Colors of the Sunset & Seeing Answers to Prayer

The sky had turned a brilliant pink, and the horizon seemed to be in flame. It was gorgeous. But within minutes the color began to fade, leaving streaks of lavender. I was fortunate to be in the car,  my husband    driving, to see the sunset at the right moment. There are other moments that are important to notice.

The word I have chosen for 2017 is attentive. When I am prayerfully seeking the Lord I am more alert to his touch on my life. If I am watching I may see glimpses of his answer to prayer.

Recently my brother was hospitalized and his living arrangement was terminated. As I prayed throughout this crisis, I needed to be watching for signs of the Lord’s care. Here is what I noticed.

My brother had a nurse who looked beyond his mental disability and provided excellent care while he was in the hospital.

Because of this nurse’s attention, problems with his medications were seen more clearly and addressed.

Although my brother would not talk about Jesus or words from the Bible, he began to hum and sing a couple hymns. This amazed me because he is often angry with any talk about faith in God.

I wasn’t alone. My sister was with me. I had friends in the same town as the hospital. It was good to visit with my college roommate and another dear friend. We talked about our faith, and I was able to pray with them.

The bright colors of these moments guided me through a couple of tough weeks.

Isaiah has recorded these words of encouragement:

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26: 3-4

Is my brother’s situation completely resolved? No, so I will give thanks for what I have seen and keep on praying.

Have you experienced answers to prayer recently? I would enjoy your comment.

Sharing this post with Thought Provoking Thursday and Grace & Truth

Finding Rest Through Prayer

It’s Friday and I am joining the community hosted by Kate Motaung. For five minutes we write fast and free. The prompt is: BREATHE

Go . . .

For many years I taught breathing patterns for Lamaze classes. When wave after wave of contractions come, breathing patterns can help a     laboring woman with relaxation. Slow breathing seems to be most effective.

Take a breath in and slowly release it,   like you are making a candle    flicker. Then take another breath and release it slowly. A steady rhythm of breathing.

Prayer is spiritual breathing.

Currently I am in a stressful situation. I am spending days at the hospital advocating for my brother. A couple nights ago I was restless and overwhelmed. I was struggling with worries.

I needed to do some spiritual breathing. Jesus has offered us this access to rest. We can offer up our burdens as we whisper a prayer.

“Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11: 28

Come join the inspiration at Five Minute Friday!

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After the Election: Prayer & Love

It is good to be studying God’s word during this season (and always).

I am reminded that the problems we face as a nation are not new. We are sinful people seeking our own ends and solutions. The apostle Paul had his moment of awakening. The Jewish law could not save him or the people of Israel. Paul and all people need the salvation offered by Jesus.

Our nation needs Jesus. We need to bring the message of the gospel to people that we interact with. Paul gave good advice to his student, Titus, during tumultuous times in the Roman Empire. Titus was a leader for new believers.

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray and slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.          Titus 3:1-8 ESV

The election is over. We don’t know what the Trump presidency will bring. We can pray for this man and his administration. We can choose to demonstrate love and kindness to every person we encounter.

Today has been a beautiful fall day. As I walked through our neighborhood I have enjoyed seeing these signs around our neighborhood.

Love & Prayer

My fervent prayer is to live in obedience to Jesus Christ, to let his love shine through me. Join me in prayer?

Sharing this post with Thankful Thursday, Word of God Speak,  Thought Provoking Thursday and Christian Blogger

Seeking Truth with Prayer

Each day, as I listen to the news I am deeply saddened. What is happening in our country? The reports of violence and death shake our sense of security. I think about my grandchildren and the world they are growing up in.

Social issues and politics have become so divisive. It seems to me that it is hard to get to the truth on polarized topics.

