Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Advent: Hope for Tamar

Hope for Tamar

Big Idea: The story of Tamar in Genesis 38 shows us patience, resilience and hope in the midst of a hopeless situation.

I Blackmailed my Father-in-law to have my Baby

You’ve had double-whammy disappointments. The door is now closed. How long do you wait till you give up hope? Tamar’s bizarre story in Genesis 38 models patience, resilience and hope. All that was lost was redeemed, even well into the future.

From the Beginning  

Genesis is about beginnings. After Adam and Eve’s choice of their way instead of God’s way, humanity followed suit and spiraled out of control with broken relationships, selfishness and hatred.

But God had a plan to pull us out of chaos and re-establish Eden-worthy friendship with mankind. God called Abraham as the father of Israel. Jesus, Son of God, born of a Jewish woman, was sent to be our rescuer.

Who is Judah?

The term “Jews” comes from the name Judah, of which became the predominate tribe in Israel.

Judah is where Tamar’s story began. Abraham’s grandson Jacob had 12 sons, one named Judah. Judah left the family homestead, married a Canaanite woman and had 3 sons.

Judah chose Tamar a Canaanite for Er, his first son. Son #1 was such a cruel man God took his life.

The Levirate Law

According to ancient law, if a man died without an heir, his brother had to marry the widow and the offspring was considered his brother’s child.

Son #2, Onan, was a very cruel man too. He even made sure Tamar would not get pregnant. God took his life too.

Tamar, the Return Gift

Since son #3 Shelah, was still a child, Judah sent Tamar back to her father. That’s like giving back a gift you don’t like. Tamar had no say in any matter. Even when son #3 was grown Judah never sent for Tamar.

She remained a widow, likely considered no good, thrown away. She kept waiting. Hoping.

Trickery and Blackmail

One day she heard Judah was coming. She dressed like a prostitute and sat by the road. Judah saw her and propositioned her!

He never knew it was Tamar! She wanted a pledge of his identification till he sent payment. Later when he sent payment people said there was no prostitute there.

Three months later, he heard Tamar acted like a prostitute and became pregnant. Incensed, he asked she be burned for this! Tamar then pulled out his identification.

“Recognize these items?” she asked.

Sheepishly he stated, “She is more righteous than I.”

An amazing ancestry

Tamar birthed twins. One of them, Perez, was an ancestor of both King David, and later, Jesus.

Jewish genealogy never includes women except Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus mentioning 4 women, 3 of them non-Jews, all of scandalous reputation.

Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (whose mother was Tamar). Matthew 1:6

Three things to learn from Tamar

1. Be patient.

Women had little say in domestic issues in ancient Middle Eastern culture. She was powerless to change her situation. She waited, and waited a long time. Years! God saw her pain. Not only did she have twins, she ended up in a genealogy of honor.

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1

2. Be resilient.

Resilience is important for mental health and well being. We keep going on, pressing forward. There needs to be an ability to endure, and bounce back from difficulties. Tamar, when she saw an occasion to resolve what she had been promised, executed a plan flawlessly. We are not informed whether she prayed or not. However, her sons were clearly connected with the faith of their father and God was honored.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9 NLT

3. Have Hope

In a hopeless situation where Tamar was victimized and probably the butt of many rumors, she kept hoping for a child and hoping to be rescued from her impoverished state. We do not sense bitterness in her. We only see her move forward. She was rewarded with twins!

Judah’s brother-in-law, Joseph, noted:

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:20 NLT

God is always working. The answer from God is not often immediate. But in the big picture, God is in control. He is always waiting for us to come to Him and eager to help us even before we ask.

I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! Isaiah 65: 24 NLT

The earthly heritage of Jesus

Being listed in the genealogy of an important person was an honor. How amazing that a Canaanite woman posing as a prostitute to trick her father-in-law to have his baby was in Jesus’ lineage.

Truly the emphasis on these scandalous people in Jesus’ lineage points to the fact that Jesus came for Jews and non-Jews alike. He came for victims and beggars. He came for the broken mistreated people. He took on our sin. And He came to restore us to Eden-worthy friendship with God.


