Touching and Being Touched

Yesterday we visited the Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Kansas. The park has interaction stations—people can touch the animals and the animals can touch the people. Our grandchildren were delighted to feed a leaf to a giraffe.

On lemur island the children fed lemurs that sat demurely on a pole. They reached out with their paws touching the arms and hands of the children.

We all fed the birds with a little cup of juice. The birds landed on my husband—and all of us.

It was a treat to see a mother kangaroo with a baby kangaroo (7 Months old) in her pouch. I was amazed at the size of the joey (baby kangaroo). In the picture the head and hoofs are sticking out from the pouch. 

The mother kangaroo keeps this close connection to her joey for a year. When the joey is pushed out of the pouch around a year old, he can still put his head back in the pouch and feed for additional months as needed. The grandchildren were able to touch the mother kangaroo’s back. 

It was beautiful to observe the connections among the wildlife, and even to touch them. It is a blessing to participate in the world God created.

Joining Five Minute Friday as we write to the prompt: TOUCH

The View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives: Visiting Gethsemane

In 2012 my husband and I made a trip to Israel with a group of friends from our church. It was amazing to see the places that we had read about in the Bible. The two weeks in Israel were an encouragement to our faith.

When we went to Jerusalem we visited the places mentioned in the events of Holy Week, leading to the crucifixion.

The church of Dominus Flevit is on the Mount of Olives, not far from the Garden of Gethsemane. A window of this church gives a view of Jerusalem. The golden dome is the Dome of the Rock, which sits in the same place that Israel’s temple once stood.

The olive tree in this picture is ancient. Perhaps it was there when Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane before he was arrested.

We went to the Church of St. Peter. In the courtyard there is a sculpture depicting Peter with the maiden that questioned him about being a disciple of Jesus. Peter denied knowing Jesus.

Below this church—we walked down a stairway to view an ancient and deep hole. A sign near this Sacred Pit gave an explanation.

Prompted by the dungeon-like appearance of the pit and its proximity to Caiaphas’ palace, thought to have been located in this general area, the Byzantines recalled here Jesus imprisonment overnight as he awaited trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhredrin. Faithful to this ancient tradition, Christians continue to remember Jesus, the Suffering Servant of the Lord, placing on his lips the words of the psalmist:

My soul is surfeited with troubles . . . You have plunged me into the bottom of the pit . . . Upon me your wrath lies heavy . . . I am imprisoned and cannot escape . . . O Lord I call upon you. Psalm 88

We walked along the Via Dolorosa and visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Finally we visited the garden tomb.



A Storm on the Sea of Galilee and Fleas in the Concentration Camp

We lived in troubled times and sometimes it is difficult to discern truth. It is hard to know how we should respond to things happening around us. Looking back over the centuries, this has always been the case in human history.

It is thought that the writer of the book of James was Jesus’ brother. James saw his brother mature and become teacher and healer, but didn’t believe he was the Messiah. He lived through the time of Jesus crucifixion. After the resurrection he became a believer and leader in the church. He saw the persecution of the followers of Jesus (the Way) as described in the book of Acts. Stephen was martyred, Paul was beaten, Paul and Silas were jailed. How does a Christian traverse deeply troubling times? James writes:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. James 1: 5-6 ESV

Perhaps James was alluding to the experience of the disciples. The disciples had seen Jesus perform miracles of healing, but when their boat was caught in a storm on the sea of Galilee. Jesus was a sleep, and they were afraid. 

And they went and woke him saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” and he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.

He said to them, “Where is your faith?”  Luke 8: 24-25a ESV Stop//

I don’t always approach difficulties with a prayer of faith. Fears can get in the way. Corrie and Betsy ten Boom approached their time in a concentration camp with prayer. I recently saw the story of Betsie and the Fleas posted on Jacqueline’s blog. Betsy, with her prayers of faith, saw God work in a way that she could not have imagined.

God’s desire for us is to flourish in a way that honors Him and that shines a light in the world.

When the culture brings difficult and confusing issues to our doorstep, we can ask for wisdom from God.

When we are challenged as parents, or when we experience difficulties in marriage, we can ask for wisdom from God. 

When we experience health problems and different approaches to treatment are possible, we can ask for wisdom from God. 

