Friday, December 23, 2011

Women of the Bible Encouragement Series: Mary ~ Mother of her Messiah

Night air sucked hard through her teeth as Mary gasped and clutched her stomach. “It’s coming.” Wetness seeped through her robes and warmed the poor donkey beneath her. Lord, we’re so close to the town. Couldn’t it wait a bit longer? A seizure gripped her middle as her body rebelled against the good sense she offered
With a forceful rush she realized, I'm not ready. 14 years she'd lived on this earth. What did she know about raising a child? She'd only learned where babies come from a couple years ago. Not that it helped much in this situation. Her mind rushed through the events of the past year like it did only when she'd been chewing a sugar cane too long--her betrothal to Joseph, the angel's frightening visit, and the arrival of her cousin Elizabeth's baby boy. Joseph's heartbroken rejection when he'd found her with child, his acceptance of God's will after his own visit with an angel, and now this long journey to the city of Joseph's ancestry for Herod's census.
She took another breath to calm herself. It didn't work. Mama had talked her through what was to come with a birth. So why did she feel so unprepared?
 Joseph took three steps, dropped the donkey’s lead rope and turned. He looked thunderstruck. “What?”
“The child.” She gritted out. “He’s coming.” A mess of emotional thoughts flew through her mind while she watched her betrothed’s eyes flip from her face to her stomach and back again. Thoughts like, Who am I that God has chosen me to deliver his child?
            The donkey swished its tail, growing cold now with the moisture and night air.
            And still other thoughts like, What if I do something wrong and the babe doesn’t survive? Will God kill me too? And…
            Joseph raked a hand through his hair, his long, travel-worn cloak whipping up with the motion, and sported a dumbfounded expression.
…What am I doing so far away from home with this clueless man?
Reality must have settled in Joseph’s mind, because he grabbed the donkey’s halter and pulled them along. Dim lights of Bethlehem came into view and relief melted over her shoulders.
She struggled to stay on the donkey when another pain hit. Joseph knocked on the door of the inn and looked torn between staying with her and barging in the door. She knew he wouldn’t go in without her, but after three tries, no one answered. Becoming frantic, he gave the door a final, hard pounding. “Please, let us in.”
“Look people,” the voice came out muffled and gruff before the door opened. “We got no more room in here. Not even if the Messiah hisself came and asked to stay…” Coarse laughter exploded from inside in response.
Mary cringed.
With a glance at her condition, the man softened his tone. “Sorry. Couldn't fit another person if every one in 'ere sucked in and turned sideways.”
“Where is the next in? My wife is… She’s…” Joseph gestured to her.
“Next inn?” the man snickered. “Bethlehem only has one and this is it. Next place for decent folk to stay would be in Jerusalem.”
Joseph, jaw twitching in anger, looked up the long hill to the royal city. She could almost hear his thoughts. It would be too late before they reached another inn. There was no way she’d make it into Jerusalem.
            Dear God! If the city of David does not receive Your Son, is there no place on this earth He is welcome?
“‘Fraid you won’t find any room there, either. Horrible crowded, what with ‘His Greatness’ Herod’s decree.” The innkeeper said with a snort. He eyed Mary closely. “Though, from the looks of it, you’d best find some sort of shelter soon.” The man moved to go in, then turned. “There's…” he scratched his mustache, “What I mean is—it’s not a fit place for a birthing but… There's stables,” he gestured, “In the side of the hill yonder, where the shepherds sometimes stow their flocks in the winter.” He looked between the two of them and the donkey. “Sorry.” The proprietor rubbed his belly and shuffled back into his inn, muttering under his breath.
“Oh,” Mary groaned. The pangs were coming closer together now. This one so strong it startled her.
Joseph looked up. The urgency in his eyes mingled with determination and reminded Mary of his iron-like will. Honor was everything to him. Even early on, when he’d suspected her of infidelity, he’d chosen a merciful path, rather than the justice he held rights to. He studied the skyline a moment.
“Dear Lord, I’m sorry,” he prayed as he trudged up the hillside, “but this is the best I can do.”
The path to the stable became a blur of agony. Sweat trickled into her eyes. When she could finally breath again, she looked up at her home for the night.
It was a cave. Only a little less frightening than she’d imagined, though not as dark. The starlight was unusually bright here.
Joseph led her into the primitive shelter. The stale odor sheep left behind trampled over any sweet smell the hay might have provided.
Lord, is this where you want your son born? Nothing made sense. She moaned. Especially when her stomach tightened like now. She bit her tongue to keep from screaming and tasted blood.
Joseph lifted her from the donkey and carried her to a mound of trampled looking hay. That’s when the pain rolled in. Her mind turned to mush. Vague moments came through in pieces—Joseph caressing her brow and hesitantly checking her progress, herself uncomfortable with his seeing her this way.
Another pain hit.
She was going to be a mother soon. A virgin, but a mother. She couldn’t deliver this child alone. Her abdomen contracted and nearly bent her in two. There was no choice but to sacrifice her embarrassment.
Joseph eased behind her to support her back with his chest when the spasms eased for a few seconds.      
Thank you, God, for such a man.
The cloud of anguish returned faster and stronger than ever. She screamed, unable to hold back, then the pressure eased and her burden was gone.
“He’s here,” Joseph whispered in her ear, as if she didn’t already know. She almost laughed but didn’t have the strength. He reached around her to gather the baby, and brought the slick new infant into her view. “And he’s perfect.”
Mary looked at her baby. Something wasn’t right. Why wasn’t he breathing? Where were the cries? Had she done what she feared? Had she messed up God’s plan?
Joseph’s big, man’s hands cleaned the baby’s miniature face and massaged its tiny chest until it began to wail so loudly, she almost wished He would be quiet again.
She laughed and made a feeble attempt to help Joseph wrap the child in the cloths he’d found—cloths left from wiping down the animal occupants now gone away. Warmth filled Mary as Joseph helped her hold the baby to her chest to nurse.
“Jesus,” her husband whispered to the hungry baby boy.
The Messiah. He was finally here. She couldn’t resist reaching a wobbly finger to touch his finely shaped brow and closed eyelid. A tear dropped from hers.
Then a thought hit her and left her shaken. “Joseph.”
He was just as busy studying Jesus as she. “Hmm?”
She turned to watch the man to whom she’d pledged herself. “Why us? Why here?”
Joseph caught her gaze. He opened his mouth to respond, but his eyes filled with moisture. He ran his tongue along the inside of his cheek and shook his head instead. After a few moments he said, “I don’t know,” and brushed calloused carpenter’s hands overtop her baby’s head. “But I’m glad.” His voice broke and they cried together, and laughed, and cried again.
When quiet descended and the warm weight of her baby lulled her, Mary dosed in Joseph’s arms. Birthing was harder than she’d guessed.
A noise woke her. “What was that?”
“Hmm?” Joseph murmured into her hair, obviously enjoying their tranquil closeness. He’d not even held her as of yet.
A sheep ran into the shelter and sniffed the corner before lying down.
Joseph, ever protective, stiffened and moved to stand guard.
Another sheep joined them. Then another, followed by a thin, rangy man who knelt, beholding Jesus with tearful worship. More followed him—some young, some old—gathering about the cave’s mouth like cautious children.
And finally she knew. Knew why this is where God wanted His son to meet His creation. Why He was born in the deepest part of the earth, witnessed by outcasts, showing how far Love would reach to save His people from their sins.
It was for her.

