Mary: Her Name Means Bitter. But When God Comes, All The Bitter Is Transformed To Beauty

free to fly; kathy schwanke, “Of all the extraordinary women inScripture, one stands out above all others as the most blessed, most highly favored by Gd and most universally admired by women.” ~John MacArthur

And the virgin’s name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” ~Luke 1:27-28

To be the one chosen. To be the one to give birth to the long-awaited, highly anticipated Savior of the World. Is this the desire of every female heart, to participate in this glorious birthing of spiritual, eternal life?

John MacArthur shows us that the anticipation of “WHO would be the mother of the coming Messiah” was something that permeated the hearts of faithful women in the Old Testament.

I’d never thought of that specific ‘anticipation’ as being a part of the longing for sons in the hearts of women.

Of course someone in history would become the mother of the babe promised back in the beginning. The promise woven into the curse.

Even in pronouncing a curse, in His cursing of the serpent, before addressing Eve and then Adam, we find God displaying His lavish mercy to humanity with the promise of a man who would crush the serpent’s head. One would be born of a woman to destroy the dominance of the evil one.  Bruise. His. Head. Amen. (Genesis 3:15; Colossians 2:15)

The God of Mercy and Hope, Who always goes before us. The God of restoration makes a way for deliverance before ever a curse is pronounced.

And those who cling to the hope of His mercy, keep their faces set toward Him. So it makes sense that the longing to be a mother would include the question, “Might it be through me that Messiah comes?”

And I think ever since Mary birthed the Messiah, the hunger within the soul of the woman of faith is to bear spiritual children. Yes, we too, who have turned from our own way upon seeing the glory of our redemption through seeing Jesus, we have answered the call, “Come follow me.” We who have surrendered our lives to His Lordship, we too desire deep within to have eternal significance, to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. 1 Timothy 2:15

And similar to Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus, we are chosen by God, blessed and favored women, because we carry the Messiah in our hearts (John 15:5), and His word spills out through our lives, through our lips. Luke 6:45 NLT

The message of the gospel that has power to redeem and deliver from the curse. Romans 1:16 We carry that message (carry HIM) in our souls like a mother carries a baby in her womb. We attend to Him, we live our lives around Him. We make decisions based on how best to nurture Him and His life-giving message.

{What about Mary?}

She was from a lowly town. Nazareth was a forlorn community in a poor district of Galilee. Before Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel, she was likely unnoticed. Common. And she may have experienced a life of bitter hardship.

It is said that women were betrothed during that time in history as young as 13 years old. It is guessed that Mary was between 14 and 16 years old when she met the angel that day. She was already betrothed to Joseph.

And her ‘in the moment decision’ to believe and receive the blessing from God to carry Jesus put her entire life in the hands of God. Her reputation, her future with Joseph, her livelihood. All of herself and her future, entrusted to the Loving Hand of God in a moment of “Yes” . . . “Let it be unto me as you have said.” Luke 1:38

“Her betrothal to Joseph was a legal engagement known as kiddushin, which in that culture typically lasted a full year. Kiddushin was a legally as binding as marriage itself. . . . One of the main points of kiddushin was to demonstrate the fidelity of both partners.” ~John MacArthur

We see God’s hand in all things concerning Mary, as he sends an angel to Joseph also, to assure him that God is in this, that Mary has not been unfaithful, and that he is to be the father of Jesus. So Joseph, who had it in mind to divorce her quietly, instead remained and they went on to marry and have other children after Jesus was born. Matthew 12:46

God connects Mary to her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with the last Old Testament prophet, John the Baptist who is already filled with the Spirit of God and leaps in Elizabeth’s womb at the presence of Mary and Jesus, and this wonderful prophetic poem is spoken over Mary by Elizabeth that no doubt firmed up Mary’s soul on the days that she might think, “Is this all really real??” 

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” ~Luke 1:41-45

And then the faith in Mary’s heart spills from her lips in her famous song of praise to God:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.” ~Luke 1:47-55

Many things stand out in my study of Mary, but I’m left with these highlights: The beauty of her humility, her trust in God, her “yes” to God, and then how clearly and carefully God provides everything she needed to carry out the mission He gave her.

I also believe that our life on earth as the betrothed Bride of Christ is as kiddushin. Because I know my faithfulness is being tested on a regular basis. And His faithfulness is being proven. And we look forward to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. Revelation 19:9

For those of us who desire to have fruitful lives with eternal rewards, this is blessed encouragement indeed.

