Attentive is my Word for 2017

Instead of a New Year resolution, I have found it beneficial to choose a word to focus on. It is a spiritual practice for me.

Attentive is my word for 2017. The dictionary gives this meaning: heedful, observant, paying attention. The events taking place in the world can be fearful. I want to keep my eyes on the Lord.

I have been musing on the way that Mary,  Simeon  and  Anna were      attentive to God’s word and the events taking place around them  ( as described in the first two chapters of the gospel of Luke). Mary praised God with faith when the angel told her that she would bear a son.     Simeon and Anna were there when Jesus was presented at the temple in Jerusalem for consecration. Simeon was watching and waiting for the promise of a Savior and praised God for the salvation that would come through Jesus. Anna gave thanks to God.

I am encouraged by the faith and hope Mary, Simeon and Anna displayed. They did not doubt the sovereignty of God! The words of the Psalms were real to them.

My heart is steadfast, O God: I will sing and make music with all my soul.

Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the people.

For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.     Psalm 108: 1-5

There are three ways that I can actively be attentive.

    1. Study God’s word. I am delighted that one of the gifts we received for Christmas is a devotional that will take us through the Psalms, The Songs of Jesus by Timothy Keller.
    2. Spend time in prayer. I do pray, but I can increase the time  praying and listening.
    3. Seek the Lord in loving others. We live in a divisive culture and I need the Lord’s direction in showing His love.

May God guide you through 2017. Thanks for visiting!

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Merry Christmas!

Here is a portion of the Christmas letter that I wrote on December 4th and sent out with our cards:

The homes in our neighborhood are decorated for Christmas, and today we had our first snowfall. The trees sparkle with white icing. At church we sang Christmas carols and wrote cards for Christians that are currently imprisoned for their faith.

Our hope for this beautiful world, created by God, but broken by sin, rests in God’s plan of salvation through Jesus. Job, a man of faith in the Old Testament, has words of hope. For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25

The apostle John wrote about about God’s plan of salvation in his gospel. John recorded the words of Jesus. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16   This is the gift of Christmas.

Many thanks to all my readers and my best wishes for joy in the New Year!

Christmas Pointsetta

The nativity image is courtesy of FreeVintageArt.com

Grace in a Winter Storm

The winter storm in Michigan was brutal. I had left early in the morning hoping to get to my mother’s nursing home before it became too bad—but it was already bad. In some places I couldn’t see the road and just followed tire tracks in the snow. I hit a patch of ice and lost control of the car. I veered toward a ditch before the car went into a spin. I think it made two complete revolutions. The engine died and I sat still in shock. My car was still on the road and there were no other vehicles in sight. I started the engine and drove on. Further on the car slipped and fish tailed a couple more times, but I reached my destination safely. I praised God for his protection.

I spent the day with my mother at the nursing home. She was glad to see me, but a little confused about who I am. We joined the hymn sing in the activity room. Mom was able to join in when the hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, came up.

The nursing home was decorated for Christmas and my eye was drawn to the nativity scenes. I pushed my mother’s wheel chair up to a display in the dining room.

Grace - Nativity

Later I paused at the display in the lobby of the nursing home.

Nativity

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4: 4-5

I stayed with my mother until evening, and then went to a hotel to wait out the storm.

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Reading, Waiting and Listening

Take time. Give God time to reveal Himself to you. Give yourself time to be silent and quiet before Him, waiting to receive through the Spirit the assurance of His presence with you, His power working in you. Take time to read His Word as in His presence; that from it you may know what He asks of you and what he promises you. Let the Word create around you, create within you, a holy heavenly light in which your soul will be refreshed and strengthened for the work of daily life.                                         Rev. Andrew Murray (1828 – 1917)

The virgin Mary is an example of waiting on the Lord. She had questions, but she responded with trust. Can you imagine what it was like when the angel Gabriel appeared to her?

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth. . . . And he [Gabriel] came to her [Mary] and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”

But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”       Luke 1:26, 28-35, 38

Does Mary’s acceptance of the angel’s presence and conversation with the angel amaze you?    Mary must have known the scriptures and    promises of God. She must have been living with deep trust in God’s sovereignty.

God ways are often outside of our expectation. God chose Mary to give birth to the Son of God in humble circumstances. Jesus did not arrive on earth in royal fashion. His birth was not supported by high technology.

As I meditate on this, I see that God was affirming childbirth and the family unit.

It is true that we need to spend time in God’s word. God speaks to us through the scripture. We can learn from Mary’s example, reading God’s word, waiting, listening and responding with trust.

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Ancient Wisdom, New Life and the Love Hormone

Could the book of Job be a description of  God’s  design for  the  earth   following the flood? Currently I am reading  The Remarkable Record of Job*  by Henry Morris.   Throughout the book he points out amazing insights about our world, offered in this Old Testament book of the Bible.

Morris theorizes that  Job  lived before  Moses  and possibly before   Abraham. The book makes reference to the great flood (Job 22:15-16). Prior to the flood the earth was covered in a mist, but following the flood a new water cycle was established. Dr. Morris reflects on passages that describe this great change. Job records references to wind, water vapor, clouds and rain.

