A Little Return to Normalcy

My husband and I will attend a football game at the high school tonight. Each marching band member is permitted two guests at the game. Our grandson and granddaughter will be playing trumpet and flute. It is a bit of a return to normal.

The past year has been hard on children and teens. I am glad my daughter chose to home school the younger children, instead of trying remote learning. 

I had a brief introduction to remote learning during spring break. My daughter signed up the three youngest children for a zoom class on geology. She was unavailable to monitor it, so I agreed to help. The teacher had a great lesson plan and I had the worksheets for the children. There was a fairly wide span of ages participating. As the class proceeded children had questions and comments like “I have a pretty rock. Can I show it to you?” 

The teacher graciously said, “You can take a picture and send it to me after class.”

The child responded, “Oh no, I will go outside and get it for you now.”

A parent jumped in with, “The children need to know which rock you are talking about now.”

As we listened and watched the screen, I tried to steer my three children with the worksheets we were filling in, attempting to get the names of the rocks correctly. I sighed with relief when the 45-minute class was done. 

The teens had remote learning until the beginning of the new year—so many hours on computer screens. After a couple months of part-time in person, they are finally going to school full-time in person. 

In the fall, my hope is that all children will be permitted to go back to school full-time. Without a vaccine mandate to attend. The vaccine is experimental and we don’t know the long-term consequences. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? When will we have enough data? I read an article about the changes some women are seeing in their menstrual cycles following vaccination. 

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Springtime

Spring flowers and the Elderberry Bush

The warm weather and spring flowers are so welcome. I am enjoying daffodils, tulips, violets and cherry blossoms as I begin gardening.

Daffodils
Tulips

The elderberry bushes in my backyard have produced well, providing berries for elderberry juice. I can the juice, and throughout the past months I have enjoyed adding a couple tablespoons of elderberry juice to my tea in the evenings.

elderberries
Elderberries from a previous summer

Unfortunately I planted one elderberry bush in the corner of my garden. Last summer new shoots of elderberry plants were popping up all over the garden. The roots have extended throughout the garden space. We cut down that sprawling bush, and I planted new starts in defined areas of our yard.

My current task is digging up the shoots and roots that remain in the garden. If you plant an elderberry bush in your yard be careful where you plant it. Elderberry can be invasive.

Sharing this post with Sue’s Wordless Wednesday and Hearth and Soul link-up and Tuesday with a Twist.

Words of Gentleness

During the years of Jesus ministry on earth there was political turmoil—not so different from our world today. There was division among the Jews: Pharisees, Sadducees, zealots and followers of Jesus. And they were ruled by the Romans. 

Jesus didn’t offer a political solution. He was focused on turning the hearts and minds of the people to God, to forgive sins. He healed people spiritually

Last Sunday we sang a hymn that you might associate with Christmas. Who Is He in Yonder Stall gives snapshots of Jesus’ life. It is a beautiful description of our Savior.

Who is He in yonder stall, at whose feet the shepherds fall? Who is He is deep distress, fasting in the wilderness?

Who is He the people bless for his words of gentleness? Who is He to whom they bring all the sick and sorrowing?

Who is He who stands and weeps at the grave where Laz’rus sleeps? Who is He the gath’ring throng greet with loud triumphant song?

Lo, at midnight, who is He, prays in dark Gethsemane? Who is He on yonder tree, dies in grief and agony?

Who is He that from the grave comes to heal and help and save? Who is He that from His throne rules through all the world alone?

‘Tis the Lord! Oh, wondrous story! ‘Tis the Lord! The King of glory!At his feet we humbly fall, Crown Him! Crown Him, Lord of all! 

Benjamin Hanby (1833 – 1867)

May we follow Jesus’ example, engaging our culture with gentleness. May we obediently follow our Lord and Savior.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community.

The Gospel in Guatemala

After completing a year of employment as a nurse in a Detroit hospital I went on a mission trip. I served as a guest helper for Wycliffe Bible translators in Guatemala. I went to a little village, two hours or more from Guatemala City.

The village of Cubulco was surrounded by mountains. I remember unpaved streets and adobe type houses. Early in the morning the roosters were crowing. Some nights I could hear the sound of a marimba.