Hey ya'll. Hope you enjoyed this scene. I know it may seem a bit 'Americanized', but I had so much fun writing it, I just had to share. You'll find the Biblical account in Luke chapters 1 & 2.
Our next post will be Friday, Jan 6. We will be learning about Rahab, suggested by Bethany.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Women of the Bible Encouragement Series: Ruth ~ Rags to Riches

“You did what?” I asked, stupefied. The slow smile curling the corner of Ruth’s mouth told me I’d heard her right the first time. It was positively scandalous. Of course, I’d read the Biblical account of her story before this visit and knew it was coming, but just for the sake of comprehension, I needed to hear it again.

She laughed, ebony eyes sparkling in the lantern light. “I said, ‘I uncovered Boaz’ feet and lay beside him.’ ” She patted her grandbaby Jesse’s blanket-wrapped bottom while he lay in the bend of her elbow. “The surprise on your countenance is almost as satisfying as Boaz’ was when he awoke.” She looked up at the ceiling, sounding a chuckle that ended on a memory-laden sigh. “Oh, that man. His startled innocence touched my heart.
“You see,” she leaned forward conspiratorially, “we were at the threshing floor, a place where much nonsense was known to take place among the young men and women reapers after a big harvest was through. And poor unsuspecting Boaz, a single man of great wealth, woke to find himself in a very interesting situation.” Ruth laughed again, this time so hard the baby stirred and Ruth had to wipe tears from her eyes.
Then she sobered. “Remember now, I did all this only because I was advised by my mother-in-law, Naomi who had brought me with her from Moab after our husbands died. For all my pagan ways and upbringing, I was still a very somber young widow in those days and had some reservations. I was new to this country and had little knowledge of their ways, excepting the few traditions of my first husband, Mahlon, and Naomi, his mother. Though, I don’t think this was a normal occurrence even in her country. ”
            She smiled. “Whether or not she knew Boaz would accept my proposal that night, I’ll never know. Sometimes I wonder if she intended to use her knowledge of our evening together as a threat that would produce a proposal of his own, had he refused my advances.” She chuckled. "Oh, how I miss that woman!"

I tried to process this, all the while trying to picture Ruth as somber. From what I'd seen, she never stopped smiling. “What did he do then?”

“He jumped and twisted like a startled pup and asked me who I was." Ruth said. The words were barely discernible with all her laughter. The man was scared to death, I tell you. It was dark at the end of the heap of corn and my back was to the moon, giving me a perfectly lighted view of his panic-stricken face and rumpled hair, but not allowing him the same advantage. I said that I was Ruth, his handmaid, and told him to spread his covering over me. That he, as Naomi’s kin, was in a position to take me as his wife, provide for my mother-in-law and me and render a son to Mahlon’s name.”

Several seconds after hearing this, it occurred to me that my jaw was hanging slack and I should shut my mouth. “You woke him from a deep sleep after a hard day’s work and proposed to him with a reminder that he was your kinsman—that he was in line to take care of your financial needs? And it worked?”

Ruth laughed again. The baby stirred in her arms and I wondered if she'd ever get it to sleep. “Yes. But only, I think, because the Lord God had already been working in our unique situation. See, when I first came to work in Boaz’ fields (a happenstance on my part), he noticed me and asked his young men who I was. He heard from them that I was caring for my mother-in-law, Naomi, with whom I had recently returned from Moab. 
"Traditionally, widows and the poor were allowed to gather what the reapers left behind, but as was his nature, Boaz made sure, when the harvest was gathered, that his workmen left behind handfuls of barley on purpose for me to pick up. He also ordered them not to touch me. Even though I was a Moabitess, there were a few young men who were quite forward in their approach. In light of that, and my grieving for my newly deceased husband, it took me a while to notice Boaz’ interest for what it was. But he faithfully cared and provided for me even before we were married. He gave me permission to take meals with his workers, drink of the water they drew, and he urged me to work only in his fields.
“But back to the threshing floor… When I told Boaz my name and that he was a kinsman of mine, he blessed me for coming to him and not chasing the hotheaded young men, whether poor or rich. Indeed, he called it a kindness. He calmed my fears, assured me he would do all that I required, and praised me as one who had a virtuous name among the people.”

I smiled. “So there is your happy ending.”

“Oh, not quite,” she said and raised her brows. “Boaz knew of another man who was closer in the family line than he. My old ire reared a bit when Boaz first told me. He said if the man was willing to act as the nearest kinsman and take me as his wife, then so be it. I wondered at his indifference then, but now I know that my Godly husband would never have gone against the laws of the day. He honored his country and faith, even if it meant giving up his own desires.”
She looked up at me, confused. “Where were we?”

“The nearer kinsman.”

