Research and Writing Software for Writers

Scrivener in cork board view. Copyright by Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Scrivener in cork board view. Copyright by Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Writers are like any other craftsmen. Their tools are part of the process.

The atmosphere of my work space matters to me. I aim for a certain level of comfort, peacefulness and prettiness in the way I put my home office together.

The tools I choose to implement my writing matter to me, also. Software, in particular, shapes the work day. Anyone who has ever had the unpleasant experience of writing a book in Microsoft Word knows that this software was not made for writers.

I’ve read that the latest iterations of Word are better. But I was burned so badly back in my thesis days that I have no appetite to try again. To put it simply, Word crashes with big documents that require a lot of editing. Word crashes a lot. And it corrupts the files so that even when you use a back up, it crashes again. I’ve had to re-type long documents from hard copies because Word corrupted the files so badly.

By the end of my thesis process, I hated Word. I have never tried to use it for a long document again. As I said, I’ve read that it’s all better now, but I value my happiness too much to commit long work I care about to Word.

Aside from that ancient beef with the software, there is the added factor that Word was never meant to be a book-writing application  in the first place. Word is meant for business use. Every other use is a tacked on deal.

What that means to a writer is that it’s awkward and insufficient for writing needs. If you’ve never used good writing software, you may not realize just how crippling Word is, kind of like the way that people didn’t know the power of word processing back when they were using typewriters.

Word does other things quite well. Again, back in my thesis days, I loved the way Word would go over to Excel and import a spreadsheet into a document without leaving Word. I could do computations inside Word and then print out a document with Word verbiage and Excel numbers, all in one place. It was great at that.

But for writing books? Nope.

I’ve looked at several book writing softwares, and have settled happily on Scrivener. Scrivener is the Swiss Army knife of writer’s software, which makes it a difficult thing to describe. It would be possible to go from the first niggling idea of a book, through research and straight to submission without leaving Scrivener.

However, I don’t recommend this.

My recommendation is to use specialized software for research and specialized software for outlining and Scrivener for writing. Import the research you are actually using so you can reference it as you write, but keep your more extensive research in its own files.

Here, for those who are trying to write, is how I handle the research part of my writing. Any suggestions you have on how to improve this process are welcome.

Devon Think Pro Office Research Files Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Devon Think Pro Office Research Files Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

My research is done with two softwares, both of them from Devon Technologies. Devon Technologies is a German company that specializes in this kind of software. I use Devon Agent Pro when I’m looking for sources. I put documents I want to keep in Devon Think Pro Office.

Devon Think Pro Office will download and store emails, convert pdfs to readable and editable documents with ocr, and link to and index other files — such as your Scrivener files — on your computer. It handles enormous research files of all types, including videos, photos, and a large number of file formats, including pdf. Its ability to link between research files by idea and dig things out for you is almost magical.

The software I used to do the same thing back in my pc days was Ask Sam. When I tried to find a link to Ask Sam, I ran into discussions saying that the software has been discontinued. If that is true, I don’t know of an alternative for pcs. Perhaps readers can share one in the combox.

I used both Devon Think Pro Office and Devon Agent Pro when I was a legislator to research legislation and issues. That meant I didn’t have to buy it when I started writing. Neither of them is inexpensive, but if you do research and you don’t want to go crazy, they are must. It’s really a matter of how serious you are about what you do and how highly you value your time and efficiency.

Scrivener is no slouch at organizing research, either. You can store documents of many types right in Scrivener, alongside your writing. You can even open them side by side with what you’re writing and drag things across. You can also link research files to writing files and create a bibliography of sorts. You can view all Scrivener files as index cards on a cork board, as an outline, as individual documents or as contiguous documents. You can view your writing in one format and your research in another format and put them side by side on screen.

That’s why I advise moving the research you are using to Scrivener. The one caveat is that Scrivener slows down if you put too too many files it, although it takes a lot of files to do this. If you’re writing research-heavy non-fiction, you probably need Devon Think. If you’re writing a research-light contemporary novel, you might be happier with Scrivener alone.

