Monday, March 31, 2008

March Reading List

Anna's Books

Completed:
  • Discipline by Elisabeth Elliot - I always enjoy books by Elisabeth Elliot, and this one was wonderful! Thanks to Elijah for recommending it to me and letting me borrow it! It's a book everyone should read. It's not a "feel good" book - it really challenges you to be disciplined - but it shows how discipline can be "the glad surrender". It honestly deals with discipline in 7 areas of life that you might not otherwise think of, fearlessly going against the popular teaching of today that things must be "comfortable".
  • When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy - This was probably my 4th time reading this book, yet as always, it encouraged and challenged me in new ways. Periodically I just need another reminder to stay strong, and this book again helped me press on. Written by both Eric and Leslie Ludy, it's great to get both sides of the picture; it shows how differently men and women sometimes think. It's also very entertaining - they write in a fun, yet honest way. The subject material is very honest in the ways purity has declined among youth today, and for a "sheltered homeschooler" such as me, it can be very shocking. So, it may be wise for your parents to read it first.
  • Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand - Written in 1967, this book was a sobering reminder to wake up to the fact that so many Christians are being persecuted and martyred in other countries. This book focused on the Underground Church behind the Iron Curtain in Romania, but the animosity is still very much alive in many other countries. We truly need to pray and consider how we can help our persecuted brothers in other places.
  • Eye of the Oracle by Bryan Davis - In contrast to the last book I read, this 600 page book only took me only 2 days to read! Most of the reason was that I was sick and thus had time to read a lot of the day, but this book is definitely one that's hard to put down! I enjoyed Bryan Davis' "Dragons in Our Mist" series, and this prequel was intriguing to read. He writes of characters that learn to look to God for strength, while the plot contains exciting twists and turns.
  • Daniel Deronda by George Eliot - Miriam loaned me this book, and it's taken me a month to finally finish it! It's not that I didn't read much (I read at least a chapter a day and more if I could) but with 700 pages it takes a while to finish! Plus, it requires longer reading because, being a classic, you can't just read through it quickly! I enjoyed the book, learning more about old English customs and the outlook of life in 1878 (the time the book was published). I was amazed at how well the author knew other authors and quoted from them - clearly classical reading was done more in years past. I also enjoyed the Jewish characters in the book and their customs and life in England. However, I was saddened that the Christian hero ended up marrying a Jewess while maintaining his Christianity - no qualms were given about being unequally yoked in faith. It made more sense after I read the introduction, it turning out that Marian Evans (real name of George Eliot) had become disillusioned with Christianity and maintained that Jesus was only a great teacher, not divine. Her life in the biography was very sad! So, I enjoyed the classic aspect of the literature, but the overall story didn't turn out to be the most encouraging!
  • The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare - After enjoying writing and directing musicals last year, I have been studying different aspects of drama this year in home education, reading a textbook on Dramatic Literature then one called The Fundamentals of Play Directing. Having finished those, I decided to read some works of Shakespeare, so that I am familiar with what so many consider great theater. I must confess, I didn't really enjoy them all that much, and don't really see why so many people consider then amazing. =) I could understand them pretty well (the definitions of weird words helped a lot) but a lot of it seemed kind of nonsensical. No offense to any of you lovers of Shakespeare! :-)
  • R.G. LeTourneau: Mover of Men and Mountains, an autobiography - I really enjoyed reading this inspiring story about this man's life of faith. Many times he fell on hard times, but he always trusted God and got back on his feet with His help. This man founded LeTourneau University, the college my brother attends, and built many of the big earth moving machines that really revolutionized the way roads were built and land cleared. His machines helped greatly in World War II and he also used them to help missionary work in other countries. He often said "The question is not how much of my money I give to God, but rather how much of God's money I keep for myself." Following this principal of faith, he eventually gave away 90% of his income to God's work. He was truly a "businessman for God."
  • When I Don't Desire God by John Piper - The follow-up to Desiring God, this book gave practical ways to fight for joy, even when you don't feel like it. It was convicting to read, as it called for us to follow God through trials and to wholeheartedly serve Him, drawing closer to Him through Bible reading and prayer. I enjoyed reading a chapter-a-day as part of my home education
Currently Reading:
  • By Far Euphrates by Deborah Alcock - A historical novel about the Armenia in the 19th century, I'm enjoying reading this book for "fun reading".
  • Jack by George Sayer - Having really enjoyed The Chronicles of Narnia multiple times and other books by C.S. Lewis, I'm enjoying learning about the life of this great man.
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare - I decided to give another Shakespearian drama a try. =)
  • Will start another theology book tomorrow!
Miriam's Books

