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

Hope for Recovery

As the pandemic recedes, the tide going out slowly, I hope for recovery in many areas of life.

Renewed care and compassion for the elderly. The last eight months of my mother’s life were increasingly isolated due to pandemic restrictions. I am glad that she knew Jesus as her Savior.

A return to good, basic education for children—reading, writing, mathematics, science, art and music. I am sad that many children in our large cities have only had on-line learning which is so difficult for young children. The children are our greatest treasure.

A revived fertility rate and strength in the family unit. The fertility rate in the United States (and other countries) has dropped below replacement level. Many complex factors are involved. I hope for a renewed value of children, joy in family.

Renewed support for new mothers in the weeks after giving birth. I remember caring for women in the post partum unit of the hospital, my role as a mentor mom for MOPS, and the years I led discussion for mothers participating in Baby & Me at our church. These avenues of support dwindled during the past year. Women benefit from the support of other women. If you are a new mom, where have you found support?

I can hope and pray for these things, but ultimately my hope is in the Lord.

This post is linked with Kate’s Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt for today is: RECOVERY

Timeless Truth

The Bible has books that praise God, record His interaction in the world and report the words of Jesus. The Psalms have both praise and lament and I feel that I am in the company of people who have struggled with their faith.

The gospel of John gives me a close-up view of Jesus ministry on earth and the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation. Paul’s letters to the churches provide instruction.

And then there is the book of the prophet, Amos. God’s judgement. God is holy and He will judge sin. The book details the judgement that God has for the nations that have come against Israel and also Israel.

As I have studied Amos, the description of the decline of God’s people has weighed heavily on me. What can I take away from this book?

God brings about judgement, but His purpose is to call people to repentance. 

Seek the Lord and live . . . Seek good, and not evil that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts will be with you, as you have said. Amos 5: 4b, 14

As I noted the direction offered by Amos, I began to look for additional verses in scripture with the word, seek. There are many references. Here are some.

But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:9

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! 1 Chronicles 16: 10-11

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

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Luke 11:9

John records the words of Jesus. “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” John 5:30

Amazing Microbiome

This is great encouragement to me. God knows our human nature and proclivity to sin. He has prepared a way for us to live in relationship with Him. He asks us to seek Him. Even Jesus was seeking the will of God the Father.

It helps my prayer life in this unusual time. Will you join me in praying for the people of the United States, Israel, Gaza, India and all around the world? Is there a person or nation that God has put on your heart?

Linking this post with Heart Encouragement .

Return to Me

In the middle of the week, I have a women’s Bible study. During the week each of us spends time reading a couple chapters and looking up cross references. On Wednesday morning we meet and discuss what we have learned.

Currently we are studying the book of Amos, having already gone through Obadiah and Joel. These books gave a warning to Israel. The prophets were warning that God’s judgement was coming, because they were no longer obeying God’s commands, they were no longer honoring God with their lives.

Judgement would come in the form of famine, natural disasters, pestilence and attacks by other nations. In the book of Numbers and Deuteronomy, God promised to bless Israel if they followed his ways and to judge them if they disobeyed. He had chosen them to be an example of life lived in relationship with Him.

The phrase, yet you did not return to me, is repeated throughout chapter 4 of Amos.

Amos was giving voice to God’s purpose in judgement. God was hoping that his people would return to Him. 

God’s steadfast desire is that we return to Him, live obediently and honor Him. 

For we are the temple of the living God, as God has said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. 2 Corinthians 6:16 

5/16 I am adding a note in consideration of the events taking place in Israel. Throughout the book of Amos, God also judged the nations that attacked Israel. Some nations were utterly destroyed, but God always preserved a remnant in Israel. God has kept his covenant with Israel throughout the ages. In this time of unrest and the barrage of rockets, pray for Israel. Pray for the people, for the salvation of Jews, Arabs and Palestinians. Pray for God’s name to be exalted.

This post in linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community and Heart Encouragement

She Asked Me to Pray

After working in hospital labor/delivery units for many years, I had the opportunity to join a home birth practice. I attended healthy women in labor at home. During the active phase of labor the doctor or midwife arrived. Approximately ten percent of the women were transferred to the hospital for interventions–less than ten percent required a cesarean section. I am grateful that I was able to observe the natural progression of labor in the home setting. The following poem reflects combined experiences. The poem and is an edited version of one previously published on my blog..

Labor pains came gently through the night.

Morning light streamed on her rocking chair.

Her labor intensified. She walked slowly,

hand on my arm and listened for encouraging words.

Her movements were intuitive. She labored,

finding comfort in firm back massage.

She knelt down and asked me to pray.

No pain medication. She asked me to pray.

I prayed as she moaned and released her body to

Waves of pain and pressure. Her cries filled the air.

Her body pushed. The midwife supported

the baby and lifted her to welcoming arms.

I recorded the time of birth.

Morning light was now an afternoon glow.

I marveled at God’s design.

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Herbs in the Garden: Nourishment and Remedies

Springtime brings warmer weather, more sunshine, blossoms on the trees and the beginning of a parade of flowers. One of my favorite activities is planting seeds and watching them germinate. Only God can package life in a tiny seed!

A couple years ago I planted nettle seeds—a herb that I was familiar with as a tea. To my delight, little nettle plants sprouted and the plants have come back each year. (I keep them in a pot in a secluded location. The leaves and stems have little hairs that sting when touched; I wear gloves harvesting.)

Stinging Nettle

Susun Weed writes in her book, Herbal for the Childbearing Year*:

The common stinging nettle is a uterine tonic and general nourisher with a special ability to strengthen the kidneys and adrenals. Its high mineral and chlorophyll content make it an excellent food and tonic for the hormonal system.

