Friday, July 25, 2014

The Original Bachelorette



A few weeks ago, I finished studying the Old Testament book of Ruth with She Reads Truth. (This link will take you to the first day of the study if you are interested.)

I have some thoughts swirling in my head and I need to get them down on paper so I can move on.

Anyone else know what I mean? Sometimes I just don't know what I think about something until I get it down on paper.

If you aren't familiar with the story or aren't a Bible reader, I invite you to go to this link and read this short book in The Message. It's a great love story that lends itself to much reading between the lines. I have to admit that I'm a little annoyed that more details weren't included in the story. I want to know....

Who had the idea in the first place to take this nice hungry Jewish family to Moab? I thought the Israelites were warned against association with such people. Was it Naomi's idea or her husbands?

What was the reaction when their two sons married Moabites....a big no-no? I can imagine major parental heartbreak over this turn of events. And maybe some finger-pointing of blame. "Why did we come here?"

How did the husband and two boys die? 

Were the boys married very long? If so, how unusual that neither had any children. After all, there was no birth control pill back then.

What kind of relationship did Orpah and Ruth, the daughters-in-law,  have with their own parents? Surely, Ruth's wasn't all that great if she said to her mother-in-law, "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me."

Sometimes we hear that verse quoted in a wedding ceremony and they are lovely words, for sure. But Ruth didn't say them to her husband. She said them to her MOTHER- IN- LAW.

Huh? Most girls wouldn't choose their mother-in-law over their own mother. There is a huge backstory here, and I want to know it.

I have questions, people.

Some think that Naomi had such a strong faith in God that her daughters-in-law were drawn to her because of that faith. I'm not seeing that. For Pete's sake, Naomi urged the girls to stay in Moab with their own people and their own gods. If she had such strong faith, how could she encourage the girls to worship gods that weren't God at all?

But, Ruth persisted and traipsed behind Naomi all the way back to Bethlehem where I'm sure they endured being the object of much gossiping and curious glances and lifted eyebrows.

And that's when things really begin to get interesting. In those days, women were considered second class citizens and NEEDED a man in order to survive. The girls were probably hungry and things had to change.

I don't know if Naomi consciously began to develop a scheme for getting Ruth a man, or if it just happened innocently, but before we know it, Ruth is lying at the feet of Boaz at the threshing floor.

I've only watched an occasional episode of The Bachelorette, but this sure seems like a hot tub scene to me!

I just have to ask. Was Ruth the original bachelorette?

Thankfully for all of us, the story truly had a happily ever after ending. Boaz had already noticed Ruth (wink, wink) and taken steps to care for her and Naomi, who had a family connection to him.

Boaz was a kind and honorable and wealthy manly man. So even after a big meal celebrating the end of harvest with the other men of the town that probably included an alcoholic beverage or two, he didn't take advantage of Ruth when he found her lying near him.

Instead, it was obvious that he truly cared for her! When she boldly asked him to claim his right to marry her (I know. So many unusual-to-us customs.) Boaz was all fluttery and flattered, complementing her and telling her she could have had her pick of the younger men. The Message paraphrase says he called her "A Real Prize". After paying attention to a few details of the day, they marry.

Sooooo sweet. I love a good love story but this one continues to go on and on and on.

If you look at the linage of Christ, Ruth is right there. Boaz and Ruth have a son who has a son who has a son who has a son.....who has a son named David, who became King of Israel. And it continues all the way to Mary and Joseph and Christ.

Boaz saved Ruth and Naomi by his mercy and love. And Jesus saves you and me the same way.

Beautiful.

I just love this about God. He takes our cockamamie ideas and mistakes and boo boo's and works them out for our good.

I don't know how many of the relationships from The Bachelorette actually end in long-term marriages, but the marriage of the original bachelorette lasted.

Ruth got a husband. Naomi got a grandson. We got a Savior.

And I am so glad. Aren't you?