One advantage to Devon Think Pro Office is that you can use your research for more than one book or more than one type of project without doing anything to it. When you move files from Devon Think to Scrivener, it’s just a matter of dragging them. The originals stay in Devon Think and you have what you need for your particular project in Scrivener. Since I’m working on a multi-book project, Devon Think Pro Office makes sense for me.

This is the software I use in my research work flow for big projects. For blogging, I tend to stick with an inexpensive (or even free, depending on which version you use) software called Papers. Papers is an easy place to store web pages. It also has a good search function that will locate old web pages by title.

I used Mars Edit for blogging for a long time. It’s a bit of a trick to link with Patheos. I had to get our IT people to help me do it. But it saved me from losing things I was writing when Patheos’ web site had one of its coughing fits. I switched to writing directly into Patheos because the internal Patheos work flow changed. This added another step to posting and I don’t like extra steps. If I have a train wreck and lose something I’ve been working on, I’ll probably switch back. I hate extra steps, but I dislike do-overs even more.

As you can tell, I’m a fan of using the right tools. My criteria for the “right” tool is a tool that helps me do what I want and that doesn’t add  unnecessary work by virtue of its complexity or because it simply was not meant for how I’m using it.

Those two criteria kick a lot of software to the curb that other writers use every day. For me, it’s a matter of how much I’m worth. My time and happiness matter to me. If I’m going to spend my time doing something every day, I want to make it as smooth and easy for myself as I can.

Feel free to add other ideas in the comboxes. I’ll blog more about software I use in other parts of the writing process later.

 

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Pope Francis: Failures are Par for the Course on the Road to Salvation

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

From Catholic News Service:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The road to salvation may be pitted with failures, but God uses them and overturns them to manifest his love for his people, said Pope Francis.

Reflecting on the parable of the wicked tenants in the Gospel of Mark during morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae June 1, the pope said the parable may be understood to represent the “failure of God’s dream.”

In the Gospel passage, Jesus tells of the owner of a vineyard, who has a dream for his land, which he carefully and lovingly prepares to be cultivated. He hires tenants to work the field, but they are wicked and kill all those whom the owner sends to retrieve his portion, including his son. What should have been a story of love, said the pope, instead appears to be a story of failure.

Failures are present throughout salvation history, the pope said. God’s dream for humanity included failure and bloodshed from the very beginning when Abel was killed by his brother Cain; the murders of many prophets followed, and the process culminated with the crucifixion of Jesus, he said.

The Bible includes the “many, many laments of God” when faced with the actions of his people, who are “unable to free themselves from the desire Satan sowed” in Adam and Eve to “become gods” themselves, the pope said.

“The story of salvation could very well be called the story of failure,” he said.

But this “logic of failure” is overturned in the cross, which is perceived as “a scandal,” but is where God makes manifest the ultimate victory of his love for his people, the pope said.

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FBI Flies Surveillance over Me and Thee

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

I wonder if the government is going through our lingerie drawers when we’re out of the house.

That’s about the only thing they seem to be missing in their zeal to pry into what Americans are doing.

We all know about the government scooping up our cell phone calls and emails. We also know that they monitor our bank accounts to see if we withdrawing our money in suspicious ways. It’s even a federal crime to withdraw your own money from your own bank account in a “structured way.” You don’t have to commit any other crime. All you have to do is withdraw your own money from your own account in the wrong way.

Now it turns out that the FBI hires fleets of airplanes from dummy companies that it’s created to fly surveillance over Americans. The FBI says that these planes are “not equipped” to fly surveillance over me and thee. They are, rather used for “operational” activities.

So, we have a question, and that question is, do we believe the FBI?

Is this is all shades of Cold War spy stuff turned on the American people? Is the FBI running a U2 spy plane deal like those our country once flew over Communist countries?

We did that because Communist leaders said things like “We will bury you,” to America, and they had the bomb and an air force and missiles and a navy and World War II had proven they knew how to fight.

Is the FBI now running the same kind of surveillance on little old us?

If the FBI turns out to be engaging in a U2 scenario against the American people — and given what we already know the government is doing to us, that’s a fair question — I can’t help but wonder which American managed to scare the government so badly that it is so afraid of its citizens.

