A wise woman

I've been challenged this morning in I Samuel 25, the story of David and Abigail, another wonderful picture of doing things God's way.

We see David, who is still living in the wilderness, hiding from Saul, sending messengers to Nabal requesting food for his men.  He reminds Nabal how respectful and helpful he and his men had been to to Nabal's sheepshearers before.  Nabal scorns him and refuses aid, acting according to the meaning of his name, "Fool."

Here is where David gets off track.  Normally, he seeks God in every situation and then obeys--"Shall I attack?  Shall I pursue?"  The Lord always gives him specific instructions and perfect victory is the result.  But here, David's mind of the flesh takes over and he reacts in anger, even making a rash vow to kill every male in Nabal's household.

Enter Abigail, Nabal's wife (her name means "source of joy").  She is declared in the Word as a "woman of good understanding," and she is told of this perilous situation.  Her response is courageous and very wise:  she takes food for David's army and heads off to meet him.

I love her approach, which shows something very key.  She couldn't have had "good understanding" without having known God's Word!  Watch how His wisdom permeates her appeal and counsel.

First, she agrees with David's righteous indignation and admits to Nabal's foolishness.  Then, she goes to the heart of the matter--David's own sin in avenging himself.  The Law in Leviticus 19:18 says, "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people."

Next, she presents the lavish gift of food to these hungry men.  Proverbs 21:14 says, "A gift in secret pacifies anger, and a bribe behind the back, strong wrath."  One could argue that Proverbs hadn't been written yet, but this was obvious practical wisdom that was a common practice when approaching a ruler or king in any culture.

Then, in her impassioned speech, the Lord actually gives her prophetic words as she reminds David of who he is--the anointed king-to-be--and saves the punch for last:  "And it shall come to pass, when the Lord has done according to all the good that He has spoken concerning you...that this will be no grief to you...that you have shed blood without cause...or avenged yourself."  A king shouldn't act like this!

Her wise words wake David up and he sees that God has provided a way to keep him from sinning.  When he gets out of the way, letting God be his vindicator, God quickly intervenes and Nabal dies.

This amazing story is concluded with a final step in doing things God's way--both David and Abigail gather the spoils.  David takes this beautiful and wise woman to be his wife, and she is moved by God from a very difficult marriage to a place of blessing.

Wow.  A lot of truth here to chew on.  I have a personal saying that this illustrates:  You can't go wrong doing the right thing.  Having your mind renewed in the Word gives you His wisdom for any situation.  Choosing to be Spirit-led rather than flesh-driven puts you in a place of safety, with God handling all the "stuff."  And there's also this idea that we need to skillfully and courageously point people to God's truth, that His blessing may be upon them.

Thank You, Lord, that your Truth is ever new!


A call to PRAISE!

Some wonderful thoughts from Psalm 107 this morning...

"Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy."

We are redeemed--"set free by avenging or repaying" according to Strong's.  It foreshadows the full work of Jesus' work on the cross for us.  But look at the fullness of our redemption:  we're redeemed from...being lost, hungry, thirsty, faint and longing... redeemed from affliction and distress caused by our own rebellion and rejection of God...redeemed from foolishness and sickness and sin...redeemed from trouble without and fear within...redeemed from poverty and lack, barrenness and loss and sorrow!

And what does He do for us in our redemption?  We are delivered from our destructions, led by the right way, established and satisfied, our chains broken and bars of iron cut in two, saved out of our distresses and healed of our sicknesses by the Word, brought to peace in the storm, brought to our desired haven, led to drink from springs in the wilderness, established and blessed, given a dwelling place, a fruitful harvest, increase and abundance, families like a flock, and peace!!

Good grief, what has He left out?  Nothing!  Every need met by His love and goodness and mercy.  This is my own testimony and to Him is all my praise.  No matter how difficult things get in the world, His "mercy endures forever."

The Hebrew style of poetry in music shows up so beautifully in this Psalm; four times is this wonderful refrain, "Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men," with this added in verse 22, "Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing."  Lord, today I declare Your goodness and mercy with profound praise and thanksgiving.  You are good!

And as a majestic finale to this call to praise, the last verse gives us our challenge with a promise, "Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the LORD."

Amen!  "Let the redeemded of the Lord say so!"



