Tag Archive | Ruth

The daughter I love

My son’s wife, Renee, celebrated her birthday in June, and I can’t let the month pass away without expressing my love for her. 

I call her my daughter-in-love, rather than daughter-in-law, because she is a daughter of my heart, not just joined to our family by a legal act of marriage.  I did not coin the phrase.  I heard about it, read about it, from Emilie Barnes, an author, speaker, organizer, and home manager.  I’ve read her books and admired her work, especially her love for the Lord Jesus and her family. 

When Travis came to the age where he began to seriously think marriage, I considered how this was going to eventually impact our own relationship.  We always had a close bond.  He was my only son, and I was his only mother.  We could talk about most anything.   Through the years, we have been each other’s support system.  I know he prays for me, and he knows I pray for him.

When I contemplated another woman taking first place in my son’s life, I had a decision to make.  I could be jealous and resent his love and attention to her and thus alienate my son’s affection for me and drive a wedge between us.  Or I could accept her as Travis’ choice, love her and hopefully become her friend, thus making the bond of our family even stronger.  I chose the latter for it promised a better outcome.

Travis dated a few girls, well, a lot of girls.  He was a good-looking boy with an outgoing personality.  There were a couple of times I wondered if one of them was going to be “the one.”  But they went the way of infatuation, or young love, I suppose.

Finally, he brought home a tall, dark-haired beauty named Renee.  On her first visit to our home, we had spaghetti with meat sauce, salad, and strawberry shortcake.  I didn’t know it at the time, but strawberry shortcake was Renee’s favorite.  I made some brownie points that day.

She became a frequent visitor, and Sweet William and I began to see Travis falling deeply in love.  Actually, we were also falling in love with this sweet young woman. 

Travis told  me he wanted to marry Renee and had planned to give her a ring on Christmas Eve.  The bombshell dropped, but I had seen it coming.

I wrote a letter that Christmas Eve and gave it to Travis and Renee after Travis presented her the ring.  The letter is too personal to reprint here, but let me just share a small portion of my heart on that momentous day.

“Renee, I’ve been praying for you for a long time and didn’t even know who you were.  But I asked the Lord to guide Travis to the wife he needed, who would be a strength to him, just as the Scripture says.

“You have become very dear to Bill and me.  You are mentioned in our prayers right along with Travis.  And I feel almost like someone has said, “Congratulations, it’s a girl!”  I’m so happy with the prospects of having a daughter.  I welcome you into our family, our arms, and our hearts.”

Proverbs 31 says of a wife’s value to her husband, “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”  Renee has been that kind of wife to my son.

She has been to me like Ruth was to Naomi  in the Bible.  She is the daughter I never had.  I am thankful for her in my life, in my son’s life, and in our family.

I celebrate my precious daughter-in-love.  I love you, Renee!

Left to wait

 I learned something not long ago. Actually it was revealing. Let me tell you about it.

I waited for someone the other day. I made an appointment, called and confirmed the time and place. Normally, when I know I may have to wait for any length of time, I bring a magazine or book so I am not “wasting time.”

But this day, I didn’t think to bring anything with me.   So there I sat at McDonald’s on Blue Lick Road, drinking coffee while watching and waiting for her. But she didn’t show up, nor did she call to tell me why.  I was disappointed, hurt, frustrated.

Here is the revealing part. I thought of how many times I had left my Lord waiting for me – the One who redeemed me from my debt of sin, paid the ultimate price for my soul, and offered me His friendship. Many times, I made plans to meet Him, then I let something else get in the way, or simply forgot.  I have canceled too many appointments or put other things first.

Other things. How many times have I let other things get between God and me?

I have just started a Bible study by Kelly Minter (remember her from the Ruth study?). The title is No Other Gods.  Today’s study got me to thinking about any functional gods I have let become too important in my life.

What other things could be more important than my relationship with Jesus? The way that relationship deepens and grows is by spending time with him.

David said, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsts for thee, my flesh longs for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is . . .” (Psalm 63:1)

The priority of keeping my early morning appointments with my Savior and Lord cannot be stressed enough. Especially as I  consider the incredible thought that He looks forward to meeting with me.  I do not want to disappoint Him again.

 

Please leave a comment.  I enjoy getting to know you when you put your thoughts into words.

