Friday night we had our first snowfall and by Saturday evening up to a foot of snow had fallen in some areas. We had a family event, celebrating our son-in-law’s 50th birthday. The roads were open but snow packed and icy in places. The scene was beautiful. Snow coated the trees, making a white wonderland.
Will the snow last through Thanksgiving? The children would be delighted. The forecast is for warming temperatures this week.
Happy Thanksgiving to friends in the U.S. and best wishes to all!
As Thanksgiving approaches, I am aware of so many things to be thankful for—family, church, blogging community and home.
On Thanksgiving my husband and I will have one of our daughters and her family, our son and his wife, at our home. I have ideas for activities for the grandchildren and a couple new recipes from fellow bloggers. I am looking forward to this day of celebration.
We will read some Bible verses together.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exalt in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. Psalm 9: 1-2
God’s greatest gift to us is the offer of salvation.
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. Ephesians 2: 4-5
In the midst of preparations for Thanksgiving, I am aware of difficulties among extended family and suffering that is happening in many places around the world. Perhaps you see things that prick your heart.
Praise and gratitude is mixed with questions and doubt.
The Psalmist was able to give praise and thanks in one moment. And then later wonder how God allowed some things to happen.
Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? Psalm 10:1
There are no answers except the character of God.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13
God is just and righteous.
As I give thanks, I will also pray for mercy and grace, lifting the circumstances beyond my control to the Lord.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 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: 4-6
We went to see The Suffragettes. It was tough to watch the daily life of women who worked long hours in a laundry. The setting in this movie was the early 1900s in London. The main character was gradually drawn into the suffragette movement and became willing to fight for the women’s right to vote, at great personal cost.
I understand the passion of the women that were portrayed on the screen. They were fighting for respect and a voice. I was saddened that they felt compelled to use violence to make their voices heard. They wanted the right to vote and it was a long fight.
Are there issues worth fighting for today? I have been pleased to see that women and parents are coming together to have their voices heard.
The need for improvement in maternity care has been documented. Countries that have a higher percentage of midwives have better outcomes than the United States.
When midwives were the main providers of care during pregnancy, women were less likely to give birth prematurely or lose their babies before 24 weeks of gestation. Women were reported to be happier with the care they received, had fewer epidurals, fewer assisted births, and fewer episiotomies – or surgical incisions to reduce the risk of a tear. Finally, in midwife-led settings, women were no more likely to have caesarean births, but they tended to be in labour for about half an hour longer on average.
In Illinois the Home Birth Safety Act is going to be introduced in the state House of Representatives. Research has shown that healthy women attended by a certified midwife have births that are as safe as hospital births, with less interventions. The midwives in Illinois have been working hard to promote this bill. You can see the petition that they have posted on change.org here.
In Indiana, parents pushed back against the aggressive promotion of the HPV vaccine for girls. The state health department had entered the vaccination records of children in a state registry and then sent letters out to parents that had not had their daughters vaccinated with the HPV vaccine. Yikes, when I worked in the hospital the health records of every patient was private, and any violation of privacy was punishable. The following is an excerpt from an article by Jefferey Jaxen about this practice in Indiana.
It took exactly one month to the day for an activated Indiana population to turn back efforts by their state’s health department to coerce and pressure parents, outside of law, into having their children receive the potentially dangerous human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV). Independent health journalist, Jefferey Jaxen, was contacted by two separate families telling of letters they received by their state’s health departments regarding their child’s HPV vaccine status. An article chronicling the incidents was immediately published to raise awareness on October 5th, 2015.
I am encouraged by these positive actions. We can use some of the passion that the early suffragettes demonstrated.
The definition of suffrage is: 1 an intercessory prayer, supplication 2a vote given in deciding a controverted question or in the choice of a person for an office or trust.
The definition of a suffragette is: one who advocates extension of suffrage especially to women.
How can you participate?
Stay informed—even when the news is unpleasant. The issues that may impact our religious freedom may be uncomfortable. But it is wise to become educated on new policies and laws that affect our families. Then pray with an informed mind, seeking guidance from God.
Write letters to people of influence and to representatives in congress. Change in the Indiana policy came with people writing letters.
Use social media to express opinions with clarity and civility.
