Monday, July 18, 2011

The Shunammite Woman

The woman I read about this week in my devotional book is "The Shunammite Woman."

Her story has SO many facets that I want to discuss (and I will do another post in the future about her), but there is one in particular today that really touches me. It has to do with her hope in the face of unimaginable pain.

The Shunammite Woman's story is found in 2 Kings 4: 8-37.

8 One day Elisha went to Shunem, where an important woman lived. She begged Elisha to stay and eat. So every time Elisha passed by, he stopped there to eat.9 The woman said to her husband, "I know that this is a holy man of God who passes by our house all the time.10 Let's make a small room on the roof[a] and put a bed in the room for him. We can put a table, a chair, and a lampstand there. Then when he comes by, he can stay there."
11 One day Elisha came to the woman's house. After he went to his room and rested,12 he said to his servant Gehazi, "Call the Shunammite woman."

When the servant had called her, she stood in front of him.13 Elisha had told his servant, "Now say to her, 'You have gone to all this trouble for us. What can I do for you? Do you want me to speak to the king or the commander of the army for you?' "

She answered, "I live among my own people."

14 Elisha said to Gehazi, "But what can we do for her?"

He answered, "She has no son, and her husband is old."

15 Then Elisha said to Gehazi, "Call her." When he called her, she stood in the doorway.16 Then Elisha said, "About this time next year, you will hold a son in your arms."

The woman said, "No, master, man of God, don't lie to me, your servant!"

17 But the woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son at that time the next year, just as Elisha had told her.

18 The boy grew up and one day went out to his father, who was with the grain harvesters.19 The boy said to his father, "My head! My head!"

The father said to his servant, "Take him to his mother!"20 The servant took him to his mother, and he lay on his mother's lap until noon. Then he died.21 So she took him up and laid him on Elisha's bed. Then she shut the door and left.

22 She called to her husband, "Send me one of the servants and one of the donkeys. Then I can go quickly to the man of God and return."

23 The husband said, "Why do you want to go to him today? It isn't the New Moon or the Sabbath day."

She said, "It will be all right."

24 Then she saddled the donkey and said to her servant, "Lead on. Don't slow down for me unless I tell you."25 So she went to Elisha, the man of God, at Mount Carmel.

When he saw her coming from far away, he said to his servant Gehazi, "Look, there's the Shunammite woman!26 Run to meet her and ask, 'Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is the boy all right?' "

She answered, "Everything is all right."

27 Then she came to Elisha at the hill and grabbed his feet. Gehazi came near to pull her away, but Elisha said to him, "Leave her alone. She's very upset, and the Lord has not told me about it. He has hidden it from me."

28 She said, "Master, did I ask you for a son? Didn't I tell you not to lie to me?"

29 Then Elisha said to Gehazi, "Get ready. Take my walking stick in your hand and go quickly. If you meet anyone, don't say hello. If anyone greets you, don't respond. Lay my walking stick on the boy's face."

30 The boy's mother said, "As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I won't leave you!" So Elisha got up and followed her.

31 Gehazi went on ahead and laid the walking stick on the boy's face, but the boy did not talk or move. Then Gehazi went back to meet Elisha. "The boy has not awakened," he said.

32 When Elisha came into the house, the boy was lying dead on his bed.33 Elisha entered the room and shut the door, so only he and the boy were in the room. Then he prayed to the Lord.34 He went to the bed and lay on the boy, putting his mouth on the boy's mouth, his eyes on the boy's eyes, and his hands on the boy's hands. He stretched himself out on top of the boy. Soon the boy's skin became warm.35 Elisha turned away and walked around the room. Then he went back and put himself on the boy again. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.

36 Elisha called Gehazi and said, "Call the Shunammite!" So he did. When she came, Elisha said, "Pick up your son."37 She came in and fell at Elisha's feet, bowing facedown to the floor. Then she picked up her son and went out.

A lot takes place in between verses 8 and 37. But what I want to talk about today is what she says at the end of verse 23 when asked by her husband about why she was going to see the man of God now at this time on this day...she simply responded, "It will be all right."

Her son had just died. The son that this man of God had promised her. The son that she wanted so desperately that she couldn't even let herself dream of ever actually having him. This son, was gone. Dead.

Yet she says, "It will be all right."

