Mothers in the Bible – Sarah

 “Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”  Genesis 18:14 

Sarah was a beautiful woman.  In fact, she was so beautiful, and aged so gracefully, that she was briefly taken in to a king’s harem in her late 80s!  (The king was under the impression that she was unmarried, but released her to her husband as soon as he realized his mistake.)  However, she was lacking something – something she had longed for, dreamed of, hoped for, and even been promised.  That something was a child, born of her womb.  Sarah was barren.

We saw with Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar, that Sarah had even tried to do as some in her culture did by using her maidservant to bear her husband’s child and then claim that child for her own.  That had backfired, however, and ended up with the maid thinking herself superior to her mistress and becoming difficult to live with.  It doesn’t appear that Sarah felt much like the child was hers, either!

Fast forward 13 years.  Sarah was now 89 years old and her husband, Abraham was 99.  In spite of the impossibly advanced ages, the Lord told Abraham that Ishamael, his 13-year-old son by Hagar, was NOT the one who was to be the heir.  Instead, the Lord was going to give a son to Abraham and Sarah through Sarah’s own womb.  Ha!  Abraham and Sarah both laughed at the idea!  Imagine a 90-year-old woman and her 100-year-old husband becoming new parents!

“By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. ”  Hebrews 11:11

“With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”  Mark 10:27   As God had promised, Sarah did give birth to a son at the age of 90.  Abraham named him Isaac, which means laughter, and Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.”

Can you imagine the incredible joy Sarah felt as she nuzzled her baby – HER baby – close to her?  I have felt the awe as I watched one of my own precious little ones.  Imagine how much greater that awe would have been for Sarah, who had literally waited a lifetime for this gift.  Indeed, she had long ago given up her dream of nurturing her own child.  The dream was not only restored, but wonderfully fulfilled!

There was a fly in the ointment, however:  there was this other son of Abraham who was now in his teens.  His mother had apparently passed on her feeling of superiority, and Sarah saw Ishmael mocking her precious little one at the party Abraham gave to celebrate Isaac’s weaning.  That was the last straw!  Sarah was no longer willing to put up with her nemesis, and asked her husband to send away “this bondwoman and her son”.  It grieved Abraham to do so, since Ishmael was also his son, but the Lord told him to go ahead and listen to Sarah.  The Lord told him that he would make Ishmael the father of a nation as well, but it would be Isaac with whom He would establish His covenant.

That is the last that we read of Sarah until we read of her death at the age of 127.  Isaac would have been 37 by that time.  Reading between the lines, we can see that Sarah was deeply loved by both her husband and her son.  We see that Abraham mourned and wept for his wife and then purchased a plot of ground for her burial.  3 years later, we see Isaac receiving Rebekah as a bride and read that it was then that he was comforted after the death of his mother.

 

Mothers in the Bible – Hagar

“Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?'”  Genesis 16:13

It seemed to me to be a little odd to consider Hagar as the second mother in this series, but she is the second mother chronicled in the Bible.

Hagar was the personal maid of Abraham’s wife, Sarah.  When Abraham was promised a son by God in his old age and it didn’t look possible for the 75-year-old Sarah to bear that son, Sarah suggested to Abraham that he try to conceive a son with Hagar.  In those days, a maid was the personal property of her mistress, and any child born to her would have been considered as belonging to the mistress.  Therefore, Sarah could give her maid to her husband and claim the child as her own.

Hagar did conceive, and the fact that she was able to get pregnant while her mistress was barren made her despise her mistress.  Apparently, she made this feeling very well known, as it wasn’t long before Sarah was complaining about it to Abraham, and Abraham told her to do what she pleased with the maid.  Sarah was harsh with Hagar, to the point where Hagar ran away.

There must have been some desperation on Hagar’s part to run away!  It wasn’t like they were living in a populated area, but out in the wilderness.  A young woman alone would have been easy prey for anyone who happened to find her – man or beast.  She likely had no skill or weapons for hunting, and there were no nearby towns where she could go for help.

