Saturday, May 4, 2019
A few months ago, when Gov. Cuomo announced the passing of his legislation on full term abortion, my heart sank. Living in the state of New York, it made me want to move when the governor said he hoped New York would lead the rest of the country. I prayed the exact opposite—that states would begin to adopt laws to protect the unborn, and a few Southern states did so.
Friends tried to console me that it only pertained to cases when the mother’s life was at risk, but that just isn’t true. The statistics prove it. Less than 4% of abortions occur to save the life of the mother. The rest 92% are elected out of convenience or as a means of birth control or because of pressure from boyfriends, husbands or families and Planned Parenthood.
Yes, Planned Parenthood promotes abortions. I know. I was subject to their lies while I was a young woman. I went in to take a pregnancy test back when you couldn’t buy them in the neighborhood drug store. They called me in and told me I was pregnant and it would cost more for an abortion. Being Catholic, I declined. They didn’t like my response and tried to convince me it was just a clump of cell. I still said “no.” As I was about to leave the facility, they called me back in and said they made a mistake, that I wasn’t pregnant. They told me all I needed was a DNC, not an abortion. I went for the DNC and to this day wonder if I was pregnant.
But that was many years ago and today I want to sing the praises of Focus on the Family. I am so thankful to them for hosting Live from New York. The pastor of Times Square Church prayed a powerful prayer for the event and many testimonies were given by those who were survivors of abortions. Singer Francesca Battistelli opened with the theme song from Unplanned and actress Ashley Bratcher who played Abby Johnson gave an interview. Her story was incredible. When the producer of the movie Unplanned asked her to play the part of Abby, he warned her that she might lose her career, but she felt called to play the role. Four days later, when she called her mom about the role, her mom started crying. She told Ashley that she had been on the operating table waiting to get an abortion when she saw a pregnant woman and felt sick. Her mom then decided not to get the abortion and told Ashley, “That was you I decided not to abort!” What an amazing testimony of God’s grace and how his plans and ways are greater than ours.
A pregnant Abby Johnson herself encouraged the crowds to continue in their efforts and maintained that life would have the ultimate victory. A four D sonogram of her baby in the womb was televised on the screens, the highlight of the event. I am so thankful this event took place in New York. Thank you, Focus on the Family, for not turning your back on this ungodly state and thinking we are all of the same mind as Governor Cuomo. We are not! And the crowd of 10,000 today in Times Square proved that!
Posted by Anita Estes at 5/04/2019
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
This is the poem, minus the last verse, that was picked to be displayed for the Dutchess County Arts Council Show on Dutchess Turnpike in Poughkeepsie,NY. The show had some great poems and beautiful artwork and is being displayed until April 28th. I particularly liked the poem my neighbor Bo Burke wrote about an Owl and the accompanying painting. My favorite painting accompanied the poem "Dandelions". Since this is one of my older poems, I added another verse at the end to update it. Let me know what you think. You might think it controversial.
By Anita Estes
By Anita Estes
Low tide lulls me to sleep;
Lapping at the fringes of my mind.
Wrapped in her blanket of rhythmic rocking
Back and forth in time.
The tide breaks in
and calls to memory;
The spiritual mother,
Who holds me in her hands,
Encompassing me in her arms;
Stretching far and wide,
Across the horizon line.
Encircled in her embrace,
The song of lapping waters
Soothes my soul.
Engulfed in the womb;
Like days of old.
Muffled sounds caress my ears,
Linked to my human beginnings;
In the waters of my forming,
Inside my mother’s womb.
Why then Mother,
Do you raise your hand against me?
and create for me a merciless tomb. (added verse)
Posted by Anita Estes at 3/27/2019
Sunday, March 17, 2019
A wave of nostalgia blindsided me as I took down the last of my students’ artwork from the show. As I pulled out the last of the pushpins, I realized that I wouldn’t be doing this again as I’m retiring this year. God had blessed me so much with this career as an art teacher. I made wonderful friends with some of my colleagues, had fun teaching, made a good salary, learned a lot about art and teaching kids. As I thought about how I happened on this job, I stood in awe of God’s amazing provision and timing.
