Women Establishing Order in a War Zone

In 1917 eighteen Smith College graduates went to France to provide relief measures and establish order in war torn villages. Lauren Willig has written a novel based on the reports about this group. The author read a memoir by one of the members of the Smith College Relief Unit and letters written by the young women. It is an amazing story.

The book mentioned letters being censored and the difficulty in getting accurate information. The women often did not know what was going to happen next. Makes me think of the censoring of information today. Are we in a war?

From a writer’s point of view the story is well written. Conflict, dialogue and inner dialogue are well balanced and keep the story moving forward. It is a good read.

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community.

Strong Women: Midwives and Nurses

As we look back through history, we come across women who demonstrated faith and courage. Their actions were based on convictions. Some are midwives, and some are nurses.

The first book of Exodus records the confrontation between Pharoah and two midwives. Shiprah and Puah did not carry out the Pharoah’s orders. They saved the lives of Hebrew babies. I wrote about these two midwives in a 2019 blog post (click here).

Raquel Levy served as a midwife for Jewish survivors of WWII that were refused entry into Palestine. She went to the refugee camps to attend the Holocaust survivors. You can read my review of her biography here.

Florence Nightingale supervised a hospital for soldiers during the Crimean War. She made sanitary conditions and nutrition a priority. She led the way for health care standards in hospitals.

Edith Cavell was a director of a nursing school. During WWI she treated soldiers on both sides of the conflict in Brussels. She held fast to her faith, even as she was escorted to her execution. You can read more about these two nurses here.

Each of these strong women is an inspiration. 

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

Seasons and Life: Gifts from God

Have you heard this nursery rhyme? 

Monday’s child is fair of face
Tuesday’s child is full of grace
Wednesday’s child is full of woe
Thursday’s child has far to go
Friday’s child is loving and giving
Saturday’s child works hard for his living
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

I remember coming across it when my children were little. I have a child that was born on Monday, on Tuesday and on Wednesday. Yes, Monday’s child is fair of face, Tuesday’s child is full of grace, but Wednesday’s child is a joyful blessing—not full of woe. 

The rhyme is associated with ancient fortune telling ideas. Children are a gift from God. Every day is a good day for new life. Every season—spring, summer, fall and winter. One of my children was born in the spring, one in summer and one in the fall. I am most blessed by the family God has given. 

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

Immigrant Women and Midwives

A couple of books have stirred my thoughts and emotions. I read a lot—sometimes three books in a week.  I don’t review many. These two books have touched me.

The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin is historical fiction based on a real event. In 1888 a blizzard came on suddenly in Nebraska and took the lives of children returning home from school.

The families affected were Swedish immigrants establishing farms. A main character in the story is a wife that resents being isolated on a farm. She was far from sisters, friends and relatives. When she first immigrated, she lived in the city of Minneapolis.

The story brought to mind my grandmother. When she first immigrated at the age of nineteen, she lived in the town of Calumet, close to her brothers. Perhaps 10 years after her marriage my grandfather bought a farm, miles from town. She managed (developed) the farm and took care of the children while my grandfather worked in the mines to pay for the mortgage. My mother was born on the farm. She talked about her mother’s deep depression, due to the hard work and isolation.

My mother and her siblings were affected by the family dynamics. Yet, I am here because of my grandmother’s perseverance through a very difficult time. I have a deep debt of gratitude.

The German Midwife by Mandy Robotham is a historical novel that pursues speculation that Eva Braun, companion and finally wife of Adolf Hitler, gave birth. The story begins in a work camp, Ravensbruck, where a midwife is caring for pregnant women. 

Eventually she is ordered to be the companion/midwife for a pregnant woman in high standing in the Reich. She is taken to Adolf Hitler’s compound high in the mountains.

The author is a midwife and gives an accurate account of typical midwife care that is given to healthy women, giving birth in a home setting. It brought to mind the home births that I have attended. I share the belief that environment and emotional support have an impact on the progress of labor. I did a little research about Ravensbruck—was it really as bad as the story alludes? Click here for an article about the camp.

Linking this post with Tuesdays with a Twist .