Imagine the shock this young woman got when the Angel of the Lord appeared to her out in the wilderness by a spring of water and asked her where she was going!  I don’t know if Hagar knew at first that this wasn’t a mere man, but we do know that she figured it out pretty quickly.  In fact, Hagar recognizes that this wasn’t even just an angel, but the Lord Himself, when she refers to Him as “the God who sees”.

The Lord told Hagar to return to her mistress and submit herself to her.  Furthermore, He told her that she would give birth to a son and was to name him Ishmael.  As far as we can tell, Hagar obeyed, because we read that Hagar bore Abraham a son, but we don’t read any more of her for more than 15 years.

Sarah did bear a son to Abraham, as promised by the Lord, and named him Isaac.  There was a celebration held on the day that he was weaned, and on that day, Sarah saw Ishmael mocking her son.  That was the last straw for her, and Hagar soon found herself in the wilderness again – this time with a teenaged Ishmael after they were sent away by Abraham at Sarah’s request.

Whereas the first time, Hagar had found a spring of water, this time they wandered around until their water supply was used up and Ishmael became faint with thirst.  Hagar put Ishmael under the shade of a bush and went a distance away, because she could not stand to watch him die.  Once again, she was found by an angel of God.

The angel told Hagar that God was going to make Ishmael a great nation, and then opened her eyes to a well of water.  Hagar gave her son a drink, and he revived.  The only other thing we read about Hagar is that she found a wife for Ishmael.

How is my attitude?  Do I, like Hagar, ever think I am better than someone else because … I homeschool … I try to serve healthy meals … I have been married over 20 years … I have older children … I have a dog … I make my own hummus … I have younger children … I use a different curriculum … I drive a Ford … I have Boy Scouts … I like kale …?  I don’t have to say anything for a better-than-you attitude to come through.  Worse yet, I can pass that attitude on to my children, so that they display it toward others, as well.

On the other hand, am I obedient to submit even when circumstances are hard?  There are certainly times when I feel like running away from it all, just as Hagar did when Sarah treated her harshly.  Some days, I just don’t want to be the mother.  The job is too hard, the children aren’t getting along, the laundry is unending, no one likes the dinner I have worked hard to serve, I’m tired – you get the picture.  Hagar did go back to Sarah and submit herself to her for more than 15 years.  Am I willing to continue to submit to the occupation the Lord has given to me?

Finally, no matter how bad things get, I can trust the Lord to provide.  When Sarah finally had Abraham send Hagar away because of Ishmael’s behavior, the Lord met her and assured her of his plan for her son.  It certainly wasn’t because Hagar was such a wonderful person, but the the Lord is a God of grace and mercy.  He had promised Abraham that Ishmael would become the father of a great nation, and He made provision to bring that to pass.  I have been promised an inheritance in the Lord Jesus Christ – not because of anything I have done, but because of Christ’s work on the cross, and I can trust that the God of grace and mercy will provide for me, as well.

 

Book Review – Just in Case You Ever Wonder

I just sat down to read Max Lucado’s Just in Case You Ever Wonder to my 3 youngest children, aged 7, 5, and 2.  When I finished, my 7 year-old commented, “That is a very special book.”

Indeed, it is!  I think the impact of the words would have been greater if it had not been for the fact that it was the first time I had ever read a Kindle book on my phone to my children and they kept wanting to turn the pages, but I think I’ll be reading the book over and over to them.

The simple language, the pictures with lots of detail to see, and the frequent assurance of the parent’s lasting love will make this a favorite with young children.  My 2 year-old didn’t like the picture that went along with telling the child to come to the parent when she sees monsters in the shadows, but we can flip quickly past that page.

My only complaint is that, when telling the child about Heaven, the book did not mention the fact that the way to Heaven is only through Jesus.  Instead, reading the book could give the child the idea that he or she will automatically go to Heaven.  Perhaps Max Lucado did not think that the book could properly address that, but I would have liked to see some mention of it.

