Seeking Truth with Prayer

Each day, as I listen to the news I am deeply saddened. What is happening in our country? The reports of violence and death shake our sense of security. I think about my grandchildren and the world they are growing up in.

Social issues and politics have become so divisive. It seems to me that it is hard to get to the truth on polarized topics.

Yesterday I posted a link on Facebook to an article about the HPV        vaccine, stating one of the researchers disagreed with widespread use of it in the U.S.  The vaccine prevents a sexually transmitted infection,       human papillomavirus.  Almost immediately a friend posted a link with an opposing opinion.  So I did some more internet searches and found an article written by Dr. Harper, the researcher in question.  The article, Next Generation Cancer Protection: The Bivalent HPV Vaccine for Females, details the medical research and includes this paragraph:

Prophylactic HPV vaccination will have little cancer-reducing effect in the general screened population, but may prevent cervical cancer among those with no screening opportunities.   Prophylactic vaccination may help       decrease the numbers of women who develop abnormal cytology screens among those who are screened. Modeling indicates that HPV vaccination will prevent potentially 17% of the abnormal Pap tests based on current knowledge of HPV type distribution (Figure 3) [73] and only a very few cancers that Pap testing would not have detected [74, 75], not enough to lower the population incidence of cervical cancer lower than what screening already accomplishes [76].

I believe that knowing the truth about vaccines (benefit and the risk), and making informed decisions is important. In so many areas of life we need to pursue truth.

While Jesus was on earth he talked about truth many times. His counsel and prayer with the disciples in John 17 speaks to my heart and gives me courage.

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17: 15-21

Jesus prayed in the days leading up to his sacrifice for us. We have the opportunity to lift our prayers to the Lord. Thomas R. Kelly highlights the importance of prayer throughout each day.

Use what little obedience you are capable of, even if it be like a grain of mustard seed.  Begin where you are.  Live this present     moment, this present hour as you now sit in your seats, in utter, utter submission and openness toward God. Listen outwardly to these words, but within, behind the scenes, in the deeper levels of your lives where you are all alone with God the Loving Eternal One, keep up a silent prayer, “Open Thou my life. Guide my thoughts where I dare not let them go. But Thou darest. Thy will be done.” Walk on the streets and chat with your friends.   But every moment behind the scenes be in prayer, offering yourselves in continuous obedience.*

* Thomas R. Kelly “Holy Obedience” (lecture, 1939)

Linking with Word of God Speak, Let Us Grow and Thought Provoking Thursday

Berries, Cherries and a Beetle Infestation

It is a good year for berries and cherries. I have been harvesting cherries, raspberries, currants and gooseberries. My cherry tree and berry bushes have been delightfully full of fruit.

It is also a good year for the Japanese beetles. I have had some every year.

Japanese Beetle

 

It has been my practice to check the bushes and knock the beetles off into a container of soapy water. Typically the beetles have been on my raspberry bushes and rose bushes.

The leaves on the raspberry bush are a tell tale sign.

Beetles & Berry_3998

A couple weeks ago I looked out of my kitchen window and noticed that the leaves on the upper branches of my cherry tree were all eaten. Whoa! !

Beetle trap_5403

 

I tried my method of knocking beetles into soapy water. I stood on a chair and used a long stick. Some times the beetles fell in the water, sometimes they fell on my head or on my clothes. I enlisted the help of my son. We picked off hundreds of beetles.

My husband said we needed to find an additional method. So after doing an on-line search I bought a beetle trap that has floral scents and a pheromone lure. The reviews of such a trap were mixed.

I followed the directions and hung the trap on a pole away from the cherry tree, away from the raspberry bushes and rose bushes. To my amazement the trap began to attract beetles immediately.

Beetle trap_5409

In one afternoon the trap had a large heap of beetles.

