mari

I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. 
Deuteronomy 30:19

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Story, A Prayer, and a Song

A Story

Last month I helped someone. It was so cool. We had one of those moments of connection that surprise. Words that can't quite be planned. They just seem to form and emerge at just the right time in just the right way.

In those moments, words can heal. Words are powerful.

That day, my words landed. They reached another human being's heart as I shared mine. And then I knew the person in front of me would leave knowing she was heard. Understood. Loved.

I live for those moments. It's part of why I am now a coach. I love how coaching focuses on the positive. On possibilities. On a future yet unknown that we can begin to create now. A tomorrow that is brighter than our present reality and, perhaps, our past. Very cool.

A Prayer

This week I spoke to someone else. Someone with trouble letting go. Listening helped. Words helped. A certain lightness began to fill the room. And, yet, I hoped for more for her. So much more.

So ... as she spoke ... as she shared her heart ... I shared mine with my God. Though she didn't know it, I lifted her up so high.   S o  v e r y   h i g h.

There is no gift like prayer. The one who prays is as blessed as the one lifted up to the One who hears like no one else. Cares like no one else. Loves like no one else. And can answer like no one else.

Through prayer, we live in God's presence. We are lifted higher. We connect with our Creator, and rest.

My hope for her ... is God. God's blessing. God's joy. God's rest. And I know He will answer.

A Song

My daughter played a song for us tonight. It rocks. It's by Matthew West, and it's titled Do Something. You will find it here. Enjoy, sing it out loud, and don't forget to...

Dr Mari

Be still and know that I am God. 
Psalm 46:10

For more on the power of prayer, read Prayer: A Way of Life.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Blessed Easter: Hope Restored!

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 
Matthew 28:6

The disciples witnessed it.
The Gospel writers proclaimed it.
Countless believers down the ages have experienced it.

He is Risen!

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical event that invites a response.

He is not here; He has risen!

Words of hope. 
Words of life.

Words that change everything.

The compelling story is recounted this year, of all places, in the Wall Street Journal.
You may read it here.  

May we live into our joyful Easter every day, all year!
Dr Mari

For more on how the story of the Resurrection impacts our lives, read The Hero Lives! and He Is Risen! So What Does That Mean to You and Me?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Physician's Plea

a physician's plea

i am a physician
which means i'm first human
though the world wants to keep me
detached and removed
up in some pedestal
far from the real you

i don't belong there
i belong with you
next to you
i'm a human person
i am like you

it is in my humanity
that i can best
see you
hear you
serve you

i am a human being
just like you
and my heart longs
to know you
and connect with you
with compassion
and, yes, with love

let me
to where i belong

i am 
which is
what you need

let me be human
and walk alongside you
believe me, i care,
and healing dwells there
in the house of 'we'

we heal
living more fully
we are human
i am human
a human, MD

Blessings & Joy,
Dr Mari 
© 2016 Amaryllis Sánchez Wohlever, MD

I was blessed as the first physician to greet this baby into our world!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Hope for Physicians: A New Paradigm

My article Healing patients shouldn't be killing doctors was published on KevinMD this week. The enthusiastic response from my colleagues has not surprised me, for I know how unsupported and unappreciated so many physicians feel as they do their best for people every day despite countless obstacles. As I said in the article, unsupported physicians are like hamsters in a wheel going around and around never getting anywhere while running themselves to the ground.

In the last few years, the rates of burnout among physicians have reached epidemic proportions. This rising prevalence continues to climb alongside a parallel ladder of increasing barriers to excellent care while the once-central patient-physician relationship sits in a corner, pushed back by technology, the mandated over-reliance on electronic medical records, increasing regulatory demands, and less time available for direct patient care. We spend so much time, energy, and resources constantly adapting to change that a proactive practice is often an unattainable dream.

Yet, this is not the end of our story. In fact, I believe it marks a new and important beginning for our profession.

As physicians, it is time for us to recognize that, without our very active participation, the health care system that's become an enemy for patients and physicians will only worsen. As physician leaders, we are a critical part of the solution to the growing enigma that health care represents. During a time when it's tempting to merely strive to survive on the sidelines, we must become more engaged than ever.

What a privilege to serve at the Florida Capitol!
It is time to change the culture of medicine to one of modeled wellness, interdependent teamwork, and true servant leadership. And as physicians, we must take the lead.

As I explain in the article, we must become courageous champions of change. No letting the complacent entice us, or the naysayers stop us. No letting those with low expectations, no vision, and limited understanding dictate what we can and cannot do. No excuses in pursuing the very best for our patients and for our teams, and no fear. Let us all do our part. Let us lead. Read more here.

