This particular day was no different than any other. It started with a weekly work meeting room full of men. I was no stranger to this environment or the topic of our conversation. Everyone combined in the room, including me, had a collective 100 years of experience on our meeting topic. What made this day different than any other I’ve experienced in my life was a conversation that followed this meeting. A conversation that would be etched into my memory for many years to come.
The beautiful Guatemalan girls gasped for air as I crumbled up the crisp, 200 quetzales bill ($26 USD). This was more money than any of these 50 girls had ever seen in their lifetime. Some of their reactions produced tears as I stomped on the 200 quetzales bill making it dirty and muddy from my shoes. Almost every one of them nearly came out of their seats as my last act of destroying this bill was attempted. Holding up the muddy, wrinkled piece of paper worth more than they could ever dream of having in their life, I began to tear it in half. The anticipation of this dreadful act soon diminished as they fell lifelessly back into their chairs with there heads hung low.
That one bill could feed their entire family for a month. Their sick sibling could have used it for medical treatment. Their neighborhood friend could have used it to pay for school fees so they could learn to read too.
I am sure anyone could hear myself and two colleagues laughing as we discussed our weekend dates. Our laughter decreased as we watched someone approaching us. I still remember when Evette walked into the office dressed in a plaid suit jacket and walked with uncertainty. It was her first day on the job, so I’m sure nervousness may have been what I was seeing.
The banquet scene escalates as King Xerxes summons his wife, Vashti, into the hall so that he could show her off. Vashti refuses, and for good reason. This type of showing off was for concubines or prostitutes – not for women of honor, and certainly not for a queen. If Vashti had not valued herself and required others to respect her then I’m sure this story would have looked a bit different.
Some may say, yeah… different in that Xerses would have not declared an edict requiring every women to bow to their husband no matter their request. Different in that it made it harder for the rest of the women of the kingdom. Or what about all the women who were pulled from their homes to fulfill the king’s desire for a new wife. What about Esther who was separated from her family and placed in a palace that was full of people, food, traditions & a lifestyle contrary to her heritage.
As you may all know well, Esther’s heroism and trust in the Lord is what saved an entire nation from the hands of the evil Haman. We often hear about Esther and her bold stand before the king. She even has a book in the bible named after her. She is a pillar of courage that women for centuries have modeled in the face of persecution.
What about Vashti? Without Vashti’s boldness to stand for integrity and righteousness, there may not have been the opportunity for Esther to step forth.
We’ve all seen it, whether we chose to stand or remember. A clerk at the store who won’t serve a minority customer.
A guy at the fraternity mixer whose derogatory comments towards a girl is laughed off.
A bully at school hurling hateful words at your classmate.
A parent screaming at their child for not being good enough.
It’s not the popular choice to stand for integrity. It’s not the easy choice to risk our comfort zone. It’s the right choice to stand when everyone else kneels to conformity.
Vashti found herself standing in the midst of the most elite in the entire Persia kingdom….her husband, the King, wise men, government elite, young and old, all with wealth and pomp. She had a choice to make as all these men looked upon her beauty as she approached the kings throne. She chose to stand up. She choose integrity. She chose respect.
Vashti like most heroes of the faith paved the way for the salvation of the people of God. If Vashti had not stood for honor in the face of persecution, then Esther may have not been placed in the position of queen for God to use her to save His people.
Vashti also set a standard of honor as a queen. Surely the king felt the weight of his absurd decision once he became sober from his 6 month party. Surely when Esther approached the throne uninvited, Xerses thought of his beloved Vashti who took a bold step to demand respect.
Whether you are an Esther, a Vashti, or one of the other people at the party, always remember God created you with value worth far more than rubies. Anyone, man or woman, who fails to respect that value in which God has given you should be reminded.
God values you,
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There before me were two doors. Both were occupied, so my bladder waited patiently like my mother taught me growing up. We had driven 45 minutes to this village, so there were no restrooms available. We were only surrounded by plants, a dirt road, and the bush. This water closet experience looked to be promising considering there were doors and the structure was made of concrete. Two things that are not common in most villages I had visited.
“Drug test, Ma’am? Drug Test, Ma’am?” shouted the small Filipino man as we walked up the narrow stairway in front of us. We could barely make it to the top of the stairs due to his excessive desire to help us….. in expectation of money for his services.
My fellow missionary friend and I were confident that we could find our own way. This was unlike any western facility used for drug testing. The narrow, dark stairway was dirty and reeked of unfamiliar smells. It was evident that the building, like most in the Philippines, was once nice about 100 years ago. We entered a small room with a few tables and explained our desire to have a drug test in order to obtain our drivers license in the Philippines.