Our government is increasingly an isolated bubble of group think whose decision-making positions are held by graduates of a few schools and members of a few think tanks and organizations who all know one another. They are as separated from the American people as a lone fisherman, living on the banks of the Amazon.

They not only don’t know anything about the people of this country, they have contempt for us. If you doubt that, just replay a couple of the comments made by President Obama and Governor Romney in their respective campaigns. If you take them at their words, you can only conclude that We the People are a bunch of unwashed ignoramuses to both of them.

They not only have contempt for us, they are, if all this surveillance means anything, afraid of us.

The real question here is does law enforcement exist to enforce the law and maintain the pubic safety in the interests of domestic tranquility, or does it exist to control the American people? If it turns out that the FBI really is surveilling the American people, U2 style, then I think the answer is clearly the latter.

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology — all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.

The planes’ surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge’s approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. The FBI said it uses front companies to protect the safety of the pilots and aircraft. It also shields the identity of the aircraft so that suspects on the ground don’t know they’re being watched by the FBI.

In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

Aerial surveillance represents a changing frontier for law enforcement, providing what the government maintains is an important tool in criminal, terrorism or intelligence probes. But the program raises questions about whether there should be updated policies protecting civil liberties as new technologies pose intrusive opportunities for government spying.

U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed for the first time the wide-scale use of the aircraft, which the AP traced to at least 13 fake companies, such as FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation and PXW Services.

Even basic aspects of the program are withheld from the public in censored versions of official reports from the Justice Department’s inspector general.

The FBI also has been careful not to reveal its surveillance flights in court documents.

“The FBI’s aviation program is not secret,” spokesman Christopher Allen said in a statement. “Specific aircraft and their capabilities are protected for operational security purposes.” Allen added that the FBI’s planes “are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance.”

But the planes can capture video of unrelated criminal activity on the ground that could be handed over for prosecutions.

Some of the aircraft can also be equipped with technology that can identify thousands of people below through the cellphones they carry, even if they’re not making a call or in public. Officials said that practice, which mimics cell towers and gets phones to reveal basic subscriber information, is rare.

Details confirmed by the FBI track closely with published reports since at least 2003 that a government surveillance program might be behind suspicious-looking planes slowly circling neighborhoods.

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I’m Triaging My Life for Thriving, Not Just Surviving

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

I volunteered to host my book club at my house tonight.

Then, life piled on and I made a decision to move the book club meeting to a local restaurant. My fellow book-clubbers were not only gracious about it, they seemed delighted with the prospect of dining while we talk.

I could, if I had been stupid, have soldiered through, putting together snacks and polishing my house so I could play hostess. But that would have been, as I said, stupid.

I had plans to write a blog post today about a topical issue, taking my own slant on the subject. I’d done some research, filed the links in Omnifocus and had it ready to put together. That was going to be today’s big post.

Then, Mama’s hallucinations came back and I need to spend the day going from doc to doc. I could, if I had been stupid, have skipped my early-morning aerobics class and put that post together. But that would been, as I said, stupid.

Both these things would have violated the triage I’ve set up for my life. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to establish iron-clad priorities and stick with them, even when it stings. That’s the life of every successful elected official. I would never have been elected without the ability to do this, and I could never have passed all the legislation and taken care of my district and still had a happy home life without it, either.

I thought I was past that kind of self-discipline when I walked out of the House. I ping-ponged around for months, while the exigencies of Mama’s dementia made hash of my life, my health and my state of mind. I wasn’t managing these things; they were managing me.

It all came to a resounding crash a couple of months ago. Mama’s dementia tripped over into active 24/7 hallucinations of the ugly kind, and then, right on schedule, I got sick and couldn’t get well. Suddenly, I was out so deep in the deep that I couldn’t touch bottom, and I was so tired, that, try as I might, I was swallowing water and dipping under.

Enter depression, a big shot of despair and anger. It was miserable.

