In 1994, when I lived in Jerusalem, a friend and coworker there gave me a portion of Scripture that he said was a promise from God for me in Genesis, 21:15-21, because I had been faithful to God.
15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”
19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”
20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
I received that word and kept it to myself. I wondered how that could be, because I was not married, and even had I been, I knew I could not have children. I really didn’t plan on marrying. I was quite happy as a single woman and was content to stay that way. But God had other plans for me. Later that year I moved back to the US and in 1996, I met my husband online. We married in 1997. He has a daughter, and now we have four grandchildren.
It’s interesting that God says because the midwives feared God, He gave them families of their own. Not because they didn’t listen to Pharoah, but because they feared God. The gift of a family is something that God highly treasures.
God is faithful to us in ways we never knew we needed Him to be. He knows what is best for us, and He wants to bless us when we don’t even know what would bless us. I thought I knew what was good for me, but God knew better. I am blessed beyond measure.
Today the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, gave birth to a son. The world is watching in excitement. I never had the pleasure of becoming a mother. I always thought it didn’t matter, that I didn’t want children, that I was one of those people who weren’t “meant” to have children. It made me think of one of my experiences with God in Jerusalem.
I moved to Israel for two years to live and work and help the Intraters while they got settled in the Land. I learned many, many things there. I had many spiritual lessons and breakthroughs, and it changed my life forever. But there was one thing I experienced I didn’t even know i needed.
Israel is a very family-oriented society. On Shabbat, you see families together in the parks, grandparents with children and grandchildren. In my last year in Israel I lived in the Jerusalem neighborhood of East Talpiot, about a 10-minute walk from the Haas Promenade (Tayelet). From the Tayelet, you can see the entire city of Jerusalem.
Every Shabbat I would take my Bible and walk to the Tayelet and sit on the wall and look out over the city and read my Bible and think and pray. And I would be surrounded by families spending the day there…children, parents, grandparents. And inevitably, children being children, one of them would speak to me.
It was during those times that God began to deal with me about being a woman alone with no children. The Israelis I knew didn’t understand why I was not married, and did not have any children. It’s so important there. God began to show me women have a nurturing spirit. It is a gift He gave to women. And he showed me that because of some things that happened to me as a child,and some personal choices I made, that I had closed that part of my spirit off. He wanted to open it up to bring healing to me.
As I sat one Shabbat, I began to go through a grieving for the children I never had and for the loss of never being a mother. God began to bring healing to my soul, and it changed me. It brought some softening to me and some lightness of being that I had never had before. It gave me some measure of joy that I never had before. And I wasn’t ever the same.
One Friday night sometime after that, a good friend of mine in Jerusalem came to me after we shared a Shabbat dinner with friends. He told me that he had a scripture that God had impressed on his heart for me:
God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.Exodus 1:20-21.
He said because of my faithful service to the Intraters and their children, God showed him that He was going to give me a family. I cried and received that promise from God. Two and a half years after I returned from Israel, I married Mr. Ken, who has a daughter and now has four grandchildren. We have a wonderful blessed life together. God is faithful and wants to bless us. He keeps his promises.
When Ken and I got married, part of our wedding ceremony was communion. I recited the Hebrew blessing over the bread and grape juice. Well, when I get nervous my mouth gets dry, and I was very nervous that night. And I didn’t think about drinking some water before the ceremony.
I was too focused on not tripping when we were walking down the aisle. So, when it came time to do the blessing, I took the grape juice, and it hit my dry throat, and I choked on it, and almost was not able to finish! It would not have been good to ask someone to bring me a glass of water right in the middle of the ceremony. It was a tense moment with a long silence, everyone wondering what I was doing! But I pulled it out and was able to finish and say “I do.”
Recently, I had a conflict with my pastor. We have been in our church over 8 years. This issue has built over time. The last thing that happened was very difficult for me to handle. It just seemed like there was no way we could resolve this. I had a great deal of respect for him, but I had difficulty handling his response to me. I couldn’t seem to help myself. And the last episode just seemed impossible to resolve. My first instinct was to just leave. I didn’t feel I could submit to him anymore. And I did not want to be in rebellion to his pastoral authority. But after consideration, talking it over with Ken, and asking God, we felt the best way to handle it was to ask for a meeting to try to work through it.
I remember my friend, Asher, teaching me about covenant and how important it is in the body of Messiah. He taught me about what real love is, that it is believing the best of others, and thinking of others higher than yourself, of not insisting on your own way. I remember reading in his book Covenant Relationships where he talked about the early days of the Messianic Jewish ministry, working through so many different issues. But in the end, it was worth it, to achieve what God wanted.
So we did have the meeting with the pastor, his wife, and the Church board. It was very hard, and I was very nervous, but I was able to share my perspective of what had happened. And I also was able to help him see why I was reacting to him in a certain way when he approached me in the way he did. One of the board was able to offer some constructive correction to me for a better way to handle something. And my pastor and his wife were so gracious and loving to me. They exemplified the way Jesus would have responded to me.
The end result was a resolution of a relationship with my pastor, and we are still at the church, which is what we believe was what God wanted.
To me, it was an example of covenant relationships in action. In our society of quick and easy, staying and working through issues is not the easiest thing to do. But I believe it is what brings us maturity in Jesus, and advances the Kingdom of God.
So my experience at my wedding made me think about this situation.
Sometimes we “choke” on the covenant, and don’t know what to do next, but if we seek God’s will, we will reach a resolution.
My husband, Ken, planted a large sunflower garden in our backyard. There are several different varieties, Russian Mammoth, Autumn Beauty, and several others. I love them. They are all different and unique, but all beautiful.
