We Need to Sing

Prayer and Bible study are ways to be observant of our faith. Singing hymns is another way.

On Christmas Eve we could not attend an indoor church service. Our family—our children and grandchildren—met in a church parking lot with others. We were standing outside, and it was freezing cold. We held candles and sang Christmas carols. 

The children will remember Christmas Eve in 2020.

This past Sunday we attended our church. We sang the hymn, To God Be the Glory. The hymn brought back memories of a Bible study group that I attended while in college at the home of an older couple. The song leader was very enthusiastic in expressing his faith. He sang this hymn with great joy. The memory has stayed with me.

Hymns are a part of my family heritage, and I am grateful. I remember the hymns that my Dad sang at home. I remember the words to hymns that we sang in church on Sunday mornings  The words that are sung help to instill faith and joy. We need to sing. The children need to hear us and to sing with us.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: OBSERVANT

Any Truth in Fairy Tales?

Many fairy tales begin with once upon a time. It is interesting that these children’s stories can include suffering and waiting. 

Cinderella was treated harshly by her stepmother and stepsisters. When the fairy godmother makes a way for her to go to the Prince’s ball, she has to leave at midnight. And days, perhaps weeks, go by until the prince finds her.

Snow White flees from her stepmother and goes to live with the seven dwarfs, keeping house for them. When the witch gives her the poisoned apple she falls into a long sleep. The dwarves are convinced that she has died. Eventually the prince finds her and awakens her.

These stories tap into a truth about life in our broken world. 

Currently I am reading through the book of Genesis, taking in the account of Joseph and his brothers once more. Joseph went from favorite son, to slave, to wrongly accused. He spent two or more years in jail before he was brought before Pharaoh.

Suffering is part of the human condition. 

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  . . . Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 1. 3-5

We will meet difficult times in our life. I can testify that God hears our prayers. He has helped me. Sometimes we wait for the answer, and sometimes the answer is different than what we expected. God hears the prayers of his people.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt for today is: ONCE I am also sharing this post with Heart Encouragement and Hearth and Soul.

Twelve Owls of Christmas

Owls have always fascinated me. I received a handcrafted owl, made in Finland, as a gift. This owl will make a hooting sound when you blow on the hole at its tailfeathers.

At Christmas I enjoy taking out ornaments that have been packed away. I have a number of owls and I find a place for each on the tree. The grandchildren count them when they visit. (There are twelve.)

A wise old owl sat on an oak,

The more he saw the less he spoke;

The less he spoke the more he heard;

Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?

Edward Hersey Richards

Present in Advent

Last Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent. With joy we turn our attention to God’s gift of love. Jesus came as an infant to fully participate in our human experience, and then provide a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus as newborn baby and Son of God was presented at the temple in Jerusalem.

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. Luke 2:22

In a letter to Timothy, Paul gives instruction to present ourselves before the Lord

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Our children attended Awana clubs. The purpose of Awana is to teach Bible verses to children, encouraging them to memorize. The letters in Awana stand for: Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed. The Bible verses that they committed to memory have been a blessing in their lives.

Our son, Steven, memorized 2 Timothy 2:15 and commented on it in the little journal that he kept. In the last days of his life the truth of the Bible guided his thoughts and comments.

As we approach Christmas let us recognize God’s gift with awe and seek to come to Him, continuing to learn and grow in our faith. 

Every Friday Kate gives a one word writing prompt. Today’s prompt is: PRESENT Visit the writing community here.

Linking this post with Heart Encouragement .

Breathing Patterns for Birth . . . and Soccer?

Last Saturday I spent a lovely afternoon watching my grandson play soccer. It brought back memories of the time my son played soccer and I was an accidental coach. Years ago I wrote a story about that experience.

When I first told my family that I was  a soccer coach they didn’t believe me.  You see, I had never played soccer.  I had never even watched a soccer game.  My position as a soccer coach began as a mistake.

When I signed my son up for soccer I checked one of the boxes indicating that I would volunteer my assistance.  Whenever my children were involved in an activity it seemed prudent to be involved.  I could bake cookies or make phone calls. At the first team meeting a tall man announced to the group.  “I’m looking for Carol Van Der Woude.”

I stepped forward with a smile, “that’s me.”

“I’m John.  I understand that you are my assistant coach.”

I gasped and then stuttered.  “I’m pleased to meet you.  I did sign up to assist . . . um . . . I can make phone calls, bring snacks.”

John smiled and responded.  “All the parents will bring snacks.  I’ll just need you to help with the practices and then cover a few games when I am out of town.  It’s not hard,  We have a training session this coming Saturday.”