Japanese Beetle Trap

So I wonder, is this a banner year for the beetles? Or can I expect this to happen again next year? I looked up the life cycle of Japanese beetles and discovered that the females burrow in the ground after dusk and lay eggs that hatch into pupa, become grubs and emerge as beetles the next season. We may need to treat the lawn. Grubs feed on the roots of grass, tomatoes and strawberries—and of course I have all of these in my yard!

The infestation is discouraging—but I have much to be thankful for. My freezer is filling up with berries. The elderberry bushes are full of blooms.

Elderberry Bush in bloom

 

I will have lots of elderberries in August (and the beetles aren’t touching those bushes). I will be canning elderberry juice for the winter months.

Linking with Tuesdays with a Twist,  Sue’s Wordless WednesdayNature Notes,  Seasons and the Art of Homemaking

Ezekiel on Heart of Stone and Heart of Flesh

It was good to hear President Obama quote from Ezekiel 11:19 during the memorial service for the slain Dallas police officers. He was expressing the hope that the people of this country can come together and put aside past hurts and prejudice to resolve our problems. I share this hope. It is helpful to look at the larger context for this verse.

The prophet Ezekiel is speaking to Israel.

Thus says the Lord God:  I will gather you from the peoples and      assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And when they come there, they will remove from it all the detestable things and all its abominations. Ezekiel 11:17-18

God is our redeemer and healer. We need to turn to God for help. We cannot solve the problems of this age on our own.

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds on their own heads, declares the Lord God. Ezekiel 11: 19-21

Repentance. We need repentance. We need to see where we have strayed from God’s precepts and direction for living.  We are self-centered by     nature, yet God asks us to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is easy to carry a grudge,  but Jesus instructs us to forgive as we have been         forgiven. Life is a precious gift given by God—do we honor all life in word and deed? It has to begin within the Church. It has to begin with me.

Search me and try me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:16

Show me my prejudice and my lack of love. Forgive my sins, and tenderize my heart towards the hurting. Be at work in my life so that I can be an agent of healing.

Linking with Tell It to Me TuesdayWord of God Speak,  Let Us GrowSitting Among Friends and Thought Provoking Thursday

A Bluebell Bellflower & the Rocks and Waves of Lake Superior

“Grandma, come see the blue flowers I found.”

I followed my granddaughter along a rocky path, as waves pounded the shore of Lake Superior. A light wind brushed against my face. The leaves on the birch trees rustled gently.

There they were, bluebells, growing in a crack between the rocks. God created the majesty of Lake Superior and the delicate beauty of the blue flowers—setting them side by side.

Bluebell Bellflower & Lake Superior
Bluebell Bellflower

I was so blessed to spend time at a favorite park with the grandchildren—exploring the rugged coast of this great lake. It was time to pause and take in God’s creative power.  It was a break from the news of sad and   violent events taking place in our country and throughout the world.

Esrey Roadside Park

The Psalms come to mind and the beautiful rhythm of faith displayed in the words of the Psalms. We read heart wrenching prayers and confessions. We are instructed to spend time in the Word. Still, the Psalmist takes time to pause and observe God’s power and sovereignty. He sees God’s majesty in nature giving him the glory.

Lake Superior

Psalm 93

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
The Lord is robed in majesty
and is armed with strength.
The world is firmly established;
it cannot be moved.
Your throne was established long ago;
You are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, O Lord,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
The seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the Lord on high is mighty.

Your statutes stand firm;
Holiness adorns your house
For endless days, O Lord.

Linking with Thankful ThursdayTuesdays with a Twist,  Seasons, Sue’s Wordless Wednesday,  Let Us Grow and Word of God Speak

Decision Was a Sad Day for Women’s Health

This letter was first published on the editorial page of the Daily Herald on July 3.  I was sorting through my thoughts about the Supreme Court decision when I wrote this:

Is it a victory for women? The Supreme Court overturned a Texas law that would have required safety regulations for abortion clinics.

Two years ago Joan Rivers was in an outpatient surgical clinic that did have safety regulations that were violated, and she died. The outcry was huge, and rightly so. The director of the clinic stepped down and a large settlement was made with River’s family.