But there is more to them than just the beauty of the flowers. When the flowers begin to fade, they look kind of ugly. The leaves turn brown, and I just want to cut them down. But Ken won’t let me. He said the seeds provide food for the birds, and we should leave them. My perfectionism and need to have everything “in order” makes me want to clean them out.
But Ken looks at things differently. He is willing to look past the unloveliness of the plant to provide life sustaining sustenance to the birds. He has the ability to focus on what is really important.
It can be that way in life, too. In our society that values perfection, looking youthful at all costs, we lose sight of true beauty. it is said that we all have a ‘face’ that we portray to others. We want everyone to like us. We don’t want anyone to see our flaws. And some of us want to make everything look perfect around us. But life isn’t like that. People aren’t perfect, and we don’t always do everything perfectly, and things don’t always turn out the way we want them to. We can’t control everything.
My friend, Asher, says we all have a sense of rejection in our spirit that flows down from Adam and Eve being put out of the garden. And that drives our need for perfection, some of us more than others. We need to understand that God loves us just as we are. Sometimes He uses our imperfections to bring life to another person. Sometimes when we think we have it all wrong, we actually have it right, and when we look back, we can see the hand of the Master weaving our lives into a beautiful tapestry.
I have a coffee cup that says “Crazy Cat Lady” on one side and “One Cat Leads to Another” on the other side. Six years ago Ken talked me into adopting a cat and now we have four, so I have proven the point; hence, the cup. But this isn’t about my cats.
It’s about how one thing can happen in our lives, and amazingly, it will lead to results that we never expected, kind of like me agreeing to one cat and ending up with four, and being a crazy cat lady.
I moved to Illinois in 1996 to marry my wonderful Mr. Ken. I prided myself in being able to adjust to new things easily, and I was so excited about our wedding and spending the rest of my life with Ken, that I thought living in Illinois would be a breeze. It wasn’t and hasn’t been. I had no idea what a culture shock it would be to live in Illinois. I had lived in in seven U.S. states and in Israel, so adjusting was no big deal. But Illinois was another story. It turned out to be the biggest challenge of my life. Why, you ask? Because God wanted to change me, and refine some things about my personality. He wanted “iron to sharpen iron.” I didn’t want to be sharpened. I thought I was just fine the way I was.
Which leads to my church, New Life Fellowship, and Pastor Ken Martin.
Because I came from a Messianic Congregation, it was very hard for me to adjust to a church again. But I knew we had to be part of a local body.
In the first seven years of our marriage, we attended or visited nine churches. The longest we attended anywhere during that time was two years. Then, eight years ago we joined New Life Fellowship Church. From the very beginning, God showed me that this was where we were supposed to stay. It was an adjustment, for sure, but whenever I thought I wanted to change, God would reassure me that this was where we were supposed to stay.
It has been good there. We have made friends, had a lot of wonderful times, but the biggest thing that has happened during the past eight years, is that refining that God wanted to do is happening. Eight years ago, I thought that I was just fine. I didn’t realize that I did need to change, but they were fine personality changes that are hard to see when it is your personality.
I said all this to say that today during our church service, I asked God “Why am I here?” “Why did you bring us to this church?” His answer was amazing. He said it was because Pastor Ken would pray for me, and that is what I needed the most. Because when you need to change things like the way you relate to people, it takes a lot of time…and prayer. I am sure every pastor prays for his congregation. But God showed me today that the prayers Pastor Ken has prayed for me was a foundational reason I have been able to change, and to be refined and to grow.
Thank you, God, for leading us to New Life Fellowship. You have always been faithful to tell me why, because I always ask, and I need to know.
And thank you, Pastor Ken, for praying for me. I will never be the same.
I remember an experience I had sometime during 1990, I was sitting on the podium of our congregation in Maryland, taping Asher’s message (that was old school when you had to sit and watch the cassette tape and turn it over when the first side was full). All of a sudden, everything in the room went white, and I saw Jesus standing in front of me. I never saw His face, but I felt Him put His hands on my shoulders and said that I needed to make a decision.
I could go back to Las Vegas, and He would bless me, and I would live out my life serving Him still, but He desired for me to stay in Maryland, because there were things He had for me to accomplish there. And, if I went back to Las Vegas, I would never marry, because my husband wasn’t there, and he never would be. And then the vision was over, and I was back in the congregation, and amazed at what I had just heard. I had been vascillating about staying in Maryland, or moving back to Las Vegas.
Of course, it’s obvious that I chose to stay, and God took me through many wonderful experiences as a result, both in Israel and here. But the amazing thing is that I met Ken, my wonderful husband. I would never have met him, had I not chosen what He asked me to choose. It’s interesting, but he didn’t say I had to choose that. He gave me a clear choice. But I am so glad I made that choice.
Mr. Ken, as I affectionately call him, is the most wonderful gift. He is the epitome of what you would call a faithful man. We met on the internet back when it wasn’t the “thing” to do. Some thought I was crazy coming to Illinois by myself to meet him. And crazier still to go hiking with him at Starved Rock the second day I arrived! But I am so glad I listened to my heart and came here and met this most wonderful man. I knew as soon as we met that we had a connection ordained by God and that we would be together. It just took him a little bit longer to realize it!
We have had over fifteen amazing, wonderful, laughter-filled years together. I would not trade it for anything. It’s funny, but as much as I have hated living in Illinois, I have loved my life with Mr. Ken.
Sunday morning our pastor had a message about marriage. As I sat there listening, Ken was running the PowerPoint slides for the message, faithfully putting the slides up as pastor was talking. Every time I see that, it reminds me of the man he is, ever faithful, always dependable, a wonderful example of what a Godly man should be.
I wish every woman could be as blessed as I am. The bible says to find a wife is to find a good thing, but I think it’s also true of finding a husband like mine. He is and has been a “good thing” for me.