November 11, 2007

Rachel meets Hannah, the wife of Joseph of Arimathea and another friendship is forged…

The house was made of well-shaped stones and trimmed with brick. It stood two stories high with a courtyard of its own entered by arched gateways. Its courts and floors were paved with tile, and brightly colored rugs and cushions were much in evidence.
Rachel was awed by such opulence and was quite speechless upon being ushered into the presence of Joseph and his wife. However, Joseph made her feel at ease immediately by motioning her forward and introducing her. “Hannah, this is the wife of my new chief shepherd. She is the one who made the rugs and baskets you prize so highly. Rachel, meet my wife, Hannah.”
Rachel lifted her eyes to see a pretty, dark-haired woman slightly older than herself who sat beside Joseph on a kind of couch. She was dressed simply but her tunic and cloak were of the softest, finest linen. She smiled at Rachel and said, “I’m pleased to meet you, Rachel. Joseph was right when he told me what a fine artist you are. I can always tell which baskets and rugs are yours because of the quality and original designs. Would you like more time to work on that sort of thing?”
“Oh, yes!” answered Rachel. “I am always happiest and the most at peace when I am at the loom.”
“Then time you shall have. There is always a great deal of food cooked, and I will have Miriam take a portion of it to your cottage at mealtimes. When Jacob is in the fields, you may eat in the kitchen.”
“Thank you, Ma’am.” Rachel hesitated, not knowing what she should do next.
Joseph patted Hannah’s hand and stood up. “I must see to business,” he said to Rachel, “but why don’t you stay and get acquainted with Hannah?”
He walked out of the room and Hannah stood up. “Would you like to see our new son?” Then she hesitated. “I’m sorry, Rachel, Joseph told me of the death of your child. Please accept my sympathy.”
“Thank you for your concern, my lady, but it is all right to speak of your son. The sorrow is still deep but life goes on. I would love to see your new baby.”



November 10, 2007

Rachel tells Jacob of new life within her…

“I almost feel wealthy, don’t you, Rachel?” he laughed as they ate some of the bread and cheese Milcah had packed for them. They were sitting tailor fashion on two of the thick rugs from their pack. These would serve as sleeping pallets for the night.
Rachel broke a piece of bread and looked at Jacob. “I have news for you, husband.”
“Yes? What is it? Did we leave something behind?”
“Oh, no,” smiled Rachel, “we definitely brought it with us!” Jacob looked puzzled and Rachel continued. “I am with child, Jacob. We will begin two new lives this year.”
“Praise be to Jehovah!” cried Jacob. “He has blessed us once more!”
“I’d rather you didn’t talk to Jehovah about this one, Jacob. I believe the less He knows about it, the better.”
“Don’t say that, Rachel. I know you have not yet found your peace with God. But don’t jeopardize the safety of our child by your foolish words.”
“Jeopardize his safety?! How safe was Barak? What did our ‘words’ do for him?”
Jacob sighed and took Rachel’s hands in his. “Please, Beloved, don’t torture yourself with this bitterness. Enjoy the blessing of a new life both for ourselves and for the life growing in your womb.”
“You’re right, Jacob. I will put away the talk of death, it is a time for life.” She leaned forward and kissed him tenderly on the mouth. She did love him and she would concentrate on being the best wife and mother she could be. Maybe someday the love of God would fill her heart again and she could be whole. But for now it was enough to be loved by her husband and the father of her child.


November 7, 2007

Jacob has convinced Rachel the move to Arimathea.he is preparing for the move…

So began their preparations to move. They would be buying a cart from Eli with some of the money Jacob was to receive from the flock and decisions must be made as to what they would take and what would be left. Winter provisions were packed snugly in baskets along with utensils and tools. Rachel told Dinah they would leave the wall hangings for Dan and the girl he would soon marry.
When Rachel came to Barak’s cradle she stood looking down at it. At first she thought to leave it and turned to other items. But she kept coming back to that part of her life she was trying so hard to forget. Finally she knelt down beside it and lifted a soft blanket to her face. The tears that had been held back for so long soaked the cloth she clutched to her breast. Rocking back and forth, she sobbed and moaned in her first release of grief. “I cannot leave you here! Surely there will be other children to rock in this cradle!” She put the blanket to one side to dry and took the cradle to the front of the cave. When Jacob saw the cradle ready to be put in the cart he murmured a silent, “Thank you!” to Jehovah and lifted the symbol of hope into place with the other belongings.
They spent two days in Bethlehem saying goodbye to Rachel’s family and to Eli and Elisabeth. Simeon looked so old and frail that Rachel was tempted to tell Jacob she couldn’t go. But her father said to her, “Daughter, if your mother were here she would tell you to go and not look back. You will find your peace there. I just pray that Orpha will find hers here.”
Rachel found it hardest, after all, to say goodbye to Orpha. They held one another and cried bitter tears. Little Mary, still silent, touched Rachel’s face and turned away. Reuben held her awkwardly and said in a voice made rough with emotion, “Be brave, Sister, and know that we are not letting this go like cowards. There are those of us who have taken a vow of vengeance on those who murdered our sons. Herod will not live to enjoy his throne!”
“Be careful, Reuben, I couldn’t bear to lose you, too!” Rachel turned away and she and Jacob left to return to their home for the last time.
Rachel’s last day in the cave was a dismal one. The first of the autumn rains fell in hard, driving sheets and the smell of wet wool permeated even their own cave. It let up temporarily in late afternoon and Jacob and Rachel took advantage of the lull to make their way to Dinah’s cave where the family was meeting for a farewell meal. The cart was packed and stored in the big central cavern with the sheep, and the packs for the extra donkey were sitting just inside Jacob’s cave.
Gideon and David, with Joshua and Judah, were going to the Feast of Weeks also, so it was a fairly large party that set out the next morning. The men led the seven rams with halters and ropes and the boys handled the donkeys and cart.
At the bottom of the hill Rachel looked back at what had been her home. For all its sad memories it had been a pleasant place to live. “I wish I could ask you to protect and shelter us, Jehovah,” she thought wistfully. “There was a time when I could have.” Her throat felt tight. “Don’t lose me!” she whispered.


