Archives for January 2016

What A Mother-in-Law Wants To Say by Lynn Autry

 

Women middle aged

 

 

What do we mothers-in-law have to say? Women are portrayed as always having a lot to say. We are the busy bodies who are always in the middle of things sometimes especially when our control issue gets high. We are the women who are always portrayed as having a lot of advice to throw any direction we can pitch it. What are the things that we would like to really say at the beginning of an in-law relationship.

Accept the mother-in-law as the mother who has cared for this woman or man all of their lives. Accept that her love is tied to them from before they were born. Her love doesn’t decrease because of a date on the calendar. She has enjoyed the awesome things in their lives. She has loved the hugs, kisses and talks along the way actually she has come to expect them. She has given up sleep to care for this person who has married. She has given up over the years what she would have wanted to do for what they wanted to do. She has sacrificially given of her time and money along the years. Accept that the mother will know more about them than you do. She knows the history because she has lived it. Accept that her love isn’t in completion with your love. It is a different love. It is a mother’s love.

Mothers-in-law are just normal women who through God have been able to do extraordinary things in our life. Mothers-in-law have the same emotions and feelings that other women have. In movies and TV shows, mothers-in-law are being portrayed as being critical, cross and unloving. Mothers-in-law experience being happy, sad, joyful, fearful, hopeful, frustration and many other emotions. We are human. Mothers-in-law have days when we just don’t feel well. We get sick or just have an emotional down day. Mothers-in-law sometimes are very busy women with busy schedules. We try to maintain our schedule and also be apart of the lives of our family. Mothers-in-law have been through many different experiences that affect how they live and look at any situation. Mothers-in-law are very normal women who God has turned our struggles into strengths. We are not perfect. We make many mistakes. During our normal lives God turns our ashes into beauty to make an impact of the lives of many people.

Remember there will be conflict at points. The in-law relationships involve several different people with several different view points on any issue. Many things go into how any of us looks at any issues. We all have different histories. In many relationships, different cities, states and even countries are represented. Each person grew up with different parents. There are times when the influence of different denominations and religions also affect how each person looks at an issue. Each person has a different emotional makeup with different needs. There will be different personalities that will be represented in any in-law relationship. When you take into account all the differences that are represented, in any in-law relationship, it is a wonder that there is not more conflict. As we take into account our many differences, remember two words. Forgiveness is huge. We have to be willing to forgive in our conflicts. We may not get the solution we want but we forgive anyway. The other word is grace. We have to extend grace. God extended unmerited favor to us. We did not deserve it. We may not feel like the person we are in a conflict with deserves grace but we extend it anyway. God gave us grace so we need to give grace. Conflict is never easy but if we take into account our differences and remember forgiveness and grace, we will be able to handle the conflict.

Have patience with our family. As daughters-in-law and sons-in-law join a family, many differences come to the forefront. One may have grown up with one or two siblings with a quieter house and another with a loud house of many siblings. One set of parents or grandparents may not have a post secondary education and another with several degrees on their wall. Patience comes with staying with family that is very different than yours. Patience comes when the Thanksgiving and Christmas times are not like what you are used to. Patience comes when family members do not respond like what you are used to with your family. Love is patient. Love is kind. Patience is easy when everything is the same. Patience becomes harder when there are big differences between families. Nehemiah tells us that God is a forgiving, gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. If we are to all have patience within our family relationship, then we are to follow God’s example with us. As God is patient and slow to anger with us, then we are to do the same. Having patience with family is not shown by just keeping our distance. That is not the example that is modeled by the God in Nehemiah’s day. God was and is patient with us up close and personal. Patience is a gentle, long-suffering attitude that brings peace and joy in our relationships and in us. Responding with patience may go against everything we grew up with but it is worth the effort. It will go along way in strengthening our relationships.

All advice that is given is just that advice. Parents have many strengths and experiences that we have learned from. From these experiences, we hope to help our children. Mothers do try to guard our advice but there are times when the advice just trickles out. According to Murphy’s Mothers Law, “Mothers only offer advice on two occasions: when you want it and when you don’t.” When advice is given, please do not feel like it has to be taken. In the definition of advice is the word recommendation. Advice is a recommendation. With any recommendation comes a choice of whether to take it or not. Times have changed. We have gone from wanting advice from seniors to unsolicited advice is considered meddling and controlling. Parents have lines that have been drawn by our culture. Unsolicited advice is a no no. Parents have a decision to cross the line and give unsolicited advice or not each day.  Proverbs tells us that we are to “listen to advice and accept instruction” and a “wise man listens to advice”. There are two words that are important for parents and adult children to remember in relationships. For parents, the word is caution. We need to exercise caution in any advice that we may want to give. For adult children, the word is listen. Most advice is worth listening to. Take what you can use and discard the rest. In two different verses in Proverbs, we are told to listen to advice. If parents will exercise caution and adult children will listen, then conflict can be reduced. When conflict is reduced, than relationships can grow and blossom.

