New Insights About Health: The Microbiome

On  Fridays I have been joining the Five Minute Friday community. We write for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes my thoughts continue a little beyond the five minutes–marked by //. To visit this inspiring community of writers, click here. Today’s prompt is: SUPPORT

Yesterday I attended a seminar titled,  Probiotics,  Food & the  Immune  System. I sat next to a pharmacist. A physical therapist from my church was there also. There were about 100 people in attendance.

The lecturer was a petite, thin woman with dark hair and a face that was lit with passion for her topic. She was describing the microbiome to us. Medical scientists are uncovering the numerous and varied bacteria that live in the human gut and on mucous membranes. While some bacteria and fungi are harmful, others are very beneficial—and support health.

Ms. Pawlak explained the amazing network of communication that takes place via enzymes and proteins in our body. Bacteria in the gut are involved in this system.

I was fascinated as she talked about complex sugars, oligosaccharides, in breast milk. The infant does not digest these sugars. Instead the healthy bacteria in the intestine digest the sugars and are involved in insuring that the cells of the intestinal lining are fitting snugly together.

The microbiome supports health. //

She went on to discuss the cells in the immune system. There are many different types of leukocytes, myeloid cells and lymphoid cells. Each type of cell has a specific role in fighting infection.   The  lymphocytes target  infectious cells and set in motion the development of antibodies. T– cells and B–cells are lymphocytes.

Healthy T-cell. Image from NIH

Ms. Pawlak was so happy to share a slide that showed a T– cell releasing proteins that were directed at a B– cell. The slide had been developed from an electron microscope. It looked like the round T- cell was releasing tiny crumbs that were floating towards the B- cell. The proteins contained the information needed to develop antibodies.

Our instructor shared her sense of wonder with us. The human body is amazing. We are constantly learning more.

We can say with the Psalmist: I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14

Amazing Microbiome

A Good Work

On  Fridays I have been joining the Five Minute Friday community. We write for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes my thoughts continue a little beyond the five minutes–marked by //. To visit this inspiring community of writers, click here. Today’s prompt is: WORK

Over the years I have held many different jobs. I worked my way through college. As a nurse I have worked in a number of different hospitals and nursing units. I have worked at home as a mom.

As I look back I can see my imperfections—things that I could have done better. I see the times that I needed to say that I was sorry.

But I can also see the ways that God has guided me. I see the prayers that were faithfully answered. I remember the times that I stood outside of my children’s bedrooms,  praying for God to be at work,  despite  my    human failings. God answered those prayers.

The words in the Bible are true. //

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

This is great encouragement for believers in Jesus. As we journey through life, we are being refined by the work of God!

A Good Neighbor

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. To visit this inspiring community of writers, click here. Today’s prompt is: NEIGHBOR

Like so many I have been watching the photos and videos of Hurricane Harvey. The floodwaters and misery are overwhelming—but so is the kindness of people as they help strangers. The Cajun Navy has volunteered their time and their boats to rescue thousands of people.

My favorite story is about a midwife. As floodwaters rose on her street she was unable to leave her house with her supplies. A neighbor helped her onto an inflatable swan and pushed her to dry ground. She was able to attend the birth of a client.

Natural disasters create situations where the needs of people become obvious. A community spirit develops. It would be wonderful if this spirit became a constant.//

When we were traveling in Finland I was impressed by the kind attention offered to us. So many times a bystander noticed that we were studying a map or looking at street signs, and then offered assistance.

Attentiveness is part of being a good neighbor.

The Gospel of Luke records a question that was posed to Jesus.  Who is my neighbor? Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The man who saw the wounded Samaritan and acted with mercy was a neighbor.

We are called to pay attention to the needs of others. Perhaps it involves asking good questions or being available. And then stepping up to help. I can improve in this area.

Speaking Up on Hot Topics

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. To visit this inspiring community of writers, click here. Today’s prompt is: SPEAK

Through my experiences as a nurse, mother and grandmother I have come to believe that minimizing medications is a good thing. Beginning with fertility and childbirth. It is good to be educated about hormonal birth control—benefits and risks. It is good to go into labor naturally unless there is a medical problem. It is good to ask questions about proposed treatments.

I participate with a group called Women Speak for Themselves. This group encourages education about fertility and natural family planning. I am still learning how to raise discussions with women. I need grace and a good listening ear.

In the midst of the loud voices of our culture we can become timid or brash. But there is another way. We need grace and kindness as we speak up and share our point of view.

This verse in 1 Peter gives guidance for sharing our faith, and can apply to discussion of controversial topics.

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

The Church in Turku

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. To visit this inspiring community of writers, click here. Today’s prompt is: PLACE

While we were in Finland we visited Turku, a beautiful old city. It was the “capitol” of Finland when Finland was under Swedish rule.

Rising above the town is the tower and cross of the Lutheran Church. We walked from our hotel to this landmark.

The Church in Turku

The church is kept open for visitors. People were ascending the stairs as we approached.

The doors were ornate.

The Church in Turku

I took a deep breath as we entered this place. The architecture is magnificent.

I was most drawn to the painting behind the altar,  with the focus  on    Jesus, resurrected and ascending to heaven.

The Church in Turku

// Since we have returned home I have thought a lot about the church in Finland. Every city has a cathedral-like church. The Lutheran Church is the state church. Weddings and funerals are conducted there. But I did not get a sense of the people of the church. When I talked with my Finnish relatives, the concept of a community of believers was outside of their experience. The magnificent churches demonstrate the heritage of faith. And so I am led to pray for revival and a fresh experience of faith in Finland.

