Monday, January 27, 2014

For Such a Time as This....

Esther had no idea about the edict that had been made.  She didn't know the lives of her people were at risk.  But the Jews in the city knew it, because it was posted for all to see:  On the 13th day of the 12 month all the Jews were to be killed! 

When Esther's maids told her that her Uncle Mordecai was sitting at the King's gate in sac cloth and ashes, she immediately sent him a clean set of clothes!  But, Mordecai would not take them.  Esther sent a servant to find out what was going on.  Why was her Uncle so upset, and why would he not be comforted? 

Esther was shocked at the news!  Mordecai sent Esther a copy of the decree that Haman had made, and he told her that she needed to go to the king and beg for their lives.  (4:8)

Esther again sent Hatach, the servant back to her uncle with another message.  She reminded him that she wasn't allowed to go to the King without being called. She could be killed for such an offense!  And, beside that the King had not called for her in a whole month!

In the end, it was decided that Esther, her maidens, Mordecai, and all the Jews that were in Shushan would fast and pray for 3 days and 3 nights.  At the end of that time, Esther would go before the king against the law and, in her own words, "if I perish, I perish".  (4:16)

 At the end of the 3 days, Esther cleaned herself up and put on her royal apparel and went to see the king.  When the King saw her, he held out his golden scepter.  God had answered the first part of their prayers!  Esther was able to see the King!!
 
King Ahasuerus asked Esther what she wanted and offered to give her anything - up to half of the kingdom.  Esther knew her husband well.  She understood how much he loved parties and feasts.  She had planned a banquet for him and Haman - if there was any way they could make it that night?  She knew he'd be hooked!  That was an easy request to fill, and it was something he loved to do!  Of course he'd go to her banquet! 

That night after the banquet, King Ahasuerus again asked Esther what her request was, and again he offered her up to half of his kingdom.  She responded by inviting him and Haman to another banquet that she was preparing for the following night.  She would make her request then. (5:1-8)
 
Haman was delighted!  He went home that night and gloated about how important he'd become.  He was very proud of himself for moving up in the world as he had.  Not only was he the King's right hand man, but now he was invited to a second banquet the Queen was throwing for just the three of them! 


Life Applications: 

Have faith in God.  Esther had faith that God would take care of her, and if He didn't, she was fine with that too.  She did what was right and trusted God to care for the rest.  (4:16)

I've always wondered if Esther had planned to have two banquets from the very beginning, or if she "chickened out" and decided to put off asking the request till the next night?  Maybe the only reason I wonder that, is because that's something I would do. <PANIC!!>  :) Whatever the case, God was in the details and He worked it all out perfectly for her!  That night, between banquets would be a sleepless one for the King.  God was definitely in the detail in Esther's life, just as He is in ours.  We may not always see what He's doing and how He's working in the back ground, but He is there and He is working everything out for our good!  I'm thinking that night was probably a long one for Esther, too.  I wonder if she knew God was keeping her husband awake that night, preparing his heart as well..!?!

Just as Esther was born to become Queen of Persia and help save her people, so you and I were born "for such a time as this..."  Perhaps, your job in life is to train up a preacher that will reach his generation?  Perhaps your job is to support your husband, or win a soul....  What is God asking YOU to do at "such a time as this...."?

I do hope you will join me as I study the life of "Esther - Queen of Persia"!  I hope to delve in and discover as much as I can about her life and put myself in her shoes...or sandals??  Feel free to leave your thoughts on her life and story in the comments section below! 

In case you missed a previous posts in this series:  

Introduction: Esther, Queen of Persia 
Ahasuerus - The Party Kind of King
A Queen is Chosen!
Haman, the Evil


Photo Credit

Haman, the Evil

Sometime during the first 5 years that Esther was queen, King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite to be his right hand man.

Haman was a decedent of King Agag, whom King Saul had been commanded to "utterly destroy".  (1 Samuel 15)  If King Saul had obeyed when he'd had a chance, Haman and his family would never have existed! The plot against the Jews would never have been hatched.  If only King Saul had done what was right....



The name Haman means: "Illustrious" or "Magnificent".  It is quite obvious that Haman considered himself both!  Haman was proud and arrogant.  He demanded respect and required everyone to bow down to him as he passed. And everyone did...except for Mordecai.  (3:2)


This made Haman very angry!  It soon became clear that Mordecai had no intention of changing his ways. So, Haman came up with a plan. If the reason Mordecai would not bow before Haman was because he was Jewish and worshiped only one God, then Haman would punish all the Jews for their belief! (3:6)

Haman told King Ahasuerus about the "diverse people scattered abroad and disbursed among the people of the kingdom."(3:8)  Something had to be done.  These people needed to be killed, and Haman was willing to pay out of his own pocket to have the deed done!