Please keep the lines of communication open. Healthy extended families are shown by honest communication and investing time in each other. As parents and parents-in-law, we still want to stay connected to all the family. We want to know when important things happen to the family. With social media in full demand now, it is easier to be kept informed. It is important to Facebook message, text, or call when big things happen. As parents we don’t need to know every detail but please keep us inform on big things before the Facebook audience. Please keep us informed on moves, grandchildren’s school and church programs, sickness, trips and more. For grandchildren, staying in touch with the grandparents on a regular basis can be reassuring and offer the children a sense of comfort. It can be difficult on the children when they do not know if or when they will hear from their grandparent. Healthy families have a high level of kindness displayed among family members. This is demonstrated largely by an interest in others. We show our interest in each other by keeping each other informed. This is shown by each member of the family. Positive and supportive relationships with family members can be possible to some degree, if we each work on our own part. If we do not relate to our family, this can destroy whatever relationship that exist. The choice is ours on what kind of relationship we want. Do we want to consistently make an effort of kindness by keeping the lines of communication open? I pray the answer is yes.

Please help me be a part of my grandchildren lives. Please don’t feel like I want to determine if there are children or how many. That is clearly the decision of the two married adults. If there are children, we want to be apart of their lives. Grandparents want to build a relationship with their grandchildren. We want to talk to children. With some long-distance relationships, this may take help from you with helping the children with the phone calls. We have special places we want to take the children. We get as excited as they do with seeing the animals at the zoo. We love to see their excitement on rides. We will spend the extra money to watch them do things they love. Please permit overnight stays earlier than later in the child’s life. This also helps the child get used to overnight at grandparents before fears of overnight abounded. My daughter-in-law and son allowed us to take our first as a toddler overnight and the other two before one.  They were so used to coming to grandma’s that they didn’t cry when they were left. We were able to take them on trips to visit great grandparents without tears. This allowed time with long-distance great grandparents that they would not have had. As long as they were with grandma and granddad, it was ok to be in a different house. A study by Oxford found that children were happier if grandparents were a part of their upbringing. The study showed that only grandparents that did things with their grandchildren had a positive impact on their lives. This study found that relationships between grandparents and grandchildren buffered the effects of adverse life events. We want the best for our grandchildren. Thank you for helping us provide a positive and loving grandparent relationship with our grandchildren.

 

 

 

 

 

Love Anyway by Lynn Autry

I john 4 21
Love Anyway
“And we have this command from Him: the one who loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:21) This verse starts with the word and. It connects to the previous verse that tells us we cannot love God who we haven’t seen if we do not love our brother who we have seen. This verse adds the word command at the beginning. Who likes commands? Do you like being told you have to do something? Are you the person who wants to do the opposite of what you are told?
 A command is a authoritative order. The order is usually given by someone that you have trust in. You give your trust to them. You have confidence that they know what they are talking about. John spends part of I John talking about love. He did know what he is talking about. He spent close time with the Savior. He had seen with his own eyes and heard with his own ears how Jesus loved. He heard His teachings on love. John says you may not believe what I have experienced so this command is not from me it is from God. If you love God, you must love the people He cares about. There are two parts to this. We love God and we love people. If we disobey this command, we are dismonstrating a false love for God. Our words become empty. The proof of our words are in our demonstration of our love for other people. When we love God supremely then we are going to love the people He loves.
This command is huge in relationships. There are many things in relationships that we come up against that we have to draw off of in this verse. The brother in this verse is everyone who have a relationship with. This includes brothers, sisters, son-in-law, daugher-in-law, co-workers, and friends etc. What happens to this verse in our life when the relationships have struggles. How do you handle this verse when lies and deception hits you in the face? Do you feel like you get a pass? If you really love God, you are going to love the person even if you know they have lied to you. What happens to your love for an in-law when their anger is a big issue in a family event? You love them anyway and increase your prayers.
When our relationships are made up of real people, then you are going to have real struggles that bounce to the surface. When John was with Jesus, he saw real people with real struggles. He saw how Jesus loved people just the way they were. They did not have to be perfect or even close. He loved them just where they were. We are to love the people in our relationships just the way they are. There are times when their issues hit you square in the face. We have to decide if we really love God. This verse says if we do than we are going to also love the person who hurts us, mistreats us and just makes us angry. We have to constantly remind ourselves that God loves them just as much as God loves you. They are as special to God as you are. When you do that, it is easier to concentrate on loving them and praying for them, instead of staying frustrated, hurt or even angry. When we do love God, then that same love for the people He loves is going to be put to the test in our relationships. We love God no matter what happens in our lives. We have that same love for our brothers no matter what happens in our lives. We love God and we love the people in our relationships. That is just how it works.

