Faithful Poet and Hymn Writer

Commit your way to the Lord:trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:3

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

These verses are true of Fanny Crosby. Some years ago I read her autobiography and was inspired by her life.

Fanny Crosby was a poet and hymn writer in the late 1800s who pointed many people to God. Some of the hymns that I sang growing up were written by Fanny Crosby

When she was six months old the treatment prescribed for a mild infection of her eyes left her legally blind. With the guidance of her mother and grandmother she overcame this handicap. She wrote, “But why should the blind be regarded as objects of pity? Darkness may indeed throw a shadow over the outer vision, but there is no cloud, however dark, that can keep the sunlight of hope from the trustful soul.”

Fanny’s mother made arrangements for her to attend the New York Institute for the blind when she was fourteen. Her gift for poetry was recognized at the school and she was directed to study the classical writers and poets.

Following her years of study she became a teacher at the Institute. She attended lectures and had occasion to meet political leaders. Her poetry was published in newspapers and books. She wrote hymns for a number of evangelists. Later in life she was called to serve at city missions.

Fanny Crosby’s preaching was gentle and winsome as she pointed people to the Lord through song. Several hymns written by Fanny are among my favorites. Here are the lyrics to All the Way My Savior Leads Me

All the way my Savior leads me; What have I to ask beside?

Can I doubt his tender mercy, Who through life has been my guide?

Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, Here by faith in him to dwell!

For I know, what-e’er be-fall me, Jesus doth all things well. 

This post is the final one in Write28Days. All of the posts are listed here.

When It Is Time to Speak UP

When should we get involved in the political discussions in our country? Should moms and grandmas be activists? The book of Peter offers instruction:

Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of fools who think you are a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government. 1 Peter 2: 13-17 MSG

For a number of years I have participated in the March for Life to express my support for all human life. It has been a positive experience; I have met people that share my concern. Another way that we peacefully express concerns is through letters, e-mails and phone calls to our legislators. 

Three years ago I participated in a seminar with the group, Women Speak for Themselves. A young woman who had worked on staff for a congressman told us that letters and e-mails matter. They have an impact.

When we have a concern it is important to become educated on the topic. After doing our homework we can clearly state our position with facts to back it up. Today there is a hearing scheduled on the measles outbreak and the status of vaccines. The commissioner of the FDA has suggested having the federal government mandate vaccines, doing away with exemptions.

A young woman has openly shared a letter that she wrote. Here is a portion:

I am writing to you out of concern for threats to our medical freedom and our ability to choose what goes into our bodies and the bodies of our children. Are you aware that since January 1, 2019, over $72,657,067 has been spent on vaccine injury/death? You can confirm this with the Government Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Just like any medical procedure, vaccines offer both significant risk and reward. Deciding on a procedure while weighing the risk versus reward is a matter of personal opinion based on each individual’s own health situation, personal values, and fears. We must protect that choice instead of falsely portraying vaccine efficacy and value as one-sided with only rewards and without significant risk.

As a country we face complicated issues. As women we can participate in the discussion, respectfully. Our experiences and perspectives are important.


This post is part of #Write28Days. Click here to see all the posts in the series.

Celebration with Finnish Prune Tarts

There are special holiday treats in the Finnish tradition. One of them is the prune tart or joulutorttu (Christmas tart). My mother and my aunt made these at Christmas time.

Aunt Syl and Mom in 2010

My Aunt Syl made them for my wedding reception.

During the last summer vacation with my Dad (he was 89 years old) we enjoyed family projects. I wrote about that summer in Upper Michigan. The story was published in the Kippis Literary Journal. Here is an excerpt:

One day Mom and the kids made the special family recipe of prune tarts. It was fun for the family to bake together. My nephew caught onto the process of pressing butter into the dough, folding the dough and rolling it out. We had a passionate debate over how long to leave the tarts in the oven. When they came out of the oven we barely let them cool before tasting this special family treat. The group consensus was “the best tarts ever”.

I looked on-line and saw that there are a number of recipes for Finnish prune tarts. And then I found a blog that describes the process of making prune tarts the same way our family made them–with pictures and a recipe. The writer describes meeting the Finnish lady in Northern Michigan. It is a long story, but at the end there is a wonderful description of the joulutorttu.

This post is part of #Write28Days. To see other posts in this series click here.

Mothers, Girls and Flowers

As a nurse and mom I follow news about life and health. I am encouraged because New Jersey has a new campaign, Nurture NJ, to improve the health of mothers and their infants. One of the goals is to reduce unnecessary cesarean sections by employing midwives to attend women throughout their labor.

Another move to support life occurred in Ohio. Ohio recently passed a bill to prohibit abortion based on a diagnosis of possible down syndrome in an unborn baby. It was good to see adults with down syndrome testify before legislators.

