Carol is a follower of Jesus and a wife, mom & grandma. She worked for many years as a childbirth nurse and prenatal educator. She recently retired from clinical work. She has written articles for nursing journals and devotionals. Her novel, Aliisa's Letter, was published in 2010 and she is currently working on another project.
Last weekend I added some apricots to cornmeal muffins. I enjoy creating muffin recipes, a healthy treat for the grandchildren. Muffins are so easy to make. These muffins were moist and tasty–they were a hit on Easter Sunday. Here is the recipe.
First prepare the apricots. Simmer one cup of dried apricots in a cup of water for about 10 minutes to soften them. Then drain the liquid.
Melt ¾ cup of butter and allow it to cool.
Preheat the oven at 375˚ F.
Prepare the muffin tins. (The recipe makes 20 to 24 muffins depending on size.) I like to grease my heavy iron muffin pan. I place the pan in the oven about 5 minutes before I am going to add the batter, preheating the pan.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl:
1 + ½ cup yellow corn meal
1 cup gluten free flour (or unbleached flour if no gluten sensitivity)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Add the remaining ingredients to a blender:
1 cup softened apricots
¾ cup melted and cooled butter
1 medium carrot, cut into pieces
1 cup rice milk
¼ cup honey
Blend until smooth.
Then add this mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until combined.
Place about ¼ cup of batter in each muffin cup.
Bake at 375˚ for 22 to 24 minutes. The edges of the muffin will be beginning to brown. Let stand for 5 minutes and then remove muffins and place on a cooling rack.
We visited Tent Rock National Park in New Mexico. I was easy to see how the park had gotten its name. A rocky trail weaves through narrow canyons and continues upward to the peak of the rock formations.
A sign at the beginning of the trail was accurate—as we found out.
We climbed, slipping occasionally. Sometimes large rocks lay across the path. The Christian life has similarities. We encounter troubles and challenges. But we also have a good shepherd.
Psalm 23 reminds us that Jesus is with us, guiding us.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
When Jesus is our Savior we have access to the Lord in prayer.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 4-7
Memories of the week leading up to Easter stretch back into my childhood. I was blessed to grow up in a home where we read the Bible and attended church regularly. Like any family we had problems, but the foundation for my faith developed from hearing the Word of God.
In past years I attended Maundy Thursday services. What is Maundy Thursday? It commemorates the day of the last supper. The following scripture describes this event.
And when the hour came, he relined at the table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks he said, Take this and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them saying, “This is my body that is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And like wise the cup after they had eaten, saying , “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” Luke 22: 14-20
Communion was served on this quiet day of reflection. Communion symbolizes the new covenant. God offers us forgiveness of sin and salvation through Jesus.
When my husband and I traveled to Israel we visited the site of a deep pit. The theory is that Jesus was held in this pit prior to the crucifixion.
It is hard to take in fully the pain and confusion that the followers of Jesus must have felt in the days between Jesus arrest and his triumph over death. Peter’s denial of Christ gives us a little glimpse.
Out of deep sorrow comes great joy. So much wonder and joy in the scene that the apostle John describes.
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look in the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means teacher). John 20: 11-16
One of my favorite songs on Easter morning is Christ Arose.
Death cannot keep his prey—Jesus my Savior! He tore the bars away—Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave He arose With a mighty triumph o’er His foes; He arose a victor from the dark domain, And He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
As we drove across the plains of northern Texas we were listening to a book on CDs. John McDough was bringing the characters in Come Rain or Come Shine to life. The book, written by Jan Karon, is the latest in the Mitford series.
I have read all the books in the Mitford series, but I don’t think it is necessary in order to enjoy this one. My husband followed the story with as much enjoyment he can acknowledge in a fiction book. (He is an engineer! lol) Of course I have gotten to know the characters and know their histories.
As puffy white clouds rolled across the blue sky, my husband and I listened to the wedding plans of Lace Harper and Dooley Cavanaugh. We passed scenes of cattle grazing, and listened to the description of Meadowgate Farm. Dooley was setting up his veterinary practice there. We could envision the heifers that Dooley was purchasing. Husband took note of the bull, Choo Choo.
