Monday 7 February 2011

Women of Inspiration

Welcome to my Monday morning Women of Inspiration post. I thought for today I would share with you one of my favourite women from the Bible, Lydia . . . seller of purple, and why she inspires me.

A lot of you may not know or remember who Lydia was. You will find her in the book of Acts, in the New Testament and she is known to have been the first convert to Christianity in Europe.

And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
~Acts 16:14-15

I used to have a series of books which were all about the inspiring women of the Bible and Lydia was one of my favourites. People think that the scriptures are full of inspiring men, but there are plenty of inspirational women in there as well!

Lydia was a woman far ahead of her time. She was a business woman who lived about 50AD, at a time when men were in charge of everything and women were homemakers, housekeepers, etc. They certainly were not commonly known as business women. In her business she sold purple cloth, which at that time was a colour of cloth only associated with people of a high social ranking and great wealth.

Dyeing cloth at that time was a lot harder to do than it is today. The purple colour of Lydia's cloth was extracted from the shells of an ocean molusk called Murex, and because it was so very difficult to produce, the dye and garments made from cloth of the colour purple were very expensive. As a dealer of this cloth, Lydia was able to make a very lucrative living for her family and herself. As a dealer of purple, she would have been quite wealthy and very much respected in her community.

From the scriptures, we can also see that Lydia was considered to be the "Mistress" of her household. From that we can surmise that this meant she was the head of her household, which would have included both family and slaves. Being considered the head of her household, we can probably also accurately surmise that she was unmarried, but whether this is because she was widowed, divorced or just a spinster . . . we do not know for sure.

Here is her story, as written by Paul, the apostle. (Acts 16:13-15, Acts 16:40)

And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

Lydia believed in God and the Saviour, and worshipped them along with her entire household. She was hospitable and welcomed Paul and Silas into her home with kindness and love, and was judged to be a faithful believer.

I love this story of Lydia, a single woman who, with strength, determination and integrity . . . was publicly open about her faith and beliefs, despite being wealthy and a woman of success in a male dominated society. From the scriptures I can see that she was strong and competent and yet at the same time . . . warm and open hearted, being both a follower of God and a leader of the people she lived amongst.

I think that in these latter days, the world is becoming more and more secular . . . and the world we live in is becoming more and more inhospitable to people of the Christian faith and belief system. It takes strength and determination to be able to stand up for what you believe in . . . in the face of so much opposition and ridicule, and yet to do it with integrity, love and determination. That is why I find Lydia to be a woman of great inspiration. She sets an example which I strive to follow as I walk the path set before me by the Saviour, as I cling to the rod and make my way through this life and home to my Heavenly Father.

Lydia, seller of Purple. my woman of inspiration today.

Here is a delicious recipe from my archives. A wonderful chocolate tart that my friend Eliza made for a get-together we had several years back when she was over visiting from Arizona. It was just wonderful, rich and chocolatey. The Mexican chocolate is not readily available over here in the UK, but you can use any good sweet chocolate. I like to use Green and Blacks myself, as I love the way it tastes. You can't get the chocolate wafers either for the crust, but any dark plain chocolate biscuit will do just fine. I use oreos, with the middle stuff scraped away.

*Mexican Chocolate Tarte*
(With Cinnamon Spiced Pecans)
Serves 8 to 10
Printable Recipe

This is to die for, literally. Chocolate, cinnamon, spicy pecan nuts . . . ahhh . . . bliss . . .

non-stick vegetable oil spray
2 TBS sugar
1 TBS soft light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
14 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 ½ cups pecan halves
1 cup chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
(Grind these in the food processor)
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
5 TBS butter, melted
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 (3.1 ounce) disc Mexican chocolate, such as Ibarra, chopped (Over here you can’t get that, so just use 3.1 ounces of sweet chocolate
¼ cup butter (2 ounces) cut into 4 pieces, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
Lightly sweetened whipped cream to serve

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Blend the cookie crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and salt for the crust together. Stir in the melted butter and mix well. Press into a 9 inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Press up to within 1/8 inch of top. Bake until set, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

For the pecans spray a rimmed baking sheet with the spray. Mix together all the ingredients except for the pecans. Spray the pecans with some cooking spray and then stir them into the spiced mixture. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet and then bake until just browned and dry, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet. Set aside. (You can do this up to 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature).

For the filling, bring the cream to a low simmer in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the chocolates and stir to melt. Whisk in the butter, onepiece at a time. Whisk in the cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Pour into the prepared crust and set into the fridge until the filling begins to set, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Arrange the nuts in an attractive pattern on the top. Chill until set, 4 hours or overnight. Serve in slices with a whipped cream garnish.

Cooking in The English Kitchen today, delicious Grandma's Doughnuts!


  1. Thanks for this post -- It always breaths life into scripture to me to know the background of the written word -- seller of purple -- I enjoyed having that lifted up. Have a wonderful week.

  2. The story of Lydia is a fascinating one... and I love the color purple too. ;o) Your chocolate torte today is outrageously delicious... Oh, I could go for some chocolate now! I'm not just online again after a break at the weekend--bliss to be digital-free and have a couple of days for pure relaxing! This week looks to be a bit slower with not as much on, which I am glad of. I'll be home Tuesdays & Wednesday--hope we can chat on MSN or the phone maybe even? Hope you have a great week my friend--LOVE YOU LOTS ((BIG HUGS))

  3. Although I've read about Lydia I've never given her much thought before. Thank you for this post. Lydia is an inspiring are you.

    Hugs, Lura


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