Giving Thanks in 2020

Thanksgiving was different this year. We exchanged dishes with my daughter’s family but enjoyed the meal in our separate homes. My granddaughter made a delicious bundt cake and dinner rolls. Another granddaughter made the cranberry sauce. I made my traditional cornbread stuffing. We all had a wonderful meal. In the evening we zoomed with our children and grandchildren in New Mexico, Kansas and Illinois.

I’m thankful for family and the ability to connect over zoom. We celebrated six birthdays this month—daughter, spouses and grandchildren. God has blessed us.

In the United States we have so much that we can access. I am grateful that all the ingredients for the cornbread dressing are easily available—butter, herbs, chestnuts and more. And turkeys are abundant in the grocery stores.

Cornbread dressing

The apples, berries and currants were made into pies. We are blessed to have these available.

A hymn written by Martin Rinkart (1586 – 1649) expresses thanksgiving joy.

Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,

Who wondrous things has done, in whom His world rejoices;

Who from our mother’s arms, hath blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

What if we began and ended each day pausing to give thanks for something? I know it would lift my spirits in this unusual year.

Linking this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: GRATEFUL

For the Sake of the Children

The questions about the integrity of the November 3rd election are troubling. I am most concerned for my children and grandchildren. What does the future hold for them?

This morning I read a parable recorded in the book of Luke.

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming. And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay longer them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? Luke 18: 1-8

Many people are praying for truth and justice in the election results. What are the concerns?

I have found a number of articles that point to huge irregularities in the vote counts.

The vote totals defy mathematical logic.

The hour by hour totals of votes as posted by the New York Times, points to fraud.

https://centralcitynews.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Central-City-News-11-19-20-Small.pdf

The sworn testimony of a person with direct knowledge of the dominion voting system points to fraud.

https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.gand.283580/gov.uscourts.gand.283580.6.14.pdf

Perhaps you have seen the press conference that Rudy Guliani and Sidney Powel participated in—if not here is the link:

https://www.c-span.org/video/?478246-1/trump-campaign-news-conference-legal-challenges

Sharyl Atkinson has accumulated a list of articles that are difficult to find in the news media.

https://sharylattkisson.com/2020/11/hard-to-find-2020-election-fraud-stories-and-links/

We must continue to bring our request for truth and justice before God in continuous prayer.

Global Reset or Global Prayer

Last night I didn’t sleep well. I have grief over the state of our country. We are experiencing limited social interaction, censorship, financial pressures and school closures. I am most concerned when I hear world leaders talking about a Global Reset or a New World Order.

Del Bigtree had a lengthy interview with James Corbett about the relationship between the pandemic and a Global Reset, reviewing the comments of numerous world leaders. The episode on The HighWire is HERE.

It is a confusing and chaotic time, but I firmly believe that we must not be overtaken by fear. I spent time praying this morning and asking the Holy Spirit to intercede where I lacked words.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

I am praying for the children and the future of our country. I am praying that families will be strengthened. I am praying for revival in the church. And I am praying for election integrity, for fraud to be exposed.

I have been encouraged by a global prayer meeting that has been taking place a couple times each week. It has blessed me to hear Christians in Israel, Africa and South America praying for the United States.

This coming Sunday, 11/22, there will be another prayer meeting at 7:00 pm CST. It is accessible on Facebook. Eric Metaxas has been posting invitations to the prayer on twitter. Click here for a link to the page.

Every Friday Kate gives a one word prompt to the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: GRIEF

Historical Fiction: 3 Good Reads

This year my mind has become weary with the news. The amount of time that I spend watching the news on TV is decreasing and the amount of time that I am reading is increasing. I admit that I have been a bit of a political junkie, and it is good to spend more time with books (the Bible being first).

Historical fiction is a favorite genre. Books can take us to another time period, showing us places, events and people. We can learn from books that are carefully researched. 

In the past month I have read three books in this genre. Two of the books are set in the time period of WWI, the Great War.

City of Scoundrels by Victoria Thompson includes the 1918 flu pandemic, along with masks and disagreement about the effectiveness of masks. The main characters are involved in cons and the movement of money to make people rich. So much reminded me of the current time that I had to check the publishing date. Did the author write this after the pandemic began? It was published in 2019.

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Web is a WWI story set in Europe. The book has an unusual structure. The story is told completely by letters between the main characters. The reader is invited to see the effects of the war on daily life and decisions through the letters. This perspective allowed a view of internal emotions and hopes. I was drawn into the lives of the characters.

Tessa Afshar writes stories tied to Biblical characters. She has firsthand knowledge of the middle east—I enjoy her descriptions of setting. The Thief of Corinth is set in the time period following Jesus death and resurrection. The apostle Paul makes an appearance in the story. The reader gets a glimpse of wealthy villas in Corinth, the way of life in a rapidly growing commercial center.  Afshar presents Paul consistent with the Bible.

Each of these books does a good job of revealing human nature, the good and the bad that is possible in all of us.

