Monday, January 27, 2014


Hagar was a woman who was put into a difficult situation that she did not choose. In the midst of her difficulties God saw her though and protected her, guided her, and took care of her.

Hagar was the Egyptian maidservant of Sarai. When Sarai could not bare children of her own, she came up with the brilliant (sarcasm) plan to give Hagar to Abram as a wife so that she could bare him a son.
So she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Genesis 16:2
When Hagar knew that she was pregnant she began to despise Sarai (Gen. 16:4.) Of course this didn’t make Sarai very happy and she began to mistreat Hagar. Hagar did what most people would do in that sort of situation, she ran away from her problems.

An angel of the Lord found Hagar in the desert. She tried to run away, but God still saw her. He knew exactly where she was, what her hearts motive was, and what her situation was.
And he said to her, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. Genesis 16:8  
The angel instructed her to submit to Sarai and go back. Hagar was a servant, and when she became pregnant she got a little too big for her britches. As a servant, her place was to submit. This makes me think about times when we have to submit to someone that we may not want to. It may be a boss, a parent, a spouse, a church leader, whoever, sometimes we get a bit too big for our britches when really it is our place to serve in submission.

The angel told Hagar that her descendant would be increased in a way that they would be too many too count. This blessing came with the instruction that she was to submit though. Hagar was obedient and did as she was instructed to do and returned.

God saw Hagar. She recognized this and this is what she did:
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13
God saw her and He sees us too. He may not appear to us in the same way that He appeared to Hagar, but that doesn’t mean that He doesn’t see us.

Hagar had her son and gave him the name that the Lord had told her to give him, Ishmael. When Ishmael was older and after Sarah had given birth to Isaac, there was discord between Sarah and Hagar once again. Ishmael was mocking Isaac, which didn’t make momma Sarah very happy. She insisted that Hagar and Ishmael be sent away. Abraham didn’t want to do this to his son and Hagar, but God assured him that they would be taken care of.
Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba. Genesis 21:14

The provision ran out though and Hagar thought that would be the end of them. She began to weep for her son. Once again God saw her. He sent an angel to reassure her that they would survive. God opened her eyes and there she saw a spring of water. He provided for them in just the right time. Remember, He is the God Who Sees!

The Names of God - Book Review

Knowing God by Name, a Girlfriends in GodFaith Adventure is an eight week devotional with daily readings that include some stories or personal antidotes and a section of Scripture that includes that days focus on a certain name of God. Sharon Jaynes, Gwen Smith, and Mary Southerland, who together are Girlfriends in God, have teamed up to put together this devotional. Each one separately writes the different days of the devotional. They are known for their online devotional and each is a speaker and writer in their own right.

Knowing the names of God and what they mean is a great way to know more of the character of God and who He is. After all, knowing more of God’s character helps us to grow closer to Him. Focusing on one name a day is great idea for a devotional. There are forty names of God that are studied in this devotional. Each one is discussed in a simple way that isn’t too deep or overwhelmingly theological. The writing makes it very easy to read and make applicable to your own life.

Each daily reading, if you choose to read the book in a devotional fashion, is usually only 3-5 pages and a quick read. Each day includes a portion of Scripture and a reflective prayer. There is also a day for reflection that includes review questions and personal reflection. This book could be used as a personal devotional or as a group Bible study. Personally I think that I would have gotten more out of it if I were using it in group setting and discussing with others the material. It was good to read just on my own too though.

