A New Season of Life and a Luscious Cup of Coffee

 

A New Season and a Luscious Cup of Coffee

My husband and I are in a new season of life. We are both retired and have supportive roles in our extended family. My mother and brother are in declining health now and require the help of family. We are thrilled to have five of our grandchildren in the area and see them on a regular basis. We are learning new patterns of teamwork.

My husband makes the morning coffee. We have agreed on the recipe for the best coffee (see below). We each fix a light breakfast (mine is oatmeal) and read at the kitchen table. I am developing the habit of prayer and Bible study before I open my computer.

Sometimes I make trips to Michigan to assist in the care of my mother or brother while my husband takes care of the home front. Sometimes he comes with me. He always makes sure that the car is in good shape for travel.

We have different passions. He is an engineer, a problem solver and computer expert. He keeps my computer running and backed up. He enjoys being part of a ham radio group. I like to write, read, knit and support issues related to women’s health and childbirth.

My husband has attended one March for Life with me, but this year he did not want to go to the March in downtown Chicago. When the thermometer showed a reading of 4° F, he said, “Surely you are not still planning to go?!”

And I said, “I will just go to the meet up place and then decide before I get on the bus.”

He said, “Take the ski goggles with you.”

My thought was I will look stupid. But I put the goggles in my purse and headed out the door. I did go to the March for Life. The wind chill at one point was -11°, possibly colder. We were outside for almost two hours and I was very grateful for the ski goggles.

We are enjoying being grandparents. When my daughter needs an evening babysitter, we go together and spend time with the grandchildren. I feel blessed to have this season with my husband.

During our wedding ceremony we committed to encourage each     other. We read from Colossians 1: 9-14 during the ceremony.

And so from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the     domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

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These verses are still a guide for us.

Here is our recipe for a great cup of coffee. We grind our own beans. While I will measure the coffee grounds (8 tablespoons for 11 cups of water), my husband puts the beans in the grinder and dumps all of the ground coffee in the filter paper lined basket. He is certain that he has placed the right amount of beans in the grinder. We add a dash of salt to take away the bitter edge of coffee and some cardamon seeds (a scant ¼ teaspoon).

After the coffee has brewed I add ¼ teaspoon of coconut oil and some cream to my coffee. So good!

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Linking with Thought Provoking ThursdayA Little R & R , and WholeHearted Wednesday

Is Medical Research Supporting Planned Parenthood?

L of L

For the past five months I have been studying the book of Acts. The book provides a picture of  the early church,  the work of the Holy    Spirit and the challenges that believers faced.

Times and circumstances are different now, but the challenges are similar. When we pursue truth we will encounter pushback. The 19th chapter of Acts records a confrontation between silver craftsmen and the Apostle Paul.

About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” Acts 19: 23-27

Is medical research supporting planned parenthood?
Planned Parenthood in Houston Texas: photo via wikimedia

Planned Parenthood has enjoyed a profitable business in our country, promising women their independence and control over reproduction. The organization receives tax dollars for women’s health. Recently some little known truths began to emerge when videos showed that Planned Parenthood is willing to provide baby parts for purchase.  With a little research I discovered that the interest in aborted fetuses for the purpose of research dates back to the legalization of abortion. On another post I wrote:

In 1950 Finland legalized abortion. Socialized medicine paid for the abortions; research provided a return on the investment.

In the past week Alliance Defending Freedom reported that the Planned Parenthood clinic in Madison, Wisconsin is selling baby parts to the University of Wisconsin. ADF obtained documents through the freedom of information act. Read the press release here. I know that the University of Michigan is doing embryonic stem cell research. Are they buying baby parts too?

Medical research is enshrined in this country. We want answers. We want to eradicate all infectious disease. Should the life of innocent pre-born babies provide for the health of others—and does it even work? How does this fit with God’s design for human life?

In this twisted culture we have a spiritual battle  going on.    The       producers of the videos, showing abortion and the planned sale of body parts, are being indicted. Planned Parenthood gets a pass.  The      abortion industry has deep roots, people that support it for their own profit.

Pray for our country. Pray for truth to prevail. Pray for all innocent life to be protected.

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UPDATE: LifeNews.com has an article that details the sale of fetal tissue–and the tax dollars that support research that utilizes fetal body parts. Click here.

Linking with Word of God Speak,  Grace & Truth,  Essential Fridays,  Faith Filled Friday and Thought Provoking Thursday

Garden of My Heart

Garden of My Heart
Peony

The spring garden catalogues are filling my mailbox and I enjoy leisurely paging through the offerings.   I am beginning to make     choices for additions to my garden.   God has given us an amazing   variety plants and fruit bearing trees and bushes.