He [God] binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the clouds are not split open under them. Job 26:8

For He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything  under  the    heavens. When he gave to the wind its weight and apportioned the waters by measure, when he made a decree for the rain and a way for the lightning of the thunder, then he saw it and declared it; he established it and searched it out. Job 28: 24-27

Do you know how God lays his command upon them and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine? Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge . . . Job 37: 15-16

Dr. Morris, a scientist,  wrote a fascinating book that points to the details of God’s creation which we continue to discover. As a nurse I realize that we are still learning about the wisdom of God’s design for childbirth.

Once again  I was in awe of the miracle of new life  when  I  attended the birth of our seventh grandchild!

My daughter was able to go through labor with supportive care, but without medication or interventions. She gave birth to a healthy son.

The baby was placed on her chest, skin to skin, immediately after the birth. The baby stimulated her body to release the hormone, oxytocin, which is produced in the brain. This hormone has a calming effect and also stimulates the womb to contract. She did not need to have pitocin (a synthetic form of oxytocin) given intravenously.

Oxytocin has several of purposes.  It stimulates uterine contractions,    reducing bleeding. It enhances bonding between mother and baby.   It is involved in the let-down reflex that occurs during breastfeeding.

Kelly Brogan M.D. discusses the difference between oxytocin, an endogenous hormone, and pitocin in an article here.

Another article  (American College of Nurse-Midwives)  calls for more   research on oxytocin and pitocin. Click here.

A Swedish doctor has written a book titled The Oxytocin Factor:Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love and Healing.  Throughout the book Dr. Moberg cites the research that she has done at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. She lists the factors that enhance the body’s release of calming oxytocin: gentle touch; massage; quiet environment; various scents and music. For a brief review of the book, click here.

It is a common practice to give pitocin prophylactically following birth. My daughter requested that it not be given routinely.

Praise the Lord for this healthy birth!

We are thankful for the availability of modern medicine, but give praise to God for his marvelous design for childbirth.

kids_prim6254-2

*Henry M. Morris Ph.D, The Remarkable Record of Job, Master Books:Green Forest, AR, 2000.

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Spiced Cranberry Sauce for the Thanksgiving Dinner

Perhaps it was ten years ago when I came across an unusual cranberry sauce recipe in the newspaper. I tweaked it a little bit, and my family loved it. It is sweet and tart with a nice burst of flavor from the spices. It has become a requested item for Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve shared this recipe before, but feel it is worth repeating.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Here is the recipe:

1 lemon
12 ounces fresh cranberries
½ cup crystalized ginger, finely diced
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove of garlic, minced *optional
3/4 cup honey
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. salt
a pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Grate the zest from the lemon. Peel off the white pith and discard it. Cut the lemon in half, remove the seeds and then dice. Place cranberries, lemon zest, diced lemon and the rest of the ingredients in a stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce has thickened. Taste test and add a little more sugar if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Thanks for visiting! Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Turkey Greeting Card courtesy of FreeVintageArt.com

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Speaking Up About Vaccine Safety

The CDC is asking for comments on Vaccine Information for the MMR and MMRV. I responded with my observations.  This vaccine impacted the health of my twins when they were toddlers. It is my hope that our health system will listen to the concerns that parents and teachers have raised over the expanding number of vaccines that children are receiving.

As a child I received the DTP and polio vaccines.   My children have      received more.  The MMR was released in the 1970s. The current recommended vaccine schedule is extensive including combination vaccines and single vaccines. You can view the schedule here.

In 1986 a law was passed giving vaccine producers immunity. Pharmaceuticals could not be sued for injury caused by vaccines. Their products would automatically be sold if placed on the CDC list of recommended vaccines. The floodgates were opened.

The hepatitis B vaccine, chicken pox vaccine, rotavirus vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine, hepatitis A vaccine and yearly flu vaccines were added to the schedule for children in the first five years of life.  And  additional    vaccines are recommended for school age children.

So many vaccines. A Dutch study suggests that the vaccines may have a negative impact on health. The study involved 635 children. According to a comparison between vaccinated and non-vaccinated children,  the    vaccinated had a much higher rate of ear infection.  That caught my    attention because I remember being bewildered by the repetitive ear infections that my children had in the first five years. My siblings and I did not experience this when we were children. You can read the study and view graphs showing the difference here.

The hepatitis B vaccine was introduced during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Hepatitis B is acquired through body fluids (sexual activity) and through contact with infected blood. Why was it scheduled for infants? Did we have any research to assure safety?

As the infants who received the hepatitis B vaccine reached school age, school nurses observed changes in children’s health status. A letter was sent to a subcommittee of the House of Representatives for a hearing on the safety of the hepatitis B vaccine.

This is a school nursing perspective for the congressional hearings to be held on May 18, 1999 regarding the safety of the hepatitis B vaccine that is being mandated for newborns and now older children in America.  We ask you to please consider the following information and submit it into the congressional testimony.  As nurses we continually see more and more damaged children entering our schools, and we are very concerned that a major portion of that damage may be due to the hepatitis  B  vaccine’s     assault on the newborn neurological and immune system. To read more click here.

