Grace, Mercy and Truth

On Fridays I join the community at Kate Motaung’s blog. We write for five minutes on a prompt. Today’s word is: TRUTH

It was one of those nights—I woke up at 2:00 am and could not go back to sleep. I picked up a Bess Crawford mystery, thinking that I would just read a couple chapters. Three hours later I put the book down, hoping to get a couple hours of sleep before my day began.

Bess Crawford is a fictional character drawn from the imagination of a mother/son writing team (Charles Todd). Bess is a WWII nurse that goes to the front as a surgical nurse. Sometimes she has a reprieve, and she is assisting convalescing soldiers or tracking down relatives. But always she is pursuing truth and serving the patients she encounters with compassion.

The end of each book brings a sense of satisfaction. The truth has been discovered and Bess has acted with courage and kindness. //

There is a deep yearning in the human heart for truth.

David, the shepherd and later the king, lived through a turbulent time in Israel. His thoughts are captured in the Psalms. Psalm 25 is attributed to David.

All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm 25:10 KGV

Another translation of this verse adds insight.

All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm 25:10 ESV

When life takes unexpected turns we can trust the faithfulness of God. His word stabilizes us. The importance of truth is highlighted in this verse:

Send out your light and truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Psalm 43:3

God is the source of truth. We need the word of God in our lives. When our world is chaotic we can find truth by following Jesus.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

Did you notice that mercy and truth are connected in scripture? Only the Lord Jesus can offer us grace as we confront the reality of sin. Praise God that he provides mercy and grace for us!

I’m sharing this post with Five Minute Friday, Literacy Musing Monday,  Faith on Fire and Grace & Truth

Flowers in Winter

The lilacs are blooming in my backyard.

Blue Lilac

The choke cherry tree extends it branches fluttering with green leaves and tiny white blossoms. Spring is in full bloom and Sunday is Mother’s Day. My husband and I will travel to Michigan to visit Mom in the nursing home.

My mother is in the winter of her life. Mom is confused about who I am—a sister? a daughter? Her mind is in the past. As her dementia slowly progressed I did not always respond well. I was frustrated by her behavior. I didn’t understand.

A friend pointed me to Alzheimers Reading Room. It has been a big help. (Note: this is a great resource for understanding dementia and alzheimers.) I wasn’t going to fix Mom. I needed to enter her world and support her.

My goal is to give thanks for  Mom  and  her sacrificial care for me, to  honor her. I am thankful for the people that have prayed for me during this time. The Bible encourages us to pray for one another.

Is there someone you can pray for? Or a woman that you can honor?

The Bible also encourages us to put our trust in God in all circumstances.
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62: 7-8

I am joining the community at Five Minute Friday  and Faith on Fire with this post.

We Should Pray

It’s Five Minute Friday! We write for five minutes and share our posts at Kate Motaung’s community. Today’s prompt is: should

Likewise the Spirit helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26 KGV

Bible

Are you ever in the position of not knowing how to pray for a situation? You have great concerns but you don’t know what you should ask?

My husband and I are spending more time in prayer. Over the years we have prayed together for our family and our church—sporadically. I can say that we have never prayed enough.

Now we are retired. We have a devotional book of the Psalms that we read every morning and then we spend some time in prayer. We pray for our children and grandchildren, for my mother, brothers and sisters. We pray for people in our church. We pray for leaders in government.

Sometimes the situation is complex and we don’t know what should be done. It is a great comfort to raise the concern to the Lord, knowing that the Holy Spirit will intercede for us. //

Spending time in prayer provides a release of tension and I believe that the Holy Spirit gives us gentle nudges to point us in the right direction.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Philippians 4:6 MSG

Prayer

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The Women at the Empty Tomb

It is Holy Week, and as I reflect on God’s awesome plan of salvation, I am paying attention to the women that were present during Jesus’ life, crucifixion and death. The women of the New Testament show a devotion and spiritual sensitivity that inspires.

It begins with the angel’s appearance to the virgin. Mary gives an amazing response to the angel Gabriel. And Mary said, “Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1: 38

The Annunciation
The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci

Elizabeth was able to respond to Mary’s unusual situation with joy. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”  Luke 1 :41-45

Mary & Elizabeth
The Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne

The widow, Anna, was there when Jesus was presented at the temple in Jerusalem.   [Anna] did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2: 37-38

Most of the disciples fled when Jesus was crucified, but a group of women were at the scene. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. John 19:25-27

The women remained devoted to carrying out final care for Jesus. When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.   And  very  early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. Mark 16: 1-2

They were the first to learn of Jesus’ resurrection. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.

