Imperfect Families

The Bible has stories about families. Our pastor reminded us that some of the stories show the dysfunction in families (Genesis 27 and 28).

In the account of Esau and Jacob, the lies that were told when Jacob received the blessing of his father Isaac demonstrated the divide between family members. Jacob deceived his father at the encouragement and planning of his mother. He had to flee from Esau.

Yet God met Jacob along the way to Paddan Aram. Jacob recognized God’s message that came to him in a dream, and he made a vow, seeking to follow God.

Bible

God is merciful to us when we pay attention to his call on our life and seek him.

As a young adult I had arguments with my parents and didn’t always treat them respectfully. We had dysfunction in our family. When my older brother developed schizophrenia, we didn’t know how to respond his behavior.

I (oldest daughter and graduate nurse) was relied on to help my father. My mother withdrew, and I was burdened and distressed. Although everyone in the family desperately wanted to “fix” Glenn’s illness, we had lapses in kindness and communication.

My brother’s illness was a downward spiral. It is a long and complicated story–too much to address here. It crushed my parents, my siblings and me. During his long battle with schizophrenia my brother became bitter. Each of us, in our own way, wanted something or someone to blame.

I have come to realize my own imperfections and sins. I can now see the limitations and imperfections of my parents with forgiveness.

God doesn’t always heal illness. Later, with my son’s illness I learned that God walks with us through suffering. He can heal our emotional and spiritual wounds.

God has been faithful. He has forgiven my sins and given me guidance through his word, through prayer and through the church. God, through Jesus, desires to heal the wounds we receive in a fallen world. He is ready to meet us where we are.

I wrote a chapter in the book, Illness, Resilience and Spirituality. It is an anthology and my chapter is titled “Prayers through Illness and Loss”. It is a record of my prayers and God’s answers. I learned so much about God.

At every stage of my life I have looked for a church, for a family of faith. The church is composed of sinners that need grace, and sometimes the church falters. But we can’t give up. In addition to the Word of God and prayer, Christians need a community of believers to thrive. 

Jesus said (recorded in Matthew 18:20), “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.”

Write for 28 Days: I am accepting the challenge

Anita Ojeda is sponsoring a #Write28Days challenge for bloggers. For each day in February (except Sundays) I plan to write a post for my blog, focusing on women and families.

Women and Families

Women face many challenges, have many different roles. In this series I will look at family issues. This will include experiences that I have had as a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I will point to women that have had a positive influence on me as a Christian and a nurse. God has gifted us to nurture the family. As women we can support and encourage each other. I hope you will pause with a cup of coffee or tea and visit. I welcome your comments!

Each day I will post a link to my blog post on this page. See below.

Friday 2/1: Mary and Elizabeth

Saturday 2/2: Imperfect Families

Monday 2/4: Pierced and Embraced – Book Review

Tuesday 2/5: Wanting to Control – Learning to Release

Wednesday 2/6: Simple Measures for Family Health

Thursday 2/7: Women in White

Friday 2/8: Building a Home

Saturday 2/9: First Aid for My Husband

Monday 2/11: Evidence Not Seen – Book review

Tuesday 2/12: Seasons of Life

Wednesday 2/13: Birth in a Hotel Room?

Thursday 2/14: Verses About Love

Friday 2/15: A Joyful Answer to Prayer

Saturday 2/16: A Remarkable Woman Doctor

Monday 2/18: The Scent of Water – Book Review

Tuesday 2/19: Two Are Better Than One

Wednesday 2/20: Traditions and Heritage

Thursday 2/21: When Health Care Becomes Perplexing

Friday 2/22: A Mother’s Role

Saturday 2/23: It’s Okay to Be Different

Monday 2/25: Mothers, Girls and Flowers

Tuesday 2/26: Celebration with Finnish Prune Tarts

Wednesday 2/27: When It Is Time to Speak Up

Thursday 2/28: Faithful Poet and Hymn Writer

An Ancient Call to Holy Living

In this new year our women’s precept group has begun to study the book of Deuteronomy. As the book begins Moses is reviewing the history of Israel’s release from slavery in Egypt and their years in the wilderness. Then he goes on to give them specific instructions.

In chapter six he gives God’s command for the families. Orthodox Jews recite these verses daily as a part of the Shema. Click here for explanation of the Shema.

These verses apply to us as Christians. 

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today  shall be on your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6: 4-9

My eyes cloud with tears as I think about our culture and the state of the Church in America. 

This is a reminder to me— a verse that I want to memorize. The Bible needs to be a consistent part of daily life. It is important to notice God’s hand in our lives.