Before long tulips and lilies will begin to poke through the soil in my flower bed. When the warm weather comes, lilacs and peonies will add a sweet scent to the air.

Blue Lilac

Currants will be the first berries to ripen, closely followed by strawberries and raspberries.   The tart red currants and the abundant raspberries provide an afternoon of delight for the grandchildren. The littlest ones have asked in the middle of winter, “Do you have raspberries in your yard?” The hope expressed on their faces makes me smile.

Red Raspberries

This little poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow took my thoughts in a new direction.   What if I thought of relationships in terms of a     garden?

Kind hearts are the gardens,
Kind thoughts are the roots.
Kind words are the flowers,
Kind deeds are the fruits.

Take care of your garden and
Keep out the weeds,
Fill it with sunshine,
Kind words and kind deeds.

Garden of My Heart

 
This poem expands the meaning of fruitful, my word for 2016.

Linking with the Art of HomemakingWeekend WhispersFrom the FarmFriendship Friday,  WholeHearted Home,  Titus 2sday,  So Much at Home,  Tuesday with a Twist and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

Responding to Confusion with the Bible

Through the women’s ministry at our church I have been able to watch some of the G3 conference, streaming live from Georgia. The topic of the conference is the Trinity, and I was pleased to listen to the preachers. All around us there is confusion about who God is, and about what the Bible says.

Bible

Our school district is dealing with confusion over male and female. Parents are holding meetings to find ways to protect the privacy of teenage girls. The federal government has mandated that a student with male anatomy be allowed to use the girl’s locker room, because he claims to be transgender. My children graduated from the high school that received this mandate. I recently wrote about a parent meeting. Click here.

Wheaton College, my daughter’s alma mater, is in the news for firing a tenured political science professor because she claimed that Moslems and Christians worship the same god. The controversy has been reported in the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal. One article is titled “Are Allah and Jesus the Same God?”

The only way to know the character of God is through the life and work of Jesus and through the words in the Bible. It is tempting to think that we can completely understand God or aptly describe Him in human terms. God is greater, is superior to our knowledge. According to Tim Challies “we are going to the edge of our capacity to understand.” The following Bible verses give us insight.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1: 26-27

The triune God created the world.

Jesus said to them [Jews questioning him], “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.

Throughout the Old Testament the term, I am, referred to God.

In John 10: 30 Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.”

When my husband and I were on a tour of Israel we visited the      Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock is there. Our guide informed us that the mosque has an inscription: God has no son.

Jesus and Allah
Dome of the Rock

The Moslem religion denies the triune nature of God.

Jesus explained the Holy Spirit to the disciples.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14: 16-17

Tim Challies explained that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all involved in our salvation. God calls us; Jesus redeems us; the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Once we acknowledge our sin and accept Jesus as savior, we know the Trinity by experience.

As I listened and chewed on the message, I thought about the importance of Bible study. We need to know the Bible and to teach it to our families. We must make time to:

  • Read the Bible. It helps to study with other Christians.
  • The gospel of John is a great place to start. Many passages illuminate Jesus’ relationship with God the Father. John 20:31 gives the reason that the disciple recorded his observations. These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31
  • Memorize scripture. The AWANA program is great for children. Now as an adult it takes more effort to memorize but I am realizing the value of having verses on the tip of my tongue.
  • Teach the truth of the Bible to our families.

I appreciate the focus that Janis has on the Bible at Word of God Speak. Visit her site here.

Also linking with A Little R & R,  Titus 2sday,  So Much at Home,  Soul Survival and Weekend Whispers

Spiritual Mothering: Book Review

L of L

Spiritual Mothering by Susan Hunt was published in 1992. I have had it on my shelf for a while, but the time was right for me to read it now. I have enjoyed the examples of relationships provided in the book. The purpose of the book is to shine a light on relationships between women that lead to a growing faith and maturity.

Each chapter is preceded by a real life example of a relationship.  The lessons are  developed from the example. Biblical women and scripture verses are included. The beautiful relationship between Mary and Elizabeth is referred to in several chapters.

The Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne
The Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne

The  chapter on  forgiveness  highlights  Abigail, the wife of Nabal. Her story is told in the 25th chapter of 1 Samuel.    From Susan Hunt’s  perspective, Abigail had an attitude of forgiveness toward her rude husband who was prone to drunkenness. She was free to focus on the dramatic events when David, the future king of Israel, was requesting food for his men.

I had never thought of Abigail in that way. It is true that a forgiving heart has freedom. An attitude of unforgiveness/bitterness is a burden that impacts relationships negatively.

The  book  points  out  the value of women’s  relationships  and the   potential for mentoring. In our culture we have much busyness and competition between women. The loving encouragement in a friendship, modeled by Mary and Elizabeth, is a gift. This is a season of life when I am thinking more about the way I relate to younger women.