What happens when an abortion clinic—which is an outpatient      surgical clinic— doesn’t have to meet safety standards?  What     happens when a woman is injured or dies at this clinic?

Abortion providers aren’t concerned. They are profiting from women in difficult circumstances.   Poor women or desperate women are more    likely to seek care at a Planned Parenthood clinic. Are we comfortable with the idea that these women deserve less?

I have to wonder if Justices Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayer would feel comfortable having a surgical procedure in a clinic that is unregulated and unsafe. Justice Ginsburg wrote in her opinion that abortion is safer than childbirth. That is a blanket generalization. I have been a childbirth nurse for more than 30 years, and I disagree.

Childbirth ranges from a normal physiologic birth (which is safer than abortion) to high-risk pregnancies and births that require medical intervention. I think I can assume that Justice Ginsburg has never seen the tools that are used in a surgical abortion. Nor is she aware of the medications that may be involved.

It is a sad day for women. Five Justices struck down a Texas law that     established common sense safety practices for abortion clinics.

Pretty Green Globes: Gooseberries for Jam and Pie

gooseberries

Berries have always been valued in my family as a special treat. When I was a kid it was mainly strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. There are so many more.  I am developing an appreciation for gooseberries,     elderberries and currants.

The latter three grow well in my backyard. Gooseberries, elderberries and currants don’t seem to mind our clay soil—although I have worked at enriching it with peat and in the fall add a layer of dried grass or shredded leaves. These berry bushes don’t need much care, just need to be picked.

Gooseberries

The gooseberries are ripening. My two-year-old grandson was fascinated with the little green globe. He held one in his hand turning it around and gazing at the stripes with wonder. So much to wonder at in nature. God has created so much for us to enjoy!

Have you ever tasted a gooseberry? My grandson took a tentative little bite. It is rather sour but good for jam and pie.

Two cookbooks are helpful in providing directions for gooseberry jam: Cooking with Wild Berries and Fruits by Teresa Marrone and Stocking Up from Rodale Press. According to Teresa Marrone’s book, green gooseberries (not quite ripe) contain enough pectin to make a simple jam without added pectin.

The first step is to cook the gooseberries with a little water (2 or 3 Tablespoons of water per cup of berries). Bring the berries to a boil and then simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Mash the berries with a potato masher.   Next add the sugar (or honey) gradually—approximately ½ cup to ¾ cup per cup of berries. I tend to taste the mixture several times as I continue to add the sweetener. A combination of sugar & honey works also. I like a tart jam. When the sugar is well mixed in, bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. When I am using honey as a sweetener I add additional pectin–homemade pectin–in the last minute of cooking. (BTW – If you add a pat of butter to the boiling fruit, it won’t spit at you.)

The final step is to ladle into sterile jars and process in a hot water bath. I process half-pint jars for 10 minutes. Gooseberry jam has an interesting color and rich flavor.

gooseberry jam

 

Gooseberries are good in pie also. I freeze some of the gooseberries for apple/gooseberry pies. Click here for a recipe.

Marrone, Teresa, Cooking with Wild Berries and Fruits, Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications, Inc. 2009 p. 70

Stoner, Carol, editor, Stocking Up, Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.

Linking with Our Simple HomesteadFrom the FarmTuesdays with a TwistHappy, Healthy, Green & Natural,  Mom to Mom Mondays, Sue’s Wordless Wednesday,  the Art of Homemaking and  Seasons

Hope Shared by Women Around the World at TGCW16

Yellow Rose-Hope

What is better than singing praise to God with 7,200 women? The only thing I can think of, is praising God with all of the redeemed in heaven. It was so good to be at the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference last week. Women from all 50 states and 38 countries were in attendance.

Each of the speakers focused on a portion of 1 Peter. Over the course of three days they taught all the way through this epistle. Some of the terms that come up in this book are: sojourners,  exiles,  royal priesthood,  God’s people. One of the threads running through the book is suffering and persecution. The other is a living hope!