Completed:
  • Pearl Maiden by H. Rider Haggard - I can't say how many times I've read this book now. It's been a favorite ever since Anna gave it to me. I have enjoyed every book by this author that I've read so far. He skillfully mingles interesting characters with history so as to make it a story that keeps you reading.
  • Moonfleet by J. M. Falkner - If you have any brothers, I would really recommend this for them if they don't have anything to read. Caleb received this for Christmas and really liked it (he is 15 yrs. old). A boy's adventure told very well from his point of view. Coming from a person who doesn't read first-person stories very well, it was very good.
  • Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper - Even though I agreed with all this author had to say, it took me awhile to read this. Anna probably wondered if she was ever getting it back. =) I must say that after I finished it, I had a bigger desire to use my time wisely and not waste it by idleness or unimportant things.
  • The Friendly Dickens by Norrie Epstein - This was a wonderfully written book! It's about Charles Dickens and his books. She writes in-depth about each book that he wrote and the way she wrote made me want to read all of Charles Dicken's books. If you have to read up on Dickens or his books, I really do recommend this book. I will say on the side that it is not written by a Christian and would recommend that the parent(s) read it first.
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens - After reading The Friendly Dickens, I wanted to read all of Dickens' books. I had already read Great Expectations, so I decided to start next with this one. I loved it! I read it faster than I had ever imagined I would read a Dickens book.

Currently Reading:

  • Aborted Women by David Reardon - I'm still working on this one.
  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens - I'm about halfway through this book and though the reading is a little harder than Oliver Twist, I'm enjoying it just as much.
What have you read recently?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Brownie Recipe


Miriam is the chocolate-fanatic in our family, so for her recent birthday mom made brownies and we had chocolate ice cream, chocolate syrup, and chocolate chips for a brownie sundae. It was quite delicious, needless to say. =)

I was happy, because I finally found a brownie recipe that worked! The previous two I'd tried had turned out kind of dry. So I decided I'd share the recipe with you, in case you were looking for a good, moist brownie recipe for a special occasion.

I found the original recipe off of Our Kitchen Adventures, a great blog by a mother and daughter. We didn't use organic ingredients, so I've changed the recipe just slightly.

Fudge Brownies
1 cup butter
3 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate
1 cup lightly packed sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 8x8 baking pan.

In a heavy pot, melt the butter and chocolate together, stirring occasionally. While they melt, assemble the rest of the ingredients (if mixing by hand, beat the eggs with a fork in a separate bowl). When the butter and chocolate have melted, remove the pot from the heat. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat by hand or with an electric mixer. Add the eggs. Stir in flour, and mix until the batter is blended and smooth. Pour the batter into baking pan, bake for about 20 minutes, until the brownies are just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan and are fudgy in the center. For more cake like brownies, bake an additional 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

Friday, March 28, 2008

My Childhood Dream

I was 7 years old... As morning dawned I dressed myself and picked out an outfit for my baby. I played with her throughout the day and took her to meals, setting her in her high chair and feeding her plastic food. Before I climbed into bed, I changed her into her nightie and tucked her in her cradle with a tender "good night". She was my baby doll...

It didn't last long, me caring for her all day every day, but she continued to be my special little one. I had many dolls growing up - Nellie, my huge cloth doll that I slept with and played with until her stuffing came out; Samantha, the American Girl doll I excitedly unwrapped on my 8th birthday and played with as her hair matted and my little sister "lovingly" bestowed green marker on her body; a big doll house full of little dolls, with families of sometimes 20 children; and my last doll, Kaitlin Leanna, of American Girl doll size, but for only $20 from a local Walmart. These were my childhood friends, my babies.

