Prayer: the Antidote to Fear

There are times and circumstances that overwhelm with fear. Remember the Bible account of the sudden storm on the Sea of Galilee?

A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”

Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath, the sea became as smooth as glass. Mark 4:37-39 MSG

When a woman is in labor and gets close to giving birth she may experience a rush of hormones that cause the strong contractions of transition. Some women feel completely out of control. The waves of contraction rush over her. This is the point at which women, whom I have attended in labor, ask for prayer. Sometimes it is a husband or a friend that prays. Sometimes I have prayed.

Throughout life we encounter situations where the stress of a situation may overwhelm us. God provides a place to bring our fears and concerns. We can pray. It is calming to pray with another believer. Jesus said: 

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them  by my father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them. Matthew 18: 19-20

When I meet with women for Bible study on Wednesday mornings we end our meetings with group prayer. Together we bring our concerns to the Lord. We are refreshed and ready to meet the challenges ahead.

Do you have a friend that you can pray with?

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt today is: RUSH

Also linking with Heart Encouragement and Welcome Heart

The Cost of Steadfast Convictions

When I read the prompt for Five Minute Friday today, I immediately thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who wrote the book, The Cost of Discipleship. His life portrayed the cost of his convictions.

I have read Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas and more recently My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt. Both books describe Bonhoeffer’s steadfast adherence to the truth of the Bible as Hitler ascended to power in Germany. He had the opportunity to remain in the United States as WWII was about to begin, but he chose to return to Germany, hoping to have an influence for good.

It is hard to be steadfast in convictions when you are going against the current. When I saw the number of interventions in childbirth continuing to grow, I chose to take a position with a home birth group with a drop in wages. I was able to see the normal progression of labor with the support of doula, nurse and physician. We were careful to observe for problems, transferring 10% of patients to the hospital. I learned important lessons.

When I returned to the hospital, my goal was to be an advocate for women who desired fewer interventions. Labor is a natural physiologic process that can be negatively affected by interventions. As it turned out,I didn’t always get along with the doctors. It is a lifelong challenge for me to learn to speak up with grace.

My heart goes out to the nurses and doctors who have concerns about the vaccine schedule for children. They believe that too many vaccines are being given at one time, not all of them are necessary for all children, some vaccines could be delayed. But mandates are being passed in a number of states. Doctors, nurses and parents don’t have a choice.

Yet some are steadfastly speaking up, going against the current—and being penalized financially.

As a Christian I need God’s word as a guide for my convictions. I need to read it, study it, and make it my way of life. And I need to continue to grow in my ability to speak truth with grace. 

Being steadfast is not always financially rewarding, but it is spiritually rewarding.

I just finished a study of the book of Joshua. Here is the encouragement that threads all the way through this book.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: COST

At the Mall: The VIE Event

What happened in Washington D.C. last week? The constant drumbeat for impeachment continues and headlines the news. There are many topics, news relevant to parents and families to report. Congress has many issues that should be addressed for the people.

On November 14th an event took place on the Washington D.C. Mall. It was cold, but hundreds of parents came. They came with concern for the injuries and disabilities caused by vaccines.

It is true that the child mortality rate in the U.S. is increasing. Chronic disease in children is increasing at an alarming rate: asthma, diabetes, allergies, neurologic diseases, autism.

Childhood cancer is also on the rise. Read this article.

A line-up of distinguished speakers was captured on video-tape by The High Wire. I meant to just check it out, but I couldn’t turn it off. It went on for four hours.

The speakers were riveting. Eventually my husband began watching also. A focus of discussion was on the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Law of 1986.

The law gave pharmaceuticals complete immunity from any lawsuit brought because of injury to a child by a vaccine. It also set up a government court (VAERS) that would pay out funds to families whose child was disabled or died as a result of the vaccine (if the parents were aware of this vaccine court, if they knew how to bring their case, if they had good documentation). To date the government has paid out more than four billion dollars. 