Lynn’s Spicy Chili

 

chili

 

Lynn’s Spicy Chili

I love chili on snow days or cold winter days. Enjoy the recipe.

Ingredients

5 pounds lean Ground Beef

1 28 oz Crushed Tomatoes

2 14 oz. cans of Fire Roasted diced tomatoes

1 14 oz. cans of Diced Tomatoes with garlic & onion

1 14 oz can of Tomato Sauce

2 15 oz Kidney Beans

3 15 oz Black Beans

1/2 Red Onion

1 Green Pepper

1 box Carroll Shelby’s Chili Kit minus mesa

1 T. Holy trinity (dried bell pepper, onion celery)

1 t. Parsley

1/2 t. Smoked sea salt

1 T. Chili powder

1 t. Cajun Garlic seasoning

1/2 t Roasted Garlic & Herb seasoning

Mix all the ingredients together in large pot. Add the desired amount of water and bring to a boil. Cook on a medium heat for 30 minutes and then cook on low for at least an hour. Some of the seasonings, I picked up at markets on trips. They do have similar ones in the stores. If you want it less spicy, then do not add all of the package of red pepper in the chili kit. My chili may be a little different each time I make it. It depends what I have on hand.

 

Five New Year’s Resolutions with Your Grandchildren by Lynn Autry

Five New Year’s Resolutions with Your Grandchildren

As you may still be reminiscing about last year, let look to this one. It’s that time of the year for many of us to make New Year’s Resolutions. Sometimes we write them down and sometimes we keep them just in our thoughts. If we do not write them down, it is not as painful if we break them right? We make resolutions to have more money, lose weight, exercise more and so on. In January the gym membership goes way up. We start diets. Organize everything in the house. Sadly, over half the people that make resolutions do not keep them till June. There are resolutions that we can actually keep with our grandchildren.

We can love our grandchildren unconditionally. When we keep, spend time or live with our grandchildren, it is important to always love them unconditionally. This means there are no strings attached to that love. Your grandchildren do not have to be perfect without any medical or physical issues. We love them just the way they are. Grandchildren grow in all different sizes. They may not look like the magazine cover. We love them whether they are good and smile a lot. We love them when they scream, yell and kick us. We love them any way they are.

If at all possible spend time with them alone. The time you spend with your grandchildren is a precious time. They grow up so fast. Many of you are like I was for many years and did not live close to my grandchildren. For many years my children did not live close to their grandparents. Try to think of creative way to spend time with them. At times we would drive over before a birthday party and pick up our grandchildren and then bring them back for the party. This allowed time for parents to get the house ready for the party without the children. Plan phone calls or outings with your grandchildren. Grandparents need to work on building the relationship with the grandchildren by spending time with them.

During the visits with your grandchildren, don’t worry about the little things. let some of the cleaning go and enjoy the snuggles. I loved to plan those special things that they enjoy doing. Some of those are free like going to the beach. If you are as involved in church as I am, there may be times you have to let someone else take over or take them with you. Mother Theresa said, “We cannot do great things on this earth. We can only do small things with great love.”  There are many small things we can do with our grandchildren with our love. Enjoy those visits.

Do not let issues you may have with the parents affect how you respond or love your grandchildren. Many of us have at times had conflict with one or both of the parents of your grandchildren. The grandchildren are not responsible for how your adult children or in-laws respond to you. We have to separate our relationship with the grandchild from our relationship with the parent. I know this can be hard. As divorced parents use children as a pawn in a divorce so also parents will use grandchildren to hurt grandparents. Let your love for the grandchildren so take priority over  the conflict with the parents.

