Flowers in Winter

The lilacs are blooming in my backyard.

Blue Lilac

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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Listening to the Children

It’s Five Minute Friday! I am joining Kate Motaung’s community where we gather to write like crazy for five minutes on the one word prompt. Today’s word is: sing

Our granddaughter’s school held a Spring Sing in their new gymnasium. People filled the seats, the bleachers and the space along the walls.

The Children

The children (first, second & third grade) sang with enthusiasm with motions that they performed in unison. The theme of the program was songs from countries around the world. The opening song was We Are the World. Here is the chorus:

We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day
Just you and me.

The children are the future. We are blessed to be the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. We have a sacred trust to guide, nurture and advocate for them.

We are imperfect but we can seek God’s help. We have the avenue of prayer.

Sharing this post with Five Minute Friday and Faith on Fire

Searching for My Voice, Remembering to Vote

As I walked out of the post office an older gentleman was parking his car. When I got into my car he walked over to my window and tried to say something. His hair was white and he was a little bent over. I was a little surprised and wondered what he needed.

I rolled down my window and he asked,  “How does it feel to live  in  a    foreign country?”

I was flummoxed and finally asked, “What do you mean?”

He pointed to my shirt and said, “I noticed the map on your shirt.”

I was wearing a t-shirt with this slogan:

Michigan girl

“Oh, I see.” I smiled. “I think I have more of a voice in Michigan.”

He chuckled. I wondered if he recognized my frustration with Illinois politics.

We wished each other a good day.

My mind is on politics. My perspectives are quite different from the two Senators that represent me in Washington D.C. Earlier in the day I had tried expressing my thoughts to them in an e-mail,  hoping  that  Neil    Gorsuch would be confirmed for the Supreme Court. I wondered if the effort was worth it.

Perhaps I have a better chance to make my voice  heard  on  the  local   level. We are having an election for the school board and village trustees. I looked into the issues and candidates. I will vote.

Sometimes I am frustrated as I think about the problems in our country and the future for my grandchildren. We have complex social and health issues. What should we do? What is my role as a follower of Jesus?

In a way, the world is a foreign country. The Lord has chosen to place us here so that we can have an impact. He has given us the Word and asks our obedience.

Jesus prayed for his followers: I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17: 15-21

This prayer is a comfort to me and I hope it gives comfort to you too. When we spend time in God’s word we will receive the guidance we need.

We are invited to pray. Jesus taught us to approach God in prayer as our Father in heaven.

As citizens of this country we have the opportunity to vote. It is a way to use our voice.

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A New Home for the Elephants & Family Day at the Zoo

We visited the Wichita Zoo with our daughter and granddaughter. We were delighted to see the new area, recently opened, that allows the elephants room to roam.

Elephants

Occasionally an elephant was in fairly close view.

Elephant

I was fascinated to see the elephants pick up sticks with their trunks and then strip the bark off with their mouth.

Elephants

The lion had a royal spot on a rock.

The flamingos provided a colorful scene.

Flamingos

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground, according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:24-25

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Refined and Blessed by Marriage

Someone was ringing the doorbell persistently. My husband went to the door and I looked on, curious. A deliveryman handed a wrapped florist parcel to him. Who is sending flowers? I wondered.

The enclosed card was inscribed, Happy Anniversary.   It was from our   sister-in-law. And then I remembered. Our 40th anniversary was just days away.

We have been blessed and refined by many years of marriage. The day after the flowers arrived, my husband and I attended a world-view conference led by Dr. Frank Turek. During the course of his presentation he spoke about the benefits of marriage between one man and one woman—and the reason why the government has had an interest in marriage historically. Here are the benefits I jotted down;

  1. Creates children
  2. Children are raised by a mom and a dad
  3. Civilizes men
  4. Protects women
  5. Perpetuates and stabilizes society

Dr. Turek covers this topic in his book, Correct, Not Politically Correct. He also has a website: cross-examined.org

When God set down the pattern for marriage it was for our good, as a couple, and for society as a whole.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

Marriage

Jesus affirmed this view of marriage: Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?” Matthew 19: 4-5

In our marriage, my husband and I have grown in our faith and helped each other with new skills. We have had good times and hard times. We have sometimes communicated well and at other times not very well. We have learned forgiveness and self-sacrifice. We have raised children and now have three married adult children and seven grandchildren.

How can we pass on a healthy view of marriage to children and grandchildren?

1.  When the Bible is a part of our daily life it becomes a guidebook for healthy living. Regular Bible reading and prayer at home is a good thing.

2.  We need to discuss sexuality with the children God has placed in our influence. God’s design for sex is healthy and fulfilling; it requires boundaries. Surveys have shown that teens wish that their parents would discuss this topic with them.

3.  We can give our testimony as a couple, explaining how God has worked in our life.

4.  We can pray for the young people in our circle of influence and look for opportunities to offer words of guidance and encouragement. This morning my husband and I prayed for our grandchildren.

Can you think of additional ways to promote healthy marriages?

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A Verse for Each Child

It’s Friday and I am joining the community hosted by Kate Motaung. For five minutes we write fast and free. The prompt is: WEAK

Above my writing desk I have a frame with a picture of each  of  my   children. Below their picture is the verse that my husband and I chose for their dedication. Our desire was for each child to know and depend on the Lord.

