SHE HEARD is the first for-purchase devotional published by Deliberate Women. Over the next several weeks, we'll be reading reflections written by our readers of the eight Biblical women featured in SHE HEARD. Up today: ABIGAIL
I have a picture in my home that serves as a great reminder. The setting is beautiful, a lake without ripple, with the sun setting at the horizon. The simple words written at the bottom speak volumes to a woman on a pursuit to engrave the Lord’s Righteousness in her heart. She seeks the purity of unwavering righteousness to be continually displayed through her words, responses and actions, regardless of the situation she faces.
Don’t allow others to pull you into their storm, instead draw them in to your Peace” ~ Unknown
When I look to my younger self, I see how I allowed my emotions and circumstances to determine the outcome in many situations. As a result, I find great importance in holding firm to the Peace of God. When we allow a negative emotion to move us, our actions tend to follow… often resulting in an unfavorable outcome. In learning to live from the inside–out, we realize that what we have on the inside, the very gifts God has equipped us with, are far greater than any pull we can face from the outside.
I see Abigail as an unmovable woman. If she would have been one to allow fear to overtake her, it could have turned the course of her victory. Abigail was an unwavering righteous woman, on a pursuit for good, regardless of the storm around her. She held firm to who she was, regardless of the circumstances. She didn’t allow her actions to be driven by anger, selfishness or fear. She was not drawn into the negative situation; instead she boldly set out to bring good to it. Abigail’s actions showed a reflection of who she was. Her favorable actions created a favorable outcome.
Abigail’s heart was purposed to do the right thing. She could have responded in various ways, but she wisely set her heart to act quickly to diffuse a difficult situation. Her mission was to promote peace, and to create a favorable outcome for all concerned.
Abigail’s actions revealed her true character. The servants chose to approach Abigail, instead of her husband Nabal, with the news of the imminent threat. Abigail's character was surely known to the servants, leading them to trust her to respond to the situation with wisdom. In her actions that followed, we see a beautiful picture of who she was by how she handled the situations she found herself in. She acted with bravery and quickly brought peace to a volatile situation. She was gracious in her giving, and humbly offered her honor and respect to David. Her heart of compassion was shown as she placed her own life at risk, to protect the lives of many. Her heartfelt care was shown as she shared her desire with David for him to be spared the guilt of bloodshed. She also knew the importance of addressing her husband & carefully considered when & how to do so.
My heart's biggest desire is to live my life according to His Will. The Lord has brought me through many trials in my life. He has shown me the importance of resting in His peace, obeying His promptings to walk out His plan appropriately. His plans are perfect, although I fail at times. I realize that I am perfectly imperfect & strive with my whole heart to become more like Him daily. Although my heart is surrendered to his Will, there is room to perfect my actions. As displayed by Abigail, our true character is not shown by what we say we believe, or what we want to believe. It's shown by our actions. I believe our emotions can play a large role in responding appropriately, but only if we allow them to. When we allow our hearts to ride a roller coaster with our emotions (as seen with Nabal), our hearts become hardened & rarely respond to situations appropriately. It is important to take notice of the ways we respond when faced with a situation. Do we hold firm to our peace and practice wisdom, or do we allow a negative feeling and impulsive reactions determine the outcome?
Abigail, undoubtedly was a lovely woman to be admired. In thinking about her life, I began to wonder if she was always so wise? Were the unpleasant circumstances she encountered the very things that molded her? Was her unwavering drive to do the right thing birthed through facing challenges? Are the things that challenge us to be the very things to mold us?
Leaving my comfort zone… and quickly?
I laughed as I read the last question [in the Digging Deeper section after Abigail's chapter]. Really… I have to answer this? I don’t know if I should thank God, the writer, or both for this one. In all honesty, I have thought of many ways to avoid answering this question.
To do so, I must be very transparent here… this is not fun for me. I don’t want to do it. I want to stomp my feet and plead... “Please Lord, don’t let writing be what you are calling me to do!”. The request to write this came to me a day after It was requested of me to give a sermon to our youth at church. When God calls, it is in very clear terms. For me, it’s usually more of a knowing than a wanting, and a push to step out of my comfort zone.
