Shawna Atteberry

Writer, Teacher, Baker

Happy Anniversary! Or I'm so happy The Hubby decided to spend the rest of his life with me!

The Hubby and I were married three years ago today. Is he sexy in that tux or what? (And yes, I probably said that last year as well. The Man cleans up gooooood. ;))

Here’s our song: “Lifelong Fling” by Over the Rhine.

The moon blind-sided the sky again
As we grabbed loose ends of the tide and then
The slippery slide
You know I can’t say when
I ever took a ride that could slap me this silly
With roiling joy
Lazy as sin
Lyin’ up in heaven with my special friend
And the space he’s in
It can make a girl grin
In the beginning of a lifelong fling

I wrote down a dream
Folded the note
Slipped it in the pocket of my tattered coat

I wrote down a dream
In invisible ink
It never was mine I’m beginning to think

I wrote down a dream
What more could I do
I drew myself a picture and the picture was you

I wrote myself a riddle
I said, What I wouldn’t do
To give something good
To a love like you

The moon blind-sided the sky again
As we grabbed loose ends of the tide and then
The slippery slide
You know I can’t say when
I ever took a ride that could slap me this silly
With roiling joy
Lazy as sin
Lyin’ up in heaven with my special friend
And the space he’s in
It can make a girl grin
In the beginning of a lifelong fling

I wrote down a dream
Folded the note
Passed it to you we stepped in our boat

Sailed ‘round the world
We were hoping to find
More than the sum of all we left behind

I wrote down a dream
But what was it now
And why does it feel so distant somehow

Did I take too long
Did I get it wrong
You’re still the missing line in my favorite song

The moon blind-sided the sky again
As we grabbed loose ends of the tide and then
The slippery slide
You know I can’t say when
I ever took a ride that could slap me this silly
With roiling joy
Lazy as sin
Lyin’ up in heaven with my special friend
And the space he’s in
It can make a girl grin
In the beginning of a lifelong fling

Biblical Women Who Didn't Submit: Sarah

Bedouin Meets Europe by Piotr Pastusiak.

Bedouin Meets Europe by Piotr Pastusiak.

It was in this way long ago that the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves by accepting the authority of their husbands. Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him lord. You have become her daughters as long as you do what is good and never let fears alarm you (1 Peter 3:4-5).

I have one question about these verses: Who is this Sarah Peter is speaking of? Because this is not the Sarah I have encountered in the Old Testament. Here are some viginettes of the Sarah we find in Genesis:

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had an Egyptian slave-girl whose name was Hagar, and Sarai said to Abram, “You see that the LORD has prevented me from bearing children; go in to my slave-girl; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her slave-girl, and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife.

He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my slave-girl to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Your slave-girl is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she ran away from her (Genesis 16:1-6).

But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.” The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring” (Genesis 21:9-13).

Now Sarah also did obey Abraham when he wanted her to say she was his sister, so Abraham would not be killed by Pharaoh or Abimelech. Sarah obeyed and in both cases was taken into both rulers’ harems. But we don’t see Sarah submitting in all ways to Abraham as complementarians would have wives to submit blindly to their husbands today. It was her idea to give Hagar to Abraham as his concubine, so they could have children.  When Hagar started looking at Sarah with contempt, it was Sarah who blamed Abraham, who returned Hagar to being Sarah’s slave instead of his concubine.

It was Sarah who told Abraham that Ishmael would not inherit with her son, Isaac, and to send Hagar and Ishmael away. Godde sides with Sarah on this and tells Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. Godde will honor the covenant to both women: their sons shall become nations, but Sophia-Yahweh’s covenant would go through Isaac.

1 Peter would have us believe that Sarah was always submissive. But she wasn’t. Genesis gives a very different picture of this brave, strong woman who left all she knew to follow Sophia-Yahweh and find the land Godde had promised to her and Abraham’s descendants. She told Abraham what she thought, and she made decisions that affected God’s covenant for millenia to come. Sarah was not always a nice person, and she was definitely wrong in the ways she dealt with familial problems, but she was not a submissive wallflower who blindly followed her husband.

