The robins are back
Hopping across the green grass
Displaying red breasts.
While the cardinals
Warble a sweet a melody
Eluding my sight.
High in tree branches
This bird sings a song of joy
To the Creator.
Recently I completed reading books about two women that demonstrated different kinds of passion. I have read the Autobiography of Margaret Sanger, followed by A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter. The lives of these two women had some similarities and some great contrasts.
Both women came from large families, though Lilias Trotter (1853–1928) had more nurture and resources as a child, growing up in England. Margaret Sanger was born in New York and lived her later years in Arizona (1879–1966). Each eventually became involved with social causes.
Lilias attended Christian conferences, taught a Bible Class at the Welbeck Street Institue (which offered a hostel for young women), and opened her own home to provide social hours for working women.
Margaret Sanger was one of eleven children and when her mother died at the age of 48 she had to take on many responsibilities. Eventually she left home, went through nurses’ training and did home visits for maternity care. She saw difficult situations that poor women faced.
As Lilia continued her outreach to young women she was also developing her skill as an artist. She was invited to spend time polishing her gift under the guidance of John Ruskin.
Margaret left nursing, married Bill Sanger, an architect and artist. The couple faced challenges—Margaret’s treatment for tuberculosis, the loss of a home to fire. They had three children. When they settled in an apartment they became involved with radical groups. Margaret writes “Our living room became a gathering place where liberals, anarchists, Socialists and I.W.W.’s could meet.”*
Lilias’ passion was to bring the message of the gospel to people by living with them and loving them. Although she was a gifted artist, encouraged by John Ruskin to devote herself to art, she chose to establish a mission in Algiers.
Margaret’s passion was to relieve the suffering of poor women by making birth control available. She left her husband and young children to travel the world, researching the topic of overpopulation. As she pursued contraception she joined forces with people promoting eugenics.
The difference that I see in these two women is this. One was devoted to prayer and loving service; the other was out to solve human problems through her own intellect and effort.
As I consider the initial goal that Margaret Sanger had, I am saddened. Did she improve the status of poor women? Our culture has become dependent on contraceptives. Are marriages more stable? Are women better off?
Forty per cent of births in the U.S. are to single mothers. (See statistics from the CDC).
What was the impact of Lilias Trotter’s work? She wrote about legacy in a book, Parables of the Cross. “The results need not end with our earthly days. Should Jesus tarry our works will follow us . . . God may use, by reason of the wonderful solidarity of His Church, the things that He has wrought in us, for the blessing of souls unknown to us.”**
Here is the link to an interesting article about the focus in Lilias’ life (written by the author of the biography).
*The Autobiography of Margaret Sanger, Dover Publications, Inc. : Mineola, New York. 1971. p. 70
**Miriam Huffman Rockness, A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter, Discovery House Publishers: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2003. p. 325.
After a week of traveling to attend to extended family needs, it is good to be back home. This morning I participated in Bible study with dear friends at my church. In the afternoon my husband and I went to see God’s Not Dead 2.
Can a teacher mention Jesus in a public school class? The film shows a court case involving religious freedom. Although similar cases have occurred in the U.S., this story is fiction. I enjoyed seeing Lee Strobel, Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee make appearances in the movie.
Two points made by the movie have stayed with me.
The teacher prayed, her grandfather prayed and large groups of people prayed throughout the trial.
Many Christians, in different places, played a role in supporting the teacher who was on trial.
I know that there are times in my life when I have been so focused on personal issues that I have neglected to see the big picture. Standing firm in faith and supporting other believers is increasingly important.
The gospel of John records Jesus’ instruction for us.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13: 34-35
The early church provides a great example.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2: 42
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4: 2
Prayer: Lord God, we praise you for your great love and sacrifice for us. We give thanks for the examples of faith that we have in the Bible. Guide us when our faith is challenged and increase our love.
The lives of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Lilias Trotter are a great inspiration for me. Both spent much time in prayer. Here are quotes from each.
The morning prayer determines the day.
Squandered time of which we are ashamed, temptations to which we succumb, weakness and lack of courage in work, disorganization and lack of discipline in our thoughts and in our conversation with others, all have their own origin most often in the neglect of morning prayer. Order and distribution of our time become more firm where they originate in prayer. Temptations which accompany the working day will be conquered on the basis of the morning breakthrough to God. Decisions, demanded by work, become easier and simpler where they are made not in the fear of men but only in the sight of God. “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men” (Col. 3:23). *
The things that are impossible with men are possible with God. May it not be that the human impossibility is just the very thing that sets His Hand free?–& that it is the things which are possible for us to do that He is in a measure to let alone. **
This is a practice that I want to embrace. Let me start each day with the Lord!
*Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Psalms: Prayer Book of the Bible, Augsburg Fortress: Minneapolis, MN. 1970
** Miriam Rockness, A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter, Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI. 2003
Some of the common practices in our culture are worth questioning. As a nurse I like to keep track of health news. I am a firm believer in women learning about their bodies in order to pursue health. I have collected some articles related to women’s health.
Verily magazine published an article, 4 Things Your Period is Telling You About Your Health That You Shouldn’t Ignore. Menstrual periods have negative connotations for us, but they are a part of a rhythm of health. It is good practice to pay attention to signs from the body. Click here to read the article.
A new documentary is being released about the risks and side effects of the pill. The film is produced by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein and is based on the book, Sweetening the Pill by Holly Grigg-Spall. Late and Epstein also produced the film, The Business of Being Born. To read about the documentary click here.
When I was growing up, the fundamental Finnish Lutheran Church that I attended frowned on birth control—but it wasn’t a topic for discussion. By the time I married, it was assumed at premarital doctor appointments that a young woman would get a prescription for some form of birth control. Birth control has become routine.
When I came across an article by Chelsen Vicari, an Evangelical Protestant, I had to agree with her as she raised questions about birth control. Evangelical Protestants don’t talk about contraception. She states: It was almost as if Protestants were sworn to secrecy when it came to discussions about chemical and hormonal contraception. Is it an issue that we should seek God’s guidance for?
Vicari examines both religious views and the health risks of hormonal contraception. To read the whole article click here.
I am glad that I was able to have open conversations with my daughters. One of my daughters introduced me to the Theology of the Body as taught by Pope John Paul II.
My personal experience with home birth demonstrated to me that many women are able to give birth with a minimum of interventions. The approach to birth is different from the hospital, yet involves safe practices.
The article, 6 Things You Didn’t Know About Home Birth, gives an accurate picture of midwife practice in the home. Click here.
Last weekend I added some apricots to cornmeal muffins. I enjoy creating muffin recipes, a healthy treat for the grandchildren. Muffins are so easy to make. These muffins were moist and tasty–they were a hit on Easter Sunday. Here is the recipe.
First prepare the apricots. Simmer one cup of dried apricots in a cup of water for about 10 minutes to soften them. Then drain the liquid.
Melt ¾ cup of butter and allow it to cool.
Preheat the oven at 375˚ F.
Prepare the muffin tins. (The recipe makes 20 to 24 muffins depending on size.) I like to grease my heavy iron muffin pan. I place the pan in the oven about 5 minutes before I am going to add the batter, preheating the pan.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl:
1 + ½ cup yellow corn meal
1 cup gluten free flour (or unbleached flour if no gluten sensitivity)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Add the remaining ingredients to a blender:
1 cup softened apricots
¾ cup melted and cooled butter
1 medium carrot, cut into pieces
1 cup rice milk
¼ cup honey
Blend until smooth.
Then add this mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until combined.
Place about ¼ cup of batter in each muffin cup.
Bake at 375˚ for 22 to 24 minutes. The edges of the muffin will be beginning to brown. Let stand for 5 minutes and then remove muffins and place on a cooling rack.
We visited Tent Rock National Park in New Mexico. I was easy to see how the park had gotten its name. A rocky trail weaves through narrow canyons and continues upward to the peak of the rock formations.
A sign at the beginning of the trail was accurate—as we found out.
We climbed, slipping occasionally. Sometimes large rocks lay across the path. The Christian life has similarities. We encounter troubles and challenges. But we also have a good shepherd.
Psalm 23 reminds us that Jesus is with us, guiding us.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
When Jesus is our Savior we have access to the Lord in prayer.
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. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 4-7
Memories of the week leading up to Easter stretch back into my childhood. I was blessed to grow up in a home where we read the Bible and attended church regularly. Like any family we had problems, but the foundation for my faith developed from hearing the Word of God.
In past years I attended Maundy Thursday services. What is Maundy Thursday? It commemorates the day of the last supper. The following scripture describes this event.
And when the hour came, he relined at the table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks he said, Take this and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them saying, “This is my body that is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And like wise the cup after they had eaten, saying , “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” Luke 22: 14-20
Communion was served on this quiet day of reflection. Communion symbolizes the new covenant. God offers us forgiveness of sin and salvation through Jesus.
When my husband and I traveled to Israel we visited the site of a deep pit. The theory is that Jesus was held in this pit prior to the crucifixion.
