Heaven Without Her: A Desperate Daughters Search for the Heart of Her Mothers Faith

Heaven Without Her: A Desperate Daughter's Search for the Heart of Her Mother's Faith
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Matt Lauer: When you got to the hospital, you know, if this were a movie, the mother or the father would have walked in and said, "I know she's gone but take me to see my little girl. Colleen Cerak: You know, I have a beautiful picture of Whitney in my head. I didn't want to have-- I didn't Colleen Cerak: I keep stuff in my head and I just -- I know that I couldn't -- I wanted the picture of Whitney who was just a beautiful, living, vibrant girl instead of-- I would keep that picture in my head as opposed to, you know, a battered body.

She's got tubes coming out everywhere. Lisa Van Ryn: Well, a lot of things that were foreign -- like machines and tubes. And really she was wrapped to about here. We could see this much of her face. And she had a blanket over her and everything was wrapped up. And her eyes were closed. And a little bit of swelling, it looked like.

And maybe some very minor cuts. Don Van Ryn: The respirator. So her mouth was pulled funny. And the tube in her head. Susie Van Ryn: I don't remember specifically saying anything to her. But your heart just breaks. Or aches. To see your daughter or your child laying there helpless. And you are helpless to fix her. Lisa Van Ryn: Didn't recognize the shoes, but we always borrow clothes and share clothes. And so we thought, "Oh, she must have been wearing someone else's shoes.

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Laura's mom Susie started a prayer journal, writings she intended to give her daughter to read when -- or if -- she recovered. When they brought us in to see you, honey, my heart was so full of love for you. To see my sweet sunshine girl hooked up to tubes was almost more than I could do. It amazes me that God has such strength when I am so weak. Only he could uphold me as he has. On April 27, the day after the crash, Taylor University held a prayer service for the victims.

Whitney's mom Colleen attended. Colleen Cerak: They had like the big projector screen. And they would flash the names of the different victims that had died. And then it just -- everybody in there was just praying for that person on the screen. And -- sorry I keep crying. I thought I would really cry hard but I just felt such a peace that every single person in there was praying for our family at that point. I did really feel a real strength. Colleen Cerak: Everything was so much -- just all seems surreal to us. You know, just how could this be happening? Newell Cerak: It was surreal.

It just seemed like the world was going on. And it just should stop, because my -- of the pain I was feeling. Newell Cerak: It was very, very emotional. I came down the escalator and there they were. No words were spoken. We just ran into each other's arms and just started crying. Colleen Cerak: I don't even remember praying. I just remember just holding onto Newell and holding onto Carly and just really feeling that security of just being together. I just needed to be together with them. She lived a wonderful and full, but short life. She was a freshman at Taylor University where she was growing in love and knowledge of her friend and savior, Jesus Christ.

She is now living with Him in heaven. The two families had never met, but their lives were already, inextricably, intertwined. Lisa Van Ryn started a blog to update friends, family and the world about the condition of her sister, Laura. Her left leg femur and left elbow are broken and have been placed in casts.

Her right clavicle bone is broken also and it is in a sling right now. She has some fractured ribs, and an array of cuts and bruises. It is apparent that she feels pain, which is actually a good sign. The force of the crash had slammed her brain around inside her skull, causing serious damage.

She was in a coma. There was no telling when, or if, she would ever wake up. Matt Lauer: You have to think, "We are so fortunate our daughter has survived. What can the doctors do? Don Van Ryn: It wasn't for me right at the time. This is the state she's in. What do we do to help her? Susie Van Ryn: It was hard. The machines, every beep, every non-beep, everything that stopped scared me. Everything that started, you know, was unsettling. I didn't know what everything was for. And yeah, I was fearful. I was shaky today, Laurie, wanting so badly for you to wake up It's not like you to be so still!

Wake up, sweetie --I want to talk to you and see your beautiful face --look into your eyes.

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I love you, mom. Matt Lauer: On Saturday, April 29, the day before the funeral, you held a visitation. And, boy, a lot of people came. Newell Cerak: We got there and the line started. And it just didn't end. It just kept going and going. And it was—I mean people coming up to us saying they were sorry and all that.

