Extending Hospitality at Home and With the Church

During WWII children were being evacuated from France and Paris. I just finished reading Until We Find Home, a historical novel by Cathy Gohlke. It is a story of unexpected hospitality.

When Claire arrives at her aunt’s home in Windemere England with five French Jewish children she completely surprises her aunt who has become somewhat of a recluse.

Everyone is challenged in making this household work. England is rationing food and petrol. Three more children, this time from Germany, arrive. The household has cultural differences that all must learn to accept.

It is good to look back at difficult times in history and learn from them. The book has lots of meaning for my daughter (she recommended it to me). She and her husband are involved in foster care. They have adopted children from foster care.

Our situation is different from WWII. But we have needs for hospitality and self sacrifice. The church has a great opportunity to grow in hospitality by participating in or supporting foster care. There is a great need for foster care families in the United States.

Today the Five Minute Friday community is writing about: HOSPITALITY

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Rhythm of Life

The mint in my backyard has flowered; tiny white flowers make a wreath around the stem. I pause to wonder at the delicate loveliness.

The phlox are a bright spot of color. I can see them from my kitchen window.

The elderberries are getting ripe. I will make elderberry juice/syrup from them. 

The flowers are blooming. The vegetables and fruit are ripening. It is the bounty of summer. And then autumn will come. Again.

The rhythm of the seasons provides order to our lives and points to God’s faithfulness. After the great flood God made a promise to Noah.

While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. Genesis 8:22

God is sovereign over the earth and we can trust his promise.

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday writing community is: AGAIN

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Children Are A Gift from God

Kate’s prompt for Five Minute Friday is: FIVE. Once inspired, we write for five minutes (more or less). 

At first I considered writing about my five favorite herbs, or maybe five summer recipes. And then I made another connection. I have three grandchildren that are five years old. Children are a blessing.

Being a mom is the best thing I have done. There have been moments of wonder. There have been hard times. Sometimes I have stumbled. I have learned my need for God’s help and have been blessed by His presence. My adult children are a source of joy and blessing. And now there are grandchildren.

Children are a gift from God. Here are five Bible verses that instruct us. 

 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3

Jesus said, “Truly I say unto you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Luke 18:16

Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart . . . Make them known to your children and your children’s children. Deuteronomy 4:9

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged. Proverbs 17:6a

Happy Birthday

An Honest Prayer

They arrive in the middle of the summer . . .

For the past several years the leaves on my cherry tree and raspberry bushes have been devoured by beetles. Only the veins of the leaf remain after Japanese beetles have had their feast.

So I have been devising strategies to rid my yard of these pests. I tried the pheromone traps that brought more beetles to my yard. Then I did walking tours to tip them off the leaves into a bowl of soapy water. I have shaken branches and jumped when one of the beetles fell down my shirt.

This year I sprayed my tree with neem oil and continued the walking tours with my bowl of soapy water. It is working.

In the midst of my annoyance I have to admit that I have a bit of wonder over the Japanese beetle. They have a metallic green/brown color that catches the light.

Japanese Beetle

Sometime they fall in my bowl of water when I tip a leaf—other times they get their wings out in an instant and fly off. The female beetles emit a pheromone that attracts the male beetles. So a few females on the leaves of a plant soon becomes a party.

The beetles have wiry legs (I have felt them on my hand). The female beetle is able to dig down into the earth to deposit her eggs and then climb out. Over a summer she may deposit as many as 60 eggs. The eggs develop into grubs and in one year—sometimes two—they will be an adult beetle. They are unique insects.

Yesterday, while I was with the grandchildren I showed them how to tip the beetles off a raspberry bush into soapy water. The boys were fascinated, the girls said that beetles were gross. We captured 20 beetles.

A little while later I was sitting with the children while they had bedtime snacks. The two year old pointed to the top of my head. I was in the middle of a sentence when my granddaughter said, “Grandma there is a beetle in your hair.” She giggled when I picked it out of my hair and put it into our bowl of soapy water.

