Brave Women of the Bible: Miriam and Her Mother

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The first chapter of Exodus has a number of brave women mentioned. We find out in the beginning of  Exodus times have changed in Egypt since the time of Joseph. The Egyptians have forced the Hebrews to become laborers and slaves because there were fearful that the Hebrews became strong and large in number. Egypt’s Pharaoh then commanded two Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah to kill any boys they helped birth but to let the girls live. It says in verse 17 that Shiphrah and Puah feared God and did not do as the Pharaoh commanded. When Pharaoh called them and said “Why have you allowed the baby boys to live?” They said the babies were being born quickly before the midwife could get to them.  It goes on to say in verse 26 that God was blessed the midwives and established families and households for them.

These two women remind me of stories I’ve heard about WWII. In the concentration camps there were midwives were told to kill babies born and many pregnant women were sent to the gas chamber upon arrival. There is one story of a polish woman Stanislawa Leszczyńska, who delivered approximately 3,000 babies at Auschwitz. Of those she aided in delivering only 530 babies survived according to the insider.com February 5 issue. The insider goes on to say that Leszczynska tattooed the surving babies in hopes they would be reconnected with the family again.  I can recall another story of a midwife who would smuggle Jewish babies out of the camps in her doctor bag. Can you imagine the fear and stress these women faced?

And yet despite the fear, the possibility of death, Shiphrah and Puah were protected by God and basically stood up to Pharaoh.

Pharaoh then made a command to everyone that any Jewish son that is born to was to be drown in the Nile river. Can you imagine being a pregnant Jewish woman in a time like this?  Once Moses was born his mother hid him for three months. Can you imagine hiding a baby for 3 months? Moses was either a quiet angel baby or she had a lot of help. I have three children, I remember how tired and worn out you are those first two months and then on top of that to have to keep your baby hidden and quiet. That sounds like a miracle in itself and would take a lot of faith and courage.

At 3 months it says in Exodus 2 verse 3 she could no longer hide him so she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and covered it in tar, to make it waterproof and placed Moses in the basket and put the basket among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. The Bible then mentions she tells Moses’s sister Miriam to watch a distance away and see what will happen.

I don’t blame her not being able to watch. If it were me I’d be crying so hard I’d need to go away for a minute. She was truly putting her baby in the hands of God and that takes great courage.

I know you know how the rest of the story goes. Pharaoh’s own daughter is at the Nile bathing and she hears Moses crying. Pharaoh’s daughter takes pity on the baby and Miriam offers to get a wet nurse, Moses’s real mother, to nurse him and help care for him. Not only is Moses saved but he gets to be held and nursed by his real mother for a time. I believe Miriam is very brave here, watching for an opportunity and not being afraid to approach the princess of Egypt to help her family. We don’t know how old Miriam is. I believe she had to be younger than 14. She showed great courage despite her age and God rewarded it by not allowing her family to be split up yet.

We worry so much about our children, I know I worry about mine. What they are watching, sex trafficking, school shootings, terrible illnesses, the list goes on. But we can’t live in fear that something is going to happen to them.  These women put their children in God’s hands daily. This challenges me to be braver with my children to trust God to protect them and allow them a little bit more space and freedom to make their own choices. I hope it challenges you too.

 

 

Brave Women in the Bible, Leah

Women in the Bible were brave. Noah’s wife climbed on a boat filled with animals. Ester gained the approval of the king and saved the Jews, Jael killed Sisera, Hannah entered the temple, Deborah went into battle and that’s just some of the old testament. In the new testament we read about Mary who bore Jesus at 14, fled to Egypt, and watched her son die on a cross. A woman who washed and wept on Jesus feet and another woman who touched his garment as was healed. I think we forget how difficult all these deeds were for these women in that time. I also believe if we study them we will ourselves learn how to become a bit more brave. So that is what my next group of writings will be about. I plan to go though the Bible and discuss these brave women.

These women faced very real fear and anxiety. Many times their actions could have had consequences that resulted in excommunication, abandonment and death. But they were brave and faced many difficulties.

I’m going to start my study by discussing Leah. Leah’s story begins in Genesis 29. Jacob has traveled to his Uncle Laban’s home and agrees work for Laban for 7 years in exchange for the marriage of Laban’s daughter Rachel. We find out that Leah is older than Rachel and has “weak eyes.” Rachel is in turn more beautiful than Leah.  In Genesis 29 verse 21 Jacob tells Laban that he has worked his seven years and that he wants to marry Rachel. Laban prepares a wedding feast for Jacob but disguises his daughter Leah as the bride and gives her to Jacob in marriage.  Jacob consummates the marriage with Leah and realizes after the fact that she is not Rachel and is outraged.  Ok I’m stopping here for a minute. This should give you an idea of how little rights Leah had. She was forced to disguise her self and marry a man promised to her sister.  Her father didn’t wait around for her to find a true love or suiter he just gave her away. Leah was basically abandoned, rejected by her father.

