When and How to Compromise

What comes to mind when you hear the word compromise? With the division that we see in politics, compromise doesn’t seem possible. In fact the divisiveness is so bitter that I have to limit my intake of news.

I have been musing on this today. Certainly in marriage my husband and I have made compromises. Some are easy. We like different TV programs. So I will watch Oak Island with my husband and he’ll watch Father Brown with me (but not Call the Midwife).

Other decisions—like household projects—are more difficult. We have to spend more time in discussion, listening to each other. I will confess that sometimes I don’t listen carefully, sometimes my husband doesn’t listen or talk enough. We are both flawed human beings and need to forgive each other.

Good communication and mutual respect is essential for issues that require compromise. 

Currently I am reading Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World by Eric Metaxas. It is a slow read because the theologians that supported Luther and those against him are described as well as theological views. But the chapter on Luther’s marriage is a great read—and I read some of it aloud to my husband. Martin was 42 years old and had been a monk. Katherine was 26 years old and had been a nun. Both found joy in marriage as God designed it.

One other take away from Martin Luther—as Christians we must never compromise the truth of God’s Word. We need to read the Bible and know what it says. God has given us a design for life in the Bible that is good.

This post is linked to the Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt is: COMPROMISE It took me much longer than five minutes to gather my thoughts on this word.

The Cherry Tree and Martin Luther: Life Lessons

My husband has offered to cut the cherry tree down. Several times.

I was thrilled when the tree offered a bountiful harvest of cherries, sweet with a little tartness.

Then came the year of brown rot and mold. We spent a week picking all the rotten fruit and cleaning up the mess. 

Another year a late snowfall came while the tree was in blossom. There were no cherries that year.

Over the past few years Japanese beetles have discovered the tree. They eat the leaves on the tree, weakening it. So I tried picking them off, dropping them in a bucket of soapy water, as some fell down my shirt. Last year I treated the tree with neem oil.

This year is a recovery year, but the robins honed in on the ripening fruit. I have to admire their zealous pursuit of the cherries. I hung a couple of garden shop owls in the tree and also shiny CDs.

The cherries were of such great worth to the robins that they played out a dramatic scene.  I can see the tree—it is just outside my kitchen window. 

The robins showed acrobatic moves, twisting their necks to reach a cheery hanging below a branch. They would fly in with a focus on a cherry, see an owl and flutter like a hummingbird. Then they would seize a cherry and speed away.

I picked a quart of cherries. The robins consumed the rest. I have been thinking about the focus and determination of the robins (and also my determined attempts to save the cherry tree lol). What are the things of great value, deserving my focus? //

During this time at home I have pulled some books off the shelf that had intimidated me by their length. Currently I am reading Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and changed the World by Eric Metaxas. 

Martin Luther was totally focused on understanding the Bible, learning the true meaning. He pursued faith in God with his whole heart. Luther demonstrated in his life the most worthwhile goal—an example for us to follow. The greatest treasure in our lives is a relationship with God through Jesus.

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

How to Have Hope

The Bible does not shrink from telling us the ugly side of human history. God’s word tells us the truth, and clearly states that God’s desire for us is good. We need to seek God and His ways in every aspect of our lives. 

“How you have helped him who has no power!
How you have saved the arm that has no strength!”
Job 26: 2

Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!
Psalm 31:19

O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Psalm 104:24

During this time of unrest and turmoil we have the opportunity to spread the hope of God’s word.

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Isaiah 52:7

photo courtesy of unsplash

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

Remembering with Hope

Today we went to the cemetery and tended the family graves. We planted flowers and walked among the stones marking family members. As I read the names I was recalling family history.

My husband’s grandparents immigrated from Holland in 1911. In 1918 they lost three of their children when scarlet fever and the Spanish flu afflicted the family. William was a young adult, Winnie was a teenager and Cornelius was school age.

The family had worked hard to adjust to life in America and pay back the debts incurred during the first year. They had a deep faith in God and persevered. With support from a community of faith, they persevered through the grief of losing three children in one week.

We are blessed to have a family history written by my husband’s uncle. He wrote about his family and each of his sisters and brothers. He described the faith of his parents and siblings.

 I reflected on this as I thought about our Steven. The years of his cancer treatment were tough. He kept a journal, continued with school work and Awana lessons. He memorized many Bible verses. Three verse are listed on his gravestone.

The first one was chosen for him when he was dedicated as a baby.

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

The second one relates to his participation in Awana, his Bible study.

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

The third verse is one that he talked about in the last weeks of his life.

He [God] shall wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

As a family we are bonded together in faith and hope. We remember those that have gone before us to eternal life.

If you, dear reader, are not a part of the family of God, you can be. The word [of faith] is near you . . . because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God, raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

Finding Joy in a Difficult Season

In so many ways life is not normal now. High school seniors are graduating without ceremony . . . the elderly are isolated in nursing homes without visitors . . . completely unexpected job loss . . . health care workers are furloughed.

Currently I am reading the biography of John Adams by David McCullough. The book is giving me a picture of what life was like leading up to and during the American Revolution. There was disruption, suffering and many challenges. Yet, Abigail and John Adams persevered.

The little book of Nehemiah in the Bible describes the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. The people were challenged and threatened. They guarded the wall by night and labored during the day. Nehemiah kept his focus on the grace, mercy and faithfulness of God. He set an example for the people and provided leadership. In the midst of difficulty there was thanksgiving.

We have great examples of faith to encourage us. God’s word and prayer are resources for us.

