An Ancient Call to Holy Living

In this new year our women’s precept group has begun to study the book of Deuteronomy. As the book begins Moses is reviewing the history of Israel’s release from slavery in Egypt and their years in the wilderness. Then he goes on to give them specific instructions.

In chapter six he gives God’s command for the families. Orthodox Jews recite these verses daily as a part of the Shema. Click here for explanation of the Shema.

These verses apply to us as Christians. 

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today  shall be on your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6: 4-9

My eyes cloud with tears as I think about our culture and the state of the Church in America. 

This is a reminder to me— a verse that I want to memorize. The Bible needs to be a consistent part of daily life. It is important to notice God’s hand in our lives.

We need to tell our stories of faith to our children and grandchildren, to the people in our circle of influence. Do you have a story to tell? 

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. To read more inspiring thoughts based on the prompt, INFLUENCE, click here.

Illness, Resilience and Spirituality

Two years ago I began corresponding with Marguerite Bouvard. She was looking for contributors for an anthology on illness and faith. I offered to write a chapter about my family’s experience caring for our son during his treatment for leukemia.

We continued to e-mail back and forth. I wrote my chapter, and Marguerite edited the anthology that includes the stories of twelve people that refer to different faith traditions:Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Native American,Yoga.  The book is titled Illness, Resilience and Spirituality.

Now I have the book in hand, and as I read through the chapters I see vulnerability as well as resilience. The book is not theological. It is the way twelve people have encountered illness and death, along with the questions that come with human frailty.

A serious illness leads to a search for hope. Some chapters have a perspective that seem self reliant. Other chapters find hope through the Bible and prayer. A couple of chapters mention how the faith of a grandmother was influential. 

Victoria Molt’s account of faith and prayer through mental illness touched me. My brother’s illness has sensitized me to the isolation that many with mental illness experience. 

The importance of a faith community stands out in many of the chapters. 

The chapter that I wrote is the first in the book and is titled, “Prayers Through Illness and Loss”. The book is available on Amazon. 

This post is linked with Booknificent Thursday and Literary Musing Monday

Coffee and Warm Cinnamon Rolls for the Melody of Life

On New Year’s Day we like to sip coffee and enjoy cinnamon rolls while we watch the Rose Parade on TV. I have a recipe that allows me to make the dough the afternoon/evening before, and then in the morning I shape and bake the rolls. 

My dear husband makes the coffee, flavored with cardamon. See the recipe in this post.

This year the theme of the Rose Parade was The Melody of Life. The great array of flowers, seeds, beans and vegetables used to make the beautiful floats are a testament to life created by God.

From my perspective mothers have a significant role in the melody of life and I was hoping that there would be some reference.  Towards the end of the parade a float sponsored by Mrs. Meyer’s natural household products went by.  I have used Mrs. Meyer’s lemon verbena and lavender scented dish detergents.

The ABC commentator mentioned that Mrs. Meyer, mother nine children, was on the float. I was pleased, but it didn’t dispel the sadness that we are missing so many children.

Babies and children are also part of the melody of life. Life News has reported that abortion was the leading cause of death in 2018. It is a great tragedy. Education about abortion will continue through organizations like Students for Life. The March for Life will take place again this month.

Here is my recipe for cinnamon rolls.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup butter (10 tablespoons)

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup hot mashed potatoes

1 cup milk (almond, coconut or rice milk)

1 Tablespoon dry active yeast

1/2 cup warm water

2 eggs well beaten

5 -6 cups unbleached white flour (sometimes I reduce the amount of white flour, substituting one cup of spelt, barley or oat flour)

Add the butter to the mashed potatoes and mix to melt and combine. Add milk, honey and salt. Set this mixture aside and add the yeast to the warm water. Allow the yeast to begin to bubble and then add to the potato mixture (which should be lukewarm). Blend thoroughly and add the eggs, mixing well. Add flour to make a stiff dough.

I mix the dough in a large bowl and test the stiffness by kneading with my hand. If the dough is too sticky I add a little more flour. The dough should become elastic, a little sticky but holding together.

