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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Reading, Waiting and Listening

Take time. Give God time to reveal Himself to you. Give yourself time to be silent and quiet before Him, waiting to receive through the Spirit the assurance of His presence with you, His power working in you. Take time to read His Word as in His presence; that from it you may know what He asks of you and what he promises you. Let the Word create around you, create within you, a holy heavenly light in which your soul will be refreshed and strengthened for the work of daily life.                                         Rev. Andrew Murray (1828 – 1917)

The virgin Mary is an example of waiting on the Lord. She had questions, but she responded with trust. Can you imagine what it was like when the angel Gabriel appeared to her?

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth. . . . And he [Gabriel] came to her [Mary] and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”

But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”       Luke 1:26, 28-35, 38

Does Mary’s acceptance of the angel’s presence and conversation with the angel amaze you?    Mary must have known the scriptures and    promises of God. She must have been living with deep trust in God’s sovereignty.

God ways are often outside of our expectation. God chose Mary to give birth to the Son of God in humble circumstances. Jesus did not arrive on earth in royal fashion. His birth was not supported by high technology.

As I meditate on this, I see that God was affirming childbirth and the family unit.

It is true that we need to spend time in God’s word. God speaks to us through the scripture. We can learn from Mary’s example, reading God’s word, waiting, listening and responding with trust.

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Ancient Wisdom, New Life and the Love Hormone

Could the book of Job be a description of  God’s  design for  the  earth   following the flood? Currently I am reading  The Remarkable Record of Job*  by Henry Morris.   Throughout the book he points out amazing insights about our world, offered in this Old Testament book of the Bible.

Morris theorizes that  Job  lived before  Moses  and possibly before   Abraham. The book makes reference to the great flood (Job 22:15-16). Prior to the flood the earth was covered in a mist, but following the flood a new water cycle was established. Dr. Morris reflects on passages that describe this great change. Job records references to wind, water vapor, clouds and rain.

He [God] binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the clouds are not split open under them. Job 26:8

For He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything  under  the    heavens. When he gave to the wind its weight and apportioned the waters by measure, when he made a decree for the rain and a way for the lightning of the thunder, then he saw it and declared it; he established it and searched it out. Job 28: 24-27

Do you know how God lays his command upon them and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine? Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge . . . Job 37: 15-16

Dr. Morris, a scientist,  wrote a fascinating book that points to the details of God’s creation which we continue to discover. As a nurse I realize that we are still learning about the wisdom of God’s design for childbirth.

Once again  I was in awe of the miracle of new life  when  I  attended the birth of our seventh grandchild!

My daughter was able to go through labor with supportive care, but without medication or interventions. She gave birth to a healthy son.

The baby was placed on her chest, skin to skin, immediately after the birth. The baby stimulated her body to release the hormone, oxytocin, which is produced in the brain. This hormone has a calming effect and also stimulates the womb to contract. She did not need to have pitocin (a synthetic form of oxytocin) given intravenously.

Oxytocin has several of purposes.  It stimulates uterine contractions,    reducing bleeding. It enhances bonding between mother and baby.   It is involved in the let-down reflex that occurs during breastfeeding.

Kelly Brogan M.D. discusses the difference between oxytocin, an endogenous hormone, and pitocin in an article here.

Another article  (American College of Nurse-Midwives)  calls for more   research on oxytocin and pitocin. Click here.

A Swedish doctor has written a book titled The Oxytocin Factor:Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love and Healing.  Throughout the book Dr. Moberg cites the research that she has done at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. She lists the factors that enhance the body’s release of calming oxytocin: gentle touch; massage; quiet environment; various scents and music. For a brief review of the book, click here.

It is a common practice to give pitocin prophylactically following birth. My daughter requested that it not be given routinely.

Praise the Lord for this healthy birth!

We are thankful for the availability of modern medicine, but give praise to God for his marvelous design for childbirth.

kids_prim6254-2

*Henry M. Morris Ph.D, The Remarkable Record of Job, Master Books:Green Forest, AR, 2000.

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Our Common Condition & Hope

Today I am joining Five Minute Friday (#FMF) where bloggers write for five minutes about one word. The prompt for today is common. So here we go.

