Monday, December 31, 2012


Before you faint or move away from the computer for fear of the lightening bolt coming to zap this post, let me explain what I mean.

Our purpose in life is not to serve God.

Are you shocked? Do you feel like just reading that sentence is akin to heresy? You aren't alone.

I don't mean that we aren't supposed to serve God or that serving God isn't a good thing. What I mean is that service is an overflow of our love and relationship with God.

Trying to serve God so you can be closer to Him is going about things backwards. When we love God; when we develop an intimate, close relationship with Him - then service naturally flows out of that.

God has an interesting way of getting truths home to me. In both a book I'm reading, Greater by Steve Furtick and in my Bible study When the Good News Get Even Better - this idea of relationship over activity was mentioned. In the same day.

Do you think God is trying to tell me something or what?

The thing is I often feel guilty - like I'm just not doing enough. Like, maybe if I work harder, run faster, do more - then I will be pleasing to God. In my head I know this isn't true, but old habits and thought patterns die hard.

But this is not a burden God asks me to take on. He doesn't ask me to run in a wheel like a gerbil. Instead, He invites me to come to Him. He invites me into intimate communion with Him.

He delights in me because I am His daughter - not because I did more than the next person. Not because I stayed up later, did more good deeds or had a longer to do list than anyone else at church.

This is not a "get out of good deeds" card. When we have draw closer to God, our natural reaction is worship, praise and obedience.

Ah, obedience - that too can seem overwhelming and too hard can't it?

Sometimes, obedience is hard. Sometimes, what God asks of us feels like stepping out into what can feel like thin air, but obedience is usually not one huge thing - it is a series of small steps that rolled into one, become a big thing.

Right now, I am reading through Holley Gerth's Do What You Can - which you can check out here

All God is asking is that we do what we can. That means being obedient, one step at a time, until He walks us to our promised land - a land where we sit at Jesus' feet, not run around frenzied and harrassed by all our "shoulds".

This is hard for me. Right now, I have a rather long to do list and I haven't even really gotten started yet. I feel that familiar sense of panic start to gnaw at me - You'll never get it done. How dumb - why didn't you get up earlier? That condemning voice hisses in my ear, but the truth is, I have the whole day ahead of me. I'm not behind and there is no reason I can't get the things on my list done. Satan wants me to feel overwhelmed and spazzed out because then, I won't do anything at all - especially not take the time to sit with Jesus, to read His Word and to pray. Which, when all is said and done, is the most important thing I could do today.

So, today, as you look at your long list of to dos, remember that God cares much more for you than your do.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I'm almost embarrassed to admit this at the age of 39, but one of my favorite Christmas shows is "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." I am an ardent fan of Dr. Seuss and am sad that my kids are now too old to give me an excuse to read his stories out loud. Besides the wonderful stories, I just love the rhythm of the words.

So, tonight, we were sitting around my in-laws' kitchen table playing a game, and the Grinch came on. Now, I am not talking about the Jim Carey movie, but the original animated version with Boris Karloff.

My mother-in-law had to keep saying, "It's your turn," because I was enthralled with the story.

If you're unfamiliar, the Grinch lives at the tip top of this mountain with his dog (who happens to be my favorite character in the story) and at Christmas, he is up there thinking very grinchy thoughts. He can hear the Whos down in Whoville getting ready and it's just driving him crazy - the thought of all the dinners and presents. The thing that bothers him the most, though, is their singing. They sing and sing and sing and their joy overflows, and since the Grinch has no joy, this is the most annoying thing of all to him.

So, he devises this plan to go in and steal Christmas. He goes down with a giant sleigh and does a reverse Santa - stealing food, decorations and presents.

The next morning, he expects to hear the wails and crying of the Whoville residents since he has stole their Christmas.

Instead, he hears them singing. The end of the story goes:

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

And what happened then...? Who-ville they say
That the Grinch's small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn't feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he...

The Grinch carved the roast beast!

I love this story because Christmas really IS more than presents and food and decorations. It's more than just a fuzzy feeling and a Hallmark celebration.

Christmas is ultimately about love. God's love for us. Sending His Son to earth to be a human baby - the Prince of heaven had only a animal food trough for his first bed. Love that caused heaven to come to earth in the form of Jesus.

