The Tulips at Windmill Island Gardens

In late April of 2012 we visited Windmill Island Gardens in Holland Michigan. The park wasn’t due to open quite yet, but the tulips were early and we were fortunate to see the gardens in full bloom.

The Tulips at Windmill Gardens

Tulips have so many varied colors. It it a tribute to the Creator of all flowers.

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The news and politics can weigh heavy on my mind, but God makes rest and joy available in nature. I have some tulips blooming in my yard– and happy memories of Windmill Island.

When I go out to the garden the noise and rush of the world comes to a pause. Now the peony stems and buds are poking through the soil. The lilacs are beginning to bloom and I see the promise of berries on bushes and strawberry plants.

The poem by Winifred Mary Letts (1882 – 1972) makes me smile.

That God once loved a garden
we learn in Holy Writ.
And seeing gardens in the
Spring I well can credit it.

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It is easier follow the guidance given in Philippians while working in the garden.

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.           Philippians 4:8

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Can you imagine what it was like for Adam and Eve to talk with God in the first garden?

Linking with Word of God SpeakGrace & Truth,  Thought Provoking ThursdayNature Notes, Seasons and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

The Forsythia & God’s Faithfulness

Forsythia Marks the Anniversary

Today is the 27th anniversary of my son’s passing away and entering eternity. Last year I wrote the illness and faith of our little boy. You can read about Steven here.

God has healed the wound in my heart, but it took time. Only when I was far enough from my initial grief, could I look back and see the hand of God guiding and supporting our family.

Steven was loved. He knew that God loved him.

The Psalms convey both the pain of suffering and the confidence in God’s love.

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and a buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

Nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,  nor the        destruction that wastes at the noonday. Psalm 91:4-6

I must confess that in the last days of Steven’s life I felt like I was on the edge of a cliff, about to plunge into darkness. I wasn’t sure of my faith. But I never stopped praying. I poured out my pain before God. The Psalms provided an example for me to follow.

Christian friends stood by us, offering their faith and prayers. Over time I was able to see the places where God had been present with us. I believe that I will see Steven again, as the Bible promises.

If you are going through a stiff trial, don’t be afraid to pour out doubts and fears in prayer. God hears and He is faithful. Let others pray for you also. Trust that as you walk forward you will see evidence of God’s hand on your life.

Linking with Let Us Grow, Grace & Truth and Word of God Speak

Let Us Grow

 

The Color Red in Spring

Tulip

The robins are back
Hopping across the green grass
Displaying red breasts.

Robin

While the cardinals
Warble a sweet a melody
Eluding my sight.

Cardinal

High in tree branches
This bird sings a song of joy
To the Creator.

Linking with Nature’s Notes,  Seasons and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

The Passionate Work of Lilias Trotter and Margaret Sanger

Recently I completed reading books about two women that demonstrated different kinds of passion. I have read the Autobiography of Margaret Sanger, followed by A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter. The lives of these two women had some similarities and some great contrasts.

Lilias Trotter & Margaret Sanger

Both women came from large families, though Lilias Trotter (1853–1928) had more nurture and resources as a child,  growing up in      England. Margaret Sanger was born in New York and lived her later years in Arizona (1879–1966). Each eventually became involved with social causes.

Lilias attended Christian conferences, taught a Bible Class at the Welbeck Street Institue (which offered a hostel for young women), and opened her own home to provide social hours for working women.

Margaret Sanger was one of eleven children and when her mother died at the age of 48 she had to take on many responsibilities. Eventually she left home, went through nurses’ training and did home visits for maternity care. She saw difficult situations that poor women faced.

As Lilia continued her outreach to young women she was also developing her skill as an artist. She was invited to spend time polishing her gift under the guidance of John Ruskin.

Margaret left nursing, married Bill Sanger, an architect and artist. The couple faced challenges—Margaret’s treatment for tuberculosis, the loss of a home to fire. They had three children. When they settled in an apartment they became involved with radical groups. Margaret writes  “Our living room became a gathering place where liberals,    anarchists, Socialists and I.W.W.’s could meet.”*

Lilias’ passion was to bring the message of the gospel to people by      living with them and loving them. Although she was a gifted artist, encouraged by John Ruskin to devote herself to art, she chose to establish a mission in Algiers.

Margaret’s passion was to relieve the suffering of poor women by making birth control available. She left her husband and young children to travel the world, researching the topic of overpopulation. As she pursued contraception she joined forces with people promoting eugenics.

The difference that I see in these two women is this. One was devoted to prayer and loving service; the other was out to solve human problems through her own intellect and effort.

As I consider the initial goal that Margaret Sanger had, I am saddened. Did she improve the status of poor women? Our culture has become dependent on contraceptives. Are marriages more stable? Are women better off?

Forty per cent of births in the U.S. are to single mothers. (See statistics from the CDC).