Up next: Advent: Peace for Rahab
Previous post: Advent: 5 Scandalized Women


1. Can you relate to Tamar on some level? Perhaps in waiting? Perhaps in disappointment?

2. Look over the Bible verses in this blogpost. Is there one that resonates with you today? Sit with it a bit. Chew on the words. Talk with God about it.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Advent: 5 Scandalized Women

Big Idea: The women noted in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew reveal that anyone can find light in this very dark world.

5 Women in Jesus' Ancestry

Today there is heightened awareness of mistreated women and cultural diversity. The Bible reveals four scandalous women who are surprisingly ancestors of Jesus.

The Bible does not shy away from scandal and victimized women. It reveals how we can find light in a dark world.

The 5 Scandalized Women

The headlines for each of these women could sound like a Jerry Spring episode or a hot Harlequin romance novel.

· Tamar: How I blackmailed my father-in-law to have his baby

· Rahab: The rescued red-light war bride

· Ruth: The refugee widow finds love in the wheat fields

· Bathsheba: Commander takes soldier’s wife, then has husband killed

· Mary: Unwed pious teen gives birth in a barn

Reflecting on Women at Advent

Advent is celebrated in churches worldwide for the 4 weeks before Christmas. It means “the coming” and is designed as time to reflect about Christmas.

We will follow a common Advent patterned theme series:

· Tamar: Hope when no hope is in sight

· Rahab: Peace when war and desolation comes

· Ruth: Joy when all is lost

· Bathsheba: Love out of heartbreak

· Mary: Light in a dark and dirty place

No matter what your hardship or dilemma, take heart in how these 5 women mattered. They mattered to God and they made an impact on the world.

Listen to a few words on this subject of God seeing those who are hurting in Mary’s spontaneous poem of honor to God.

He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.
He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has… remembered to be merciful. Luke 1: 50, 53,54b

I need a bit of mercy today. How about you?

The four Sundays before Christmas are the official days for Advent, but I will post as usual on Wednesdays. If you would like to set up an Advent wreath, read this blogpost.


Up next : I blackmailed my father-in-law to have his baby
Previous post: Three Simple Steps to Thankfulness When Life Caves In


1. What do you want to ask of or say to God? Tell Him. You might think He won’t be happy to hear what you have to say, but He’s not fragile. He can handle it. He wants to open dialogue with you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Three Simple Steps to Thankfulness When Life Caves In

 Big Idea: Practice being thankful when life caves in,as it does not come to us naturally.


Life is Caving In Again

It happened again this week. I got another emotional punch in the gut. My mind started whirling and turning to self pity. Then a little voice went off like a cell phone reminder. Practice thankfulness. It is the week before Thanksgiving, after all I told myself!

 I recently went to the orthopedic surgeon to get my cast off. We hoped I could start walking again after being off my foot for 5 months. But the bone is still not fused together. How can this be? This is taking FOREVER. I left with that gut punched feeling again.

I already had written this blog post about my cancer reoccurrence (almost 2 years ago), but I changed the story.  This is fresh. Does crisis never end?

Spouting off platitudes is unhelpful

Of course there is always something to be thankful for. But to spout off platitudes is unhelpful. Life is hard. Life hurts. Reality disappoints. However, getting eaten up by bitterness is not productive or a good testimony. Learning to be thankful is essential.

Three steps to thankfulness 

1. Just do it

Sometimes we need to go through the motions whether we feel like it or not. In customer service one is taught to smile as you talk even if you don’t feel like it. Evidently just the smile makes what you say sound better.

Two mad kids
Photo by Izzy Park on Unsplash
When you and your siblings fought as kids didn’t your mom say – OK tell each other you’re sorry.  She made you say it whether you meant it or not. And while it still smarted, you moved forward.

In marriage, one should say “I love you” even on days when we don’t feel like it. Love is more than a feeling. One gets past the rough day. The loving “feeling” comes back as we keep practicing love.

Go through the motion and thank God whether you feel like it or not. The emotions will catch up.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT

 2. Give God a treat!

We live in a “me” culture that does not reward or easily grasp sacrifice.

As a mom I sometimes put aside a treat for my kids (which I want to eat myself). I know they will be thrilled.  

But why save something for God? He has everything. So I ask myself. What is a treat for Him?

