Why I Write About Bible Women

Marlene Houk, Bible Study writer award from Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference

“As writers, we are agents of transformation,” my writer friend commented on her post. Those words prompted me to consider why I write about Bible women.

I write because God writes. As His “agent of transformation,” my writing introduces the ancient women of the Bible to the 21st century woman. I love to observe their God-given power to change us today as we scurry about, submerged in the minutia of life.

God has written upon the world He created with colored ink. He scrawls upon the lush foothills of the Appalachian mountains in early summer with forest green. He writes in deep black within the dark holes of caves and the stormy clouds overhead. And His red pen, shaped like a cross, writes in flowing crimson of His love. His Words culminate in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. John 1:1 says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Because Jesus is the Word, my attempts to describe His Words about Bible women draw me in to the heart of Christ.

In his last interview on May 7, 1963, C. S. Lewis, famed author of The Chronicles of Narnia  and The Screwtape Letters, answers this question of his interviewer, Mr. Sherwood Eliot Wirt.

Wirt: Would you say that the aim of Christian writing, including your own writing, is to bring about an encounter of the reader with Jesus Christ?

Lewis: “That is not my language, yet it is the purpose I have in view. ..” “We must show our Christian colors, if we are to be true to Jesus Christ. We cannot remain silent or concede everything away.”

I agree with C. S. Lewis. We must not be silent about our Christianity because its power can change anything! Even our written words can mirror His Word, and, in so doing, reflect God’s great love, holiness, and wisdom.

And, so, I pick up my pen and ready myself to write…

Why is “angel of the LORD” repeated 4 times in Hagar’s story?

Hagar, tumblr_lbw9u39P8J1qddmknQuestion: Why does the phrase, “angel of the LORD” occur repetitively (4 times) in Hagar’s story found in Genesis 16:6-13?

The phrase, “angel of the LORD” is repeated 68 times in the King James Bible in 64 verses. Angel of the Lord refers to the pre-incarnate (before He was physically born in Bethlehem) appearances of Jesus Christ. The first time is in Sarah and Hagar’s story when Hagar despises Sarah, and her mistress treats her harshly, causing her to run away into the wilderness.

Why does the phrase, “angel of the LORD” occur four times in Geneses 16:6-13? As repetition is an obvious pattern in stories of Bible women, it is important to linger long enough to gather some understanding. This small phrase bursts with significance when we realize who it represents.

To introduce ourselves to these truths, we can ask these questions: Continue reading

We Can Copy and Paste Sarah!

We Can Copy and Paste Sarah!

Copy and PasteAwkward

From the days of onionskin copies to today’s copy and paste option, the ability to duplicate has taken a quantum leap. I remember the barely discernible 5th sheet of translucent brownish paper carefully   sandwiched between carbon. Sometimes, it was almost indecipherable because the pressure of the keys was  insufficient to make a solid impression.

Today, with a few delicate clicks on the keyboard, a myriad of pages can be duplicated in just seconds, including pictures, clip art, and other graphics. Copying someone is easy, and the process is simple.

Leap of Faith

There is a spiritual parallel here that enables us to understand how we can copy and paste Sarah’s journey to faith into our own lives. Faith is the link between God’s plan for us and our physical ability to fulfill that plan. In Hebrews 11:11, the Bible records that:

Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

Sara received strength through faith to conceive Isaac. She physically remained married and faithful to Abraham. This enabled her to fulfill God’s will for her which was to conceive Isaac.

Copy Sarah’s Command to You

One of the ways that we can “copy and paste” Sarah’s action into our own Christian lives is to keep physically doing the things that we know are God’s will for us. It is then that God will strengthen us, like Sarah, to conceive the spiritual seed of His will that seems impossible for us to deliver.

Paste Sarah’s Command

For example, perhaps it seems impossible to others (and to us!) that we, as Christian women, can work with non-believers who ridicule our faith. But we continue to physically work each day, to focus on the Lord rather than react to their taunts, and to refuse to be polarized. God then uses our willingness as a sign of our faith that He will do as He promises to “…work all things together for good” (Romans 8:28). The seed of the Gospel is conceived in their non-believing hearts, and a new life in Christ is delivered into their lives!

Sarah’s Message to You

We can copy Sarah’s physical tenacity (because we, like her, believe God is faithful) into our own spiritual goals. As we “paste” her pattern of physically continuing to do that which God commands, others become amazed at His working in our lives!

God promises — We believe Him – -Our faith becomes stronger — We receive complete (body, soul, spirit) strength through faith — We physically act in the direction of God’s will. — Miracles happen — God gets the glory!

