What Do We Tell the Children?

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my grandchildren. I was happy to join the family for dinner. As we were eating dinner the second grader said, “We might be having world war three.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“A boy in my class said that.”

The granddaughter who is in middle school said, “My teacher spent two class hours talking about what is happening.”

We had a discussion of the current news. The grandchildren listened attentively–they were concerned.

I am very glad to be studying Paul’s letters to Timothy at this time. I explained that  Paul had sound advice and encouragement for Timothy during a very difficult time.

As I mentioned Paul’s letter to Timothy, the words came to me. “God is sovereign. He knows what is happening. We can pray for our leaders that they will do what is right.” 

As I thought about our conversation I am reminded of the importance of time studying the Bible. We can direct our children and grandchildren to be grounded in the Word, sharing scripture with them. We can encourage them to participate in prayer for our country, our President, his cabinet and congress.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2: 1-4 

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: DIRECTION

The Birth in Bethlehem

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

God’s amazing design is before us in the birth of Jesus. Jesus did not enter our world as an adult. He came as an infant, fully human and also God. 

He wasn’t born in a palace or a hospital equipped with modern technology. His birth was dependent on the natural physical ability of a young woman to give birth.

God didn’t need human intervention to carry out his plan for our good. This fills me with joy and trust. We can rest, knowing God is sovereign over our world. 

Luke, the physician wrote in his gospel: And while they [Joseph and Mary] were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in manger because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2: 6-7

Birth in Bethlehem
Painting in a Cathedral in Finland

Have a blessed and joyous Christmas!

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: BIRTH

Also linking with Sue’s image-in-ing and Inspire Me Monday .

The Light of Christmas

Christmas, the day that we commemorate Jesus’ birth, is coming. Last night we attended a concert titled Night of Glory. It was good to pause from my errands, cookie baking, and card writing. I listened to the story of God’s amazing gift, told in song. The concert began with the orchestra playing Farandole (March of the Kings).

The wise men had a star in the night sky to lead them to the promised Savior. We have the Bible—old and new testament. In both prophecy and in the gospels, Jesus comes into the world bringing light. 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:2

The gospel of John tells about the Savior coming to earth.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. . .  John 1: 9-12

I remember the times that the electricity in our home was disrupted by a storm. When the power was off we looked for flashlights and candles. We needed light to dispel the darkness, to see where we were going. 

In the same way we need a relationship with God through Jesus.  We live in a world darkened by sin. Jesus gives direction for our life.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

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

Prayer: the Antidote to Fear

There are times and circumstances that overwhelm with fear. Remember the Bible account of the sudden storm on the Sea of Galilee?

A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”

Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath, the sea became as smooth as glass. Mark 4:37-39 MSG

When a woman is in labor and gets close to giving birth she may experience a rush of hormones that cause the strong contractions of transition. Some women feel completely out of control. The waves of contraction rush over her. This is the point at which women, whom I have attended in labor, ask for prayer. Sometimes it is a husband or a friend that prays. Sometimes I have prayed.

Throughout life we encounter situations where the stress of a situation may overwhelm us. God provides a place to bring our fears and concerns. We can pray. It is calming to pray with another believer. Jesus said: 

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them  by my father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them. Matthew 18: 19-20

When I meet with women for Bible study on Wednesday mornings we end our meetings with group prayer. Together we bring our concerns to the Lord. We are refreshed and ready to meet the challenges ahead.

Do you have a friend that you can pray with?

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt today is: RUSH

Also linking with Inspire Me Monday, Heart Encouragement and Welcome Heart

The Cost of Steadfast Convictions

When I read the prompt for Five Minute Friday today, I immediately thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who wrote the book, The Cost of Discipleship. His life portrayed the cost of his convictions.

I have read Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas and more recently My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt. Both books describe Bonhoeffer’s steadfast adherence to the truth of the Bible as Hitler ascended to power in Germany. He had the opportunity to remain in the United States as WWII was about to begin, but he chose to return to Germany, hoping to have an influence for good.

It is hard to be steadfast in convictions when you are going against the current. When I saw the number of interventions in childbirth continuing to grow, I chose to take a position with a home birth group with a drop in wages. I was able to see the normal progression of labor with the support of doula, nurse and physician. We were careful to observe for problems, transferring 10% of patients to the hospital. I learned important lessons.