Be your grandchildren’s number one prayer partner. Many of the things you prayed for your children, you also need to pray for your grandchildren. From birth we have prayed for our children to marry a spouse that has a relationship with God, we need to pray the same for our grandchildren. We want to pray that our grandchildren will accept Christ as Savior early in life. Each day we want God to protect them physically, emotionally  but also mentally. We want God to shield them from believing lies from the evil one. We want God to surround them with Godly teachers, leaders and friends. We want to pray that our grandchildren choose the right kind of friends. When they sin, we pray that they will not get away with it. We need to consistently pray for children and grandchildren.

These five resolutions are ones you can keep throughout this year. These resolutions can help you build a relationship with your grandchildren. The five resolutions can give you an awesome year with your grandchildren with incredible experiences to enjoy.

 

2016-01-10 07.32.24

 

 

 

The Biblical Lessons From Ruth For Daughters-in-law By Lynn Autry

mother-in-law daughter-in-law 1

When I became a daughter-in-law, there were not any how-to books. I just did the best I could. My mother-in-law was the one God knew I needed. She made the position of being a mother-in-law look easy; however, I quickly realized it was not easy. The loving relationship I have enjoyed with my in-laws over the past 33+ years didn’t happen overnight. We all made a real effort to have an awesome relationship. I’m sure my mother-in-law, Mattie, expected certain things that I did not deliver.

The book of Ruth has many lessons for the in-law relationship that many of us struggle with. From the book of Ruth we have, up close and personal, lessons we can learn from how Naomi and Ruth’s relationship. I will be taking us through lessons I have seen of how a daughter-in-law responds to a mother-in-law. This is 1-21 lessons.

1. When things got tuff they did not run out on the relationship. “both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and Naomi was left without her …two children and without her husband.” (Ruth 1:5)Naomi had loss her two sons. Ruth and Orpah had lost their husbands. Life was getting hard. The men that they loved were gone. They lived in a man’s world. How were they going to make it financially without a man. From looking in, it was time to throw in the towel and run back to mama. Have you heard the phrase “when it gets tuff, the tuff get going”. Well, that is what they did. When life got hard, they decided on a plan of action, stay together. For Ruth and Orpah, maintaining the relationship was not optional, it was essential.

2. They helped Naomi prepare to leave. They could have just said no. This was going to be work. Everything was going to Bethlehem or put in a yard sale. They made the choice to help her when she not only needed help but a friend. In John 14, Jesus said “he was going to prepare a place for you.” He made the choice to help us in our time of need instead of just saying no. We in in-law relationships need each other. We have to be sensitive to know when to say  “I’ll help”  to meet the needs of each other.

3. Orpah and Ruth prepared to follow Naomi in her choice to move. Naomi’s daughters-in-law made the decision to respect Naomi’s choice to go back to her homeland. They were kind and loving to her. They did not try to change her mind nor did they desert her but instead they chose to follow her. Peter said in Matt. 19:27, “We have left everything to follow you.” Orpah and Ruth were choosing to leave everything to follow Naomi not by command but by choice. Why would they do that? She had given love and kindness and they were giving it back. They had built a relationship. When the men had died, there was still a relationship that grew. The relationship had survived through tragedy. What an example for you and me.

4. They were able to weep together. “She kissed them, and they wept loudly.”(Ruth 1:9b) What does this verse tell us about the relationship between Naomi and her daughters-in-law? We see an emotional connection between the three. They could relate to each other. They were able to share their feelings of pain through a trusting and honest relationship. They wept and then they openly could weep again together. Communication is the only way in-laws can be connected emotionally. They were able to show affection through touching and who knows that could have been a love language of one. If you are a mother-in-law that enjoys an emotional connection with your daughter-in-law then you are blessed. If you have tried to have an emotional connection with an in-law and they were not willing or ready, move slowly. I pray you will be able to have that positive emotional connection with your in-law in your life.

5. They were willing to do the right thing even amidst persuasions to the contrary. (Ruth 1:11) Naomi had made a decision to go to Israel along. Ruth and Orpah had made a decision to also go to Israel. Naomi could not understand why they would follow her after what they all three had gone through. ” . . . Why would you go with me?. . .” (Ruth 1:11) Naomi starts naming reasons why they would not follow her. Naomi says, “Name me one reason that makes sense, just one.”(Lynn’s paraphrase) She is not going to have any more children. If by a miracle she did, they would be past child-bearing years to wait. Naomi could not see the big picture but God could. God had a plan. He was changing Ruth’s heart to love the same God as Naomi. Ruth was willing to do the right thing even when Naomi was determined to put up emotional road blocks. God was being their redeemer, they just needed to follow His lead.