Of course, with any drug test the obvious is required, a urine sample. On any other day this would have been an easy task, however, communication had been misinterpreted that day between my friend and I. I didn’t drink enough water to complete the task at hand. In the back corner of this room was a door which led to where the specimen would be given.
In a small Ukrainian village was a concrete slab with hole dug deep into the ground. The hole was big enough to fit a teenager down it, so it was human size. On top of the hole was a wooden structure built to give privacy to its guests. At the time of my arrival, this hole had been in use by a church congregation of 100 people for the past 13 years.
That’s right! Thirteen years of human waste caused a smell that can only be described by two words, “toxic FUMES.” The toxic fumes that can still penetrate your nasal passages through the two layers of clothing you are holding over your nose and mouth.
We had been driving through the thick bush into the mountains for what seemed like over an hour. A Filipino pastor offered to drive myself and a fellow missionary friend to a church located in a rural area. Like most villages, it didn’t offer the conveniences of a Western restrooms.
I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves in inconvenient locations where the urge to relieve ourselves caused us to do things that we wouldn’t openly admit to our family, much less our friends.
the car door hiding your cute tooshy on the side of the road.…..
or the leaves you used on that camping trip.…..
and let’s not even think about how many swimming pools.
I grew up in the South and was not a stranger to finding alternatives in the woods as a kid. There were too many imaginary games and playing to be had, which meant running home to use the toilet was not convenient. So we often “popped a squat” and took care of business.
As time passed and we grew up, not only did we stop playing in the woods, but popping a squat became illegal. You could get thrown in jail for indecent exposure in the USA.
In some parts of Africa, the side of the roads were used for these very things. In the Philippians, you had to be more careful about which leaf you chose.
This particular day as we travelled deep into the tropical forest, I soon learned laws and leafs were the least of my worries.
It was a hot, August summer day in 1995. This day was no different that any other, except I was saying goodbye to my father. My husband, John, was out of town for business, so my father came to spend the week with me. We drove to the airport, said our goodbyes, and I slowly shuffled back to the car with my pregnant self.
Halfway home my car started making strange clicking noises, so I quickly maneuvered through three lanes of traffic to pull over on the side of the road. It was the grace of God that helped me get to the shoulder of the road before the car died. Standing in the hot Texan heat seven months pregnant on the side of the road and no phone was more stress than I needed at this stage in my pregnancy. This was back in the day before cell phones were invented, so my only option was to walk a mile to the nearest exit. I stood there praying for God to help and sure enough He heard my prayer.
A light yellow, four door, sedan pulled over to greet me. The woman in the drivers seat leaned forward enough to crank the window so that it slowly rolled down enough for me to hear her speak. I could tell her companion was a man in the passenger seat, but neither of them looked in my direction. The lady driving ask me if I needed a ride as they both continued staring towards the front of the car. This entire situation seemed shady, but I was desperate and had to get to a phone. Against my better judgement, I hopped into the back seat. Actually I rolled into the back seat slowly and asked if they could drop me at a gas station at the next exit.
This gas station was the same as any other. When we pulled into the parking lot, cars were lined up at the fuel pumps, while others were parked at the front door. She drove the car through the parking lot pass the fuel pumps and let me out near the front door. I thanked them both as I exited the car. When I turned to wave goodbye, the car and couple had disappeared. I didn’t see them waiting on cars to exit the gas pumps or waiting for traffic to pass to enter the highway again. There was no way the car had time to drive away because they had to put the car in reverse to back up, so they could exit the parking lot. Yet I stood there alone, with no car and no explanation, except that I was entertaining angels unaware.
“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” ~Hebrews 13:2 NLT
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I remember her tears, her shock, and her joy. Meredith had been walking through a difficult season in her life. Her husband was addicted to alcohol which found her not just protecting herself, but also her 5 year old son. Her husband was a good man and she loved him dearly, however, when he drank it felt like he became a completely different man than she married.
One day her son, Joseph, was playing in the living room when her husband came home. Joseph asked his daddy who the friend was that came home with him? Meredith was a bit perplexed because she didn’t see anyone enter the house and her husband was too inebriated to respond. As she looked into the front yard, she didn’t notice any friends or visitors entering the home, so she asked Joseph, “What friend are you speaking about?” Joseph said, “The one standing there,” pointing beside his Father. Joseph, Meredith, and her husband were the only people in the room. Meredith realized that “this friend” was not really a friend at all. It was a demon.