Ask questions about health care: medications, treatments and vaccines. Medical history demonstrates that we don’t often realize the negative impact of medication until years down the road. After a national study the common practice of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been reduced because of links to heart disease and cancer. Read about the risks and benefits of HRT here.The birth control pill is also getting more scrutiny. Read this article that explains why one woman stopped using the pill. Science and medicine have provided cures, but they are human institutions. We shouldn’t just follow medical trends. An educated public that asks questions may bring problems to light sooner.
Be an advocate for each member of your family. We can’t simply accept that one type of birth, one medical protocol, one type of treatment, is good for all people. We have a right to be informed and participate in decisions about health care.
Update: the flu vaccine is just 18% effective this year. Click here for link.
The mild fall that we have had has allowed me to spend more time in the yard. I have been planting and transplanting and raking leaves. My husband was working also, creating piles of branches.
He has a chain saw and after he took down one tree he found lots of branches to trim. Something about climbing ladders and using the saw—I saw the boy in my husband. The clean-up was not as interesting, so I became involved.
As I cut up branches and filled yard bags I discovered something I hadn’t noticed before. All the branches had buds for the spring. I looked at the cherry tree and the maple tree and saw the promise of spring already on the limbs.
I walked around to the cottonwood tree. The buds weren’t as noticeable, but they were there. When winter comes, God is already planning for spring.
The promise of spring is in the Bible. Can you imagine what it was like to be a disciple at the Last Supper with Jesus? After Judas left Jesus explained that he was going away.
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow me afterward.” John 13: 36
The winter was coming, but not without the promise of spring.
“Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14: 1-3
We may become depressed with the chaos in our culture. It may be like winter. God is still sovereign, and Jesus asks us to be obedient. God has planned the seasons of life and the return of Jesus Christ.
Everywhere I go I see signs for the flu vaccine—at grocery stores, drugstores and in advertisements. Many hospitals are making it mandatory for their staff to get an annual flu shot. When that happened at my hospital, I applied for a religious exemption.
I had received vaccines in the past, but because one of my children experienced significant side effects from a vaccine, I studied the issue. Over the years our family has made dietary changes, increased our use of vitamins, garlic and herbs. It made sense to develop a lifestyle that supported the immune system. God has given us an intricate immune system to fight infection.
Why did I need an annual flu shot? Not to mention that the flu shot is not dependable. Every year the CDC is making a guess when developing a vaccine. The CDC has already admitted that this year’s vaccine probably won’t be effective.
Despite uncertain effectiveness hospitals are under pressure to get their employees vaccinated.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ “Healthy People 2020” initiative states a goal of vaccinating 90% of the nation’s healthcare workers with the influenza vaccine annually by 2020, a goal well underway. A separate DHHS goal aims to vaccinate 80% of all U.S. employees annually with the influenza vaccine by 2020. Read more here.
My religious exemption was allowed. I have learned that nurses at the University of Michigan can decline the flu vaccine because they have a clause in their union contract.
Some hospitals have required nurses to wear a mask if they refuse to get the flu vaccine. And some hospitals have fired nurses for refusing the vaccine.
The nurses’ union in Ontario took up the matter of masks and an arbitrator declared that the policy could not continue.
The Ontario Nurses Association says hospitals will no longer be allowed to shame health-care workers into getting a flu shot following an arbitrator’s ruling striking down a “vaccinate or mask” policy. Read more here.
I have never been a member of a union, but perhaps nurses need a union to preserve their right to pursue health with personal freedom.
It isn’t just nurses that are questioning the flu vaccine. A doctor at John Hopkins is speaking out against the aggressive marketing of the flu shot.
For most people, says Dr. Blaylock, flu vaccines don’t prevent the flu but actually increase the odds of getting it. The mercury contained in vaccines is such a strong immune depressant that a flu shot suppresses immunity for several weeks. “This makes people highly susceptible to catching the flu,” he says. “They may even think the vaccine gave them the flu, but that’s not true — it depressed their immune system and then they caught the flu.”
He explains that the flu shot should not be given to children under five years old. Read the entire article here.
