Forgiven, Healed and Redeemed

For the past month I have been studying the book of Leviticus. It is a study of God’s holiness and his plan to redeem mankind. The sacrifices and offerings that God required of Israel point to man’s sin and the need for payment in blood. Sinful man cannot approach God.

Psalm 15 raises these questions.    Lord who may dwell  in  your  sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?

God had a plan from the very beginning. In Leviticus we see the outline, or shadow, of a plan that is completed through Jesus.   Jesus  provides  forgiveness for our sins and redemption by his death on the cross  and  resurrection.

The Psalms look ahead to our salvation and declare the love and compassion that God has for us.
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul and forget not all his benefits—
Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
Who satisfies you desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.   Psalm 103: 1-5

The book of Leviticus and the Psalms lead me to reflect on God’s holiness and his loving plan for us. So many reasons to give thanks and have praise on my lips.

The troubles in the world can weigh us down; we need to keep our focus on God.

This post is linked to the Five Minute Friday community of writers. Every Friday we write for five minutes (or a little more) inspired by the prompt that Kate Motaung gives. Today’s prompt is: WHO

Praising God During Troublesome Times

This past week I read Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin. It’s a story about three Swedish sisters that immigrate to Chicago. I enjoyed the character development, especially the youngest sister, Sofia.

Sofia is tried and tested by circumstances but her faith in God gradually grows. The Bible verses that guide Sofia’s faith are woven into the text. The story holds a  message of hope. In troubled times, when we don’t see an answer to problems, we can to turn to God in faith and with praise.

One of the verses that Sofia returned to a couple times is Psalm 66:1

Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise!

The Psalms are a wonderful resource that demonstrates both lament and praise. There are times when I have doubts, when my faith is faltering. I don’t think of praising God. At that time I should turn to the Psalms for inspiration and words of praise to God.

What helps you offer praise to God?

I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt for today is: PRAISE  Also linking with Booknificent Thursday and  Literary Musing Monday.

Good Writers are Readers

Good writers are readers. In order to become a better writer, I read extensively. I read fiction and nonfiction books. I read nursing and midwifery journals. I read the Bible. Last fall I thought that I should read a major newspaper to keep up with the events of the day.

If I was going to share my viewpoint on a subject, I needed to be well informed. So I subscribed to a major newspaper on-line and read it daily. Sometimes the views expressed in the paper upset me. But I kept reading.

Then the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh were widely reported, in detail, in the newspaper. I was offended because incidents were reported as if they were factual. It felt like gossip. Gossip about a very sensitive subject.

And so I terminated my subscription to the paper. I am now reading the daily news briefs from World Magazine on-line. As a Christian I want to be well informed. I want to participate in discussions that seek the truth. We live in a confusing and complex time.

I am spending more time in prayer as I try to understand how to live for Christ in a hurting world. I want to share love and light.

What do you read as you search for truth?

The prompt for FMF is: SHARE   Click here to visit the Five Minute Friday. Also linking this post to Literary Musing Monday .

Why Study the Book of Leviticus?

The book chosen for our Tuesday morning Bible study is Leviticus. Yes, Leviticus. The over arching theme, above all the sacrifices and laws for food, is God’s holiness. God is holy and human kind is prone to sin.

Yet, the Israelites were instructed to be holy.

For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. Leviticus 11:45

The epistle of Peter instructs the followers of Jesus to be holy.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”. 1 Peter 1: 14-16

Is that possible? Jesus came to replace all the animal sacrifice for sin. It is through his shed blood on the cross that we have the potential to become a child of God and receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Like the Israelites who were rescued from Egypt, we have been saved to shine the light of faith in this world.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

Events in the world can deceive and distract. We need to remember God’s call to holiness every day.  God is sovereign.  Praise God for his  mercy, grace and love.

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: POTENTIAL. I am late in posting this. but have been thinking about this word while working on my Bible lesson. Also linking with Literary Musing Mondays  .