Sacrifice is something we give God to please Him.  We may prefer to keep it selfishly for ourselves. But a humble thankful attitude honors Him. He relishes our thankfulness like a special treat.

I don’t mean to make what we give God trivial like giving a dog a treat. Instead consider what tickles and delights Almighty God. Isn’t it amazing that we can touch God with our attitudes?

 “Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.” Psalm 50:23a NLT

 “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Psalm 51:17 NLT

 I believe thanking God warms His heart.

3. Practice, practice, practice 

When is it necessary to practice?

playing piano
Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

  • When we need to build up strength.
  • When we are not very good at something.
  • When we want to hone our abilities.
  • When we want to keep in good shape.

Practice. Practice. Practice. 

When I felt that knot in the pit of my stomach I knew it was time to practice thankfulness again. I need practice because I need to strengthen my habit of thankfulness for the next hard experience I will face. Again! I need to intentionally turn my heart to Him.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Philippians 4:6 NLT

This Thanksgiving, practice thankfulness. How can you put thankfulness into practice today?


Up next: What I can learn from 5 Scandalous women
Previous post: How am I supposed to be nice when I'm SICK!


1. When do you grate against thanking God? When does it not come naturally for you?

2. Could you practice a short prayer of thankfulness right now in whatever circumstance you are in? What might remind you to be thankful when you are punched emotionally in the gut?

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

How am I Supposed to be Nice, When I Feel Lousy!

Woman with head down and words, how and I supposed to be nice when I'm sick?

Big Idea: God wants the Fruit of the Spirit at work in me always, even when I am sick, in pain or depressed.

I Get Grumpy

I get grumpy when I’m sick. My husband confirms I can sound harsher than I intend. I am working on acting nicer when I feel lousy. It’s a work in progress.

It must have been about 30 years ago. At 6 am someone insistently knocked at my door. I groaned. I had malaria. My head was killing me. I really didn’t want to get up,

I had to answer the door. I was the school nurse at a Bible Institute in West Africa. Maybe someone’s wife was having a baby. Or perhaps they had a serious cut.

“Good morning Mademoiselle,” the young man said. “I’m here to get vitamins please.”

I was not a happy camper. I was the one sick and they woke me at 6 am for vitamins? I read him the riot act. I had dispensary hours for this. This is not an emergency. Has he no respect for me?

Sheepishly he apologized but explained they were headed to his home village. His grandmother was weak and needed vitamins, he explained. Tylenol would be nice too.

Sigh. I had some on hand in my dispensary kit and gave them to him. But I reminded him of the usual dispensary hours.

The fruit of the Spirit is not conditional

As I indignantly went back to bed, I felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit. It sounded like this in my head. “Diane, you know the fruit of the Spirit in the Bible, right?”

“Yes, Lord.”

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23 NLT

I continued to sense God telling me, “These characteristics are not conditional. They should not emerge only when you feel good. You should display them even when you are sick, even when people treat you unfairly, even when you are tired or overworked.”

This is not how I think. It was definitely God telling me this. It shot me right in the heart. It impacted the way I looked at my flaws that I used for excuses. It has forced me to hone patience, kindness and joy even when feeling under par.

Decrease the Verbal Missiles

So how can we practice decreasing our verbal missiles in sickness and pain? Consider these 4 approaches.

1. Acknowledge your situation.

You’re human. Verbalize fatigue or frustration matter-of-factly. The Psalmist does this. Job vents in Job 34-35. God listens. Job’s friends do too.

2. Stop yourself.

When you want to blurt out something unkind and stupid, stop yourself. If you speak harshly in a tough moment, apologize quickly and start fresh. It will likely be appreciated.

Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips. Psalm 141:3 NLT

3. Be kind

There is a beautiful country song sung by Tim McGraw that reminds us to always be “Humble and Kind.” The New Testament, written about 2000 years earlier, wrote similarly,

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 NLT

Sometimes it is best to say nothing.

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. Proverbs 10:17 NLT


4. Pray

Keep your heart close to God. Pray always (I Thessalonians 5:16) like breathing in your heart to God for strength, help, and comfort. In rough moments when you want to lash out take a deep breath and breathe a quick prayer in your heart to Him for help.