One afternoon after returning from picking up my kids from school, I listened to my answering machine and heard the rich. deep voice of a man asking me to interview at a school called, The Circle of Courage. I figured it was a private school, but I didn’t’ remember applying for the position of an art teacher. The next day I discovered it turned out to be a public special education school. They had seen my application on-line. Since I had my undergraduate degree in both art and my masters in special education, I got the job, which turned out to be a god-send.
Not only had God provided me with a job, he brought great colleagues around me who became good friends. Yet that day of the art show deinstallation, I wasn’t reflecting on that particular aspect of my job. I was thinking about God’s faithfulness to me over the years. It brought on more waves of nostalgia as I reflected on how deeply God had blessed us.
My husband and I started out poor, living in Vermont on a shoestring budget. He ate a lot of bologna sandwiches and I cooked many casseroles. Though I had a part time job teaching art, at that time Vermont paid teachers less than forty of the other fifty states. As one realtor proclaimed, we were church mouse poor.
When we moved back to New York with a beautiful new baby, we lived with our mother in law for a while. Then we rented for a number of years after that. I kept a tight grip on the money and pinched every penny. We finally bought our first house, an 800 square foot former one room school house divided into five tiny rooms: Kitchen and breakfast nook, two bedrooms, living room and small bathroom. While crowded with three children, both my husband and I have fond memories of the house and our time with the children.
As I drove home and entered our present home, I was very thankful for our house of nearly thirty years, but nostalgic for the times our children were younger and grew up here. While they never had a lot of material things, I always tried to do as many free things as possible with them and tried to raise them with large doses of love and Christian principles. While we had our fair share of problems, challenges and crisis, God always saw us through.
My husband and I just celebrated our forty first year of marriage, and I saw the tremendous blessing of the Lord for persevering, being faithful and staying married through thick and thin. Not only did we celebrate our anniversary, but I celebrated my sixty-sixth birthday! Perhaps all of this celebrating brought on my thankfulness and nostalgic waves, which began to subside as I contemplated the wonderful life God has given me.
Throughout all of these years I have seen God open the heavens and pour out a blessing—in my job, with friends, family, children, career, ministry and church. Just the other day my two daughters, son-in-law and one-and-a-half-year-old grandson went to a museum together for my birthday and out to dinner. It was a wonderful time together! The week before I had a delicious dinner that my daughter in law cooked for me, while we played with our other two grandchildren. I say this not to boast of God's blessing , but to attest to HIs faithfulness.
These are just samples of how richly God has blessed me and my family, not because we’re special, but because of his great love and faithfulness. Jesus asks, “What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9-11).
God desires to bless, but we must follow His principles. They are not a guarantee of material blessing, but of spiritual blessing. He desires to give us what is good for us by his standard. One Bible version translates good as God giving more of His Holy Spirit, which then intercedes and helps us to have the power to obey God and His Word. As we obey godly principals of trusting God with our money, our relationships, our emotions, our careers, our children and family, He pours out the blessings. Sometimes they are material, but often not. It took many years of sowing good seeds to reap a good return. Years of heartache, loneliness, struggles with my husband, children, lack of career and money brought me to my knees and a deeper relationship with God. Over the years, I found that He is so merciful, loving and gracious and wants all of us to live in His presence, which is the greatest blessing of all! Though I may get nostalgic sometimes, I know these are the best of times because God is here with me in the present. He’s just waiting for me to turn to Him and remember He is a good, good Father.
Posted by Anita Estes at 3/17/2019
Friday, February 15, 2019
February is considered the month for love as Valentine's Day falls right in the middle of it. While articles abound on the existence of the monk who may have secretly married couples when it was outlawed, this one will look at the inner workings of love. Christians in America are failing miserably at understanding what true love is all about as more than 50 percent of these marriages wind up in divorce, higher than the secular statistics. Why?Fundamentally, Christians have bought into the idea that marriage is all about personal fulfillment, but that's not what "true love" is really all about. Let's look at what the Bible teaches us about love. The most famous scripture comes from the letter to the Corinthians who had confused the idea of love to include not only sexual promiscuity, but depravity. In order to clear up their misunderstanding, the apostle Paul wrote what is perhaps considered the greatest treatise on true love.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 he states: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. " What a statement! Certainly no human being can reach this kind of perfect, godly love. True. It can only be accomplished by knowing Him.