My comfort level in ministry has always been one-on-one, or in a small group with people I know and feel comfortable with. I am drawn to mentoring relationships with youth girls, young women and single moms with hearts that are hurting. The Lord has shown Himself so greatly through the way He rescued my life and transformed me into the woman I am today. My heart is driven to share His love & bring hope to those in need.
God has been stirring my heart for months. It may sound strange, but months ago I shared with my husband that the Lord had shown me that something was coming, and to be prepared & obedient when it is presented to me. I still do not know His plan. The requests to write & preach a sermon are both entirely out of my comfort zone. I LOVE sharing about the greatness of our Lord, but if I had a choice I would humbly hide in doing so. The recognition of being on a platform holding a microphone, or submitting a photo & bio for my writing is uncomfortable to me. In all honesty, I feel way out of my league. My options were to be terrified and say no, or to boldly step forward in obedience… so here I am. If for no other reason, acting in obedience is more than enough!
The silver lining in obeying both requests is the personal growth I have discovered. I have found great freedom in not-so-simple acts of obedience. The comfort-zone wall built with fear has been removed, and can no longer limit the plans God has for my life.
I encourage you ladies: If God is knocking, answer the door. If you are directed outside of your comfort zone... go for it! I believe we are presented with a choice when God knocks. If we choose not to answer, there is no doubt that God will continue to bless our lives. But, in answering, the walls fall down & the door is wide open for the Lord to lead you to the greater blessing he has prepared for you.
Join me in believing that the situations we face & the challenging things around us that require our attention, will be used to help us grow into the Righteous Women that God has called on us to be.
Connie Kriegel is a wife, mother & owner of a small Real Estate Firm just outside of Austin, Texas. She enjoys spending time with her family, whom the Lord brought together in 2010. She & her husband together have 5 children, ranging in age from 10 to 21. Life is busy, but she wouldn’t have it any other way! She enjoys Christian concerts, watching her children play at sporting events, and spending time soaking in the presence of God. She has great compassion for hurting hearts & Loves to share the Love of Christ.
SHE HEARD is the first for-purchase devotional published by Deliberate Women. Over the next eight weeks, we'll be reading reflections written by our readers of the eight Biblical women featured in SHE HEARD. Up today: HANNAH
“No, God anything but this. Please Lord, don’t take her away.”
Tears of anguish rolled down my face as I sat on the floor of Kmart that day. The very thing I had prayed for – the child I had longed for – was slowly slipping from my hands. The words on the other end of the phone that day were not the ones I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear “She is all yours. Birthmom has signed all the papers and your sweet baby girl is ready for you to come and get her.” Instead, the words I heard were “I am so sorry. They just don’t know that they can go through with this. They know it is best- but their hearts are torn. It isn’t you- but they are not sure they are going to go through with their adoption plan.”
Just the day before, I felt like I had every one of my heart's desires. I had met that beautiful baby girl and looked deep into her brown eyes. I touched her soft, brown curls and caressed her sweet cheeks. One day later, it was all over, almost as quickly as it had begun.
I can relate to the story of Hannah in such a real way. Like Hannah, I have a barren womb. I long told hold a child of my very own. Like Hannah, I have promised the Lord something that goes along with the desire of my heart.
My promise to God- is that He gets the glory.
No, I haven’t promised to give my child over to the priest so that they can live with them – but I have promised Him that I would give Him the glory in every aspect of this adoption story. I have promised Him that I would share His love and His truth every opportunity I got. I have promised to raise this child to love Him, and to honor Him – to the best of my ability.
I have promised God glory.
But, glory doesn’t always come from happily ever after. Actually, if I have learned anything over the last two years, and two failed adoptions- it is that God often gets the glory where it hurts the most.
Because in our weakness, He is strong.
If I wasn’t weak – He wouldn’t get the glory.
Yet, even in these hard moments- and even in Hannah’s hard moments- we can walk by faith. We can choose to take our ordinary, every day lives, and sow seeds of worship. We give live sacrifices of praise to God.
