One Sunday Morning in Albuquerque: Balloons and Roosters

The Balloon Festival in New Mexico is a great family activity. I was amazed to see so many people, so many family groups, strolling together at the Balloon Festival Park. It was a state fair like scene at 6:00 am. Parents were pushing strollers and pulling wagons as they walked past venders offering coffee, donuts, burritos, turkey legs and more. Brightly colored banners and souvenirs beckoned to the crowd. 

At 6:30 am the first balloons lifted off, and the air currents carried them into mist. Clouds were scattered throughout the sky.

At 7:00 am a soloist appeared on the bandstand and sang the Star Spangle Banner. As she finished singing flames soared from the hot air burners, and the crowd cheered.

Because of mist and fog (unusual for Albuquerque) the conditions were not optimal for the giant balloons, so only a few more lifted off. 

Still a multitude of the balloons were fully inflated and the crowds grouped around the various launching sites.  The Star Wars site was hugely popular.

Do you see Darth Vader?

Colorful balloons were interspersed with character balloons.

The following day, Sunday morning, we went to a hill that gave us a view of the balloons in the air. It was a beautiful clear morning and the sky was full of colorful balloons. We watched for favorite balloons we had seen inflated the day before.

By 9:30 am most of the balloons had landed and we went to church with our son and daughter-in-law. 

The sign for the church has a rooster on it and I asked my son what it meant.

He said, “Remember Peter and the rooster crowing after Peter denied knowing Jesus? Peter failed Jesus, but Jesus called him back and forgave him. We are all broken people.”

The call to worship was appropriate for the day.

Sing to God; lift up a song to Him who rides through the deserts. He ascended on high, leading a host captive in his train.

He who descended in humility is also He who ascended far above the heavens, that He might fill all things.

And He gave gifts to men, to equip the saints, for the building up of the body of Christ.

Let us therefore grow up in every way into Him who is the head, that the body may build itself up in love.

The pastor reminded us that we cannot reach up, cannot ascend by achievement to God. God, righteous and holy, is far above us. We may be in a wilderness, but God has descended to us through Jesus. Jesus came down and suffered and died on our behalf. We need only to accept the forgiveness and salvation that Jesus offers.

Sharing this post with Inspire Me Monday and Sue’s image-in-ing

It Was a Huge Project

This past week my husband and I visited the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. We were amazed and enlightened as we walked through each deck, observing the design of the ark to meet the needs of Noah’s family and the animals. This ark is built to the specifications in the book of Genesis.

Genesis 6:9 tells us: Noah walked with God.

Garden at the Ark Encounter

Noah was given a huge task in a corrupt and violent society.

And God saw the earth, and behold it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end to all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Genesis 6: 12-14

God gave specific instructions for the ark—its length, breadth and height. The Bible mentions the number of decks, the animals and stores of food.

A system for propagation of moths–food for some creatures.
Animal in wooden crate

Noah was probably confronted and challenged during the years that he spent building the ark. He persevered. Noah’s life, his faith and perseverance are an inspiration for us.

As we hold fast to God, He will hold fast to us.

Sharing this post with Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is: CHALLENGE Visit Kate’s site for a writing challenge.

Also sharing this post with Sue’s image-in-ing and Tuesdays with a Twist

The Blessing of Family

The Bible often mentions the importance of family. The second chapter of Genesis refers to the beginning of a family. Therefore a man shall leaves father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 ESV

Frequently throughout scripture the genealogy of a family is recorded. The first chapter of Matthew records the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham to King David to Joseph. 

Birth of Jesus

Jesus, Son of God incarnate, was born into a human family.

Currently my husband and I are reading a chapter from the book of Joshua each morning. As Israel entered the promised land each tribe was allotted a specific portion of land. That struck me as interesting. The people were still considered according to their family of origin. They had ties to their heritage over many generations.

I have thought about my family. I am grateful to know about my ancestors in Finland. My husband would like to trace his heritage in Holland. It is helpful to understand the links we have to the past, but our focus is on the present.

As a family we have experienced illness and the loss of a son, but my testimony is that our family has been blessed by God’s grace and intervention in our lives.

This past weekend our children and grandchildren traveled home to celebrate my husband’s birthday. The nine grandchildren, age 18 months to 16 years, give us great joy. We delight in seeing our children as parents, aunts and uncles.

We are blessed to belong to another family, the followers of Jesus (the Church).

It is Friday and the Five Minute Friday community is writing with the prompt: TESTIMONY

Children Are A Gift from God

Kate’s prompt for Five Minute Friday is: FIVE. Once inspired, we write for five minutes (more or less). 

At first I considered writing about my five favorite herbs, or maybe five summer recipes. And then I made another connection. I have three grandchildren that are five years old. Children are a blessing.

Being a mom is the best thing I have done. There have been moments of wonder. There have been hard times. Sometimes I have stumbled. I have learned my need for God’s help and have been blessed by His presence. My adult children are a source of joy and blessing. And now there are grandchildren.

