Mind, Soul & Body 2021

Born in Missouri, Dr. Deborah Craton grew up in Bedford, Indiana, and was in the last graduating class of the old Bedford High School. She did her undergraduate work at David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University) in Nashville, Tennessee, and received her M.D. degree from Indiana University Medical School in Indianapolis. After fulfilling a residency program in Gadsden, Alabama, she and her family moved back to Bedford, where she has practiced family medicine since 1984. She married John Craton, a classical music composer, in 1978, and they have been married now for 40 years. Together they have three grown sons, two daughters-in-law, several cats, and a number of grand cats.”

Mind, Soul & Body 2021

 

January 2021- New Year, New Word

Contentment

Challenged with the idea of “New Year, New Word,” I chose “Contentment.”
In the past few months I have challenged several people with the following
question: What is the difference, if there is any, between being happy, being content,
and having joy? Several ideas emerged from these various discussions – some
enlightening, some rather sad. Most of the people I queried concluded that happiness generally comes from
outside a person: an event, occasion, or person makes another person smile or laugh.
Therefore, one is “made” happy. Happiness generally is fleeting. Although it can last
for seconds, hours, or days, there usually is another event, occasion, or person that
eventually causes the smile to fade and the laugh to be silent.

Happiness can be fleeting. Another idea brought forth in our discussions is that joy is deeper feeling of happiness and is less fleeting. Although like happiness, joy also is brought on by things outside ourselves, it can becomes a part of the person. Joy, therefore, is not as fleeting as happiness, but it too can fade with time – it can be lost to subsequent events in life.  Finally, the consensus about contentment seemed to be that contentment comes
from the inside and is a state of being; it is the condition of being “complete.”

To be content is to be complete, yet at the same time always striving to be more. Contentment
is finding oneself largely “immune” to the daily ups and down of life. Such is not to say
that a person who is content invariably has a smile on his face; nor is it to say that the
contented person is always serious and restrained. The person who knows contentment
instead has a certain peace about them. As the apostle Paul states in Philippians 4:11-12,
he had learned how to be content in whatever state he found himself, whether hungry or
full, in want or in plenty. He knew that Christ would give him strength in all things. The
writer of Hebrews states a very similar perspective: Keep your lives free from the love
of money and be content with what you have, because God has said “Never will I leave
you, never will I forsake you.”

So we can say with confidence, “ the Lord is my Helper, I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me.” (Hebrews 13:5-6)Contentment also has an effect on others, assuring those around them of the
positive aspects of life, even in the midst of turmoil. As St. Seraphim of Savor once said, “Acquire the Spirit of peace and thousands around you will be saved.” Contentment is an infectious quality – the kind of infection we desire to spread. But we must remember too that although contentment is a state of being, it is not
stagnant. Because contentment lies within our relationship with Christ, we must continually seek Him. As we seek Him, we continue to grow. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:3-9 that we are to add to faith, goodness; to goodness, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, mutual
affection; and to mutual affection, love. If we continue to grow in these attributes, then contentment may be obtained and maintained thru Christ.

The world would have us believe that if you aren’t happy all the time then there is
something wrong with you or with your life. It wants us to believe that if we don’t
enjoy every moment of every day, then we must remedy that – by taking medication,
drinking alcohol, finding sexual pleasure, etc. The world sees happiness and joy only
coming from outside pleasures. As followers of Christ, we know that true contentment
comes instead from our relationship with Him and through serving Him by humbling
ourselves before others.
Happiness, joy, contentment … which will you chose in this new year?

Find your own word for 2021 at https://www.dayspring.com/yourwordquiz#/home

February 2021

Love Is…

 

February always has us thinking of love. When love is mentioned, the first think
we think about, almost always, is romantic love. We think about mushy cards, bouquets
of flowers, poems, and Hallmark movies. We think about Cupid with his arrows,
Shakespeare and his sonnets, and Jane Austin and her books.
Personally, I think about a time when I was walking around David Lipscomb
College campus with my beloved and he stopped, held my hands, looked deeply into my
eyes, and asked, “If you knew you were going to get a shirt, would you want to know if
it was a blue shirt or a green shirt?” We kept walking because I had no idea what he was
talking about. Further down the path, he actually asked me in a way I understood to
marry him!

