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.”
One of my most cherished memories of Thanksgiving is fighting with my cousin over who would get to eat the turkey heart! Gross memory I know but with that memory comes all the others surrounding numerous Thanksgivings
When we were growing up Thanksgiving and Christmas was spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s in Williams, Indiana. There were nine of us all together: Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Dorothy, Uncle Herschel, Mother, Daddy, my sister Charlotte, my cousin Ian and me.
Thanksgiving morning started early with Grandpa getting up at 4am to put the turkey in the oven. Even with everything happening, Grandma still had breakfast for us…usually oatmeal or a fried egg with bacon. Once the breakfast dishes were done, the real cooking started. Aunt Dorothy always made the dressing…two kinds, both bread dressing. One was “plain” and the other was oyster. “Remember, Dorothy, don’t beat it to death,” Grandma would admonish.
The cranberry salad was already in the refrigerator. The potatoes had to be peeled (my job) and set on the stove to cook while the green beans which had come from the garden continued to simmer. The turkey would come out and the stuffing was placed in the oven to bake. When the time was right, Grandma would start preparing the gravy using the giblets she had been simmering on a third burner on the stove. Ian would pop into the kitchen about that time in order to claim the turkey heart before Grandma cut it up to be used in the gravy. Ian and I would fuss over whose turn it was to get to eat the organ of the fowl and Grandma always said, “one of you can have it today and the other one can have it at Christmas.” It wasn’t until our late teens until we realized we could both be happy if we would just cut it in two!
It wasn’t the fussing over the turkey heart that made Thanksgiving memorable but all the activity that surrounded the fussing…the family gathering, the preparing the meal together, having to endure yet another of Aunt Dorothy’s culinary experiments. The turkey heart reminds me of sitting around the table at Williams listening to all the great stories told by those enjoying the meal and learning our family history through those stories.
The true meaning of Thanksgiving is exactly what the word means: Thanksgiving. We should be thankful for not just material goods, a place to live and food on the table. We should be thankful for family: present and past. Thanks, should be given for the heritage shared with us from those gone away. We should express gratitude for all the memories God has allowed us to retain…. whether good or bad, for even the bad memories can help us grow and thrive. Above it all thanksgiving should be given to God for His Son who gives us hope for today and tomorrow.
So, even though its gross, sometimes a turkey heart is more than just a turkey heart!
Many of you know that we have a persimmon tree in our backyard. It came to us by way of our youngest son when he was in the 3rd grade. (He is 33 now.) It was Arbor Day, and each child was sent home with a sapling. The two older boys had brought home saplings; their’s died. When Stephen brought home the persimmon sapling, we planted it at the edge of the porch where the other two had been planted. The persimmon tree did not die. Actually, it has flourished! This past spring after the tree had bloomed it lost 100’s if not 1000’s of blooms. We researched why the tree might do that…suddenly, overnight…and found that fruit trees will shed 100’s of blooms if the tree can’t support all the fruit associated with the all the blossoms on the tree. After that massive shedding, we were afraid we would not have much of a harvest from our lone persimmon tree.
We were wrong! The little orange orbs began to drop the first of September, a little early, but the fruit was plump, ripe, and juicy. We started collecting the persimmons and “ran them through” almost daily for a couple of weeks. By the time I said I could not harvest any more, we had produced 73 cups of pulp! There were still hundreds upon 100’s of more persimmons to be collected! We asked friends if they wanted any and one friend came and picked up enough for about 40 cups of pulp. Several other picked up the devious little orbs and still there was some of the fruit decaying on the ground! Wasted! Not harvested for puddings, cakes, ice cream or wine! Wasted.
As I looked out the kitchen window and saw all the persimmons on the ground I was reminded of Christ’s words to His disciples: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest fields.” (Luke 10:2) The world is full of souls that the Lord wants harvested. HE has sent His workers, us! We might look out at the world and feel overwhelmed, much as I did when seeing all those persimmons, but by working together a good harvest can be obtained. We can each do our part to harvest God’s fields. Cards, hugs, teaching, just being an example to our children and grandchildren.
There are persimmon trees all over our county. There are thousands of persimmons to be harvested. I am responsible the persimmons in my backyard, and I asked for help to harvest the crop. There are millions upon millions of souls throughout the world. We are each responsible for those around us and when asked to help those in other places.
There is an old hymn we don’t sing very often anymore but maybe we need to spur on to help with the harvest God has called us to….” I want to be a worker for the LORD.”
I was recently asked if I “Selah” and if I did, how. I had to be honest. I was familiar with the word “selah”…. used quite often in The Psalms. In the Psalms when the word is used it means to pause to reflect then continue with the reading. The person asking me if I “selah” explained that was what she was asking…..
do I pause, reflect, and listen for God.
