Thanks for stopping by! I created this blog as a companion to my website, Becoming Godly Maidens.com. I hope you enjoy reading what I have posted and that you will come again. Let me know what you think! Leave a comment :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


No Internet access for six weeks.
No Internet access for six weeks!

No, that’s not a cry of horror. That is a cry of delirious joy. This summer, I will be totally off the ‘net and away from all electronics (except my cell phone) and out in the cool pines. This is an occasion to forget about makeup, emails (hooray for snail mail!), Youtube (sorry Jordan-from-MessyMondays), and movies. It is also and occasion to


    My reading list currently consists of six of John Steinbeck’s novels that I’ve not yet read, the rest of Kisses from Katie, Culture Making, and Tom Sawyer in Spanish (we’ll see how much of it I can actually understand). I will, however, be adding a few new books to my list, since I have decided to take up the
Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge!

2012 Summer reading challenge hosted at www.inthebookcase.blogspot.com

Just in case you want to join the challenge :)

     I want to read two that I’ve never read before: Jo's Boys and How They Turned Out and Flower Fables
     Another thing that I am going to read a lot of this summer is my Bible. Working 40 hours a week without school or other commitments means that I will have a lot of time on my hands. What a perfect time and place to seek Yahweh.
     One verse that has been on my heart recently is Jeremiah 29:13, “you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” This verse is a part of something that God told the elders of the exiled Israelites thousands of years ago through Jeremiah the prophet. It was spoken to a specific audience at a specific time in a specific place, but I believe that it is as true for us as it was for them. God WANTS to have a relationship with me. He WANTS to have one with you. How amazing is that? When I consider the heavens, the work of His hands, what is man that He is mindful of us? Why does the creator of the universe care about humanity as a whole, much less each individual person? I can’t fathom. I want to KNOW that God, not just know about Him. I am thirsty for Him right now! Like a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for my God. He is good enough to call my heart when it is turned to things on earth and not things in Heaven. He is good enough to comfort me when I am hurting. He is good enough to hear my cry, even if I’ve only halfheartedly answered His call just that morning. He is good enough to answer odd little prayers offered in faith for His pleasure and mine. He is good enough to make it blatantly obvious in a variety of ways that He wants my full heart and my full attention—right now. O taste and see that the Lord is good! I want more of Him.

He wants more of me.

He wants more of you.

I guess the important question at this point is
Are you going to give more of yourself to Him?
“Yes” on its own is not a good enough answer. I think we all do far too much of saying nice things and not acting on them. Singing nice lyrics and not meditating on them. Making nice decisions and not living by them. So HOW are you going to give more of yourself to Him? Maybe you will give more of your time. Maybe you will spend intentional time with Him when you used to do something for you. Maybe you are going to serve others intentionally with a cheerful heart. Maybe you are going to support a mission, financially or with prayer. I hope you join with me in giving more of yourself to God. I hope you and I together will make this summer into a new adventure in our relationship with God. Oh, I am excited about this summer! What a beautiful life this is. God is good.

See you in six weeks!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What He Paints for You

One of the benefits of going to a small college is the small library that goes with it. Normally, I probably would not count this as a blessing, but it definitely has its upside. For one thing, The lack of shelf space and the constant need to bring in new books means that dozens of books are available for purchase at all times. As a book lover and a penny-pincher, I am always thrilled to find a nice old hardback for a dollar. Consequently, I am starting to collect a nice library of exegetical works. I think my Biblical Interpretation teacher would be glad to see the unsightly piles of books that are starting to collect on top of my desk, on chairs, beside my bed, and any other flat surface that can hold books.

     Often, I find that old books are more relevant than new books! I suppose ideas that are tried by time show themselves for what they are worth. I love gleaning insight from authors long gone, and I imagine them sitting next to me and speaking their words to me. What is it about the writing style of long ago that seems so much more personal than today’s writing? I have never been able to identify with the “you” that is addressed by new books, but the “you” spoken to by old books always seems to be me and no one else.

