Food, Michigan

Living, Dying and Dining on Union Lake

The hub and I went to a matinee yesterday afternoon.

By the time the credits rolled all I wanted was something delicious for dinner.

(And a charming, romantic man to take me on a culinary tour of France.)

So the hub, my daughter and I went to a restaurant on the water where the food is always good.

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The Roasted Forest Mushrooms appetizer (wilted onions, spinach, morel cream & manchego cheese en croute) was just the deliciousness I craved.

Midway through our Pan Roasted Grouper (vermouth, artichoke hearts, capers, spinach, tomato concasse, with whipped potatoes and roasted asparagus) my daughter groaned.

“I’m getting really upset,” she said.

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She nodded toward a table at the corner of the patio where a handsome young man sat alone.

He kept glancing toward the door. And then toward the parking lot, which he could see from his seat.

“I hope his date isn’t standing him up,” she whispered.

He looked really clean, shiny, and endearingly first date nervous.

“If she isn’t laying in a ditch somewhere then I hate her,” I said.

We ordered dessert and coffee.

“Go sit with him,” I said.

“I’m not going to sit with him,” she said.

“If she doesn’t at least call or text then she puts the bitch in obituary,” I said, borrowing a line from a movie I borrowed from the library last week.

I noticed that the flotilla on the lake was growing.  Lots of little boat lights were filling the horizon.

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See all the boat lights? See the back of the hub’s head?

“Are there going to be fireworks on the lake tonight?,” I asked our waitress.

Yes indeed.

I turned to my daughter. “He has the perfect table for watching the fireworks and she didn’t come!”

“That’s probably why he chose this restaurant and this night for their date,” she sighed.

Soooo sweet and romantic.

“I’m getting really upset,” she said.

“Look!” I said as I tugged my daughter’s arm.  A young woman, in a first date outfit, was approaching his table. “She’s here!”

“Oh thank God!,” we both exhaled at the same time.

“Thank God,” my daughter said, again, “because the waitress was just at his table and it looked like they were having the “What do you want to do?” conversation.

“Thank you Jesus!,” I said, “Now I can really enjoy my second cup of coffee.”

“I wish she had come just a little sooner,” my daughter replied, “so I could have really enjoyed the creme brulee.”

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I really enjoyed it, even with a side of angst it was reeaaally good. Really good.

To the dismay of my dinner companions, I got up and snuck a picture of the couple.

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They looked happy.

We left just as the fireworks were starting.

I didn’t want to leave the friends home alone with fireworks going off everywhere. I read it’s especially hard on elderly dogs.

And Maxy is really old.

We should have left the restaurant just a little bit sooner.

Because the fireworks scared the p-o-o-p out of him.

Literally.

Welcome to canine geriatrics.

Except for that, it was a lovely evening.

 

 

 

 

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life, love

Back to the Chapel of Love

My annual April 6 post, in case you haven’t read it yet…

“Hey Julie,” he yelled from his balcony as I was hopping onto my bike, “Would you like to go to the Monet exhibit at the art museum today?  My friend has extra passes.”

“No thanks, I’m going to ride my bike today.” I was always riding my bike back then.

“My friend likes to ride bikes…”  His voice trailed off as I rode away.

A week or so went by:

“Hey Julie,” he yelled, as my daughter and I walked out our front door, “Would you like to go to the final day of the U.S. Open tomorrow?  My friend has invited us to his corporation’s hospitality tent.”

Thanks, but I’m going to church tomorrow.

“My friend likes church,” he said as we smiled and waved…

On it went all summer until one day I finally said, “Why don’t you invite him to something sometime.”

So he did.  The something was a dessert auction and the sometime was November. My job involved planning an annual fundraiser.   Every year my daughter would slip a flier for the event under our neighbor, Chris’s, door and every year he would attend.  Alone.  But that year he brought a friend.  Four friends actually.

He called as I was putting the finishing touches on my presentation and asked if I wanted to join him and his friends for dinner before the event.  “Can’t,”  I said, “I have to get there early.  I’m working.”

I met the hub through a serving window.  He came to introduce himself and I reached across the counter to shake his hand.  Me in the kitchen and him in the banquet hall.  As I shook his hand everything in the banquet hall faded away and I saw only him, a solitary figure with a warm smile extending a friendly hand.

