Keeping a Positive Outlook During the Pandemic

Today I woke up to snow decorating the trees and covering the ground. I was drawn to spending time outside.

The hyacinths in front of our house were still peeking up, despite the snow.

The sound of many birds twittering and whistling filled the morning air. As I took a walk through our neighborhood I caught sight of a couple robins.

Can you pick out the robin in the tree?

It was refreshing to walk in the brisk cold air–a few other walkers were out as well.

A variety of activities and tactics are helpful in this unusual time.

My morning Bible study is an essential part of my day. Did you know that the Bible has hundreds of reference to fear? This pandemic is stirring fear and panic, but God’s word tells us to fear God alone. I need to remind myself each day. The following verses give instruction.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! Psalm 111:10

Jesus said: I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why even the hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not, you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:4-7

I have begun to limit the amount of time I spend watching news briefs. I read books. Sunday morning we met with our church from our home through the zoom platform. Last night I watched an episode of Call the Midwife. Almost every day I have FaceTime with my daughters and grandchildren. We are blessed with the technology that allows us to stay in touch.

How are you doing? What is helping you during this time of isolation?

This post is shared with Sue’s image-in-ing.

No Fear of Tomorrow

We are in challenging times . . . like people who came before us. I think of the civil war, the Spanish flu, World War II. The Bible records times when fear hung over the people of Israel. Currently I am studying the book of Ezra.

After 70 years of captivity in Babylon, Zerrubabel led a return to the land of Israel to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Ezra 3:3 records: They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening. When fear grips us we need to turn to the Lord.

I am reminded of God’s words to Joshua. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

We can trust in God as we make changes in our daily life, as our circumstances change. God’s word is rich with promises and examples of God’s faithfulness.

Your hands have made me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.

Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word.

I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.

Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. Psalm 119:73-76

On St. Patricks day I listened to the press conferences on the growing pandemic. I spent time on the computer gathering information. It made me weary and stressed. I was glad to receive notification of an evening hymn sing that Keith and Kristen Getty provided on their facebook page. Their concerts have been canceled, but they sang hymns from their home, and it warmed my heart. You can find it here.

Spring is coming. God is faithful. We don’t need to fear tomorrow.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: TOMORROW

A Time for Steadfast Faith

Currently I am studying the book of Ezra with women of my church. We looked at the reason that God allowed Israel’s captivity in Babylon. One reason was their failure to give the land its Sabbath rest. I read about the Sabbath rest that God commanded his people. I have been chewing on this. What would it look like today?

The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath rest to the Lord. For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather its fruits, but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard . . . . The Sabbath of the land shall provide food for you . . . Leviticus 25: 1-4, 6

God commanded an amazing pause in their activity. Was it for more time in relationship to Him and their family?

The pandemic is leading to cancellations in events, conferences and sports. It is a time to pause.

Less time for busyness and distraction.

More time for family meals. More time for Bible study and reflection. More time to be aware of the needs of our neighbor. More time to pray for nurses, doctors and health care providers. More time to pray for revival.

A time for steadfast faith.

UPDATE 3/17/2020: For families with children home from school it can be a challenge to find materials to keep children busy. My daughter is using Louie Giglio’s book, How Great is Our God: 100 Indescribable Devotions About God and Science, for devotions and to launch some study of science.

This also is a good time for children to help with household activities–cooking, baking, cleaning and laundry.

This post is shared with Kate’s Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: LESS I am also joining the link-up with Anita’s Inspire Me Monday.

A Meal to Spark Memories

My mother’s birthday was last month. We celebrated her 98 years. She is cared for in a nursing home in Michigan. She has significant memory loss and is wheelchair bound.

She recognizes family as familiar people and is happy to see us. Sometimes she reverts to the language of her childhood, Finnish. I can only catch the drift of what she is saying.

When she was a child her mother made pasties—meat, potatoes and rutabaga wrapped in pastry. It was a typical meal for miners. My mother’s father worked in the copper mines.

This Upper Michigan specialty was passed on to us. Mom made pasties for our family. We had summer vacations in Upper Michigan and visited relatives there. On a sunny day we would take a picnic basket full of warm pasties, some soda or juice and a thermos of coffee for a picnic lunch at a park along the shore of Lake Superior.

So for her birthday we had a pasty lunch. I brought pasties that I had made at home. My sister and our husbands were able to set a table in the activity room at the nursing home. Mom was more alert and talkative than she has been lately. It was a lovely day.

