Spiritual Mothering: Book Review

L of L

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 Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne
The Visitation by Philippe De Champaigne

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!

Linking with Make My Saturday SweetLiteracy Musing Monday,  Essential FridaysGrace & Truth,  Faith Filled Friday, Friendship Friday,  Booknificent Thursday and Thought Provoking Thursday

The March Goes On Despite the Wind Chill Factor in Chicago

At times the wind chill on Sunday was -11° F in Chicago. Yet, many people turned out for the March for Life.

Chicago March for Life
Federal Plaza

The message was pro-woman, pro-baby, pro-life.

Chicago March for Life

A large group of college students were present.

Chicago March for Life

We were cold but in good spirits.

March for Life _5095

Linking with Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

Why I Participate in the March for Life

March for Life _5108

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.

Painting by Francesco Cozza
Painting by Francesco Cozy

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!

March for Life _5101

Camilla Hersh, “The Happiness Specialist”, World Magazine, January 23, 2016, p. 29

Linking with A Little R & R, WholeHearted Home,  So Much at Home, Tell it to Me TuesdayTitus 2sdayTuesdays with a Twist, the Homemaking Party,  Word of God Speak, Grace & Truth,  Essential FridaysWeekend Whispers and Faith Filled Friday.

Christmas Bells Still Ringing — from the Pen of a Poet

 

Christmas Bells

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.)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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.

Linking with Friendship Friday,  Literacy Musing MondayBooknificent ThursdayWholehearted Wednesday, A Little R & R, and Hope in Every Season.

Pasties and Pickles for a Complete Meal

Over the Christmas holidays my husband I traveled first to Michigan where we spent Christmas with my mother, sister and brother. After a brief interlude at home we drove to a town west of St. Louis, Missouri. We rented a house near Lake Sherwood and all of our children and grandchildren joined us. We had some great family time during our four days together.

Lake Sherwood

We had time for many conversations, a walk along the road, board games and a day of adventure at the City Museum in St. Louis. We took turns providing meals. I chose to make the family favorite meal, pasties—well, a favorite among the adults. The nice thing about this meal is that I was able to make the pasties ahead of time, freeze them and bring them along as a ready meal. I let them thaw in the refrigerator at our rental and then baked them for 40 minutes to heat them through. To appease the children I left the onions out of the pasties and included dill pickles as a side dish.

Pasties are a traditional meal in Upper Michigan. The copper miners would take these meat & potato filled pies with them for a meal in the mine. The shops in Upper Michigan still sell them. I have posted the recipe before, but here it is again.

Pastry:

3 C. flour
½ tsp. salt
2/3 C. shortening
1 egg yolk
½ C + 2 Tblsp. cold water
1 Tblsp. cider vinegar

Combine flour and salt. Cut in the shortening until it appears as coarse crumbs.

Mix the egg yolk, water and vinegar. Gradually add this to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork. Mix just until it holds together. If needed, add additional water a tablespoon at a time.

Divide the dough into six portions and roll out each portion to a 9” circle.

Filling:

1 lb. round steak, diced or coarsely ground
1 C. rutabaga, chopped
½ C. finely chopped onion
4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 rounded tsp. salt
Pepper (optional)

Place a generous cup of filling on half of each dough circle. Fold the other half of dough over the filling and crimp the edges. Place the pasties on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Serve hot.

Pasty

If you are planning to freeze the pasties and reheat them later, the bake time can be reduced to 50 minutes.

The dill pickles were a hit. I made them using cucumbers from one sister’s garden, garlic from another sister’s garden and dill from my garden. I came across the recipe for a small batch of pickles here.

Linking with From the Farm,  Titus 2sdays,  Tuesdays with a Twist, the Art of Homemaking,  Friendship Friday and Family Friendship & Faith Link-up

One Word for the New Year

The practice of choosing one word  for  the  New Year  has been an    inspiration for me. Last year my word was gracious, and having this word in mind I was more conscious of my conversation and actions. I paused a little more, seeking kind words. I have been thinking and praying about one word for 2016.

Relationships are on my mind.  I would like to see greater depth in   relationships and openness to new relationships.  Could I grow and  assist others to grow? In the book of Ephesians Paul writes about good work.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.            Ephesians 2:10

The key words in this verse are in Christ Jesus. The good work is possible through Jesus. And so my life needs to be centered on Jesus, drawing strength from a vital relationship with Jesus. Jesus tells us:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit. John 15: 1-2

Images from my garden come to mind. The fruit produced by the raspberry bushes in my yard is a delight.

Red Raspberries 2

In my relationships I desire positive growth, willing to be pruned. This means more time in prayer.

With these thoughts in mind, I have chosen the word fruitful. Have you chosen a word for 2016?

Linking with Sharing His Beauty,  Weekend Whispers,  Essential FridaysSitting Among FriendsGrowing in GraceA Little R & RWholeHearted Wednesday,  Hope in Every SeasonTitus 2sday,  Monday Musings and Word of God Speak

Flowers and Wreaths at the Chicago Botanical Garden

We had a lovely afternoon at the Chicago Botanical Garden. The flowers were in bloom in the conservatories. Lovely wreaths adorned the walls. Poinsettias lined the displays and were hanging from the ceiling! A variety of trains were on display as a Christmas exhibit. The miniature trains travel on tracks through scenes of Chicago.