     Before school closed for the semester, I bought Expositions of the Holy Scriptures: Psalms I-CXLV by Andrew MacLaren. I can’t tell you how old it is, just that it’s old enough to not have a copyright date. I’m using it with my devotions, since I am reading through Psalms, and I thought that you might enjoy one of a few treasures I found in it (I feel like Pride and Prejudice’s Mary with her “extracts” right now).

     Oh! If we would only see clearly and habitually before us—for we could if we would—what God’s heart inclines for His to do for us, in the far-off future, if we would only let Him, do you not think that these trifles that put us off our equanimity this morning would have been borne with a little more composure?”

Oh dear. Sometimes it can be so hard to see the big picture. Oh, trust me, I know. When I commit one social faux pas after another, cut my fingers while cleaning, mistranslate between languages, drag my hair through degreaser and spend two hours trying to fix a lemonade machine all in one day, I have a tough time seeing the big picture. I have to remember that the important thing is not that I achieve perfection. It is not that I stop tripping over my tongue, stay perfectly neat and understand how to do everything on the first try. I will never manage that! The important thing is that even in the little things, I can “set my mind on things above, not on earthly things.” Then the little frustrations will fade away and I will be left standing in awe of the awesomeness of God’s plan.

So “in the middle of your little mess, don’t forget how big you’re blessed.” God is creating a beautiful picture with your life! He uses the bad times and the good times alike, whether trivial or tremendous. As you watch the Master Artist work, you may be fixated on one gray streak of paint and wonder why He used such a sad color. Then, when you step back, you will see that it was a shadow to make something white and shining stand out in all its glory! A painting with only pinks and yellows would be a boring picture. It takes the blue and browns of life to make it beautiful.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