But what we wanted to hear and what a lot of them did was share moments of how Whitney had touched them. And that just made us feel really, really, really good. Colleen Cerak: Well, you know, it was. Whitney was huge on birthdays. And so we asked if it would be OK. And they put a TV out there. And we had the tape of Whitney's birthday parties. Colleen Cerak: And that was just a neat, neat thing. Newell Cerak: It was really good to hear the laughter, too, there. Matt Lauer: During the visitation, I guess an obvious question, the casket was Newell Cerak: It just didn't seem like it was happening, but it was like an out of body experience almost.

It was like we were participating but not really participating. The church holds about 1, There were over 1, people that showed up. And we were in awe. We were in absolute awe. Colleen Cerak: It was humbling is what it was. Just so many people cared enough for our family we felt so surrounded and loved by so many people. Matt Lauer: You had so much on your mind. I can only imagine. And there was a mix-up. You forgot to pick your mom up. Newell Cerak: In the confusion of all of the things I go, "Where's mom? Matt Lauer: And when you went to apologize to her about not getting her and her missing that burial, she said something to you.

Newell Cerak: It's something that we believe as Christians. I just said, "Mom, I am so sorry. But soon her words would seem prophetic in a very different way. Laura's surgeries today went great! They set her broken leg and elbow, and added a couple of plates for stabilization. She'll get to be more entertaining going through metal detectors now! The tracheotomy went very well also… there is no longer anything in her mouth; all tubes, etc. She also is still moving quite a bit.

Six days after the high-speed crash that nearly killed her, Laura Van Ryn was still in in intensive care, in a coma. She was heavily bandaged. Her face was swollen. As the days went by, her family never left her alone. Matt Lauer: All these hours that you spent by her side, what were you saying? What did you talk about? What did you do? Lisa Van Ryn: We would tell her that we were there. We would tell her who had come to visit. Kind of what we'd been doing that day. And just telling her positive things. Your hair looks cute. It's springtime and the flowers are out.

And then we sang to her. Don Van Ryn: We had huge amounts of visitors. And so we took two or three at a time, because you had to keep it real low key. Numerous friends went back to see Laura.

Nine Signs of the Narcissistic Mother - Mother-Daughter Relationships

And they went and they saw Laura. Matt Lauer: Did anyone come to you and say they felt unusual? That they saw anything unusual? That they had any doubts, fears, anything? Laura started moving a lot more today. At times, she squeezes hands, wiggles toes, squints her eyes though still closed , and moves her legs and arms.

She is still in a positive signs pull out comatose state, but her movements are very positive signs. They watched for the tiniest signs of consciousness, but when one came it was a bit puzzling at first. And she kind of opened her mouth. And you noticed something about her teeth. Tell me what you saw? Lisa Van Ryn: Well, I noticed that these two [teeth] on either side in the front looked different to me.

And I said, "Look at her teeth. And we said, "Yeah, those look a little different. And our speculation was that they had gotten hit and shifted a little bit. Taylor University held a memorial service for the four students and one staff member killed in the crash on Sunday, May 7. Matt Lauer: On the highway, you pass the scene of the accident. Only this time there are five crosses on the side of the road. Colleen Cerak: I just remember getting out and, you know, looking at -- you could see the big crevices in the—. Colleen Cerak: --median that had been torn up by the truck coming across.

And it was just one of those sobering times where you just kind of sit there and the reality of it was there. Before the service, they had dinner at the home of the university's president. Colleen Cerak: He's a good friend of ours. And we thanked him for what he had done. And my heart was just praying for him.

For him not to have it hurt too much. Newell Cerak: We felt bad that he was the one that had those visions in his head. Newell Cerak: No. I never even had an inkling of even asking him anything like that. I just felt really bad that he had to do that. Newell Cerak: We know Jesus Christ has her in his presence right now. And that one day we'll see her again.