            “Ah, yes. Thank you, dear.” Ruth shifted the once-droopy baby and patted my hand, causing his eyes to pop open again. “Well, Boaz told me to lie down until the morning. The next day, before it was light enough to satisfy the eyes of ravenous gossips, he took my veil and filled it with six measures of barley! Then I went home under cover of darkness to wait with Naomi.” She leaned forward and groaned with distress. “I had never been so impatient in my life. It seemed days of waiting, when it was only hours. I was fretful and could hardly stop pacing, but Naomi told me to sit still until we heard how the matter would fall. She assured me he would not rest until the thing was finished that very day.
“In the meantime, Boaz was in town. He called aside ten men of the city, and bade them sit down. The man in question was confronted with his right to marry me and take possession of my husband’s land. He instantly agreed. 
"Then Boaz further informed this kinsman that his firstborn child would be required to bear Mahlon’s name and the man refused to do his part rather than put his own inheritance in jeopardy.
Ruth clapped her hands and hugged them to her chest. “Oh, I remember when he came to tell me! He was so happy. As the happy bridegroom, he brought more gifts into Naomi’s house than it would hold. I’d never seen such abundance.
“Even in Moab, I had never been wealthy. And compared to Naomi’s dwelling, Boaz’ home looks a palace.” She motioned around her. The room was well furnished. Woven rugs covered every inch of the floor.
Ruth stopped patting Jesse. The baby was asleep. She bent and laid his limp little body in the plush cradle. She caressed the wispy fuzz on his head. “I never dreamed then that I would have babies and grandchildren of my own.” She came and sat again. “My marriage to Mahlon had not been fruitful and at times I despaired, believing I was barren. But when Boaz and I came together, the Lord blessed our marriage and gave us our son, Obed. His name means ‘worshipper’. And his son Jesse,” she motioned to the cradle, “he is our Gift from God.
“For a long time I feared my children would never be accepted into the community since I am a Gentile, but the Lord has been good to me. As family of Boaz, the Lord has brought my name and the name of my children out of obscurity and into honor. 
"In more ways than one, Boaz’ love has changed my life. I came to this land a penniless widow and now I am the wife of a very influential man. But most importantly, I know that the God I now serve is the One True God--that he is faithful and hears the prayers of his servants. And none of this would have taken place if I had not met a little old woman who was determined to go back home to the presence of God.”  

The exciting story of Ruth is recorded in it's own book of the Bible. I've embellished quite a bit here, but still can't tell it as well as the Original Author. Read it for yourself. There are so many interesting things I couldn't fit into one post. I hope this was a blessing. 

Come back next Friday, Dec. 23,  for a short bonus post about Mary, Jesus' mother. It won't be an interview. In fact, I'll probably eliminate the first person altogether, showing the scene from her perspective. I'm hoping the fun tool of fiction will let us sample some of what she might have felt on that first Christmas night.

'Til then!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Women of the Bible Encouragement Series: Rebekah ~ Ready to Run

     I squirmed in my perch atop a brownish-red camel. Each rolling step of the itchy, malodorous animal soaked me in gratitude that I was no longer afoot. By a slight miscalculation, I had landed smack in the middle of the desert. (Apparently I need to study up on my maps of ancient Israel.) Lucky for me, a caravan happened along and offered me a ride—the caravan bringing Rebekah to Isaac, her intended. I shifted again and squinted against hot sunlight as Rebekah came bounding up beside me. Her maid, an older woman approached a bit slower on her own ugly, smelly camel—two attributes she didn’t seem to mind.

     “So how did you happen to be back there, alone….with no sustenance or water?” Rebekah asked. Her eyes burned bright with curiosity and she grinned at me, hair whipped mercilessly by dust and wind. “Are you mad or simply foolish?”

     The gray-haired maid’s mouth fell open. “Bekah! Remember your manners. You are to be married soon. It’s time you put away your girlish boldness.”

     Rebekah still stared at me, waiting.

     “I um…” I stammered, “made a mistake.”

     Her eyes narrowed with her smile. “You’re not a runaway servant are you?”

     At this, the maid scoured me with her suspicious perusal.

     “No!” I responded a bit too quickly. "Good heavens, no. I lost my way." I didn’t know what the usual punishment was for runaways, but given these ladies' reaction it wasn't good and I wasn’t eager to find out. "What about you?” My heart picked up speed. I couldn’t wait for her side of the story. “Why are you traveling?”

     “I…” she began, then took a deep breath and let it out on a laugh, “I am going to meet my husband.” She turned to me, almost smug. “Surprised?” She faced forward again, her bearing that of a desert princess. “I’ve never seen him, but since the beginning of this journey, I’ve wrung from his servants every single detail about his character and his person." Her brows rose and lips that were used to smiling curved upward on one side.
     “He is a man of 40 years, of medium stature, strong, and with a kind spirit. His mother died not very long ago. His father is old and would see his son wed before his death.”
She turned and giggled. “His servants will not tell me whether or not he is handsome. They are all men and say they cannot tell, but that he carries himself with confidence. I do not think they would know how to tell a handsome man if they saw one.”

     I smiled. “How did this come about—you being fetched, I mean?”

     She shook the bright scarf from her dark hair. “You would never believe me if I told it to you,” her tilted head assessed me, “but I will tell you anyway.” She pointed far ahead. “Do you see the man at the front?”

     I followed the line of her finger to where an old man sat a camel as if he was born riding. Once in a long while he gave a calm order and the man next to him rode ahead to relieve the front scout. It reminded me of scenes I’d read about wagon trains on the Oregon Trail.

     “He is Eliezer--head servant in the house of Abraham, my husband’s father. He came to the well outside of my village about three weeks ago. He was tired and thirsty, and in need of a place to stay when he came to the well on the outside of town, where women draw water at evening. When I filled my pitcher and hefted it to my shoulder, ready to carry it home, Eliezer ran to meet me and asked of me a drink of water. I saw his camels were weary and, as soon as he drank, emptied my pitcher into the camel’s trough and ran to fetch more water until the animals were done drinking.”

     “Didn’t you wear yourself out?” I asked and glanced around, amazed. I couldn’t imagine toting water for all these camels. Each fat, fuzzy creature looked like it could guzzle a river and still be thirsty.

     “Oh, it took a long while, but I was used to watering our animals there as well as fetching water daily. It was not my first time to the well.
     “After the men and livestock drank their fill," she fingered thick, gold bangles on each wrist, "Eliezer gave me heavy, precious jewelry and asked my father’s name and requested lodging for the night. When he learned I was his master’s distant kin, he dropped his head and worshiped the Lord." 
     She laughed, a fun, boisterous sound. "I ran home faster than I thought my legs could carry me and shared the news of what the stranger had said and that he was coming to stay. My parents recognized the name of Abraham as he is my grandfather’s brother.
     “When my brother, Laban, saw the earring and bracelets on my hands, he ran to the well to greet Eliezer and urge him to stay with us, probably hoping to be rewarded for his greeting with a gift like mine. Eliezar came with him, but would not so much as eat before he delivered his message and his reason for coming—to find a wife for his master’s son.
     “He said he had prayed that the girl whom the Lord had chosen for Isaac would not only give him a drink when he came to the well, but also offer to water his camels. My father said it was a sign from the Lord and consented that I would be Isaac’s wife. The next morning, my mother and brother urged the man to stay at least ten more days, but he was eager to bring me home to his master and have done with his errand. Mother and Laban were not pleased with this, but they asked my opinion and of course I agreed to leave right away.” She sighed. “I’ve dreamed of grand adventure and faraway places since childhood and never thought it would happen to me, yet here I am.” 
     Curiosity bled into her wistful expression and she stretched tall in her seat and peered ahead. “We should be nearing Isaac’s fields.” 