Try it! You can “copy and paste” Sarah’s physical tenacity to do His will into your life. Watch God duplicate His glory in you through faith!

What Does God Provide For Pre-born Children?

Jesus encouraged the disciples to allow the children to come to Him. He considers these little ones precious and worthy of His great love and care, beginning at conception.

The Bible clearly teaches that pre-born children are privy to special blessings from God.

Unborn child

Click here to read what God does for pre-born children!

Family Portraits

New babies coax so many comments from their families. We talk endlessly about how Susie’s toes look just like her grandma’s, or affirm to all that Tommy’s nose carries on the family tradition!

Click here to play a Kahoots game !

Family Portrait

When my son was born, I was curious as to which side of the family he would resemble since my husband and I look so differently. But when I saw him for the first time, I realized he was the most delightful combination of both of us! The pure white of his smooth baby skin perfectly displayed the  magnificent Viking hair and challenging blue eyes.

But the most mysterious family resemblance occurred to me when Adam stepped up to his teenage years. Looking at him one day as he dipped his copper-colored hair in acknowledgement of my question and  his eyes cut sideways while thinking about the answer to my question, I realized with a shock that he acted like my brother. Then I began noticing other small ways that Adam mimicked Leonard.

Watching my son as he grew in stature and in strength blended in my memories with my older brother’s idiosyncrasies. Leonard was 8 years older than I and memories of his tall 6’3″ muscularity returned with clarity to mesh with my son’s 6’3″ broad-shouldered football frame. Their identical mannerisms bridged the years in between their lives in my heart. Adam, my son, never knew my brother, Leonard, as he had died suddenly in a car accident at 38 years old, 5 years before Adam was born. But  the little things such as the square body stance, the way he would thin his lips while thinking, and how he toyed with a twist-tie when answering immediately align with my memories of my brother’s similar actions.

In a mysterious way, Adam’s similar body language and choice of words would comfort me as I still miss my brother and am saddened by his sudden death. But they also spoke volumes about the natural connections between families, whether the relative is known or not.

Spiritual Family PortraitBible Marlene

Sarah in the Bible is our mother, a sort of spiritual relative, when we copy her. As we dare to step out in faith and soar above our earthly life, our body language and idiosyncrasies match hers spiritually. We naturally and unmistakably reveal to others that we are spiritually related to her.  My son, who unconsciously revealed traits of his uncle, did not struggle or even acknowledge the relationship. The similarities came forth naturally because they were related.

Look at the following ways in which we are like Sarah. Do not struggle to be her daughter. It will come naturally when Sarah’s Father, God, becomes your Father too. As we draw close to Sarah’s God, her faith will shine through us. Others will recognize the spiritual relationship we have with Sarah as we fulfill her legacy left to us in 1 Peter 3:6.

Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. 1 Peter 3:6

We. like Sarah in Hebrews 11:11, will receive the strength we need to fulfill God’s plan, for us.

Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11

So, read on and discover the many ways that you and Sarah are relatives in the dual kinship of womanhood and spiritual motherhood!

Continue reading

Blessings Make You Busy!

Order the hardware. Put up stock. Price the tomatoes. Call the gas company. Decide on the fertilizer.

Whew! My husband and his brother were busy back in those days of owning a small country grocery store. His  only free time was about 2 hours on Sunday afternoon; that is, if it wasn’t raining. Then the drain pipe would clog, and he would have to go clean it out.

cows huge herd

herd of cattle drinking water

Ussfiyeh Hoard of Tyrian Shekels & Other Coins. Eretz Israel Museum

Sheep farming in New Zealand

thousands of sheep on a hillside







God had lavishly blessed Abraham as recorded in Genesis 13:2. And those blessings undoubtedly created an immense workload for him. Consequently, Sarah would have been a busy lady also! John Butler states in his book, Abraham: The Father of the Jews, that Abraham may have had 1,000 men helping him with his vast herds of cattle, numerous flocks of sheep, and various corrals of camels, goats, and asses. Since theirs was a self-sufficient nomadic life, it would be logical to assume that many women were part of the clan, filling the roles of wives, mothers, maidservants to Sarah, medical personnel, and tent makers and repairers.

Oil Press for Abraham blog about Sarah

Jewelry ancient Persian bracelets for Abraham and Sarah blog Jan 2015

Flour grinding for Sarah post Jan 2015






How busy was Sarah? Did she fill her days from sunup to sundown with supervising perhaps 500 women?
See more thought-provoking questions about Sarah’s daily life below.

Click here to look at a chart that shows the places where Abraham acquired his wealth. Think about the huge compound Abraham must have commanded.   This included females, which would have created the need for Sarah to supervise and train them.