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P.S. In case you haven't noticed, I am no theologian. If you have some light to shed on this story or just a comment or observation, please share them with us!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I Pledge My Head



Lots of things come full circle when you live in the same place for most of your life and are lucky enough for some of your kids to live nearby. And we are doing some circling up this week!

This time, it is all about 4-H, which is all about family and community members.

The Hidalgo Helping Hands club and our leader, Ella Lee, played a huge part in my formative years. Brad's family supported the activity in a big way, as well . His dad led his club and spent hours on it, I'm sure. My parents, mom especially, spent hours supervising our sewing and other projects, making cookies and costumes for Share the Fun, and hauling us all over kingdom come to events. I'm so glad so many adults were willing to give their time, wisdom, and knowledge to help. It was so good for me!



Because of my experiences in 4-H, I learned  to....
  • make bread
  • bake yummy desserts
  • plan a healthy menu and prepare the meal
  • create pretty (!) projects with my own two hands and the satisfaction it brings
  • follow a pattern and sew my own clothes and home decor
  • make a speech without vomiting from nerves
  • do a demonstration in front of a large crowd of peers and adults in my county and then at the State Fair
  • go the extra mile 
  • plan events
  • lead others
  • meet new people and to enjoy camping with a cabin full of squealing girls, first as a camper and then as a counselor
  • throw in the towel when something is just not my cup of tea....Can you say cattle show?
  • complete project records
  • finish what I start (confession: I'm still learning that one!)
  • invest my adult life in helping others
Our boys were in 4-H, too, but I don't remember that time so fondly. It was a time of STRESS for us as parents. The County fair week was always a very inconvenient time when gobs of things needed done on the farm, and Brad, who was also a banker, was worn completely out. 

By the time the 4-H shows rolled around, we had already spent hours of the summer at the ballpark and just wanted to stay home-at least Brad and I did!

I remember flaring tempers because I wouldn't let the boys stay at the fairgrounds 24/7 "like all the other kids" and embarrassment on my part because the other moms all seemed so much more "farm-capable" than I was when we went to take care of the livestock each morning.

And mud.


And flies.

Thankfully, our kids remember the good times, not the bad! Now, we all laugh about our fair exploits, especially the year they decided to ditch showing hogs for showing sheep. That pleased me because, come on, white and fluffy and docile. 

We were total novices and didn't really bother to read the project manual, so what a shock when the boys led their clean, white, beautiful sheep into the show ring and discovered by looking at the brown, dirty animals around them that sheep aren't supposed to be washed before the sheep show.

Trust me. There was giggling at our expense that day!

Now, we are on the other side, and it is a JOY to attend the fair and see all the projects completed by the kids in our county. We don't know the behind-the-scenes angst, so we can clearly see all the benefits of the 4-H program again. Kids are learning amazing things and are capable of SO MUCH besides messing passively with technology.

I love the 4-H slogan....

Learn by Doing



And that is exactly what is happening!

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Friday, June 13, 2014

A Reluctant Camper


I was always the girl who preferred "roughing-it" at a 5 star resort or at the very least a new, very clean hotel chain. I wasn't the least bit interested in campfires or bugs or morning dampness in my pillow.

So, I am as surprised as my husband just how much I enjoy our adventures in Pearl, our 1976 Airstream. When I started seeing articles about glamping and vintage trailers, I began to get very interested in the whole idea.Then we visited a vintage camper rally in a nearby town, and I was hooked on the absolute cuteness factor that was possible. And I began to dream.



Brad found our tin can online and we purchased it immediately upon discovering what great shape she was in. The Hollingsworths were so kind and generous to us leaving EVERYTHING we would need to begin camping immediately, down to an animal skin rug and adorable dishes. How nice is that?

I made new curtains out of vintage tablecloths and sheets, sewed pillows, and put our stamp on things. Looking for items to personalize our home away from home is so fun!

We have owned Pearl for almost a year now and I am hooked on camping. Here is why....

1. The Great Outdoors

I love hearing the birds sing, feeling the breeze through the windows, hiking on trails, and riding bikes around the camp ground. Even though we live in the country with gobs of privacy, it is very different for us to be parked in the deep woods.