Linking up at The Loft today  THe_Loft_Link_Up-small

Hannah~A Portrait of Feminine Grace

As I read this week’s chapter, and read of Hannah’s stellar character, I remembered how many times in the past I’ve contrasted my imperfections and failings with the perceived perfection of women in the Bible . . .  and felt an unshakable cloud of condemnation hover over me. It felt like this: {me<Hannah} Less. Than.

Since my Sunday School class consists of several women who have been divorced and remarried, some with children not walking with the Lord, and we have shared the heartache together, I wanted to start off the class with the truth from Romans 8:1

So the devil couldn’t heap condemnation on them.

No matter where you’ve been, or what you’ve done or failed to do, if you trust Jesus to forgive and cleanse you, you have a clean slate. Daily. :)

Read: Lamentations 3:22-23 Every. Single. Morning. Yesterday is OVER, today is a brand new day!

The consequences of our sin are not washed away necessarily, (Though, in His lavish love He may do that!) But God will bring good from anything you are suffering as a result of your sins and failures or those done to you. Not only that, but He will REDEEM them!

photo (75) Jesus is our Blessed Redeemer!!!

So, if the devil accuses you, or seeks to compare you to others and hurl accusing arrows at your heart, stand firm in the grace of Christ. Do not be moved from you position as a chosen, forgiven, blood-bought child of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

You. Are. His. Beloved. ~Rest in it!~

Don’t forget that all your sins are cast into the bottom of the sea, blotted from the record, removed far from you because of the blood of Jesus.

Okay, now that that is settled, lets talk about Hannah.

A woman whose husband, Elkanah has another wife. Named Peninnah. My friend calls her Penny, and since that is much easier, I will too.

If you’ve been reading here, you know that having babies, especially sons was “all that” for women in Old Testament times. A woman’s worth seemed to rest on her ability to produce a son. Especially since it was men who provided for women then. I’m guessing there were very {very, very, very} few high-profile careers then for women.

Women were as dependent on men for provision as children are dependent on parents today. So having a son not only gave women a sense of value, but also ensured security for her future.

Penny had “sons and daughters with Elkanah (1 Samuel 1:4) But Hannah’s “womb was closed” (1 Samuel 1:5)

So, just imagine it. Your husband having another woman. And the other woman seemed to be blessed by God. And it seems you. are. not.

If you read 1 Samuel 1:6 you will see Penny’s Puffed-up Pride Provoking Humble Hannah. Making fun of her barrenness, and making a sorrowful Hannah even more miserable.

Have you been there? Not only seemingly lacking something (baby, looks, talent, plans, job, friends, etc) but being made fun of because you are shorted in the very thing you long for? {THEN this story is for you!!!}

Hannah is a portrait of grace for many reasons. One being that she didn’t retaliate or “fight Penny” on her terms. Instead she seeks God for the desires of her heart. She waits upon the Lord. That is extraordinary, isn’t it?

“Not only was she the quintessential godly mother and wife, but in a spiritually cold generation she exemplified patience, prayerfulness, faith, meekness, submission, spiritual devotion and motherly love.” ~John MacArthur

Scripture does not give us any more of what I like to call “the backstory” of Hannah wrestling through her feelings and struggling to maintain faith, and I would guess that there, indeed, were days of struggle . . . There were likely days she wanted to hurl a potato at her rival {I’m only guessing, mind you, but she was after all, human!~and we all know how humans and perfection go together!}

Elkanah favored Hannah. He gave her twice as much as he gave Penny, and didn’t understand how Hannah could continue to be downcast from being without child. But I think that the destiny God had planned for Hannah to conceive one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament kept her in the place of longing, for eventually she cries out to the Lord in the temple, promising God that if He grants her this desire, then she will give the child to the Lord.

And Eli witnesses her praying silently with her lips moving. And after accusing her of being drunk (because that was likely going on in the place of worship on a regular basis at the time under the corrupt leadership), is set straight by Hannah humbly sharing the reason she was there pleading with the Lord for a child, and the priest of God blesses her.

Shortly after, then, she becomes pregnant with Samuel. And after a few years of nurturing him, true to her word, Hannah takes Samuel to Jerusalem and offers him to God. And leaves him. With Eli.

The priest who had failed to restrain his sons (1 Samuel 3:13) and whose sons had desecrated the temple they were supposed to serve with their abominable behavior.