As I continue to read Hannah’s story though, I am reminded of the women who every day make hard choices: Choices to love their children enough to let someone else raise them; to want what is best for them above and beyond what we want or think is best- because ultimately, God is in control. These women, they may not all be thinking about God and what He wants- but He is using them to weave stories of grace and glory throughout our world.
One month later, I still don’t know why my life was weaved with that birth mom – but I do know this: God has gotten the glory. Even when it is hard, even when it hurts beyond belief – we have allowed the Lord to shine through this moment. Sure, we have asked a lot of questions and cried a lot of tears. Yet, I can say this with the most assurance: My faith and love for the Lord is stronger now – now that I have seen that little girl, since I have met her strong mama, and since I have lost her – than it would have ever been without her. I have shared the gospel in ways and with people I would have never had the opportunity if it were not for my infertility and my adoption losses.
God has heard me- just as He heard Hannah. God has answered my prayer. More than once. These sweet babies, and their mamas, have been weaved in my story forever. I don’t always know why – or what is to come in their lives, but I know God needed me to enter their lives- even if just for a moment on the timeline of eternity.
Hannah had faith to trust her child to someone else. To let go – even of the most precious of possessions.
God has asked me to love children that I don’t get to raise. To trust Him that He has this. For His glory. One day, I know He will give me a child to hold, one that will stay in my house. It will be a story that could only have been written in Heaven above. Yet, it won’t just be bringing home the baby that will bring God the glory. It will be the glory He received through the moments of my deepest grief. He will get the glory through the way He has proven Himself faithful – and as I remain faithful to Him. He will get the ultimate glory.
I promised Him. He is a good, good, Father – and to Him all glory belongs.
Mandy Kelly grew up in what many would consider your “typical christian home”. She had a mom, a dad, and two siblings. Yet, what people didn’t always know was that she struggled with feelings of being unwanted. She didn’t know her biological father growing up, and although she had a Daddy who chose to love her unconditionally, she still struggled. However, at the age of thirteen, Mandy surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ, accepting God as her Abba Father. From there, she's never looked back. She forgave the man who had never known how to love her- and moved forward.
She had struggles along the way – and you can read more about those over at her blog testimony page– She truly feels like she has lived a life of grace. She's had real struggles. She knows what it is like to be single and waiting- She didn’t get married until almost 30 – and she watched everyone around her speed past her. Before she married, she was diagnosed with Infertility– and lived in silence for almost 5 years before sharing that struggle. She married a widow – and became a bonus mom to three kids. She has loved, and lost. She has been in ministry and been burned.
Yet the one thing that got her through so many of her struggles was Worship. Not just the corporate worship on Sunday – but real, authentic worship. She learned that worship was more than the songs that you sang in church – but worship was a way of life.
Find Mandy at her blog Worshipful Living
Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Instagram
SHE HEARD is the first for-purchase devotional published by Deliberate Women. Over the next eight weeks, we'll be reading reflections written by our readers of the eight Biblical women featured in SHE HEARD. Up today: RUTH
“Ok! Well, let me talk with my wife and I’ll get back to you,” I heard him say in the other room. He was suddenly walking down the hallway, phone in hand, about to open the door into our side office where I was sorting through papers. “Yes, we’re really excited. Thank you!” He opened the door and I could see it in his face. It was finally happening.
I don’t know if Ruth knew she was on the starting line of a new adventure either when she left Moab to go to an unknown land. I don’t know if she felt God’s tug or if she just knew her only option was to take the next step. The text isn’t explicit on what she knew nor how she felt, but her story reveals Christ not only in her dramatic move but also in her love life. Just as Ruth left the comfort of her homeland for the good of another, Christ left the glory of Heaven for his children. Just as Boaz came to Ruth’s rescue, so did Christ redeem His children.
Ruth had no idea at the time, but she would later serve as a glimpse of what Christ would do for us. Similar to how she left the familiarity of Moab, He would leave His comfort for our sake and enter into our mess to bring life abundantly. Although Ruth’s adventure may have been a defining point in her life, it was a microcosm of what Christ did for us. He lived a perfect life and He died a gruesome death. But His death gave birth to life. He defeated death and rose from the grave.