Later that I night I was praying with my grandson. I thanked God for the blessings of the day and the interesting beetles. And then these words slipped out of my mouth, “but God I don’t know why you made them.”

After praying we talked a little more about the beetles. Some things in our world are puzzling. The beetles do so much damage to plants. My grandson said, “Maybe they do something good that we don’t know about.” 

Kate’s prompt for the Five Minute Friday community of writers is: MIDDLE

Mulling Over a Verse from Proverbs on the 4th of July

The Scripture of the Day (from I-Bible) is: Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

I mulled over this verse as I spent time in the garden, thinking about the 4th of July. A history book mentioned that one of the founding fathers of our country, Patrick Henry, had made reference to this verse. 

Patrick Henry is known for his “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech. He also wrote the following message:

“Whether this [the American Revolution] will prove a blessing or a curse will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise they will be great and happy. If they are of contrary character, they will be miserable.

Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation (Proverbs 14:34].

Reader!—whoever thou art, remember this!—and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself and encourage it in others. P.Henry.”*

Lately much attention has been given to the sins of our nation. It is part of our history. I have thought about the history recorded in the Bible. The sins of Adam, Eve, Abraham, Jacob, King David are all recorded. 

The Bible doesn’t erase the bad stuff. We live in a broken world and we all sin. But the Bible doesn’t stop there—doesn’t stay mired in the sins. Instead we are directed to confess sin, repent and then go forward with forgiveness.

Jesus came to be a sacrifice for our sins so that we could pursue righteousness. As we reflect on the birth of our nation, we can each give thanks for our blessings, acknowledge our sins, repent and pursue righteousness . Patrick Henry had wise words for us.

May you have joy and peace this holiday weekend! 

* Patrick Henry, Patrick Henry life, Correspondence and Speeches, ed. William Wirt Henry (New York: Charles  Scribner’s Sons, 1891), Vol. I. pp. 81-82.

Sharing this post with Anita’s Inspire Me Monday link-up

Around the World with Prayer

So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Acts 12:5

Do you know the rest of the story? An angel led Peter out of prison and he went to the house where people were praying. When he knocked on the door Rhoda came to the door, but she was so shocked that she did not open it. Instead she went to tell the others that Peter was at the door. They didn’t believe her. When Peter kept knocking they finally let him in. God had answered their prayer in a miraculous way!

Sometimes circumstances seem so bad that we are overwhelmed. Tonight I was at a prayer meeting for the persecuted church. We had information about Christians around the world. This statement was part of the news: A British report ordered by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has concluded that persecution of Christians has reached “near genocidal” levels in parts of the world, particularly the middle east.

What can we do? The Bible instructs us to pray.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

One of our prayer team reflected on what it would be like to be imprisoned for faith in Jesus. She said, “I would want to know that people are praying for me.”

As the apostle Paul encountered trials and difficulties he wrote to the church at Corinth.

You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:11

Paul also instructed the church at Ephesus.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6: 17-18 

We can follow the example of the early Christians and pray for the believers in the middle east, in China, in Africa, in Venezuela, in Haiti and places around the world. We are encouraged to pray.

Continue steadfast in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2

Note: The painting of Peter in prison is by Raphael (15th century)

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt today is: WORLD

Soccer Games and a Town in Kansas

This week I watched some of the FIFA Women’s World Cup while I was sorting papers, clearing up clutter. The athletes ran back and forth across the field. They were bumped and kicked, falling on the ground in pain. Then they would get up and run again in the relentless battle to score a goal. One of the games ended with a score of 1 to 0. 

The goals were few and hard fought. (The USA v. Thailand game was unusual with a score of 13 to 0.)

Last night I stayed up late to finish a book, The Healer’s Daughter, by Charlotte Hinger. The book was about the hard fought goal that a group of former slaves had in establishing an all-black town. The book is fiction but based on the true story of Nicodemus, Kansas. (Stay tuned for a complete review.)

