Monday, July 27, 2009

Ruth Chapter 1

As I read through Ruth Chapter 1, I wasn't really sure what I could pull out of it. Which is one reason I'm a week or two late in getting this posted. I just needed to think on it a bit.

One of the things I found interesting is that from the way the text is written, it would appear that Naomi's sons waited until after their father died before taking wives.

"But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband." Ruth 1:3-5

Since the text doesn't give us ages or timelines, there could be a number of reasons that the boys didn't marry until after their father's death. The boys may not have been old enough to marry while their father lived, or (and I must admit this was my first thought), they knew that Elimelech would not allow them to marry foreign women. That thought was bolstered by the fact that God did not bless those marriages with children.

However it came about, Naomit found herself with not one, but two daughters-in-law who did not share her faith. We don't know anything of Orpah's or Ruth's lives, what kind of homes they grew up in, but we do know they were raised in a pagan culture.

After Naomi's sons died, she decided to return home, hearing that the Lord was once again blessing the land. She begins the journey with both daughters-in-law, but at some point decides to urge them to return to their mother's houses. (As a side note, I wonder if this is a clue that these were fatherless girls. Why not urge them to return to their father's houses?) I don't understand why Naomi decides mid-journey that the girls shouldn't return with her. Why not decide and settle it before leaving? Perhaps she truly loved them and wanted them with her. This would at least partially explain Ruth's love and devotion for her mother-in-law. Did she begin to think that it would be too difficult for her daughers-in-law once they were back in Judah? Wash she showing her love for them, and sacrificing her own comfort in having them, by encouraging them to return to their own homes?She also had to realize that they would have a hard existence with no man to provide for them. So, for whatever reason, Naomi decides the girls should return to their homes in Moab.

Orpah tearfully agrees, but Ruth pleads with Naomi to allow her to stay with her.

"But Ruth said, 'Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.' And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more." Ruth 1:16-18

What kind of woman was Naomi that she inspired such love and devotion from Ruth? Considering her circumstances, it would have been so easy for her to have been resentful and to keep her daughters-in-law at arms length. After all, they were pagans! They did not know or love the One True God. She could have been angry with her sons for not going back to Judah to find wives. But it would appear that this godly woman loved her daughters-in-law in spite of their differences. She must have made them feel loved and welcomed into the family ~ for even though Orpah did return home, she didn't do it without a lot of tears. And Ruth was willing to leave everything and everyone she knew and follow Naomi to a land she knew nothing about.

Even though later Naomi changes her name to Mara (meaning "Bitter"), and feels like God has dealt harshly with her, there must have been something of the character of God shing through in her to draw Ruth so strongly.

So, as women desiring to live godly lives, what are some lessons we can pull from Ruth Chapter 1?

  • Even when things aren't going like *I* plan, I need to trust God's plan. I need to love the people He brings into my life, and not hold them at arms length just because they aren't who I would have chosen. We get to read the end of the story, and know that God had a plan for Ruth to marry into Naomi's family ~ she was to be in the lineage of Christ, but Naomi didn't know that! Yet, she loved Ruth anyway.

  • In the same vein, as a mother-in-law (someday!), I need to love my children's spouses. Even if they marry someone I think they should not, I need to accept and love them. I ned to make sure that I am doing what I can to make them feel welcome and a part of the family. My own mother has been a wonderful example of this to me ~ and she has had some difficult in-laws! I need to remember that it may be my response to them, the way that I love them that God will use to draw them to Himself. Even before getting to this stage in my life, I know myself well enough to know that I will only be able to do this within the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • As a wife, I need to love my husband's family. It may be likely that Ruth's husband's family was much better than her own, but we do not know that. She may have had a wonderful family, yet she was willing to leave them and take her husband's family as her own. She was willing to leave and cleave. How often I have observed women who are not willing to leave their own family, but expect their husband to practically abandon his family in favor of hers. Now, I am not calling us to abandon our families! But we do need to love our husband's family and be willing to spend time with them. We need to love them as our own ~ and I know that this is not always easy! But I do believe that as wives it is what we are called to. It honors God and it honors our husband.

  • I need to think of others and what is best for them beyond what I want, and what would provide the most comfort for me. Naomi apparently wanted her daughters-in-law with her, and yet, in the end decided it was in their best interests for them to return to their own homes. In encouraging them to turn back, she was putting their interests ahead of her own, and showing a trust in God that He would provide for her needs. As a godly woman, I need to do the same.

Is there anything that you picked out of Ruth 1, that I missed? Please share! I would really like for this to be a "group" study. Let's learn along with and from each other! This week, let's read Chapter 2, and I'll post my thoughts next Monday.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wow, 5 Years