She was obviously very upset, but she did not run to her husband in panic. She held on to hope and went straight to the man of God that had promised her this son. She went to him. With hope in her heart. With the hope that if God could bring this miraculous baby into her life to begin with.....He could most assuredly bring him back to life in the same miraculous way.

And He did.

It's hard to imagine having that kind of hope.

Just after reading the Shunammite Woman's story, I watched the Diane Sawyer interview with Jaycee Dugard. I'm sure most of you are very familiar with her unbelievable story. If not, click here to read about Jaycee Dugard.

It was a powerful interview to say the very least.

All I could think when listening to Jaycee speak was....Jaycee is a modern day Shunammite Woman.

When Diane asked Jaycee questions about her ordeal and how she managed to survive it, she said so many things that really touched me. Overwhelmed me. Humbled me.

"You just do what you have to do to survive."

"Sometimes you have to hold onto any hope to survive."

"I was still alive. There was still hope."

She suffered and survived through unimaginable horrors. Horrors that precious few could even ever comprehend, let alone survive and thrive. Yet in her heart she held onto the hope, much like the Shunammite woman, that one way or another, "It will be all right."

Here is a picture of Jaycee Dugard today.

You'll notice in the picture that she is wearing a necklace with a pinecone charm hanging from it. (You can purchase one of these necklaces from the JAYC Foundation, INC. The money raised through the sales of these necklaces goes to help families that are recovering from abduction and other traumatic experiences.)

Jaycee said, “Back then (the pinecone) was the last thing I touched. You know, the last grip on me. Now, it’s–it’s a symbol of hope and new beginnings. And that–there is life after something tragic....” Dugard told Sawyer that she now wears a symbol of a pinecone around her neck to remind her of the hope that helped her endure 18 years of captivity and the long-delayed freedom she now enjoys.

Jaycee went on to say, "I am so lucky and blessed for all the wonderful things I do have. Even if it is just one thing or person you have to be thankful for, that is enough."

Like the Shunammite Woman, Jaycee held onto hope. In circumstances that most of us will never have to endure, they both held onto hope. They both believed that one way or another, "It will be all right."

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." ~Hebrews 11:1

I'll never look at a pinecone the same way again. Pinecones have been a nuisance to me in the past, as they fill up our yard and make mowing the grass quite difficult. But now, I will see them longer nuisances, but symbols of hope.

I'll end with this prayer.

Lord, thank you for sharing with us the story of the Shunammite Woman and for the unbelievable spirit of Jaycee Dugard. Now when I face troubles of any kind...whether relational, physical, financial, or spiritual, regardless of the outcome and no matter how painful the situation may be for me at the time, like Jaycee Dugard and the Shunammite Woman, I know that I, too, can boldly say with You in my life, "It will be all right." In Jesus' Sweet Name, Amen.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." ~Hebrews 10:23

Friday, July 15, 2011

Breakfast Cake

Today I'm sharing a recipe with all ten of you that Shannon and I really love. It has become one of our staples.

It is called "Breakfast Cake."

Don't judge.

I found the recipe on a website called Heavenly Homemakers. You can click here ->Mom is Great! She Gives Us Breakfast Cake! to see and print the full recipe.

So please join me in my kitchen as I show you how to make "Breakfast Cake." It not only tastes good, but it is also good for you. No really. It is. (Trust me when I say it is definitely good for you. I realize, I'm not a doctor, however, I've watched "House" many times on teevee.)

Here are all of the ingredients I used to make this recipe.

I started out by pouring 2 (heaping) cups of whole rolled oats into a big glass bowl.

Then I poured 2 cups of whole wheat flour in the same glass bowl.

Next I poured 1 cup of melted and cooled light margarine into the mix.

(The recipe calls for butter, but I used light margarine instead to cut out A LOT of calories, and it works beautifully.)

Next I poured in 1 cup of buttermilk.

(Now, I never have buttermilk on hand, so I improvise. I just add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup of milk and stir together. I let it set for just a couple of minutes, then pour it into the glass bowl. The recipe also calls for 3/4 cup of buttermilk, but I've found it works better with 1 full cup of buttermilk. But then again, that's just me. I'm obviously not Paula Deen, but I've seen her on teevee.)

Now it's time to mix all of those ingredients together. Like so.