I thought back over my life with this question in mind. I came to an interesting observation. I do “pause, reflect and listen for God” but have done so in different ways through different periods of my life.
When the Boys were babies, I loved to rock them to sleep and while doing so would sing. The songs I sang were the songs I was most familiar with…..hymns with which I had grown up. I would sing “Count Your Many Blessings,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” “Nothing But the Blood.” I would also included “Jesus Loves Me,” “This Little Light of Mine,” and the books of the Bible. As I sang these to the baby in my arms I concentrated on the words and tried to instill them into the child I held.
As the Boys grew and life became busier and not much quiet time between my medical practice, raising the Boys and trying to get everything done, it was in the shower first thing in the mornings that I talked to God and listened for His voice. There were rarely any interruptions since I was always the first one up, but because I was so “busy” my mind drifted as I tried to pause, reflect, and listen.
Then, after the Boys left home and life slowed down, I set time aside in the evening to read Scriptures and devotionals. Prayer time was still the shower, but I seemed never to be able to remember all those I wanted to pray for. If I was really tired in the evenings, it was really easy to put off reading until tomorrow.
During Covid things changed for so many of us. Since I was always an early riser, I started getting up really early and exercising. While doing something that strengthened my body, I also started being diligent about reading my devotionals, doing daily Scripture readings, and talking to God through prayer. I found an app (there is an app for everything) that kept me on track reading Scriptures daily and this caused me to pause and reflect on what I was reading. How could I share that with others? This app also had a “prayer list” and so I started writing done all those I wanted to remember as I prayed. I was exercising physically and spiritually! It was a wonderful way to start the day.
But then, my knees started letting me know I was doing too much. (Was it my knees or Someone else telling me to slow down?) I gave up the exercising in the mornings, but have continued with the devotional readings, the Scripture readings and the praying. Sitting at the kitchen table, sipping tea, surrounded by two cats and looking out into the early morning….pausing, reflecting, listening.
My observation is this…..it doesn’t matter where you are in life, just find what works for you. To “Selah” on a regular basis the routine may need to change, but keep looking for ways to pause, reflect, and listen. God wants us to spend time with Him whether it’s when you are rocking a child to sleep, taking a shower (FYI with the water on your face, no one sees the tears.), exercising, or sipping tea with your pets.August 2022
I was not a rebellious youth. Neither was my sister, but she paved the way so what I saw she got in trouble for, I tried to avoid! We didn’t have a lot of rules has teenagers as I recall. We were expected to be at church twice on Sunday and on Wednesday nights. I never felt the need to rebel and try alcohol or smoking. I did want to dance, but since the church where I attended thought it wrong, I did not participate. I was boring in high school and even when I went to college, when other young people felt they were free to sow wild oats, I kept my head down and studied. I never felt like I needed to “be free.”
Today, many folks equate freedom with “a right to do…. whatever.” Many people have the attitude that “this is a free country and I have the right to do as I want.” But I would ask…. are they the same? Just because one has the freedom to do something or even the “right” to do something, does that mean it should be done?
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. I Corinthians 10:23-24
The Apostle Paul was telling the Christians at Corinth who were asking why they could not eat meat offered to idols what was best for they to do. The summation was…just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Think of others! Paul told the Galatians something similar in Galatians 5:13-15.
13 You, my brothers, and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” [b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
I was asked “what does freedom mean to you?” Even though in July many want to think it means flying the flag, setting off fireworks, eating apple pie and making sure no one tramples on their rights, I think its much more than that! As follower of Christ, a child of God, it has a stronger meaning! The apostle Peter tells us what it means to have freedom as a follower of Christ….
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. I Peter 2:13-17
As July 4th comes and goes and as we celebrate the many freedoms we have in this country, let us not forget that we are God’s “slaves.” We are not to use our freedoms at the cost of hurting others. Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should. And, to live as God’s slaves means we are to love our neighbor as our self…. wishing those around us well and treating them as we would Christ!
Is Someone Trying to Tell You Something?
In 1978 weddings were a little different from today. They were not as elaborate as they are today so there wasn’t as much that that could go wrong. But in almost every wedding, something does.
