Working Women of the Bible: Timeless Mentors For Modern Women

Working Women of the Bible releases today.  As we read about our foremothers, I’d like to ask a couple of questions.

First, who are our female role models?

Most of us can point to a mother, sister, or grandmother who has shaped our journeys.  Some of us have relied on teachers, friends, and co-workers to blaze our trails.  Still others have benefited from the example of women we don’t even know – women who inspire us as we simply watch their journeys.

Let me ask another question.  Who do women in our society look to as spiritual mentors?

If we’re honest, the women of the Bible aren’t at the front of the pack.  Maybe the church looks to the women of the Bible for answers, but most modern women don’t think the Bible has real answers for our generation.  If anything, we dismiss the Bible as “culturally irrelevant” and instead find solutions that look more like our lives.

Will you help me challenge this thinking? 

I understand that many of us still need to be convinced.  I too was skeptical that women in the Bible even “worked” outside the home, let alone could provide insights into my journey.  So don’t take my word for it.  Check it out for yourself.  Take your time, and read about women like Deborah, Rahab, and Lydia.  You’ll too be convinced that many things haven’t changed.  Their stories are our stories.  The working women in the Bible are some of the most remarkable mentors for our generation. 

The working women of the Bible each has a story.  A personal and unique story about how God redeems work, life, and relationships one life at a time.  Why am I so passionate about telling these stories?  Because in many ways, we’ve missed them.  We’ve gone through the motions in our Sunday School lessons, and we’ve forgotten about women like Huldah and Priscilla.  Women of amazing strength and power.   Women who quietly lead by example.  Women who can show our generation how it’s done.

Will you help tell the stories of these timeless mentors?

Working Mom’s Devotional: Is There A “Good” Time To Have Kids?

Working Mom's Devotional

I often wish I would have started a family sooner.  Maybe I could have squeezed in that fourth child I’ve always wanted!  But if I’m really honest, there is no perfect time to have children.

In fact, had I been a young mother early in my legal career, I may have had more stress, more frustration, and fewer opportunities.  Who’s to say the grass is greener on the other side? 

Yet most of us still like to plan.  It goes something like this: I’ll settle into my career during my 20’s.  Get married and buy a house. Pop out a couple of kids before age 35.  Be done paying for college by age 55.  Work until retirement at 65 unless the stock market unexpectedly rebounds.

The only problem?  Plans tend to change.  They start out in one direction, but end in another.

One of my friends planned to have children by age 35, but she couldn’t get pregnant.  So she and her husband are looking at adoption as she approaches 40.  Another friend would love nothing more than to be a mother, but she is still single at age 45.  Still another friend thought she was “done” having kids  – yet to her surprise, she’s unexpectedly expecting.

Is it wrong to plan?

I don’t think so.  In fact, God delights in shaping our plans while preparing us for the unexpected.  While there may not be a perfect time to have kids, there is often a good time to have kids.  Relatively speaking, some times are better than others. 

Young mothers have more energy, more years as grandmothers (and mothers), and an easier time getting pregnant and carrying a healthy child.

Older mothers tend to be more established, financially and relationally.  And there’s something to say about being older and “wiser.”

Planning isn’t the problem.  The problem is when we can’t let go of our plans.    When we can’t accept the fact that God may have another plan. 

Even if we have the best intentions, our human plans are limited.  Plan A often turns into Plan B (or even Plan C).  We can’t see the big picture (remember, God can even see the future!) and we only know what we feel right here and right now!  

As we think about the “best” time to have children, our trust in the Lord is so much more important than our financial or relational security, our paycheck, or our “5-year plan.” 

I am convinced that Mary continues to provide the best advice for new moms.  Do we really think she “planned” the Angel Gabriel’s announcement of her pregnancy?  Of course not.  It was the absolute worst timing.  She was young, broke, and inexperienced.  (Not to mention single.)

Yet her story shows us that God’s timing is unmatched.  Again and again.

Whether we’re planning for a new baby, a career change, or retirement, let’s pray for the strength to submit to God’s plans and trust him to make our paths straight. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.  
-Proverbs 3:5-6

Dear God, helps us to trust in you today as we plan for our futures.  We don’t understand your timing, but we are confident that the future is in your hands. 

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Join us next Friday as we complete the “New Mom Series” on the Working Mom’s Devotional: 

Can I Really Leave My Child To Return To Work? (March 15)

And join us March 12 as we launch Working Women of the Bible:  Timeless Mentors for Modern Women!