Ruth’s faithfulness eventually paved a way for that to happen. She gave birth to Obed who was the father of Jesse who was the father of David. It’s from David’s line that Christ eventually came.
Ruth also exemplified Christ in her love life. Her marriage to Boaz points back to Christ’s redemption for us. Boaz acted as a kinsman redeemer, a male relative who would step in for a family member in need. In Boaz’s case, it meant a marriage to Ruth. Both she and her mother-in-law, Naomi, needed help. Gleaning in the fields as an unmarried, young woman left Ruth vulnerable. It kept Naomi in shame. They needed a rescuer and Boaz stepped up to the plate.
We needed rescuing, too. In our sin, we are destitute and vulnerable. We cannot help ourselves; we fail any time we try. But with Christ, we are fulfilled. We are saved. We are freed from the bondage of sin. Boaz was Ruth’s kinsman reedemer; Christ is ours. For those who confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead, Christ has brought life.
Only a few weeks after that phone call, our house had sold and I found myself stuffing a haphazardly taped box storing our set of ten plates and bowls into the front seat of my RAV4. Although it was only a move 40 miles north to allow my husband to finish seminary and take an exciting church residency, our hearts were being stripped bare. Signing an apartment lease, we said goodbye to almost 1,000 square feet and a spacious backyard. Taking new jobs in a new town, we said goodbye to over 80% of our income. Living an hour north, we said goodbye to regular dinners with friends.
Nine months after our great adventure, however, I can confidently say that God is good. Nearly every morning, I can’t help but think on his provision for us over a cup of steaming loose-leaf mint tea. We left our comforts, but had the privilege of watching God work. Ruth did too and saw not only her life redeemed but also bring about the redemption for all those who believe.
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer, self-taught graphic designer and a budding loose leaf tea enthusiast. She’s married to her super smart and super cute husband, Derek, and live in a little apartment with their two furry, four-legged children, Mishka and Lulu outside of Dallas, TX. Mikaela also runs a small Etsy business called
The Tabitha Shop, where she gets to express her passion for design, the written word and equipping women in third world countries.
SHE HEARD is the first for-purchase devotional published by Deliberate Women. Over the next eight weeks, we'll be reading reflections written by our readers of the eight Biblical women featured in SHE HEARD. Up today: THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT THE WELL
When I read the stories from Biblical times, I think about how God still works in the same ways in all of our lives today. When you think about it, the Bible is just a collection of testimonies of how God has worked in the most unlikely ways in people's lives. The Woman at the Well is just one of many of those testimonies that made it into the written form of the Bible. We all have stories of how God has changed our lives, met a need, answered a prayer, got us off-guard, or surprised us in unexpected ways in our current 21st Century. Our stories are no different than the Woman at the Well.
I could call my story “The Woman at the Bench”. You see, just like the Woman at the Well, I was feeling rejected, isolated, embarrassed, humiliated, as I picked up my kindergartner from school. My husband at the time had betrayed me, and in a small town, word of a troubled marriage travels fast. Like the Woman at the Well, I had to face the crowds of happily married mothers as I headed out to pick up my son. I, too, would sometimes arrive late to miss the crowd, or I waited away from others to avoid the chatter. This particular day, I sat alone, waiting on a bench.
As I sat, I heard a semi-familiar voice call my name. An old colleague, not a friend, or anyone I had ever spent time with or confided in, sat next to me. She said, “Sara, I’m not sure why, but God has put you on my heart and I want you to know that I am praying for you.” I began to cry instantly with this person that I hardly knew. You see, there are no coincidences in life. Just like it was no coincidence that Jesus had to travel through Samaria that day and needed to rest at Jacob’s well at the precise time the Samaritan Woman was gathering water. God placed Jesus there that day with the woman for a reason. God worked the same miracle for me in the year 2012 as I sat on that bench.
The Woman at the Well probably had prayed for help in some human, earthly way, to get her out of the situation she was in. She needed provision, she needed protection, she needed acceptance and love….the same that I needed in 2012. Think about the Earthly answers we hope for in those types of prayers:
But, Jesus told her that day that God’s living water is the answer. People and things will not quench our thirst. Jesus told her, “All who drink of this water will be thirsty again. But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him, shall never, no never, be thirsty anymore. But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water, welling up within him unto eternal life.” (John 4:13-15)
The answers to our problems, our rejection, our loneliness don’t lie in earthly answers. If we want to truly be quenched, we must surrender it all to God and accept His love for us in our hearts.