After a tumultuous and divisive election what do we as people have in common?

The Bible shows us these truths.

God loves us.

For God so loved the world that he have his only begotten Son. John 3:16

We have all sinned.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

We are all offered salvation.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Acts 16:31

We have hope through the completed work of Jesus.

Through his grace and mercy we can live a life of love and purpose.

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After the Election: Prayer & Love

It is good to be studying God’s word during this season (and always).

I am reminded that the problems we face as a nation are not new. We are sinful people seeking our own ends and solutions. The apostle Paul had his moment of awakening. The Jewish law could not save him or the people of Israel. Paul and all people need the salvation offered by Jesus.

Our nation needs Jesus. We need to bring the message of the gospel to people that we interact with. Paul gave good advice to his student, Titus, during tumultuous times in the Roman Empire. Titus was a leader for new believers.

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray and slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.          Titus 3:1-8 ESV

The election is over. We don’t know what the Trump presidency will bring. We can pray for this man and his administration. We can choose to demonstrate love and kindness to every person we encounter.

Today has been a beautiful fall day. As I walked through our neighborhood I have enjoyed seeing these signs around our neighborhood.

Love & Prayer

My fervent prayer is to live in obedience to Jesus Christ, to let his love shine through me. Join me in prayer?

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The World Series and the Gospel

The Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions. Wow!! The last time the Cubs even played in the World Series was 1945. My Dad went to one of the games. He was a WWII veteran, just home from the war.

World War II veteran

 

Some one gave him a ticket. He was cheering for the Detroit Tigers who eventually won the series.

I grew up a Tigers fan, but 38 years in Chicago has made me a casual Cubs fan. This 2016 team has been fun to watch.

Throughout the playoffs they have cheered their teammates along. When errors were made they picked each other up. So much fun to see them leaning over the railing in front of the dug out, jumping with joy for every run scored.

image courtesy of wikimedia commons
image courtesy of wikimedia commons

In this 7th game I watched Kyle Hendricks pitch with steady precision. When Joe Maddon took him out I thought it was the wrong decision. I wonder what the team thought? Lester and Ross came into the game. David Ross had trouble with a couple balls and Cleveland scored two runs.

But the team stayed focused on their goal of winning. Ross hit a homerun in the next inning. The passed ball was forgotten.

The game hit another valley when Chapman gave up two runs in the 8th inning. After nine innings the game was tied and a rain delay was called.

I sighed. How late was this game going to go? But something special was happening in the Cubs locker room. Jason Heyward gathered his teammates and made a speech. According to USA Today this was the heart of his speech:.

“He spoke up and said this is about your teammates,” David Ross said. “He just said, `We’re the best team in baseball for a reason. Continue to play our game, support one another. These are your brothers here, fight for your brothers, lift them up, continue to stay positive.  We’ve been  doing this all year so continue to be us.”

The Cubs scored two runs in the 10th inning and held Cleveland to one run. The Cubs won with a final score of 8 to 7.

This team has demonstrated qualities that we should take note of.

  1. The Cubs had a goal that they stayed focused on.

  2. The team encouraged each other and picked each other up in the tough moments

As believers and followers of Jesus we should be the same way. Our focus is the message of the gospel. The apostle Paul sets down this goal.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes Romans 1:16

We are also a team. We need each other as we focus on the message of the gospel.

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing. 2 Thessalonians 1:3

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American History: Revive Us

This past week my husband and I attended Revive Us, a live event at theaters. As a part of the presentation Kirk Cameron and Eric Metaxas took us to Independence hall in Philadelphia, where our nation began. Our founding fathers understood the importance of faith in God in the pursuit of liberty.

On March 23, 1775 Patrick Henry gave his “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech. Here is a portion of that speech: Sir, we are not weak, if we make proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people armed in the Holy cause of Liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us . . . *

Patrick Henry had a Bible verse for America.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14:34

The founding fathers were united by faith in God and knowledge of the Bible. The Bible teaches us that apart from Jesus Christ we have no righteousness. Righteousness is a key word in the book of Romans. God is righteous and holy and he extends grace to us.

