Advent and the Family

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son . . . John 3:16

As I think about Christmas and God’s great gift to us, I find it meaningful that Jesus came to a family. He came as an infant to Mary and Joseph, to the family unit. From the beginning, starting in Genesis, God planned the family unit.

We have fractures and brokenness in family life, but it is God’s design for nurture. Jesus came to heal the brokenness. The church family is called to be a place of healing.

My daughter and her husband are taking in two children for foster care, hoping to adopt. This is a stretching experience. We have limited insight into the heritage and health history of the children. We simply know that they need a loving home.

It gives me joy to see my daughter and son-in-law welcoming them into their home. I am blessed in being able to help. As I swaddle and feed the baby he cuddles up against me.

And so I have new insight. As part of a church family my willingness to extend love needs to be stretched. God’s desire is for us to bring healing to those in need.

Five Minute Friday is a community of inspirational writers. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is ONLY.

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A Thanksgiving Birthday

This year I cooked the turkey on Wednesday, a day before Thanksgiving. I scooped out the stuffing and put it in a casserole dish. I deboned the meat and placed it in a  large  baking  dish.   I  put  the  bones in  the  freezer, planning to make broth sometime in the next week.

Turkey

When my daughter and her family came for Thanksgiving my meal was ready. I said to her, “This worked well. I think I might want to do this again.”

She gave me a peculiar look and said, “You cooked the turkey on Wednesday last year too.”

“I did?”

“Mom, the baby was due and we didn’t know when I was going to go into labor. You made the turkey ahead and brought it over on Thanksgiving.”

And then I remembered. She did go into labor late in the day on Thanksgiving. Sometime during the early morning hours of the next day she went to the hospital with her husband—and I went along as extra support.

The birth of my youngest grandson was beautiful. The doctor commented that he wasn’t really needed. Everything proceeded smoothly.

I remember the birth of this little boy,  now  turning  one  year  old.  Memory of the Thanksgiving dinner has faded into the background.

But I think I will keep the tradition of cooking the bird on Wednesday.

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is FAMILIAR.  Visit this community and join the fun by clicking here.

A Mouse in the House

It is Friday and the #FMF community is writing and posting their thoughts on the prompt given by our gracious leader, Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: EXCUSE  You can visit the community and join in the fun by clicking here

The cold weather has arrived, and I have found evidence of a mouse on my KITCHEN COUNTER! I washed the counter and placed cotton balls with peppermint oil along the inside edge of the counter.   I  told  my husband that we had to get rid of the mice.

My husband dutifully brought out a mousetrap and set it with a piece of cheese for bait. And the next morning the cheese was gone . . . no mouse.

Dear husband set the trap again. This time he used caramel sauce for bait and set two traps. And the next morning the caramel sauce had been licked off both traps . . . no mouse.

I looked at the empty trap—I am a little skittish about handling a mousetrap. I took a metal knife and set the trap off and then picked it up. I was determined that we were going to catch the critter, no excuses.

I took a small chunk of cheese and worked it in my fingers to make a soft ball and then smashed it on the bait holder. Then I turned the trap this way and that as I figured out how to set the trigger. I set the trap on the floor.

That evening, while we were watching TV, we heard the trap go off. My husband went to look and he came back with surprise written across his face. “You caught one.”

So he took care of disposing of the mouse. I asked him if he was going to set the trap again. He looked at me and gave this excuse, “Well, you’re the one that knows how to set the trap.”

So I set the trap again. We have caught mouse number three. At first my husband’s pride was hurt, and then he realized he had a partner in catching mice. Sometimes we have these little difference to work out as husband and wife. I am glad that he takes the mouse out of the trap.

A Song of Home: Book Review

This past October I met Susie Finkbeiner at the Breathe Conference for writers. I went to her session on dialogue and picked up helpful tips for my writing. I learned that Susie writes historical fiction. When given the opportunity to be on her launch team for A Song of Home, I signed up. It is the third book in the Pearl Spence series. Having finished this book, I will go back and read the first two.

A Song of Home

The book is set in 1935. Pearl’s family has moved from the dust bowl of Oklahoma to Michigan. Pearl is a thoughtful girl, eleven years old. Through her eyes we see the complex troubles in her home and town. Her relationship with her mother has painful wounds.

Will Bliss, Michigan ever feel like home? She attends school and church, but has deep distress over her mother’s choices. She is a reader and finds comfort in the local library. Stories linger in her mind; her musings about life are touching.

Opal Moon brings some order to the Spence household. She offers friendship to Pearl and gives her an outlet for her energy. With music streaming from the radio, Opal teaches Pearl the new dance steps. (I learned about the Swing Era.)

Other women provide guidance for Pearl.   Aunt  Carrie  is  a  rock  of  stability. Mrs. Trask, the librarian, has a gentle kindness. Meemaw isn’t physically present, but her words of wisdom come back to Pearl. Pearl makes a connection between lessons from the Bible and events taking place in her life.

A Song of Home is a well-crafted story of love, forgiveness and hope.

Sharing this post at Booknificent Thursday 

Thoughts on Motherhood

Motherhood is hard and self-sacrificing. As I look back I remember the fatigue, the laughter and tears, the hard questions and my shortcomings. The years have passed by quickly.

