Storms of Life: Learning to Trust

The disciples were fishermen and skillful at managing a boat on the Sea of Galilee, but when a sudden storm came up, they were frightened. They didn’t know what to do. When they woke Jesus, who was asleep in the boat, they had no idea how he was going to save them. The event is recorded in Matthew 8:23-27

We like to feel that we are in control—we have expectations of how our life should go. My husband and I thought this way as we began our marriage.

We thought we would have two children in our family. (That was the recommendation for our generation because of fears of over population.) But my second pregnancy was twins. We were glad to have three children.

Fast forward six years and one of the twins was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. As we prayed for his health, he underwent chemotherapy and then a bone marrow transplant. In 1989 he entered eternal life.

We grieved. I longed for another child, knowing we could not replace Steven. But after the twins were born, I had developed severe complications. By God’s grace I did not have a hysterectomy, but I was advised not to become pregnant again.

God answered our prayers and I did conceive. I had a healthy pregnancy. God gave us a second son.

We may have expectations, but God is in control. As we consider the possibilities in life, we need to walk in relationship with God, steadfast in our faith.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will straight your path. Proverbs 3:5-6

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The Greater Good

Have you heard the phrase, “the greater good”? It refers to choices for the good of society, the good of a nation, outweighing individual rights. A high priest once spoke about the greater good for Israel.

Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up. “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” [John 11: 49-50] He was referring to Jesus.

There are two assumptions in Caiaphas’ statement. While it is true that the Romans were oppressing the people of Israel and there were outbursts of violence, the whole nation was not at risk of extinction. Or was he worried about the hierarchy? The priests and Sanhedrin?  

Next, he was assuming that the death of Jesus would solve the political unrest. He assumed the death of one man would be a simple solution for a complex situation.

Yet, Jesus chose to suffer and sacrifice his life to complete God’s plan of salvation. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross did not give the result that Caiaphas expected. It did not save the governing status quo. Jesus died and arose three days later to save individuals. Before his crucifixion he said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” [John 11:25]

Jesus was always concerned about the individual. He engaged with people that were despised: lepers, tax collectors, the Samaritan woman. He told the parable of the Lost Sheep as recorded in Matthew’s gospel. He spoke about the value of every child.

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18: 10-14 

I am reminded of what happened in Germany leading up to WWII. The Nazi government decided that individual rights stood in the way of building a great society. Louise Fein wrote a well-researched novel, Daughter of the Reich. The story begins in 1933, at the start of the Third Reich. As the government became more and more authoritarian, the liberty of the people was increasingly limited. The Jewish people were separated from society and terrorized. It is a haunting tale. 

The determination of “the greater good” can be based on a false premise. It can be a power grab. It can involve deception. We should learn from history.

Our leaders need wisdom from God. We need to pray for our country. God is greater than the “greater good”.

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The above illustration is The Good Shepherd painted by Ruth Owen Pook. Photograph by DTGrandfield83, CC BY-SA 4.0  via Wikimedia Commons

The Importance of Story

Jesus was a teacher and storyteller. The book of Matthew records numerous stories. While speaking to a crowd he told the parable of the sower who encountered different types of soil. (Matthew 13) Speaking to his disciples he told the story of the lost sheep (Matthew 18). There are many more parables throughout the gospels. Jesus would sometimes answer a question with a story.

I just finished reading Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan. The fictional characters, George and Megs, are exploring the importance of stories. George has read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and wants to know if Narnia is real. Megs is a student at Oxford and finds an opportunity to meet C.S. Lewis. She plans to ask him George’s question.

Once Upon a Wardrobe

The question is repeated different ways; where do stories come from? What do they mean? Is there a deep truth embedded in stories?

Patti has a well-researched knowledge of C.S. Lewis and includes biographical aspects of his life. At the end of the book C.S. Lewis’ stepson comments on the book. It is a good read. 

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The Hidden Child: Book Review

Whenever I visit the library, I check the display of new books. Recently The Hidden Child by Louise Fein caught my eye.

The Hidden Child

This historical novel, set in the 1920s, tells a story that connects the eugenics movement and the plight of a child with epilepsy. (Eugenics is a theory that the human race can be improved by preventing people with bad genes from giving birth.) Eleanor, Edward and their daughter, Mabel, live near London in England. Mabel is four years old when the story begins and by the time she is five she is having seizures.

The author researched epilepsy colonies in England and the Eugenics Society led by men in the United States and England. The goal of this society was to form a more ideal population and to limit the growth of population. With this in mind colonies of people with epilepsy and those considered “feeble-minded” were organized. If legislation could be passed, these people would be sterilized. 

The book is well written and thought provoking. Louise Fein has personal insight into the treatment of epilepsy because her daughter was treated for it. The author is telling a mother’s story, and as it unfolds, Eleanor’s growing courage and advocacy for Mabel is heartwarming.

