Mind,Soul & Body 2023

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.”

June 2023

I have often been asked, “Where do you go to church?”  I answer, “the church of Christ.” Almost every single time the return reply is, “Oh, they are the ones that don’t use music.” “No,” I’d stated, “we use music, just not a musical instrument.”

To me growing up in a small town in Southern Indiana going to worship services whether Sunday morning, Sunday evening or going to devotionals on Wednesday nights, the best part was the singing! It was always four-part harmony. The whole assembly raised their voices together. I loved sitting next to my dad and hearing his bass voice singing “To Canaan’s Land.” Certain women in the congregation could be heard singing alto while a few of the men used their tenor voices! All the voices joining together in worship of God.

There were times services were canceled at the congregation I attended and we would go across town to another congregation to attend. The singing would be amazing! 600 voices joined together in harmony to praise God. Or, we would spend the weekend down at my grandparents at a small country church where the windows were left open from spring through autumn. The singing could be heard through out the small town. In that small church there were not 600, but they were joyous!

It wasn’t just the singing I remember but the men leading all those joining their voices together. As I recall, few if any had any training in music but they could get the pitch and the timing, their voice was loud and so off we’d go, singing  praises to God. Sometimes it may not have sounded perfect..too fast, too slow, slightly off key….but it was done with love and joy! We did not have musical instruments, praise teams, or choirs, but we had music! There was always a “joyful noise unto the LORD.”

I understand why God asked us to sing in worship….it floods your mind with memories! Singing helps us to “Roll back the curtain.” The songs tell stories, not only of God’s love for us and His promises for us, but of lives that have influenced us…..

When I sing songs today in worship, sometimes I have to stop and listen…not just to the words of the song admonishing me, but to see and hear those folks from the past who were teaching me as they sang so many years ago. I can see and hear Mrs H as she would always rise to her feet when singing “Standup, stand up for Jesus.” I see Bro. Wells leading “Nothing but the Blood” I night I was baptized. I can’t help remember a group of young people from David Lipscomb College coming to town and teaching us the songs “Home of the Soul” and “Anywhere is Home” and then remember the influence they had on me, encouraging me as a young sister in Christ.

I do not have any one particular song that speaks to me because through my 67 years of attending worship I have heard songs too numerous to count. Each song, each verse, each chorus speaks to me differently every time I hear them. Some times I can’t sing for the emotions are rushing through me. Memories from childhood, memories of those I have heard sing the song, or as when singing, “It Is Well With My Soul” the lesson the songwriter wanted to convey.

Teachers have said for the past few decades that each student learns in different ways.  God knew that when HE instructed us on worship. Some learn be sight, some by reading words on paper, others learn by hearing. Singing allows everyone with the walls of the sanctuary to teach their neighbor the Word of God through the words of the songs and the melody within their hearts!




May 2023

July, 1970 in Williams, Arizona I believe I saw the most beautiful sunset ever. I’m not really sure why that particular sunset stuck with me but I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

Since that day in 1970, I have seen numerous sunrises and sunsets.  I have seen the sunrise over the Smokie Mountains from the top of Mt LeConte as I sat on a chilly morning on Myrtle Point. I have shared sunsets from Mt LeConte with my best friend and then later with our husbands because we just had to share the beauty we had experienced.

I recently enjoyed numerous beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico when another good friend and I enjoyed some time in Destin, Florida. There is nothing quite like the sun coming up from beyond the water’s horizon or falling into the the sea as night approaches.

I have seen sunrises as I left the hospital after nights on call or after a long nights bringing new life into this world. No mountains or seascapes, just the sun coming up in the east over the tops of the trees reminding me there was a new day dawning.

Most people, when they see sunrises and sunsets, think of the song from Fiddler on the Roof.  I not me. I have two different thoughts….

God loves color! HE must have 120 crayons in HIS box or HE knows just how to mix colors on HIS paint palette! Even the best camera can not capture the colors seen in the early morning or at dusk.

The second thought that come into my mind is one of my favorite passages of Scripture, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  There is a time for everything under the heavens.  Sunrise is the beginning of the day, sunset the end.  A lot can happen in between. Good and bad.

