The Lights Along the Shore

We laid my brother to rest.   For years he suffered with mental illness,    going from hospital to home, to hospital to group home.

In February I was with him during a two week time period, spending every day at the hospital. While I was at his bedside he began to sing the hymn, Let the Lower Lights be Burning.

Here are the lyrics:

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy from his lighthouse evermore

But to us he gives the keeping of the lights along the shore

Let the lower lights be burning,send a gleam across the wave

Some poor fainting struggling seaman, you may rescue, you may save

Glenn went to a nursing home from the hospital.

Glenn struggled with his situation. At times he was witty with interesting questions. He found enjoyment in music and appreciated good music. The years and medication took their toll on Glenn’s life.

The memory of our day together in May will linger. We took Glenn out from the nursing home. We had a wheelchair for him and wheeled him through a park. The sunshine was bright and the temperature was moderate—a perfect day to enjoy nature.  Glenn had his favorite meal, a hamburger and a milkshake.

Let the Lower Lights Be Burning

Days have passed since the funeral and the words to Let the Lower Lights Be Burning keep replaying in my thoughts. We can be the lights along the shore for someone that is struggling in life. I want to be more attentive to the people God places in my path.

Book Review: Women Who Move Mountains

The title of the book drew my attention. Women Who Move Mountains: praying with confidence, boldness and grace. Prayer has been a central part of my life. I was curious about Sue Detweiler’s perspective.

The first chapter is titled I Believe: Transforming Fear into Faith.  The  author tells her own story of a fearful event that became a foundation for faith. She expresses a theme of the book with these encouraging words: Coming toward the light of Jesus will bring peace to your heart and mind. You don’t have to have everything figured out. You just need to know the One who holds the world together–Jesus!

Several chapters give examples of the brokenness caused by sexual abuse and/or abortion.  Tragic relationships and the abuse of  women  occurred in Bible times. And still happens. Detweiler records the stories of women.

The Bible gives guidance for help and healing. Detweiler refers to the woman with the alabaster flask (Luke 7: 36-50) in chapter five. This woman, a known sinner, washes Jesus feet with her tears and anoints him with a valuable perfume. The men that are with Jesus are outraged because she touches Jesus. Jesus defends the woman. He proclaims that her sins are forgiven. He does not judge her; he heals her.

Other areas of brokenness that are addressed in the book include perfectionism, anxiety, pride, shame and sadness. Jesus knows the situations that we as women face. Our Savior offers forgiveness and healing. We are all broken in different ways.   We may try to fix the problem  with   limited success. Detweiler provides scripture to show that healing and fulfillment comes through a relationship with the Savior.

Like Rhonda in chapter 19, I have lost a son. My story is similar because I continued to pray, to talk with God.    Through prayer I received  God’s  answer to my pain and loss. I have found peace. Our family has been blessed with a growing faith in God’s love for us.

The chapters of the book alternate between the stories of women and a study outline for overcoming difficult issues. The odd number include lessons from biblical women. The even number chapters provide a study sheet that can be worked through individually or with a group.

In addition to praying for healing the book provides guidance for praying with grace, humility and boldness. The Bible verses for guidance are well chosen. Like Sue Detweiler I believe that prayer is vitally important.

Part two of the book is organized into 21 days of reflection and prayer. If you are seeking a a deeper relationship with God, if you want to improve your prayer life, you will appreciate the guidance in this book.

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Owls in My Cherry Tree

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: EXPECT

expect: to anticipate or look forward to the coming occurrence

The sweet cherry tree in my yard is laden down with fruit.

Cherries

Everyday the cherries look a little bit riper.

Cherries

But the birds are ready to feast now!

Robins and chickadees lunge at the tree.

So I am trying something new.

I have placed a large owl in the tree.

And a smaller one.Owl

Someone said that hanging old CDs in the tree

Is a deterrent—they reflect sunlight and spin with the wind.

While I am willing to share some of the cherries with the birds, I expect enough ripe cherries to make a few desserts. I love cherry pie.

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Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule: Book Review

History provides lessons that we can learn from. The Civil War years in our country were a time of great division. Jennifer Chiaverini has written several historical novels set in this time period. I found the book about Julia and Ulysses Grant to be especially interesting.

My knowledge of our eighteenth president was limited. I knew that Grant had been a general in the Union army during the Civil War. I didn’t know that he was a devoted family man.

Chiaverini’s novel, Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule, paints a picture of the Grant family throughout the Civil War and a brief summary of the years at the Whitehouse. It was fascinating to learn more about the southern belle married to a northern abolitionist.

