New Ideas for the Garden

With lots of time at home I have been able to focus attention on gardening. My neighbor and I have shared tips and little plants across the back fence. I am looking forward to garden produce.

This year I have added mushroom compost to the garden to help break up the heavy clay soil. In some places I have added earthworm castings as a fertilizer. 

In the past I have lost squash and pumpkin plants to vine borers—the caterpillars that eats the inside of the plant’s vine. So I did an internet search for ways to prevent this problem. One suggestion was to place aluminum foil around the base of the stem—I tried that before without success. Or wrap the stem with cheese cloth. My squash and pumpkin plants now have cheese cloth around their stems.

Another suggestion was to companion plant nasturtium, chives, calendula or tansy around the squash/pumpkin plants. I have tansy and calendula growing next to the pumpkin plants and nasturtium and chives next to the squash. I also planted the squash in a new area, because rotating location of plants is a good idea. We’ll see how this experiment works.

For the tomato plants I put a mix of banana peel, crushed egg shell and coffee grounds deep in a hole, covered with some soil, before placing the tomato plant in.

I am thrilled that some of my herbs wintered over. The sage and thyme were in sheltered areas outside. My rosemary plant did well in a sunny bay window during the winter and is now outside.

I am looking forward to the time our state opens up—our district of Illinois is still shut down. I am anxious to have time together with friends and family. In the meantime gardening gets me outside, into the sunshine. I look in wonder at endless variety of plants and flowers that God has created for our enjoyment.

Do you have gardening tips for growing healthy plants?

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: FORWARD

Finding Joy in a Difficult Season

In so many ways life is not normal now. High school seniors are graduating without ceremony . . . the elderly are isolated in nursing homes without visitors . . . completely unexpected job loss . . . health care workers are furloughed.

Currently I am reading the biography of John Adams by David McCullough. The book is giving me a picture of what life was like leading up to and during the American Revolution. There was disruption, suffering and many challenges. Yet, Abigail and John Adams persevered.

The little book of Nehemiah in the Bible describes the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. The people were challenged and threatened. They guarded the wall by night and labored during the day. Nehemiah kept his focus on the grace, mercy and faithfulness of God. He set an example for the people and provided leadership. In the midst of difficulty there was thanksgiving.

We have great examples of faith to encourage us. God’s word and prayer are resources for us.

The LORD is good,

a stronghold in the day of trouble;

he knows those who take refuge in him. Nahum 1:7

The joy of the LORD is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10b

Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a writing prompt. Today’s prompt is: NORMAL. Linking this post with Five Minute Friday and Heart Encouragement.

The Pandemic and A Story in Genesis

During the current pandemic the existence of level 4 biosafety labs has come to light. It is in the news that the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease invested money in the Wuhan Lab. We wonder what happened at the lab in Wuhan. And we learn that level 4 biosafety labs exist in our country as well as other countries. 

What is the purpose of these labs? Studying and manipulating viruses is hazardous work. An interview with a scientist familiar with the dark side of these labs is now available on the internet. Click here.

Because of this pandemic we have groups of scientists, some funded by Bill Gates, rushing to develop a vaccine. 

Over the years I have had concerns about the side effects of vaccines and the one-size-fits all approach to vaccination. For all other medications we assess the individual for allergies and need. What are the risks and benefits?

Long after my children received the MMR vaccine I learned that it was developed from aborted fetal tissue. It took years of research on many aborted fetuses to achieve the vaccine. You can see a chronology of the fetuses used in the research for vaccines in this article.

Many universities seek aborted fetal body parts for ongoing research. How do we justify the sacrifice of infants, created by God, for the purpose of scientific research?

In the book of Genesis there is a brief story about an amazing tower.

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as the people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.Then they said, “Come let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth. . . So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Genesis 11:1- 4,8

From the text it appears that the people were looking to glorify themselves, ignoring God and his design for life.

Matthew Henry comments on this portion of scripture: God has various means, and effectual ones, to baffle and defeat the projects of proud men that set themselves against him, and particularly he divides them among themselves.

Do we have our own Tower of Babel now?

How Do We Overcome Fear?

Fear can distract us from a life of faith.

In my morning Bible study I have been reading about Nehemiah’s leadership in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, the city with a temple for God’s presence.

The Jews had enemies that did not want them to rebuild the walls. At first these enemies jeered and mocked them. When that didn’t stop the work on the wall, the enemy made a plan to attack.

But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. Nehemiah 4:7-8

Nehemiah prayed.

And we prayed to our God and set a guard of protection against them day and night. Nehemiah 4:9

Some of the people let fear take hold of them.

In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” Nehemiah 4:10

Nehemiah responded with a plan to guard every section of the wall as they rebuilt it. With prayer and dependence on God, with a strategic plan, the work continued.

As I mused on this text I thought about the way fear can be a controlling force. How is the cloud of fear surrounding the pandemic affecting me?

I can follow Nehemiah’s example of prayer. Nehemiah also had a practical plan, and then he stayed focused on the work God had called him to do.

More and more I have recognized my need for God’s wisdom. The time I spend in prayer is growing. My family has decisions to make regarding my mother’s care in the nursing home. The lockdown, the inability to visit is hard. 

We are encouraged to pray. Jesus is ready to intercede for us.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

 Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community and Heart Encouragement .

When I Observe the Robins

One of the things I miss most during the current shutdown is my weekly trips to the local library. I know, I could get e-books, but I prefer the book that I can hold in my hand. I also like to check the library shelves holding new releases.

So, instead I have been going through the books that I have. 

I am blessed to have a little cache of books loaned to me by a good friend. But I also have books that I had bought and placed on my book shelves, planning to read someday. I found the book, The Table Talk of Martin Luther, translated by William Hazlitt and edited by Thomas Kepler.

The book covers a variety of topics in short sections. Each section is a from a conversation of Martin Luther, his perspective. The first topic is God’s Word.

That the Bible is God’s word and book I prove thus: All things have been, and are, in the world, and the manner of their being, are described in the first book of Moses on the creation; even as God made and shaped the world, so does it stand to this day. . . . And ’tis no small miracle how God has preserved and protected this book . . .

Yesterday I was observing a couple of robins and discovered their nest. We have a large bush in front of our house. In the past week I have noticed rustling sounds and the flight of a bird.

Then yesterday two robins flew to a nearby tree. They twittered in a flustered fashion, and I was motivated to investigate. I peered into the thick branches of the bush. In the center of the bush, well hidden, was a nest. 

A little later I discovered that I could see the nest from my dining room window–and a robin settled in the nest.

I thought about the behavior of the robins; the ability to design a nest, nurture new life and protect the young. Have you ever watched a parent robin coaching a young robin as it learns to fly? God’s design is evident in all creatures.

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: PERSPECTIVE I’m also linking with Inspire me Monday and Heart Encouragement .

Another Day of Stay At Home

Today I woke up to another day of #StayAtHome and a blanket of snow on the ground. The snow continues to fall. Yesterday a tulip was opening to the sun. Today it is bravely standing tall in the snow.

During this period of lock down it is just my husband and I at home. Our daughters have young children and their homes are brimming with the voices of children, humming with activity. They call us every day to check on us and to remind us to stay home. We have FaceTime with the grandchildren.

We have Bible study and Sunday morning church gatherings over zoom. We are grateful to have the technology to do this.

In all of this dramatic change to daily life, remaining steadfast in faith is most important. God is good. He is allowing this pandemic; He is still at work in ways we can’t see. I have been studying the book of Ezra and just started Nehemiah. I am blessed by Nehemiah’s prayer of faith in chapter one.

It is a blessing to begin the day with Bible study and prayer. We need to share our faith with our family and friends. The children need to see us living out our faith.

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and still I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You have done great things, O God, who is like you?

You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. Psalm 71: 17-20  

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: ANOTHER And also linking with Heart Encouragement

The Women at the Garden Tomb

The dictionary gives these definitions for patient: manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain, steadfast despite opposition, difficulty or adversity.

When Jesus was crucified certain women demonstrated steadfast devotion. I have been thinking about them.

There were also many women there, looking from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. Matthew 27:55-56

The women watched as Jesus body was placed in the tomb.

And he [Joseph of Arimathea] rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. Matthew 27:60b-61

These women persisted in their service to Jesus.

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. Matthew 28:1

The book of John gives this perspective.

Now in the place where he [Jesus] was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. John 19:41-20:1

Mary went to tell Peter and John. Then she went back to the tomb.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into 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

It is hard to be patient and faithful when we don’t understand events that are taking place. We can be inspired by the example of these women and the promises that Jesus has given us in the Bible.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: PATIENT Also Linking up with Anita’s Inspire Me Monday .