Pause to Pray

A small group in our church is reading and discussing the book, How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People by Pete Grieg. Grieg introduces the acronym P.R.A.Y. Pause, Rejoice, Ask, Yield.

Why do we need to pause? Perhaps that is a silly question when we consider our hectic lives and the issues that we are currently confronting. Grieg writes:

The best way to start praying, therefore is actually to stop praying. To pause. To be still. To put down your prayer list and surrender your personal agenda. To stop talking at God long enough to focus on the wonder of who he actually is. To be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.

Our discussion was stimulating. I wondered about the pressure in our society to achieve, to accomplish goals. What if our prayers are about getting to know God? Is it more important to grow our relationship with Him than achieve goals?

The time that we are living in is challenging. I desire to grow my prayer life. Perhaps you do too.

The prayer course that is a supplement to the book is available online: https://prayercourse.org/sessions/

Linking this post to the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt is: QUIET Also sharing this post with Legacy Link-up and with Anita’s Inspire Me Monday .

The Cherry Tree, Bewildered Birds and a Recipe

The cherry tree is in the center of my backyard. The blossoms in April bring hope and the joy of springtime.

The tree draws the robins who march around it possessively and perch on its branches. When it produces red cherries, I pause in wonder, reminded to give thanks for God’s creation, the work of this tree to produce fruit. 

Cherries

The tree has also been a source of frustration. It has had years of little fruit due to a late cold snap, a couple years of brown rot when all the cherries became moldy (and I had to learn how to clean and prune the tree). When the tree has produced good fruit, the birds got there first.

This year the tree looked to have abundant fruit. My husband and I netted some of the branches. It is tricky to net a large tree. We managed to cover several branches on one side of the tree. On the other side of the tree I tied a large, plastic owl to a branch, tied a number of CDs to branches throughout the tree (they spin and cast reflections), tied bells and chimes to other branches.

We were out of town when the cherries began to have an appeal for the birds. My neighbor said there was a great ruckus. She wondered if the birds had devoured the cherries. 

To my delight the birds were leaving the cherries to ripen. After that first day they didn’t come near the tree. I thought that birds might go for the upper branches that I left free of any devices. But they didn’t. They waited until I had finished picking the lower branches and took down all my devices. 

Nine quarts of cherries are pitted and frozen. We will have cherry pies and cherry crisp in the fall and winter. On Sunday I added cherries to pannukakku [Finnish oven pancake]. I have adapted a family recipe to make it gluten and dairy free. Here is my recipe:

4 Tbsp. butter ( ½ stick)

22 cherries pitted and cut in half

1 Tbsp. arrowroot powder

1 Tbsp brown sugar

4 eggs

½ cup sugar

2/3 cup brown rice flour

¼ tsp. salt

2 cups almond milk

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees. Place the butter in a 9”x13” baking dish and place in the oven to melt—and take out when completely melted. Combine the arrowroot powder and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add the cherries and mix. In another bowl, beat the eggs and add the sugar. Beat well. Add the flour and salt, and beat well. Stir in the cherries. Add the almond milk and mix well. Pour batter into the hot baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, until edges of pancake are beginning to brown. Serve hot.

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Linking this post to Anita’s Inspire Me Monday, Sue’s image-in-ing and Tuesdays with a Twist.

The Art of Disagreeing

When my daughter was in grade school, she had a class that involved critical thinking. She was encouraged to think through problems. When controversies occur, we need this kind of skill.

As a parent I have tried set an example of working through the issues our family has faced. It is important to be educated, to do a little research and make decisions based on facts. And it is important to pray for wisdom.

There has been disagreement about the vaccine—among medical people, scientists, family and friends. It is experimental.

I like to be educated, finding as much information as possible. What are the risks/benefits of getting the covid vaccine? Is it different for particular age groups? What should a parent do?

Within our extended family the adults have made differing decisions. That is okay. We don’t have all the answers, we are still learning. It is time to respect each person’s decision regarding the way they choose to support their personal health.

Parents know their child’s health history best and should make the decision about their children.

It is human nature to think our opinion is the right one. In the Bible, the disciples had disagreements that they worked through. We can listen to people that disagree with us, respond with respect and gentleness. Ask questions. Pursue truth. Know when to let go. The Bible has good instruction for us.