But, as CS Lewis pointed out in his book The Four Loves, there is more to love
than romantic love. There is love such as we have for animals, friendship, romantic love
(eros), and agape – God-like love. Most of us at some time have had a beloved pet. I, for example, have always loved cats. My husband was a dog person until after we married and we got Dixie Cat.
She was a calico kitty who was given to us from some people at church. She was a great
cat and lived with us for 19 years. She helped raise my sons and basically taught them
to walk. My husband has loved cats ever since Dixie Cat, and we have never been
without a cat during our 43 years of marriage.

Who doesn’t remember their best friend from childhood? We loved them like a
sibling! Gloria and I started kindergarten together, and although our paths are quite
diverse now we still stay in touch. They say that if you remain friends for more than
seven years you will remain friends for a lifetime. Friends are those folks who when the
two of you are discussing a topic you suddenly discover, “You too?!?” You find that you
share with them something in common, something distinct from the interests of the
masses. The relationship starts there and, if you are lucky, evolves into a strong and
lasting bond. A friend is that person who can sit beside you when you are going through
dark times and needn’t say anything … it is sufficient just to know they are there.
Sometimes we are fortunate enough to marry our best friend!

Romantic love (or eros) is tricky. It can happen quickly, like being hit by a bolt
from Cupid, or it can creep up on you like a fog rolling in. In romance novels there is
much made of “falling in love” and “being in love.” There are some people who thrive
on the feelings one gets as they “fall in love.” It’s exciting, it’s new, it’s like watching
fireworks! But it seems that “being in love” is more stable: it’s warm, it’s all encompassing and longer lasting. What makes eros work, in my opinion, is to be in love with your beloved and always be falling in love with them as the years progress.

Finally, there is agape, or God-like love. This is the love God has for His creation.
He loved mankind so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for us! That Son,
Jesus Christ, told us that the first of all the commandments is to love God with all our
heart and soul, and that the second was like the first: love others as we love ourself.
God is love. He always wants what is best for us. He is always caring for us. Our love
for our fellow man should be the same: wanting what is best for the other person; caring
for them. A description of this God-like love is given in I Corinthians chapter 13. It is
patient, kind, does not envy or boast. It is not proud. It doesn’t dishonor the other
person, nor is it self-seeking. God-like love is not easily angered, and it does not keep
track of wrongs. It does not delight in evil but always seeks the truth. It protects, trusts,
hopes, and perseveres … always.

The interesting thing when looking at this definition of God-like love is that the
other three loves all have elements of agape in them, but only agape includes them all!
Since February is the month of love, let us think on all these loves … love for
creatures great and small that we take into our protection, from hamsters to horses; love
for friends across this world – both those we see daily and those we only “see” on social
media; love for our beloved, whether it’s been a short time or many years; and love for
God and His creation – man. Let us exhibit the qualities Paul discusses in his letter to
the Corinthians.

Remember, love isn’t always fireworks, Cupids, and Hallmark movies.
Sometimes its just knowing if you want a blue shirt or a green shirt!

 

March 2021

New Season, New Beginnings…

 

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV

March always makes people think of Spring, a new season, new beginnings. The green one
sees in the early spring is like no other green. It’s fresh and new. But there are new beginnings
all the time. There are new seasons all through life. One new season in life is that of marriage. When a couple decides to spend the rest of their lives together, there are BIG changes. Living with someone is different than being with some one. It’s those little things that come to the surface of relationship: she hogs covers at night, he leaves the cap off the toothpaste; she wants the toilet paper to come off the top, he wants it to come off the bottom. Adjustments must be made.

The birth of a child begins a new season to a couple’s life. Oh how things change when that
cuddly, squirming, “fresh human” is brought into the home that first day! The household’s
routine is different. Responsibilities change for the parents. New considerations have to be
addressed for work schedules, mealtimes — even sleeping times and arrangements change!
When the children leave home to start their own lives, there is another change in the seasons. Life is different again. A couple needs to get to know each again. They need to establish new activities they both enjoy.