Then I place the dough in a large lightly greased bowl (with room to allow the dough to cool rise). Cover the bowl with a plate or waxed paper.

Ingredients for preparing cinnamon rolls:

1/2 cup butter

6 Tblsp. brown sugar

6 Tblsp. maple syrup

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 + 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. 

Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Roll out 1/2 of the dough into a rectangle—approximately 16” x 9”. Melt butter and spread 2 tablespoons over dough. Sprinkle dough with cinnamon sugar. Roll up the dough, beginning with long side of rectangle. You will have a roll-up that is 16 inches in length.

Prepare three 9” round cake pans for rolls. Place 1 + 1/2 tablespoon melted butter in each pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in each pan. Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup to each pan and gently spread and mix.

Cut the rolled up dough into 2 inch pieces and place them cut side up in the prepared pans—about six rolls per pan. Repeat process with 2nd half of dough to fill the pans. Allow to rise for 20 to 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until rolls are beginning to brown. Turn out of the pans right after taking them from the oven. Let cool for as long as you can wait and enjoy!

Sharing this post with the Homemaking Party.


When Pain Leads to Prayer

After Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden God said, I will greatly increase your pain in childbearing; withpain you will give birth to children. Genesis 3:16

Was this a punishment or a way of reminding Eve to seek God’s help?

In my own life, periods of suffering have motivated me to communicate with God. When our son was diagnosed with leukemia I experienced great emotional pain. I learned to open my heart and ask God the questions that were weighing heavily. The Psalms were helpful in guiding my prayers. I prayed for God’s help and guidance.

Pain can cause us to pause and seek help.  

For a period of time I attended women who labored and gave birth at home. As labor intensified they sometimes prayed. One mother asked her husband to pray. Another mama asked me to pray.

As I observed the prayers I saw faith and motherhood in a new way. Beginning motherhood with a prayer for God’s help was right.

Christmas is coming. Do you wonder about the birth of Jesus? Certainly Mary experienced pain. What was it like for Mary?

Mary and Manger

Yes, there was pain and stress but God demonstrated great love and grace in the incarnation.

Jesus experienced the ultimate pain as he approached death on the cross. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Father if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22: 42-44

Pain, prayer and love are connected.

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday community is: WITH

The manger scene is courtesy of FreeVintageArt.com

Memorable Books that I read in 2018

The local libraries are a wonderful resource. Many of the books I have read this year were from the library. Others I purchased or received as gifts. Here are some that were enlightening, thought provoking or an engaging read.

Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia

Dr. Dunlop explains the progression of the disease along with suggestions for relating with the person with dementia. When the disease is well progressed an individual may not remember the past and have little interest in the future. But they can still enjoy moments in the present. This book gave me insights into important aspects for my mother’s care.

Redeeming the Feminine Soul

Julie Roys discusses terms that come up in the church: patriarchy, complementarianism and egalitarianism. She discusses her own struggle to acknowledge her feminity. She writes: Gender, marriage, sexuality—it was all designed to help us understand God and how he relates to us.

A Place to Land

Kate Motaung’s memoir is a story of God’s grace throughout the events of her life. As she tells her story she takes the reader along with her from Michigan to South Africa. This author shares her moments of struggle and doubt. A thread of brokenness runs through the book—we live in a broken world. We all experience some brokenness in our families. But there is hope.

Until We Reach Home

Lynn Austin’s historical novel captured my interest. Three Swedish sisters immigrate to Chicago. Each sister had a unique story, and a spiritual development. After reading this book I looked for other books by Lynn Austin. Waves of Mercyis another historical novel—this one set in Holland, Michigan.

Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon

Ray Rhodes wrote a detailed biography of the wife of Charles Spurgeon, a famous preacher in England during the Victorian era. Although I have heard of Charles  Spurgeon, I did not realize the extent of his popularity. I did not know that Susannah was vital to his ministry. Despite physical frailty she was a constant support for him and had a significant role in the preservation of his sermons. 

Killer Smile

Lisa Scottoline has written a series of books about an all women law practice. They are novels and plot driven. I am careful to pick up a book when I have a space of time to read. Often I end up staying up too late because I can’t put the book down. In this book, lawyer Mary DiNunzio is researching an internment camp for Italian immigrants during WWII.