Because Chris brought FOUR friends, I wasn’t sure at first which one he wanted me to meet.  But after the introduction and handshake through the window, I was pretty sure it was him. At the end of the evening I sat down at Chris’s table and chatted with all of them.  Pre-hub shone forth.  He told me about the time he road his bike down a mountain in Hawaii.  Bike rider, huh?  He must be the one.

In early December I invited Chris to a concert at my church.  He brought his warm-smiling, friendly-handshaking, biking-riding friend.  He asked me if I would like to meet them for breakfast beforehand.  I did.  We had breakfast together, went to church, then did a little Christmas shopping.  No one wanted the day to end.  I mentioned that I was about to paint my condo.  Pre-hub said, “I’ll help you paint if you help me put up my Christmas tree.”  Deal!

So hub and I became acquainted with our backs to one another – him painting one wall and me painting the opposite wall.  As we chatted I realized that we had stuff in common.  And he often would say exactly what I was thinking.  I am sufficiently in love with myself to appreciate a man who thinks like me.

“I like to cook,” he said.  “How about if you and your daughter help me put up my tree and then stay for dinner?” I LIKE TO COOK?  That racked him up some serious points.

Then the day came when the painting was done.  As he was putting on his boots to leave I thought, This is it.  It’s now or never.  Turned out to be now.  As he was heading for the door he turned and asked me out on an official date.  I told you about that date when I told you about scarf from heaven.

We had been dating for about a month when he said, “I can’t believe no one has snatched you up.”  “I didn’t want to be snatched up,” I replied.  “Well,” he declared, “I am going to try.”   I was surprised by the smile that spread across my heart.  I didn’t think I would react that way.  But who can resist a man with a plan?

I wanted to make sure he loved the real me and not the me of his imagination.  So I asked him in an e-mail what he liked about me.

Here’s what he wrote:

When I look at you, I see:
the tender, unquestioning love of a mother;
God’s grace– a warm, compassionate, giving heart;
a heart in search of a true soul mate;
a gifted writer, speaker and leader;
a friend;
someone who likes me for being me;
an inspiration;
that little girl smile, the woman in your eyes that always gets to me;
passion;
home;
someone I want to know all about.

Okay, so he liked more than my looks, even so, I had been a single mom for 9 years.  My plan had been to delay dating and remarriage until my daughter went off to college.  But God was changing my mind about that and here I was with an eleven year old, considering marriage to someone I had only known for four months.  It was risky business.

So he quoted a Brooks & Dunn song:

“I know forever is a long, long time for a girl to put her heart on the line.  Trust is a tightrope that we all have to walk; but don’t be afraid.  I won’t let you fall.  With a little faith, mountains move.  I feel that you and me, we can’t lose.”

And then he laid it out for me:

The bottom line is….

1. Do you trust me to guard and protect our love and our relationship?
2. Do you trust me to guard and protect my family?
3. Do you think I will serve God with you?  … fix my eyes on the Lord?
4. Do you think I will provide a safe, secure and responsible home and
finances for us?
5. Do you believe that I will remain devoted to you?  to God?
6. Do you love me?
7. Do you believe that I love you?

#7 was the tricky one – hadn’t had a whole lot of experience with that one.

Even so, he bought a shiny diamond, got on his knee and made a stellar proposal.

We were married in a tiny chapel on a Friday morning.  April 6, 2001. There were 15 people in attendance – my daughter, two of my six sisters and a small assortment of co-workers and friends.  My dad had a balcony seat – watching and smiling from heaven.  My mom was on a cruise in the Seychelles.  The hub’s parents had health problems that made it too difficult for them to make the drive.  (On May 20 we had a “blessing ceremony” in his boyhood church so our entire families could celebrate with us.)

witness

My daughter served as an official witness. Days before the wedding she said, “Mom, you have to realize that it is going to be hard for me to share you after having your undivided attention for so long.”  I realized it.  And it all worked out. We still had plenty of mom and daughter time, and all these years later we still have our annual mother/daughter road trip.

After the tiny chapel ceremony we had a luncheon at hub’s house/by then OUR house.