I played with them every day (at least!) until I was around 12. Then I gradually, reluctantly, started to grow out of them. My big dolls had wardrobes with dresses for every occasion, with homemade additions from my sister Miriam and later me, as I learned to sew. My little doll's house was decorated with everything small, miniature dishes, tools, trunks - anything I could find their size. My dolls went on trips with me, came with me to concerts, and even came camping! Many happy hours were spent playing dolls alone, with Jubilee, or with friends, making up elaborate stories for them to live out.

Much as I enjoyed plastic or cloth babies, nothing could compare with the real kind - the kind that breathed, cooed, and smiled. Everywhere I went, if there was a baby, I always tried to find a way to hold it. Those who knew me well joke that if a baby is around, it doesn't take me long to get it in my arms! =) I loved (and still love!) the precious bundles of joy. There truly is nothing like a baby. Even if I only get to hold one for a few minutes, they fill me with such contentment and joy. I may have begun leaving dolls behind at age 12, but I began something even better: babysitting! I only have one younger sibling of my own, but I've been able to watch a few special families grow up. The love and joy "my children" share and the excitement on their faces as they greet me is so priceless! At age 9 I was thrilled to welcome my first niece, and have so enjoyed all the time I get to spend with my precious 7 nieces and nephews (#8 - Luke and Michele's 5th - Bethany Dawn is due in August!!!) .

To be a mother is truly my childhood dream. It was my dream at 7, and it's still my dream at 17. I know that it won't be all coos and contentment, but I do believe that I will find fulfillment in it. I will probably do many things in my life, but my biggest hope is that I'm able to spend most of my life as a wife and mother.

Below is a slideshow depicting my childhood dream. It's full of pictures of me doing what I enjoy so much: holding young children, or, in years gone by, playing with my dollies. I hope you will enjoy and be blessed by it!

The song is the perfect one to voice this desire. It's sung by Serene and Pearl, and Mrs. Nancy Campbell of Above Rubies was very kind to give me permission to use it in this slideshow. I first heard Pearl and her daughter sing it at an Above Rubies retreat in 2005, and it filled me with delight as I listened - this was my heart's cry! We bought the CD, and each time I hear it, my heart again sings along.



(If I showed this slideshow to you before, you may still want to watch it again, as I've changed it a little bit. If you want to see it bigger on GodTube, go here.)

God knows His plans for me. I pray that they will include being a wife and mother, but ultimately it will be His will that prevails. And I trust Him, leaving the future in His hands.

"Only a childhood dream, but make it real, let me be like the mother in my childhood dream."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

When Sickness Strikes

On Monday I came down with a sore throat. Tuesday afternoon added a fever. Today brought relief from a sore throat, but added a stuffy, running nose with a slight fever. I can only pray that I'm well tomorrow so that I don't have to cancel teaching dance classes.

It's amazing what a change of perspective being sick brings. Gone is the 6 a.m. alarm and trying to get a million things done in a day. Instead of striving to do all my schoolwork, I just do the best I can - today Physics would just not work in my stuffy head! The housework slacks and the others make the meals. Instead of having a long list of to-dos, I just want to get well.

It does leave time to rest up (though you still feel drained!) and gives me an excuse to spend hours reading and maybe even watch a movie! And as dad always says, it's one less cold for me to get when I'm older (but compared to the hundreds of kinds out there, is it really much encouragement?)!

Sickness keeps you humble; you know that you can't do it all, and you need to take out a lot of time to rest. It also makes you better appreciate the times when you feel well! It's amazing how quickly we take health for granted.

I hope your week is going a little better then mine! I think I'll go back and curl up on the couch with a good book...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sara's Birthday Dress and Doll

My niece Sara Rose turned 4 in January - such a big girl now! I asked Maria for gift ideas, and she told me that Sara would like a doll, somewhat like the one I made for Lisa Beth for Christmas, but more of a "big girl" type.