Colorful Foliage and Flowers in Northern Michigan

A week ago my husband and I were in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We had six days mostly off the grid, reading and doing small projects. The day that we arrived it was raining. It rained a couple more days. One night we had thunder, lightening and a heavy down pour.

The benefit was all the bright green foliage, the wild flowers and the apple trees heavy with apples. When I took time to see the flowers, to pick apples and watch the birds flitting from tree to tree, I was refreshed.

wildflower

 

Sweet pea

 

wildflower

For I know the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does in heaven and on earth,
In the seas and all deeps.
He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
who makes lightnings for the rain and
brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

Psalm 135: 5-7

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: RAIN   Visit this community of writers by clicking here.

Sharing this post with Sue’s image-in-ing

When the News is Bad

Newspapers have been running stories about the sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church. The Chicago Tribune has had a series of articles about sexual abuse at Willow Creek Church. The lead article in the current issue of World Magazine addresses sexual abuse in Protestant churches. It is all around us.

It is grievous that that there is so much abuse and confusion about sexuality. I know that many Christians and Catholics are deeply saddened.   It is tragic that  God’s  plan  for  sex,  marriage  and family is torn and distorted in our culture AND the church.

What can we do? We must rush to the Lord in prayer. We can pray that the abusers acknowledge their sin and repent. We can pray for healing for the victims. We can pray for those in church leadership to be wise and establish boundaries of behavior that are enforced.

Prayer
photo courtesy of pixabay.com

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

As people of faith we can pray for our families  and  be willing to discuss sexuality with our children and grandchildren. The family is God’s foundational unit for passing along truth.

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: RUSH.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

Finding an Enduring Loyalty

The Five Minute Friday writing community looks forward to the prompt that Kate Motaung gives each week. We pause to think about the word and then write as ideas begin to flow. This week the prompt is: LOYAL

The dictionary offers this, as a definition of loyal: faithful to a cause, ideal or custom.

Over the years I have found a variety of causes to invest in.

During my college years, and after I graduated from the University of Michigan, I have been a loyal fan of the football team. My family is amused by my attachment to college football. I must admit that I am a little uncomfortable with the big business aspect, but I continue to cheer for my team.

After practicing as a labor & delivery nurse for a few years I was drawn to the Lamaze movement. I took Lamaze classes during my first pregnancy and later became certified as a Lamaze teacher. I taught for 18 years and received feedback from my students.

Sometimes students felt that the Lamaze techniques just didn’t work when their labor was induced. Interventions and the hospital environment were overwhelming. As induced labor and epidurals became more common, interest in the Lamaze method began to fade.

And then I made decision to leave the hospital labor/delivery unit and join a group of physicians and midwives that were attending home birth.  I observed that women were more able to relax and work with their labor in the home environment.   I loved working  in  the  home  environment and promoted home birth to my daughters.

But it is true that sometimes the hospital is needed. Sometimes interventions are needed that require the equipment in the hospital. I would like to see better communication and teamwork between home birth attendants and hospital staff.

Each of these ideals has limitations.

Currently I am reading a biography of  Susannah Surgeon  (book  to  be released September 4). Susannah and her husband, Charles, shared a faithful loyalty to the gospel. They worked together as a team with a love for the Lord God.

The best and most enduring loyalty is to the gospel, to God’s love and plan of salvation. I want this to be my passion.

You can visit the Five Minute Friday Community and read more reflections on LOYAL by clicking here.

We Are Loved

Our deepest need is to be loved. The Bible testifies of God’s love for us. God’s amazing love!

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praise to your name, O most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night. Psalm 92:1-2

Jesus explained God’s plan of salvation to Nicodemus. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9

Paul states the enormity of God’s love. “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We are called to love God and obey his precepts.

Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. Joshua 22:5

Jesus taught the two greatest commandments. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: you shall love your neighbor as your self. Mark 12;30-31

I have been musing on these verses. What does it look like to live out the two greatest commandments? I know that I often fall short. God knows our human frailty. That is why Christ died for us. When we stumble, we confess and we learn and we go on.

