We Need to Pray Now

My heart aches for our country.

This past Tuesday I went to a grocery store at 6:15 am, when the light of sunrise was spreading. It was senior shopping hours.

The store opened at 6 am and already many people were there. The tension in the store was palpable. Some people were wearing masks and a few had a bandana over their face. I had gloves but no mask. Everyone was focused on getting their groceries and getting out of the store as fast as possible.

At the delicatessen counter I wasn’t paying good attention and stepped to close to a man. He began to yell at me, claiming I was stupid. I backed away.

It is like a mist of fear has enveloped us.

My mother has dementia and is in a nursing home. We can’t visit her. We can’t explain what is going on. Her care givers are wearing masks. At first my sister was able to FaceTime when one of the caregivers had a phone available and could help. 

Now the staff is stretched thin with all the requirements they are receiving from the CDC and medicare. We can’t reach a nurse on the phone and have to trust they will call us if there is a change in her health.

All of this has been churning in my mind. We have an amazing medical system, but I wonder about the huge drive to be in control. Have we begun to believe that we can control life and death? 

We decide who can live as abortion continues. We do want to save lives by preventing the spread of the virus, by making ventilators available. But what about the spiritual care of the elderly and dying? I am deeply saddened by the number of people that die alone.

I don’t know the answer to my questions. We need God’s help. Our country needs to repent and turn to God, acknowledging that we are not enough, that being in control is an illusion.

Tomorrow (4/4) the Gospel Coalition is planning a day of prayer. This is a wonderful opportunity to join with others in prayer. Here is the link to the prayer guide and evening event.

The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’ Zechariah 8:21

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

Women Who Inspire Us

Today is the final day of March, Women’s History Month. The month has been designated for noting the contributions that women have made in our country. This year celebrates 100 years since women were given the right to vote. 

We remember the suffragettes. Their accomplishment is important, but there are other women who deserve our interest and respect.

Throughout history many women have used their God given abilities and talents for the benefits of others. It is inspiring to know about them.  

Eric Metaxis wrote succinct biographies of women who used their abilities in remarkable ways. In the book, Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness, Metaxis devotes a chapter to each of these women: Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Saint Maria of Paris, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa.

The names of some of these women are familiar, others not so much. I learned new facts about each of these women. I found the chapters about Hannah More and Saint Maria of Paris to be fascinating.

The book reminds me that every age has its challenges. The unique skills and abilities of women are needed. The University of Michigan’s School of Nursing Magazine has a page dedicated to 2020 The Year of the Nurse and Midwife. The timing of this designation is amazing. Nurses are on the frontlines of the pandemic all around the world.

Nurses have had huge roles at other times. Florence Nightingale was very influential during the Crimean War, saving lives. Edith Cavell was a nurse and a heroine during World War I. I wrote about these two nurses in a previous blog post. Read the post here, along with references.

Raquela Levy provided midwife care to Jewish refugees arriving in Israel at the end of World War II. For a review of the book, Raquela: Woman of Israel, by Ruth Gruber click here.

Each of the books mentioned is a good read.

Sharing this post with Anita’s Inspire Me Monday and Tuesdays with a Twist and Classical Homemaking .

The Pandemic Challenges Our Faith

Recently I read Tessa Afshar’s book, Daughter of Rome. The book is historical fiction centered on Priscilla of the Bible. One of the events told in the book is the couple’s forced move out of Rome. The Bible states that this happened.

After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all  Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. Acts 18:1-3

Priscilla and Aquila experienced a sudden change in their life. They had to establish their tent making business in a new locale and adapt. The unexpected blessing was meeting Paul in Corinth.

Afshar’s book is rich in color—she knows the Middle East. The Bible provides limited information about Priscilla, so many of the events in her book are imagined, but could have happened. I especially appreciate the themes of faith and forgiveness woven through the book.

With the worldwide pandemic we have experienced a sudden change in our lives. I don’t think I feel the crunch as much as some. I have adequate food. I am already retired from nursing (although I dreamed that I was going back to work). I am able to stay in touch with friends and family over social media and zoom.

My prayer is that I will be alert to ways that I can help. I have the time available to pray for our country, for people with illness or economic uncertainty, and for countries that are devastated by the corona virus.

The pandemic brings the realization that we are not as much in control as we think we are. God is sovereign and offers his love and guidance. Through Jesus we can have a relationship with God. If you have not repented and asked Jesus to be your Savior I encourage you to do this.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community.

Keeping a Positive Outlook During the Pandemic

Today I woke up to snow decorating the trees and covering the ground. I was drawn to spending time outside.

The hyacinths in front of our house were still peeking up, despite the snow.