Dr Mari 

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Favorite Christmas Gift ... Insects! (Part IV - Transformation Series)

I am the only person I know who received insects for Christmas. Yes! My son thought I'd enjoy watching some caterpillars crawl their way up into a chrysalis ... en route to becoming butterflies. So here's what he got me.

A perfect gift! I'm always mesmerized by watching this process, so I thought I'd share it with you as 2016 gets going. After all, we all have something that needs to be transformed in this new year. I know you agree.

So my caterpillar friends arrived with plenty of food carpeting their cup home. All we had to do was watch them grow, which is a good thing. I don't really like caterpillars. They crawl around, eat, and grow. That's about it. Yet, what comes next is pretty remarkable.

Satisfied with their earth-bound meals, and perhaps recognizing that's all the ground has for them, the plump caterpillars leave behind what's familiar for high places. There they hang for days ... waiting ... making observers wonder if they've just dried up, never to open, or if perhaps they'll emerge one day.

In the waiting, we invariably notice something new. This time I noticed caterpillar parts left behind on the ground and walls. Some parts had to be shed and left behind before entering the chrysalis. I know you also agree there's much food for thought in that as we consider our areas of needed transformation.

After days of waiting patiently, here's how our friend looked right as it emerged from the chrysalis: wrinkled and small. Yet, after a few minutes of pumping the unused wings, they straightened and opened in all their colorful splendor! Amazing.

The process of watching a crawling caterpillar transform into a flying butterfly is always full of surprises. My greatest discovery this time was the beauty and attention to detail evident on the back of the butterfly's wings. On the painted lady butterfly, the back of the wing is stunning. A rainbow of color is hidden on the part of the butterfly we often don't even see.

I can picture God's fingers meticulously adding a bit of blue here, some red there, then orange and yellow and green. So much more than I'd ever seen on this butterfly, miraculous if we consider that the caterpillar that became a chrysalis had only one color: black.

My winged friends teach me so much about life and about myself. Here are just a few thoughts as the New Year takes flight.

* Sometimes life and beauty are hidden, though very present. We need to pay attention to see and perceive it.
* Often what is dried up and looks dead has life within, waiting to be nurtured, discovered, and expressed.
* The process of transformation takes time. Patience is needed ... for the one being changed and for the one observing and hoping for change in someone else.
* When we're tired of crawling around empty grounds, heading upward holds great promise of new life. If life feels empty, look up and start the upward journey. New life awaits at new heights, and it is the climbing that strengthens your wings!
* Seasons of slow crawling are often essential to the growth that's needed. Without the caterpillar, there is no butterfly.
* Life is a beautiful miracle.
* Transformation is always worth the wait.

Ponder with me: What must I leave behind so I may embrace the new and rise higher in 2016?

Pray with me: As this new year begins, may I have the wisdom to recognize areas of needed change, the courage to rise above my circumstances, and the ability to trust that God the Giver of life knows me, loves me, and is always in control.

New Year Blessings!
Dr Mari

* For more of this series on transformation, read Be Still And Know for Part I, Baggage-free Flying for Part II, and Hope Flies Despite Broken Wings! for Part III. *

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Modern-Day Lazarus Opens My Eyes

At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. (Luke 16:20)

Years ago I visited New York City with my father. We strolled down 5th Avenue and arrived at the luxurious Trump Tower that houses oversized condos for the wealthy. I pulled out my camera, pointing straight at it. But before I could snap the shot, a homeless man sprung between my lens and the building and stood there, unmoved, blocking my view and invading my psyche. For what felt like minutes, the unkempt man held my eyes hostage.  

The moment captured my soul and broke my heart.

Although I have no photograph of the stunning skyscraper, I have a priceless image in my soul of a human face I'll never forget. As the man walked off, I felt like sobbing while fighting a nauseating sense of shame for wanting to photograph luxury while oblivious to the human needs around me. I stood there speechless as my father looked on, both of us grasping the fact that we'd just seen the face of Jesus.

I did not give him money, food, or even a hug; I gave him nothing at all, but he gave me a precious gift. That man with cataract-laden eyes opened my eyes, preaching eloquently without words about God's kingdom and the self-indulgence and absurdity of our world, which included me.

The One who rose from the dead revealed Himself that day in the distressing face of a modern-day Lazarus. May we all heed His call to share with the needy, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked. And one day we'll hear Him say, "What you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40).

Ponder with me: Has a modern-day Lazarus opened your eyes and stirred your heart to serve? How are you responding to God's call?

Lord Jesus, keep our eyes open to the needs around us, and keep our hearts and hands ready to serve You in the hurting, the poor, and the sick. For the sake of Your name. Amen.

Dr Mari

* This is an excerpt from my book, Walking with Jesus in Healthcare (p.177) *

For an opportunity to serve the poor among us, learn about Grace Medical Home, a ministry of service and love through healthcare in Central Florida.