But is this agape love achievable or even advisable in marriage? Certainly we don't want to be doormats to our mates, nor unattracted to them. While Eros, or sexual love is indeed part of marriage and God ordained, it's not enough to sustain a marriage for the long haul. If marriages are to survive, this kind of unselfish love needs to be the basis or foundation. The only way one can achieve this "agape" love is from God. He is the one who reaches out in perfect love to us and brings us into the Kingdom of Love, where He dwells. It is only in having a deep, meaningful relationship with God that we can live out this kind of unconditional love with our partners: being kind when we want to retaliate, not dishonoring our spouses, nor seeking our own happiness above our mates or not getting irritated by the many annoying things they may do. Indeed a high calling, but one we can achieve as we draw the water of life from the source: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Yet as the woman at the well said to Jesus, " Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?" (John 4:11). The first step is getting to know God and His love. Accept the gift of His love. Then learn about God and from His Word, which will give you a deeper understanding of who God is and His love. Prayer and daily time with the God of these vast resources of love will fill your well so that you can draw on this living water when needed. Only a marriage that utilizes these resources from above will attain the true purpose God has for your marriage and your life. And that is the purest kind of true love.
Posted by Anita Estes at 2/15/2019
Saturday, February 2, 2019
Propelling this two ton metallic monster
along grey, misty morning pavement; nature prevails
Reducing the beast to a caterpillar crawl, inching its way.
Like a blind badger's eyes, straining
to penetrate the shrouded veil.
Searching for that guiding white line, to keep from
hurling headlong to heaven, before I belong there.
The artist's eye wanders fascinated at the images created by the mist, drawn into the dappled light and shadowed canvas.
Lost in fall's foggy fragmented images and all too clear memories
of speeding tickets, not heading to posted speeding zones,
These eyes do not behold the beauty of red stop signs or caution,
Justifying lawlessness when..
Racing tires jerk me back to reality as tires skid on scattered stones,
I tell myself "Slow down, you're going too fast, got to make the morning last." Echoes in the chambers of my mind.
When rushing headlong,
Keep those eyes focused on the white guidelines.
They keep you on track to your destination.
Misty mornings train more than just the artist's eye.
Posted by Anita Estes at 2/02/2019
Sunday, January 20, 2019
The time of justice is drawing nigh. It is racing towards us like a herd of stampeding stallions neighing and thundering destruction with the pounding of their hooves. The earth shakes with their approach. Time is speeding up as lives are crammed with more and more things to do and own. The love of gold, pleasure and power has driven many into the herd. Our actions have swept many into a lifestyle of destruction.
The prophets of the Old Testament warned Israel of her impending demise. Inspired by God, Ezekiel spoke these words, “The end is now upon you and I will unleash my anger against you. I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. I will not look on you with pity or spare you” (Ezekiel 7:3-4). God judged Israel for her “detestable practices” such as child sacrifice, worshipping other gods, arrogance, love of gold and hardness of heart toward God and His ways. More and more, America reminds me of Israel. Not to say there aren’t pockets of true believers, there are. I believe they are part of why God has not judged us yet as a nation, but as the prevailing society becomes less tolerant of Christianity, we hover closer to the end.
As I write this, New York state is considering a bill that would “dehumanize” the unborn. A law which states that a fetus is not “viable” till it is born, opens up the door to not only late term abortion, but no rights of protection for them until the day of their birth. The consequences could be chilling. Already, millions of abortions have been performed in America since the Roe v. Wade case, though there has been a slight decline lately. With a law like this, the language is trying to convince Americans that the unborn are not human even at nine months old! This practice is surely detestable in God’s eyes. Even the Native Americans, who some wrongfully viewed as savages, knew that a child was human from its inception. When an infant was born, they considered it a year old.