Don't get me wrong - I appreciate the gifts, the great food, the pretty decorations and the warm, fuzzy feelings, but even if there was none of that, I'd still know I was loved because Jesus was sent not just for the world, but for me.

So, yes, Mr. Grinch - Christmas doesn't come from a store. It really does mean a whole lot more!

Merry Christmas - I hope you feel God's love for you today.
~ Blessings, Bronte

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Today, I stepped into my Sunday school class, and there was a gift bag and a giant wrapped thing that sort of looked like a wrapped fruit basket.

I thought, "Hmmm."

As the ladies drifted into class, the pile grew as several added to the collection. I started off with a small devotional and we took prayer requests. All the while, I was peering around this small mountain of gifts and bags.

Eventually, I was told, the gifts were for me! My sweet cousin-in-law, Cindy, who is in my class, had organized it all.

The class was asked to bring in things that were either their favorites they wanted to share OR something that was one of my favorites. Cindy told me that she had told them there wasn't any kind of dollar amount and it didn't have to be a lot - just a token.

Well, they went WHOLE HOG!!!

I'm not often speechless - I think I can remember maybe two other times when I've been struck dumb - but today I was.

As I opened the bags and read the sweet notes and cards, my eyes misted and my nose burned and I felt perilously close to tears. Inside those bags and the big basket were chocolates (Lindt truffles - my favorites!), 5 boxes of tea, several pairs of fuzzy socks, candles, lotions and shower gels, books, a movie, 2 pairs of earrings, several coffee mugs with cute plaques, a handcrafted purse and several other things I can't remember right off the top of my head. There were even a couple items for my dog! (everyone knows I love my pupster!)

To say I was overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness and generosity is an understatement. While I appreciated each of those gifts, what I appreciated even more was the thoughts behind them.

Long after the last truffle is eaten (sooner than I thought since my family members seem love them too!) and the last bit of lotion is rubbed in, I'll still have the cards and notes from each of the dear women in my class.

To be honest, I love to teach Sunday school because I love to teach God's Word. I'm always so excited when God shows me something and I can't wait to share it with someone else, so being able to teach Sunday school gives me a chance to do what I love. It's a blessing and a privilege to me, and it doesn't really feel like work at all.

So, I am doubly blessed to know that the ladies who come every week enjoy the class too. I'm humbled to know that our class is blessing them in some way, too.

So, while I plan on enjoying the truffles and tea and various other goodies I was given, what means the most to me is the thoughts behind those gifts. I know for some of those women, it was a financial sacrifice to buy another gift.

It's a lesson to me that generosity, in whatever form, is never a mistake. You can't be too kind. You can't be too generous.

A generous heart is the true gift behind the present.

This is a season of presents, and it can be really easy to get caught up in buying a big enough gift or a certain number of presents. For me, though, the thing that means the most is that someone took the time and effort to get me something I would like or enjoy.

It really IS the thought that counts.

I guess the whole idea of Christmas is built on the idea of a carefully thought out gift - Jesus Christ coming to earth as a baby. As I opened all my gifts today, I kept thinking about God carefully planning out His gift to not just all of mankind, but to me. Jesus come to earth as a man - now that was true generosity!

~ Blessings, Bronte

Friday, December 14, 2012


That's the only way I can describe my feelings at the moment - brokenhearted. When I read about the shootings today, I cried. I wasn't the only one. Seasoned news anchors choked up on air, and the President couldn't get all of his prepared statement out - as a dad I'm sure he was thinking of his own daughters.

I've tried several times to write about what happened today at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Nothing comes out right - my words are inadequate and trite in the face of such a tragedy.

What do you say about a horror of this magnitude? My mind can't wrap itself around the fact that a 20-year-old man went into a school and opened fire on a kindergarten classroom. Who does something like that? Well, I guess I know the answer to that - someone who is very ill and broken because nobody in their right mind would do something like this.

It makes me angry and sad and sick all at the same time. I wish there was something I could do to comfort the grieving families, but there isn't really. Nothing I can say or do will take away their pain and loss. Nothing anyone can do can bring their child back to them.

This morning, their arms were full. Tonight, they are empty. There will be empty rooms filled with dolls and trucks that nobody will play with. There will be an empty chair at the table. Christmas gifts that were bought, won't ever be opened.