At the same time it had provisions that were suppose to insure that vaccines were held to higher safety standards. The bill tasked HHS with overseeing safety studies and developing a plan to identify children who are more susceptible to vaccine risk. Somehow the safety studies didn’t take place. We don’t know why some children are at greater risk of injury. Doctors are not trained to look for side effects or injury.

Between 12/1/2007 and 9/30/ 2009 Harvard Medical School did a study to see how well the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) works in identifying vaccine injury. A report of this study can be viewed here.

. . . fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events are reported. Low reporting rates preclude or slow the identification of “problem” drugs and vaccines that endanger public health. New surveillance methods for drug and vaccine adverse effects are needed. Barriers to reporting include a lack of clinician awareness, uncertainty about when and what to report, as well as the burdens of reporting: reporting is not part of clinicians’ usual workflow, takes time, and is duplicative.

Instead the number of vaccines has multiplied.

Childhood Vaccine Schedule

All of the speakers were good but I found these to be the most succinct:

At one hour and 10 minutes into the video a lawyer, Mary Holland, spoke. Dr. Bob Sears at one hour and 22 minutes. Dr. Andrew Wakefield at three hours and 12 minutes. Robert Kennedy jr. at three hours and 21 minutes.  

You can access the video of this event here.

Sharing this post with Inspire Me Monday and #Monday Musings

Celebrating America in Grade School

We settled in our seats to await the beginning of the evening program. We were in the elementary school multipurpose room. The fourth and fifth grade students marched in, led by their teachers, and found their place on the risers at the front of the room.

One of the benefits of being a grandparent is the invitation to special events. Our granddaughter was wearing a sparkling silver dress. All of the students were dressed up. Some years ago we would have said their Sunday best.

The students performed songs from a variety of musicals including The Music Man, The King and I, and Hamilton. The boys and girls had learned synchronized hand motions and executed them flawlessly. They were having a good time!

They also performed a tribute to George Cohan by singing Give My Regards to Broadway and my favorite song of the evening, You’re a Grand Old Flag

You’re a grand old flag

You’re a high-flying flag

And forever in peace may you wave

You’re the emblem of

The land I love

The home of the free and the brave

Ev’ry heart beats true

Under red, white and blue

Where there’s never a boast or brag

But should old acquaintance be forgot

Keep your eye on the grand old flag

I was glad to see children celebrating our heritage in song. Do you remember saying the Pledge of Allegiance at school?

This post is linked to the Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt for today is: SETTLE

At Last a Child Spoke Truth

Hans Christian Anderson wrote fairy tales that I read as a child. Recently one of those stories has come to mind.

In The Emperors New Clothes swindlers approach a self-indulgent King with a proposal. They have devised a very clever lie with their plot. They tell the King that the magical clothes they produce will only be visible to wise and educated people. People who are fools will not be able to see the clothes. The King is intrigued and agrees to their proposal.

The swindlers go about weaving imaginary cloth and sewing the “cloth” into a suit of clothes.

When court officials are asked to view the progress of the swindlers they are afraid to say that they don’t see anything—because they would be admitting that they are fools. 

Eventually the King parades his new clothes in a procession. The people of the kingdom stare, but are afraid to say that they don’t see the magical clothes. They don’t want to appear as fools.

At last a little boy says, “But he has got nothing on.”

The Emperor’s New Clothes was published in 1837, but it has relevance today.

If a lie is told frequently enough people begin to believe it. Can we distinguish the lies in our culture?  

Abortion has been justified with the the idea that a fetus is just a clump of tissue. 

Biological sex is being dismissed and replaced with gender ideology. 

The CDC in concert with pharmaceuticals lists 72 vaccine doses that children must have by age 18 to be healthy.

What is actually happening to the health of children?

More than 60 million babies have been aborted in the U.S.

The teen suicide rate is rising, and the child mortality rate is rising in the U.S.

We need to pray for our country, for families and for the health of children growing up today.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Psalm 25: 4-5 ESV

This post is shared with Tuesdays with a Twist, Encouraging Hearts & Home, Crystal’s Heart Encouragement and the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: LAST (In full disclosure, the prompt stimulated my thoughts, but this post took quite a bit longer than 5 minutes.)

