When the News is Bad

Newspapers have been running stories about the sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church. The Chicago Tribune has had a series of articles about sexual abuse at Willow Creek Church. The lead article in the current issue of World Magazine addresses sexual abuse in Protestant churches. It is all around us.

It is grievous that that there is so much abuse and confusion about sexuality. I know that many Christians and Catholics are deeply saddened.   It is tragic that  God’s  plan  for  sex,  marriage  and family is torn and distorted in our culture AND the church.

What can we do? We must rush to the Lord in prayer. We can pray that the abusers acknowledge their sin and repent. We can pray for healing for the victims. We can pray for those in church leadership to be wise and establish boundaries of behavior that are enforced.

Prayer
photo courtesy of pixabay.com

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

As people of faith we can pray for our families  and  be willing to discuss sexuality with our children and grandchildren. The family is God’s foundational unit for passing along truth.

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: RUSH.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

Crisis & Prayer

Today I am joining a community that is writing on the prompt: PAUSE

Life has been on pause.

No, that is not quite right. The nonessentials of life have been on pause.

A week ago my grandson developed a critical illness and has been in a pediatric ICU. My daughter has been at his bedside. My husband and I have been taking care of the other children.

We have been learning their daily patterns, seeing more of their school projects. It has been an intense week. Grandpa has earned the title of Grand Nap Master for his ability to coax the toddler to take a nap.

The days have been stressful but touched with little blessings. We are thankful for the prayers on behalf of our family. A dear friend sent me scripture verses. This one has encouraged me:

Psalm 62:5-6  Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

The evening before major surgery my grandson’s youth group held a prayer meeting. About fifty people, many of his friends, showed up to pray.

We are blessed by God’s love being displayed by faithful friends.

UPDATE: Our grandson is recovering after two surgeries for a bleeding brain aneurysm. We praise God for answered prayer. We are grateful for the skill of the medical team and the advances in medical technology.

UPDATE on 8/3/18: After a summer of therapy our grandson is preparing to begin high school in a couple weeks. We are praising God for his progress and continue to pray for returning strength and adjustment/healing of limitation in his eyesight.

Visit Five Minute Friday by clicking here.

Call the Midwife: the Spiritual Aspect of Childbirth

It is the 7thseason of Call the Midwife, and I make time to watch it. This weeks episode had me in tears. Death is hard, but I am glad that the current series has reflections on faith. When it first aired I wondered how close it was to the book that it is based on.

In the fall of 2012 I wrote this blog post:

If you liked the new program, Call the Midwife, airing on PBS, you will like the memoir written by Jennifer Worth. A few years ago I came across The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times. Jennifer was a midwife for the east end of London in the 1950s. The TV program is based on her book.

The PBS program is accurate in presenting episodes described in the book. I did go back to check the validity of the  premature  birth  story.    According to the memoir the baby was born at 28 weeks gestation after the mother had taken a bad fall. Despite being very sick and weak the mother refused to let the medical staff take the baby to the hospital.

She kept the baby on her chest, skin to skin. She expressed colostrum from her breasts, and every half hour she used a little glass tube to drip the colostrum into the tiny baby’s mouth. By instinct she was keeping the baby warm and nourished.

This was a 1950s example of kangaroo care motivated by maternal love and instinct.

Jennifer Worth recorded that the baby survived without impairment.

The program left out spiritual messages in the book. As a young midwife, Ms. Worth was frightened by the situations that she was thrust into. She wrote how the prayers of the nuns gave her calmness. Ms. Worth gave insight into the emotions she had while preparing to attend the premature birth.

She wrote: The knowledge that sister Julienne would be praying for us had an extraordinary effect. All the tension and anxiety left me, and I felt calm and confident. I had learned to respect the power of prayer. What change had come over the headstrong young girl who, only a year earlier, had found the whole idea of prayer to be a joke?

Prayer was part of my home birth experiences. At times the husband prayed. Occasionally I prayed.  Although I am not a poet I wrote some lines to remember the  scene  at a birth I attended, assisting a physician.

Labor pains came gently
through the night.
Morning light streamed
on her rocking chair.

Her labor intensified.
She walked, clutched my arm,
And listened for
encouraging words.

Her movements
were intuitive. She labored
with position changes
and firm massage.

She knelt down
and asked me to pray.
No pain medication.
She asked me to pray.

I prayed as she moaned
And released her body
To surging waves of pain
Her body pushed.

A circle of crown,
head and shoulders,
a baby girl was born
in the afternoon glow.

Childbirth is a time to lean into God.

