Category Archives: Women

Poetry from World War II

I had lunch today with a dear old friend. She has been an inspiration, mentor, prayer partner, and much more to me for many years. But sometimes I wish I knew her when she was younger—I’m sure she was a real hoot! We met at her modest apartment and talked awhile over her dining room table. I gave her a copy of my new poetry book because I knew she would love to read it. Lo and behold, she pulled a tattered piece of paper out of her Bible and said, “I’ve written some poems, though they aren’t as good as yours.” Now I don’t like to disagree with Norma because she is my elder (by 44 years!), but I have to disagree with her on this one. I think her two poems are wonderful! They were written when she was in the Army Nurse Corps in World War II on Army Nurse Corps stationery, with a few doodles thrown in for good measure. Here’s what the originals looked like:

Norma Poem 2 Norma Poem 1

I asked her if I could type them up so they wouldn’t be lost when that poor, tattered piece of paper finally crumbled to dust and she said yes. She also said I could share them here. So here they are, the musings of an Army nurse during World War II.

Just a Few Thoughts on Philosophy, by Norma Mohr

A tear, a laugh, a smile, a sigh
For these we ask the reason why
And on them ponder

For trials, tests, for happiness
For struggles to achieve the best
For love, for hate, for praise, for jests
We’ve sought the answer

For weary days, for happy days
For insights to life’s many ways
We ask these things, the questions raise
For what, this purpose?

And in our human frailty
We hope to solve the mystery
And also seek a remedy
For life’s vast problems

It is not ours to reason why
A higher power than you and I
Has put us here to live, to die
Nobly for others

*****

My Prayer, by Norma Mohr

I pray for love instead of hate
I pray for light instead of might
I pray for strength to carry on
And as I wake to face each dawn
I pray some soul I might inspire
Help him raise it from the mire
Of despair, to shining hope
And newer vision with which to cope
With life’s vast problems

I pray that I might always smile
At troubles, tests, and every trial
That from each one I may arise
Lift my eyes up to the skies
And bring all cares to Him above
Who in His sympathy and love
On us bestows in life’s dark hour
A greater sense, a greater power
To conquer strife

I pray His will, not mine be done
I pray that when each battle’s won
That I not in myself will glory
Nor cause offense or make Him sorry
That I might swallow self and pride
Let Him know I’m on His side
Striving also for that goal
To ignite anew in every soul
The joy of living!

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My Lesson – A Poem

Over at dVerse Poets Pub today, Claudia has challenged us to write about anything we want, but we have to really look at it first. No clichés or hollow shadows of the thing allowed.

My Lesson

My BSF lesson was just some questions,
Bible passages to read—long passages
This is the life of Moses, Exodus and all that

Now it’s filled with my scribbles,
that half cursive, half printing jumble
that is my barely legible handwriting

Good thing no one else has to read it
It’s just for me, and to share with my
Saturday morning discussion group

But the real lesson is yet to come

I’m amazed every week, with each new lesson
that others don’t always have
the exact same answers as I do

We read the same passages yet
we glean different principles as
God’s Word speaks into each life, each heart

My lesson is that our Creator, omniscient
that He is, has a different lesson for me
than He has for you today, this week

Perhaps next week, or next year
I’ll be on the same lesson as you are now
or vice versa as our circumstances require

And that makes me rejoice
that my God truly knows
our daily needs and provides

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Bridging the Distance

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I went to see Dwight Yoakam in concert. It was a great concert — but then Dwight always puts on a great concert. True to my nature, I’ve listened to a lot of Dwight both before and after the concert. He sang one of my favorite songs called “If There Was a Way” and I realized that I did not have that album on my iPod. I quickly remedied that a day or so after the concert and have been listening a lot to that album.

There is another song on that album that has me thinking. It’s called “The Distance Between You and Me.” It’s a sad song about a couple that has grown apart. The chorus says:

I lie awake and hear you breathing
Only inches from me in this bed
Not much space but it’s all that we needed
To live alone now that our love is dead

This song is particularly sad because it describes so many couples in our society today. They start out their marriages happy and blissful, but somewhere along the way a distance grows between them, sometimes so big it’s immeasurable. The distance leaves them alone even as they occupy the same house, the same bed. Many wonder what leads to such aloneness.

But it’s really no mystery. Quoting Psalm 4:4, the apostle Paul advised, “‘In your anger do not sin’ Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV). Sadly, so many people do not heed this advice. Pride, anger, and lack of forgiveness cause the distance. One spouse says or does something that hurts the other, maybe intentionally but maybe not. And the other spouse refuses to forgive, holds a grudge. Then another incident leads to another grudge, and on and on it goes. Each grudge separates them and eventually enough anger and unforgiveness destroys the love and intimacy they once enjoyed.