2. My Husband Relaxes

Brad is a Type AAA, and it is nearly impossible for him to relax on the farm. His to-do list, which has a mind of its own, constantly nags at him and he can't resist it. When we are camping, he unwinds and rests.

3. Seeing New Things

We love to visit new areas. There is so much beauty in our country and in Illinois. Our state is spectacular and has such variety in landscapes, and our natural resources are unbelievable. Can you imagine how prosperous our state could be if it wasn't run by so many crooked politicians who are elected over and over again by the residents of 3 heavily populated counties?


4. Technology-Free Zones

Most state and national parks that we have visited have had poor cellphone and virtually no internet service. I must admit that I am a bit conflicted on this one. There are times that I would like to blog or do research online when we are on the road, but I can't and I get a little annoyed.  I am beginning to realize my annoyance is probably a sign that doing without my tech toys is just what I need.

5. Time to Read

I always have a stack of books waiting to be read, and when we are camping, I feel NO GUILT about reading for hours if I want.


6. Family Time

Campgrounds are full of families having a great time together. Kids are riding bikes, swinging, playing in the dirt, making friends, and hanging out with their parents. I love that.

7. Cheap Entertainment

Camping is inexpensive fun. Granted, we didn't pay a lot for our camper and we don't have an expensive boat or other fancy toys that we drag with us to the campground. I'm sure there are folks who spend a ton of money on this hobby, but you certainly don't have to. Once you pay for your camp spot, the rest of the entertainment is basically free. Enjoying nature is cheap!


8. Clean Campgrounds

We have been so impressed with all the parks we have visited. They are clean and staffed with such nice people and many volunteers. Campers like to talk and we have met some very interesting folks! Accommodations vary from spot to spot and can include pools and tennis courts.

9. Good Local Eats


10. Quirky Finds


All in all, camping is just FUN. No make-up, messy hair, very comfy clothes are the order of the day, at least for me! We have lots to learn and hope to make many more trips to try to learn them. I want to be able to cook great meals over an open fire, I want to make a unique welcome sign, I want to paint a bicycle bright red to decorate our campsite.

I want to quit wanting to "improve" things and make them cuter and just stop and enjoy what God has already made. Maybe I'm not a Type B, after all.

The road less traveled is a really fun road, and if you have taken that path, I'd love to hear about it.
Any recipes, tips, or other advice you want to share? Please do!

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

As My World Doesn't Turn

Hello, friends!

Any soap opera junkies out there?




I used to be, but I gave them up when my boys were toddlers and they starting expressing concern about Nikki and Jack on The Young and the Restless. It wasn't easy to give up my very favorite soap though since my mom, grandparents, and mother in law were also addicted to As The World Turns. And they talked about it! 

It seems like a colossal waste of time now, but I cut everyone a lot of slack for this habit because I think for all of us it was just a chance to sit down and rest for 30 minutes after a busy morning and before a busy afternoon ahead.


Sometimes my "logic" isn't very logical. Taking a short nap or sitting down with a good book seemed "lazy", but it was ok to watch a show that glorified adultery, money, alcohol, and even smoking cigarettes nonstop. My cousins and I used to practice smoking with crayon "cigarettes"  when we played house and I blame the Hughes family. I'm very thankful I didn't like the real thing, so that is one bad habit I didn't have to break.


On Memorial Day, I had Chris and Nancy and Bob and Lisa Hughes on my mind. Those people knew how to celebrate a holiday. I remember the family dressed to the hilt on the patio gathered around the flagpole after a fabulous boozy picnic. They made messy lives look so good! I decided when I was in high school that was the life for me.

Minus the adultery, alcoholism, and other vices, of course.

I had very definite ideas what my adult life was going to look like. I WAS NOT going to marry a farmer. I was going to marry someone with a 9-5 job, live in a nice suburb or city and celebrate holidays like my soap opera role models.

Fast forward 37 years, and here we are. 

