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

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.

 

 

 

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  

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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.

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