The king was more than willing to hand over his signet ring.  Haman came up with his wicked plan.  The king's scribes wrote out letters that would be translated in all the languages, stamped into law with the King's signet ring, and carried into all the provinces.  The edict: On the 13th day of the 12th month all the Jews were to be killed!  (3:13)

Haman was going to win this battle yet....!

And so it was that Haman became the Jew's enemy.  (3:10)  To this day, children and adults alike hiss and use instruments called "graggers" to "blot out" the name of Haman when the story of Esther is told every year during the Feast of Purim. They make so much noise that the name "Haman" is not even able to be heard during the story. It is no wonder that, even today, Haman is known to the Jews as "Haman the Evil".



 I do hope you will join me as I study the life of "Esther - Queen of Persia"!  I hope to delve in and discover as much as I can about her life and put myself in her shoes...or sandals??  Feel free to leave your thoughts on her life and story in the comments section below! 

In case you missed our previous posts in this series:  

Introduction: Esther, Queen of Persia 
Ahasuerus - The Party Kind of King
A Queen is Chosen!



Photo Credit

A Queen is Chosen!

Girls, lots and lots of them, were brought to the palace in Shushan.  One of them would be chosen to be the next queen of Persia!

Each girl would go through an extensive year of purification before she was to meet the king.  After arriving at the palace, each maiden was assigned a place in the "first house of women".  At the end of the year of purification, each girl was given "whatsoever she desired" to take with her from that house to the King's house.  She was now ready to meet the king.  Her potential husband.

Sound exciting??

Not really.  Put yourself in their shoes.....

You've been taken from your home.  You are now living with a very large group of single women, all of which are hoping to gain the affection of King Ahasuerus.  When it's your turn to go to the King, you are taken from the "first house of women" to the King's house where you will spend the night with the King.  If the King likes you, or delights in you, more than all the other girls, you will be chosen to be his new queen.  If not, you will be taken from the King's house to the "second house of women" - essentially the harem.    There you will live the remainder of your life with hundreds of other ladies, doing whatever it was they did (probably throwing parties!), and hoping the king would, some day, remember you by name.  If you had ever had any dreams of a family, or children, your chances of achieving that dream were now slim to none.

Living the dream??  I think not...!!


One of the fair, young virgins brought to the palace was a Jewish girl by the name of Esther.  Esther was immediately a favorite of Hegai, the "keeper of the women".  There was something special about Esther that Hegai was drawn to.  A quiet, inner beauty.  There was something different about her.  A sweetness unlike the other girls seemed to posses.  The Bible says, Hegai was kind to Esther, and made sure that she was given the very best of everything she needed. (2:8-9)

One day, it was finally Esther's turn to meet the king.  What would he think about her?  What would happen to her if the King didn't approve?  What would happen if he did?  The questions and fears must have been hard to deal with, but Esther was stronger than most.  She had God on her side.  God provided an inner strength.  She knew God would help her through whatever came her way.

Esther didn't request any "extras" when it was her turn to meet the king.  She took only what Hegai recommended.  She was, quite obviously, not greedy or "over the top" in the way she wore her clothes.  She didn't put on airs, or pretend to be something more than she was.

She was authentic.  She was simply herself.  She was what God created her to be.  She accepted her successes and her failures and she trusted God to use her as He saw fit.  She didn't look around at the other ladies and wish for what they were wearing.  Even though she could have.  She was more than allowed to request anything she thought appropriate for the occasion.  After all, this was her one chance to shine.  Her chance of a life time.  Once it was over - it was over.  But, we see a quiet calmness that kept her steady and well balanced.  Something that was, more than likely, just as attractive to the King and others around her as her outer beauty. 

She went in to the King in the 7th year of his reign, (4 years after Queen Vashti had been removed) and God gave her favor in the eyes of the king so that he loved her more than all the other virgins.  (2:16-17)  Esther was chosen to be the Queen of Persia!

And, to celebrate this event....a party of course!!  A feast was made in Esther's name and the whole kingdom rejoiced!  (2:18)  (...except for the other ladies in the harem!) 

