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

Sharing this post with Literary Musing Monday

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.

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.

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.

Sharing this post with Literary Musing Monday and Booknificent Thursday.

Evidence Not Seen: Book Review

My daughter gave me a copy of the book, Evidence Not Seen. The book is a memoir by Darlene Deibler Rose. She was a missionary to the Dutch East Indies, and was in a prisoner of war camp on Celebes Island during WWII.

I knew very little about what took place in the Pacific islands during WWII. Japan was expanding it control, and civilians were herded to internment camps to do hard labor in support of the Japanese War effort. The description of events was a history lesson.

But much more than that it was the testimony of a young woman about God’s care for her during her internment in a labor camp, and then in a prison camp. She was accused of being a spy with the threat of execution hanging over her.

Bible verses and hymns that she had learned over the years sustained during the darkest moments. She recalled the hymn, Only Believe, written by Paul Rader (Pastor of Moody Church 1915 to 1921). These are the words she remembered in her solitary cell:

Fear not, little flock, whatever your lot.

He enters all rooms, the doors being shut.

He never forsakes; he never is gone.

So count on his presence from darkness ’till dawn.

Only believe, only believe

All things are possible, only believe.

Darlene’s memoir was also a portrayal of a marriage that was built on the goal of serving the Lord. It is a beautiful story that inspires faith in God.

This post is part of the #Write28Days challenge. You can view all of the posts in this series by clicking here.

I am linking up with Booknificent Thursday and Literary Musing Monday.

Pierced and Embraced: Book Review

Sometimes I listen to the radio when I am in the car. At other times I prefer silence. One day I was listening to WMBI and heard an interview with Kelli Worrall. The topic of discussion was her book, Pierced and Embraced.

The discussion piqued my interest and I jotted down the title when I reached my destination. I ordered the book.

Kelli Worral included stories from her own family as she wrote about seven encounters that Jesus had with women. In a detailed account she has shown the compassion and respect that Jesus had for women (and still has), as recorded in the gospels. 

The seven/eight women included in the book are: Mary, mother of Jesus; the woman at the well; the woman with the hemorrhage; the woman caught in adultery; Mary and Martha; the woman with the alabaster jar; Mary Magdalene. 

Although the book is organized in seven chapters with discussion questions at the end of each chapter and could be studied over a period of weeks, I read it in one week. 

Each chapter had insights for me. In the chapter about the woman with the issue of blood, Worrall discusses wounds—or gaps in the way we were mothered. This history of our childhood and transition to adulthood can affect our adult life, where we try to exert control over our fears and desires.

This resonated with me, because I have attempted to control areas of my life. More on this tomorrow.

NOTE: The bull on the cover refers to a story by Flannery O’Connor, a story symbolizing grace. Kelli Worral explains the shocking symbolism in the beginning of the book.

This post is part of #Write28Days. I am linking with Literary Musing Mondays.

Memorable Books that I read in 2018

The local libraries are a wonderful resource. Many of the books I have read this year were from the library. Others I purchased or received as gifts. Here are some that were enlightening, thought provoking or an engaging read.

Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia

Dr. Dunlop explains the progression of the disease along with suggestions for relating with the person with dementia. When the disease is well progressed an individual may not remember the past and have little interest in the future. But they can still enjoy moments in the present. This book gave me insights into important aspects for my mother’s care.

Redeeming the Feminine Soul

Julie Roys discusses terms that come up in the church: patriarchy, complementarianism and egalitarianism. She discusses her own struggle to acknowledge her feminity. She writes: Gender, marriage, sexuality—it was all designed to help us understand God and how he relates to us.

A Place to Land

Kate Motaung’s memoir is a story of God’s grace throughout the events of her life. As she tells her story she takes the reader along with her from Michigan to South Africa. This author shares her moments of struggle and doubt. A thread of brokenness runs through the book—we live in a broken world. We all experience some brokenness in our families. But there is hope.