Mary Shaw and Helen Neuenswander were translating the New Testament into the Achi language. Helen was a nurse, also providing health care to the Mayan Indians at a clinic—the Indians had no other place to get help for health problems.  I assisted at the clinic.

Whenever Helen was in the village men, women and children began lining up at the clinic early in the morning. They came on foot from the surrounding area. Helen continued to see patients until dark.

I helped with medications, talked with patients in my limited Spanish (and their limited Spanish) and did whatever Helen asked. The days were long and exhausting.

For a couple of weeks, a midwife and I stayed at the clinic open while Helen was away. We did not see nearly as many people at the clinic, but we were called out to a house in the mountains where a woman had been in labor a long time. Eventually she had to be carried down from the mountain on a stretcher and transported to a hospital.

After four months I returned home and made plans to attend the Summer Institute of Linguistics to prepare for work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. I completed the first summer of training, but then family needs took me on a different life path. 

Recently I heard a speaker who stimulated memories of Guatemala. The Ambassador to the United Nations from Guatemala, Luis Lam, was talking about a bit of history. In 1948 the United States was the first country to recognize the provisional government of Israel, Guatemala was next. During the previous administration the United States moved our embassy to Jerusalem. Under President Morales, Guatemala followed our lead. The Ambassador is a man of faith and he alluded to others in the government. You can hear his message on the World Prayer Network. The growing Christian movement in Guatemala warms my heart. 

There is some fascinating history in Guatemala. Cameron Townsend was the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators. His initial translation of the New Testament into an Indian language (Cakchiquel) took place in Guatemala during the 1920s. Townsend believed that when people had the Bible in their own language it would lead them to faith in God. You can read about Cameron Townsend’s vision here.

What is the effect of God’s Word on a community? On a country?

I wondered what had happened to the clinic in Cubulco. I did an internet search and found several articles written by Mary Shaw on a blog. In 1984 the Achi New Testament was completed and printed. The town held a great celebration. In 1990 a hospital was opened in Cubulco, Centro Medico Christiano, La Senorita Elena (as Helen was known in the village). 

This week is Holy Week. The New Testament records the Passover, Jesus’ crucifixion, His sacrifice for our sin and His resurrection. The gospel is a message for all people. God loves us and offers to redeem us through Jesus.

Sharing this post with Heart Encouragement.

Experiments in Planting and Cooking

The Lord has blessed the earth with an amazing array of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Each produces seed according to its kind. I am thankful!

I have begun to start a few tomato plants indoors, and I am looking forward to their fruit. I was happy to see that seed saved from currant tomatoes several years ago has sprouted.

In the past year I have been paying more attention to making flavorful meals. We have not gone out to eat since last year’s lockdown. A couple of times we have ordered a meal and picked it up curbside. At home I am experimenting with new recipes—and enjoying it.

On Saturdays I sometimes catch a couple of cooking shows. I picked up some tips from Lydia’s Kitchen. I watched how she made chicken parmesan (only she didn’t use parmesan cheese). After flattening boneless and skinless chicken thighs with a wooden tool, she dredged them in flour and then dipped them in beaten egg. Final dip was in breadcrumbs. She fried the chicken thighs in olive oil (both sides) and placed them in a baking dish. She added fresh tomato slices on the chicken, followed by pieces of fontina cheese. The chicken was place in a 350° oven and baked for about 40 minutes. I made this recipe as I remembered it. There might have been additional tomato sauce. I was content with the tomato slices, and we savored the chicken.

Another show I enjoy is New Scan Cooking. The chef takes the viewer on a tour of northern Norway, sometimes cooking on an outdoor grill. He shared his favorite coffee recipe and of course I took notice. What do you think of adding an egg yolk to coffee? I haven’t tried it yet, but will sometime. Here is the recipe. 

I am sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community and the Hearth and Soul Link Party .

The First Weeks with a Newborn Infant: 10 Recommendations

Childbirth can be exhausting. There are ways to prepare for this time period and ways to reduce stress during the first few weeks after giving birth.

In the final weeks of pregnancy stock up on basic household needs and staple items (like we have been doing through the pandemic). During the first few weeks after childbirth shopping may be difficult to squeeze in. You may want to have a supply of paper plates to simplify mealtime clean-up.