I did marry a farmer, and I wouldn't have it any other way. My dreams of picnics dressed in designer clothes seem ridiculous now.

We spend most Memorial Days, 4th of July's, and Labor Days working our tails off. But we are not alone. When I made a trip to the John Deere store after parts on Monday, the counter was fully staffed. When I stopped at the welder's house to pick up the repairs, he was hard at it. When I needed supplies to feed everyone, the checkout girls were polite and smiling. And when a tire on one of the implements busted, the people at the tire store stayed open late while I drove 20 minutes for them to fix it. 


I'll leave the soap opera characters to the life I imagined, and I'll join my friends and neighbors and get to work. We have a hungry world to feed.

And it takes a village. 

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Bird Sweetly Singing.....

Hello, Sweeties-

What a beautiful, beautiful day! Hope you are enjoying the sunshine, gentle breeze, and pleasant temperatures. Our guys have worked at warp speed the last two days trying to plant more corn and beans  and progress is being made. We have had so much rain that we are way behind on corn planting, but Lord willing, things will look better by bedtime.


I just have to tell you what happened during Holy Yoga on Thursday morning. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Holy Yoga, you can read about it here, here, or here, or even here.

Or visit the official Holy Yoga website and learn all about it. And sign up to be an instructor-we could be Holy Yoga sisters!

Normally, I have at least some idea what I want to say during class, and my playlist all selected to go along with the theme. Thursday morning was a different story. I had been so busy the entire week that I had hardly opened my Bible and I was feeling disconnected and not at all ready to lead a class.



As a matter of fact, I needed to ATTEND a class taught by someone else. Someone who was "yoga-ed up" and had a word of encouragement to give to ME. But, there was only me.

So, I arrived at class with a piece of paper torn out of our Sunday School material with this verse on it, which I find  absolutely amazing.

"For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love he will calm all your fears. he will rejoice over you with joyful songs."   Zephaniah 3:17

At first my music wouldn't play and then when it started, I jumped from one playlist to another trying to find one that spoke to me. We eventually settled in and I began to help us center and focus on HIM.

My beautiful peonies, which I took a second to enjoy before leaving for class, were on my mind as I opened in prayer, thanking God for the beauty He surrounds us with. He didn't have to make flowers, but he did.

Many many many different types of flowers.

Flowers for every climate and place on earth.

Beauty from the beautiful one, for us.


I was filled with gratitude and I knew from that moment the class was going to be just fine. Fine,  because I wasn't the one in charge anyway. I shared our verse for the day and the poses began.


After an hour of combining breath with movement and focusing on our verse especially the end he will rejoice over you with joyful songs, it was time for savasana, or resting pose. I grabbed Jesus Calling, prepared to read the selection for the day. For some reason, I skipped back a day and read this instead....
Approach each new day with desire to find Me. Before you get out of bed, I have already been working to prepare the path that will get you through this day. There are hidden treasures strategically placed along the way.........blessings that reveal my presence: sunshine, flowers, birds, friendships, answered prayer. I have not abandoned this sin-wracked world; I am still richly present in it. Search for deep treasure as you go through this day. you will find Me all along the way.

Then we lay on our mats-our little Holy Yoga community- and listened as a bird sang his very loud song right outside the window!

Just an accident?

I don't think so!

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Rush Limbaugh, Nehemiah, and Me

Hello, sweeties!

This is about to happen. Two posts in one week.

Yowzers!


I used to be a news junky. I started out my day listening to WLS, segued into Rush Limbaugh, and ended up with Bill and Shawn.

My blood pressure was high-not really, but it felt like it-and I was exacerbated and dismayed almost 24/7. As if all that wasn't stressful enough, I tried to keep up with Drudge and Breitbart, too. Gosh, just writing all that down makes me feel jittery and nervous.

I gave it all up after the last presidential election. I was so hopeful for change and felt like my "people" had let me down by making me think there was a chance that things would change in the White House. I drew a line in the sand, and I dropped all my news-watching cold turkey.