It was so bad, that God took their lives and the life of Eli. (1 Samuel 2:29-30; 1 Samuel 3:13; 1 Samuel 4:11)

Yes, Hannah left her only son with Eli. By faith.

We have the vantage point of seeing how God kept Samuel loyal to Himself and how God used him. No doubt, partly due to his mother’s ongoing influence. Hannah surely saw him regularly as they continued their practice of going to worship at the temple. (1 Samuel 2:19)

Hannah is a reminder that mothers are the makers of men and architects of the next generation. ~John MacArthur

The highlights we are privileged to glean from Hannah’s life are:

  • Her patient endurance of the waiting for the fulfillment of the deep longing of her heart and endurance of the bullying of ‘the other women’.
  • She looked to God for the fulfillment of her heart’s desire, not man, and prayed fervently to God.
  • She had a mind fixed on Heaven and things of eternity.
  • She loved her husband through all of the pain.
  • She was a true worshiper of God, exemplified in her response to God when He had given her the desire of her heart. (Please read her beautiful expression of worship in 1 Samuel 2:1-10)

In the lives of all the women we are studying, it is their faith in God and their relationship with Him that places them in the “extraordinary” category. They are all ordinary women, but believing and waiting on God and responding to Him with humility in their lives’ adverse circumstances lifted them from ordinary to extraordinary.

Do you have something in your life you’d desperately like to change? Let Hannah’s story encourage you to pray with faith and wait to see How God will bless and deliver you!

Peace Depends on Proper Perspective

After a week of cloudy, humid and generally miserable end-of summer weather,  I opened the windows, and wiped off the glass table on the deck to sit outside. The sun was shining and a gentle breeze was blowing the trees surrounding the deck. One of my favorite gifts in the summer is seeing sunlight dancing on the water.

God knows it makes my heart dance, and has blessed me with this precious love-gift. I live in a home with a lake view. (Every day I marvel at the extravagant goodness of God!)

photo (9) I sit down and smile as I write in my journal; “Lord, You kiss me today with this view, the sunshine and breeze! Thank you!”

It’s felt recently as if the world is rumbling and ready to blow. Headlines are depressing. There is palpable tension in conversation. And I see it in the comments underneath the posts on controversial topics: an undercurrent of anger and unrest. Fear, I think what I see is fear.

Sometimes it seeks my soul. Words seem to holler at me personally.
“You are not doing enough!”
“You are not doing it right!”
“You must do this thing!”

And I’m pretty sure it’s the devil using the internet to holler at me.

Besides the world’s unrest, every day I see women doing amazing feats fit only for Wonder Woman. {Or for those called and equipped by God-but I forget that the Spirit empowers them.}

I am posting at Deeper Waters today, you can read the rest of this post by clicking here . . .

Who Is Your Hero? ~Ode to a Hard-Working Farm-Mama~ {Who Happens To Be Mine}

It’s 10:18pm. I’m watching the local (MN) news. I see two Wisconsin-born newscaster-girls who had never experienced dairy farming, they had  heard of something called, “agri-tourism” (I heard it first tonight myself!) and so they took a trip to a farm. They rented a place on a dairy farm to experience Dairy Farm life.

At the top of the story, I heard them say “It’s a vacation.”

I know they couldn’t hear me, but I said, “WHAT??” right out loud to the TV.

And then I added, “Farming is a lot of things, but being a vacation is not one of them!”  I wondered if I might private message them this important news flash . . .

I know it is no vacation because it was my life. I had my first job at age 5. And nearly every single day for the rest of my growing up years, I hung out with holsteins or hay . . . working.

At the end of the news story, Julie and Bel agreed with me. Farming is no walk in the park. {I guess it works to talk to the TV!}

I am going to highlight just one of my heroes tonight.

My mom.

For most of her married life, her title was “wife of a dairy farmer, mother to 5, 6, 7, 8 . . . and eventually . . . a dozen children”.  And, as things go,  children get married and beget their own children.

Now Momoftwelve is grandmother to 35-or-so grands (I’ve lost count!), and great-grandma to four and two on the way. (Three of them are from my offspring.—Yes, I am a granny!)

Mama’s life changed drastically in June. My Daddy-lost his life due to a car accident. I can’t believe it’s been four months already . . . And she still has all these people to love and try not to worry about on her own. Without a man to consult with, to console her with his support.