The following Saturday I arrived at the sport center dressed in casual clothes and leather sandals.  I brought my notebook and pen, prepared to take notes on my new role.  With a sinking heart I noticed that I was one of a few females and that everyone was dressed in shorts and tennis shoes.  John greeted me, looked at my attire and  chuckled.  “It’s going to be a little hard to control the ball in those shoes.”

When the instructor for our session asked everyone to assemble on the indoor soccer field, I felt a little sick.  I stayed at the back of the group, trying to be invisible.

It was to no avail.  The instructor walked over and looked me up and down.  I was hoping that he would ask me to sit out.  Instead he shrugged as amusement crossed his features.  “It’ll have to do.”

We practiced countless drills, dribbling and passing the ball, running around cones.  I survived the running and kicking and returned to my seat to write furious notes.

As I wrote I thought, I’ve taught Lamaze skills for many years.  Surely I can teach soccer skills.  Certainly there are principles that apply to both.

During our practices I had each child introduce himself and encouraged the children to call each other by name.  I was sure that a good sense of team effort and a supportive environment would benefit the players.   It was a delight to see the shy child’s face light up when his team-mates called to him by name.

John was out of town for our second game.  I rotated the 5 and 6 year old boys on and off the field.  Whenever a child became distracted or was hesitant about kicking the ball I coached him.  “Focus on the ball, breathe in, breathe out and kick!”  From the sidelines I yelled “Breathe and kick!”

After my grandson’s game I took out the team picture from 23 years ago. I was standing proudly with the team. I never coached another soccer team, but I have happy memories of that year.

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community .

Mercy in a Children’s Book

A terrible accident took place in the hills of Switzerland. A child sustained a debilitating injury and one boy, Lucien, had provoked the accident.  This is how the story begins in Patricia St. John’s book, Treasures of the Snow. This book for children was first published in 1948.

As I continued to read, I was startled by the clear themes of sin, anger, and bitterness—and the way sin makes barriers between people. The story was told with gentleness, but was bringing a clear message to children about the human heart.

The grandmother has nuggets of truth for Annette who struggles with bitterness.

Every day of your life, ugly, angry selfish thoughts will knock at the door and try to get in again. Don’t try to push them back yourself. Ask Jesus to help you by filling you with His love. Read about the love of Jesus every day in your Bible. If you keep your heart full of it, there won’t be room for those bad thoughts to stay. [p. 172]

As the story continues Annette and Lucien both realize their own sin. This is the beginning of mercy, compassion and healing. //

Patricia St. John’s story has lingered in my mind because of the deep truths embedded in the words.

In the book of Hebrews we find this guidance.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14 – 16

Linking this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community and Heart Encouragement.

Text edited: Correction made to scripture reference. The scripture text is from the book of Hebrews.

Are We Making Progress?

Perhaps you saw it in the news. Two people from the Students for Life organization were arrested last Saturday for writing with chalk on the side walk outside of a Planned Parenthood building in Washington D.C. What did they write? Preborn Black Lives Matter.

Remember that the Mayor authorized the painting of Black Lives Matter on the street in Washington D. C. Others painted Defund the Police. 

Students for Life received a permit to be on the side walk outside of Planned Parenthood and had requested permission to write on the sidewalk. They were told to use a temporary paint. When they got there the police told them that they couldn’t paint on the side walk. So they used chalk. Two of their group were arrested and taken to a jail cell. Why were their voices shut down? 

Are we making progress in the health and wellbeing of all women and children?

 “while Black women accounted for 38 percent of reported abortions, population estimates for 2016 (like 2015) show that African Americans made up just 12 percent of the population. This news comes on the heels of deliberate efforts by the abortion lobby to market abortions among women of color as a positive.”

Planned Parenthood was started by Margaret Sanger who had ties to eugenicists. I read her biography and wrote a post comparing the passion of Margaret Sanger with the passion of Lilias Trotter.

Recently I saw an article about Dr. Mildred Jefferson who was the first black woman to graduate from Harvard in 1951. She was also the co-founder of the Right to Life organization. She made these assertions:

I would guess that the abortionists have done more to get rid of generations and cripple others than all of the years of slavery and lynchings.

There are now more abortions than live births in Washington DC, and the same is true for New York City,” 

It seems to me we should review the steps government policy has taken to “help” women in need. What are the longterm consequences? Have we made progress in the health of black lives? 

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing group.

Another Day of Stay At Home

Today I woke up to another day of #StayAtHome and a blanket of snow on the ground. The snow continues to fall. Yesterday a tulip was opening to the sun. Today it is bravely standing tall in the snow.

During this period of lock down it is just my husband and I at home. Our daughters have young children and their homes are brimming with the voices of children, humming with activity. They call us every day to check on us and to remind us to stay home. We have FaceTime with the grandchildren.

