Erin Davis: Welcome! We’re so glad you’re joining us. I’m gathered with some friends of mine to talk about the story of Esther. I can’t wait to dig in, but before we do . . . my name is Erin Davis. I live on a sheep farm in Missouri, and I want our listeners to learn about the ladies around the table with me.

So, ladies, tell us about yourself, tell us where you live; give us a tidbit.

Betsy Gómez: My name is Betsy Gómez. I’m from the Dominican Republic, but I am living in Irving, Texas. We live in a very cute mission house, and we love it there! We’ve been there for six months, and God has been so good!

Erin: Do you eat a lot of chips and queso, because that’s what I think of when I think of . . .

Betsy: Let me tell you! I’m actually learning how to cook Mexican food! Tex-Mex, though. (laughter)

Erin: We’re so glad you could join us, Betsy, and we’re also joined by a new friend of mine. Tell us about yourself.

Dr. Venessa Ellen: I am Dr. Venessa Ellen, and I live in Texas as well.

Erin: I’m surrounded by Texans!

Dr. Venessa: I live in Houston, Texas, and I am a mom of two adult girls who gave me four wonderful grandchildren—all boys. I teach at a Bible college. I’m the chair of the women’s ministry program there, and my husband pastors a church out there. So I have a lot to do!

Erin: You do! So you had all girls, but your grandchildren are all boys.

Dr. Venessa: All boys.

Erin: I have all boys in my house, and I’m hoping for all granddaughters someday, so you give me hope!

Dr. Venessa: It was quite different!

Erin: To those of you listening, we’re so glad, wherever you live—whether it’s Texas or Missouri or Alaska or around the world—we’re so glad that you’re listening to the Women of the Bible podcast. We’ll be walking through a study called Esther: Trusting God’s Plan.

I hope it feels just like you’re in the living room with us. We hope that you feel like one of the girls. We’ll just be talking as if we’re walking through it—because we are—so you might hear us talk over each other a little bit, interject with a thought or two, because we’re walking through the Bible study just like you.

I hope you find some friends (and I hope they bring some queso!). I hope you walk through the Bible study together with us. We’re going to start with Session 1 in the Bible study, but before we do that, I thought I would just read some of our hopes when we were writing this study.

We wrote down some of the truths we hoped everyone would gather from this study, seven of them:

  1. You are in a battle!
    Raise your hand if you feel like you’re in a battle. Me, too. Life is a battle.
  2. We want you to think that God has a sovereign plan.
    We’ll say that word “sovereign” a lot; we’ll unpack it for you.
  3. We want you to know that not only does He have some big plan, but that you are a part of God’s sovereign plan.
  4. We want you to do this study, and when you close it, we want you to remember that God’s plan will never fail.
  5. We want you to know that it’s a beautiful thing to live under God’s providence
    And that’s the big idea for this session . . . ”providence.” That’s a very churchy, old-fashioned-sounding word, right? (A fifty-dollar word!) What is it? What does it mean?
  6. There’s no situation that is so desperate God cannot redeem it.
  7. Don’t judge the outcome of the battle by …