Women of the Bible 10: Who am I?

I am a sceptic and always have been. If I can’t prove it, I don’t believe it.

So, I hear about a king, north of here. (I live in Yemen.) They say he is the greatest on earth. He has the most powerful army, the best-dressed courtiers, and is the richest, wisest…. They say he’s the greatest ever.

How can anyone be all that?

The reports keep coming. His throne room is like no other. His houses … they drink from gold vessels….

In order to disprove the rumors and satisfy my curiosity, I prepare to go and meet this great so-and-so. It’s an official visit, since I am queen.

I take spices, gold, and precious stones. After all, what do you give to someone who has everything?

As I’ve heard he is wise, I take with me a list of hard questions, to test him. What does this king know and believe?

After many long hot days, we arrive with our caravan of camels and find him welcoming and amicable. I feel that I can talk with him about anything. I’m almost embarrassed, as I realize I have told him all that is in my heart.

I ask my questions—my long list—and he answers every single one. To my satisfaction. With wisdom. I’m in awe.

His house, the gourmet food, the manner of the servants and their attendance to details, his ministers, the sparkling robes on everyone, his cupbearers, and the reverence with which he procedes to the house of his God leave me speechless—a rarity for me.

When I find my tongue, I say to him: It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.

I give the king 120 talents of gold, many pounds of spices, including frankincense from my country, and precious stones. In fact, I heard he had never received so many spices ever before as he did from me.

What the king do, then? He asked me what I wanted. I could choose anything. Believe me, I took advantage of his generosity. I chose silk, gold-studded robes for me and my household, some golden chalices, and a large box of silver. He wasn’t satisfied. He gave me more as a present. I am overwhelmed.

When my servants and I turn towards home, I am a different person. I have put my faith in the God of Israel. I am a believer in two senses: I now believe what I was told—and they hadn’t described even the half of what I saw with my own eyes. And, more importantly, I found the most powerful, awesome God.

Who am I?

Who is the great king?

For extra credit, how far did I travel from Sana’a, Yemen to the king’s palace in Jerusalem?

“My son” Proverbs 3’s caring advice

Addressing someone as son, daughter, or child shows affection and caring. This passage reminds me of the Apostle John, who often used the words little children to express his love and concern for the people to whom he wrote.

In Proverbs 3, there are two parts.

The first is addressed, my son. It’s a wonderful list of instructions from the Father:

  • Don’t forget my law—a good place to start.
  • Keep my commandments.
  • Don’t let mercy and truth get away from you.
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
  • Don’t depend on your own understanding.
  • Look to God in everything you do.
  • Don’t think you’re wise.
  • Respect the Lord.
  • Reject evil.
  • Tithe.
  • Don’t resist when God brings you back into line. His correction is a sign that He loves you like a Father.

Then, there’s a list of blessings for the son (or daughter) who listens:

  • For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee (verse 2).
  • So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man (verse 4).
  • He shall direct thy paths (6). 
  • It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones (8).
  • So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine (10).

The second section of Proverbs 3 is about finding wisdom and the characteristics of wisdom. I love the way it begins: Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding (13).

Wisdom’s value is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her (14-15).

What are the benefits of wisdom?

  • Length of days
  • Riches and honour
  • pleasantness
  • peace
  • a source of life

Verse 19 begins talking about the Lord:

  • The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth;
  • by understanding hath he established the heavens.
  • By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.

Then, the Proverb swings back to advice for the son:

  • My son, let not them depart from thine eyes:
  • keep sound wisdom and discretion.
  • Be not afraid of sudden fear,
  • Don’t be afraid of the desolation of the wicked.
  • Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
  • Devise not evil against thy neighbour.
  • Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm.
  • Envy thou not the oppressor.

Again, there’s a list of blessings for obedience:

  • So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.
  • Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.
  • When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.
  • For the Lord shall be thy confidence.

Many times in the book of Proverbs, God contrasts good and bad. At the end of Chapter 3, we have three comparisons of this type.

  1. The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just (33).
  2. Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly (34).
  3. The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools (35).

What do I get out of Proverbs 3? One thing I noticed this time through this chapter was the Father-son relationship and caring advice, obviously a parallel with God and His children.