Having previously read a book by Sharon Jaynes, I knew that I enjoyed her writing, and this was one thing that drew me to this book. Also, reading an excerpt from the book made it seem like it would be interesting. I did enjoy reading this book. At times the personal stories and antidotes seemed to almost distract from what the focus of the book is, the names of God. Although, the names of God were talked about and explained, I felt that more focus could have been put on them and the portions of Scripture that they were taken from. This book is of course directed at women, thus the "Girlfriends" part. It would be a great read for a women's group, an individual woman, or someone who just wants to know more about who God is.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sarai - Sarah

Now here is a woman in the Bible that I feel as though I have a connection to, at least in name. When I begin to think about Sarah (the one from the Bible, not myself), immediately I think of the woman who gave birth to a child at a really old age because God had said it would happen and therefore she was part of a miracle. Immediately this makes me think of her as this idealistic person whom God chose to use in this amazing story. Sort of the very Sunday School idea of Sarah. Then I dig a little deeper into who she was and I begin to see her in a different light. Yes, God gave her and Abraham a son in their old age, which was a miracle that only He could make happen, she was a woman of God, but she had faults too. Sarah was a liar, she doubted God, she tried to make things happen her own way, she was jealous, she scorned her servant, or you could say she was a normal person with faults. And yet, in spite of all these things, God still chose to use her and bless her.

When we first see Sarai in the Bible (Gen. 12:4) it is when God tells Abram to leave his home land and move. Today it isn’t uncommon for people to move away from their homeland, but back then it didn’t happen very often. Moving away from the homeland would have been a big deal. They followed God’s leading though and did it. Soon after this we see the first promise that God gives Abram about his descendants. Remember, they didn’t have any children yet though.
            The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” Genesis 12:7a

Then, soon after this, we see them both caught in a lie. Abram, trying to protect himself and Sarai, told her to say that she was his sister. Abram was afraid that because of her beauty Pharaoh would want her for himself and have Abram killed in order for that to happen. Sarai must have been a very beautiful woman indeed for Abram to be worried about this. She went along with the plan though and they lied. Sure enough Pharaoh tried to take her as his wife. The Lord brought a disease on Pharaoh and his household for this, so he knew something was not as it seemed. Abram and Sarai were then sent on their way out of Egypt. Abram assumed that Sarai’s beauty could get him killed. We see though that even when Pharaoh found out that Sarai was really Abram’s wife and not sister, he didn’t kill them, he only ordered them to leave. So, instead of just trusting God that He would protect them, they took matters into their own hands and lied.

After this we see several times where God again tells Abram that he will have an heir (Gen. 13:15,16; 15:3-5; 15:18). It says that Abram believed the Lord. I’m sure as the years went on and Abram and Sarai grew older this promise was harder and harder to hold on to and believe. They both knew that they were well past the normal childbearing years. Here Sarai goes taking matters into her own hands and trying to make that promise happen in her own way and her own timing. Sarai decides that she will give her servant Hagar to Abram in order to produce an heir.
The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Genesis 16:2
I’m not sure when this would have ever sounded like a good idea to me. To me all this seems to do is ask for drama. In those days this wouldn’t have been uncommon though if a wife was barren. There was great importance put on having a child to be an heir to the family. To be barren was considered a shameful thing. God had promised an heir, a son specifically, to Abram and Sarai though, and this isn’t how He meant for it to happen.

Hagar, Sarai’s servant, becomes pregnant with Abram’s child. When Hagar knew she was pregnant she began to despise Sarai (Gen. 16:4b.) So, Sarai, of course not happy with this, goes to Abram about it. She tries to blame him for Hagar despising her.
Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my   servant into your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.” Genesis 16:5
Abram turned it back on Sarai though and told her to do with Hagar as she wished. Instead of Sarai accepting the consequences for what she had caused and dealing with Hagar in a Godly way, she chose instead to mistreat her. This caused Hagar to flee. Through God’s leading Hagar returned though and bore Abram a son, Ishmael.

Now, my favorite part of Sarai’s life story, the name change. God appears to Abram and establishes a covenant with him. Again God promises to make him the father of many nations and changes his name from Abram to Abraham (Gen. 17:5.) Then God changes Sarai’s name to Sarah and again told Abraham that he would bless her and give her a son.
God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her." Genesis 17:15,16

A couple months ago in my Sunday School class we were talking about covenants and this story came up. It was there that I learned the significance in the change of names for Abraham and Sarah. In those times when a person would make a covenant with someone else they would take part of that person’s name and put it in their name. This would show to everyone else who they were in covenant with. So, by God changing their names it showed that they were in covenant with Him. Abram to Abraham, that was an AH inserted into his name. The AH stood for Yahweh (the name that they often used for God.) Sarai to Sarah, the AI is dropped and AH is added. Now, everyone who knew Abraham and Sarah would know that they were in a covenant with Yahweh. Wow! I can’t think of a better way to have a name change.

