Watching Our Words

It’s Friday and I am joining the community hosted by Kate Motaung. For five minutes we write fast and free. The prompt is: SLOW

We are so blessed. God is patient with us.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Psalm 103:8

At a time when emotions are running high in our country,  I can  gain   wisdom from the Lord. I can always learn more patience.

The book of James offers this instruction.

Know this my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1: 19-20

I am reminded of the word that I chose for this year, attentive.

In my conversations I can be more attentive, listening and taking in the point of view of others before I respond.

Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

Social media is a challenge. Can we be attentive and slow to anger on Facebook?

Find inspiration at Five Minute Friday by clicking here.

A Verse for Each Child

It’s Friday and I am joining the community hosted by Kate Motaung. For five minutes we write fast and free. The prompt is: WEAK

Above my writing desk I have a frame with a picture of each  of  my   children. Below their picture is the verse that my husband and I chose for their dedication. Our desire was for each child to know and depend on the Lord.

For our oldest daughter: The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

For our son who has gone on to be with the Lord: 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

For our second daughter: But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

And for our second son: As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. Psalm 18: 30-32

Each of these verses point to the Lord’s strength. When we chose these verses we did not know the trials that would come and the depth of our family’s need for God’s strength. Now, when I read these verses I can praise God because He has been faithful in providing strength and refuge for each of our children.

It is true. We are weak and have a great need for God’s grace, mercy and strength.

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Psalm 118:14

Come join the inspiration at Five Minute Friday!

Colors of the Sunset & Seeing Answers to Prayer

The sky had turned a brilliant pink, and the horizon seemed to be in flame. It was gorgeous. But within minutes the color began to fade, leaving streaks of lavender. I was fortunate to be in the car,  my husband    driving, to see the sunset at the right moment. There are other moments that are important to notice.

The word I have chosen for 2017 is attentive. When I am prayerfully seeking the Lord I am more alert to his touch on my life. If I am watching I may see glimpses of his answer to prayer.

Recently my brother was hospitalized and his living arrangement was terminated. As I prayed throughout this crisis, I needed to be watching for signs of the Lord’s care. Here is what I noticed.

My brother had a nurse who looked beyond his mental disability and provided excellent care while he was in the hospital.

Because of this nurse’s attention, problems with his medications were seen more clearly and addressed.

Although my brother would not talk about Jesus or words from the Bible, he began to hum and sing a couple hymns. This amazed me because he is often angry with any talk about faith in God.

I wasn’t alone. My sister was with me. I had friends in the same town as the hospital. It was good to visit with my college roommate and another dear friend. We talked about our faith, and I was able to pray with them.

The bright colors of these moments guided me through a couple of tough weeks.

Isaiah has recorded these words of encouragement:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26: 3-4

Is my brother’s situation completely resolved? No, so I will give thanks for what I have seen and keep on praying.

Have you experienced answers to prayer recently? I would enjoy your comment.

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Finding Rest Through Prayer

It’s Friday and I am joining the community hosted by Kate Motaung. For five minutes we write fast and free. The prompt is: BREATHE

Go . . .

For many years I taught breathing patterns for Lamaze classes. When wave after wave of contractions come, breathing patterns can help a     laboring woman with relaxation. Slow breathing seems to be most effective.

Take a breath in and slowly release it,   like you are making a candle    flicker. Then take another breath and release it slowly. A steady rhythm of breathing.

Prayer is spiritual breathing.

Currently I am in a stressful situation. I am spending days at the hospital advocating for my brother. A couple nights ago I was restless and overwhelmed. I was struggling with worries.

I needed to do some spiritual breathing. Jesus has offered us this access to rest. We can offer up our burdens as we whisper a prayer.

“Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11: 28

Come join the inspiration at Five Minute Friday!

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Surprised by God’s Plan

Today I am joining Kate Motaung for Five Minute Friday: We write fast and free, for five minutes flat. The prompt is: CONTROL

To be honest I wrote my story a few days ago as #MyUnintendedJoy. I spent five, maybe ten minutes revising it for this post.

