My Third Trip to Grand Rapids

This past Monday I made my third trip to Grand Rapids in two weeks. I sat at my mother’s bedside in the hospital through the day and through the night. She has dementia and the hospital stay was traumatic and disorienting. I am thankful that she has been released from the hospital and is back at the nursing home. Questions remain about whether her condition will stabilize.

She was encouraged by the presence of my sisters and me. I was glad to pray and sing for her. Driving home I enjoyed seeing the beginning of fall colors along Michigan highways.

It is hard to deal with end of life issues. I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. When I arrived home I noticed the zinnias along the front walkway. They are continuing to bloom and have a certain majesty.

Majestic Zinnia

Beauty of creation and sorrow of approaching death. This is a great mystery that can only be resolved by God’s promises.

Then last night I sat on the floor with my 10-month-old grandson. He crawled around the family room eager to examine every item available to his touch. (Toys were not his first choice.)

I was delighted when he crawled over to me and smiled. As he tried to vocalize sounds I repeated what I heard. This brought joyful giggles. We were communicating and he was thrilled.

Zinnia

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is DISCOVERY.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

The Midwife’s Story

A number of years ago I read an article about a Finnish midwife. In 1909 she had been at the center of a court case, determining the legality of midwifery in Massachusetts. She had been arrested a number of times (despite the fact that her statistics for live births were better than most doctors practicing in the area).

I was struck by her determination, her sisu, in serving childbearing women in Gardner, Massachusetts. Why did she persist after multiple court appearances and a three-month sentence in the House of Corrections?

Her persistence fascinated me. So I began researching her life. I visited Gardner, Massachusetts and found her burial place in the Crystal Lake Cemetery. During the trip that my husband and I made to Finland, I visited the parish where she lived. The church records listed the significant dates in her life.

The court cases that were brought against Hanna influenced the decline of midwifery in the first half of the twentieth century. I am in the process of writing her story.

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is STORY.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

High School Homecoming: Guidance for Our Daughters

This coming weekend is homecoming for a couple of local high schools. My grandson will be in the marching band for the homecoming parade and football game. It’s an exciting weekend for him.

I am remembering the years that my daughters participated in homecoming at their high school:  decorations for the dance, the flag team, powder puff football and the homecoming dance.

It was also a stretching experience for me as mom. When I was in high school I did not attend school dances and had limited participation in school activities. My family attended a fundamental Christian church that believed dancing was a sin.

My husband and I chose to guide our girls in school activities. Homecoming can be a memorable time in high school, learning about relationships. Some things I did well,  and some things I could have done better. Always learning.

The most important piece was communication, and more communication. I wanted to know about the plans and the boy escorting for the dance. My daughters weren’t always pleased all the questions and advice. But when I was driving my younger daughter to events she was stuck in the car. She couldn’t get away and had to listen to me.

Years later she has thanked me for the conversations and advice.

As homecoming approached we had to find dresses. We had some boundaries for price and modesty. It took lots of shopping to find suitable dresses.

My daughters always went to the dance with a group of couples. They took pictures together, had a meal together and then went to the dance. The group setting took pressure off the couple—they were just learning about dating.

Underlying all the advice, I hope I the message of loving concern love was clear. My husband and I set boundaries because we did not want them to be hurt. We let them know when we expected them home.

The final instruction that we gave them: if at anytime they were in an uncomfortable situation, they could call us. We would come to pick them up with no questions asked.

After my girls finished high school and went on to college I continued to learn about issues in our culture and the confusing messages about sexuality. (A parent never stops learning!) One daughter went to Marquette University and was introduced to the theology of the body—taught by Pope John Paul II. We discussed the theology of the body at home and the sacred bond between a man and a woman in marriage.

These discussions helped steer my daughter to a healthy marriage.

Through one of my daughter’s friends I became aware of a group that is pushing back against the policies that are harmful to women, Women Speak for Themselves. In 2016 I attended a conference in Washington D.C. I am convinced that Christian women need to have a voice about sexuality. We have a positive message as we share God’s design for men and women.

You can check out the website for Women Speak for Themselves here.