Sharing this post with Inspire Me Monday and Booknificent Thursday .

Saving Seeds with Hope

The leaves are falling. Red gold and bronze. I have been raking the leaves, thankful for the outdoor activity.

My miniature rose bush has surprised me, continuing to bloom even though we have had some nights of frost. The bright red blooms bring joy.

The garden has been put to bed, but I am looking forward to next year. I have saved seeds from some squash plants and calendula flowers.

My neighbor gave me an Italian basil plant. It grew slowly and I decided to bring it inside, placing it in a southern facing window. I am hoping to gather some seeds from it for next year—and perhaps the plant will survive through the winter.

A couple  of English lavender plants did well (planted from seed). I left one outside for the winter and brought one inside. It has charmed me with flowers.

I am so thankful for the order, beauty and diversity of God’s creation. Despite human chaos, the seasons continue. We can trust God’s word. He is faithful and knows the future. We continue day by day with faith. 

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1: 1-3

On Friday Kate gives a prompt and we write for five minutes (and sometimes more). Today’s prompt is: AHEAD

Visit the Five Minute Friday writers to read more insights on this prompt.

Sharing this post with Tuesday’s with a Twist, Sue’s Image-in-ing, Crystal’s Heart Encouragement and Inspire Me Monday.

The Year My Vote Was Denied

During my childhood I was aware of elections and political jingles. My parents voted in every election. It was a citizen’s duty.

The first year I was eligible to vote (1972) Richard Nixon was running against George McGovern. I had registered to vote in Ann Arbor—where I lived as a student. But in the fall of that year I was living and working in Detroit. I was determined to carry out my civic duty.

I drove to the polling station in Ann Arbor and was dismayed to see a huge, long line. When it was 7:00 pm the officials told us that everyone who was in line by 7:00 pm would be allowed to vote. So I waited . . .  and waited. It was close to 1:00 am when it was my turn. The poll worker looked through his documents and shook his head. He told me, “You are at the wrong polling place.” Despite my efforts I didn’t vote in that election.

Over the years I have committed to understanding political policies and have voted in every presidential election except my first attempt and 1988. That fall I was in Seattle with my son during his bone marrow transplant and follow-up care.

On Tuesday afternoons I have three of my grandchildren at my home. Something was said about the current election. My six-year-old grandson turned to me and asked, “Who are you voting for?”

I responded, “I am voting for religious liberty, the constitution and the sanctity of life.”

He said, “I know who you are voting for.”

As the days wind down to this election please join me in praying for a fair election with clear results. Pray for peace in our streets.

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

Year of Disappointment: An Anchor for the Soul

This year, 2020, might be called the year of disappointment. Everyone has been affected by the pandemic whether it be financially, socially or physically. 

The politics in our country has been hard to watch. We have flawed men seeking the presidency. The recent revelations of corruption are disheartening.

The bias in the media and the censoring of some points of view is discouraging. Yet I am reminded that people in previous eras have experienced disruption and jarring circumstances.

Currently I am reading the novel, Last Christmas in Paris, by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb. The book tells the story of young people during World War I. As I writer I am enjoying the structure the book. The story (historically accurate) is told through letters written by the main characters.

The lives of people in England were disrupted as the men left to fight a war that would last four years. Women’s roles changed to meet the needs of the home front. News that would show England in a bad light was censored. It was hard to get a true sense of what was happening with the war—and with loved ones. And towards the end of the war, the Spanish flu arrived, the pandemic of 1918.

We do live in a broken world. //

When we have a relationship with Jesus, he does not disappoint.

he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge. Psalm 144:2

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end. Lamentations 3:22

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20

In this time we need to encourage each other and pray for each other (and vote). I feel blessed to attend church each Sunday and a Bible study during the week. I hope that you are able to meet with a church and/or Bible study.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday Writing Community and Heart Encouragement .

Why is the Roe v. Wade Decision Still Raising Questions?

Roe v. Wade is once again being discussed. During the Senate confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett, Judge Barrett was asked many questions about the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide 47 years ago. Senator Klobuchar asked if the decision was a super precedent—a decision that should never be reviwed.

I have thought about abortion from the perspective of a woman, a mother and a nurse.

Abortion is defended as a woman’s right to choose. With the national legalization it is more than that. When abortion was made medically available and normalized, a parent was given the ability to pressure a daughter to abort a baby that might be an embarrassment to the family (as happened to one of my daughter’s friends). A boyfriend, an abuser or a pimp could more easily pressure a girl to abort an inconvenient pregnancy—releasing young men from any responsibility. The national legalization of abortion normalized the choice to kill life.

A friend of mine learned that the child in her womb had a genetic defect. She was pressured to abort the baby. She was “encouraged” multiple times by her doctor and refused. She gave birth and honored the life of that child.

In 1999 I wrote an article for a nursing journal about another woman who went against the current of medical opinion. The baby in her womb had been diagnosed with a major deformity. She carried the baby to term and was able to care for her child for a month, loving him until he passed away.