     The camels picked up speed as if smelling the sweet scent of home and a cloud of dust filled the place Rebekah had occupied. She slowed beside the head servant and asked a question. She stretched a graceful hand toward the fields where a man stood alone, then she whipped her veil over her head to cover her face and jumped off her camel, agile as a deer. The man began walking toward us. It was Isaac.

     My stomach grew nervous and I felt Rebekah’s anticipation. Was he as good as his servants had said? Would he love her? Was she doing the right thing by marrying this older man, sight unseen?

     When Eliezer had told Isaac all the things that he had done, the master turned to my veiled, newly found friend and smiled at her for a long time, then took her hand and led her home.

The Bible gives us so many windows into Rebekah's life. It was hard to choose which time of her life to spotlight, but there is so much symbolism in these first glimpses of her, so today, the beginning is where we meet her. Check out Gen. 24 for the real story. One of my favorite parts of the whole passage is in Gen. 24:67 where it says "...and he loved her:" It's such a sweet, sigh-worthy way for God to end and begin a great love story, don't you think? 

Also, did you notice how many times people were running in this story?? Eliezer RAN to Rebekah. She RAN to fill her pot and water the camels. She RAN home. Her brother RAN back to meet Eliezer and bring him home. She JUMPED off her camel when Isaac came into view. When they knew what to do, they did it not just willingly, but eagerly and with excitement. Can you imagine what our lives would be like if we had this type of zeal? 

The lesson this story brings to mind is threefold: stay willing(Eliezer loved his master and agreed to travel a long distance, 3 weeks or more, to fulfill his master's wishes.), stay watchful (Rebekah noticed the camels were tired and thirsty because she was attentive to the things around her, thereby fulfilling the sign Eliezer prayed for from God.), and stay at the Well (Had Rebekah decided not to carry through her daily, mundane but necessary chore of fetching water, she might not have been there that day, would not have built the strength to carry water to those camels and Eliezer might have chosen a different girl to be wife to the father of Israel. Stay faithful in the 'everyday' areas of serving God. He may be preparing you for something great.). 

Our next post, Dec. 16, we'll be looking at Ruth, suggested by Learning to Fly and Aliene. Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Women of the Bible Encouragement Series: Michal ~ Words Without Wisdom

     The nursemaid showed me to a chaise in a parlor of sorts, so I sat, hands clasped tight in my lap. What would Michal say? What should I ask her? I looked around. The room was beautifully decorated with exotic palms, rich tapestries and animal furs. Michal had very rich taste.
     The nursemaid turned. “I will warn you, miss. The lady of the house has not been herself for many years. When her memory returns to her, she becomes so distressed… It is better to let her think and speak as she wills.”
     She left the room, sandaled feet casting echoes off the walls.  


     I jerked toward the door.

     A brightly robed Michal with silver-streaked hair came tearing toward me and squeezed me in a vise-like hug. “Oh, Merab! I’ve longed to see you so. Why did you wait so long to come to me?”

     I stood there, limp and speechless. Then it came to me. Merab. Michal thought I was her sister. But Merab died when Michal was much younger. The poor woman. Alzheimer's disease wouldn't have been discovered in 950 B. C. much less treated. She would probably stay shut up here, misunderstood.

     She pulled back and settled her gaze on me—happy, but empty. “Your sons are well. I just put the youngest to bed.” Her absent stare turned wistful. “They are growing so fast. I wish they would stay young forever.”

     I couldn’t help the cold chills that raced up my arms as I realized how completely her mind was gone. The five sons she raised for her sister were all hanged not over eleven years ago in 966 B. C. They had been offered to the Gibeonites to appease Saul’s violation of Joshua’s ancient covenant. Having never born children of her own, the grief must have been impossible for Michal to absorb, so now she chose to remember only the happy, if short-lived, times of her life.

     “Come.” She tugged at my arm. “Let us play in the gardens as we did when we were girls.”

     I stayed seated, a bit afraid of her. “Actually, I’d hoped we could sit and talk some.”

     Disappointment washed over her features, but she nodded and rested her head and forearms on my knees as she settled into a pile at my feet. She raised her face, olive skin grayish and faded, like it hadn’t seen the sun in a long, long time.

     “I wanted to ask you something.” I studied her, half dreading her reaction. The nursemaid’s caution came to mind, but, determined to have my interview, I barged ahead. “Could you tell me a little about the time you helped David escape the palace? You remember,” I coaxed. “You hid a statue in the bed and claimed it was David and that he was sick so your father wouldn’t kill him?”

     She slowly drew back. “Why do you ask me this?” She rose and moved toward the far wall. “I do not want to speak of David. He was always so… I don’t know. He never cared what others would think of him, only wanted to please that God of his—even if it meant disgracing himself in front of the people. He never put priority on what was important. Always running here and there.”
     She turned to face me and her brows came together, then smoothed into a mask of shock. “You’re not Merab.” Her face turned even paler, if that was possible, and she held a hand to the wall for support. “Merab’s dead.” She spat the words like they were burning her tongue. She shifted her attention to something in the middle distance. “My boys,” she whispered and slid down the wall to the floor. “My precious boys. He killed them--let the cursed men of Gibeon hang them for something my conceited, foolish father did to those blood-greedy heathens.” She seemed to crumble into herself. “Why?” she moaned. “Was he not content in denying me sons of my own?” She tangled her fingers in her graying hair and rocked forward and back, deep sobs quaking her body.

     I stood, not sure I could help her if I tried. 
     The nursemaid returned, rushing in to hold Michal, and glared at me. “What have you done?”
     “I’m sorry,” I said hoarsely and turned to leave, the hot breath of Michal’s grief and hatred following me out of the house.