How many times do we give good advice to our own children and tell them the blessings of obedience and consequences of disobeying? I’m not sure I was good at the first part—advising them of the blessings in store if they obeyed. I often only warned them of the consequences of disobedience. But, God is the perfect Parent, and He wisely lists the joys of obedience as motivation for His children.

Two of my favorite verses—and life guiding verses—are in this passage: Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (5-6). These help me with priorities. They ground me. As a woman, I am too prone to try to figure things out, fix, and lean to mine own understanding. I love that that last phrase, direct thy paths, actually means to “make my way straight” or “straighten my way.” When things aren’t clear, when we don’t get it, He does—and He will straighten it all out if we trust in Him. It’s like releasing the reins and letting the horse take us home—only much, much better.

Have you enjoyed this affectionate chapter? Which lesson speaks to you? Please feel free to share.

A controversial approach to phones for children

The debate continues. Should children have smart phones?

Experts are on both sides, but many psychologists agree that phone use—especially at bedtime—is harmful to the development of children. Use of smart phones also opens them up to groomers, hackers, and bullies. It enables them to begin harmful habits, like self-harm and porn. Phone use can even instruct them how to hurt others—and commit suicide.

So, I will float a controversial idea.

It may rock your boat. And, if you listen, it may save your child.

Give your child a simple phone that only calls parent-approved numbers. It doesn’t take pictures. You can’t text with it. They do exist, and there are many on the market. Just search for “simple phones for children.”

Your number and emergency personnel should top the list, followed by trusted others and maybe some of the child’s best friends—kids you personally know well.

Instruct your child never to share his phone number—even though it’s a “dumb phone”—to anyone you haven’t previously approved. Even so, check his phone from time to time.

Non-smart phones enable your kids to stay in touch with you with several added benefits: You have saved them from comparisons, bullying, and wasting time. You’ve enabled them to enjoy their childhood, be creative, read, run, and have genuine, playtime fun.

I understand that I lived in a totally different world when I grew up. My parents didn’t have to fear letting us ride our bikes all over the neighborhood. They weren’t afraid we’d get kidnapped or trafficked. They taught us our address and home phone number, and with those two pieces of information, we knew how to contact them.

Today, many women work outside their homes, and I understand that it’s important for them to be able to stay in touch with their kids. A simple phone does this. It lets them call their parents, and parents can call them. Anyone can leave a message, if needed. The added benefit is that a simple phone is easy to use. Even a first grader can master it.

Happy childhoods require unconnected time.

Experts used to warn us about television viewing. Now, phone addiction is a sad reality.

I often wonder if a born again Christian child can even meditate on a Bible verse, since he’s always staring at the device in his hand. How can he pray without ceasing if he’s continually tuned in to his phone? A simple phone can enable spiritual freedom, as well.

Unconnect your child today. This year, give your son or daughter a phone designed for children, and you’ll notice an awesome difference in your family.

I guarantee it.

Your thoughts are welcome, even if you disagree. Feel free to comment kindly.

Fiction review: The Forgotten Life of Evelyn Lewis

The Forgotten Life of Evelyn Lewis is a debut novel by Jane Rubietta, but you’d never guess it. Little by little, the fascinating plot reveals repressed memories.

Evelyn “Evie” Lewis is a successful interior designer, much sought-after by New York City’s real estate owners. But, her world is rocked with two events: a client goes bankrupt, which means Evie may not be able to pay her own company’s bills, and she inherits her mother’s homeplace in Tennessee. The problem was, the property she planned to fix up and sell came with a clause: she had to live there for three months. Three months … and her company was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Her old motto, “Get in, get out” had always helped her cope. Why was she having nightmares and flashbacks now? What had happened in her childhood? Why did her parents leave her?

Evie has to stay or she doesn’t get the property. Much to her surprise, she begins to be enveloped in the neighborliness of the townspeople—or is it love? She feels part of the community and even family for the first time in her life.

Follow her as she gets to know them and as she begins to care. A little bit at a time, Evie finds her past. Some is earthshakingly tragic, and some of it is beautiful.