I decided to also make a dress for Sara that would match the doll's dress; after all, little girls' clothes are so much fun to make! I had eyed this fabric every time I went to Walmart, and knew it would make a beautiful dress for a little girl. After all, what's better then something pink and purple? =) I used McCall's Easy Stitch 'n Save pattern 4746. It's a fun dress with a full skirt, just perfect for twirling!

I used a pattern for the doll that Maria found online. It was a little easier to make since I'd already made a doll before, but it's still amazing how long something so small can take to sew! I stitched the face instead of painting it (I'm not that handy with a paint brush!) and made shoes just by trying to fit them, since the pattern for the shoes didn't look very easy to use.

The gift was late for her birthday, since I wanted to give it to her in person. We went to their house last weekend, and it was fun to see Sara try it on. I think she liked her doll as well. :-) She promptly named her "Sara" just like herself. Long dresses always look so pretty, and Sara looked like a princess!

Homemade gifts are always so much more special to give!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Because He Lives


Because He Lives
I can face tomorrow
Because He Lives
All fear is gone
Because I know
Who holds the future
And life is worth the living,
Just because He Lives.

Song lyrics by Bill and Gloria Gaither. Emphasis mine.
Picture from the yard of the lady my sister lives with, taken two years or so ago.

Rejoice! Jesus is Alive!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring Camping 2008

Finally, the pictures from our wonderful weekend outdoors are compiled into one slideshow that tells the story of our camp-out. We had a total of 85 people camp (though some only for one night) and 33 people came out just for the day. So, 28 families were represented in a grand total of 118 people that came out to Fort Toulouse with our group! (Thanks to Miriam for these numbers!)

If you'd like to get a glimpse of how the weekend went, please watch the slideshow below. Because of the great number of pictures taken I made a slideshow to kind of sum everything up. Sorry that some of the words flash off the screen too quickly - it looks fine on my computer, but when I uploaded it, the quality went down and for some reason some of the words messed up a little. Anyways, I hope you enjoy!



If you'd like to see even more pictures from camping, choose from the online albums here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Rebelution Amazon Book Bomb

Dear Readers,

TheRebelution.com is hosting an Amazon.com Book Bomb for Alex and Brett's new book Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. On March 25th we're going to try and push it to the top of Amazon -- and we need your help!

Alex and Brett are two teen guys who care about our generation and want to see us living for the glory of God. This book is like a manifesto for the Rebelution movement!

This book has a message that teens need to hear. The book bomb is a great chance to get a copy for yourself (plus a few to give away) at a great price (can't beat Amazon!) and help get the book in front of thousands of new people -- all at the same time!

Also, for every copy of the book that people buy on Amazon.com on March 25th, Alex and Brett will be giving away copies to teens and ministries who can't afford them.

If you want to help out, go to TheRebelution.com and sign up with the number of books you plan to order on March 25th. Then help spread the word by sharing this email or putting up one of the ads on your blog or Myspace. We don't have much time!

I know I'm eagerly looking forward to this.

Miriam Rebekah

P.S. One great idea some people have had is to see if you and some friends can order together. If you buy more than three, you get free shipping. You can also check and see if your church or youth group will buy some. Think outside the box!

THE AMAZON.COM BOOK BOMB
www.therebelution.com/dohardthings/book_bomb.php

Easy Craft Project

No, we haven't dropped off the face of the earth while camping! =) We had a wonderful 3 days, tiring, yet full of fun! Currently I'm trying to sort through the hundreds of pictures our family took and make a camping slideshow to remember the event. Check back for pictures hopefully this week!

My sister Miriam had a birthday on Monday, and as we normally do, I asked her for her wish list before I bought her present. One of the things she wanted was a bulletin board that had ribbons across it so that you could hang things on it without pins. I know I've seen ones like that, but never for sale in the stores. However, it sounded easy enough to make, and I knew it would be a fun yet quick and easy project with which to be creative.