Life As Queen:


We don't know much of what Esther did or what happened to her over the next 5 years.  We can assume her life took on some kind of normalcy.   She had servants, and queenly responsibilities.  She know that she was still able to see her uncle Mordecai, who worked in the King's gate, on a regular basis.  (2:11&21)  We don't know if she ever had children, although Jewish tradition says she bore at least one son named, Darius. 

She may have been queen of Persia, but she was more than willing to obey her Uncle Mordecai.  He had asked her to keep the fact that she was Jewish a secret.  5 years is a long time to keep such a secret!  Being Jewish was who she was.  It was part of her life.  Yet, she obeyed her uncle even though she was now married and no longer under his authority.  And, did we mention she was QUEEN!?!  It is quite possible that, in her heart, she didn't understand such a request.  Perhaps she even thought it foolish, or a bit silly, or unnecessary.  But regardless, she obeyed.  She told no one her secret. (2:20)

What we can learn from her life:

Be yourself.  Be the person God created you to be.  Let Him have your successes and your failures.  Let Him be your strength.  Put your trust in Him and take Him at His Word.  He will sustain us.  He will guide us. 

It is imperative that we learn to obey (and train our children to do the same) because one day the little mundane actions and decisions we made today, could make all the difference in the lives of those we love.   Think what would have happened if Esther had shared her secret with just one "special friend".  Or, if she had decided that she was the queen and could do what she wanted.  Her decision to obey her uncle's wishes would later result in blessing and change the history of her people forever!

As opposed to the sin of King Saul in refusing to kill King Agag in 1 Samuel 15.  If King Saul had utterly destroyed the Amalikites and King Agag as God had commanded, Wicked Haman would never have been born!  Esther brought peace and blessing to an entire nation by one simple act of obedience.  King Saul brought terror and fear, and very nearly annihilation to his descendants because of his DISobedience.

In case you missed our previous posts in this series:  

Introduction: Esther, Queen of Persia 
Ahasuerus - The Party Kind of King




Photo Credit

Ahasuerus - A Party Kind of Guy!

Who would have thought that a young, simple Jewish girl would ever become Queen of the very extensive Persian Empire?  Or, that she would be used of God to save an entire race of people?  Her own people.  God's People!

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  The story doesn't start with Esther.  It starts with her husband - before he was her husband.

One thing there is no doubting - this guy loved to party!  And, he didn't send out invitations with hours (Show up at 7:00; leave at 9:00).  He sent out invitations with Months!  (You're invited to join us for a party from March to August!)

Either he had conquered enough of the known world that he didn't need to worry about foreign affairs, or he had plenty of generals for such trivial matters, (I mean, seriously, why should the King worry about such things when there were parties to throw and people to impress!?!)  We see that he threw a party that lasted 180 days in the third year of his reign!  And, if that wasn't enough, he threw another party when that one was over.

Honestly, though, this second party was really not much to speak of.  It only lasted 7 days, and it was only for people that worked in the palace.  (talk about a party-pooper!)  (Who knows?  Maybe this was a "thank-you" party for the palace staff for a job well done on the previous 180 day party??)  Whatever the case, we know that this man had a desire to impress people!

And, what man wouldn't want to impress others with the beauty of his very own wife - especially after having drunk a little more than necessary?  The Bible says that King Ahasuerus sent a servant to fetch his wife, the beautiful Queen Vashti, because she was "fair to look on" (1:11).

We are not given a reason for her disobedience.  Perhaps she didn't want to be paraded in front of a bunch of drunken men.  (who would?)  Or, maybe she was just too busy throwing her own feast for the women in the royal house (1:9), but whatever the reason, she refused to join her husband. (1:12)



King Ahasuerus was mad! He called his wise men and counselors together.  The queen had disobeyed.  Publicly humiliated him!  Something had to be done. 

It was decided that Queen Vashti "had not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and all the people that are in all the provinces" of the land.  (1:16)  Vashti would be removed from being the queen, and another would be chosen to take her place.

Not, only was Vashti put out of the King's house, but a decree was sent out to all the provinces, in all languages demanding that men were to "bare rule in their own homes" and women everywhere were to obey their husbands!  (This is funny to me!  Now, it was law - women had to obey...or else...!....not sure what 'else'...???)  (1:22)

I would be the first to agree that men should stand up and rule their own homes....I just think the way they went about it is funny.  :) 

Back to our story.....

For her disobedience, Vashti is no longer the queen.  Women all across the kingdom have been put back in their places.  The men are now able to breath easier...and party...   (There I go again...!)