     Okay. If your not familiar with the Biblical account of Michal’s tragic story, you can read it in I Samuel 18:17-20 ;19:11-17; 25:44, & II Samuel 3:14-16; 6:15-23.
     In brief summary, Michal was David’s first wife, married to him in place of her older sister Merab, who was promised to him, but given to another. Her father was jealous of David and plotted to kill him, but she helped him escape out a window, put a statue in the bed, and told her father it was David, sick. When her father, Saul, found out she had lied and asked her why she helped his enemy escape, she lied again and told him David had threatened her life (I Sam. 19:16).
     While David was gone, Michal’s father gave her to a man named Phalti. After Saul’s death, David returned and set in order his kingdom, sending for Michal as part of an alliance with a leader of Saul’s house. When Michal was taken back, her husband Phalti (also called Phaltiel) ran along behind, weeping.
     Much later, when the ark of God was returned to Jerusalem and David danced and whirled in the streets, wearing a linen ephod, before the Lord and the people, a jealous Michal despised David in her heart, then mocked and scolded him for his actions. Because of this, she had no children. She raised up her sisters 5 boys. But due to Saul’s breaking an ancient treaty, the Gibeonites required 7 of Saul’s descendants to be turned over in restitution. David gave the Gibeonites Merab’s 5 sons, and the 2 sons of Rizpah, Saul's concubine, since Saul’s sons had earlier died at the hands of the Philistines. As I understand, the only grandson of Saul to be spared was Mephibosheth, because David had made a covenant with his father, Jonathan.
     Another interesting fact: one of the two sons of Rizpah, who were hanged, was called Mephibosheth in II Sam. 21:8. Must have been a popular name at the time.
     Also, the Bible says nothing about her going mad. That was purely fictional on my part. 
     Well, here we come to the end and I can’t bear to leave you with such depressing thoughts, so let's think of how her life might have been different had she learned to control her tongue. I believe Michal’s tongue and lack of discretion caused most of her heartache. What if she had not lied and told her father that David threatened her life? Saul might not have given her to another man in David’s absence. What if she held her tongue after David danced and asked God to change her heart toward her husband? According to the Bible, her childlessness was linked to her outburst toward him. What if she’d had her own children? Being his first wife, she might have born the child that would inherited the throne. Had she maintained a right relationship with him, maybe we wouldn’t even read the name Bathsheba in the story of David’s life. Proverbs 14:1 says, “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” Michal's house, pulled around her with wrong and ill-timed words, became her own self-made prison. 
     I think the lesson to Christian writers here is: Words are powerful. What we say/write may change our lives, or the lives of others, forever. We must be sure to honor the Lord with our words. Proverbs 11:22 “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.” Beauty is wasted when there is no discretion. I believe this is so with writing as well. The most beautiful descriptions will be worth nothing if the words are not used wisely.

     On Friday, December 2nd, our guest will be Rebekah, suggested by Ashlen. Thank you for reading!!! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Women of the Bible Encouragement Series: Tamar ~ Empathy

1028 B.C.

     I step into the courtyard and recognize Tamar instantly. Clothed in silver-gray silks, hair a mass of blue-black waves, she floats from plant to plant, touching a leaf here, pruning a bloom there, not at all the despairing woman I pictured.

     She looks up and smiles. Much younger than I expected, too. “You must be Natalie.”

     “Yes. May we talk here?”

     She sets aside her armful of flowers and perches primly next to me on a large stone bench. “Certainly. I hope the guards weren’t too much trouble.”

     The guards? My knees go weak. The two tall, good-looking (howbeit stern), gentlemen who met me at the door with swords drawn? “No trouble.” They’d only frightened me out of a couple good years of my life. "Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, Tamar. Your story is sadly familiar for many young women today. Can you tell me some of what happened?”

     She clasped her arms to herself and stared into the foliage before us. “I grew up a princess. A daughter of king David. And though my life was secluded, I was happy. Carefree. The palace was mine to roam and occasionally I ventured into one of the villages, though not without companions.
     “One day, after my fifteenth birthday, the king summoned me and told me my half-brother, Amnon, was sick and I was to go cook for him.
     “I learned later that Amnon and his cousin, Jonadab, had conspired this as a way to bring me alone into his house. You see, Amnon claimed he loved me. He had despaired of ever…being with me because of my chaste, guarded lifestyle and this vexation made him sick and thin.
     “When I entered the house he was lying still in his chamber, a sickly pallor on his face, so I didn’t disturb him. I went about kneading flour and making cakes for him to eat, but when I poured them out before him he would not touch them. He commanded that all the men leave and I became curious as to what he was about.
     “He bade me bring the cakes into his chamber, then caught hold of me and said, ‘Come lie with me, my sister,’ lust fervent in his eyes. My stomach weakened and I begged him not to do this folly. It would defame him and I… I would be eaten up with shame. Desperate, I urged him to ask the king for my hand, but he wouldn’t listen.
     “I tried to fight him. I thought an ill and gaunt young man would surely be no match for me. But, weak and malnourished as he looked, he proved too strong. He overpowered me and...f-forced himself on me.” Tamar briefly presses a hand to her mouth and her voice breaks along with my heart. She shivers and a tear runs down to drip from her whispering lips. “I still run from that memory, still have nightmares of his cruel hands and his stale breath…
     “When it was over, my heart felt lifeless, like dry-rotted quark. He looked upon me with such black, murderous hatred. Fear left me spent and trembling, betrayed to my very core. ‘Arise, be gone,’ he said. My mind's barrier of numbness finally caved to those words. I thought I might go mad--wanted to go mad, and forget this ever happened. That he would use me and send me away to bear the burden alone… I had not believed he could be so despicable.
     “He had his ministering servant throw me into the street and bolt the door after me. My bright virgin’s robe brushed my feet and mocked me. Unable to bear up under grief, I tore the multi-colored garment in symbolic anguish and heaped ashes on my head.”

     She closes her eyes and seems to shake the memory away as I stare at her profile. No word in my head seems fitting to say in the presence of such a deep sorrow.

     She shifts her attention to me. “I thought my life ended that day. No man would want me. To remain single and desolate would be degrading, but I believed I did not deserve any happiness or normalcy--that I had brought this upon myself, drawing Amnon’s attention in some ignorant way. Only the inner circle of the palace knew what had happened. Still, my family spared no sympathy. I’ve lived here with my full brother, Absalom, since that day, and even he has told me not to think too much of it or let it consume me.”

     “What about now? Do you still blame yourself?”

     “I know now that, no matter what I could have done, Jonadab and Amnon would still have found a way to…bring their plans to pass. Wicked men do wicked things and no one can make their decisions for them.”

     “Do you think you will ever marry? Maybe if there were someone gentle and kind…”

     Her small, hesitant smile piques my interest.

     “Is there someone?”

     Her lashes lower, pink tinting her cheeks. “Azar`el. He is a widowed silversmith who lives just outside of the palace. His daughters are among the girls I visit when I pass through the village. Sometimes I go to them, other times Azar`el brings them to me. I’ve found that helping motherless girls gives me a purpose I thought I’d lost."

     “So you believe there is hope after tragedy.”

