Wednesday, September 28, 2011


By Mary Vee
Ruth 1

From Orpah's Journal

I had great dreams of one day being married, a nice home, and children. My dreams didn't go exactly as I expected--but--well, let me tell you what happened.

A Hebrew family came to Moab, my country, to homestead: a husband, Elimilech, wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. They said they came because there was a famine in Israel. Everyone in our neighborhood liked them right away. The Hebrew family worked hard to build a home, plant crops, take care of their herd, and help others in need. 

Even though Elimilech and Naomi kept their Hebrew traditions and didn't participate in the celebrations for our gods, the neighborhood appreciated them for their kindness. The longer they stayed, the more I realized what a loving family they were and this made me want to marry one of their sons. 

Several months later, Mahlon and Chilion missed some of the neighborhood gatherings. One of my friends said Naomi's sons needed to work longer days in the fields to help their sick father. When their father, Elimilech, came to any neighborhood gatherings he sat in a corner and watched the fun, wouldn't eat hardly any of the food served, and barely spoke a word.  And then, not many mornings later, we heard Elimilech died.

The whole neighborhood cried. I hugged Naomi, his wife, and felt her warm heart working to cheer me and the other neighbors through her tears. What a nice lady. 

We all thought she would move her sons back to Israel after her husband died, but, I must admit, I was glad to see them stay. Her sons knew how to take care of the land, and she took care of them.

Naomi encouraged her sons to get married. The new wives could help with the work and their land would prosper.  I'd hoped they would chose me to marry one of them.

One year later, my wish came true. I married one of Naomi's sons and my friend, Ruth, married the other. I couldn't have been any happier. We worked together to take care of the land. Naomi taught Ruth and I how to cook our husband's favorite meals and the Hebrew songs they learned as children.

Ruth and I laughed each time Naomi told us a story about our husbands as little boys. She'd start each story with a serious face then laugh between sentences until tears dripped.  Soon she snorted while laughing, and, well, we couldn't help but join the guffaw.  I'm surprised our husbands couldn't hear us from out in the fields.

We worked hard in the morning cleaning, washing, and mending then took a break during the hottest time of the day. That's when we sat at Naomi's kitchen table and talked. Naomi's eyes brightened each time she told us about her home country, Israel.  We couldn't help but grow to love her as a mother.

I found myself humming the Hebrew songs when I was alone. I'd look around to make sure no one was watching, then danced one of the Hebrew dances Naomi taught us. I liked singing and dancing to Hebrew music, I just wished I could do the steps as well as Naomi.

My life couldn't be any better. I love my husband, Naomi, my mother-in-law, our joined homes with Ruth and her husband, and our land. 

If only life could stay this good for always. But it didn't.  Next time Ruth will share her side of the story.


1.  How did Orpah meet the Hebrew family?
2.  What country did Orpah live in?
3.  Why did the Hebrew family come to Orpah's country?
4.  What are the names of the Hebrew family?
5.  Who did Orpah marry?
6.  What did Orpah learn from Naomi?
7.  Who married the other son?
8.  Do you think Orpah learned about God?
9. Orpah's family and her neighborhood learned to like the visiting Hebrew family, why?

Photo courtesy of

Monday, September 26, 2011

Snoring Saved Our Lives

By Mary Vee

Gladys Aylward's Thoughts

photo courtesy of
The train official told us to be on the train before it left early in the morning.

Once the little ones were asleep, I called the older ones together. "You're old enough to follow important instructions. Listen to me carefully. Early in the morning, while it is still dark, I'll wake you to help carry the little ones to the train. We must remain absolutely silent.

"We want to let the little ones sleep as long as possible to keep them quiet. The train official said Japanese soldiers sit on the other side of the river and listen for voices coming from the train. If they hear sounds, they shoot."

I sighed. "He said, sometimes they shoot even if they don't hear a sound. We must all lay on the coals, no one may sit or move about." I set my hand on Teh's shoulder. "Rest now. I'll be waking you soon."

Their eyes had grown dark and their faces thin. But their hearts had glowed with warmth. "Ai-weh-dah, you're going to sleep, aren't you? Who will wake you?"

"God will. I will dose, but be ready to wake you in time. Don't worry."

Each one lunged toward me to give a hug. "We love you Ai-weh-dah. Don't worry. We'll help keep the little one's quiet."

They nestled down between the weeds in the field with the other children and were soon asleep.

I stared up at the stars and marveled. God has blessed me more than I could have ever asked.

