The Church in Turku

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. To visit this inspiring community of writers, click here. Today’s prompt is: PLACE

While we were in Finland we visited Turku, a beautiful old city. It was the “capitol” of Finland when Finland was under Swedish rule.

Rising above the town is the tower and cross of the Lutheran Church. We walked from our hotel to this landmark.

The Church in Turku

The church is kept open for visitors. People were ascending the stairs as we approached.

The doors were ornate.

The Church in Turku

I took a deep breath as we entered this place. The architecture is magnificent.

I was most drawn to the painting behind the altar,  with the focus  on    Jesus, resurrected and ascending to heaven.

The Church in Turku

// Since we have returned home I have thought a lot about the church in Finland. Every city has a cathedral-like church. The Lutheran Church is the state church. Weddings and funerals are conducted there. But I did not get a sense of the people of the church. When I talked with my Finnish relatives, the concept of a community of believers was outside of their experience. The magnificent churches demonstrate the heritage of faith. And so I am led to pray for revival and a fresh experience of faith in Finland.

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Trying, Persisting and Communicating

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: TRY

During the past two weeks I had the wonderful experience of attending a family reunion in Finland. My maternal grandmother had come to the United States when she was nineteen years old. Two of her brothers were already here, but the remaining ten siblings stayed in Finland. She was never able to go back.

During the two weeks in Finland I had time with a number of our second cousins, third cousins, cousins once or twice removed. Some were fluent in English, some were not. But we found ways to communicate. I tried out the words that I knew in Finnish and then resorted to the app on my i-pad. My relatives tried out words in English and used the Finnish/English dictionary.

We were persistent in our efforts to communicate. I learned about my grandmother’s life in Finland and felt the kinship with my Finnish relatives. . . .

My thoughts have moved on to think about God’s persistent efforts to communicate with us. He has given us the Bible and his Son. In the gospel of John, Jesus is called the Word.   Through Jesus we have  been  given the ability to be in communication with God. Jesus instructed the disciples (and us) to pray, addressing God as our Father.   Our  prayers,   uttered in faith, are heard.

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FMF try

Finding Encouragement and Rest

This past Sunday a portion of scripture from Hebrews was read during our worship time. We sang of God’s goodness, and I was filled with joy. During times of fatigue and discouragement we can hold onto the message in these verses from the fourth chapter of Hebrews.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in every time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

Jesus hears our prayers and intercedes for us. This is a wonderful truth!

Thank-you for visiting. I am taking a summer break from blogging and plan to be back in August.

The Blessing of Community

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: BLESSING Here are my thoughts.

Prayers, my own and those of other believers, have blessed me. God hears our prayers.

The past couple weeks have been difficult. It has been a comfort to know that the women I study the Bible with have prayed for me. The small group that my husband and I attend has prayed for us.

God was with us through the difficult moments. We are blessed and give thanks to God for his provisions.

As believers we have an open door to the throne of God. As I look back over the experiences in my life, prayers that I have cried out to God, I can say that God is faithful to hear and answer our prayers. It is a blessing.

We give thanks always to God for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers . . . 1 Thessalonians 1:2 //

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Ephesians 1:3

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The Lights Along the Shore

We laid my brother to rest.   For years he suffered with mental illness,    going from hospital to home, to hospital to group home.

In February I was with him during a two week time period, spending every day at the hospital. While I was at his bedside he began to sing the hymn, Let the Lower Lights be Burning.

Here are the lyrics:

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy from his lighthouse evermore

But to us he gives the keeping of the lights along the shore

Let the lower lights be burning,send a gleam across the wave

Some poor fainting struggling seaman, you may rescue, you may save

Glenn went to a nursing home from the hospital.

Glenn struggled with his situation. At times he was witty with interesting questions. He found enjoyment in music and appreciated good music. The years and medication took their toll on Glenn’s life.