     “If there weren’t, I would have died that first night.” Her dark eyes filled with certainty. “I tried to end my misery, but one of the servants found me in time. I knew after that there was a reason I lived—something God wanted me to do. I didn’t rest until I found what that was.
     “I’ve discovered that we all experience grief of some kind and my tragedy has been used to show many young girls that they are not alone. Had I grown up a pampered princess, never having to endure hardship, my foolish pride wouldn't have allowed me this ministry.” The door sounds behind us and Tamar’s eyes flit over my shoulder. Her face glows like a pink lightning bug. I turn to see a tall, lean man enter. His face is kind and each hand rests on the shoulder of a miniature, dark-eyed beauty. One of the adorable girls smile to reveal a snaggletooth grin.

     “I’d better be going, Tamar. Before I do, though, can you tell me what advice you would have for a Christian writer?”

     She drags her attention back to me and a thoughtful tilt of her head replaces the distracted smile from before. “Take what the Lord has given you—emotions, experiences—whether good or bad, and use them to minister to others. Write from where your heart has been. God does not waste our sorrows. More than likely someone else has felt the same at some point and yours can be the empathetic encouragement that points them to God. Also, don’t despise days of obscurity. Those may be the times God is growing you most and strengthening your bond to him.”

     I thank Tamar sincerely for taking the time to share her heart and head toward the door. The man with kind, dark eyes, hardly acknowledges me as I pass, eyes only for Tamar. The little girls giggle and I give them a wink. I make the short, dusty journey back to my hidden, newly serviced and upgraded time machine with a smile floating across my face.

     Okay, I’m back from 1028 B.C. and here’s the deal. The Bible doesn’t tell us how old Tamar was when her half-brother raped her.
     Also, it doesn’t say ANYTHING about her falling in love later. That was solely a product of my imagination’s ruthless pursuit of a happy ending. To me, that’s half the purpose of fiction. So, meaning no disrespect, I couldn’t write a semi-fictional blog post and leave you in 2 Samuel 13:20 where the Bible last mentions Tamar. I felt terrible for her and I simply couldn’t leave her that way.
     One more thing: I toned the setting down a bit. In 1028 B.C. Absalom would probably still be hiding out after killing Amnon--partly to avenge Tamar and partly, I believe, to secure his path to inheriting the throne.
     Anyway, Joab, David’s chief captain later convinced the king to bring Absalom home again safely, but then a feud broke out between Joab and Absalom. So, all things considered, Absalom’s house probably wouldn't have been the safest, or most peaceful of locations for an interview at the time I chose. To check out the whole story for yourself, go to 2 Samuel 13 & 14. Our next guest will be another princess of Israel--King David's first wife, Michal. This guest was suggested by Nancy Kimball. Thank you Nancy! The post will go up on the 14th.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Unexpected Visitor Alert!!

Okay, folks. Due to technical difficulties (my time machine overheating and requiring maintenance), I’m going to space out our Women of the Bible Series. No, seriously, my mom had surgery and I need to spend extra time helping her for a while. So, in order to dedicate the amount of research due to these women, I’m going to do posts twice a month instead of weekly. The next one goes up November 4th (I’ll still be posting on Fridays.) and, as announced last week, our guest will be Tamar, David’s daughter.
 Mr. Iwan A. Karrat showed up rather brusquely today with his wife Mrs. Neda Karrat (not pictured) to make sure I ask your indulgence and thank you all properly for your patience. He’s very fierce, you see? So I’m going to be toeing the line on this one. Ahem. “I ask your indulgence and give you many thanks for your patience.” J

 *Whispers* Did I do it right, Mr. Karrat?

(Mr. Karrat gives me "the look". See photo.)

Until the 4th!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Women of the Bible Encouragement Series: Deborah ~ Stand Up

Today, we have as our guest Deborah, who led the children of Israel into war against Jabin, king of Canaan, and Sisera, the captain of his army. She is fierce, I will tell you that.  I was a little afraid when I first saw her sitting under The Palm of Deborah, a spicy, dust-laden wind billowing the edge of her cloak. She was quite a Joan of Arc in her day--only we are left to imagine she had a happier end.

Hi Deborah! Thanks for being with us today. Tell us a little about yourself.
I am Deborah, wife of Lapidoth.

(Locusts chirp in background.)

Okay. Um… You are called a prophetess, which can mean several things: the wife of a prophet, a woman who prophesies, or a poetess. Which one were you?
I judged the people of Israel along with Barak.

Ah… I see. (I scratch my eyebrow, wondering how to get her to open up.) Well, maybe you can tell me about the day you rode with Barak towards the army of King Jabin.
I said to him, “Up; for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: Is not the LORD gone out before thee?”

So you had to pretty much stay on his case in order for him to follow God’s command? Was he lazy or just afraid?
It is not good to speak against God’s man.

(Oops) You're right. I'm sorry.
I will tell you, however, that the Lord gave the honor of victory to a woman, Jael, as a punishment and judgment for Barak’s cowardice and unbelief.

We don't hear much about your husband, Lappidoth, other than his name. Was he similar or opposite to Barak? Did he support you in your position as a judge of Israel? Tell me about him.
I am tired of speaking. I will sing the answer to you.

Oh. Okay, um... Go right ahead.
My beloved is like a beacon on the hilltop. His name means ‘shining’. He sings to me the songs of encouragement and is always with me. He is my resting place.

Your voice is lovely. Where did you learn to sing?
My mother. She taught me to use song to proclaim truth. A woman’s tongue has the power to tear down, build up, calm down, or stir up. We have a duty to use it wisely.

Yes ma’am. That is so true. You mentioned your mother and it got me to wondering... You are called a ‘mother of Israel’. Were you not afraid that you would die in battle and leave your children motherless?
It is better to die, leaving an inheritance of righteousness and peace, than to live in cowardice and sentence future generations to slavery and oppression.

That is a hard truth. You have given me much to think about. 
Winding down here... I know you’re a poet, and have done a bit of writing yourself, so what advice would you have for Christian writers today?
Poetry in writing means nothing if the words do not honor God. Write for a reason. Do what is right even when others don’t. Stand firm in what God has called you to do.

Natalie again. Thanks for reading! If your wondering about Deborah's propensity for impulsive singing, check out Judges chapter 5. She is a very quirky lady, so much so that I had trouble following her sometimes. LOL. Hopefully you got the gist of her story. Next week's guest will be Tamar, David's daughter. This randomly selected guest was suggested by commentor Victoria and Joel

Friday, October 7, 2011

Women of the Bible Encouragement Series: Priscilla ~ A Helping Hand

            Today’s guest was suggested by Marilyn In Mississippi. She said, “I think I would like to hear from Priscilla….wife of Aquila. (Acts 18: 26) I’ve always wondered about this verse where it says that ‘Aquila and his wife Priscilla took Apollos with them to expound the way of God more perfectly.’ ” 
            Thank you for the suggestion!
            I’m turning my dial back to A.D. 67. This is around 20 years after Aquila and Priscilla hosted Paul in their home for 18 months, making tents. I’m hoping she’ll be able to share a little about that and her and her husband’s experience with Apollos.