Peter begins his letter with these encouraging words:

According to God’s great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.    1 Peter 1: 3-5

God keeps us in his sight! I am memorizing these verses.

Throughout each day Keith and Krysten Getty led us in worship.  They introduced songs that are on their newly released CD,  Facing a Task      Unfinished. One of my favorite songs is, He Will Hold Me Fast. God is faithful and will keep His people in his care.

Jen Wilkin’s message touched a sweet spot. As Christians we are called to give the message of God’s love that offers new life. She compared our Christian role to that of midwife and lactation consultant. Our desire is to nurture growth in new believers.

Peter has instruction for women. And it includes the word submission. We may have trouble with this word, but the truth is that God gives us guidance for relationships. God provides order for healthy relationships. I was a little slow in learning this lesson. My husband and I have a good relationship, but it could have been better sooner.  We disagree and     argue from time to time but we communicate better when I show him respect.

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Peter 3: 5-6

At the conference I heard that last phrase and paused. Do not fear anything that is frightening. God invites us to trust him completely. I do not have to fear the outcome of the current election—but I will participate in the process as a citizen of this country.

The first epistle of Peter applies to the current time. I encourage you to read through 1 Peter. You can also listen to the messages given at the conference. The sessions are available on-line. Click here.

Linking with Let Us Grow, Word of God Speak,  Faith Filled Friday,  Thought Provoking Thursday,  Whole Hearted Home  and  A Little R & R

Raquela: Book Review

Flag of Israel

Raquela Levy’s family had lived in Palestine for nine generations. Did you know that Palestine, referring to Israel, is a name derived from Philistine? Historically the Philistines were enemies of Israel. Raquela was a nurse midwife during the final years of British rule in Palestine.

Ruth Gruber spent nine months with Raquela, gathering information and insights into the life of this remarkable woman. The resulting biography is a story of the babies born to holocaust survivors—and the birth of the nation of Israel. Raquela was sent to refugee camps as a midwife to minister to women that were refused entry into Palestine.

The vivid detail describes life in Israel during the war years: Israel’s War of Independence (1948), Six-Day War (1967) and Arab-Israeli War (1973). The book describes events through the experiences of Raquela and her family.

I could picture Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus,  the scene of       Raquela’s developing romance with Dr. Brzezinski. The description of the delivery room at the Hadassah Hospital reminded me my first        experiences as a labor & delivery nurse.

I could feel the sadness when Mount Scopus was lost to the Arabs of     Jordan. The hospital was lost, and Israel had to build a new medical     center.

Perhaps the most moving was the description of the ships filled with Jewish immigrants fleeing Europe. They were refused entry to Palestine by the British. One of the refugee camps that Raquela served at was on the Island of Cyprus.

I have a much better understanding of Israel’s modern history from reading this book. The book engaged me—it was hard to put it down.

* Ruth Gruber, Raquela: A Woman of Israel, New York; Open Road Integrated Media. 1978.

Linking with Seasons, Literacy Musing Monday,  Booknificent Thursday and Thought Provoking Thursday

Inner Peace in a Chaotic World

Eberhard Arnold (1883 – 1935) wrote Innerland: A Guide into the Heart of the Gospel.   In the following quote he was commenting on life  in   Germany in the years leading up to WWII. It speaks to the current time also.

The great agitation in the world of today makes it more and more urgent to gain inner strength in those quiet encounters with Christ that make it possible for us to remain under his rule and authority. Situated as we are in the midst of a world that is so terribly unpeaceful, we need constant nourishment for our inner life. In short, if we want to avoid suffering inward shipwreck in the storm of     public opinion and chaos, then our hidden inner being needs daily the quiet haven of communion with God.

We need the quiet haven of communion with God today! We also need to know His Word. The Bible is God’s way of speaking to us.

The Apostle Peter gives us sound instruction in his epistle.