Yet abortion is only one of the evils that have permeated our society. What of the rise of adult and child photography, sex trafficking, school shootings, opioid addictions, alcoholism, murders, idolatry (worshipping other gods) and kidnapping? The statistics for internet pornography are staggering. Every second twenty-eight people view pornography and over $3,000 is spent every second. Many marriages are destroyed because of this evil and people’s lives ruined. And what about the growing number of deaths due to drugs? In 2018 over 72,000 people died from opioid overdoses and it has become the number one cause of death. We are losing our youth to addictions of all kinds. Here’s another evil. Sex trafficking around the world is the fastest growing criminal enterprise with forty million people being traded around the world against their will every year! These statistics are sobering and illustrate the demoralized state of our country and the world. (I could go on, but the point of this article is to wake you up to a spiritual reality, not depress you.)
God judged Israel for sins less than these. He declared, “The day is here. It has come. Doom has burst forth as a rod has budded, arrogance has blossomed” (Ezekiel 4). God was judging Israel for arrogance? Yes. Well there is a plentiful crop of that here in America, especially in New York. Just the other day I received an e-mail about a comic strip series DC comic is about to publish. The super hero, based on a sun god, saves the day, while his blundering side kick, Jesus Christ, is made out to be a fool! How more arrogant and blasphemous can you get?
Before you think God will not judge America because of our Christian heritage, learn a lesson from history. Israel had been the apple of God’s eye, but He allowed and actually called for its destruction because of Israel’s despicable ways. Jerusalem and the surrounding lands laid waste for hundreds of years, occupied by jackals and wandering nomads. If America and the church continues this downward spiral we are in eminent danger. So is all lost for the fate of Americans? Absolutely not!
It’s never too late while you still have life. Repentance is key, even though it might appear to be a message like the sidewalk prophets in New York City who preach doom and gloom unless you repent. There’s nothing wrong with the message, it’s just the way they deliver it. Repentance and change are still sorely needed. Just look at the state of our country and you will know it’s true—families in disarray, rebellious teens, mental illness on the rise, an opioid crisis, gun violence, the rise of pornography and so one. Yet is it only the unbeliever who must repent? No. Churchgoing Americans need to take a look at the spiritual state of their soul.
In Israel, like America, the church had been diluted with man made rules and a form of religion that was void of God and His ways. God judged all of Israel and allowed the temple to be defiled because of their great sin of idolatry and pride. “I will put an end to the pride of the mighty and their sanctuaries will be desecrated” (Ezekiel 7:24b). Though the Babylonians desecrated the temple in Jerusalem, by destroying it and removing all the precious items, the Israelites and the priests had already defiled the temple by their practices. “With their backs to the temple of the Lord and their faces to the east, they were bowing down to the sun” (sound familiar? Eastern mysticism, DC comics etc.…) (Ezekiel 8: 16).
We have allowed God’s church in America to be defiled by participating in the same sins as the world: abortion, divorce, pornography, fornication (sex outside of marriage), adultery (sex outside of marriage) etc. Perhaps we have not participated in these evils, but if we are part and parcel of the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, slothfulness and wrath then a cleansing in our temple is in order. Repentance, which simply means to turn away from our sin and follow God and His ways, is sorely needed. We are most fortunate; while we have breath, there is still time for us.
What is needed? For some a complete turnaround, for others a softening of the heart, surrendering to God’s will, reading our Bibles on a daily basis and prayer, just to name a few. Let’s just look at two key practices for now: Bible reading and prayer. Lifeway Research did a study and discovered that only one in five church goers read their Bible daily and one in five never read it. Only 45% read it once a week. This has made for Bible illiteracy. If you don’t read the Bible you don’t know the truth. You won’t be able to guide your life by biblical principles. You can easily be swayed on important moral issues and navigate over to a nonbiblical world view. How about prayer? According to a different Life Way study, the number one problem in evangelical churches today is a lack of personal, fervent prayer on an ongoing basis. Jesus himself called his church “A house of Prayer,” but ours have grown cold and dispassionate. So the solution? “Whoever would love his life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil (what God calls evil, not the world) and do good” (I Peter 10-11).