            Hi Priscilla! The first question I’d like to ask is about your occupation. What is involved in tent making?
Hello Natalie. When you start to make a tent, the first thing you have to have is a strong material. Leather was our most popular, though a cloth of woven goats' hair was also used. The skins would have to be softened and treated with different solutions to make them pliable, but at the same time sturdy and protected from snares. We would sew them together in a great sheet of skins, then patterns would be cut out and sewn at the seams. The sizes and designs of our tents were as varied as the customers who ordered them.
How did you and your husband come to pursue the craft?
Aquila and I were both born in Rome. His father was a tentmaker of great renown and my father, plying the same trade, owned a shop across the way. There had been a heated competition between the two, for as long as I remember. But, in our spare time, Aquila and I would play together, piecing together the scraps and making our own miniature tent. Despite the friction between our families, we married when we became of age and joined the two businesses, I being an only child and my father's heir.
With the growing fame of the arena games, commercial tent makers were booked months in advance, so customers whose orders weren’t related to that cruel sport came to us for business.
            It’s very interesting that you shared how you and Aquila met, because our next question is about the relationship between the two of you. There is never a place in the scripture where one is mentioned without the other. Have you always enjoyed that inseparability?
Well, yes and no. Before we became followers of The Way, we were closer than other married couples we knew. We married for love, not money or social standing, so we had more to build on than most. We also had much in common. But after we came to Christ, we realized there was a sweet fellowship between our spirits that, before, had not existed. 
In the six places where you and your husband are referenced, your name appears first in three and Aquila’s in the others. Is there a reason for that, do you think?
Possibly. Aquila and I enjoyed a fellowship and oneness that was uncommon for husbands and wives in our day. Women of that time were considered more like property. Even some of the Christian women who attended the church in our house held no more input in their own homes than hired servants. Aquila and I were never like that.
I will remind you, however, that when scripture speaks of our teaching Apollos, Aquila’s name is written first, likely symbolizing his primary role in that area of expounding scripture. Also, using what some call the law of "first mention" Aquila's name is first to be mentioned in the entire text.
I became a believer in Christ before Aquila, and I was always pushing him to grow and lead. At one point, I was convinced that it was my responsibility to take charge in the spiritual matters of our home, but when Paul came to stay with us, he quickly corrected me. He boldly taught that wives, though no less valuable, or intelligent, are to be subject to their husbands in the home and in church.
There is a Divinely established order of authority in the realm of mankind and in the realm of Deity. Woman is to yield to man’s authority and man to God’s. Jesus yielded to God’s authority in everything. He said, “In all things, I please the Father.” “Not my will but Thine...” Everyone is under the authority of someone. A man is under the Lord, a wife, her husband and a servant, his master. This is not the teaching of man, but of God.
I also learned very quickly than a man will not hold contest with a woman to be the champion of something. He doesn’t consider it a win if he has to defeat his wife in the process. Paul made it very clear to me that Aquila would stand responsible before the Lord for his spiritual guidance in our house and I could either help him by supporting him in his duty, or cause him to desire to give up his God-given responsibility with my contention.
            Wow. You’ve given me a lot to think about. While I consider what you just said, do you mind telling what Apollos had to be corrected in, exactly?
Well, in all truth, he was not teaching heresy. He was a very learned man, bold in the scriptures. But he was a disciple of only John and did not know to teach that Jesus, the Messiah, had come and was the true sacrifice for our sins.
I remember standing in the synagogue with Aquila like it was yesterday. This was after Paul had left us and we still gathered with the Jews in the place where he taught. Apollos began his message and I was waiting with anticipation for this fervent, eloquent man to come to the part about Jesus of Nazareth, but he never did. I was very disappointed. When Apollos stepped down, finished with his incomplete message, Aquila caught my eye across the room. Women and men were separated for the teachings, but I could see him through the lattice that parted us. It was clear Aquila felt the same as I. That day, Aquila bravely approached Apollos, invited him into our home, and began to tell him the rest of The Story. Apollos was a very humble man, readily accepting our words.
Did you and Aquila ever have children?
I have wished a thousand times over that I could say yes to that question. That was one of the greater sorrows that Aquila and I shared. It was always our desire, but the Lord proved to us that “His grace is sufficient.” Because of our childlessness, we were able to move several times and witness the love of Jesus to many varied characters that we might have been afraid to entertain, were there children in our home. I remember the time we won to the Lord a gladiator, recently escaped from his master in Rome. His was one conversion I don’t believe I’ll ever forget.
Ah, I’m letting the memories wing me away.
Concerning your question, you know, I think Aquila’s decision to teach Apollos was greatly produced from the fact that he never had a son of his own. The span of Aquila’s and Apollos’ age difference was not great enough to represent a father and son, but that type camaraderie was there just the same. We fellowshipped and exhorted one another in the scriptures. It was a wonderful time, though I did bite my tongue and rephrase my thoughts on more than one occasion so that I would not be overriding or “usurping the authority” as Paul warned us against. On the other hand, I was able to share my testimony and use our times together to magnify Jesus and His works. All the glory goes to him. I am nothing more than a wife, a tent-maker and a woman who loves her Lord.
            Thank you, Priscilla. I’ve enjoyed our conversation very much. I’m going to give you the last word on this. Do you have any advice for Christian writers today?
Always look for a chance to help those around you, whether they are struggling in areas you've already experienced or are far ahead of you in accomplishments. If you are on the receiving side, always remember to give thanks, to God and your benefactor.
Lend a helping hand. Encourage, and build up. Be gentle in correction and faithful in prayer for others. We all need help from time to time, and your edification may be the Godsend someone has been praying for.  After his time in our home, Apollos became a great preacher to the Jews and many were saved because of his preaching. It was none of our doing, but all the Lord’s.