Me, the Hub, the Best Man/Best Neighbor Chris

Scan 5

Sneaking a kiss when no one was looking.  No one but the photographer, and now you.

The dress?  My friend bought it at an estate sale for $5.  She thought her daughter – who was my daughter’s age (11) – might be able to wear it some day.  It fit well enough and I liked it so it was a done deal.  Hub proposed at the end of March and we were married two weeks later – not a lot of time for dress shopping.  Plus I loved the whole old, new borrowed vibe of it.  AND I was way more interested in the marriage than I was in the wedding.  The pearls were a wedding gift from the hub.

It has been 14 years and I am happy to report that the hub has done a really good job of numbers 1 through 5.

As for #7?  We had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants the other night to celebrate.  I told him about the file I found with all the lovey things he had written back then.  He said, “It was all true then and it is all true now.”

And right then, with a delicious spoonful of chocolate pot de creme swirling in my mouth I realized that after 14 years of marriage I can finally answer #7 with a confident “YES!”

What has he gotten out of the deal?  Well, in his words I am “a good little cook.”  And when the nurse said he needed more fiber in his diet as he was coming out from under the colonoscopy anesthesia, I took it to heart and immediately planted two raspberry bushes.  Because raspberries have a lot of fiber.  I’m looking out for his colon and he appreciates it.

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Plus, as he says, I “tickle” him (make him laugh for those who are unfamiliar with the expression).  And I take really good care of our friends.  All in all it’s been a pretty good deal for both of us.  But I got the better deal.

(Originally posted 4/6/2015)

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love

All In

My daughter went to the library this afternoon to study and ended up writing instead. Thank God because I haven’t written anything for NaBloPoMo today.

So, with no ado at all, it is my pleasure to bring you a guest post, written by my daughter, a chip off her momma’s block:

It was years ago on a retreat that I was first challenged to look at the book of Genesis 3 and what it means for women in an entirely new light. In verse 16, in the aftermath of the encounter with the Serpent, God says to Eve, “Yet your desire will be for your husband, and He will rule over you.” This is part of the curse of mankind, one of the consequences of that original sin. It is often referenced as a Biblical defense for man’s authority over a woman, but maybe, just maybe, the words aren’t so much a command as they are a prophesy, a foretelling of the way things will play out for humanity. God isn’t commanding husbands to rule over their wives or men to rule over women, He’s acknowledging that the downfall of woman is her desire for man, that throughout time and generations her desperation will lead her away from God down paths of destruction. I see it all the time. I hear it in the stories of the women who come in for counseling at the practice where I intern- it’s one of the strongest and most consistent themes there is. We as women are so prone to live out the sometimes implicit sometimes explicit ideal that it is better to have any man than to not have a man at all. We make a lot of bad choices because of it. We put up with a lot of crap because of it. We open ourselves and those around us up to a world of hurt because of it. We end up in horrible situations we refuse to leave because of it. Man rules over us because we let him.

The new perspective on Genesis takes it one step further to the possibility that God didn’t actually banish Eve from the garden. Chapter 3 verse 23 says, “therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.” Verse 24 continues, “So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned over direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” Never is the woman mentioned. Never is the pronoun “them” used. No, I don’t know for sure that Eve wasn’t banished. Yes, it is possible that God intended for this curse to be all-encompassing and that His inclusion of woman either goes without saying or got lost in translation. But it seems to me that Eve may have had another option. If Eve was not specifically banished from the garden, she could have stayed with God. And if she could have stayed with God, her separation from Him was a choice. What if the only reason Eve left the garden is because she followed Adam out? I realize that Eve’s sin would have necessitated some sort of separation from God, so I’m not fully convinced that this is the way it all went down, but I think it’s a question worth considering because whether Eve left the garden by choice or not, I believe that we as women do have a choice. We have the option to stay with God, to choose him over men. But it won’t be easy.

There’s nothing wrong with men themselves. They are not the problem, here. Men are wonderful and uniquely created; loved by God and meant to reflect His image just as women are loved by God and meant to reflect His image. In fact, we need both man and woman for the full reflection. Man and woman together make up the complete image. God created man and woman for relationship with each other. He loves marriage and He loves family, so not only is there nothing wrong with men themselves, there’s nothing wrong with the desire for romantic relationships with them. A relationship between a man and a woman who are both following after Christ is a beautiful, sacred thing. But there is something undeniably wrong with consciously or subconsciously putting the desire for a man above all else, forsaking all standards for the sake of having someone to love.