6. Ruth held on tight to the relationship. ” . . . but Ruth clung to her.”(Ruth 1:14b) It says Ruth clung to Naomi. Ruth had just not made a commitment to Mahlon but to his family. For Ruth this commitment went beyond the death of her husband. At the risk of never getting married or having children, Ruth clings to her mother-in-law. What a conce…pt! There most likely are not many daughters-in-law that will cling to their mother-in-law at the risk of giving up anything. Ruth was as committed to her mother-in-law as she been to her husband. The word “clung” is the word also used for cleave or united in Genesis 2:24. It is also the same word used in Joshua 23:8 for cleave or hold fast. Ruth totally commits to Naomi above her own interests. She holds fast to her commitment to her. Ruth teaches us we must be willing to give up all to follow God. (It’s All About The Mother-in-Law)
7. Ruth accepted Naomi’s family as her own. Ruth says in Ruth 1:16, “your people will be my people”.  Ruth was not only committing herself to be there for Naomi but also her family. Ruth volunteers to accept Naomi’s brothers and sisters in Bethlehem as her aunts and uncles. This verse is used many times in weddings between a future husband and wife. The biblical understanding of marriage is uniting two families. Ruth was uniting in-laws and the extended families. She did not want to end the relationship. She wanted to expand on it. Naomi’s family was a part of her life. Her life had been shaped by family. For Ruth’s and Naomi’s relationship to grow, it would need to include the family that they would be near to influence their life. Ruth shows us to love a mother-in-law is to love and accept the family that is close to her heart.
8. Ruth had decided to follow Naomi’s God. “Your people will be my people and your god my God.”(Ruth 1:16b) What was in Naomi’s life that Ruth wanted to follow her. God was in her life and this was evident to Ruth. Even through Naomi’s grief and bitterness, God was shining forth to Ruth. God’s kindness was in Naomi’s life and this had shown in her actions and words to Ruth over the years. Christ says in Matthew 5:16, we are to let our lives so shine before men that they see our good works and give glory to our Father.  Even through their disobedience of moving to Moab, Ruth had been able to see good works that had drawn her to God in this family. She was changing her allegiances from Chemosh to the one true God. Ruth was saying farewell to the gods of Moab and yes to the God of Israel. She wanted to serve and trust Naomi’s God. Ruth had a desire and had made a choice for Naomi’s God to be hers. How awesome is this when a daughter-in-law is drawn to salvation through the touch of a family.
9. Ruth had accepted Naomi’s homeland as part of her own. “Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.”(Ruth 1:17a) Ruth had decided to follow Naomi and live and die in Israel. She did not even want to be buried in Moab. Naomi’s homeland was the land of God. It was the land of God’s chosen people. Ruth wanted to be where God’s people was and that was Israel. Instead of Ruth standing back and throwing stones at how different Israel was than Moab, she was ready to moved there of her own free will. Ruth is abandoning her last part of security as a widow. She is giving up the security of her homeland. The land that was so familiar to her and comfortable to her. She knew the towns, the weather, hills and valleys. Ruth is transferring her membership from being a member of Moab to a member of Israel. She is transferring her allegiance from Chemosh to God. She was ready to say good-bye, pack up and move. Ruth shows us how to be accepting of another family member’s homeland. Instead of throwing stones, Ruth was accepting. Where we are from has a special place in our hearts, we need to be accepting and not critical of the differences. Ruth shows us how to accept each others states or countries with love.
10. Ruth’s determination for their relationship was clear to Naomi. “When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.” (Ruth 1:18) Ruth had reached a decision. Her firmness in her determination had left Naomi speechless. This may have been the first time Naomi didn’t have a come back. Up until this point, Ruth probably had willingly followed Naomi instructions or wishes but now Ruth was determined to follow her heart. I can just feel her knees shaking can’t you? Her lips probably quivered as she expressed her decision. Ruth had such a firmness in her voice which only God could have given her.  Naomi immediately stopped pleading and urging for her will. She had seen a firm resolve in Ruth to convince her Ruth was coming to Bethlehem. God had once and for all nailed the discussion shut of Ruth staying in Moab. He had intended for her to move to Bethlehem with Naomi and moving she was. It was over. When we want to reason and excuse away what God intends for us to do. God sometimes will stop us in our tracks and say no. God had said no once and far all. Ruth was ready to take on the uncertainty and move on with Naomi.  Her love for Naomi and God had moved her down that dusty dirt road with Naomi to Bethlehem.
11. Ruth followed her mother-in-law regardless of fear of protection and provision. ” The two of them traveled until they came to Bethlehem. When they entered Bethlehem, the whole town was excited about their arrival. . . ” (Ruth 1:19) In ancient times most people traveled on foot and it was a difficult place to travel. The roads were small until the Romans came with their road construction. The roads were worn out dirt paths. The word road in Hebrew means beaten worn out dirt path. For Naomi and Ruth the dirt path wouldn’t have been easy as they walked along in sandals. It was also dangerous to travel. Bandits would lie in wait to attack and rob unsuspecting travelers. Naomi and Ruth did not have the protection of anybody but their God as they walked along the dry and dirty path to Bethlehem. When they set out on the journey to Bethlehem, they knew the path they would walk and the risk they would take with their lives and possessions. Naomi wanted to go home and Ruth wanted to follow her despite the treacherous journey they would take. As they enter Bethlehem tired and alone, they were met with the whole town being excited they had made it. God gave them an excited crowd to wave the pom poms and cheer as they crossed the finished line. They had made it. God had kept them safe for such a time as this.
12. Ruth stayed even through the bitterness. “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,”  she answered,  “for the Almighty has made me very bitter.” (Ruth 1:20) Naomi had left Bethlehem full of life with her husband and two sons. This is how Ruth had met her. Ruth knew her first when her life was full of washing, cooking, cleaning and the excitement of a family. Ruth had been there when they had stuff and when all the stuff was gone. This Naomi that Ruth had followed to Bethlehem was now depressed, rejected and empty. Ruth had seen more than one Naomi. She had seen the pleasant Naomi and she had seen the bitter Mara. She had been there to watch her change. If there was a time for Ruth to run, bitterness would have been the time. Bitterness always cost you more than you want to pay. Ruth had decided to stay even through the bitterness. Naomi was ok with Ruth calling her Naomi just not Bethlehem. This town was now full and Naomi was empty. These women had seen her full and now she just had what she could carry.  Ruth and Naomi had went to Bethlehem looking for God’s blessings. They needed to see God’s grace. They needed to see the unmerited favor that God had already given them. But wait, we know the rest of the story. They will see God’s grace. The Mara will change back to the Naomi Ruth had grown to love over the years.