Five years ago I wrote a blog post about a patient of mine who experienced a pregnancy loss and the way that the nursing staff honored that baby’s life. Here is a portion of that article.

I recalled an experience that I had as a nurse in the hospital. My patient experienced a miscarriage. At sixteen weeks gestation, the infant had died in the womb. The mother had experienced wrenching physical and emotional pain as she labored. She had moaned, tossing and turning in bed. As her nurse, I had given morphine ordered by the doctor, but it had not covered the pain. After eight exhausting hours the body of the tiny girl baby was delivered.

We wrapped the baby in a blanket and after the mother held her, I made the memorial card. I held the tiny feet gently, applied ink and made footprints on the bereavement card—a memorial to the life of a baby girl and one aspect of bereavement care provided at the hospital.

At the nurse’s station, a doctor was explaining various medications that he had used to abort pregnancies.  He talked about the abortion process and it struck me that women going through abortion may have experienced the same misery that I had just witnessed.   The difference was that they did not receive bereavement care.  Women went home from the hospital or clinic quietly. The experience may have been traumatic and done in secret.

Although some celebrities have said that they are proud of their abortion, many women carry emotional and spiritual wounds. The group, Silent No More, testifies about the long lasting pain of abortion.

There is a deep sense among many people that the quick fix offered by abortion is not right or good.

The Wall Street Journal (10/16/2020) quoted Judge Barrett’s response to Senator Klobuchar’s question about a super precedent. “I’m answering a lot of questions about Roe, which indicates that Roe doesn’t fall into that category”.

The images of the developing infant are courtesy of Creative Commons through this license.

Refreshed by a Weekend in Michigan with My Sisters

Northern Michigan is at the height of fall color. My sisters and I enjoyed a road trip, taking in the vivid, glowing colors of the trees.

Sun and shadow played on the orange and yellow leaves, lighting them up like gold. Red and green provided contrast.

We hiked through a wooded area and noticed the beautiful detail in leaves and flowers. Art designed by God.

The fall colors were glorious, and the time with my sisters was a blessing. We picked apples, listened to podcasts together, shared meals and prayed for family concerns. We gave thanks because we have seen God’s faithfulness over the years.

For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12

Sharing this post with Inspire Me Monday and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday .

Breathing Patterns for Birth . . . and Soccer?

Last Saturday I spent a lovely afternoon watching my grandson play soccer. It brought back memories of the time my son played soccer and I was an accidental coach. Years ago I wrote a story about that experience.

When I first told my family that I was  a soccer coach they didn’t believe me.  You see, I had never played soccer.  I had never even watched a soccer game.  My position as a soccer coach began as a mistake.

When I signed my son up for soccer I checked one of the boxes indicating that I would volunteer my assistance.  Whenever my children were involved in an activity it seemed prudent to be involved.  I could bake cookies or make phone calls. At the first team meeting a tall man announced to the group.  “I’m looking for Carol Van Der Woude.”

I stepped forward with a smile, “that’s me.”

“I’m John.  I understand that you are my assistant coach.”

I gasped and then stuttered.  “I’m pleased to meet you.  I did sign up to assist . . . um . . . I can make phone calls, bring snacks.”

John smiled and responded.  “All the parents will bring snacks.  I’ll just need you to help with the practices and then cover a few games when I am out of town.  It’s not hard,  We have a training session this coming Saturday.”

The following Saturday I arrived at the sport center dressed in casual clothes and leather sandals.  I brought my notebook and pen, prepared to take notes on my new role.  With a sinking heart I noticed that I was one of a few females and that everyone was dressed in shorts and tennis shoes.  John greeted me, looked at my attire and  chuckled.  “It’s going to be a little hard to control the ball in those shoes.”

When the instructor for our session asked everyone to assemble on the indoor soccer field, I felt a little sick.  I stayed at the back of the group, trying to be invisible.

It was to no avail.  The instructor walked over and looked me up and down.  I was hoping that he would ask me to sit out.  Instead he shrugged as amusement crossed his features.  “It’ll have to do.”

We practiced countless drills, dribbling and passing the ball, running around cones.  I survived the running and kicking and returned to my seat to write furious notes.

As I wrote I thought, I’ve taught Lamaze skills for many years.  Surely I can teach soccer skills.  Certainly there are principles that apply to both.

During our practices I had each child introduce himself and encouraged the children to call each other by name.  I was sure that a good sense of team effort and a supportive environment would benefit the players.   It was a delight to see the shy child’s face light up when his team-mates called to him by name.

John was out of town for our second game.  I rotated the 5 and 6 year old boys on and off the field.  Whenever a child became distracted or was hesitant about kicking the ball I coached him.  “Focus on the ball, breathe in, breathe out and kick!”  From the sidelines I yelled “Breathe and kick!”

After my grandson’s game I took out the team picture from 23 years ago. I was standing proudly with the team. I never coached another soccer team, but I have happy memories of that year.

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community .