A moment later, or so it seemed, I realized I had fallen asleep. We had slept in the field next to the train tracks to hear the engine start. Good that we had, for the engine started me awake.  I hurried to the older ones and shook them till they woke.

I held my finger to my lips then pointed to the train. They shook their heads then rose. They worked with the spirit of teens who had a full night sleep and with gentle, loving arms of a parent to carry the children to the train then lift them on top of the coal.

I packed all the mats and placed them on the train. The conductor hardly noticed our work. Before the train brakes released their pshshshshsh we had cozied down on top of the heaps of coal, flat as pancakes.

I assigned a place for each older child to be near several young ones to keep them quiet and low if they woke. The train rolled out of the station and wisked us toward our destination.

The wind blew across the tops of our bodies while the train rocked us to sleep. The children snored  in rhythem with the train for hours.

Long after the sun rose, the children woke like little pieces of popcorn popping sporatically in a popper. The older ones reached an arm out and softly reminded the little ones to be quiet and to stay flat.

After a while the train swooped away from the river. I let the children talk for a short time. They pointed at each other and laughed at their black faces and arms. One pointed at me and giggled. "Ai-weh-dah, your face is black and so are your clothes."

A short while later the train stopped. We climbed down from the train, full of black coal dust. The conductor walked back to us and laughed. "Well, now.  I wish you could bathe in the river, but that would be dangerous. I understand you want to go to Siam. That is a three day journey from here."

Only three days left. Thank you God.

Come join our journey next week.

Gladys Aylward 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Naomi's Broken Heart

Mary Vee
Ruth 1

Naomi's Thoughts

I've lived in Moab for about ten years now. My husband, Elimelech, two sons, and I left our home in Bethlehem when the rains stopped.

Not long after Elimelech built our home, planted the crops, and raised a barn for the animals here in Moab, he died. My sons, Mahlon and Chilion have taken good care of me.

We didn't have a lot, nothing extra, really. Still, God provided for our needs. I kept up with the news in Bethlehem each time a traveler passed my home. Recently Mahlon and Chilion married Moabite girls, lovely girls named Orpah and Ruth. Of course, I would have preferred they married Hebrew girls, but what could I say since we lived in Moab? There were no Hebrew girls living here..

Orpah and Ruth are nice girls. They seem to love their husbands and have been willing to follow our customs. They've asked me how to make our special Hebrew foods and help me with the chores after they finish their own.

I've actually enjoyed our conversations. Over time they've asked me to teach them the Hebrew songs their husbands know. Mahlon said he heard his wife humming one of the tunes while cooking dinner, and Chilion said he saw his wife dancing one of the Hebrew dances while doing her housework. God has blessed us with these two girls.

Not too long after my sons married, Orpah and Ruth spent less time with me. Seems they had to do more of the work than usual. Mahlon and Chilion took naps in the afternoons, they never had before and their skin turned pale. Maybe they didn't have enough to eat. I made special soups and other foods to restore their health. Neither of my sons ate much. 

They worked in the fields all day then came back to their homes and went to bed after only a spoonful of supper. I don't know what's wrong with them.

I asked the Almighty to take care of them. Without His healing hand, I had feared they will die.

A week ago neither of my sons got up from bed. They barely spoke. Orpah and Ruth tried to get their husbands to eat, but they wouldn't.  Yesterday, both Mahlon and Chilion died. 

I want to believe God would take care of me, and my two daughters-in-law, but I didn't know how. My stomach tightened and my head hurt.  I couldn't control the anger I felt growing inside my heart. 

Maybe we should have moved back to Bethlehem after my husband died. Maybe we should--maybe--

Orpah and Ruth came to the door, their faces stained from tears. "What can we do for you, Mother?"  

I hugged them both and invited them to the table. I could barely speak. These girls came to me, a foreigner in their country, and asked what they could do. They could have left, instead they came to comfort me.  O thank you God.

I poured them something to drink then sat with them.  "A traveler recently told me the Lord has visited Israel. The crops have grown and there is plenty of bread." I sighed. "I had put off returning to my home while my sons cared for our home here. Now there seems no reason to stay."

Orpah and Ruth looked at each other with their eyes wide. Orpah set her cup down. "Please don't leave us. We belong to your family."

 Ruth stretched her arm out to hug me. "We'll go with you, of course. We'll start packing first thing in the morning."

I didn't expect them to be so kind. "Are you sure?"

Both girls nodded and smiled. "We want to be with you, Mother."

We pack all morning then walked away from our Moab home. We hadn't gone far down the road before I realized I had made a mistake. These girls should stay in their home country, find new husbands, and make a home.