The birth control pill was legalized across the nation when I was a teenager. When I married, the conventional opinion was that a couple should have two children. My husband and I could plan and control the size of our family.

As a nurse I was always concerned about the side effects of hormonal pills, but knew that I could avoid pregnancy with a diaphragm (if used consistently!)   I wasn’t sure that I was ready to have children, but became pregnant in our first year of marriage. Our daughter brought joy. After our daughter was born I became pregnant again. To our surprise I was carrying twins.   So God had  determined our family size—three    children, I thought.

My twins were born via cesarean section. We were thrilled with this baby boy and girl! We brought them home to a big sister who saw her siblings with wonder.

Three weeks after they were born I developed severe complications—disseminated intravascular coagulation. I was bleeding heavily and my doctor sent me to the operating room.   He did a D & C.    Then he   considered doing a hysterectomy, but first asked another doctor’s opinion.

The consulting doctor advised my doctor to watch and wait. So I received blood transfusions, and over the next twelve hours we waited for the decision. The consultant advised against surgery. I did not have the hysterectomy and recovered. God had more plans for our family–even though my doctor advised that I not become pregnant again.

Over the next few years I sought to control the health of my children. They had allergies and food intolerances. I kept notebooks, followed elimination diets and provided vitamin supplements. I was sure that if I did everything right my children would be healthy. It didn’t turn out that way. Instead I needed to lean on the Lord for help.

When the twins were six years old,  our son was diagnosed  with  an     aggressive form of leukemia. We supported Steven through a year of chemotherapy and then bone marrow transplant. We walked through days of painful procedures, hope, endurance and reversal.

God demonstrated his love for our family through the hands of friends and the church community. I learned so much about God and his care for us during that time period. I learned that I was not in control, but God is good.

When Steven passed away, the grief I experienced was heavy.

We had family discussions in the weeks and months after Steven’s death. We received medical advice and dared to pray for a child, for new life. Eight years earlier I had been saved from a hysterectomy. We experienced God’s grace.

When our fourth child was born we rejoiced. My husband and I never imagined that God would increase our family in this way, bringing joy and blessing. God desires our good and walks with us through difficult times.

Five Ways to Support the Choice for Life

On Friday (1/27) the March for Life will take place in Washington D.C.  Every year, after the ruling on Roe v. Wade was handed down, people have marched to the Supreme Court in protest. God is the giver of life. We should support all life.

Events recorded in the Bible emphasize the value of human life. When the maid servant, Hagar, became pregnant by Abraham, tension grew between Hagar and Sarah. Hagar ran away to the desert, but God sent angels to watch over her.

And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction.”

March for Life

 

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Genesis 16: 11, 13

When Hanna struggled with infertility she wept and prayed.

She [Hannah] was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

March for Life

And in due time Hanna conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him from the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1: 10-11, 20

My heart goes out to women who are struggling with infertility.   I am    encouraged that NaProTechnology has made progress in diagnosing the   underlying health problems related to infertility.

My hope is that as a nation we will value human life. There are ways that we can assist women that are in difficult circumstances and need support.

  1. Pray for our country and a message of life. The Colson Center has an app available, 21 Days of Prayer for Life.
  2. Pregnancy care centers provide support. Care Net is nationwide. Volunteer at one of the centers.
  3. Often these centers will have a fundraiser. Participate in a fundraiser for a pregnancy care center. In my area Informed Choices has a fall banquet and Hike for Life in the spring.
  4. Some centers have a resale shop. Proceeds from the shop support the services of the Pregnancy Care Center. Donate to the resale shop or volunteer to work there.
  5. Write letters to your Congressman and Senator to defund Planned Parenthood and redirect taxpayer dollars to community health care centers that provide full services for women’s health.

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Blessed by People of Faith

Today I am joining Five Minute Friday, writing on the prompt: connect.

