Merry Christmas!

Here is a portion of the Christmas letter that I wrote on December 4th and sent out with our cards:

The homes in our neighborhood are decorated for Christmas, and today we had our first snowfall. The trees sparkle with white icing. At church we sang Christmas carols and wrote cards for Christians that are currently imprisoned for their faith.

Our hope for this beautiful world, created by God, but broken by sin, rests in God’s plan of salvation through Jesus. Job, a man of faith in the Old Testament, has words of hope. For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25

The apostle John wrote about about God’s plan of salvation in his gospel. John recorded the words of Jesus. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16   This is the gift of Christmas.

Many thanks to all my readers and my best wishes for joy in the New Year!

Christmas Pointsetta

The nativity image is courtesy of FreeVintageArt.com

Grace in a Winter Storm

The winter storm in Michigan was brutal. I had left early in the morning hoping to get to my mother’s nursing home before it became too bad—but it was already bad. In some places I couldn’t see the road and just followed tire tracks in the snow. I hit a patch of ice and lost control of the car. I veered toward a ditch before the car went into a spin. I think it made two complete revolutions. The engine died and I sat still in shock. My car was still on the road and there were no other vehicles in sight. I started the engine and drove on. Further on the car slipped and fish tailed a couple more times, but I reached my destination safely. I praised God for his protection.

I spent the day with my mother at the nursing home. She was glad to see me, but a little confused about who I am. We joined the hymn sing in the activity room. Mom was able to join in when the hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, came up.

The nursing home was decorated for Christmas and my eye was drawn to the nativity scenes. I pushed my mother’s wheel chair up to a display in the dining room.

Grace - Nativity

Later I paused at the display in the lobby of the nursing home.

Nativity

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4: 4-5

I stayed with my mother until evening, and then went to a hotel to wait out the storm.

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Reading, Waiting and Listening

Take time. Give God time to reveal Himself to you. Give yourself time to be silent and quiet before Him, waiting to receive through the Spirit the assurance of His presence with you, His power working in you. Take time to read His Word as in His presence; that from it you may know what He asks of you and what he promises you. Let the Word create around you, create within you, a holy heavenly light in which your soul will be refreshed and strengthened for the work of daily life.                                         Rev. Andrew Murray (1828 – 1917)

The virgin Mary is an example of waiting on the Lord. She had questions, but she responded with trust. Can you imagine what it was like when the angel Gabriel appeared to her?

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth. . . . And he [Gabriel] came to her [Mary] and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”

But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”       Luke 1:26, 28-35, 38

Does Mary’s acceptance of the angel’s presence and conversation with the angel amaze you?    Mary must have known the scriptures and    promises of God. She must have been living with deep trust in God’s sovereignty.

God ways are often outside of our expectation. God chose Mary to give birth to the Son of God in humble circumstances. Jesus did not arrive on earth in royal fashion. His birth was not supported by high technology.

As I meditate on this, I see that God was affirming childbirth and the family unit.

It is true that we need to spend time in God’s word. God speaks to us through the scripture. We can learn from Mary’s example, reading God’s word, waiting, listening and responding with trust.

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Ancient Wisdom, New Life and the Love Hormone

Could the book of Job be a description of  God’s  design for  the  earth   following the flood? Currently I am reading  The Remarkable Record of Job*  by Henry Morris.   Throughout the book he points out amazing insights about our world, offered in this Old Testament book of the Bible.

Morris theorizes that  Job  lived before  Moses  and possibly before   Abraham. The book makes reference to the great flood (Job 22:15-16). Prior to the flood the earth was covered in a mist, but following the flood a new water cycle was established. Dr. Morris reflects on passages that describe this great change. Job records references to wind, water vapor, clouds and rain.

He [God] binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the clouds are not split open under them. Job 26:8

For He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything  under  the    heavens. When he gave to the wind its weight and apportioned the waters by measure, when he made a decree for the rain and a way for the lightning of the thunder, then he saw it and declared it; he established it and searched it out. Job 28: 24-27

Do you know how God lays his command upon them and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine? Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge . . . Job 37: 15-16

Dr. Morris, a scientist,  wrote a fascinating book that points to the details of God’s creation which we continue to discover. As a nurse I realize that we are still learning about the wisdom of God’s design for childbirth.

Once again  I was in awe of the miracle of new life  when  I  attended the birth of our seventh grandchild!

My daughter was able to go through labor with supportive care, but without medication or interventions. She gave birth to a healthy son.

The baby was placed on her chest, skin to skin, immediately after the birth. The baby stimulated her body to release the hormone, oxytocin, which is produced in the brain. This hormone has a calming effect and also stimulates the womb to contract. She did not need to have pitocin (a synthetic form of oxytocin) given intravenously.

Oxytocin has several of purposes.  It stimulates uterine contractions,    reducing bleeding. It enhances bonding between mother and baby.   It is involved in the let-down reflex that occurs during breastfeeding.

Kelly Brogan M.D. discusses the difference between oxytocin, an endogenous hormone, and pitocin in an article here.

Another article  (American College of Nurse-Midwives)  calls for more   research on oxytocin and pitocin. Click here.

A Swedish doctor has written a book titled The Oxytocin Factor:Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love and Healing.  Throughout the book Dr. Moberg cites the research that she has done at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. She lists the factors that enhance the body’s release of calming oxytocin: gentle touch; massage; quiet environment; various scents and music. For a brief review of the book, click here.

It is a common practice to give pitocin prophylactically following birth. My daughter requested that it not be given routinely.

Praise the Lord for this healthy birth!

We are thankful for the availability of modern medicine, but give praise to God for his marvelous design for childbirth.

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*Henry M. Morris Ph.D, The Remarkable Record of Job, Master Books:Green Forest, AR, 2000.

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