Matt Lauer: Did they put pictures of some of the victims up on a projection screen at the front of the room? Newell Cerak: I felt a tap on my shoulder. And I turned around and it was Don Van Ryn. And just let him know how we felt. How much compassion we had for his family and how we were praying for them. I'm very thankful for the progress that she was making," because we were constantly reading the blog as well. Newell Cerak: Yeah, I did.

I read it pretty much every day, I would get on. I just don't know how strong a parent I am. Would I be able to handle taking care of a daughter that's been in a serious accident knowing that maybe she's going to be a vegetable for the rest of her life? Laura is still sporting the pigtails and her face is looking quite normal; there is virtually no swelling at all. The word spread through emails, and churches, all over the world. We continue to see encouraging signs from Laura today as she is now breathing entirely on her own … They had her sitting in a chair and she's been looking pretty peaceful so far today.

Although Laura was still unconscious, she was moving more and more. And as her family stood vigil at her bedside, there wasn't much privacy. Matt Lauer: And at one point her hospital gown or what she was wearing rode up a little bit and you could see her navel. And it was pierced. Lisa Van Ryn: You just kind of, again, shrugged it off. Just didn't know that. Now I do. Soon the family was rejoicing at a much more significant development. For the first time since the crash, Laura opened her eyes. Don Van Ryn: It wasn't like the movies where her eyes popped open.

One eye just barely opening. Just a little slit. That's the way it happened. Am I right? Matt Lauer: That one little glossy slit was a whole lot better than what you'd seen before. Susie Van Ryn: It was like you almost didn't believe you saw that she had done that. Proverbs says "to man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue.

Susie Van Ryn: Yeah. You know, we'd been talking to her all along and singing to her and reading to her, with nothing coming back. But, you know, just praying that she heard us. And when she said that it was like you had this urge to, "OK. Let's keep this going. Parents Newell and Colleen returned to a home that would never be the same, leaving their other daughter Carly behind at Taylor University for the first time since the accident.

And I just remember how helpless I felt. And those feelings all came up again. At that point leaving her again, because I just felt helpless to leave her there. Matt Lauer: You two go back home and you got to get back to your lives. You had to. You went back to work. Matt Lauer: Had to get used to the fact that Whitney was gone. Those first few weeks must have just been impossible? Newell Cerak: They're like a blur to me. We felt this huge hole in our hearts. Even though we have this hope, even though we know that one day we'll see each other again, it doesn't diminish the pain.

Matt Lauer: A big day. You moved Laura from the hospital to a rehabilitation center here in Grand Rapids. Were you nervous about the move? Susie Van Ryn: Every new move, every new thing they did was anxious for me. You know, I Matt Lauer: But on the other hand it had to be a feeling as if you'd made a big step getting her closer to home? Let me take a minute here and try to answer a frequently asked question. Her brain needs to be retrained or reminded, perhaps to handle information.

Once again, it's going to be a long road for her. This waking up process is a slow one. But now that Laura had at least partially regained consciousness, her longtime boyfriend noticed something else that was unusual. Matt Lauer: Aryn, her boyfriend, at one point looked at her eyes and said, "the color appears different. A few people have asked if Laura opens her eyes a lot and if she recognizes people.

She does open her eyes quite a bit now, but it's tough to tell sometimes what she's focusing on. When we ask her if she sees something, she will usually nod her head to respond … As far as recognizing us We think that sometimes she does, and sometimes she doesn't. It was a month now since Laura Van Ryn had suffered a serious brain injury in a high-speed freeway collision that killed five other people.

Her broken bones were healing. Her face was back to normal. With her family constantly at her side, Laura had slowy awakened from a coma, and now she was undergoing intensive therapy to rebuild her mental and physical powers. She had to re-learn how to walk and how to talk.

And as her speech slowly improved, she started saying some things that were strange. Matt Lauer: And I think it was about this time that she looked at you one time and she called you Carly. Lisa Van Ryn: She also called me April. And she called me one other name. And maybe she called me Lisa too. She had several names. And we just thought that she was very confused and maybe she had had a nurse by the name of April or something was why she said that to me. But it's not unusual for brain injury patients to call people by the wrong name or even to misidentify themselves.