Related Posts

Biblical Women Who Didn’t Submit: Abigail
Woman of the Week: Sarah

Me, Working at Home, and the Bible

Girls in Cairo weaving

Girls in Cairo weaving

Since I struck out for the freelance life almost three years ago, I’ve wondered if I’m actually working. I work from home, I stay in my PJs to all hours of the afternoon, and I don’t make a lot of money. When people ask me what I do, and I say, “I’m a writer,” I wonder if that’s a “real job.” After all you actually have to take showers and work a specific amount of hours to have a “real job” right? Not to mention you get a regular pay check at a “real job.”

I’ve also been at odds with myself over housework. Because I’m the one who’s home a lot, I do most of the housework. It’s nice to break up sitting around on the computer with doing a load of laundry or picking stuff up. And who hasn’t put off writing a blog post to clean out the fridge? (OK, My Hubby wishes I did this.) I used to find all sorts of house stuff to do when I was in school too. It’s amazing what needs to be cleaned right now when you need to parse Greek verbs or write a soul-bearing blog post.

Then something happened last year. Something devastating: I actually wanted to to do housework, and figure out how to be a decent homekeeper. This feminist-who-did-not-want-to-be-an-absolute-clean-freak-like-her-mother freaked out. You can reading about my freaking out here.

And through all of this it never hit me what a total hypocrite I was. You see I’m writing this book called Career Women of the Bible. In the Bible most of the work was done at home, and women did a substantial amount of the work for the family to survive including house repairs, all the food preparation, making sure the children didn’t wander off into wadis or be trampled by sheep or goats, and they spun thread and wove all the textiles the family and the household needed. In fact women’s work–textiles–drove the ancient economy. Women wove and their men traveled and sold the textiles. They sent back the money from the textiles to their wives, and the wives spent it how they saw fit.*

So here I am being this big advocate that yes women worked and had actual careers in the Bible, and most of that work was done at home. In fact, most men worked from home because work and home hadn’t been divided by the Industrial Revolution yet. Even if you lived in a town or city, your shop or business was run out of your home. Home, work, and family were interwoven.

I realized what a disconnect I was having a couple of weeks ago when I read What Does “Workers at Home” Really Mean? I was cheering what Sandra was saying when it hit me. I was not practicing what I preach. All the women in the Bible I applaud, preach about, teach about, and storytell about worked from their homes. Their weaving drove ancient economy, and they were in charge of the family’s largest resource: food. The women apportioned the food and made it last from one harvest to the next.

The matriarchs were in charge of small moving businesses, and their weaving probably helped the family buy the thing they needed while roaming around Canaan and Egypt. Not to mention their weaving literally sheltered the family: they wove the goat’s hair in thread and wove the panels for the tent. (Women’s work was also setting up the tents and tearing them down.) Rahab was a prostitute yes, but she also ran an inn (most likely in her own home), and there is flax on her roof for weaving. The Proverbs 31 woman has girls who weave for her, and she sells the textiles. She also buys and sells property. Priscilla and Aquila made tents, and Lydia did travel for her business: she was a merchant of the purple cloth that only royalty could buy.

In addition, the early church met in people’s homes. We know Priscilla and Aquila had churches meet in at least in three of their homes spread over Asia and in Rome. The first church in Europe met in Lydia’s home. Homes were the hubs of hospitality and grace. Homes are where the first Christians heard of God’s love and grace, ate together, and celebrated the Eucharist together.

And I didn’t think “real work” could happen in my home. I was wondering if I was really working and could honestly say I work just because I don’t go to an office and keep certain hours. I am a working woman in my home just like all the women of the Bible. Like them I am also a homekeeper. I am in charge of one of the things that cost us the most money: food. I shop and provide our meals. I love it. I love to cook, and I love to feed people. Nothing shows love like cooking. I also want my home to be a place to live in, be comfortable in, have people over, and not look like a couple of tornadoes go through it a week. So I pick up, do laundry, sweep, and mop, so that I don’t have to do a manic clean-out just to have somone over for dinner. For some reason I think Sarah, Deborah, Martha, and Priscilla would approve.