Mrs. Grant actually kept a slave through the beginning of the Civil War, even though her husband was against it. That their marriage survived and their devotion to each other continued to grow, I found inspiring.

Chiaverini did extensive research for this book. The list of resources is long and includes the memoirs written by Julia Dent Grant and her husband Ulysses S. Grant. Julia and Ulysses had a strong and loving marriage. They endured family disapproval when they married. Julia learned to adjust to military life during the Civil War, and then thrived as First Lady through Grant’s two terms as president.

Following the years at the White House, the Grants had financial challenges. It was interesting to learn that Mark Twain was a family friend and had a significant role in the publication of Grant’s memoirs.

As I read through this novel I was reminded that our country has been through many tumultuous times. Our leaders are human, subject to error.

In the book two former slaves (fictional characters) comment about Julia and Ulysses Grant: “He wasn’t a perfect man or a perfect president, but he was a loving father and a devoted husband . . . We’re all sinners in need of the Lord’s redemptive grace and forgiveness . . . General Grant and his wife too.” *

We have a great need to pray for our leaders.

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* Jennifer Chiaverini, Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule, New York: Penguin Random House Company, 2015, p. 357.

Healthy Thoughts About Parenting

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: FUTURE

When I look back over my years of parenting, I realize that I have made mistakes. I would do some things differently. But I have also done some things right.

I prayed for my children consistently.

We made dietary changes. The combination of vaccines and courses of antibiotics led to health problems. I removed all refined sugar from our diet for a period of time.   And then I removed wheat.   We  learned  to  appreciate a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and grains.

I found ways to include garlic in my cooking and made garlic tea for colds. Garlic has antibacterial qualities.

When I think about the future, I have concerns about children and the number of medications they receive. If you have read my blog, you probably know that I am concerned about the number of vaccines recommended for children. I support informed consent for parents. //

The Bible says that we are wonderfully made.

Psalm 139

God has given us a body with an amazing immune system. We can support it with a healthy diet, regular hours of sleep, exercise and sunshine.

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We Built a Fairy House

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: VISIT

Today my three-year-old granddaughter came to visit.   She  had  just   arrived when she showed me a book she had been looking at.  It had fairy houses. “Grandma, will you help me make a fairy house?”

I didn’t know what to say at first. Then I suggested that we walk around the backyard. This sweet little girl began pointing out flowers and we picked a few. We talked and she stimulated my imagination. I collected a couple large pieces of bark—she was delighted to see a couple roly-poly bugs (also known as pill bugs) on the bark. She played with the bugs as I propped the bark over an empty little plant container.

Then her imagination took over, and as I handed her leaves and pieces of vine, she continued to build the “fairy house”.

A Fairy House

It was a special time. We talked about the wonderful variety in God’s creation.//

We looked at the currant bushes with abundant green berries. We picked a gooseberry, not quite ripe but pretty to look at.

Gooseberry

My granddaughter pointed out a yellow flower that had grown volunteer, maybe a calendula.

It is truly a gift to spend time with a child, seeing the world with her. I delighted in the imagination of my little granddaughter. In our time together I had an opportunity to share my thoughts about God.

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Three Courageous Nurses

Several nurses have made their mark on history. It is inspiring to read about their lives. Florence Nightingale felt called to a life of service and pursued nursing against the wishes of her family. When Britain entered the Crimean War, she went to Crimea. She passionately worked for the proper care of wounded soldiers, recognizing the need for sanitary conditions, basic nursing care and adequate nutrition. Cecil Woodham Smith is the author of a detailed biography of Florence Nightingale*.

Florence Nightingale
Portrait of Florence Nightingale by Evert Duyckinick

Sixty years later another nurse would have an impact during wartime. Edith Cavell   was directing a rapidly expanding nursing school  and  clinic in Brussels when WWI broke out. Edith was a woman of deep faith. She was dedicated to treating soldiers on both sides of the conflict. She was also a part of a network that allowed French and English soldiers to escape from German capture.

Courtesy of Wellcome-Library, London

The Story of Edith Cavell** is part of a series of Signature Books written about famous men and women. The author, Iris Winton, begins the book with a description of Edith’s childhood. She was the daughter of a vicar in Swardeston, England. Following her education in boarding schools, she became a governess. She returned home to be the caregiver for her father’s illness, and then chose to pursue nursing. The story is told gently but honestly, following the actual events in Edith’s life.   It concludes with the  trial  and  execution of Edith. The book is meant for school age children, but would benefit from parental guidance.

