Owls in My Cherry Tree

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: EXPECT

expect: to anticipate or look forward to the coming occurrence

The sweet cherry tree in my yard is laden down with fruit.

Cherries

Everyday the cherries look a little bit riper.

Cherries

But the birds are ready to feast now!

Robins and chickadees lunge at the tree.

So I am trying something new.

I have placed a large owl in the tree.

And a smaller one.Owl

Someone said that hanging old CDs in the tree

Is a deterrent—they reflect sunlight and spin with the wind.

While I am willing to share some of the cherries with the birds, I expect enough ripe cherries to make a few desserts. I love cherry pie.

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Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule: Book Review

History provides lessons that we can learn from. The Civil War years in our country were a time of great division. Jennifer Chiaverini has written several historical novels set in this time period. I found the book about Julia and Ulysses Grant to be especially interesting.

My knowledge of our eighteenth president was limited. I knew that Grant had been a general in the Union army during the Civil War. I didn’t know that he was a devoted family man.

Chiaverini’s novel, Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule, paints a picture of the Grant family throughout the Civil War and a brief summary of the years at the Whitehouse. It was fascinating to learn more about the southern belle married to a northern abolitionist.

Mrs. Grant actually kept a slave through the beginning of the Civil War, even though her husband was against it. That their marriage survived and their devotion to each other continued to grow, I found inspiring.

Chiaverini did extensive research for this book. The list of resources is long and includes the memoirs written by Julia Dent Grant and her husband Ulysses S. Grant. Julia and Ulysses had a strong and loving marriage. They endured family disapproval when they married. Julia learned to adjust to military life during the Civil War, and then thrived as First Lady through Grant’s two terms as president.

Following the years at the White House, the Grants had financial challenges. It was interesting to learn that Mark Twain was a family friend and had a significant role in the publication of Grant’s memoirs.

As I read through this novel I was reminded that our country has been through many tumultuous times. Our leaders are human, subject to error.

In the book two former slaves (fictional characters) comment about Julia and Ulysses Grant: “He wasn’t a perfect man or a perfect president, but he was a loving father and a devoted husband . . . We’re all sinners in need of the Lord’s redemptive grace and forgiveness . . . General Grant and his wife too.” *

We have a great need to pray for our leaders.

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* Jennifer Chiaverini, Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule, New York: Penguin Random House Company, 2015, p. 357.

Healthy Thoughts About Parenting

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: FUTURE

When I look back over my years of parenting, I realize that I have made mistakes. I would do some things differently. But I have also done some things right.

I prayed for my children consistently.

We made dietary changes. The combination of vaccines and courses of antibiotics led to health problems. I removed all refined sugar from our diet for a period of time.   And then I removed wheat.   We  learned  to  appreciate a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and grains.

I found ways to include garlic in my cooking and made garlic tea for colds. Garlic has antibacterial qualities.

When I think about the future, I have concerns about children and the number of medications they receive. If you have read my blog, you probably know that I am concerned about the number of vaccines recommended for children. I support informed consent for parents. //

The Bible says that we are wonderfully made.

Psalm 139

God has given us a body with an amazing immune system. We can support it with a healthy diet, regular hours of sleep, exercise and sunshine.

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We Built a Fairy House

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: VISIT

Today my three-year-old granddaughter came to visit.   She  had  just   arrived when she showed me a book she had been looking at.  It had fairy houses. “Grandma, will you help me make a fairy house?”

I didn’t know what to say at first. Then I suggested that we walk around the backyard. This sweet little girl began pointing out flowers and we picked a few. We talked and she stimulated my imagination. I collected a couple large pieces of bark—she was delighted to see a couple roly-poly bugs (also known as pill bugs) on the bark. She played with the bugs as I propped the bark over an empty little plant container.

Then her imagination took over, and as I handed her leaves and pieces of vine, she continued to build the “fairy house”.

A Fairy House

It was a special time. We talked about the wonderful variety in God’s creation.//

We looked at the currant bushes with abundant green berries. We picked a gooseberry, not quite ripe but pretty to look at.

Gooseberry

My granddaughter pointed out a yellow flower that had grown volunteer, maybe a calendula.

It is truly a gift to spend time with a child, seeing the world with her. I delighted in the imagination of my little granddaughter. In our time together I had an opportunity to share my thoughts about God.

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Three Courageous Nurses

Several nurses have made their mark on history. It is inspiring to read about their lives. Florence Nightingale felt called to a life of service and pursued nursing against the wishes of her family. When Britain entered the Crimean War, she went to Crimea. She passionately worked for the proper care of wounded soldiers, recognizing the need for sanitary conditions, basic nursing care and adequate nutrition. Cecil Woodham Smith is the author of a detailed biography of Florence Nightingale*.

Florence Nightingale
Portrait of Florence Nightingale by Evert Duyckinick

Sixty years later another nurse would have an impact during wartime. Edith Cavell   was directing a rapidly expanding nursing school  and  clinic in Brussels when WWI broke out. Edith was a woman of deep faith. She was dedicated to treating soldiers on both sides of the conflict. She was also a part of a network that allowed French and English soldiers to escape from German capture.