Children are a gift from God. Here are five Bible verses that instruct us. 

 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3

Jesus said, “Truly I say unto you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Luke 18:16

Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart . . . Make them known to your children and your children’s children. Deuteronomy 4:9

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged. Proverbs 17:6a

Happy Birthday

Practice Makes the Perfect Pie Crust

Meals and special desserts are a part of family life. In our home we enjoy pies, especially fruit pies. I have practiced and tweaked my recipe for pie crust until I was satisfied. The shortening in pie crust should be 1/3 the amount of flour. (I don’t remember where I learned that.) 

So when I am making a two crust pie I add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to 1 + 1/2 cup of flour. Then I cut in 1/2 cup of butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. A little bit of vinegar acts as a conditioner to the pastry dough, so I add a tablespoon of vinegar to 1/2 cup of cold water. As I add the water slowly to the flour, I am mixing it in with a fork. It is important to add just enough water—might not need the full 1/2 cup— mix only enough to have the dough hold together.

Then roll out half the dough on a lightly floured board to line the pie plate. Roll out the remainder for the upper crust. My mother would always fold the this top piece in half twice (so it resembles a triangle) and then make decorative cuts in the dough before laying it in place. And so I do too.

Once the pie is ready for the oven I brush the surface of pie crust with a few drops of water and sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over it.

You can find a recipe for a blueberry/black raspberry pie here.

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday writing community is: PRACTICE

Touching and Being Touched

Yesterday we visited the Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Kansas. The park has interaction stations—people can touch the animals and the animals can touch the people. Our grandchildren were delighted to feed a leaf to a giraffe.

On lemur island the children fed lemurs that sat demurely on a pole. They reached out with their paws touching the arms and hands of the children.

We all fed the birds with a little cup of juice. The birds landed on my husband—and all of us.

It was a treat to see a mother kangaroo with a baby kangaroo (7 Months old) in her pouch. I was amazed at the size of the joey (baby kangaroo). In the picture the head and hoofs are sticking out from the pouch. 

The mother kangaroo keeps this close connection to her joey for a year. When the joey is pushed out of the pouch around a year old, he can still put his head back in the pouch and feed for additional months as needed. The grandchildren were able to touch the mother kangaroo’s back. 

It was beautiful to observe the connections among the wildlife, and even to touch them. It is a blessing to participate in the world God created.

Joining Five Minute Friday as we write to the prompt: TOUCH

A Reward with Added Dimension

Her name was Naomi, but she said, “Call me Mara”. Mara means bitter. Her husband and her sons had died and left no heir. She was impoverished.

Ruth saw the great sorrow of her mother-in-law and chose to stay with her. She was willing to travel from Moab to Judea, to leave her own country and go to a foreign place. The two widows had to walk north along the east side of the dead sea until they could cross over to Judea on the west.

When they arrived in Bethlehem Ruth had to work hard to provide food for them to survive. Widows were allowed to glean grain that was left over after harvest, so she spent long hours gathering grain.

A man named Boaz noticed her and spoke to her. Ruth was surprised because she was a foreigner in Judea. 

But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and your mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given to you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” Ruth 2: 11-12 

Ruth eventually married Boaz and had both a home and a son. The blessing extended to Naomi, because she had a grandson. Ruth was rewarded, but did she know that she would be the great-grandmother of King David? Did she know that the Savior would come from her line of descendants?

We have the Bible now and we can see the promises that God has fulfilled, but we see in part. We don’t know all that God is doing. There is always more.

NOTE: I took the picture of the Dead Sea when I was in Israel in 2012. We were on the west side of the Dead Sea, looking east.

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: REWARD. Join in the fun and inspiration. Click here to visit this community.

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Making Sense of the Vaccine Debate

The number of vaccines on the CDC list is continually growing. When I was a child I had just a few vaccines—polio and DTP. I had the measles, and so did my siblings. We now have lifetime immunity to the measles. When I breast fed my babies, they received protection from getting the measles as infants.

My children received approximately 18 doses of vaccines by age five. They received more doses of DTP and polio than I did. And they received the MMR vaccine.

A doctor visit often included a shot. We had a book that my daughter enjoyed. It was titled It’s Your Turn Doctor. The child in the story imagines what it would be like to give the doctor a physical exam. In the final page the child is chasing the doctor with a syringe.

The book was funny and we laughed. It made doctor visits easier. As the years passed I have become more concerned about the content of the syringe than the needle stick.

In 1982 I didn’t know that the MMR vaccine was developed from an aborted fetus. I was puzzled by the stomach pain, digestive disorder and pause in language development that I observed after this vaccine was given to my daughter.

The immunity offered by the MMR does not give lifetime immunity. Some cases of measles are caused by the vaccine and can infect others. A blood test can determine if a case of measles is the wild form or the vaccine type.

