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

Thanks for visiting! Please visit my Facebook page.

I’m sharing this post with Grace & Truth

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.

Sharing this post with Seasons, Sue’s Wordless Wednesday and Christian Bloggers

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

Sharing this post with Word of God Speak,  Christian Blogger,  Thankful Thursday and Thought Provoking Thursday

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.

Sharing this post with Thought Provoking Thursday and Christian Blogger

American History: Revive Us

This past week my husband and I attended Revive Us, a live event at theaters. As a part of the presentation Kirk Cameron and Eric Metaxas took us to Independence hall in Philadelphia, where our nation began. Our founding fathers understood the importance of faith in God in the pursuit of liberty.

On March 23, 1775 Patrick Henry gave his “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech. Here is a portion of that speech: Sir, we are not weak, if we make proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people armed in the Holy cause of Liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us . . . *

Patrick Henry had a Bible verse for America.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14:34

The founding fathers were united by faith in God and knowledge of the Bible. The Bible teaches us that apart from Jesus Christ we have no righteousness. Righteousness is a key word in the book of Romans. God is righteous and holy and he extends grace to us.

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:22-24

As a nation, as a church and individually we need to confess our sins. We need to live in obedience to our faith. Kirk Cameron, along with his pastor, Ben Carson, Francis Chan, Jennifer Rothschild led in prayer, discussion and scripture reading. We had an opportunity to worship together.

Jennifer Rothschild shared these verses from scripture:

. . . the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to any one he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men. Daniel 4:17

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.      2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Revive us will be shown in theaters again on Monday evening, October 24. Click here to find a theater near you.

*Catherine Millard, A Children’s Companion Guide to America’s History, Camp Hill, PA: Horizon House Publishers, 1993 p. 39

Sharing this post with Word of God Speak,  Thankful Thursday, Aprons & PearlsThought Provoking Thursday and the Homemaking Party

Family Time and the Gospel

The air was fresh. The leaves on the giant cottonwood trees were rustling with the breeze. My sister, brother and I were sitting at a picnic table at the botanic garden.

We had fresh apple cider and hamburgers. We enjoyed our lunch as we absorbed the joy of nature. We watched a blue heron standing in a nearby pond. I felt blessed with this interlude of rest from stressful thoughts.

My brother’s health is declining and as his guardian I have been asked to look into possible care situations. For a time the weight of concern was lifted.

My brother has a mental illness and his thoughts about God, about relationships, is tangled up. He has had a difficult life. But I believe that God loves him and can heal his emotional wounds.

My attempts to share my faith with him have varied responses. I feel like I am stumbling along. Conversations with my brother can be calm or erupt suddenly in an angry outburst. During one visit to his group home I asked if he reads his Bible.

He said, “No.”

I said, “The Bible is God’s love letter to us.”

He scowled and yelled, “It is not!” Then he stared at me daring me to say any more. I retreated—for the time being.

But on this day, after spending time in nature, he responded differently. On the way home, in the car, I asked my brother, “What do you think about Jesus?”

His answer came quickly, “He was the most hated man.”

Then I asked, “Why did he come to earth?”

After a long pause my brother said, “I don’t know.”

I said, “I think he came to show us God’s love.”

This time there was no angry outburst, only thoughtful silence.

I want the Bible to infuse my daily life and my conversations. God’s word is the source of our hope. I am still learning about putting this in practice. In the book of Romans the apostle Paul writes:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1: 16

Prayer: Lord God, thank-you for your Word and the example Paul sets for us. As I trust you day by day, may I be a witness of the Gospel.

Sharing this post with Word of God Speak

Favorite Gluten-free Muffins (and they are easy to make!)

Why are so many people choosing to eat gluten-free? What is the problem with gluten? People with celiac disease experience a change in the intestinal lining as their body tries to digest gluten. Other people have a gluten sensitivity.

A number of theories suggest the reason for the increasing number of people experiencing a gluten sensitivity. Research studies show that children born by cesarean section have an increased rate of allergy.

Parents in Europe sought the advice of Dr. Wakefield (a gastroenterologist) when their children had changes in their digestion following the MMR vaccine.

Another theory is that the biotechnology involved in producing large crops may be changing the quality of wheat.

My family began pursuing a gluten-free diet when our twins (born by cesarean section) had food intolerances. Their problems increased after the MMR vaccine.

I have experimented with gluten-free baking over the years. These muffins are a favorite with the grandchildren.

½ C. melted butter
2 eggs beaten
1 C. almond milk or rice milk
1 Tblsp. lemon juice
1 + ½ C. gluten free flour
(A gluten free flour blend by Namaste Foods is available at Cosco)
½ C. sugar
½ C. almond meal (available at Trader Joe’s)
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 C. raspberries or blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375° Grease the muffin cups—preparing for 16 muffins (eighteen if you stretch the batter for smaller muffins). I like to put the muffin tins in the oven about 5 minutes before I add the batter. This procedure (melted grease in hot muffin cups) seems to make it easy to remove the muffins after baking.

