A few months ago I had the privilege of being asked by my pastor and elder team to teach on Esther. I spent several weeks listening through the book on audio, studying the context, and reviewing the main points. I don't know how much you know about the story of Esther (worth reading through! You can listen to it in less than 15 minutes!) but Haman, the enemy of the Jewish people and King Xerxes' right hand man, is an important figure in the story. Haman has a vendetta against the Jews and essentially bribes the king into the edict to have Esther's people killed.
I wanted so badly to include Haman's history in the sermon but as one of my pastors says - a lot must be left on the cutting room floor. I had to take this portion out of the teaching. But in case you don't know it, I want to share Haman's important backstory with you here.
Esther 3 tells us Haman is an Agagite. This is an intriguing note because Haman is living in a Persian empire under a Persian king (Persia had conquered Babylon). What's an Agagite? To answer this, we have to go all the way back to 1 Samuel 15. In this passage the prophet Samuel tells Saul, king of Israel, to defeat the Amalekites. The Amalekites weren't friendly innocents; they were a cruel and ruthless group of people who worshiped violent, demonic gods. Israel's conquest was God's judgment on this evil nation for its deeds. This is one of the few times in Scripture where we see Israel commanded to completely destroy a nation.
Saul takes two hundred thousand soldiers and attacks the Amalekites. He defeats them… with a few exceptions:
“But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.” 1 Sam. 15:1
Saul obeyed God… sort of. He destroyed everything… except the best things. The things that proved his conquest - the best livestock (equivalent to money in that day) and the king of the Amalekites he kept for himself as evidence of his great accomplishment. There was one problem: this accomplishment wasn't about Saul! This was God's war on evil, not Saul's opportunity for fame. When Samuel comes to rebuke Saul, Saul has the audacity to greet him with: “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” (1 Sam. 15:13) He had done nothing of the kind.
But what I really want you to notice is the other king in this story, the one Saul spared. Did you notice his name?
The great, great, great-times-eight grandfather of Haman.
Agag’s descendents lived to oppose and target the Jewish people through Haman. Saul’s selfish disobedience directly resulted in the enemy Esther had to face generations later. But what we discover in Esther’s story is that even the evil decisions of our ancestors cannot defeat the purpose of God.
The sin of your forefathers - even the sin not-so-distant, of your father and mother - does not have the power to dictate your life story. Our society is intensely focused on processing childhood trauma. This can be a healthy, good, and necessary step IF it is a step directed toward healing. Endless rehearsal of the sins of our fathers… that is not healing. Living in constant fear of becoming our parents or grandparents… that is not freedom. Parenting from anxiety that we are destined to BE the worst parts of our parents… that is not wisdom. Hear what I am saying, not what I'm not saying. Josh and I see a counselor every 6-8 weeks and her work with us has involved looking backwards in order to move forward. But there has to be the moving forward.
The Cross has power. The gospel is not just about eternity. It's a very present reality, a reality of bondage-breaking and Spirit-empowered freedom from patterns of the past. Saul's disobedience caused a ripple effect that his own descendants had to suffer with. He directly CAUSED their pain. But Esther's obedience and faith in the face of fear (more on that in my message below) reversed Saul's sin and made God's hand visible in Israel's story. This reversal of the sins of our lineage - the things they did wrong, the habits and addictions and patterns they introduced to us - is available to us in Christ. It may not be an easy process. It probably won't be. But God has promised freedom, and we get to ask for it, press for it, partner with him in it. Generational sin does not have power over the Lord who conquered death.
My ministry exists today because I have parents who let Christ break chains of divorce, legalism, sexual sin, and deceit. They didn't do it perfectly (hi mom! ;) but they did their best to let Jesus do His work, willing to say: This ends with me.
Esther said - perhaps unknowingly - It ends with me, even if it ends me.
And sometimes that's what it feels like. Fighting uphill will feel like an ending, but really, it's just the beginning of a story Jesus wants to tell through you.
Wednesday: Verity Ep: Does God forgive sexual sin?
Thursday: Day in the Life
Email Policy:I am currently behind on emails due to multiple deadlines in July and August. My team is handling what they can, but some emails were misplaced (several from my theology class) and we are working to remedy that as soon as we can. Thank you for your patience! A few note about my email response policy:
If you or your pastor have a question about the content in one of our resources or books before using/recommending, I do my best to answer these questions in a timely manner or point you to a place where you can find out for yourself.
I cannot answer emails with deeply personal questions/tough decisions - e.g. marriage struggles, advice on discipline for children, friendship struggles. As much as I would LOVE to be of service, because I am not part of the situation and don't know both sides/parties, my advice would not be as fruitful as someone in your real life. Seek out accountability and help within your local church or from a woman you respect in your local community (and/or a counselor!).
Currently I cannot take podcast interviews or collaborations due to my work schedule and homeschool starting up this fall, but I am so honored by these requests!
What I'm Reading
The Long Way Home by Louise Penny: After my short stint with Kristin Hannah I am back with Louise, continuing the Inspector Gamache series! It feels a little like coming home - ha! I listen to these on Libby or Audible.
The Littles: Trash City: This is our read aloud to the girls. This was my FAVORITE Littles book as a child and I'm loving the experience with Addie and Eva! The whole series is great.
Brambly Hedge Collection: My friend Kate told me about this book/collection that is like the best of Beatrix Potter combined with The Littles combined with a Jane Austen novel, if every character was a mouse. Another kid's read aloud.
What I'm Loving
Reporting back about the NYX anti-shine primer: It worked! I wore it for four days straight during filming and it kept my shiny forehead at bay. Highly recommend.
Uncharted: Josh and I watched this movie recently because I love National Treasure and it has a similar vibe. We really enjoyed it! There may be some language and I probably wouldn't have my girls watch it at their age - older ages maybe.
Thrifted book haul: After a lovely but harrowing week I took Addie blackberry picking and yard saling. We found a little doll tea set, some shoes for Ivan, and a LOT of great books. I got no less than twelve Newberry/Caldecott Medal children's books and vintage editions of Little Women and Scottish Chiefs - all for $17! (Posted to IG)
Below: The farmhouse rearranged for filming the Bible study. We took down the chandelier and the kitchen table was moved and staged. There were a total of eight sessions, each session discussing a different type of theology. It was an amazing experience and an awesome team to work with!
- These bags for sorting craft supplies: Another good idea from Kate! I bagged up the colored pencils I thrifted (got a huge supply for 0.99) as well as crayons, new markers, and pipe cleaners.
Bostitch QuietSharp 6 Pencil Sharpener:I found this listed on Not Consumed's school supply blog post and WOW is it heavy duty! I sharpened all the colored pencils with this. Six different sizes to choose from.
On the Farm
the Bible study sessions filmed here at the farm are finished! The eight sessions will be part of the Bible study companion to my book coming in February (soon to be announced). I am so excited we got to feature the farm, our home, and family in the footage for this study; it makes “every woman a theologian” even more of a reality. Theology happens right here - in the garden, with goats, in the kitchen, with small kids!
Two of our baby bunnies passed away suddenly this week. The girls were so sad, but we do not shield them from animal death on the farm. It is a great opportunity to talk about grief, sadness, and our love for God's creation. We think they ate something poisonous when in their outside pen. We still have Snowball, Peter and Thumper (Snowball's ears can be seen above).
Green beans are finally here just as peas are phasing out. The beets and carrots are looking good too! My cucumbers took ALL summer to come to life but they are booming and this time, they're not bitter. Win!