Over the past few weeks I have been working on memorizing Ephesians 2:1-10. I keep note cards with the passage printed out in my purse. If I have extra time while traveling, a quiet moment when I am babysitting for the grand kids, I can pull out the cards and read over the verses. It takes lots of repetition to charge my memory. I want to be able to refer to these verses, have them clearly in my mind.
Typing out the verses from memory, going as far as I can and then checking myself is another way I am working on memorization.
The whole gospel message is contained in this passage of scripture that Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works , which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
God’s great love for us. Isn’t that the best valentine message?
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Recently a devotion that I wrote based on Ephesians 2:10 was published by Upper Room. You can access it here.
Two questions that are facing our nation and our state could be connected. Should our tax dollars go to Planned Parenthood? Will Illinois certify Professional Midwives (CPMs) to provide home birth care? A number of states do recognize CPMs, but not all. In some states they can bill medicaid for home birth care.
In the United States we have three designations for midwives: Direct Entry who are apprentice trained; Certified Professional Midwives who have taken courses, are apprentice trained and certified; Certified Nurse Midwives who have completed a masters program in midwifery and almost exclusively practice in the hospital or in birth centers. Hospital birth and home birth are different and require different approaches to care. CPMs are skilled in attending home birth.
In the past I have written about my experience with home birth. After working in hospital labor delivery units for many years—beginning at Hutzel Hospital in Detroit in 1972—I made the surprising decision to sign on to a home birth practice (never thought I would do this). For four years I took weekend call as the birth nurse, attending women in labor, in their home. A doctor or a CNM came for the birth. This practice closed and attendants for home birth in Illinois are very few.
I attended 66 labors, 61 of which birth took place at home, 5 were transferred to the hospital. Through this experience my understanding of birth expanded. I was consistently attending women all the way through labor, birth and recovery.
All of the skills that I had taught as a Lamaze instructor were easier to include in the home setting. Women were more intuitive about working with their body. Interventions were fewer.
It was very important to carefully observe the progress of labor and recognize risk factors. An observant birth attendant could tell when transfer to the hospital was advisable. Unlike the hospital, where the use of medications, surgical rupture of membranes, a stationary position in bed and anesthesia pumps could set off a sudden emergency, problems became apparent gradually in the home. There was enough time to make a transfer to the hospital. Certification of professional midwives at the state level could insure that midwives had the skills necessary for home birth.
What maternity care needs is a good communicating system between home birth attendants and hospital staff. Fear of a negative reception at the hospital sometimes leads to a delay in transfer to the hospital. Receiving a home birth patient in crisis can upset hospital staff– but on the other hand they are equipped to handle emergencies. The fear of lawsuits hovers over doctors.
But we should solve this. Midwives are focused on women’s health. They have more opportunities to teach and provide hands on care for women. Doctors are often balancing a very full schedule with minimal time with the patient, I learned so much about the women I attended by seeing them in their home setting. Midwives will bring the cost of maternity care down and improve the establishment of successful breastfeeding.
Instead of putting tax dollars to work at Planned Parenthood, let’s use the money to invest in health clinics and to increase midwifery services. CNMs that primarily work in the hospital could do a rotation in home birth, learning from CPMs. CPMs could do a rotation in the hospital with CNMs. The legislature could work on tort reform and relieve doctors from the constant fear of lawsuits.
What can we do to move this forward?
Call or e-mail your Senators and House Rep., asking them to defund Planned Parenthood.
If you live in Illinois call or e-mail your House Rep. and ask him to support the House Bill, HB 4341.
You may also want to visit the website of Women Speak for Themselves. Not all women think that the government should provide funding for abortion.
My husband and I are in a new season of life. We are both retired and have supportive roles in our extended family. My mother and brother are in declining health now and require the help of family. We are thrilled to have five of our grandchildren in the area and see them on a regular basis. We are learning new patterns of teamwork.
My husband makes the morning coffee. We have agreed on the recipe for the best coffee (see below). We each fix a light breakfast (mine is oatmeal) and read at the kitchen table. I am developing the habit of prayer and Bible study before I open my computer.