John Douglas and I married in June. It was on a Sunday afternoon at 2:30pm. As I and my attendants gathers in the church foyer with Mother and Daddy along with Mrs Craton and Grandma, my cousin Ian was there to walk Grandma and Mother down the aisle. A summer storm had just blown in out of no where. Rain, wind, thunder and lightening! Lightening struck the tree across from the church building! Ian looked at me and said, “Do you think someone is trying to tell you something?!?” We proceeded with the wedding despite the electricity going out….it was a candlelight service anyway. John Douglas and I stood before the minister and said our vows. They were traditional vows….John Douglas vowed to love, honor and cherish me; I vowed to love, honor and obey him. We both vowed to do these “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; through sickness and in health; forsaking all others until death do us part.” Later, doing the reception, my new husband told me I neglected to repeat everything the minister had ask me to repeat. When I asked him what I didn’t say, he smiled and replied, “I’m not sure but I know you promised to obey me!”
Through the next four decades we have weathered several storms. In those early years money was difficult. John Douglas worked for the SATURDAY EVENING POST and brought home $103/week. It was tight some weeks. A big treat for us was to go walk around the mall and then go to Orange Julius where we each had a hot dog and we shared a medium drink!
Another storm was when we were told we would not have children. The tests that we went through were disappointing and we were told to consider adopting. We struggled through those few years only to end up pregnant and having Ben, later Jon, and after suffering through a miscarriage (while John Douglas was on a business trip) we had Stephen Michael.
One of the latest storms we have weathered is John Douglas’ health. He awoke one Sunday with no vision in his left eye. After several tests the diagnosis was Multiple Sclerosis. Treatment was started and he did well except for the fatigue and lack of stamina. His sight in the left eye never returned and then he suffered another blow….he developed corneal dystrophy in his right eye! Not totally blinding but very much impaired. I had to start doing any driving out of town. His favorite pastime of reading became very difficult. It has all been very trying for both of us.
We have weathered many storms in the past 44 years! We have persevered! That is what James tells to do in James 1:2-4. Trials increase our faith through perseverance. Maybe Someone was trying to tell us something on that fateful day in June 1978. There were going to be storms in our marriage, but we had made vows before God and man to love, honor, cherish and obey through, sick and health, whether poor or rich, in good times and bad. A couple must weather storms. They don’t have to do it alone! Like the disciples on the Sea of Galilee during a terrible storm, Christ gives peace and He will pilot us safely home…..
May brings about the Kentucky Derby, the Indy 500 and May flowers, but almost all of us know that May brings Mother’s Day. With Mother’s Day comes memories of our mothers. There are so many memories of my mom I could probably write a book. I could tell you about her map reading skills (they were non-existent), I could tell you about her crafting skills which would put Pinterest to shame, but what she wanted to be remembered for was her nursing skills!
One of my favorite memories of my mother relating to nursing occurred shortly after I started practicing medicine in Bedford. Mother was the night nursing supervisor at one of the local hospitals which meant she also worked in the ER. I was working in ER a couple nights a week early in my practice. When I first came to the hospital to work, Mother and I discussed what our working relationship would be. I thought it would be difficult giving my mother orders and she thought we needed to set a tone of respect. We decided that when we were working together Mother would call me “Dr. Craton” and I would call her “Mrs. Williams.” It was all very civil and respectful. It would all work out fine.
Then, one night, when we were both working a pregnant lady walked through the ER doors…bleeding! She was taken to a room where another nurse started working with the patient getting vital signs and getting her ready for me to see her. As I came into the room, I could tell the patient was in trouble, she was pale as a ghost and her lips discolored! Just as I started to examine the patient she started seizing and bleeding more! I stuck my head out the door and yelled, “Mother! Get me Dr Borhan! NOW!” Within seconds we got the seizing stopped and we headed to the OR to get the baby out! From the moment the patient came through the ER doors to the moment the baby was out about 25 minutes! Both mother and baby did fine.
It was interesting that at the moment of crisis I called out with what was comfortable and familiar…Mother. It reminds me of how we treat God sometimes. We are very formal with Him at times. Most days when things are going well and routinely, we treat Him with respect but not a lot of passion. But then there are times, usually during a crisis that we cry out…” Abba, Father!” God hears us in both circumstances. He wants our respect, but He really wants our love and passion!
Mother and I worked together many times after that night. I never again called her “Mrs. Williams,” I always called her “Mother.” She, however, continued to call me “Dr Craton” in front of patients, but I always knew I was her little girl!
As a physician, I have been at the deaths of many people since 1977. Those deaths have been young people, babies and old people. Most of the deaths were expected, but some were not. Many were from illnesses or disease, and a few were from accidents. Some of those deaths have remained with me to this day…. I can see the patient’s face, hear the weeping of the families. I’ve always considered being at someone’s death a privilege just as being at the birth of a child has been a privilege. It is with that eye that I witness the Death of Christ on the cross!