The women

The precious sisters and I climbed the stairs to the upper room for the last time on Wednesday, completing our study of Ruth, Loss, Love, Legacy.  It was a melancholy moment for me.  Finishing a project is always a joyous thing.  Realizing I won’t be seeing these women in such a setting again is tenderly somber.

Kelly Minter wrote about “the women” who met Naomi when she first arrived back home in Bethlehem (Ruth 1:19).  The women were there again at the birth of Obed, Naomi’s grandson and the restorer of her family line (Ruth 4:14).  Kelly told about the women in her own life.  She wrote,

“They are the women we grew up with, the thick-as-thieves church moms who were there when we were born, performed ridiculous skits at our church retreats, helped us celebrate our birthdays, wrote us a big check for graduation, cried at our weddings .  .  .  They’re the ones who still come scrambling down the church aisle to squeeze the breath out of us when we visit home  .  .  .”

I remember the women who watched me grow up from a preteen girl to an adult wife and mom at the Dixie Valley Church of God in Louisville, Kentucky.  There were Pauline Springer, Lavelle May, Gertrude Eversol, Bessie Davis, Aleen Colvin, Janice Popplewell, Pat Phillips, to name a few.  They loved me, supported me, encouraged me, forgave me, modeled Jesus for me, and prayed for me.  Some of them have gone to their Heavenly reward.  Some “still come scrambling down the church aisle to squeeze the breath out” of me when I return to my childhood home church.

I love those women!  They probably don’t know how much or how important they were to me, and still are.  The memories of their smiles and their love bring warmth to my soul even as I write about them.

Now it’s my turn to be part of that select group, the women, to someone else.  It might be a piano student, a child from a Vacation Bible School class, or a teen from the youth group.  It might be the daughter of a friend or simply a young woman I have met randomly.  Whoever she is, she is looking for someone to love her, encourage her, support her, and pray for her.  Someone who will be in her cheering section. 

God is calling me, and you dear sister, to be in the band of the women.  It is one way we will leave a legacy.  A legacy of love and faith.  A legacy that will live long after we do.  A legacy that honors God.

Legacy

Sunday morning finds me at Little Flock Baptist Church where my Sweet William and I are members.  I love the worship, Pastor Rodney’s sermons, our Sunday School class, and getting to see so many precious Christian brothers and sister.

This Sunday, however, I went to first service at 9 am, then slipped out to visit Shepherdsville First Baptist Church, where my son and his family are attending and serving.  Travis plays percussion, and my two granddaughters, Elyse and Celeste, occasionally sing with the praise team. 

Elyse, the elder granddaughter, was going to play the keyboard for the worship songs, then sing a solo for the first time.  I did not want to miss it.  She was delighted to see that I had come to hear and support her efforts.  The day before, I told Elyse that I was her age, 13-years old, when I began to play regularly in our small church.  It was that experience as a young girl that set the course of a life of music ministry for me.

When it was time for the special song, Worship Minister, Sheila Lamonte, went to the keyboard, and Elyse stood close by at the microphone.  After a melodious introduction, Elyse began to sing My Everything.  If you will bear with this Grandmother and give me bragging rights for a moment, I will tell you it was beautiful!  Her voice was true and clear.  She sang with confidence and feeling.  I was moved to tears.

Do you know the feeling of being part of an experience while your mind goes to another time and place?  That happened during Elyse’s song.  I thought of my mother who died in 1983.  She had an astounding alto voice that bellowed and lifted the rafters.  She was anointed to sing, and hearts were touched when she did.

I’m not one who speaks to the dead or goes to the cemetery to talk to those who have gone on.  They aren’t there anyway.    But this morning in the pew at First Baptist, I spoke silently to my mother.  You see, I believe the saints in Heaven, that great cloud of witnesses, are aware of some things on earth, especially those involving their families.  So my mind said, “Mother, do you hear your great-granddaughter?  This is your legacy.”

Legacy.  It is what we leave behind when life is all said and done.  

My mother blessed others with her gift of music.  She traveled to little country churches to sing, and she faithfully served her own church for years. 

Mother wanted music to be part of my life.  She was determined I would have piano lessons and made me (yes, she made me) practice.  She encouraged me to play for others though I was a shy, backward child. 

It was only natural that I took that same path with Travis.  He took piano lessons which turned him toward a snare drum in fifth-grade band.  It eventually led to his high school’s marching band and the amazing percussionist he is today.

