Women in White

On Tuesday evening a large group of women in congress were dressed in white for the State of the Union address. They functioned as a group; they sat stoically quiet or they looked to each other for cues for when they would clap. They all stood and chanted “USA” when the President noted that congress now had the largest number of women ever.

Certainly we can glad about the participation of women in congress. My prayer is that they will examine the issues carefully. Their job is to participate in legislation that benefits the health and safety of the men, women, children and infants in this country. 

As I watched the cheering women in white I wondered where the role of motherhood stands in America.

Photo by Les Anderson on Unsplash

The role of a mother is sacrificial and often looked down on in our culture. Yet a mother can have a tremendous influence on the future by nurturing the family.

In the years that I have been blogging I have met many women that are focused on the health and well-being of the family. 

Jacqueline is an American nurse and mother. Her website, Deep Roots at Home focuses on  homemaking, parenting  and healthy living.

Tehila lives in New Zealand and writes about faith and family life at Women Abiding.

Leslie Leyland Fields is a mother of six and lives in Alaska. She is a writes books and essays in addition to her blog. Many times her words touch on family life. Click here to visit her blog

Anna lives in Israel and has a young family. She writes books and blogs about family life on their homestead. She blogs at Domestic Felicity.

I am thankful for women who are sharing the wisdom they have gained through motherhood.

This post is part of #Write28Days. For a list of posts in this series click here.

Simple Measures for Family Health: Herbs and Nutrients

Moms make many health decisions for their children. When someone in the family gets a cold there is a wide array of over the counter treatments to choose from. The pills and elixirs treat the symptoms but don’t help the immune system overcome the virus.

Over the years I have discovered foods, herbs and vitamins that support the immune system. These include: elderberries, ginger, garlic, bone broth, vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc.

I have elderberry bushes in my back yard and I make elderberry juice to have on hand in the winter months. (If you don’t have access to fresh elderberries you can purchase dried elderberries from the Bulk Herb Store.) When colds are going around my husband and I have 2 tablespoons of elderberry juice with raw honey daily. (NOTE: Honey should not be given to a child under one year old.)

Most people are deficient in vitamin D, which helps in fighting infection. It is good to have a vitamin D supplement. 

Vitamin C  and zinc also help in fighting infection. 

If I cook an organic chicken or turkey I save all the bones and make a broth (adding vegetables and herbs while it simmers for 24 hours). The broth is a rich source of minerals that our bodies need. The broth can be canned or frozen.

When I develop a cold, ginger, lemon and garlic are helpful. Ginger tea helps to clear the sinuses. To make ginger tea: grate 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger and simmer in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice. Add raw honey to sweeten.

Garlic helps fight viruses and bacteria. I make garlic toast. I cut up 1 or 2 cloves of garlic into fine pieces. I butter the toast and top with the garlic. If this doesn’t appeal the garlic can be added to a spoon of raw honey or applesauce. (This works with children.)

At the same time there are foods that we should limit or avoid when we are ill. Foods with refined flour and sugar reduce vitamin availability; the vitamins are used up metabolizing the refined flour and sugar. Avoid sugar rich sodas, cookies and candies.

When a cold produces a lot of congestion it is wise to avoid dairy products. Dairy products increase the amount of mucous and phlegm. 

Finally, our bodies need rest when we are ill. We live is a busy world. I know that when I was working I sometimes went back to work too soon. We are in a hurry to get better and keep up with our responsibilities. Our bodies need rest to recover. 

The quick fix is appealing, but taking time to give the immune system support is good for improving health and well being.

Wanting to Control: Learning to Release

It feels good when we think we are in control. As a mother I  pursued the health of my children vigorously. I had been trained as a nurse at the University of Michigan. I believed in the medical profession and my ability to protect the health of my children.

The mental illness of my brother and the impact that it had my parents, my siblings and me, infused me with fear. As a mother I was devoted to maintaining the physical and mental health of my children.   

Women and Families

At first I put my trust in the medical field, going to the pediatrician with every concern.The pediatricians and gastroenterologist that we consulted did not resolve the repetitive ear infections and gastrointestinal disturbances of my twins, despite the antibiotics and medication to relax the gut.

So I pursued answers and treatment with a doctor practicing alternative medicine. With allergy testing we made changes in our diet and the health of my children improved.

Soon I was putting all of my energy into allergy diets and nutrition. I was was gradually depending on my own abilities for the health of our family. I wanted to be in control.

When one of the twins developed leukemia I continued to pursue nutrition and supplements to support him through chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant. My husband and I studied research. We prayed, and I was sure that Steven would be healed. We saw God’s love for Steven and our family, but Steven wasn’t healed.

Although we have tools for health we are not in complete control. Medical science is not perfect and does not have all the answers. God was teaching me to trust him. Could I let go of my fears? 