And besides, Laura was showing many signs of regaining her memory and her identity. Matt Lauer: So here you're showing your daughter a picture of her roommates and she knows every one of their names. Don Van Ryn: She did. I said, "Great, Laura. Good job. And there were other things she did that were very Laura-like. You know? Don Van Ryn: The leg was shaking.

And she -- Laura would always shake her leg. And she was strong. Had strong legs. Laura had those soccer legs. We would say stuff, "Oh, you know, that's -- that's Laura right there. Susie Van Ryn: That's so Laura. She's slowly coming back to you as Laura. Those little things. You know for us it was like, "Oh, that's so Laura. Matt Lauer: Did you ask her her name? Did you ever ask her, "Can you say your name? Matt Lauer: Let me take you to Memorial Day. May 29, You actually spent the day with friends I think?

It was, I believe, might have been the first day Matt Lauer: And the therapist asked her to write her name. Tell me about that moment. Don Van Ryn: We had been schooled all along by the medical personnel and the brain injury people about brain injuries and about how the neurons are firing but they aren't necessarily connecting. Susie Van Ryn: And the therapist showed us that she had written Whitney.

Don Van Ryn: And my immediate thought was maybe she was sitting in the van next to Whitney just prior to the accident. And that was what was stuck in her head. And again, I didn't make a huge deal of it immediately. Don Van Ryn: I couldn't make it out. So I leaned my head down.

And after maybe the third time I understood her to be saying, "false parents. Don Van Ryn: With barely opening her lips. You know we were with you And taking care of you like this. I was starting to be a little uneasy and and questioning. That was a little bit more than I could understand. Susie's unease turned into haunting doubt that evening, when some friends joined the Van Ryns for dinner at the rehab center. Matt Lauer: Then they saw Laura.

And they had a rather strange reaction. What do you remember about that? Don Van Ryn: Well, Aryn was wheeling Laura around in her chair and passing by the entrance to the cafeteria. And I said, "Aryn, bring Laura over here. I want to have her say hi to our friends. And they just had a strange look that passed between them on their faces. And they were somewhat quiet the rest of the evening. That night, after a day with friends, Lisa returned to her sister's bedside. Her dad had told her about the events of the day, and now Lisa looked with fresh eyes. Lisa Van Ryn: At that moment it was night.

I was sitting with her while she was falling asleep. The story of Queen Esther is, therefore, a story of much more than an orphaned Jewess being graced with the position of queen. It is a story of listening to the Lord and learning to be wise in when to speak, and when to act. It is a story of, when the time to speak and act comes, being courageous and doing what God commands so that we may guide others to Him. Jehovah God, grant us that we would learn from your servant Esther. Let us learn to be wise in our speech and in our action, and courageous in our obedience.

May we be the incense of the myrtle blossom that draws us, and those we come into contact with, into renewed fellowship with You. Human history is punctuated with stories of tragedy overcome, prolific in their examples of human strength and courage in the face of heartache. We, as human beings, love these stories. The idea that we would be able to withstand the adversities faced by the protagonists of these tales tends to motivate us to our own version of heroic behavior. We strive to be as brave, or patient, or faithful as those we read about in such tales.

Every culture, religion and region has their own abundant supply of epic narratives. Take, for example, a story popular in Ireland and surrounding Scotland and Britain, although not as much , of a young boy kidnapped and forced into slavery. As the 5th century tale goes, the teenager was kidnapped from his wealthy, prominent family estate in Scotland by a group of pirates and forced into slavery a country away, in Ireland. The young man, raised by Roman parents that were relatively non-religious, suddenly found himself in another country, forced into labor for people who worshipped pagan gods that were completely foreign to him.

He was alone, and in a situation for which there was usually no hope of return to the life he had before. He found himself relying more and more on a God that the only knew of in-brief, speaking to him during long days on the mountains in Antrim, Ireland. For fifteen years, the boy, now a man, devoted himself to the formal education of his faith, and upon completing it, he became a bishop and returned to the country of his captors. That boy-turned-bishop is now known as Saint Patrick of Armagh, the patron of Ireland.