The memory of our day together in May will linger. We took Glenn out from the nursing home. We had a wheelchair for him and wheeled him through a park. The sunshine was bright and the temperature was moderate—a perfect day to enjoy nature.  Glenn had his favorite meal, a hamburger and a milkshake.

Let the Lower Lights Be Burning

Days have passed since the funeral and the words to Let the Lower Lights Be Burning keep replaying in my thoughts. We can be the lights along the shore for someone that is struggling in life. I want to be more attentive to the people God places in my path.

Book Review: Women Who Move Mountains

The title of the book drew my attention. Women Who Move Mountains: praying with confidence, boldness and grace. Prayer has been a central part of my life. I was curious about Sue Detweiler’s perspective.

The first chapter is titled I Believe: Transforming Fear into Faith.  The  author tells her own story of a fearful event that became a foundation for faith. She expresses a theme of the book with these encouraging words: Coming toward the light of Jesus will bring peace to your heart and mind. You don’t have to have everything figured out. You just need to know the One who holds the world together–Jesus!

Several chapters give examples of the brokenness caused by sexual abuse and/or abortion.  Tragic relationships and the abuse of  women  occurred in Bible times. And still happens. Detweiler records the stories of women.

The Bible gives guidance for help and healing. Detweiler refers to the woman with the alabaster flask (Luke 7: 36-50) in chapter five. This woman, a known sinner, washes Jesus feet with her tears and anoints him with a valuable perfume. The men that are with Jesus are outraged because she touches Jesus. Jesus defends the woman. He proclaims that her sins are forgiven. He does not judge her; he heals her.

Other areas of brokenness that are addressed in the book include perfectionism, anxiety, pride, shame and sadness. Jesus knows the situations that we as women face. Our Savior offers forgiveness and healing. We are all broken in different ways.   We may try to fix the problem  with   limited success. Detweiler provides scripture to show that healing and fulfillment comes through a relationship with the Savior.

Like Rhonda in chapter 19, I have lost a son. My story is similar because I continued to pray, to talk with God.    Through prayer I received  God’s  answer to my pain and loss. I have found peace. Our family has been blessed with a growing faith in God’s love for us.

The chapters of the book alternate between the stories of women and a study outline for overcoming difficult issues. The odd number include lessons from biblical women. The even number chapters provide a study sheet that can be worked through individually or with a group.

In addition to praying for healing the book provides guidance for praying with grace, humility and boldness. The Bible verses for guidance are well chosen. Like Sue Detweiler I believe that prayer is vitally important.

Part two of the book is organized into 21 days of reflection and prayer. If you are seeking a a deeper relationship with God, if you want to improve your prayer life, you will appreciate the guidance in this book.

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Grace, Mercy and Truth

On Fridays I join the community at Kate Motaung’s blog. We write for five minutes on a prompt. Today’s word is: TRUTH

It was one of those nights—I woke up at 2:00 am and could not go back to sleep. I picked up a Bess Crawford mystery, thinking that I would just read a couple chapters. Three hours later I put the book down, hoping to get a couple hours of sleep before my day began.

Bess Crawford is a fictional character drawn from the imagination of a mother/son writing team (Charles Todd). Bess is a WWII nurse that goes to the front as a surgical nurse. Sometimes she has a reprieve, and she is assisting convalescing soldiers or tracking down relatives. But always she is pursuing truth and serving the patients she encounters with compassion.

The end of each book brings a sense of satisfaction. The truth has been discovered and Bess has acted with courage and kindness. //

There is a deep yearning in the human heart for truth.

David, the shepherd and later the king, lived through a turbulent time in Israel. His thoughts are captured in the Psalms. Psalm 25 is attributed to David.

All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm 25:10 KGV

Another translation of this verse adds insight.

All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm 25:10 ESV

When life takes unexpected turns we can trust the faithfulness of God. His word stabilizes us. The importance of truth is highlighted in this verse:

Send out your light and truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Psalm 43:3

God is the source of truth. We need the word of God in our lives. When our world is chaotic we can find truth by following Jesus.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

Did you notice that mercy and truth are connected in scripture? Only the Lord Jesus can offer us grace as we confront the reality of sin. Praise God that he provides mercy and grace for us!