Lydia: Risking Your business for Your faith

cost-risk-analysis

Lydia of Philippi is often called the first European convert to Christianity.  She undoubtedly represents the “new” modern woman of her day — a business woman who enjoys profitable trading throughout the Greco-Roman world. Lydia is a dealer in purple cloth at a time when purple dye is the most expensive and sought after dye in the Roman world.

Which means Lydia has plenty of capital!  She is a woman with resources, the head of her household, and wildly successful in business. 

Yet Lydia upsets the status quo when decides to follow Jesus.  None of Lydia’s clients share her newfound faith.  They probably thought she had lost her mind when she converted to Christianity.  Some of them probably considered cancelling their business contracts.  As if her conversion isn’t bold enough, Lydia next decides to risk her life for her new faith.

The Apostle Paul and his companion Silas are flogged, beaten, and thrown into prison soon after they arrive in Philippi. This would have been the perfect time for Lydia to get out. Or at least go under cover and be a closet Christian. Is following Jesus worth this much trouble? It’s one thing to be affiliated with a minority religion. It’s another thing to be affiliated with common criminals.

Paul doesn’t know how to fly under the radar. He doesn’t even try. Being a Christian means upsetting the status quo. What has Lydia gotten herself into? Yet she doesn’t run the other way. She doesn’t tell Paul to keep his distance. Just the opposite. When Paul and Silas are released from prison, guess where they head? Straight to Lydia’s house.  In fact, Lydia’s home isn’t just a haven — it becomes the official meeting place for the first church in Philippi.

How’s that for a little business development!

Not many of us have risked our business for our faith. We haven’t harbored fugitives who are running from the authorities or sent aid to our friends in prison. We continue to go about our work and play it safe. But we each have our own resources.  Like Lydia, God longs to use our unique style and recourses for a greater good. 

How does Lydia inspire us to risk the status quo for something greater? 

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Working Women of the Bible releases next week!   Thanks for following our pre-launch mini series:

Would you help me share the untold stories of these amazing women?

Will My Child Ever Sleep Through the Night?

Nicky2

During her maternity leave, my niece asked me, “How am I going to get this kid to sleep through the night before I go back to work?”

It’s a question most of us encounter with much anxiety and anticipation.

My answer: Try anything and everything. Let him cry it out (if you can stand it), use a noise machine or electric fan, put him on a rigid feeding schedule, keep him up all day, and pump him with cereal before bed. So what if the pediatrician says to hold off on solid foods. Your own sanity is at stake, and you can’t be a good mother, or a good employee, if you can’t stay awake. Don’t forget to pray, and if all else fails, there’s always caffeine.

I know, this isn’t a proper answer.  My kids have never been good sleepers. 

The “Sleep Schedule”

Like most new moms, I was desperate for a formula. So I read all the books that guaranteed my firstborn, Nick, would sleep through the night if I just followed a set of simple instructions. It sounded easy. First, I tried putting him on a rigid feeding schedule. The theory? Demand feeding is evil. As important, no napping during scheduled feedings, and no snacking in between feedings. If he wakes up in the middle of the night, just let him cry it out, and by eight weeks, everyone will be sleeping through the night.

It didn’t work.  (Nick screamed most of the time he wasn’t eating, so holding him off between “meals” was torture.)  So, I moved on to Plan B: the sleep schedule.

Plan B says it’s okay to demand feed, but make sure you keep the sleep schedule consistent. Bedtime is always at the same time every night, and naps occur on the appointed hour like clockwork. This worked for a while, so long as the whole family revolved around “the schedule.”  But as soon as Nick got sick or cut a new tooth, we were back to the drawing board! 

Letting Them “Cry” It Out

Most books (as well as experienced mothers) will tell you to just let your child cry it out.  Easier said than done. This worked in part with my daughters, but my son was different.  I tried buying earplugs, but Nick would literally scream for hours.  After about twenty minutes, I would usually give up and go get him. I wanted to hold him, and it was just easier to give in. I would be so exhausted the next morning from letting him “cry it out” that I could barely stay awake at my desk.  

Part of the problem with Nick? He just needs less sleep than the average person—something I didn’t realize until years later. Every kid is different, and as a new mom you must keep an open mind and keep trying new things.  Don’t give up!   If you can’t get your child to sleep through the night, you are in good company (and you’re not a bad mother)! 