I stopped on the side of the road and sat on a rock. "Orpah, Ruth, I have been thinking. You girls should stay in your home country. Go back to your mother's house. May the Lord deal kindly with you as you have been to your husbands, my sons, and to me." I hugged them close. "May the Lord grant each of your rest in the house of a new husband."

I kissed them both and stood. The girls looked at me with their eyes wide. They shook their heads and cried to me. "No, Mother. We'll go back with you, to your people."

Sorrow pushed on my heart like a heavy weight. I could barely breathe. "No. Turn back, my daughters. I can't raise sons who can be your husbands." I gazed into their beautiful faces. "Turn back, my daughters, go--for I am too old to have a husband." Tears fell, I couldn't stop them. "No, my daughters, it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me."

What will Orpah and Ruth do? Come back next week to read more.

1. Sad things will happen during our lives. What happened to Naomi?
2. Who were here daughters-in-law?
3. Where were they from?
4. What did Naomi decide to do?
5. Who went with her?
6. After she started the trip, what did Naomi decide?
7. As you read the rest of this story, you will see God has a plan for Naomi. She doesn't know the plan right now. How can this story help you?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Naomi's Hunger

By Mary Vee
Ruth 1

Naomi's Thoughts

I had watched the crops wilt from lack of rain. sigh

We would soon run out of food.

Elimelech, my husband and our two sons rose early and worked until the sun went down each day. They tried their hardest to save the crops, but the wells dried up.

I had learned shortcuts to make what little food we had last longer hoping--praying the rains would come. But they didn't. 
My husband and sons grew hungry--so had I. 

Elimelech's stomach growled after dinner one evening. "Naomi, we need food. I don't see any other way. We'll have to go to Moab to grow crops." He shook his head and sighed deeply. "I don't want to leave our home, I really don't--"

I placed my hand on his shoulder. "I know--I know. I'll pack first thing in the morning. Moab is not so far away."

He smile despite his sad eyes. "We'll come back after the rains return--I promise."

I rose early the next morning to pack the pots, dishes, and clothing. Elimelech didn't have his usual smile. His eyes drooped and he dragged his legs as he walked to the barn. "Are you well, husband?"

He shrugged. "I'm fine."

By noon we had packed everything we could. Elimilech had to tie down the chairs to keep them from falling off the cart. He pulled the donkey's reign. "Let's go." He signed and walked away from the house. I slid the bolt over the door and joined him and our two sons.

We didn't have far to walk from our home in Bethlehem since Moab was across the Jordan river.  Once we arrived, Elimilech found the perfect place to build a temporary home. "Maybe next year we could go back to Bethlehem," he said.

He and our sons, Mahlon and Chilion, worked quickly to build a home for us and a corral for the animals until a barn could be built for them. The animals grazed in the lush green pastures, eating their fill. 

We planted new crops, settled into our new home, and made friends. I didn't want to leave Bethlehem, but I'm thankful for God's gift of a place to sleep and live.

Elimilech never looked well after we left Bethlehem. His face grew pale, he slept longer, and he moved slower. Mahlon and Chilion had to do more of the work each day. One day, Elimilech, my beloved husband, didn't wake from his sleep.

If I didn't have my two sons, I don't know how I would have survived. I couldn't have done all the work to keep food on our table. I missed my husband, but grew thankful God let me have my two sons to take care of our home.

I was hungry for food in Bethlehem, God showed my family a place to live in Moab where we could grow food. I was hungry for company when my husband died, God gave me two sons to take care of me. Thank you God for taking care of us.

1. Who was Elimilech?
2. Why did he choose to move his family away from Bethlehem?
3. Where did they go?
4. What happened in Moab?
5. Sometimes bad things happen to us. We often look at what is bad instead of what is good.  What did Naomi do?

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Train that Wasn't

By Mary Vee

photo courtesy
We arrived in Tung Kwan as the sun was setting. I wasn't sure if many people lived there. Bombs had destroyed many homes and businesses.

Still we forged ahead and knocked on any door we found. One woman pointed down the street. "There's a place set up for refugees in that couryard. Go there for food."

Hah, I didn't have to tell the children to march forward, they sprang in the direction she pointed before I could take a step. By the time I reached the courtyard several of the children had their bowls full of rice. They snuggled into corners of the court and filled their stomachs.

Once the last child had been served there was little food left in the pot for me.  In truth, I didn't mind, all I wanted was sleep.  I ate the few remaining morsels while visiting with the village ladies. "I understand there is a train that leaves from this town."