I have enjoyed nettle tea and have added nettle to soups. When the leaves are cooked the sting is gone. In an old Swedish cook book, I found a recipe for nettle soup.

I have planted seeds for calendula flowers outside and they have begun to sprout. Calendula is a favorite herb in my garden.

The book, Essential Herbs: Treat Yourself Naturally with Herbs and Homemade Remedies** has this note about calendula flowers:

Traditionally said to lift the spirits and encourage cheerful ness, calendula is one of the most popular and versatile medicinal herbs in current use. It is widely available in commercial calendula ointments and creams and is also used internally . . .  

Calendula flower

 I have made myself calendula tea. I have used the tea as a mouthwash for gum irritations and it has brought healing. I have also made calendula salve for skin irritations.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday Writing Community . Also sharing with the Hearth and Soul link-up and Sue’s image-in-ing and Tuesday with a Twist and Inspire Me Monday .

*Susun Weed, Herbal for the Childbearing Year, Woodstock, New York: Ash Tree Publishing, 1986, p.2

**J. Behrens, S. Curtis, L. Green, P. Ody, D. Vilinac, Essential Herbs, New York : DK Publishing, 2020 p. 60

Broken Cisterns

As I read through the Old Testament of the Bible, the words tell me about God’s holiness and justice. He has made a way for us to dwell with Him. God has given us precepts for living; his laws are good. But it is human nature to disobey. 

The prophet Jeremiah was directed by God to warn Israel. 

for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Jeremiah 2:13

Currently my women’s Bible study is using a study guide titled, Discovering the God of Second Chances. Our nation needs a second chance. God is merciful and patient.

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

Join me in praying for revival.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community .

A Little Return to Normalcy

My husband and I will attend a football game at the high school tonight. Each marching band member is permitted two guests at the game. Our grandson and granddaughter will be playing trumpet and flute. It is a bit of a return to normal.

The past year has been hard on children and teens. I am glad my daughter chose to home school the younger children, instead of trying remote learning. 

I had a brief introduction to remote learning during spring break. My daughter signed up the three youngest children for a zoom class on geology. She was unavailable to monitor it, so I agreed to help. The teacher had a great lesson plan and I had the worksheets for the children. There was a fairly wide span of ages participating. As the class proceeded children had questions and comments like “I have a pretty rock. Can I show it to you?” 

The teacher graciously said, “You can take a picture and send it to me after class.”

The child responded, “Oh no, I will go outside and get it for you now.”

A parent jumped in with, “The children need to know which rock you are talking about now.”

As we listened and watched the screen, I tried to steer my three children with the worksheets we were filling in, attempting to get the names of the rocks correctly. I sighed with relief when the 45-minute class was done. 

The teens had remote learning until the beginning of the new year—so many hours on computer screens. After a couple months of part-time in person, they are finally going to school full-time in person. 

In the fall, my hope is that all children will be permitted to go back to school full-time. Without a vaccine mandate to attend. The vaccine is experimental and we don’t know the long-term consequences. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? When will we have enough data? I read an article about the changes some women are seeing in their menstrual cycles following vaccination. 

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community.

Springtime

Spring flowers and the Elderberry Bush

The warm weather and spring flowers are so welcome. I am enjoying daffodils, tulips, violets and cherry blossoms as I begin gardening.

Daffodils
Tulips

The elderberry bushes in my backyard have produced well, providing berries for elderberry juice. I can the juice, and throughout the past months I have enjoyed adding a couple tablespoons of elderberry juice to my tea in the evenings.

elderberries
Elderberries from a previous summer

Unfortunately I planted one elderberry bush in the corner of my garden. Last summer new shoots of elderberry plants were popping up all over the garden. The roots have extended throughout the garden space. We cut down that sprawling bush, and I planted new starts in defined areas of our yard.

My current task is digging up the shoots and roots that remain in the garden. If you plant an elderberry bush in your yard be careful where you plant it. Elderberry can be invasive.

Sharing this post with Sue’s Wordless Wednesday and Hearth and Soul link-up and Tuesday with a Twist.

Words of Gentleness

During the years of Jesus ministry on earth there was political turmoil—not so different from our world today. There was division among the Jews: Pharisees, Sadducees, zealots and followers of Jesus. And they were ruled by the Romans. 

Jesus didn’t offer a political solution. He was focused on turning the hearts and minds of the people to God, to forgive sins. He healed people spiritually

Last Sunday we sang a hymn that you might associate with Christmas. Who Is He in Yonder Stall gives snapshots of Jesus’ life. It is a beautiful description of our Savior.

Who is He in yonder stall, at whose feet the shepherds fall? Who is He is deep distress, fasting in the wilderness?

Who is He the people bless for his words of gentleness? Who is He to whom they bring all the sick and sorrowing?

Who is He who stands and weeps at the grave where Laz’rus sleeps? Who is He the gath’ring throng greet with loud triumphant song?

Lo, at midnight, who is He, prays in dark Gethsemane? Who is He on yonder tree, dies in grief and agony?

Who is He that from the grave comes to heal and help and save? Who is He that from His throne rules through all the world alone?

‘Tis the Lord! Oh, wondrous story! ‘Tis the Lord! The King of glory!At his feet we humbly fall, Crown Him! Crown Him, Lord of all! 

Benjamin Hanby (1833 – 1867)

May we follow Jesus’ example, engaging our culture with gentleness. May we obediently follow our Lord and Savior.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community.