One of saddest new seasons in life is when a partner dies. The partner that remains prefers
not to face the new beginning. Everyone has an opinion on how it should be faced. Friends,
coworkers, and children all think they know what is best. But only the person approaching the new season of their life without their partner knows what is best for them.

The best new season of any individual’s life is when a person takes on the new life in Christ.
What can be better than being clothed in Christ, being washed of sin, and being made pure… pure as a winter’s snow!
Just like any new season in nature, life’s new season begins with change. Without change there can be no life. Spring does not say, “The leaves don’t have that beautiful green anymore, so I quit!” No, that spring green gradually changes to the deeper green of summer.

The deep green leaves are indicative of a stronger leaf, one that can withstand the summer storms. As the next season rolls through, the leaves change color yet again…..orange, red, yellow! But alas, then the leaves fall: But they provide ground cover and nutrients for the next year’s growth. And, finally, winter comes. The leaves can’t be seen, but they are there, hidden in the stems, just waiting to burst out in the spring.

Seasons are about change. Life is about change. Nothing can remain the same if it is to grow.

 

 

April 2021

The sights & sounds of Spring

 

 

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1 there is a season for everything…..

 

Most people love the changing of the seasons. I think that is one of the things I missed most when we lived in Alabama. In Alabama there are just two seasons….tornado season and football season.  I like living in Indiana because when we have winter, summer, fall and spring!

Winter is nice because of the white snow, the brisk cold mornings, and drinking hot chocolate.

Summer has the advantage in that it warm, bright and cool summer breezes. Fall or autumn is special because it is heralded by the changing of the leaves. Nuts drop from the tress and the colors of gold, red and orange can be breath-taking on the Southern Indiana hills.

But Spring is different.  Spring sort of sneaks in. 

At first we notice that the days are a little longer. The ground is a little wetter. When you walk to the car in the mornings, even though the sun is not quite up, the birds can be heard singing in the stark trees. Later in the morning, the birds that were singing can be seen flying through the air with long pieces of grass or an old piece of twine. They find their way into the boughs of the blue spruce and the makings of a nest can be seen.

In some yards there, suddenly overnight, little white flowers pop up.  They prefer to be in the shade but they bloom showing that they aren’t afraid of the cooler temperatures. Snow drops love being the first to show up each spring.

As we look into the side yard, green shoots are coming up and if there isn’t a surprise snow or frost, within days those green shoots open up into beautiful golden trumpets…..daffodlills…heralding the coming of spring.

Overhead, as the birds continue to sing, new growth can be seen on the tips the tree branches. The redbuds are trying to show their color while the dogwoods are preparing to bloom both pink and white.

The leaves on the trees that have been so bare thru the winter months are beginning to peak out. Has there ever been a green as green as when the leaves begin to show themselves?

Spring also brings storms….thunder, lightning, rain, and occasionally a tornado siren. The thunder rumbles through the spring skies as the lightning cracks! The rain can fall gently on the roof or splash against the window. If it is a spring storm, the wind whistles as it blows the rain against the house. Occasionally the sky with turn gray and then an ominous green before the sirens begin the wail. After all is said and done, there may be a rainbow!

The sights and sounds of spring remind us that God is always in control. He set the seasons into motion and controls in all. HE gave us spring to remind us of new beginnings. After the starkness of winter, spring comes to us with color and singing. There are storms to remind us that are struggles in this life but as with the rainbow, there is always hope.

May 2021

Common Denominator

 

 

I recently had a significant birthday….65! It is a time when one can retire if one wants and the
retirement accounts agree. It is a time to also reflect back. There are numerous adventures and
travels to think about. Friends from long ago and from the recent past that are no longer
available to help recall episodes and events. But I dare say that we have all had one or two
things that have happened in our lives that we will never forget. I’m not talking about weddings
or the birth of children. I’m talking about events, great or small, that made a huge impact on
your life. It might have seemed insignificant at the time, but as you grew older it had great
bearing on how you have lived your life. Or, it might have been truly an “ah ha” moment when
you knew a great lesson had presented itself to you. It was 28 years ago that I had just such a
moment.

