Still TRUMPED by SOVEREIGNTY: a family update

You’ve met my friend Sara Stophel here before when I reviewed her book and when I told you she completed her college degree. Now she has more exciting news- a wedding.

You’ve met my friend Sara Stophel here before when I reviewed her book and when I told you she completed her college degree. Now she has more exciting news- a wedding.

Nik, the son of Sara and her late husband Chuck, married a beautiful young woman Alivia in a spring wedding. Sara gave me these photos to share with you.

a bride and groom posing with flowers
Mr. and Mrs. Stophel

I know how it feels to welcome a girl having raised 2 sons. Sara is thrilled to have a daughter in her family now.

In case you missed it, here is my review of Sara’s book where she explains how her life has been…

TRUMPED BY SOVEREIGNTY:

Juggling Faith, Healing, And Submission to God’s Perfect Plans

a memoir BY SARA STOPHEL

“Damen Ballard, twenty-five, left his apartment on April 19, 1995, to grab a pack of cigarettes at the convenience store. On his way back he took the shortcut…crossing I-44 on foot at rush hour. He was hit and became a John Doe while doctors tried to save his life. Even as we were watching the terrible news of the Oklahoma City bombing down the road…and fighting against all of those feelings of desperation when we discovered no hearts would be coming…Chuck’s new heart was just two floors above us in the very same hospital.”

Sovereignty is a word you may not use or even hear often; I know I don’t.  Probably the most common usage is in a political sense, like the sovereignty (authority) of a nation. Maybe that’s why Sara Stophel offers this definition on the back cover of her book;

“‘Sovereignty’ means that God, as the ruler of the universe, has the right to do whatever he wants. Further, he is in complete control over everything that happens.

In a game of cards, a trump card overrules any card previously played … But what happens when that “game” is actually life? And what happens when you realize that God’s sovereignty is the final trump card?”

Trumped by Sovereignty is two stories in one book.  One story relates the multiple medical challenges faced by Sara, her husband Chuck,  their children and extended family. The other story describes how Sara coped with these challenges, especially in relationship to her Christian faith.

I have known Sara and her family for several years and already knew much of their story although not all. I know Sara to be direct, truthful and frank. She does not mince words.

(I did not consult Sara prior to writing this review.  I paid for my copy of her book.)

This is not one of those “how we went through a horrible experience and survived by our unshakable faith” stories; rather it is “how we went through extraordinary stress which tested our faith which survived and grew anyway”.

Sara doesn’t tell you how she solved her problems; she admits that her problems caused her to change the way she looks at life, faith and God.

Sara’s book describes multiple medical conditions that afflicted her family (yes, afflicted is exactly the right word). The list reads like a medical textbook, so much so that you may need to look up some of the terms to understand what they are; she does not describe them in detailed scientific terms.  (I’ve included some links for you to use.)

Between Sara, her husband Chuck, their children and extended family they endured –

Sara and Chuck met in college, a Christian university that is known for its belief in divine healing. However, Sara’s home church did not teach miraculous healing. So it was a new concept for her, and one she found difficult to reconcile as her family’s serious health issues continued to worsen and not respond to medical treatment much less prayer.

Sara Stophel with her late husband Chuck

She does not expect you to believe that she endured these challenges and tragedies due to strong and unwavering faith; rather she freely admits otherwise. As she puts it, her “truster” frequently breaks and needs repair.

“I could not commune with a God who did not honor my bigger-than-mustard-seed faith. I was more than certain God loved people…but I was also nearly certain He just needed me as a tool of transparency. My truster was broken. Having loved God my whole life, I couldn’t think of anything better…anywhere else to turn…so I just kept on serving and assuming the love and peace of God were for everyone but me.”

Sara sense of humor never wavers, both in her writing, and  in life; she probably could not have made it  through some of the days she has lived without it.

You will laugh, cry, or both at some of her stories like-

  • Her annual physical (which was a year late) with her doctor, Dr. LionKing (an offbeat humorous pronunciation of his real name)
  • Her first CPR class after a family death

And you may get angry as she describes her shabby treatment by the IRS, the cell phone company and the local fire department first responders who refused to take her critically ill husband to the hospital.