Another puzzling phenomena is the rise in peanut allergies among       children. More and more children are being diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy.

Maria Rinaldi,  an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota,        conducted a study that was reported by Reuters.

Rinaldi said her team, who published their findings in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, used a strict definition of allergy, and only included children who had laboratory-confirmed peanut allergy, narrowing the group down to 171 kids.

They found that fewer children had been diagnosed with peanut allergy in 1999 compared to later years.

For instance, just 10 children in the county were diagnosed in 1999, and 30 were diagnosed in 2007.

There is some evidence that peanut oil has been used in the production of vaccines. Dr. Palevski, a pediatrician, comments on this:

There is adequate scientific evidence that peanut oil has been used in vaccines since the 1960’s. If current vaccine package inserts do not contain the specific evidence that peanut oil, or peanut meal,  is contained within the   final vaccine product, it does not mean that peanut antigen is not in the    final vaccine product. Vaccine manufacturers use different growth media on which to manufacture the vaccines. They do not report, and I believe are not required to report, the exact ingredients in all of the growth media. Therefore, we may not know whether peanut antigen is used in the vaccine manufacturing process just by reading through the package inserts. Our lack of knowledge about it does not mean it isn’t knowledge waiting to be discovered. And, it may, or may not, have anything to do with an attempt to purposely hide the information that peanut antigen is present in vaccines.

Vaccination is an accepted part of our culture. It is mainstream, but it has expanded so much that we need to question the number of vaccines that children are getting. The medical field needs to listen to parents–and we need to continue to speak up.

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Our Common Condition & Hope

Today I am joining Five Minute Friday (#FMF) where bloggers write for five minutes about one word. The prompt for today is common. So here we go.

After a tumultuous and divisive election what do we as people have in common?

The Bible shows us these truths.

God loves us.

For God so loved the world that he have his only begotten Son. John 3:16

We have all sinned.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

We are all offered salvation.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Acts 16:31

We have hope through the completed work of Jesus.

Through his grace and mercy we can live a life of love and purpose.

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After the Election: Prayer & Love

It is good to be studying God’s word during this season (and always).

I am reminded that the problems we face as a nation are not new. We are sinful people seeking our own ends and solutions. The apostle Paul had his moment of awakening. The Jewish law could not save him or the people of Israel. Paul and all people need the salvation offered by Jesus.

Our nation needs Jesus. We need to bring the message of the gospel to people that we interact with. Paul gave good advice to his student, Titus, during tumultuous times in the Roman Empire. Titus was a leader for new believers.

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray and slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.          Titus 3:1-8 ESV

The election is over. We don’t know what the Trump presidency will bring. We can pray for this man and his administration. We can choose to demonstrate love and kindness to every person we encounter.

Today has been a beautiful fall day. As I walked through our neighborhood I have enjoyed seeing these signs around our neighborhood.

Love & Prayer

My fervent prayer is to live in obedience to Jesus Christ, to let his love shine through me. Join me in prayer?

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The World Series and the Gospel

The Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions. Wow!! The last time the Cubs even played in the World Series was 1945. My Dad went to one of the games. He was a WWII veteran, just home from the war.

World War II veteran

 

Some one gave him a ticket. He was cheering for the Detroit Tigers who eventually won the series.

I grew up a Tigers fan, but 38 years in Chicago has made me a casual Cubs fan. This 2016 team has been fun to watch.

Throughout the playoffs they have cheered their teammates along. When errors were made they picked each other up. So much fun to see them leaning over the railing in front of the dug out, jumping with joy for every run scored.

image courtesy of wikimedia commons
image courtesy of wikimedia commons

In this 7th game I watched Kyle Hendricks pitch with steady precision. When Joe Maddon took him out I thought it was the wrong decision. I wonder what the team thought? Lester and Ross came into the game. David Ross had trouble with a couple balls and Cleveland scored two runs.

But the team stayed focused on their goal of winning. Ross hit a homerun in the next inning. The passed ball was forgotten.

The game hit another valley when Chapman gave up two runs in the 8th inning. After nine innings the game was tied and a rain delay was called.

I sighed. How late was this game going to go? But something special was happening in the Cubs locker room. Jason Heyward gathered his teammates and made a speech. According to USA Today this was the heart of his speech:.

“He spoke up and said this is about your teammates,” David Ross said. “He just said, `We’re the best team in baseball for a reason. Continue to play our game, support one another. These are your brothers here, fight for your brothers, lift them up, continue to stay positive.  We’ve been  doing this all year so continue to be us.”

The Cubs scored two runs in the 10th inning and held Cleveland to one run. The Cubs won with a final score of 8 to 7.

This team has demonstrated qualities that we should take note of.

  1. The Cubs had a goal that they stayed focused on.

  2. The team encouraged each other and picked each other up in the tough moments

As believers and followers of Jesus we should be the same way. Our focus is the message of the gospel. The apostle Paul sets down this goal.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes Romans 1:16

We are also a team. We need each other as we focus on the message of the gospel.

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing. 2 Thessalonians 1:3

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