One day King Ahasurerus wakes up and realizes that his anger is past.  He remembers Queen Vashti, who's not the queen anymore.  A decree was made against her.  There would be no changing it.  Once a decree was made, it could not be undone - not even by the king, himself!

What was he going to do now?  A king without a queen is like peanut butter without jelly!  (we can't have that!)  So, Ahasureus calls his wise men and counselors back to the rescue.  Apparently, he figured if they could get him into this mess, they could (hopefully) get him out!  (I think I'd find myself some new counselors!)

A plan was formulated.  All of the beautiful, young virgins in the kingdom would be brought to the palace, and the king would choose a new queen from among them!  A fabulous idea, if you happen to be King Ahasuerus!!  (2:2-4)

:)

I do hope you will join me as I study the life of "Esther - Queen of Persia"!  I hope to delve in and discover as much as I can about her life and put myself in her shoes...or sandals??  Feel free to leave your thoughts on her life and story in the comments section below!   



In case you missed our previous posts in this series:  

Introduction: Esther, Queen of Persia



Photo Credit




Introduction to the Life Story of "Esther - Queen of Persia"



Esther's first name, "Hadassah" is Hebrew, and means "myrtle".  Some believe that the second name, "Esther" given in the Bible, is Median for "Myrtle".  Others believe that "Esther" could actually be a Hebrew name that comes from the root meaning, "Evening/morning Star".  Most sourses I read would leads us to believe that the name "Esther" is probably more closely connected with the latter,  "Morning Star".  (Which I prefer greatly over "Myrtle"...but then again, that's just me. :)  

King Ahasuerus, as called in the Bible, is thought to be the same King Xerxes in the history books and Greek accounts refer to him as, Artaxerxes.  King Ahasuerus is mentioned in the book of Ezra as well, and Jewish tradition teaches that this is the same Persian King that would have been married to Esther.  The book of Ezra (6:15) talks of "Darius the Mead" who helped the Jews rebuild their temple.  According to Josippon, a Jewish historian, King Ahasuerus was the son of "Darius the Mead" (who is well known for the famous "Daniel In the Lion's Den" story).  According to Wikipedia (I know...I know...) the midrash Tanuhma (a translation of the old Hebrew Scriptures mixed with Jewish historical accounts)  claims that King Darius took Vashti, the daughter of King Bleshazzar,(known for the "Hand Writing on the Wall") to be the wife of his son, King Ahasuerus.  

That's all fun (in my opinion), but it's not Bible.  Let's get down to business...!! 


We don't know much about Esther's family except that they had been carried away captive to Babylon under the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar three generations before.  She had no parents, and was raised by her Uncle Mordecai.

The Bible doesn't say if Mordecai was married, or if he had any other children. Whatever the case, we know he did a great job in raising her to be virtuous, and faithful to her (our) God.  She was strong, obedient and very brave. 

The name "God" is not found in the book of Esther, but His power and provision cannot be denied!  He works through the characters in the story as well as in background events.  Shaping, preparing, providing, and most importantly protecting His people!

It has been said that God works in mysterious ways!  This book is evidence to that truth and the fact that God can use anyone to do great things - even a young orphaned girl who has barley started out in life!  If God can use Esther, God can use me and you!  After all, it's not about us (Esther or ourselves) it's about God.  The God Esther loved and served is the same God we love and served.  The same God that provided and protected Esther protects and provides for us.  We have no reason to think He can or would do any less for us than He did for her!!

What an amazing thought!!

I do hope you will join me as I study the life of "Esther - Queen of Persia"!  I hope to delve in and discover as much as I can about her life and put myself in her shoes...or sandals??  Feel free to leave your thoughts on her life and story in the comments section below!  

Photo Credit

Monday, December 30, 2013

15 Healthy Habits for the New Year

In no particular order....

