Women Who Inspire Us

Today is the final day of March, Women’s History Month. The month has been designated for noting the contributions that women have made in our country. This year celebrates 100 years since women were given the right to vote. 

We remember the suffragettes. Their accomplishment is important, but there are other women who deserve our interest and respect.

Throughout history many women have used their God given abilities and talents for the benefits of others. It is inspiring to know about them.  

Eric Metaxis wrote succinct biographies of women who used their abilities in remarkable ways. In the book, Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness, Metaxis devotes a chapter to each of these women: Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Saint Maria of Paris, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa.

The names of some of these women are familiar, others not so much. I learned new facts about each of these women. I found the chapters about Hannah More and Saint Maria of Paris to be fascinating.

The book reminds me that every age has its challenges. The unique skills and abilities of women are needed. The University of Michigan’s School of Nursing Magazine has a page dedicated to 2020 The Year of the Nurse and Midwife. The timing of this designation is amazing. Nurses are on the frontlines of the pandemic all around the world.

Nurses have had huge roles at other times. Florence Nightingale was very influential during the Crimean War, saving lives. Edith Cavell was a nurse and a heroine during World War I. I wrote about these two nurses in a previous blog post. Read the post here, along with references.

Raquela Levy provided midwife care to Jewish refugees arriving in Israel at the end of World War II. For a review of the book, Raquela: Woman of Israel, by Ruth Gruber click here.

Each of the books mentioned is a good read.

Sharing this post with Anita’s Inspire Me Monday and Tuesdays with a Twist and Classical Homemaking .

The Pandemic Challenges Our Faith

Recently I read Tessa Afshar’s book, Daughter of Rome. The book is historical fiction centered on Priscilla of the Bible. One of the events told in the book is the couple’s forced move out of Rome. The Bible states that this happened.

After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all  Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. Acts 18:1-3

Priscilla and Aquila experienced a sudden change in their life. They had to establish their tent making business in a new locale and adapt. The unexpected blessing was meeting Paul in Corinth.

Afshar’s book is rich in color—she knows the Middle East. The Bible provides limited information about Priscilla, so many of the events in her book are imagined, but could have happened. I especially appreciate the themes of faith and forgiveness woven through the book.

With the worldwide pandemic we have experienced a sudden change in our lives. I don’t think I feel the crunch as much as some. I have adequate food. I am already retired from nursing (although I dreamed that I was going back to work). I am able to stay in touch with friends and family over social media and zoom.

My prayer is that I will be alert to ways that I can help. I have the time available to pray for our country, for people with illness or economic uncertainty, and for countries that are devastated by the corona virus.

The pandemic brings the realization that we are not as much in control as we think we are. God is sovereign and offers his love and guidance. Through Jesus we can have a relationship with God. If you have not repented and asked Jesus to be your Savior I encourage you to do this.

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

Book Review: The Third Daughter

When I scanned the cover of the newly released book, The Third Daughter, I saw that it was the story of a Russian girl in the late 1800s. It is a period of time that I am studying.

If I had read further I would have realized that Talia Carner has written about a tragic period of Jewish history. While the pogroms were taking place in Russia, Jewish men were tricking families to give their young daughters in marriage to wealthy men who lived across the ocean.

But there were no marriages. The author brings to life the horror of sex trafficking. As Carner tells the story we travel with Batya (a fourteen year old girl) from a Russian shtetl across the ocean to Argentina where she is enslaved in a brothel.

Batya is a fictional character, but the brothels were real. They were legal in Argentina and protected by the government from the 1890s to 1939. The prostitutes were owned by their pimps.

Throughout the book there is a thread of hope, and a lingering love of family roots. Batya finds courage as she seeks to reunite with her family.

As I read the book I thought about girls that are trapped in poverty, on the margins of society. Laws that allow abortion without parental consent or provide funds for abortion on demand allow these girls to be sexually abused. Weak immigration laws that allow girls to be brought into this country by coyotes or pimps leaves the door open for the trafficking of girls. The sad truth is that sex trafficking is very much a current evil.

My Finnish Grandmother Was a Copper Country Woman

At the beginning of the twentieth century my grandmother immigrated to a mining town in Upper Michigan, from Finland. She married a copper miner in the Copper Country. Long after my grandmother passed away I learned about the miner’s strike and a disaster that killed 73 people, most of them children, most of them Finnish.

The family story is that my grandmother was at the Italian Hall Disaster in Calumet, Michigan. A Christmas party was organized for the families—the children—of striking miners.

Over five months the tensions between striking mine workers and the mine company had risen to a feverish pitch. The mine company was supported by Citizen’s Alliance (local business owners). Some one shouted fire at the Christmas party, but there was no fire. Children and adults were killed when they ran to exit the building. Bodies fell over each other on a stairway.

My grandmother with her children exited the building a different way, maybe by the fire escape.

I never had a chance to ask my grandmother or grandfather about about this event. It happened before my mother was born and her knowledge was limited.