The beauty of my legacy is not just God’s gift of music to my family but that by His mercy we have come under the shadow and refuge of the Almighty, the saving grace of a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The legacy goes on.  Gifts from God are honed into skills that are then used to worship the Giver of all good and perfect gifts. 

The Lord has given us great and precious promises.  His Word is filled with them.  One of my promises is in Isaiah 44:3b and 4.  I believe it and trust God will fulfill it in my family.

 . . . I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.  They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.  

Legacy can be a beautiful thing.  No matter your background or heritage, a new legacy begins with one individual who choses to follow Jesus and surrenders his life to the glory to God.   

Do the right thing

Throughout the study of Ruth I have marveled at the words and actions of both Ruth and Boaz.  Here’s what I have observed about Ruth:

  • She not only confessed her loyalty to Naomi back in Moab, she put feet to her promise and followed her to Bethlehem
  • She took the initiative to find a field where she could glean to provide food for the two of them.
  • She worked diligently through two harvest seasons.
  • She built a reputation in Bethlehem of being a woman of noble character, not an easy thing for a Moabitess in Israel.
  • She trusted and took Naomi’s advice to go to the threshing floor and ask Boaz for his redemption, not just for her sake but for her dead husband and the family name.

Now consider Boaz.  His character shines from the moment we met him.

  • He was a man of power and position in his community, yet he exercised it with kindness and care to those working in his field.
  • He showed unusual kindness to a foreign outcast and to a bitter widow.
  • He provided for Ruth from their first encounter.
  • He accepted his responsibility as kindsman redeemer.
  • He followed through on his word.

What I see in both Ruth and Boaz are integrity, industry, kindness, truthfulness, commitment, loyalty. 

It causes me to ponder:  Virtues.  Character.  Who I am when no one is looking.

Character-training.com describes it like this, “the stable and distinctive qualities built into an individual’s life which determine his or her response regardless of circumstances.”

Ruth and Boaz did the right thing simply because it was right to do the right thing.

No wonder their story is recorded for us and preserved in the Holy Bible.  Their lives are examples for all of us (1 Corinthians 10:11) . 

Whether we realize it or not, we make lots of decisions throughout each day, each of them guided by our character. 

Look in the mirror of your soul as I look at mine.  Who are we when no one is looking?  As we stand at our points of daily decisions, perhaps we will move forward more easily by just deciding to do the right thing. 

Enough said.

To the threshing floor of surrender

” The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise.”   —- Jerry Sittser

Chapter 3 of Ruth tells of her trip to the threshing floor.  It was night.  She was alone.  She walked into the unknown, plunging into the darkness in hopes of a sunrise.

The threshing floor in ancient Israel was generally on a high place surrounded by a low stone wall.  The floor was often where bedrock was exposed.  The newly harvested stalks of grain were spread on the stone, then crushed, breaking open the husks.  The husks were tossed into the air allowing the breezes to blow and separate the chaff (the part of the stalk not good for food) from the kernels of wheat and barley.   This was called winnowing.   Until the winnowing process was complete, separation of wheat from chaff, the grain was not ready to provide nourishment to the body.

Sounds like a painful process for the wheat.

There is a threshing floor experience for each of us, a time when God calls us to turn loose of things that are often familiar yet are hindering us from being all He wants us to be.  We cling to those things as if they are necessary for our lives, feeling we simply cannot live without them.

The threshing floor, then, becomes a place of separation and also surrender.  It is risky to go there, and it is dangerous.  It is also necessary.  We will  not leave the same as we came.  The wind may be a breeze, or it may be hurricane gales.  It is meant to strip away what is not fruitful in our lives.  After all, offering nourishment to a dying world is part of our purpose.

I’ve had my threshing floor experiences.  God reminded me I was holding  on to what I thought was my security, things and relationships, when He wanted me to cling to Him only. As painful as it was, it was a turning point for me.  I had nothing left but God, but I found out He was enough.   

Ruth went to her threshing floor only after she had discarded her widow’s garb, that which had become her identity.  She came in humility, nothing in her hand.  She came with the intent to lay down her life and her future before Boaz. 

God asks us to relinquish what we cling to, what we think will bring security.  Eventually we find there is no security except in Jesus Christ.  He alone has what we are longing for:  a hope, a future, and a place of rest.