I have learned lessons (and I am still learning). God does not want me to be motivated by fear.

Nutrition and medical interventions are tools. It is important to learn about an illness that we encounter and possible treatments. It is important to ask questions and prayerfully make decisions.

God will guide us as we seek him and pray for appropriate care. He will stay with us during times of suffering.

As a grandmother I see the importance of supporting the immune system with a healthy life style—nutrition, adequate rest, physical activity. God has designed the human body with an amazing immune system. It is good to pursue a balance of prayer, healthy lifestyle and medical intervention when necessary. 

Although I started out with fear and a desire to control our health, God has blessed my study of nutrition and support for the immune system. My daughters have learned and their children have been healthier as infants and young children than they were.

One of my daughters is now a pediatric nurse practitioner helping families reach a better level of health.

This post is part of #Write28Days. You can find links to all the posts in the series on my landing page.

Pierced and Embraced: Book Review

Sometimes I listen to the radio when I am in the car. At other times I prefer silence. One day I was listening to WMBI and heard an interview with Kelli Worrall. The topic of discussion was her book, Pierced and Embraced.

The discussion piqued my interest and I jotted down the title when I reached my destination. I ordered the book.

Kelli Worral included stories from her own family as she wrote about seven encounters that Jesus had with women. In a detailed account she has shown the compassion and respect that Jesus had for women (and still has), as recorded in the gospels. 

The seven/eight women included in the book are: Mary, mother of Jesus; the woman at the well; the woman with the hemorrhage; the woman caught in adultery; Mary and Martha; the woman with the alabaster jar; Mary Magdalene. 

Although the book is organized in seven chapters with discussion questions at the end of each chapter and could be studied over a period of weeks, I read it in one week. 

Each chapter had insights for me. In the chapter about the woman with the issue of blood, Worrall discusses wounds—or gaps in the way we were mothered. This history of our childhood and transition to adulthood can affect our adult life, where we try to exert control over our fears and desires.

This resonated with me, because I have attempted to control areas of my life. More on this tomorrow.

NOTE: The bull on the cover refers to a story by Flannery O’Connor, a story symbolizing grace. Kelli Worral explains the shocking symbolism in the beginning of the book.

This post is part of #Write28Days. I am linking with Literary Musing Mondays.

Imperfect Families

The Bible has stories about families. Our pastor reminded us that some of the stories show the dysfunction in families (Genesis 27 and 28).

In the account of Esau and Jacob, the lies that were told when Jacob received the blessing of his father Isaac demonstrated the divide between family members. Jacob deceived his father at the encouragement and planning of his mother. He had to flee from Esau.

Yet God met Jacob along the way to Paddan Aram. Jacob recognized God’s message that came to him in a dream, and he made a vow, seeking to follow God.

Bible

God is merciful to us when we pay attention to his call on our life and seek him.

As a young adult I had arguments with my parents and didn’t always treat them respectfully. We had dysfunction in our family. When my older brother developed schizophrenia, we didn’t know how to respond his behavior.

I (oldest daughter and graduate nurse) was relied on to help my father. My mother withdrew, and I was burdened and distressed. Although everyone in the family desperately wanted to “fix” Glenn’s illness, we had lapses in kindness and communication.

My brother’s illness was a downward spiral. It is a long and complicated story–too much to address here. It crushed my parents, my siblings and me. During his long battle with schizophrenia my brother became bitter. Each of us, in our own way, wanted something or someone to blame.

I have come to realize my own imperfections and sins. I can now see the limitations and imperfections of my parents with forgiveness.

God doesn’t always heal illness. Later, with my son’s illness I learned that God walks with us through suffering. He can heal our emotional and spiritual wounds.

God has been faithful. He has forgiven my sins and given me guidance through his word, through prayer and through the church. God, through Jesus, desires to heal the wounds we receive in a fallen world. He is ready to meet us where we are.

I wrote a chapter in the book, Illness, Resilience and Spirituality. It is an anthology and my chapter is titled “Prayers through Illness and Loss”. It is a record of my prayers and God’s answers. I learned so much about God.

At every stage of my life I have looked for a church, for a family of faith. The church is composed of sinners that need grace, and sometimes the church falters. But we can’t give up. In addition to the Word of God and prayer, Christians need a community of believers to thrive. 

Jesus said (recorded in Matthew 18:20), “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.”

Mary and Elizabeth: An Example for Us

It seems right to start my series for the #Write28Days with two women from the Bible. The first two chapters of Luke tells us about Mary and Elizabeth. They are wonderful examples for us in three ways.

Women and Families

Both women knew the old testament scriptures and the prophecies. Even though it seemed like God was silent for 400 years (the time period between the Old Testament and the New Testament) they were waiting in expectation of the Messiah.

Mary responds to the message that she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit with a song. Here is a portion of the Magnificat.