Despite the mistakes and sins that Sarah had already committed, God still chose to bless her and use her for His greater purpose. Not only use her, but use her in a miraculous way. And not only was He going to bless and use her, He chose to change her name in such a way that would show others that she was in a covenant with Him. What an act of grace from a God who always has a plan and a purpose.

But then, after the name change Sarah returns to her lying ways. Ugh, she just doesn’t learn! Three mysterious men visit Abraham and they again repeat the promise that God had given Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son. This time it came with a time frame of one year from then. Now Abraham and Sarah were really old and well beyond the childbearing age at this time. Sarah overheard what these men told Abraham, because she was listening at the door to the tent. This is Sarah’s resonse:
So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Genesis 18:12
Since God is all knowing, Sarah’s moment of laughter wasn’t overlooked. The Lord asked Abraham why she laughed at what was said. Then He reminds them that He can do anything.
“Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.” Genesis 18:14

Here is something that we all need to remember, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” What a great question to ask yourself when faced with a trial, a hard decision, or the biggest mountain you have ever seen. The answer is always NO!

Sarah was afraid though, and responded out of this fear. She said she didn’t laugh. Of course God knew she did. I love His response to her lie. “Yes, you did laugh” (Gen. 18:15b.) He just calls her out on it. Now days we would call this a “white lie” or a “fib,” it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but a lie is a lie and it is a big deal when God gives us the commandment, “Thou shalt not lie.”

Later we see Sarah and Abraham once again dong the sister brother thing. You would think that they would have remembered what happened the last time they tried that, but no. Like many of us they too repeated the same mistake over. This time the victim was King Abimelech. God protected him and revealed to him the truth of the matter. In the end it all turned out ok and God was glorified. No matter what the situation, God can be glorified. Even when we don’t see how that would be possible. When reading this part of the story, glorifying God is not the first thing that comes to my mind, but in the end that is what happens.

Finally, we see the promise of God to Abraham and Sarah that they will have a son come to fruition. 
            Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised.               Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had                         promised him. Genesis 21:1,2
Their precious son, Isaac, was finally born to them. Why? Because God was gracious and fulfilled His promise to them, and in His timing. Sarah rejoiced in the birth of her son.
Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” Genesis 21:6,7

As Isaac grew, Sarah once again resented Hagar and her son. Sarah didn’t want Hagar’s son to receive the family inheritance that she thought should be Isaac’s. An inheritance was a huge deal in those days. It still is today, but back then the first born son would most likely be the one to receive everything or the best of the father’s possession. A family would pass on land and wealth from generation to generation. Sadly that isn’t as common in the world we live in today. Back then it was a honor to be able to pass down to your children the things that you had received from those before you or that you had worked for. They wanted to be able to leave an inheritance for their children. We need more of this today. Instead of just thinking of what we can get for ourselves, we need to look beyond that and think of what we can leave for the generations after us.
Anyhow, back to the story. Sarah decided that she doesn’t was Ishmael to get what she thought should be Isaac’s. So, she has them sent away. Now, technically Ishmael was Abraham’s first born son. He should receive an inheritance. God took care of Hagar and Ishmael though. Abraham was worried about sending Hagar and Ishmael away, but God told him that it would be ok. God saw the bigger picture that Abraham could not see.

The last we hear of Sarah is her death. She lived to be 127. Abraham mourned the death of Sarah and made sure that she received a proper burial. Sarah was a woman, though she had flaws, who served a gracious God. She was far from perfect, but God used her to show future generations that He is capable of anything.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Noah's Wife & 3 Daughter-in-Laws

These four women don’t have names that we know. Nowhere in the Bible are their names mentioned, but there are some things that we can assume from what we know about Noah and the story of the flood. First, Noah was a righteous man and God chose to save him when all the rest of humanity was destroyed in the flood. Second, Noah was obedient to God. Now let’s apply these things to the Noah’s wife and daughter-in-laws.