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: LOVED Visit this community of writers here.

Garden Notes: The Plants, Animals and Pests in My Yard

From spring to fall the garden is a place of wonder, amusement and challenge. Here are thirteen examples.

The tulips are one of the first blooms in my yard.

The Garden

The scent of the lily of the valley is pleasing. I love how the little bells peek out from the green fronds. This is the flower for the month of May—the month that my first baby was born.Lily of the Valley

The elderberry bushes had abundant flowers this year so I picked the flower heads (umbels) and made elderflower syrup. You can find the recipe here.Garden

When the elderberries are ripe—they are also abundant—I  will  make   elderberry juice. You can find the recipe here.Elderberries

This year I picked 6 quarts of cherries from the cherry tree, but this tree requires a lot of tending. You can read about it here.

Labor of Love

The grandchildren enjoy picking the raspberries, mulberries and currants.

Raspberry

It was a delight to see a hummingbird flit among the branches of the cherry tree. I placed a hummingbird feeder close to the tree. The little bird has been back.

The pickling cucumbers are growing well. I have been making lacto-fermented pickles. You can find a recipe here.

lacto-fermented cucumbers

This year I am growing tomato plants in containers. I was so pleased to see the developing tomatoes. And then I noticed a half eaten tomato. The next day I realized that there was a huge tomato worm on the plant. (Where do they come from?) He had devoured the leaves from two stems and was devouring another tomato. I had to call my husband to pick him off. (Didn’t even think about taking a picture this voracious green worm!)

I have become quite good at finding the Japanese beetles on my plants and can readily pick them off. If you find them in your yard, pick them off and drop them in a container of soapy water.

Japanese Beetle

The calendula flowers in glowing colors are blooming. I pick the blooms and dry them for tea. The flowers are also good for making a salve. Read more here.

Calendula Flower
Art Shades Calendula

As I watched from my kitchen window I noticed a squirrel that was busy trying to untangle a burlap strip that I had wound around the base of the plum tree and a steel rod. The plum tree was growing at an angle, and I was trying to help it grow upright. The squirrel ducked in and out of the burlap, gnawing at it. When I went outside he scampered away. He had it shredded the burlap in places, hoping to carry it off.

The zinnias are beginning to bloom. At first they have a single layer of petals. And then additional layers appear and the color becomes richer. It is a nice metaphor for the way we grow as Christians. As we follow the Lord obediently, spending time in the Word, our life becomes fuller and richer.

Garden

Today’s prompt for Five Minute Friday is:  THIRTEEN                                Visit Kate Motaung’s blog to see the various ways writers were inspired by this word. Thanks for visiting!

Sharing this post with Sue’s photo link-up

Joy Restored

Childbirth practices had changed since I began my career as a labor and delivery nurse. The use of pitocin to hasten birth had become common. The rate of cesarean section had risen from 15% to 30%. I saw a full term infant die after inappropriate use of pitocin. I didn’t like my role as nurse, and I told my husband that I wasn’t sure that I could continue.

I was aware of a group of doctors and midwives that attended homebirth. I interviewed with them and chose to take a cut in pay to work with them. It was refreshing to attend women in their homes, supporting them as they labored.

Women were more relaxed, and the family was often involved. I saw that God had given women the ability to give birth. I saw the strength of women. Sometimes intervention was necessary. Hospitals are important and are equipped to handle complications. We transferred about 5 to 10% of the women to the hospital.

The four years that I participated in home birth restored my joy as a nurse. When we are burdened and lose our joy, we may need a new perspective. I am thankful that God led me to take the home birth position (something that I never dreamed I would do).

This lesson stays with me. I need to step back from hard situations and ask God to give me a new perspective. He will restore our joy and renew us in the roles he has given us.

How about you? Could you benefit from a new perspective?

I am joining  the Five Minute Friday community of writers. Our one word prompt this week is: RESTORE