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Surrendering in Prayer

Today a community of writers will take the prompt that Kate Motaung has given and  write  for  five minutes  (or sometimes a little longer).        I enjoy linking up with Five Minute Friday and seeing where the word takes us. Today’s prompt is: SURRENDER

Every morning my husband and I read a  daily  devotion  from  God’s  Wisdom for Navigating Life by Tim Keller. The verse for this morning comes from Proverbs 3:11-12

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

My thoughts go back to the time that our son was battling leukemia. It has been almost 30 years ago. Steven’s illness was not a punishment—it was suffering that God allowed. God loved us during that difficult time; we experienced it through scripture and the community of friends that stood by us.

My husband and I fought for the life of our son with every means possible. We did research. We eventually accompanied Steven to the Cancer Research Center in Seattle where he had a bone marrow transplant. We provided his care at home.

Throughout this time we were praying. I talked with God during the long nights. I wept and cried out to him in the shower (so Steven would not see my anguish). As the cancer progressed and eventually took Steven’s life I surrendered to God in prayer.

Now, when I look back I can see how that time period refined my faith. I was talking to God, speaking to him about my pain. I saw the way Steven trusted God as we spent time in God’s word. God guided our family through a period of suffering. Steven’s sisters have grown in their faith and are now ministering to their own families.

If you are in a period of suffering the best thing you can do is pray. Lay your pain and suffering before the Lord and trust that He will carry you through, building your faith.

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Meeting Life’s Challenges

In the past few weeks I have read a couple of books about women overcoming difficulties in life. Sue Detweiler’s book is about the value of prayer. My review of Women Who Move Mountains is here.

Mountain View

Kristina Cowan wrote about birth trauma and post partum depression. She has included research as well as her experience as a woman of faith walking through this most difficult time. The number of women experiencing birth trauma seems to be rising. My review of When Post Partum Packs a Punch is here.

When Postpartum Packs a Punch

Currently I am reading Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood. Our culture has so many mixed and confusing messages about sexuality. The author takes us through her own misconceptions and what she has learned. How do we recognize error? How do we guide the young women in our area of influence?

Julie Roys’ book is thought provoking and worthy of discussion. When I have finished the book I will write a review.

Every season of life has challenges. We can be victorious through prayer, study of God’s word and thoughtful discussion in the community of believers.

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is OVERCOME.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

Linking with Booknificent Thursday

A Lifeline for Our Soul

The September heat wave is over. While the temperature soared into the 90s we did not get any rain, and my herbs needed frequent watering. I grow thyme, basil and dill in pots.

The basil was always first to alert me. The leaves would begin to droop and I would get out the watering can. Just an hour after watering the basil was revived.

Lifeline for the Soul
Basil

With all the discord in our culture, my spirit can get dry. When my spirit is dry I am short tempered; my words are not gracious. I may miss an opportunity that God has placed in my path.

I need the refreshment of God’s word and I need time in prayer. I am glad to participate in a weekly Bible study. I am motivated to spend time in the Bible each day, working on the lesson.

The Bible and prayer refresh my spirit—it’s like a drink of water. //

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
Psalm 42: 1-2

I was fortunate to see Rep. Scalise’s speech to the House of Representatives when he returned to the House floor. Just happened to turn the TV on. He had been shot at a baseball field where congressmen were playing a baseball game for charity.

He talked about the power of prayer. As he lay wounded on the ground, waiting for the ambulance, he prayed. He prayed for himself and the others that were on the baseball field. During his speech he gave thanks for the way God answered his prayers.

We can bring every situation to the Lord in prayer, remembering to give thanks for God’s faithfulness.

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This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Many thanks to Kate Motaung, our gracious leader. Today’s prompt is DEPEND.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

I am also joining Grace & Truth link-up and Lyli’s community of faith, Faith on Fire.

Job’s Prayer is Acceptable

My Bible Lesson for this week focuses on the attributes of God. Scripture references in the book of Job point to God’s omniscience and omnipotence. This book reveals some deep truths.

The book of Job gives clues to the scientific nature of our world. It also shows a relationship between God and man.

After Job loses his children, his home, his cattle and his health, he lays his situation before God.  As he suffers, he poses questions to God.  AND God answers him.

In the last chapter of the book Job acknowledges God’s omnipotence and sovereignty. God honors Job in his struggle for answers. God admonishes the friends who were misguided in their assessment, and He gives Job the opportunity to pray for them.

. . . and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. Job 42:9

Wow! //

When we are going through difficulties we can tell God our struggle. When my son was battling cancer I stood in the shower crying out to God, telling him my anguish. I developed a deeper prayer life.