If Noah was a righteous man and chosen by God to be the builder of the ark, then his wife was also likely a righteous woman. When God saved Lot and his family, he didn’t save Lot’s wife because she was disobedient to the instructions He had given them. So, if Noah’s wife wasn’t a righteous woman why would God save her? After all, He was in the process of destroying all the earth because of the wickedness of the people.

Noah’s wife and daughter-in-laws must have been obedient. They got on the ark after all. This must not have been as easy thing to do. They were being asked to get into a huge boat with a bunch of animals and only their immediate family because God was going to bring a flood (which they had never experienced before) and destroy everything else. Talk about having to leave your normal life and everything you know and are use to behind. Not to mention the fact that everyone else, and I mean everyone else, was probably ridiculing them and thinking that they were crazy for what they were doing. Noah trusted God though and obeyed His every instruction. There isn’t any implication in Scripture that the women tried to argue any of this. They may have, but we know that they got on the ark and ultimately were obedient. Because of their obedience they were saved from destruction.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

One Year with the Women of the Bible

Each year I try to pick a focus for my Bible reading. Last year I focused on the book of Proverbs. I read a chapter a day for 12 months. I love the book of Proverbs, so this was pretty easy to do. It is a new year though, so I need a new focus. After thinking about it for a bit I decided to study the women of the Bible. To help me stay focused and on track with this I decided to write about each person I study. With some urging from my hubby, follow his blog here, I am going to post my journey through the women of the Bible. I begin with Eve.


Eve, she is also known as; the first woman ever, the mother of all humanity, and the one who brought sin into everyday life.

Eve was the second person to be created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26.) What does that mean to be made in the image of God? Obviously it isn’t a physical thing since we can’t see God and don’t even know if He has a body like we do. No, it is spiritual, characteristic, and the deepest part of who we are meant to be. We, being made in the image of God, are able to have a personal relationship with God because we too are relational as He is. Nothing else on earth, plants, animals, atoms, or cells, can be in relation to God as we can. This is what we were created for!

Eve was created for a purpose, on purpose. We first see that she and Adam were given the job of ruling over the fish, the birds, and the animals. They were also given all the vegetation and animals as food (Gen. 1:28-30.) They were essentially the caretakers of the Garden of Eden, this wonderful paradise that God had created. He entrusted both Adam and Eve with this purpose.

Secondly, she was made to be a help mate for Adam (Gen. 2:18, 20.) She was meant to be the one to work alongside Adam in caring for the Garden of Eden. She and Adam were one (Gen. 2:24b.) Ever wonder why God didn’t just create Eve from the dust of the earth and His breath as He did Adam? If Eve was created in that way, then she would not physically by a part of Adam, and God meant for them to have the unity of being one from the very beginning.
The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” Genesis 2:23
This oneness was the first covenant between man and woman. This is still where we have our basis for the covenant that we take in our marriage vows today. From the very first two people, we see that God established a clear picture of what marriage is suppose to be, even for us today.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
This verse itself is so future minded for where it is placed in the story of Adam and Eve. Think about it, aside from the heavenly Father, neither Adam nor Eve had parents. For them there wasn’t any leaving their parents to join together to form a new family unit. Clearly this verse was meant as an establishment for a basis for marriage for future generations. 

