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.
My husband and I spent a few days in Upper Michigan. We were working on projects at an old farmhouse—a place I have visited almost every year, as far back as I can remember. We also enjoyed the peak fall color while driving and hiking.
The trees in Upper Michigan are in splendid color. It is like a song of praise to the creator.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth into joyous song and sing praises. Psalm 98:4
The Lord God is magnificent. He holds every detail of our world in his hand. He is sovereign over all things. I look forward to the completion of his plans for us.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness. Psalm 96: 12b-13
The sage in my garden is thriving. This summer it flowered.
The beautiful weather this fall has extended our growing season. I have plenty of sage. The texture of the leaves has an artistic appearance, lovely to the touch.
I am going to use it in some in apple-sage-cheddar muffins. The muffins can be gluten free by using brown rice flour instead of unbleached white flour.
1 cup flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh sage leaves
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 apple, peeled, cored and grated
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup butter, melted and cooled
½ cup plain yogurt
Heat the oven to 375°. Lightly grease a muffin tin with twelve muffin cups. (I like to preheat the muffin pan by putting it in the oven 5 minutes before I am going to put the batter in the pan.)
Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sage and salt in a large bowl. Add the grated apple and grated cheese, mixing them with the dry ingredients.
In a medium size bowl combine the eggs, honey, melted butter and milk with lemon juice. Add the egg mixture to the flour & apple mixture. Mix until just combined.
Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Leave the muffins in the tin to cool and then turn out and enjoy!!
Every year as I begin a new Bible study, the book chosen speaks to me in my circumstances. The book of Acts begins with the disciples and a group of believers facing many challenges. Prayer is mentioned frequently.
All these [disciples] with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. Acts 1:14
The news today is full of unrest, globally and in our country. My family needs wisdom in providing for my mother and brother—their health is declining. I have a leadership role in our church and we need wisdom in making decisions. I need to pray with my family and with my church. The words of the Psalmist resonate with me.
O Lord, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you. Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry! Psalm 88:2
A verse in Micah is both a comfort and an admonition to wait on the Lord.
But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7
Paul gives more instruction in his letter to the Ephesians.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Ephesians 6: 16-17
Prayer should be woven through my day, a pattern in my life. When I have joined hands with family, friends and fellow believers in prayer, we have experienced a bonding, a deepening of our relationship.
Are you stressed? Can you join hands with another believer and pray?
Give us, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards. Give us an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out. Give us an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon us also, O Lord our God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Thomas Aquino)
The pasty came to the Keweenaw Peninsula of northern Michigan with Cornish miners. The Finns caught on to the hearty meal that was portable. Meat and vegetables wrapped in pastry made a filling lunch during the long hours in the mine.
My grandfathers were miners, and pasties were served for family dinners. It is a meal that invites group participation for preparation. This year I have had a steady supply of kale and thyme in my garden—and I added them to my pasties.
1 lb. round steak, diced or coarsely ground
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 clove of garlic finely minced
1 cup chopped and steamed kale leaves
1 cup rutabaga, chopped
½ cup finely chopped onion
4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 + ½ tsp. salt
Combine olive oil, vinegar, thyme and minced garlic. Mix into the chopped meat. Allow the meat marinate in the refrigerator while preparing the pastry and the vegetables.
3 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
2/3 cup shortening
1 egg yolk
½ cup + 2 Tblsp. cold water
1 Tblsp. cider vinegar
Combine flour and salt. Cut in the shortening until it appears as coarse crumbs. Mix the egg yolk, water and vinegar. Gradually add this to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork. Mix just until it holds together. If needed added additional water a tablespoon at a time. Divide the dough into six portions and roll out each portion to a 9” circle. Set aside.
Cut the kale into pieces and steam it for about 3 minutes.
Chop the rutabaga and potatoes into about 1” pieces. Chop the onion finely. Add the vegetables and salt to the meat mixture. Mix well.