Then just cover the bowl with a towel, and let the grains soak on the counter overnight or for at least 8 hours.

When you uncover it the next morning (or 8 hours later) it will look something like this.

I know. It looks like cement, right? But don't let that scare you.

Now it's time to add the rest of the ingredients, so this cement like mixture can turn into some very yummy goodness....that is good for you. You're just going to have to trust me on this.

The first ingredient I added was 2 eggs. I poured them in like so.

(Don't be jealous. We can't all have such fancy cookware.)

Next I added 1 teaspoon of baking soda.

Then I added 1 teaspoon of sea salt.

Next up is 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Finally comes the messy fun part....I poured 3/4 cup honey into the mixture.

(It's much easier to add the honey using this Pampered Chef Measure All Cup.)

Now it's time to mix all of those ingredients together.

As I said earlier, it looks like cement, and it is every bit as difficult to stir as dried cement. It will take a lot of arm muscle to stir all of these ingredients together, but it will be worth the effort. I promise.

If you have a sexy man laying out by a $10.00 hard plastic pool from Walmart nearby, you could ask him to come inside to help you stir all of the ingredients together.

That's what I do. But then again, that's just me. ;0)

Once it's all mixed together, it's time to add 1 cup of chocolate chips. Just fold them into the mixture.

(I prefer the dark chocolate kind, but whatever kind you like will be perfect.)

Once everything is all mixed together it's time to pour it into a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking pan.

(The recipe calls for 9 x 9 pan, but I used the 9 x 13 size instead.)

Now it's time to place it into the oven which should be preheated to 350 degrees.

I let it bake for 35 minutes in my oven. But depending on your oven and the size pan you use, it could take 30-40 minutes. You'll just have to keep an eye on it the first time to know how long it will take in your oven.

When it's ready, it should look something like this.

You can check to see if it's done by sticking a toothpick in the center, If it comes out clean, then you know it's ready.

I always let mine cool completely in the pan, then cut it up into about 12-15 pieces.

You can eat it warm or cold. We like it cold.

Once it's all done. Help yourself to a piece or seven.

It makes a great breakfast, snack, or dessert.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

"Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart." ~Erma Bombeck

Just for laughs, I've added the Bill Cosby skit from You Tube..."Dad is great, he gives us chocolate cake!" ;0)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

If I Want Your Opinion, I'll Give It To You

I'm not sure what it is about me or my personality, that makes people think they can just say anything that they want to say about me. To me. As if I would greatly value their opinion. Of me.

Don't misunderstand, I love that my friends and family feel close enough to me that they can share their innermost thoughts and feelings without worrying of what I will think of them or their thoughts, or who I will tell. I'm not talking about those people in my life or those relationships. I greatly value all of my close relationships. Period.

Who I'm talking about now are those people in my life that apparently think they and their opinion matter to me. Acquaintance is probably the appropriate word for them. Most of them are nice enough, but we're not friends.

While traveling in the Mediterranean, there was a particular lady, that loved to share her opinion of me with me. One of the nicer things she said to me was this, "You know, you would look so much younger and thinner if you would cut that hair."

As you can imagine, I was so appreciative of her opinion. It was clearly helpful and uplifting.:P

This past week, a man I'll just call "Hank Hill," saw me (after not having seen me for a couple of years) and said, "You still look good. It's a world of difference than how you used to look. A world of difference." He said this as he looked at me and smiled. As if every word out of his mouth would mean so much to me. Like I would be so grateful for his "approval" of me now.

If you are a friend or relative of mine, then you already know, his words did not impress or compliment me. At all.

I realize, that he "thought" he was "complimenting" me. But that is not a compliment to me. Or any woman. The only thing I heard coming out of his mouth were these words, "I approve of you now."

I have family and friends that have "approved" of me for my entire life. They have loved me no matter what my appearance was at the time. Because they love me. Not my outer shell.

I have a husband that has loved me through short hair and long hair. Good highlights and really, really bad highlights. Overweight and less overweight. Without stretch marks and with many stretch marks. He loved me walking normally, and he loved me as I walked around limping for 18 months following my back surgery. He walked with me....and held my hand through all of it.

He has always approved of me. He loves me on the inside. He loves me on the outside. Exactly as I am. I feel the same way about him.