Sometimes I make trips to Michigan to assist in the care of my mother or brother while my husband takes care of the home front. Sometimes he comes with me. He always makes sure that the car is in good shape for travel.
We have different passions. He is an engineer, a problem solver and computer expert. He keeps my computer running and backed up. He enjoys being part of a ham radio group. I like to write, read, knit and support issues related to women’s health and childbirth.
My husband has attended one March for Life with me, but this year (2016) he did not want to go to downtown Chicago. When the thermometer showed a reading of 4° F, he said, “Surely you are not still planning to go?!”
And I said, “I will just go to the meet up place and then decide before I get on the bus.”
He said, “Take the ski goggles with you.”
My thought was I will look stupid. But I put the goggles in my purse and headed out the door. I did go to the March for Life. The wind chill at one point was -11°, possibly colder. We were outside for almost two hours and I was very grateful for the ski goggles.
We are enjoying being grandparents. When my daughter needs an evening babysitter, we go together and spend time with the grandchildren. I feel blessed to have this season with my husband.
During our wedding ceremony we committed to encourage each other. We read from Colossians 1: 9-14 during the ceremony.
And so from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
These verses are still a guide for us.
Here is our recipe for a great cup of coffee. We grind our own beans. While I will measure the coffee grounds (8 tablespoons for 11 cups of water), my husband puts the beans in the grinder and dumps all of the ground coffee in the filter paper lined basket. He is certain that he has placed the right amount of beans in the grinder. We add a dash of salt to take away the bitter edge of coffee and some cardamon seeds (a scant ¼ teaspoon).
After the coffee has brewed I add ¼ teaspoon of coconut oil and some cream to my coffee. So good!
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Update: January 2018 We now have 7 grandchildren. My brother (for whom I was guardian) has passed on to eternal life. There is both joy and sorrow in family, and much blessing.
For the past five months I have been studying the book of Acts. The book provides a picture of the early church, the work of the Holy Spirit and the challenges that believers faced.
Times and circumstances are different now, but the challenges are similar. When we pursue truth we will encounter pushback. The 19th chapter of Acts records a confrontation between silver craftsmen and the Apostle Paul.
About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” Acts 19: 23-27
Planned Parenthood has enjoyed a profitable business in our country, promising women their independence and control over reproduction. The organization receives tax dollars for women’s health. Recently some little known truths began to emerge when videos showed that Planned Parenthood is willing to provide baby parts for purchase. With a little research I discovered that the interest in aborted fetuses for the purpose of research dates back to the legalization of abortion. On another post I wrote:
In the past week Alliance Defending Freedom reported that the Planned Parenthood clinic in Madison, Wisconsin is selling baby parts to the University of Wisconsin. ADF obtained documents through the freedom of information act. Read the press release here. I know that the University of Michigan is doing embryonic stem cell research. Are they buying baby parts too?
Medical research is enshrined in this country. We want answers. We want to eradicate all infectious disease. Should the life of innocent pre-born babies provide for the health of others—and does it even work? How does this fit with God’s design for human life?
In this twisted culture we have a spiritual battle going on. The producers of the videos, showing abortion and the planned sale of body parts, are being indicted. Planned Parenthood gets a pass. The abortion industry has deep roots, people that support it for their own profit.
Pray for our country. Pray for truth to prevail. Pray for all innocent life to be protected.
UPDATE: LifeNews.com has an article that details the sale of fetal tissue–and the tax dollars that support research that utilizes fetal body parts. Click here.
The spring garden catalogues are filling my mailbox and I enjoy leisurely paging through the offerings. I am beginning to make choices for additions to my garden. God has given us an amazing variety plants and fruit bearing trees and bushes.
Before long tulips and lilies will begin to poke through the soil in my flower bed. When the warm weather comes, lilacs and peonies will add a sweet scent to the air.
Currants will be the first berries to ripen, closely followed by strawberries and raspberries. The tart red currants and the abundant raspberries provide an afternoon of delight for the grandchildren. The littlest ones have asked in the middle of winter, “Do you have raspberries in your yard?” The hope expressed on their faces makes me smile.
This little poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow took my thoughts in a new direction. What if I thought of relationships in terms of a garden?