This is my task for the present: not doing that exact thing. I hear God asking me over and over again to stay with Him and I want to more than anything, but it’s hard. It’s hard even for me, who constantly witnesses the disappointment that results from “any man is better than no man” mentality. It’s hard for me, who’s more passionate about standards and choosing good men and never settling than I am about a lot of things. I had an incredible man who was following after Jesus, and now I don’t. I thought the memory of my relationship with him would make it easier to not settle. I know what a good thing looks like now. And yet. Yet, I still struggle with the temptation to settle for the sake of companionship. Most men who show interest don’t phase me. But then there are the men who have something attractive about them, something that resonates with me, though they may not follow Jesus or love Him the way I do. These are the “good” men, though they’re not the godly men. They are the men who have me questioning everything, thinking “not having a partner to have my back is hard” and “maybe I’m being too picky anyway” and “perhaps having a companion is better than not having one.” Wait. No. That’s not right.

This is the mental space where I’ve been fighting and have to keep fighting. A “good” man will never be someone who can walk beside me spiritually or be my partner in ministry. He will never be about the same things, or want to live the same kind of life that I do. I will inevitably sacrifice part of who God has created and called me in joining my life with his. I will inevitably abandon some of my precious intimacy with the Lord in following him. Is it better to have a man like this than to not have one at all? I know the answer is no, but whether motivated by a desire for something as simple as a night out and physical chemistry or as big as assurance of a future that includes marriage and family, the temptation these days is to say yes to this kind of man. Sometimes that yes seems pretty harmless, but I can play the tape to the end. Those paths aren’t for me. I won’t let man rule over me. God is asking me over and over to stay with Him. He’s asking me if I trust Him; if He’s enough. He is. He’s more than enough. I just have to remember that.

#loftyideas  #Itaughthereverythingsheknows  #allin

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love

My heart is broken today.

Experts say the minimum age to allow your children to start dating is 16. Those who start dating before they are 16 are much more likely to become sexually active before graduating from high school than those who start dating after age 16.

But I gave my daughter something better than a minimum age, back when she was in high school, I gave her a minimum standard. I told her she could start dating when she was mature enough to hold another person’s heart in her hands without wrecking it.

It takes a lot of love and maturity to be truly careful with someone’s heart.

I wish ALL mommas would teach their children to hold hearts with the utmost care.

To not use and abuse.

To not bide their time in a “lie.”

To see the holding of another’s heart as a precious, sacred privilege.

I wish ALL young men would take the same care that my daughter takes.

My friend Dale used to say that he could tell within 3 dates whether a woman was right for him. If he wasn’t feeling “it” by the third date he would end things right then, before the woman’s heart became attached.

By “it” he meant potential marriage.

If most men know within 3 dates whether or not a woman is right for them, then anything beyond a third date is just plain selfish.

And reckless.

Because you can’t detach an attached heart without doing some damage, without leaving some scar tissue.

It seems so unfair that a beautiful, kindhearted young woman, who has always held the hearts of others so carefully, has had her own heart smashed into a thousand pieces.

The only thing that comes close to the excruciating, soul-crushing pain of a breakup is watching someone you love walk through it.

Even when you can see a bright future ahead.

Next time a young man comes along I’m going to want to advise her to bail after the third date.  Make him work for it. Make him prove he really wants her before she allows him into her heart.

I’m going to want to build a protective hedge around her.

But then I’ll think about my husband and how impressed I was that he was brave enough to open his heart to me after all he had been through.

And I’ll remember that Jesus knows something about giving one’s heart to the reckless, the clueless, the unworthy.

And yet He keeps taking the risk.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

 

 

 

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life

“Face”

I met him in the weight room at the men’s intramural building. At first he just stared at me. And then one day he approached. He did not introduce himself, he just started bantering. I was cordial but clearly disinterested.

He continued to approach daily. He didn’t ask my name, just called me “Face”.

I was focused on working out and found him annoying.

And then I found him mildly amusing.

Eventually he wore me down. I agreed to dinner.