Shortly after explaining the “living water” to the Samaritan woman, Jesus tested the woman. He asked her to “go call your husband and come back here.” She answered Him truthfully when she said that she had no husband. I was also tested after the day on the bench. My colleague dropped off a daily devotional for me to start reading and I felt like God was saying, “If you want My help, come and get it.” I had a responsibility to respond to God’s calling. I had to give Him my life and my heart truthfully. I began to drink that “living water” (some might call it the kool-aid) and over time, I felt my life changing. God revealed to me that His promises for my life were true, just as He revealed Himself to the Woman at the Well. He proved to her that Jesus was the Messiah by giving her an account of her life. God still reveals Himself to us today. He has proven His faithfulness to me in unbelievable ways. The woman had to be truthful with Jesus and He requires the same of us. I don’t think God is as concerned with my steps or missteps as He is with my intentions. I belive He knows when I am truly seeking Him and trying to hear His voice and walk in His ways for my life. He patiently guides me, steers me and waits on me if I get lost. This is a relief for me these days. God didn’t answer my prayers to save my marriage…in fact I got exactly the opposite, a divorce. As a 40-year-old, divorced mom of two, I have a lot of new paths to navigate. I have screwed up trying to do the right thing, but God has never left my side. Once the Woman at the Well accepted Jesus and began her testimony, I believe, He never left her either. God doesn’t want us to be afraid of life, He wants us to have faith that He has us covered.
My trust in God and in His plan has been tested many times since that day on the bench. We are so used to immediate gratification in this day and age. How many wrinkle creams have we thrown away because we didn’t see results right away? How many diets or exercise programs have we given up on? We are a “quick results” oriented culture. God isn’t into the easy way around, but rather the journey through. And just like the disciples showed up to see Jesus talking to the Samaritan Woman (also not a coincidence), silently judging the situation, we will be judged on our journey as well. This Earth is full of people ready to remind us that we are not good enough or perfect enough, but the Woman at the Well reminds us that perfection is not required for God’s love. His love is not about who we are, but rather who HE is.
Jesus later explains to the disciples when they try to offer Him food that they can’t even begin to understand the “nourishment” He has. He says, “I have food to eat of which you know nothing and have no idea.” (John 4:32) Jesus points out that not even the disciples could truly understand the provision, protection and love that come from God. Neither do we! How many times do we fail to trust? How many times do we sit back and judge a decision made by someone in the name of God? I have watched more than one friend do something completely illogical because they felt like God was calling them to it and they trusted in His plan. God’s love can make Christians do some things the world would consider crazy, but His ways are not our own. I’m sure the Woman at the Well got some crazy looks at first when she shared her testimony. An unlikely person to be sharing such an incredible encounter, but God doesn’t work within our limited perspectives. No one would believe 4 years ago I would be writing this reflection today, least of all me. But God has a way of working in the most unexpected ways through the most unexpected people…not just at a well in Samaria, but also on a bench at Lakeshore elementary.
Finally, in John 4:39 it says, “Now numerous Samaritans from the town believed in and trusted in Him because of what the woman said when she declared and testified, 'He told me everything that I ever did.'” How very important our testimonies are today as they were back then. You never know how God might use you, your story, your testimony to bring someone closer to God. He used practically a stranger for me. He used a Samaritan Woman at the Well…How will He use you? Our greatest purpose is to be used by Him.
Sara Gleason is a 5th grade language arts teacher in Conneaut, Ohio. She is a single mom of 2 amazing kids, Max (10) and Hope (8). She loves being outside- building fires in the backyard with her kids, grilling out, kayaking, taking a hike with her dog or hanging at the beach. She attends church regularly and teaches Sunday school, but shockingly, sometimes chooses to sleep in or hand off Sunday school to someone else when she is tired or burned out! She lives a not-so-perfect life in a not-so-perfect house with a perfect God in the center of all of it all!