Mama is a woman of faith who loves God’s word and pursues Him in prayer. And the Lord is sustaining her in her time of sorrow. But it’s hard. They were married over 51 years.

I don’t think there was anything more important to me growing up (until I had a boyfriend ~ ) as pleasing my daddy. It is quite likely that I spent more time with him than with my mom. Being firstborn, I was his “right-hand-man” from an early age-since there were NO men in our family until child #6! My sisters followed suit in being worker-girls . . . {And he did hire young men, often cousins in the summer time to help}

Six Leroux kids

My daily life consisted of afternoon chores, like feeding and cleaning up after the black and whites. And then back out to the barn after supper, milking the 45-or-so holsteins.

In the summer -it was way more fun and smelled SO much better:  much time was spent cutting, raking, baling and stacking hay. (You might notice that I’m an HSP)

{But it’s not like we got out of milking-cow tails hitting our eyeballs swinging at flies, hooves stepping on our less-covered feet, and sweat spilling behind knees squatting in the heat of a 90 degree day in a barn full of hot animals . . .

And as hard as I worked, as much as I “gave up” or didn’t do in after-school activities or hanging with friends, my mom gave up more and worked harder than anyone I know -besides Dad.

She planted and maintained a huge garden, canned tons (I remember a count of 100+ quarts) of beans. Often also peaches, pears, beats, etc. And we cut and froze unending bags of sweetcorn. The countertops were often full of quart jars as we  awaited their seal-ensuring “pop”!

And one of my favorites: the line-up of dozens of fragrant loaves of bread, fresh from the oven, reflecting light from their brushed-with-butter shine.

I wont forget the dance costumes every spring, embellished by her hands.

Mom took us to dance lessons, and the neighbors too! And every spring she sewed sequins on our costumes, and spray-painted our tap shoes. dancing girls 2 Dancing girls in curls

She also baled hay many summers, plowing fields in spring, and milking cows every day -even when she was 9 months pregnant!

Every Sunday, us all piling (literally) in the back of the station wagon, we would go to church. With polished, matching shoes! And we even still had all our hair! (Though as the photo suggests, we may have been quite sober…) ;)

sober church goers

Sometimes hairs curled! And Mama’s up in a fancy french twist.

I enjoyed watching her with hair.

My hair, my sisters’ hair, and also setting both of my grandmas’ hair -all pinned up in curlers every week, and the cool salon-style hair dryer-bent over their heads in our kitchen. And then, she’d comb them out pretty. I remember their smiles. Their ‘thank-you’s. Three girls

Besides putting the pink-foam curlers up in our hair, she would often polish our shoes, and sew pretty dresses.

Not every weekend, but just imagine yourself readying more than two or three children every Sunday!

Mom’s heart, motivated by love for her God, and her family, also lived in service to friends.

During one season, there were many nights that she would be called to take “Aunt Audrey” to detox. Audrey wasn’t really our aunt, but we called her that because before mom married dad, she babysat Audrey’s children.

And the morning after the call, we’d hear stories of what that family endured from Audrey’s alcoholism. And we witnessed my mom sowing love into the lives of Audrey’s children over the years. One of them, closest to my age connected with me during the loss of my dad, and expressed her love for my mom. Her thankfulness for her presence in their lives during those difficult years.

Yes, my mom is one of my heroes. She exemplifies a heart with proper priorities. Because of her faith in God and her love for His word, she loves her family well, and reaches out to others who need to know the love of God through His people.

My Mama Now . . .  and then:

mama2 mama Mom and Dad

This week’s topic at #TheLoft is “HEROES” . . . . Who are your heroes? Let us know by linking up your blog at the bottom of this post!

The Loft is open, come on up!

 

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

 

Hi Lofters! We have two winners from last week’s giveaway! Sheila, who left a comment on Leah’s blog; and Trina, who sent in her comment via email. Please email Arabah Joy at arabahjoy(at)gmail.(com) with your mailing address so she can get the books out to you. Thank you!

About #TheLoft

The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

Grab your coffee mug and come on up! Hang out for a bit. We betcha you’ll be glad you did.

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 5 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are:

Jen
Rebekah
Leah
Kathy
Arabah

Now it’s time to link up!

This Week’s Topic: “Heroes” (Do you have a hero? Did you have one when you were growing up? Do you think it’s important to have others we look up to? Why or why not? We look forward to reading about your heroes!)

Next Week’s Topic: “Potluck” (It’s that time again! Link up a favorite post you’ve shared on your blog and surprise us!)