One of the women shook her head. "Oh, no. You are mistaken. There is no train."

The other woman held up her hand. "Well, yes, there use to be a train but the tracks run along the river and some places the river is very narrow. Japanese are camped on the other side. Those soldiers would be more than happy to shoot across the river at any person on a train. So, the train doesn't run."

The first woman shrugged. "You'll have to continue your journey on foot like all the other refugees."

Well, this news didn't make me happy at all. I was hungry, sick, tired, and not in the mood to hike another mountain pass. I didn't usually let things bother me, I'd experience a lot of difficult situations here in China, but today, I just wanted to be mad.

I sipped my tea to keep from saying anything I'd regret. 

Later I walked to the train station and spoke with the officer. "Please. I have one hundred children with me, many are sick. We've walked twenty days from Yang Cheng before riding the train a short ways and then walking over those mountains over there. We can't walk any further."

The conductor shook his head. "I'm sorry, little woman. I can't let you take this train. It carries coal not passengers and leaves when it is dark and difficult for the Japanese soldiers to see."

"Oh, please. There must be a way. You must help these children."

He took his hat off and rubbed his head. "I can't take responsibility. If you were to put the children on the train they would have to ride on top of the coal and not make a sound. The Japanesse shoot wildly at any sound they hear. Sometimes they simply shoot at the trains for fun."

God gave me a spirit of calm--a feeling of approval. "You're saying we can ride the train? Really?"

He sighed. "I can't take responsibility if the Japanese fire at the train--you understand."

"Yes--yes.  The children will sleep most of the time. They're so exhausted and ill."

"You must promise to keep the children low and quiet and have them on the train before it wants to leave."

"Yes--yes. I promise."

He sighed again. "Very well. The train leaves for Hua Shan in a few hours. Good luck, lady."

Once again God gave me the best news ever. There was a train after all. Not a nice one with beautiful seats and sleeping compartments which would be attacked by Japanese soldiers, but a dirty freight train full of coal with reasonable safety. Praise God. He took care of us again!

Join us again on our journey.  We're getting closer to Siam!

Gladys Aylward

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Samson's Victory

By Mary Vee
Judges 16

A Philistine Lad's Thoughts

Last night  I had been summoned to serve at the great celebration in honor of Dagon, our Philistine god. Thousands of the greatest Philistines would attend. I couldn't wait.

I must admit life had been boring since the mighty Hebrew Samson had been captured. I heard he'd lost his strength when the Philistine lords tricked him then shaved off his hair. 

We needed something exciting to happen, perhaps something will at the celebration

The night's event was to be the biggest ever. All the important Philistines and their wives had been invited. Those who hadn't been invited, that's me, would have to serve.I didn't mind. I wanted to see the important leaders up close. Maybe one would talk to me. 

From my work station I could see the guests parade into the temple. Some went to the roof where table had been set up to dine under the stars. There must have been thousands of people!

The highest ranking lords and their wives sat on the dais. When they ate, others ate. When the head lord spoke, everyone listened. After the meal the head lord raised his wine glass to honor our Philistine god, Dagon.  The crowd cheered. 

Then he said, "Our god has delivered into our hands Samson, our enemy!" The crowd cheered again saying, "Our god has delivered into our hands our enemy. The destroyer of our land. And the one who multiplied our dead."

The lords drank wine and had their cups refilled again and again. After a while, the head lord shouted, "Call for Samson that he may perform for us."

Prison guards dragged Samson like a dog.  He couldn't see where to go since they took out his eyes. Samson stumbled and tripped. The crowds laughed louder with each mistake Samson made.

One prison guard called me to help him. "Lead Samson around. Don't worry, lad. He's as weak as a newborn cub."  Then he walked a few feet away to get a drink.

I wondered how this weak looking man could have done what the people said. His body had been beaten and his head hung low. Samson shifted his feet like he was feeling his way. 

Samson leaned forward and said, "Lad, let me touch the pillars which support the temple so that I can lean on them." 

I didn't see anything wrong with his request. He couldn't hurt anyone by leaning on the pillars. I tugged his hand to take him in the correct direction. "Here are the support pillars. You can lean on them."

Samson raised the palms of his hands and pressed them between the two pillars. Maybe he needed to stretch his arms. The muscles in his arms tightened as he stretched. 

Samson raised his head toward the sky and said, "O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!"

He pushed against the pillars, straightening his arms stiff. The crowd laughed again.

But I didn't. Samson's muscles grew larger. Something weird was happening.