Jacob then goes to Laban and says (verse 26) “What is this that you have done to me? Did I not work for you (seven years) for Rachel? Why have you deceived and betrayed me like this?” Laban’s answer is that traditionally the oldest  daughter must be married before the youngest. He tells Jacob to finish out the week of the wedding feast and then he can marry Rachel and work another 7 years. Leah is rejected again, this time by Jacob.

We find out in verse 30 that Jacob lived with Rachel and loved her more than Leah. So Leah is now in a marriage she probably didn’t  want to be in and unloved by her husband.

In verse 31 it says that the “Lord saw Leah was unloved, he mad her able to bear children. But Rachel was barren.” This gave Leah some hope and she bore 3 boys in hopes to win Jacobs affections. She even named her babies to get his attention. Rueben, her first born name means See a Son! Her second son Simeon’s name means God Hears because it says in verse 33 “Because the Lord heard I am unloved, he has given me this son also.” The third son she named Levi, thinking that would make her husband attach to her as a companion. Levi means joined in harmony.  Then, and here is where I think she finally got brave, She had a fourth son (verse 35) and named him Judah saying “Now I will praise the Lord.”

Something happened to Leah while she was pregnant with her fourth baby. She quit trying to win Jacob’s affections. I believe she realized God loved her, God provided these babies for her, who I am sure loved her and depended on her. She found her fulfillment in God and not being Jacob’s wife. I believe her rejection was healed. I believe she was able to love her boys and to let go of that rejection and love, well that’s brave.

Rejection is an awful thing. We all have experienced it at some level. It can cause sadness, depression. It can cause us not to want to reach out to others. It can cause us to hurt others. It can make us do things we would never dream of doing, bad things not good. Leah knew rejection well but she was brave enough to love again. To love that little baby Judah and be thankful for him. I think the way to fight what rejection does to our souls is to be brave enough to love someone again.

Later in her life, Leah and Rachel left with Jacob to travel back to his home. Both wives agreed to travel but Leah went boldly while Rachel went to her father’s house and stole his idols, (Genesis 31: 14-20). I think Rachel was scared, she either wanted the idols as protection or she wanted her father to come after her. I think Leah was brave to go with a husband who didn’t love her to a place she didn’t know. I think she went on faith.

Our faith can be fuel to make us brave. We have to have faith to step out and love others and answer God’s call on our lives. Leah was able to do that. I hope her story encourages you to step out and be brave.

 

Valentines Day Wreath of Love and Kindness

IMG_1739I haven’t made a craft in a while. I’ve been busy decluttering and cleaning since the beginning of January. My kitchen table was becoming a dumping ground while I decluttered other areas so I spent yesterday trying to clear it off. I’m nearly done. I purchased this really cool looking wooden wreath back in December at Meijers and was going to turn it into a Christmas wreath but never had inspiration. IMG_1736 So  I decided to turn it into a Valentines Day Wreath so I could get it off my kitchen table.

I’ve been working on a study of the Holy Spirit by Beth Moore that’s really good.  I am currently studying verses about love so I wanted my wreath to say something about love. I had these cool wooden letters left over from another project and I painted them red and pink with the words “love and kindness.”IMG_1737

Next I painted a vine and leaves pattern on the squares of the wreath. To symbolize John 15:5 which reads, “I am the vine you are the branches the one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for otherwise apart from me you can do nothing.” I kind of liked the way it looked before I put the letters on.

IMG_1738After that I let everything dry and then hot glued the letters into place. Once that was dry I hung it up on my door.  Ready for Valentines Day now.

 

 

 

Fighting Seasonal Depression

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Welcome to January, its cold, its dark and for many of us it’s well depressing. I do and have suffered from seasonal depression for a long time. I was lovingly reminded yesterday that I’m not the only one. I hope I can give some positive solutions of what you can do to easy your depression symptoms. These are things that work for me. I hope they help you.

Please remember if you suffer from depression the first step should always be seeking the help of a professional. Either a psycologist, psychiatrist or both. I have a psychiatrist and a therapist. Most of the following suggestions came from their guidance and are what helps me when I feel depressed or over come by anxiety.