While the main characters are fictional, historical characters are included. The case of Carrie Buck is mentioned in passing and I decided to check it out. Buck v. Bell was a Supreme Court case decided in 1927. Virginia had passed a law allowing forced sterilization of the “feeble-minded”. The Supreme Court upheld the law.

On May 2 of that year the court ruled that Virginia’s law was constitutional and that Buck should be sterilized. In the majority opinion Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes enthusiastically declared that the “principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes.” In an oft-quoted phrase, he concluded that “three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Consequently, Buck and approximately 8,300 other Virginians, including her younger half sister, were sterilized under the state law between 1927 and 1972. 

It is true that the state of Massachusetts passed a vaccine mandate for small pox that was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1905 (Jacobson v. Massachusetts). Persons that refused the vaccine were fined $5.00.

In 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court voted seven to two in favor of the state, ruling that although the state could not pass laws requiring vaccination in order to protect an individual, it could do so to protect the public in the case of a dangerous communicable disease.

The underlying belief is collectivism. In order to serve the greater good, individual liberty and health choice is sacrificed.

The discussion of vaccine mandates is back. In this situation the vaccine does not protect the public from the virus. Both the vaccinated and unvaccinated can become infected and transmit the disease.

I recently listened to a discussion of the inadequate safety testing of the Pfizer vaccine and the information that is hidden in the fine print of the vaccine trial documents. I am alarmed. You can hear the discussion of the Canadian Covid Care Alliance on Rumble.

In these trying time we truly need wisdom from God. I find comfort in this scripture verse. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5

Join me in praying for the Supreme Court Justices. May they seek wisdom from God.

On my trip to the library today I picked up Louise Fein’s earlier book, Daughter of the Reich.

Updated: 1/10/2022

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Who Is Listening for the Promise?

One of the Christmas cards I received had a drawing of Mary and Elizabeth. According to the book of Luke, Elizabeth was the first to learn of Mary’s pregnancy after the angel had appeared to Mary. She believed God’s plan.

Art by Mike Torevell

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Luke 1: 41-42

Matthew recorded the visit of the three wise men from the east. They had learned of the birth of Jesus from their study of the stars. They came to worship and bring gifts.

And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him. Then opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2: 9-11

Luke recorded the experience of shepherds who were tending their sheep.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over the flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For onto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2: 8-14

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. Luke 2: 15-17

Elizabeth, the wise men from the east and the shepherd received the announcement of a Savior, a King. Amidst the political turmoil, corruption of leaders and problems in daily life, they heard the message of hope. God was doing something, Let us be like them, ready to see and hear God at work. In another post I write about Mary and Elizabeth and how their hearts and minds were prepared for the coming Savior.

Our soul waits for the Lord, he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33: 20-22

Note: the card pictured above is from The Printery House at Conception Abbey 

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Christmas Community

Each day I look forward to the mail. It is a blessing and joy to receive Christmas cards and letters.

Sometimes it is a photo card and I marvel how the children in the family have grown. Other times it is a pretty card with a letter.

The cards and letters signify relationships and community. I am so thankful to hear from friends living in different states, different countries. We share the joy of Christmas along with family news.

The apostle Paul wrote letters to people of faith that he considered family. 

Paul, a servant of God . . . to Titus, my child in a common faith. Titus 1:1,4

Do you write a Christmas letter? Or send a photo card?

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The Best Expectation

Throughout the past year my husband and I have been reading through the Bible. Today our reading was from 1 Chronicles and Isaiah. The books we have read clearly illustrate human nature and the problem of sin in the lives of people who have gone before us.

After God chose Israel to be a nation to follow his commands—laws that would sustain them and allow them to flourish—the people wanted a king. They wanted to be like other nations.

And so they had kings. God continued to reach out to them through the prophets, promising a Savior that would redeem them from the human pattern of sin.

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be on his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forever more. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7

As years went by, the people waited. When Jesus came, he was not like their expectation. They were familiar with kings and power. They were hoping for a powerful king to overthrow the heavy hand of Roman rule.

It is interesting that in Matthew 13, Jesus tells three parables to describe the kingdom of heaven.

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field . . .  Again, the kingdom of heaven in like a merchant in search of fine pearls . . .  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. Matthew 13: 44, 45, 47

 It had to be so difficult to understand, that the promised Prince of Peace would also be a suffering Savior.

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, as one from whom men hid their faces. He was despised , and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God and afflected. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 52: 3-5

We live in a confusing and turbulent time. We can miss God’s plan of salvation if we are not seeking God with all our heart. What are my expectations? Can I lay them aside and wait patiently, prayerfully for God?

There is one expectation that I can claim. God will fulfill his promises.

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Esteeming Women and the Family

On Sunday and Wednesday evenings the World Prayer Network meets on the internet. Prayers are raised for concerns around the world.

This past Sunday prayers were offered in support of the 34 nations that have signed the Geneva Consensus Declaration. It was encouraging to learn about this document written in support of women’s health and the family unit.