He filled his lungs with air and pushed against the pillars. He shouted, "Let me die with the Philistines!" 

The pillar cracked. Pieces chipped.

He pushed harder. The sound scared me. I--I think Samson had his strength again!

I ran through the crowds like a rabbit to get away from the temple as fast as I could. The temple pillars cracked louder. Why weren't the people running with me? Could they see his strength had come back?

The Philistine Lords stood there watching, not moving. I ran faster, away from the screaming crowds. Outside the temple grounds I turned back and watched our temple smash into ruins. 

Samson didn't walk away. The temple fell on him, too. 

The mighty Samson called on his God to help him destroy Dagon's temple and killed the Philistine lords. His God answered his prayer. 

1.  What were the Philistine lords celebrating?
2.  Who did they call to perform at the celebration?
3.  Who did they make fun of?
4.  What did Samson want the boy to do?
5.  What did Samson pray the first time?
6.  What did he pray the second time?  Why do you think he prayed this?
7.  What did God give Samson at this celebration?
8.  What happened to the temple?
9.  What did you learn from this story?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Samson's Failure

By Mary Vee
Judges 16

Samson's Thoughts

My great strength is gone.

My Israelite family had called me a man of super strength. Men and women, boys and girls marveled when I showed them what I could do. One time I snapped a huge city gate made of thick wood off it's hinges like it was a bird's feather then carried it to the top of a hill. Yes. The people called me the mighty Samson.

How could I have been so foolish?

I told Delilah my strength was in my hair. I trusted her. Sure, she asked where my strength came from three different times, but I thought she wanted to know more about me. When she tried the bowstrings, new rope, and loom to bind me, I thought it was a joke.  

Hah--hah. Some joke. She was a Philistine. Delilah had Philistine lords hiding in her home ready to pounce on me.

She gave me food and wine until I fell asleep then had my hair shaved. The Philistine lords grabbed me like a little school boy who misbehaved, wrapped chains around my arms and neck, and dragged me to their biggest city, Gaza. Along the way Philistines in the fields and in the city laughed, called me names, and spit at me.  "Look at the might Samson, now!"

I had disobeyed God.

I couldn't look at those Philistines any more. God gave me the mighty strength to conquer them and I didn't. I wanted to make friends with them. I liked their foods, their merchants, their entertainment. God sent me to flush them out of Israel, but I didn't. On a few occasions I conquered groups of Philistines when they made me mad, but I didn't conquer them all.  

The Philistines made me blind, but now I can see what needs to be done.

The Philistines threw me in their prison. They beat me and took out my eyes. The guards yanked the chains holding my arms like I was a naughty circus animal refusing to do what they wanted. I prayed to God each day. "Give me my strength Lord, that I may do your will. Give me another chance to conquer the Philistines."

Each day passed slowly, but God stayed with me.

I listened to the Philistines name calling; I did their work; I sat in their gloomy prison and ate their moldy bread. Each day my hair grew a little. I laughed to myself the day hair flopped onto my face. The more my hair grew, the stronger I became. The Philistines said, "He's getting his work done faster. Give him more." Little did they realize, my strength was returning.

One afternoon the Philistines led me out of the prison and threw water on me. "You have been summoned to entertain the Philistine lords at the great festival. Can't have you spoilin' their meal with your stinky body smell." 

My opportunity came. Lord let me serve you with strength tonight.

Come back to read what happens next.

1.  Who captured mighty Samson?
2.  How did they capture him?
3.  What did Samson done wrong?
4.  How did Samson disobey God?
5.  What happened in prison?
6.  How did Samson change?
7.  What did Samson want to do?
8.  What did you learn from this story?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Train Stopped-Bridge Blown

By Mary Vee

Gladys Aylward's Thoughts

photo courtesy of
The train came to a screeching halt. The refugees poured out of the train as though they knew what had happened. Well, I didn't.

I searched for a train worker. "Why did we stop?"

He pointed further down the tracks. "The bridge ahead has been blown up by the Japanees. We can go no further. You will have to hike over the mountains to Tung Kwan. Follow the other refugees."

Most people would like to gaze at the rolling mountains to the west. But my legs didn't want to move any more. I didn't have the energy to take more than a few steps much less carry a little one or encourage the tired and hungry children to hike up the mountain. 

Men, women, boy, and girl refugees hiked to the mountain pass trailhead. I decided to keep the children near the train and asked the villagers for food. Better to have the children with full stomachs before we hiked another mountain especially ones towering into the clouds. We had no idea when we'd see another village.