In a medium size bowl combine the melted butter, eggs and milk. Add the tablespoon of lemon juice.

In a large bowl combine the flour, almond meal, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Mix in the berries, coating them with the flour mixture. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring just to combine. Then spoon the batter into the hot muffin cups. Bake at 375° for 20 – 25 minutes.

Linking with A Little R & R,  Tuesdays with a Twist, the Art of Homemaking and Mom to Mom Mondays

A Bluebell Bellflower & the Rocks and Waves of Lake Superior

“Grandma, come see the blue flowers I found.”

I followed my granddaughter along a rocky path, as waves pounded the shore of Lake Superior. A light wind brushed against my face. The leaves on the birch trees rustled gently.

There they were, bluebells, growing in a crack between the rocks. God created the majesty of Lake Superior and the delicate beauty of the blue flowers—setting them side by side.

Bluebell Bellflower & Lake Superior
Bluebell Bellflower

I was so blessed to spend time at a favorite park with the grandchildren—exploring the rugged coast of this great lake. It was time to pause and take in God’s creative power.  It was a break from the news of sad and   violent events taking place in our country and throughout the world.

Esrey Roadside Park

The Psalms come to mind and the beautiful rhythm of faith displayed in the words of the Psalms. We read heart wrenching prayers and confessions. We are instructed to spend time in the Word. Still, the Psalmist takes time to pause and observe God’s power and sovereignty. He sees God’s majesty in nature giving him the glory.

Lake Superior

Psalm 93

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
The Lord is robed in majesty
and is armed with strength.
The world is firmly established;
it cannot be moved.
Your throne was established long ago;
You are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, O Lord,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
The seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the Lord on high is mighty.

Your statutes stand firm;
Holiness adorns your house
For endless days, O Lord.

Linking with Thankful ThursdayTuesdays with a Twist,  Seasons, Sue’s Wordless Wednesday,  Let Us Grow and Word of God Speak

Why does the U.S. Give More Vaccines than Other Nations?

needle-31827_1280

The topic of vaccines is controversial. I have read through some of the research and followed the issue.  My daughter had varying degrees of   reaction to the vaccines she received as a child, and after one final     vaccine developed fibromyalgia.   From my perspective, there is good   reason to question the number of vaccines that we are giving children and the timing of essential vaccines.

Attempts have been made to block a documentary on the subject.  This film, VAXXED: From Cover-up to Catastrophe is going to be shown in Chicago at the Century Centre Cinema, May 27 to June 2. My husband and I will go to see it the first day. (stay tuned for my review)

In the past fifteen years the CDC has continued to add vaccines to the childhood schedule. It seems that the goal is to replace the child’s immune system with a growing list of pharmaceutical agents.

It is worth noting that the United States is 26th among nations for infant mortality rate. Japan and Finland are at the top of the list with a rate of 2.3 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. In the United States the rate is 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Japan and Finland must be doing some things right in their health care system. It is interesting that both countries give fewer vaccines than the United States. In the first two years of life Japan gives a total of 9 injections. In the states the CDC has 20 injections on the schedule for the first two years of life. Finland gives fewer vaccines as well.

So which vaccines are left out? Neither Japan nor Finland gives  the     hepatitis B vaccine to infants. In the U.S. the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine is given 24 hours after birth.

Japan and Finland do NOT give the chicken pox vaccine routinely. In Japan the chicken pox vaccine, mumps vaccine, hepatitis B vaccine and flu vaccine are voluntary. In addition Japan gives the measles vaccine alone—not in the combined MMR.

My personal experience as a mom has led me to question both the MMR and the hepatitis B vaccine. I wrote about the decline in my twin’s health following the MMR vaccine.  If I had it to do over I would have at least    delayed the MMR vaccine.  No, I would have refused it.  This vaccine is  developed from aborted fetal cells.

It is reasonable to expect our government to take an interest in the wellbeing of children. The movie trailer for VAXXED points to destruction of data and possible corruption in the CDC. This needs to be investigated.

What can we do to insure vaccine safety? It doesn’t make sense to go down a path of more and more vaccines without carefully checking out claims of corruption. Sometimes we feel powerless against the status quo, but we can contact our congressman in the House of Representatives to press for an investigation. A phone call, letter or e-mail has an impact. What is more important than the health of children?

Update: VAXXED is being shown in Washington D.C. 5/25 – 26. Urge your congressman to attend!

Vaccines

Linking with Whole Hearted Wednesday,  Titus 2 Tuesday and  Tuesdays with a Twist