As a physician, I have seen the sunrise and sunset of man.  I assisted numerous mothers to bring their child into this world. A day and glorious day for most of those involved. I have closed the eyes of patients in the sunset of their lives when their spirit passed from this earth, leaving a void and bringing grief to those left behind.

Sunrise, sunset. The beginning, the end. As children of God, we need to appreciate the beauty of  the beginning and the end, but we should also appreciate all the happens between the sun rising and the sun setting. We, as children of God, need to continue to use God’s “colors” and produce beauty with the rising and setting of our lives! It’s not just the sunrise and the sunset but what happens in the hours in between.

April 2023

One of the privileges I had as a family doctor was to attend the death of a patient. One might not think of that as a privilege but there is nothing quite as private as the closing one’s eyes to death.

I sat at many a bedside and watched as a person took a breath and no more followed. I saw the light “go out” behind the eyes of the person who just took that last breath. I have seen the last “blip” of a patient’s heart beat on a monitor and awaited another which never came. 

I have been witness to the person who was talking one second and the next their heart had suddenly stopped causing the professionals around them to to all the “things” we know to do to restart the heart and assist in their breathing until it does.

After experiencing death so many times, the one thing I never saw was a person come back from death. Yes, I was involved in several resuscitations where the patient was “gone”for a few seconds to minutes, but I never witnessed a coming back from the dead.

I do know a man who willing died a horrible death which included humiliation, scourging until His back was raw, having nails (spikes really) placed in His hands and feet then lifted up on a cross to be jolted into the ground causing the weight of His body to pull down on the nails! This same man uttered several words while He hung there on a hill in ancient Israel, most of them showing His continued compassion for others as He hung dying! Then suddenly it was over and finished. He gave up His Spirit.  He died. To make sure He died soldiers thrusted a sword into His side.

Our Christ was not resuscitated moments surrounding His death. No, He was placed in a tomb where he lay until early on the first day of the week. HE AROSE!  HE was resurrected from death. HE was not a ghost or a spiritual being. HE had a body that carried the nail prints and the slash in His side! Jesus died on the cross, His eyes closed in death. He was cold in the grave. But, HE AROSE! HE was alive! HE conquered Death!

When I think of the Resurrection, which isn’t just at Easter, but every First Day of the Week, I remember the horrendous death He suffered so that I might live! When I think of the Resurrection, I think of the sadness of His followers for those 3 days. When I think of the Resurrection, I think of the Life given yet brought back so that I too can be born again and live with Him forever.

March 2023

Rest: Physical? Emotional? Both?

   For the first ten years of my medical practice, I was on-call 24/7 365.  I didn’t have to go to the hospital every day, but I was caring for nursing home patients and delivering babies. If the nursing home needed something or one of my patients was in labor, I had to be available.  I loved delivering babies, but they did not also come at the most opportune times. In the 1990 ’s we generally did not induce labor except for health concerns of the mother or baby. “When the apple was ripe, it fell,” whether that was during the middle of the day or the middle of the night.  One April, I don’t remember which year, I delivered 14 babies! But also, that month I had 14 patients die! I was overwhelmed. On top of the medical practice, I had three little boys at home and husband. When I would get home, I was tired, worn out and exhausted.  I wasn’t any better at the office.

   Two nurses from OB came to me one day and were frank with me.  They said I needed to rest. I needed to get away. They volunteered to take me with them to Gatlinburg.  When I told my husband the idea, I thought sure he would object. Prior to this the only time off I took was in the spring or late summer to travel to Alabama to see my husband’s parents and for the boys to spend time with their Granny and Granddaddy. But my husband had also seen what I was unable to see…. I needed rest! I needed a rest from patients, from the phone calls and even from my family.  At his insistence I went to Tennessee with my two friends. 

   I never laughed so much in my life as I did on that first of many trips. Virgie, Gloria, and I made yearly trips together after that first one. We climbed mountains together; we weathered storms together and we even have a story about leaving someone at the gas station! Those trips were both a physical and emotional rest. Upon returning I was able to face life and death again.

   That’s one of the things about needing rest…. the person who needs it the most doesn’t always recognize it.  I wanted to just keep going. I didn’t need to take time for myself. Others knew I did and encouraged me to do so.