When I returned to the hospital, my goal was to be an advocate for women who desired fewer interventions. Labor is a natural physiologic process that can be negatively affected by interventions. As it turned out,I didn’t always get along with the doctors. It is a lifelong challenge for me to learn to speak up with grace.

My heart goes out to the nurses and doctors who have concerns about the vaccine schedule for children. They believe that too many vaccines are being given at one time, not all of them are necessary for all children, some vaccines could be delayed. But mandates are being passed in a number of states. Doctors, nurses and parents don’t have a choice.

Yet some are steadfastly speaking up, going against the current—and being penalized financially.

As a Christian I need God’s word as a guide for my convictions. I need to read it, study it, and make it my way of life. And I need to continue to grow in my ability to speak truth with grace. 

Being steadfast is not always financially rewarding, but it is spiritually rewarding.

I just finished a study of the book of Joshua. Here is the encouragement that threads all the way through this book.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: COST

Seeing God’s Artistry in the Fall Colors

My grandson and I were looking out of the dining room window at the trees. The leaves were changing color. “See the linden tree—the leaves are turning yellow.”

My grandson said, “But look at that tree. Its leaves are bronze.”

In the distance we could see a tree with orange leaves. I explained what I knew. In the fall the chlorophyl  in the leaves diminishes as the days shorten and temperatures drop.

Other questions arose in my mind. Why do the leaves of some trees turn yellow, others bronze, orange or red? Why are the colors so rich and vivd this year?

The Old Farmers Almanac has answers.

 . . . pigments, carotene (yellow) and anthocyanin (red), exist in the leaf all summer but are masked by the chlorophyll which helps plants absorb sunlight. (The browns in autumn leaves are the result of tannin, a chemical that exists in many leaves, especially oaks.) 

In general, a wet growing season followed by an autumn with lots of sunny days, dry weather, and cold, frostless nights will produce the most vibrant palette of fall colors. This vividness is especially true of red leaves, such as those on sugar maples and red maple trees.

This year we are blessed with an array of colors: rich red, flaming yellow and orange, bronze with a back drop of evergreens. God’s artistry in the design of trees.

Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the earth in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness. Psalm 96: 12b-13 ESV

Sharing this post with Sue’s image-in-ing and Inspire Me Monday.

Learning and Teaching Patience

Patience is a virtue, worth cultivating in ourselves and our children.

Some years ago I read an article by Pamela Druckerman that extolled the way French parents teach their children to wait. In her article, Why French Parents Are Superior, Druckerman pointed out that children who have learned patience are more content and better behaved.

My senses were awakened to the virtue of practicing and teaching patience.

It pleases me to watch my daughters as they make good choices in parenting. When I am talking with my daughters on the phone, invariably a child may want their attention. They calmly inform the child “I am talking to Grandma. When I am finished I can help you.”

It is good for children to practice waiting.

One daughter has six children and the youngest is two years old. This little guy is aware that I often have some lollipops in my purse. If I stop by for a visit in the morning he runs to me with a big hug, and then he asks me, “Did you bring your purse? Do you have lollipops?” 

When tell him, “yes I have lollipops”, I explain that he must wait until after lunch. He is satisfied.

Gardening provides practice in patience for me and for the grandchildren. We plant seeds and water them, waiting for the appearance of stem and leaves. Then we wait for flowers to bloom, for tomatoes to appear and ripen, for raspberry bushes to bear fruit.

The Bible has a message about waiting.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3: 22-26

In our walk of faith we are encouraged to develop patience.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt that stimulates our thoughts today is: WAIT

Active & Steadfast Faith

So many things can cause me to worry—illness, divisive politics, concerns about friends and family, goals not met. Do I live in fear or do I hold fast to God with faith?

The book of Joshua in the Old Testament lays out great examples of active faith. Today I was reading about Caleb. Caleb was one of the twelve men that Moses sent to spy out the promised land.

Caleb had faith that they could enter the land and fight for it. God would give them victory. But ten of the men were afraid of the descendants of Anak, described as giants. Fear settled on Israel like a mist. As a result 40 years would pass in the wilderness before Caleb would enter the promised land. I wonder how those years went for Caleb. Forty years is a long time to be patient. Caleb was steadfast.

Caleb was with Joshua when they entered the land and took possession (as God promised). God was with them in the battles.

When the land was being divided and given to each tribe, Caleb reminded Joshua that he had been promised land for himself and his descendants. At the age of 85 he offered to win the hill country from the Anakim—the same area of land that he had seen 45 years before. He was ready to fight the giants. Steadfast faith.

