Christmas Community

Each day I look forward to the mail. It is a blessing and joy to receive Christmas cards and letters.

Sometimes it is a photo card and I marvel how the children in the family have grown. Other times it is a pretty card with a letter.

The cards and letters signify relationships and community. I am so thankful to hear from friends living in different states, different countries. We share the joy of Christmas along with family news.

The apostle Paul wrote letters to people of faith that he considered family. 

Paul, a servant of God . . . to Titus, my child in a common faith. Titus 1:1,4

Do you write a Christmas letter? Or send a photo card?

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community and Tuesdays with a Twist.

Esteeming Women and the Family

On Sunday and Wednesday evenings the World Prayer Network meets on the internet. Prayers are raised for concerns around the world.

This past Sunday prayers were offered in support of the 34 nations that have signed the Geneva Consensus Declaration. It was encouraging to learn about this document written in support of women’s health and the family unit.

Shannon Wixom lists the four pillars of the Geneva Consensus Declaration in an article posted on the United Families International website. She also lists the 34 nations that have signed the document.

Our numbers may be small, but our cause is just and our unity knows no bounds. Let each of us-whether individuals, organizations or nations-go forward holding steadfast to the pillars of the Geneva Consensus Declaration: concern for women’s health, protection of human life, strengthening the family as the basic unit of society, and defending the sovereignty of nations in creating their own life protection policies.

In 2020 the United States was a co-sponsor, along with Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia and Uganda. Sadly, in January of 2021 the United States withdrew its support.

I was surprised to learn about this. It has not been mentioned in any news story that I have come across. It encourages me to know that the health and wellbeing of women and the family unit is a high priority in 34 nations.

You can find the text of the Geneva Consensus Declaration here

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community and Tuesdays with a Twist .

An Old Irish Hymn

The garden is a place where my mind is at rest. Sometimes when I am troubled the words of a hymn come to mind. A hymn that I sang as a child–the words imprinted in my memory.

It is good for the church to sing hymns. It is good for individuals and families. Children are able to learn deep truths that will stay with them. Truths that may come to mind in a season of difficulty. 

This morning we sang Be Thou My Vision, an old Irish hymn translated into English by Mary E. Byrne.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.

Naught be all else to me, save that thou art.

Thou my best thought, by day or by night,

Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,

Thou my inheritance, now and always.

Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,

High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.

What a marvelous gift we have been given by God through Jesus, when we accept it.

Every Friday Kate posts a writing prompt for the Five Minute Friday writing community. This time it took a couple days (and a hymn) for inspiration to come. The current prompt is: TREASURE

Invitation to the Family of God

Today’s prompt for Five Minute Friday is complete. My thoughts went to the first epistle of John. My Wednesday morning Bible study just reviewed the first chapter.  And we are writing these things that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:4

John, the beloved disciple, gave us the gospel of John and three epistles. He spent three years with Jesus, following him, listening to him teach and sharing meals. He was at the cross when Jesus was crucified. 

John gave the reason for his gospel. These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31

In 1 John 1 the disciple refers again to the time he spent with Jesus. 

That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed, our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:3-4 

Across the years John is reaching out to us, extending an invitation to community. He gives us guidelines. We need to believe in Jesus, confess our sins and walk in the light. We must live in truth. This is the way to fellowship with God the Father, Jesus and other believers, even those who have gone before us. In this way our joy is made complete.

Eventually John was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he wrote the book of Revelation.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community.

Family: A Blessed Purpose

Family is a gift from God. My husband and I have been blessed with four children—one with the Lord, and three that are adults with their own children. We have nine grandchildren and one more on the way.

As I spend time with the grandchildren, I see their individual strengths and weaknesses. I am reminded of the joy and exhaustion of parenting. Providing the guidance and discipline that prepares children to find faith and truth, to develop skills, to meet the challenges of our world, is work! A good and blessed work.

In the life work of family, we need God’s help. He invites us to come to him in prayer. God is refining us all. 

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Psalm 138:8

This post is linked to the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt today is: PURPOSE

Seasons and Life: Gifts from God

Have you heard this nursery rhyme? 