Place a generous cup of filling on half of each dough circle. Fold the other half of dough over the filling and crimp the edges. Place the pasties on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve hot.
The letter R in MMR stands for rubella. When I was a kid we called it the German measles. (Not to be confused with regular measles–or rubeola–which was in the news this year.) My siblings and I all had rubella when we were growing up; we got a fever and a rash. We stayed home from school for a few days. According to the CDC the symptoms are often mild and complications don’t happen often. Adults are more likely to have complications than children.
But rubella can cause birth defects if a woman has rubella during pregnancy. The vaccine issue popped up again as I worked on some continuing education for nursing. After reading about lab tests that check for infections during pregnancy, I went to the CDC’s page about rubella.
Being infected with rubella in the first three months of pregnancy has the most risk. The rubella virus can affect every organ in the body of the developing fetus. According to the CDC this is the reason that the rubella vaccine was developed—to avoid congenital rubella. The virus can also have delayed effects. Here is the quote that jumped off the page.
Manifestations of CRS [congenital rubella syndrome]may be delayed from 2 to 4 years. Diabetes mellitus appearing in later childhood occurs frequently in children with CRS. In addition, progressive encephalopathy resembling subacute sclerosing panencephalitis has been observed in some older children with CRS. Children with CRS have a higher than expected incidence of autism.
Recently I was reading research reports that described the development of the rubella vaccine. Timo Vesikari described the research in an article.
Under the seniors I was to do much of the work: vaccinate pregnant women prescreened to be seronegative for rubella and scheduled to have a legal abortion a week or two later. The plan was to isolate rubella (vaccine) virus from the products of conception [the baby] and, in fact, we succeeded in doing that. *
The process of developing the rubella vaccine involves viable fetal cells that are infected with rubella. The line of fetal cells is used to make the vaccine. This is an ingredient in the rubella vaccine that became available in 1969.
The full list of ingredients in the current MMR according to the CDC’s website: Medium 199, Minimum Essential Medium, Phosphate, recombinant human albumin, neomycin, sorbitol, hydrolyzed gelatin, chick embryo cell culture, WI-38 human diploid lung fibroblasts. WI-38 refers to the specific line of cells developed from an aborted fetus of approximately 3 months gestation.
Why does this bother me? The combined measles-mumps-rubella vaccine became part of the vaccine schedule in 1971. [Note: the vaccine developed from fetal cells became standard in 1979] At 12 or 15 months of age children received the first dose of the MMR vaccine. In 1970 the rate of autism was 1 in 10,000. In 2012 the rate was 1 in 88. The rate continues to become more frequent. Click here to see a chart with the increasing rate of autism.
If a fetus that is infected with the virus during pregnancy can show long-term effects on health during childhood, is it possible that in some children the vaccine can cause long-term effects? Is there a time period that the vaccine is more risky? Is it possible that the rubella portion of the MMR, in combination with other factors, contributes to the rising autism rate? A large number of research studies indicate that this is possible. Click here for a link to the studies.
Do we completely understand how the vaccine impacts a toddler over a period of years? The current vaccine injury program requires that severe reactions be documented in a timely fashion. Only with this documentation can the family have a hearing before a special court. If the court decides that a vaccine caused the injury, the family is compensated. The U.S. government has paid out 3.2 billion dollars in compensation for vaccine injuries.
Who is looking for the side effects that may occur over an extended period of time? Who believes the observations of parents? Coincidence or side effects?
The current CDC schedule requires 2 doses of the MMR: first one at age of 12 – 15 months, second one at age 4 – 6 years. The second dose is given because 2 – 5% of children don’t develop an immune response after one dose. If a child has had one MMR vaccine she may not need a second dose. A blood test can determine if a child has antibodies. A second dose might not be necessary.
In hindsight I wish that I had been better informed about vaccines when my children were little. I urge parents to become educated on this topic. As Christians, how do we feel about the injection of cells derived from an aborted fetus into a healthy toddler? a child whose immune system is still developing?