It's difficult to wrap my mind around a loss of that magnitude. I wish, in this space, I could offer up an explanation as to why God allowed this to happen, but I can't.

Life in our fallen world is often difficult and hard and sometimes, like today, tragic. So, I have to go back to what I DO know because God never changes - no matter what is happening around us.

I know God is good.
I know God loves each of those children beyond our imagining.
I know God grieves with each family.
I know God is gracious and compassionate and full of mercy.
I know God will not leave us or abandon us.
I know God is ever ready source of help during any trouble.
I know God will use even something horrible like this for good, if we let Him.

"The Lord is near to the broken hearted, and He saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all." ~ Psalms 34:18, 19

I will be praying for all those who lost someone today, and for all the kids, teachers, first responders, and others who will forever be touched by what they saw and experienced today. I will also be praying for the family of the shooter. I can't imagine their thoughts and feelings and loss either.

~ Blessings, Bronte


Have you ever stood in the shampoo aisle and looked at the huge variety of choices and felt sort of stumped? Like, should I go for shiny hair or maybe bouncy hair or should I emphasize my curls or maybe build volume? The thing is, if you flip over those bottles, despite the grandiose promises on the packaging, almost all of them have very similar ingredients. The choices are a lot narrower than they appear at first glance.

If you recall, I shared that I was chosen to participate in Holley Gerth's God-sized Dream Team. If you don't, you can read about it here.

I still feel overwhelmed by all the choices.

Just like the shampoo aisle though, the mirage of lots of choices is just that - a mirage. Why? Because it all comes down to answering this question - am I will to take the next step of obedience?

That's the real choice.

I know five year plans are popular, but if you'll notice, God doesn't really give anyone a five year plan in the Bible.

In fact, there is an alarming lack of details in the calls God placed on peoples' lives recorded in Scripture. At least, alarming to me. ;)

Abraham was told to just go. God didn't tell him where - just to a land God would show him. The man did not even get a north, south or west direction - just go.

Joseph had a great vision of what his life would be, but then he was thrown into a pit; sold into slavery; languished in jail for a crime he didn't commit and when he helped someone else, was forgotten for more years in that same jail. God never explained these events to Joseph while he was going through them or how this was supposed to all work out with that early vision.

Moses and the children of Israel were led BY GOD to the edge of the Red Sea, only to find the Egyptians hot on their trail. That probably didn't seem like a really good decision when they saw the seemingly impenetrable wall of water on one side and angry Egyptians intent on their annihilation on the other.

God always knows His plans for us, but He doesn't seem very big on giving us the details. He just asks us to put aside our fears and obey. The results are up to Him - our only job is to step out in faith and obedience.

You'll notice that when the priests were told to walk into the raging Jordan River when they crossed over into the Promised Land, the waters didn't part until their feet hit the water. If they would have stayed on the shore, fingers clinging to the rocks for safety, waiting for things to be "safe," they would have never gotten across - never entered their Promised Land.

God has a disconcerting habit of not revealing the next step until we take the first one.

So, while I still feel somewhat overwhelmed by which direction I should go toward my God-sized dream or really what that encompasses besides just writing, my choice is really quite simple: will I obey or will I allow feeling overwhelmed to paralyze me with the fear of choosing incorrectly?

God has graciously allowed me to be part of a team of other dreamers - I believe to help me along the path and narrow my focus on what HE has in store for me. But in order to fully realize His plans for me, I have to pry my fingers off the rocks on the shore and step into the churning water. Only then will my path be made clear.

I'll leave you with a couple quotes that God's used to speak to me lately. I hope they encourage you too.

"Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than your own weaknesses."
~ Mother Teresa

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties today of its strengths. "
~ Corrie Ten Boom

"A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are made for." ~ Unknown

Where is God asking you to set sail to? Are you still anchored at the shore?
~ Blessings, Bronte

p.s. I'm not sure how many blogs I'll be posting here in December, as I am going to be overhauling my blog and may move to Wordpress. All part of that process! :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

RACHAEL - never enough

While Leah longed for her husband Jacob to love her, Rachel just longed for more. Throughout the account of her life, it seems that Rachel was never satisfied with what she had.