I prayed and prayed and I didn’t think I was getting answers. But God was answering me, He just wasn’t telling me about it. Help came in the form of new medications and healing in my own body. Help came in that small still voice that told me that I wasn’t going to be able to do this perfectly, but doing it in a messy way with lots of mistakes was alright. It was ok to just muddle through.

God gave me something I didn’t pray for but which has helped me more than I can say. He gave me peace with my own weaknesses and faults, acceptance of my failures and stumbles. He gave me His love and His acceptance and His assurance that imperfect was good enough.

I didn’t hear voices, and I didn’t get specific direction. What I got was a gentle attagirl and a loving Peace, Be Still.

The rest came from me. God gave me courage and peace. He freed my mind from the depression and anguish and that let me find my own way out of the woods.

Robert Frost said that the way out is through. In this case, he was absolutely right. The way out is through. I’m not the perfect daughter doing the perfect job of caregiving. I am just me, seeing my Mama home the best way that I can.

The first rule of going through is to make sure that you get through. What that means in direct terms is don’t get sick. In the new triage of my life, I have a husband, a mother, and my own self to tend to. My precious children are adults who can and do take care of themselves. Not only that, but they’ve come on board big time in terms of Mama, or as they call her, Amah care.

My first priority isn’t taking care of Mama or even being a wife to my husband. My first priority is taking care of me. By that I mean two simple things: Don’t get sick spiritually and don’t get sick physically.

A couple of the Catholic Patheosi are pretty much saints. I won’t embarrass them by detailing their life of prayer and worship. It’s enough for the purposes of this post to say that I ain’t them. For me, not getting sick spiritually depends an awful lot on God’s mercy. I pray, and I pray often. But many of my prayers are said while I’m driving my car or loading the dishwasher or giving Mama her bath or throwing out her dirty diapers.

One constant prayer is simply that God will save me from my inner jerk.

I go to mass, but only once a week. There was a time when I went every day, but not now. I probably should start going more often, simply because every time I take the Eucharist, it heals me, and I do need healing. But it’s tough to start something new right now.

My first area of triage is simply this: Get 8 hours sleep (I’m not doing so good at this one), go to aerobics class and ride my recumbent bike on the off days, stop eating junk. This is number one. If I crater physically, I can’t do anything else.

Right next to this is pay the bills, keep the car and house maintained. This isn’t time consuming, but it must be done.

Still in the first area of triage is say a prayer, read the Bible and play some music on the piano every day. The piano soothes and heals me almost as much as sleep and exercise. Ditto for prayer and Scripture.

Then, my next first area of triage is take care of Mama. This is huge. It’s hours and hours. It’s unpredictable and crazy making. It’s why I have to stay prayed up and exercise, sleep, eat right. I can not take care of Mama unless I do those things.

The other thing in my first area of triage is my husband. He’s my other half, my life’s partner, my lover and my love. It’s a joy to spend time with him. I can’t let him and our relationship be shoved out of my life by other things.

Spiritual and physical health, Mama, hubby: These are first priorities.

Second priorities are the book and the blog. The blog comes after the book in priorities.

Third is everything else. That includes keeping the house clean, doing laundry, etc.

So, the reason I haven’t been blogging as much is simple. The blog got bumped to second place of second place. I blog after I take care of me, Mama, hubby, pay the bills, change the oil in my car, get the air conditioner serviced and write my book. The blog still comes in ahead of running the vacuum and doing the laundry. Fortunately, those things fit easily in odd moments.

When I need to stand up and take a break, I vacuum the living room or empty the dishwasher.

What I don’t do is skip aerobics to blog or short-change my husband to work on the book.

That, my friends, is the new triage of my life. It seems to be working, but as I said, Mama’s hallucinations are back. That may well force a whole new paradigm on me. I’m doing doctor duty today. And that’s why this is the only post you’ll see from me until tomorrow.

Prayers and blessings to each of you.

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Do-It-Yourself Home Office Organization That Won’t Drive You to the Dogs

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton, All Rights Reserved

Omnifocus Pro Screen Shot. Copyright Rebecca Hamilton, All Rights Reserved

I didn’t wait around about closing down my legislative office. I was ready to go.