Here is my recipe for pasties:

Pastry:

3 C. flour

½ tsp. salt

2/3 C. shortening

1 egg yolk,  reserve the egg white

½ C + 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.  Add the water slowly and stop when all is moistened. 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.

Filling:

1 lb. round steak, diced or coarsely ground

1 C. rutabaga, chopped

½ C. finely chopped onion

4 large potatoes, peeled and diced

1+ ½ tsp. salt

   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. Whisk the reserved egg white until it is a little bubbly; then brush the pasties with the egg white.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  Serve hot.

NOTE: Optional additions to the filling include chopped carrots, shredded kale, garlic, herbs.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: TABLE

Book Review: The Third Daughter

When I scanned the cover of the newly released book, The Third Daughter, I saw that it was the story of a Russian girl in the late 1800s. It is a period of time that I am studying.

If I had read further I would have realized that Talia Carner has written about a tragic period of Jewish history. While the pogroms were taking place in Russia, Jewish men were tricking families to give their young daughters in marriage to wealthy men who lived across the ocean.

But there were no marriages. The author brings to life the horror of sex trafficking. As Carner tells the story we travel with Batya (a fourteen year old girl) from a Russian shtetl across the ocean to Argentina where she is enslaved in a brothel.

Batya is a fictional character, but the brothels were real. They were legal in Argentina and protected by the government from the 1890s to 1939. The prostitutes were owned by their pimps.

Throughout the book there is a thread of hope, and a lingering love of family roots. Batya finds courage as she seeks to reunite with her family.

As I read the book I thought about girls that are trapped in poverty, on the margins of society. Laws that allow abortion without parental consent or provide funds for abortion on demand allow these girls to be sexually abused. Weak immigration laws that allow girls to be brought into this country by coyotes or pimps leaves the door open for the trafficking of girls. The sad truth is that sex trafficking is very much a current evil.

Women Who Took Risks

Yesterday I visited the Hull House museum with my husband. I am gathering insight into Chicago during the 1890s. 

It is impressive to learn about the work that a group of young women undertook to assist the immigrant population during a period of tremendous influx. They had a vision for a settlement house.

The city was growing faster than it could accommodate the immigrants of many languages and cultures. The tenements around Hull House were overcrowded and unsanitary.

Jane Addams, Ellen Gates Starr, Julia Lathrop and others were willing to settle in an unsavory neighborhood. Did they consider the risk to themselves? Or were they filled with a passion to help make a better world?

After a couple hours at the museum we went to the Chicago History Museum. This museum has a wonderful research library. I found pamphlets about the Chicago Bible Society which was founded around 1850. 

The pamphlets detailed the work of the Bible Society, making Bibles available in many languages. The number of Bible Society Workers was also listed.

Young women were trained to make home visits and teach the Bible. I read a couple of accounts where women facing difficult circumstances were encouraged by the visit and looked forward to weekly visits.

It is inspiring to read the stories of women who had a positive impact in a city with many problems. 

In the third chapter of Titus, Paul encourages believers to be devoted to good works. He is careful to say that the good works don’t save us. We are saved by grace through Jesus.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior . . . The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. Titus 3: 3-6,8

Sometimes good works involves risk.

This post is linked to the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: RISK Also shared with Inspire Me Monday.

Medical Freedom for Families

Over the past couple of years I have tracked legislation occurring across our country with regard to childhood vaccinations. Because one of my children developed fibromyalgia after a vaccine I am sensitive to this issue.

In 1986 the federal government passed a bill, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, that gave pharmaceutical companies immunity from lawsuits. The pharmaceuticals were threatening to stop making vaccines because they were being sued so often. 

Since that bill passed the number of vaccines has escalated. Despite wording in the bill that required the Health and Human Services department to identify children that could be harmed by a vaccine and a directive to improve safety testing, that has not happened!

Doctors are not trained to observe side effects or long term consequences involving the immune system caused by a vaccine. It is the parents that are seeing the effects of vaccination, but when they report the changes in their child they are often told that it is just coincidence. What can a parent do against the power of the pharmaceutical and medical establishment?

Parents have relied on medical and religious exemptions to protect their child. 

Other corrective measures could be taken. The government could rescind the 1986 law and hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for inadequate safety testing. Medical and nursing schools could train health care workers to observe and document side effects of vaccines.  It has been reported that medical students get a half day of teaching on vaccines that amounts to accepting the CDC schedule of vaccines.

Nurses and doctors could listen carefully with an open mind to parents.  