Another problem that causes a distance between husband and wife is when one or the other uses sex as a weapon, when because of anger one refuses the other’s advances. Paul also warned against this situation when he gave his “Instruction on Marriage” in 1 Corinthians:

The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 (NLT).

Thankfully, there is a way to bridge the distance and loneliness, and heal the hearts of estranged love. Honesty, love, and forgiveness will heal all wounds. Live together with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV).

The best option is to live by God’s design for a healthy marriage as revealed in His Word and thereby prevent Satan from getting a foothold in your lives and creating that distance that destroys love and intimacy. But where Satan has already gained a foothold and a distance has grown, that distance can be bridged by love and forgiveness. Love that appears dead can be given new life by God’s grace.

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A Voice for the Voiceless

One of my favorite verses in the New Testament is James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” In Biblical times, orphans and widows were the voiceless victims of society. Unless someone spoke up for them and looked after them, they had no recourse for their helpless plight.

God has always been concerned about the voiceless and needy. “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” Deuteronomy 10:18 (NIV). He calls His people to do the same.

There have long been those who would take advantage of the voiceless, who seek to crush the orphan and the widow. The Psalmist reminds us of what such people do:

They slay the widow and the foreigner;
they murder the fatherless.
They say, “The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob takes no notice.”
Psalm 94:6-7 (NIV).

In our society today there are many who defend the cause of the widow and the orphan. Our laws protect these citizens who historically have been voiceless. Our churches have risen up to provide food and clothing to those in need. We have a long way to go to reach the point when the cause of all has been defended, but we have as a people heeded this call of our God and do our best.

Still, there is another voiceless segment of our society that does not enjoy the protection of our laws. There are even some groups within the church who do not defend their cause. They need someone to be their voice, to defend their right to live.

Today’s voiceless are the unborn who have no legal right to life. Even though an unborn child has her own heartbeat, her own internal organs, and can even have a different blood type than her mother, she has not been given the legal right to live if her mother decides to have an abortion before she is born.

I understand the right of a pregnant mother to choose. As I mentioned in a recent post, I used to be strongly pro-choice. I also understand that there are circumstances when the rights of a pregnant woman to not have to carry the child of her rapist to term or to not have to carry a child to term when her health is at risk might outweigh the right of the unborn child to life. The decision of whether to have an abortion is not an easy one, and it shouldn’t be. It is a balancing of the rights of two individuals who are connected by a bond the human mind cannot fully understand.

What bothers me about the pro-choice stance is that it claims that there is only one person with rights to be considered. I agree that a pregnant woman has and should have rights, but those who are zealously pro-choice cannot pretend that they have not made a moral decision that her rights are greater than that of her unborn child. Her child is not just a lump of tissue, like a cancerous tumor, that should have no rights and can simply be discarded without consequence.

Each unborn child is a voiceless human being. God has called us to defend their cause. If we are going to make a choice, let’s be honest about what that choice is.

Note: I wasn’t going to write this post. My post about abortion last week was going to be my first and last. I’d said my peace and thought I was done. But then I kept seeing cartoon posts on Facebook suggesting that if Mitt Romney were elected we would be setting back the rights of women by 50 years because of his pro-life beliefs. I was particularly surprised because a number of these posts were by friends who are Christians. I couldn’t seem to set aside my frustration that anyone would reduce this difficult topic to a one-liner cartoon. It is an issue that deserves more.

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Courting Controversy; Trusting in Love

Normally on my blog the only really controversial subject I write about is my belief that Jesus is the only way to salvation. It is a subject I feel strongly about and feel led to share about.

There is another controversial subject that I have never written about here, but that has been on my mind a lot lately. In fact having this post rattle around in my head taking up space for the past month is a big part of the reason I took a month off from posting. I have wanted to avoid this subject because no matter how I approaches it, there is bound to be someone who takes offense and reads something into what I’ve written that was not what I intended. It is a subject that is typically “discussed” with sound bites and angry one-liners.

In the end, I’ve decided to write about this subject in terms of my own story as well as adding a bit of a book review in the mix. This controversial subject is abortion.

For much of my life I was strongly pro-choice. I even attended a NARAL rally with my sister in Portland, Oregon many years ago. I was (and still am) a strong proponent of a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her own body, and I believed that making sure a woman could have an abortion any time she chose to was the best way to protect that right.

But then something happened that changed my heart and mind on abortion. My son was five years old at the time and I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I were thrilled because we had been trying to get pregnant with our second child for four years. We were so excited that we told everyone when I was only six-weeks along.