What was the impact of Lilias Trotter’s work? She  wrote about legacy in a book, Parables of the Cross. “The results need not end with our earthly days. Should Jesus tarry our works will follow us . . . God may use, by reason of the wonderful solidarity of His Church, the things that He has wrought in us, for the blessing of souls unknown to us.”**

Here is the link to an interesting article about the focus in Lilias’ life (written by the author of the biography).

*The Autobiography of Margaret Sanger,  Dover Publications, Inc. :     Mineola, New York. 1971. p. 70

**Miriam Huffman Rockness, A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter, Discovery House Publishers: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2003. p. 325.

Linking with Literacy Musing Monday,  Grace & Truth, Friendship Friday and Booknificent Thursday

Review: God’s Not Dead 2

HHS Mandate and Little Sisters of the Poor

After a week of traveling to attend to extended family needs, it is good to be back home.   This morning I participated in Bible study with dear friends at my church.   In the afternoon my husband and I went to see  God’s Not Dead 2.

Can a teacher mention Jesus in a public school class? The film shows a court case involving religious freedom. Although similar cases have occurred in the U.S., this story is fiction. I enjoyed seeing Lee Strobel, Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee make appearances in the movie.

Two points made by the movie have stayed with me.

  1. Prayer was a key element in the story.

The teacher prayed, her grandfather prayed and large groups of     people prayed throughout the trial.

  1. The community—not just the individual—was involved.

Many Christians, in different places, played a role in supporting the teacher who was on trial.

I know that there are times in my life when I have been so focused on personal issues that I have neglected to see the big picture. Standing firm in faith and supporting other believers is increasingly important.

The gospel of John records Jesus’ instruction for us.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13: 34-35

The early church provides a great example.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the     fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2: 42

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.               Colossians 4: 2

God's Not Dead 2

Prayer: Lord God, we praise you for your great love and sacrifice for us. We give thanks for the examples of faith that we have in the Bible. Guide us when our faith is challenged and increase our love.

Linking with Word of God Speak, Let Us Grow,  Grace & Truth,  Friendship Friday,  Thought Provoking Thursday,  A Little R & R and Whole Hearted Wednesday

Morning Prayers

Morning Prayers
Daffodils at a roadside rest stop in Michigan

The lives of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Lilias Trotter are a great               inspiration for me. Both spent much time in prayer.  Here are quotes from each.

The morning prayer determines the day.

Squandered time of which we are ashamed, temptations to which we succumb, weakness and lack of courage in work, disorganization and lack of discipline in our thoughts and in our conversation with others, all have their own origin most often in the neglect of morning prayer. Order and distribution of our time become more firm where they originate in prayer. Temptations which accompany the working day will be conquered on the basis of the morning breakthrough to God. Decisions, demanded by work, become easier and simpler where they are made not in the fear of men but only in the sight of God. “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men”  (Col. 3:23). *

The things that are impossible with men are possible with God. May it not be that the human impossibility is just the very thing that sets His Hand free?–& that it is the things which are possible for us to do that He is in a measure to let alone. **

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Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the     Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.                              Ephesians 6: 14-18

This is a practice that I want to embrace. Let me start each day with the Lord!

*Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: Prayer Book of the Bible, Augsburg Fortress: Minneapolis, MN. 1970

** Miriam Rockness, A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter, Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI. 2003  

Linking with Us Coffee & JesusSeasonsLiteracy Musing Monday, Sue’s Wordless Wednesday,  Weekend Whispers, Word of God Speak,  Grace & Truth,  Thought Provoking Thursday and Whole Hearted Wednesday

Periods, Pills and Home Birth

Some of the common practices in our culture are worth questioning. As a nurse I like to keep track of health news. I am a firm believer in women learning about their bodies in order to pursue health. I have collected some articles related to women’s health.

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Verily magazine published an article, 4 Things Your Period is Telling You About Your Health That You Shouldn’t Ignore. Menstrual periods have negative connotations for us, but they are a part of a rhythm of health. It is good practice to pay attention to signs from the body. Click here to read the article.

A new documentary is being released about the risks and side effects of the pill. The film is produced by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein and is based on the book, Sweetening the Pill by Holly Grigg-Spall. Late and Epstein also produced the film, The Business of Being Born. To read about the documentary click here.

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When I was growing up, the fundamental Finnish Lutheran Church that I attended frowned on birth control—but it wasn’t a topic for     discussion. By the time I married, it was assumed at premarital doctor appointments that a young woman would get a prescription for some form of birth control. Birth control has become routine.

When I came across an article by Chelsen Vicari, an Evangelical Protestant, I had to agree with her as she raised questions about birth control. Evangelical Protestants don’t talk about contraception. She states: It was almost as if Protestants were sworn to secrecy when it came to discussions about chemical and hormonal contraception. Is it an issue that we should seek God’s guidance for?

