Back to the Land of Ruth

Happy Thursday morning! Coffee needed and keep it coming! We’ve had an extremely wet week in our neck of the woods. I’m hoping for sunshine and maybe a little more summertime.

I’ve spent several weeks in memory mode, contemplating my future writing. Now, it’s time to return to the story of Ruth. Once again, I’m immersing myself in the beautiful Biblical story. Once I’ve studied it, I’ll re-read Annabelle’s Ruth and Sutter’s Landing.

This past week, I’m also researching my setting for the third and final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. Something caught my interest, and may find it’s way into the story line. If you are of a certain age, and lived in the southeastern region of the United States, you may remember what happened in the late fifties/early sixties.

Jackson, Tennessee, just a short drive south from my rural setting, was often in the news in those days. It’s the home of Lane College, a traditionally all-black college (during that time), associated with the Methodist Episcopal Church. Several brave young men and women took it upon themselves to force the desegregation issue by staging “sit-ins” at area drug store soda fountains (like the one in my stories).

This, and several other “powder-keg” events happened during the timeline of book three. So, of course, I need to find a way to incorporate it in the story.

Back to the present: the church I attend is culturally and racially diverse. Though comparatively small, our congregation has a wonderful balance. Right now, under the leadership of our pastor, we are studying The Third Option by Miles McPherson. It’s a book about honor and respect, and learning to love your neighbor without prejudice.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect. One of the main reasons I’ve been able to handle the racial issues in the first two books in this series with grace, is the balance in my life. I believe it is directly tied to interaction and fellowship with my church family—a vibrant group of men and women united by their love for God and each other.

At one time in the south, it didn’t matter whether a person was Polynesian or Haitian, or African, or even Latin or Native American. They were considered a lesser race. Even a person of mixed race was denied the privilege to marry a Caucasian at one time. So my main character in books one and two had a couple of hurdles ahead of her.

Why even include this in my story? Why did I need the racial element in Annabelle’s Ruth? Consider the original story. If you’re familiar with the book of Ruth, you’ll remember that she was a foreigner, a Moabitess. She left her home, where she was in the majority, and traveled to Naomi’s homeland, where a Moabite was definitely a minority, and subject to prejudice. It is obvious from content that a Moabite looked different.

Ruth earned something dear—God’s blessing—through her loyalty to Naomi, one of God’s chosen.

As I complete this series, I need to finish with a bang and tie up all the loose ends. I believe I’ll find what I need in the pages of the original story. I can’t wait to find out what happens!

The Prayer He Prayed for Us

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday morning! Grab a cup of coffee and  join me. My Thursdays are usually a little less frazzled than the rest of the week. I go through my morning routine, visit and market online, then get out my latest manuscript and start creating.

The last couple of weeks have been a little different, as I’ve completed one book and am starting another. I have lots of preparation to do in front of the June release date.

Regardless of all that, I still want to spend time reading and studying the Word of God. That’s my morning meditation. My breathing session. It’s both relaxing and invigorating. Gets my mind flowing. Oh, and you thought that was the coffee! 🙂

This week, I’m meditating something new. I’m thinking about the prayers of Jesus, and how I can pattern mine after His. He didn’t pray complicated prayers. He had such a close relationship with God the Father, he just carried on a conversation. And then I found this one–

  • Jesus prayed for us. For US. You, and me.
I’m praying not only for them,
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me. John 17:20
  • “Them” and “their” in this passage refers to his disciples. “Those” refers to us—those who come after—those who believe. He goes on to say:
 “The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.”
  • And now, we are, “all of them.” He wants us working together, not struggling against each other, because…
“Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.”
  • There’s a purpose beyond our own comfort. Believers should live in unity, loving one another. This is the natural result of our common belief. If you mix yeast into flour, add a sweetener like honey or sugar, then add some warm milk, you will see a natural reaction. We are the yeast and the flour, mixed together. The milk is the Word of God. The sweetener—the honey—is the love.
 Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.”
  • The evidence is love. He loved us first. When the man who would later become my husband first showed an interest in me, I was a little surprised. It was unexpected. But when he acted as though he liked me, and wanted to keep seeing me, I was encouraged to believe in the possibility he might love me someday.
  • Jesus loved us first. You could say He pursues us.
 “Father, I want those you gave me
To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
Having loved me long before there ever was a world.”
  • All of this happened because God loved first. We are made for His glory.
So, here’s my prayer for you:
May you glorify God through the life you live today, exhibiting the love of Christ, so others may believe in Him, and become one of “those”.
Scriptures — John 17: 20-25 The Message

Daniel in the Den of Kings

coffee, cup, laptop, memeI’m a little sad. I’ve just finished the last chapter of Daniel. It’s seemed so short. Every time I read this book, I learn.