A Lifeline for Our Soul

The September heat wave is over. While the temperature soared into the 90s we did not get any rain, and my herbs needed frequent watering. I grow thyme, basil and dill in pots.

The basil was always first to alert me. The leaves would begin to droop and I would get out the watering can. Just an hour after watering the basil was revived.

Lifeline for the Soul
Basil

With all the discord in our culture, my spirit can get dry. When my spirit is dry I am short tempered; my words are not gracious. I may miss an opportunity that God has placed in my path.

I need the refreshment of God’s word and I need time in prayer. I am glad to participate in a weekly Bible study. I am motivated to spend time in the Bible each day, working on the lesson.

The Bible and prayer refresh my spirit—it’s like a drink of water. //

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
Psalm 42: 1-2

I was fortunate to see Rep. Scalise’s speech to the House of Representatives when he returned to the House floor. Just happened to turn the TV on. He had been shot at a baseball field where congressmen were playing a baseball game for charity.

He talked about the power of prayer. As he lay wounded on the ground, waiting for the ambulance, he prayed. He prayed for himself and the others that were on the baseball field. During his speech he gave thanks for the way God answered his prayers.

We can bring every situation to the Lord in prayer, remembering to give thanks for God’s faithfulness.

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This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Many thanks to Kate Motaung, our gracious leader. Today’s prompt is DEPEND.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

I am also joining Grace & Truth link-up and Lyli’s community of faith, Faith on Fire.

Job’s Prayer is Acceptable

My Bible Lesson for this week focuses on the attributes of God. Scripture references in the book of Job point to God’s omniscience and omnipotence. This book reveals some deep truths.

The book of Job gives clues to the scientific nature of our world. It also shows a relationship between God and man.

After Job loses his children, his home, his cattle and his health, he lays his situation before God.  As he suffers, he poses questions to God.  AND God answers him.

In the last chapter of the book Job acknowledges God’s omnipotence and sovereignty. God honors Job in his struggle for answers. God admonishes the friends who were misguided in their assessment, and He gives Job the opportunity to pray for them.

. . . and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. Job 42:9

Wow! //

When we are going through difficulties we can tell God our struggle. When my son was battling cancer I stood in the shower crying out to God, telling him my anguish. I developed a deeper prayer life.

God did not answer my requests in the way that I expected, but he answered and my faith grew.

Whatever struggle you may have, you can bring it to the Lord in prayer. He accepts us where we are. God desires us to grow in faith.

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Many thanks to Kate Motaung, our gracious leader. Today’s prompt is ACCEPT.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

New Insights About Health: The Microbiome

On  Fridays I have been joining the Five Minute Friday community. We write for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes my thoughts continue a little beyond the five minutes–marked by //. To visit this inspiring community of writers, click here. Today’s prompt is: SUPPORT

Yesterday I attended a seminar titled,  Probiotics,  Food & the  Immune  System. I sat next to a pharmacist. A physical therapist from my church was there also. There were about 100 people in attendance.

The lecturer was a petite, thin woman with dark hair and a face that was lit with passion for her topic. She was describing the microbiome to us. Medical scientists are uncovering the numerous and varied bacteria that live in the human gut and on mucous membranes. While some bacteria and fungi are harmful, others are very beneficial—and support health.

Ms. Pawlak explained the amazing network of communication that takes place via enzymes and proteins in our body. Bacteria in the gut are involved in this system.

I was fascinated as she talked about complex sugars, oligosaccharides, in breast milk. The infant does not digest these sugars. Instead the healthy bacteria in the intestine digest the sugars and are involved in insuring that the cells of the intestinal lining are fitting snugly together.

The microbiome supports health. //

She went on to discuss the cells in the immune system. There are many different types of leukocytes, myeloid cells and lymphoid cells. Each type of cell has a specific role in fighting infection.   The  lymphocytes target  infectious cells and set in motion the development of antibodies. T– cells and B–cells are lymphocytes.

Healthy T-cell. Image from NIH

Ms. Pawlak was so happy to share a slide that showed a T– cell releasing proteins that were directed at a B– cell. The slide had been developed from an electron microscope. It looked like the round T- cell was releasing tiny crumbs that were floating towards the B- cell. The proteins contained the information needed to develop antibodies.