I had been packing for weeks. We adjourned on Friday, the following Monday we took my son’s pickup to the capitol and loaded it up with my stuff. It actually took two trips.

I unpacked it … sort of. I put things with no place to go in drawers and closets; stacked artwork and framed documents, and proceeded to ignore the mess for the next year.

I also ignored the needs of revamping how I do things.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I realized that it was time, past time in fact, to plow through this and get rid of it. This realization began with another realization: I need to organize my work life according to the work I’m doing and not the work that I did.

That began with looking at my software. I discovered that my computer back door into the House was still active. I could, if I wanted, go into the bowels of the legislative process and co-author bills, file amendments, and, I guess, even author bills. I tried to delete this, and found that it wouldn’t go away.

Finally, I gave up and decided to do a complete reformat of every computer. That took a while, but it was well worth it. I backed up all the files that relate to the legislature onto my archive drive and then wiped the main drives clean. I only reinstalled software that I actually use.

I had another realization that had been pinging me for several months now: I need to get serious about organizing calendars. I came into this writing deal from the thoroughly spoiled vantage of an elected lawmaker. Legislators don’t worry about getting to things on time or remembering appointments, or even making appointments.

When I was a legislator, I had somebody who did all that for me. Lila, Deborah, Linda, Miss Trina made sure that my schedule was buttoned down tight. They handed me maps on how to get there, agendas and lists of notes for every occasion. They reminded me which mark to hit. If I took a trip, they not only made every arrangement in advance, they handed me a folder with every detail I could possibly need arranged in one, two, three, follow-the-yellow-brick-road format.

I couldn’t do all that for myself if I was still a rep. The workload is too much, the scheduling too complicated and too tight. I needed to keep sharp just to handle what I was handling.

Now that I’m running my own little ship, things are much less fraught. I am challenged by taking care of Mama while trying to do all else, but the scheduling is down to simple stuff like doctor’s appointments and going to the bank, with an occasional speech or public event thrown in for spice.

It should be ez pz. But it’s not. I find myself struggling to carve out time to write my book, time to sleep and time to relax. Caregiving has its own demands and they tend to wreak havoc with schedules.

I’m faced with an entirely different kind of planning than I have done before. Writing a book requires extensive research and outlining. Writing a blog takes a chunk of time every day. Caring for Mama is all about constant interruptions, intermittent runs to the er, and unpredictability that can slip into chaos at a moment’s notice.

The thing about caring for a 90-year-old-going-on-two is that things can slide from calm and settled to out of the box crazy and terrifying in seconds. Oldsters get a cough. It’s just a little cough. Then, without warning, they’re wheezing and struggling to breathe and your day looks like a drawerful of stuff that someone jerked out and upended on the floor.

I spent months “handling” this by putting my head down in dumb endurance; like a buffalo, walking into the wind. Then I realized that if I don’t get on top of it, it’s going to roll right over me and leave me flat.

How to organize this in a workable way? That was the question I faced when I finally got around to considering these things.

My first stop was to consider what software I needed to help me get organized and work more efficiently. I thought about Microsoft Outlook. That’s the software of choice for the people who had kept me marching in a straight line when I was a legislator.

I actually signed up for MS Office’s monthly fee and downloaded it. Then I realized that MS Office is an island of sorts. It doesn’t play all that well with Scrivener or Curio or Aeon Timeline. That gave me pause.

When I finally understood that if I wanted to sync my Outlook planning files to my iPhone, iPad, MacBooks, I would have to upgrade to the business version, I bailed. Apple syncs my calendar and contacts for free. I like that price.

Still, I needed more powerful planning software than Apple’s Calendar and Contacts. That’s when I remembered that I owned a software called Omnifocus Pro. I bought it on a special introductory deal a while back, then didn’t use it because I had people doing what it did for me.

I downloaded Omnifocus (I have the pro version) and fired it up. It turns out that it’s exactly what I need and that I much prefer the combination of Omnifocus/Calendar/Contacts/Mail to MS Office. They work together seamlessly, and it didn’t cost me a dime. Also, Omnifocus is very friendly with Curio. Curio is a wonderful software that I’ll talk about in another post.