CORRECTION: Although the rubella vaccine from fetal cells was developed in 1969 it was not initially accepted in the United States. The first rubella vaccine was developed from duck embryos. The vaccine developed from fetal cells was licensed in the U.S. in 1979 and replaced the vaccine developed from duck embryos.
*Vesikari, Timo, M.D., PhD., “From Rubella to Rotavirus and Beyond”, Human Vaccines & Immunotherapies, vol. 11, issue 6, 2015 pp. 1302-1305.
It was a big event this week. My husband and I (like so many others) sat outside last Sunday night to watch the lunar eclipse. We had a good view of the blood moon. I took some pictures that are kind of fuzzy and saw many great pictures on Facebook. I even saw photos from Finland and Israel. It seems that whole world was watching.
It brought to mind thoughts of Jesus return. I wonder if the whole world will be watching then. We are beginning to see events mentioned in the Bible related to the end times. Is the blood moon one of the signs?
The blood moon is a curious event. Three things coincide: a full moon, the moon is at the closest range (a super moon) and a lunar eclipse. These events cause the moon to appear a deep orange color–a blood moon.
The remarkable view in last Sunday’s night sky, coinciding with the Jewish feast of tabernacles, was on my mind when I went to Bible study on Tuesday. We are studying Acts. We talked about the following verses in our discussion.
Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Acts 2:18-21
We all want to know the timing, but Jesus said that only the Father knows this. (Acts 1: 7)
So we must be attentive to the signs and live expectantly. The second epistle of Peter has additional instructions.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the day of God . . . II Peter 3: 10-12a
We live in challenging times. We need to be attentive, faithful and bold in our witness. God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness.
As a mom I breastfed my babies–learning more with each child. As nurse and grandma I have had experience in helping new moms to establish breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has many health benefits, but sometimes there are hurdles to get over. I have collected some articles that address problems and best practices.
Have you heard of the breast crawl? Research has shown that if newborn infant is placed on its tummy, skin to skin with mother following birth, the infant is has built in reflexes that help him seek and suckle the breast. This should take place within 90 minutes of a healthy birth.
This finding has led to a new understanding of best positions for breastfeeding. In an article in Mothering, Nancy Mohrbacher writes:
Every brand-new baby comes into the world with a whole repertoire of responses that are custom designed by Mother Nature to make baby an active breastfeeding partner. Baby is born with what’s needed so that–when conditions are right–breastfeeding and bonding happen easily and naturally. These responses work best when baby lies tummy down on mother with gravity anchoring baby there. Read more here.
It is also important over the next 48 hours, to observe the infant for cues that show an interest in breastfeeding. The baby should breastfeed on demand–8 to 12 feedings in 24 hours. Sometimes problems occur in the first month. I have been aware of moms that gave up. They were breastfeeding frequently but the baby wasn’t satisfied.
It could be an incorrect latch at the breast. The baby might be restricted in achieving a good suck because tongue is tied more closely to the gums. Heather at Mommypotamus.com has written a post with detailed explanation of tongue and lip ties. She includes photos and advice from an expert doctor. Click here to read her post.
After persevering through the early weeks and then months of breastfeeding, a mom can be surprised when the baby suddenly refuses to breastfeed. This could be a nursing strike. To understand this phenomena read Nancy Mohrbacher’s article. Click here.
Many moms have to return to work. The breast pump offers a way to continue. One mom worked out a schedule for maintaining breastfeeding by successfully pumping. She shares her story here.
It is true. Breastfeeding requires patience, commitment and support from the family. Sometimes expert help is needed. During times of difficulty it is good to remember the health benefits for mom and baby.
A Swedish study demonstrated that women who breastfeed their babies have a reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Click here.
A Canadian study explained the role of healthy bacteria in the gut. Infants that are breastfed develop healthy microbes in the gut and are less likely to develop allergies. Click here.
Whether a mom breastfeeds or bottle-feeds her infant, she needs the support and encouragement of family and friends. Mothering a newborn is both wonderful and very demanding.