The Prophet Elijah chastises the King Ahab and informs him that God will shut up the skies until such time as the King repents of his willing leading of the Israelites into Baal worship. Sure enough, the rain clouds drifted away, and drought and famine fell on the entire land. Elijah was ordered to the Brook Cherith, where, for a time, he was watered by the brook and fed by ravens.

Once the brook dried up, the story of the Widow began. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you. That seems simple enough. Why would the story of a Widow on the coast of the Mediterranean in what is now known as Lebanon be passed down as one of those stories of supernatural triumph? We find out at the story progresses and we discover that this particular widow was also a mother, herself and her son starving slowly to death because of the famine.

And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die. Despite what most would think the obvious response to such a request should be, the widow woman agrees to feed the prophet. He consumes what she believes is the last of her food, and Elijah does something unexpected.

Perhaps she assumed that the presence of the prophet of God allowed her special consideration for the continuation of the miracle, or perhaps she was simply grateful to him, and felt that providing him lodging was a way she could thank him.

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The widow, distraught over the death, calls out to Elijah and effectively blames him for the death of the boy. You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son! Elijah bowed over the child three times, and asked God to return his life to him, and God obliged. The scripture says that the prophet then returned the child to his mother, and the widow declared her belief that Elijah truly was a man of God.

At first glance, the story of a hungry single mother and a slave turned bishop seem to have very little, if anything, in common. At the very beginning of the Zarephath narrative, Elijah is first commanded to stay by the brook at Cherith, where his nutritional needs were provided by ravens. Ravens are, according to Levitical law, unclean. This also means that anything they touch becomes unclean, yet God commanded ravens to feed Elijah. Yet, this is how God chose to provide. Elijah chose to obey, despite what Levitical law commanded.

Patrick of Armagh, as well, found provision in the form of peace and comfort while he wondered the mountains of Antrim — a slave in a pagan land. Certainly not the miraculous provision one would expect from the God of the universe. In each of these stories we find a very poignant and clear message. There is hope in dark places, if one is willing to seek it. There is provision in the midst of want, if one is willing to obey God in the small details. In both the story of the widow, and the story of the saint, God sought them out in the darkest places of their lives.

God seeks us. He seeks us in the dark, hopeless, desperate places. And, if we are willing to look, we will find him there with us, and if we are willing to listen, He will take our hand and walk us out into the Light. I arise today Through the strength of heaven; Light of the sun, Splendor of fire, Speed of lightning, Swiftness of the wind, Depth of the sea, Stability of the earth, Firmness of the rock.

Christ shield me today against wounding Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me. I arise today Through the mighty strength Of the Lord of creation. Prayer of St. The internet is, undoubtedly, the most prolific source of information in our modern society.

The voracity of the information obtained from the worldwide web may not always be up to par, but it is a prolific source, none the less. A commendable example of prolific information on a narrow topic would be the story of the Queen of Sheba, found in 1 Kings Although the Queen of Sheba, which the Bible leaves unnamed, only has 13 verses in which her meeting with Solomon is addressed, the internet has plenty to say about this famous queen. Sheba: Where was it? Of course the Ethiopia of that time was not the Ethiopia of today, but was actually closer to what we now refer to as Sudan and the eastern Sahara.

Modern scholars, however, generally overlook what Josephus had to say about Sheba and place it as a country in southern Arabia — generally in the area of modern-day Yemen. Both Biblical scholars and Arabists seem to agree on the Arabian Yemeni location of the country. Caravans from Saba were mentioned in the Book of Job. The Queen of Sheba was the monarch over a very wealthy and prosperous region that not only heralded women as equals, it respected them as leaders.

Queen of Sheba: Who was she? Who the Queen of Sheba actually was depends heavily on who you believe. It is also believed she may be an ancestor of Candace of Sheba, whom the Ethiopian Eunuch referenced in Acts served. However, Bilkis is not an Arabic name, and no real meaning for the name can be found. According to Islamic legend, Bilkis was said to have hairy legs and deformed feet, given to her by demons who were in fear she would be found appealing by Solomon and subsequently married to him.