Overall, though, I would agree with my daughter – Just in Case You Ever Wonder is a special book!

Disclosure:  I was provided with a free Kindle version of this book in exchange for my unbiased review, and the links above are affiliate links.  If the links do not work in a feed reader, please visit the actual page.

$3 off a 6 pack of Zevia!

I just came across this link for $3 off a 6-pack of Zevia and printed the allowed 2 coupons, and then thought I’d share it with you!  This is NOT an affiliate link, and I don’t receive any compensation for sharing it, but the coupon is too good to keep it to myself!

Our family is planning to travel across the country to see extended family in a few weeks, and I’m planning to take these coupons with me to use for when we have 24 people getting together for Thanksgiving.  🙂

Have I mentioned that I LOVE Zevia?  😉  I think my favorite is the Grapefruit, followed closely by Orange, Twist, Mountain Zevia, Ginger Ale, Ginger Root Beer, Cola, Dr. Zevia, Grape, and Vanilla Creme!  What is your favorite?

Oh, you can still get a case of Twist from Amazon for only $18.56, too.  The price listed is $21.83, but you get an additional 15% off if you sign up for Subscribe & Save. I have no idea how long that deal will last, so get it while you can!

I can’t get the above links to work in my feed, but they seem to be working in the post itself.  If anyone knows how to fix this, I’d be delighted if you would let me know! 

George Washington Carver

 

Several years ago, my young teenaged daughter had a couple of neighborhood friends over.  We were baking cookies together, and for some reason my daughter  mentioned something about George Washington Carver.  To our utter astonishment, one of the girls, who happened to be black, asked, “Who is he?”

George Washington Carver was an important person in our history, and especially important in black history.  Born a slave and orphaned very young, he and his brother were raised as sons by their owners.  George had an insatiable appetite for learning, and was especially interested in anything to do with plants.  When he had learned everything his mother could teach him, he left home to travel to another town where there was a school for black students.  He quickly exhausted the supply of knowledge at that school and went on to enroll in several more schools, doing laundry and housekeeping to earn his way, before he being accepted at Highland College in Kansas City.  Devastatingly, he arrived at the college only to be told that, no matter what his grades had been, he could not be admitted because he was black.

Thankfully, there were colleges that were willing to accept George, even if they did not afford him the same rights as the white students were given.  He won his way into the hearts of those around him, however, and earned their respect with his accomplishments.

George intended to go on to earn his doctorate, but he was offered a position as part of the faculty at Tuskegee Institute, a school founded by Booker T. Washington (another black hero worth studying) to give even the poorest blacks a chance at a quality education.  Having faced an overcome discrimination many times himself, George jumped at the chance to help other blacks succeed.  He ended up remaining at Tuskegee Institute for the rest of his life, dedicating himself to his students and his laboratory.

George Washington Carver is perhaps most known for the fact that he discovered  hundreds of uses for the lowly peanut!  He also discovered numerous uses for the sweet potato and other commonly crops commonly grown in the south.  However, his contribution toward ending discrimination against blacks is not to be ignored.  He did not participate in protests or show any manner of violence.  Rather, he won people over with his quiet ways and amazed them with the knowledge and understanding he displayed through his many inventions.  Those who did not believe that black people were capable of reaching the same intellect as white people could not argue with the genius of this little man.

John Perry (author of Letters to God) has written a very good biography of George Washington Carver.  One of the Christian Encounter series, this book is one that could easily be read by a middle schooler, but is still enjoyable for an adult.  Perry does not leave out the importance of George’s faith in the Creator, as that was the basis for George’s entire life and work and a frequent part of his teaching.   As a homeschooler, I am frequently looking for good books for my children to read, and this one certainly fits the bill.  Perry has also written several other biographies, and I am looking forward to reading them, as well!

Disclosure:  I was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers with a free Kindle copy of the book in exchange for my unbiased review.  This post also contains affiliate links. 