About a week later I started having some spotting so I went to see the nurse practitioner at my doctor’s office. She sent me for an ultrasound. I had never had an ultrasound before except when I was almost nine months along with my son, so I was not really prepared for what I saw. The ultrasound technician pointed out my little baby and his or her heartbeat on the monitor. The baby was very small, but the human shape and the beating heart were unmistakable.

Unfortunately, the ultrasound also revealed that my placenta was tearing away from the uterine wall. I was directed to go home and rest, and I hoped that it would heal and all would be okay. Two days later I had a miscarriage.

In my grief over the loss of this child I cried out to God, but I found comfort in the thought that someday I would meet my little baby in heaven. Suddenly I realized how hypocritical and illogical it was to mourn the loss of this child only seven weeks after his or her conception while simultaneously believing that to abort a child at the same stage of development involved only the mother’s body. I realized that what Dr. Seuss once said through the words of Horton the Elephant was true: “A person’s a person no matter how small.”

Several years later a friend loaned me a book titled Won by Love by Norma McCorvey. It is her autobiography as Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade. She tells the story of how she became the poster child for the pro-choice movement, worked in an abortion clinic, and was ultimately won over by love to the realization that abortion was not a right worth fighting for. Her story is heartbreaking and compelling. In her first-hand recounting of her time working in an abortion clinic, Norma exposes the truth that abortion clinics and doctors were more concerned about their bottom lines than about the health and care of women facing crisis. Her story is worth reading.

Then when my son was in the eighth grade he took a communications class in which he was required to prepare and present several speeches. When the persuasive speech assignment came up, he was randomly assigned the pro-life position on abortion. As he worked on his speech he shared with me the research that he had found in the school’s article database. The research showed that women who have an abortion with their first pregnancy are 30% to 40% more likely to suffer from depression, attempt to or successfully commit suicide, and to get breast cancer than women who brought their first pregnancy to term. I wondered if these risks are shared with women facing this choice by clinics like Planned Parenthood. Based on Norma McCorvey’s story I suspect that they are not.

When all is said and done, I find that I do not advocate for making abortion completely illegal. This would only lead to those who profit from this industry to go underground and abortion would become even more dangerous than it is.

What I do advocate is that when faced with a decision about what to do with an unplanned pregnancy, women should be given all the information necessary to make an informed and logical choice. They should not be led to believe that the only option is to abort their child, because adoption is also a viable option. They should be made aware of the fact that the child inside them is a living being with his or her own heartbeat. They should be informed that having an abortion increases their risk of depression, suicidal tendencies, and breast cancer by as much as 30% to 40%. They should be made aware that the child they are considering aborting may be destined to be a woman who also deserves the right to choose.

But all of the facts, statistics, and rhetoric in the world will never be enough to change a person’s position on this issue. My position was changed by love – by the love I felt for my lost child and the love of God. Norma McCorvey’s position was changed by the love of the folks at Operation Rescue that moved in next door to the abortion clinic she worked at and the love of God. Ultimately it is love that will win the day in the battle for the lives of unborn children who have no voice of their own.

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He Knows Me – A Poem

If you read my blog often you may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for the past month. This is by far the longest I have gone without blogging since I started this blog in September 2009. There are many reasons for this, but I think mostly I just needed a break and didn’t really have anything I truly wanted to write.

This weekend I went to a women’s retreat at my church. It wasn’t a full-weekend getaway retreat, but was just a Friday evening and Saturday until 4:00 gathering. I love the all-weekend overnighter type retreats, but this shorter retreat was perfect because I don’t think I could have made it to one that was longer or more intense this weekend. During a session of quiet time reflecting on some scriptures I wrote a poem. I decided I would share it here. The substance of the poem is something I know, but really I needed to be reminded of this weekend.

He Knows Me

He knows me
Still He loves me
He knows me
Yet He cares

His love is everlasting
Pulls me close to Him in prayer

He loved me
From the beginning
He has counted
Every hair

His love is everlasting
Fills my heart with peace in prayer

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6.

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Thankful for Small Blessings

Okay, this is going to be a strange little post about something that happened to me last week. I was going to post it last Friday since it is somewhat food related, but I was traveling and just didn’t have time.

On Wednesday of last week I left work early to go home and change so I could get to Shepherd’s Door in time for my church’s service project there. We were going to be making my Texas Skillet Dinner for 40 women and children, and I was in charge of bringing the avocados and the spices. My list of things to do before I hit the road for Shepherd’s Door was pretty short: change clothes, mix spices in a zip lock bag, and stop at Safeway for a latte and avocados.

