Giving Thanks in 2020

Thanksgiving was different this year. We exchanged dishes with my daughter’s family but enjoyed the meal in our separate homes. My granddaughter made a delicious bundt cake and dinner rolls. Another granddaughter made the cranberry sauce. I made my traditional cornbread stuffing. We all had a wonderful meal. In the evening we zoomed with our children and grandchildren in New Mexico, Kansas and Illinois.

I’m thankful for family and the ability to connect over zoom. We celebrated six birthdays this month—daughter, spouses and grandchildren. God has blessed us.

In the United States we have so much that we can access. I am grateful that all the ingredients for the cornbread dressing are easily available—butter, herbs, chestnuts and more. And turkeys are abundant in the grocery stores.

Cornbread dressing

The apples, berries and currants were made into pies. We are blessed to have these available.

A hymn written by Martin Rinkart (1586 – 1649) expresses thanksgiving joy.

Now thank we all our God with heart and hands and voices,

Who wondrous things has done, in whom His world rejoices;

Who from our mother’s arms, hath blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

What if we began and ended each day pausing to give thanks for something? I know it would lift my spirits in this unusual year.

Linking this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: GRATEFUL

Global Reset or Global Prayer

Last night I didn’t sleep well. I have grief over the state of our country. We are experiencing limited social interaction, censorship, financial pressures and school closures. I am most concerned when I hear world leaders talking about a Global Reset or a New World Order.

Del Bigtree had a lengthy interview with James Corbett about the relationship between the pandemic and a Global Reset, reviewing the comments of numerous world leaders. The episode on The HighWire is HERE.

It is a confusing and chaotic time, but I firmly believe that we must not be overtaken by fear. I spent time praying this morning and asking the Holy Spirit to intercede where I lacked words.

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

I am praying for the children and the future of our country. I am praying that families will be strengthened. I am praying for revival in the church. And I am praying for election integrity, for fraud to be exposed.

I have been encouraged by a global prayer meeting that has been taking place a couple times each week. It has blessed me to hear Christians in Israel, Africa and South America praying for the United States.

This coming Sunday, 11/22, there will be another prayer meeting at 7:00 pm CST. It is accessible on Facebook. Eric Metaxas has been posting invitations to the prayer on twitter. Click here for a link to the page.

Every Friday Kate gives a one word prompt to the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: GRIEF

Saving Seeds with Hope

The leaves are falling. Red gold and bronze. I have been raking the leaves, thankful for the outdoor activity.

My miniature rose bush has surprised me, continuing to bloom even though we have had some nights of frost. The bright red blooms bring joy.

The garden has been put to bed, but I am looking forward to next year. I have saved seeds from some squash plants and calendula flowers.

My neighbor gave me an Italian basil plant. It grew slowly and I decided to bring it inside, placing it in a southern facing window. I am hoping to gather some seeds from it for next year—and perhaps the plant will survive through the winter.

A couple  of English lavender plants did well (planted from seed). I left one outside for the winter and brought one inside. It has charmed me with flowers.

I am so thankful for the order, beauty and diversity of God’s creation. Despite human chaos, the seasons continue. We can trust God’s word. He is faithful and knows the future. We continue day by day with faith. 

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1: 1-3

On Friday Kate gives a prompt and we write for five minutes (and sometimes more). Today’s prompt is: AHEAD

Visit the Five Minute Friday writers to read more insights on this prompt.

Sharing this post with Tuesday’s with a Twist, Sue’s Image-in-ing, Crystal’s Heart Encouragement and Inspire Me Monday.

Year of Disappointment: An Anchor for the Soul

This year, 2020, might be called the year of disappointment. Everyone has been affected by the pandemic whether it be financially, socially or physically. 

The politics in our country has been hard to watch. We have flawed men seeking the presidency. The recent revelations of corruption are disheartening.

The bias in the media and the censoring of some points of view is discouraging. Yet I am reminded that people in previous eras have experienced disruption and jarring circumstances.

Currently I am reading the novel, Last Christmas in Paris, by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb. The book tells the story of young people during World War I. As I writer I am enjoying the structure the book. The story (historically accurate) is told through letters written by the main characters.

The lives of people in England were disrupted as the men left to fight a war that would last four years. Women’s roles changed to meet the needs of the home front. News that would show England in a bad light was censored. It was hard to get a true sense of what was happening with the war—and with loved ones. And towards the end of the war, the Spanish flu arrived, the pandemic of 1918.

We do live in a broken world. //

When we have a relationship with Jesus, he does not disappoint.

he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge. Psalm 144:2

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end. Lamentations 3:22

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20

In this time we need to encourage each other and pray for each other (and vote). I feel blessed to attend church each Sunday and a Bible study during the week. I hope that you are able to meet with a church and/or Bible study.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday Writing Community and Heart Encouragement .

Those Who Love Your Name

Flowers are still blooming in my backyard. The aster (I think it is an aromatic aster) is a nice surprise. It’s blooming in a pot of depleted wild flowers. The humming birds still visit the phlox and zinnias. My humming bird feeder attracts wasps as well as the humming birds. The wasps circle around us but don’t sting.

A couple days ago four of us, women from my church, sat out in the yard enjoying the sunshine and fellowship. We discussed our study of Luke, chapters 2&3. We are familiar with this text, have read it many times. But we found new insights.

Then we took time to share concerns. How is your son’s new job? How was your meeting with the teens on Saturday? How is your mother? (Two of us have mothers in declining health.)