I enjoy books that point to the value of all life. Hazel Gaynor has written a novel, A Memory of Violets, about the flower girls that worked on the streets of London.

Violets

The book is based on the true story of a philanthropist, John Groom. Mr. Groom organized an orphanage for crippled and disabled girls during the late 1800s. The ragged and destitute girls had been supporting themselves by selling flowers.

Mr. Groom instituted an artificial flower business. The girls employed by Mr. Groom were trained to make artificial flowers. These young women, many of them disabled, produced the flowers for Queen Alexandra’s Rose Day. This is the background of the novel.

We hear about human trafficking in the news. Girls and young women are trapped in a sex trade. It is an evil business. This novel, in contrast, is a story of goodness.

It was refreshing to read about the efforts to build up the skills and independence of impoverished young women. The story has interesting twists and turns. The characters, Tilly, Florrie and Rosie, are nicely drawn.

This post is part of #Write28Days. To see all the posts in this series, click here.

It’s Okay to be Different

Currently I am studying the book of Deuteronomy. The nation of Israel was about to enter the promised land and Moses was giving instructions to the people.

In the book, the word— fear— appears 29 times. Israel is instructed to fear (revere) God and NOT to fear man.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8

Fear has the ability to paralyze or control a person. We might be afraid to speak up and go against the politically correct view. Politically correct views are determined by men. Instead we should follow the standards set by God.

It is good to become comfortable being different. When I was a child we didn’t always have a TV, and when we did, I didn’t watch programs very often. Sometimes I didn’t know what my classmates were talking about. I invested time in reading books.

My daughter had a funny experience being different. When my children were young they were on allergy diets. At the time it was unusual for a child to avoid wheat and sugar, even for the classroom parties. When a first grade boy brought cupcakes for the class on his birthday, he brought my daughter some raw carrots and cauliflower. He really liked her! She was impressed and amused.

Some of the choices we make may go against current trends. It is okay to stand for something that is not popular. Our relationship with God, our reverence for him is more important.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

Vesper Service

This post is part of #Write28Days. To view more posts in this series click here.

A Mother’s Role

It is a blessing to participate in the Five Minute Friday writing community. We write on the prompt that Kate Motaung gives. Visit the site to meet other writers and to read their posts. Today’s prompt is: JUST

The dictionary offers these definitions for just: conforming to a standard of correctness, morally upright or good.

When I read the news about things taking place in our country or around the world I can be overwhelmed. What is my role?

As a mother and grandmother my first responsibility is to my family and church. As I spend time in prayer, I need to be sensitive to God’s guidance in interactions with the wider community. When we have a willingness to serve, God works through us to accomplish his purpose.

Micah 6:8

This post is part of #Write28Days.  


When Health Care Becomes Perplexing

Health care was one of the top issues in the midterm elections. According to a letter that I received yesterday from the School of Nursing at the University of Michigan (my alma mater) : We grapple with the knowledge that the United States is the top spending country in health care but only ranked 34th among wealthy countries in health outcomes. 

It is perplexing to see the ideas about healthcare that are being promoted. I am saddened to know that two bills in the Illinois House of Representatives expand access to abortion, up to nine months of pregnancy. 

It is painful to know of depressed young people that are being counseled to change their gender with expensive surgery when there is no clear evidence that it will have a positive impact on their health. Transgender adults have a high rate of suicide.

Health care should be about life and healing. 

There is an interesting passage of scripture in the book of Exodus. The Israelites have left Egypt and are in the wilderness. They are looking for water. God provides water and speaks to them through Moses.

There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will  not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you. Exodus 15:26

He didn’t say that they would never get sick but referred to diseases they saw in Egypt.

As a nurse my first experience with abortion was in a labor/delivery unit of a hospital. It occurred shortly after Roe v. Wade was decided. A young woman seven months pregnant was admitted for a saline induced abortion. Saline was injected into the womb to kill the infant and induce contractions. I was horrified and wrote a letter to my manager stating that I could not participate in abortions. 

Every type of abortion procedure has risks. When I read about the early cases of women that died after using the abortion pill, the procedure became part of the story in my novel, Aliisa’s Letter. The book is about a young nurse, her friend, and a midwife. The story is set in Upper Michigan.   

On January 22nd it was the 46th anniversary of Roe v.Wade, the national legalization of abortion. Since that time the March for Life has become an annual event, pregnancy care centers have sprung up, healing retreats have been organized and a support group for former abortion workers has been organized.

Physical, emotional and spiritual pain surround abortion. I am thankful for the organization, Students for Life. As they educate millennials about the abortion procedure, the infant’s development and experience of pain, young people are changing their mind about the right to abortion at any time in pregnancy.