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Trying, Persisting and Communicating

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: TRY

During the past two weeks I had the wonderful experience of attending a family reunion in Finland. My maternal grandmother had come to the United States when she was nineteen years old. Two of her brothers were already here, but the remaining ten siblings stayed in Finland. She was never able to go back.

During the two weeks in Finland I had time with a number of our second cousins, third cousins, cousins once or twice removed. Some were fluent in English, some were not. But we found ways to communicate. I tried out the words that I knew in Finnish and then resorted to the app on my i-pad. My relatives tried out words in English and used the Finnish/English dictionary.

We were persistent in our efforts to communicate. I learned about my grandmother’s life in Finland and felt the kinship with my Finnish relatives. . . .

My thoughts have moved on to think about God’s persistent efforts to communicate with us. He has given us the Bible and his Son. In the gospel of John, Jesus is called the Word.   Through Jesus we have  been  given the ability to be in communication with God. Jesus instructed the disciples (and us) to pray, addressing God as our Father.   Our  prayers,   uttered in faith, are heard.

Come visit Five Minute Friday and share your perspective on TRY.

FMF try

Finding Encouragement and Rest

This past Sunday a portion of scripture from Hebrews was read during our worship time. We sang of God’s goodness, and I was filled with joy. During times of fatigue and discouragement we can hold onto the message in these verses from the fourth chapter of Hebrews.

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 every time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

Jesus hears our prayers and intercedes for us. This is a wonderful truth!

Thank-you for visiting. I am taking a summer break from blogging and plan to be back in August.

The Blessing of Community

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: BLESSING Here are my thoughts.

Prayers, my own and those of other believers, have blessed me. God hears our prayers.

The past couple weeks have been difficult. It has been a comfort to know that the women I study the Bible with have prayed for me. The small group that my husband and I attend has prayed for us.

God was with us through the difficult moments. We are blessed and give thanks to God for his provisions.

As believers we have an open door to the throne of God. As I look back over the experiences in my life, prayers that I have cried out to God, I can say that God is faithful to hear and answer our prayers. It is a blessing.

We give thanks always to God for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers . . . 1 Thessalonians 1:2 //

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Ephesians 1:3

For more thoughts on blessings visit Five Minute Friday

 

The Lights Along the Shore

We laid my brother to rest.   For years he suffered with mental illness,    going from hospital to home, to hospital to group home.

In February I was with him during a two week time period, spending every day at the hospital. While I was at his bedside he began to sing the hymn, Let the Lower Lights be Burning.

Here are the lyrics:

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy from his lighthouse evermore

But to us he gives the keeping of the lights along the shore

Let the lower lights be burning,send a gleam across the wave

Some poor fainting struggling seaman, you may rescue, you may save

Glenn went to a nursing home from the hospital.

Glenn struggled with his situation. At times he was witty with interesting questions. He found enjoyment in music and appreciated good music. The years and medication took their toll on Glenn’s life.

The memory of our day together in May will linger. We took Glenn out from the nursing home. We had a wheelchair for him and wheeled him through a park. The sunshine was bright and the temperature was moderate—a perfect day to enjoy nature.  Glenn had his favorite meal, a hamburger and a milkshake.

Let the Lower Lights Be Burning

Days have passed since the funeral and the words to Let the Lower Lights Be Burning keep replaying in my thoughts. We can be the lights along the shore for someone that is struggling in life. I want to be more attentive to the people God places in my path.

Book Review: Women Who Move Mountains

The title of the book drew my attention. Women Who Move Mountains: praying with confidence, boldness and grace. Prayer has been a central part of my life. I was curious about Sue Detweiler’s perspective.

The first chapter is titled I Believe: Transforming Fear into Faith.  The  author tells her own story of a fearful event that became a foundation for faith. She expresses a theme of the book with these encouraging words: Coming toward the light of Jesus will bring peace to your heart and mind. You don’t have to have everything figured out. You just need to know the One who holds the world together–Jesus!

Several chapters give examples of the brokenness caused by sexual abuse and/or abortion.  Tragic relationships and the abuse of  women  occurred in Bible times. And still happens. Detweiler records the stories of women.

The Bible gives guidance for help and healing. Detweiler refers to the woman with the alabaster flask (Luke 7: 36-50) in chapter five. This woman, a known sinner, washes Jesus feet with her tears and anoints him with a valuable perfume. The men that are with Jesus are outraged because she touches Jesus. Jesus defends the woman. He proclaims that her sins are forgiven. He does not judge her; he heals her.

Other areas of brokenness that are addressed in the book include perfectionism, anxiety, pride, shame and sadness. Jesus knows the situations that we as women face. Our Savior offers forgiveness and healing. We are all broken in different ways.   We may try to fix the problem  with   limited success. Detweiler provides scripture to show that healing and fulfillment comes through a relationship with the Savior.

Like Rhonda in chapter 19, I have lost a son. My story is similar because I continued to pray, to talk with God.    Through prayer I received  God’s  answer to my pain and loss. I have found peace. Our family has been blessed with a growing faith in God’s love for us.

The chapters of the book alternate between the stories of women and a study outline for overcoming difficult issues. The odd number include lessons from biblical women. The even number chapters provide a study sheet that can be worked through individually or with a group.

In addition to praying for healing the book provides guidance for praying with grace, humility and boldness. The Bible verses for guidance are well chosen. Like Sue Detweiler I believe that prayer is vitally important.

Part two of the book is organized into 21 days of reflection and prayer. If you are seeking a a deeper relationship with God, if you want to improve your prayer life, you will appreciate the guidance in this book.

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