That is how we are supposed to love each other.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” ~1 Samuel 16:7

I don't appreciate anyone that can be friendly to me now, because they finally "approve" of me. Their friendliness means nothing.

However, the friends and family that have been with me and loved me through thick and thin (physically and spiritually) mean everything to me.

I don't mean to imply that I don't appreciate a nice compliment (especially about my hair), because I do. I just like compliments from people that mean the words they say, and from people that I know love me even when there is nothing about me to compliment.

Now, since I'm on the subject of appearance, I feel like I should tell you all that I went to the eye doctor this morning. I have now officially been given a prescription for Bifocal lenses.

I'm thinking they make me look like the Nanny's Grandma Yetta. What do you think?

Seriously, you can give me your opinion. Don't be scared. I won't do a blog post on your response; I promise.;0)

Well, at least my sweet husband loves me no matter how ridiculous I look what I look like. God bless him.

I wonder what "Hank Hill" will say the next time he sees me, and I'm wearing the new glasses. Probably something like, "It's a world of difference than how you used to look. A world of difference." ;0)

"He who laughs.....lasts." ~Erma Bombeck

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Who Is This?

I'm convinced that God always has a great deal of humor at my expense. Every day my life is one embarrassing situation after another. I guess that is why He gave me the ability to laugh at others myself. Repeatedly.

For example, one evening I was eating peanuts (the kind you have to shell) when someone knocked on our door. I answered the door. It was a good friend of my husband's. He needed some help with something and was telling me about it. Shannon was not home at the time, so I told him that I would give Shannon the message. He then asked how I was, and I, of course, told him. I noticed that as I was talking, he was looking at me....strangely.

I tried not to think much of it. After we said our goodbyes, I went inside to wash the peanut dust off of my hands. That's when I saw myself in the mirror. And realized what he was looking strangely at.

I had peanut skins all over my teeth. Every. Single. Tooth. Was. Covered. I looked like a hillbilly, and I was mortified.

That's just a Tuesday for me. But I digress.

This past Friday night, I noticed on my blog's Site Meter that someone had visited my blog after Googling the words "Poison Ivy to Cellulitis." I could not find the post that it led them to, so I figured it must have led them to a picture on my blog. I had written about The Heartbreak of Poison Ivy on here, and, of course, since two people wanted to see them due to overwhelming demand, I had also included pictures.

So, I entered those same words on a Google Image search. I did not see one of my poison ivy pictures, but I did see my good blog friend Mia's sweet face. You can click here to see her picture. (Hopefully, she'll still be there, as these things change daily.)

I got so tickled, because I remembered Mia had commented on my post The Heartbreak of Poison Ivy about how she had also had poison ivy and cellulitis, but not at the same time. So, since she left that comment, she is among the pictures of poison ivy and cellulitis that are now available on Google Images. (We bloggers have no shame.)

I decided to let Mia know she was "famous," so I sent her a link to it on Facebook. I also thought I had her correct cell phone number, so I decided to text her as well.

Here's the text message conversation...

Me: If you can get on fb, I just sent you a funny. :0)

Who I think is Mia: I am glad to hear from ya again mami.

(Now, Mia has never called me Mami before, but since it is pretty close to sounding like a funny way to say Amy, I didn't think too much of it. Plus it's Friday night, so she could just be having fun and in a silly mood.)

Me: I'm still laughing at what I sent you. You commented on my poison ivy post about cellulitis, so your pic comes up when you google that. Lol! You're famous!

Who I think is Mia: Lol great

(So, I'm assuming she knows what I'm talking about.)

Me: I can say I knew you when. :0) It's better than being known for Jennifer Aniston's feet. Lol!

Who I think is Mia: Hey Jennifer is fine now lol

(This should have been when I realized it wasn't Mia...but I didn't. It was Friday night after all.....)

Me: I bet she doesn't like my feet posing as hers on the world wide web. Especially with that hideous paint job. Lol!

If you don't know what picture I'm referring to, it's this one:

I hope you'll want to continue reading after that. If you do, thank you.

Who I think is Mia: Lol i cant see what u are talking about i jumped on fb where is it

(Now, seriously, the lack of capital letters and punctuation marks should have really made me question, but's Friday night.)

