Transformation Garden

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Biblical stories of eighteen New Testament women who Jesus encouraged, empowered, and loved.

The Women Who Met Jesus, BookHow could a man who had no wife, no children, no home, no job, no money, and wandered the hills of Judea with twelve men relate to women of his time, much less women in the 21st century?

That's the question that led author, Dorothy Valc√°rcel, to search for biblical women whose lives intersected with Jesus. As she explored the lives of every woman Jesus met, she discovered that they faced many of the same challenges women encounter today.

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Devotional Week 10 Monday

“I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.”

Genesis 9: 13



 The Rainbow

“Not in the time of pleasure

Hope doth set her bow;

But in the sky of sorrow,

Over the vale of woe.


Through gloom and shadow look we

On beyond the years!

The soul would have no rainbow

Had the eyes no tears.”

John Vance Cheney


Today’s Study Text:

 “So they both went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred about them, and said, ‘Is this Naomi?’ And she said to them, ‘Call me not Naomi (pleasant); call me Mara (bitter), for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.”


                 Ruth 1: 19, 20

              Amplified Bible


“How to Deal With Bitterness”

“What Is Bitterness?” – Part I


“Bitter” – Distasteful to admit, accept or hear. Something which is unpleasant.


“Bitterness…is the eternal cul-de-sac.”

               Agatha Christie


Is there a situation in my life that has caused me to feel or become bitter?


How do I think bitter feelings affect me each day?


“Bitterness hardly cares what food it eats.”

Leslie Ford


“Bitterness is like cancer.  It eats upon the host.”

Author Unknown


            As I have shared with you in the past, there have been times when your emails and letters have inspired me to study about a particular topic. For the next ten days, we are going to look at the havoc which can be caused in our lives if we allow the toxin of bitterness to invade our hearts with its corrosive effects. Frankly, more than once in my own life, I have struggled with the nasty venom that is emitted when the harshness of life causes us to become bitter because of the circumstances which we have faced.


            At times, I’ve even felt that I was alone in my struggle, but this was not the case. Many of you have told me that you are also doing battle with bitterness as a result of some very unfair event or tragedy that has knocked you off your feet.


            And so, together, I want to look at the life of a Biblical heroine named, Naomi, who asked that she be called “Mara” or “bitter” for her life seemed so filled with sorrow and disappointment, she found it almost impossible to endure.


One summer, when our family was spending time at my grandparent’s ranch in Arizona, I went out in the early morning with my dad to watch him work on clearing a bright green foliage out of some of the trees that surrounded the pecan grove. At twelve-years-old, I couldn’t understand why perfectly healthy plants, called mistletoe, were deemed so undesirable, and were being destroyed in order to, “save the trees they were growing in,” as my dad explained.


Before this particular day, I’d always thought of mistletoe as a Christmas plant, displayed around the house during the holidays. Hanging up mistletoe always caused a lot of “kissing” to take place. It seemed impossible to imagine that such innocuous greenery was so dangerous to the trees where it took up residence.


            This is where “parasitic mistletoe” and our topic for the next few days, “bitterness,” intersect.


            If you would have asked me several years ago to give you a brief overview of the book of Ruth, I would have told you this was a four chapter book in the Old Testament named after a Moabite girl who left her country to go home with her widowed mother-in law, Naomi, where in Bethlehem, she met Boaz, married him, and had a baby named Obed, who became King David’s grandfather – and they all lived happily ever after. Well, almost happily, except for a few falters along the way.


            The last thing I would have thought to include in my short review would be information on the topic of “bitterness.” Yet, there are some very critical lessons in the book of Ruth about the challenge of bitterness and how it affects our lives.


            Over the next few days, we’re going to take time to not only identify this parasitic emotion which can sap us of strength and joy, but we will also look at the heavenly guidance we’ve been given to help us cope with the toxic effect this corrosive emotion can have on our life force.


            Several months ago, I was cleaning a cabinet under the sink next to my washing machine. Obviously, a bottle containing some type of caustic cleaning material had fallen over, and the cap on the top of the bottle was not tightly sealed. This acrid fluid leaked out and ate away at the shelf paper as well as the cleaning rags. I had no idea this was happening until the day I decided to clean the cupboard. And there in the corner, was this destructive mess.


            Perhaps, in your life and mine, there are some dark corners we don’t like to visit. Furthermore, cleaning can be a pain. But it can also be necessary to prevent damage. None of us want the destructive power of bitterness to erode away at the power potential in our lives. However,  this is exactly what bitterness does when it is allowed to take root and grow – unchecked!


            Maybe things have happened to you in your life that make you feel as though author Tillie Olsen is describing you in her book, Tell Me A Riddle: “Vinegar he poured on me all his life; I am well marinated; how can I be honey now?”


            Do you feel as though the bitterness of vinegar has surrounded you so long until the sweetness of honey will never permeate your life again? If you’ve ever felt this way, then I encourage you to return to the garden tomorrow, for our God will honor His promise, “You shall be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I will satisfy you” (Psalm 81:16).  God will replace the bitterness of vinegar for the pleasantness of honey in our lives if we will let Him.


“Bitterness imprisons life;

love releases it.

Bitterness paralyzes life;

love empowers it,

Bitterness sickens life;

love heals it.

Bitterness blinds life;

love anoints its eyes.”

         Henry Emerson Fosdick

A Prayer In Times Of Trial And Bitterness

“How shall I stand if I stand alone

when everything goes against me,

when the ground

once firm beneath my feet

has the feel of shifting sand?


Who can survive

irretrievable loss?

The kind that cuts the heart in half,

dashes the senses against the rocks,

smashes the will to go on giving,

ending forever

the way we were.


Who among us has not mourned the loss

of childhood’s imaginary friend,

the end of a cherished relationship,

the moving beyond the perimeters

of our own securities,

the death of God

of our own making?


Myths crumble, boxes break,

mystery bursts

beyond our boundaries,

refuses to fit

our frames of reference,

refuses to leave us,

even as structures

no longer serve us…


O Mystery, You are beyond

the borders of our best intentions,

there at the point

of unbearable pain,

at the root

of every small hope



You make a way

where there is no way,

you teach us

to walk on water,

to pick up the broken remnants

of our shattered expectations

and begin to build



You give the words

we are to say

in times of trial

or temptation,

and give you the strength

to walk away

when we cannot overcome.


Blessed Assurance,

be with us always,

let Your grace

enfold us.


Peaceful Persuasion,

stay with us

to heal us

and to hold us.”

                                                                                                                      Miriam Winter

                                                                                                                      Woman Word


Your friend:

Dorothy Valcárcel, Author

When A Woman Meets Jesus