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they may accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.       1 Peter 2: 11-12

Dogwood flower

But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord.     Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.  1 Peter 3: 15

We are blessed when we spend time in God’s Word. We gain a little bit more of His perspective. We are reminded of the faithful people of God that have gone before us. The first epistle of Peter is a good book to meditate on. I am finding  Dee Brestin’s study guide helpful.     The title is       A Woman’s Journey Through 1 Peter.

Linking with Us, Coffee and JesusLiterary Musing Monday,  Word of God Speak, Let Us Grow and Thought Provoking Thursday

VAXXED: 4 Actions to Improve Vaccine Safety

VAXXED: A Powerful Message
Photo by Naypong@FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The destruction of data by the CDC is a huge news story but the major networks on TV are not covering it. I learned about the documentary, VAXXED on social media.  I read that the Huffington Post censored an   article about the movie. I wanted to see it myself. I’m glad that it is at a   theater in Chicago for a week. Not the suburbs but in the city.

My husband doesn’t like to drive in the city, but he was a peach and drove me to  the one theater showing VAXXED. We took the expressway into Chicago, but we also had a long drive on Diversey Pkwy. The traffic was bumper to bumper.

VAXXED: A Powerful Message

The movie is not anti-vaccine. Medical researchers and parents, like me, have observed significant side effects from vaccines. Parents have raised questions and made a connection between a vaccine and a changed health status. The movie looks at the research that was done in response—and the data that was destroyed by the CDC. The movie is about vaccine safety.

As I watched the movie, events in my life as a parent resurfaced. I listened as a parent talked about multiple doses of antibiotics that her son received before getting the MMR at 15 months of age.  As she described the change in her son and their family, I recalled the pattern I had seen in my toddler. I had searched for answers.

My daughter had multiple doses of antibiotic followed by the MMR at 15 months. Soon after she had significant abdominal symptoms, bloating and diarrhea. Her language development came to a standstill, and she seemed to be in pain. The pediatrician prescribed a medication to calm her gut, but it made her worse.

So I had a consultation with a pediatric gastroenterologist. He listened to my observations and then asked me questions about my parenting. He suggested that I should let him admit her to the hospital so  he  could    observe her. He said I should stay at home while she was in the hospital. I cried on the way home from that consultation.

Instead my husband and I took her to a different gastroenterologist. He did an intestinal biopsy and mentioned some inflammation,  but no       diagnosis. He had no advice or treatment.

It is interesting that parents called Dr. Wakefield, a gastroenterologist, with stories similar to mine. Dr. Wakefield, along with other doctors, began a study that led him to question whether there was a link between the MMR vaccine, the  gastrointestinal symptoms and behavior changes.

I kept a journal with my observations related to the foods my daughter was eating. We went to an alternative medicine doctor and received help. I worked on strict dietary changes that made a difference. I feel very blessed that dietary measures, homeopathic medicine and nutritional support allowed my daughter to regain her health.

The research done by the CDC (in 2001 to 2004) showed an increase risk of autism when the MMR was given to black boys in the time frame 12 to 18 months. Children who had received the vaccine after 36 months had less risk. But the research team decided to destroy this data. Only Dr. Thompson kept a record of the study. His records were forwarded to Congress in 2015, but nothing has been done.

The film pointed out the limited testing that is done prior to approving vaccines. Little is known about the safety of giving multiple vaccines at one time. Our children are participating in an experiment that has consequences for their long term health.

The film recommends contacting our congressmen in the  House  of          Representatives and asking that they:

  1. Subpoena Dr. Thompson and have him testify.
  2. Revoke the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. This law releases pharmaceuticals from any liability.   They cannot be sued for     vaccine injury.
  3. Provide the measles, mumps and rubella vaccines as single vaccines     instead of the combined injection.   Japan gives the measles vaccine as a single dose.
  4. Require that vaccines receive the same level of testing as other medications.

If you have a chance to see VAXXED, please go. The research, the information, the interviews with parents and doctors, all provide a perspective that you can judge for yourself.

Linking with Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural,  A Little R & R, Whole Hearted Wednesday and Tuesdays with a Twist