Why Study the Book of Leviticus?

The book chosen for our Tuesday morning Bible study is Leviticus. Yes, Leviticus. The over arching theme, above all the sacrifices and laws for food, is God’s holiness. God is holy and human kind is prone to sin.

Yet, the Israelites were instructed to be holy.

For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. Leviticus 11:45

The epistle of Peter instructs the followers of Jesus to be holy.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”. 1 Peter 1: 14-16

Is that possible? Jesus came to replace all the animal sacrifice for sin. It is through his shed blood on the cross that we have the potential to become a child of God and receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Like the Israelites who were rescued from Egypt, we have been saved to shine the light of faith in this world.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

Events in the world can deceive and distract. We need to remember God’s call to holiness every day.  God is sovereign.  Praise God for his  mercy, grace and love.

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: POTENTIAL. I am late in posting this. but have been thinking about this word while working on my Bible lesson. Also linking with Literary Musing Mondays  .

Colorful Foliage and Flowers in Northern Michigan

A week ago my husband and I were in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We had six days mostly off the grid, reading and doing small projects. The day that we arrived it was raining. It rained a couple more days. One night we had thunder, lightening and a heavy down pour.

The benefit was all the bright green foliage, the wild flowers and the apple trees heavy with apples. When I took time to see the flowers, to pick apples and watch the birds flitting from tree to tree, I was refreshed.

wildflower

 

Sweet pea

 

wildflower

For I know the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does in heaven and on earth,
In the seas and all deeps.
He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
who makes lightnings for the rain and
brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

Psalm 135: 5-7

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: RAIN   Visit this community of writers by clicking here.

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When the News is Bad

Newspapers have been running stories about the sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church. The Chicago Tribune has had a series of articles about sexual abuse at Willow Creek Church. The lead article in the current issue of World Magazine addresses sexual abuse in Protestant churches. It is all around us.

It is grievous that that there is so much abuse and confusion about sexuality. I know that many Christians and Catholics are deeply saddened.   It is tragic that  God’s  plan  for  sex,  marriage  and family is torn and distorted in our culture AND the church.

What can we do? We must rush to the Lord in prayer. We can pray that the abusers acknowledge their sin and repent. We can pray for healing for the victims. We can pray for those in church leadership to be wise and establish boundaries of behavior that are enforced.

Prayer
photo courtesy of pixabay.com

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

As people of faith we can pray for our families  and  be willing to discuss sexuality with our children and grandchildren. The family is God’s foundational unit for passing along truth.

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: RUSH.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

Finding an Enduring Loyalty

The Five Minute Friday writing community looks forward to the prompt that Kate Motaung gives each week. We pause to think about the word and then write as ideas begin to flow. This week the prompt is: LOYAL

The dictionary offers this, as a definition of loyal: faithful to a cause, ideal or custom.

Over the years I have found a variety of causes to invest in.

During my college years, and after I graduated from the University of Michigan, I have been a loyal fan of the football team. My family is amused by my attachment to college football. I must admit that I am a little uncomfortable with the big business aspect, but I continue to cheer for my team.

After practicing as a labor & delivery nurse for a few years I was drawn to the Lamaze movement. I took Lamaze classes during my first pregnancy and later became certified as a Lamaze teacher. I taught for 18 years and received feedback from my students.

Sometimes students felt that the Lamaze techniques just didn’t work when their labor was induced. Interventions and the hospital environment were overwhelming. As induced labor and epidurals became more common, interest in the Lamaze method began to fade.

And then I made decision to leave the hospital labor/delivery unit and join a group of physicians and midwives that were attending home birth.  I observed that women were more able to relax and work with their labor in the home environment.   I loved working  in  the  home  environment and promoted home birth to my daughters.

But it is true that sometimes the hospital is needed. Sometimes interventions are needed that require the equipment in the hospital. I would like to see better communication and teamwork between home birth attendants and hospital staff.

Each of these ideals has limitations.

Currently I am reading a biography of  Susannah Surgeon  (book  to  be released September 4). Susannah and her husband, Charles, shared a faithful loyalty to the gospel. They worked together as a team with a love for the Lord God.

The best and most enduring loyalty is to the gospel, to God’s love and plan of salvation. I want this to be my passion.

You can visit the Five Minute Friday Community and read more reflections on LOYAL by clicking here.

We Are Loved

Our deepest need is to be loved. The Bible testifies of God’s love for us. God’s amazing love!

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praise to your name, O most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night. Psalm 92:1-2

Jesus explained God’s plan of salvation to Nicodemus. “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

Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9

Paul states the enormity of God’s love. “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We are called to love God and obey his precepts.

Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. Joshua 22:5

Jesus taught the two greatest commandments. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: you shall love your neighbor as your self. Mark 12;30-31

I have been musing on these verses. What does it look like to live out the two greatest commandments? I know that I often fall short. God knows our human frailty. That is why Christ died for us. When we stumble, we confess and we learn and we go on.

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: LOVED Visit this community of writers here.

Garden Notes: The Plants, Animals and Pests in My Yard

From spring to fall the garden is a place of wonder, amusement and challenge. Here are thirteen examples.

The tulips are one of the first blooms in my yard.

The Garden

The scent of the lily of the valley is pleasing. I love how the little bells peek out from the green fronds. This is the flower for the month of May—the month that my first baby was born.Lily of the Valley

The elderberry bushes had abundant flowers this year so I picked the flower heads (umbels) and made elderflower syrup. You can find the recipe here.Garden

When the elderberries are ripe—they are also abundant—I  will  make   elderberry juice. You can find the recipe here.Elderberries

This year I picked 6 quarts of cherries from the cherry tree, but this tree requires a lot of tending. You can read about it here.

Labor of Love

The grandchildren enjoy picking the raspberries, mulberries and currants.

Raspberry

It was a delight to see a hummingbird flit among the branches of the cherry tree. I placed a hummingbird feeder close to the tree. The little bird has been back.

The pickling cucumbers are growing well. I have been making lacto-fermented pickles. You can find a recipe here.

lacto-fermented cucumbers

This year I am growing tomato plants in containers. I was so pleased to see the developing tomatoes. And then I noticed a half eaten tomato. The next day I realized that there was a huge tomato worm on the plant. (Where do they come from?) He had devoured the leaves from two stems and was devouring another tomato. I had to call my husband to pick him off. (Didn’t even think about taking a picture this voracious green worm!)

I have become quite good at finding the Japanese beetles on my plants and can readily pick them off. If you find them in your yard, pick them off and drop them in a container of soapy water.

Japanese Beetle

The calendula flowers in glowing colors are blooming. I pick the blooms and dry them for tea. The flowers are also good for making a salve. Read more here.

Calendula Flower
Art Shades Calendula

As I watched from my kitchen window I noticed a squirrel that was busy trying to untangle a burlap strip that I had wound around the base of the plum tree and a steel rod. The plum tree was growing at an angle, and I was trying to help it grow upright. The squirrel ducked in and out of the burlap, gnawing at it. When I went outside he scampered away. He had it shredded the burlap in places, hoping to carry it off.

The zinnias are beginning to bloom. At first they have a single layer of petals. And then additional layers appear and the color becomes richer. It is a nice metaphor for the way we grow as Christians. As we follow the Lord obediently, spending time in the Word, our life becomes fuller and richer.

Garden

Today’s prompt for Five Minute Friday is:  THIRTEEN                                Visit Kate Motaung’s blog to see the various ways writers were inspired by this word. Thanks for visiting!

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Joy Restored

Childbirth practices had changed since I began my career as a labor and delivery nurse. The use of pitocin to hasten birth had become common. The rate of cesarean section had risen from 15% to 30%. I saw a full term infant die after inappropriate use of pitocin. I didn’t like my role as nurse, and I told my husband that I wasn’t sure that I could continue.

I was aware of a group of doctors and midwives that attended homebirth. I interviewed with them and chose to take a cut in pay to work with them. It was refreshing to attend women in their homes, supporting them as they labored.

Women were more relaxed, and the family was often involved. I saw that God had given women the ability to give birth. I saw the strength of women. Sometimes intervention was necessary. Hospitals are important and are equipped to handle complications. We transferred about 5 to 10% of the women to the hospital.

The four years that I participated in home birth restored my joy as a nurse. When we are burdened and lose our joy, we may need a new perspective. I am thankful that God led me to take the home birth position (something that I never dreamed I would do).

This lesson stays with me. I need to step back from hard situations and ask God to give me a new perspective. He will restore our joy and renew us in the roles he has given us.

How about you? Could you benefit from a new perspective?

I am joining  the Five Minute Friday community of writers. Our one word prompt this week is: RESTORE

Crisis & Prayer

Today I am joining a community that is writing on the prompt: PAUSE

Life has been on pause.

No, that is not quite right. The nonessentials of life have been on pause.

A week ago my grandson developed a critical illness and has been in a pediatric ICU. My daughter has been at his bedside. My husband and I have been taking care of the other children.

We have been learning their daily patterns, seeing more of their school projects. It has been an intense week. Grandpa has earned the title of Grand Nap Master for his ability to coax the toddler to take a nap.