I bought the bulletin board and ribbons at Walmart then set to work. This project would also work well with ribbon scraps you already have, but I wanted to have enough to do some uniform design - though the blue around the edges was ribbon I had left over. The possibilities of decorating a bulletin board are endless; just use your favorite colored ribbons or edging, with fun designs and patterns and it will turn out beautifully! I've also seen boards with fabric in the background, if you want a color different from the regular brown. All you need to put it together is a scissor and stapler; pull the ribbons taut and staple in place on the edges and a few spots in the middle - really wherever it needs it!

When finished, insert your photos and you're done! Miriam said she'll probably use it for those Christmas photos you get in the mail each year. It's a great idea, because when the next year comes, you can simply switch out each family's old picture for their new one.

There you have it: a fun yet easy way to make something in your home a little more beautiful! Maybe I should make one for myself now. =)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Getting Ready For...


Need I say more? =)

Between all the lessons and schoolwork of a normal week and planning, shopping for food, and packing up everything we need to survive out in the wild (just kidding - we're actually camping in a very comfortable place!) and getting the house ready for out-of-town guests coming for the camping trip, I have a good excuse for not posting much on here this week.

Tomorrow our family plus the Harts and more then 10 other families will be heading out to spend three days in God's beautiful outdoors. This is the semi-annual family camp-out eagerly anticipated by all involved. So, if your comments don't get published or emails answered, you'll know why: we're having a great break from technology, sleeping in tents, and playing games with old and dear friends.

Now we're just praying it won't rain on us, but even if it does (as it has before) we'll still have a wonderful time!

Have a great weekend!

Photo edited by Miriam L.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Confident in Christ

"being confident of this, that He Who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
~ Philippians 1:6

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Saturday Joys

As Miriam already mentioned, it was amazing to wake up and see snow this morning! No, not much, but down here any snow is a big deal! We went from the upper 70s on Thursday, upper 60s on Friday, to snow on Saturday morning! The weather can certainly act rather strange!

My Saturday started out different then most, in that I woke up at 6 a.m. rather then sleeping in. Although I enjoy the extra sleep most weekends, the solitude of early morning was wonderful, and I enjoyed having more time to do things this morning. After devotions, I headed to the kitchen to make cinnamon rolls, in honor of Elijah's return home for spring break. It's wonderful to have my brother here for a week! Anyways, the kitchen was dark and I was the only one awake as I turned on a light and gathered ingredients. A casual glance out the window made me stop and look again. Although Dad had said the weather indicated that there may be snow, I never actually expected it to actually snow! It was another benefit to getting up early - if I had slept in, it probably would have all melted before I got up.

The leaves were frosted with the delicate snowflakes - so beautiful.

The cinnamon rolls for breakfast were a yummy treat, and I thought I'd share the recipe with you. They're not that hard to make, and so much better then store-bought rolls!

Quick Cinnamon Rolls

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 - 2 1/2 cups white or wheat flour
2 TBSP dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey or sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Apple Filling (This is probably my favorite filling - so yummy and moist!)
3/4 cups applesauce
1 apple, cored and shredded
1/2 cup raisins
1 TBSP cinnamon

Standard Filling (However, I made this one this morning, since we were out of applesauce)
2 TBSP soft butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins

Glaze (optional, but makes it delicious!)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mix whole wheat flour and yeast. Add water, oil, sugar or honey, eggs, and salt; mix well. Add remaining flour 1 cup at a time until dough just cleans the sides of the bowl. Don't add too much flour - dough should be quite soft. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. (Just until it feels right)

On lightly oiled surface (actually, I roll it out on a floured counter top) roll dough into a large rectangle about 14x32 inches and a scant 1/4-inch thick. Spread evenly with desired filling. If using apple filling, mix all ingredients together and spread on. If using regular filling, spread with butter, then sprinkle on sugar, cinnamon, and raisins (I don't really measure the amounts - just put on what looks good!)