Seeing God’s Artistry in the Fall Colors

My grandson and I were looking out of the dining room window at the trees. The leaves were changing color. “See the linden tree—the leaves are turning yellow.”

My grandson said, “But look at that tree. Its leaves are bronze.”

In the distance we could see a tree with orange leaves. I explained what I knew. In the fall the chlorophyl  in the leaves diminishes as the days shorten and temperatures drop.

Other questions arose in my mind. Why do the leaves of some trees turn yellow, others bronze, orange or red? Why are the colors so rich and vivd this year?

The Old Farmers Almanac has answers.

 . . . pigments, carotene (yellow) and anthocyanin (red), exist in the leaf all summer but are masked by the chlorophyll which helps plants absorb sunlight. (The browns in autumn leaves are the result of tannin, a chemical that exists in many leaves, especially oaks.) 

In general, a wet growing season followed by an autumn with lots of sunny days, dry weather, and cold, frostless nights will produce the most vibrant palette of fall colors. This vividness is especially true of red leaves, such as those on sugar maples and red maple trees.

This year we are blessed with an array of colors: rich red, flaming yellow and orange, bronze with a back drop of evergreens. God’s artistry in the design of trees.

Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the earth in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness. Psalm 96: 12b-13 ESV

Sharing this post with Sue’s image-in-ing and Inspire Me Monday.

Learning and Teaching Patience

Patience is a virtue, worth cultivating in ourselves and our children.

Some years ago I read an article by Pamela Druckerman that extolled the way French parents teach their children to wait. In her article, Why French Parents Are Superior, Druckerman pointed out that children who have learned patience are more content and better behaved.

My senses were awakened to the virtue of practicing and teaching patience.

It pleases me to watch my daughters as they make good choices in parenting. When I am talking with my daughters on the phone, invariably a child may want their attention. They calmly inform the child “I am talking to Grandma. When I am finished I can help you.”

It is good for children to practice waiting.

One daughter has six children and the youngest is two years old. This little guy is aware that I often have some lollipops in my purse. If I stop by for a visit in the morning he runs to me with a big hug, and then he asks me, “Did you bring your purse? Do you have lollipops?” 

When tell him, “yes I have lollipops”, I explain that he must wait until after lunch. He is satisfied.

Gardening provides practice in patience for me and for the grandchildren. We plant seeds and water them, waiting for the appearance of stem and leaves. Then we wait for flowers to bloom, for tomatoes to appear and ripen, for raspberry bushes to bear fruit.

The Bible has a message about waiting.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3: 22-26

In our walk of faith we are encouraged to develop patience.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt that stimulates our thoughts today is: WAIT

Active & Steadfast Faith

So many things can cause me to worry—illness, divisive politics, concerns about friends and family, goals not met. Do I live in fear or do I hold fast to God with faith?

The book of Joshua in the Old Testament lays out great examples of active faith. Today I was reading about Caleb. Caleb was one of the twelve men that Moses sent to spy out the promised land.

Caleb had faith that they could enter the land and fight for it. God would give them victory. But ten of the men were afraid of the descendants of Anak, described as giants. Fear settled on Israel like a mist. As a result 40 years would pass in the wilderness before Caleb would enter the promised land. I wonder how those years went for Caleb. Forty years is a long time to be patient. Caleb was steadfast.

Caleb was with Joshua when they entered the land and took possession (as God promised). God was with them in the battles.

When the land was being divided and given to each tribe, Caleb reminded Joshua that he had been promised land for himself and his descendants. At the age of 85 he offered to win the hill country from the Anakim—the same area of land that he had seen 45 years before. He was ready to fight the giants. Steadfast faith.

Caleb’s example speaks to me. He actively listened to God. He believed God and was ready to act. He endured 40 years of waiting patiently, steadfastly. At the right moment he was victorious at Hebron.