  1. Lemon Water!  A great way to detox the liver and the skin, dissolve kidney stones, and wash away excess fat and inches.
  2. Sleep!  As mothers we sometimes claim not to have time to sleep.  I say it's best to find time.  Train your children to sleep in their own beds at night and take naps during the day.  Even if they don't actually sleep, they can and should be trained to stay in their beds quietly until given permission to get out.   Some say this sounds harsh.  I say it's best for both mother and children.  For one thing, children should be taught and expected to obey.  And, second, if a bit of rest makes me (or you) a better and more refreshed mom, then this arrangement is best for the children as well.
  3. Exercise Often!  Not only does this keep your heart healthy and burn calories, but it helps to detox your cells and relieve stress.  Get a gym membership, take the baby for a walk or chase the kids around the park.  Ride bikes.  Get an exercising bike or video.  Join a swim or exercise group.
  4. Use a Sauna!  My favorite way to detox!  It works on skin, cells, and the entire body.  It's amazing how clean and relaxed you feel afterward!
  5. Pray!  It's proven scientifically that people, mothers in particular, who pray have less stress!  Not only does it relieve stress, but it also reaches the throne of God and produces mighty miracles!!   No one needs to worry about her children or her daily housework when she understands that God is just as interested in these mundane chores as she is, and that God loves her children even MORE than she does!  Amazing thought, isn't it?!?
  6. Laugh!  Also proven scientifically and mentioned in the scriptures!  Laughing releases endorphins which trigger the brain and make you feel happy!  It's actually as effective as taking a drug...without any negative side effects or hang overs!  Try it!  Just smile!
  7. Natural Sweeteners!  Replace processed sugar and especially High Fructose Corn-syrup!  Honey, pure maple syrup, stevia are all fantastic replacements that offer nutrition as well as a sweet flavor.  Sugar rots teeth, depresses the immune system, and causes hyper activity in children and adults, not to mention the mental fuzziness and spikes and drops in blood sugar.


  8. Wash your hands, ears, eyes, and nose regularly!  Clean away the germs, but be careful not to use antibacterial soaps.  Click here to read more about why I disapprove of antibacterial soaps.  Use peroxide in the ear canals, a neti-pot for the nasal cavities, and colloidal silver to rinse germs from your eyes.
  9. Oil pulling!   This helps to detox or rid your body of germs and bacteria.  It also naturally whitens the teeth.  Be sure to use healthy oils!!  (Cold pressed, Coconut oil is my choice)
  10. Don't avoid germs??   People vaccinate their children in the hopes of introducing them to viruses that their bodies will build immunities to.  Why not simply allow them to play in the dirt, and with friends that have normal childhood sicknesses?  Can't they come into contact with these germs naturally and build and immunity -- naturally??  Can't they, by eating healthy foods and living a healthy lifestyle overcome these germs and build an immunity?  Without the added ingredients in the vaccinations?  And one at a time - instead of the usual several diseases introduced at one time during a regular "well baby" check up?  Click here to read our "turning point" story.
  11. Relieve Stress!  Take a nap, a slow, deep breath, a hot bubble bath, a brisk walk.  Read your Bible and pray!!  Sing and listen to uplifting music. Get a massage, a manicure, or a pedicure.  Read a good book. 
  12. Eat only NATURAL foods!  Eating only those foods found in nature; those foods God provided and designed our bodies to digest.  Your body will be able to digest it's food, and fight germs and sickness.  You will have more energy and less cellulite. 
  13. Get plenty of fresh air!  Go outside.  Open your windows.  Purchase an air purifier.  Purchase house plants that filter air in your home. 
  14. Natural Cleaning Supplies!  Rid your home of toxic fumes and chemicals by using only natural cleaning supplies such as peroxide, vinegar, lemon, baking soda, and trusted natural brands such as seventh generation or Melleucha.  Or, learn to make your own and save money too!!
  15. Filtered Water!  Purchase a water filter for your drinking and cooking water and one for your bath and shower water too.  


Photo Credit
Photo Credit

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cowboy Beans

Recently a friend and her family came to eat dinner at my house.  The best part was: she brought all the food with her!  I didn't have to do a thing!  We even ate on paper plates so there weren't any dishes to do!  It was fabulous.  We really should do it again very soon. 

On the menu that night was:  Cowboy Beans!

So, with her permission, I thought I'd share her recipe with you!


Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cans kidney beans
2 cans black beans
2 cans baked beans (I like to use the Bush's Maple Bacon Baked Beans)
8 oz. Ketchup  **be sure to get it without high fructose corn syrup** 
Brown Sugar, to taste  **or molasses**

Directions: 

Brown beef with the onion and green pepper. Drain and rinse kidney beans and black beans. DO NOT DRAIN baked beans.  Put all ingredients into crockpot. If you prefer a more soupy chili, simply add more ketchup.  Cook on low 4 hours. 

It's that easy!  

This would be a fantastic meal to make for someone in need.  It's sweet and filling, and very quick and easy.  You cant do better than that! 

(A very special "Thank You" to Niki Taylor for allowing me to use her recipe!)  

My other chili recipes: 


Notes marked with (**) are mine.