As  the  book concluded I thought about the pattern  of  a one-on-one  relationship—the intensity of this manner of mentoring. A few years ago I participated  in  a discipleship group with two other women.    Although I led the group, we were learning and growing together. We shared our lives and challenges with transparency. We prayed for each other. We all benefited.

I am blessed to have two daughters and one daughter-in-law. It was wonderful to spend four days, all together, during the holidays. We have good relationships and will continue to learn from each other.

This book makes the point that a woman does not need  to  have  a   biological daughter to have a mentoring relationship; she doesn’t need to be a certain age. A godly woman can bless a younger woman by taking an interest in her and making herself available. The book is organized for group study, with discussion questions at the end of each chapter. I recommend it!

Linking with Make My Saturday SweetLiteracy Musing Monday,  Essential FridaysGrace & Truth,  Faith Filled Friday, Friendship Friday,  Booknificent Thursday and Thought Provoking Thursday

The March Goes On Despite the Wind Chill Factor in Chicago

At times the wind chill on Sunday was -11° F in Chicago. Yet, many people turned out for the March for Life.

Chicago March for Life
Federal Plaza

The message was pro-woman, pro-baby, pro-life.

Chicago March for Life

A large group of college students were present.

Chicago March for Life

We were cold but in good spirits.

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Linking with Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

Why I Participate in the March for Life

March for Life _5108

Sunday is the March for Life in Chicago. For the past three years I have participated in the march that takes place in my community. This year our community is joining the Chicago March for Life. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to ride the bus into Chicago, and so I have thought about this. Why do I participate?

As a nurse I believe with my whole heart that abortion is damaging to women. Early in my career I refused to participate in an abortion that took place in the hospital where I was employed. Besides the fact that medical people were killing a  human  being,  I felt that our unit had insufficient resources to help a woman through the emotional impact.

The story of Hagar in the Bible has always caused me to pause and muse on God’s  care for a single woman who became pregnant–through Sarai’s plan to achieve a child. Twice an angel was sent to rescue Hagar.

Painting by Francesco Cozza
Painting by Francesco Cozy

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude” . . .  

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Genesis 16:7-10, 13

Later when Hagar’s son was about seventeen years old, Hagar was sent away by Sarai and Abraham. She and the boy were out of water in the desert and an angel directed her to a well. The Bible demonstrates God’s care for all women, in all circumstances. As Christians we can be God’s hands.

One of the arguments for abortion is that if we defund Planned Parenthood women will have unsafe abortions. And yet many of Planned Parenthood’s clinics do not meet the safety standards for a surgical center.

I  recently read a study  that  was  done in  Chile  after they  made  abortion illegal. Did  hospital admissions  for abortion complications  increase or decrease?  Hospital admissions decreased and maternal mortality decreased. Chile has better statistics on maternal mortality than the United States! You can read the article here.

World Magazine includes an interview with an obstetrician. She was asked about rape victims. Would she perform an abortion for a rape victim? She shared an experience that she had with a teenager that was pregnant by incest. Here is what she said:

So we talked with the girl and her family. She said, ‘Oh, you mean you’d kill the baby? I don’t want to kill the baby. No, no, no. I just want you to stop Grandpa from hurting me.” . . .

When you say there is a pregnancy as a result of incest, there’s usually some horrible abuse that must be diagnosed and treated.  To kill  the   victim doesn’t really treat the crime.*

I am not in favor of protests in front of an abortion clinic. I am glad that for the most part the approach has changed to prayer and sidewalk counseling. Clinics like Informed Choices and Caris, in my area, provide support for women that are pregnant and in a difficult place or life situation.

The Christian community can do more.   Women that are single       parents need help. Children in foster care need to be adopted. We can all increase our attentiveness to women and children in need.

UPDATE: The cold temperature in Chicago and wind chill factor predicted for tomorrow is going to be hazardous. Prayer for this event is welcomed!

SUNDAY: We encountered brutal wind chill but all were in good spirits and the march went well!

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Camilla Hersh, “The Happiness Specialist”, World Magazine, January 23, 2016, p. 29

Linking with A Little R & R, WholeHearted Home,  So Much at Home, Tell it to Me TuesdayTitus 2sdayTuesdays with a Twist, the Homemaking Party,  Word of God Speak, Grace & Truth,  Essential FridaysWeekend Whispers and Faith Filled Friday.