See below for more thought-provoking questions about Sarah’s leadership.

Look again at this chart and notice how many times the word, “all” is mentioned in the Bible verses which make us think about his wealth. Think about all the duties that Sarah may have acquired as the LORD kept blessing Abraham wherever he traveled.

Blessings make you busy!

More thought-provoking questions about Sarah’s daily life:

  • Did Sarah organize her women by teams of experts? Did she have a team of women who repaired the tents and spun the wool to make cloaks and blankets for the cool desert nights?
  • Was she a midwife and trained a skilled group of women to help her deliver all the babies? Did Sarah pass down the legacy of her midwifery skills  to her descendants, Shiprah and Puah, the courageous midwives during the Israelites’ Egyptian bondage?
  • Did she bind up the wounds when the shepherds and cowboys got hurt?

More thought-provoking questions about Sarah’s leadership qualities:

  • How did she help to assimilate the women into their clan while maintaining the status quo of herself and the other women?
  • What methods did she use to help Abraham explain this new faith and fatherhood of a great nation to the women so that they accepted and embraced it?
  • The Bible says she dealt hardly with Hagar and sent her away. Does this imply that she was accustomed to disciplining women under her leadership?




God Honors Our Grief

When our daughter died before birth, we bought a family plot. During those first shock-filled days of my hospital

She Lives With Jesus!

She Lives With Jesus!

confinement, my husband wandered in his own world of agony. Dragging his mind to the surface of sorrow, he chose plots, decided the place of interment, and signed the deed. Honoring Danielle narrowed to this one last choice: purchasing her final resting place. And, today, almost 30 years later, she rests under the shadow of a sweet sheltering tree in a green lush field that gazes upon the changing seasons of the nearby foothills.

Sarah’s death clawed at Abraham’s soul in Genesis chapter 23. And while his heart keened and wailed, he set about to buy her sepulcher. Between humbling guttural sobs and scattering sorrow, he negotiated with strangers. The final honor of providing a burying place for this woman whose legendary beauty and powerful legacy of faith would affect others for thousands of years was his privilege. Her tomb lay quietly at the end of a field, away from the hustle and bustle of business and surrounded by precious trees that stood in silent testimony to her greatness.

God honors our grief when we lose loved ones by providing a final resting place within our lovely memories of them. He speaks powerful words of hope and beauty into our hearts through His Word. (John 6:44) But, with great tenderness and love, His final great tribute to our grief was the death and resurrection of His Son so that we might live! Now, we can say along with Martha as she spoke about her brother Lazarus’ death , “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (John 11:24) How the Almighty King of the Universe honors us as He inclines his ear toward our pitiful cries of sorrow (Psalm 116) and lifts us up out of the miry clay with His love! (Psalm 40:2)

Same But Different!

John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

2 cosmetic brushes-same but different“But ma’am,” I said, “these two brushes are not the same.”  I had just stepped out of the broiling South Carolina sun into the coolness of a high-end cosmetic store to exchange a purchase made in error the day before. “Do you see the differences?” I continued, “The new brush has long chiseled bristles, but my old one has bulging stumpy hairs.” Her flawlessly svelte face looked enquiringly at me as I plowed on. “My brush works just fine even though the wooden handle has fallen off.”

Though I was adamant, she quietly assured me that both her new brush and my old one were the same. Her velvet complexion surrounded perfectly enhanced lips as she spoke, “Natural bristle brushes do change, but their ability to provide full coverage continues. The goat and pony hair filaments wear away, but their excellent performance remains the same.”

Stunned, I stared at the two brushes. Continue reading

Sarah’s Shadows

BRCN Picnic on June 2011 with Sid

Sunlight Versus Shadow

The late Spring day was perfect for a leisurely picnic, spread on a tabletop rock tucked into the hills of western North Carolina. Hungrily turning our faces to the bright sun as we walk between the shady trees, my husband searches for just the right spot. Turning off the sunlight dappled trail, we climb a slight hill of luscious green grass growing in the sun, and sit on the large warm granite rock protruding from the hillside. What a view! On top of the world, we sit, gazing at the light and shadow playing in the valley. The Blue Ridge Mountains offer a backdrop of serenity and solidarity in the distance, and sparrows and chickadees offer praise to their Creator. Fluffy white clouds sail overhead, and a soft caressing breeze gently lifts our hair.

My husband returns to the car, and I soak up the sunbeams, waiting in our quiet hide-a-way. After 15 minutes, I walk the few steps to the head of the trail and stare intently through the light and shadows several hundred feet down the path. Continue reading