A friend passed along a newly released book, The Women of the Copper Country, by Mary D. Russell. The book is a novel but the author has done admirable research to bring the year leading up to the Italian Hall disaster to life. The main character is a historic figure. 

Big Annie Clemenc was president of the Woman’s Auxillary of the Western Federation of Miners. The miner’s strike began at the end of July and continued into the following year. The Christmas party was organized by the Women’s Auxillary and  took place on December 24, 1913.

The book showed me a period of time in my grandmother’s life. The author’s description of Calumet resonates with my knowledge. In a few places, I found the fiction stretching my imagination. But the author acknowledged the areas that might not be exactly right in her notes at the end of the book.

The Healer’s Daughter: My Review

When I think of the Civil War I am saddened by the great battle between the states and the huge loss of life. I am glad that the slaves were finally free. I have never thought much about the years after, the Reconstruction. What happened to the slaves that were freed from the plantations?

After extensive research, Charlotte Hinger has written a novel about a group of former slaves that migrated from Kentucky to Kansas to establish an all-black town. The novel, The Healer’s Daughter, paints a picture of tremendous hardship and perseverance. 

The main character, Bethany, is a strong willed young woman who has some skills in healing but her real passion is teaching. Her mother, Queen Bess, has learned healing arts from doctors whom she assisted on the plantation. I was fascinated by her observation and knowledge of people, her quest to gather medicinal herbs.

Medical care was chaotic in the years following the war. There was no licensing or certification process for doctors. A man might learn as an apprentice and then with limited experience put a shingle out, offering his services.

The story includes instances of normal childbirth, as well as complicated births and tragic situations. The book has intense scenes that caused me to pause and put the book down for a while. It has helped me see how the black family was crushed and torn apart during slavery. Establishing a living as free people was a great challenge.

Hinger’s book is based on the true story of Nicodemus, Kansas. From the author’s notes: It was the first all-black town established on the High Plains.

Photo of prairie by Philipp Reiner on Unsplash

This post is shared with Booknificent Thursday. Visit Tina’s site for more book reviews.

Book Review: Marilla of Green Gables

If you enjoyed the Ann of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery, you will probably like a new book about Marilla by Sarah McCoy.

Sarah McCoy takes us back to Prince Edward Island when Marilla is just entering her teens. In her author notes, Ms. McCoy explains that she was motivated to resolve a mystery. In the book, Anne of Green Gables, Marilla told Anne that she used to be good friends with Gilbert Blythe’s father—people said that John was her beau. And then Anne asked, “Oh, Marilla—what happened?”

The description of Avonlea is familiar and rich in detail. I recognized the the characters—McCoy does a good job of recalling personality traits. The story starts slowly and I wondered if it would hold my interest. I already knew the Marilla never married. But the story expands with historical details.

The author paints a picture of Avonlea during the time period leading up to the United States Civil War. Canada was struggling with its relationship to the British monarchy, and was also affected by the turmoil in the United States. Slaves that escaped through the Underground Railroad made their way to Canada.

One of my favorite parts in the book was the description of the sewing circle that the women of Avonlea participated in. They came together to visit, to have tea and to sew for a cause.

McCoy has done well in bringing us another story about Green Gables in Avonlea.

This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info

This post is also shared with Literacy Musing Monday. Visit Mary’s site for summer inspiration. Also linked with the Classical Homemaking Party and Booknificent Thursday.


Personhood, Women’s Roles and Herbal Infusions

Most evenings I spend some time reading. Here are a few of the books I am enjoying.

A friend of mine loaned me the book, Love Thy Body, by Nancy Pearcey. Ms. Pearcey addresses many of the controversial issues in our culture. 

She begins by discussing personhood. Some view human beings as simply biological organisms until they display cognitive function which then allows them to be recognized as a person. The assumption is that body and soul are separate. The biblical perspective is that when human life begins it is body and soul united.

I am reading a chapter at a time and learning about some of the events in science history. Sometimes a couple sentences will cause me to pause. After referring to the theory proposed by Darwin (all life occurs in an evolving chain) she considers the impact that Darwin had on science. No special status is assigned to being human—because there is no human species. As a result, “life becomes a set of parts, commodities that can be shifted around” to suit some geneticists’ vision of progress. The floodgates have been flung open for unfettered refashioning of human nature itself. (p. 100)

Thoughts and questions came to mind. As we learn more about the human body are we attempting to redesign what God has created? When do the advances in medicine support health, and when does scientific experimentation cross moral and ethical boundaries? In our desire for control what are we overlooking? What are the longterm consequences?

Today I read a well researched article. I was startled to learn that the use of aborted fetal tissue for research began in the early 1900’s. The article notes research that took place after forced abortions that were allowed under the Eugenic Sterilization Act. Here is a portion of the article (to read more click on the quote):

In just one such research paper, Drs. Thicke, Duncan, Wood and Rhodes graphically describe their work: “Human embryos of two and one-half to five months gestation were obtained from the gynaecological department of the Toronto General Hospital. They were placed in a sterile container and promptly transported to the virus laboratory of the adjacent Hospital for Sick Children. No macerated specimens were used and in many of the embryos the heart was still beating at the time of receipt in the virus laboratory.” (15)

At the same time I am reading North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, a book from our local library. Elizabeth lived in the 19th century and wrote about women’s roles and their relationship to men in the social strata of the time. Her observation of human nature, description of the industrial age and society norms is fascinating. It is also a well-crafted story.