13.  Ruth wanted to provide food and rest for her mother-in-law. “Ruth the Moabitess asked Naomi, “Will you let me go into the fields and gather fallen grain  behind someone who allows me to.” (Ruth 2:2) Two of the key words in this verse is “will you”. Ruth wanted to help. Naomi was tried and hungry. Ruth was tired and hungry. Instead of waiting on her mother-in-law to make the first move, Ruth did. Ruth wanted the best for her mother-in-law so she offered to go and glean among strangers.  Naomi did not have to put out a Help Wanted sign or plead for help. Ruth accepts her circumstances. She does not complain to Naomi about what she is reduced to do instead she realizes she is the stronger of the two.  Ruth was willing to humble herself and go to a place she did not know to provide food and rest for Naomi.  As mothers-in-law get older, daughters-in-law may have to step up and take some responsibility about their mother-in-law’s physical needs.  God had provided for the poor in Israel.  In Leviticus 23:22, God had told Moses to tell the Israelites to leave grain in the fields for the poor and the aliens. Naomi would have known this. Naomi and Ruth were both poor and Ruth was definitely an alien. This was a test of Ruth’s young faith to be poor and in a strange land. When God told the Israelites to leave food for the poor and aliens, He would have known that one day in His perfect plan Naomi and Ruth would be the poor that would need food.  In Proverbs 31, we are told that a wise woman “provides food for her family.”   We see a wise woman who works with eager hands to provide for her mother-in-law. Wow, what a concept?