November 2, 2007

Barak has been killed by Herod’s soldiers and Eli, the innkeeper has found Jacob, bringing him to Rachel. She is in her father’s home and has been sitting beside the body of her baby…
She (Rachel) struggled to her feet thinking the soldiers had returned but it was Jacob.
He had lashed the donkey to a dead run, far outdistancing Eli, jumped from the animal and stumbled into Simeon’s house. His eyes went first to the linen-wrapped bundle on the bench, then to the white-faced woman seated beside it. A great cry wrenched its way from his throat. “Rachel!” and he fell to his knees between his wife and his dead child.
Rachel gave no indication that she heard his voice or felt his touch; she stared straight ahead, unseeing, unfeeling. Jacob tore the linen sheet from his son and looked at him. With the sheet still clutched in his hand he turned to those standing in the house. “Who did this? Who killed my son?”
Eli had come in now and moved to the side of his friend. “The soldiers, Herod’s soldiers, did this, Jacob. They’ve killed all the little boys they could find! All of Bethlehem is grieving.”
Jacob looked at Eli, uncomprehending. “Why, Eli? Why our sons?”
“Herod found out about Jesus, Jacob. Someone told him a prince of Israel had been born in Bethlehem and he wanted him dead.”
“The Messiah is dead as well?” Jacob’s helpless grief became a look of hopelessness.
At these words Rachel roused from her stupor. She jumped to her feet and confronted Jacob. “Oh no! His son wasn’t killed! Jehovah sent His son to Egypt! It was our sons who died! His son he saved, our sons he would not!” Rachel began to tear at her robe. She put both hands to her head and began pulling at her hair.
Elisabeth had come back into the house and now went to her friend holding her until Jacob could take her into his own arms. Rachel pushed him away and stood back with an icy calm now in place. “Leave me. I must wash and clean myself before the priests come.” Taking the sheet from Jacob she placed it once more over Barak then shrugged out of her cloak and began to remove her tunic as though there were none present. Elisabeth motioned the men out of the house saying, “I will help her. Jacob, Eli can tell you what has happened.


October 30, 2007

Rachel and Jacob, along with family and friends, are returning from the Passover Feast.We join them on their way home…
At the end of the feast three couples walked the five miles back to Bethlehem together. Eli and Elisabeth, Jacob and Rachel and Mary and Joseph. Dan was with them as well and, along with Eli, led the two donkeys packed with goods bought in Jerusalem.
Jesus was perched upon Joseph’s shoulders his dark curls bouncing with every step while Barak was settled on Jacob’s hip nodding sleepily. Both boys were sturdily built and had the dark eyes of Hebrew children. The only contrast was Barak’s blond hair, dusty now from the day’s journey.
“Thank you for walking with us,” Jacob told the other two couples. “It’s always a little frightening to come back alone with the money taken in at Passover.”

“With what little we have left after taxes, you mean!” grumbled Dan. His first year settling up with the tax collectors had left a bad taste in his mouth.
“It’s our pleasure, believe me!” smiled Elisabeth. “How else could we travel in the presence of two such beautiful children?” She lifted Jesus into her arms but he wriggled, trying to persuade her to let him walk so she put him on the ground and held his hand, dropping back a little to walk at his pace. Eli and Elisabeth had never been blessed with children but had become the adopted grandparents of many a Bethlehem child. Seeing the distance increasing between herself and the others, she scooped Jesus back up and walked on. Barak roused long enough to reach over and pat Jesus’ head then gave up altogether and fell asleep against Jacob’s chest.
The friends walked together in silence enjoying the bright sunlight and the panorama of color stretching out before them. Wildflowers blanketed the wayside and creamy almond and locust blossoms filled the air with fragrance. Almost in unison, Mary and Rachel began singing the same psalm.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs!
The young women laughed and hugged one another. “I’m so glad you chose to live in Bethlehem,” Rachel told Mary. “This has been a wonderful day.”