My daughter gave me Healing Herbal Infusions by Colleen Codekas. It is fun to browse through the pictures and recipes in this book. 

I love the springtime when I am adding herbs to my garden. Recipes throughout the book include a variety of herbs. The chapter titles are enticing: Infusions to Boost Your Immunity, Infusions to Relieve What Ails You, Infusions to Nourish Your Skin, Lips and Hair. I will try some of the recipes.

This post is joining the link-up at Literacy Musing Mondays.

March Madness, Texas Tech and Prayer

My daughter is amused that I have become a college basketball fan. “Mom, you never watched basketball!” 

I responded, “Michigan has a good team this year.” I followed the Wolverines in March Madness and was disappointed when Texas Tech beat them.

Photo by Markus Spiske – Unsplash

Then I had to find out how one of our arch rivals, Michigan State, fared against Texas Tech in the final four game. Texas Tech beat Michigan State. When the game ended the TV cameras followed the players to the locker room, expecting a party atmosphere. The players waited for their coach.

When Coach Beard arrived they all dropped to a knee and began praying. The commentators were stunned and the cameras immediately cut back to the sports analysts.

The TV station handled it awkwardly and seemed to have discomfort with prayer.

Sports writer VF Castro tweeted: “Really annoyed that CBS cut out of Texas Tech’s post-game prayer. That’s a huge part of that team’s identity.”

I was thinking about the state of our nation as I read the book, Saving Amelie, by Cathy Gohlke. The novel tells the story of a little deaf girl in Nazi Germany. She does not meet the standard for a pure Aryan blood line. Will she be eliminated as the eugenics movement gathers momentum?

Saving Amelie

In the author’s Note to Readers, Ms. Gohlke writes: In my quest for answers I traced the evolution of the pseudoscience of eugenics in the United States and Germany, with its determination to eradicate disease and its design to eliminate certain bloodlines while promoting others . . .

It is still hard to understand what took place in Germany under the rule of Adolf Hitler. Cathy Gohlke did a great deal of research as she wrote this book. She also referred to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship. Through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life and writings we see the importance of God’s truth infusing all aspects of life.

Our faith in God should inform our lives. Faith should be part of daily life, science and even sports. It seems that there is a growing desire to put faith and religious freedom in a little box. Some would say that our faith in God and our belief in the Bible has no place in medicine, science, and the interactions of daily life, but I disagree.

I’m joining the link-up at Inspire Me Monday .


The Good Shepherd: A Story to Share with a Child

My husband and I are book lovers and book collectors. We have books in most rooms of our house. Over the years we have gone to library book sales, used book stores, bought books on line and at conferences.

We need to reduce and pass books along. I have been going through some of my stacks of books and came a cross a yellowed copy of a book that was first published in England in 1948. It was published by Moody Press in 1951.

The Tanglewoods’ Secret was written by Patricia St. John. I opened the book and read the first few pages and decided that I would read the whole book before I decided what to do with it.

It is a tender story about two children that love to explore nature—trees, wildflowers and birds.

The author shows us that they need a Savior and she weaves the Bible account of the good shepherd into her story. It is a clear description of a relationship with Jesus that a child can understand. It is a book to read with a grandchild. I am glad that I rediscovered it.

Sharing this post with Literary Musing Monday and Booknificent Thursday

Book Review: Caring for Words

Over the years I have been introduced to many good books at the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing. At the 2012 Festival I listened to Marilyn McEntyre speak and then picked up a copy of her book. I am republishing a book review that I wrote.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1: 14

The book, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, raises a concern about words and truth. Marilyn C. McEntyre fears that we are in danger of losing the depth of language as we text and tweet. Throughout the book she refers to the Bible, classic books and poetry, sketching the idea of ingesting words. Her book was a rich meal for me.

I had to read slowly, soaking in the wisdom of an English professor who has a love of language. I learned something about poetry and the value of poetic thought. Poets cherish words. McEntyre explains the good use of words, calling it reclamation. She writes: Everyone who writes with care, who treats words with respect and allows even the humblest its historical and grammatical dignity, participates in the exhilarating work of reclamation.

The chapter, Practice Poetry, gave me new insights into appreciating poetry.

The last chapter offers reflections on silence. McEntyre writes: Silence is to words what water is to the body and to the earth. Words, like food, nourish and support life in ways that reach beyond metaphor to solid fact. But it is in our silences that digestive and regenerative processes can take place.

This book encourages reading and attentiveness to words. I feel blessed that I grew up in a home where we read the Bible together and visited the library regularly. Reading books with the grandchildren gives me joy. Assisting the next generation to value good books is a gift we can give.

Family - Bouquet

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