Finding Moments of Respite

The crazy news cycle and the deep divide in our culture over political policies are emotionally exhausting. The distortion and actual lies about my state rep’s record are upsetting. I know Tom.

I need moments of respite. Morning devotions in Proverbs with my husband, prayer and time outside are refreshing.

In prayer, we can give thanks for God’s sovereignty and pray for peace.    2 Chronicles 7:14 has instruction for our prayers.

When I work in the garden I experience joy in God’s creation. Most of my plants have stopped producing—except for the herbs.

I am harvesting and drying calendula for tea and recipes. Calendula is also known as poor man’s saffron.

Calendula

I am still harvesting thyme and rosemary for soup, chicken and potato dishes.

Thyme
Lemon Thyme

The farmer’s market also refreshes me. Today is the last market of the season and I picked an assortment of beautiful apples.

Farmer's Market

 

I stopped by the French nuns’ booth one last time and bought my favorite pastry, an apricot nest.

French Pastry

How do you find joy and respite?

It’s Friday and I am participating in Five Minute Friday, a community of writers. Today we are writing on the prompt: MOMENT

Linking to Sue’s image-in-ing.  Visit Sue’s page for photos from around the world.

Book Review: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon

During the reign of Queen Victoria in England (1819 – 1901) women had less freedom, less rights than women today. Susannah Spurgeon lived during this time period (1832 -1903). Yet, she was well educated, developed her literary gifts and was an active partner with her famous husband.

I found it fascinating to read about her, the wife of Charles Spurgeon, in the setting of  Victorian  England.   Although I have heard  of  Charles  Spurgeon, I did not realize the extent of his popularity. I did not know that Susannah was vital to his ministry. Despite physical frailty she was a constant support for him.

The book, Susie: the Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes, shines a light on the marriage relationship of a gospel centered couple, living out their faith.

Susie helped her husband with his sermons and assisted in getting them written down so they could be shared with others. She read theological books with him.

She was also a writer. The inclusion of quotes from her diary and devotional books showed that she was a wordsmith.

Both Charles and Susannah valued books. Susannah wanted to make books with sound doctrine available to poor pastors. She developed the Book Fund a program that reached out to hundreds of pastors. In her day Susie was a beloved woman of God, using her gifts for God’s glory. Ray Rhodes has done thorough research for this book. It is an inspiring read.

For information on purchasing this book click here.  #susiebook #moodypublishers

In full disclosure I received an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Sharing this post with Literary Musing Mondays,  Booknificent Thursday  and Grace & Truth link-up

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.

Vesper Service

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

If you plant a cherry tree, you might want to know . . .

If you plant a cherry tree the birds will come. The robins love my cherry tree. One year a group of cedar waxwings came and perched on a branch passing cherries to each other. And little birds that I haven’t identified come.

I don’t mind sharing some of the cherries—but not all. So I have started the practice of placing fake owls in the tree, moving them around every couple days. It helps.

The Cherry Tree

If you place a pretty owl covered in real feathers in the tree, it might be attacked. I was dismayed to see feathers torn off and a big bite taken out of the styrofoam core of the owl. A squirrel?Owl

If you pick the good cherries quickly you may have enough for a pie, and then extra to put in the freezer.

Cherries

If the springtime is very wet it may affect the cherries. The cherries may develop brown rot and then you must strip all the moldy cherries from the tree.

If the black aphids come and begin to munch on the new leaves of the tree, spray the tree with soapy water.

If the Japanese beetles come you might have to work hard to save the tree. Japanese Beetle

In the last couple years they have eaten half the leaves on my tree. I started picking them off and dropping them in soapy water, but it wasn’t enough. I placed a lure with pheromes that bagged 100s of these pests. Finally I resorted to treating the ground to get rid of the grubs that emerge from the soil in July as beetles.

My daughter is amused by the effort I put in to harvesting cherries from the tree that I planted many years ago.

If you like cherries as much as I do the effort may be worth it.

The prompt for the community of writers at Five Minute Friday is: IF  I hope you will visit the link-up and see how others were inspired by this little word.

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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.

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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

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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

 

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

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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.

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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.