*For an extensive record of women and the textile industry read Elizabeth Wayland Barber’s Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times. In fact, this is must read to really understand how intertwined the home and business were in the ancient world. “Cloth for the Caravans” is the chapter that deals with women weavers sending their wares out on caravans for trading. The letters between the husbands and wives they recovered are great!

(There are affliate links in this post.)

Biblical Women Who Didn't Submit: Abigail

Conservative and fundamentalist Christians of the extreme kind are getting some press right now. It’s due to Kathryn Joyce’s new book Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement. Articles by Kathryn or reviews of her book have appeared on NPR, Mother Jones, Salon, Religion Dispatches, Feministing, Feminste, Pandagon, and Emerging Women. Members of the Quiverfull movement are biblical literalists who believe families should have as many children as God gives to them. (The name quiverfull comes from Psalm 127:3-5: “Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.”) They do not use artificial birth control, and have families as large as 20. They homeschool their children. There are strict gender roles: men work and the public square is their place. Women are to be homemakers and  mothers. Their sphere is to be in the home. And of course, wives are to be totally submissive to their husbands. The husbands are the high priests and heads of their homes. Their wives must always defer to them. In the May/April issue of Mother Jones, Kathryn Joyce’s “The Purpose-Driven Wife” discusses another fundamentalist group (not part of the Quiverfull Movement) that gives the classic complementarian view of a submissive wife and mother:

[The wife’s] priorities may include rising early to feed the family, being available anytime to satisfy a husband’s desires (barring a few “ungodly” or “homosexual” acts), seeking his approval regarding work, appearance, and leisure, and accepting that he has the “burden” of final say in arguments. After a wife has respectfully appealed her spouse’s decision-a privilege she should not abuse-she must accept his final answer as “God’s will for her at that time,” Peace advises. The godly wife must also suppress selfish desires (for romance, a career, an equitable marriage), practice addressing her spouse in soothing tones, and maintain a private log of bitter thoughts to guide her repentance. “If you disobey your husband,” Peace admonishes in The Excellent Wife, “you are indirectly shaking your fist at God.”

According to them the Bible says so. Actually the Bible says so in three verses out of the entire canon. Twice in Paul’s letters and once in 1 Peter we read that wives are to submit to their husbands. But we see a different picture when we read about the women in the Bible. They did not submit in all things to their husbands. In fact some of them defied their husbands and did what was best for their families and households. It was a very good thing that Abigail did not submit in all things to her husband, Nabal. If she had she would have been slaughtered. Her story is found 1 Samuel 25.

A Decisive Woman

Abigail’s husband was Nabal. Immediately we know the man is going to do something stupid: Nabal means fool. And Nabal does not disappoint us. David has not been crowned king yet. At this time he is on the run from Israel’s king Saul. David and his band of mercenaries protect shepherds from wild animals and bandits. In return, when the landowner sheered the sheep and feasted at the end of the season, he would feed and give gifts of food to David and his men. Nabal, not only decides he’s not going to pay up, he adds insult upon insult about David. David has 400 warriors, and he is angry. He decides that he is going to kill Nabal and his household.

One of Nabal’s slaves who heard what Nabal said to David’s messenger goes to Abigail. He tells her what happened. Now if Abigail would have been the submissive wife that Martha Peace thinks all women should be, Abigail would have submitted to her husband’s idiocy, been resigned to her fate, made her peace with God and waited for David and his men to wipe out her household. But Abigail did not submit: she made a decision and acted quickly.

Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves, two skins of wine, five sheep ready dressed, five measures of parched grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs. She loaded them on donkeys and said to her young men, “Go on ahead of me; I am coming after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. As she rode on the donkey and came down under cover of the mountain, David and his men came down toward her; and she met them (1 Samuel 25:18-20).

The next two verses tell us: “David had said, ‘Surely it was in vain that I protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; but he has returned me evil for good. God do so to David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him.'” The English translation waters down David’s actual vow: “God do so to David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male who can piss against a wall to him” (Reading the Women of the Bible: A New Interpretation of Their Stories by Tikva Frymer-Kensky, 317-18).*  In very vulgar language we see David’s rage as he vows to wipe out Nabal’s entire household.