God did not answer my requests in the way that I expected, but he answered and my faith grew.

Whatever struggle you may have, you can bring it to the Lord in prayer. He accepts us where we are. God desires us to grow in faith.

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Many thanks to Kate Motaung, our gracious leader. Today’s prompt is ACCEPT.  Visit this writing community by clicking here.

Trying, Persisting and Communicating

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Sometimes the first five minutes of writing stimulates more thought, and I continue on . . . Today’s prompt is: TRY

During the past two weeks I had the wonderful experience of attending a family reunion in Finland. My maternal grandmother had come to the United States when she was nineteen years old. Two of her brothers were already here, but the remaining ten siblings stayed in Finland. She was never able to go back.

During the two weeks in Finland I had time with a number of our second cousins, third cousins, cousins once or twice removed. Some were fluent in English, some were not. But we found ways to communicate. I tried out the words that I knew in Finnish and then resorted to the app on my i-pad. My relatives tried out words in English and used the Finnish/English dictionary.

We were persistent in our efforts to communicate. I learned about my grandmother’s life in Finland and felt the kinship with my Finnish relatives. . . .

My thoughts have moved on to think about God’s persistent efforts to communicate with us. He has given us the Bible and his Son. In the gospel of John, Jesus is called the Word.   Through Jesus we have  been  given the ability to be in communication with God. Jesus instructed the disciples (and us) to pray, addressing God as our Father.   Our  prayers,   uttered in faith, are heard.

Come visit Five Minute Friday and share your perspective on TRY.

FMF try

The Blessing of Community

Every Friday the FMF community writes for five minutes on a prompt given by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt is: BLESSING Here are my thoughts.

Prayers, my own and those of other believers, have blessed me. God hears our prayers.

The past couple weeks have been difficult. It has been a comfort to know that the women I study the Bible with have prayed for me. The small group that my husband and I attend has prayed for us.

God was with us through the difficult moments. We are blessed and give thanks to God for his provisions.

As believers we have an open door to the throne of God. As I look back over the experiences in my life, prayers that I have cried out to God, I can say that God is faithful to hear and answer our prayers. It is a blessing.

We give thanks always to God for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers . . . 1 Thessalonians 1:2 //

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Ephesians 1:3

For more thoughts on blessings visit Five Minute Friday

 

Book Review: Women Who Move Mountains

The title of the book drew my attention. Women Who Move Mountains: praying with confidence, boldness and grace. Prayer has been a central part of my life. I was curious about Sue Detweiler’s perspective.

The first chapter is titled I Believe: Transforming Fear into Faith.  The  author tells her own story of a fearful event that became a foundation for faith. She expresses a theme of the book with these encouraging words: Coming toward the light of Jesus will bring peace to your heart and mind. You don’t have to have everything figured out. You just need to know the One who holds the world together–Jesus!

Several chapters give examples of the brokenness caused by sexual abuse and/or abortion.  Tragic relationships and the abuse of  women  occurred in Bible times. And still happens. Detweiler records the stories of women.

The Bible gives guidance for help and healing. Detweiler refers to the woman with the alabaster flask (Luke 7: 36-50) in chapter five. This woman, a known sinner, washes Jesus feet with her tears and anoints him with a valuable perfume. The men that are with Jesus are outraged because she touches Jesus. Jesus defends the woman. He proclaims that her sins are forgiven. He does not judge her; he heals her.

Other areas of brokenness that are addressed in the book include perfectionism, anxiety, pride, shame and sadness. Jesus knows the situations that we as women face. Our Savior offers forgiveness and healing. We are all broken in different ways.   We may try to fix the problem  with   limited success. Detweiler provides scripture to show that healing and fulfillment comes through a relationship with the Savior.

Like Rhonda in chapter 19, I have lost a son. My story is similar because I continued to pray, to talk with God.    Through prayer I received  God’s  answer to my pain and loss. I have found peace. Our family has been blessed with a growing faith in God’s love for us.

The chapters of the book alternate between the stories of women and a study outline for overcoming difficult issues. The odd number include lessons from biblical women. The even number chapters provide a study sheet that can be worked through individually or with a group.

In addition to praying for healing the book provides guidance for praying with grace, humility and boldness. The Bible verses for guidance are well chosen. Like Sue Detweiler I believe that prayer is vitally important.

Part two of the book is organized into 21 days of reflection and prayer. If you are seeking a a deeper relationship with God, if you want to improve your prayer life, you will appreciate the guidance in this book.

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