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Ruth: An Extraordinary Woman of Loyalty and Love

Ruth is the fourth of the Twelve Extraordinary Women in our study through the book by John MacArthur.

 

Twelve Extraordinary Women

One of my all-time favorite stories. If you haven’t read it in a while, or ever, I encourage you to go read the book of Ruth in your Bible. It’s only 4 short chapters, or you can read it here: Ruth

Last Spring I led a 10 week study by Kelly Minter entitled: Ruth: loss, love & legacy (the word, loyalty would have fit into the subtitle quite nicely!)

ruth2

The book of Ruth starts with the story of Naomi and her husband Elimelech and their two sons fleeing the famine in Israel, and heading to the godless, pagan country called Moab. When there, Elimelech died, the two sons married Moabite women (which was forbidden by God for Israelites) and the sons both died. So Naomi and her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth were left without a man to lean on. A fearsome thing for women in their culture.

A sorrowful Naomi heard the famine in Israel had passed (after 10 years away) and decided to return to Israel. The two young women were accompanying her on the journey, when she paused and told them to go home to their families because basically there was nothing she could give them. The custom of the time was that if a husband died, a brother would marry the wife to keep the family name and line going. Naomi knew that even if she did marry at an old age and bear a son, Orpah and Ruth would not wait that long for a husband.

After urging them through tears all around, Orpah decided to return to her family, but Ruth insisted on staying with her Mother-in-law . . . nothing barring!

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” Ruth 1:16-18

photo (74) And so along they trekked to a land where they knew not what awaited them. 

This is faith, friends. Do you find yourself there? Taking steps, but not sure where you are headed or what to find once you get there? {Me too!}

There was a stirring in the town as they arrived at Bethlehem at the start of barley harvest. The women were excited to see Naomi again (can you visualize it?)

Ruth asked permission of Naomi to go gather the leftover grain from the side of the fields, and after the nod from Naomi, Ruth just happened to land in the field of Boaz who was not only a relative of Elimelech, but also a kinsman-redeemer. A man given charge of guarding the family honor. He was overseer of the family property, seeing that it stayed in the family and the family line would continue.

And Boaz just happened to take notice of Ruth and grant her special graces of protection (telling the men not to touch her), provision (telling the men to drop some barley from the sheaves they gathered off to the side for her), and favor (telling her to drink from the water the men had drawn instead of drawing it herself).

Boaz was moved by her diligence, hard work, and of her loyalty to her mother-in-law.  Ruth 2:14 shows he welcomed her, a destitute foreigner, to his table to eat.

Boaz just  happens to be the grandson of Rahab the harlot, from our story last week. Likely this made him more empathetic, and open to welcoming Ruth, the foreigner.

When Naomi saw what was happening, she saw the hand and provision of God.

At the end of the harvest, she also decided it was time to take action since Boaz wasn’t making the first move, and she could see clearly that this was “a match made in Heaven” so she devised a plan. She told Ruth to get prettied up, and perfume herself, then go to the threshing floor late, lay at Boaz’s feet,  and pull the hem of his robe over her.

This was a marriage proposal.

An unconventional one. :)

Read it here from Ruth 3:6-13

So she went down to the threshing floor and did just as her mother-in-law had commanded her.And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings[a] over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”10 And he said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. 11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman. 12 And now it is true that I am a redeemer. Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I.13 Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it. But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.”

Boaz approached the other man in a public gathering place, in a seemingly strategic way, and the outcome was . . . Boaz and Ruth got married and lived happily ever after. Like Rahab, Ruth is mentioned in the lineage of our Savior. Matthew 1:5-6

Our classroom observations from the story:

  • If the men had not died . . . Ruth would have likely remained in Moab
  • Naomi must have had a vibrant, living faith for Ruth to know and trust God with such conviction
  • Faith truly does make one extraordinary!
  • Though Naomi suffered much loss on earth, she has multiplied treasures both on earth and in eternity-and so it is promised to us. Mark 10:29-30
  • Boaz is like Jesus, who lavishly loves and provides for His Bride
  • Ruth was humble in honoring Naomi as one in authority over her in asking permission to glean in Boaz’s field. And in our culture, we have largely lost the intrinsic value of the protection of authority as well as our honoring of authority. And God takes this very seriously. Romans 13:1-2

Favorite Books #TheLoft link-up ~Week 10~

The Loft is open, come on up!