A Wise and Strong Woman

Abigail meets David on his way to fulfill his oath. The first thing she does is get down from her donkey and fall on her face before David. Now we find out what kind of woman Abigail is: she is a wise woman. She embodies Lady Wisdom from Proverbs 1–8.

‘Upon me alone, my lord, be the guilt; please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. My lord, do not take seriously this ill-natured fellow Nabal; for as his name is, so is he; Nabal* is his name, and folly is with him; but I, your servant, did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent.

Now then, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, since the Lord has restrained you from blood-guilt and from taking vengeance with your own hand, now let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be like Nabal. And now let this present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord. Please forgive the trespass of your servant; for the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord; and evil shall not be found in you as long as you live. If anyone should rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living under the care of the Lord your God; but the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. When the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you, and has appointed you prince over Israel, my lord shall have no cause of grief, or pangs of conscience, for having shed blood without cause or for having saved himself. And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant (1 Samuel 25:24-31).

Abigail first offers to take David’s oath and God’s judgment on herself. Oaths were taken very seriously, and David had said that God’s wrath could come down on him if he didn’t kill every man in Nabal’s household. In order for David to save face in front of his men, Abigail took God’s wrath on her own head. She is willing for the curse to fall on her if David will hear her out.

She goes on to tell David not to mind her husband: he is named “Fool,” and he is a fool. Abigail had not known of the servants he sent or their request, or she would have sent him the food and gifts he had earned. Her wisdom now kicks into high gear. She tells David that she knows he will be king of Isreal, and she doesn’t want anyone to be able to hold anything against him. If he kills Nabal and their household there will be blood guilt. Nabal is a powerful and wealthy in the southern part of Israel, and some could accuse David of killing him and his family to gain power and further his own career. When David comes into power there should be no blood guilt or doubt that God has called him and made him king.

She assures David that God will take care of his enemies, and to let God deal with Nabal. Not only is Abigail a wise woman, but she also becomes a prophetic voice in this story. She assures David that he is God’s anointed, and that he will be king of Israel.

Prophet and Deliverer

David listens to her, and decides she is right. He praises Abigail for coming, being Lady Wisdom, and staying his hand. He accepts her gifts and leaves.

Abigail returns home. Nabal is drunk, and she waits until the next morning to tell him what happened. The next day she tells Nabal what she did. She told him of how she met David and prevented him from killing Nabal and their entire household. Nabal was so shocked he became paralyzed and ten days later he died (the general consensus is he had a stroke). After Nabal died, David “wooed” her and purposed marriage to her. Abigail accepted.

Abigail was a wise and strong woman who could make quick decisions and act on them. Her wisdom, diplomacy, and stength save herself and her household. She also kept David from slaughtering innocent people due to his rage with one man. An act that could have cost him the kingship of Israel. Unfortunately after Abigail marries David and become part of an ever growing harem, she disappears. But she reminds us that God gave women wisdom, strength, and power to protect not only their own lives, but the lives of those around them. God gave women the reason and capacity to make decisions, especially when their husbands decisions would have meant certain disaster.

* I cannot recommend Reading the Women of the Bible: A New Interpretation of Their Stories highly enough. Dr. Frymer-Kensky does an excellent job of putting bibilical women in their social and historical setting. Her translations and grasp of ancient semitic languages is amazing, and she’s a wonderful storyteller. She was an incredible woman with an incredible mind and died much too young. I also recommend her first book, In the Wake of the Goddesses: Women, Culture and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth. In this book she explores how the Bible’s idea of men and women being made in the image of God is a very different take on humanity and the relationships of men and women than the rest of the ancient world had.

All biblical quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version.

(They are affliate links in this post.)

Related Posts

What Jesus Had to Say About Families

Geeks in Love: Belated Valentine's Edition

Our first Valentine’s together my then-boyfriend, Tracy, and I stayed in. Valentine’s Day fell on Wednesday, and as I lived in Kansas City, and he lived in Chicago, I flew in the following the weekend. It was cold; the high was 2° F. On Saturday night we had a very lovely dinner at Gioco’s, but for the rest of the weekend, we watched movies. And if you think we watched sappy love movies, then you would be wrong. The movies we watched included Donnie Darko, Being John Malkovich, and Groundhog Day. We’re just not geeks, we’re macabre geeks.