I’ve got my computer work process streamlined now. I have planning software that works for me, and everything syncs like magic. This process has convinced me that Microsoft Office may the best for a corporate type environment, but it has serious shortcomings for a blogger/writer/mom/caregiver.

That’s difficult since I’ve sworn that I will abandon Apple when these devices become obsolete. The problem isn’t the big stuff. MS Office will work for a writer, although it’s not very elegant. I actually prefer Access to Filemaker Pro, although I don’t really need either now that I’m running a small shop. MS Publisher is the best software going for putting out mailings for campaigns. But I don’t do that anymore, either. Outlook is probably the best for complex schedules, especially for more than one person. But I fly solo now, and my schedule is unpredictable; not complex.

Here’s how I’m doing the organization part of my computing life today.

I made a schedule with times blocked off for blogging, book writing, Mama’s daily stuff, my aerobics class, etc. The schedule syncs automatically between Omnifocus Pro and Calendar. It also picks up addresses, phone numbers, etc, automatically from Contacts. In fact, it even gives me a map to appointments.

I set up projects for the blog, the book and Mama in Omnifocus Pro. Omnifocus Pro syncs with Safari, so if I find a web site I want to blog about, I can just send it to Omnfocus Pro. If I plan an activity in Omnifocus Pro, it automatically goes to calendar. I can view calendar from inside Omnifocus Pro, so I have a multi-colored view of my schedule with times blocked off. It’s so simple, Leisy and Lufte could do it.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Everything syncs automatically between all my devices.

This setup seems to be working. I get a lot more done, and I don’t feel so stressed. It’s great to be able to pick up my iPhone and see everything I need to know, wherever I am. In fact, it comes close to making my iPhone a replacement for those incredible folders I used to get when I was in the House.

This allows me a more livable life. Thanks to better scheduling through technology I’m not constantly walking into days that look like this:

dog.jpg

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Former Oklahoma Rep Randy Terrill Begins Prison Sentence

Rep Randy Terrill. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives File Photo.

Rep Randy Terrill. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives File Photo.

My former colleague Representative Randy Terrill surrendered to authorities today. He is beginning a one-year prison sentence for bribery. He will also pay a $5,000 fine.

Rep Terrill and I fought one another to a fare-thee-well over immigration laws that he passed. Other times, on other issues, we agreed with one another.

But the important thing to me is not the issues. It is the tragedy of seeing someone I know go to prison. I will pray for Randy. He can come back from this and live a good life. I hope that is what he does.

From kfor.com:

OKLAHOMA CITY – A former State Representative turned himself into authorities Friday morning to begin service his sentence for his political bribery conviction.

Randy Terrill’s surrender comes exactly one week after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld his conviction.

He will be transferred to a state prison where he will serve one year for the crime.

He also has to pay a $5,000 fine.

His co-defendant, former State Senator Debbe Leftwich, is serving one year of probation.

 

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Crisis Pregnancy Centers are Under Attack for Saving Lives

Copyright:  Mother and Unborn Child Care. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Mother and Unborn Child Care. All Rights Reserved.

Two days ago, the California Assembly passed a bill attacking crisis pregnancy centers. Among other things, this new law would require crisis pregnancy centers to refer women for abortions.

The President of the United States has staked his administration’s legacy on an attempt, through the HHS Mandate, to force Catholic ministries and Christian businesses to pay for contraceptives, including abortifacients.

Christian small business people are being threatened with life-destroying fines and the loss of their livelihoods if they will not bake cakes and provide flowers for gay weddings. This is being called discrimination on the part of these small businesses, even though it is nothing of the sort.

They do not discriminate against any group of people. They offer service to all, including homosexuals. What they do not want is to participate in this one type of event which violates their religious faith.

Why are these things happening?

Why is it so important to those who hold different viewpoints from traditional Christianity to force Christians to violate their faith?

The answer is that in terms of practical reality, it isn’t. Crisis pregnancy centers do not stop women from choosing an abortion. “Choice” co-exists with crisis pregnancy centers.