Women at the Empty Tomb
Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb by Fra Angelico

But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” Mark 16: 5-7

He is Risen

God has gifted women in a way that is different from men.   I appreciate the sensitivity,  the nurturing and the care that  these  women   demonstrated. We can be inspired by their example as we rejoice in Jesus’ sacrifice for us and his resurrection.

Now adding a few words as I write for #FMF

If I read one verse further in Mark I can see the dips and turns that take place in a life of faith. The angel gave the good news to these devoted women but they were bewildered.

And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. Mark 16:8

At times I see they way God is working in my life, but at other times I am fearful, wondering how things will turn out. But our Lord will never leave us there. He loves us with a love that is sometimes more than we can comprehend.

Wishing you a joyous Easter!

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Searching for My Voice, Remembering to Vote

As I walked out of the post office an older gentleman was parking his car. When I got into my car he walked over to my window and tried to say something. His hair was white and he was a little bent over. I was a little surprised and wondered what he needed.

I rolled down my window and he asked,  “How does it feel to live  in  a    foreign country?”

I was flummoxed and finally asked, “What do you mean?”

He pointed to my shirt and said, “I noticed the map on your shirt.”

I was wearing a t-shirt with this slogan:

Michigan girl

“Oh, I see.” I smiled. “I think I have more of a voice in Michigan.”

He chuckled. I wondered if he recognized my frustration with Illinois politics.

We wished each other a good day.

My mind is on politics. My perspectives are quite different from the two Senators that represent me in Washington D.C. Earlier in the day I had tried expressing my thoughts to them in an e-mail,  hoping  that  Neil    Gorsuch would be confirmed for the Supreme Court. I wondered if the effort was worth it.

Perhaps I have a better chance to make my voice  heard  on  the  local   level. We are having an election for the school board and village trustees. I looked into the issues and candidates. I will vote.

Sometimes I am frustrated as I think about the problems in our country and the future for my grandchildren. We have complex social and health issues. What should we do? What is my role as a follower of Jesus?

In a way, the world is a foreign country. The Lord has chosen to place us here so that we can have an impact. He has given us the Word and asks our obedience.

Jesus prayed for his followers: I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17: 15-21

This prayer is a comfort to me and I hope it gives comfort to you too. When we spend time in God’s word we will receive the guidance we need.

We are invited to pray. Jesus taught us to approach God in prayer as our Father in heaven.

As citizens of this country we have the opportunity to vote. It is a way to use our voice.

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Watching Our Words

It’s Friday and I am joining the community hosted by Kate Motaung. For five minutes we write fast and free. The prompt is: SLOW

We are so blessed. God is patient with us.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Psalm 103:8

At a time when emotions are running high in our country,  I can  gain   wisdom from the Lord. I can always learn more patience.

The book of James offers this instruction.

Know this my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1: 19-20

I am reminded of the word that I chose for this year, attentive.

In my conversations I can be more attentive, listening and taking in the point of view of others before I respond.

Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

Social media is a challenge. Can we be attentive and slow to anger on Facebook?

Find inspiration at Five Minute Friday by clicking here.

A Verse for Each Child

It’s Friday and I am joining the community hosted by Kate Motaung. For five minutes we write fast and free. The prompt is: WEAK

Above my writing desk I have a frame with a picture of each  of  my   children. Below their picture is the verse that my husband and I chose for their dedication. Our desire was for each child to know and depend on the Lord.

For our oldest daughter: The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

For our son who has gone on to be with the Lord: Be my rock of refuge to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Psalm 71: 3

For our second daughter: But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

And for our second son: As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. Psalm 18: 30-32

Each of these verses point to the Lord’s strength. When we chose these verses we did not know the trials that would come and the depth of our family’s need for God’s strength. Now, when I read these verses I can praise God because He has been faithful in providing strength and refuge for each of our children.

It is true. We are weak and have a great need for God’s grace, mercy and strength.

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Psalm 118:14

Come join the inspiration at Five Minute Friday!

Colors of the Sunset & Seeing Answers to Prayer

The sky had turned a brilliant pink, and the horizon seemed to be in flame. It was gorgeous. But within minutes the color began to fade, leaving streaks of lavender. I was fortunate to be in the car,  my husband    driving, to see the sunset at the right moment. There are other moments that are important to notice.