Sara recently with her 3 sons

I encourage you to buy and read Trumped by Sovereignty. I know Sara and her sons which means I also know that their challenges are not over; in fact, they may be bigger than ever. I believe she will continue to face them with the same courage and humor that she has so far; and maybe in a few years she will write volume 2 of her story.

 

 

Trumped by Sovereignty is published by Paladin Publishing, Tulsa Oklahoma.

Sara Stophel welcomes invitations to speak; you can follow her on

Facebook  at Sara Stophel -author .

Sara at a speaking engagement

Sara’s son Nikolai Stophel is a professional writer/photographer for Samaritan’s Purse. Prior to that position, he  covered the turbulent weather we have here in Oklahoma. His photos of Oklahoma storms illustrate this previous post. You can find more of his work on Instagram. 

On the 6th anniversary of Chuck’s release from illness and pain, his wife Sara reflected on her Facebook page-

sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

          Dr. Aletha  

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The Good Samaritans fighting Ebola

Five years ago the world watched as Africa grappled with a deadly epidemic as the Ebola virus swept through Liberia, infecting hundreds of people, including healthcare workers.

2019-Another Ebola epidemic

Five years ago the world watched as Africa grappled with a Ebola deadly epidemic as the virus swept through Liberia, infecting and killing scores of people, including healthcare workers.

Now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda find themselves in the midst of the second largest Ebola outbreak in history. It began in the DRC last year, and has now spread to Uganda, since the countries share a border and people travel freely between them.

an electron image of the Ebola virus
this colorized transmission electron microscopic (TEM) image revealed some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed by an Ebola virus virion. credit-CDC/ Frederick A. Murphy, microbiologist, public domain

The 2014 Liberian Epidemic

In 2014, the Ebola virus came to the United States when a volunteer physician working in Liberia contracted the virus and flew home for treatment which proved successful. His illness and recovery from what is usually a fatal disease caught the world’s attention. Here is a summary of the dramatic story.

Dr. Kent Brantly -physician and patient

Dr. Kent Brantly awoke feeling ill- muscle aches, fever, sore throat, headache and nausea. As his condition progressively worsened to include difficulty breathing, he learned the cause of his illness- the Ebola virus. Having spent the past few weeks caring for patients caught up in the Ebola epidemic that swept Liberia in the spring of 2014, Dr. Brantly had contracted the disease himself, and would likely die, as almost all victims do.

Dr. Brantly, a graduate of Indiana University’s School of Medicine, had volunteered to work at ELWA Hospital in Liberia which was receiving aid from Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. This hospital served as Monrovia’s Ebola treatment center and Dr. Brantly headed the unit.

As his condition deteriorated, his physicians decided his only hope for recovery was use of an experimental drug, ZMapp, previously untested on humans. Since otherwise he was likely to die, he received the drug by infusion into a vein. By the next morning he felt well enough to arise from bed and shower. Unknown to him, thousands of people around the world had been praying for him.

During this time his colleague, nurse Nancy Writebol, was battling her own Ebola infection. She also was treated with ZMapp.

Samaritan’s Purse arranged for both of them to be evacuated to the United States. There, they could continue receiving supportive medical care, as well as allow infectious disease specialists to learn from their conditions. It also would relieve the workload on the doctors who continued to care for Ebola patients at ELWA.

Hear Dr. Brantly describe what it is like to be ill from the Ebola virus.

Called for Life: How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic.

(affiliate link)

An update about Dr. Brantly, July 2019

Five years after contracting the deadly virus in Liberia, the Christian doctor will serve at Mukinge Mission Hospital in Zambia. Read the story here-

Dr. Kent Brantly returns to Africa

It’s not a matter of not fearing. It’s a matter of choosing to have compassion despite fear.

Dr. Kent brantly, christian chronicle.org

The Ebola Fighters

Dr. Brantly and hundreds of other professionals who treated Ebola victims in 2014, the “Ebola fighters”, were named Time magazine’s PERSON of the YEAR for 2014.

Ebola is a war, and a warning. The global health system is nowhere close to strong enough to keep us safe from infectious disease, and “us” means everyone, not just those in faraway places where this is one threat among many that claim lives every day. The rest of the world can sleep at night because a group of men and women are willing to stand and fight. 