Spring fever

I'm so glad it's spring break time at our house because we're dealing with a major case of spring fever!  The whole natural world around us is waking up early this year and it's nigh unto impossible to stay inside.  I can't wait to wrap my hands around a rake and start snipping with the pruning shears.  SweetPea and I spent a lazy morning today planning our gardens and some kind of "fort" project for her.

Let's see...how about a quick update on our lives...

...We're moving steadily through Sonlight's Core 6 and will probably finish it by the end of May.  I've really loved the in-depth study of world history this time around (we did an intro in Cores 1 & 2) and have really gotten a better picture of how things connected in the Roman and Medieval civilizations.  We loved "Master Cornhill" as a read-aloud and for the first time I really understand the Plague and the great fire of London.

...SweetPea is doing pretty well with Saxon 8/7 though we've slowed the pace a bit.  I'm more concerned she really master the stuff with algebra in view.  Math is just not her thing but she's trying anyway.

...She's part of a special baroque piano concert in a week so is busy polishing her three pieces.  It's been quite a discipline to do this type of music--not her favorite, but I think she's gained some valuable skills.

...She's loving Apologia General Science.  What a well-written program and suited so well for independent work.

...I'm trying to focus on better nutrition for all of us--less sugar, more alternative grains, interesting new recipes.  I get lazy and default to "quick" foods but then we don't get enough fruits and vegetables.  It takes time to wash them and cut them up!  But we all really need the benefit of these good foods God made so I'm recommiting myself to a more diligent effort.

...We're all waiting for really warm weather to try out our new canoe!  Hubby got a wonderful-condition used one that has some features I like...non-tippable, non-sinkable.    I guess some fishermen designed it so it should serve us well.

...I'm enjoying a book study with some other homeschool moms, "Age of Opportunity," by Paul David Tripp.  A great approach to parenting teens, with some excellent and very practical ways to keep their hearts.  I highly recommend it.

Blessings on your weekend!  May the Lord be especially sweet to you today.


A writer's checklist

In working on the third rewrite for a homeschooling article this past week, I learned (or re-learned!) an important lesson, one that I'm going to make sure I teach my daughter...that of really organizing your thoughts before you begin writing.

Sounds pretty elementary, I know.  Most language arts or writing programs we use in the homeschooling community teach this.  But I've seen again in my own writing that while you may think you know where you're going with a piece, you can quickly find yourself in a mucky swamp of words, not sure where you're headed or how to get out of the mud.

So I'm going to use a master checklist something like this from now on, both for myself and for my daughter's assignments.  I want to make sure this analysis will include both pre-writing and post-writing editing.

1.  In a sentence or two, state clearly what you are trying to communicate to the reader.  (A "nutgraph" for your writers out there.)  Narrow it down as far as possible.

2.  Describe who your audience is--who you're trying to influence or persuade.  Then talk to them.

3.  What will your tone be?  Playful?  Serious? 

4.  What point of view will you be writing from?

5.  What format will you use for this piece--an essay?  A story?

6.  What anecdotes, quotes, and references will you use?

7.  How long will your piece be? 

8.  Have you done an outline?  Include intro/hook (what type), all sub-topics, conclusion.

Writing books will tell you that the real craft of writing happens in the editing phase after your first draft.  I wish it weren't true but it is.  Rarely--if ever--will you come up with something really stellar the first time around.  This is the hard part with kids; they don't want to work and rework their words.

So when your final draft is ready, it's good to sit on it for a couple of days.  Then go through and check:

1.  Did you promise something in the intro that you didn't deliver on?

2.  Have you used smooth transitions to lead the reader from one thought to the next?

3.  Can you change any passive verbs ("was") to active ones?

4.  Have you used colorful, sensory descriptions?  Metaphors?

5.  Reread each paragraph carefully.  Does it follow the topic sentence/supporting sentences format?  Does anything need to be put elsewhere or in a new paragraph?

6.  Did you show us, not tell us?

7.  Have you done a grammar and spelling check on the piece?

8.  Do any of your facts need to be double-checked?

9.  Have you had another pair of eyes read it for an objective view and input?

I'm sure there's more but these are some key things I have to walk myself through in my writing.  It's hard to keep all this in mind at once!  But I think it will come easier with practice, as with most things.