We spent time in prayer praising God for his sovereignty and plan of salvation. We gave thanks for his Word. We prayed for our country and prayed for revival. And we asked for God’s  guidance and help for our families.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exalt in you. Psalm 5:11

Kate’s prompt for the Five Minute Friday writing community is: YOUR This post is also shared with Heart Encouragement and Inspire Me Monday.

Why Do We Have the Church?

Jesus said to his disciples: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” Matthew 18:20

I grew up going to church with my family every Sunday. My parents were members of a  Finnish Lutheran Church that was part of an association of Finnish churches. During the summer we sometimes attended the annual church convention. People from across the United States came to a host church and were housed by the local church members. Guest speakers came from Finland.

The convention lasted four days. Each morning we listened to two sermons and then had a community lunch that was organized by the host church. In the afternoon two more sermons. Then a community dinner followed by two more sermons.

I was sheltered from many things. Young people in the church did not go to movies or attend dances. For several years my family did not have a television. It was legalism, but I gained a foundation of faith. I knew that I, like all humans, was a sinner. I asked Jesus to be my Savior.

When I went to the University of Michigan I became involved in Intervarsity and joined the Reformed Church. Through participation in Intervarsity and the church I was able to sort through the legalism—my faith was refined and grew stronger.

I met my husband in the young adult ministry of the Reformed Church. After we were married we chose to become members of the Evangelical Free Church.

It is true that the Church is not perfect. It is made up of sinners who need to confess their sins regularly and repent. The Church is a spiritual family. Both our family of origin and the church family have flaws, but we need them. God has given the family unit as foundational unit for society. 

The Church is the spiritual family that helps us know God and develop spiritually. We sing and praise God. We pray together, confessing our faults and seeking God’s will. We study the Bible together so that we understand God’s commands and obey. We help each other.

When we consider how God has designed us for relationship and community, we can understand why the restrictions imposed by the pandemic are so painful. The isolation that my mother and many others are experiencing in nursing homes is not right. Churches are struggling to navigate through this time.

And so we pray for this pandemic to end, for the officials making decisions about restrictions, for truth and for God’s mercy.

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. I am grateful for this community led by Kate!

Luke’s Orderly Account

Next week our women’s Bible study will begin a study of the gospel of Luke (meeting in my backyard). So I am reading and meditating on the first chapter as Luke relates the unfolding of God’s plan to send Jesus.

The angel Gabriel visits Zechariah to announce that God has heard prayers for a son. Zechariah and Elizabeth are going to have a son that will turn the hearts of the people to God.

Zechariah has been obediently serving the Lord in the temple, but he is astonished by this message. Is God going to do this now? This is beyond my expectations? How will this work out?

God’s ways and his timing are truly beyond our understanding. As we see the chaos in our country fueled by the pandemic, the riots, the fires we may wonder how this will end. God is sovereign and He will fulfill all the promises in scripture. We need to hold fast to our faith.

After Gabriel gives the message to Zechariah, he visits Mary to tell her that she will give birth to Jesus, the promised Savior. Mary wonders how this will all happen, but responds in faith. 

May we be like Mary waiting expectantly for God to carry out his plans.

The gospel of Luke will go on to tell about the events in Jesus’ life on earth in a chronological order. I am looking forward to studying each chapter. The events in Luke are covered in the other gospels, but John makes an interesting statement. 

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. John 21:25

Bible

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

Loud Songs of Joy

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! Psalm 47:1

The pandemic has made it difficult for us to worship at church. In the beginning weeks of the lockdown I listened to the hymn sing led by the Getty family on Facebook. The hymns refreshed my faith and gave me joy.

Our church was meeting on zoom. We are a small church and at first did not have a way to include hymns . . .  but our pastor kept pressing forward and when our tech assistants were able to post the words to hymns with screen sharing, we all sang from our homes. I don’t always stay on tune, but it was good to be singing with other believers. 

More recently we have met outside and/or in a room with social distancing. We have been singing hymns accompanied by keyboard, violin or guitar. I am blessed by the hymns. It is an affirmation of our faith in a stressful time. We need to sing!

This past Sunday we sang Jesus Messiah, written by Chris Tomlin. The words of the third verse have a powerful message about our Savior.

His body the bread, his blood the wine

Broken and poured out, all for love 

The whole earth trembled, and the veil was torn.

Love so amazing  

Hymns turn our eyes back to God and his love, his plan for us.

This post is shared 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.

The Right Life-map

This past week I skipped my morning Bible study a couple of days. Instead I read a few articles in the newspaper at the breakfast table.

The tension of our current time put my nerves on edge. I felt irritable. I drank more coffee and spent too much time on social media. I pondered the effects of the pandemic and the various theories and recommendations. The current state of politics upsets me too. I didn’t sleep well.

Yesterday I pulled out my Bible and spent time in prayer to begin the day. I was reminded that my hope is in the Lord. God is sovereign and He knows what is happening.

With calmness and focus I went outside to work on the yard. I pulled weeds and trimmed bushes. I prayed for our neighbor who lost a sister this week.

The wild rose bush was a challenge but I stayed with it. I chopped the thorny branches until I was tired. Then I came inside for a cold drink of water. It felt good.

The fall season that is coming will be a challenge. There are many uncertainties and we need God’s guidance. He is faithful. I need time reading the Bible every morning.

The revelation of Yahweh is whole and pulls our lives together.

The signposts of Yahweh are clear and point out the right road.

The life-maps of Yahweh are right, showing the way to joy.

The directions of Yahweh are plain and easy on the eyes.

Yahweh’s reputation is twenty-four carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.

The decisions of Yahweh are accurate down to the nth degree.

Psalm 19: 7-11 MSG

Linking this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Todays prompt is: RIGHT