I had been in practice for about 10-12 years. I had three associates working for me who had
been with me most of that time. I also had a relatively new associate that had only been
working in the office for a few months. The medical practice was going well. We were busy
seeing patients in the office and in the hospital. I was delivering 5 or 6 babies a month. Things
were really going well…..I thought.
I was THE boss of the practice. We were not a part of a system then. I made all the decisions.
I didn’t report to anyone! The practice was mine! What I said was the way it was! Who knew
better on how things should go but the doctor? Everything should be done the way I wanted it
and when I wanted.

One day, a Friday to be precise, one of my long-term associates did something….I don’t
remember what it was, but looking back I know it was minor……I reprimanded her. I did not
take her back to my office and quietly sit and discuss the situation. Oh NO, I reprimanded her
…in the hallway….. with patients close by who heard everything. Then, everything went on as if
nothing had happened.
Monday morning when I got to the office and went to my desk there laid three letter of
resignation! What?!? How could this be!? I was the perfect doctor! I was the perfect boss! Why
would they all walk out on me after everything we had built together!?
Then it hit me! If the three people I worked so closely with everyday were willing to walk out,
then the common denominator was ME! It was not my associates that had the problem…..it
was me! I needed to examine myself to see what I had done to cause these folks who I thought
the world of to feel that their only recourse was to quit!

All three of the associates that resigned and the one who didn’t came to work that Monday
morning. We postponed seeing patients and we sat and talked. I realized that even though I
respected and appreciated all four of them, I was not showing them that respect! I didn’t show,
through my actions or words, that I appreciated all they did for OUR patients and for me! I
came to understand that morning that it wasn’t just me that made my practice successful, but
those four women who worked tirelessly to support and encourage not just the patients but
me!
Words and actions must go together! No one is successful on their own. It is never “just about
me”!

To quote Paul Harvey, here’s the rest of the story:
The three associates that resigned that day stayed on for several more years and have
remained good friends. That fourth associate who didn’t resign, well it wasn’t that she didn’t
agree with the others, but that she had only worked for me a couple of months and felt she
couldn’t resign at that time. (She did wonder what she had gotten herself into!) Oh and by the
way, she is still working by my side after 28 years! But occasionally she will give me a look and
I KNOW there could be a letter on my desk in the morning.

June 2021: Letter to younger self

Dear Debbie,
I’m writing you from 2021. I was asked to do so by a friend of mine that publishes a blog every month on the internet. I know those words don’t make any sense to you now because they haven’t even become words yet in 1974, but I know with your imagination and you writing about time travel in some of your fictional stories, I think you will understand what is happening with this letter.

I don’t want you to be discouraged. I know how difficult it is for you to sit in the hallway at the auditorium while eating lunch trying to memorize the Krebs cycle, writing it over and over, getting each bond and each carbon atom where it belongs. No, no one will ask you once you get past biochemistry in medical school ( and you will go to medical school) anything about the Krebs cycle, but it is important and you will need to know and understand it. Oh, and algebra will also come in handy figuring out medicine doses. The discipline it takes to learn the Krebs cycle is what is really important.

I also don’t want you to get discouraged about not being asked to your senior prom. You were disappointed about not going last year even though you were asked, but when you declined because you were trying to do what you had been taught about dancing even though you didn’t truly believe it was wrong, you did the right thing. Some times you don’t do things because it will lead others astray, not because they are wrong. Some day you will be given another opportunity to dance and then it will be okay. And, without tell you too much, you will be dancing with a man that embodies all those fictional characters you love so much: Captain James T Kirk, The Virginian, and Johnny Ryan. When this man in your future holds you in his arms, the wait will have been worth it!