As wedding plans move forward the event is definitely a community project. Dooley and Lace have loving friends. I enjoyed the give and take, between people with varied backgrounds and experiences. Each character is unique and brings color to the story.
Father Tim, a retired Episcopal priest, has memorable words throughout. I was pleased to hear the term, covenant of marriage, in dialogue.
The perspective on marriage is thoughtful, holy and realistic.
The simple wedding turns out to have a variety of complications–like most weddings. It is a celebration of marriage and family and a child. It is a great read—or if you are going to travel, a great story on CD.
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On Monday night our PBS station aired a documentary about Pope John Paul II. As I watched I was remembering the discussions that I had with my daughter about the Theology of the Body (writings by Pope John Paul II).
Julia was attending Marquette University and was introduced to the Theology of the Body, God’s design for male and female, for marriage and sexuality. She brought home some tapes for me to hear, and we talked about them.
I am not Catholic, but this teaching on sexuality makes sense to me. I have great respect for the Catholic position on life. I understand the position of the Catholic Church, opposing contraception and drugs that cause early abortions. As a nurse I have concerns about the effects of hormonal drugs on longterm health.
So when the Little Sisters of the Poor refuse to be providers of contraception, I am with them. This is the teaching of their church. They have a right to live out their faith.
My own right of conscience was tested during my first year of nursing practice. I was working in a large city hospital, affiliated with a university. I was shocked when I realized that an abortion was taking place in our labor/delivery unit—a saline induction. I could not participate. That night I wrote a letter stating my conscience objection to abortion, gave it to my manager and it was kept in my file. I was never called to assist with an abortion.
Later I would choose to work at Catholic or Lutheran Hospitals.
In the United States the first amendment guarantees the freedom of religion—the right to live according to one’s faith. The Little Sisters of the Poor are living out their faith as they minister to the elderly.
Can the government force the Little Sisters to provide free contraception in the health insurance they give their employees? The mandate goes against their faith. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on this case today. I am praying for the right of conscience to be upheld.
If SCOTUS rules against them the Little Sisters will be heavily fined and may be forced to discontinue their work.
The Little Sisters minister at St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly in my community. I am participating in a day of prayer and service as a sign of support. Let them serve.
Addendum: A good sized crowd gathered in front of St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly in Palatine. We were positioned along Northwest Highway and were encouraged by cars and trucks honking as they saw the signs. We received many waves of approval.
Maria Goldstein led in prayer and Bible reading. We sang the servant song together.
What do you want of me, Lord
Where do you want me to serve you?
Where can I sing your praises?
I am your song.
Refrain: Jesus, Jesus, you are the Lord. Jesus, Jesus, you are the way.
You are the light in my darkness.
You are my strength when I’m weary.
You give me sight when I’m blinded.
Come see for me.
I am your song and servant,
Singing your praise like Mary.
Surrendered to your Spirit,
“Let it be done to me.”
We prayed for the protection of conscience rights:
Father, we praise you and thank you
For your most precious gift of human life
And human freedom.
Touch the hearts of our law makers
with wisdom and courage to uphold conscience rights
and religious liberty for all.
Protect all people from being forced to
Violate their moral and religious convictions.
In your goodness, guard our freedom
to live out our faith and
to follow you in all that we do.
Give us strength to be bold and joyful witnesses.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Every summer I visit Calumet, Michigan. At one time it was the center of the copper boom with a growing immigrant population. Both of my grandfathers emigrated from Finland and worked in the copper mines. I know that Calumet had many bars to serve the immigrant workers.
So it is with interest that I am reading Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent. The saloons and bars were a place of escape for men working long hours in menial tasks.
That the proliferation of saloons was abetted by immigrants (usually German or Bohemian), largely for immigrants (members of those nationalities, but also Irish, Slavs, Scandinavians and many, many others), was not lost on the moralists of the WCTU [Woman’s Christian Temperance Union].*
The wellbeing of women and children was affected when a husband spent his paycheck on alcohol.
Various groups came together in a fight against drunkenness, supporting prohibition. The WCTU, the Anti-Saloon League and the Suffragettes joined together in the battle against alcohol consumption. I wonder if a fight for better working conditions might have helped men and their families—less use of alcohol?