I've Been Getting a lot of Practice

With migraines, cancer, a broken foot, and all my other illnesses I have gotten a lot of practice. I still mess up especially with my family who sees me up close and personal. But just being conscious of my tendencies and aware in prayer keeps me as a work in progress.

The series for the month of November is about how the Bible helps us when we are sick or discouraged. If you are finding it helpful, forward it to a friend!  Also subscribe so it comes weekly to your email by sending your email address to  We will never sell your email address to anyone!


Up next: 3 Simple Steps to Thankfulness When Life Caves In
Previous post: 5 Shocking Statements the Psalmist Makes about Pain


1. Under what condition do you tend to lose control when you should be kinder? In Illness? With a certain person? In a debate atmosphere? When you feel bested?

2. Have you found a verse or a prayer strategy that helps you in that circumstance? Does one of the 4 suggestions listed sound like something you want to try?

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

5 Shocking Statements the Psalmist Makes about Pain

Waiting for surgery

Big Idea: Pain and suffering is understood by the Psalmist in the Bible who models frank dialogue with God.

Pain off the Charts

Writhing with abdominal pain in the hospital a couple of months ago, I cried and moaned in the darkest of night in prayer. My electronic Bible search uncovered 5 shocking statements the Psalmist uttered in pain. His pain taught me how to endure mine in those dark hours.

I had broken my foot, then my gallbladder caused my liver to backup, turning me jaundiced with itching head to toe. By my third hospital day with little to eat or drink, I was parched. An ERCP procedure unclogged the common bile duct but bile poured out on my pancreas. My pancreatic pain the next couple of days was off the charts.

I get migraines. I process intense pain talking softly to myself or moaning softly out loud. Sounding decidedly like David in the Psalms that night I looked up how pain was expressed in the Psalms. The Bible does not sugarcoat life nor show off spiritual giants as perfect humans. The Bible shows us how to cope with real life.

5 Shocking words from the Psalmists

1. How long will you forget me?

Straight and to the point, he does not sense God in his pain. He feels forgotten. Abandoned.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Psalm 22:1 NLT

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? Psalm 13:1 NLT

2. I am exhausted and completely crushed.

Illness get wearisome. Pain is downright exhausting. It is hard to bear.

I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart. Psalm 38:8 NLT

From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Psalm 61:2 NLT

3. You keep track of all my sorrows.

The King of Israel, a ruler and warrior, cries. He sobs. He knows God sees the tears. Our tears and our pain are not hidden from Him and The Psalmist finds consolation in this. I do too!

I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears. Psalm 6:6 NLT

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 NLT

I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. Psalm 69:3 NLT

4. I am alone and in deep distress.

I often have trouble sleeping. It is especially worse in pain or worried about something. In pain one often feels alone, and the middle of the night pain and anxiousness is increasingly worse.

Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress. Psalm 25:16 NLT

They have left me among the dead, and I lie like a corpse in a grave. I am forgotten, cut off from your care. Psalm 88:5 NLT

5. Hurry please.

It is so interesting that, in talking to the God of the universe, the Psalmist asks Him, pleads with Him to hurry. And he adds, please.

O God, don’t stay away. My God, please hurry to help me. Psalm 71:12 NLT

O Lord, I am calling to you. Please hurry! Listen when I cry to you for help! Psalm 141:1 NLT

How this helped me

I love it that we can tell God exactly what we think and don’t need to feel He is going to slap us for it. God wants our authenticity, not a fabricated front or flowery words. He is real, and He is real with us. The Psalmist, through each Psalm, reflects what he knows about God and affirms truth. He leans on it. As I read these verses on that painful lonely night in the hospital, I used this model to pray and felt His comforting presence.


Up next: How am I supposed to be nice when I feel LOUSY!
Previous post: 3 Things I Miss Since I Broke My Foot


1. Have you ever had a really frank conversation with God? What was it like?

2. Do you have a favorite Psalm that helps you in difficult times?

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

3 Things I Miss Since I Broke my Foot

The Big Idea: My life has become disrupted since I broke my foot, but the word longsuffering is strengthening me. 

[Each weekly blog in November will focus on how the Bible has strengthened me through several health crisis.]

