The Poor Widow

One of my Bible story retellings, The Poor Widow, was recently guest-posted on my friend Laura’s blog, The Living and Enduring Word.

The voices grew louder as more and more people gathered around to watch the discussion.

“Which commandment is the foremost of all?”  one of the scribes asked.

She tried hard to listen to the answer.   The question was directed toward a young teacher who, for the last hour, had been arguing with the Scribes and Pharisees.   However, his manner was different than any she had seen before.  He spoke calmly and with a certain confidence that she had not observed among the other teachers of the Law…

Click here to continue reading. 

from daniel’s desk

Anyone up for a great blog recommendation this morning? My brother recently started his new website FROM DANIEL’S DESK where he’ll talk about things like his Biblical studies, missions & evangelism, worldview, and history. Even though I can run next door to his home and talk to my brother nearly any time I want, I’m still excited that he’s posting his writing online now. (If you don’t live next door to him like I do, then you should definitely be excited.)

Also, for the month of February, he’s running a drawing and anyone who subscribes to his site will be entered to win a nice journal and set of pens. Just drop your email address in the ‘subscribe’ box on the right-hand sidebar. Pretty simple.

I hope you’ll head over and enjoy his site, and have yourselves a great weekend!

From Daniel's Desk

the children’s crusade

We are fighting
For Christ

With vision unhindered we see
The Holy Land
Freedom
Peace for All

We are Crusaders
Following Christ

The cross remains our guide
Every heart forward, steadfast
Christendom will triumph

Forgetting our homes
Our families
Our lives
Sacrificing everything
For what cannot fail

We are marching
With Christ

Traveling far
Dangers await us
Companions of hardship
Affliction and heartbreak

No one warned us
The way is hard
Where are our families?
Who allowed us to leave?

We are young
We are innocent
We are afraid

Still going forward
We cannot fail

We are children
Of Christ

© 2013 amy nicole

As I Have Loved You…

The night air was so cold it froze the teardrops on her eyelashes, and she shivered.  Her shoes had filled up with the freezing water that gushed in the lower levels of the ship; and her nightgown, heavy with water, clung icily to her legs.  She was very cold, but the gripping fear was perhaps worse than the freezing weather.  Crowds milled around in an urgent frenzy to get up to the boat deck.  Shouts and cries of distress rang out.  Amidst it all, she stood forgotten and alone.   She shivered uncontrollably.

“Little girl!” an old gentleman cried.  “What are you doing?  Where are your parents?”

“I don’t have a mama,” the little girl began, “or a Papa.  And I’ve lost my nanny.”

Without taking the time to answer, the old gentleman picked her up in his arms and headed toward the stairway.  Crowds of hundreds pressed in, and it was a struggle to make progress toward the boat deck.  Suddenly, with a roar, the ocean found its way onto the deck and rushed relentlessly onward.

Deafening noise filled the night air of April 15th, 1912.  The RMS Titanic was ending her first and only voyage.  The stunningly beautiful iceberg that stood etched against the black night sky had encountered the great ship with a stunningly horrifying effect.  Only hours—or minutes—remained before an immense empty stillness would once again overtake the vast ocean.

As the boat deck came into view, the old gentleman spoke again.  “What is your name, child?”

“Maurietta Peace.  It was my mama’s name.”

The deck was filled with anything but peace.  The tremendous amount of people on deck hurried frantically about.  The Titanic’s crew shouted out orders. “Women and children first!   Five more seats in this boat.  Come quickly!  Women and children first!”  Frantic voices could be heard above it all.

“Peace….peace…” the gentleman whispered.   “Maurietta, child, we will ask God for peace now.  After this, I will find a family to take you with them on a lifeboat.”  Amid the deafening roar, he bowed his gray head; and slowly, reverently, he prayed.

Our very present help in trouble, Our only Refuge and Strength, Our Father, we pray for Your grace now.  Shall we not fear when troubled waters roar?  Shall we abide securely under the shadow of Your wings?  Only by Your grace, Father, and only through Your peace.   Bestow on us Your peace now.  Plant our feet on the unchanging rock of Christ as You guide our feet through icy waters.  Bless us now.   Amen.

After closing his prayer and raising his head, he headed once more toward the lifeboats.   A small family stood huddled nearby.  “Could you take a little girl with you?” he called out.

“I have children of my own to care for.  You care for your own,” came the heartless reply.

“Could you please take one little girl with you?” he continued to others whom he passed.   These calls were largely ignored as families, preoccupied with surviving the nightmare, concerned themselves with their own families.