Somehow, in spite of the brevity of my to-do list, I managed to forget the spices. I realized it about halfway to the shelter. It was too late to turn back to home and still be on time, but you really can’t make Texas Skillet without the southwest spices.

I decided to stop somewhere on N.E. Halsey Street, towards the end of my trip, to pick up the essentials, even though I had no idea what stores I would pass. I found a Fred Meyer, parked my car, and went in. I headed straight to the spice aisle. There I found the chili powder, marjoram, and oregano that I needed, but no chipotle pepper.

Then, to my delight, I spied a spice I love and have been unable to find at any of the stores near me in months: Spice Islands Rosemary Garlic that comes in a grinder bottle. I love this spice mix on so many things, especially chicken on the Traeger. I had tried just putting rosemary in an empty grinder bottle but it wasn’t the same. I was so excited I bought three bottles right then and there.

So you might be asking: “What is the point of this story? What lesson did I learn?” Well, here is what I took away from this experience.

Sometimes, when we take the time to care about others, such as by wanting them to have the right spices in the dinner we are making them, God chooses to bless us in ways we never thought of.

When I realized that I had forgotten the spices, I could have simply decided to use whatever they had available for spices at Shepherd’s Door, which may not have included chili powder (the most essential spice for this dish). Instead, I went out of my way in an unfamiliar neighborhood to get the right spices. It never occurred to me that I might find this other spice that I’ve been searching for these past 6 months. But God chose to bless me by bringing me right to it.

I suppose I could just attribute this to coincidence, and many people do attribute such blessings to coincidence. I choose to thank God for this small but wonderful blessing.

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People Who Loved – My Tuesday Three

There have been a lot of people in my life who have been instrumental in helping to develop my faith in Christ. Without some of them, I would have been one of the lost youth of our nation that I wrote about yesterday. Today I want to highlight three people who were there for me when I needed them most, even though I didn’t always know or understand what was happening.

The first person I want to highlight was named Clarissa. I don’t remember her last name, and I haven’t seen her in 35 years, but I wish I could thank her for what she did for me. When I was a kid, my parents didn’t take me to church. But in the sixth grade, Clarissa invited me to go to her church youth group with her. Before long I was attending the Wednesday night youth group, a Tuesday night Missionettes groups (kind of like Girl Scouts), and church and Sunday school every Sunday. My dad would take me to these events and drop me off, and one of the parents would take me home. I even attended a four-day camp with the Missionettes group. I came to know who Jesus was both from the Bible lessons I received and the love of the members of that congregation.

At the end of the seventh grade my family moved two states away. Although I corresponded with some of the friends I had made there, after a while I lost touch. I didn’t make any friends in my new town who were interested in church, and I lost touch with God as well. But a seed of faith – a very large seed – was planted in my heart by Clarissa and her church family.

The second person I want to highlight was named June. I met her many years later. She was married to someone my husband worked with, and she sometimes babysat my young son when I was trying to get some work done. During this time I was struggling with major depression and had been for six years. One day, when she was babysitting my son and I was sitting at my computer trying to write a memo, I thought to myself that my husband and my son would be better off if I was dead. I felt like I would never be free from depression because I’d been treated by doctors for so long with no relief.

June found out about what I was going through, and she invited me to a women’s Bible study at her church on Tuesday mornings. It was hard to go, but June kept at me and she encouraged me to go whenever I was feeling down. The women in that group were a Godsend. They prayed for me and with me, and they loved me even though I was a mess. It was during the time that I attended this weekly Bible study that God showed me what was needed for healing of my depression. It was through things the women prayed out loud for me and encouragement they gave me that helped me to understand that anger that I was holding tight to and guilt that I was afraid God would never forgive that was the root of my spiritual depression. I’m not sure I would be here today if it was not for June, who helped to water the seed of faith and help it grow.

The third person I want to highlight is my friend Lee. She is the most exuberant and encouraging woman of God that I think I have ever known. When our son was about four, my husband decided he wanted to attend a Lutheran church because he had been raised Lutheran, instead of the Nazarene church where I was attending Bible study with June and going to Sunday services. One of the first people who welcomed me at the Lutheran church we started to attend was Lee. She invited me to a Thursday evening Joy of Living Bible study, and always encouraged me in the years that study ran.

Lee was there for me whenever I needed someone to talk to, and she would always insist on praying for me right then and there if I told her of a problem I had. I remember one time when I was really struggling with a particular sin I just couldn’t seem to deal with, even though I had prayed about it many times. It wasn’t something I could bring up at Bible study. But I could tell Lee anything and she would never judge. So I called Lee and she prayed through it with me, and encouraged me to trust in Jesus to give me strength to overcome. And the amazing thing is that He did! Although we do not currently attend the same church, Lee continues to be one of my very best friends and someone I can call no matter what.