Natalie here. Just wanted to say that I took more liberties with Priscilla’s story than with Dorcas’. The parts about how she and Aquila met and the conversion of the gladiator came right out of my fiction-filled head. And the Bible doesn’t say when Priscilla or Aquila was saved or who came to Christ first. I’m thinking they were believers before they left Rome, but I have no scripture to back that up. That’s just a hunch of mine. Also, there has been much debate as to whether Apollos recognized Jesus as the Christ and was merely  ignorant of the filling of the Holy Spirit, or if he taught only what John taught--"Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt. 3:2) I did my best to present my understanding of it, but do not claim to be an expert on the subject.
And the "keeping it short next time" thing? Well, that went right out the window. After hearing how much Priscilla had to say in this interview, I think she might have had a more active role in exhorting Apollos than she knew. ;)
The winner of the First Blog Post Celebration Giveaway is... Drum-roll please. Victoria Willard. Please email me at simmadar(at)yahoo(dot)com and give your mailing address, so I can send you the book. 
Next week's randomly selected guest will be Deborah suggested by Debby Giusti and Victoria and Joel.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Women of the Bible Encouragement Series: Dorcas ~ Expect A Miracle

            Welcome back folks! Yesterday, I jumped in my trusty Biblical Time Machine (BTM), turned the dial to "35 A. D.," and zoomed to meet today's guest and bring her here. It was quite a journey. 
            Please welcome Dorcas. When I first saw her and spoke to her about coming today, she was seated at table in her adobe home, head bent over a a bright red scarf she was embroidering with gold thread. The minute she looked up, well-used smile lines crinkled her big brown eyes. I was charmed right down to my toes. And that accent! It's like a blend of Jewish and Greek. So intriguing!
            When I thought on the upcoming interview, the question trotted across my mind: “What were Dorcas’s last thoughts?” Rather, “What were her FIRST last thoughts?” 
            Hello Dorcas. I’m so honored to have this opportunity. You have no idea how I've looked forward to talking with you, so let me dive right in. When you died, did you know those final, mortal breaths of earthy air would be your last?
Oh, yes, Child. I had been sorely sick, delusional from fever in fact, but I did know for certain that I would not be lingering in this world for very long.
What were you feeling at that point? Did you have what some people refer to as dying grace?
I did not want to die, but I knew that very soon I was going to be face to face with the Christ, who gave up everything He could call His own to make provision for me to be with Him. It was very sobering, and at the same time joyful. 
Did you have regrets? Reasons you wished you could have lived longer?
There were so many things I still desired to do, people I’d not yet told about the wonderful works of Christ, projects accumulating in my sewing corner. I was very blessed to have another chance to make those things right.
            When you knew that death was close, did you question God? 
            Oh my, that is something I would rather not confess to. But yes, I did. I questioned His timing. I thought, ‘How can You take my life now? I have devoted my life to serving You and I am not done.’ 
Hadn’t you heard the story of Lazarus?
Oh, bless you! You make me laugh like a crow, as only an old woman can. Yes, I had heard the story. But it did not pass through my mind at the time. Jesus had already ascended to the Father. The Healer was now unseen. I was confronted with the aftermath of death every time I visited one of my husbandless friends. What right had I to hope for a miracle for myself?
            What happened when you were brought back to life?
 I heard Peter’s voice telling me to arise. In truth, it was more like being brought back to mortality than back to life. It was most strange, having my soul and spirit return into a body of clay, nearly suffocating when compared with the freedom I had felt in my Lord’s presence.
            What a disappointment it must have been, to have experienced the incandescently radiating presence of God, then be rushed back to the dinghy, mortal body you’d just left behind!
Oh, it was. After tasting the glory of the eternal, I laughed at myself for fearing Death's angel so and for clinging so hard to this tainted, pain-filled life. You cannot possibly know how piercing the separation is, once you’ve experienced Him face to face. Being there with him, it was as if I had finally been awakened from a bad dream, released to tirelessly worship my Beloved. He rejoiced over me with singing. Many were there with us, but His love was so focused, it felt as though He reserved His favor for me alone.
            Who was it that fetched Peter?
“You know, I am not sure? It seems so ungrateful of me now, but I never thought of that. I should have thanked her for having such great faith, but at the time I probably would have been tempted to give her a switching for bringing me back from Heaven.
            Her... So, it was possibly one of the women there? Some new widow, perhaps, with a fresh grief of her own?
Oh, yes. It is very possible. Most probable even. Her actions make it evident that when you feel you are at your lowest, you may be at your most effective for God. He may use the circumstance you view as being hopeless to be foundational building block for the unequaled masterpiece He is creating in your testimony.
What advice do you have for Christian writers today?
 When it seems the project into which you have poured your time, your effort, your very spirit, is fading away to insignificance, have faith. Expect a miracle. It’s never too late for God to move. He has brought you too far to abandon you now. He will lead you. His good name depends upon it. He specializes in hopeless situations. For heaven’s sake, look at me. I was DEAD.
          Many people believed because of the miracle God gave me. So, remember, the next time it appears that all your life is sinking about you, God could be gifting you with an impossible task that will bring the wonder of His miracle to you and countless souls to Him.
            One more question before we’re done, Tabitha. If you lived in our world today, what would you be doing with your life, your previous experiences in mind.
Ah… You give me a tough one. Well, you know I could never leave my sewing. And those new machines you all have are the best things since indoor plumbing. Truly. Indoor plumbing is a wonder.
As for a profession, I would probably be a nurse at a center for cancer treatment. So many are affected and it would be rewarding to help someone else have his or her second chance at life as well.
            Thank you so much, this has been an amazing interview. I promise you, I’ll never forget it.
It’s nothing, Child. Thank you for listening to an old woman’s ramblings and giving me cause to remember.

Dorcas  is a devout woman from the New Testament who cherishes widows and uses her sewing talent for the Lord. She is also the only woman among nine people in the Bible to be specifically and individually called 'a disciple.' She makes her home in Joppa, (now known as Jaffa) near the Mediterranean shoreline southwest of Tel Aviv. This is how I imagine her.                      

Natalie here. Sorry so long. I'll try to be more concise with the next one. I cut out a couple questions, but Dorcas's story was so gripping, I couldn't make myself take out anymore. Come back next Friday to meet Priscilla, wife of Aquila (Acts 18), who just happened to be our first suggestion. This suggestion was submitted by: Marilyn in Mississippi. Our guests are randomly selected from the suggestions list using

            In celebration of our first post in the Encouragement From Women of the Bible series, I'm giving away a copy of Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty by Danna Gresh. It's the best I've read on practical, Biblical modesty geared toward young adults and women. Since Tabitha's occupation concerned clothing, I thought it was fitting. Winner will be announced in next Friday's post. For a chance to win, leave a comment telling how God has come through for you in the face of disaster. Let's praise Him a little. "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so," Psalm 107:2