Numerous times in the Genesis account of Jacob and his wives, it states that Jacob loved Rachel.

It never says Rachel loved Jacob, though.

Rachel grew up as the beauty of the family. Jacob married her only a week after her older sister Leah and then worked seven MORE years for her.

So, Rachel had beauty. She had Jacob's love, but it wasn't enough for her. Leah was having baby after baby, but Rachel's arms were empty.

I would have a lot more sympathy for Rachel if not for the sentence,"Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister."

In other words, Rachel wanted children, but her reason wasn't to have a baby of her own. Her purpose was to one up her sister. You know, her sister whose husband didn't love her. The sister whose husband Rachel had married a scant week after Leah had gotten married.

She goes to Jacob and says, "Give me children, lest I die." Dramatic much?

Jacob gets understandably angry. What she is asking is beyond his capability - I'm sure he was doing his part, but he rightly says that only GOD can give children. It's the only time it states that Jacob was angry at Rachel.

In her desire to have children - and remember that children gave a woman status and Rachel was feeling her lack of status due to her barrenness rather keenly - she gave her maid Bilhah to Jacob.

We get a deeper glimpse of Rachel's character in the names she gives the two sons that Bilhah bears. The first one she names Dan which means vindication, and the second son she names Naphatali which means wrestling. She says, "With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and I have indeed prevailed."

It doesn't really sound like her motive was a longing for a baby. No, Leah had something that she didn't have, and Rachel couldn't rest until she had a few children of her own, too.

Then comes that bizarre mandrake story again. She trades the favors of her husband to Leah for mandrakes in the hopes of becoming pregnant. It's fairly obvious that she holds her husbands love lightly. I can assure you, that if Rachel had truly loved Jacob she would not have made that deal.

It's not until Leah has two more children that Rachel finally has her first son, Joseph.

Even then, she is not content. Joseph means, Jehovah has added. In the verse, she says, "May the Lord give me another son." She has one son but that isn't enough. She wants more. She wants to compete with Leah who by this time has had 6 sons and a daughter.

At this point and time, Jacob has had enough of working for his father in law and the family makes plans to leave. Fearing that his father in law won't be very keen on him going, Jacob sneaks his family out during the night.

How a man with 4 wives, 11 children and hoards of livestock thought he was going to sneak out at night without anyone noticing is beyond me, but Jacob gives it a try.

Laban comes after him and they call a truce, but then Laban comes out with the zinger - who stole our household gods or teraphim.

Jacob rashly says that nobody has stolen anything and if Laban finds the gods on anyone there, he can kill them.

What Jacob doesn't know is that Rachel had taken the household gods with her.

Lest you think that Rachel was overcome by nostalgia or that she was a religious fanatic, let me assure you this was not the case. Whoever had the household gods got the lion's share of the inheritance - even if it was a son in law.

So, Rachel, not content with the current financial status of her husband decided she needed to add to it by stealing the teraphim.

When her father gets to her, she greets him sweetly and respectfully and then tells him that she can't rise because her woman's time was upon her.

In other words - I can't get up because I have my period. You can bet her dad beat a hasty retreat and didn't press the issue. What he didn't know was that Rachel was sitting on the teraphim. Laban left, still baffled as to the disappearance of his gods.

Rachel has no idea that her words at the beginning of Genesis 30 prove to be prophetic. She died giving birth to her second son, who she called Ben-oni which means son of sorrow but Jacob renamed him Benjamin which means son of my right hand (a little better handle than son of my sorrow).

While God did great things through Joseph, Rachel never saw it.

Rachel had many blessings in her life, but she was never happy with what she had. She spent of her life wanting what she didn't have. It affected her relationship with her husband, with her sister and almost got her killed at the hands of her father. Eventually, Rachel did die - in childbirth because she wanted more children to even the score between herself and her sister Leah.

It wasn't enough for her that she held her husband's heart; it appears she didn't want Leah to have any advantages over her.

While it's easy for me to point my finger and shake my head in disapproval, how many times do I want what I don't have? How many times do I allow discontent to creep into my life? It can become such a habit, I'm not even aware of how negative I've become until suddenly, I hear myself and wince.