Blue Hydrangeas at Chicago Botanical Garden

Chicago Botanical Garden

Pointsettas

Chicago Botanical Garden

Christmas Train Exhibit

Linking with Whole Hearted Home, A Little R & RTuesdays with a Twist, Titus 2sdays and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

Healthy Orange Spice Cookies

 

L of L

My mother grew up on a small Finnish farm in Upper Michigan. At Christmas she would remind us that oranges are a special treat. When she was a girl her family had oranges only on Christmas. As a tradition we always received an orange in our Christmas stocking.

When I saw a recipe that included orange zest in a molasses cookie—in the newspaper—I had to try it.   Then I tweaked the recipe to  my   liking. Finnish spice cookies sometimes include rye flour, so I substituted rye flour for some of the flour.

Ingredients:

5 Tblsp. unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup honey
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 Tblsp. grated orange zest*
1/3-cup dark unsulfured molasses
1 egg yolk
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 + ½ tsp. cinnamon
1 + ½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. allspice
¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
½ tsp. salt
1 + ½ cup quick oats
¾ cup rye four
1 + ¾ cup unbleached white flour

Coating:

1 egg white, beaten with a fork until frothy
1 Tblsp. grated orange zest*
½ cup turbinado sugar
Thoroughly combine the sugar and orange zest.

*For the orange zest I used one orange and grated the outer peel,      mincing it fine.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly grease cookie sheet.

In a large bowl beat the butter and honey until creamy. Add the brown sugar and 2 Tablespoons orange zest and beat for a couple more minutes.

Add the molasses, applesauce, egg yolk  (reserve the egg white),      vanilla, baking soda, spices and salt. Beat mixture until well combined. With a wooden spoon stir in the oats, white flour and rye flour. The dough will be a little sticky. If you want you can put the dough in the refrigerator for a half hour and it will be easier to handle.

Use a teaspoon to scoop a round of dough and form into a ball. Dip it into the egg white and then the turbinado sugar with orange zest. Place it on the cookie sheet. The cookies should be spaced about one inch apart.

Bake the cookies until the edges are set, beginning to brown and the tops are cracked. Depending on the size of the cookie, the baking time will be 10 to 15 minutes. The center of the cookie will be soft. Enjoy! These are great with a cup of coffee.

Orange Spice Cookies

Linking with From the Farm,  WholeHearted Home, A Little R & R,  Tuesdays with a Twist, the Homemaking Party,  Titus 2sday,  Motivation Monday,  the Art of Homemaking and MYHSM

We went to see Star Wars

Star Wars

Who is your favorite character in Star Wars? When Han Solo and then R2– D2 made their appearance in the new movie the audience gave them a round of applause. The first Star Wars movie came out during the first year of my marriage. I saw it with my husband. The scenes were amazing and we were engrossed in the story. Later we watched episodes with our children.

When my husband suggested that we see episode VII on opening night I realized that the evening was open. The local theater had a continuum of times available. So we went. How would this movie compare with the others?

Leia and Han Solo have aged—as we have. Young people, a new generation, carried the action. They wondered at the old stories. Were they legend or true?

The narrative of Star Wars is based on the truth that  good  and  evil  exist. The quest for truth  and  rightness is tucked deep in our soul. Sometimes we have to fight for it.

The grief and pain of “the dark side” is also true.

While Star Wars refers to “the force”, the Bible teaches us about our God. The prophet Jeremiah lived through a tumultuous time on earth and clearly stated the source of truth and rightness.

This is what the Lord says:

Cursed is the one who trusts in man and who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.

He will be like a bush in the wastelands;

He will not see prosperity when it comes.

He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.

He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”                 Jeremiah 17: 5-10

Jeremiah suffered physically.  He did not have material gain  but he   understood spiritual life. God is the source of our strength and joy.

We went to Christmas concerts and programs this December—and Star Wars. Our joy and strength comes from God’s great gift. Jesus came to redeem us! We have much to celebrate this Christmas season.

Linking with Words with WinterA Little R & R,  Titus 2sday, Tuesdays with a Twist,  Word of God SpeakWeekend Whispers, WholeHearted HomeGrace & TruthEssential Fridays, Friendship Friday , Faith Filled Friday and Faith & Friends.

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A Rose, Love and the Savior are in this Old Carol

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming

The violins, piano and voices of the choir gave a beautiful rendition of an old German carol. I was swept away from the news reports and troubles in our community. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Here are the lyrics to this carol, Lo How A Rose:

Low, how a rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
As saints of old hath sung.

It came a flower bright,
Amid the cold of winter.
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah foretold it.
The rose I have in mind.
With Mary we behold it
The virgins mother kind.

To show God’s love aright
She bore to us a Savior
When half spent was the night,
When half spent was the night.

O Rose, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispel in glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere.

True man, yet very God.
From sin and death now save us
And share our every load.

Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Alleluia
Sing alleluia

A Rose, Love and A Savior

The apostle Peter knew much about the troubles in this world. He had walked with Jesus and had seen the crucifixion. He saw the empty tomb and the risen Lord. He had shared a meal with Jesus after the resurrection. He was there when Jesus instructed the disciples to make disciples of all nations. Peter had been in prison for his faith and from his experiences he wrote:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxious cares on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5: 6-7

We have so much to celebrate! Tomorrow night we will go to our grandchildren’s Christmas program. Each year adds new memories. I still remember the Christmas programs that I participated in as a child.  It is a blessing to see the grandchildren singing carols  and     reciting scripture verses.

Linking with Grace & Truth,  Essential Fridays,  Titus 2sday,  Hope in Every Season,  WholeHearted WednesdayA Little R & R,  Tuesdays with a TwistInspire Me Monday,  Soul Survival,  Reflect, the Art of Homemaking and Word of God Speak