So what is good? Read my next post to find out.
Posted by Anita Estes at 1/20/2019
Saturday, January 5, 2019
Once again, the trip to Quito Ecuador was a thrilling and eye opening journey. Unlike the mission’s trip I took ten years ago, my husband and I saw both the high-end side of Ecuador and the deep poverty. We learned from our host that the many street people who approach your car to sell all sorts of items from lanterns to candy and fruit to nuts, are mainly immigrants from Venezuela. They have traversed the land by foot for over 1,700 kilometers which translates to about a thousand miles!! Political upheaval and increasing loss of jobs and food has forced many to migrate to Ecuador just to be able to make some centavos or if they’re lucky, a few dollars a day. Being my husband’s first trip to the land of the equator, he was deeply impacted by the poverty.
As we traversed the land from the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World (pictured below)and the Monument to the Equator then to Old Quito (pictured here to the left)
we also took in the breath-taking Andes Mountains or more specifically the
Cordillera Real, ( Royal Range) as they are called in Ecuador. The trip from Quito to Tonsupa involved a nine-hour journey traversing dangerous, switch backed roads, parts of the rain forest and many small villages. It is here where we saw devastating poverty. People lived in shacks that we would not even allow our dogs or chickens to inhabit. Seeing this year’s ago, I was prompted to help more children and now sponsor a child from Guayaquil. Yet Ecuador is not the poorest of the South American countries. According to our host, it is second in its wealth, which we also got to enjoy.
In Tonsupa we stayed in a resort right on the beach with a spectacular view
of the Pacific Ocean from our fourth-floor balcony. Fan palms and coconut trees graced our view, as well as many beautiful hibiscus, roses and orange stars. My daughter in law told me that it was a place where the rich Ecuadorians vacation. Even though our condominium did not have the services which we are accustomed to in America, like air conditioning in the bedroom and towels, I saw that this area was indeed for the rich, with its guards and gated entrances. In addition, the resort boasted six swimming pools, waterfalls, sprays and a hot tub. I met a young boy who attended the International School in Quito and he spoke excellent English as well as Spanish and French. Indeed, the Ecuadorian rich frequented here.
The beach (la playa) was magnificent with its palm trees, warm, gentle waves, turquoise hue and pavilions for guests to lounge in and around. The plethora of places to eat and drink right on the beach is in stark contrast to most American beaches in addition to its lack of life guards blowing their whistles. Yet the Spanish music is loud in some areas and makes up for the lack of loud whistles, yet somehow it is more fitting and festive. Here, many also come to sell their wares—jewelry, carved wooden items, ceviche (a cold fish soup that is delicious) coconut milk (which I got sick on last time) and of course ice-cream, which is on every street corner in almost every town and village!
Whether at the beach or in Quito, the various foods are abundant and delicious from different rice
One of my favorite events in Ecuador is attending a New Year’s Eve Celebration on the beach. It is truly like no other!! All day long they set off fireworks to get ready for the REALLY BIG SHOW, which takes place up and down the beach as far as you can see for over an hour. This year, the hundreds of lanterns launched from the beach added to an already spectacular celebration—the burning of the various Fugueos de Anos, figures made of paper mâché fashioned into cartoon characters, political figures and the like, families dressed in white to bring in the New Year and get their photos taken on the beach or in the water, and of course the Latin beat music of salsa, merengue, and Pasacalle.
While many were out drinking, we didn’t want to participate in that commotion so we brought in the New Year with Margaritas, which turned out not to actually have tequila in it, but only the mix. It
While this is the rich and festive side of Ecuador, we will not easily forget the less fortunate. My
husband and I plan on doing something to help the poor both there and where we live. I’m very pleased to sponsor a boy from Ecuador, and I would like to do more for him and his family. I started a Helping Hands Club in my school to help make the students aware of the less fortunate than themselves, even though I work in an impoverished school district. My husband plans on doing some volunteering locally and returning to Ecuador. We are waiting on the Lord and seeking His direction. In the meantime, we are thankful for this wonderful trip into the land of Ecuador, the middle of the Earth!
Posted by Anita Estes at 1/05/2019