What crisis pregnancy centers do is offer life-saving alternatives to abortion. Unlike the scrape ‘em and street ‘em abortion clinics, crisis pregnancy centers are in for the long haul. They help women throughout their pregnancies and afterward.

Birth Choice of Oklahoma, the crisis pregnancy center where I volunteered, also has a home where women can stay during their pregnancies. We have women who come back to bring their adult children who they chose not to abort because of Birth Choices’ ministry to them in a desperate time of their lives.

These women are grateful beyond words for their children’s lives. Grateful, too, for the lives of their grandchildren. They realize now what they would have lost if they had chosen to kill their baby. They are grateful to the people who helped them and supported them so that they could chose life instead of death for their child.

That doesn’t answer the question as to why crisis pregnancy centers are under attack, why a President has staked his administration’s place in history on an attempt to narrow and ultimately destroy the First Amendment, why the existence of Christian small businesses who don’t want to violate their faith is such a cause of rage and hatred.

Pro life people have used the business model to explain the attacks on crisis pregnancy centers. After all, abortion is a big, profitable business. It turns out that doctors who kill can make a killing doing their worst.

So, pro life people posit that abortionists attack crisis pregnancy centers because these centers cost them business. It is all a matter of  the doh rey mi.

The trouble with this explanation is that it doesn’t explain why a president would destroy his own place in history, just to attack religious freedom. It doesn’t explain why destroying every small business person who does not want to participate in gay weddings must be ground to dust.

There’s more afoot than money in this desire to punish and destroy competing voices in the march to cultural nihilism. It appears that the something lying at the bottom of this sewer of coercion is far simpler and pure in its evil than greed.

I think what we are dealing with is a desire to destroy faith itself. Every time a Christian is forced by government power to chose between following Christ and doing what the government commands, one of two things must happen. The Christian either bows low before government and denies Christ, or they chose Christ and defy the government.

If they deny Christ, the demons and devils rejoice, and Christian witness in our society dies another death. If they chose Christ, the government swings into action to either bring them to heel or destroy them. Either way, the lesson is plain for every other Christian to see: Following Jesus can cost you everything you have. The government will attack you with all its might, and the media and the howling Christian haters will support them in doing it.

Worse, other Christians will mostly just stand by and let it happen by making a Niemoller choice that, since this isn’t happening to them personally, they can pretend that it doesn’t matter all that much.

Crisis pregnancy centers have been under attack from those who want to destroy Christian voices in the public sphere for quite a while now.

I would think that of all the voices the darkness wants to silence, crisis pregnancy centers would head the list.

Crisis pregnancy centers give the option of choosing life to women who have been offered nothing but the option of death as a solution for their problems. Crisis pregnancy centers save babies’ lives. They also save young women from murdering their own child.

Crisis pregnancy centers are a light, shining in the darkness, and the darkness, as it always does, hates the light.

Every time you write a check in support of Mother and Unborn Child Care, you are choosing life. You are, whether you know it or not, choosing Christ.

Every volunteer hour you spend in service to Mother and Unborn Child Care is an hour given to the light against the darkness.

Every child you save, every mother you save, sets in motion a line of life that goes forward into the generations to grandchildren, great grandchildren and on.

You are helping young women chose life and by doing that you are saving the life of a child, and you are saving a young women from killing her own baby, and you are saving her patrimony.

Of course, the darkness attacks crisis pregnancy centers. Of course, this darkness wants to force those who have given so much to the service of life to bow before the baals.

Breaking us — and make no mistake about it, everything I have described is an attempt to break us — and our witness for life is, in the twisted minds of those who listen to the darkness and follow after it — breaking Him. It is another Calvary, only this time it is in the hearts of believers.

I urge everyone here to open your check books and write checks that say no to the darkness and yes to the light. Mother and Unborn Child Care needs our support to continue its life-giving work.

Supporting Mother and Unborn Child Care is an opportunity for you. You can, by writing a check, save  generations of life, defend young women from being coerced into murder, and light a small flame that drives back the darkness, just a bit.