Roll up as for a jelly roll, starting with the long side. Seal the seam by pinching dough together. With seam side down, cut into 1 1/4" slices. Place rolls cut-side up on a non-stick baking sheet. Flatten slightly with palm of hand. Let rise until very light and double in size.

Bake 12-15 in a preheated 350* oven. Makes around 24 rolls.

Glaze: mix ingredients and drizzle over warm rolls if desired.

It Snowed Again!!!

I can hardly believe it! We actually had snow twice in one year! No, it didn't stay long enough for pictures, but hey, it was snow. I'm glad it stopped though, because I didn't want orchestra practice canceled again. It was canceled last time it snowed. Well, I have to run.

God bless!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Precious Friendship

One of the things I cherish is spending time with friends. Especially when your friend happens to be a soul mate, who understands you, cares about what you're going through and offers hope and encouragement. She knows how to interpret your looks and moods and shares many a smile, laughs with you, and gives you a hug when you need it most. The talks of things deep or inconsequential, the comfortable moments of silence just savoring time we get to be together, the sitting on car bumpers after events as we wait for our parents to tell us we have to go - they're all memories that I will cherish for a lifetime.

Thank you, Miriam, for being such a friend. The little and big things you do have encouraged me so much as we walk through life's highs and lows together. I thank God for the gift He's given me in you.
"A friend loves at all times..." ~ Proverbs 17:17

Never take your friends for granted! Cherish them, think of ways to encourage them, and enjoy being together!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Dancing on March 1st

On Saturday, The King's Praise Ballet had the opportunity to dance for a 40 Days for Life Montgomery gathering. My mom has been one of the leaders of this event, running from February 6th to March 16th. This gathering was to celebrate Jesus and unite together to hear testimonies and pray for the end of abortion.

It was a bit difficult to dance outside on a tarp in the sun, but we learn to dance in all kinds of places! =) Ballet II did a beautiful job dancing to He Reigns, and I did a solo to Come to Jesus. There were also 2 other dance groups from other churches that shared.


If you'd like to see more pictures of the dances, you can view them by going to my Picasa Album here.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Rahab - Redeemed by Faith

My name is Rahab, wife of Salmon, mother of Boaz. Life these days is wonderful, with a loving husband and sweet son. However, my life wasn't always so pleasant; I have what could be called a "colorful" past. You see, I wasn't born among the Israelites. I was a prostitute from Jericho whom the LORD redeemed and gave a second chance...

Rahab's early life is certainly not one we'd like to emulate, so why would we study her? Because hers is an example of how wonderfully God can change a life. We've all made mistakes we'd like to forget, things we wish we'd never done. For some, maybe you have years you'd like to forget, things done before you met Christ or during a time of back sliding. Rahab's story gives us all hope that God can forgive all sins - little or big - and go on to use us mightily for Him.

We first meet Rahab in Joshua 2; the Israelites have finished their 40 years of punishment in the desert, and, now with Joshua as their leader, are preparing to enter the promised land. However, the promised land is not just sitting there ready for them to walk in and settle down. No, it's full of cities of fierce people that have no intention of giving up their land.

Thus, Joshua sends two spies across the Jordan River, saying, "Go look over the land, especially Jericho." (Joshua 2:1) So the spies went and entered the house of the prostitute Rahab, and stayed there. The question has to be asked: Why in the world did these two good, Israelite men go to the house of a prostitute?? My NIV Quest Study Bible has a note that says that it was most likely a good place to find out information and blend in with other travelers with no questions asked. Also, a house on the city wall would be good for a quick escape. The word can also be translated as innkeeper, so maybe her house was an inn of sorts.

Evidently someone noticed the spies weren't quite from Jericho, however, and the king of Jericho sent a message to Rahab, telling her to turn over the spies. Rahab was a bold woman, though, for she had hidden the two men, and even when asked by the king had no intention of letting them get captured. She sent this reply: "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from. At dusk, when it was time to close the city gate, the men left. I don't know which way they went. Go after them quickly. You may catch up with them." (Joshua 2:4-5)

She definitely threw the guards off the trail, but the method she used - lying - was certainly not the best. God never condones lying, but Rahab, a pagan, was commended for her faith. In face, twice she is used as an example in the New Testament. Hebrews 11:31 says, "By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient." Rahab was one of very few women included in Hebrews "Hall of Faith". Likewise, James 2:25 says, "In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?" Rahab's motives were right before God, and He blessed her for it.