Me: I posted a link on your wall.
If link doesn't work, enter "poison ivy to cellulitis" on google images & you'll see yourself. Facebook & blogging is entirely too much fun. Lol!

Who I think is Mia: Speakin of fun nevermind lol

(Now it's getting weird...)

Me: Did you see it?

Who I think is Mia: Not yet where i am getting pour reception will be home in hour will pull up then so its ya feet on there mami

(It's getting weirder, and by this time...I realize it. But continue on, still not sure.....)

Me: Yes. In my naive blogging ignorance, I thought only 10 people would ever see that pic. I was mistaken. I'm sure J.A. wonders why people think it's her feet.;0)It's no longer the first one....but it's still front page. Lol! So embarrassing.

Who I think is Mia: Your gonna get sued lol

(The spelling and grammar are still causing me concern, but the joke seemed like something Mia would say, so I responded.)

Me: Lol! Ain't it the truth. I may be forced to sell my pool & box fan to pay my lawyers.

Who I think is Mia: Hey can ya get her autograph at trial lol tell her to put love ya ben lol

(At this point, I'm thinking -since it's Friday night and all- maybe Mia's confusing Jennifer Aniston with Jennifer Lopez and making a reference to the now infamous "Bennifer" combination, so I respond again.)

Me: Lol! That's a great idea! What would I have to lose? ;0)

Who I think is Mia: Plus be doing me a favor lol

Me: Well that is the most important thing. ;0)

Who I think is Mia: Glad u see it dat way its about time u sexy thing lol

(Now, this is when I realize...something is terribly wrong. I'm thinking there's no way that is Mia. Or if it is, she must have cough due to cold and taken a little too much cough medicine. But just in case, I ended the conversation. Or so I thought.) ;0)

Me: Happy Sabbath, my friend. :0)

(Mia loves the Sabbath day, and she always wishes everyone a Happy Sabbath on Facebook.)

Who I think is Mia: U r crazy So u are girly girl to ya say What are u doing

(I realize I am blonder than I pay to be a natural blond, but now, I know for sure it's not Mia.)

So, I don't respond to the last text, and I go to bed. A little confused to say the least.

When I wake up Saturday morning, I see I have another text from what my phone says is Mia.

Who I'm thinking again might be Mia: Morning

(So, not wanting to be rude, I respond.)

Me: Morning to you too! Happy Sabbath!!

Who I'm thinking again might be Mia: How r u today

(Again with the lack of spelling and punctuation.)

Me: Good. Fixing to fire up the Teenager Taxi & drive it across town & back & back again later. Lol! How are you?

Who I'm thinking again might be Mia: I am great had to come to office to finish up some paperwork today blah lol what teenager taxi are ya talkin about

Me: What office are you talking about?

Who I'm knowing is not Mia: My district office i am dm fo verizon oversee 9 locations thought we talked about it

Me: Is this Mia?

Stranger: Lol no who is this

Me: Lol! I'm so sorry. I have the wrong number. I thought your responses were strange for Mia. Lol! I'm just a silly blond girl with the wrong number.;0)

Stranger: This is ben u are amber right we were textin and talkin on fb

(Bless his heart.)

Me: No. I'm so sorry. Mass confusion. I thought you were my friend Mia. So sorry.

Who I know now is Ben: Its ok i see i am forgot dat quickly lol

(I think he understands that I am not Amber by this point. But he does not. About an hour later, I get this text...)

Ben: So how r ya today sounds like busy

(Bless his heart. He must really like this Amber.)

Me: Like I said...wrong person. I thought you were Mia. I have the wrong number.

(I think this will finally clear up all confusion. It doesn't.)

Ben: Its ok ya are amber right talkin to ya last night about jennifer aniston post u made

(Bless his heart. He must be blonder than he pays to be blond too.)

Me: No, I'm not Amber. I did talk about Jennifer post, but that was to Mia about my blog. Sorry for confusion, but I don't know who Amber is.

Ben: Lol ok enjoyed talkin to ya last nite even though we were both confused

He finally got it. And so did I. Lol!

Just another humiliating moment in my life.

I spent a Friday night texting with a boy (named Ben, who I thought was Mia and who thought I was a girl named Amber) about poison ivy, cellulitis, and my hideously painted feet being mistaken for Jennifer Aniston's on the world wide web.