The National Vaccine Information Center has an article about the amount of mercury present in the flu vaccine. Here is the analysis provided in the article: 2 ppb mercury = U.S. EPA limit for drinking water. 20 ppb mercury = Neurite membrane structure destroyed (Leong et al., Neuroreport 2001; 12: 733-37). 200 ppb mercury = level in liquid the EPA classifies as hazardous waste. 25,000 ppb mercury = Concentration of mercury in the Hepatitis B vaccine, administered at birth in the U.S., from 1990-2001. 50,000 ppb Mercury = Concentration of mercury in multi-dose DTaP and Haemophilus B vaccine vials, administered 4 times each in the 1990’s to children at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months of age. 50,000 ppb Mercury = Current “preservative” level mercury in multi-dose flu (94% of supply), meningococcal and tetanus (7 and older) vaccines. This can be confirmed by simply analyzing the multi- dose vials.
According to a chart prepared by the Edgy Truth the amount of mercury in a contaminated whitefish is 500 ppb by comparison.
How much influence do the pharmaceuticals have in promoting vaccines? According to the Wall Street Journal (11/09/2015) the highest number of government lobbyists, among industries, are pharmaceuticals/health products.
My biggest concern is that we are systematically replacing common sense and healthy practices with a shot that may not help and has significant risks. I am in favor of health education, informed consent and personal choice.
When I visit my sister in Michigan, we frequently have an adventure.
Last weekend we had both driven to a community college event.
When we left the event her car wouldn’t start. So we hooked up jumper cables from my car to her car, and after a half hour her car was running. She needed to keep the engine running so I followed her to her place of work. She had to pick up some files. She left her car running while I parked next to her car.
After another half hour we were on our way to her home. Or so
I thought. I followed her car, passing by the expressway
ramp that I thought we should take. My sister was going down
a country road that I did not recognize.
It was a beautiful day. She kept driving and I had no idea where we were going. I thought about pulling out my cell phone, but I’m trying to avoid using the cell phone while driving.
I was a little irritated, but she’s my sister. We are family and so I just followed. We finally stopped at a cider mill. It was worth it. The cider and doughnuts were delicious. Why didn’t she tell me? She had the idea while driving. We used to go to a cider mill with our parents when we were kids.
In the bigger picture, I sometimes don’t understand the path that God has for me. Some things don’t make sense. My brother has had a tragic struggle with mental illness over the last 47 years. His health is fragile, and I am his guardian. It is difficult.
My son was just eight years old when he lost his battle with cancer. It doesn’t make sense now. But I believe I will see him again someday. The puzzle pieces of this life will make a complete picture in eternity.
God’s plan of salvation is woven all through the Bible. The prophecies and promises have been fulfilled, are still being fulfilled. I have seen answers to prayer. I have a relationship with Jesus. I have faith in God.
So if I can trust my sister on a puzzling drive down a country road, I can trust God with all that I encounter in this life.
For Chicago baseball fans, the Cubs are symbolic of hope. The excitement over the National league playoffs was vibrant this fall. Then four straight losses to the Mets. Once again the refrain is wait till next year.
In my garden I have many opportunities for hope. I have been struggling with brown rot in my cherry tree. This year showed some improvement. With additional treatment will my cherries ripen without rot? I’m looking forward to next June with hope.
I transplanted some peonies and raspberries. Will they take well? The bulbs for three purple prince lily trees and some guinevere pink tulips went in the ground this fall. I will wait with anticipation for them to grow, looking forward to the spring.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
Family circumstances are a challenge. (Perhaps not more of a challenge than hoping the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series! lol) Illness and problems that we lift in prayer through the years require trust in the Lord to sustain hope. Maybe God gave us the seasons of the year and the seasons of life to teach us to trust Him, to illustrate hope. God has given us guidance in the Bible.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15: 4, 13
The mild fall weather is so welcome! Yard work is pleasant and I have found some fall raspberries to savor while I work.
Wilting vines And a layer of leaves Yard clean-up Sweetened by fall raspberries
My calendula is still blooming and my rosemary and thyme are still growing.
I plan to bring the rosemary and thyme inside for the winter. Last year they survived in a south bay window. But I have been also preserving the thyme in vinegar.
The thyme vinegar is good for salad dressings. I also add one or two tablespoons to vegetables and bones for broth that I prepare in my crockpot. The vinegar helps to leach out minerals from bones with the additional benefit of thyme.
I found this recipe for thyme vinegar in Early American Herb Recipes*.
