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On Fridays I post FFF to be intentional about recounting blessings of the previous week. Suzanne sponsors this exercise at Living to Tell the Story and invites you to participate too!

1. Family time – Since our family from China is with us for such a short time each year we need to pack in a lot of togetherness in just a few weeks. Family brunch, kiddy pool, and games day made for a lovely gathering this week.

2. More family time – Our daughter and son-in-law hosted a family BBQ last week for his family and ours. It was so nice to touch base with Tim’s side of the family again and to spend a few hours together.

3. Garden joys – Because I came to gardening quite recently I am still learning much about making my garden flourish. This year besides my herbs, I planted kale for my smoothies, and a small amount of zucchini, onions, green beans, and peas. We have a couple of deck rail planters for flowers and a small ground level triangular bed near the confluence of two sidewalks. Sadly, I cannot get down to weed that bed at this point, so I rely on others to help with that bed. However, the raised beds and rail planters are easy for me to access and I have learned more about pruning and deadheading this year which has resulted in a more verdant garden. I have not yet cooked any of my delicious peas. By the time I pick them and shell them with my grandchildren we have managed to enjoy every single sweet pea that we have picked!

My beloved built me raised bed planters which allows me to tend to my garden even with my limited mobility and this week he and my son and daughter-in-law finished a third planter for me. It’s a bit late for planting up here in central Alberta but my husband went out to nurseries and home centers on a quest to rescue some end of season vegetable plants. After much searching he found some dilapidated tomato plants and our plant rescue project has ensued! We’ll see if together we can nurse them back to health and encourage them to produce some tomatoes.

4. Kids and grandkids – I am exceptionally blessed to not only have wonderful children, but also an amazing daughter-in-law and son-in-law. They are as dear to me as my own children and I thank God for joining them with our family. Our grandchildren are pretty special, too, and I love spending time with them and hearing their thoughts and dreams and observing the uniqueness of each one.

5. Health networking – It has been somewhat frustrating to try and figure out what I’m doing or not doing that has recently stalled my recovery. One element I never accounted for in the past was the gluten free aspect which has been part of my life now for over five years. Identifying and addressing food sensitivities five years ago made a huge difference in managing my fibromyalgia. Though I am diagnosed as gluten intolerant and not celiac, I have connected with the celiac community and share observations and discoveries with my fellow GF friends.

Recently a celiac friend asked me if I have trouble with raw veggies. I was surprised and relieved that I was not the only one with the GF / raw veggie digestion issue. I do pretty well when my raw greens are whirred to oblivion in my Ninja, but not so great when eating them whole or in a salad. They just do not seem to digest properly if I ingest quantities of raw veggies. Part of the problem is that I am exceptionally sensitive to the preservative that is used on most packaged and store-bought lettuce and several times have grown violently ill after eating salads made from packaged lettuce, so I avoid lettuce completely. In the summer I grow and use my own kale and in the winter I buy organic kale or organic spinach and manage that just fine. My physiotherapist mentioned using a grow lamp / hydroponics system to grow veggies inside during the winter. I’ll have to investigate that option for the future.

 

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In my post on miscarriage I cited the book Safe in the Arms of God by John MacArthur.  Following is a review of the book.Coffin in the woods at mom's funeral - Copy

The grief of losing a child

We need God’s wisdom and compassion when we are called upon to counsel and comfort someone who loses a loved one.  What do we say when that loved one is a little child?  John MacArthur’s book Safe in the Arms of God:  Truth from Heaven about the Death of a Child (Nashville:  Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003) offers a cogent, compelling presentation that God welcomes these little lives into His presence.

“Every life conceived is a person”

MacArthur begins by reminding the reader that “every life conceived is a person.”  (p. 13) He uses Psalm 139 as a proof text to show that God expresses His thoughts about newly conceived life, and leaves no question that He is intimately concerned with that life from the very beginning.  God actively participates in (Psalm 22) and has unlimited knowledge of each life.  As well, God shows personal oversight in the creation of each person and in the unfolding of each life through time.

God’s tenderness toward children

The author gives many scriptural examples of how tenderly God views children.  Particularly poignant was His concern for the children when urging the inhabitants of Nineveh to repent in Jonah 4.  He further cites Jesus’ regard for children, among other examples of God’s tenderness toward the young.

God saves those unable to understand

MacArthur clearly points out that all children are conceived and born as sinners and that the salvation of every person is a matter of God’s grace, not man’s works. He also shows that we are saved by the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on the cross, the supreme manifestation of God’s grace. He cites Scripture to show that we are saved by grace, but condemned by works.  Infants have yet to perform works so through His grace, He saves them.  With this MacArthur discusses the age of accountability, not as a chronological age but a condition, citing the example of the inability of some mentally handicapped adults to understand or respond to Scripture.