The next morning, we hiked to the trailhead. Most of the children's shoes had worn through. Their bare feet had blisters which cut easily on the sharp rocks. The conductor sent two soldiers to help me with the children.

We slid backwards on loose rock, climbed over bolders, and lost track of the tine mule trail weaving up the mountain.  Some of the children had been ill for days. They cried like little kittens starving for food and comfort. At the top of the mountain we looked back at the train tracks and valley. How I wish we could ride a train.

Along the way, God showed us villages where kind people shared any food they could find in their cupboards.

We walked, setting one foot in front of the other, hour after hour, day after day.

One night we couldn't reach the valley before sunset. We had to sleep out in the open on the mountain peak.

The winds blew and chilled our skin through to our bones. We all curled close to one another to share every bit of heat our bodies made and fell asleep.

The next morning a snappy wind whipped across my face.  A tear dripped down my cheek before I could swipe it away. At first I thought the cold caused my eye to tear.

Drip, drip, drip. 

Soon a flood of tears fell. I cried like a little girl who'd lost her best friend. The little ones flung their arms around me and cried. The older children cozied behind the little ones and cried.

We cried, and cried, until we had no more tears left.

I swiped my sleeve across my face and gazed at the one hundred beautiful eyes crowded around me. Such lovely children, sobbing, and lost.

God filled my aching soul will a sunshine sparked energy. I slapped my legs and smiled at the children. "There now. We all needed a good cry." I scooped the little ones off my lap then stood. "Ready children?"

They looked at me as if I had gone crazy. I laughed. "What shall we sing? Oh, I know..." I led the way like the Pied Piper along the trail. The children laughed with their last hiccup sobs and sang and skipped and danced along the trail until we reached Tung Kwan.

How great is our God. Just as Jesus needed to cry when he heard the sad news about his friend Lazarus, we also needed a good cry,

God  cleansed our weary hearts.

Next time: The train that didn't exist.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Gladys Aylward

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Delilah's Evil Plan Part 4

By Mary Vee
Judges 16

Delilah's Journal

Last night I learned the secret of Samson's strength. 

How do I know? 

Well, when he told me tying fresh bowstrings or a new rope around his body, or weaving his seven locks into a loom would make him weak he didn't look straight at me. But last night, he look straight at my eyes and said, "If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me."

When Samson left I called a messenger. "Go to the Philistine lords and say, 'Please, come to my house once more. Samson has told me the truth about his super strength.'"

Not long after the messenger left, a group of Philistine lords knocked on my door. "You better be telling the truth, Delilah. We don't like this game."

I opened the door and waved them in. "Yes. I understand your concern. I am convinced Samson told me the truth this time."

The leader rolled his eyes. "Yes? Well, what did he say?"

I closed the door and glanced toward the window to make sure no one could hear. "If his hair is shaven he will lose his strength."

The Philistine lords rubbed their hands together and wiggled their eyebrows. "Good. Tonight we capture Samson!"

Sure enough the Philistine lords returned to my house before Samson arrived for dinner. They hid in the back room as they had the other times. While waiting for Samson I cooked a special meal and had his wine poured.

Samson arrived at the same time as the other evenings. He stood at the door and closed his eyes. "Delilah, the meal smells extra wonderful tonight. Good thing, I'm extra hungry."

I moved aside to let him in. "I'm glad you're here, Samson. I made your favorite supper." I set the food on the table and sat near him. He asked for more food. I gave him all that he wanted.

When he finished he patted his stomach. "I'm full. You served your best wine tonight, Delilah. Are we celebrating?"

I shook my head. "No. I wanted you to feel special. Here lean this way and rest."

He rested his head with his face down. Soon he snored.  I waved the Philistine's out of their hiding place. "One of you must shave his seven locks while I make sure Samson stays asleep."

One of the lords pulled out a razor. He worked slowly and gently to shav each of Samson's seven locks of hair to keep from waking him.  When Samson's head was shaved, the lords stepped back into the shadows.

Once they were hidden I shook Samson. He didn't wake. I shook him harder until his eyes blinked. "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!"

He opened his eyes and rubbed them. "Don't worry, Delilah. I'll go out, like I did the other times and shake myself free."  He laughed. But as he sat up, his arms and legs wobbled. His back ached from leaning over in his sleep. A cool breeze snapped at his head, his bald head.

Samson raised his hand to his head and touched. His eyes grew as wide as apples. "What happened to my hair?"