Previously I reviewed a book about an Israeli nurse-midwife, Raquela Levy.   Raquela provided midwife care to Jewish  refugees  arriving  in  Israel following WWII. You can read my review here.

I have also been reading mystery books about a fictional nurse, Bess Crawford. The novels are set in England and France during WWI. Bess provides surgical assistance and nursing care at the front. She is strong, determined to follow through difficulties for the sake of her patients. She heroically enters complex situations and brings resolution to mysterious events. The next book in the series, and on my list to read, is An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd.***

Bess is a fictional heroine.   Florence Nightingale,  Edith Cavell  and Raquela are real heroines. I recommend the biographies for girls and young women.  It is inspiring to learn about courageous women with an influence for good.

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*Cecil Woodham-Smith, Florence Nightingale, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1951.

**Iris Winton, The Story of Edith Cavell, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1959.

*** Charles Todd, An Impartial Witness, New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2010.

Grace, Mercy and Truth

On Fridays I join the community at Kate Motaung’s blog. We write for five minutes on a prompt. Today’s word is: TRUTH

It was one of those nights—I woke up at 2:00 am and could not go back to sleep. I picked up a Bess Crawford mystery, thinking that I would just read a couple chapters. Three hours later I put the book down, hoping to get a couple hours of sleep before my day began.

Bess Crawford is a fictional character drawn from the imagination of a mother/son writing team (Charles Todd). Bess is a WWII nurse that goes to the front as a surgical nurse. Sometimes she has a reprieve, and she is assisting convalescing soldiers or tracking down relatives. But always she is pursuing truth and serving the patients she encounters with compassion.

The end of each book brings a sense of satisfaction. The truth has been discovered and Bess has acted with courage and kindness. //

There is a deep yearning in the human heart for truth.

David, the shepherd and later the king, lived through a turbulent time in Israel. His thoughts are captured in the Psalms. Psalm 25 is attributed to David.

All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm 25:10 KGV

Another translation of this verse adds insight.

All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm 25:10 ESV

When life takes unexpected turns we can trust the faithfulness of God. His word stabilizes us. The importance of truth is highlighted in this verse:

Send out your light and truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Psalm 43:3

God is the source of truth. We need the word of God in our lives. When our world is chaotic we can find truth by following Jesus.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

Did you notice that mercy and truth are connected in scripture? Only the Lord Jesus can offer us grace as we confront the reality of sin. Praise God that he provides mercy and grace for us!

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Flowers in Winter

The lilacs are blooming in my backyard.

Blue Lilac

The choke cherry tree extends it branches fluttering with green leaves and tiny white blossoms. Spring is in full bloom and Sunday is Mother’s Day. My husband and I will travel to Michigan to visit Mom in the nursing home.

My mother is in the winter of her life. Mom is confused about who I am—a sister? a daughter? Her mind is in the past. As her dementia slowly progressed I did not always respond well. I was frustrated by her behavior. I didn’t understand.

A friend pointed me to Alzheimers Reading Room. It has been a big help. (Note: this is a great resource for understanding dementia and alzheimers.) I wasn’t going to fix Mom. I needed to enter her world and support her.

My goal is to give thanks for  Mom  and  her sacrificial care for me, to  honor her. I am thankful for the people that have prayed for me during this time. The Bible encourages us to pray for one another.

Is there someone you can pray for? Or a woman that you can honor?

The Bible also encourages us to put our trust in God in all circumstances.
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62: 7-8

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We Should Pray

It’s Five Minute Friday! We write for five minutes and share our posts at Kate Motaung’s community. Today’s prompt is: should

Likewise the Spirit helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26 KGV

Bible

Are you ever in the position of not knowing how to pray for a situation? You have great concerns but you don’t know what you should ask?

My husband and I are spending more time in prayer. Over the years we have prayed together for our family and our church—sporadically. I can say that we have never prayed enough.

Now we are retired. We have a devotional book of the Psalms that we read every morning and then we spend some time in prayer. We pray for our children and grandchildren, for my mother, brothers and sisters. We pray for people in our church. We pray for leaders in government.

Sometimes the situation is complex and we don’t know what should be done. It is a great comfort to raise the concern to the Lord, knowing that the Holy Spirit will intercede for us. //

Spending time in prayer provides a release of tension and I believe that the Holy Spirit gives us gentle nudges to point us in the right direction.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Philippians 4:6 MSG

Prayer

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