It was the date from h-e-double-hockey-sticks.

I was dressed in clean jeans and a cute t-shirt – my college date uniform – when he arrived to pick me up.

“Is that what you’re wearing? I’m taking you somewhere nice.”

Back into my room I huffed to change. The pickings were slim. I was a college student who had to ration her bagels for crying out loud. I should have just gone back out there and told him to take me as is, but I managed to scrape together an outfit.

“Somewhere nice” turned out to be the Playboy Club.

“Um, no.”

This time it was his turn to try again.

We ended up back near campus at the Pantree.

I looked at the menu for naught – he told me what I could order.

He started talking about how good-looking our children would be because of my “face.”

Then he reached his fork across the table and started EATING FROM MY PLATE.

Ew.

I was no longer hungry.

Needless to say, the date did not end with a kiss.

We continued to chat in the gym.

He asked me to accompany him to a resort in Colorado Springs for a medical conference.

“Just as a friend,” he promised. “All the other docs are taking a spouse or a date.”

A long weekend at a posh resort in Colorado Springs sounded kinda’ nice (I must admit). I finally agreed. Until I learned we would be sharing a room.

“Sorry, can’t.”

“All the nurses at the hospital say you’re crazy. They say I’m one of the most eligible bachelors in Lansing.”

He was thirty and an established doctor. He knew what his life was going to be. I was a 20 year old college student with possibilities still in front of me. I certainly wasn’t ready to be his good-looking-baby machine.

“Maybe you should date one of them.”

 

 

 

 

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life

The Devil Worship that is the Modern Dating Scene

My daughter came home from an enjoyable day of work yesterday with something to report. She had lunch with two co-workers – Becca, a 23-year-old who is well on her way to becoming engaged, and Camille, a 26-year-old who is single and wanting desperately to be married.

Camille lamented that her mom and others keep telling her she is too picky, that she’ll never find a husband that way. She was singing my daughter’s song. As the two of them commiserated and considered reassessing their standards, Becca chimed in:

“Don’t change!  Stay picky!”

She closed her eyes and paused for a second to come up with a descriptor powerful enough to convey how passionately she felt, then continued with gusto:

“Stay pure and untainted by the DEVIL WORSHIP that is the modern dating scene!”

God bless them all.

Later my daughter added that Camille’s mom often tells Camille that she is looking for someone like her dad and, unfortunately, they don’t make men like him anymore.

“So, great, Camille’s mom got a great husband but too bad for Camille.”

“I don’t think that’s what her mom meant,” I said. “I don’t think she was saying they don’t make good men anymore, I think she was saying men are different now, they’re more girly.” (My daughter knows that by girly I mean hip and metrosexual.)

“There’s nothing wrong with girly men,” my daughter interjected.

“I know, and I know you like girly men, but if Camille’s dad is a manly man and that is what Camille is looking for, she might not find him. I think that’s what her mom was trying to say. They don’t make good manly men anymore, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make good girly men.”

There are still good men out there, they’re just a different kind of good.  Right?

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life

Public Service Announcement: It Ought to Come with a Warning

Last I heard, six partners or more is considered medically promiscuous. That’s six total partners – consecutive and/or concurrent.

I grew up with a girl who became sexually involved with a man from the neighborhood. She was sixteen, he was thirty-two and married – he said his wife was a bitch. She was too young and naive to know that the wife is always a bitch, and never that he is simply a cheating bastard. So she gave him her virginity and he gave her HPV (human papillomavirus) – the gift that keeps on giving. He gifted her with one of the strains that causes recurrent genital warts.

She was not promiscuous, medically speaking, and yet she still contracted a disease. Because it only takes one rogue partner.

I remember how much pain she was in when the doctor burned them off, how she couldn’t sit down.

After all that, the warts came back.

She is married now and avoids intercourse with her husband when she has an outbreak, which is good, I suppose, but HPV is contagious even when there are no lesions present.

She is lucky, though, because the strains that manifest as warts are usually not the strains that cause cervical cancer.  Those strains have no visible signs.

I learned about the connection between HPV and cervical dysplasia/cervical cancer years ago at a conference on the epidemic of STDs among adolescents. I also learned from one of the speakers – a doctor specializing in adolescent health with a practice in the Boston area – that the AMA (American Medical Association) made a decision to NOT share that connection with patients.