Courtesy of Wellcome-Library, London

The Story of Edith Cavell** is part of a series of Signature Books written about famous men and women. The author, Iris Winton, begins the book with a description of Edith’s childhood. She was the daughter of a vicar in Swardeston, England. Following her education in boarding schools, she became a governess. She returned home to be the caregiver for her father’s illness, and then chose to pursue nursing. The story is told gently but honestly, following the actual events in Edith’s life.   It concludes with the  trial  and  execution of Edith. The book is meant for school age children, but would benefit from parental guidance.

Previously I reviewed a book about an Israeli nurse-midwife, Raquela Levy.   Raquela provided midwife care to Jewish  refugees  arriving  in  Israel following WWII. You can read my review here.

I have also been reading mystery books about a fictional nurse, Bess Crawford. The novels are set in England and France during WWI. Bess provides surgical assistance and nursing care at the front. She is strong, determined to follow through difficulties for the sake of her patients. She heroically enters complex situations and brings resolution to mysterious events. The next book in the series, and on my list to read, is An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd.***

Bess is a fictional heroine.   Florence Nightingale,  Edith Cavell  and Raquela are real heroines. I recommend the biographies for girls and young women.  It is inspiring to learn about courageous women with an influence for good.

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*Cecil Woodham-Smith, Florence Nightingale, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1951.

**Iris Winton, The Story of Edith Cavell, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1959.

*** Charles Todd, An Impartial Witness, New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2010.

Grace, Mercy and Truth

On Fridays I join the community at Kate Motaung’s blog. We write for five minutes on a prompt. Today’s word is: TRUTH

It was one of those nights—I woke up at 2:00 am and could not go back to sleep. I picked up a Bess Crawford mystery, thinking that I would just read a couple chapters. Three hours later I put the book down, hoping to get a couple hours of sleep before my day began.

Bess Crawford is a fictional character drawn from the imagination of a mother/son writing team (Charles Todd). Bess is a WWII nurse that goes to the front as a surgical nurse. Sometimes she has a reprieve, and she is assisting convalescing soldiers or tracking down relatives. But always she is pursuing truth and serving the patients she encounters with compassion.

The end of each book brings a sense of satisfaction. The truth has been discovered and Bess has acted with courage and kindness. //

There is a deep yearning in the human heart for truth.

David, the shepherd and later the king, lived through a turbulent time in Israel. His thoughts are captured in the Psalms. Psalm 25 is attributed to David.

All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm 25:10 KGV

Another translation of this verse adds insight.

All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm 25:10 ESV

When life takes unexpected turns we can trust the faithfulness of God. His word stabilizes us. The importance of truth is highlighted in this verse:

Send out your light and truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Psalm 43:3

God is the source of truth. We need the word of God in our lives. When our world is chaotic we can find truth by following Jesus.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

Did you notice that mercy and truth are connected in scripture? Only the Lord Jesus can offer us grace as we confront the reality of sin. Praise God that he provides mercy and grace for us!

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Flowers in Winter

The lilacs are blooming in my backyard.

Blue Lilac

The choke cherry tree extends it branches fluttering with green leaves and tiny white blossoms. Spring is in full bloom and Sunday is Mother’s Day. My husband and I will travel to Michigan to visit Mom in the nursing home.

My mother is in the winter of her life. Mom is confused about who I am—a sister? a daughter? Her mind is in the past. As her dementia slowly progressed I did not always respond well. I was frustrated by her behavior. I didn’t understand.

A friend pointed me to Alzheimers Reading Room. It has been a big help. (Note: this is a great resource for understanding dementia and alzheimers.) I wasn’t going to fix Mom. I needed to enter her world and support her.

My goal is to give thanks for  Mom  and  her sacrificial care for me, to  honor her. I am thankful for the people that have prayed for me during this time. The Bible encourages us to pray for one another.

Is there someone you can pray for? Or a woman that you can honor?

The Bible also encourages us to put our trust in God in all circumstances.
On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62: 7-8

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We Should Pray

It’s Five Minute Friday! We write for five minutes and share our posts at Kate Motaung’s community. Today’s prompt is: should

Likewise the Spirit helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26 KGV

Bible

Are you ever in the position of not knowing how to pray for a situation? You have great concerns but you don’t know what you should ask?

My husband and I are spending more time in prayer. Over the years we have prayed together for our family and our church—sporadically. I can say that we have never prayed enough.

Now we are retired. We have a devotional book of the Psalms that we read every morning and then we spend some time in prayer. We pray for our children and grandchildren, for my mother, brothers and sisters. We pray for people in our church. We pray for leaders in government.

Sometimes the situation is complex and we don’t know what should be done. It is a great comfort to raise the concern to the Lord, knowing that the Holy Spirit will intercede for us. //

Spending time in prayer provides a release of tension and I believe that the Holy Spirit gives us gentle nudges to point us in the right direction.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Philippians 4:6 MSG

Prayer

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The Health Benefits of Dates and a Muffin Recipe

Dates have some surprising health benefits for expectant mothers.