Until We Reach Home

Lynn Austin’s historical novel captured my interest. Three Swedish sisters immigrate to Chicago. Each sister had a unique story, and a spiritual development. After reading this book I looked for other books by Lynn Austin. Waves of Mercyis another historical novel—this one set in Holland, Michigan.

Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon

Ray Rhodes wrote a detailed biography of the wife of Charles Spurgeon, a famous preacher in England during the Victorian era. Although I have heard of Charles  Spurgeon, I did not realize the extent of his popularity. I did not know that Susannah was vital to his ministry. Despite physical frailty she was a constant support for him and had a significant role in the preservation of his sermons. 

Killer Smile

Lisa Scottoline has written a series of books about an all women law practice. They are novels and plot driven. I am careful to pick up a book when I have a space of time to read. Often I end up staying up too late because I can’t put the book down. In this book, lawyer Mary DiNunzio is researching an internment camp for Italian immigrants during WWII.

The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies

Dawn Raffel has patched together the story of a man who saved the lives of premature infants in the early 1900s. She gathered research from immigration records, from doctors that had done their own research on Mr. Couney, from interviews with senior adults that had benefited from his incubator care as infants.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis 

Patti Callahan has written a historical novel about Joy Davidman, the woman who married C.S. Lewis. The book is heavily researched and details Joy’s accomplishment as a writer in her own right. It also gives an account of her first marriage to Bill Gresham. Some years ago I read C.S. Lewis’ book, A Grief Observed, and I have always wondered about this woman that Lewis grew to love so deeply.

A Forgotten Place

Charles Todd (the pen name for a mother & son writing team) has written a series of books about a nurse during WWI. This is the latest book about Bess Crawford. I especially enjoyed how well the setting in Wales was conveyed.

For more book recommendations visit Kate Motaung’s link-up. Click here.

This post is also linked with Booknificent Thursday 

Every Baby is Valuable

My daughter gave me the book, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved thousands of American Babies. The cover of the book suited the title.

Saving Premature Babies

The book is an attempt to follow the life and work of a man credited with saving the life of premature babies in the beginning of the  20th   century. At the time, infants weighing less than three pounds seldom survived. Dr. Couney was saving them.

He reserved  space  for  his  sideshow,  Infant Incubators with Living Infants, at expositions and amusement parks. It sounds distasteful to have infants in sideshows. The shows brought in money to cover the cost of infant care with profit.

Medical professionals criticized Dr. Couney for putting infants on display, even though hospitals were not equipped to provide care for little preemies. The author of this book noted that there wasn’t a choice between a sideshow and an ideal situation.  The choice in many cases, was  between a sideshow and letting children die*.

I was impressed by the practical approach that Dr. Couney had. The goal was to insure that the infants received breast milk for nourishment. Sometimes the mother would make daily trips to the show to breast feed her infant. Otherwise a wet nurse provided the breast milk. The infants were fed on schedule around the clock. If the baby couldn’t suck, breast milk was given with a tiny spoon.

Dr. Counney understood the need for absolutely sanitary conditions in the incubators that provided warmth. Babies were bathed and linens were changed. While caring for the infants, the nurses held and cuddled them.

Dr. Couney’s practice was successful in saving the life of many babies born prematurely. He recognized the value of feeding breast milk, maintaining excellent sanitary conditions and human touch.

There are a number of questions that the author pursues in her research. Was Dr. Couney really a doctor? Did he go to a medical school?

Update: Towards the end of the book one more observation about the health and survival of Dr. Couney’s premature babies is given. The author quotes a woman who was saved through Dr. Couney’s incubator care and was examined at New York Hospital when she was nine years old. “They said to my father, ‘There is something we don’t understand. All the babies that were in our incubators are going blind–but your baby’s eyes are good.’ “

Not until years later would the medical profession see the connection between the oxygen concentration that infants received in hospital nurseries and the development of blindness. A high oxygen concentration given to save the premature infant caused retrolental fibroplasia.

This post in linked to Five Minute Friday. Our prompt is: VALUE

*Dawn Raffel, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies, New York: Blue Rider Press, 2018, p. 126.