The following Valentine’s Day we were married. He had gotten me addicted to Mythbusters. In one episode Carrie was wearing a T-shirt. A T-shirt that said “Geek” written in Greek letters. I looked at Tracy and said (OK I yelled), “I have to have that T-shirt!” And not just because I’m a geek. I fell in love with Greek in college. For close to 15 years I have called myself the Greek Geek (I’ve always had the the name Greek Geek Inc. in the back of my mind, in case I ever started a business). So when I saw the T-shirt, I really had to have it. My Geek bought it for me for Valentine’s Day. You just don’t get much more geeky than that. Or so I thought.

A couple of weeks ago after being tagged a couple of times, I finally filled out the 25 Random Things About Me meme going around on Facebook. I mentioned that I love dead languages (I’ve also had Hebrew and Aramaic), but I still need to learn Latin. So what did My Hubby get me for this Valentine’s Day? Yes, that’s right: everything I need to start learning Latin. There’s Latin Made Simple: A complete introductory course in Classical Latin (Made Simple (Broadway Books)), The Bantam New College Latin & English Dictionary, Revised Edition, Easy Latin Crossword Puzzles, and Carpe Diem: Put A Little Latin in Your Life. Suffice it to say, I have started learning my fourth dead language.

Later that night in bed it hit me (that’s when everything hits me), I realized that he was once again supporting me and encouraging me to do what I wanted to do. One of my top three musts in getting married was that my husband would support my career. I got that must in spades. He totally supports and encourages me to continue writing and continue pursuing my dreams (even if I haven’t started bringing in a decent income yet. That bothers me more than him. OK, it doesn’t bother him at all; it bothers me a lot). In life, in career, in pursuing my dreams, and even when it comes to learning yet one more dead language, he supports me just as I support him in all those things (except for learning dead languages: he learns computer languages). That may not be geeky, but it sure does help to make a good marriage.

(There are various and sundry affliate links in this post.)

The next biblical woman to be written about (drumroll)

Is Jael. She had the most votes. Esther and Abigail tied for second, and I will be writing them about them later. A post will be appearing on Jael a little later today. (I really need to eat something.) I have done some writing on the other women you suggested. The articles are scholarly; the sermons not so much. If you have any suggestions to make the scholarly articles more readable, please let me know.

Articles:

Career Women of the Bible:The 12th Century B. C. E. Career Woman (Deborah)

Career Women of the Bible: Standing Between Life and Death (Zipporah and Huldah)

Career Women of the Bible: Teachers, Elder, and Co-Workers (Priscilla)

Sermons:

Everyone Has a Story (Deborah and Jael)

God Uses Harem Girls (Esther)

Woman of the Week: Sarah

Editor’s Note: Every Thursday I will be posting a “Woman of the Week.” This is a woman I will choose from the Bible, history, and even women who are living and breathing. If you have any suggestions for the future “Women of the Week,” please leave your responses in the comments.

Everybody thought Sarah was dispensable, even Sarah. We first meet Sarah when she is 65, right after God calls Abraham to leave his home in Haran and go to Canaan. We find out two things about Sarah: she is Abraham’s wife, and she is barren. We find this out right after God promises to make Abraham’s descendants a nation. But Sarah is barren. Where will these descendants come from? Abraham and Sarah pack up their household and head to Canaan. When they arrive they don’t spend too much time there. There is a famine in the land, and they move onto Egypt where there is food.

Apparently Sarah was quite the looker at 65. This is the first time that Abraham views Sarah as dispensable. Abraham is afraid that someone will kill him in order to have Sarah, so he asks Sarah to pretend to be his sister. She does, and Pharaoh adds her to his harem. Abraham is richly rewarded for giving his “sister” to Pharaoh with gold, silver, animals, and slaves. But God does not see Sarah as dispensable. God comes to Pharaoh in a dream and tells him that Sarah is Abraham’s wife and to return to her to her husband. Pharaoh does so the next day and tells Abraham to leave. They return to Canaan.