“Maurietta Peace, I will make sure you get on a lifeboat.” The old gentleman’s voice was tired but resolute.  “Let us keep trying now.  I do not wish to have to send you alone.  Nonetheless, we will do what is necessary.”  Father, we need Your help.

“Sir!  Excuse me, Sir!” interrupted a young boy.

“Yes, Lad?”

“Do you need a family to care for the little girl?”  Receiving an affirmative reply, the boy led them toward his family.

“Will you please, please take this little girl with you on a lifeboat?  I have promised to find a family to care for her.”

“We will care for her as our own daughter, I assure you.  But we must take her now.  There are only a few more boats to be lowered, and if we stand here any longer, we will miss our opportunity to obtain any seats.”

“From the bottom of my heart, I thank you, dear ones.”  I thank you, Lord, he added softly.

“Maurietta Peace, this is all I can do for you now.  I pray God be with you.  Trust all in Jesus now, dear child, dear Maurietta Peace.”  The words were filled with tenderness and great emotion.  Setting her down gently on her feet, he handed her a small book from his coat pocket.  The book looked worn and well read; engraved in gold letters were the words Holy Bible.  “Take this now, and go quickly.  God be with you all,” he cried as they turned away.

“Quickly, quickly!” the lifeboat attendant urged.  “We are almost out of space.  You must come now!  Women and children first.”

Time was of the essence.

“Maurietta, you have no life jacket.  You must take mine.” The young boy said to her.  “And then you must get on the lifeboat with my mother and sisters.”  He held the life jacket out to her.

“Won’t you come with me?” Maurietta asked.

“Oh, no.  I cannot get on while there are women and children here without a seat.  I will stay with my Father.   You must get on because you are a young lady.”

She looked up at him and tears spilled down her cheeks.  “I always wanted a real family.  I always wanted a big brother.”

“We will be a real family to you.  I will be your big brother and you will be my little sister.”  He hugged her tightly.

The lifeboat attendant picked her up suddenly and set her in the lifeboat.  “We must lower this boat now.   Stand back.”

The ropes were released and slowly the boat was let down toward the icy ocean below.  Family members cried out goodbyes to loved ones still standing on deck.

“Goodbye, little sister.   I will always love you.” The words rang out in the night air.

“I love you, big brother.”  With a sudden and sorrowful realization, the words left her mouth—she didn’t even know his name.

The small boat was quickly rowed away from the Titanic.  There was nothing left to do now but watch and pray.  Minutes passed.  The lights of the great ship flickered and died out.   Beneath the unforgiving ocean she was disappearing; moments later, she was gone.

The deafening noise of only an hour earlier was replaced with an eerie stillness.  The stars glittered.  The moon cast a glow across the water.  The iceberg still stood etched against the blackness of the night, an epic reminder of the horrible nightmare.  But all was quiet until a mother’s gentle voice entered the silence with blessed words from that small, worn book.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord,
He is my refuge and my fortress:
My God; in him will I trust.
Save me, O God;
For the waters are come in unto my soul.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.
Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled.”

{Written for the Vision Forum essay contest, “Women and Children First”.  © Amy P., 2011}

Please Note!

It was just brought to my attention that there are ads with potentially bad content showing up sometimes at the end of my blog posts.  I was very worried to hear this!  I definitely did not put those there–apparently they are placed there by WordPress on blogs that are provided for free (as mine is); obviously, I do not  endorse these in any way.  Please be careful of these and the content they may have, and I am so sorry if you have come across any of these on my site!!

the poor widow

The voices grew louder as more and more people gathered around to watch the discussion.

“What commandment is the foremost of all?”  One of the scribes asked.

She tried hard to listen to the answer.   The question was directed toward a young teacher who had been, for the last hour, arguing with the Scribes and Pharisees.   However, his manner was different than any she had heard before.  He spoke calmly and with a certain confidence that she had not seen before amongst teachers of the law.

“Hear, O Israel!  The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

A small gasp caught in the back of her throat as she listened to the words.   She had heard the law read before and knew this was what God had spoken to Israel many, many years ago.  But how could she truly love such a great God?  What could she offer to such a King?  Her husband had been dead for several years now, and she was only barely surviving, day by day trying to stretch the few cents she had in order to buy food to eat.

Half-listening to the young teacher, these thoughts grew in her mind.  Her hand, cracked and bleeding from hard work, slipped instinctively into the small pouch she carried at her waist and fingered the two smooth, small coins.  It was all she had left.   She had planned to go shortly to the market and buy something to eat.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…”  Perhaps she should offer these coins to the temple treasury.   They wouldn’t buy much anyway.  But, she was already hungry from having so little food the days before.