The next passage of Scripture shows us that God had indeed touched Rahab's heart, and that, though perhaps just in fear, Rahab believed that the LORD was the true God. "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 this land to you 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 and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the LORD your God is God in heave above and on the earth below. Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to your 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 3:8-13)

The men were grateful to her for saving them, and assured her, "Our lives for your lives! If you don't tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land." (Joshua 2:14)

So Rahab let the men down by a rope through the window of her house, for she lived in a part of the city wall. Then she gave them a tip: "Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return and then go on your way." (Joshua 2:16) Before the men left, they gave her the conditions of how she could be saved: if she left the scarlet cord tied in the window and did not tell on the spies, she and her family would be saved, but only if they remained inside her house. She agree and tied the scarlet cord in the window while the men escaped.

Time passed, and I'm sure Rahab wondered what would indeed happen. How would the Israelites take Jericho? Would her family really be saved? AS the Israelites sought God for instructions and prepared for war, the people in Jericho became more on edge. Joshua 6:1 says "Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in." After days of waiting, the Israelites finally advanced. However, instead of rushing forward with weapons drawn, they simply carried the ark of the covenant and marched around the wall without saying a word. Then they left. The next day they did the same thing... and the next... and the next... until six days had passed. Who knows what the attitude inside Jericho was during those days! Some were probably even more nervous because of the strange behavior; others probably made fun of the "crazy Israelites" and went back to life as normal. Rahab and her family simply stayed inside their house, watching, wondering, and waiting.

On the seventh day, things changed. Instead of marching once around the city, they did it again and again, circling the wall seven times! Then, at Joshua's command, the trumpets sounded and the people shouted, and the mighty walls of Jericho collapsed! Following Joshua's orders, the Israelite army destroyed the inhabitants of the city and set aside the treasure for the LORD; but they spared Rahab and her family because she had sheltered the spies.

So the two spies went to Rahab's house and took her and her entire family to a place outside the camp of Israel. It doesn't say what happened to Rahab's family, but Joshua 6:25 says that (at the time the book was written) "she lives among the Israelites to this day."

The faith and courage of one woman, a harlot and among the least respected of women, saved her entire family and helped the Israelites take the great city of Jericho. Rahab turned her back on her sinful ways and embraced the One True God, becoming apart of the Israelites and eventually marrying one of their men. She also raised up a Godly son, Boaz, who became a respected man in Bethlehem and the kinsman-redeemer of Ruth. Finally, generations later, the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, was born through her family line. In fact, she's one of only five women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus (see Matthew 1:5).

Never think that God has given up on you, or that you are beyond His help. Don't give up on others, but instead offer to them the saving power of Jesus. There's no sin so big that He can't forgive. God can use anyone, and often uses those who you'd think would be the least likely, the least "deserving". Move past your mistakes, ask God's forgiveness, and go on to do great things.

Read all about Rahab in Joshua 2 and 6; Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25

Read about more Women of the Bible here.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Encouraging Daffodils

The presence of daffodils always gives encouragement that spring is on its way. Ever since the beginning of February, these beautiful flowers have been cheerfully blooming in clumps around our property. The weather really fluctuates - so cold one day, and feeling almost like summer the next; on the colder days, sometimes the daffodils disappear, or they droop to the ground after a hard rain. However, they always come back, persevering and spreading little bits of sunshine.
"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD."
~ Psalm 31:24

"But I trust in You, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God.' "
~ Psalm 31:14

"I wait for You, O LORD; You will answer, O LORD my God."
~ Psalm 38:15

"To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in You I trust, O my God."
~ Psalm 25:1-2a

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."
~ Proverbs 3:5-6