A Rose, Love and the Savior are in this Old Carol

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming

The violins, piano and voices of the choir gave a beautiful rendition of an old German carol. I was swept away from the news reports and troubles in our community. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Here are the lyrics to this carol, Lo How A Rose:

Low, how a rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
As saints of old hath sung.

It came a flower bright,
Amid the cold of winter.
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah foretold it.
The rose I have in mind.
With Mary we behold it
The virgins mother kind.

To show God’s love aright
She bore to us a Savior
When half spent was the night,
When half spent was the night.

O Rose, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispel in glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere.

True man, yet very God.
From sin and death now save us
And share our every load.

Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Alleluia
Sing alleluia

A Rose, Love and A Savior

The apostle Peter knew much about the troubles in this world. He had walked with Jesus and had seen the crucifixion. He saw the empty tomb and the risen Lord. He had shared a meal with Jesus after the resurrection. He was there when Jesus instructed the disciples to make disciples of all nations. Peter had been in prison for his faith and from his experiences he wrote:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxious cares on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5: 6-7

We have so much to celebrate! Tomorrow night we will go to our grandchildren’s Christmas program. Each year adds new memories. I still remember the Christmas programs that I participated in as a child.  It is a blessing to see the grandchildren singing carols  and     reciting scripture verses.

Linking with Grace & Truth,  Essential Fridays,  Titus 2sday,  Hope in Every Season,  WholeHearted WednesdayA Little R & R,  Tuesdays with a TwistInspire Me Monday,  Soul Survival,  Reflect, the Art of Homemaking and Word of God Speak

The Family is Under Attack

The school board in my town met, and the community was invited. The federal government—specifically the Office of Civil Rights— has demanded that a transgender student be given full access to female locker rooms and restrooms.

School District 211

The meeting place, a high school cafeteria,  was packed.  Seats      extended to the back wall and people were standing at both sides of the room. The meeting was intended for residents of the school district but a large contingent of the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) community from the surrounding towns and city of Chicago showed up. They were carrying placards and wearing stickers in support of the transgender student.

Attendees were allowed to sign up for a 3-minute speaking slot, to express their opinion to the school board. When the first three speakers were from the LGBT group a gentleman called for a point of order. He walked toward the front of the room and stated that speakers should be living in the school district. The school board president asked him to sit down or be escorted out of the room.

My heart ached  as  one transgender or adult homosexual partner   after another testified to the pain in their life. And when a teenage girl said that she had just discovered that she was bisexual, she was given a round of applause.

A doctor said that it is impossible to distinguish the gender of an individual from their anatomy. Instead there are some internal markers. Really?

Teenage girls stood up to explain their discomfort and the awkwardness of having a transgender student in the locker room when they shower and change for swimming class.

Fathers spoke up in defense of their daughters. Teenage girls have a right to privacy.

One speaker for the LGBT community said that times have changed. The standards that we once had no longer exist. It is a new age.

The air was heavy and I tried to pray.

An article titled Educating for the Kingdom by Gerhard Cardinal Müller is in the current issue of Plough. Müller writes:

Rather, education is the entrusting of a gift from one generation to the next. The older generation’s accumulated culture, learning and skills are given as an unearned gift to the younger. But this gift also carries a responsibility: the younger generation must make the gift a reality in their own lives.

Overnight I have been wrestling with thoughts about the meeting. Families are breaking down. Divorce and single parent families are common. Children are susceptible to deception. We are experiencing spiritual warfare. Images from the Lord of the Rings come to mind. Remember the black riders? They were trying to get Frodo. In place of Frodo, I could visualize them seeking to destroy the family.

Pray for families.

Pray  for  the teens that are seeing so many distorted versions of    sexuality.

Pray for wisdom, compassion and kindness in sharing the truth of God’s design of the family.   God is good, and His ways are for our   benefit.

A Flower that Survives the Snowstorms

It is December in Illinois, and throughout our neighborhood there are winter decorations.

December_4882

We have a wreath on our door.

Christmas

My display of angels celebrating the birth of Jesus is in our foyer.

Christmas

We have had two snowstorms and to my surprise the calendula flower has two buds. It may still bloom! I love this flower.

Calendula survies snowstorms
Calendula Buds

Linking with Friendship Friday,  A Little R & R,  Tuesdays with a Twist and Sue’s Wordless

image-in-ing

Christmas Cards for the Persecuted Church

 

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Do the images of refugees fleeing Syria tug at your heart? Have you seen news reports of churches destroyed in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq and other countries?

We are blessed in the United States although the tragedies taking place around the world touch us too. The shootings at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado and the horrible massacre in San Bernadino are a grievous loss of life.

But we don’t have the level of persecution that is taking place in Africa and the Middle East. Is there anything we can do?