But bless his heart, even after all that, he STILL wanted to talk to that girl.

You can't make this stuff up.

Amber, if you're reading this, there's boy named Ben who would apparently love you to text him.

And Mia, if you're reading this, please send me your new number, so I don't have to confuse that poor boy anymore...teasing him with all that romantic talk of poison ivy, cellulitis, and Jennifer Aniston's feet. ;0)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Humble Honesty

The other day, I looked at my blog stats to see what words or phrases were entered on Google that led people to my blog. I do that from time to time, because it is very funny to me. I'm boring like that. (If you'd like to see some of the funny entries from the past, click here, here, and here.)

The newest one that made me laugh was this entry: "her boots shined"

I don't recall ever typing those words together in a post, so being the nosy creature that I am, I had to see what post this particular search led them to.

It led them to a post of mine called "Victoria's Amy's Secret." (Click here to take a look at that post.)

Poor misguided things. There is nothing in that humiliating blog post that would help them with information regarding "her boots shining."

In fact, the only thing they will learn from that post is how I humiliated myself in public one day by wearing one black shoe and one brown shoe. At the same time. Having NO idea of my fashion faux pas until after I got home.

The sad thing is, that's not even the worst part. When I wrote that post over two years ago, I left out part of the story. I was too embarrassed at the time to tell all ten of you the "whole" truth.

Now, over 2 1/2 years later, I'm still embarrassed by it, but I feel led to share it with you, because the Lord humbled me that day. BIG time.

"If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness." ~2 Corinthians 11:30

That particular day, as I was in the waiting room waiting (of course) to be called back and fitted for my fashionable new back brace, an old lady walked in for her appointment just a few moments after me.

She was probably in her 80s. When she walked in (using her walker for support), I immediately noticed her shoes. They were the orthopedic kind.

Some people call them "comfortable" shoes. Not me. I've always called them "old lady" shoes. (I don't mean to offend anyone by my comments; it's just that having to wear this type of shoe is something that has always scared me about aging. Like having to sport blue hair. But I digress.) I've even said many times over the years, "Lord, I don't ever want to wear shoes like that. Even if my feet are killing me, I want to avoid that look if at all possible. As well as blue hair. In Jesus' Name, Amen."

She was a very sweet woman. She was with her equally sweet husband, who was very attentive to her as she came into the office and signed in. You could tell they loved each other and had for their entire lives.

As a married woman, I loved seeing that. But those shoes.....Again, I thought to myself, "Bless her sweet heart, those shoes are just pitiful. Please Lord, help me avoid those shoes. And blue hair. In Jesus' Name, Amen."

Well, I got called back and fitted for my back brace. Which was humbling to say the least.

I spent the entire drive home thinking of ways that I could convince Shannon that this hideous thing was all the rage at Victoria's Secret. By the time I got home, I had almost convinced myself that I could totally pull that off.

I also remember thinking, as I walked in my door, "Well, at least I don't have to wear those pitiful 'old lady' shoes....that would really be awful combined with this hideous back brace."

It was at about that same moment that I looked down at my own shoes, only to notice this.....

I was mortified. To say the least.

"Swallow your pride occasionally, it's non-fattening!" ~Author Unknown

I laughed out loud at my ridiculous self and at God's sense of humor. Only moments before, I had been feeling so sorry for that sweet old lady having to wear her "comfortable" shoes......when the whole time she was probably feeling sorry for me not even being able to "match" mine.

I could just hear her saying as I left the waiting room, "Lord, look at that poor girl. She's probably not even 40 years old yet and already having to wear a back brace. Poor thing can't even pick out matching shoes to wear. Please don't ever let me leave the house looking so ridiculous. Or with blue hair. In Jesus' Name, Amen."

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." ~Proverbs 11:2

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bible Study About Naomi

The woman that I read about this week in my devotional book is Naomi. The devotional book that I am reading is called Women of the Bible written by Ann Spangler and Jean E. Syswerda. Click here to see the book as listed on Amazon. (If you are interested in learning about any of the other women that I've written about before, click here to see the list of women. I hope to continue adding to that list in the future.)

We are introduced to Naomi in the book of Ruth.