The word I have chosen for 2017 is attentive. When I am prayerfully seeking the Lord I am more alert to his touch on my life. If I am watching I may see glimpses of his answer to prayer.

Recently my brother was hospitalized and his living arrangement was terminated. As I prayed throughout this crisis, I needed to be watching for signs of the Lord’s care. Here is what I noticed.

My brother had a nurse who looked beyond his mental disability and provided excellent care while he was in the hospital.

Because of this nurse’s attention, problems with his medications were seen more clearly and addressed.

Although my brother would not talk about Jesus or words from the Bible, he began to hum and sing a couple hymns. This amazed me because he is often angry with any talk about faith in God.

I wasn’t alone. My sister was with me. I had friends in the same town as the hospital. It was good to visit with my college roommate and another dear friend. We talked about our faith, and I was able to pray with them.

The bright colors of these moments guided me through a couple of tough weeks.

Isaiah has recorded these words of encouragement:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26: 3-4

Is my brother’s situation completely resolved? No, so I will give thanks for what I have seen and keep on praying.

Have you experienced answers to prayer recently? I would enjoy your comment.

Sharing this post with Thought Provoking Thursday and Grace & Truth

Finding Rest Through Prayer

It’s Friday and I am joining the community hosted by Kate Motaung. For five minutes we write fast and free. The prompt is: BREATHE

Go . . .

For many years I taught breathing patterns for Lamaze classes. When wave after wave of contractions come, breathing patterns can help a     laboring woman with relaxation. Slow breathing seems to be most effective.

Take a breath in and slowly release it,   like you are making a candle    flicker. Then take another breath and release it slowly. A steady rhythm of breathing.

Prayer is spiritual breathing.

Currently I am in a stressful situation. I am spending days at the hospital advocating for my brother. A couple nights ago I was restless and overwhelmed. I was struggling with worries.

I needed to do some spiritual breathing. Jesus has offered us this access to rest. We can offer up our burdens as we whisper a prayer.

“Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11: 28

Come join the inspiration at Five Minute Friday!

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Surprised by God’s Plan

Today I am joining Kate Motaung for Five Minute Friday: We write fast and free, for five minutes flat. The prompt is: CONTROL

To be honest I wrote my story a few days ago as #MyUnintendedJoy. I spent five, maybe ten minutes revising it for this post.

The birth control pill was legalized across the nation when I was a teenager. When I married, the conventional opinion was that a couple should have two children. My husband and I could plan and control the size of our family.

As a nurse I was always concerned about the side effects of hormonal pills, but knew that I could avoid pregnancy with a diaphragm (if used consistently!)   I wasn’t sure that I was ready to have children, but became pregnant in our first year of marriage. Our daughter brought joy. After our daughter was born I became pregnant again. To our surprise I was carrying twins.   So God had  determined our family size—three    children, I thought.

My twins were born via cesarean section. We were thrilled with this baby boy and girl! We brought them home to a big sister who saw her siblings with wonder.

Three weeks after they were born I developed severe complications—disseminated intravascular coagulation. I was bleeding heavily and my doctor sent me to the operating room.   He did a D & C.    Then he   considered doing a hysterectomy, but first asked another doctor’s opinion.

The consulting doctor advised my doctor to watch and wait. So I received blood transfusions, and over the next twelve hours we waited for the decision. The consultant advised against surgery. I did not have the hysterectomy and recovered. God had more plans for our family–even though my doctor advised that I not become pregnant again.

Over the next few years I sought to control the health of my children. They had allergies and food intolerances. I kept notebooks, followed elimination diets and provided vitamin supplements. I was sure that if I did everything right my children would be healthy. It didn’t turn out that way. Instead I needed to lean on the Lord for help.

When the twins were six years old,  our son was diagnosed  with  an     aggressive form of leukemia. We supported Steven through a year of chemotherapy and then bone marrow transplant. We walked through days of painful procedures, hope, endurance and reversal.

God demonstrated his love for our family through the hands of friends and the church community. I learned so much about God and his care for us during that time period. I learned that I was not in control, but God is good.

When Steven passed away, the grief I experienced was heavy.

We had family discussions in the weeks and months after Steven’s death. We received medical advice and dared to pray for a child, for new life. Eight years earlier I had been saved from a hysterectomy. We experienced God’s grace.

When our fourth child was born we rejoiced. My husband and I never imagined that God would increase our family in this way, bringing joy and blessing. God desires our good and walks with us through difficult times.