Kind hearts are the gardens, Kind thoughts are the roots. Kind words are the flowers, Kind deeds are the fruits.
Take care of your garden and Keep out the weeds, Fill it with sunshine, Kind words and kind deeds.
This poem expands the meaning of fruitful, my word for 2016.
Through the women’s ministry at our church I have been able to watch some of the G3 conference, streaming live from Georgia. The topic of the conference is the Trinity, and I was pleased to listen to the preachers. All around us there is confusion about who God is, and about what the Bible says.
Our school district is dealing with confusion over male and female. Parents are holding meetings to find ways to protect the privacy of teenage girls. The federal government has mandated that a student with male anatomy be allowed to use the girl’s locker room, because he claims to be transgender. My children graduated from the high school that received this mandate. I recently wrote about a parent meeting. Click here.
Wheaton College, my daughter’s alma mater, is in the news for firing a tenured political science professor because she claimed that Moslems and Christians worship the same god. The controversy has been reported in the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal. One article is titled “Are Allah and Jesus the Same God?”
The only way to know the character of God is through the life and work of Jesus and through the words in the Bible. It is tempting to think that we can completely understand God or aptly describe Him in human terms. God is greater, is superior to our knowledge. According to Tim Challies “we are going to the edge of our capacity to understand.” The following Bible verses give us insight.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1: 26-27
The triune God created the world.
Jesus said to them [Jews questioning him], “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
Throughout the Old Testament the term, I am, referred to God.
In John 10: 30 Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.”
When my husband and I were on a tour of Israel we visited the Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock is there. Our guide informed us that the mosque has an inscription: God has no son.
The Moslem religion denies the triune nature of God.
Jesus explained the Holy Spirit to the disciples.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14: 16-17
Tim Challies explained that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all involved in our salvation. God calls us; Jesus redeems us; the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Once we acknowledge our sin and accept Jesus as savior, we know the Trinity by experience.
As I listened and chewed on the message, I thought about the importance of Bible study. We need to know the Bible and to teach it to our families. We must make time to:
Read the Bible. It helps to study with other Christians.
The gospel of John is a great place to start. Many passages illuminate Jesus’ relationship with God the Father. John 20:31 gives the reason that the disciple recorded his observations. These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31
Memorize scripture. The AWANA program is great for children. Now as an adult it takes more effort to memorize but I am realizing the value of having verses on the tip of my tongue.
Teach the truth of the Bible to our families.
I appreciate the focus that Janis has on the Bible at Word of God Speak. Visit her site here.
Spiritual Mothering by Susan Hunt was published in 1992. I have had it on my shelf for a while, but the time was right for me to read it now. I have enjoyed the examples of relationships provided in the book. The purpose of the book is to shine a light on relationships between women that lead to a growing faith and maturity.
Each chapter is preceded by a real life example of a relationship. The lessons are developed from the example. Biblical women and scripture verses are included. The beautiful relationship between Mary and Elizabeth is referred to in several chapters.
The chapter on forgiveness highlights Abigail, the wife of Nabal. Her story is told in the 25th chapter of 1 Samuel. From Susan Hunt’s perspective, Abigail had an attitude of forgiveness toward her rude husband who was prone to drunkenness. She was free to focus on the dramatic events when David, the future king of Israel, was requesting food for his men.
I had never thought of Abigail in that way. It is true that a forgiving heart has freedom. An attitude of unforgiveness/bitterness is a burden that impacts relationships negatively.
The book points out the value of women’s relationships and the potential for mentoring. In our culture we have much busyness and competition between women. The loving encouragement in a friendship, modeled by Mary and Elizabeth, is a gift. This is a season of life when I am thinking more about the way I relate to younger women.
As the book concluded I thought about the pattern of a one-on-one relationship—the intensity of this manner of mentoring. A few years ago I participated in a discipleship group with two other women. Although I led the group, we were learning and growing together. We shared our lives and challenges with transparency. We prayed for each other. We all benefited.
I am blessed to have two daughters and one daughter-in-law. It was wonderful to spend four days, all together, during the holidays. We have good relationships and will continue to learn from each other.