October 25, 2007

Here, we see Rachel as she tries to sleep in her parents’ home in Bethlehem.Too many thoughts and her growing girth make for a sleepless night…

Yes, she enjoyed her life and looked forward with joy to the days ahead. Except for her mother’s illness. Why hadn’t her mother said something before? Another prayer formed in her heart as she sought the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for hope and comfort.
Rachel turned, pushing the coarse woolen cloak from her shoulder. One bare foot stretched into the coolness of the night. She couldn’t sleep. She was thirsty. She rose quietly from the bench, gathered her cloak and walked to the water jar by the door. Dipping a cup of water from the stone container, she drank, then slipped on her sandals and stepped into the yard. The air was chilly but her cloak was warm and she sat in the moonlight beneath the olive tree. The fragrance of herbs and flowers filled the night air and the stars were a shining canopy above her.
Rachel’s thoughts turned to her mother. “Oh, Jehovah, please heal her. I need her so much.” As if in response to her worry, the child she was carrying rolled and kicked reminding her of that need. “How will I nourish and care for this little one without her wise counsel?”

Tears stung her eyes and traced the soft curve of her cheek. “Jehovah, mighty God of Father Abraham, hear my prayer. Heal my mother with your mighty power. You who named the stars, who made a nation from slaves!” Her voice faltered. Who was she to tell God his business? “I leave her in your loving hands, Father. Amen.”
Rachel sat quietly until, lifting her head and flexing her shoulders, she realized how chilly the air had become. How long had she been sitting here? She rose from the bench and walked to the grapevine, plucked a small stem of fruit and turned back to the house. As she turned, she saw a strange glow in the sky coming from the hills beyond Bethlehem. The faintest stirring of music trembled on the air as her ears tensed to catch it.
Music? How could there be music? The light pulsed and flickered, so faint, yet so real. She fell to her knees beside the bench. She could almost hear words in the music. She strained to see, to hear the distant sound. The low hills around the shepherds’ caves shone with a dancing light. Mystery, a sense of awesome power made her tremble with emotion.
Then, the glow faded. The night was silent –a chilly Bethlehem night. She looked around, feeling foolish for kneeling in a dark, empty yard. Awkwardly she rose from the ground, pulled her cloak more closely around her shoulders and made her way back to bed. A feeling of peace settled over her as warm as the cloak she drew over her body and, as sleep overtook her, she wondered if what she had experienced was an illusion. Had she really heard music?

Introduction to Rachel’s Daughters

October 23, 2007

Dear Friends,

I would like to introduce you to Rachel, wife of temple shepherd, Jacob, who has seen the heavenly host announce the birth of Messiah. Jacob takes his wife, heavy with her first child, to see the Christ Child. While the holy family lives in Bethlehem between the birth of Jesus and the flight into Egypt, the two families become friends.

Rachel’s son Barak, is born a month or so after Jesus and their mothers watch them grow into strong, beautiful little Jewish boys.

The world changes for Rachel when the Wise Men come to Bethlehem and give a dire warning to Mary and Joseph, telling them to flee into Egypt and escape from Herod. When Barak is torn from Rachel’s arms and murdered by Herod’s soldiers in the Slaughter of the Innocents, his grieving mother is overcome with a sense of betrayal and rejects the God of Abraham who would save his own Son and allow hers to be killed.

Rachel’s Daughters; the other side of Christmas, is the story of Rachel’s journey back to faith. It moves from Bethlehem to Arimethea, where Jacob takes a job as head shepherd to Joseph of Arimethea and hopes Rachel’s heart will mend in a new setting.

While living there Rachel and Jacob have two more children and life becomes bearable. Rachel becomes a well-known artist, weaving rugs and baskets of great beauty. But while her hands and mind bring her joy, her heart is still empty.

The story continues in Galilee where a surprising conclusion to Rachel’s journey takes place.

This book addresses those issues we women face who have had a trauma early in life that tears at our faith. We do not leave the Church, but ‘go through the motions’ without a close relationship with God. We teach Sunday School, we fill pulpits, we sing in the choir, we become the mainstay of congregations, we bring up our children in the Church; but we do so without the singing joy, the feeling of being loved by God. We know He is real. We know He cares for us. We know all the pat answers. But we do not feel Him. We feel mostly that we are on the outside looking in. We sing the hymn, “There’s Room at The Cross for You”, but if we are there, we feel that we stand at the back of a huge crowd – one of a million, too small to be seen by God.

Each of us have our doubts at one time or another, but for some it almost becomes a religion in itself. Only when we can finally come to terms with God and accept who we are in relation to him, do we begin to ‘feel’ His presence.

Until that time we truly live by faith. We live by the knowledge of who He is and what He does and how He loves. This is Rachel’s Story – this is OUR story.

On these pages you will read excerpts from the book and I ask only that you consider buying the book and join Rachel in her journey back to God.

The book may be ordered from Amazon.com