Monday’s child is fair of face
Tuesday’s child is full of grace
Wednesday’s child is full of woe
Thursday’s child has far to go
Friday’s child is loving and giving
Saturday’s child works hard for his living
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

I remember coming across it when my children were little. I have a child that was born on Monday, on Tuesday and on Wednesday. Yes, Monday’s child is fair of face, Tuesday’s child is full of grace, but Wednesday’s child is a joyful blessing—not full of woe. 

The rhyme is associated with ancient fortune telling ideas. Children are a gift from God. Every day is a good day for new life. Every season—spring, summer, fall and winter. One of my children was born in the spring, one in summer and one in the fall. I am most blessed by the family God has given. 

Linking this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: SUMMER

The Art of Disagreeing

When my daughter was in grade school, she had a class that involved critical thinking. She was encouraged to think through problems. When controversies occur, we need this kind of skill.

As a parent I have tried set an example of working through the issues our family has faced. It is important to be educated, to do a little research and make decisions based on facts. And it is important to pray for wisdom.

There has been disagreement about the vaccine—among medical people, scientists, family and friends. It is experimental.

I like to be educated, finding as much information as possible. What are the risks/benefits of getting the covid vaccine? Is it different for particular age groups? What should a parent do?

Within our extended family the adults have made differing decisions. That is okay. We don’t have all the answers, we are still learning. It is time to respect each person’s decision regarding the way they choose to support their personal health.

Parents know their child’s health history best and should make the decision about their children.

It is human nature to think our opinion is the right one. In the Bible, the disciples had disagreements that they worked through. We can listen to people that disagree with us, respond with respect and gentleness. Ask questions. Pursue truth. Know when to let go. The Bible has good instruction for us.

[Remind them] to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

Titus 3:2

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

Proverbs 15:4

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast to what is good.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-21

Linking this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt today is: DISAGREE

Hope for Recovery

As the pandemic recedes, the tide going out slowly, I hope for recovery in many areas of life.

Renewed care and compassion for the elderly. The last eight months of my mother’s life were increasingly isolated due to pandemic restrictions. I am glad that she knew Jesus as her Savior.

A return to good, basic education for children—reading, writing, mathematics, science, art and music. I am sad that many children in our large cities have only had on-line learning which is so difficult for young children. The children are our greatest treasure.

A revived fertility rate and strength in the family unit. The fertility rate in the United States (and other countries) has dropped below replacement level. Many complex factors are involved. I hope for a renewed value of children, joy in family.

Renewed support for new mothers in the weeks after giving birth. I remember caring for women in the post partum unit of the hospital, my role as a mentor mom for MOPS, and the years I led discussion for mothers participating in Baby & Me at our church. These avenues of support dwindled during the past year. Women benefit from the support of other women. If you are a new mom, where have you found support?

I can hope and pray for these things, but ultimately my hope is in the Lord.

This post is linked with Kate’s Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt for today is: RECOVERY

We Need to Sing

Prayer and Bible study are ways to be observant of our faith. Singing hymns is another way.

On Christmas Eve we could not attend an indoor church service. Our family—our children and grandchildren—met in a church parking lot with others. We were standing outside, and it was freezing cold. We held candles and sang Christmas carols. 

The children will remember Christmas Eve in 2020.

This past Sunday we attended our church. We sang the hymn, To God Be the Glory. The hymn brought back memories of a Bible study group that I attended while in college at the home of an older couple. The song leader was very enthusiastic in expressing his faith. He sang this hymn with great joy. The memory has stayed with me.

Hymns are a part of my family heritage, and I am grateful. I remember the hymns that my Dad sang at home. I remember the words to hymns that we sang in church on Sunday mornings  The words that are sung help to instill faith and joy. We need to sing. The children need to hear us and to sing with us.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: OBSERVANT

Faith and Hope for 2021

On New Year’s Eve I wrote the following words. As 2020 slips into sunset, I look forward with hope that the new year will bring a revival of faith, renewed health and joy.

And yet, just a few days in, the pandemic continues and the political tension is increasing. I wake up in the morning with a heavy feeling. What should I do?

I must begin the day with time in God’s word and continue to pray. And then these thoughts come to me: Encourage my family. Participate with the church—in person or on zoom as circumstances allow. Ask the Lord for opportunities to reach out to others.

God can use this time to increase my faith.

But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.

I cried aloud to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
Psalm 3: 3-4

In the sermon on the mount Jesus calls us to be a salt and light in the world. He will help us. 

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: TIME . Also sharing with Heart Encouragement.