Mothers in the Bible – Eve

“To the woman He said:
‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;'” Genesis 3:16

“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.”  Genesis 3:20

I have decided to do a study of mothers in the Bible.  The obvious starting point is Eve, the very first mother. 🙂

We really don’t know a lot about Eve, other than that she was deceived by the serpent into taking the forbidden fruit and that she was the first mother.  We are told that she gave birth to and named Cain (meaning “acquired”), saying “I have acquired a man from the Lord.”  Then we are told that she gave birth to Abel, and finally that she gave birth to and named Seth (meaning “appointed” or “substituted”), saying, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.”  Of course, we also know that she gave birth to many other children, but we are not told anything about those children.

Although the other details of Eve’s life are not specified, I think we can safely assume some of them.  Can you imagine giving birth that first time?  Remember that first time you held your little one in your arms?  Remember that awe you felt looking at those tiny fingers, those tiny toes?  Remember being at a loss as how to care for such a tiny, fragile little package?  Remember the relief at there being someone there – a nurse, midwife, or mother – who had experience and could show you what to do?!

Those of us who have given birth to children are very familiar with the pain promised to Eve as a consequence of her sin.  Yet I wonder if the pain of childbirth itself is the only pain referred to here.  Has there ever been any mother who has lived to see her children grow to adulthood who has not also known pain in watching them make wrong choices?

With some children, the pain can start early.   I have one child who started throwing full-blown temper tantrums at only two months of age.  I didn’t have any idea that such a thing was even possible at that age!  Then there are the two-year-olds who say things like, “I hate you, Mommy,” when Mommy has just spent the whole day doing something special with the child but has had to say no to something the child asks for.  As siblings come along, there are the fights between the children which grow in intensity as they get older.  A child nearing puberty has increasing periods of sullenness and is more and more prone to backtalk.  Children in their teens are quite certain they know better than their parents, and are quite willing to tell them just how wrongly they are handling things.  And, in far too many cases, choices made in the teen and early adulthood years (or later) result in long-lasting consequences that can break their mother’s heart.

For Eve, I think it is safe to imagine that she was troubled as her oldest two children exhibited rivalry as they grew to adulthood.  She likely watched in sorrow as her firstborn rejected the Word of the Lord and insisted on doing things his own way.  And imagine the depth of her grief when her firstborn grew so resentful that he actually killed his brother.  How many times did she weep bitterly, wondering how different things would have been if she had obeyed the Lord back in the garden?

In 3 John 1:4, John states, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  Could it also be said that a mother has no greater sorrow than to hear that her children do NOT walk in truth?

When I was growing up, my mom used to tell me the story of my birth 7 1/2 weeks early, and how there was a point when they were not sure that I would live.  She prayed at that time that if I would not grow up to know and love the Lord Jesus, that He would take me then as an infant so that she would know that I was in Heaven.  I have prayed the same for each of my children.  So far, I believe that 7 of my 8 children have placed their trust in Jesus.  (Number 8 is only two years old.)   I have 3 in Heaven who were taken before they were born, and it is a joy to know that they are safe in the Everlasting Arms.

However, I have come to realize that it is not enough just to know that my children are saved.  My greatest desire for them is that they not only find forgiveness of sin, but that their lives honor and glorify the Lord.

While Eve faced the consequences of pain in bearing children, she was also given the promise that one of her descendants would be the Deliverer from sin.  She was comforted after Abel’s death by the birth of Seth.  While she no doubt grieved at the waywardness of many of her grandchildren and great grandchildren, she did have the joy of seeing some of Seth’s descendants walk with the Lord.   I have no idea how much more time we have here on earth, but I pray that all of my descendants will walk with the Lord!

Sale on Zevia Twist at Amazon

Have you tried Zevia yet? I LOVE this stevia sweetened soda, in all of its flavors! I just noticed that the “Twist” flavor (like Sprite) is on sale at Amazon. It is normally $27, but is now on sale for $21.83 for a case of 24. If you buy it on Subscribe & Save, it comes down to $18.56 for the case. That makes these just over 77 cents per can – an unheard of price for Zevia!