Not long after this, it is Sarah who views herself as dispensable. She tells Abraham, “God has kept me from having children. Take my slave-girl, and I will have children by her.” This was a common custom in the Sumerian (modern Iran) culture they came from. If a wife could not have a child, she could give one of her slaves to her husband to have children for her. The slave would become the husband’s concubine. Surrogate mothers are nothing new. Abraham takes Sarah’s slave, Hagar, and she conceives. But things do not go as planned. Hagar is no longer a slave, but a second wife. Sarah is old and barren. Hagar is young and pregnant. We don’t exactly what Hagar did, but in the next verse Sarah is complaining to Abraham: “When Hagar found out she was pregnant, she looked on me with contempt. God judge between us!”

Hagar does not remain Abraham’s concubine for long. He gives her back to Sarah and says, “She is your slave. Do with her what you see fit.” Jealous Sarah abuses Hagar, who runs away. Hagar meets the angel of Yahweh, who tells her to go back to her mistress. But God extends God’s covenant to Hagar and her child: she will have a son and name him Ishmael, and he too, will become a nation. Hagar says, “Have I just seen God and lived.” She is the first person to name God: The God who sees me (I will do a complete post on Hagar in the future). She returns and Ishmael is born.

Many years pass, and Ishmael is Abraham’s only son, his only heir. Three strangers come to visit Abraham and Sarah. One of the visitors turns out to be God. Abraham invites them to stay, and he and Sarah prepare a meal for them. While they are eating, God asks Abraham, “Where is Sarah?” Abraham answers that she is in her tent. In fact, Sarah is listening to their conversation just inside the tent. God tells Abraham, “At this time next year, Sarah will have a son.” Sarah does the only thing she can do: laugh. She is 89 years old. She says to herself, “After all of these years, now that I’m old and dried up, will I now have children?” God wants to know why Sarah is laughing. Sarah denies it. But God says, “Oh yes, you did laugh.” And her son’s name will always remind her of that laughter.

But we see that Abraham hasn’t quite wrapped his head around Sarah having a son (most likely neither has Sarah). They journey to Gerar where Abimlech is king. I don’t know what kind of knock-out Sarah was, but at 89 years old, Abraham was still afraid of having someone kill him and take her. They once again do the brother/sister routine. They both once again view Sarah as dispensable to God’s covenant, and the future that God has promised them. Abimelech takes Sarah as his wife, but God does not let it get far. On their wedding night God afflicts Abimelech, his household, and his land with some kind of disease where they cannot bear children. God comes to Abimelech and tells him that Sarah is Abraham’s wife and to return her to him. Abimelech obeys and gives Sarah back to Abraham the next morning. He wants to know why they have deceived him. Abraham said that he only told a half-lie. Yes, Sarah is his wife, but she is also his half-sister. They have different mothers, but the same father. Abraham and Sarah may view Sarah as dispensable and replaceable, but God does not. God does not allow Abraham to replace Sarah, and God does not allow Sarah to replace herself with Hagar. His covenant with Abraham is for both Abraham and Sarah: their son will be the heir of the covenant.

In the next chapter Sarah conceives and gives birth to Isaac, to laughter (Isaac’s name means to laugh). Sarah is 90 years old and now her laughter is laughter of joy. She rejoices at Isaac’s circumcision and says, “Who ever thought that Sarah would nurse a baby? And yet I have given Abraham a son in our old age.” In God’s plan Sarah was indispensable and irreplaceable. The covenant God made with Abraham was not just with Abraham. God made the covenant with both Abraham and Sarah. And when the two tried to replace Sarah with Hagar, God in God’s mercy and grace extended that covenant to Hagar and Ishmael.

One of the last glimpses we see of Sarah is not a pleasant one. Her jealousy once again rises when she sees Isaac and Ishmael playing together. Her son will not share his inheritance with that slave woman’s son. She tells Abraham, “Send that slave woman and her son away. He will not inherit with my son. Isaac will be your only heir.” Abraham is troubled, but God tells him to listen to Sarah. The next morning Abraham gives meager supplies to Hagar and Ishmael and sends them off. At the end of their food and water, Hagar despairs and knows they will die. But once again God comes to her, shows her a spring, and reassures her that Ishmael too will grow into a numerous people.