For our oldest daughter: The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

For our son who has gone on to be with the Lord: Be my rock of refuge to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Psalm 71: 3

For our second daughter: But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

And for our second son: As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. Psalm 18: 30-32

Each of these verses point to the Lord’s strength. When we chose these verses we did not know the trials that would come and the depth of our family’s need for God’s strength. Now, when I read these verses I can praise God because He has been faithful in providing strength and refuge for each of our children.

It is true. We are weak and have a great need for God’s grace, mercy and strength.

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Psalm 118:14

Come join the inspiration at Five Minute Friday!

Colors of the Sunset & Seeing Answers to Prayer

The sky had turned a brilliant pink, and the horizon seemed to be in flame. It was gorgeous. But within minutes the color began to fade, leaving streaks of lavender. I was fortunate to be in the car,  my husband    driving, to see the sunset at the right moment. There are other moments that are important to notice.

The word I have chosen for 2017 is attentive. When I am prayerfully seeking the Lord I am more alert to his touch on my life. If I am watching I may see glimpses of his answer to prayer.

Recently my brother was hospitalized and his living arrangement was terminated. As I prayed throughout this crisis, I needed to be watching for signs of the Lord’s care. Here is what I noticed.

My brother had a nurse who looked beyond his mental disability and provided excellent care while he was in the hospital.

Because of this nurse’s attention, problems with his medications were seen more clearly and addressed.

Although my brother would not talk about Jesus or words from the Bible, he began to hum and sing a couple hymns. This amazed me because he is often angry with any talk about faith in God.

I wasn’t alone. My sister was with me. I had friends in the same town as the hospital. It was good to visit with my college roommate and another dear friend. We talked about our faith, and I was able to pray with them.

The bright colors of these moments guided me through a couple of tough weeks.

Isaiah has recorded these words of encouragement:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26: 3-4

Is my brother’s situation completely resolved? No, so I will give thanks for what I have seen and keep on praying.

Have you experienced answers to prayer recently? I would enjoy your comment.

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Finding Rest Through Prayer

It’s Friday and I am joining the community hosted by Kate Motaung. For five minutes we write fast and free. The prompt is: BREATHE

Go . . .

For many years I taught breathing patterns for Lamaze classes. When wave after wave of contractions come, breathing patterns can help a     laboring woman with relaxation. Slow breathing seems to be most effective.

Take a breath in and slowly release it,   like you are making a candle    flicker. Then take another breath and release it slowly. A steady rhythm of breathing.

Prayer is spiritual breathing.

Currently I am in a stressful situation. I am spending days at the hospital advocating for my brother. A couple nights ago I was restless and overwhelmed. I was struggling with worries.

I needed to do some spiritual breathing. Jesus has offered us this access to rest. We can offer up our burdens as we whisper a prayer.

“Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11: 28

Come join the inspiration at Five Minute Friday!

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Surprised by God’s Plan

Today I am joining Kate Motaung for Five Minute Friday: We write fast and free, for five minutes flat. The prompt is: CONTROL

To be honest I wrote my story a few days ago as #MyUnintendedJoy. I spent five, maybe ten minutes revising it for this post.

The birth control pill was legalized across the nation when I was a teenager. When I married, the conventional opinion was that a couple should have two children. My husband and I could plan and control the size of our family.

As a nurse I was always concerned about the side effects of hormonal pills, but knew that I could avoid pregnancy with a diaphragm (if used consistently!)   I wasn’t sure that I was ready to have children, but became pregnant in our first year of marriage. Our daughter brought joy. After our daughter was born I became pregnant again. To our surprise I was carrying twins.   So God had  determined our family size—three    children, I thought.

My twins were born via cesarean section. We were thrilled with this baby boy and girl! We brought them home to a big sister who saw her siblings with wonder.

Three weeks after they were born I developed severe complications—disseminated intravascular coagulation. I was bleeding heavily and my doctor sent me to the operating room.   He did a D & C.    Then he   considered doing a hysterectomy, but first asked another doctor’s opinion.

The consulting doctor advised my doctor to watch and wait. So I received blood transfusions, and over the next twelve hours we waited for the decision. The consultant advised against surgery. I did not have the hysterectomy and recovered. God had more plans for our family–even though my doctor advised that I not become pregnant again.

Over the next few years I sought to control the health of my children. They had allergies and food intolerances. I kept notebooks, followed elimination diets and provided vitamin supplements. I was sure that if I did everything right my children would be healthy. It didn’t turn out that way. Instead I needed to lean on the Lord for help.

When the twins were six years old,  our son was diagnosed  with  an     aggressive form of leukemia. We supported Steven through a year of chemotherapy and then bone marrow transplant. We walked through days of painful procedures, hope, endurance and reversal.

God demonstrated his love for our family through the hands of friends and the church community. I learned so much about God and his care for us during that time period. I learned that I was not in control, but God is good.

When Steven passed away, the grief I experienced was heavy.

We had family discussions in the weeks and months after Steven’s death. We received medical advice and dared to pray for a child, for new life. Eight years earlier I had been saved from a hysterectomy. We experienced God’s grace.

When our fourth child was born we rejoiced. My husband and I never imagined that God would increase our family in this way, bringing joy and blessing. God desires our good and walks with us through difficult times.