Nancy Gibbs, TIME magazine
An African doctor viewing xrays and MRI image.
World Medical Mission branch of Samaritan’s Purse serves as a lifeline to dozens of mission hospitals by providing millions of dollars worth of critically needed equipment and supplies.

Samaritan’s Purse

Once again, Samaritan’s Purse is working to contain and stop the Ebola epidemic , now in the DRC.

“Samaritan’s Purse opened an Ebola Treatment Center on Jan. 17 in Komanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to meet the needs of suffering people as this deadly disease continues to spread. We are running the center with dedicated national Congolese staff under the oversight of a small international team.

As of July 2, over 2,300 people in DRC have been infected with Ebola, and 1,586 have died from the disease. Sadly, those numbers continue to rise. The fatality rate of the current Ebola outbreak in DRC is a staggering 67 percent—a rate that is elevated due to ongoing violence and resistance among community members.”

You can help Samaritan’s Purse fight Ebola by donating at the link above or

You can also make a donation by mail. Send to: Samaritan’s Purse, PO Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607

(Neither Dr. Aletha nor this blog are affiliated with Samaritan’s Purse nor compensated for mentioning their work.)

“The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) gives a clear picture of God’s desire for us to help those in desperate need wherever we find them. After describing how the Samaritan rescued a hurting man whom others had passed by, Jesus told His hearers, “Go and do likewise.”

Samaritan’s Purse website

You can read the Good Samaritan story in my previous post at this link

What happens when we stop to help -being a Good Samaritan

sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

From Practice to Politics-Doctors who ran for President-the Cabinet Secretary

Dr. Carson , a neurosurgeon, was one of the candidates for the Republican Party nomination for President in 2016. He suspended his campaign before the convention. President Donald Trump asked him to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Senate confirmed his nomination.


In 2016 I wrote about the 3 physicians who ran for President of the United States that year. None of them won but in observance of National Doctors’ Day this month I’m reviewing their stories with updates on what they are doing now.

These profiles are for your “information and inspiration”, and do not imply endorsement or recommendation by me .

Benjamin Carson, M.D., pediatric neurosurgeon

Dr. Carson , a neurosurgeon, was one of the candidates for the Republican Party nomination for President in 2016. He suspended his campaign before the convention. President Donald Trump asked him to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Senate confirmed his nomination.

Here are some facts about Dr. Carson taken from his 1992 autobiography
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story which I read and enjoyed.

  1. Dr. Carson’s mother, Sonya, one of 24 children,  married at age 13 ;her husband abandoned her when Dr. Carson and his brother were young boys. An uneducated illiterate woman, she taught herself to read, and required her sons to read books weekly.
  2. While he was growing up, his family depended on food stamps to have enough to eat.
  3. At age 8, after hearing a missionary doctor speak at his church, he decided to become a physician.
  4. He had such poor vision, he was almost legally blind. His grades improved when he started wearing glasses.
  5. As a teenager, he had such a quick and fiery temper, her feared he might kill someone.
  6. Both he and his brother were in JROTC while in high school; his brother served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.
  7. In high school he played clarinet and developed a love of classical music, something he would share with his future wife Candy.
  8. He chose to attend Yale over Harvard, because Yale beat Harvard in the GE College Bowl television program.
  9. During college he worked at the Ford Auto plant and at Chrysler.
  10. He and Candy lived in Australia for one year so he could train in neurosurgery there- and his first child was born in Australia that year.
  11. His third child was born at home- and he did the unplanned, quick delivery while his mother dialed 911 for help.

The Carson Scholars Fund

Dr. Carson is president and co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments.

The Carson Scholars Fund, Inc. was founded in 1994 to address the education crisis in the United States. Dr. Ben and his wife, Candy were alarmed by the state of American education.

Studies showed that our nation’s students ranked #21 out of 22 countries; next to the bottom of the list in science and math. They observed that many school display cases were filled with large trophies paying tribute to their sports teams’ achievements, while honor students only received a pin or certificate.

Dr. and Mrs. Carson felt compelled to take action. They believed that if children could be taught early to excel in school, they would stay motivated and have a higher chance of educational success later in life. The Carson Scholars Fund was built on these principles.