Christmas Bells Still Ringing — from the Pen of a Poet

 

Christmas Bells

Over the past couple weeks I have encountered Henry Wadsworth Longfellow twice. I picked up a coffee table book at a home I was visiting. The book had beautiful photos, enticing recipes and quotes from famous writers. One of the quotes was from Longfellow and I wrote it down.  I was touched by his words about gardens.  (The quote  will  appear in a future post.)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Jennifer Chiaverini’s novel,  Christmas Bells, gives vignettes of       Longfellow’s life. He encountered tragedy and lived through the pain and turmoil of the Civil War. Towards the end of the Civil War he wrote the poem, “Christmas Bells”. You may have heard it sung. The first line is “I heard the bells on Christmas Day . . .”

The scenes from Longfellow’s life are paired with the story of a modern day family. It was a little challenging for me to grasp the structure of the story at first. This modern story was composed of one scene viewed from the perspective of about six people. Each sees the events that take place a little differently during a children’s choir rehearsal. They are singing “Christmas Bells” of course.

I was really pleased to read the history behind the poem, “Christmas Bells” and I am inspired to read more of Longfellow’s poetry. Personal tragedy and the war almost drove the poet to despair, but he finished his poem with this stanza.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead: nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Note: The photo of the bells and the engraving of Longfellow are via Wikimedia Commons and are public domain.

Linking with Friendship Friday,  Literacy Musing MondayBooknificent ThursdayWholehearted Wednesday, A Little R & R, and Hope in Every Season.

Pasties and Pickles for a Complete Meal

Over the Christmas holidays my husband I traveled first to Michigan where we spent Christmas with my mother, sister and brother. After a brief interlude at home we drove to a town west of St. Louis, Missouri. We rented a house near Lake Sherwood and all of our children and grandchildren joined us. We had some great family time during our four days together.

Lake Sherwood

We had time for many conversations, a walk along the road, board games and a day of adventure at the City Museum in St. Louis. We took turns providing meals. I chose to make the family favorite meal, pasties—well, a favorite among the adults. The nice thing about this meal is that I was able to make the pasties ahead of time, freeze them and bring them along as a ready meal. I let them thaw in the refrigerator at our rental and then baked them for 40 minutes to heat them through. To appease the children I left the onions out of the pasties and included dill pickles as a side dish.

Pasties are a traditional meal in Upper Michigan. The copper miners would take these meat & potato filled pies with them for a meal in the mine. The shops in Upper Michigan still sell them. I have posted the recipe before, but here it is again.

Pastry:

3 C. flour
½ tsp. salt
2/3 C. shortening
1 egg yolk
½ C + 2 Tblsp. cold water
1 Tblsp. cider vinegar

Combine flour and salt. Cut in the shortening until it appears as coarse crumbs.

Mix the egg yolk, water and vinegar. Gradually add this to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork. Mix just until it holds together. If needed, add additional water a tablespoon at a time.

Divide the dough into six portions and roll out each portion to a 9” circle.

Filling:

1 lb. round steak, diced or coarsely ground
1 C. rutabaga, chopped
½ C. finely chopped onion
4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 rounded tsp. salt
Pepper (optional)

Place a generous cup of filling on half of each dough circle. Fold the other half of dough over the filling and crimp the edges. Place the pasties on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Serve hot.

Pasty

If you are planning to freeze the pasties and reheat them later, the bake time can be reduced to 50 minutes.

The dill pickles were a hit. I made them using cucumbers from one sister’s garden, garlic from another sister’s garden and dill from my garden. I came across the recipe for a small batch of pickles here.

Linking with From the Farm,  Titus 2sdays,  Tuesdays with a Twist, the Art of Homemaking,  Friendship Friday and Family Friendship & Faith Link-up

One Word for the New Year

The practice of choosing one word  for  the  New Year  has been an    inspiration for me. Last year my word was gracious, and having this word in mind I was more conscious of my conversation and actions. I paused a little more, seeking kind words. I have been thinking and praying about one word for 2016.

Relationships are on my mind.  I would like to see greater depth in   relationships and openness to new relationships.  Could I grow and  assist others to grow? In the book of Ephesians Paul writes about good work.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.            Ephesians 2:10

The key words in this verse are in Christ Jesus. The good work is possible through Jesus. And so my life needs to be centered on Jesus, drawing strength from a vital relationship with Jesus. Jesus tells us:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit. John 15: 1-2

Images from my garden come to mind. The fruit produced by the raspberry bushes in my yard is a delight.

Red Raspberries 2

In my relationships I desire positive growth, willing to be pruned. This means more time in prayer.

With these thoughts in mind, I have chosen the word fruitful. Have you chosen a word for 2016?

Linking with Sharing His Beauty,  Weekend Whispers,  Essential FridaysSitting Among FriendsGrowing in GraceA Little R & RWholeHearted Wednesday,  Hope in Every SeasonTitus 2sday,  Monday Musings and Word of God Speak