“No” she spoke in an audible whisper.  Somehow it seemed much better to give something to God, and this was the only thing she had left in the world to offer.

The crowd was large.  Religious leaders who had been questioning the young teacher, curious onlookers who loved listening to the discussions and rich men coming to make great contributions to the temple treasury all thronged about.  If only the young teacher would not look her way, she hoped secretly.  He would probably laugh if he were to see her giving such a small offering.  Certainly, he would think it worthless and scorn her for even trying to give something when she could only offer so little.

But alas, there he was taking a seat directly opposite the treasury.  Now she would have pass by him to make her offering.  It took every ounce of strength to continue walking up toward to the treasury.  Common sense urged to forget this silly scheme, yet an irrepressible desire to give something to the Lord refused to allow her to turn around.

Head bent downward, she walked past him hoping he would not notice her.  The two coins so small, so worthless dropped into the treasury.

With a small chinking sound they were gone.  She turned to leave.

“Truly I say to you…” the young teacher was speaking to a small group of disciples gathered around him.  She stopped momentarily to listen before leaving the temple. “…This poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury”

She glanced around quickly, wondering who this poor widow might have been who could offer more to God than every other contributor.  Surprise filled her face as she saw the teacher and his disciples looking her way.  It was impossible; she could not be the ‘poor widow’ the young teacher was referring to.  She had given the very least of anyone.

“…For they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

Slowly, she raised her eyes to see if the teacher really meant what he said.  His face was sincere and earnest.  He nodded gently to her as he saw her eyes searching his face.

Turning away, joy filled her heart as she pondered this strange statement.  She had given so little to God and somehow it was counted as more.

The thought of food momentarily crossed her mind and suddenly she didn’t feel hungry.  The amazing words of Scripture she had heard this young teacher speak seemed to fill her with everything she needed.  She walked along the road away from the temple unsure of where she was headed.

Unsure of direction, future, or life and yet filled with more life than she had ever experienced through the words of God that had been spoken today.  Contributing less and yet giving more.  Hungry and yet fully satisfied.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   *

This story of the poor widow is based off the account of the widow and her two copper coins found in the gospel of Mark.

One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

…And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

—Mark 12:28-31, 41-44

Will We Remember?

I opened my email this morning and scanned quickly over the emails that I was receiving.  They were all automated emails–reminders of library due dates and memory verses to review, etc.–the sorts of things that quickly find their way to the recycle bin on my computer.

One message, however, caught my eye, and rather than press delete, I started reading.  It began,

On this day two years ago, the world awoke to the mind-numbing reality of the greatest earthquake of our generation.

I didn’t get a chance to read much past that sentence, but what I had read was enough to greatly startle me.   Had it really been two years since the earthquake in Haiti?  Of course, I knew about the earthquake, but largely, it had been off my mind for a very long time.  Families torn apart.  Homes and possessions destroyed.  Two years ago today, Haitians were experiencing unimaginable suffering.   For two years they have lived with the haunting nightmare of it all.  But, I had forgotten.

It wasn’t an intentional forgetting.  Simply, I am so far removed from the reality of it all, that it slips my mind.

Thousands of people will never be able to forget.  Neither should we.

Will we remember?

Will we remember Haiti?

Will we remember the suffering around the world?

Will we remember the persecuted?

The answer is simple–WE MUST.

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our god and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress….” (James 1:27)

“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.” (Hebrews 13:3)

We must remember.

New Year’s Resolutions

I found my way downstairs at 7:20 this morning to visit with my mom a little before all the younger ones woke up.  In the few short minutes we had before heading upstairs once again, our discussions ranged from 20 hour road trips and Arizona weather to 2012 and New Year’s resolutions.

My mom explained how she still needed to sit down and get some thoughts prepared for the new year. 

I announced that I would no longer be making my typical new years resolutions.  

Don’t ask why I prepare new year resolutions like clockwork the last week of December.  Reasons unknown, I do it anyway.  And every year, last week of December, I recall how badly those aforementioned resolutions went.  For example, I cannot even recall this year’s resolution, with the exception of one. 

In light of that, I am completely revamping my resolution making process for the year 2012. 

Each ‘resolution’ I choose for 2012 will be a Scripture verse/passage.  Like this:

  1. Psalm 5:3–In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.   (Begin every day with morning prayer.)
  2. Hebrews 3:13–But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  (Encourage another believer each day.)

Every December, I get excited about the upcoming year.  But this year I’m even more excited than normal! 

What do you think?  Do you make New Year’s resolutions?