Caleb’s example speaks to me. He actively listened to God. He believed God and was ready to act. He endured 40 years of waiting patiently, steadfastly. At the right moment he was victorious at Hebron.

The good news is that when we are listening to God, willing to act, he helps us. Our faith is molded by prayer, Bible study, obedience to God’s word. We receive encouragement in community with other believers.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: ACTIVE

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A Call to People of Faith for the Sake of the Children

Attorney General Bill Barr gave a speech to the law school at the University of Notre Dame on October 11, 2019. In that speech he said:

“For anyone who has a religious faith, by far the most important part of exercising that faith is the teaching of that religion to our children. The passing on of the faith. There is no greater gift we can give our children and no greater expression of love.”

Barr went on to explain that our schools are interfering. It is true in Illinois. Legislation has been passed mandating that people who are/were LGBTQ and who have made contributions to society must be acknowledged along with their sexual preferences. Children in elementary school, beginning with kindergarten, will be exposed to sexual terms and behavior. 

Why must young children be exposed to every kind of sexual behavior? Is there no period of innocence for children any more? This takes away parental rights to teach about sexuality at the appropriate time.

The high school district that provided my children with an excellent education is now distracted with the issue of bathrooms and locker rooms. The school board is considering a policy that will give a transgender student (biologically male) full and open access to the girl’s locker room, shower and bathrooms.

How many girls feel comfortable sharing their dressing room with a biological male? Why should they? Ten years ago this would have been shocking. Why is this happening?

The attorney general observed:

One of the ironies, as some have observed, is that the secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor.

The secular view of sexuality is now being forced on young people. This distracts from the real goal of a high school education—learning subjects and skills needed to achieve employment in our society. 

Unless we speak up, engage in events like the school board meetings, study the the candidates for public office and vote with wisdom, we will be swept away in a culture that is so damaging to the children growing up now.

The attorney general said:

They [Judeo-Christian moral standards] reflect the rules that are best for man, not in the by and by, but in the here and now. They are like God’s instruction manual for the best running of man and human society.

The full text of Attorney General Barr’s speech can be read here.

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One Sunday Morning in Albuquerque: Balloons and Roosters

The Balloon Festival in New Mexico is a great family activity. I was amazed to see so many people, so many family groups, strolling together at the Balloon Festival Park. It was a state fair like scene at 6:00 am. Parents were pushing strollers and pulling wagons as they walked past venders offering coffee, donuts, burritos, turkey legs and more. Brightly colored banners and souvenirs beckoned to the crowd. 

At 6:30 am the first balloons lifted off, and the air currents carried them into mist. Clouds were scattered throughout the sky.

At 7:00 am a soloist appeared on the bandstand and sang the Star Spangle Banner. As she finished singing flames soared from the hot air burners, and the crowd cheered.

Because of mist and fog (unusual for Albuquerque) the conditions were not optimal for the giant balloons, so only a few more lifted off. 

Still a multitude of the balloons were fully inflated and the crowds grouped around the various launching sites.  The Star Wars site was hugely popular.

Do you see Darth Vader?

Colorful balloons were interspersed with character balloons.

The following day, Sunday morning, we went to a hill that gave us a view of the balloons in the air. It was a beautiful clear morning and the sky was full of colorful balloons. We watched for favorite balloons we had seen inflated the day before.

By 9:30 am most of the balloons had landed and we went to church with our son and daughter-in-law. 

The sign for the church has a rooster on it and I asked my son what it meant.

He said, “Remember Peter and the rooster crowing after Peter denied knowing Jesus? Peter failed Jesus, but Jesus called him back and forgave him. We are all broken people.”

The call to worship was appropriate for the day.

Sing to God; lift up a song to Him who rides through the deserts. He ascended on high, leading a host captive in his train.

He who descended in humility is also He who ascended far above the heavens, that He might fill all things.

And He gave gifts to men, to equip the saints, for the building up of the body of Christ.

Let us therefore grow up in every way into Him who is the head, that the body may build itself up in love.

The pastor reminded us that we cannot reach up, cannot ascend by achievement to God. God, righteous and holy, is far above us. We may be in a wilderness, but God has descended to us through Jesus. Jesus came down and suffered and died on our behalf. We need only to accept the forgiveness and salvation that Jesus offers.

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