It is hard to take in fully the pain and confusion that the followers of Jesus must have felt in the days between Jesus arrest and his triumph over death. Peter’s denial of Christ gives us a little glimpse.
Out of deep sorrow comes great joy. So much wonder and joy in the scene that the apostle John describes.
One of my favorite songs on Easter morning is Christ Arose.
Death cannot keep his prey—Jesus my Savior!
He tore the bars away—Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave He arose
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
I am praising God for the new covenant of grace.
As we drove across the plains of northern Texas we were listening to a book on CDs. John McDough was bringing the characters in Come Rain or Come Shine to life. The book, written by Jan Karon, is the latest in the Mitford series.
I have read all the books in the Mitford series, but I don’t think it is necessary in order to enjoy this one. My husband followed the story with as much enjoyment he can acknowledge in a fiction book. (He is an engineer! lol) Of course I have gotten to know the characters and know their histories.
As puffy white clouds rolled across the blue sky, my husband and I listened to the wedding plans of Lace Harper and Dooley Cavanaugh. We passed scenes of cattle grazing, and listened to the description of Meadowgate Farm. Dooley was setting up his veterinary practice there. We could envision the heifers that Dooley was purchasing. Husband took note of the bull, Choo Choo.
As wedding plans move forward the event is definitely a community project. Dooley and Lace have loving friends. I enjoyed the give and take, between people with varied backgrounds and experiences. Each character is unique and brings color to the story.
Father Tim, a retired Episcopal priest, has memorable words throughout. I was pleased to hear the term, covenant of marriage, in dialogue.
The perspective on marriage is thoughtful, holy and realistic.
The simple wedding turns out to have a variety of complications–like most weddings. It is a celebration of marriage and family and a child. It is a great read—or if you are going to travel, a great story on CD.
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On Monday night our PBS station aired a documentary about Pope John Paul II. As I watched I was remembering the discussions that I had with my daughter about the Theology of the Body (writings by Pope John Paul II).
Julia was attending Marquette University and was introduced to the Theology of the Body, God’s design for male and female, for marriage and sexuality. She brought home some tapes for me to hear, and we talked about them.
I am not Catholic, but this teaching on sexuality makes sense to me. I have great respect for the Catholic position on life. I understand the position of the Catholic Church, opposing contraception and drugs that cause early abortions. As a nurse I have concerns about the effects of hormonal drugs on longterm health.
So when the Little Sisters of the Poor refuse to be providers of contraception, I am with them. This is the teaching of their church. They have a right to live out their faith.
My own right of conscience was tested during my first year of nursing practice. I was working in a large city hospital, affiliated with a university. I was shocked when I realized that an abortion was taking place in our labor/delivery unit—a saline induction. I could not participate. That night I wrote a letter stating my conscience objection to abortion, gave it to my manager and it was kept in my file. I was never called to assist with an abortion.
Later I would choose to work at Catholic or Lutheran Hospitals.
In the United States the first amendment guarantees the freedom of religion—the right to live according to one’s faith. The Little Sisters of the Poor are living out their faith as they minister to the elderly.
Can the government force the Little Sisters to provide free contraception in the health insurance they give their employees? The mandate goes against their faith. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on this case today. I am praying for the right of conscience to be upheld.
If SCOTUS rules against them the Little Sisters will be heavily fined and may be forced to discontinue their work.
The Little Sisters minister at St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly in my community. I am participating in a day of prayer and service as a sign of support. Let them serve.
Addendum: A good sized crowd gathered in front of St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly in Palatine. We were positioned along Northwest Highway and were encouraged by cars and trucks honking as they saw the signs. We received many waves of approval.
Maria Goldstein led in prayer and Bible reading. We sang the servant song together.
What do you want of me, Lord
Where do you want me to serve you?
Where can I sing your praises?
I am your song.
Refrain: Jesus, Jesus, you are the Lord.
Jesus, Jesus, you are the way.
You are the light in my darkness.
You are my strength when I’m weary.
You give me sight when I’m blinded.
Come see for me.
I am your song and servant,
Singing your praise like Mary.
Surrendered to your Spirit,
“Let it be done to me.”
We prayed for the protection of conscience rights:
Father, we praise you and thank you
For your most precious gift of human life
And human freedom.
Touch the hearts of our law makers
with wisdom and courage to uphold conscience rights
and religious liberty for all.
Protect all people from being forced to
Violate their moral and religious convictions.
In your goodness, guard our freedom
to live out our faith and
to follow you in all that we do.
Give us strength to be bold and joyful witnesses.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.