Rachel's life could have been far different if she had taken the time to be thankful instead of wasting her life longing for what she didn't have.

Are you thankful or are you allowing discontent to rob you of your daily joy?
~ blessings, Bronte

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

LEAH - the unwanted wife

Anyone who says that the Bible is bland and boring has not read it lately - particularly the Old Testament. One story that would have made it onto Jerry Springer is the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah - the original love triangle. Throw in a couple concubines and things really get interesting.

In my previous post, I wrote about Rebekah who was the mother of Jacob, and if you remember, she sent him to her brother Laban under the pretext of finding a wife - although really, it was to let Esau cool down from his murderous rage.

When Jacob arrived at his Uncle Laban's, one of the first people he saw was Rachel. She is described as being beautiful in face and form, and when Jacob saw her, he fell hard for his cousin.

He also had another cousin, Rachel's older sister Leah. Leah is described as having weak eyes. There are a variety of explanations of what that means - anything from her being cross-eyes or near-sighted, to her having light eyes which were not considered beautiful in that culture. Whatever it means, her sister Rachel was considered the beauty in the family, and Jacob didn't look twice at Leah.

After he had been staying with Laban about a month, Laban asked offered him wages because Jacob had been working for free up to this point. Jacob offers to work 7 years to marry Rachel. The Bible says that he loved her so much, it only seemed like a few days to him.

When the seven years were up, Jacob immediately went to Laban. I imagine that Jacob had been marking off the days, and on the very one that his agreement was completed he sought out his uncle and demanded his wages - in other words Rachel.

Laban says "Sure thing," and organizes a wedding feast. In those days, a wedding would go on for a week - full of food, wine and song. It was also the custom in those days to heavily veil the bride. So, Jacob weds his bride. They attend the feast where much wine was probably flowing - perhaps Jacob imbibed a little more than he should have.

In the morning, imagine Jacob's shock when he realizes he spent his wedding night, not with Rachel, but with her older sister Leah. To say he was furious is a massive understatement. He demands of dear old Uncle Laban why he has tricked him. Laban answers quite calmly that the custom is to marry the older daughter first - probably shrugging his shoulders as if to say, what can you do?

As a side note - anybody else find the irony here interesting? Jacob tricks his dad that he's Esau, and then Laban tricks Jacob by passing off his older daughter as the younger. While I feel sorry for Leah, I'm not quite as sympathetic toward Jacob. He sort of had it coming, kwim.

Laban tells Jacob to give Leah her marriage week and then he can marry Rachel - for which he has to work another seven years. So, within an eight day period, Jacob has two wives - one he had wanted and one he didn't.

In Genesis 29, which records the whole story, it says that Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. It also says that God saw that Leah was unloved. In the Hebrew, the word unloved is sane and it actually means "to be hated."

Apparently, Jacob didn't hate Leah too much because she has four sons in quick succession. Each one reflects her desire to be loved by her husband. Their names and her thoughts on each occasion breaks my heart a little each time.

Her first son she named Reuben which means "behold a son." In ancient culture, giving birth to a son conveyed a lot of status. For Leah, though, she hoped that by giving her husband a son, she could earn his love.

Her second son was named Simeon which means "heard." She states that God saw that she was unloved and gave her a second son because of it.

Her third son is named Levi which means "joined to." She has sort of given up on the idea of being loved, but she is hoping that having a third son will at least bond her husband to her.

By her fourth son - Judah meaning "praised" - her focus has shifted from trying to gain her husband's love to praising God for the blessing of having four sons.

At this point, Leah stops bearing. In the original Hebrew, "stopped bearing" has an interesting translation. It means "to take one's stand." I have no idea what this means in the context of the story, but it seems to point to more than her body just simply stopped conceiving.

In Genesis 30, Leah gives her maid Zilpah to Jacob. She did this mostly because her sister Rachel had given HER maid to Jacob. There was a definite rivalry between the sisters. Leah was not the favored wife, even though she was the first wife and she gave Jacob six sons and one daughter.

Leah was very aware of her non-favored status. In chapter 30, there is the bizarre story of the mandrakes. Mandrakes were used in ancient culture as both an aphrodisiac and for fertility. In reality, they have narcotic properties - something similar to ecstasy from what I read. Leah's son Reuben found some in a field that had been harvested for wheat. The root had probably been pulled up during the harvesting process.