We have Bible study and Sunday morning church gatherings over zoom. We are grateful to have the technology to do this.

In all of this dramatic change to daily life, remaining steadfast in faith is most important. God is good. He is allowing this pandemic; He is still at work in ways we can’t see. I have been studying the book of Ezra and just started Nehemiah. I am blessed by Nehemiah’s prayer of faith in chapter one.

It is a blessing to begin the day with Bible study and prayer. We need to share our faith with our family and friends. The children need to see us living out our faith.

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and still I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You have done great things, O God, who is like you?

You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. Psalm 71: 17-20  

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: ANOTHER And also linking with Heart Encouragement

Medical Freedom for Families

Over the past couple of years I have tracked legislation occurring across our country with regard to childhood vaccinations. Because one of my children developed fibromyalgia after a vaccine I am sensitive to this issue.

In 1986 the federal government passed a bill, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, that gave pharmaceutical companies immunity from lawsuits. The pharmaceuticals were threatening to stop making vaccines because they were being sued so often. 

Since that bill passed the number of vaccines has escalated. Despite wording in the bill that required the Health and Human Services department to identify children that could be harmed by a vaccine and a directive to improve safety testing, that has not happened!

Doctors are not trained to observe side effects or long term consequences involving the immune system caused by a vaccine. It is the parents that are seeing the effects of vaccination, but when they report the changes in their child they are often told that it is just coincidence. What can a parent do against the power of the pharmaceutical and medical establishment?

Parents have relied on medical and religious exemptions to protect their child. 

Other corrective measures could be taken. The government could rescind the 1986 law and hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for inadequate safety testing. Medical and nursing schools could train health care workers to observe and document side effects of vaccines.  It has been reported that medical students get a half day of teaching on vaccines that amounts to accepting the CDC schedule of vaccines.

Nurses and doctors could listen carefully with an open mind to parents.  

California has passed the most government intrusive legislation. All religious exemptions for vaccines have been taken away. A parent who protests the use of aborted fetal tissue to produce the MMR vaccine must comply with the state in order for their child to be allowed to attend school. 

When a doctor in California writes a medical exemption for a child who has been injured by a vaccine or a child with a medical condition, that exemption must be approved by a bureaucrat in the the state health department. If a doctor writes six or more exemptions in one year he/she will be placed under state surveillance. Why such a heavy hand to protect a vaccine schedule that has more than ten times the number of vaccines given in the 1960s?

My state is moving in a direction that takes decisions about health care away from parents. New vaccine bills are being presented in the Illinois House and Senate. The Illinois House is proposing HB 4870. This bill would require all children entering sixth grade to receive the HPV vaccine and have completed the the series of three vaccines before entering ninth grade.

HPV (human papilloma virus) is transmitted by sexual contact. This infection is not transmitted in a classroom. There is no reason to bar a child from school if he/she has not received this vaccine. For more information click here.

HPV may cause cervical cancer but the changes in cervical cells occurs slowly and can be picked up by pap smears and treated effectively. If a parent/young woman chooses this type of management, why force a vaccine that has been shown to have significant risk?

The Illinois Senate is proposing SB 3668. This bill would remove religious exemptions, restrict medical exemptions and lowers the age when a minor can consent to vaccines without parent approval. For more information click here.

As a nurse I have watched the movement to develop one-size-fits-all medical policies. It deeply concerns me that a long list of vaccines for all children despite their different health histories is being pushed.

As citizens of this country we need to be aware of the legislation that is being passed. We should get to know our local legislators and communicate with them. During local and national elections we should be voting to make our voices heard.

This post is shared with Tuesdays with a Twist and Anita’s link-up, Inspire Me Monday

What Do We Tell the Children?

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my grandchildren. I was happy to join the family for dinner. As we were eating dinner the second grader said, “We might be having world war three.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“A boy in my class said that.”

The granddaughter who is in middle school said, “My teacher spent two class hours talking about what is happening.”

We had a discussion of the current news. The grandchildren listened attentively–they were concerned.

I am very glad to be studying Paul’s letters to Timothy at this time. I explained that  Paul had sound advice and encouragement for Timothy during a very difficult time.

As I mentioned Paul’s letter to Timothy, the words came to me. “God is sovereign. He knows what is happening. We can pray for our leaders that they will do what is right.” 

As I thought about our conversation I am reminded of the importance of time studying the Bible. We can direct our children and grandchildren to be grounded in the Word, sharing scripture with them. We can encourage them to participate in prayer for our country, our President, his cabinet and congress.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2: 1-4 

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: DIRECTION