Today Tucker would be 5.
It doesn't seem possible that it's been 5 years since the most horrific day in my life. 5 years of the most incredible journey that God has ever placed my feet upon. 5 years of learning more about my beloved Heavenly Father and learning to trust Him and His plan in ways I never could have imagined 5 years and 1 day ago.
On the morning of July 25, 2004, I was laboring to bring forth our 7th child and 5th son. It was a glorious, beautiful morning. But when Tucker was delivered, his little body was lifeless. His cord had broken minutes before birth and he leapt from my womb into the waiting arms of Jesus. I have never felt such an overwhelming urgency and despair in my life. I learned what it was to walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I learned how deep that valley can be, and yet, I also learned the truth of God's word. I learned not to doubt Him. I learned to trust even when it went against every instinct I had. I learned to rely upon Him to lift my eyes to the hills, for He who is my help comes from them.
I have recently spent some time reading some of the things I wrote in the weeks following Tucker's death. I would not willingly choose to walk through that kind of grief again, and yet, it was such a precious time of learning and being loved by my Father, that I can't wish it away. Throughout those first days and weeks, in particular, there were many evidences of God's love and care for us. Some were big and some were seemingly little.
My midwife had written a poem for Tucker. When I went to put it into his scrapbook, I could not find it. I looked and looked. I tore the house apart and I could not find that poem. I was devastated. It was something tangible and it was gone. I just knew that it had gotten thrown away with all the envelopes from the many cards we had received. I cried out to God to help me find it. After 2 weeks of searching for the poem, I was extremely weepy one morning. After Mike left for work, I began to clean the table off, and there was the poem ~ in a spot I had looked in repeatedly.
Mike's brother gave us a piece of granite to have cut for Tucker's headstone. I had a picture that someone had given me of Jesus holding a baby up against His chest. For me, that was a portrait of Tucker. I wanted it on his headstone so badly, but didn't think that I could ask for a "custom" order. I had resigned myself to finding a lamb or something to have engraved on it. When we went to the monument place and told them that we needed a headstone for our infant son, they got out a couple of books that had engravings for babies. I looked through the first one ~ nothing. I opened the second one and about 2 pages into it, there was the picture! I couldn't believe it. Seeing that picture, knowing that I could have that engraved on Tucker's headstone was like a hug from God. He knew how deeply I was hurting and how much these seemingly small things meant to me.
As I think back on how He cared for us throughout that first year, I want to encourage you that whatever you are going through, God cares. He knows what path you are walking on. He has ordained it for your life. He is sovereign and nothing catches Him by surprise. This is not random ~ it has passed through the loving hands of your heavenly Father and He has allowed it because He loves you. It will refine you in ways that nothing else will. Trust Him. Turn to Him.
If you are grieving a loss, I want to encourage you to extend love and grace to your husband. He is going to grieve differently than you, and if you try to box in how he should grieve, then it's going to cause problems. Thinking back, Mike did things that were hurtful to me, but he was in the midst of his own grief, and I know that he did not mean to hurt me. I had to just love him and extend grace towards him through that time ~ and he had to do the same for me. We made the determination within the first few moments of knowing that there would be no reviving Tucker that our grief would not drive us apart, and it would not drive us away from God. And I am so thankful! Our marriage is stronger because of our journey of grief, and we are so much more mature in our walk with the Lord because of it.
Happy birthday, Tucker ~ I miss you terribly, but I rejoice that you are in the presence of our Savior. I praise God that though we are apart for now, we will spent eternity together.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I have been thinking a lot about Ruth. I haven't had time to sit down and read through it, but over the next few weeks anyway, I am going to. I think that Ruth probably has a lot to say to us as wives, daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law. So, as I read I will be taking notes and sharing thoughts here.

My goal for the time being is to post here at least once a week. I'm going to shoot for posting on Mondays, and if I have time, I may post more.

I invite you to join me as I begin to journey through the book of Ruth.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Busy, busy

So much has been going on, I don't even know what all we've been doing! :-) We've had such a busy spring. Both Will and Levi participated in track and Levi ended up going to state in 2 events. May ended with graduations and then June got going and the older 3 boys participated in a 2 week mission trip that encompassed 5 local communities. Will gave the message once in each of the 5 towns, and the 2 that we got to hear were wonderful. What a priviledge and blessing it is to hear your grown children speaking the gospel message! It was wonderful.

"Everything" ~ Will in the black, representing lust. Levi is portraying Jesus

Because of the government school graduations and the mission trip, we didn't have our open house for Will's graduation until this past Saturday, the 27th. So, for the two weeks prior to that, we were busily getting the house and yard ready for guests. We had a lovely day, with lots of guests. We had family here that we haven't seen in quite some time and lots of friends as well.
Our menu, which I'll share because it worked really well (I think we ended up with between 50-60 guests), was:
Pulled meat sandwiches (I roasted 5 roasts with onions, pulled the meat and added a bottle of BBQ sauce. Instead of "hoagie" rolls, I made hamburger buns)
Potato salad (made by Grammie)
Pasta salad
Cole slaw
Texas cole slaw
Watermelon slices
Veggies with ranch dip (radishes out of our garden, mini peppers ~ red, orange and yellow, baby carrots, and snow peas)
Corn Chips and Layered Mexican Dip
Watergate salad
And we ordered a beautiful cake from Costco.

Here's Will with his cake

My Beloved is still out of work ~ That makes 6 months now. God has been so faithful! Last month, I didn't know how we were going to make our house payment. We had enough in the account in May, but then had to pay the power bill, and so we just didn't have the money for the mortgage. So, I started to pray, "God, I know you can make the house payment. I don't know how, but I know that you can do it." We went to church one Sunday, and our pastor pulled Mike aside and told him he wanted our house payment information because someone wanted to make our house payment for us! Mike told him no, that we were fine. :-O But, our pastor insisted, telling him that these folks wanted to bless us in this way, and that it would be a blessing to them as well. When Mike told me about it after church, I said, "You can't say no to God answering my prayer!"

God has just shown us over and over how He is the one who provides for us. While I anxiously await a "real" job for Mike, in the time being, God is providing odd jobs to help meet expenses, and providing money through gifts that folks are leaving at church for us. We are humbled and so thankful for His provision.

So, that's at least part of what has kept me away from my blog lately. :-) I will try to do better about posting. I am hopeful that July and August won't be quite as busy as the spring was.