Sleep Is Human, Rest Is Divine

Most importantly, God promises to give us rest – even when we’re not getting much sleep.   He knows our limits, and he doesn’t give us more than we can handle.

Remember that screaming firstborn of  mine who wouldn’t sleep?  At age two, Nick went into a “big boy” bed, slept through the night every night, and turned into my easiest toddler.   I’m not saying that every mother must wait two years for a good night’s sleep.  But I am saying that we should first seek rest, and sleep will naturally follow. 

Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  ~Matthew 11:28

What’s your secret to finding rest, even when you can’t sleep?

Dear God, thank you for promising to carry our loads.  I know that you don’t give me more than I can handle.  But sometimes, I am so exhausted and preoccupied that I forget to come to you for rest.  Thank you for giving us rest when we are weary and burdened.  And please grant us sleep. 

Next Friday, we’ll continue the “New Mom Series” on the Working Mom’s Devotional:

Is There A “Good” Time To Have Kids?  (March 8)

Can I Really Leave My Child To Return To Work? (March 15)

(Excerpts above from Chasing Superwoman, Chapter 11; picture above is Nick as a newborn – when he was actually sleeping!).

Esther: Finishing the Job!

woman with hammer

Esther isn’t just another great biblical heroine.  She’s a woman who knows how to finish the job!

If you’ve read the story of Queen Esther you know of her incredible bravery and valor.  She starts life as an ordinary Jewish girl but wins a beauty contest and becomes Queen of Persia,  After unexpectedly rising to power while hiding her Jewish identity, she learns of a secret plot to annihilate the Jews.  So she risks her life and approaches the King in his royal throne room to plead for mercy.  The King grants Esther favor.  He orders the death of Haman, the villain who seeks to destroy the Jews, and everyone lives happily ever after.  Right?

Not exactly.  If you read the rest of the story, you know Esther’s work is hardly done. It’s not like the King sets everything right. Everything is still wrong. Sure, Haman is gone, but the edict to destroy the Jews still stands. An order with the King’s signet ring can’t be revoked.  Several months pass since Esther first approached the King.  Esther first approached the King in the month of Nisan. It is now the month of Sivan – three months later. (See http://bible.org/seriespage/esther-8211-irony-and-providence, by Donald E. Curtis.)

Esther must have been incredibly frustrated.  Why would God bring her this far only to bring her right back where she started? 

I missed this piece of Esther’s story for years and years.  I wrongly assumed that the King immediately set things right.  Not so.  Esther must finish the job.  In fact, she shows us that finishing a job is just as important as getting hired. It’s one thing to be in a powerful position. It’s another thing to get things done.

To finish the job, Esther even risks her life a second time. She approaches the King in the royal throne room and again he extends the golden scepter. This time, she is ready. Time is of the essence, so she gets right to the point. She asks for an order overruling Haman’s edict.

This time, something remarkable happens. The King gives Esther full authority to write another decree. He even tells her to do it with his signet ring, “in the King’s name in behalf of the Jews, as seems best to you.” In other words, the King delegates to Esther and empowers her to act with his authority.

Esther doesn’t waste a second. She uses her newfound power to empower the people. An edict is written permitting the Jews to protect themselves from the coming attack. She makes certain that the edict is written in the local language of each providence “and also to the Jews in their own script and language.” She dots her i’s and crosses her t’s. Her uncle, Mordecai, seals the edict with the signet ring and ensures it will be delivered promptly to every corner of the kingdom.

After the Jews successfully defend themselves, a celebration is in order. Esther now sets out to honor the people. The festival of Purim is established to remember this victory.  In doing so, she not only finishes the job, but she honors the people and makes it their victory – not hers.

Have you ever thought you had “arrived” only to find out your hardest work is in front of you?  Does Esther inspire you to finish the job you started? 

Next week, we’ll finish our mini-series and get ready to launch Working Women of the Bible!   

  • Lydia – Risking Your Business for Your Faith (March 4)
  • Working Women of the Bible:  It’s Time To Tell Their Stories!  (March 12)

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Working Women of the Bible releases March 12, 2013.  That’s only 2 weeks away and I need your help!  Pray that women all over the world would be touched by these stories, and share this resource with your family and friends. This includes writing an Amazon Review or hitting the “like” button on Amazon, posting to your favorite social meeting site (such as Facebook) or writing a blog post or group email.  Check out 8 Ways to Help Your Favorite Author*  by my agent, Rachelle Gardner and email me at sdimickele@gmail.com if you’d like to join the launch team.