I had been reading a couple chapters at a time—pausing to think about it. It detailed very painful events that took place following the Civil War, the way that some white people treated slaves that were now free. The author exposed evil.

I went to bed thinking about the aftermath of the war and the way the black families had been crushed in the preceding years. Yet this persevering group of people were steadfast in reaching their goal. They establishing a town that is now a National Historical site. 

The soccer games and this book have stimulated me to think about my life as a Christian. Am I steadfast and persevering in following Jesus? When I see my failures do I repent, get up and continue on in faith? 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12: 1-2  

Photo by Philipp Reiner on Unsplash

Kate’s prompt for the Five Minute Five writing community is: GOAL

Living Well, Reflecting on the Psalms

Every morning my husband and I read a Psalm together before we begin the day. Today we are on Psalm 115. We have read psalms of praise, lament and remembrance. Memories of crossing the Red Sea and the years in the Wilderness are recorded. 

God’s power over the Red Sea and the Jordan River is extolled. God’s presence, care and salvation is remembered. 

We have challenges and troubles like the people of Israel. But in the midst of difficulties we can say that it is well with us. We are blessed because God loves us and will help us if we call out to him.

O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.

O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.

You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord. He is their help and their shield.

The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron; he will bless those that fear the Lord, both the small and the great. Psalm 115: 9-12 ESV

Note: The photo shows the Dan River–one of the tributaries that flows into the Jordan River from the north. The book of Joshua states that the Jordan River overflows its banks at harvest. But God provided a way for Israel to cross the Jordan: the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap. Joshua 3:13

This post is linked to the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt today is: WELL

Culture Informed by Worldview

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: CULTURE This topic has been on my mind for a couple of weeks, stimulated by a book I am reading.

Worldview: a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world

Culture: a) a particular stage of advancement in civilization b) the characteristic features of such a stage or state c)behavior typical of a group or class

Nancy Pearsey begins her book, Love Thy Body, with a discussion of worldview. Culture is informed by worldview. She explains how Darwin, Freud and other scientists/philosophers have had an effect on worldview and culture.

We as individuals living within the culture can be subtly influenced by the major worldview. When you read a novel, are you able to recognize the worldview of the author? I see a clear difference in novels written more than 100 years ago and recently written novels.

It is helpful to recognize the prevailing worldview when we interact with the culture around us.

Jesus lived out a worldview completely consistent with the word of God—and he was still gentle with the tax collector and the Samaritan woman. He invited them into his worldview.

The View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives: Visiting Gethsemane

In 2012 my husband and I made a trip to Israel with a group of friends from our church. It was amazing to see the places that we had read about in the Bible. The two weeks in Israel were an encouragement to our faith.

When we went to Jerusalem we visited the places mentioned in the events of Holy Week, leading to the crucifixion.

The church of Dominus Flevit is on the Mount of Olives, not far from the Garden of Gethsemane. A window of this church gives a view of Jerusalem. The golden dome is the Dome of the Rock, which sits in the same place that Israel’s temple once stood.

The olive tree in this picture is ancient. Perhaps it was there when Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane before he was arrested.

We went to the Church of St. Peter. In the courtyard there is a sculpture depicting Peter with the maiden that questioned him about being a disciple of Jesus. Peter denied knowing Jesus.

Below this church—we walked down a stairway to view an ancient and deep hole. A sign near this Sacred Pit gave an explanation.

Prompted by the dungeon-like appearance of the pit and its proximity to Caiaphas’ palace, thought to have been located in this general area, the Byzantines recalled here Jesus imprisonment overnight as he awaited trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhredrin. Faithful to this ancient tradition, Christians continue to remember Jesus, the Suffering Servant of the Lord, placing on his lips the words of the psalmist:

My soul is surfeited with troubles . . . You have plunged me into the bottom of the pit . . . Upon me your wrath lies heavy . . . I am imprisoned and cannot escape . . . O Lord I call upon you. Psalm 88

We walked along the Via Dolorosa and visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Finally we visited the garden tomb.