Women of the Bible

Anna of the New Testament | Women of the Bible

A few months ago, I read an article that featured some women of the Bible, lesser known women and what their stories mean for us today. I loved it. Not only because there were quite a few I didn’t remember (or know #honesty), but I was encouraged by the fact that God doesn’t waste space in the Bible. They were very short features, but none the less, it got me on this kick to study lesser known women in Scripture.

Enter in a new “series.” Y’all know me and my “series.” Sometimes they are in point and consistent, sometimes I forget I started them and sometimes I have nothing more to say on the topic – ha! But anyway, I think this will be good for me….the whole studying scripture thing is always good for my soul. 🙂 (If interested in more Women of the Bible posts, check them out here!)

I have never understood how people who have read the New Testament miss the way Jesus interacted with women. Even stories of women from the Old Testament are inspiring. What I see is women leading, serving, being loved deeply by Jesus.

Some the biggest inspirations over my life and faith come from the bible. Of course there are the big names, like Esther, Ruth and Mary, but I love how God also weaved in so many other stories of women. Lesser known women who may have one or two sentences in scripture, but still have an incredible story to tell.

One such woman? Anna of the New Testament. This was what we know of Anna from scripture from Luke 2:36-38:

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

She gets two verses in the entire Bible. Just two. At first glance that may not seem like much and that there might not be much to learn from Anna. Yet.

Isn’t that just like Jesus? What we might see as insignificant is far more than we can imagine. Plus, if you’re mentioned in the Bible that’s legit. Unless, it’s for shady reasons (where to even start with this list?), then totally not legit.

So Anna. She got married as many young women back then did. Only seven years later, her husband died. That in itself is terrible, but in a culture where women depended on men in many ways, I can only imagine the extra grief that was set before Anna.

Yet.

She chose joy and serving the Lord. For 84 years! Fasting, worshipping, praying. Just think about that. I mean, real talk for a quick minute, I sometimes fall asleep after 3 minutes of prayer. But Anna was committed and because of this, Anna is the New Testament’s only named female prophetess. #Status

I would say Anna was content with her life. She had dedicated her life in service to the Lord and never gave up on that mission. I really believe she could have gone on to glory and that would have been more than enough for Anna. But the Lord wasn’t finished with her. Because then, Baby Jesus was born (Can I get a Hallelujah and Amen?).

What she thought was another day of praying, fasting and worshipping at the Temple, was much more. Instead, Anna was gifted with perfect timing of seeing Jesus and witnessing Simeon bless baby Jesus.

What an incredible gift! What was Anna’s response? Telling any and all about Jesus and the redemption of Jerusalem.

So yeah, I would say there’s a few things to learn from Anna and her two verses.

Life doesn’t always turn out how we expect
But we can cling to the hope that God still reigns, He has a plan and His timing is perfect.

When we trust Him, He blesses us more than we can imagine
And in ways we couldn’t dare to imagine. But do not dare not to dare friends.

When we draw close to the Lord, He draws near to us
Lord, may I never lose sight of this!

I hope you were encouraged by Anna’s story as I was! Have you read much about Anna before? In what ways has life turned out a bit different than expected?

Ponderings

Gollum, Japanese Photo Booths and the Battle with Beauty

Once upon a time I was compared to Gollum. Please feel free to chuckle along with me, because if those aren’t the words every woman longs to hear, then I know nothing of my fellow females.

In case you aren’t sure who Gollum is, here he is, in all his glory.

The cliff notes version goes like this: several years ago two friends (a guy and gal) and I were enjoying lunch when one of his friends joined us (it was at event that provided free lunch). In all fairness, he did start by saying “You have nice eyes” but ended it with “…like Gollum’s.” (Yep, he was 100% serious too) Any hope of that coming across in a positive light was destroyed when Smeags was thrown in. Who knows, maybe he watched Lord of the Rings the night before. We shall never know. Yes, it was hilarious, but definitely one for the books.

Fast forward about 10 years when my two good friends and I were exploring Japan. They have photo booths, so we obviously took part:

1. Can we talk about the size of my eyes (see top right). I mean good jolly, I look like a puppy (or Gollum right? ;)) We laughed for a solid amount of time. Do you blame us?
2. We barely figured out how to work the machine, so the captions on the images? No clue. Although we did get the date right. Woot!
3. It blows my mind there are photo booths out there that give you the “perfect” skin, make your eyes bigger and make you and your buddies “glow” like you’ve never experienced uneven skin.

