Hope in Chicago and at Home

For Chicago baseball fans, the Cubs are symbolic of hope. The excitement over the National league playoffs was vibrant this fall. Then four straight losses to the Mets.  Once again the refrain is wait till next year.

Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field: Wikimedia Commons

In my garden I have many opportunities for hope. I have been      struggling with brown rot in my cherry tree. This year showed some improvement. With additional treatment will my cherries ripen      without rot? I’m looking forward to next June with hope.

Hope in the Garden

I transplanted some peonies and raspberries. Will they take well? The bulbs for three purple prince lily trees and some guinevere pink tulips went in the ground this fall. I will wait with anticipation for them to grow, looking forward to the spring.

Tulips for the Garden

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.     Hebrews 11:1

Family circumstances are a challenge. (Perhaps not more of a challenge than hoping the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series! lol)     Illness and problems that we lift in prayer through the years require trust in the Lord to sustain hope.  Maybe God gave us the seasons of the year and the seasons of life to teach us to trust Him, to illustrate hope. God has given us guidance in the Bible.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our      instruction, that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.     Romans 15: 4, 13

Linking with Words with WinterSunday StillnessWeekend WhispersGrace & Truth and Faith Filled Friday

Lovely Aroma in a World of Conflict

A Sweet Aroma
Last rose in my garden

Are you discouraged by the conflicts and moray decay all around us? I am. The study of the book of Acts is giving me hope. I am glad that this book was chosen for the fall Precept Bible study.

Sometimes political issues stir my emotions. Can political action groups solve the problems? They may have a place, but the problems in our country are spiritual.

It is not wrong to stand up for a point of view—in fact we must pursue truth.  Every life is valuable.  God designed marriage as one man and one woman. This truth comes from the word of God.

As I spend time studying the Bible, I realize that God’s plan of            salvation is woven through the scriptures and this message is most important. The gospel changes hearts. The apostles spoke about Jesus:

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.      Acts 4:12

The apostles and early church were focused on the message of the gospel. Even when persecution began they prayed for boldness.

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.       Act 4:29

Followers of Jesus, the church, have a specific role for this time. We are called to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Through our words, our    attitudes and actions we have a responsibility to have a message that points to Jesus and salvation. Sometimes we fall short. We need to be in the Word, in prayer and dependent on the Holy Spirit. Jesus has     given the Holy Spirit to be our helper.

I know that I am more sensitive to the Holy Spirit when I am studying my Bible, spending time in prayer and joining in fellowship in my home church. These are necessary activities. I encourage you to       embrace these practices.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the        knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God, among those who are being saved, and among those who are     perishing. 2 Corinthians 2: 14-15

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for completing the plan of salvation. Thank-you for forgiving my sins and giving us your Word. Guide me by the Holy Spirit to be a witness for you.

Linking with Thought Provoking ThursdayWholeHearted Wednesday,  A Little R & R,  Titus 2sday,  Hope in Every SeasonWords with Winter,  Sharing His Beauty,  Sunday Stillness,  Grace & Truth and Faith Filled Friday

Beauty in His Grip Button

Autumn Praise

My husband and I spent a few days in Upper Michigan. We were working on projects at an old farmhouse—a place I have visited almost every year, as far back as I can remember. We also enjoyed the peak fall color while driving and hiking.

Near Baraga

The trees in Upper Michigan are in splendid color. It is like a song of praise to the creator.

Forest Path

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
Psalm 98:4

The Lord God is magnificent. He holds every detail of our world in his hand. He is sovereign over all things. I look forward to the completion of his plans for us.

Autumn Forest

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 world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Psalm 96: 12b-13

Maple Leaves

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Steadfast in Prayer

Maple leaves

Every year as I begin a new Bible study, the book chosen speaks to me in my circumstances. The book of Acts begins with the disciples and a group of believers facing many challenges. Prayer is mentioned        frequently.

All these [disciples] with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. Acts 1:14

The news today is full of unrest, globally and in our country. My       family needs wisdom in providing for my mother and brother—their health is declining. I have a leadership role in our church and we need wisdom in making decisions. I need to pray with my family and with my church. The words of the Psalmist resonate with me.

O Lord, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you. Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!           Psalm 88:2

A verse in Micah is both a comfort and an admonition to wait on the Lord.

But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7

Paul gives more instruction in his letter to the Ephesians.

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 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. Ephesians 6: 16-17

Prayer should be woven through my day, a pattern in my life. When I have joined hands with family, friends and fellow believers in prayer, we have experienced a bonding, a deepening of our relationship.

Are you stressed? Can you join hands with another believer and pray?