He runs to give them to his mother. Rachel sees them and pleads to have them since she is still barren. Leah's words to her say volumes. She basically says, It's no small thing that you've married or snatched away my husband, but now you want the mandrakes too? In other words, now you want to take away the only advantage that I have - bearing children.

Rachel makes a deal with Leah (which says a lot about her too) - she tells Leah she can sleep with Jacob tonight in exchange for the mandrakes. Leah agrees to this deal. She runs out to Jacob as he's coming in from the field to inform him that she has paid for his, um, services. (again this story makes me question the meaning of stopped bearing - could Leah have put a stop to Jacob's marital visits because it hurt to know you were unloved yet used physically?)

Leah conceives and has a fifth son whom she names Issachar which means recompense. She feels she has been repaid by God.

She has a sixth son soon after, who she names Zebulun or "exalted." She says surely my husband will dwell with me - but dwell in this case actually means honor or exalt.

Throughout her life, Leah felt unloved. The circumstances of her marriage soured things from the beginning. Whether she had a choice or not, I'm sure Jacob felt deceived by her actions that night. I can't imagine how Leah felt the next morning when Jacob drags her to her father and demands to know what he's done. How humiliated and unwanted she must have felt.

Then, only a week later and as soon as Jacob could manage it, her husband marries her younger sister. It is obvious from day one that Jacob loves Rachel. He may sleep with Leah, but she knows his heart is with her sister.

Yet, she is Jacob's first wife and God honors her for that and has compassion on her because she is unloved. God sees her unhappiness and blesses her with many sons. She is really the only matriarch that was fertile. Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel certainly weren't.

It is through Leah's son Judah's lineage that Jesus is born. It is through her son Levi that the priesthood is established.

In the end, it is Leah who is buried beside Jacob in the family tomb. Rachel is buried along the roadside between Bethel and Ephrath.

God honored Leah, even when her husband did not. I think there is a valuable lesson to be learned from Leah's life. Like Sarah and Rebekah before her, God protected her when her husband didn't treat her the way he should have.

God saw Leah's plight and had compassion on her. God cared about Leah and her heartache. It mattered to God, just as He cares about our sorrows and difficulties.

I have no idea what Jacob and Leah's relationship was like after Rachel died in childbirth, but I do know that Jacob's last request was that his sons bury him beside Leah in the family grave plot. Maybe, in the end, Leah was no longer unloved but cherished. I like to think so anyway.

~ Blessings, Bronte

Monday, December 3, 2012

REBEKAH - the ensnarer

It's been a little while, but if you remember, I've been doing a series of lessons on women in the Bible in my Sunday school class. I started with Eve and have been working my way through the matriarchs of Israel.

There sure are some colorful characters, to say the least.

The last woman I posted about was Sarah - the princess. Today, I'm going to look at her daughter-in-law, Rebekah, who was cut from a somewhat different cloth.

I always like to look up what people's names meant in the Bible because in that time period, the meanings of names meant more. These days, the meaning of name isn't nearly as important as the name itself.

Case in point - the top girl's name is Isabella and means "God's oath." I seriously doubt most people who name their daughters Isabella are thinking about God or oaths . The top boy's name is Jacob which means "supplanter or deceiver" - hardly flattering for any kid. We tend to care more about how the name looks and sounds, than its meaning.

But in ancient culture, the meaning of a person's name had more weight. Rebekah's name meant ensnarer. What does it mean to ensnare someone or something? It means to catch or to trap. This was a somewhat prophetic name, in her case, but that comes out a little further down the road.

When Abraham was up there in years, he decided he needed to find Isaac a wife. This was pretty common in ancient culture - the parents picking out or strongly shoving, er, nudging their children in a certain direction. So, Abraham sent out his trusted servant back to the land his family was from, to seek out a wife for Isaac among his family. Marrying a relative was also a cultural norm back then.

The servant realizing the great trust he had been given, prayed that God would make it really clear to him which girl was the one for Isaac. He asked that when he asked her for a drink, not only would she give it to him, but offer to water all his camels as well.

When he arrives in Nahor, he heads to the nearest well - which was pretty much a great place to gather information and find the person you were looking for - and here comes Rebekah. The Bible describes her as both beautiful and a virgin.