Recognized by Great Nonprofits as a Top-Rated Nonprofit, Carson Scholars is currently operating in 50 states and the District of Columbia, having awarded more than $ 6.2 million dollars to more than 6200 scholars.

The program also establishes Carson Reading Rooms in schools across the country to encourage young students and their families to discover the pleasure of reading and to recognize the true power of learning. To date the program has established over 100 reading rooms in 14 states in the U.S. (Information found on the Carsons’ Facebook page)

Dr. Carson’s surgical career

Neurosurgery is the surgical specialty that deals with the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. Long before Dr. Carson became involved in politics, he was known for his pioneering work in brain surgery. He discusses this work in his autobiography, which was also made into a movie of the same name. In the movie, one of my favorite actors, Cuba Gooding Jr., played Dr. Carson.

Dr. Carson specialized in two difficult and dangerous types of surgeries.

In hemispherectomy  half of the brain is surgically removed as a treatment for severe, intractable seizures. It is only used as a last resort, is not always successful and can cause paralysis on one side of the body. Dr.Carson was known as an expert in this surgery.

Conjoined or Siamese twins joined at the head are rare, occurring in 1 in 2 million births.

“In 1987, Carson attracted international attention by performing a surgery to separate 7-month-old occipital craniopagus twins in Germany.

Patrick and Benjamin Binder were born joined at the head. Their parents contacted Carson, who went to Germany to consult with the family and the boys’ doctors. Because the boys were joined at the back of the head, and because they had separate brains, he felt the operation could be performed successfully.

On September 4, 1987, after months of rehearsals, Carson and a huge team of doctors, nurses and support staff joined forces for what would be a 22-hour procedure. Part of the challenge in radical neurosurgery is to prevent severe bleeding and trauma to the patients.

In the highly complex operation, Carson had applied both hypothermic and circulatory arrest. Although the twins did suffer some brain damage and post-operation bleeding, both survived the separation, allowing Carson’s surgery to be considered by the medical establishment the first successful procedure of its kind.”(from Ben Carson bio)

One Vote-Make Your Voice Heard

Dr. Carson wrote One Voice-Make Your Voice Heard with his wife Candy Carson. In it, they urge us to use the privilege and power of voting at every opportunity. Here is a link to an excerpt

YOU ARE THE PINNACLE OF POWER

This book is available from major booksellers including Tyndale Publishers, which offers readers a chance to earn FREE books through its free rewards program. I am a member and invite you to join. This is not an affiliate offer, but if you accept my invitation I get points to earn more books, some of which I may review for this blog. So it’s a win for both of us.

my Reader Rewards Club

As a member, you’ll have access to inspiring literature, Bibles, special promotional offers, and much more. Earning points is easy—you’ll receive 25 points just for signing up!

You can also earn points when you:

  • Shop at Tyndale.com or NavPress.com
  • Refer a friend
  • Write reviews
  • Take surveys
  • Sign up for e-newsletters and e-devotionals
  • And more!

Sign up at MY READER REWARDS CLUB now.

Thanks for joining me to meet and honor 3 physicians who sought our nation’s highest office. I thank them for their service to health care and to our government.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

Please follow Watercress Words to meet more physicians who explore the HEART of health . And thanks for using the affiliate links in this post and on the Home page, they help me fund this blog.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Celebrating romance and marriage on Valentine’s Day

a look at some unique marriages for Valentine’s Day


What the word needs now is love, sweet love, that’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” 

Hal David, lyricist
a red heart
Valentine heart graphic from Lightstock.com, affiliate link

One of my Sunday traditions is reading Parade , a magazine in the newspaper. One of my favorite parts is the “Ask Marilyn” column where Marilyn Vos Savant answers complex questions on a wide range of subjects- math, science, medicine, technology, economics , games, sports and just about any topic you can imagine.

I have wondered how she does it, imagining it must take hours and hours of research.

But then I learned her history.  She has one of the highest IQs in the world. She is certifiably the world’s smartest woman. 

One week,  Parade published an article about how she met her husband. She is married to none other than Dr. Robert Jarvik, developer of the artificial heart.