So, who is Daniel, really? Is he more than the man who defied the king’s edict and faced the lions’ den?

So much is revealed about the prophet Daniel in this book. If you do a bit of digging, you may be surprised by what you find.

He was a little like Joseph. Both men lived through dire circumstances, yet their obedience and great faith in God allowed them to prosper in the midst of difficult times.

Daniel rose to a position of authority that lasted through several sieges, from Nebuchadnezzar to Darius the Mede. Though Daniel served in the courts of kings, he was not ruled by them. Ultimately, he answered to God, as he proved over and over. And, no surprise, he suffered persecution for his faith.

Thus the den of lions.

This next statement of Daniel’s grabbed my attention and opened a window in my heart and mind:

And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I took my stand to support and protect him. Daniel 11:1 [NIV]

Daniel took his stand to support and protect Darius the Mede? I’m reminded of the scripture, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7 NIV)

Bring this home to your current situation. Do you “seek the peace and prosperity” of the company (occupation, job) in which God has placed you? Or do you constantly revile them, and curse them with your complaints and unkind words? (Gee, this could also apply to marriage.)

I have to tell you, I’ve done it in the past. Many of us pray for a job, a good position, and when we get it, we’re praising God. But time passes and the shiny newness wears off. The honeymoon is over. We become unhappy. We murmur and complain about the gift of God to us.

Daniel’s position was one of honor, and I imagine he had the ability to live pretty well, though he didn’t take everything given. He refused to eat the rich food of the kings. Anything that stood in the way of his worship of Almighty God, he tended to reject. But he prayed for the king who sat on the throne. He didn’t try to escape, because he knew God’s word. He knew God had a plan and he was in it.

It seems to me, if God truly has opened doors and placed me in a position, He might be a little displeased with my complaining. If I’m unhappy with a situation, maybe I should try praying, which is what Daniel did. And his obedience and faith brought this next statement from the angel, Gabriel:

He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.

Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” {Daniel 10:11-12 NIV}

To hear words like these, in answer to your prayer! What a thrill!


 What would our life look like if we truly sought God’s presence in our situation? If we gave Him glory in the midst, and prayed for the prosperity of the place we’d been sent? Even if we feel it’s the wrong place…pray. Remain obedient until the time of God’s deliverance. It will come.

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What I Do Instead

boss-432713_1280Some people love to give orders. Or maybe they just like to be in a position to give orders. They want to be the big guy in charge. The Boss. The CEO. But being in charge means having great responsibility.

Giving orders is a lot easier than teaching. But if those you’re ordering around don’t know how to accomplish their tasks, it can end up taking more time.

So you need a teacher. I know a guy.

His name is Jesus. Often called “Rabbi,” or teacher, He came to show us—by example—how to live. He didn’t pop in, give orders, then leave us to it. He started as we do, as a helpless infant, who grew into a child, then an adolescent, and a man. Through his day-to-day life, he left a lasting impression on the earth. Is it possible to live a perfect life?

For him, it was. With eternity’s sparkle in your eye, and full knowledge of what it all means stowed away in your mind, it is.

person-1281536_1280But is it possible for the ordinary, flesh-and-blood man or woman? Is it possible for me?

With Christ living in me, it is.

Am I always perfect? Do I always make the right decisions?

No, and no. One thing I always do is—make mistakes. I’m human. I may know what’s right to do, but I don’t always do it. Sometimes, I move too quickly. Sometimes, I speak too soon. And in that instant, I’m in the wrong.

But one thing is always available—God’s forgiveness. His forbearance. He knows I’ll make mistakes. Jesus covers them if I admit them and ask forgiveness.

If you need more proof, if my word isn’t good enough, open the Bible. Study the book of Romans. Try reading it in The Message version. Here’s a quick link: Romans 1.

Yes, I’m not the first, nor am I the last to fail at it. Honestly, sometimes I really suck at it. But it doesn’t matter. Because I know how to make it all better.