In December my husband and I  traveled  to Philadelphia  where  we   connected with the history of our country. We saw the Liberty Bell.

We walked through Independence Hall where the founding fathers wrestled with the formation of a nation that would provide liberty and religious freedom.

The Liberty Museum is a few blocks from Independence Hall. On the third floor we viewed artwork and stained glass that connected the pursuit of liberty with the people of Israel and the Puritans.

Deborah was a judge in Israel that participated in the fight to free their people from oppression by the king of Canaan.

Connect with history

John the Baptist baptized people and pointed them to the Savior who could free them from their sins.

The Puritans came to America with the Bible in pursuit of religious freedom.

Puritans

In America we stand on a foundation laid by people of faith that came before us.

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Attentive is my Word for 2017

Instead of a New Year resolution, I have found it beneficial to choose a word to focus on. It is a spiritual practice for me.

Attentive is my word for 2017. The dictionary gives this meaning: heedful, observant, paying attention. The events taking place in the world can be fearful. I want to keep my eyes on the Lord.

I have been musing on the way that Mary,  Simeon  and  Anna were      attentive to God’s word and the events taking place around them  ( as described in the first two chapters of the gospel of Luke). Mary praised God with faith when the angel told her that she would bear a son.     Simeon and Anna were there when Jesus was presented at the temple in Jerusalem for consecration. Simeon was watching and waiting for the promise of a Savior and praised God for the salvation that would come through Jesus. Anna gave thanks to God.

I am encouraged by the faith and hope Mary, Simeon and Anna displayed. They did not doubt the sovereignty of God! The words of the Psalms were real to them.

My heart is steadfast, O God: I will sing and make music with all my soul.

Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the people.

For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.     Psalm 108: 1-5

There are three ways that I can actively be attentive.

    1. Study God’s word. I am delighted that one of the gifts we received for Christmas is a devotional that will take us through the Psalms, The Songs of Jesus by Timothy Keller.
    2. Spend time in prayer. I do pray, but I can increase the time  praying and listening.
    3. Seek the Lord in loving others. We live in a divisive culture and I need the Lord’s direction in showing His love.

May God guide you through 2017. Thanks for visiting!

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Merry Christmas!

Here is a portion of the Christmas letter that I wrote on December 4th and sent out with our cards:

The homes in our neighborhood are decorated for Christmas, and today we had our first snowfall. The trees sparkle with white icing. At church we sang Christmas carols and wrote cards for Christians that are currently imprisoned for their faith.

Our hope for this beautiful world, created by God, but broken by sin, rests in God’s plan of salvation through Jesus. Job, a man of faith in the Old Testament, has words of hope. For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25

The apostle John wrote about about God’s plan of salvation in his gospel. John recorded the words of Jesus. 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   This is the gift of Christmas.

Many thanks to all my readers and my best wishes for joy in the New Year!

Christmas Pointsetta

The nativity image is courtesy of FreeVintageArt.com

Grace in a Winter Storm

The winter storm in Michigan was brutal. I had left early in the morning hoping to get to my mother’s nursing home before it became too bad—but it was already bad. In some places I couldn’t see the road and just followed tire tracks in the snow. I hit a patch of ice and lost control of the car. I veered toward a ditch before the car went into a spin. I think it made two complete revolutions. The engine died and I sat still in shock. My car was still on the road and there were no other vehicles in sight. I started the engine and drove on. Further on the car slipped and fish tailed a couple more times, but I reached my destination safely. I praised God for his protection.

I spent the day with my mother at the nursing home. She was glad to see me, but a little confused about who I am. We joined the hymn sing in the activity room. Mom was able to join in when the hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, came up.

The nursing home was decorated for Christmas and my eye was drawn to the nativity scenes. I pushed my mother’s wheel chair up to a display in the dining room.

Grace - Nativity

Later I paused at the display in the lobby of the nursing home.

Nativity

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4: 4-5

I stayed with my mother until evening, and then went to a hotel to wait out the storm.

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