The first two days after giving birth should be spent resting and getting to know the baby. It is important to sleep and recuperate. Women who do not get adequate sleep these first two days may develop a sleep hunger that persists.

When you go home with your newborn, be aware that an infant has no concept of night and day. One of your first tasks as a parent is to teach your baby that daytime is for socializing and nighttime is for sleeping. You can get this message across by keeping lights dimmed and avoiding any interaction other than feeding or soothing at night. This practice will help your baby have his longest sleeping stretch at night

In order to feel good, it is important to eat balanced meals, but when you are home meal preparation time is limited with the new tasks of caring for an infant. In the final weeks of pregnancy plan ahead. Whenever possible cook double amounts and freeze extra for meals later. Mornings are usually the best time to organize the evening meal.

Recognize that time for household chores will be limited after the baby is born and begin to organize priorities. Which household tasks are most important to you? How long do they take and how often do they need to be done? By developing some priorities, you will avoid being overwhelmed. Low priority items can be left for the late afternoon when an infant may have a fussy period.

If you have a two-level home be sure to have a changing table and nursery supplies on the first level. Climbing should be minimized at first. Following a cesarean section, stairs should be avoided for two weeks. In that case, have all of your living needs on one level, temporarily. 

Observe your baby and get to know his/her personality. What is her favorite sleeping position? What techniques are most soothing: rocking, being snuggly wrapped, sucking, music? Every baby is an individual and has preferences. As you get to know your infant and begin to read his cues, parenting will become easier and increasingly satisfying.

As your baby grows include her in your morning activities. Place the infant seat in the room where you are working. An alert baby enjoys companionship.

Communicate with your partner specific ways to be helpful. Talk about expectations that you have of each other. How do you see each other’s roles?

Keep healthy snacks available. Fresh fruit, carrots, celery, yogurt, cheese and granola bars provide a quick nutritious boost.

Photo courtesy of Carlo Navarro on Unsplash.

This post is shared with #Alittlebitofeverything Link-up

Birth During the Pandemic

Yesterday I listened to a couple take about their birth experience. They had planned to have a home birth. Having had the experience of assisting at home births, I thought their choice was good—especially during the pandemic.

Unfortunately, the mom needed to be transferred to the hospital after many hours of labor. Soon after arriving she had a cesarean section. I was pleased to hear that they placed the baby on her chest, skin to skin in the operating room—a soothing and a bonding moment for mom and baby.

The baby was then taken to the neonatal intensive care unit due to a low blood sugar. The mom was tested for covid and although she had no symptoms, she tested positive. As a result, neither she nor or husband was allowed to go into the nursery. They were separated from their newborn for ten days.

It saddens me to hear how covid has affected procedures in hospital birth care. The couple has returned home with their baby. They are redeeming time together, bonding with their baby.

So many things are more difficult during this time. My heart goes out to new mothers who are recovering from the emotional experience of birth. How did it feel to be attached to monitors and intravenous lines with care givers coming in with masks and face shields? Did they have a support person with them throughout labor? As they think about the birth experience, they are in a process of physical recovery.

Recently I found a file with notes that I had shared with my Lamaze classes.

The physical changes that occur in a woman’s body in the days and weeks following birth are enormous. The uterus which has grown to a two-pound sac at the time of birth will reduce down to a two-ounce muscle in six weeks (hence the after-birth pains).

Vaginal drainage (lochia), which lasts about two weeks, marks the healing process of the uterine lining.

During pregnancy a woman’s blood volume has gradually increased, supporting the growing baby. In the first week after birth, approximately five pounds of excess fluid are lost through urine and sweat.

Following birth there are major hormonal shifts. Estrogen and progesterone drop off markedly and prolactin levels peak. The body prepares for breast milk production. All of this happens after the exhausting event of labor!

In a future post I will share ways to prepare for the recovery period following childbirth.

Note: photo is courtesy of T. Adriaenssen

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: REDEEM

International Women’s Day

This post was originally posted in 2017.

As women in the United States we can give thanks for the progress that has been made in women’s rights and opportunities. My maternal grandmother and paternal great-grandmothers immigrated to Michigan from Finland. With great effort they raised families while managing subsistence farms. My paternal grandmother wanted to go to elementary school but was needed at home.

I am thankful for these women!

My opportunities are much greater than theirs were. I have benefited from their sacrifices.