Women often receive a prescription for iron during pregnancy.  During pregnancy a woman’s blood volume increases by 50% and the red blood cells increase by 30%. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin that carries oxygen; iron is a component of hemoglobin.

Iron is a vital mineral during pregnancy. A low hemoglobin level is associated with fatigue and is a risk factor during childbirth.

I looked up iron-rich foods in my nutrition almanac and found this list:

Organ meats and meats, eggs, fish and poultry

Blackstrap molasses

Cherry juice

Green leafy vegetables

Dried fruits [including dates]

 

A research study, published in March of this year, looked to see if eating dates in the last trimester of pregnancy had an impact on a woman’s     labor, childbirth experience. The study demonstrated that women who consumed dates had less of a need for medication to augment their labor.

Here is a muffin recipe that has iron-rich ingredients, including dates. Brown rice flour or a gluten-free blend works fine.

Date Muffins

Ingredients:

1 + ½ cup flour
½ cup almond meal
2 + ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup pitted and chopped dates
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup honey
3 Tblsp. unsulfured dark molasses
2 eggs
½ cup almond milk (or other milk of choice)

Preheat oven to 350°

Combine flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt. Stir the chopped dates into flour mixture until well combined.

Mix together the melted butter, molasses, honey, lightly beaten eggs and milk.

Then mix the liquid ingredients into the dry. The batter will be a little lumpy. Fill the muffin cups—I had enough batter for 14 regular size muffins.

Bake at 350° for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Date Muffins

You can find the study about the effect of date consumption on labor here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28286995

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Viewpoint of Alternative Science: Breast-feeding is Unnatural

Cathy Areu was a guest on Tucker Carlson Friday night. She argued that breastfeeding was not natural because it put too much pressure on a woman to feed her baby. She insisted that it was natural for a dad to feed the infant formula. She referenced a recent “study”.

I watched the astonished expression on Tucker’s face as she made her case. Lol.

The argument was so bizarre that I looked for the study on-line. Ms. Areu was referring to an article that was published by Heatstreet on April 26, 2017. The article, “Study: Describing Breastfeeding as ‘Natural’ Is Unethical Because It Reinforces Gender Roles” was written by Jillian Kay Melchior. She writes:

It’s “ethically inappropriate” for government and medical organizations to describe breastfeeding as “natural” because the term enforces rigid notions about gender roles, claims a new study in Pediatrics

I checked the link to Pediatrics and found the opinion piece that was published on April 1, 2016, a little over a year ago. Not a recent study.  The article,  “Unintended Consequences of Invoking the “Natural” in Breastfeeding  Promotion,” * was written by Jessica Martucci and Anne Barnhill.

They wrote: Promoting breastfeeding as “natural” may be ethically problematic, and, even more troublingly, it may bolster this belief that “natural” approaches are presumptively healthier. This may ultimately challenge public health’s aims in other contexts, particularly childhood vaccination.

This perspective really startled me. I looked for other viewpoints. CNN had an article about the study and I was grateful that they included an opposing view. Carina Storrs authored the piece entitled, “Are there unintended consequences to calling breast-feeding ‘natural’?”

In her article she included this quote: “(The authors) are using this article to label the breast-feeding group in a very negative way, and to equate breast-feeding with people who don’t want to take immunizations,” said Eidelman, who was lead author of the 2012 AAP policy statement on breast-feeding.

It was troubling to me that, in the Pediatrics article, assumptions were being made about women who breast-feed and women who have questions about vaccines. It is true that some parents are reluctant to vaccinate their child because their child was injured by a vaccine.   Some have studied the issue and are concerned about the risks.    They have   legitimate concerns. The vaccine controversy will not go away by labeling people and denigrating them.

Wow! Over the next few hours I kept thinking about the dismissal of breastfeeding. We know that breast milk has immune factors that formula cannot provide. We know that it is most easily digested and absorbed by an infant. It is recommended that a mother breastfeed her infant for six months to avoid food allergies. The benefits are too many to enumerate.

Breastfeeding

I found that I agreed with one statement that Ms. Areu made. Breastfeeding is hard. The first time a woman breastfeeds she needs support and guidance. But her labor and birth experience have also had an impact .

My observation as a labor/delivery nurse is that the interventions that take place in the hospital can influence the breastfeeding experience. Medications given to induce labor and for pain management can have negative side effects. Women that have cesarean sections have a more difficult time establishing breastfeeding.

How soon the baby is placed in the mother’s arms (hopefully skin to skin in the first hour of life) influences early success in breastfeeding. If the mother has been traumatized by the manner of birth, breastfeeding may be more difficult to establish.

As I tried to understand the upside-down way of thinking that Ms. Areu was demonstrating I wondered what has happened to science.

Are we being asked to consider all medical interventions as natural? When we observe normal physiology and gain practical insights, are these unnatural?

I am sad because the turmoil in science and medicine is only making it hard on parents. My hope is that the medical community will listen to the concerns parents have and treat them with respect.

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*Jessica Martucci and Ann Barnhill, “Unintended Consequences of Invoking the “Natural” in Breastfeeding Promotion”, PEDIATRICS Vol. 137 No. 4 April 01, 2016