The good news is that when we are listening to God, willing to act, he helps us. Our faith is molded by prayer, Bible study, obedience to God’s word. We receive encouragement in community with other believers.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: ACTIVE

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A Call to People of Faith for the Sake of the Children

Attorney General Bill Barr gave a speech to the law school at the University of Notre Dame on October 11, 2019. In that speech he said:

“For anyone who has a religious faith, by far the most important part of exercising that faith is the teaching of that religion to our children. The passing on of the faith. There is no greater gift we can give our children and no greater expression of love.”

Barr went on to explain that our schools are interfering. It is true in Illinois. Legislation has been passed mandating that people who are/were LGBTQ and who have made contributions to society must be acknowledged along with their sexual preferences. Children in elementary school, beginning with kindergarten, will be exposed to sexual terms and behavior. 

Why must young children be exposed to every kind of sexual behavior? Is there no period of innocence for children any more? This takes away parental rights to teach about sexuality at the appropriate time.

The high school district that provided my children with an excellent education is now distracted with the issue of bathrooms and locker rooms. The school board is considering a policy that will give a transgender student (biologically male) full and open access to the girl’s locker room, shower and bathrooms.

How many girls feel comfortable sharing their dressing room with a biological male? Why should they? Ten years ago this would have been shocking. Why is this happening?

The attorney general observed:

One of the ironies, as some have observed, is that the secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor.

The secular view of sexuality is now being forced on young people. This distracts from the real goal of a high school education—learning subjects and skills needed to achieve employment in our society. 

Unless we speak up, engage in events like the school board meetings, study the the candidates for public office and vote with wisdom, we will be swept away in a culture that is so damaging to the children growing up now.

The attorney general said:

They [Judeo-Christian moral standards] reflect the rules that are best for man, not in the by and by, but in the here and now. They are like God’s instruction manual for the best running of man and human society.

The full text of Attorney General Barr’s speech can be read here.

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One Sunday Morning in Albuquerque: Balloons and Roosters

The Balloon Festival in New Mexico is a great family activity. I was amazed to see so many people, so many family groups, strolling together at the Balloon Festival Park. It was a state fair like scene at 6:00 am. Parents were pushing strollers and pulling wagons as they walked past venders offering coffee, donuts, burritos, turkey legs and more. Brightly colored banners and souvenirs beckoned to the crowd. 

At 6:30 am the first balloons lifted off, and the air currents carried them into mist. Clouds were scattered throughout the sky.

At 7:00 am a soloist appeared on the bandstand and sang the Star Spangle Banner. As she finished singing flames soared from the hot air burners, and the crowd cheered.

Because of mist and fog (unusual for Albuquerque) the conditions were not optimal for the giant balloons, so only a few more lifted off. 

Still a multitude of the balloons were fully inflated and the crowds grouped around the various launching sites.  The Star Wars site was hugely popular.

Do you see Darth Vader?

Colorful balloons were interspersed with character balloons.

The following day, Sunday morning, we went to a hill that gave us a view of the balloons in the air. It was a beautiful clear morning and the sky was full of colorful balloons. We watched for favorite balloons we had seen inflated the day before.

By 9:30 am most of the balloons had landed and we went to church with our son and daughter-in-law. 

The sign for the church has a rooster on it and I asked my son what it meant.

He said, “Remember Peter and the rooster crowing after Peter denied knowing Jesus? Peter failed Jesus, but Jesus called him back and forgave him. We are all broken people.”

The call to worship was appropriate for the day.

Sing to God; lift up a song to Him who rides through the deserts. He ascended on high, leading a host captive in his train.

He who descended in humility is also He who ascended far above the heavens, that He might fill all things.

And He gave gifts to men, to equip the saints, for the building up of the body of Christ.

Let us therefore grow up in every way into Him who is the head, that the body may build itself up in love.

The pastor reminded us that we cannot reach up, cannot ascend by achievement to God. God, righteous and holy, is far above us. We may be in a wilderness, but God has descended to us through Jesus. Jesus came down and suffered and died on our behalf. We need only to accept the forgiveness and salvation that Jesus offers.

Sharing this post with Inspire Me Monday and Sue’s image-in-ing