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Ethiopian legend is probably the most comprehensive of all the Queen of Sheba narratives. Editorial comment: I, personally, like the idea of an Ethiopian queen. She returned to her kingdom in Ethiopia, pregnant with the son of Solomon, who she gave birth to and named Menelik. Some suggest that word of his wisdom reached her, and she became intrigued as to whether the rumors were true. The lavish exchange of gifts in accordance with custom of the time also seems to support that her visit was, at least partially, diplomatic in nature. She then bequeaths him with lavish gifts of riches, which he uses in the Temple of the Lord.

This brings to mind another pagan woman in earlier Biblical history, that readily acknowledged the God of the Israelites and became a part of the lineage of Christ as a result : Rahab. Here we learn again the valuable lesson of due honor and reverence to God.

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The Queen of Sheba was an intelligent and strong woman, well-versed in dealing with other kingdoms and peoples. She was successful and honored among her people. She was regal and well disciplined, not prone to rash behavior or course manner. She was strong in a uniquely feminine way. She was confident in her own abilities, without being haughty. She offered appropriate praise and honor the God, acknowledging His sovereignty.

There are only 13 verses that speak of the Queen of Sheba. While this is not much, it is enough to learn from her: quiet confidence, sharp intelligence, extravagant generosity, a hunger for wisdom, and a tongue quick to praise the God from which all things emanate. May we learn quiet confidence, generosity and wisdom from the pagan Queen of Sheba that learned from Solomon, and turned her praise to God. Lord, help us to walk in the same strength, confidence, beauty, wisdom and generosity as the Queen of Sheba. May we never be too proud to learn wisdom, and may our mouths and actions be quick to praise you in word and deed.

Often, the mental portrait is that of an aged woman, silver-haired with a calm visage, eyes that gaze deeply into the soul, and a quiet grace about her. Sometimes, the image is more that of a definitive judge: certain, just, and honorable. Sometimes, we picture our own mothers, or grandmothers, or siblings.

It is deemed far too brutal for the Christian education of our children. A brief overview of the story tells us that Joab is in pursuit of a traitor to the King of Israel and discovers the traitor, Sheba, has concealed himself within the walls of the city of Abel in Beth-maacah. Joab proceeds with the practice that is common to the time, and orders his troops to begin to build ramps to lay siege to the city walls.

It is at this point in the story we meet our unidentified protagonist. In the midst of the walls of her city being battered, our Wise Woman calls out to the attacking army. This is a bold move for a woman in a patriarchal society. Not only does she bravely shout out to the commander of the armies below, the army responds.

They actually stop, and listen. Joab ceases his battering of the city walls and stops to converse with this unnamed woman shouting to him from within. This is usually the part of the story where readers are taken a bit aback and try to figure out how, exactly the woman at Abel fits in with our traditional Christian idea of a wise woman of the faith. Honestly, at this point in the story it sounds more like a scene from Conan the Barbarian or Game of Thrones than a tale of the wisdom of a woman and the salvation of a city.

Her actions are in stark contrast to the stories of the other mothers of the faith. The woman of Abel is quick to action, rapid to decide, and even faster to follow through. As we continue to study, and look a little deeper into the historical and cultural context of the time as well, we see that the nation of Israel was relatively new; and as such, there were still many cities and outlying areas that employed the use of city elders, or judges.

Like Deborah before her, the Woman of Abel was likely highly respected among the people of her city and was seen as some what of an elder. Midrash tradition even goes so far as to suggest that the Woman of Abel may have been Serah, the daughter of Asher granddaughter of Jacob. Look, for a moment, at the way she addresses Joab:. I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel.

Notice how she mentions to him that Abel was known as a place for seeking wise counsel, perhaps a reference to her own position as a woman of valor and respected elder in the city. A mother city in that time was one that was larger, and often supported smaller towns and villages daughter cities. The Bible has a lot to say about wisdom. Job tells us that wisdom is more precious that gold or gems.