The days have been stressful but touched with little blessings. We are thankful for the prayers on behalf of our family. A dear friend sent me scripture verses. This one has encouraged me:

Psalm 62:5-6  Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

The evening before major surgery my grandson’s youth group held a prayer meeting. About fifty people, many of his friends, showed up to pray.

We are blessed by God’s love being displayed by faithful friends.

UPDATE: Our grandson is recovering after two surgeries for a bleeding brain aneurysm. We praise God for answered prayer. We are grateful for the skill of the medical team and the advances in medical technology.

UPDATE on 8/3/18: After a summer of therapy our grandson is preparing to begin high school in a couple weeks. We are praising God for his progress and continue to pray for returning strength and adjustment/healing of limitation in his eyesight.

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Call the Midwife: the Spiritual Aspect of Childbirth

It is the 7thseason of Call the Midwife, and I make time to watch it. This weeks episode had me in tears. Death is hard, but I am glad that the current series has reflections on faith. When it first aired I wondered how close it was to the book that it is based on.

In the fall of 2012 I wrote this blog post:

If you liked the new program, Call the Midwife, airing on PBS, you will like the memoir written by Jennifer Worth. A few years ago I came across The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times. Jennifer was a midwife for the east end of London in the 1950s. The TV program is based on her book.

The PBS program is accurate in presenting episodes described in the book. I did go back to check the validity of the  premature  birth  story.    According to the memoir the baby was born at 28 weeks gestation after the mother had taken a bad fall. Despite being very sick and weak the mother refused to let the medical staff take the baby to the hospital.

She kept the baby on her chest, skin to skin. She expressed colostrum from her breasts, and every half hour she used a little glass tube to drip the colostrum into the tiny baby’s mouth. By instinct she was keeping the baby warm and nourished.

This was a 1950s example of kangaroo care motivated by maternal love and instinct.

Jennifer Worth recorded that the baby survived without impairment.

The program left out spiritual messages in the book. As a young midwife, Ms. Worth was frightened by the situations that she was thrust into. She wrote how the prayers of the nuns gave her calmness. Ms. Worth gave insight into the emotions she had while preparing to attend the premature birth.

She wrote: The knowledge that sister Julienne would be praying for us had an extraordinary effect. All the tension and anxiety left me, and I felt calm and confident. I had learned to respect the power of prayer. What change had come over the headstrong young girl who, only a year earlier, had found the whole idea of prayer to be a joke?

Prayer was part of my home birth experiences. At times the husband prayed. Occasionally I prayed.  Although I am not a poet I wrote some lines to remember the  scene  at a birth I attended, assisting a physician.

Labor pains came gently
through the night.
Morning light streamed
on her rocking chair.

Her labor intensified.
She walked, clutched my arm,
And listened for
encouraging words.

Her movements
were intuitive. She labored
with position changes
and firm massage.

She knelt down
and asked me to pray.
No pain medication.
She asked me to pray.

I prayed as she moaned
And released her body
To surging waves of pain
Her body pushed.

A circle of crown,
head and shoulders,
a baby girl was born
in the afternoon glow.

Childbirth is a time to lean into God.

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A New Perspective and Mnemonic for Agape

Last night I tuned into an online nursing journal club. The article under discussion  was  A Nursing Practice Model Based  on  Christ:  the Agape Model written by Nancy Eckerd. The model is based on the Holy Spirit working through the nurse in her daily encounters with patients.

My thoughts were stuck on memories of the high tech environment of the labor/delivery unit that I once worked in. We spent so much time on computer screens, documenting and watching fetal monitors. My pocket held a hospital cell phone. Patients, doctors, nurse colleagues and pharmacists could call at any time.

Once I stood by a patient’s bedside as she prayed.  I  talked  with  the Christian friends that had come to support her. I participated in that spiritual moment. But I don’t remember many moments like that. The unit was just too busy.

I am no longer working in the hospital, but I realized that I could benefit from a new perspective. Am I attentive to the Lord, to the Holy Spirit, in the business of life? Daily life.

A mnemonic was offered for the agape* model of practice.

A   Accept Christ as Savior

G   Grow Professionally and Spiritually

A   Anticipate Supernatural Intervention

P   Prayer & Spiritual Gifts

E   Embrace Fruit of the Spirit**

This mnemonic can apply to Christian living, every day.

* The Greek Dictionary of the New Testament defines agape as: love, i.e. affection or benevolence.

Nancy Eckerd, A Nursing Practice Model Based on Christ: the Agape Model, Journal of Christian Nursing vol. 35. #2. p.130.

I am joining the Five Minute Friday community with this post. The prompt is: STUCK