California has passed the most government intrusive legislation. All religious exemptions for vaccines have been taken away. A parent who protests the use of aborted fetal tissue to produce the MMR vaccine must comply with the state in order for their child to be allowed to attend school. 

When a doctor in California writes a medical exemption for a child who has been injured by a vaccine or a child with a medical condition, that exemption must be approved by a bureaucrat in the the state health department. If a doctor writes six or more exemptions in one year he/she will be placed under state surveillance. Why such a heavy hand to protect a vaccine schedule that has more than ten times the number of vaccines given in the 1960s?

My state is moving in a direction that takes decisions about health care away from parents. New vaccine bills are being presented in the Illinois House and Senate. The Illinois House is proposing HB 4870. This bill would require all children entering sixth grade to receive the HPV vaccine and have completed the the series of three vaccines before entering ninth grade.

HPV (human papilloma virus) is transmitted by sexual contact. This infection is not transmitted in a classroom. There is no reason to bar a child from school if he/she has not received this vaccine. For more information click here.

HPV may cause cervical cancer but the changes in cervical cells occurs slowly and can be picked up by pap smears and treated effectively. If a parent/young woman chooses this type of management, why force a vaccine that has been shown to have significant risk?

The Illinois Senate is proposing SB 3668. This bill would remove religious exemptions, restrict medical exemptions and lowers the age when a minor can consent to vaccines without parent approval. For more information click here.

As a nurse I have watched the movement to develop one-size-fits-all medical policies. It deeply concerns me that a long list of vaccines for all children despite their different health histories is being pushed.

As citizens of this country we need to be aware of the legislation that is being passed. We should get to know our local legislators and communicate with them. During local and national elections we should be voting to make our voices heard.

This post is shared with Tuesdays with a Twist and Anita’s link-up, Inspire Me Monday

My Experience with Self Publishing

Fifteen years ago I began writing a novel with the intention to honor the immigrant women that came to Upper Michigan during the copper mining boom. My grandmother was one of those women.

As I wrote I was also comparing childbirth experiences in the early 1900s with modern birth experiences.

In 2009 I signed a contract with a publisher that handled self publishing and in 2010 my book, Aliisa’s Letter: Legacy of Faith was published.

The cost of publishing was more than I expected. My daughter took over the role of editor when I realized the limited editing offered by the publishing company. And she did a terrific job!

When the book was completed I needed to promote it. And the costs increased. There were fees for promotional materials and services. In the end I spent more than I received back in book sales. 

I learned a great deal about the publishing industry and myself. This also was the motivation for beginning a blog—which has helped my writing.  

One store has successfully sold my book over the years—Copper World in Calumet, Michigan.

When the publishing company I was contracted with folded in January of 2014, after a year of troubling rumors and accusations, I bought a final supply of books. 

I don’t regret my choice to self publish. It was a hard but good learning experience. Would I self publish again? I would explore more options and ask a lot of questions.

Recently I read another book about women in Upper Michigan in the early 1900s. A best selling author was intrigued by events in Calumet and wrote The Women of the Copper Country. This book focused on the the experience of immigrant women during the 1913 copper miner’s strike.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: EXPERIENCE

Giving an Encouraging Word

Talent: characteristic feature, aptitude or disposition of a person; the natural endowments of a person

Words matter. They can encourage or deter creative pursuits. I still remember two elementary school teachers that I had. The orchestra teacher told me that I had no musical ability and discouraged me from attempting to play the violin. (I heard don’t try to be involved in any musical activities.) 

An art teacher said that I had artistic ability and recommended that I be included in a special art class. I was encouraged and blessed by this opportunity.

As parents, grandparents and teachers we desire to guide children, helping them to realize their potential. I know I tried to do that for my children. I see it as my role as grandmother, to speak encouraging words.

What about in the church? Do I recognize the talents of my fellow believers and encourage them? 

God has given each of us a role. We can encourage each other along the way.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

This post is shared with Inspire Me Monday and the Five Minute Friday writing community.

Living Word

In A.D. 64 the apostle Paul was in prison in Rome. The Emperor Nero was persecuting Christians and Paul was facing execution.

It is hard to imagine being in these circumstances. What would I do?

Paul wrote a letter to Timothy whom he loved like a son. He gave instructions for going forward in faith. Paul believed that life went beyond physical life on earth. 

Paul once wrote to the church at Corinth: So we are of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

Throughout the letter to Timothy Paul anchors his instructions in the scriptures. Paul has completed his role and is passing the torch of faith to Timothy.

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG

This is a wonderful reason to spend time studying God’s word.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: LIFE