Multiple times we are told to seek wisdom, that it is a gift from God, and desirable. And, in Proverbs , we find a reference to wisdom that directly relates to the Woman at Abel. Perhaps, it is because as women, we are called to be sober-minded and wise, to seek wisdom, and once we have obtained it, to share it with the younger women in our tutelage Titus 2. Many cultures and faiths herald women as keepers of wisdom and knowledge.

The Woman at Abel was one of these women, wise not only because of her character, but as an exercise of her office as an elder. When we think of the Wise Woman of Abel, to what other women in our Biblical studies can we compare her? What about women in our own lives? What can we learn from the Woman of Abel? As we read about the Wise Woman of Abel, let us keep in mind the admonition to seek wisdom.

To guard it as a precious jewel, and to use our wisdom with courage and patience. Lord, that you would grant us Your wisdom, and the courage to do what is right and good in Your sight at the time appointed by Your hand, we ask and pray. Grant us the ability to be obedient to your call, and to do what is right, rather than what is easy. We ask this in Your name.

My last name is Scottish. Growing up, the passing down of ancestry was very important in our home, and consequently, legends and stories of our history were passed down by my father with regularity. As it just so happens, the particular Clan from which my name originates were known for being fearless and rather brave. The Clan, throughout its history, has been led by Chieftains that were fearsome, bold and courageous; but their courage and strength was secondary only to that of their women.

The women were no weak, fair jessies that stood quietly powerless behind their Chieftain. They led along with them, Chieftainesses not only in name, but in character. This was a good thing for my father, as far as the stories of our legacy were concerned, as he always strove to raise his three daughters with the same fearless nature. As the legendary story goes, the Chieftainess, upon inviting the rival into her home, was insulted and derided by the rival Chieftain. Not directly of course — for even the rival knew better than to insult the lady of the house — but indirectly.

Her enemy had come into her home, to her hearth, and rather than discuss peace, he opted to taunt and mock her husband, the Chieftain and leader of the Clan. The Chieftainess, calm and unruffled, invited the rival into her kitchen, where she promised to offer him choice meats and drink in and effort to persuade him to stand down.

He followed her, and as soon as his back was turned, the Chieftainess swiftly removed his head with one blow from a meat cleaver. The bond deepens! Babies often pick a favorite object, like a stuffed animal or a blankie, at around a year old. Gopnik explains that these transitional objects symbolize you and your affection, which explains the histrionics if you—heaven forbid!

Let your child keep his lovey close by in situations where he might feel insecure, if that's possible. Don't worry that there's some set time to get rid of it, as with a bottle. Chances are he won't be clutching it as he walks down the aisle on his wedding day though, let's be honest, many of us still have Mr. Fuzzybear tucked away somewhere. The next step is linking those sounds and smells he trusts with something he can see.

That's why he'll start studying your face as if he's trying to memorize it. In a way, he is. He's making sure he knows what comfort—and love—looks like. So next time you catch your baby's eyes locked on you, give him time to drink you in. Sometime around a year old, your baby might start giving kisses—and they probably won't be chaste pecks.

Expect wet and sloppy ones that land sometimes hard! Evvi's enthusiasm shows she's been paying attention to the way her mom shows affection, and she wants to do the same, says Richard Gallagher, Ph. Babies are eager learners when it comes to physical affection, and there's no one they'd rather practice on than Mom and Dad. Kerry Smith recently noticed that her 6-month-old son, Leo, has a new way of expressing whom he wants the most.

Many babies adore being held right from the start, but it takes about six months until they have the physical and cognitive abilities to ask for a pick-me-up. It's a body-language expression of how much they've come to trust and adore their parents. And it can be enough, especially on one of those endless days, to make your heart lurch, too.

You'll start seeing this as soon as your baby crawls. I can crawl! I want to get out there and find out what's in the world! So she does, until she gets insecure. Freedom to explore—and then bungee back to a safe place—is what this is about, so let her do it. Of course, for many moms, this is harder than it sounds. But instead of hovering, put your energies into some extra babyproofing. You'd be forgiven for thinking you're a bit of a rock star.