The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies

Dawn Raffel has patched together the story of a man who saved the lives of premature infants in the early 1900s. She gathered research from immigration records, from doctors that had done their own research on Mr. Couney, from interviews with senior adults that had benefited from his incubator care as infants.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis 

Patti Callahan has written a historical novel about Joy Davidman, the woman who married C.S. Lewis. The book is heavily researched and details Joy’s accomplishment as a writer in her own right. It also gives an account of her first marriage to Bill Gresham. Some years ago I read C.S. Lewis’ book, A Grief Observed, and I have always wondered about this woman that Lewis grew to love so deeply.

A Forgotten Place

Charles Todd (the pen name for a mother & son writing team) has written a series of books about a nurse during WWI. This is the latest book about Bess Crawford. I especially enjoyed how well the setting in Wales was conveyed.

For more book recommendations visit Kate Motaung’s link-up. Click here.

This post is also linked with Booknificent Thursday 

Jesus and the Family

This advent season we have attended beautiful concerts. Our grandchildren participated in a Christmas program at their church. The fours & fives sang Away in a Manger. Older children read scripture and sang additional Christmas carols. Advent is a time to share the celebration of Christ’s birth with others. 

I have been writing Christmas cards and receiving messages from friends that date back to my high school and college days. Our friendship continues.

Christmas is a time that ties family and friends together. And yet, some of the deepest pain comes from loss and broken relationships during the holidays.

God sent Jesus to an imperfect human family. This is significant. Jesus lived a sinless life in a human family and then offered himself as payment for our sin. He offers us salvation and the opportunity to become a member of God’s family . . . forever!


Nativity

When we reflect on this truth we see God’s great love for us and find the joy of Christmas.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46: 10

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday community is: STILL

Deep and Time Honored Messages of Hope

In the past few months my husband and I have been worshipping on Sunday mornings with a church plant. We gather in a room of a nearby hotel. The musically talented members of our group lead the singing. Sometimes our singing is accompanied by keyboard, by violin or acapella.

We have sung some of the older hymns. Some are new to me. I don’t have a great voice but I enjoy participating, letting the words wash over me. It gives me peace to sing hymns that believers have lifted their voices to over many years.

Samuel Trevor Francis, an English pastor and hymn writer, gave us this hymn:

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Vast unmeasured, boundless, free
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth,
Changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches oer His loved ones,
Died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth,
Watcheth oer them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Love of every love the best!
Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
Tis a haven of sweet rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus.
Tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory,
For it lifts me up to Thee!

We are entering the advent season with the opportunity to hear and sing Christmas carols. I am looking forward to going to Candlelight Carols at Moody Church tomorrow. Our niece is a student at Moody Bible Institute and will be playing in the orchestra.

The hymns and carols are a salve for our soul. Do you have a favorite hymn?

This post is participating in Five Minute Friday. The prompt is: DEEP

Every Baby is Valuable

My daughter gave me the book, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved thousands of American Babies. The cover of the book suited the title.

Saving Premature Babies

The book is an attempt to follow the life and work of a man credited with saving the life of premature babies in the beginning of the  20th   century. At the time, infants weighing less than three pounds seldom survived. Dr. Couney was saving them.

He reserved  space  for  his  sideshow,  Infant Incubators with Living Infants, at expositions and amusement parks. It sounds distasteful to have infants in sideshows. The shows brought in money to cover the cost of infant care with profit.

Medical professionals criticized Dr. Couney for putting infants on display, even though hospitals were not equipped to provide care for little preemies. The author of this book noted that there wasn’t a choice between a sideshow and an ideal situation.  The choice in many cases, was  between a sideshow and letting children die*.

I was impressed by the practical approach that Dr. Couney had. The goal was to insure that the infants received breast milk for nourishment. Sometimes the mother would make daily trips to the show to breast feed her infant. Otherwise a wet nurse provided the breast milk. The infants were fed on schedule around the clock. If the baby couldn’t suck, breast milk was given with a tiny spoon.