These are just three of the many Christians who have encouraged me and helped me to grow closer to Jesus. They have inspired me to do what I can to be an encouragement to others. Pondering My Tuesday Three, I realized that you never know when your encouragement of another or inviting them to do something with you might be just the thing they need to help them along their journey towards faith in Christ. Your kindness might be the lifeline that they need. You might be the instrument of Jesus’ saving grace in their life.

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Ancient Words, Ever True

At our Women’s Retreat this past weekend we sang the song “Ancient Words.” Then we sang it again in church on Sunday. I love this song and decided I wanted to share it for Music Monday. I found this version by Michael W. Smith on YouTube, and I love the graphics showing the different Bibles.

My favorite part of this song is when it says, “Ancient Words, ever true. Changing me and changing you.” It reminds me that spending time in God’s Word will change a person’s heart and will draw them closer to God.

Jeremiah 29:12-14a says:

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.”

We are all in captivity to sin, but when we seek God with all our heart in His glorious Word, we will find Him and He will bring us back from that captivity. We are then changed from what we were to someone so much better. We are changed from lost captives to beloved children. It is with His Ancient Words that He changes you; It is with His Ancient Words that He changed me.

Perhaps this thought is particularly special to me because the very first Bible study I ever attended was a study of Ezra and Nehemiah. These two books of the Old Testament are the story the Israelites’ return from exile in Babylon and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. That study was the beginning of God changing me from an exile in the wasteland of depression into the confident woman of faith that I have become. It is because of my desire to learn from His Ancient Words that He has been able to effect such a huge change in me.

How about you? Do you feel a bit like you are in exile, lost and broken? Trust in God and seek Him with all your heart. Study and learn His Ancient Words and He will change you, too.

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“Every Day Deserves a Chance” – A Book Review

I had planned to do more book reviews this year, because I have so many great Christian books in my collection that I would love to share with all of you. Since it’s been a while since I wrote a book review, I decided it was time to take a look at the old book shelves and see what to share today.

I decided on “Every Day Deserves a Chance” by Max Lucado. I selected this book for our church Women’s Retreat several years ago, and it was a big hit. I still have one of the rocks that one of our retreat volunteers made for this retreat sitting next to my computer monitor at work. On one side of the rock she wrote “GOD” and on the other side she wrote each attendee’s name in lower case letters (so mine says “linda”). The rock was designed to always remind us of what we learned from this study.

One of the great things about this book is that it does include a Discussion Guide in the back with questions that can be used in a small group setting. But the book can also be used for personal reading.

There are three main sections of the book, which correspond with the letters “G” for grace, “O” for oversight, and “D” for direction.

  • Saturate Your Day in His Grace
  • Entrust Your Day to His Oversight
  • Accept His Direction

One of my favorite chapters is titled “Gratitude for Ungrateful Days.” The chapter begins with an excerpt from the diary of a (very grateful) dog. Throughout the day, each entry in the dog’s diary says “Oh boy, the _______ — my favorite.” No matter what’s in the blank, whether it be the kids, a car ride, a nap, or dog food, the dog is grateful and excited. Following this is an excerpt from the diary of a (very ungrateful) cat:

Day 283 of my captivity. My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat while I’m forced to eat dry cereal. I’m sustained by the hope of escape and the mild satisfaction I derive from ruining a few pieces of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant. Lucado pg. 23-24.

This complaining continues for another half a page and is quite amusing. But what’s the point, you might ask? The point comes in the next paragraph:

The day of a dog. The day of a cat. One content, the other conniving. One at peace, the other at war. One grateful, the other grumpy. Same house. Same circumstances. Same master. Yet two entirely different attitudes. Lucado pg. 24.

The lesson to be learned is that whether you have an attitude of gratitude for the life God has given you, or live grumpy, ungrateful, and at war with God, is up to you. We often can’t change our circumstances, but we can change our attitude about them. And God notices a grateful heart.

This wonderful little book is filled with anecdotes and stories such as this one that help to make a point. It is also filled with scripture to support his points and to help us be more grateful and forgiving, to help us have less anxiety and fear, to help us see God’s purpose and direction for our lives. This small book is only 157 pages, including the Discussion Guide, but it is packed with godly wisdom highlighted with wonderful stories (both contemporary and Biblical) that speak directly to the circumstances and heart of every person.

Whether you are planning a retreat or just need something to read to lift your spirit, I highly recommend this book.

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