Vicari examines both religious views and the health risks of hormonal contraception. To read the whole article click here.

I am glad that I was able to have open conversations with my daughters. One of my daughters introduced me to the Theology of the Body as taught by Pope John Paul II.

My personal experience with home birth demonstrated to me that many women are able to give birth with a minimum of interventions. The approach to birth is different from the hospital, yet involves safe practices.

The article, 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Home Birth, gives an accurate picture of midwife practice in the home. Click here.

Linking with Titus 2sday,  Tuesdays with a Twist and A Little R & R

Sunshine Muffins: Gluten Free

Last weekend I added some apricots to cornmeal muffins.  I enjoy    creating muffin recipes, a healthy treat for the grandchildren. Muffins are so easy to make.  These muffins were moist and tasty–they were a hit on Easter Sunday. Here is the recipe.

First prepare the apricots. Simmer one cup of dried apricots in a cup of water for about 10 minutes to soften them. Then drain the liquid.

Sunshine Muffins

Melt ¾ cup of butter and allow it to cool.

Preheat the oven at 375˚ F.

Prepare the muffin tins. (The recipe makes 20 to 24 muffins depending on size.) I like to grease my heavy iron muffin pan. I place the pan in the oven about 5 minutes before I am going to add the batter, preheating the pan.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl:

1 + ½ cup yellow corn meal
1 cup gluten free flour (or unbleached flour if no gluten sensitivity)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Gluten free flour from Costco
Gluten free flour from Costco

Add the remaining ingredients to a blender:

1 cup softened apricots
¾ cup melted and cooled butter
1 medium carrot, cut into pieces
1 cup rice milk
2 eggs
¼ cup honey

Gluten free muffins

Blend until smooth.

Gluten free muffins

Then add this mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until combined.

Glen free muffins

Place about ¼ cup of batter in each muffin cup.

Bake at 375˚ for 22 to 24 minutes.   The edges of the muffin will be    beginning to brown. Let stand for 5 minutes and then remove muffins and place on a cooling rack.

Cornmeal muffins with apricot and carrot

Enjoy!!

Linking with Real Food Friday, Mom to Mom Mondays,  Friendship FridayWhole Hearted Wednesday,  A Little R & R and Classical Homemaking

A Primitive Path at Tent Rock National Park

Rejoice & Pray

We visited Tent Rock National Park in New Mexico. I was easy to see how the park had gotten its name.   A rocky trail weaves through   narrow canyons and continues upward to the peak of the rock formations.

A sign at the beginning of the trail was accurate—as we found out.

Tent Rock National Park

We climbed, slipping occasionally. Sometimes large rocks lay across the path. The Christian life has similarities. We encounter troubles and challenges. But we also have a good shepherd.

Psalm 23 reminds us that Jesus is with us, guiding us.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

Valery of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Tent Rock National Park

When Jesus is our Savior we have access to the Lord in prayer.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.   Let your     reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and    supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.           Philippians 4: 4-7

Linking with Weekend WhispersWord of God SpeakFaith Filled Friday, SusanBMead,  Grace & TruthThought Provoking Thursday,  A Little R & R,  Seasons and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

Easter: A New Covenant

A New Covenant

 

Memories of the week leading up to Easter stretch back into my childhood. I was blessed to grow up in a home where we read the Bible and attended church regularly. Like any family we had problems, but the foundation for my faith developed from hearing the Word of God.

In past years I attended Maundy Thursday services. What is Maundy Thursday? It commemorates the day of the last supper. The following scripture describes this event.

And when the hour came, he relined at the table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.   For I tell you I will not eat it   until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks he said, Take this and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them saying, “This is my body that is given for you.   Do this in    remembrance of me.” And like wise the cup after they had eaten, saying , “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” Luke 22: 14-20

Communion was served on this quiet day of reflection. Communion symbolizes the new covenant.   God offers us forgiveness of sin and   salvation through Jesus. 

When my husband and I traveled to Israel we visited the site of a deep pit. The theory is that Jesus was held in this pit prior to the crucifixion.

Church of St. Peter, Jerusalem
The Church of St. Peter was built on the site of this dungeon in Jerusalem

It is hard to take in fully the pain and confusion that the followers of Jesus must have felt in the days between Jesus arrest and his triumph over death. Peter’s denial of Christ gives us a little glimpse.

St. Peter's Denial
Sculture in the Courtyard of the Church of St. Peter

Out of deep sorrow comes great joy. So much wonder and joy in the scene that the apostle John describes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look in the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means teacher). John 20: 11-16

 

New Covenant

One of my favorite songs on Easter morning is Christ Arose.

Death cannot keep his prey—Jesus my Savior!
He tore the bars away—Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

I am praising God for the new covenant of grace.

Linking with Soul Survival,  Weekend Whispers, Word of God SpeakFaith Filled Friday and Friendship Friday