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer
Welcome to this special edition of The Loft! Why is it so special, you ask? Well because it is also a giveaway!!

This week we are talking about favorite books because, well, we all do love a good read!

ANNNNDDD…to help celebrate the release of Arabah Joy’s latest book Trust Without Borders: A 40-Day Devotional Journey to Deepen, Strengthen, and Stretch Your Faith in God, we are giving away two copies of the print version to our Loft friends!
{Isn’t it beautiful!?!!!}
Trust Without Borders

 

To enter the giveaway, simply participate in this week’s link-up. All bloggers who link are automatically entered :) Alternatively, you can share your favorite book in the comment section to be entered in the giveaway.

Here’s to happy reading and finding great new books!

About #TheLoft
The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

PLEASE NOTE: We want to foster community and transparent conversation with one another, just like we’d do if we were meeting in real life. So we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic and that you mention The Loft in your post. Thank you so much!

Monday night, at 9pm Eastern, the linky goes live and all week you can link up your post on that week’s topic.

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

So grab your coffee mug and come on up! Hang out for a bit. We betcha you’ll be glad you did.

To Participate:

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic. But please stick to the weekly topic :)

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and/or link back in your post so we can find each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

The Loft Link Up

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 5 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are:

Jen
Rebekah
Leah
Kathy
Arabah

For my favorite books, you can check out my Recommended Reading page by clicking here

Now it’s time to link up!

This Week’s Topic: “Favorite Books” (Share your all time favorite books with us! Every blogger who links up is automatically entered in the giveaway to win a copy of Trust Without Borders! Or share your favorite book in the comments to enter the giveaway.)

Next Week’s Topic: “Heroes” (Do you have a hero? Was there someone you looked up to growing up? Do you think it is important we have others to admire and mimic?)

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A Woman Facing Destruction Turns To God And Connects To His People~Her Bold Faith Saves Both Her And Her Family

Her house was part of the wall surrounding the fortified city. Likely, it was strategically located to capture the attention of travelers entering the town. And no doubt many a story had been told in her house. Stories that likely were embellished  from time to time.

You know how it is when stories are passed on. And how much a woman loves a story! :)

The day the spies entered Jericho, they went directly to her house. It’s as if God sent them there. Joshua 2:1

I marvel in our digital, media age at how news seemed to travel as fast back then, but news came to the King that there were spies and he sent men directly to the place where one would know about men entering the city. To Rahab, the harlot’s house.

Rahab had heard stories about the Israelites and no doubt pondered them enough to be well acquainted with the acts of their Mighty God. Enough to fear Him. And the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10

As a prostitute, in a heathen city, her conscience certainly would have been dull, and she likely had practice hiding men under the flax on her roof before. Perhaps men pursued by enemies . . . or maybe their wives’ fathers. 

“Jericho was part of the Amorite kingdom, a grotesquely violent, totally depraved, thoroughly pagan culture so hell-bent on the pursuit of everything evil that God Himself had condemned them and ordered the Israelites to wipe them from the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 20:17) In fact, the Amorite culture had been so completely and maliciously corrupt for so long that their evil lifestyle was the very reason God had granted Abraham and his heirs rights to their land int he first place. (Deut. 18:12; 1 Kings 21:26). The Lord had promised Abraham that his descendants would begin to possess the land as soon as the wickedness of the Amorite culture was complete (Genesis 15:16) That time had now come. This evil nation had reached God’s maximum tolerance level.” John MacArthur (Twelve Extraordinary Women)

The King’s men inquired after the spies, and Rahab lied to them, saying they had left the city, “They went that-a-way!” and she shooed them along.

In conversation in my classroom Sunday, we decided that Rahab (or anyone overseeing a business such as hers) had to have a measure of boldness. My mind wanders to ‘wild-west’ movies . . . so the boldness of her words to the spies was likely characteristic of her and ultimately a gift from God. Look at Joshua 2:8-14 with me and notice two things. God encouraging Israel through her, and notice not only Rahab’s boldness, but the boldness of her request when you consider her career: (Highlights mine) Rahab-banner

 Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” Joshua 2:8-13

So the spies told her that she and all who came in to her house would be spared as long as she hung a scarlet cord in the window, which she did, and as the walls fell, true to their promise, she and her household were saved.

Not only saved, but went on to be fruitful as a “mother” our faith-history. Rahab is noted in the gospel of Matthew in the genealogy of Jesus. Matthew 1:5-6 And again, as one honored for her faith in Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25.