As one stands at the foot of the bed as someone dies, you tend to remember the life they have lived. You hear their stories; you recall their words of wisdom. As we stand at the foot of the Cross, we should recall the events of His life…. turning the water to wine, healing the 10 lepers and so many more, the parables He shared, and the feeding of the thousands. As we continue to stand at the foot of the Cross watching our Lord die an agonizing death, we should recall all that He has asked us to do….Love our enemies as our ourselves, turn our cheeks as we are wronged and forgive the one who has wronged us, teach others of His Life and His offered salvation.
Some of the patients I have cared for died quietly and with little pain. Others, unfortunately, no matter how much medicine we gave still died in pain. It has always been difficult to watch people struggle to die. As Christ is on the cross, we see a man who is in a great deal of pain! Thrones have been thrust into His scalp! His back has been flogged! He had to carry the cross He was hung on to the hill of Calvary! He had nails pounded into His hands and His feet so He would hang on the Cross! As a physician, I can feel that pain! I can smell the blood! I weep from the pain He is in. YET, He did not condemned others…. He forgave they! He was thinking of others as He died…. asking John to care for His mother. He took nothing to ease the pain, though hyssop was offered. When He knew He had fulfilled the will of His Father, He simply said, “It is finished.” He bowed His head and died!
But unlike the stories of my patients when their lives were over, when I pronounced their death, after they were lied to rest in the cemetery, they never came back to life! Our Savior has! If He had only died for our sins, there would be no hope, no defeating of Satan. The demise of Satan and his hold over us and our hope of eternal life only comes from the Risen Christ!
As Easter approaches and we stand at the foot of the Cross, what do you see? What do you feel?
Unexpected change…. any change to me is difficult. I like things to remain the same and gently morph into something different. Unexpected change generally sends me into great discomfort. That sounds odd for a physician to say because a physician’s day can be filled with emergencies and unscheduled events. Somehow that is different; I guess because those events are “expected.” What has sent me into a “panic” in the past are those unexpected changes in my personal life. There have been many of those events, but when they happened, I really had to rely on God and my faith to get me through.
I will share one of the hardest unexpected changes that I ever went through hoping it will strengthen others…. When I met my husband in college it was primarily through going to church together. We met at David Lipscomb College and started going to the same church along with my sister and other friends. Our relationship was made stronger by our mutual belief systems. He even helped me through difficult ethical dilemmas while at DLC and then in medical school. We spent many hours together through college, medical school and residency going to church, praying together, and teaching classes together.
After we moved to Bedford, we continued our faith journey together as we had our family. We went to worship services every Sunday morning, attended Sunday night and took the Boys to Bible classes on Wednesday night. John Douglas was the educational director for a period. But then things changed….
One day, it seemed out of the blue to me at that time, my husband informed me that he felt he needed to be worshipping elsewhere. Through his studying and prayer, he needed to leave the church that both of us had been raised in, married in and raised our boys in. I was overwhelmed to say the least and devastated at most. I went to work that morning a complete mess. All I could do was cry. Had everything been a lie!? I told a good friend, “I can fight another woman, but how do I deal with him wanting to serve God differently than how I think he should?”
For the next several weeks and months my husband and I studied together and prayed. I started going to church for the first time in my married without my husband. He traveled to Bloomington. By this time our two oldest sons were out of the house and our youngest would attend where I worshipped but he sat with the youth group. It was difficult! I went to Bible classes by myself. I felt uncomfortable because all our church friends were couples, and I was now alone. At times I felt embarrassed. What an unexpected change!?
Here we are 20 years later! What that unexpected change did was strengthen both our faiths!
In Philippians 2:12, the Apostle Paul tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. What I have learned in the past years through this experience, is that God’s Word is true and steadfast. He has told us we are saved through His Son, and He has told us how to come into contact with Christ’s Blood for that salvation. Apart from that there is room for God’s Grace. I don’t agree with everything my husband believes; he doesn’t agree with everything I believe. I have learned from him, and it has strengthened my faith. I know he would say the same.
Here’s something that he and I both agree on: All things work for good for those that love the Lord. (Romans 8:28) Despite that unexpected change in our lives, even though we worship differently, in different locations, our love for God remains strong! Our faith in our Father and our acceptance of His Son as our Savior never wavers. One can never really know what changes will blow our way, but our God never changes…. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. That we can rely on and know that all will be okay as we continue to love Him!
Love language…. what is that!?!?
I had never heard that term before until I heard it on a TV show called “Blue Bloods.” Then, I was asked to write about it this month. I thought I knew what was meant by the term “love language” but I googled it to make sure. It is “the way people express and receive love in a relationship.”