On Sunday morning we had a speaker from the Voice of the Martyrs. This organization provides support to the persecuted Church. We can pray for believers that have been imprisoned for their faith by name. Click here to go to the site provided by VOM.

Next Sunday members of our church will devote an hour to writing Christmas cards that will be sent to prisoners.  The site mentioned above takes you through the process of writing a message in the      prisoner’s language and provides addresses.

credit: antiqueclipart.com
credit: antiqueclipart.com

I am pleased that Voice of the Martyrs also has a website with items that can be purchased as gifts. Buying items from the store or giving a donation supports the work of this organization. Click here.

It was a blessing to hear stories about the people that are turning to the Lord in the face of persecution. An article in the current VOM newsletter is titled, Great Evil, Great Revival.  The article describes the persecution AND the revival taking place in evangelical churches. Our speaker told us about an ISIS soldier that has become a Christian, about Moslems that are reading the Bible and seeking truth.

We can pray for many more to be saved, for God to be glorified and for the endurance of all believers!

Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12: 1-3

Linking with Essential FridaysThought Provoking Thursday,  A Little R & R,  Worshipful WednesdayWholeHearted WednesdaySoul Survival,  Reflect and the Art of Homemaking

Did Mary Have a Midwife?

Chicago Nativity
Nativity in Chicago

As I sat down to write our annual Christmas letter I was reflecting on gospel accounts by Matthew and Luke. It is apparent that the people of Judea lived in fearful times under Roman rule. Injustice, corruption and violence were common. A young woman lived in Nazareth, north of Judea, during this turbulent time.

My thoughts turned to Mary—and the grace shown to her by God. God sent an angel to speak directly with her. The angel gives her an amazing message.

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1: 30-33

Wow!   Mary asks how this is possible, and then responds with          obedience.

And Mary said, “Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1: 38

We know that Mary was encouraged and guided by her cousin         Elizabeth. ( Luke 1: 39-56) God’s timing for the pregnancies of these two women was a provision and a gift. The two women spent three months together. Elizabeth gave birth just months before Mary.

The time spent with Elizabeth prepared Mary for her own labor and birth—not that it was easy.  She was away from Nazareth and her      family.

And Joseph went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.                             Luke 2:4-7

As a labor/delivery nurse I have worked in hospitals with all the technology and interventions that are common today. I am pleased that God chose to send Jesus to a young woman who would give birth      simply. The design of her body was enough.  Perhaps she had a      midwife with her. The scripture doesn’t tell us.

My experience with home birth helps me get an idea of the birth of     Jesus. Birth can be a natural physiologic process. I saw the way endorphins (natural pain relief hormones released by the body) assisted women during labor. With position changes they were able to cope with contractions that gradually became more intense. I also saw women and their husbands lean in to prayer, seeking strength from God. It was both refining and empowering.

Virgin Mary
Painting by Andrea Mantegna (1431 – 1506) Public Domain

Mary is an example for us. She was obedient and resilient. She knew the scriptures and the history of God’s faithfulness to Israel. She trusted God.

God is good. He is sovereign. The birth of Jesus is a magnificent chapter in God’s plan of salvation.

Linking with Good Morning Mondays, Monday’s Musings,  Word of God Speak, Weekend WhispersEssential Fridays,  Thought Provoking Thursday,  A Little R & R and WholeHearted Wednesday

First Snowfall

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.

First Snowfall

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!

Linking with Tuesdays with a Twist,  A Little R & R and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

Thanksgiving and Ancient Questions

 

Thanksgiving

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

Bible

Linking with Essential Fridays,  A Little R & R,  WholeHearted Wednesday,  Titus 2sday,  Words with Winter and Word of God Speak

Passion of The Suffragettes: What About Today?

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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.

This is from an article published by  the  Global Health Work Force  Alliance:

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?

  1. 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.
  2. Write letters to people of influence and to representatives in congress. Change in the Indiana policy came with people writing letters.
  3. Use social media to express opinions with clarity and civility.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Linking with Tuesdays with a TwistA Little R & R,  Friendship Friday,  WholeHearted Home,  Titus 2sdayHope in Every Season, and the Art of Homemaking

Promise of Spring as Winter Approaches

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.

Promise of Spring

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.

Let us always look for the signs of spring!

Promise of spring

Linking with Weekend Whispers,  Essential Fridays,  Thought Provoking Thursday,  Words with Winter,  Word of God SpeakFriendship Friday and Faith Filled Friday

Should the Flu Shot Be Mandated?

Flu shots

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.

The flu vaccine may not be very effective this winter, according to U.S. health officials who worry this may lead to more serious illnesses and deaths.

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,[1] 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.

Nurse
Image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

Linking with A Little R & R, WholeHearted Home and Tuesdays with a Twist