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