     Sarah Jessica Parker once commented, “So many roads. So many detours. So many choices. So many mistakes.” The innumerable choices that humans may make in lifetime and the thousands of paths available are overwhelming. With free will, it seems that a person may be able to end up anywhere, and so many of those places may be the wrong place. Without limits and without guidelines, without a command to overcome sin in one’s life, anything is permissible, even those wrong places. How much free will do people have and what choices are humans able to make? John Steinbeck seeks to answer this question in his book East of Eden. However, he made one big mistake to the detriment of his point. Steinbeck’s misinterpretation of one biblical Hebrew word in his book East of Eden creates a flawed view of free will and his character Cal’s ability to use it.
     Steinbeck uses one word as the central point of his novel East of Eden. This word is the Hebrew word “Timshel.” It is used in Genesis when God when speaks to Cain as he entertains the idea of murdering his brother Abel. Timshel is translated “you must rule” in the verse 4:7, which reads, “sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” In the novel, one of the characters, Lee, becomes confused by differing translations of the word timshel in the King James Version and the American Standard Bible. The King James reads “Thou Shalt,” and the American Standard reads “Do thou” (Steinbeck 299). The KJV’s translation can be taken as either a simple future tense verb (a promise) or as an imperative mood verb (a command), while the ASB gives a verb that can only be taken imperatively. Given this, one might assume that the verb is meant to be imperative in both cases. However, Lee (and presumably Steinbeck) only reads the KJV version as a promise. Lee, baffled by this apparent contradiction, sets out with scholars of his acquaintance to discover the real meaning of Timshel. They conclude that “timshel” means “thou mayest,” a subjunctive verb. On page 301, Lee cries, “Don’t you see? The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,” meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel— ‘Thou mayest’—that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That way the way is open. For it ‘Thou mayest,’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’” Lee’s quote sums up Steinbeck’s entire book. If there is choice, then Cal has a right to chose whether he wants to care for his brother or hurt him. There is no right or wrong answer—the consequences of one action may be less pleasant, but each has the right to choose whether to be righteous or sinful. Lee says that Timshel is the most important word in the world; it is certainly the most important word in the book. But what if Steinbeck was wrong about the meaning of timshel?
     The Hebrew word transliterated timshel or timshol is תִּמְשָׁל. The root word of timshel is mashal (מְשָׁל), which is a primitive root verb meaning “to rule, have dominion, reign” (Strongest, 1430).  Timshel’s prefix is תִּ. This is a combination of the Hebrew Letter “Taw” and the vowel mark “Chireq,” which makes the “i” as in “mitt” sound. The תִּ prefix changes its verb to the imperfect tense of, among a few other things, the second person masculine form (Raizen). Thus, the subject of the verb is whomever the speaker is speaking. In this case, it is Cain. According to Esther Raizen, a Hebrew professor at University of Texas, “The imperfect tense a number of moods, among them imperative.” Imperative seems to be the most common form of the imperfect tense, and Bible scholars seem to assume that timshel is Genesis 4:7 is most accurately rendered so. Every major translation of the Bible translates this word in some form of imperative (KJV, Amplified, NASB, NIV, ESV).  This means that timshel is command, perfectly rendered “you must rule over it.” In essence, God said to Cain, “You are planning to sin, and it is ready to overtake you. But you, Cain, are commanded to conquer it instead.” There is free will, but there is no acceptable alternative to obedience. God did not give Cain an alternative—disobedience incurred God’s wrath—but He did give him free will. In Genesis 4:8, Cain killed his brother. In verse 12, he was dealt his punishment.
     Had Steinbeck understood the meaning of timshel, his novel East of Eden would have taken a different stance on free will. Steinbeck suggests that one has the right to choose whether he or she will let sin rule his or her life. On page 301, as mentioned before, Lee says, “The way is open. For if “Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not…’ that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he still has great choice.” He continues on page 302, “But think of the choice! That makes a man a man.” In other words, the right to choose if one will go the way of righteousness or the way of sin is what gives a man his humanity. With this point of view, timshel is not a command; it is permission to live how one wishes. It means that it is permissible for Cal to be mean. Cal is not trapped in his sin nature—as Lee said, Cal “could control it—if [he] wanted” (Steinbeck 541)—but neither is he required to break out of it. At the end of the book, Cal’s father speaks his dying word to his son, “Timshel” (Steinbeck 601). In this one word, he is giving Cal permission to choose his own path, reminding him that he can choose the right way if he wants to. If Steinbeck had a correct understanding of the word timshel, Cal’s story would have taken a different direction. Instead of being a story of choice and consequence, it would be a story of redemption and forgiveness. Without a command to overcome sin, there is no requirement of righteousness, no sin, and no need for a savior. If mastering sin is simply a better option, then the reader can only expect that Cal would end up where he did—struggling to overcome his wicked bent all by himself, hoping to make good decisions.
     An understanding of the true meaning of timshel, “You must,” is the basis of every choice of right or wrong. If we have the right to choose anything we like, then we may choose to do the wrong thing if the pleasure outweighs the negative consequences. If, however, we are commanded to overcome wrongdoing, then the only permissible choice is the righteous choice. This is not restrictive, but gracious. If one lives this way, his choices will be more obvious, his detours more pleasant, and his roads straighter. Roads starting from a right choice do not lead to mistakes. Therefore, there is no need to fear the future. The road is clearly marked, and when the traveler knows where he is headed, the journey will be beautiful.

Works Cited
The Holy Bible: Amplified Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1987. Print.
The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments Authorized King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011. Print.
The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments. IA Falls, IA: World Pub., 1995. Print.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version Containing the Old and New Testaments : ESV. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007. Print.
The NIV. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Bible Pub., 1983. Print.
"Quotes About Free Will." (82 Quotes). Web. 04 May 2012. <http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show_tag?id=free-will>.
Raizin, Esther. "Biblical Hebrew Grammer for Beginners." Utexas.edu. University of Texas, 2007-2009. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://www.laits.utexas.edu/hebrew/heblang/bh/bhonline/grammar/verbs.pdf>.
Steinbeck, John. East of Eden. New York: Penguin, 2002. Print.
The Strongest NASB Exhaustive Concordance. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004. Print.