Visiting the Little Church in the Woods

During the second half of the 19thcentury many immigrants came to the United States to work in  textile mills,  copper mines,  factories and    quarries. Often the Church was the center of their community life.

Between 1886 -1888 a Finnish Lutheran Church was built in Jacobsville, Michigan. The bell tower of this church has an inscription in Finnish. Translated it is: Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord to the house of the God of Jacob. Isaiah 2:3

Finnish Lutheran Church

This church has been restored, and every Sunday during the summer a vesper service is held in the evening, followed by coffee and desserts in the community center. We have enjoyed visiting and participating in the worship service.

Joining Sue’s photo link-up at image-in-ing

The Great Lakes are the Ocean of the Midwest

We spent one family vacation on the Delaware beach. It was restful to walk the beach listening to the rhythmic sound of the waves crashing on the beach. The ocean is God’s grand creation.

More often we spend time near  the  Great  Lakes  of Michigan.  Lake   Superior in Upper Michigan has a rugged beauty. We have some favorite family parks along the coast of this glorious Great Lake.

Lake Superior

Lake Michigan has lovely beaches. A few years ago I wrote about a writing conference that I attended. The conference center was within walking distance of Lake Michigan.

September 2012. My day started early.   I left my house at 6:00 am and pointed the car towards Michigan. I was on my way to the Maranatha Christian Writer’s Conference.

The sun was shining when Tim Burns, conference director gave opening remarks. He pointed us to Habakkuk 2:2   Then the Lord replied: Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.In other words, write with purpose and clarity.

The conference began with messages that encouraged us to examine our motives for writing. Or to use Cecil Murphy’s term, are we paying attention to the palace guards? Are we listening to guidance from the Holy Spirit?

As the conference moved into the second day we heard from authors and editors about the changing publishing industry. The fiction writers’ panel was insightful.

Each afternoon provided an hour of free time.On the first day I chose to walk to the beach of Lake Michigan– just a couple blocks away. I have a deep appreciation for the Great Lakes. As I walked the wind was whipping my hair across my face. I could hear the roar of the waves from a distance.

On the beach, the waves were crashing and washed over any other sound.Lake Michigan

The seagulls were gathered in groups. As a line of gulls tip-toed into the water and then scurried back from a wave, laughter bubbled in my throat. I was amazed as the gulls soared and then flew sideways as the air currents carried them.

Standing on the beach I was in tune with the words of the Psalmist.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;                                                                          let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Psalm 96:11

It is good to take time to pause. Is there some facet of God’s creation that can give you joy today?

Please visit the community of writers at Five Minute Friday. Each week Kate Motaung provides a word that inspires us to write. The one word prompt today is: OCEAN

Linking this post with Sue’s image-in-ing.

Please visit my facebook page (I’d be delighted if you clicked like).

The blooms in my garden remind me . . .

The tulips have faded and the lilacs have come and gone. Now the irises are blooming.

Bloom in my garden

Blooms in my garden

The peonies delight me with their layers of petals. Spring has come again.

Blooms in my garden

Blooms in my garden

The rhythm of seasons and immense variety of plants and flowers point to our Creator and his promises.

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. Genesis 8:22

God’s word also promises that Jesus will return.

Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call,  and  they  will  gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:30-31

It is good to keep Jesus’ return in mind.

I am joining Five Minute Friday with this week’s prompt: RETURN

Sharing this post with Sue’s image-in-ing

No Thanks Birth Control

On Wednesday, November 15th, a social media campaign called #ThanksBirthControl went live on twitter. It is interesting that this was taking place while so many stories of sexual harassment were coming to light. What has happened to the way men treat women?

All through history there have been problems in relationships between men and women. We keep trying to figure this out in our human way, and some things have changed. In the United States we are blessed with equal opportunity for girls in our school system. In fact more girls are going to college than boys. (Why is that?)

Women have opportunities in sports, government and corporate jobs. But the area of sexuality is a big problem. Where is the respect for a woman’s body?   Do women appreciate  the  potential  they  have to carry new life?

Amazing Microbiome

I grew up during the sexual revolution.     The  birth  control  pill  was  released and quickly became popular while I was a teenager. It was claimed that men and women would have sexual equality. Women could enjoy sexual relationships without worrying about becoming pregnant. How has that worked out?

The birth control pill ushered in the need to legalize abortion. If the pill was not effective in preventing pregnancy, then there had to be another way.

Since the widespread use of hormonal birth control, the rate of breast cancer has increased. The Breast Cancer Prevention Institute (BCPI) has an article that explains the link between hormonal medication and breast cancer. You can access the article here.

Men were more than willing to leave the responsibility for the consequences of sexual intimacy entirely on women. It gave them a free pass. Casual sex became common.

I don’t think this climate has led to men being more respectful of women.

In truth, the only way for men and women to be truly equal is to follow the precepts of the Bible. Men and women have been created equal, but with different roles. A sexual relationship flourishes in a marriage that is centered on the love, sacrifice and forgiveness demonstrated by Jesus Christ.

#ThxBirthControl #ButNoThx

Sharing this post with Faith on Fire

A Song in the Forest

What come to mind with the word silence? We live in an environment that is filled with noise and distraction. The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: SILENCE. Bible verses have directed my thoughts.