It would be easy to toss this aside and say it’s a cultural thing, but it’s not just in Japan. Recently on Facebook an ad for an app to “fix” your face popped up. You know, so you can have the perfect selfie. I knew this would make for some interesting discussion, so I investigated further and apparently there are several options and one even featured a toddler in the before and after how-to.

Lord help us.

It seems like there’s always something thrown at us about how to look, what looks good and how we should portray ourselves. Will there ever be a day where there isn’t something to make us question if we’re good enough? I think it’s safe to say we all have dealt with this in some way or another. It comes in all different ways too. From the anonymous internet user, to a person you know, to the advertising monster taking over culture.

We all have our experiences. Some are similar, some so very different. But I can’t completely blame the outside world for the battle with beauty and of being enough. For over a decade I didn’t wear a cap because when I was 16, a guy told me I looked like a boy with a cap on. Yep, it took 11 years for me to move past that. Nothing like high school to haunt you right? Or the times after a breakup? Questioned myself for weeks. Or when a pretty woman walks into the room and, even if it’s for a brief second, inadequacy hits?

Am I the only one who has ever struggled with this?

I so often have to do a heart check and ask myself why these things creep on me. They shouldn’t bug me, but when they do, I know it’s because I’ve missed it (once again). Where do I find my value? Where to find my worth?

It’s so easy to get caught up in the wrong areas. What I do or don’t look like doesn’t really matter. Whether I have a six pack (that’s funny) or have to buy a size up in jeans. Whether I love or hate makeup. My value is found in something far greater and more perfectly beautiful than I can ever imagine.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
That right there. It’s all that matters and it’s a promise.

When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14
What a promise!

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7
The Lord made me and values everything about me. That is enough.

To quote “Crooked Smile” by J. Cole: “We ain’t picture perfect, but we worth the picture still.”

And I just quoted a hip hop song after Bible verses. So there’s that.

But what a beautiful and wonderful hope: I’m God’s chosen – holy and beloved. And He will never leave nor forsake me. What more do I need?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Has there been a scripture that has gotten you through feelings of inadequacy?

Ponderings

When in a Season of Almost

Have you ever gone through a season of “almosts”? Those times when when you’re praying for guidance, you’re seeking the Lord and feel at peace with moving forward in one direction, things are lining up and then……nothing. The job promotion, the college application, the book idea, the adoption, the fundraiser, the relationship, the whatever-it-is (you can fill in the blank) goes no where. It can be something huge or it can be something small, but it doesn’t change the fact that at first, it’s deflating.

I don’t question God’s faithfulness or goodness in these times, because I know He is good (He’s done more than I’ll ever deserve already!). But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that these times can be trying and frustrating. I wonder why did everything have to line up so “perfectly” (meaning my heart gets involved) to only have things not pan out? Was it once again about “the journey”? And trust me, that is asked grudgingly. What if I just want to have the end result and be done with it? Have you ever experienced that?

This was from one of my runs and it’s amazing how rays of sunshine can be so encouraging! Also, can we take a moment to check out the beginning of that hill I have to defeat with every training run?

So I’ve been asking myself, what’s the point?

Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

The easy answer is this proves there’s plenty of room for growth when it comes to my spiritual life ;). I so quickly want to see the end result, that I want to skip right over the middle. Yet, as much as I can sometimes complain about the journey – I’ve been reminded recently of how important that journey is. Yes, there are lessons to be learned, but more importantly, for myself, it’s in times like these (deflated, frustrated, etc) where I have to seek the Lord more than I would have if it all panned out like I thought it was going to.

And that is what’s important.

I believe God is continuing to refine me (and that will be a life long process for sure!). Sometimes those end results come quickly, sometimes they stretch years, but as stubborn and baby-of-the-family I can so often be, the Lord is showing me He isn’t done, He’s preparing me for things far beyond my expectations. And I can’t wait to see!

So while I sometimes get sassy frass in my patience, I know He is still there and won’t give up on a girl like me, who as you can see from the following photo, has always been the epitome of meek and one who listens the first time around. Typing that makes me chuckle. Bless my parents.

Circa late 80s

Have you been there? What were some encouraging scripture and advice that helped you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!