Before he could take a breath the Philistine lords rushed forward and tied him so he couldn't move. "Now you will be our slave, Samson! You'll pay for all you've done to the Philistines."

One of the lords tossed a bag of money on the table. "Thank you, Delilah. Well done. Enjoy you money."

Samson didn't look at me. He couldn't fight. He really was as weak as any man.


1.  What did Delilah do wrong?
2.  Why did the Philistine lords want to capture Samson (look at the earlier stories for a clue)
3.  What did Samson do wrong? (hint, look at the last story)
4.  Where was Samson's strength?
5.  What did you learn from this story?

Photo courtesy of Blue Letter Bible Images

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Samson Trusts the Wrong Person

By Mary Vee
Judges 16

Reader: If you missed Delilah's stories from the last week you can click here.

Samson Journal

Delilah was a great cook. I'd visited her home the last several evenings, ate dinner, drank wine, and talked. 

Those nights were unusual, though. 

She made great dinners with the best wines, of course, and we laughed as we talked, but she kept bringing the conversation back to one question: where did I get my strength.

 I don't know. Maybe she thought my strength could be shared with someone else, maybe she--I couldn't tell. 

So I made up an answer the first two times she asked and didn't think much when she tied me with the fresh bowstrings or the new ropes. They snapped after I barely moved. I thought it was funny. She didn't

Delilah pouted after dinner again the next night. She cried as though I'd hurt her feelings when she asked what could bind my strength, like she didn't think I'd tell her the truth. Of course I wouldn't tell her the right answer. It was a secret.

Another crazy answer to her question popped into my head that time. So I answered: "If you weave the seven lock of my head into the web of a loom I will be as weak as any man." She stopped crying and we had a nice evening.

After dinner the next night, I fell asleep full of food and wine. About the time my dream made me laugh, she woke me shouting, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson!" I jolted upright and searched for the Philistines.  None were near. 

Another joke played on me. Hah hah. I felt something hanging from my hair. I reached back and found a piece of her loom.

"Delilah. Delilah. You honestly thought this loom would take my strength?" I laughed. She didn't think it was funny. She cried harder than all the other times.

She tucked her face into her apron and sobbed. "How can you say 'I love you' when you heart is not with me? You have mocked me three times refusing to tell me where your strength comes from."

Well, she begged and pleaded and cried and sobbed for days. 

My heart ached each time I went to her house. 

I decided the only way to make her stop sobbing would be to tell her the truth. "All right, Delilah. Stop crying. Here's the answer." She looked at my eyes and wouldn't move. I had to tell her the truth this time. "No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazarite to God while I was still in my mother's womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me." I sighed. "I will become weak like any other man."

A smile popped on her face. She giggled and blinked her eyes. At last, she stopped crying.. She brushed her fingers through my long hair and said, "Thank you."  

We laughed and talked like we use to for the rest of the evening until I fell asleep. Maybe I should have told her the secret days ago.


What do you think? 

Let's think about this.

*Who gave Samson his strength?
*Why  Samson keep the source of his strength a secret?
*Why did Delilah want to know the source of Samson's strength? (hint, look at the last three stories)
*Why did Samson tell Delilah his secret?
*What do you think will happen in the next story?

**What can we learn from this story? (if you need help, ask you parents, Pastor, or email me)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fire on the Train

By Mary Vee

Gladys Aylward's Thoughts

photo courtesy of
Guiding one hundred children as they board a train is not an easy task. 

Especially when the group of children didn't understand what a train was. None had heard the thunder of a train approaching, the pshshshshs of the brakes engaging, and the clatter of the metal wheels on the train rails before.

With God's help, one hundred little faces sat with criss-crossed legs on the floor of a train car. Since all seats had been removed, more people could crowd into the car. Other refugees sat with us which made wiggle space pretty tight.  We sang songs and played guessing games for about one hour before the train conductor shouted, "All aboard."

Train wheels tugged forward and the car rocked sideways.  The children giggled when they fell to the right or left onto each other. Fortunately, I had planted older ones among the youngers to help with safety. After all, a foot in the eye is not a pleasant experience!

The train picked up speed, rumbling faster and faster along the train track. The other refugees in the our train car laughed as the children smiled, squeeled, giggled, and tumbled with the new train sensations.
The rumble noise of the train made speaking difficult. Every time I tried to give directions to the children, the sound overshadowed my voice. Still, I managed to keep some control.