When the servant asks her for a drink, she gives it to him and then offers to water all his camels. He starts praising the Lord and loads her down with gold and jewels. She runs back to show her family, and the deal is pretty much done. Not only was the this stranger offering Rebekah marriage to her cousin, but the cousin was apparently very rich. This was really a no-brainer for the family as far as marriage matches went.

We see the first glimpse of Rebekah's character here. Her family asks her if she would like to wait a few days before setting off with a complete stranger to marry another complete stranger. She says, "No, I'll go with him." Then she jumps on her camel and sets off. We can definitely see that Rebekah, whatever other shortcomings she might have had, was adventurous and strong.

Although they seemed to have very different personalities, Rebekah and Sarah also had a few things in common too. Not only were both extremely beautiful, but neither was very fertile. Rebekah and Isaac were married 20 years before she became pregnant with twins.

The twins fought in her womb so she sought the Lord herself to see what the deal was, and God told her that the younger would be over the elder. Here is another clue to her character - she had her own relationship with God and felt comfortable going to Him.

The time for the birth came, and if you are familiar with the story at all, you know that Jacob came out holding onto Esau's heel. Their rivalry began, quite literally, at birth.

Over the years, Esau became Isaac's favorite, and Jacob was his mother's favorite. This favoritism proved to be a really bad idea. It divided not just Jacob and Esau, but also Isaac and Rebekah, and each parent with the other parent's favorite child, as well.

When it came time to pass on the blessing to the oldest son, Rebekah decided she needed to step in and "help" God. I can criticize her for this, but honestly, how many times do I feel the need to help God when circumstances seem impossible? Way more than I'd like to admit.

Rebekah, like Sarah, waited until it seemed impossible that God was going to intervene and then she stepped in to fix the problem. It wasn't until the circumstances seemed impossible - in this case, the blessing of Esau was imminent - that Rebekah stepped in to help out.

Not only did God NOT need Rebekah's help to fulfill His plan, though, but the way Rebekah went about it was problematic - she lied and deceived Isaac by passing Jacob off as Esau.

It's interesting that Jacob protested - not because he thought it was wrong, but because he was afraid he'd get caught. When Jacob voices his concern that if Isaac finds out he could curse Jacob, Rebekah reassures her son that she'll take the curse for him.

Again, Rebekah wants to help her son but does it in the wrong way - by deception and hurting the relationship not just between father and son but between brothers. Not to mention, her actions couldn't have been very good for her marriage either.

Jacob is successful in fooling Isaac, and receives the blessing. BUT, there are heavy consequences to this "success" for Rebekah. While she wasn't officially cursed, things don't turn out the way she had envisioned either.

Esau is outraged and starts immediately plotting Jacob's demise as soon as Isaac is dead. Rebekah convinces Isaac to send Jacob to her brother Laban under the guise of finding a wife, but really to let Esau cool down. She thinks it will be for only a short time, but she never sees her son again, dying before he returns some 20 years later.

Rebekah was sincere in her desire to help, but by jumping in without God's direction, she never saw her favored son again. She never knew his wives or helped in the birth of his children. She never held her grandchildren or saw them grow. Not only that, she hurt her relationship with her husband and her remaining son. Nothing is mentioned about those relationships after the fact, but it does make you wonder if she spent the rest of her days living in loneliness because of the strained relationships with her husband and son.

This is kind of theme we see in the women early in the Bible - wresting control from God and doing what they think is best. Unfortunately, even though they mean well, the results of their "fixing" things always brings about more problems and heartache than the original problem.

There are several lessons from Rebekah - both good and bad. First, she was adventurous and fearless. Those are good qualities to have - they allowed her to leave her home and head into the unknown with confidence. She also sought God out when she had a problem - at least in the beginning. She obviously believed what God told her.

However, we can also learn from her penchant for favoritism among her sons and her desire to "fix" things when circumstances seemed to indicate God's plans just weren't going to work out. If she would have just waited and trusted, the last half of her life would have been much different - certainly much happier - but she didn't and she died without ever seeing her son again.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Prov. 3:5

What is God asking you to trust Him with, that you just don't understand?
~ Blessings, Bronte