She left her people and joined with God’s people. It was Rahab’s “come to Jesus moment”.

Just as Jesus calls us to leave our old life of sin. (John 8:11; Luke 9:62; )This was the moment of turning TO God for Rahab. This was the moment of her salvation, and all who came with her.

“Rahab was, and is still, a living symbol of the transforming effect of saving faith. That is the primary message of her life.” John MacArthur (Twelve Extraordinary Women)

She displays the stunning grace of God in all it’s glory. Rahab is EXTRAORDINARY precisely because of the grace she received. And she is a portrait to us of the length Christ goes to redeem even the vilest of sinners who turn to Him in faith.

Limitless, lavish love and forgiveness is demonstrated to all of us through Rahab’s story. How does your story demonstrate His lavish, amazing grace?

 

 

My Town {Wherever God Plants Us We Bloom}

Since we got a new address in May, and the name of our town changed, I’ve been in some kind of “What, Really?!!!” shock. Because in 1994 we moved our little family to Amery, WI, and that is where our kids grew up. So for 19 years, Amery has been “our town”.

Though we are five minutes closer to our new town, our life is still in Amery. Our church, friends, coffee dates, banks, etc.

After growing up on a diary farm in a small rural suburb of St. Paul, MN, we made our first home a bit closer to the city. Then after having baby #1, Dear D told me he wanted to live on a farm. (WHAT?!?!!!!!!)

I loved my growing up years, but was also D.O.N.E. with farming-OFFICIALLY when we got married. Or so I thought. Since I went from a full time hairstyling career to stay-at-home mom, all we could afford on one income in the metro -if we wanted acreage- was a shack.

So we crossed the river to WI, and as far as I was concerned, we lived in TimBukTu . (I only knew that to be a place far-far away, and remote.) So all these years there has been a deep inner sense that “I don’t belong here.”

But it has faded. Now that we have lived so much life in Amery, I think of it as home. And it was a great place to raise our family.

With a population of 3000 or so, an hour from any ‘real’ shopping, I mean, like a mall and a Target, it is the largest of the small towns encircling it.

Amery has the area hospital and the largest schools. (classes around 100 I think).

Surrounded by rural farmland, picturesque drives year round, several lakes that bring in Twin Cities “weekenders”, restaurants, hair salons, flower shop, two grocery stores, Alco-think: inferior Walmart (I just learned this morning it is the only Alco in WI-a new claim to fame. lol) , True Value hardware, and three or more banks. The only thing we really lack is the Mall and Target. :)

Also Amery hosts at least half a dozen Lutheran churches, UCC, Catholic, E Free, C & MA (mine), New Life AND a Bible Camp on the large lake. With the Apple River running through and all the tree-covered, yet untamed land, we have several parks with cross-country ski trails, a bike trail on a former railroad track, an ATV trail and tennis courts. The only thing missing is… oops, already said that. :)

I may like to shop . . .

Besides all that I mentioned, it is the people in our little town that have made it such a rich experience for our family. Between doing life with our church family, sitting with parents at football games and concerts, and having the gift shop on our farm for 8+ years, our lives have been rich with precious friendships.

It’s true, God knows what is best and plants us where He wants us. Acts 17:26

From the farm we lived on for 12 years: Spring and Winter

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The Apple river runs through from North to South of Amery:

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A photo collection from in and around my town: (I love pulling over to capture beauty and combining it with my love for)

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Now it’s your turn! I want to know about your town!

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Welcome Back To The Loft!

Welcome back to #TheLoft!

Our weekly gathering of words to inspire, encourage and bless one another.

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

#TheLoft:
The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

PLEASE NOTE: We want to foster community and transparent conversation with one another, just like we’d do if we were meeting in real life. So we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic and that you mention The Loft in your post. Thank you so much!

Monday night, at 9pm Eastern, the linky goes live and all week you can link up your post on that week’s topic.

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

So grab your coffee mug and come on up! Hang out for a bit. We betcha you’ll be glad you did.

To Participate:

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic. But please stick to the weekly topic :)

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and/or link back in your post so we can find each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

The Loft Link Up

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 5 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are:

Jen
Rebekah
Leah
Kathy
Arabah

Now it’s time to link up!

This Week’s Topic: “My Town” (We want to know about where you live! We are living all over the world, so tell us a few of the unique things about your town, city, or farmland. Share a photo, give us a video tour, or just share what makes where you live special. This will be fun!)