Shannon Wixom lists the four pillars of the Geneva Consensus Declaration in an article posted on the United Families International website. She also lists the 34 nations that have signed the document.

Our numbers may be small, but our cause is just and our unity knows no bounds. Let each of us-whether individuals, organizations or nations-go forward holding steadfast to the pillars of the Geneva Consensus Declaration: concern for women’s health, protection of human life, strengthening the family as the basic unit of society, and defending the sovereignty of nations in creating their own life protection policies.

In 2020 the United States was a co-sponsor, along with Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia and Uganda. Sadly, in January of 2021 the United States withdrew its support.

I was surprised to learn about this. It has not been mentioned in any news story that I have come across. It encourages me to know that the health and wellbeing of women and the family unit is a high priority in 34 nations.

You can find the text of the Geneva Consensus Declaration here

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A Research Trail: Finding the Finnish Midwife

The trip to Finland in 2017 had several purposes. We were meeting some relatives for the first time at a family reunion in northern Finland.

After the reunion my husband I traveled south by train. When we arrived in Vaasa (western coast of Finland) we rented a car. The midwife that I had been researching lived in the area at one time. Her husband had owned a brewery in Anixor, which I assumed was a village outside of the city.

I wondered how we might find this place. We visited a museum village not far outside of Vaasa and I asked questions as we toured. When we left the museum and were back on the road, we saw signs for Old Vaasa and decided to check it out. We stumbled on the Korsholms parish church. 

We parked the car and I approached a man who was walking a dog and asked him if he knew where Anixor was. I showed him information I had found on the internet. He read it over and said, “No, but you could ask the priest. He is at the back of the church.”

We walked around the back, looking for an entrance. I saw a doorbell on the addition to the church and pressed it. As we stood waiting, a woman walked towards us. I showed her my information. She recognized the name, Anixor, but said. “It is a very small village, just a few houses. I don’t know how to tell you the way.”

As we were talking the priest came out and joined the discussion. He said, “I have a computer. We can google it.” He invited us to follow him, and we went into his living quarters. He was able to find a map that showed the place and the way to get there.

As we were talking, I explained that I was interested in the Pörn family that once lived in Anixor.

I asked if there were parish records.

He responded, “We must go see the church secretary.” He led us to another building on the church grounds.

The secretary listened with interest as I showed her an article about the midwife who had immigrated to the United States in 1895. She patiently went through the books of church records. 

She was able to find Hanna’s birth date, her marriage to Karl Edward and the date their son’s birth. She also found the death date of both son and husband. The family’s home in Anixor was listed as Lalle Farm.

She found information showing that Hanna had moved to Helsinki for two years after the death of her husband, presumably to take a nursing course.

After expressing many thanks to the priest and secretary, my husband drove to the little village of Anixor. It was down a country road and the area was bordered by a river. We found the house where Hanna had lived with Karl and extended family.

Some times research requires wandering.

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When the King George Asked All the People to Pray

Over the past few weeks, I have been reading How to Pray by Pete Greig and discussing the chapters with friends from our church. Chapter 6 focuses on intercession.

In this chapter Greig gives an example from WWII. He recounts the events of 1940 when allied troops were trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk. The Nazi troops were advancing toward them.

It was a desperate situation.

King George addressed the nation and asked people to go to church on Sunday, to pray for deliverance. As a result three amazing things happened. Citizens who possessed any size of boat prepared to make trips across the English Channel to rescue the soldiers—hundreds of boats assembled. The weather, clouds and storms, helped conceal their rescue mission and prevented an attack from the air. And for an unknown reason Hitler halted his ground troops. The soldiers were rescued.

We face a great challenge in our country with the pandemic and political strife. In the discussion of intercession, Grieg titles one section–Get informed: Engaging with the Facts.

With so much censorship taking place it is a challenge to get to the facts.

We have fear of covid, pressure to get vaccinated and cases of vaccine injury. There are protests over the vaccine mandate. Nurses, EMTs, pilots, firefighters and police are choosing to leave their jobs when their religious exemption is denied. 

Next week, November 8 to 11, truckers will strike, protesting the mandate.

My heart goes out to the vaccine injured who have been pretty much abandoned by our health care system. Recently a conference was held in Washington D.C. with vaccine injured people, Senator Ron Johnson and Dr. Peter Doshi. A young woman who was in a vaccine trial explained how her data was removed from the trial when she developed neurologic systems. A teenage girl was in the Pfizer trials and she in now in a wheelchair and has a feeding tube. A Pilot explained his symptoms and what happened when he was piloting a plane. A surgeon told his story. 

In order to have a deeper understanding of the vaccine issue I have been tuning into theHighWire.com. Del Bigtree was once part of the team that directed the medical talk show, The Doctors. He now has a team of lawyers and a medical journalist doing a deep dive into research. He has interviewed doctors and scientists who are raising questions. You can view the conference I mentioned on the High Wire.

When we are informed, we can ask for God’s help and guidance. 

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