Maple leaves

Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards. Give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out. Give us an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Thomas Aquino)

Linking with Titus 2sdays,  A Little R & R, WholeHearted Wednesday, the Art of Homemaking,  Weekend Whispers and Sunday Stillness

The Lunar Eclipse

It was a big event this week. My husband and I (like so many others) sat outside last Sunday night to watch the lunar eclipse. We had a good view of the blood moon. I took some pictures that are kind of fuzzy and saw many great pictures on Facebook. I even saw photos from Finland and Israel. It seems that whole world was watching.

Photo credit: pixabay
Photo credit: pixabay

It brought to mind thoughts of Jesus return. I wonder if the whole world will be watching then. We are beginning to see events mentioned in the Bible related to the end times. Is the blood moon one of the signs?

The blood moon is a curious event. Three things coincide: a full moon, the moon is at the closest range (a super moon) and a lunar eclipse. These events cause the moon to appear a deep orange color–a blood moon.

The remarkable view in last Sunday’s night sky, coinciding with the Jewish feast of tabernacles, was on my mind when I went to Bible study on Tuesday. We are studying Acts. We talked about the following verses in our discussion.

Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  Acts 2:18-21

We all want to know the timing, but Jesus said that only the Father knows this.   (Acts 1: 7)

So we must be attentive to the signs and live expectantly. The second epistle of Peter has additional instructions.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the day of God . . .     II Peter 3: 10-12a

We live in challenging times. We need to be attentive, faithful and bold in our witness. God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness.

Linking with Sunday Stillness,  Faith ‘n Friends,  Weekend Whispers,  Grace & Truth,  Faith Filled Friday and Thought Provoking Thursday

Rock and Salvation

Lake Superior
By Lake Superior

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,

for my hope is from him.

He only is my rock and my salvation,

my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

On God rests my salvation and my glory;

my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Psalm 62: 5-7

Linking with Wordless Wednesday,  Good Morning Mondays,  Sunday Stillness and Weekend Whispers

Honor or Riches

Honor or Riches

Last week I quoted half of this verse in Proverbs because I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the second line. I was glad to have the opportunity to attend a class on Hebrew poetry. The class gave me new insight.

Our teacher, Tim Sigler, gave an overview of Hebrew poetry. One of the features is parallelism. One verse contains two lines; when they are placed alongside each other, they expand the meaning. Each verse can have a nugget of wisdom that applies to many situations. This is especially true of Proverbs.

The parallelism can be affirming, opposing or advancing. The verse that had been playing in mind all week is an example of opposing parallelism.

A gracious woman gets honor,
And violent men get riches. Proverbs 11:16

Gracious is in contrast to violent. Honor is in contrast to riches. I have been thinking about the controversies in our culture.

The abortion industry. The vaccine industry. A connection exists between abortion and vaccine development. Click here. I grasp at ways to pray about these issues.

In real life a medical researcher that refused to be paid in return for omitting data from a research study demonstrates the characteristic of honor. Is bribery and deceit a form of violence? Consider a quote from an interview with this doctor. The interview appeared in Der Spiegel, a German magazine (September 5, 2015).

SPIEGEL: In your early years as a researcher, a pharmaceutical company offered you a bribe equivalent to two years of your salary: They wanted to prevent you from publishing negative study results. Were you disappointed that you weren’t worth more?

Peter Wilmshurst: (laughs) I was just a bit surprised to be offered any money, really. I was a very junior researcher and doctor, only 33 years old, so I didn’t know that sort of thing happened. I didn’t know that you could be offered money to conceal data.   Click here to read more.

A whistleblower, who was part of a research team for the CDC, has claimed that some data, significant to the safety of vaccines, was omitted from a published study. Is the pursuit of success and money at all costs a form of violence?

Proverbs 22:1 offers another angle on riches.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.

I am troubled by the impact that the pursuit of riches has on our health care system. Children and families experience the consequences. Perhaps out of fear we submit our children to more and more vaccines. Yet chronic disease and immune system disorders are on the rise. It seems that the family is under attack by forces that are veiled.

And so I pray for children and the family.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you love the children and have entrusted them to our care. I pray for truth in medical research. Give parents wisdom as they care for their family. May we understand our limitations and seek to support health with a deep respect for life. You have created us and we seek wisdom from you.

Linking with Words with WinterSunday StillnessWeekend WhispersFriendship Friday and Thought Provoking Thursday

Grace in Marriage

Gracious Woman

A gracious woman gets honor. Proverbs 11:16

This week I listened to a webinar on life coaching. This was the basic question being addressed: How do we help people make healthy changes in their lifestyle? The program was designed for health care workers, but it applies to family life as well. I took notes as I listened and identified practical tips for encouraging changes in behavior (mine and my husband’s).

It is easy for me to get frustrated with my husband’s way of doing home repair. We have different perspectives. It’s the engineer with great designs vs. the manager of home and hospitality.

The first thing I need to do is, to listen to him explain his plans. Then I can ask questions—helping both of us to see a project more clearly. The conversation should include two reflections for every question. A reflection restates what the other person has said and confirms understanding.