They met when he called her after reading   a magazine article about her, and had a long distance courtship lasting one year.

At their wedding, science fiction author Isaac Asimov walked her down the aisle; the best man was the 7th recipient of one of the Jarvik artificial hearts! How’s that for romantic. They have been happily married since 1987.      

Isaac Asimov: The Complete Stories, Vol. 1


Books by Marilyn Vos Savant 

Growing Up: A Classic American Childhood

The Power of Logical Thinking 

Another love story-Austin and Jessica 

Another couple  featured in the issue, Austin and Jessica were literal childhood sweethearts, having met as toddlers. They and their parents met in a support group- for families of children with Down Syndrome.

With their parents’ support, they have overcome their disability to build a loving , stable marriage- and maybe because he “treats her like a princess.”

These are two very different couples who share something special-

respect, caring and commitment to the person they love.

As Beatles John and Paul (Lennon and McCartney) told us many years ago,

All you need is love.”

 

(These and some other links in this post are to affiliate sites that may pay this blog a small commission. )

My love story

It wasn’t Valentine’s Day, but my husband and I shared a romantic dinner on vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Read about our romance at the link below the photo

man and woman at dinner
Dr. Aletha and Raymond

Two Words That Changed My Life

LIGHTSTOCK.COM, AFFILIATE LINK


 

Share the LOVE

I appreciate your sharing  this post with your friends on your social media pages.

And please follow Watercress Words for more information and inspiration to help you explore the HEART of HEALTH.

Thank you for  viewing  the advertisements and using the affiliate links  that fund this blog; with your  help, we can grow, reach more people, and support worthy causes that bring health and wholeness to people around the world.

Gabriel & Co. fine jewelry

                              Dr. Aletha 

Health lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr.

African-Americans frequently suffer health disparities and are more susceptible to certain disorders than other races. We doctors know our black patients experience more difficulty with these conditions in particular-diabetes, asthma, sarcoidosis, hypertension, stroke, and cancers.  

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

 

The Reverend Dr. King led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.

His famous “I have a dream” speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. is  remembered, read, and recited by people all over the country if not the world on Monday January 16 every year .

The  United States observes the third Monday of January as a federal holiday in honor and memory of the birthday of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929)

 Health effects of violence

Dr. King’s life reminds us of the  tragic effects of interpersonal violence. His life ended suddenly and prematurely when, on April 4, 1968, an assailant shot him as he stood on a hotel balcony. He had delivered his last speech just the day before. The shooter was apprehended, and after confessing to the murder, sentenced to life in prison where he died.

Most people know of Dr. King’s assassination, but don’t know his mother, Alberta Williams King, also died violently. At age 69, sitting at the organ of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Mrs. King was shot and killed on June 30, 1974. Her  23-year-old assailant received a life sentence and died in prison.

Violence between persons creates social, economic and political problems, and serious medical consequences. It is a leading cause of death, especially in children, adolescents and young adults.

Non-fatal injuries often cause severe and permanent disability that changes lives, burdens families and increases medical costs astronomically. These include

  • TBI, traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries leading to paraplegia, quadriplegia, ventilator dependence
  • Amputations of limbs
  • PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder; other forms of anxiety; depression
  • Chronic pain, often leading to opiate dependence

Here is a previous post  about  why and how we need to address violence in our society .

Why we need to end violence and how to stop it

Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.

Dr. King

Effects of health disparities

This observance also reminds us of the problem of health disparity. Health disparities are

preventable differences in illness, injury, violence, or access to health care that happen to  socially disadvantaged populations.

These populations can be defined by factors such as

  • race or ethnicity,
  • gender,
  • education or income,
  • disability,
  • geographic location (e.g., rural or urban),
  • sexual orientation.

Health disparities are directly related to the past and present  unequal distribution of social, political, economic, and environmental resources.

African-Americans frequently suffer health disparities and are more susceptible to certain disorders than other races. We doctors know our black patients experience more difficulty with these conditions in particular-diabetes, asthma, sarcoidosis, hypertension, stroke, and cancers.  Dr. King’s father, Martin Sr. ,died of a heart attack. His widow, Coretta Scott King, died of ovarian cancer.