This book makes the point that a woman does not need to have a biological daughter to have a mentoring relationship; she doesn’t need to be a certain age. A godly woman can bless a younger woman by taking an interest in her and making herself available. The book is organized for group study, with discussion questions at the end of each chapter. I recommend it!
Sunday is the March for Life in Chicago. For the past three years I have participated in the march that takes place in my community. This year our community is joining the Chicago March for Life. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to ride the bus into Chicago, and so I have thought about this. Why do I participate?
As a nurse I believe with my whole heart that abortion is damaging to women. Early in my career I refused to participate in an abortion that took place in the hospital where I was employed. Besides the fact that medical people were killing a human being, I felt that our unit had insufficient resources to help a woman through the emotional impact.
The story of Hagar in the Bible has always caused me to pause and muse on God’s care for a single woman who became pregnant–through Sarai’s plan to achieve a child. Twice an angel was sent to rescue Hagar.
The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude” . . .
So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Genesis 16:7-10, 13
Later when Hagar’s son was about seventeen years old, Hagar was sent away by Sarai and Abraham. She and the boy were out of water in the desert and an angel directed her to a well. The Bible demonstrates God’s care for all women, in all circumstances. As Christians we can be God’s hands.
One of the arguments for abortion is that if we defund Planned Parenthood women will have unsafe abortions. And yet many of Planned Parenthood’s clinics do not meet the safety standards for a surgical center.
I recently read a study that was done in Chile after they made abortion illegal. Did hospital admissions for abortion complications increase or decrease? Hospital admissions decreased and maternal mortality decreased. Chile has better statistics on maternal mortality than the United States! You can read the article here.
World Magazine includes an interview with an obstetrician. She was asked about rape victims. Would she perform an abortion for a rape victim? She shared an experience that she had with a teenager that was pregnant by incest. Here is what she said:
So we talked with the girl and her family. She said, ‘Oh, you mean you’d kill the baby? I don’t want to kill the baby. No, no, no. I just want you to stop Grandpa from hurting me.” . . .
When you say there is a pregnancy as a result of incest, there’s usually some horrible abuse that must be diagnosed and treated. To kill the victim doesn’t really treat the crime.*
I am not in favor of protests in front of an abortion clinic. I am glad that for the most part the approach has changed to prayer and sidewalk counseling. Clinics like Informed Choices and Caris, in my area, provide support for women that are pregnant and in a difficult place or life situation.
The Christian community can do more. Women that are single parents need help. Children in foster care need to be adopted. We can all increase our attentiveness to women and children in need.
UPDATE: The cold temperature in Chicago and wind chill factor predicted for tomorrow is going to be hazardous. Prayer for this event is welcomed!
SUNDAY: We encountered brutal wind chill but all were in good spirits and the march went well!
Camilla Hersh, “The Happiness Specialist”, World Magazine, January 23, 2016, p. 29
Over the past couple weeks I have encountered Henry Wadsworth Longfellow twice. I picked up a coffee table book at a home I was visiting. The book had beautiful photos, enticing recipes and quotes from famous writers. One of the quotes was from Longfellow and I wrote it down. I was touched by his words about gardens. (The quote will appear in a future post.)
Jennifer Chiaverini’s novel, Christmas Bells, gives vignettes of Longfellow’s life. He encountered tragedy and lived through the pain and turmoil of the Civil War. Towards the end of the Civil War he wrote the poem, “Christmas Bells”. You may have heard it sung. The first line is “I heard the bells on Christmas Day . . .”
The scenes from Longfellow’s life are paired with the story of a modern day family. It was a little challenging for me to grasp the structure of the story at first. This modern story was composed of one scene viewed from the perspective of about six people. Each sees the events that take place a little differently during a children’s choir rehearsal. They are singing “Christmas Bells” of course.
I was really pleased to read the history behind the poem, “Christmas Bells” and I am inspired to read more of Longfellow’s poetry. Personal tragedy and the war almost drove the poet to despair, but he finished his poem with this stanza.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead: nor doth he sleep! The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Note: The photo of the bells and the engraving of Longfellow are via Wikimedia Commons and are public domain.