Making demands or instructing my husband on what needs to be done doesn’t work. Instead demands throw a wedge in our relationship and can shut down our communication. We can both be pretty self-centered. I want a project done yesterday. Hubby wants to work on his own time-line. The appearance is important to me and hubby is satisfied when it is functional. We need to listen to each other in turn and compromise.

I am not going to get everything I want, but we can stay us on a path of progress, working together. We can increase our understanding of each other’s strengths.

Dialogue works (supporting motivation) when positive comments are in a 3:1 ratio with negative comments, for relationships in general. In a marriage relationship the positive to negative comment ratio needs to be 5:1. I was startled when the lecturer said this. I need to improve!

How often do I notice the good things my husband is accomplishing? Do I let him know? Do I affirm his strengths?

The word I chose for 2015 is gracious. I have been paying attention to the way I interact with people that I meet.  And I can still grow in    graciousness toward my husband in our daily life.

The apostle Paul’s letters to the Christians at Ephesus and Colosse    addresses  husbands and wives. They struggled in their relationships too!

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.                     Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.                      Colossians 3:18

Linking with MYHSM, the Art of HomemakingWholeHearted Wednesday, Dance with Jesus,  A Little R & R,  Titus 2sdayMotivation MondayWeekend Whispers and Sunday Stillness

Morning Devotions: Psalm 119

 

Rhythm of the Waves

God has given us rhythm in nature and in his Word.

This summer my husband and I have been reading from Psalm 119 for morning devotions. It is the longest chapter in the Bible with 176 verses. The verses have a poetic rhythm that is just partially revealed in the English translation. In Hebrew one letter of the alphabet marks each section. Verses one through eight each begin with aleph. Verses nine through sixteen begin with bet, and so on through the alphabet.

Psalm 119 is a tutorial on the word of God—arranged in a manner that encourages memorization.

Ron Hirschhorn, a member of our church, has written a devotional book, Psalm 119: The Supremacy of God’s Word. The devotions cover 22 days. Each day focuses on one eight-verse section. Hirschhorn reflects on the meaning and application for that section.

On day 17 the title of the devotion is “10 Reminders to Keep Pressing On”. Here are the verses for the day (129 -136).

Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them.

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.

I open my mouth and pant because I long for your commandments.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name.

Keep steady my steps according to your promise,

and let no iniquity get dominion over me.

Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts,

Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes,

My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.

The last first verse stirred my thoughts about the chaos in our country. Hirschhorn directs the reader to press on to have a merciful heart for people that ignore God’s laws. We must care.

We have enjoyed the devotional book. It was easy to do together in the morning, and it encouraged discussion.

Linking with After my CoffeeWords with WinterSunday StillnessMake My Saturday Sweet,  Weekend WhispersGrace & Truth and Booknificent Thursday


Amanda’s Books and More

Gardens of Hope

Phlox

During the past week I returned to Detroit. (The first 12 years of my life I lived in Detroit.) I was shocked to drive though a community with abandoned and burned out houses. And yet there is hope and a passion for life here.

I visited Brightmoor and I was treated to a walking tour of the community gardens. Amid abandoned homes the gardens are a vibrant sign of hope. As I talked with people that work on the gardens, I learned a little more. I tasted the salad herb, purslane, and ground cherries.

One family was putting in a rain garden in their front yard. The plants and flowers have deep roots that can absorb a lot of water from saturated soil, preventing overflow in the sewage system. The people of Brightmoor are enthusiastic about protecting and restoring the neighborhood. Perseverence. Passion. Hope.

I had much to think about on my way home. It was a nice break in driving to  stop at a farm market. I bought some blueberries, peaches and tomatoes. (Michigan is a great place to get blueberries!)

At home I have flowers, berry bushes, herbs and a few vegetables—and weeds. We have had a lot of rain this year which has been great for my plants and also for the weeds. When I go out to work on my garden patches I lose track of time. As I work I have time to sort out my thoughts. I have been thinking about gardens.

We have a deep place in our heart that receives refreshment from a garden. God has created us that way.

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. Genesis 2: 8 -9a

Even if you don’t have a garden, you can still enjoy the refreshment of one. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Take a walk at a botanical garden. It provides a great opportunity to learn about plants. When I visit a city on vacation I look for their botanical garden. Chicago, Phoenix AZ and Albuquerque NM have wonderful gardens.
  2. Spend a morning at a local farmer’s market, seeing all the produce. Sometimes they have flowers, too. Talk with the farmers. You never know what you might learn.
  3. Plan a garden for next year.

Pink PhloxLinking with Thought Provoking ThursdayA Little R & R,  Wildcrafting WednesdayWords with Winter, Roses of Inspiration,  Sunday Stillness,  Friendship Friday and Grace & Truth