Learn Why 7 Deadly Diseases Strike Blacks Most  from WebMD

You can learn more about Dr. King and listen to part of his famous speech at

Biography.com

"I have a dream" by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Plaque honoring “I have a dream” speech by Dr. King , in Washington D.C. looking toward the Washington Monument

You can read the full text of the speech at

I Have A Dream….

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies,

education and culture for their minds,

and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.

Dr. King

The following book suggestions lead to affiliate links which may pay a commission to this blog at no extra cost to you. These commissions help me fund this blog.

A Testament of hope
<a href="http://A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.""” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>A Testament of Hope by Dr. King
strength to love
<a href="http://Strength to Love""” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>strength to love, written by Dr. King

a biography about Dr. King written for children

I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am Martin Luther King book

Thank you for joining me to remember Dr. King. Please share this post and follow Watercress words where we explore and share the HEART of health.

                              Dr. Aletha 

How one woman handles life’s “trump” cards- a book review

This is not one of those “how we went through a horrible experience and survived by our unshakable faith” stories; rather it is “how we went through extraordinary stress which tested our faith which survived and grew anyway”.

Sara doesn’t tell you how she solved her problems; she admits that her problems caused her to change the way she looks at life, faith and God.

I ran into Sara Stophel, author of TRUMPED BY SOVEREIGNTY and asked her what’s happened new in her life since I reviewed her book. Here’s what she said.

“I finished my Bachelor of Science, Liberal Studies degree this August (2018). Basically, a general degree with minors in Education and Music and a bunch of courses in social work and psychology! I am job hunting…the areas that really draw me in have been in the organ donation area, writing area…and pretty much all the non-profits! Passions lie there. :-)”

Her personal life is going well also. Her son Nik (whose photos appear in this post) works for Samaritan’s Purse.  Samaritan’s Purse is one of the organizations I feature  on my Share the HEART of health page. He is engaged to a young woman who will soon graduate as a nurse. Another son is dating a young woman who is a medical resident. So of course I’m happy to see the Stophel family supporting the health care professions.

Continue reading here or go to this link for even more exciting news about Sara and her family.

Here’s my review of Sara’s moving and inspirational memoir.

TRUMPED BY SOVEREIGNTY:

Juggling Faith, Healing, And Submission to God’s Perfect Plans

BY SARA STOPHEL

A MEMOIR

“Damen Ballard, twenty-five, left his apartment on April 19, 1995, to grab a pack of cigarettes at the convenience store. On his way back he took the shortcut…crossing I-44 on foot at rush hour. He was hit and became a John Doe while doctors tried to save his life. Even as we were watching the terrible news of the Oklahoma City bombing down the road…and fighting against all of those feelings of desperation when we discovered no hearts would be coming…Chuck’s new heart was just two floors above us in the very same hospital.”

large storm cloud
photo by Nikolai Stophel

Sovereignty is a word you may not use or even hear often; I know I don’t.  Probably the most common usage is in a political sense, like the sovereignty (authority) of a nation. Maybe that’s why Sara Stophel offers this definition on the back cover of her book;

“‘Sovereignty’ means that God, as the ruler of the universe, has the right to do whatever he wants. Further, he is in complete control over everything that happens.

In a game of cards, a trump card overrules any card previously played … But what happens when that “game” is actually life? And what happens when you realize that God’s sovereignty is the final trump card?”

Trumped by Sovereignty is two stories in one book.  One story relates the multiple medical challenges faced by Sara, her husband Chuck,  their children and extended family. The other story describes how Sara coped with these challenges, especially in relationship to her Christian faith.

I have known Sara and her family for several years and already knew much of their story although not all. I know Sara to be direct, truthful and frank. She does not mince words.

(I did not consult Sara prior to writing this review.  I paid for my copy of her book.)

This is not one of those “how we went through a horrible experience and survived by our unshakable faith” stories; rather it is “how we went through extraordinary stress which tested our faith which survived and grew anyway”.

Sara doesn’t tell you how she solved her problems; she admits that her problems caused her to change the way she looks at life, faith and God.

a tornado in Oklahoma
photo of an active tornado by Nikolai Stohel

Sara’s book describes multiple medical conditions that afflicted her family (yes, afflicted is exactly the right word). The list reads like a medical textbook, so much so that you may need to look up some of the terms to understand what they are; she does not describe them in detailed scientific terms.  (I’ve included some links for you to use.)