There’s a lot I could say about this novel. I loved it! The writing is masterful. It pulled me in before the second page. There’s a little bit of everything in the plot: humor, pathos, romance, and lots of genuine love. I enjoyed the details about rehabilitating the old house and how the author revealed Evie’s story a little at a time while also surprising with complications and twists.

I looked for Ms. Rubietta’s author page, and found out she has written and co-written several non-fiction and devotional books, but this is her first novel.

I loved The Forgotten Life of Evelyn Lewis, and I think you will, too.

Clean, Christian, some pre-marital kisses, but no sensual content at all. The plot includes “evangelistic dating,” which, of course, I don’t recommend. Though you may want to chat with your daughters beforehand, I think your teen girls would enjoy this as much as you will.

Shopping therapy

I love to shop. For sure, I can shop ’til I drop. That’s about three to four hours, but I do it with complete abandon, a smile on my face, and my eyes darting back and forth to discover anything new and interesting. Shopping is therapy for me.

I confess I rarely buy anything. I window-shop—but more than that, I actually window-shop inside stores, as well. Is that called aisle-shopping? I don’t know.

My favorite stores are home furnishings, but I love a good variety store, antique shop, art gallery, or department store. I like quirky things. I especially love it when little “rooms” are decorated, so you can actually see the possibilities. My imagination goes wild! Inspiration overload.

I enjoy clothing stores less—because I rarely find anything I like in my size that looks good on me with a price I’m willing to pay. Clothes shopping does nothing for my good humor. Shoe shopping is even worse—but I’ll spare you.

I rarely get to do my shopping-’til-dropping escapades, and perhaps that’s a good thing. The malls where we live in Spain only have one home decoration store—nice but pricey. I still might find myself spending a short afternoon at a mall, just for fun—about once every two years. But, in the United States…. The possibilities are endless.

Michelangelo once proclaimed, “Gazing at beautiful things acts on my soul.” I totally agree with him.

I love to shop with my sister, who should start her own business of where to find what and how to outfit a person in one afternoon. I also enjoy shopping with our daughter, who tells me honestly what she thinks and keeps me from being “too old lady.”

Is shopping your therapy?

Which do you prefer: window-shopping or actually buying things?

Do you get a kick out of using your credit card ’til it smokes and buying a whole new wardrobe, pricey make-up, doing your hair and nails at the salon, and changing the living room furniture …

finding yourself overspending?

Dave Ramsey once said, “We often overspend because we are trying to fill an emotional gap in our lives. No object will ever satisfy your soul.”

It is one of the reasons we spend money—that emotional gap. We collect things because they make us feel somehow comfortable. Spending on ourselves makes us feel momentarily happy. After all, we deserve that treat. (Not so.)

Soon, we’re right back at the same low emotional place, and we’re tempted to spend even more money in order to feel good again.

We realize things don’t do it.

We’re not alone. Many post milennials are going minimalist because they’ve learned that living in a junked-up house is tiring. Too much stuff means too much to clean, put away, and it produces mental clutter and oppression. The decorating pendulum has swung the other way. Now, we enjoy clean surfaces, less is more, and invite Marie Kondo into our closet so we can learn to fold and roll.

Back in the 1800s, Henry David Thoreau decided to camp out at Walden Pond and enjoy a simple life (where he only stayed two years, by the way). He said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

“He who buys what he does not need steals from himself.” (Swedish proverb)

I think that’s true.

Is it sinful to go shopping? Of course not.

Is it wrong to overspend? Yes, we’re responsible to God to manage what He has given us. Jesus tells his disciples a parable about an unjust steward. It’s talking about money (here called mammon), and the parable concludes: He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Luke 16:10-11, 13).

God says you either serve Him or money, not both. When we overspend, we haven’t been faithful with the money God has entrusted to us. We become slaves to money—since we owe it.

The remedy for overspending, of course, is contentment. Are we content with what we have right now? Can we be okay not spending crazily?

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1 Timothy 6:8). Do we have something to eat and wear? Yep.

Let your conversation (lifestyle) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5).

Our relationship with God is sufficient for our contentment. His presence alone should bring us joy.

I’ll close with an unattributed quote I found on Pinterest: “It costs $0.00 to be grateful for what you already have.”