On a cold rainy Sunday evening, February 16, 1975, to be exact, my then boyfriend, later to become my husband, leaned over to kiss me for the first time in our relationship. He leaned, I moved. He ended up kissing my nose! We laughed and then we shared a real kiss. To this day my husband will show his affection and love for me by touch my nose or kissing it. At first, I thought it odd and at times embarrassing but now if he doesn’t touch my nose sometime through the day, the day feels incomplete. One other thing I have recently noticed is that my married sons touch their wives’ noses, too! One will be talking to his wife and will reach out and lovingly touch her nose! Who knew they ever noticed!?!?
After my husband and I became engaged later in 1975, we were out walking one evening and he started singing a silly little song to me written by Flanders and Swann. The song was about an armadillo that fell in love with an armor-plated tank under a weeping willow tree. Since then, John Douglas, unlike other men who called their wife “honey,” “sweetheart,” or “babe,” has called me his “darling armadillo all the day.” I, on the other hand, have never kissed my husband’s nose nor do I have a pet name for him. But I will rub his head when he is tired. I encourage him in writing his music. I attend the opera with him even when it is “Wozzeck!” And, since we have been ballroom dancing, when he wanted to do the minuet in full costume, we did; and when he wanted to do a Renaissance period dance in costume, we did.
Every couple has their own way of expressing their love for each other. Hallmark wants us to believe it’s all about cards. 1-800-FLOWERS wants us to believe love can only be expressed through flowers. Neither is entirely correct, but they are not entirely wrong. The way a couple expresses and receives love depends on the couple.
What is important is that love is expressed and received, and that each person understands the language. “I love you” can be expressed in kind words, loving gestures, quick notes or texts. Bringing supper home after a busy day or helping with the laundry can also say “I love you.”
I Corinthians 13 is always read at weddings and when love is discussed because of definition of love. Love is patient, kind. It does not envy or boast. Love is not proud. It doesn’t dishonor another. Love is not self-seeking, easily wronged, or hold grudges. Love protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. Love is active! That’s the most important message.
However, a couple expresses that love whether thru words or actions, the most important thing is to always express it to each other…. daily.
What will you do differently from last year in this new year?
I have never been one to make New Year’s Resolutions. “I resolve to lose 20 lbs.” “I resolve to walk 10,000 steps every day.” Resolutions are so specific, and if you slip up or slide backwards, which usually happens within the first few weeks of the new year, one gives up completely and turns back to a previous way of doing things. That usually leads to discontentment, which leads to disappointment, and in some cases depression. Therefore, I do not make resolutions. Instead, I set goals!
Goals set are specific enough to be able to “quantify” the results, but not so specific to cause great disappointment if I do not seem to be accomplishing what I set out to do. Here’s an example:
Instead of saying I want to lose 20 lbs, I say I want to feel healthier and be able to see that my clothes fit better.
Instead of stating I will walk 10,000 steps every day, I set a goal of being active every day by moving every hour I’m awake.
And finally, instead of saying I will only eat 1200 kcal a day, I say I will make better food choices.
One might say that is all just semantics (you might be right), but it does seem to help people be more positive! So the question still is out there…..what will I do differently in 2022?
This year I turn 66 and in July I will be 66 and 4 months. For some of us born in 1956 that means full Social Security benefits! It means….I could retire! That would be totally different for me! I cannot remember a time in my life since graduating from high school that I didn’t have a schedule. I had to plan my time wisely to get everything done. College, medical school, residency, starting my practice, being a wife and a mother…..time all had to planned and budgeted. Can I be without a schedule?
I love my husband dearly. But one thing Covid has taught me, I do not not feel like I’m ready to spend 24/7/365 with him! He drives me crazy now! I am sure he would say the same for me! The one thing I do know is this….” Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:13-17 NIV
I am asking God to direct this next phase of my life. It is hard some days to hear Him for all the noise. I do hear Him, though, through the advice of valued friends and colleagues. I heard Him recently in a sermon as the preacher talked about Phillip being called. Both times Phillip was called to do something for God he “got up and did it.” Both times he seemed to have had to change the direction he was going.
I am not sure what I am going to be doing differently in 2022 except for working 3 days a week instead of 4 in the office. I do want to be more active. I want to eat healthier (I started eating Brussels Sprouts in 2021; what could be next?!?) I want to feel healthier…similar to how I felt before Covid. But beyond all this, I want to follow where God leads me. He has lead me in the past and guided me in taking care of those He has sent my way. I have no doubt that my God will continue to guide me where I can serve Him best if I continue to listen for His Guidance Happy 2022!