Between Sara, her husband Chuck, their children and extended family they endured –

Sara and Chuck met in college, a Christian university that is known for its belief in divine healing. However, Sara’s home church did not teach miraculous healing. So it was a new concept for her, and one she found difficult to reconcile as her family’s serious health issues continued to worsen and not respond to medical treatment much less prayer.

She does not expect you to believe that she endured these challenges and tragedies due to strong and unwavering faith; rather she freely admits otherwise. As she puts it, her “truster” frequently breaks and needs repair.

“I could not commune with a God who did not honor my bigger-than-mustard-seed faith. I was more than certain God loved people…but I was also nearly certain He just needed me as a tool of transparency. My truster was broken. Having loved God my whole life, I couldn’t think of anything better…anywhere else to turn…so I just kept on serving and assuming the love and peace of God were for everyone but me.”

Sara sense of humor never wavers, both in her writing, and  in life; she probably could not have made it  through some of the days she has lived without it.

You will laugh, cry, or both at some of her stories like-

  • Her annual physical (which was a year late) with her doctor, Dr. LionKing (an offbeat humorous pronunciation of his real name)
  • Her first CPR class after a family death

And you may get angry as she describes her shabby treatment by the IRS, the cell phone company and the local fire department first responders who refused to take her critically ill husband to the hospital.

hugh storm cloud
impending storm captured by Nikolai Stophel

I encourage you to buy and read Trumped by Sovereignty. I know Sara and her sons which means I also know that their challenges are not over; in fact, they may be bigger than ever. I believe she will continue to face them with the same courage and humor that she has so far; and maybe in a few years she will write volume 2 of her story.

Trumped by Sovereignty is published by Paladin Publishing, Tulsa Oklahoma.

Sara Stophel welcomes invitations to speak; you can follow her on

Facebook  at Sara Stophel -author .

Sara Stophel with her book, Trumped By Sovereignty
Sarah showing her sense of humor, soon after the Presidential election . Is that the President-elect’s name?

Sara’s son Nikolai Stophel is a professional writer/photographer for Samaritan’s Purse. Prior to that position, he  covered the turbulent weather we have here in Oklahoma. His photos of Oklahoma storms illustrate this post. You can find more of his work on Instagram. 

On the 6th anniversary of Chuck’s release from illness and pain, his wife Sara reflected on her Facebook page-

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          Dr. Aletha  

Dr. Charles Krauthammer- a physician to know- in memoriam

I don’t remember the first time I read an article by Charles Krauthammer but once I did, I never missed a chance to read more. Dr. Krauthammer recently passed away from cancer and I among many mourn his passing. 

I don’t remember the first time I read an article by Charles Krauthammer but once I did, I never missed a chance to read more. Dr. Krauthammer recently passed away from cancer and I among many mourn his passing.

His Washington Post syndicated column appeared in my local newspaper on Saturdays;  I would read it aloud at breakfast so my husband and I could discuss it. Invariably, there would be one or two words or phrases we didn’t understand so I would look up the definition- this despite  both of us having graduate degrees.  We were alternately entertained, enlightened, and enthralled by his way with words.

As a physician, I am intrigued and inspired knowing  Dr. Krauthammer completed medical school and residency after and despite sustaining a spinal cord injury which caused quadriplegia (paralysis from the neck down, preventing use of his arms and legs).   (This no doubt made his treatment and recovery from cancer surgery all the more difficult.)  In his memoir, he explained how a caring professor did whatever it took to help him get through medical school after his injury, including lectures at his bedside while he was still hospitalized.

 

DR. CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER-IN MEMORIAM-WWW.WATERCRESSWORDS.COM

 

He did not use “M.D.” or the title “Dr.” after he changed his career from psychiatry to journalism, but I think he should have, he earned it.  He mostly wrote about politics and social issues but occasionally would address medical issues. (These and others in this post are affiliate links to Dr. Krauthammer’s books and others.  )

Here are excerpts from a sampling of  articles that deal with medical topics;  I encourage you to read them in their entirety.