Remember Paul? He was a teacher, too. And he knew all about failure. Here’s one of my favorite passages from his letter to the Romans:

“It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. [Romans 7:21-25 The Message]

“…to do something totally different…”

What I do instead of what I should do. What we all do, at one time or another. But I have presented you with the answer. Even when you do the wrong thing, all is not lost.

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Ruth’s Legacy

Beyond the Book of Ruth, Part 2

To read Part 1, click here.

17So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket. 18 She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal. (The Book of Ruth, verses 17-18)

As soon as I read that Ruth had leftovers from the dinner provided by Boaz, I knew she’d share them with Naomi. This tells a lot about Ruth’s character. She didn’t hoard the leftovers, she took them home to her mother-in-law.

Ruth-likeWhen Ruth told Naomi about her day, Naomi pronounced a blessing over Boaz. “He is one of our family’s redeemers,” she told Ruth. What did this mean? It meant that he was a near kinsman of Elimelech. Through his acts of kindness, Boaz was also showing respect for the dead.

I believe this is when Naomi began to form a plan. We know she trusted in Jehovah, so we’ll assume she prayed for direction. When the barley harvest was coming to an end, she gave some very specific instructions to her daughter-in-law:

“Tonight he [Boaz] will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.” –Ruth 3:2-4

C+B-Agriculture-Fig12-WinnowingAfter a grain harvest, the men “winnowed” the grain, which separated the grain from the stalk and chaff (the breeze or wind blew away the lighter outer covering of the grain). Then they must guard the grain until morning when it would be bagged or otherwise stored. Of course, after all their labor, they celebrated by “eating and drinking.”

Because Ruth trusted Naomi, she obeyed her. This obedience placed Ruth in a precarious position, but Naomi knew Boaz was a man of integrity, so she didn’t worry. While Boaz slept, Ruth “uncovered his feet, and lay down.” He woke around midnight and became alarmed when he found a woman lying there. He was confused. Had he drunk that much?

pink-1431073_1280When she identified herself, and spoke as Naomi had instructed, Boaz knew what was happening. In a way accepted by the customs of their time, she’d proposed to Boaz. He was impressed. You see, Boaz was not a young man. We know this because he says in verse 10, “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before [in following Naomi to Bethlehem], for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor.

So if you were always thinking Boaz was a young hunk, sorry to destroy your fantasy. He was probably less like a Chris Hemsworth, more of a Harrison Ford. Oh well. Older guys have value, too. Maturity counts for something. Established, reliable. A man who is able to provide for both Ruth and Naomi. Hey, he was a landowner with servants. She could do worse.

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Men removed a shoe to signify an agreement.

Even though Boaz wanted to marry Ruth, there was a nearer kinsman. So he promised to have a word with that guy. Naomi had confidence that Boaz would take care of everything that very day.

And that’s exactly what he did. He spoke to the man who was a closer relation of Elimelech’s. This man was definitely interested in the land belonging to Naomi, but he was unwilling to take on the widow of Mahlon (Ruth), since it would threaten his own children’s inheritance (according to Levitical law). Boaz was unencumbered by such concerns. There is no mention that he had a wife and/or family. So he was willing to take them in, with full knowledge that his first offspring would be considered the child of his deceased kinsman, Mahlon, son of Elimelech.

The happy ending: Boaz marries Ruth. He gets the property and the mother-in-law as well. And when the time came, a son was born to Boaz and Ruth.

baby-499976_1280Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own. 17 The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!”–Ruth 4:16-17

They named the baby Obed. Obed grew up and had a son named Jesse, who grew up and had many sons. The last of those was named David. He was a shepherd who was later anointed as king by the prophet Samuel. David would become known as one of the greatest kings of Israel, and he and his great-grandmother Ruth would always be included in the lineage of Jesus.


A little bit of trivia

Mahlon, Ruth’s first husband, was Naomi’s second son. His name means “man of weakness or sickly”. If he was given this name at birth, he must have always been weak. His older brother’s name, Chilion (pronounced Killy-on) literally means “wasting away” –so this gives a little insight into Naomi’s early life. Her sons were not hale and hearty. She may have realized they weren’t going to grow old, so took wives for them early, hoping to have grandchildren to inherit Elimelech’s property.

Elimelech had also died early. Perhaps if the sons had produced children, they would’ve inherited the weakness of their fathers.

branch-304088_1280(All scriptures from the New Living Translation, via biblegateway.com)

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