I will admit that I have had these on Subscribe & Save for awhile now. However, I’m getting an extra shipment now, because I have no idea how long this price will last!

Disclosure:  The link at the top of this post is an affiliate link.

Obstacles Welcome


Leadership Books)

 Obstacles Welcome: How to Turn Adversity into Advantage in Business and in Life is a book that challenged me to not get so easily derailed.  Ralph de la Vega was separated without warning from his family in Cuba at the age of 10 to start a new life in the United States.  Immigrating by himself at that tender age was only the beginning of the challenges through which he persevered to better himself time and time again.

Now the CEO of AT&T Mobility, the second-largest mobile phone company in the United States, Mr. de la Vega uses what he has learned to help others – whether it be through providing excellent customer service in a crisis or challenging young people to see the opportunities in the middle of what seem to be hopeless situations.

While this book is largely about leadership and succeeding in business, it is a good book for anyone to read.  The book initially piqued my interest because my husband is in the mobile phone industry and has worked for AT&T in the past, and I am very glad that I chose it.  I was able to interest my teenaged Boy Scout sons in reading the book by letting them know that Mr. de la Vega is a board member for Boy Scouts of America.  I believe that anyone – teenagers, stay-at-home moms, college students, entrepreneurs, etc. – would benefit from reading Obstacles Welcome.

I was given a free copy of this book by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my unbiased review.

Chosen in Him, accepted in the Beloved.

 

“According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love:

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.”  Eph 1:4-6 (KJV)

I think these are my favorite verses in the entire Bible.  At the beginning of the year, I decided to “park” in Ephesians for the whole year, and it hasn’t gotten old yet!  Every time I read through it (sometimes the whole thing in a day, sometimes just part of it for the day), there is something fresh that jumps out at me.  But the above verses are my absolute favorites.

I have always been fascinated by adoption.  I love the idea that a child who is deprived of the most basic of human needs – the love of a family – can be so fully integrated into another family that it is as if they had been born into that family, with all the rights, with all of the parental love given to natural born children.

This is what the Lord has done for me.  Even before the creation of the world, He looked into the future, saw me, and CHOSE me.  I am and could never be anything on my own.  Yet He so fully integrated me into His own family that I share the inheritance rightly belonging to His own Son!

I am far from what I want to be as a wife, as a mother, as a friend … as a Christian.  Worse yet, I am far from what my husband needs in a wife, what my children need in a mother, what my friends need in a friend, and what I should be as a Christian.  In spite of that, though, I am fully accepted by my Father because of Jesus Christ.

Now THAT is amazing GRACE!  🙂

 

He Is My Strength!

“In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.”  Psalm 138:3 (KJV)

“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;  that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;  strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy.”  Colossians 1:9-11 (NKJV)

My mom left me a comment on my last entry that referenced the verse above from the Psalms.  She told me that she is praying for “strength of soul” for me.  Later today, a friend of mine who is going through a difficult time of a much greater magnitude than I forwarded the verse from Colossians that somebody had quoted to her.  As I read the verse, I realized again how much the prayers of other people really do mean to us!  When other people are lifting us up to the Lord in prayer, He is faithful to answer those prayers.

My mom said that she was not just praying for physical strength for me, but for strength of soul.  I believe that was the intent meant for my friend, as well, as her difficulty is not a physical one.  I was reading over the two verses together and realized that the Lord allows us to go through times when our physical strength may be lacking so that we can develop stronger souls!   And even more than that, He Himself becomes our strength when we stop trying to do it all on our own.  When I am honest with myself, I realize that there is no way that I can do it on my own – I crumble when I try.  But when I allow Him to come alongside and be my strength, the difficulties seem to shrink.  The problems may not go away, but my perspective changes and the problems don’t seem so overwhelming.

Why, oh why do I keep having to relearn this lesson?  Why do I keep insisting that I need to go on in my own strength?!?

Oh, and for those who are wondering, the test results for Lyme Disease were negative.  I’m praising the Lord!