  1. Buy a light. Not just any light, a Sunlight Therapy Lamp. There are plenty on Amazon ranging from $40 to $100. When you get up in the morning, and you may have to start getting up earlier to do this. Turn the light on and sit with it in front of you for about 20 minutes. It does help, especially on those endless weeks with no sun. You will have more energy.
  2.  Create a morning routine. If you are like me and have kids your morning routine may already be created for you, however if you can keep getting up at the same time and going to bed at the same time, even on the weekends it will help your body regulate. Build time in if you can for self care, sit in front of you light, do your quite time or mindfullness, drink your coffee. Sticking to the same routine will also give you a sense of control and balance that depression likes to steal from you.
  3.  Make a list of things you are thankful for and read it aloud daily. Post it on your mirror, in your car, above the stove. Remind yourself daily how blessed you truly are.
  4.  Listen to worship music. Changing your atmosphere can easily change your mood.
  5.  Exercise. I know this is the last thing you want to do when you feel depressed but it releases your natural endorphins and you will feel better. Because of my injuries I have started doing yoga. Its easy on the body and I feel so much better physically and mentally after doing it.
  6.  Go outside. Even for a quick walk around the block. Studies have shown being outside, especially if there is a park or a woods near by,  will help lift your mood.
  7.  Talk about it. Depression makes us feel like were all alone. Your not. I promise someone you know, knows what your feeling.
  8. Pray about it. Depression is caused by many different things, hormones, situations, chemical imbalances in your brain, sometimes just the atmosphere your in. Ask people to pray for you. Remember God keeps each of our tears in a bottle. Read the Psalms. David dealt with depression. God knows and loves you and wants you better.
  9. Journal. Write it out. Having a place to put your feelings will help you. There are lots of journal prompts and art therapy prompts on Pintrest that can help you write or draw out your feelings. After you write out how you feel, write down one positive or thankful thought. It will turn your perspective around.
  10.  Know where your thoughts come from. At some point you have to come to the conclusion of who you are and who you are not. Depression makes you feel ugly, worthless, unnecessary, unloved. You are not that. Not on any day. You are a king or queen, righteous and sanctified in Christ. At some point you will have to tell those  thoughts, that’s not me and start telling yourself who you are.

I started doing that in 2016. A friend sent me a series of verses from the Bible that describe what it is to be a child of Christ. When I felt anxious or scared or depressed I’d read those verses out loud. I will attach a link to them below. It didn’t take long before I had them memorized. It didn’t take long before I learned how to stop the rhetoric in my head of how worthless I was. I could say, no I am God’s child. God loves me, God made me how I am for a reason and God has good plans for me today. Saying this out loud stopped the negative tape in my head. Now that negative tape comes back sometimes, but I can recognize it and turn it off again. It takes practice but you can overcome depression.

This is how I deal with depression. It is not easy, when you are depressed you don’t want to do any of these things. Your tired, wore out and don’t want to get out of bed. There’s a lot of other things I could say on this subject but these things I used when I started this battle. It is a battle. Its hard work but it’s so worth it.

Remember Jesus left us with peace, John 14:27 AMP “Peace I leave with you, My perfect peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. (Let my perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.) You can have peace. You were gifted it by Jesus. I hope this helped someone today.  To read the verses that helped me go to.Who I am In Christ

 

 

Have Faith in God’s Grace

I was in a car accident yesterday. Me and my daughter were going home from the store on a main road and someone made a U-turn in the left lane causing all the cars behind them to slam on their breaks. The third or fourth car back had the choice of  hitting the car in front of him or pulling into my lane and hitting me. He got me.

It could have been a really bad accident. More people could have been hit. Me and my daughter were both on the driver’s side where the collision occurred and could have gotten really hurt, but I believe by God’s grace we were all ok. The other car stopped. We were both very concerned about each other and relieved when everyone was alright. I really believe that God’s mercy and grace took what could have been a really bad circumstance and protected and cared for me, my daughter and the others involved.

I have a confession to make, since my back injury in 2017 It has been very difficult for me to be in a car. I struggle driving not only physically but I have a real fear of an accident about to happen. I can’t drive on the expressway right now because of my foot pain so I often have to rely on my husband to take me places. I am so very anxious during those times. Sometimes I have panic attacks when were near large trucks or someone cuts someone off in front of us. I pray, a lot almost every time I get in the car for protection.