The next time we hear of Sarah, she has died. Abraham buys a cave at Machpelah to bury her. Not only was Sarah buried in the cave, but so was Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Leah. These are Sarah’s descendants who will be the beginning of God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah that would give birth to a numerous people and to an entire nation. Through Sarah’s self-doubt, barrenness, jealousy, and thinking she could be replaced, God stays with her. God does not allow God’s plans and purposes for her life to be thwarted. Abraham and Sarah may have thought Sarah was dispensable, but God never did.

You can find out more about Sarah in Genesis 12–22.

My Story: An 8 year kinda, sorta courtship

Earlier this year, I talked about telling my story, but it got lost in the midst of working on other things, a major life change, and just the sheer busyness of life. I’ve been looking through my journals to look for something to get the juices flowing. Right about this time 10 years ago, I met my husband. I didn’t know it then. I liked him immediately because was smart, sarcastic, and could zing other people. He was very thoughtful and intelligent! I always had a thing for smart boys. We became good friends. And I began to want more. But at that time I thought I would be returning to Spain to work for my former church there. A few months later he transferred with his company to Chicago. We were in Kansas City. He moved and we stayed in touch. We emailed, and I would fly to Chicago to see him, and he would come to Kansas City to see me and other friends. I always wanted more, but I wanted this man in my life, so I was content to be friends. I found this entry in a journal dated September 2004–two years before we got together:

Yes, I am thinking of him again.Sometimes it really bites to be in love with one of your best friends. Been in love with him for years. Not long after we became friends. I chuckle as I remember how hard I fell for him. When I could be honest with myself, I would admit that I never fully recovered, didn’t know if I would.We both knew it would never be. Neither of us would never do the compromising it would take to make it work. [HA! How wrong was I!] We were friends–good friends. And with all of the reasons and the reality of why it couldn’t be rattling around inside my head–I loved him.

I’d only recently admitted to myself that yes, I did love him. And that I wanted to be more than friends. I always said I could fall in love with him. But I think that happened a long time ago. It was a bittersweet feeling. This knowledge of love and the knowledge it would never be more.

But I had decided having him in my life as a friend was much more important than him not being in my life at all because of all the little fantasies playing in my head that I knew would never pay out. Some days it was hard to live. Like today. Today when I got a wonderful email from him with his characteristic sarcasm and humor. He always made me smile.

But it was in the opening of the letter–his compliments. He liked my poem. The poem I wrote for him. The poem where I finally admitted to myself I loved him. I don’t remember him complementing any of my other writing so highly. He like it. He praised it. And once again I felt that old familiar ache in my heart.

And here is the poem that started this sentimental journal entry:

“I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints.”–Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“My Lost Saint”
It is odd
Finally, admitting to myself
How I feel.
I’ve kept it hidden
In the back of my heart
For a very long time.
So many reasons
Why I shouldn’t:
Like it will never be.
But that just hasn’t
Changed these feelings.
The depth of my emotion
Reveals itself at the smallest thing:
A sarcastic remark,
Affirmation that you see
Who I really am.
I do love you.
I am in love with you,
My lost saint.

©2006 Shawna Renee Bound

I’m not sure how I’m going to tell my story, but I am going to tell it. It will probably be more topical than chronological. But I do want to tell who I was, where I’ve been, who I am, and where I want to go. Two years after I wrote this poem and this journal entry, Tracy and I had our first date in January 2006, we we’re engaged in March, and married on May 26, 2006. We did make the compromises, and it did work out. There are some things it’s nice to be wrong about.

The Oddity of Husbands

There was a load of laundry in the dryer last night. The utility “closet” (think really small broom closet) is in the bathroom, and we have to keep the door open, so that the dryer vents properly and the clothes dry. I go into the bathroom and see the door is closed. I open it and see the dryer door open. I assume that while I was working out in the living room, The Hubby, had gotten the clothes out and folded them. No such luck. Discovered this morning, clothes are still in the dryer. Apparently he was hunting for something. Why can’t he just take the clothes out of the dryer instead of rifling through for one thing and leaving the rest there?

I do not understand this oddity.

What oddity does you spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, or significant other have that mystifies you?