And guess what? I became a much happier person. I quit worrying about things in the world that I could not change or control and the mess continued without me weighing in or even knowing. I lived in La La Land for almost 2 years and it was a fine and joyful place.

I started listening to more and more Christian radio and discovered Chris Fabry Live and In the Market with Janet Parshall. Both of these shows are on WMBI out of Chicago and enabled me to lift the covers slightly to see what was happening in the world, only this time through a Christian perspective.

It was the news, but the news with HOPE.

Fast forward to this week, when I started studying Nehemiah. If you aren't familiar with the story, I'll give a quick summary of the first two chapters. Many years before the events in this book, the Israelite nation was overtaken by the enemy. Exiles and prisoners were taken away and Israel was ransacked and Jerusalem practically destroyed. God worked things out as He often does, and Nehemiah, a Jew, ended up being the cupbearer to the King. After many years, some of the exiles were allowed to return to their homeland, but conditions were horrible.

When Nehemiah got word from his brother about the destruction and troubles there, he didn't react the way I have been the last few years.

Nehemiah didn't bury his head in the sand.
Nehemiah didn't cover his ears and sing a happy song.
Nehemiah didn't feel bad for a milli-second and then continue with his cushy job with the king.

NO WAY. 

Nehemiah wept, mourned, fasted, confessed his own sins and the sins of his people, and he PRAYED.

For 4 months. And when the time was right, he did the hard thing and did it afraid. He asked the king for permission and returned home to do something about it.

He quit talking, quit complaining, and did the work!

Conviction.

It is wrong for me to be ignorant of what is going on with my brothers and sisters around the world. I don't need to focus on the bad or on conventional wisdom for solving problems. I do need to let my heart be broken for the broken and hurting in this world.

I need to Pray.

And then DO WHAT I CAN TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.


If you are also doing the Nehemiah study with She Reads Truth, please share with me what you are learning. I know we could all benefit if you would.


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Monday, May 12, 2014

I Hope You Say Yes!

Hello, sweeties!


I have mentioned before that I have been studying along with the girls at She Reads Truth for several months now. Learning new things, filling notebooks with notes, and seeing scripture in a new way has been so good for me.

If we aren't careful, we can get in a Bible study slump....or maybe that is just me....and She Reads Truth and all the comments have rekindled a little fire in me.

Big things have been happening over there, including a Kickstarter project to fund a She Reads Truth app, that will be available soon. God is blessing their efforts and also, all of us who are reading along.

Tomorrow we will begin a new study on Nehemiah, a book of the Old Testament, and I am so looking forward to it. Why not join us? Here is a link to the introduction to the study.

Maybe you have a degree from a Bible college and have read and studied the Bible like a textbook.

Maybe you have casually picked up God's word once in a while to dust around it.

Maybe you carry it back and forth to church on Sunday but never study it.

Maybe you love the Holy Scriptures and can't imagine NOT studying them.

Maybe it is your Daily Bread.

Maybe you think it is for others but not for you.

If any of those descriptions fit, I want to challenge you to throw your preconceptions out the window and give this study a try.

Here is how I work the program:


  • Sign up to receive the daily emails, which will arrive in your inbox in the early morning hours. (I study first thing in the morning so I can get my day started off on the right track)


  • Pray that the Holy Spirit will show me what I need to learn.
  • Read the scripture in the Bible I hold in my hand. ( I love to read online, too, but there is something special to me about physically using my Bible. I also like to underline and write in it.)


  • Journal what stands out to me.


  • Read the same scripture in the New Living Translation or/and The Message on my phone.


  • Write down what stands out to me.


  • Read the devotional to see what others got from the passage.


  • Read the comments from all the She Reads Truth sisters. I have learned so much from them and enjoy the little community that has formed. 
  • Meditate on the scripture throughout the day.


If you don't have a Bible, download You Version on your phone or Ipad. Grab a notebook. And prepare to be blessed.

Please let me know if you are doing the study with us. Maybe we can talk about it here. Gosh, I'd love that!

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