We need to tell our stories of faith to our children and grandchildren, to the people in our circle of influence. Do you have a story to tell? 

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. To read more inspiring thoughts based on the prompt, INFLUENCE, click here.

Jesus and the Family

This advent season we have attended beautiful concerts. Our grandchildren participated in a Christmas program at their church. The fours & fives sang Away in a Manger. Older children read scripture and sang additional Christmas carols. Advent is a time to share the celebration of Christ’s birth with others. 

I have been writing Christmas cards and receiving messages from friends that date back to my high school and college days. Our friendship continues.

Christmas is a time that ties family and friends together. And yet, some of the deepest pain comes from loss and broken relationships during the holidays.

God sent Jesus to an imperfect human family. This is significant. Jesus lived a sinless life in a human family and then offered himself as payment for our sin. He offers us salvation and the opportunity to become a member of God’s family . . . forever!


Nativity

When we reflect on this truth we see God’s great love for us and find the joy of Christmas.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46: 10

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday community is: STILL

Experiencing the Goodness of Marriage

Thanksgiving is approaching and I have begun some early preparations. Our family has a favorite cornbread dressing, but it is a complicated and time-consuming recipe. I have made it ahead. While in the kitchen I have been thinking about many blessings in my life, especially one.

I am thankful for my husband. We have been married for 41 years and have experienced good times and difficult times. God has helped us through the hard times.

This past summer we became the interim caregivers for our five grandchildren ages 18 months to twelve years. Our oldest grandchild was suddenly in need of emergency care. Shortly after arriving at the hospital he was taken to the operating room for a bleeding brain aneurysm. Our daughter and son-in-law took turns at his bedside for the month that he was in the hospital.

By God’s grace our grandson received amazing medical care and is recovering. I was glad to have my husband by my side as we managed the daily needs in a busy household.

It was the same way when our son was fighting leukemia. We worked together.

As I thought about this I went and gave my husband a big hug. I told him, “I am thankful for you.” He was a bit surprised by the sudden affection but smiled with gladness.

Thanksgiving

What are you thankful for?

Today’s prompt for the Five Minute Friday writing community is: ONE

Crowds and the Confirmation Hearing

Senate confirmation hearings can be boring. Not the hearing for Judge Kavanaugh.

While protests where taking place at the Capitol, groups of Students for Life were holding rallies across the country.

I watched the confirmation hearing for an hour last week and witnessed the loud protests and interruptions that were taking place.

Discussion, questions and clarification of released documents took place. The Judge was questioned and he remained composed, answering questions clearly. At times his brow furrowed as he took notes. At other times he smiled and shared a light moment with a Senator.

Judge Kavanaugh had an interesting exchange with Senator Dick Durbin. Senator Durbin thanked the Judge’s wife for attending the hearing. In turn the Judge thanked Senator Durbin for a book he had given. And then the Judge commented that his daughters would return in the afternoon to see democracy in action.

And here a little back-story is enlightening. On the first day of the confirmation hearing the Judge’s wife and daughters were present. When the hearing chamber became raucous, with chants and shouts, the girls were escorted out. The girls are 13 years old and 10 years old.

Many would wonder why a parent would bring his daughters into such a contentious hearing. And the Judge was having them come back. After observing Judge Kavanaugh’s demeanor and ability to answer hostile questions, I can imagine that he will guide his daughters.

Hard things are happening in the world. As parents and grandparents we have an opportunity to teach children and teens how to handle themselves in the face of adversity. It was the one take away that I had from watching the confirmation hearing.

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: CROWD  Visit the link-up here.

Flying to Finland to visit my Grandmother’s birthplace

In July of last year my husband and I flew to Finland to visit my grandmother’s birthplace and to attend a family reunion. We had a nonstop flight on Finnair from Chicago to Helsinki Finland. Relatives met us at the airport.

My grandmother’s travel to the United States was much more arduous. She traveled by boat from Oulu, Finland to the port city Hanko. From Hanko she took another boat to Hull, England, then a train from Hull to Liverpool. As far as I know she traveled alone in 1903.

In Liverpool she boarded the Ultonia (a former livestock carrier). She traveled third class in steerage. She had a bunk, along with many other immigrants, in the hold of the ship. This crowded space had inadequate sanitation, and many of the passengers were seasick. I can’t imagine what she endured.

She arrived in Boston and was directed to a train  that  took  her  to  Chicago.    From Chicago she took a train to  the  Upper  Peninsula  of  Michigan where she was met by two of her brothers.