I know sometimes you regret not doing more fun things while you are in high school, like being in the school plays, or being involved in the school newspaper, or even being part of a social club. I know how hard you have worked to make your grades to get to college and get a scholarship. But remember your band days, they will have been the best days of your high
school career. The kids you know through band will remain some of your best friends! There
will be opportunities later for writing, acting, and being a part of a community. Patience!

Finally, I want to remind you who you are. You have been God’s daughter since you were ten
years old. You have been sheltered at church through your growing up. You are now about to
go into the world. Make your faith your own! Study the Scriptures for yourself. Be prepared to be challenged and be prepared to change if the Scriptures support that change. Continue to study and to grow in Christ! Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe. Going to a
Christian college, it will easier but medical school will be a trial, so study, learn and grow. That man I told you about, he will be by your side and help you, so will your family.

Remember God will always be with you! Underline Romans 8:28 in your Bible and refer to it
often because there will be times when things will seem to be falling apart. Stay true to God
and He will never leave you.
Have fun, enjoy life, look to God. It is all worth the sacrifices

Love,
Deborah

 

 

July, 2021    Favorite Summer Memory 

 

 

I was recently asked what my favorite summer memory would be. That is so hard to answer! We were truly fortunate in that we got to spend many of our summers down at my grandparents. Those times were filled with wonderful moments and wonderful memories. We were also truly fortunate as we were growing up to take many family vacations. It was on one of those vacations that I had a remarkably interesting experience with my dad.

 

We left home in 1970 to take a vacation to the West. We were gone almost a month. We were at Mount Rushmore on the Fourth of July and on Pikes Peak on July 25. It was a grand vacation! Mother had it planned out…. she had her atlas all highlighted. There were marvelous stops all along the way. We visited relatives in Washington state, and we also visited great friends in San Luis Obispo. We stopped at numerous National parks. My sister, who is two years older than I and had just received her driver’s license, got to drive in every single state. As I said, it was a marvelous vacation.

 

We were able to visit San Francisco during that trip. My sister and mother loved San Francisco. I liked it better the way Jack London described it in his article that he wrote about the earthquake that destroyed San Francisco. But it was as we were crossing San Francisco Bay over the Golden Gate Bridge that Daddy and I had a very memorial experience.

 

Actually, I remember nothing about the Golden Gate bridge. It is supposed to be a marvel, a modern work of architecture. I do not remember it at all. For you see, in the middle of the bay, there is a small island that at one time held a federal prison. It is Alcatraz Island. In November 1969, a group of native Americans took over the island. Their cause was that they felt like reparations were needed since their lands have been taken from them in the prior 100 years. As we crossed the Golden Gate bridge, I made the statement that I thought the island should be given to the Native Americans.  It was at that point that my dad and I began our disagreement!

 

As my sister and mother enjoyed the marvelous architecture above them as we passed under the great cables of the Golden Gate Bridge, and as they peered out over the bay and enjoy the beautiful water, my dad and I debated on the acquisition of Alcatraz Island by the Native Americans. Neither Daddy nor I saw or enjoyed our experienced of driving over the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay! We were too involved in our “discussion.”

 

Now you are probably wondering why this is such a great memory. It is because what I learned that day as we drove across the bridge was it even though Daddy and I disagreed I knew he still loved me. It also showed that he was willing to have that discussion with me. It was OK for me to have ideas of my own and he allowed me to defend my ideas. I was 14 years old. He listens to me. He did not agree with me, but he allowed me to express my opinions and he listened.

 

One of the things the world misses today is that ability to express difference of opinions and yet love each other. Somewhere along the line people began to think that if you do not agree then you must hate. I do not understand how that happened. There are things in this world that are black and white. There are things that are absolute truth, and absolute wrong. But there are many things in this world that are matters of opinion. Those matters, the ones that are just opinions, can be debated. Matters of opinion can be discussed. There will be times that it is OK to say, “we will agree to disagree.”

 

When I see pictures of the Golden Gate bridge, I remember that debate that my dad and I had as we crossed over that great bridge. And although I look back and wish I paid attention to the bridge itself and the bay, the lesson I learned that day has stayed with me. It is OK to disagree if love is involved.