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior . . . He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.  Luke 1: 46-47, 54-55

May we read God’s word and wait in expectation for Jesus’ return!

Mary and Elizabeth were an encouragement to each other. They were surprised by their pregnancies and they were able to support each other.

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. Luke 1: 39-40

Mary & Elizabeth
The Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne

If I could time travel I would like to go there and see the friendship and faith of these two women during the three months they spent together. 

As Christian women, may we be an encouragement to each other.

That [our]hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2: 2-3 ESV

Both Mary and Elizabeth praised God. They were in situations that could be frightening but they praised God.

May we always be quick to recognize God’s touch on our lives, acknowledge him and praise him.

I give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds, I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most high. Psalm 9:1-2

Write for 28 Days: I am accepting the challenge

Anita Ojeda is sponsoring a #Write28Days challenge for bloggers. For each day in February (except Sundays) I plan to write a post for my blog, focusing on women and families.

Women and Families

Women face many challenges, have many different roles. In this series I will look at family issues. This will include experiences that I have had as a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I will point to women that have had a positive influence on me as a Christian and a nurse. God has gifted us to nurture the family. As women we can support and encourage each other. I hope you will pause with a cup of coffee or tea and visit. I welcome your comments!

Each day I will post a link to my blog post on this page. See below.

Friday 2/1: Mary and Elizabeth

Saturday 2/2: Imperfect Families

Monday 2/4: Pierced and Embraced – Book Review

Tuesday 2/5: Wanting to Control – Learning to Release

Wednesday 2/6: Simple Measures for Family Health

Thursday 2/7: Women in White

Friday 2/8: Building a Home

Saturday 2/9: First Aid for My Husband

Monday 2/11: Evidence Not Seen – Book review

Tuesday 2/12: Seasons of Life

Wednesday 2/13: Birth in a Hotel Room?

Thursday 2/14: Verses About Love

Friday 2/15: A Joyful Answer to Prayer

Saturday 2/16: A Remarkable Woman Doctor

Monday 2/18: The Scent of Water – Book Review

Tuesday 2/19: Two Are Better Than One

Thoughts of Spring on a Cold Day

It’s cold outside. Our thermometer reads -5 degrees. We have almost a foot of snow on the ground and when I went outside to take a picture my fingers became stiff in minutes.

It is winter but spring will come. I have begun receiving seed catalogues. My thoughts turn to the garden. My favorite plants are the herbs.

Some will come back on their own. The perennials are mint, sage, chives, lemon balm and lavender. In the spring I will plant basil, calendula, dill, and thyme. I will buy a rosemary plant. 

It is so pleasant, so convenient to have fresh herbs on hand in the summer. 

I am linking up with the Five Minute Friday community, writing on the prompt: CONVENIENT. Visit Kate Motaung’s site to join the fun.

An Ancient Call to Holy Living

In this new year our women’s precept group has begun to study the book of Deuteronomy. As the book begins Moses is reviewing the history of Israel’s release from slavery in Egypt and their years in the wilderness. Then he goes on to give them specific instructions.

In chapter six he gives God’s command for the families. Orthodox Jews recite these verses daily as a part of the Shema. Click here for explanation of the Shema.

These verses apply to us as Christians. 

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today  shall be on your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6: 4-9

My eyes cloud with tears as I think about our culture and the state of the Church in America. 

This is a reminder to me— a verse that I want to memorize. The Bible needs to be a consistent part of daily life. It is important to notice God’s hand in our lives.

We need to tell our stories of faith to our children and grandchildren, to the people in our circle of influence. Do you have a story to tell? 

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. To read more inspiring thoughts based on the prompt, INFLUENCE, click here.

Illness, Resilience and Spirituality

Two years ago I began corresponding with Marguerite Bouvard. She was looking for contributors for an anthology on illness and faith. I offered to write a chapter about my family’s experience caring for our son during his treatment for leukemia.

We continued to e-mail back and forth. I wrote my chapter, and Marguerite edited the anthology that includes the stories of twelve people that refer to different faith traditions:Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Native American,Yoga.  The book is titled Illness, Resilience and Spirituality.

Now I have the book in hand, and as I read through the chapters I see vulnerability as well as resilience. The book is not theological. It is the way twelve people have encountered illness and death, along with the questions that come with human frailty.

A serious illness leads to a search for hope. Some chapters have a perspective that seem self reliant. Other chapters find hope through the Bible and prayer. A couple of chapters mention how the faith of a grandmother was influential. 

Victoria Molt’s account of faith and prayer through mental illness touched me. My brother’s illness has sensitized me to the isolation that many with mental illness experience. 

The importance of a faith community stands out in many of the chapters. 

The chapter that I wrote is the first in the book and is titled, “Prayers Through Illness and Loss”. The book is available on Amazon. 

This post is linked with Booknificent Thursday and Literary Musing Monday