3 Things I Miss Since I Broke my Foot

Back in May doing yard work I twisted my foot. An X-ray showed NOTHING! 2 weeks later I twisted it again leaning akwardly on it as I reached for something that dropped. This time I broke SOMETHING! The pain was unbearable if I stood on it. I broke the 5th metatarsal of my left foot and found the first twist had a hairline fracture too small to be noticed. My life has changed since I have been off my foot for almost 5 months! Here is a quick list of 3 top things I miss doing.

1. Buying groceries spontaneously

There is no spontaneity in going shopping for me anymore! I used to pick up something on the way. On a serious grocery shopping day I would zig-zag from one store to the next picking up the top too-good-to-be-true sales.  This summer, corn was $1 an ear or more. When I found it at 25 cents an ear with my husband in tow I went crazy there, then at the next store with an unbelievable price on ribs. My poor husband! He patiently took me and acknowledged he can see why I do that. Sigh. Since this broken foot has lingered without adequately healing for months now, with mercy on my husband I now do one shopping excursion a week at one store.

2. Relaxing in the shower

For starters, baths are absolutely forbidden! To get down into a tub, and out again is totally impossible. As for the shower… I need a shower chair to sit on or at least to rest my left knee. I do not have the greatest balance or endurance on just one foot and I CANNOT slip and I CANNOT put weight on the broken foot. So I need to hurry, and I need to have my phone nearby (I put it in a zip lock baggie) so I can text my husband if I need his help. With a hard boot to take off, I could manage OK. Now I have a post-surgery cast which must not get wet. The plastic sleeve makes the wet shower floor even more slippery! I’ve learned to take fewer showers! I hope no one sitting next to me at church notices!

3. Walking my neighborhood

Recently I decided I need exercise. I know! Consider my cute little scooter from Amazon exercise! Yes, it is cute. At a restaurant a wide-eyed three year old looked longingly at it and wanted to touch it. My husband offered her a ride to her mother’s horror!

So one day I asked my husband to come with me on my first attempt to walk the neighborhood on the scooter. Little did I realize that every twig or littlest pebble could throw me off balance. A couple of near falls reminded me to keep my eyes on the sidewalk. Our neighborhood sidewalks happen to be uneven and cracked. 

Did I mention our street is on a steep hill? I figured that would be a nice workout. But the slightest of inclines in which I could usually walk without hesitation seemed like Mount Everest on my scooter! Needless to say, we turned around to go back home after passing 3 houses and I never ventured out again.

Longsuffering: a Word to Remember

My journey with a broken foot has gone on far too long! A Biblical term that has taken on a whole new meaning to me is “longsuffering*.” I appreciate this verse from Colossians 1:11.  In the New Living Translation it goes like this: 

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy. Colossians 1:12 NLT

It uses longsuffering in the King James Version:

Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Colossians 1:11 KJV

Whatever you are going through today, may you find patience and joy. 


UP NEXT: 5 Shocking Statements the Psalmist Makes About Pain

PREVIOUS POST: Exile Patterns



What changed everything in your daily life, even for a temporary season? Do you have a verse in the Bible that helps you cope?


Diane with magnifying glass

*Through the Magnifying Glass   

- using the Blue Letter Bible as a resource.

Take a closer look with me at the word longsuffering in the Bible... 

In the Old Testament God describes Himself as having it. The Hebrew word used has a lot to do with patience and being slow to get angry. 

2 verses using Longsuffering - Ex. 34:6 and Num. 14:18
Strong's Definition of Longsuffering in Hebrew
About the Hebrew Word Longsuffering from the Genenius Hebrew-Chaldean Lexicon

In the New Testament the Greek word used to describe longsuffering is used both to describe God, and also to describe Christians because of God's strength and Holy Spirit in us. It is mostly used as long suffering and patience in the King James. Other translations may use patient endurance. For a lot more detail see the clip from Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. I love the description for Christians that it is "the opposit of despondency and associated with hope." This is the encouragement I need and the quality I need to build in the midst of a health crisis. 

3 Examples of New Testament Bible verses with longsuffering: Col 1:11, Col 3:12, and 1 Tim 1:16
Longsuffering word in Greek as explained by Strong's.

Longsuffering explained further from Vine's DIctionary of New Testament Words