My head reeled, sitting there in the audience, as my stomach and my naive trust absorbed the blow: Doctors withhold information at the direction of the AMA?

I raised my hand, “How can they not tell?”

“There’s nothing doctors can do about it, there’s no cure for HPV, so why get patients upset?”

“Well there is something patients can do about it,” I countered, “they can choose to be less promiscuous, they can make informed decisions about their sexual behavior.”

“There are people who don’t want them to be less promiscuous,” he shrugged. “Sex is a huge money-making industry.”

Don’t get me wrong, the speaker is a good guy who takes time away from his practice to travel around the country speaking to kids about the risks casual sex poses to their health. He was just telling it like it is.

As I drove home from the conference I thought about friends who had cervical dysplasia and who had no idea they were at risk of developing cervical cancer; who had no idea of its connection to HPV. I thought of the “medically promiscuous” teens and young adults who came to the center for free pregnancy tests. I thought of the young client I had seen recently, the one who had already had seven different partners and she was only seventeen.

I started to sob those I-need-windshield-wipers-for-my-eyeballs kind of sobs.  “Lord, you have to warn them,” I begged.

I shared what I learned at the conference with the volunteers back at the pregnancy center. One of them, a nurse, confided that she was diagnosed with cervical dysplasia – a pre-cancerous condition – and she had to really press and insist before her doctor would tell her the cause of her condition – HPV.

She was a virgin when she married her husband and her husband had had only one previous sex partner – his first wife. So how did she contract HPV? His first wife was unfaithful, hence their divorce.

A few years later I traveled to Houston for a conference on adolescent sexual health. The main speaker told the story of a man whose wife – her patient – died of cervical cancer at Scott and White. He remarried. His second wife also became a patient at Scott and White and she also died of cervical cancer. The man became angry, blamed the hospital. The hospital pointed out that they were not the common denominator, he was.

Testing showed that HPV had made a comfy home for itself just under the surface of his skin. No warts, no visible signs on his body. He had lost two wives to a virus he did not know he carried.

One of the aims of that conference in Houston – though it was not advertised as such – was to introduce a new vaccine that was about to hit the market, a vaccine that would protect against six of the over one hundred strains of HPV. The keynote speaker was on the team that developed the vaccine.

Not too long afterward, I received a postcard in the mail urging me to “Tell Someone.” It was from the maker of the vaccine.

This is the postcard I received in the mail, to which I added some of the facts I learned at the medial conference.

This is the postcard I received in the mail, perhaps you received one, too, minus the facts, which I added based on the information I was given at the medial conference.

Oh yeah, now you want me to tell someone, now that there is money to be made.

I’m not even going to go into the pros and considerable cons of the vaccine. Not today anyway.

Here’s the bottom line: You can be a sixteen year old virgin, have sex with one rogue guy and get HPV. You can save yourself for marriage and marry someone who had only been with his (cheating) wife, and end up with HPV. So how the heck do the “medically promiscuous” think they are going to escape disease?

The American Lung Association (or maybe it’s the American Cancer Society) has been running frequent ads featuring people who were filmed speaking with voices distorted by tracheostomies and showing torsos maimed by surgeries and painful lung drainage tube removals, who have since died, in an effort to convince smokers to quit smoking. Though I hate to watch the ads, I am glad they are being shown so frequently and I pray the campaign will be highly successful.

If it is, then I pray it will be followed by a similar campaign featuring infertile couples (last I heard, infertility rates were up 300% – much of which is due to scarring from pelvic inflammatory disease caused by chlamydia and other sexually transmitted bacterial infections); featuring women fighting cervical cancer, men suffering from epididymitis; men and women battling virulent oral cancers caused by HPV, etc.  Show young and old what can come of the fun, cool, casual sex they see on tv. Perhaps urge them to do what God told them to do in the first place:  Keep their (future) marriage beds pure.  Without mentioning God, of course, so people will listen. Keep it purely scientific, without giving props to the One behind the science.

Sex ought to come with a warning – a parental warning, a medical warning, a societal warning, like it used to – before infertility rates were sky high and STDs were epidemic.

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