Wanting to Control: Learning to Release

It feels good when we think we are in control. As a mother I  pursued the health of my children vigorously. I had been trained as a nurse at the University of Michigan. I believed in the medical profession and my ability to protect the health of my children.

The mental illness of my brother and the impact that it had my parents, my siblings and me, infused me with fear. As a mother I was devoted to maintaining the physical and mental health of my children.   

Women and Families

At first I put my trust in the medical field, going to the pediatrician with every concern.The pediatricians and gastroenterologist that we consulted did not resolve the repetitive ear infections and gastrointestinal disturbances of my twins, despite the antibiotics and medication to relax the gut.

So I pursued answers and treatment with a doctor practicing alternative medicine. With allergy testing we made changes in our diet and the health of my children improved.

Soon I was putting all of my energy into allergy diets and nutrition. I was was gradually depending on my own abilities for the health of our family. I wanted to be in control.

When one of the twins developed leukemia I continued to pursue nutrition and supplements to support him through chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant. My husband and I studied research. We prayed, and I was sure that Steven would be healed. We saw God’s love for Steven and our family, but Steven wasn’t healed.

Although we have tools for health we are not in complete control. Medical science is not perfect and does not have all the answers. God was teaching me to trust him. Could I let go of my fears? 

I have learned lessons (and I am still learning). God does not want me to be motivated by fear.

Nutrition and medical interventions are tools. It is important to learn about an illness that we encounter and possible treatments. It is important to ask questions and prayerfully make decisions.

God will guide us as we seek him and pray for appropriate care. He will stay with us during times of suffering.

As a grandmother I see the importance of supporting the immune system with a healthy life style—nutrition, adequate rest, physical activity. God has designed the human body with an amazing immune system. It is good to pursue a balance of prayer, healthy lifestyle and medical intervention when necessary. 

Although I started out with fear and a desire to control our health, God has blessed my study of nutrition and support for the immune system. My daughters have learned and their children have been healthier as infants and young children than they were.

One of my daughters is now a pediatric nurse practitioner helping families reach a better level of health.

This post is part of #Write28Days. You can find links to all the posts in the series on my landing page.

Pierced and Embraced: Book Review

Sometimes I listen to the radio when I am in the car. At other times I prefer silence. One day I was listening to WMBI and heard an interview with Kelli Worrall. The topic of discussion was her book, Pierced and Embraced.

The discussion piqued my interest and I jotted down the title when I reached my destination. I ordered the book.

Kelli Worral included stories from her own family as she wrote about seven encounters that Jesus had with women. In a detailed account she has shown the compassion and respect that Jesus had for women (and still has), as recorded in the gospels. 

The seven/eight women included in the book are: Mary, mother of Jesus; the woman at the well; the woman with the hemorrhage; the woman caught in adultery; Mary and Martha; the woman with the alabaster jar; Mary Magdalene. 

Although the book is organized in seven chapters with discussion questions at the end of each chapter and could be studied over a period of weeks, I read it in one week. 

Each chapter had insights for me. In the chapter about the woman with the issue of blood, Worrall discusses wounds—or gaps in the way we were mothered. This history of our childhood and transition to adulthood can affect our adult life, where we try to exert control over our fears and desires.

This resonated with me, because I have attempted to control areas of my life. More on this tomorrow.

NOTE: The bull on the cover refers to a story by Flannery O’Connor, a story symbolizing grace. Kelli Worral explains the shocking symbolism in the beginning of the book.

This post is part of #Write28Days. I am linking with Literary Musing Mondays.

Imperfect Families

The Bible has stories about families. Our pastor reminded us that some of the stories show the dysfunction in families (Genesis 27 and 28).

In the account of Esau and Jacob, the lies that were told when Jacob received the blessing of his father Isaac demonstrated the divide between family members. Jacob deceived his father at the encouragement and planning of his mother. He had to flee from Esau.

Yet God met Jacob along the way to Paddan Aram. Jacob recognized God’s message that came to him in a dream, and he made a vow, seeking to follow God.

Bible

God is merciful to us when we pay attention to his call on our life and seek him.

As a young adult I had arguments with my parents and didn’t always treat them respectfully. We had dysfunction in our family. When my older brother developed schizophrenia, we didn’t know how to respond his behavior.