Is there anything more important you can do with your money?

Do you have the opportunity to do this much good with your hard-earned cash in any other way, any other place?

If not, I urge you to take full advantage of the opportunity that is before you tonight and support life.

Thank you.

To donate to Mother and Unborn Child Care, go here.

To learn more about Birth Choice of Oklahoma, go here.

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California Assembly Passes Bill Attacking Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Justin Brockie https://www.flickr.com/photos/justinstravels/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Justin Brockie https://www.flickr.com/photos/justinstravels/

California’s Assembly passed a bill this week which, among other things, would force crisis pregnancy centers to refer for abortions.

Sponsors of the bill claim that it is designed to “protect” women from the supposed “misinformation” that crisis pregnancy centers give them. I’ve volunteered in a crisis pregnancy center, and this claim of misinformation is, in my experience, untrue. We did not refer women for abortions. But we also did not give them inaccurate information.

Unlike Planned Parenthood, we did not arrange abortions for pimps who were procuring the abortions for trafficked women, or for minors who were having affairs with grown men, or for women who wanted to abort their baby girls because they wanted a boy, instead. So far as I know, the legislators sponsoring this attack on centers who help pregnant women have not authored legislation dealing with any of these abuses, even though the nation’s number one abortion provider has been taped committing them.

I also doubt that the California Assembly has passed laws requiring abortionists to refer women who are ambiguous about abortion to crisis pregnancy centers.

Crisis pregnancy centers are under attack for one simple reason: They give women a choice about “Choice.” This appears to be the last thing that the purveyors of abortion as the sum total of women’s human rights wants.

From what I’ve read, those who debated against the bill did so on the basis of freedom of speech. I assume that they chose this argument because it is the best one they could mount, given their audience.

I wonder how the backers of this bill would have reacted if someone had tried to amend it to make it a felony to use abortion to practice gendercide, or to make it a felony to provide abortions for sex traffickers and pimps? What would their arguments against this have been?

How would they have debated against an amendment to require abortion providers to refer to crisis pregnancy centers and to give their patients accurate information about the high rates of abortions performed on minorities?

Another good amendment would be one requiring that abortionists give women the opportunity to see ultrasounds of their babies before making a final decision to abort them. There’s no more accurate information for these women to get than to let them see an ultrasound of their babies. They have a right to know what they are doing before they do it, not years later when they can only grieve their decision.

I don’t know the procedures in the California Assembly. For all I know, they do not allow amendments to legislation. But the votes on these amendments would have made a point.

It’s bound to be difficult to be pro life in the California Assembly. From what I read, the opposition to the bill came entirely from Republicans. Kudos to them.

Shame, shame on the Democrats who authored and voted for this bill. They are a smear on our party.

From the Sacramento Bee:

California pregnancy centers that often seek to steer women away from abortion would need to provide information about reproductive services available elsewhere, including abortion, and disclose when they lack medical licenses under a bill the state Assembly passed on Tuesday.

Backed by a coalition that includes NARAL Pro-Choice and Planned Parenthood California, Assembly Bill 775 takes aim at so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” that critics say exist largely to persuade women to carry their pregnancies to term, often giving the impression of holding medical credentials that they do not possess. Lawmakers called the bill, which passed 46-25, a simple matter of informing women and protecting them from being misled.

“It’s hard to understand how those who claim to care about women find it so threatening to inform them about accessing affordable health care,” said Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, D-Marina Del Rey, the bill’s author.

Republican lawmakers derided the bill as an unconstitutional attack on private entities, saying it would force crisis pregnancy centers to abandon their core beliefs. The California Catholic Conference also opposes AB 775.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article22370520.html#storylink=cpy

 

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The Reason Why I Am a Catholic

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

2.000 years ago, a man gave his life for me, for you, for all of us. This man was the Son of God: Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Saviour and Messiah. Join the Catholic Church! http://catholicscomehome.org/ From YouTube posting.

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Pope Francis: We are Living an Ecumenism of Blood

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

The “father of lies” is the one how is persecuting Christians today says Pope Francis. “We are living an ecumenism of blood.”

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