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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This poem expands the meaning of fruitful, my word for 2016.
Through the women’s ministry at our church I have been able to watch some of the G3 conference, streaming live from Georgia. The topic of the conference is the Trinity, and I was pleased to listen to the preachers. All around us there is confusion about who God is, and about what the Bible says.
Our school district is dealing with confusion over male and female. Parents are holding meetings to find ways to protect the privacy of teenage girls. The federal government has mandated that a student with male anatomy be allowed to use the girl’s locker room, because he claims to be transgender. My children graduated from the high school that received this mandate. I recently wrote about a parent meeting. Click here.
Wheaton College, my daughter’s alma mater, is in the news for firing a tenured political science professor because she claimed that Moslems and Christians worship the same god. The controversy has been reported in the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal. One article is titled “Are Allah and Jesus the Same God?”
The only way to know the character of God is through the life and work of Jesus and through the words in the Bible. It is tempting to think that we can completely understand God or aptly describe Him in human terms. God is greater, is superior to our knowledge. According to Tim Challies “we are going to the edge of our capacity to understand.” The following Bible verses give us insight.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1: 26-27
The triune God created the world.
Jesus said to them [Jews questioning him], “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
Throughout the Old Testament the term, I am, referred to God.
In John 10: 30 Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.”
When my husband and I were on a tour of Israel we visited the Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock is there. Our guide informed us that the mosque has an inscription: God has no son.
The Moslem religion denies the triune nature of God.
Jesus explained the Holy Spirit to the disciples.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14: 16-17
Tim Challies explained that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all involved in our salvation. God calls us; Jesus redeems us; the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Once we acknowledge our sin and accept Jesus as savior, we know the Trinity by experience.
As I listened and chewed on the message, I thought about the importance of Bible study. We need to know the Bible and to teach it to our families. We must make time to:
Read the Bible. It helps to study with other Christians.
The gospel of John is a great place to start. Many passages illuminate Jesus’ relationship with God the Father. John 20:31 gives the reason that the disciple recorded his observations. These are written so 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
Memorize scripture. The AWANA program is great for children. Now as an adult it takes more effort to memorize but I am realizing the value of having verses on the tip of my tongue.
Teach the truth of the Bible to our families.
I appreciate the focus that Janis has on the Bible at Word of God Speak. Visit her site here.