[Remind them] to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

Titus 3:2

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

Proverbs 15:4

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast to what is good.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-21

Linking this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt today is: DISAGREE

Hope for Recovery

As the pandemic recedes, the tide going out slowly, I hope for recovery in many areas of life.

Renewed care and compassion for the elderly. The last eight months of my mother’s life were increasingly isolated due to pandemic restrictions. I am glad that she knew Jesus as her Savior.

A return to good, basic education for children—reading, writing, mathematics, science, art and music. I am sad that many children in our large cities have only had on-line learning which is so difficult for young children. The children are our greatest treasure.

A revived fertility rate and strength in the family unit. The fertility rate in the United States (and other countries) has dropped below replacement level. Many complex factors are involved. I hope for a renewed value of children, joy in family.

Renewed support for new mothers in the weeks after giving birth. I remember caring for women in the post partum unit of the hospital, my role as a mentor mom for MOPS, and the years I led discussion for mothers participating in Baby & Me at our church. These avenues of support dwindled during the past year. Women benefit from the support of other women. If you are a new mom, where have you found support?

I can hope and pray for these things, but ultimately my hope is in the Lord.

This post is linked with Kate’s Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt for today is: RECOVERY

Timeless Truth

The Bible has books that praise God, record His interaction in the world and report the words of Jesus. The Psalms have both praise and lament and I feel that I am in the company of people who have struggled with their faith.

The gospel of John gives me a close-up view of Jesus ministry on earth and the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation. Paul’s letters to the churches provide instruction.

And then there is the book of the prophet, Amos. God’s judgement. God is holy and He will judge sin. The book details the judgement that God has for the nations that have come against Israel and also Israel.

As I have studied Amos, the description of the decline of God’s people has weighed heavily on me. What can I take away from this book?

God brings about judgement, but His purpose is to call people to repentance. 

Seek the Lord and live . . . Seek good, and not evil that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts will be with you, as you have said. Amos 5: 4b, 14

As I noted the direction offered by Amos, I began to look for additional verses in scripture with the word, seek. There are many references. Here are some.

But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:9

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! 1 Chronicles 16: 10-11

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Luke 11:9

John records the words of Jesus. “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” John 5:30

Amazing Microbiome

This is great encouragement to me. God knows our human nature and proclivity to sin. He has prepared a way for us to live in relationship with Him. He asks us to seek Him. Even Jesus was seeking the will of God the Father.

It helps my prayer life in this unusual time. Will you join me in praying for the people of the United States, Israel, Gaza, India and all around the world? Is there a person or nation that God has put on your heart?

Linking this post with Heart Encouragement .

Return to Me

In the middle of the week, I have a women’s Bible study. During the week each of us spends time reading a couple chapters and looking up cross references. On Wednesday morning we meet and discuss what we have learned.

Currently we are studying the book of Amos, having already gone through Obadiah and Joel. These books gave a warning to Israel. The prophets were warning that God’s judgement was coming, because they were no longer obeying God’s commands, they were no longer honoring God with their lives.

Judgement would come in the form of famine, natural disasters, pestilence and attacks by other nations. In the book of Numbers and Deuteronomy, God promised to bless Israel if they followed his ways and to judge them if they disobeyed. He had chosen them to be an example of life lived in relationship with Him.

The phrase, yet you did not return to me, is repeated throughout chapter 4 of Amos.

Amos was giving voice to God’s purpose in judgement. God was hoping that his people would return to Him. 

God’s steadfast desire is that we return to Him, live obediently and honor Him. 

For we are the temple of the living God, as God has said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. 2 Corinthians 6:16 

5/16 I am adding a note in consideration of the events taking place in Israel. Throughout the book of Amos, God also judged the nations that attacked Israel. Some nations were utterly destroyed, but God always preserved a remnant in Israel. God has kept his covenant with Israel throughout the ages. In this time of unrest and the barrage of rockets, pray for Israel. Pray for the people, for the salvation of Jews, Arabs and Palestinians. Pray for God’s name to be exalted.

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