A very delicious flavour of thyme may be obtained, by gathering it while in full perfection; it must be picked from the stalks, a large handful of it put into a jar, and a quart of vinegar or brandy poured on it; cover it very close—next day, take all the thyme out, put in as much more; do this a third time; then strain it, bottle it and seal it securely. This is greatly preferable to the dried thyme commonly used, during the season when it cannot be obtained in a fresh state.*
I followed the recipe. I put 3 Tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves in a pint of white wine vinegar. The next day I strained it and added fresh thyme. The following day I repeated the straining and added more fresh thyme. While I was adding thyme leaves and straining the vinegar I used canning jars. Then I strained it a final time, returned it to the original bottle and capped it.
*Alice Cooke Brown, Early American Herb Recipes, Japan: The Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc., 1966. p. 114.
Are you discouraged by the conflicts and moray decay all around us? I am. The study of the book of Acts is giving me hope. I am glad that this book was chosen for the fall Precept Bible study.
Sometimes political issues stir my emotions. Can political action groups solve the problems? They may have a place, but the problems in our country are spiritual.
It is not wrong to stand up for a point of view—in fact we must pursue truth. Every life is valuable. God designed marriage as one man and one woman. This truth comes from the word of God.
As I spend time studying the Bible, I realize that God’s plan of salvation is woven through the scriptures and this message is most important. The gospel changes hearts. The apostles spoke about Jesus:
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
The apostles and early church were focused on the message of the gospel. Even when persecution began they prayed for boldness.
And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness. Act 4:29
Followers of Jesus, the church, have a specific role for this time. We are called to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Through our words, our attitudes and actions we have a responsibility to have a message that points to Jesus and salvation. Sometimes we fall short. We need to be in the Word, in prayer and dependent on the Holy Spirit. Jesus has given the Holy Spirit to be our helper.
I know that I am more sensitive to the Holy Spirit when I am studying my Bible, spending time in prayer and joining in fellowship in my home church. These are necessary activities. I encourage you to embrace these practices.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God, among those who are being saved, and among those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2: 14-15
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for completing the plan of salvation. Thank-you for forgiving my sins and giving us your Word. Guide me by the Holy Spirit to be a witness for you.
Autumn is a season of birthdays. My granddaughters, plus one daughter and one daughter-in-love all have a birthday in September, October or November.
I was blessed in being able to attend the birth of each granddaughter—one at home and the rest in the hospital. To watch each of these babies grow into little girls is a delight.
As I look back, each labor and birth was unique. My daughters were prepared for labor and still encountered challenges. In each situation the goal was to minimize interventions, while being open to appropriate medical care. When the moment of pain and exhaustion came during labor, their husbands and I prayed with them. God blessed them with healthy births.
We have well equipped hospitals in the United States. But along with medical care, wisdom and guidance from the Lord is an invaluable help. I have witnessed and participated in prayers that took place during labor when I attended home births as a nurse. Less often (rarely) prayer was included in the hospital labor and delivery unit where I worked.
My own first labor/birth was an unexpected cesarean section. I still remember the name of one nurse who was supportive during labor, but her shift ended before the cascade of interventions and cesarean section took place. The communication from my doctor was cold and unkind. My daughter was healthy but it took time for me to put the experience into perspective.
Approximately 9% of women experience postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following childbirth. Most often, this illness is caused by a real or perceived trauma during delivery or postpartum.
Emotional support and encouragement are vital during labor and birth. Prayer provides spiritual support. Here are some ways that an expectant mom can plan for good support.
Consider having a midwife for birth attendant. Do some research on home birth, freestanding birth centers, and midwifery practices.
Choose a doula to attend the labor and birth, in addition to the doctor or midwife. Doulas are trained in comfort measures for labor and positioning techniques to assist the progress of labor. Some doulas will attend hospital births.
Have a close family member go to prenatal classes with you, being prepared to give support during labor. While Lamaze classes have typically expected the husband to be the support person, sometimes another woman is more able.
Develop a practice of prayer and trust in the Lord.
My daughters’ husbands were with them throughout labor. I was the extra support. Assisting my daughters and praying with them has been a wonderful experience.
If you have a daughter or friend who is pregnant, perhaps you will have the opportunity to pray with her and encourage her.