Our instructor shared her sense of wonder with us. The human body is amazing. We are constantly learning more.

We can say with the Psalmist: I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14

Amazing Microbiome

A Good Work

On  Fridays I have been joining the Five Minute Friday community. We write for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes my thoughts continue a little beyond the five minutes–marked by //. To visit this inspiring community of writers, click here. Today’s prompt is: WORK

Over the years I have held many different jobs. I worked my way through college. As a nurse I have worked in a number of different hospitals and nursing units. I have worked at home as a mom.

As I look back I can see my imperfections—things that I could have done better. I see the times that I needed to say that I was sorry.

But I can also see the ways that God has guided me. I see the prayers that were faithfully answered. I remember the times that I stood outside of my children’s bedrooms,  praying for God to be at work,  despite  my    human failings. God answered those prayers.

The words in the Bible are true. //

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

This is great encouragement for believers in Jesus. As we journey through life, we are being refined by the work of God!

When Postpartum Packs a Punch: Book Review

As a former labor/delivery nurse and Lamaze instructor, I am an advocate for prepared childbirth. Women need information and guidance as they make choices about childbirth care. They need to know what to expect.

But in the preparation for childbirth, the postpartum time period may be given brief attention. Women benefit from knowing what to expect in the weeks following childbirth. According to research cited in the book, When Postpartum Packs a Punch, the range of women experiencing post partum depression is 12% to 25%.

When Postpartum Packs a Punch

 

As I read through the book I found the author’s observations consistent with my own as a nurse. Ms. Cowan tells her experience of postpartum depression, along with the stories of women that she has interviewed. She provides a discussion of treatment options. She explains the way her faith in God guided her.

Like the author I have experienced help and healing by trusting God when experiencing suffering. I believe that God helps us grow when we turn to him.

Inspirational quotes appear throughout the book. The tone of the book is hopeful, pointing to healing. Women experiencing depression and the people that support them can find help in this book. The book can also provide a greater awareness of the needs of women in the weeks following childbirth.

Sharing this post with Booknificent Thursday

A Good Neighbor

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. To visit this inspiring community of writers, click here. Today’s prompt is: NEIGHBOR

Like so many I have been watching the photos and videos of Hurricane Harvey. The floodwaters and misery are overwhelming—but so is the kindness of people as they help strangers. The Cajun Navy has volunteered their time and their boats to rescue thousands of people.

My favorite story is about a midwife. As floodwaters rose on her street she was unable to leave her house with her supplies. A neighbor helped her onto an inflatable swan and pushed her to dry ground. She was able to attend the birth of a client.

Natural disasters create situations where the needs of people become obvious. A community spirit develops. It would be wonderful if this spirit became a constant.//

When we were traveling in Finland I was impressed by the kind attention offered to us. So many times a bystander noticed that we were studying a map or looking at street signs, and then offered assistance.

Attentiveness is part of being a good neighbor.

The Gospel of Luke records a question that was posed to Jesus.  Who is my neighbor? Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The man who saw the wounded Samaritan and acted with mercy was a neighbor.

We are called to pay attention to the needs of others. Perhaps it involves asking good questions or being available. And then stepping up to help. I can improve in this area.

Speaking Up on Hot Topics

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. To visit this inspiring community of writers, click here. Today’s prompt is: SPEAK

Through my experiences as a nurse, mother and grandmother I have come to believe that minimizing medications is a good thing. Beginning with fertility and childbirth. It is good to be educated about hormonal birth control—benefits and risks. It is good to go into labor naturally unless there is a medical problem. It is good to ask questions about proposed treatments.

I participate with a group called Women Speak for Themselves. This group encourages education about fertility and natural family planning. I am still learning how to raise discussions with women. I need grace and a good listening ear.

In the midst of the loud voices of our culture we can become timid or brash. But there is another way. We need grace and kindness as we speak up and share our point of view.

This verse in 1 Peter gives guidance for sharing our faith, and can apply to discussion of controversial topics.

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15