Next Week’s Topic: “Favorite Books” (Share your all time favorite books with us! Plus, we’ll be giving away a book or two so be sure to check in next week~ smile)

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For When You’ve Got More Than You Can Handle And Then Some More

They say when God calls you to do something it will be beyond your ability to handle it all by your little self. That is why stepping out in faith always has a little bit of fear with it. And God encourages so often those He is calling, “Do not fear.”

They say that is what walking by faith is like. Beyond yourself. I like to think of it, as  “walking a little bit above the ground”.

The Bible says anything not from faith is sin. Romans 14:23  So that means I must always be about some kind of business that requires more than I’ve got.

That isn’t to say God wants us to walk around overwhelmed with tasks and spinning dizzy while we live on this planet. It’s to say that when we are leaning on His strength, living by His power, that we will be able to accomplish so much more than humanly possible. So we who walk by faith will look a bit crazy to onlookers. Even our fellow sojourners sometimes.

And we’ve been living crazy here.

Book of Ruth

If I didn’t hear God, and if I wasn’t confident He was leading us, I’d be up to my eyeballs crazy. But God is real, and I’ve been following His lead long enough to know when it is Him. (And that even if it wasn’t, and we’d heard Him wrong, I trust He’d work it for good . . .)

August 2013 we moved out of our farmhouse. With D working in North Dakota, we had one week to get out of the house, and then it took us six more to unload and store and rid ourselves of excess.

Then we were on ‘layover’ in a rented home that we happened to formerly own. Dale quit his job the day after closing on our farm which took 4 years to sell. We were not upside down on our mortgage, but came away with less than we would need to NOT take out a 30 year mortgage. (we are mid-life here)

After looking at a $29,000.00 home (very low for up here) little fixer-upper and not getting it, we felt the Lord put on our hearts to buy a house to fix up and sell in order to better ourselves financially. Crazy to do in this market, but you know . . .  Faith.

So we finally found one and set closing for the end of April. In the meantime we found the house we are in and (long story short) a friend bought it for us. So we closed on the MN house Thursday, and on Friday they closed on the WI house which we will purchase after selling the MN one.

All of May we readied this house we are in, which had been vacant for 10 years. We had water in the basement, raccoon babies in the chimney which was rusted shut, red squirrels in the eaves, rusty everything. Smelly panelling which I painted (and painted and painted), filthy closets, mouse trails around the outside edges of the floors (minor considering all things) and I got poison Ivy to boot.

Then, all of June after moving our main pieces here, I hauled all of our stored belongings from the basement, unpacked, and brought back what I didn’t need, to have a garage sale in our borrowed house/garage (good location). After about fifty trips, losing my dad, getting poison ivy again all over legs and forearms (looked like leprosy-seriously!) I had the final sale there the last weekend of June.

Which brings us to ‘now’. My husband has done much of the ‘background work’ on the other house over summer which allowed me reprieve and settle in here a bit, start up fall ministries, and NOW my part kicked in on the house-for the past month I guess, painting, painting, painting and shopping, picking out lights, colors, and helping hubs with anything else. He is pusher. We are out of funds-which makes the push greater, not to mention it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL driving up to the house, so it would sell best this season-which passes far too quickly!

So, we have been in kind of a crazy chaos here more often than not over the course of the past 14 months, and I have learned to, what I call, ‘ride the wave of God’. One. Day. At. A. Time.

In the meantime, God is launching me into more speaking and writing. A call I heard in 1995 for “one day…” and have pursued over these years at His direction. And it seems “now” is “one day”!

After forever, and overcoming a LOT of fear, much training has taken place via life-experience, through my teaching and speaking at church, participating in Toastmasters, She Speaks, Allume, etc. Now suddenly (or not so…) the waters are astir and I have three speaking engagements in the coming months which I will share more about in an upcoming post.

But for now . . . I’m extremely excited to share with you this news!

I’ve been invited to contribute to an online faith-building community that is launching TODAY called Deeper Waters. I hope you will take some time exploring the beautiful website and find it to be a place of refreshment for daily life. You will find encouragement in the categories of Faith/Marriage/Parenting/Friendship/Creativity. DW-faith-friendship

I’m inviting you to step into the waters with me . . . or step out upon the waters as the case may be . . . Dive in by clicking here: Deeper Waters Home