In response the brewers and distillers organized against Prohibition and Women’s Suffrage. Women’s Suffrage became a target because the brewers believed that women would vote for Prohibition.
In 1906 a state suffrage amendment in Oregon was defeated when the brewers secretly enlisted Oregon’s saloonkeepers and hoteliers in an elaborate get-out-the-vote operation. Secrecy also prevailed when the USBA [Brewers Association] paid the nationally known suffragist Phoebe Couzins to repudiate her previous position . . . *
It is interesting to me that Finland gave women the vote in 1906 and the Netherlands in 1917. The United States did not give women the vote until 1920.
What a tangled web we weave as humans when we try to solve social problems. The money involved makes it more complex. Until 1913 when the income tax was instituted, the government depended on revenue from liquor sales.
In the New Testament Jesus does not confront government practices or politics. Instead he asks his followers to be a light to a confused and chaotic world.
You are the light of the world. Matthew 5:14
Jesus also prays for his followers.
I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. John 17: 14-15
In this election year I see the need to spend more time in prayer, seeking God’s guidance. I can rest in the knowledge that Jesus is interceding for his people.
*Okrent, Daniel, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, New York; Scribner, 2010, pp. 26, 65
This month our women’s Bible study is beginning a study of the covenants recorded in the Bible. Chapter 17 of Genesis records the covenant God made with Abram and Sarai. With the establishment of the covenant God changed their names to Abraham and Sarah.
Having recently been in the New Testament it brings to mind other name changes. Simon became Peter. Saul became Paul. Each of these people were transformed for the role that God gave them.
The name changes indicate that something big was happening.
As I studied the use of the word covenant in Genesis, I was impressed by the references to future generations. The covenant was about a long view into the future.
Abram was 99 and Sarai was 90 when God gave them the promise of a son within a year. The promise was for them AND for the future. And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of people shall come from her.” Genesis 17: 15-16
The most important event in Abram and Sarai’s life was happening when they were well advanced in age. They were given a blessing not just for themselves, but for people in the future. Can we grasp a little bit of God’s perspective?
I have been chewing on this. It is easy to be focused on our personal life. The covenant takes in a bigger perspective, a blessing for many people. It is a perspective that looks long into the future.
We talk about the environment—it is good to take care of the earth—but it is even more important to care for the next generation. A spiritual heritage is central in God’s word.
I think about this as I spend time with our grandchildren. Our influence as moms, dads, aunts, uncles and grandparents is urgently needed. The importance of guiding and teaching the next generation is recorded in Deuteronomy.
“You shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, when you lie down and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 11: 18-19
Prayer: O Lord, may we be faithful in teaching the next generation your word and your ways.
It is March 1st and spring is coming. The temperatures are still up and down, but I am beginning to have garden thoughts. I am looking forward to seeing the blooms from the bulbs I planted last fall.
The delight offered by gardens has been expressed over hundreds of years. I have collected some quotes.
The first garden was described in the Book of Genesis.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. Genesis 2:15
Gardens bring us in contact with nature, created by God.
When I go into my garden . . . All the cares, perplexities, and griefs of existence, all of the burdens of life slip from my shoulders and leave me with the heart of a little child that asks nothing beyond its present moment of innocent bliss. Celia Thaxter (1835 – 1894)
We still have snow on the ground. Yet, new life is stirring and will soon appear.
Beneath the crisp and wintry carpet hid a million buds but stay their blossoming; and trustful birds have built their nests amid the shuddering boughs, and only wait to sing till one soft shower from the south shall bid, and hither tempt the pilgrim steps of Spring. Robert Bridges (1845 – 1931)
My daughter and I enjoyed reading The Secret Garden by Francis Burnett ( 1849 – 1924). Here is a quote from the book.
They had come upon a whole clump of crocuses burst into purple and gold. Mary bent her face down and kissed them. “You never kiss a person that way,” she said when she lifted her head. “Flowers are so different.”
Jesus mentioned flowers during the Sermon on the Mount.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Matthew 6: 28b-29
I like to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, thru which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. George Washington Carver (1860 – 1943)
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