America The Beautiful

It’s a rainy morning as I write. I challenge you as writers and photographers to display your best interpretation of America. Let’s keep this as positive as possible.

I shot this many years ago in the early morning on the river.

The simplicity of horses feeding from this old stone shelter.
Christmas trees soon to be harvested.
From sea to shinning sea…

to the simple farm life that provides for you and me.

A bench by a pond’s edge leaves little more to be said.
And even grains of sand can be counted and every one placed by the hand of God.
While rivers and streams still lead the way…
Mountains still soar with great majesty…

While great ships of iron may ride its waves….. there will still be another day!

GOD BLESS AMERICA

Be comforted by the fact that God says DO NOT BE AFRAID. It is easy to give up on America right now but you should never give up on God because he has the final say.

Women Of The Bible IV

Leah

And now we meet Leah. Leah was not a strong beautiful woman like her sister Rachel. When Jacob the grandson of Abraham meets the two sisters he is instantly attracted to Rachel. Their father Laban told Jacob that if he worked for him for seven years he could claim his beautiful daughter’s hand in marriage. He doesn’t know until the seven years are up that his bride-to-be is Leah, not her beautiful sister Rachel that he desired. You can imagine Jacob’s disappointment.

Laban tells Jacob that he can marry Rachel in another seven year but in the meantime would have to act as a husband to Leah. Just so he can marry Rachel later, he does as Laban requested and marries Leah. Leah knew from the very beginning that Jacob did not love her but but felt she had little choice and would never be disobedient to her father. She still proved to be a dutiful wife. With each day of marriage she became more depressed and longed for someone to love her. God was not happy that Leah was still unloved. He opened up her barren womb and enabled her to conceive while her sister Rachel remained barren.

Leah joyfully bears four children by Jacob. Since the birth of her firstborn, Leah as a mother becomes stronger. She pours her whole heart into raising her children and devoting herself to serving God. It is he she knows who has filled her heart with joy.

What did we learn from this story?

Beauty is not always the path to love or righteousness.

A woman full of self doubt can become a strong woman.

The desires of our own heart may not always be within God’s plan for us but if you are devoted to him your cup will be overflowing.

Leah did not let the fact that her husband did not love her lead her down a path of darkness, instead she concentrated on her relationship with her God and her children. As much as God commanded us to be a helpmate to man, it does not mean women are slaves to man. A strong bond between a man and a woman is a beautiful thing but when there is no love there God steps in and will help you to find that love whether it is love of a child or just finding love of self.

Leah who had little self-worth in the beginning became a strong woman happy as a mother and a child of God. The fulfillment of self is often ignored. Find your faith and find true happiness.

Women Of The Bible III

Rebekah

Today’s woman is Rebekah. Rebekah was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah who was the wife of Hahor the brother of Abraham. The Bible tells us she was very beautiful and attractive, chaste and modest and unmarried.

Abraham sent his most favored servant out to find a wife for his son Isaac…… Abraham sent specific instructions with Eliezer [the servant] on how to find this perfect wife. When Rebekah appears at the well Eliezer ran to meet her. The servant said to her “I pray you, let me drink a little water from your water jar”. Rebekah responded “Drink, my lord”; and she quickly let down her jar onto her hand and gave him a drink. After Elizer drank from her jar she told him “I will draw water fro your camels also, until they finish drinking”. Elizer then asked her after the camels had finished drinking whose daughter she was and asked to lodge at her father’s house. While sitting down to feast, Elizer told of his errand. After listening, her father and brother acknowledged their understanding of his mission and said to Elizer. “Rebekah is before you; taker her and go and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has said”.

Isaac and Rebekah married. Isaac prayed much to the Lord for his wife because she was unable to bear children. Now this is the second woman we have found to have been barren. The Bible goes on to say that she too was given a miracle when the Lord granted Isaac’s prayer and Rebekah became pregnant. Not only was she with child but was destined to bear two children. She questioned the Lord as to state of her condition. He replies “The founders of two nations are in your womb, and the separation of two peoples has begun in your body; the one people shall be stronger than the other, and the elder shall serve the younger. Now put yourself in Rebekah’s position. You just find out that you are pregnant after having been barren all for your life, then she realizes that she is not just pregnant but pregnant with twins. But these twins will serve a much higher purpose. When Isaac and Rebekah married he was forty years old but when she delivered he was sixty years old. Twenty years of prayer had passed that Isaac prayed for an heir now his reward was compounded.