God’s ways are good. He has created life and calls on us to seek him for help. In our churches we can come along side the unmarried woman who is pregnant and the woman who has an unexpected pregnancy with difficult circumstances. I am wondering and thinking about how we can walk along side young people who are in emotional pain and suffering. How should we, in the church, respond to the transgender person?

I encourage you to pray with me over these difficult issues.

This post is part of #Write28Days. You can follow me on Facebook for health related posts.

Traditions and Heritage

My mother picked strawberries and wild blueberries with her mother, and so did I. My Finnish heritage has given me a an appreciation for berries, wild and cultivated. 

Berries are abundant in Finland (37 types of edible wild berries) and an important addition to the diet. Enjoyment of berries is a family tradition.

According to a website about Finland: Nordic growing conditions are harsh yet productive. The berries and mushrooms that grow in Finnish forests are part of the traditional Finnish diet, and gathering them is a pastime for many families that has been passed down through generations. The fruits of the northern forests are coveted by gourmet chefs, and are increasingly exported.

When my children were little, thimbleberry jam had become popular in Upper Michigan. The wild thimbleberries grow along ditches and creek beds, sometimes not far from the rugged glory of Lake Superior.

When we visited Grandpa and Grandma in Upper Michigan, we joined them on excursions to find and pick the berries. We cleaned the berries as a family project. Grandma made jam and I learned how to make it too.

Bowl of Thimbleberries

Thimbleberry jam is lovely treat during winter. It brings back memories of the summer, hiking in Upper Michigan.

I have gradually added to the berries growing in my back yard, discovering which ones flourish. Blueberries and thimbleberries don’t do well. I have strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, elderberries and currants. The grandchildren delight in picking them, especially the raspberries and currants.

Raspberries
Currants
Elderberries

I pick and freeze the elderberries and in the fall I make elderberry juice.

Gooseberry
Gooseberries

Gooseberries are a nice addition to apple pie, adding a rich flavor.

This post is part of Write28Days. For a full list of posts click here.

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Two Are Better Than One

Today is my wedding anniversary. As I reflect back on 42 years of marriage I am thankful for my husband and the way our relationship has refined us.

There have been seasons in our marriage. At first we had to learn to live with each other. Children came early in our marriage, and we helped each other parent. When our son developed leukemia we worked hard as a team to support him and get the medical care he needed.

That was followed by a season of grief. Our marriage had been drained of energy and we needed to begin again.

God has been faithful in guiding us and renewing our love.

We have been blessed to see each of our adult children marry. We are thankful for the son-in-laws and daughter-in-law that have increased our family joy.

Now we are grandparents, fully enjoying the blessing of family. Through the years we have learned about ourselves and each other. We know each other’s strength and weaknesses. We have helped our spouse to make changes.

My husband has helped me react to situations with greater patience and thought. I once wrote an angry letter and mailed it immediately. After discussing it with my husband I was ashamed. I went back to the mailbox and inserted a colorful note, requesting that postman send the letter back to my return address. To my amazement and relief the letter came back to me.

We have different ways of doing things—even the simple task of making coffee. While I will measure the coffee grounds after grinding the coffee beans (8 tablespoons for 11 cups of water), my husband puts a generous amount of beans in the grinder. Then he dumps all the ground coffee into the filter lined basket.

He is certain that he has the right amount. He adds a dash of salt (my suggestion) and some cardamon seeds (again, my suggestion) and turns the brew on. I am thankful to have fresh brewed coffee ready every morning. Sunday mornings he brings me a cup with cream and coconut oil when I am still in bed. 

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10a

Marriage

If you are married, how has marriage refined you? If you are single, do you have a friend that challenges you and encourages you to develop new perspectives?

This post is part of #Write28Days.

The Scent of Water: Book Review

Perhaps there is a right time to read a book. I started The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge some years ago, but I didn’t finish it. This time as I read the book I was thoroughly enjoying the writing. I lingered over the descriptions of setting, and the interesting choice of words, the unique phrases. I looked up some words in the dictionary.

The story follows the main character’s move to a village town in England. Mary, like the author, is single and has inherited a cottage from a cousin. She meets the endearing members of the village, each with their human quirks and flaws.  

Throughout the book there are glimpses into a diary of a woman who suffered from mental illness. Mental illness is portrayed with insight and compassion by this author.

There are children in the story also. They are portrayed in a lovely, understanding way. 

I would guess that Elizabeth Goudge understood and delighted in children. I enjoyed the special collection of “little things” that captures the imagination of the children.

The Scent of Water is a gentle story about people with flaws, the pursuit of faith, health and relationship. You have to read the book to catch the significance of the title.

A website about Elizabeth Goudge (1900 – 1984) provides a brief biography. 

This post is part of #Write28Days. To view all the posts in the series click here.

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