Dr. Counney understood the need for absolutely sanitary conditions in the incubators that provided warmth. Babies were bathed and linens were changed. While caring for the infants, the nurses held and cuddled them.

Dr. Couney’s practice was successful in saving the life of many babies born prematurely. He recognized the value of feeding breast milk, maintaining excellent sanitary conditions and human touch.

There are a number of questions that the author pursues in her research. Was Dr. Couney really a doctor? Did he go to a medical school?

Update: Towards the end of the book one more observation about the health and survival of Dr. Couney’s premature babies is given. The author quotes a woman who was saved through Dr. Couney’s incubator care and was examined at New York Hospital when she was nine years old. “They said to my father, ‘There is something we don’t understand. All the babies that were in our incubators are going blind–but your baby’s eyes are good.’ “

Not until years later would the medical profession see the connection between the oxygen concentration that infants received in hospital nurseries and the development of blindness. A high oxygen concentration given to save the premature infant caused retrolental fibroplasia.

This post in linked to Five Minute Friday. Our prompt is: VALUE

*Dawn Raffel, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies, New York: Blue Rider Press, 2018, p. 126.

Experiencing the Goodness of Marriage

Thanksgiving is approaching and I have begun some early preparations. Our family has a favorite cornbread dressing, but it is a complicated and time-consuming recipe. I have made it ahead. While in the kitchen I have been thinking about many blessings in my life, especially one.

I am thankful for my husband. We have been married for 41 years and have experienced good times and difficult times. God has helped us through the hard times.

This past summer we became the interim caregivers for our five grandchildren ages 18 months to twelve years. Our oldest grandchild was suddenly in need of emergency care. Shortly after arriving at the hospital he was taken to the operating room for a bleeding brain aneurysm. Our daughter and son-in-law took turns at his bedside for the month that he was in the hospital.

By God’s grace our grandson received amazing medical care and is recovering. I was glad to have my husband by my side as we managed the daily needs in a busy household.

It was the same way when our son was fighting leukemia. We worked together.

As I thought about this I went and gave my husband a big hug. I told him, “I am thankful for you.” He was a bit surprised by the sudden affection but smiled with gladness.

Thanksgiving

What are you thankful for?

Today’s prompt for the Five Minute Friday writing community is: ONE

Should We Fear the Measles?

News reports about the measles are appearing in several states including Michigan and New York. The tone of the reports is fearful. It urges everyone to be sure they have been vaccinated . . . unless they were born before 1957.

Everyone born before 1957 is assumed to have natural immunity. I had the measles as a kid, and so did my siblings. We had a fever and a rash. We stayed home from school for a week.

Research indicates that a healthy diet and vitamin A supplementation is beneficial in recovering from this childhood illness. The immune system is put to work, is exercised, and that is beneficial to health. The result is natural immunity.

The development of a vaccine for measles has been considered a great step forward in health care. It might be time to review the science and the long term results from a vaccine that was introduced in the 1960s.

An article in BMJ, a British medical journal, discusses the effects of the measles vaccination program on a population.

There is a fact rarely considered by public health officials: vaccination is not an intervention that eliminates disease exposure for individuals. Vaccination replaces wild exposure with artificial exposure, and they are not equal. We are many decades into mass vaccination campaigns, and it is alarming that instead of the medical and scientific community stepping back to examine the overall impact on public and individual health to see if current strategies should be reevaluated, the focus is on those who question or refuse vaccination.

Science must always be open to questions and re-evaluation.

Dr. Semmelweis argued that hand washing was important for doctors tending to women in childbirth, but it was decades before the truth of his claim was realized.

Women were given thalidomide during pregnancy to treat symptoms and later it was realized that thalidomide caused birth defects.

Hormone replacement therapy was common for women in menopause until a national study showed an increased risk for heart disease and cancer.

Currently the media is bashing people that have concerns about the vaccination schedule. The topic has become so hot that objective discussion seems impossible. For the sake of the children in this country we need to address the concerns and pay attention to independent research (free from conflict of interest).

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