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:22-24

As a nation, as a church and individually we need to confess our sins. We need to live in obedience to our faith. Kirk Cameron, along with his pastor, Ben Carson, Francis Chan, Jennifer Rothschild led in prayer, discussion and scripture reading. We had an opportunity to worship together.

Jennifer Rothschild shared these verses from scripture:

. . . the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to any one he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men. Daniel 4:17

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.      2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Revive us will be shown in theaters again on Monday evening, October 24. Click here to find a theater near you.

*Catherine Millard, A Children’s Companion Guide to America’s History, Camp Hill, PA: Horizon House Publishers, 1993 p. 39

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Celebrating Life on Planned Parenthood’s Anniversary

As Planned Parenthood celebrates their 100 year anniversary, I choose to mourn the lives lost and the wounds that many women carry. Although Planned Parenthood portrays itself as woman’s health care,  its most      lucrative business is abortion. It masquerades as compassionate care.

I give thanks for the growing number of pregnancy care centers and for support groups that help women heal from the trauma of abortion.

Our community held a march for life, proclaiming that life is a gift.       Together we offered this prayer:

O God, our Creator, all life is in your hands
From conception until natural death,
Help us to cherish our children.
Help us to understand and respect the awesome
privilege of our share in creation.
May all people live and die in dignity and love.
Bless all those who defend the rights of the
unborn, the handicapped and the elderly.
Enlighten and be merciful toward those who fail
to recognize the sacredness of life.
Give us courage to speak with truth and love
and with conviction in the defense of life.
Let freedom be tempered by
responsibility, integrity and morality.
We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

life-is-a-gift

The Psalmist did not have the tool of ultrasound, yet he offers a clear    understanding of life. These verses convey a deep truth.

Oh, yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow
from conception to birth;
All the stages of my life were spread out before you,
the days of my life all prepared
Before I’d even lived one day.

Psalm 139: 13-16 MSG

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The Lack of Respect for Women

Words. Ugly references to women. It is hard to listen to the political mud slinging. Trump’s words revealed on a recording were vulgar and cannot be condoned. These words have opened wounds that many women carry.

Our culture is saturated in sex. I wonder if we are ready to assess the damage that has been caused by the push for sexual freedom. Perhaps the ugliness of this campaign will encourage discussion.

When sex is separated from a committed relationship, when men do not have responsibility for the potential pregnancy that may result from sex, women are hurt.

Beginning in the 1960s, significant court decisions took place. In 1965 contraception for married women was legalized by the Supreme Court under a right to privacy decision (Griswold v. Connecticut). In 1972 contraception for unmarried women was legalized as a right to privacy (Eisenstadt v. Baird). In 1973 abortion was legalized for all women as a right to privacy (Roe v. Wade).

The Supreme Court has a huge influence on our culture.

These court decisions set laws in place that made sex available to men without commitment or shared responsibility. This is not what God intended. God designed the family and the bond between husband and wife.

In the Bible Jesus reiterates the sacredness of marriage. When Jesus was asked about divorce he said this:

“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”         Matthew 19: 4-6

Some people viewed contraception as necessary to avoid over population. Some people of faith thought that contraception would improve marriages and the care of children. The Bible does not specifically mention contraception, but the word itself is against life.

A couple can deepen their relationship by talking about sex  and  the   potential for pregnancy.  With contraception a woman may feel that she has to be always available.   Sex can be a self-centered act  instead of    affirming the sacred bond of marriage.

What about when we look at the big picture? What has changed?

Failure of contraception led to the “need” for abortion.   The rate of    abortion has increased over time. Millions of babies have been killed in their mother’s womb. Women have been wounded by abortion. The rate of divorce has increased. The number of children born out of wedlock has increased. Women’s health has been impacted by hormonal contraception. And respect for women?

Our human remedies may fail us. We need to seek God’s ways. This text states a hard truth.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools . . . Romans 1:21-22

The current political mud slinging should cause us to pause. We have God’s remedy for the moral descent that is going on.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.       2 Chronicles 7:14

God heals us if we turn to Him.

Bless the Lord , O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
Who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.
Psalm 103:2-3

Prayer:  Lord God, my human nature leads me to seek my own way.     Forgive my sins and guide me in the path of life. I praise you because you are my redeemer and healer.

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