We Need to Pray Now

My heart aches for our country.

This past Tuesday I went to a grocery store at 6:15 am, when the light of sunrise was spreading. It was senior shopping hours.

The store opened at 6 am and already many people were there. The tension in the store was palpable. Some people were wearing masks and a few had a bandana over their face. I had gloves but no mask. Everyone was focused on getting their groceries and getting out of the store as fast as possible.

At the delicatessen counter I wasn’t paying good attention and stepped to close to a man. He began to yell at me, claiming I was stupid. I backed away.

It is like a mist of fear has enveloped us.

My mother has dementia and is in a nursing home. We can’t visit her. We can’t explain what is going on. Her care givers are wearing masks. At first my sister was able to FaceTime when one of the caregivers had a phone available and could help. 

Now the staff is stretched thin with all the requirements they are receiving from the CDC and medicare. We can’t reach a nurse on the phone and have to trust they will call us if there is a change in her health.

All of this has been churning in my mind. We have an amazing medical system, but I wonder about the huge drive to be in control. Have we begun to believe that we can control life and death? 

We decide who can live as abortion continues. We do want to save lives by preventing the spread of the virus, by making ventilators available. But what about the spiritual care of the elderly and dying? I am deeply saddened by the number of people that die alone.

I don’t know the answer to my questions. We need God’s help. Our country needs to repent and turn to God, acknowledging that we are not enough, that being in control is an illusion.

Tomorrow (4/4) the Gospel Coalition is planning a day of prayer. This is a wonderful opportunity to join with others in prayer. Here is the link to the prayer guide and evening event.

The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’ Zechariah 8:21

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

Women Who Inspire Us

Today is the final day of March, Women’s History Month. The month has been designated for noting the contributions that women have made in our country. This year celebrates 100 years since women were given the right to vote. 

We remember the suffragettes. Their accomplishment is important, but there are other women who deserve our interest and respect.

Throughout history many women have used their God given abilities and talents for the benefits of others. It is inspiring to know about them.  

Eric Metaxis wrote succinct biographies of women who used their abilities in remarkable ways. In the book, Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness, Metaxis devotes a chapter to each of these women: Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Saint Maria of Paris, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa.

The names of some of these women are familiar, others not so much. I learned new facts about each of these women. I found the chapters about Hannah More and Saint Maria of Paris to be fascinating.

The book reminds me that every age has its challenges. The unique skills and abilities of women are needed. The University of Michigan’s School of Nursing Magazine has a page dedicated to 2020 The Year of the Nurse and Midwife. The timing of this designation is amazing. Nurses are on the frontlines of the pandemic all around the world.

Nurses have had huge roles at other times. Florence Nightingale was very influential during the Crimean War, saving lives. Edith Cavell was a nurse and a heroine during World War I. I wrote about these two nurses in a previous blog post. Read the post here, along with references.

Raquela Levy provided midwife care to Jewish refugees arriving in Israel at the end of World War II. For a review of the book, Raquela: Woman of Israel, by Ruth Gruber click here.

Each of the books mentioned is a good read.

Sharing this post with Anita’s Inspire Me Monday and Tuesdays with a Twist and Classical Homemaking .

The Pandemic Challenges Our Faith

Recently I read Tessa Afshar’s book, Daughter of Rome. The book is historical fiction centered on Priscilla of the Bible. One of the events told in the book is the couple’s forced move out of Rome. The Bible states that this happened.

After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all  Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. Acts 18:1-3

Priscilla and Aquila experienced a sudden change in their life. They had to establish their tent making business in a new locale and adapt. The unexpected blessing was meeting Paul in Corinth.

Afshar’s book is rich in color—she knows the Middle East. The Bible provides limited information about Priscilla, so many of the events in her book are imagined, but could have happened. I especially appreciate the themes of faith and forgiveness woven through the book.

With the worldwide pandemic we have experienced a sudden change in our lives. I don’t think I feel the crunch as much as some. I have adequate food. I am already retired from nursing (although I dreamed that I was going back to work). I am able to stay in touch with friends and family over social media and zoom.

My prayer is that I will be alert to ways that I can help. I have the time available to pray for our country, for people with illness or economic uncertainty, and for countries that are devastated by the corona virus.

The pandemic brings the realization that we are not as much in control as we think we are. God is sovereign and offers his love and guidance. Through Jesus we can have a relationship with God. If you have not repented and asked Jesus to be your Savior I encourage you to do this.

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