My grandmother had told family members that she planned to go back to Finland to visit one day. But after completing her journey to Michigan, she decided that she could never make such a difficult journey again. Instead she asked her daughters to promise that they would one day visit Finland.

Vuostimo Finland
House that neighbored my grandmother’s girlhood home (now gone).

My mother, my aunt and my sisters have all made the trip. We are blessed by the ease of air travel.

Linking with the Five Minute Friday Community. Today’s prompt is: FLY

Crisis & Prayer

Today I am joining a community that is writing on the prompt: PAUSE

Life has been on pause.

No, that is not quite right. The nonessentials of life have been on pause.

A week ago my grandson developed a critical illness and has been in a pediatric ICU. My daughter has been at his bedside. My husband and I have been taking care of the other children.

We have been learning their daily patterns, seeing more of their school projects. It has been an intense week. Grandpa has earned the title of Grand Nap Master for his ability to coax the toddler to take a nap.

The days have been stressful but touched with little blessings. We are thankful for the prayers on behalf of our family. A dear friend sent me scripture verses. This one has encouraged me:

Psalm 62:5-6  Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

The evening before major surgery my grandson’s youth group held a prayer meeting. About fifty people, many of his friends, showed up to pray.

We are blessed by God’s love being displayed by faithful friends.

UPDATE: Our grandson is recovering after two surgeries for a bleeding brain aneurysm. We praise God for answered prayer. We are grateful for the skill of the medical team and the advances in medical technology.

UPDATE on 8/3/18: After a summer of therapy our grandson is preparing to begin high school in a couple weeks. We are praising God for his progress and continue to pray for returning strength and adjustment/healing of limitation in his eyesight.

Visit Five Minute Friday by clicking here.

Supporting Mothers: The Hike for Life

Over the years I have often participated in the Hike for Life on Mother’s Day weekend. It has been a family event, children included.

In the 1990s we hiked along the shore of Lake Michigan in downtown Chicago. Yesterday my daughter reminded me of her first hike. It was the beginning of her concern for mothers and their infants. The years that we hiked together have now been passed along to the next generation.

Hike for Life

Now my grandchildren participate in the Hike for Life. A couple years ago we all went together.

Mother's Day Weekend

This year they will hike, and I will go visit my mother who is in a nursing home in Michigan.

All women need support during the transitions of life.

The money raised by the Hike for Life goes to pregnancy care centers. These centers provide ultrasounds, parenting classes, infant clothing and diapers. The staff at the pregnancy care center come along side a woman that needs assistance.

It is wonderful when a woman has the support of family and friends during pregnancy. Sometimes she needs another source of support. //

I am grateful, too, for organizations that help women adjust to the roles of motherhood. The Mother of Twins group meeting was my favorite evening out when I had three children under the age of three.

My daughters have benefited from MOPS (mothers of preschoolers), and I have enjoyed being a mentor mom for MOPS.

When we were in Finland I was  happily  surprised  to learn that the    parents of young children ride the buses in Helsinki for free.

Flowers and cards for mothers are nice, tangible help is better. Perhaps, there is someone that you can encourage.

Today I am joining the Five Minute Friday community. Our one word prompt is: INCLUDE

 

When the Church Responds to Foster Care Needs

On most Fridays I join the challenge to write for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Visit this inspiring community by clicking here. Today’s prompt is: PROVIDE

My children are grown and married. Currently we are taking care of my daughter’s children while she and her husband attend a seminar and celebrate their anniversary. As grandparents we are being introduced to foster care—we have two foster grandchildren. My eyes are being opened to the circumstances that many children face.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, 437,465 children in our country were in the foster care system in 2016. The most common reason a child is placed in foster care is neglect (61%). The second most common reason is drug abuse (34%).

I was talking with my son-in-law and he said that poverty is a factor. He has participated in a poverty simulation course and was awakened to the stress that poverty places on a family.

Some children bounce back and forth between foster care and their biological family. It is heart breaking. But I have been encouraged to see the way the church in this community has stepped up.

Last Sunday we attended church with our daughter’s family. A dedication service took place for a young couple and their foster daughter. The children’s pastor invited people that wanted to  support  this  young   couple to come to the front of the church.

About thirty people, from teenage to elderly, walked to the front. They encircled the couple. The young mother had grown up in the foster care system and had been befriended by a family in this church.

My daughter’s family is part of a community of believers who are taking in foster children, providing support to families (children’s clothing, furniture as needed, meals as their family grows suddenly).

The community provides material and emotional support. The love and compassion for children is palpable.

It has blessed my heart to see this faith community engaging in the needs of children. I am so grateful that my daughter’s family has this support system.