And then Eve makes the biggest mistake of her life, she listens to a serpent. Eve was the first person ever to disobey God and thus bring the sinful nature to mankind. Wow, the guilt that she must have felt. There was one thing, just one thing, that she and Adam were not to do, and she did it. She fell into the trap of temptation that was set before her and led her husband down with her. Paul later refers to this deception in 1 Corinthians, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (1 Cor 11:3.) Pretty sure that wasn't what Eve wanted to be remembered for. Now, Adam was guilty of being tempted and giving in to that temptation. He is responsible for his own actions though, and could have said “no” to eating the fruit. So, Eve wasn’t the only one who had to bear the guilt and shame of what was done. Of course there is the serpent too, and the part that he played. He too is responsible for what he did. God didn’t buy it when any of them tried to play the blame game either. Nope, He knows all and thus that game just doesn’t work with Him. They all had to suffer the consequences for the sins that they committed. Which are as follows:
1.      They brought guilt and shame into the world.
2.      The serpent would be a lowly creature and there will always be enmity between it and mankind. (This totally means that my fear of snakes is biblical.)
3.      Childbirth would be painful.
4.      They would now have to work for food from the ground while weeds would grow with no problem.
5.      Eventual they would die.
6.      They were banished from the Garden of Eden.
I doubt that Eve took into consideration the consequence of what she was doing when she bit into that fruit. In fact, the serpent made it seem like it would actually be a good thing. Gee, seems that the way the temptation of sin works hasn’t changed a bit since the beginning of time. You would think that we would learn, but we keep falling into the same trap over and over. Just like Eve we then bring guilt and shame for what has been done upon ourselves. We even still try to blame others for it. And we still have to deal with the consequences that come with sin. Thankfully there is a God who forgives and has the ability to remove the guilt and shame from our lives.

Eve was the first mother as well. “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” (Gen. 4:1b.) Of course it was only with the help of the Lord, aside from Adam, poor Eve didn’t have anyone else to help her during childbirth. Soon after we learn of the birth of Cain and Able we read about how Cain murdered Able. The Bible doesn’t say anything about what Eve went through with the loss of her son. We can know though that Eve knows what it is like to lose a son. She must have mourned the death of one son and the fact that the other son was the killer. God gave her redemption of this loss in another son, Seth.
God has granted me another child in the place of Abel, since Cain killed him. Genesis 4:25b 

From here we begin to see the wonderful redemptive quality of God. And over and over and over we will see this redemption repeated in the Bible.       

The Bathroom Makeover

Way back in June I started to redoing what I had planned to be the first room in the house to get a redo, the Dining Room. Let's just say that room turned out to be more work than I had anticipated because of the 6 layers of wallpaper. Yes, 6! Needless to say, that room still isn't finished and is in a sad state of half the wallpaper removed and half still waiting to be done, or as my mom called it "the crack house look." 

Anyhow, because that has been such a pain, I moved on to an easier room, the Bathroom. In June we hosted a church get together at our house, which was the start of the redo. You see, I had taken down the very old curtains and shower curtain that the house came with. Sorry, no pictures of that loveliness. Then I realized that we may need curtains on the bathroom window which looks out on to the side porch/mudroom area. I didn't think people would want to use the bathroom without curtains on the window while people were filling their plates with food from the buffet set up out on the porch area. So, I hurried and made new curtains and a shower curtain in a day.
I had something else in mind, but what I could find that was close was a solid turquoise. Then I found a printed material to accent it. I wanted something with peacocks, but of course couldn't find what I was looking for, so I settled for something that reminded me of peacocks. 

And then it took me until November to actually repaint the room. First I had to remove the dated wallpaper border. This alone took decades of age off that room. 
After the border removal
Two of the walls were white and two walls were a light tan color. I decided that I was going to do a really nice paint job. So, I patched all the little nail holes, removed the support bars by the toilet and shower, sanded the patched areas, wiped everything down, and taped everything off. I don't think I have ever done all that when I have painted before.
 Then two coats of Lyrical Lemon Grass later, and I had a nice cherry, sunny, wake you up in the morning, yellow room. All that is still left to do now is change out the knobs on the vanity. Now that the room is redone, I don't mind the brass fixtures. They actually look nice with the yellow walls. And here is the redone room.
Also, did a painting to go with the room. Made this painting from a print and frame that I paid $1 for at a second hand store. Painted over the original print and repainted the frame. Cheap art for the bathroom, can't beat that!