(I quoted these in a previous post on this blog.)

After watching videos in which  The price of fetal parts was discussed over lunch, Dr. Krauthammer wrote

“Abortion critics have long warned that the problem is not only the obvious — what abortion does to the fetus — but also what it does to us. It’s the same kind of desensitization that has occurred in the Netherlands with another mass exercise in life termination: assisted suicide. It began as a way to prevent the suffering of the terminally ill. It has now become so widespread and wanton that one-fifth of all Dutch assisted-suicide patients are euthanized without their explicit consent.

ultrasound image of a 4 month old fetus
a prenatal ultrasonographic image of fetus at the four-month point in its gestation; public domain image used courtesy of the CDC/ Jim Gathany

There is more division about the first trimester because one’s views of the early embryo are largely a matter of belief, often religious belief. One’s view of the later-term fetus, however, is more a matter of what might be called sympathetic identification — seeing the image of a recognizable human infant and, now, hearing from the experts exactly what it takes to “terminate” its existence.

The role of democratic politics is to turn such moral sensibilities into law. This is a moment to press relentlessly for a national ban on late-term abortions.”

After Another massacre, another charade  he said this about guns and laws about them.

gun metal barrel
Photo by Somchai Kongkamsri on Pexels.com

“So with the Roseburg massacre in Oregon. Within hours, President Obama takes to the microphones to furiously denounce the National Rifle Association and its ilk for resisting “common-sense gun-safety laws.” His harangue is totally sincere, totally knee-jerk and totally pointless. At the time he delivers it, he — and we — know practically nothing about the shooter, nothing about the weapons, nothing about how they were obtained.

In the final quarter of his presidency, Obama can very well say what he wants. If he believes in Australian-style confiscation — i.e., abolishing the Second Amendment — why not spell it out? Until he does, he should stop demonizing people for not doing what he won’t even propose.”

In this tongue-in-cheek (pardon the pun)  post Food fads: Make mine gluten-full

 he “preaches skepticism” about most current dietary advice.

“Exhibit A for medical skepticism, however, remains vitamin C. When Linus Pauling, Nobel laureate in chemistry (not nutrition), began the vitamin-C megadose fad to fend off all manner of disease, the whole thing struck me as bizarre. Yes, you need some C to prevent scurvy if you’re seven months at sea with Capt. Cook and citrus is nowhere to be found. Otherwise, the megadose is a crock. Evolution is pretty clever. For 2 million years it made sure Homo erectus, neanderthalensis, sapiens, what have you, got his daily dose without having to visit a GNC store.

Sure enough, that fashion came and went. But there are always new windmills to be tilted at. The latest is gluten.

various types of bread
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Now, if you suffer from celiac disease, you need a gluten-free diet. How many of us is that? Less than 1 percent. And yet supermarket shelves are groaning with products proclaiming their gluten-freedom. Sales are going through the roof.”

I enjoyed listening to  Dr. Krauthammer’s memoir THINGS THAT MATTER: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes, and Politics  

Charles Krauthammer-THINGS THAT MATTER
available as an audiobook from the iTunes Store

His book is a collection of  his more memorable opinion pieces as well as a memoir of his life, including medical school, his life-changing injury, psychiatric medical practice, his  journalism career, hobbies (chess and baseball) and life with his family.

According to Amazon-

Now, finally, the best of Krauthammer’s intelligence, erudition and wit are collected in one volume.”

In his last piece for The Washington Post, barely two weeks before his death, Dr. Krauthammer wrote,

“I leave this life with no regrets. It was a wonderful life — full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended.”

I am sad he left, but grateful that he shared his “intelligence, erudition, and wit” with the world.  May we all find the loves and endeavors that make life worth living and live intentional lives as well as he did.

Tributes to Dr. Krauthammer, a few of many

from the NATIONAL REVIEWCharles Krauthammer, R.I.P.

from THE NEW YORK TIMES – The Example of Charles Krauthammer

from the WEEKLY STANDARDThe Quick Wit of Charles Krauthammer

Please share this post and share about your recollections of  Dr. Krauthammer’s work.

Thanks for exploring the HEART of health with me. Dr. Aletha

stethoscope with a heart