If you don’t know what you are doing, Pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believing, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind whipped waves. Don’t think you are going to get anything that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. James 1: 5-8 MSG

This post in linked to the Five Minute Friday Community. Today’s prompt is: LACK

March Madness, Texas Tech and Prayer

My daughter is amused that I have become a college basketball fan. “Mom, you never watched basketball!” 

I responded, “Michigan has a good team this year.” I followed the Wolverines in March Madness and was disappointed when Texas Tech beat them.

Photo by Markus Spiske – Unsplash

Then I had to find out how one of our arch rivals, Michigan State, fared against Texas Tech in the final four game. Texas Tech beat Michigan State. When the game ended the TV cameras followed the players to the locker room, expecting a party atmosphere. The players waited for their coach.

When Coach Beard arrived they all dropped to a knee and began praying. The commentators were stunned and the cameras immediately cut back to the sports analysts.

The TV station handled it awkwardly and seemed to have discomfort with prayer.

Sports writer VF Castro tweeted: “Really annoyed that CBS cut out of Texas Tech’s post-game prayer. That’s a huge part of that team’s identity.”

I was thinking about the state of our nation as I read the book, Saving Amelie, by Cathy Gohlke. The novel tells the story of a little deaf girl in Nazi Germany. She does not meet the standard for a pure Aryan blood line. Will she be eliminated as the eugenics movement gathers momentum?

Saving Amelie

In the author’s Note to Readers, Ms. Gohlke writes: In my quest for answers I traced the evolution of the pseudoscience of eugenics in the United States and Germany, with its determination to eradicate disease and its design to eliminate certain bloodlines while promoting others . . .

It is still hard to understand what took place in Germany under the rule of Adolf Hitler. Cathy Gohlke did a great deal of research as she wrote this book. She also referred to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship. Through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life and writings we see the importance of God’s truth infusing all aspects of life.

Our faith in God should inform our lives. Faith should be part of daily life, science and even sports. It seems that there is a growing desire to put faith and religious freedom in a little box. Some would say that our faith in God and our belief in the Bible has no place in medicine, science, and the interactions of daily life, but I disagree.

I’m joining the link-up at Inspire Me Monday .


Unplanned and Post Abortion Help

Abortion has left a deep wound in our nation, but there are organizations that offer help and healing.

Last weekend my husband and I went to see the movie, Unplanned, with some friends. Some of the scenes were hard to watch. The movie pointed out that uterine perforation is a risk during surgical abortion. Sometimes perforation requires hysterectomy, other times the bleeding is controlled and the uterus develops a scar that can impact future childbearing.

It was hard to see girls and young women deceived about the procedure—the promises that everything was going to be okay.

The best take-away for me was the example of the couple from 40 Days for Life. They interacted with Abby (the abortion worker) and prayed for her. They were patient and available to her. They modeled kindness and loving concern. 

After the movie we talked about Abby’s journey with our friends. It took eight years for her to acknowledge the reality that a baby was being killed. When she saw an ultrasound guided abortion the truth became clear.

Abortion has left a deep wound in our nation, but there are organizations that offer help and healing.

Care-net provides post abortion help for women who have had abortion, for fathers whose child was aborted, for grandparents and for abortion workers. Here is the link to their site.

Rachel’s Vineyard offers weekend retreats for post abortion help and healing. It is a ministry of Priests for Life.

Abby, the former abortion worker, now leads And Then There Were None, an organization that helps abortion clinic workers that want to leave the industry.

ATTWN seeks to end abortion from the inside out. We believe that the end of abortion starts with abortion clinic workers leaving their jobs and finding healing from their past work. That’s why, as former clinic workers ourselves, we’re committed to helping them through the ENTIRE journey.

Be sure to visit the Five Minute Friday writing community . Today’s prompt is: OFFER. Kate has an offer to check out!

When Spring Comes and the Flowers Appear Miraculously

For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. Song of Solomon 2:11

Snow Drops

The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2: 12

Crocus

I watch my garden beds after they are sown, and think how one of God’s exquisite miracles is going on beneath the dark earth out of sight. I never forget my planted seeds. Celia Thaxter (1835 -1894)

Crocus