The sound of many birds twittering and whistling filled the morning air. As I took a walk through our neighborhood I caught sight of a couple robins.

Can you pick out the robin in the tree?

It was refreshing to walk in the brisk cold air–a few other walkers were out as well.

A variety of activities and tactics are helpful in this unusual time.

My morning Bible study is an essential part of my day. Did you know that the Bible has hundreds of reference to fear? This pandemic is stirring fear and panic, but God’s word tells us to fear God alone. I need to remind myself each day. The following verses give instruction.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! Psalm 111:10

Jesus said: I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why even the hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not, you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:4-7

I have begun to limit the amount of time I spend watching news briefs. I read books. Sunday morning we met with our church from our home through the zoom platform. Last night I watched an episode of Call the Midwife. Almost every day I have FaceTime with my daughters and grandchildren. We are blessed with the technology that allows us to stay in touch.

How are you doing? What is helping you during this time of isolation?

This post is shared with Sue’s image-in-ing.

No Fear of Tomorrow

We are in challenging times . . . like people who came before us. I think of the civil war, the Spanish flu, World War II. The Bible records times when fear hung over the people of Israel. Currently I am studying the book of Ezra.

After 70 years of captivity in Babylon, Zerrubabel led a return to the land of Israel to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Ezra 3:3 records: They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening. When fear grips us we need to turn to the Lord.

I am reminded of God’s words to Joshua. 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

We can trust in God as we make changes in our daily life, as our circumstances change. God’s word is rich with promises and examples of God’s faithfulness.

Your hands have made me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.

Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word.

I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.

Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. Psalm 119:73-76

On St. Patricks day I listened to the press conferences on the growing pandemic. I spent time on the computer gathering information. It made me weary and stressed. I was glad to receive notification of an evening hymn sing that Keith and Kristen Getty provided on their facebook page. Their concerts have been canceled, but they sang hymns from their home, and it warmed my heart. You can find it here.

Spring is coming. God is faithful. We don’t need to fear tomorrow.

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

A Time for Steadfast Faith

Currently I am studying the book of Ezra with women of my church. We looked at the reason that God allowed Israel’s captivity in Babylon. One reason was their failure to give the land its Sabbath rest. I read about the Sabbath rest that God commanded his people. I have been chewing on this. What would it look like today?

The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath rest to the Lord. For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather its fruits, but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard . . . . The Sabbath of the land shall provide food for you . . . Leviticus 25: 1-4, 6

God commanded an amazing pause in their activity. Was it for more time in relationship to Him and their family?

The pandemic is leading to cancellations in events, conferences and sports. It is a time to pause.

Less time for busyness and distraction.

More time for family meals. More time for Bible study and reflection. More time to be aware of the needs of our neighbor. More time to pray for nurses, doctors and health care providers. More time to pray for revival.

A time for steadfast faith.

UPDATE 3/17/2020: For families with children home from school it can be a challenge to find materials to keep children busy. My daughter is using Louie Giglio’s book, How Great is Our God: 100 Indescribable Devotions About God and Science, for devotions and to launch some study of science.

This also is a good time for children to help with household activities–cooking, baking, cleaning and laundry.

This post is shared with Kate’s Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: LESS I am also joining the link-up with Anita’s Inspire Me Monday.

Giving an Encouraging Word

Talent: characteristic feature, aptitude or disposition of a person; the natural endowments of a person

Words matter. They can encourage or deter creative pursuits. I still remember two elementary school teachers that I had. The orchestra teacher told me that I had no musical ability and discouraged me from attempting to play the violin. (I heard don’t try to be involved in any musical activities.) 

An art teacher said that I had artistic ability and recommended that I be included in a special art class. I was encouraged and blessed by this opportunity.

As parents, grandparents and teachers we desire to guide children, helping them to realize their potential. I know I tried to do that for my children. I see it as my role as grandmother, to speak encouraging words.

What about in the church? Do I recognize the talents of my fellow believers and encourage them? 

God has given each of us a role. We can encourage each other along the way.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

This post is shared with Inspire Me Monday and the Five Minute Friday writing community.

Living Word

In A.D. 64 the apostle Paul was in prison in Rome. The Emperor Nero was persecuting Christians and Paul was facing execution.

It is hard to imagine being in these circumstances. What would I do?

Paul wrote a letter to Timothy whom he loved like a son. He gave instructions for going forward in faith. Paul believed that life went beyond physical life on earth. 

Paul once wrote to the church at Corinth: So we are of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

Throughout the letter to Timothy Paul anchors his instructions in the scriptures. Paul has completed his role and is passing the torch of faith to Timothy.

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG

This is a wonderful reason to spend time studying God’s word.

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

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 .