Yesterday I posted a link on Facebook to an article about the HPV        vaccine, stating one of the researchers disagreed with widespread use of it in the U.S.  The vaccine prevents a sexually transmitted infection,       human papillomavirus.  Almost immediately a friend posted a link with an opposing opinion.  So I did some more internet searches and found an article written by Dr. Harper, the researcher in question.  The article, Next Generation Cancer Protection: The Bivalent HPV Vaccine for Females, details the medical research and includes this paragraph:

Prophylactic HPV vaccination will have little cancer-reducing effect in the general screened population, but may prevent cervical cancer among those with no screening opportunities.   Prophylactic vaccination may help       decrease the numbers of women who develop abnormal cytology screens among those who are screened. Modeling indicates that HPV vaccination will prevent potentially 17% of the abnormal Pap tests based on current knowledge of HPV type distribution (Figure 3) [73] and only a very few cancers that Pap testing would not have detected [74, 75], not enough to lower the population incidence of cervical cancer lower than what screening already accomplishes [76].

I believe that knowing the truth about vaccines (benefit and the risk), and making informed decisions is important. In so many areas of life we need to pursue truth.

While Jesus was on earth he talked about truth many times. His counsel and prayer with the disciples in John 17 speaks to my heart and gives me courage.

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17: 15-21

Jesus prayed in the days leading up to his sacrifice for us. We have the opportunity to lift our prayers to the Lord. Thomas R. Kelly highlights the importance of prayer throughout each day.

Use what little obedience you are capable of, even if it be like a grain of mustard seed.  Begin where you are.  Live this present     moment, this present hour as you now sit in your seats, in utter, utter submission and openness toward God. Listen outwardly to these words, but within, behind the scenes, in the deeper levels of your lives where you are all alone with God the Loving Eternal One, keep up a silent prayer, “Open Thou my life. Guide my thoughts where I dare not let them go. But Thou darest. Thy will be done.” Walk on the streets and chat with your friends.   But every moment behind the scenes be in prayer, offering yourselves in continuous obedience.*

* Thomas R. Kelly “Holy Obedience” (lecture, 1939)

Linking with Word of God Speak, Let Us Grow and Thought Provoking Thursday

The Forsythia & God’s Faithfulness

Forsythia Marks the Anniversary

Today is the 27th anniversary of my son’s passing away and entering eternity. Last year I wrote the illness and faith of our little boy. You can read about Steven here.

God has healed the wound in my heart, but it took time. Only when I was far enough from my initial grief, could I look back and see the hand of God guiding and supporting our family.

Steven was loved. He knew that God loved him.

The Psalms convey both the pain of suffering and the confidence in God’s love.

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and a buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day,

Nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,  nor the        destruction that wastes at the noonday. Psalm 91:4-6

I must confess that in the last days of Steven’s life I felt like I was on the edge of a cliff, about to plunge into darkness. I wasn’t sure of my faith. But I never stopped praying. I poured out my pain before God. The Psalms provided an example for me to follow.

Christian friends stood by us, offering their faith and prayers. Over time I was able to see the places where God had been present with us. I believe that I will see Steven again, as the Bible promises.

If you are going through a stiff trial, don’t be afraid to pour out doubts and fears in prayer. God hears and He is faithful. Let others pray for you also. Trust that as you walk forward you will see evidence of God’s hand on your life.

Linking with Let Us Grow, Grace & Truth and Word of God Speak

Let Us Grow

 

The Passionate Work of Lilias Trotter and Margaret Sanger

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.

Lilias Trotter & Margaret Sanger

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.

Linking with Literacy Musing Monday,  Grace & Truth, Friendship Friday and Booknificent Thursday

Review: God’s Not Dead 2

HHS Mandate and Little Sisters of the Poor

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.

  1. Prayer was a key element in the story.

The teacher prayed, her grandfather prayed and large groups of     people prayed throughout the trial.

  1. The community—not just the individual—was involved.

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

God's Not Dead 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.

Linking with Word of God Speak, Let Us Grow,  Grace & Truth,  Friendship Friday,  Thought Provoking Thursday,  A Little R & R and Whole Hearted Wednesday

Morning Prayers

Morning Prayers
Daffodils at a roadside rest stop in Michigan

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. **

daffodils_5295

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the     Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.                              Ephesians 6: 14-18

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  

Linking with Us Coffee & JesusSeasonsLiteracy Musing Monday, Sue’s Wordless Wednesday,  Weekend Whispers, Word of God Speak,  Grace & Truth,  Thought Provoking Thursday and Whole Hearted Wednesday

The Family is Under Attack

The school board in my town met, and the community was invited. The federal government—specifically the Office of Civil Rights— has demanded that a transgender student be given full access to female locker rooms and restrooms.