About two hours after the train left the platform an older Chinese man called to the children near him. He acted like he wanted to do a magic trick. The boys and girld were intrigued by the man's wiggling eyebrows. I must admit, I was interested in what he wanted to do, also.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a candle. It was a stubby piece of wax obviously used many times before. He motioned the children to scootch back a little. They squirmed about one foot away.

The Chinese man set the candle on the floor then slowly lit the wick.

I don't know what the children thought at first but it wasn't a happy one. The children had witnessed bombs go off near them, seen their homes and crops on fire, and heard gunfire.  Any surprise, big or little, could scare them.

As fire burst from the wick, three of the little boys scurried toward the candle and blew hard. The fire disappeared the same instant the train car plunged into a tunnel!

It was dark

Don't breathe dark.

A cold, scary dark leaped at our faces.

The little ones screamed as though they had been seriously hurt.

Their scared, high-pitched voices filled the car.

The older children and I reached out to the little ones to calm them. Other refugees helped. Then, as quick as the dark blasted, a spark of friendly light came from the Chinese man's candle. He held it in the air to help the children see their train car.

The little ones stopped crying when they saw the light. They sniffed and breathed sobbing breaths until their bodies let them rest. Each little one had an older one to hug.  Each older one held their charge close and spoke softly to calm him or her.

We rode on the train four days, rocking and rolling with the train car. Sometimes we stopped at villages where the people shared their food with those of us on the train. While the children ate, I slept until we needed to reboard the train.

I was so thankful the candle's little flame did not start a big fire.  Once again, God protected us.

Next time I'll tell you about the blown-out bridge that stopped the train.

Gladys Aylward

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Delilah's Evil Plan Part 3

By Mary Vee
Judges 16

From Delilah's Journal

Samson tricked me last night. He said seven bowstrings could make him as weak as any other man.  It didn't work. 

When I showed him how he hurt my feelings he told me what would really bind him. He said, "If they bind me securely with new ropes that have never been used, then I will be as weak as any man."

A messenger stopped by at noon to deliver the new ropes. "The Philistine lord wanted me to remind you to tie these ropes securely. He also wanted to remind you of the eleven hundred pieces of silver you would earn."

I grabbed the ropes from his hands. "I know. I know. I don't need you to nag me."

He growled. "Yeah, well, make sure you do the job right this time."

I closed the door before he could say another word. How dare he speak to me like that?  He was only a messenger.  I grumbled a few more words then went to the kitchen to prepare another of Samson's favorite meals.

Before Samson arrived, the Philistine lords knocked on my door. "Let us in. We'll hide in the same place as we did last night."

"All right. All right. Don't get pushy."I opened the door and let them slip through to the back room.

Shortly after I finished making supper, Samson came to my house. He stopped for a moment, took a deep breath, and closed his eyes. "Yum, I smell the most delicious meal cooking. I'm so hungry I could eat a whole lion."

"Samson. I made this dish just for you." I held the door open for him. "Come in. Your food is ready." 

He finished the first plate I served him then ate three extra helpings. He sat back and patted his stomach. "Excellent. I couldn't eat another bite!" He yawned. "Your--good cooking--makes me sleepy."

I pushed his head back on the chair. "There now. Feel free to take a rest." 

He closed his eyes and snored before he could say another word. A few moments later, I dropped a dish to test him. He slept soundly.  

I pulled the new ropes out from the hiding place and tied them securely around his arms and legs. Next, I pulled on the knots to test their strength. Yup, tight as a drum skin.

I stepped back like I did the last time and shouted, "The Philistines are attacking you, Samson!"

He leaped to his feet and broke the new ropes as if they were thin threads.  Great. Now what?

Anger boiled in my blood. He tricked me again.  How many times would the Philistine lords let me try to bind Samson? How many times could I talk Samson into sleeping after dinner?

I pushed my hands on my hips and squinted. "All you've done is mocked me and told lies. Come on, Samson, tell me the truth. What could bind you?

He smiled at me like I was a little girl having a temper tantrum which only made me angrier.

He set his hands on my shoulders and sighed. "All right, Delilah. If you weave the seven locks of my head into the web of the loom I will become as weak as any man."

Well, did it work? Come back to read what happened next.

1.  What did Delilah want to do?
2.  Why was she bothered in the beginning of today's story?
3.  How did Delilah bind Samson in this story?
4.  What happened?
5.  What new way did Samson tell Delilah to try?
6.  In part one of this story, Samson said, "If they bind me with.." who was he talking about?
7.  In part two of this story, Samson said, "If they bind me with..." who was he talking about this time?
8.  In part three (today's story), what did Samson say different?  Why?

Photo courtesy of