The LORD is good,

a stronghold in the day of trouble;

he knows those who take refuge in him. Nahum 1:7

The joy of the LORD is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10b

Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a writing prompt. Today’s prompt is: NORMAL. Linking this post with Five Minute Friday and Heart Encouragement.

How Do We Overcome Fear?

Fear can distract us from a life of faith.

In my morning Bible study I have been reading about Nehemiah’s leadership in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, the city with a temple for God’s presence.

The Jews had enemies that did not want them to rebuild the walls. At first these enemies jeered and mocked them. When that didn’t stop the work on the wall, the enemy made a plan to attack.

But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. Nehemiah 4:7-8

Nehemiah prayed.

And we prayed to our God and set a guard of protection against them day and night. Nehemiah 4:9

Some of the people let fear take hold of them.

In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” Nehemiah 4:10

Nehemiah responded with a plan to guard every section of the wall as they rebuilt it. With prayer and dependence on God, with a strategic plan, the work continued.

As I mused on this text I thought about the way fear can be a controlling force. How is the cloud of fear surrounding the pandemic affecting me?

I can follow Nehemiah’s example of prayer. Nehemiah also had a practical plan, and then he stayed focused on the work God had called him to do.

More and more I have recognized my need for God’s wisdom. The time I spend in prayer is growing. My family has decisions to make regarding my mother’s care in the nursing home. The lockdown, the inability to visit is hard. 

We are encouraged to pray. Jesus is ready to intercede for us.

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 is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

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

When I Observe the Robins

One of the things I miss most during the current shutdown is my weekly trips to the local library. I know, I could get e-books, but I prefer the book that I can hold in my hand. I also like to check the library shelves holding new releases.

So, instead I have been going through the books that I have. 

I am blessed to have a little cache of books loaned to me by a good friend. But I also have books that I had bought and placed on my book shelves, planning to read someday. I found the book, The Table Talk of Martin Luther, translated by William Hazlitt and edited by Thomas Kepler.

The book covers a variety of topics in short sections. Each section is a from a conversation of Martin Luther, his perspective. The first topic is God’s Word.

That the Bible is God’s word and book I prove thus: All things have been, and are, in the world, and the manner of their being, are described in the first book of Moses on the creation; even as God made and shaped the world, so does it stand to this day. . . . And ’tis no small miracle how God has preserved and protected this book . . .

Yesterday I was observing a couple of robins and discovered their nest. We have a large bush in front of our house. In the past week I have noticed rustling sounds and the flight of a bird.

Then yesterday two robins flew to a nearby tree. They twittered in a flustered fashion, and I was motivated to investigate. I peered into the thick branches of the bush. In the center of the bush, well hidden, was a nest. 

A little later I discovered that I could see the nest from my dining room window–and a robin settled in the nest.

I thought about the behavior of the robins; the ability to design a nest, nurture new life and protect the young. Have you ever watched a parent robin coaching a young robin as it learns to fly? God’s design is evident in all creatures.

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: PERSPECTIVE I’m also linking with Inspire me Monday and Heart Encouragement .

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

The Women at the Garden Tomb

The dictionary gives these definitions for patient: manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain, steadfast despite opposition, difficulty or adversity.

When Jesus was crucified certain women demonstrated steadfast devotion. I have been thinking about them.

There were also many women there, looking from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. Matthew 27:55-56

The women watched as Jesus body was placed in the tomb.

And he [Joseph of Arimathea] rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. Matthew 27:60b-61

These women persisted in their service to Jesus.

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. Matthew 28:1

The book of John gives this perspective.

Now in the place where he [Jesus] was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. John 19:41-20:1

Mary went to tell Peter and John. Then she went back to the tomb.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into 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

It is hard to be patient and faithful when we don’t understand events that are taking place. We can be inspired by the example of these women and the promises that Jesus has given us in the Bible.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: PATIENT Also Linking up with Anita’s Inspire Me Monday .

We Need to Pray Now

My heart aches for our country.

This past Tuesday I went to a grocery store at 6:15 am, when the light of sunrise was spreading. It was senior shopping hours.

The store opened at 6 am and already many people were there. The tension in the store was palpable. Some people were wearing masks and a few had a bandana over their face. I had gloves but no mask. Everyone was focused on getting their groceries and getting out of the store as fast as possible.

At the delicatessen counter I wasn’t paying good attention and stepped to close to a man. He began to yell at me, claiming I was stupid. I backed away.

It is like a mist of fear has enveloped us.

My mother has dementia and is in a nursing home. We can’t visit her. We can’t explain what is going on. Her care givers are wearing masks. At first my sister was able to FaceTime when one of the caregivers had a phone available and could help. 

Now the staff is stretched thin with all the requirements they are receiving from the CDC and medicare. We can’t reach a nurse on the phone and have to trust they will call us if there is a change in her health.

All of this has been churning in my mind. We have an amazing medical system, but I wonder about the huge drive to be in control. Have we begun to believe that we can control life and death? 

We decide who can live as abortion continues. We do want to save lives by preventing the spread of the virus, by making ventilators available. But what about the spiritual care of the elderly and dying? I am deeply saddened by the number of people that die alone.

I don’t know the answer to my questions. We need God’s help. Our country needs to repent and turn to God, acknowledging that we are not enough, that being in control is an illusion.

Tomorrow (4/4) the Gospel Coalition is planning a day of prayer. This is a wonderful opportunity to join with others in prayer. Here is the link to the prayer guide and evening event.

The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’ Zechariah 8:21

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