   I still take trips with one of my friends that encouraged me so many years ago. (My other dear friend passed away.) But most of my respites today take place early in the mornings before the sun comes up.  With a cup of tea and surrounded by cats, I approach my Father through prayer and Scripture readings. Since retirement the need for emotional rest isn’t as imperative as physical rest but I still need both.

   The prophet Elijah, in I Kings 19, needed “food and a nap” and then God told him to “GO!” Christ, Himself, always took respites.  We often see Him in scriptures going onto the mountain to pray spending time with His Father. Sometimes He even took naps in boats while storms raged around Him. And when He came down from the mountain or woke up from His nap, He still had issues to deal with, but He was refreshed and ready to go.

   Rest is needed…emotional, physical, both. But the best rest is found in Christ, “Come unto me, and I will give you rest.” Mathew 11:28

February 2023

I have to be honest, when I was younger, I never gave much thought to I Corinthians 13, the chapter of Love. I went on one date doing high school which was pretty much a disaster as far as dates are concerned. When the young man came to the door he thought my sister was me! It went down hill from there.

Once I got to college, I thought things would change…it didn’t really. The first 6 months were filled with tales of unrequited love. This included repeatedly implying to a certain young man that I would really like to go out with him. He asked my sister out and my roommate! Finally…after waiting like forever…..he asked me out. That young man is now my husband.

But even through our courtship and engagement, I never really thought about the definition of love given in I Corinthians 13. Love was holding hands in church, taking long walks together just talking. Love was driving up to Observation Hill, looking out over Nashville and up at the stars while THE PLANETS by Holst played on an eight-track tape player in John Douglas’s car. Love during our courtship and engagement was going out on the weekends to collect specimens for one of my biology classes which included almost getting bit by a copperhead and catching a bullfrog in a large jar. Love also was John Douglas helping me count fruit flies on the weekends for genetics class.

It was no all one sided. Love was going with John Douglas when he played the organ at weddings or spent time in the rehearsal hall preparing for his recitals. Love was helping him find his glasses after I helped clean his apartment and moved them!

No, early in courtship, engagement or even marriage did not I give much consideration to the words of I Corinthians 13. However, I can look back and see that we were living the words that Paul wrote.

There was patience and kindness. (To be honest, John Douglas exemplified these qualities better than I.) We honored each other, respected each other. He was rarely angry with me, I can not say the same. We have both remembered some the wrongs done, but they are remembered now with laughter and realized we learned from what happened.

I believe we both have tried to protect, trust, hope and persevere in our love for each other.

January 2023

I have written in the past about lessons I have learned from our cats, Lily and Dahlia.  Here’s another one…. When our cats want something, they generally sit at the edge of the table, meow a few times and then wait.  If they really want our attention, they will reach out their paws and tap us as we walk by! They will continue this activity until they feel as if they have made their message clear.

Occasionally in the mornings, as I sip on my hot tea doing my Scripture readings they will gather around me, one on each side, just lying there being quiet. They do not to want to be petted. They are just letting me know they are there offering their companionship.

There are times I walk into the kitchen, and I cannot find either one of them! I look in their favorite hiding places, but I cannot see them. As I continue my search reexamining areas I have already searched, there they will be…. just sitting there, being a “ninja cat.” They are in plain sight but camouflaged!

When I think about recognizing the presence of God in my life, I can learn something from my cats’ behavior.

Before I retired from medicine, I found it easy to see or feel God’s presence every day. HE was right there with me when I was delivering a newborn baby or sitting at the bedside of a beloved patient as they took their last breath. God reached out helping me through some tough situations.

Since retirement, I feel God’s presence in a less dramatic way. I feel HIM more in the quiet hours of the morning. HE surrounds me as I work on my Bible lessons. HE is quietly sitting with me as I study and examine HIS Word.

And there are still those times, when I least expect it, usually as the sun is rising or in the black winter sky with the moon and stars glowing brightly, things that happen every single day, that suddenly there HE is! HE has been there all along, but now I see HIM more clearly. I can also see God in the faces of the people I see every day…. friends, colleagues, complete strangers at the grocery store.

God is present every day, all day. In a recent sermon, it was pointed out that one of the Names of Christ is “Immanuel” which means “God with us.” Through Christ, though HIS Spirit, God is always with us!