I recently finished reading I Came a Stranger: The Story of a Hull-House Girl*. Hilda Satt Polachek came to the United States from Poland as a child.   Within two years her of family’s arrival,  her father died. Hilda’s mother was faced with raising the family in a new country. Hilda went to work in a knitting factory at the age of thirteen to help support the family. She received help and encouragement from the Hull House women.

In the United States we have made great  progress, and  we need to      acknowledge this. Women have equal rights and opportunities.

Currently more young women are going to college than young men. Click here for the research.

I am thankful for God’s word and the assurance that He loves me, a woman. Jesus demonstrated his respect, his concern and his equal treatment of women.

I am thankful for my church and the freedom to worship that we have in the United States. Many women in the world do not have this freedom or the same opportunities.

Gratitude leads to a sense of joy.

Psalm 34 has some verses of praise and thanksgiving. 

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be continually in my mouth.  I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.    Psalm 34: 1,4 

What can you give thanks for?

*Hilda Satt Polacheck edited by Dena Polacheck Epstein, I Came a Stranger: The Story of a Hull-House Girl, University of Illinois Press, 1989

UPDATE 3/7/2020: As I give thanks for God’s love and design for women, I realize that many women are abused. The reality of human trafficking became clear as I read The Third Daughter by Talia Career. How can this evil be stopped? 

UPDATE 3/8/21 As migrants seek to enter the U.S. southern border I wonder how many young women will be trafficked. It is a great evil. I pray that congress will fix our immigration laws for greater safety of both migrants and citizens of our country.

We have a new challenge with the White House executive order to allow biological males to compete in women’s sports. I pray that our government will acknowledge the science, the physiology of the human body. Men and women are physically different, but loved equally by God.

Celebrating Springtime

Green is the color of spring time.

The snow is melting and snowdrops are raising their white petals to the sun. I am looking forward to tulips and daffodils. I give thanks for the seasons and all that God has created in nature.

In the soil, below the surface, plants are awakening. Some things happen outside of our view. It is the same in the spiritual world. God is at work in the world even when we don’t see it. The disciples were confused when Jesus was crucified and then amazed, filled with joy when Jesus appeared to them, having risen from the dead.

On this side of the cross, we celebrate Easter. What if we had been there with the disciples? What are the unseen workings of God now? 

This morning I read the account of Peter’s arrest during the week of Passover. James had been killed and the persecution of Jesus’ followers was increasing.

So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

Now when Herod was about to bring him out [releasing him to those who would kill him], on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold an angel of the Lord stood next to him . . . Acts 12: 5-7

The angel leads Peter out of the prison, but Peter is thinking that he is seeing a vision. He doesn’t realize what has happened until the angel leaves him along a street. Peter did not expect this miraculous work of God.

Neither did Rhoda or the believers that were praying for Peter. Rhoda was so surprised that she forgot to open the door for Peter when he knocked. She recognized his voice and ran to tell the others. No one believed her. When finally someone opened the door, all were amazed.

God is at work in the world. We don’t know specifically how God will answer our prayers. We do know that he has a plan that is constantly moving forward. 

We can celebrate with joy: springtime, Easter and the continuation of God’s plans for his people.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community and Heart Encouragement.

A Path of Peace and Joy

My husband and I are committed to reading through the Bible in one year. We have a schedule of texts that our pastor provided. We read out loud to each other, two selections in the morning and two selections in the evening.

Currently we are reading a chapter from Exodus and a chapter from Acts in the morning. In the evening we read passages from Psalms and Proverbs.

The Bible is consistent. It demonstrates God’s holiness, righteousness, justice and love. The people in the Bible have human failings. Their sins are recorded transparently.

Woven through the human story is a message of love and redemption. The Bible records God’s plan of redemption from promise to fulfillment.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17

When we seek God and confess our sins, he hears us.

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13

God enables us to live a life of peace and joy.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11

Do you know the story of Queen Esther? Esther was courageous in taking steps to save her people from the plot of Haman. Mordecai motivated Esther to take action, and Esther asked her people to pray. The people prayed and called out to God. He heard their cry. Today God’s deliverance of the Jewish people in Persia is remembered. Today is the celebration of Purim.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Todays prompt is: ENABLE I’m also linking up with Heart Encouragement.