So yesterday God let me get in a car accident. While I was driving on a road that was not the expressway. I think he wanted me to learn two lessons in this. First, that I am not in control. Even when I’m doing everything in my power to keep myself and my passangers and my vehicle safe, I’m not in control. An accident can still happen. I’ve been trying in a backwards way to control the anxiety I have about driving. Only driving short distances, staying off the highway. I avoid driving when my foot is in a lot of pain. These pirameters make sense but I think I’ve had an “I can’t get hurt this way” mindset. My faith shouldn’t be in these rules I’ve made up for myself, they should be in God’s grace.

The second lesson I feel that God had to remind me of is that He has promised already to protect me. You see I am his child and he promises that he will never leave or abandon his children. I pray all the time for protection in the car when I think God is asking me to not just pray but have faith it will happen. I think I was praying so much because I only had faith for one car trip, maybe not only that. God wants me to have faith for everything I ask. His grace is not limited to the car trip I’m on its unlimited grace and I needed that reminder.

There’s a verse in Matthew that was actually in my quiet time today it says, “And when you pray, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. So do not be like them (Praying as they do) for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:7-8 AMP I think I’ve been very repetitious in my prayers lately. I am challenged by this verse and circumstance to have faith and not repeat myself. Which is hard. My children went back to school today. I think I prayed 4 or 5 times since yesterday, God please watch over them and let my youngest have a good day. It’s time for me to stop praying about it and have faith God will take care of them.

 

 

Bitter Sweet Christmas Eve

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I wrote last about the passing of my husbands great Aunt. The funeral was over the weekend. We spent Saturday and Sunday with family. The service was beautiful. The pastor gave a very special message about her.

She lived a very hard life. She grew up in Poland during World War 2 and spent some of her childhood in a Russian concentration camp. She came to America. She had and lost two husbands and a daughter. The message that she herself left for us in a video recording was that life is hard and that Jesus is a friend that can love and help you through the hard times. I’m paraphrasing her words here. It was a message I think we all needed to hear and be reminded of.

Heartache can hit anyone at any time. Even those who appear to have the most blessed lives may be dealing with heartache that isn’t visible or apparent. I knew my husband’s aunt later in her life. I didn’t know much of her heartache till after I had known her for a while. She was a beautiful person. Always interested in me and my family. Always wanted to know about what my kids were doing. She was a great testimony of how you act in love despite the hard times that you have endured.

I also saw this weekend how a loving family can support one another. My husband has a big family. Many of them came and stayed the whole day with the family. There was no bickering that I  know of. Just a lot of love and support and kindness. It was good to see so many people loving and supporting each other. Not every family has that at a funeral time.

Today is Christmas eve and well as my middle child said this morning, “It doesn’t feel like Christmas time.” For our family today it doesn’t. There are probably many of you out there who it doesn’t feel like Christmas time either. I think that’s ok. I think that allows at least me to focus a little closer on why I celebrate Christmas. Not for a feeling but because of Jesus. And maybe I’m not focusing on the Jesus who came as a baby but the Jesus who is my friend and a friend to someone I loved.

Hope in Grief

My heart’s a little heavy today. Someone I love very much passed away last night. My husband’s aunt was one of the sweetest, loving, kind people I’ve ever got to meet. She welcomed me into the family, made beautiful beaded socks and blankets for my three babies and loved me as if I was her own. I’ve had a struggle with grief the past week, since she went into the hospital, knowing this was coming, which is why I didn’t write last week.

Grief is strange. How I can be at peace with her passing and still feel so much sadness about it. It’s like my head and my heart aren’t communicating. It brings back memories of my grandparents dying, friends that have passed in the last couple of years. Times when I was able to say good bye, I am so thankful this time I was, and times when because of my inability to drive I could not.

I know grief takes its own time and shows up on its own. I think grief around the holidays is especially hard. I think its harder the year after, when you remember why someone isn’t unwrapping presents with you. Why your not visiting a certain house at Christmas because the person who brought you their is gone, the house is sold and you have to make a new tradition. I’m a cryer and I find myself tearing up multiple times a day for no reason, hoping my kids aren’t seeing it. Being alone is hard, the house is too quiet and your mind goes down rabbit holes.

I find myself grieving more than just who I’ve lost today. So I guess if you know me or someone going through what I am be gentle. God is gentle. He gave me the news at the right time and a snowy day to stay inside with it. He knows I love snow. He gave me a 2 hour delay and 40 minutes of watching my son take nose dives into the white soft snow in our yard. He gave me joy despite the sadness I feel. And I know her story, I know she’s in heaven so most importantly the God of the universe has given me hope today. He gave me people to care for and jobs to do because he knows I like to be busy. He’s a good God who understands that hearts can be heavy. His was heavy once too. If your grieving today have hope, God is still with you and he puts every tear in a bottle.