School District 211

The meeting place, a high school cafeteria,  was packed.  Seats      extended to the back wall and people were standing at both sides of the room. The meeting was intended for residents of the school district but a large contingent of the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) community from the surrounding towns and city of Chicago showed up. They were carrying placards and wearing stickers in support of the transgender student.

Attendees were allowed to sign up for a 3-minute speaking slot, to express their opinion to the school board. When the first three speakers were from the LGBT group a gentleman called for a point of order. He walked toward the front of the room and stated that speakers should be living in the school district. The school board president asked him to sit down or be escorted out of the room.

My heart ached  as  one transgender or adult homosexual partner   after another testified to the pain in their life. And when a teenage girl said that she had just discovered that she was bisexual, she was given a round of applause.

A doctor said that it is impossible to distinguish the gender of an individual from their anatomy. Instead there are some internal markers. Really?

Teenage girls stood up to explain their discomfort and the awkwardness of having a transgender student in the locker room when they shower and change for swimming class.

Fathers spoke up in defense of their daughters. Teenage girls have a right to privacy.

One speaker for the LGBT community said that times have changed. The standards that we once had no longer exist. It is a new age.

The air was heavy and I tried to pray.

An article titled Educating for the Kingdom by Gerhard Cardinal Müller is in the current issue of Plough. Müller writes:

Rather, education is the entrusting of a gift from one generation to the next. The older generation’s accumulated culture, learning and skills are given as an unearned gift to the younger. But this gift also carries a responsibility: the younger generation must make the gift a reality in their own lives.

Overnight I have been wrestling with thoughts about the meeting. Families are breaking down. Divorce and single parent families are common. Children are susceptible to deception. We are experiencing spiritual warfare. Images from the Lord of the Rings come to mind. Remember the black riders? They were trying to get Frodo. In place of Frodo, I could visualize them seeking to destroy the family.

Pray for families.

Pray  for  the teens that are seeing so many distorted versions of    sexuality.

Pray for wisdom, compassion and kindness in sharing the truth of God’s design of the family.   God is good, and His ways are for our   benefit.

Lovely Aroma in a World of Conflict

A Sweet Aroma
Last rose in my garden

Are you discouraged by the conflicts and moray decay all around us? I am. The study of the book of Acts is giving me hope. I am glad that this book was chosen for the fall Precept Bible study.

Sometimes political issues stir my emotions. Can political action groups solve the problems? They may have a place, but the problems in our country are spiritual.

It is not wrong to stand up for a point of view—in fact we must pursue truth.  Every life is valuable.  God designed marriage as one man and one woman. This truth comes from the word of God.

As I spend time studying the Bible, I realize that God’s plan of            salvation is woven through the scriptures and this message is most important. The gospel changes hearts. The apostles spoke about Jesus:

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.      Acts 4:12

The apostles and early church were focused on the message of the gospel. Even when persecution began they prayed for boldness.

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.       Act 4:29

Followers of Jesus, the church, have a specific role for this time. We are called to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Through our words, our    attitudes and actions we have a responsibility to have a message that points to Jesus and salvation. Sometimes we fall short. We need to be in the Word, in prayer and dependent on the Holy Spirit. Jesus has     given the Holy Spirit to be our helper.

I know that I am more sensitive to the Holy Spirit when I am studying my Bible, spending time in prayer and joining in fellowship in my home church. These are necessary activities. I encourage you to       embrace these practices.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the        knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God, among those who are being saved, and among those who are     perishing. 2 Corinthians 2: 14-15

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for completing the plan of salvation. Thank-you for forgiving my sins and giving us your Word. Guide me by the Holy Spirit to be a witness for you.

Linking with Thought Provoking ThursdayWholeHearted Wednesday,  A Little R & R,  Titus 2sday,  Hope in Every SeasonWords with Winter,  Sharing His Beauty,  Sunday Stillness,  Grace & Truth and Faith Filled Friday

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