Ruth 1:1-5
In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.
Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

Right as we meet Naomi, we are also met with tragedy. The worst kind of tragedy that any wife or mother could ever experience. In the span of about ten years, Naomi loses her husband....then loses both of her sons. As a wife and a mother to two sons, I cannot imagine the pain that Naomi must have felt.

There are so many lessons to learn from Naomi's story, but what I want to discuss today about her life is this: She was so overcome with grief that she felt she had to change her name.

Ruth 1:19-21

So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

In the Bible (and even still today) names have great meaning to the Lord. There are several instances in the Bible where He Himself changed some one's name due to a significant change in their life.

For example:

He changed Levi (meaning "joined") to Matthew (meaning "Gift of God").

He changed Saul (meaning "prayed for") to Paul (meaning "small or humble").

He changed Jacob (meaning "he who grabs the heel") to Israel (meaning "he struggles with God").

He changed Abram (meaning "high father") to Abraham (meaning "father of a multitude of nations").

He changed Sarai (meaning "contentious") to Sarah (meaning "lady or princess").

You'll notice that in each of these examples, when God changed their names after a significant event in their lives, the name that He gave them was representative of what He had done and would continue to do through their lives. You would have to read each of their stories to appreciate the exact significance of each of the names, but each one of them were positive changes that gave glory to God. That's not to say they did not continue to have struggles in their lives, but they were forever changed for the better, because of the changes that the Lord had seen them through.

Naomi's God given name meant "pleasant," but the name she gave herself, Mara, meant "bitter."

Naomi did live to see her life come full circle with the Lord. She witnessed God's goodness and faithfulness even in her old age.

Ruth 4: 13-17

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”
Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

In her "bitter" grief, Naomi could not have imagined the "pleasant" blessings that God had in store for her future.

Since we have the benefit of knowing how Naomi's story ends in the Bible, we know that "bitter" is not the name change that God would have chosen for someone He originally named "pleasant."

But Naomi, of course, did not know her future. When she changed her name to mean "bitter," she was trapped in her own pain and despair, and there was nothing "pleasant" about her life to her at that time. Her grief weighed so heavily on her heart, that she could not ever imagine feeling differently. Or even wanting to.

There are many difficult times in all of our lives that make it hard for us to clearly see that the Lord is still with us.

"For we live by believing and not by seeing." ~2 Corinthians 5:7 (NLT)

We have to rely on our faith during those times.

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." ~Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

Thankfully we also have His Word to help us through those times.

"Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up." ~Psalm 71:20(NIV)

Naomi's story is a reminder for us all to try our best each day to keep our focus on God...not our circumstances.

During rough times, we have to hold on to His promises.

We all have to remind ourselves to never undo in doubt, what we did in faith.

My parents named me Amy after a Bobby Darin love song by the same name.

If you're not familiar with it, here it is.

My mother just loved the song (as well as Bobby Darin), so she named me Amy.

But what God knew when she chose my name was that it meant "Beloved."

The meaning of my name is something that has encouraged me through my entire life. The older I get, the more it means.

After a particularly difficult time in our marriage (you can read a little more about that here), I gave my husband Shannon a ring with this verse from Song of Solomon 6:3 engraved on it that says, "I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine...."

Since Amy means "Beloved," every time Shannon sees the ring he is reminded of our marriage commitment to each other. "I am Amy's and my Amy is mine...."

When I am struggling with difficult circumstances in my life, I remind myself that Beloved means "one that is dearly loved." And if God dearly loves me, then He will always take care of me. My life may not always play out like I hope or expect it to, but God will always allow things that happen (whether good or bad) to benefit my matter how they may seem as they are happening.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

In the Bible, we are all referred to as God's beloved children.

Ephesians 5:1-2 says: "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

I am His Beloved.

You are His Beloved.

We are all His Beloved.

God dearly loves all of His children. He would never want for any of us to walk through this life with the burden of being labeled as "bitter."

Dear Lord,

Thank you for sharing the story of Naomi's life with us. Seeing your faithfulness through the difficult circumstances in her life, encourages us as we go through difficult times in our own. Like Naomi, there are times when we all feel "bitter" facing life's difficult trials, but through Naomi's story, we are all reminded to walk through every trial knowing that regardless of the painful situations we may find ourselves facing, we are all still your "Beloved" children.

In Christ's Sweet Name,

"Let God's promises shine on your problems." ~Corrie Ten Boom