Will I see my child in heaven?

Probably the most heart rending question we may face from a parent who has lost a child is, “Will I see my child in Heaven?”  MacArthur reminds us of David’s response to the death of two of his children in 2 Samuel.  When the child conceived in sin with Bathsheba died chapters 11-12), David ceased his mourning, worshipped God, and rejoiced that he would again see this child one day (in heaven.)  In contrast, when his adult son, the rebellious Absalom died (chapter 18), David wept and mourned for this child he would never see again.

Topics in the book

Chapters in the book include:

  • Where Is My Child?
  • What Can We Say with Certainty to Those with Empty Arms?
  • How Does God Regard Children?
  • What If My Child Is Not Among the Elect?
  • Will I See My Child Again?
  • What Is My Child’s Life Like in Heaven?
  • Why Did My Child Have to Die?
  • How Shall We Minister to Those Who Are Grieving?
  • Let Me Pray with You.

We may not agree with everything, but….

MacArthur writes from a reformed theology position which you may or may not agree with.  Regardless, this small book offers encouragement and hope to parents who have lost a child and is worth reading and recommending to friends and family dealing with the death of a child.

 

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When our children were young we had no other families with small children in our new little church.  Often at family devotions one of our children would pray that God would send them each a Christian friend, but they had to wait a long time for God’s answer to that prayer.

In  struggling with the desire to have a friend her own age, our daughter wrestled  with the temptation to overlook things she knew were wrong for the sake of having someone to play with.  Her prayers for a Christian friend seemed to be answered when the family of one of her classmates began attending our church and the two girls started spending time together.  The new family had standards which were different from ours, evidenced in almost every area of life.   This difference provided a springboard for our children to ask many questions as to why we do what we do, and allowed us to point out the biblical defence for our choices.

One day while these nine year old girls were playing together, they decided, without permission, to ride their bicycles to the nearby drug store. When their trek lead them to the cosmetics counter, our daughter’s friend held up a brightly coloured lipstick and suggested they should each get one. Our daughter pointed out that they had no money, but her friend showed her how easy it was to slip that slender tube into her pocket and take it without paying for it.  It was so pretty!  They would be like the bigger girls!  And, after all, it only cost a little bit of money so it wasn’t really like stealing.  James 1:15 tells us “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin,” So the deed was done and the girls left the store.

The lipstick stayed hidden for a short time, but soon I noticed telltale red marks in the vicinity of my daughter’s lips. (Did she think I wouldn’t notice?)  Had she used mommy’s lipstick without asking?  No?  What do you mean it is your lipstick?  You’re not allowed to have lipstick.  You got it at the store when you were at your friend’s?  How could you buy it when you had no money?  Soon the compromised conscience of a young child who has been taught right but has done wrong caused her to confess her sin in tears.  We told her that she had to go with us to the store and talk to the manager, confess her theft, and pay for the lipstick.

We then called the friend’s mother and told her what had happened.  Imagine our consternation and absolute shock when this mother responded that she knew about the theft but wouldn’t dream of embarrassing her daughter by making her go to the store manager and confess the theft. No amount of urging or biblical admonition would budge this woman’s position.  The welfare of her child’s soul was bartered at the altar of keeping up appearances.  And so ended a less than beautiful friendship for these two girls.

The Bible has much to say about friendships.  Godly friends can bring us immeasurable benefit.  David was grateful for the unselfish friendship of Jonathan, who put his friend’s welfare before his own. (I Samuel 18:3)  The Proverbs remind us that a true friend loves at all times and speaks the truth to us, even when it may temporarily hurt.  (Proverbs 17:17 & 27:6)  Obedient Christians are counted as friends of Jesus. (John 15: 14-15)

On the other hand, the wrong friends can harm us.  Amnon’s friend gave him counsel that ultimately lead to death.  (II Samuel 13:3)  Haman’s friends commiserated with him in his plot against the Jews and none of them warned against carrying out the wicked scheme (Esther 5.) Job’s friends came to wrong conclusions about Job’s troubles and could not help him see God’s providential hand in difficult circumstances (throughout Job.) We are warned not to make friends of an angry man (Proverbs 22:24) or with worldly people, who are God’s enemies (James 4:4.) Finally, we are warned that evil or ungodly companions can corrupt us (I Corinthians 15:33.)

Our daughter learned some valuable lessons about friends through that incident.  She still yearned for a close friend and even had other disappointments of friends professing faith in Christ, then falling away from that profession.  Her tender heart discovered that in Christ “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”  (Prov. 18:24) Several years later God graciously granted her the desire of her heart by bringing a newly saved classmate to our church.  This girl loves the Lord, is obedient to the Scriptures and wants to serve God with all her heart.  Our daughter gratefully discovered the joy of having the right kind of friends.

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