Now I am a grandmother and I realize that God was refining me. I was blessed by the Lord’s guidance, the prayers that were answered. I am thankful for the great joy that my family gives me.

Two recently released books bring attention to the role of mothers. Erica Komisar has written Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters. The Wall Street Journal had an article about the author, who is a psychoanalyst, and reviewed her book. Ms. Komisar pursued research into the hormones released during birth and breastfeeding. She discussed the love hormone, oxytocin.

Oxytocin, Ms. Komisar explains, “is a buffer against stress.” Mothers produce it when they give birth, breastfeed or otherwise nurture their children. “The more oxytocin the mother produces, the more she produce in the baby” by communicating via eye contact, touch and gentle talk. 1 //

Oxytocin: Love Hormone

I am currently reading Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood by Julie Roys. The author looks at the confusion in our culture over sexuality, marriage and gender. Ms. Roys goes back to scripture for direction. One chapter in the book is titled Marginalizing Motherhood. She writes:

Many moms today need to hear that motherhood is worth sacrificing some of their best years. Unfortunately, that’s not what they are hearing—not from society and not from the church.2

Women are struggling with the demands of mothering. But it is a God given role. A few pages later Ms. Roys continues:

God values motherhood because he values children and is critically concerned with transferring the faith from one generation to another.3

Children need mothers, and mothers need God’s help. They need encouragement from friends and family. One of my favorite scenes in the Bible is the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth.

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby 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 leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”                  Luke 2: 39-45

Mary & Elizabeth
The Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne

And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home. Luke 2:56

If you are a young mom, be encouraged. God is faithful to answer prayers. If you are older, like me, you can encourage a young mom. As women of faith we can seek ways to come alongside women that have experienced miscarriage or infertility. There are joys and sorrows in motherhood; we can share them.

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: NEED Visit the Five Minute Friday Community here.

  1. Taranto, James, “The Politicization of Motherhood” The Wall Street Journal, October 28-29, 2017 A11
  2. Roys, Julie, Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood, Nashville, Tennessee: Nelson Books, 2017 p. 148
  3. Ibid. p. 155

Meeting Life’s Challenges

In the past few weeks I have read a couple of books about women overcoming difficulties in life. Sue Detweiler’s book is about the value of prayer. My review of Women Who Move Mountains is here.

Mountain View

Kristina Cowan wrote about birth trauma and post partum depression. She has included research as well as her experience as a woman of faith walking through this most difficult time. The number of women experiencing birth trauma seems to be rising. My review of When Post Partum Packs a Punch is here.

When Postpartum Packs a Punch

Currently I am reading Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood. Our culture has so many mixed and confusing messages about sexuality. The author takes us through her own misconceptions and what she has learned. How do we recognize error? How do we guide the young women in our area of influence?

Julie Roys’ book is thought provoking and worthy of discussion. When I have finished the book I will write a review.

Every season of life has challenges. We can be victorious through prayer, study of God’s word and thoughtful discussion in the community of believers.

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is OVERCOME.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

Linking with Booknificent Thursday

My Third Trip to Grand Rapids

This past Monday I made my third trip to Grand Rapids in two weeks. I sat at my mother’s bedside in the hospital through the day and through the night. She has dementia and the hospital stay was traumatic and disorienting. I am thankful that she has been released from the hospital and is back at the nursing home. Questions remain about whether her condition will stabilize.

She was encouraged by the presence of my sisters and me. I was glad to pray and sing for her. Driving home I enjoyed seeing the beginning of fall colors along Michigan highways.

It is hard to deal with end of life issues. I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. When I arrived home I noticed the zinnias along the front walkway. They are continuing to bloom and have a certain majesty.

Majestic Zinnia

Beauty of creation and sorrow of approaching death. This is a great mystery that can only be resolved by God’s promises.

Then last night I sat on the floor with my 10-month-old grandson. He crawled around the family room eager to examine every item available to his touch. (Toys were not his first choice.)

I was delighted when he crawled over to me and smiled. As he tried to vocalize sounds I repeated what I heard. This brought joyful giggles. We were communicating and he was thrilled.

Zinnia

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is DISCOVERY.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

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.

Come visit Five Minute Friday and share your perspective on TRY.

FMF try

The Joy of Family

It is Friday and time to join the writing community. Kate Motaung gives a prompt and for five minutes we write fast and free. Today’s prompt is: PLAY

God’s design for the family is good. Different generations come together.

I am blessed to be a grandmother. I am able to play with the grandchildren with a freedom that I didn’t have as a mom.

On the fourth of July the family was together—two sets of grandparents, my daughter and son-in-law, six children. The three-year-old grandson pulled me aside, away from his older sisters. He held up a box of crazy eight cards and said, “Will you play with me?”

So before our holiday supper he and I played our own version of crazy eights. He was satisfied, and our relationship grew a little.

Sometimes the grandchildren ask me to play hide and seek. Can you imagine grandma hiding behind a tree?

For more thoughts on PLAY or to join the writing community, visit Five Minute Friday.

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.