The CDC now recommends 35+ doses of vaccines for children by age five.  Each injection contains additional substances; aluminum, formaldehyde, DNA fragments, mercury. You can find the ingredients in each vaccine here.

Why so many doses of vaccines–which ones have more benefits than risks? What has happened to the immune system that God provided us with? We can support the immune system with good nutrition, adequate hydration (pure water), rest and enough sleep. Sufficient rest might be a problem is our hectic lifestyles. It is worth it to slow down.

Because sexual behavior has changed dramatically over the past five decades, a vaccine was developed for an infection that can only be passed by sexual intimacy, blood or body fluid contact. The vaccine for hepatitis B was developed in the 1980s and in 1991 it was added to the recommended vaccines.

It is curious that a decision was made to give this vaccine to all newborn infants—despite the fact that all women are screened for hepatitis B during pregnancy. As a general practice the vaccine is given when the baby is 24 hours old. We don’t know if there are any longterm consequences from giving this vaccine to a newborn. We don’t know how long this vaccine is effective. It may wane by the teenage years.

The HPV vaccine is also developed for a sexually transmitted virus. It is recommended for girls, 11 to 12 years old to prevent cervical cancer. The truth is young women can be monitored by a pap smear when they are sexually active and treated appropriately. The problem with the HPV vaccine is the severe side effects some girls experience. The HPV vaccine has the largest amount of aluminum as an adjuvant. 

It is interesting to note that other countries have omitted the MMR vaccine, the hepatitis B vaccine and the HPV vaccine from the recommended schedule. Japan does not give the MMR or the HPV vaccine. Instead Japan has an individual measles vaccine with less side effects. Japan, Finland and Denmark do not give the hepatitis B vaccine. In Sweden all vaccines are voluntary.

In 1992 New Zealand did a study comparing the health of vaccinated children against unvaccinated.

A study from the 1990s has come to light, proving that compared to unvaccinated children, vaccinated children were more likely to suffer from asthma, eczema, ear infections, hyperactivity and many other chronic conditions.

Another study was done in the United States and published in 2017.

The vaccinated children were also more likely to have increased healthcare utilization – to have had ear tubes placed; to have used antibiotics, to have used allergy and fever medications; to have visited a doctor for a health issue in the previous year, and to have been hospitalized.

In response to the current controversy over vaccines, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeon has stated their strong opposition to mandatory vaccines in the U.S. I hope you will take the time to understand this issue.

We can sign a petition to ask the President to establish a Vaccine Safety Commission. Click here to see the petition.

Sharing this post with Friendship Friday.

Celebration with Finnish Prune Tarts

There are special holiday treats in the Finnish tradition. One of them is the prune tart or joulutorttu (Christmas tart). My mother and my aunt made these at Christmas time.

Aunt Syl and Mom in 2010

My Aunt Syl made them for my wedding reception.

During the last summer vacation with my Dad (he was 89 years old) we enjoyed family projects. I wrote about that summer in Upper Michigan. The story was published in the Kippis Literary Journal. Here is an excerpt:

One day Mom and the kids made the special family recipe of prune tarts. It was fun for the family to bake together. My nephew caught onto the process of pressing butter into the dough, folding the dough and rolling it out. We had a passionate debate over how long to leave the tarts in the oven. When they came out of the oven we barely let them cool before tasting this special family treat. The group consensus was “the best tarts ever”.

I looked on-line and saw that there are a number of recipes for Finnish prune tarts. And then I found a blog that describes the process of making prune tarts the same way our family made them–with pictures and a recipe. The writer describes meeting the Finnish lady in Northern Michigan. It is a long story, but at the end there is a wonderful description of the joulutorttu.

This post is part of #Write28Days. To see other posts in this series click here.

It’s Okay to be Different

Currently I am studying the book of Deuteronomy. The nation of Israel was about to enter the promised land and Moses was giving instructions to the people.

In the book, the word— fear— appears 29 times. Israel is instructed to fear (revere) God and NOT to fear man.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8

Fear has the ability to paralyze or control a person. We might be afraid to speak up and go against the politically correct view. Politically correct views are determined by men. Instead we should follow the standards set by God.

It is good to become comfortable being different. When I was a child we didn’t always have a TV, and when we did, I didn’t watch programs very often. Sometimes I didn’t know what my classmates were talking about. I invested time in reading books.

My daughter had a funny experience being different. When my children were young they were on allergy diets. At the time it was unusual for a child to avoid wheat and sugar, even for the classroom parties. When a first grade boy brought cupcakes for the class on his birthday, he brought my daughter some raw carrots and cauliflower. He really liked her! She was impressed and amused.

Some of the choices we make may go against current trends. It is okay to stand for something that is not popular. Our relationship with God, our reverence for him is more important.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

Vesper Service

This post is part of #Write28Days. To view more posts in this series click here.