I’m sharing this post with Five Minute Friday, Literacy Musing Monday,  Faith on Fire and Grace & Truth

Flowers in Winter

The lilacs are blooming in my backyard. They are a favorite, because my grandmother had them around her home.

The choke cherry tree extends it branches fluttering with green leaves and tiny white blossoms. Spring is in full bloom and Sunday is Mother’s Day. My husband and I will travel to Michigan to visit Mom in the nursing home.

My mother is in the winter of her life. Mom is confused about who I am—a sister? a daughter? Her mind is in the past. As her dementia slowly progressed I did not always respond well. I was frustrated by her behavior. I didn’t understand.

A friend pointed me to Alzheimers Reading Room. It has been a big help. (Note: this is a great resource for understanding dementia and alzheimers.) I wasn’t going to fix Mom. I needed to enter her world and support her.

My goal is to give thanks for  Mom  and  her sacrificial care for me, to  honor her. I am thankful for the people that have prayed for me during this time. The Bible encourages us to pray for one another.

Is there someone you can pray for? Or a woman that you can honor?

The Bible also encourages us to put our trust in God in all circumstances.
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62: 7-8

I am joining the community at Five Minute Friday  and Faith on Fire with this post.

We Should Pray

It’s Five Minute Friday! We write for five minutes and share our posts at Kate Motaung’s community. Today’s prompt is: should

Likewise the Spirit helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26 KGV

Bible

Are you ever in the position of not knowing how to pray for a situation? You have great concerns but you don’t know what you should ask?

My husband and I are spending more time in prayer. Over the years we have prayed together for our family and our church—sporadically. I can say that we have never prayed enough.

Now we are retired. We have a devotional book of the Psalms that we read every morning and then we spend some time in prayer. We pray for our children and grandchildren, for my mother, brothers and sisters. We pray for people in our church. We pray for leaders in government.

Sometimes the situation is complex and we don’t know what should be done. It is a great comfort to raise the concern to the Lord, knowing that the Holy Spirit will intercede for us. //

Spending time in prayer provides a release of tension and I believe that the Holy Spirit gives us gentle nudges to point us in the right direction.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Philippians 4:6 MSG

Prayer

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The Women at the Empty Tomb

It is Holy Week, and as I reflect on God’s awesome plan of salvation, I am paying attention to the women that were present during Jesus’ life, crucifixion and death. The women of the New Testament show a devotion and spiritual sensitivity that inspires.

It begins with the angel’s appearance to the virgin. Mary gives an amazing response to the angel Gabriel. And Mary said, “Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1: 38

The Annunciation
The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci

Elizabeth was able to respond to Mary’s unusual situation with joy. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”  Luke 1 :41-45

Mary & Elizabeth
The Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne

The widow, Anna, was there when Jesus was presented at the temple in Jerusalem.   [Anna] did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2: 37-38

Most of the disciples fled when Jesus was crucified, but a group of women were at the scene. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. John 19:25-27

The women remained devoted to carrying out final care for Jesus. When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.   And  very  early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. Mark 16: 1-2

They were the first to learn of Jesus’ resurrection. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.

Women at the Empty Tomb
Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb by Fra Angelico

But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” Mark 16: 5-7

He is Risen

God has gifted women in a way that is different from men.   I appreciate the sensitivity,  the nurturing and the care that  these  women   demonstrated. We can be inspired by their example as we rejoice in Jesus’ sacrifice for us and his resurrection.

Now adding a few words as I write for #FMF

If I read one verse further in Mark I can see the dips and turns that take place in a life of faith. The angel gave the good news to these devoted women but they were bewildered.

And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. Mark 16:8

At times I see they way God is working in my life, but at other times I am fearful, wondering how things will turn out. But our Lord will never leave us there. He loves us with a love that is sometimes more than we can comprehend.

Wishing you a joyous Easter!

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