What have we learned about Rebekah? Yes, she was beautiful, chaste and modest but she was also a woman of amazingly strong faith. It was her faith that led God to fulfill her greatest desire to bear children. And so he opened her womb to house the founders of two nations. While she was unprepared to bear twins, she loved them both but not equally.

The fact that she did not love her sons equally caused problems when her sons grew up. As faithful as she was, why was she not strong enough to rejoice in both of her sons. Read more about her relationship with her sons in Genesis 25-23 through Genesis 28-40.

Women Of The Bible – II

SARAH

There were many women in the Bible that followed Eve. There was Eve’s daughter-in-law, Cain’s wife who was of so little importance she is actually unnamed in the Bible. So Eve’s great great great grandson was Lamech. Well as some men were in that day, Lamech decided he was not satisfied with one wife so he chose two. The first wife was Ada and the second Zillah. Ada bore sons while Zillah bore and son and a daughter named Naamah.

During this time Eve continued to bear children. Think about it now, seven generations later she was still bearing children. Adam lived 930 years but there is no mention of how old Eve was when she died. In fact, the early chapters of Genesis mentioned few women by name. It is not until chapter 11 of Genesis that we see another wife named. This is the wife of Abram who was a decendant of Noah. Her name was Sarai. Along with Sarai is mentioned Nahor’s wife Milcah. Other than to mention that Sarai was beautiful but barren there is little else mentioned of these two women until Sarai meets Hagar. We all know how this story goes.

Sarai (Sarah) goes on to give the maid Hagar to Abram because she felt so inadequate that she bore him no children. When she sees that Hagar is pregnant she becomes angry. Hagar gave birth to a son, Ishmael. Sarah tolerated Hagar and her son. When she and Abram became advanced in years, The Lord spoke to them separately and announced that Sarah would bear a son. Sarah found it unbelievable that God would favor her in her advanced years with a child. She did in fact become pregnant and bore a son named Isaac

After the birth of Isaac Sarah saw no further need for Hagar and her son. She pleaded with Abraham to cast them out which he did. Isaac grew and this was the child that God asked to be placed as a burnt offering. This was a test of faith for Abraham. Sarah was unaware that this event was taking place. Sarah raised Isaac and rejoice at this opportuity for motherhood. She lived 127 years.

Now what does all this tell us about Sarai (Sarah)? She was beautiful but barren when Abraham married her. She was faithful to God and to Abraham. She made the ultimate sacrifice as a wife and gave her husband to another woman. She followed God’s commands even when she did not fully understand them but was rewarded in her old age with the child of her dreams. She exhibited strength, tolerance and loyalty. Could you have been as strong as Sarah?

You see where I am going with this. While not all of the women were strong, Eve and Sarah were.

References: The Bible and Collector’s CBC Edition Women Of The Bible

Women of the Bible

All About Eve

Eve of course the Bible tells us was the first women pulled from the ribs of Adam. God created her as a companion for Adam. If you think in the narrative, the Bible tell us very little about Eve. What did she look like? How did she and Adam interact? And more importantly what were her thoughts? We don’t know!

This year has been like no other and more than any other year women have made a statement. Since I am finishing up the Bible I think it is a good time to go back and look at women of the Bible

We know that Eve went against God’s instruction not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. She is perceived to be weak. As a helpmate to Adam, she did the one thing that would make God angry at both her and Adam

Let’s assume that life in the garden was perfect until that point. Now comes the “what if” factor”. What if Eve had never bitten into that apple and shared it with Adam? Would it have just been the two of them in the garden forever?

And who was Eve? She was devoted to Adam and to God until that fateful day in the garden. She fell to temptation! She didn’t mean to defy God, she certainly was unprepared for the consequences, and hid her face in shame!

Removed from Paradise, their future was uncertain. Adam took Eve to be his wife dispite the fact that they had been banished because of her actions. Think about that now, he could have gone on his way and suffered his own punishment but he loved her so much that he chose to stay with her.

The Bible goes on to tell us that God said to her: “I will greatly multiply your grief and your suffering in pregnancy and the pangs of childbearing. .. Yet your desire and craving will be for your husband. It’s like he was saying to her “ok you screwed up” and cast the punishment of childbearing but at the same time he still wanted her to please Adam which was his initial goal.

God could have struck them both down, but he didn’t! Dispite what they had done he loved them and even though they had been punished, their love for God grew. This is where Eve ends in the Bible other than the births of Cain and Able.

So what did we learn about Eve? That she was a weak woman in the beginning…and weak of faith but even though she was punished by God because of her lack of faith God still saw value in her. She became a stronger woman and the first to bear children. She was a faithful wife to Adam and a loving mother.

And that concludes the story of Eve.