There is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. Ecclesiastes 3:7

We are commanded to have times of silence.

Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling. Zechariah 2:13

This gives me pause. Do I spend time in awe, quiet before the Lord? My day always goes better when I begin with prayer.   My prayer time can  improve with a period of silence, waiting to hear the Lord.

We are encouraged by the Psalmist to be loud in praise and worship.

Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Psalm 33:1

Someday there will be a great song of praise.

Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.

The trees sing for joy

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it ;
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
Before the Lord, for he comes,
For he comes to judge the earth.

Psalm 96: 1-2, 11-13

May our times of silence be broken with praise and worship.

Visit the #FMF community by clicking here.

Sharing this post with Salt & Light and Faith on Fire

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.

Gratitude on International Women’s Day

As women in the United States we can give thanks for the progress that has been made in women’s rights and opportunities. My maternal grandmother and paternal great-grandmothers immigrated to Michigan from Finland. With great effort they raised families while managing subsistence farms. My paternal grandmother wanted to go to elementary school but was needed at home.

I am thankful for these women!

Grandmothers & Gratitude

My opportunities are much greater than theirs were. I have benefited from their sacrifices.

I recently finished reading I Came a Stranger: The Story of a Hull-House Girl*. Hilda Satt Polachek came to the United States from Poland as a child.   Within two years her of family’s arrival,  her father died.    Hilda’s mother was faced with raising the family in a new country. Hilda went to work in a knitting factory at the age of thirteen to help support the family.

In the United States we have made  great  progress,  and  we need to      acknowledge this. Women have equal rights and opportunities.

Currently more young women are going to college than young men. Click here for the research.

I am thankful for God’s word and the assurance that He loves me, a woman. Jesus demonstrated his respect, his concern and his equal treatment of women.

I am thankful for my church and the freedom to worship that we have in the United States. Many women in the world do not have this freedom or the same opportunities.

When we take time for gratitude, we can experience peace and joy.

I bless Yahweh every chance I get;
my lungs expand with his praise.

I live and breathe Yahweh;
If things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:

Join me in spreading the news;
Together let’s get the word out.

Yahweh met me more than halfway,
He freed me from my anxious fears.
Psalm 34: 1-4 MSG

What can you give thanks for?

*Hilda Satt Polacheck edited by Dena Polacheck Epstein, I Came a Stranger: The Story of a Hull-House Girl, University of Illinois Press, 1989

Sharing this post with the Art of Homemaking,  Grace & Truth, Thought Provoking Thursday and Booknificent Thursday.

The Color Red in Spring

Tulip

The robins are back
Hopping across the green grass
Displaying red breasts.

Robin

While the cardinals
Warble a sweet a melody
Eluding my sight.

Cardinal

High in tree branches
This bird sings a song of joy
To the Creator.

Linking with Nature’s Notes,  Seasons and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

The Best Valentine

The Best Valentine

Over the past few weeks I have been working on memorizing Ephesians 2:1-10. I keep note cards with the passage printed out in my purse. If I have extra time while traveling, a quiet moment when I am babysitting for the grand kids, I can pull out the cards and read over the verses. It takes lots of repetition to charge my memory. I want to be able to refer to these verses, have them clearly in my mind.

Typing out the verses from memory, going as far as I can and then checking myself is another way I am working on memorization.

The whole gospel message is contained in this passage of scripture that Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world,     following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh,     carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works , which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The Best Valentine

God’s great love for us.  Isn’t that the best valentine message?

                            Happy Valentine’s Day!

Recently a devotion that I wrote based on Ephesians 2:10 was published by Upper Room. You can access it here.

Linking with Word of God SpeakWeekend Whispers,  Make My Saturday Sweet,  Faith Filled Friday and Friendship Friday

Garden of My Heart

Garden of My Heart
Peony

The spring garden catalogues are filling my mailbox and I enjoy leisurely paging through the offerings.   I am beginning to make     choices for additions to my garden.   God has given us an amazing   variety plants and fruit bearing trees and bushes.

Before long tulips and lilies will begin to poke through the soil in my flower bed. When the warm weather comes, lilacs and peonies will add a sweet scent to the air.

Blue Lilac

Currants will be the first berries to ripen, closely followed by strawberries and raspberries.   The tart red currants and the abundant raspberries provide an afternoon of delight for the grandchildren. The littlest ones have asked in the middle of winter, “Do you have raspberries in your yard?” The hope expressed on their faces makes me smile.

Red Raspberries

This little poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow took my thoughts in a new direction.   What if I thought of relationships in terms of a     garden?

Kind hearts are the gardens,
Kind thoughts are the roots.
Kind words are the flowers,
Kind deeds are the fruits.

Take care of your garden and
Keep out the weeds,
Fill it with sunshine,
Kind words and kind deeds.

Garden of My Heart

 
This poem expands the meaning of fruitful, my word for 2016.

Linking with the Art of HomemakingWeekend WhispersFrom the FarmFriendship Friday,  WholeHearted Home,  Titus 2sday,  So Much at Home,  Tuesday with a Twist and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday