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.

When You’re in the Middle You Need to Pray

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

Middle of the Grandchildren

In the photo above my husband and I are sitting in the middle of our grandchildren. This is a wonderful place.

In our extended family we are in the middle of youth and aging. My mother is gradually drifting away as dementia progresses. This is hard. Our family is facing change.

As a nation we are in the middle, between the current administration and the next.   Next week we will have a new president, but divisiveness in our country continues.   We are in a period of change. How will it work out?

There is bright spot. The new administration is planning to take a careful look at the controversial issue of vaccines. As a grandmother (and nurse) I am concerned about the health of children. I am encouraged that Robert Kennedy Jr. will be leading a commission on vaccine safety.     Vaccines have their place, but are children receiving too many, too soon?

You can read about my experience and concern regarding the MMR here.

In all periods of change we need to pray for wisdom, pray for our families, pray for our nation, pray for our government leaders.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6

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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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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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A Diatribe on the Kelly File

Megyn Kelly’s diatribe at Newt Gingrich on the Kelly File illustrates a     festering wound in our culture. The sexual revolution that endorses sex outside of marriage has hurt many women. Feminists have embraced an idea of equality that does not take into account the differences in nature that men and women possess. What would the early feminists think about our progress?

The early feminist movement addressed issues important to the respect of women. Hilary Clinton mentioned the Seneca Falls Convention in a speech she gave. The convention took place in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. It is informative to learn a little about the early feminists.

The most well known were Elizabeth Cady Stanton, daughter of a lawyer, and Lucretia Mott, a Quaker. The three other women were also part of the Quaker community: Martha Wright (Lucretia’s sister), Mary Ann M’Clintock and Jane Hunt. Each was married and had children. This group of five women organized the first women’s right convention.

They were concerned about educational opportunities for women, the right of a woman to own property, the right to her own children, the right to vote, the right to decent jobs.* Together they wrote the Declaration of Sentiments. Elizabeth Cady Stanton made the final revision of the document. She wrote: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal**. At the convention 100 people signed it.

Today women in the United States enjoy freedom and opportunity. We can applaud many of the changes that have taken place.  The focus on    reproductive rights, that Hilary Clinton constantly mentions, did not fit in the perspective of these early feminists. They were pro-life and pro-family.

In the publication, Revolution, Stanton wrote: The strongest feeling of a true woman’s nature is her love for her child; and the startling facts in the above extract [NY times article on infanticide], multiplying as they are on every side, warn us that all things are inverted. Objectors cry out to us who demand our rights, and the ballot to secure them, “Do not unsex yourselves.” It is against this wholesale unsexing that we wage our war.

We are living today under a dynasty of force; the masculine force is everywhere overpowering the feminine, and crushing women and children alike beneath its feet. Let women assert herself in all her native purity, dignity and strength, and end this wholesale suffering and murder of helpless children. With centuries of degradation, we have so little of true womanhood, that the world has but the faintest glimmering of what a woman should be.***

The hope of these women was that marriage would be strengthened by equal participation in the marriage covenant. They were against the abuse of women by men. They promoted education and protection of their right to their children. They acknowledged the nurturing nature of women.

Reproductive rights have not improved overall respect for women’s feminine nature. The availability of the pill and abortion has not reduced the abuse of women, but instead made it easier for abuse to take place without consequence. When Planned Parenthood neglects to pursue charges against a man who brings a teenager, a minor, in for an abortion, that perpetuates the abuse.

Many women today have more in common with the early feminists than with Hilary Clinton. We would prefer to pursue improved education on women’s health and fertility. We would like young women and poor women to have alternatives to abortion, the support that they need during a difficult time. We would like all women to be informed of the risks and side effects of hormonal contraception and abortion.

True reconciliation between men and women comes by following the Bible’s principles for healthy living. The Bible teaches love and respect in the marriage relationship. When we believe Jesus (we are all sinners needing forgiveness) and follow his ways we are able to forgive and love.

marriage

Women are speaking up for healthy relationships at Women Speak for Themselves.

*Cady Stanton, Elizabeth and others, eds., 6 vols., History of Woman Suffrage, New York: Fowler & Wells, 1881-1922, 1:70-71

**Oakley, Mary Ann, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, New York: The Feminist Press, 1972.

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