I (oldest daughter and graduate nurse) was relied on to help my father. My mother withdrew, and I was burdened and distressed. Although everyone in the family desperately wanted to “fix” Glenn’s illness, we had lapses in kindness and communication.

My brother’s illness was a downward spiral. It is a long and complicated story–too much to address here. It crushed my parents, my siblings and me. During his long battle with schizophrenia my brother became bitter. Each of us, in our own way, wanted something or someone to blame.

I have come to realize my own imperfections and sins. I can now see the limitations and imperfections of my parents with forgiveness.

God doesn’t always heal illness. Later, with my son’s illness I learned that God walks with us through suffering. He can heal our emotional and spiritual wounds.

God has been faithful. He has forgiven my sins and given me guidance through his word, through prayer and through the church. God, through Jesus, desires to heal the wounds we receive in a fallen world. He is ready to meet us where we are.

I wrote a chapter in the book, Illness, Resilience and Spirituality. It is an anthology and my chapter is titled “Prayers through Illness and Loss”. It is a record of my prayers and God’s answers. I learned so much about God.

At every stage of my life I have looked for a church, for a family of faith. The church is composed of sinners that need grace, and sometimes the church falters. But we can’t give up. In addition to the Word of God and prayer, Christians need a community of believers to thrive. 

Jesus said (recorded in Matthew 18:20), “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.”

Mary and Elizabeth: An Example for Us

It seems right to start my series for the #Write28Days with two women from the Bible. The first two chapters of Luke tells us about Mary and Elizabeth. They are wonderful examples for us in three ways.

Both women knew the old testament scriptures and the prophecies. Even though it seemed like God was silent for 400 years (the time period between the Old Testament and the New Testament) they were waiting in expectation of the Messiah.

Mary responds to the message that she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit with a song. Here is a portion of the Magnificat.

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior . . . He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.  Luke 1: 46-47, 54-55

May we read God’s word and wait in expectation for Jesus’ return!

Mary and Elizabeth were an encouragement to each other. They were surprised by their pregnancies and they were able to support each other.

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. Luke 1: 39-40

Mary & Elizabeth
The Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne

If I could time travel I would like to go there and see the friendship and faith of these two women during the three months they spent together. 

As Christian women, may we be an encouragement to each other.

That [our]hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2: 2-3 ESV

Both Mary and Elizabeth praised God. They were in situations that could be frightening but they praised God.

May we always be quick to recognize God’s touch on our lives, acknowledge him and praise him.

I give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds, I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most high. Psalm 9:1-2

Write for 28 Days: I am accepting the challenge

Anita Ojeda is sponsoring a #Write28Days challenge for bloggers. For each day in February (except Sundays) I plan to write a post for my blog, focusing on women and families.

Women and Families

Women face many challenges, have many different roles. In this series I will look at family issues. This will include experiences that I have had as a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I will point to women that have had a positive influence on me as a Christian and a nurse. God has gifted us to nurture the family. As women we can support and encourage each other. I hope you will pause with a cup of coffee or tea and visit. I welcome your comments!

Each day I will post a link to my blog post on this page. See below.

Friday 2/1: Mary and Elizabeth

Saturday 2/2: Imperfect Families

Monday 2/4: Pierced and Embraced – Book Review

Tuesday 2/5: Wanting to Control – Learning to Release

Wednesday 2/6: Simple Measures for Family Health

Thursday 2/7: Women in White

Friday 2/8: Building a Home

Saturday 2/9: First Aid for My Husband

Monday 2/11: Evidence Not Seen – Book review

Tuesday 2/12: Seasons of Life

Wednesday 2/13: Birth in a Hotel Room?

Thursday 2/14: Verses About Love

Friday 2/15: A Joyful Answer to Prayer

Saturday 2/16: A Remarkable Woman Doctor

Monday 2/18: The Scent of Water – Book Review

Tuesday 2/19: Two Are Better Than One

Wednesday 2/20: Traditions and Heritage

Thursday 2/21: When Health Care Becomes Perplexing

Friday 2/22: A Mother’s Role

Saturday 2/23: It’s Okay to Be Different

Monday 2/25: Mothers, Girls and Flowers

Tuesday 2/26: Celebration with Finnish Prune Tarts

Wednesday 2/27: When It Is Time to Speak Up

Thursday 2/28: Faithful Poet and Hymn Writer