14. Ruth desired her mother-in-law’s approval. “And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.’ Naomi said to her, ‘Go ahead, my daughter.'” Ruth is submitting to her mother-in-law, In Ephesians 5:21, we are told to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” Paul uses the Greek word “hypotassomenoi” which means lining oneself up under. The word is in present tense and middle voice suggesting that a person continues in submission by personal choice. The word gives the idea of voluntarily giving up your rights for someone else. Ruth had already  given up her people, homeland and gods to follow Naomi. She is now saying, “Now that we are here, I want your direction.” The Greek word was used in Greek culture for soldiers standing under the authority of a commanding officer. Submission is one of the secrets to harmony in a home. Naomi and Ruth had a home even if it was just the two of them. As followers of Christ, we should have mutual submission for one another, bearing each other’s burdens, not trying to dominate over another. Sometimes in in-law relationships there is competition  for who is in charge.  Naomi and Ruth were not in competition for the mother in charge role; instead they were submitting to each other. Ruth saw a need and wanted to meet that need for her mother-in-law that she loved so much. Ruth and Naomi were past the rights and had moved into what was best for each other. Selfishness was gone and love was in its place.

15. Ruth was gentle and kind in Naomi’s hometown. “She asked, ‘Will you let me gather fallen grain among the bundles behind the harvesters?'” Ruth is the outsider coming to do something she had never done. Gathering grain in Bethlehem was outside her comfort zone but there was a need.  Ruth starts with a “will you”. She expresses her desire with “If it’s ok with you, can I?” She needed to gather grain but she knew she needed permission first. Ruth knew what she must do but she would only do it by being kind. She would be gentle and kind. In the life of Esther, we see a queen who knew what she must do. When Esther approached the king, she said, “If it pleases the king,”. Esther was kind even though she knew lives were at stake. Ruth and Esther had chosen to do it God’s way. Many verses remind us of kindness such as I Cor. 13:4, “Love is kind” and Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind”. In in-law relationships, we need to remember Ruth’s example. Ruth knew what she needed but asked permission with gentleness and kindness. Boaz’s servant showed favor to Ruth’s kind spirit that we know could have only came from God. God took a Moabite and transported her to Bethlehem and put her in Boaz’s field for this time. Ruth’s kindness in this field was rewarded with the privilege to gather grain to helped feed her mother-in-law Naomi.

16. Ruth worked diligently to provide for Naomi’s needs. “She went into the field and has worked steadily from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.” (Ruth 2:7b) The word diligently means she was constant in her effort. She was persistent in what she wanted to accomplish. The servant reported to Boaz that Ruth stayed on her feet working all day. She intended to work as long as she could that day. She had made the effort to find a field that would allow her to glean so why would she stop. The grain was before her. All she had to do was depend on God to give her strength to work. God had blessed her with a place to glean and the strength to work. She could accomplish anything with the Lord by her side.  Naomi was always on her mind while she was working. She knew what the needs were for Naomi and herself. Her rest at the hut would be brief because the needs were in the forefront for Ruth. Titus 3:14 tells us  “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.” Ruth devoted herself to doing what was right for Naomi and provided the daily provisions for her. Ruth was living a productive life. God had richly provided for Naomi and Ruth. Ruth’s love for Naomi showed in her care for Naomi. Her love was a active love. She saw the needs of Naomi and took action.  What an example Ruth shows us for caring for a mother-in-law.

17. She was grateful for kindness shown to her in Bethlehem. “At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me-a foreigner?” (2:10)  Ruth’s reputation in Bethlehem was being formed by the townspeople she saw, workers she worked behind and relatives that knew the kindness she had shown Naomi. Ruth with humility showed her gratitude with her whole body in front of Boaz as she bowed before him. Can’t you just feel her knees shaking as he came over to her? It was her first time meeting the wealthy owner of the field. She bowed in an act of worship before God and Boaz. She knew for Boaz to notice her, God had been in the middle of this. Her gratitude poured out not only in her body language but also in her language. Prov. 22:11 says “He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.” Ruth’s speech was gracious and respectful and Boaz had done more than notice. Boaz had noticed a woman in his field. If that was not enough, he had noticed a Moabite woman. Boaz had done more than he had to. He had noticed a Moabite woman and spoke kindly to her. He had exhibited grace. Ruth had looked into his eyes and saw grace. Ruth and Boaz had each done more than was required. This has to come from the inside.  Ruth and Boaz’s heart was full of grace, respect and gratitude Our in-law relationships  body language and speech need to be all about grace, respect, and gratitude to each other. What a change that would make in our relationships if our body language showed gratitude and our eyes was full of grace.

 

18. The word was spreading on what Ruth had done for Naomi. She had not only  been known as a Moabitess but also the kind daughter-in-law. “Boaz replied, ‘I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband-how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.'” (Ruth 2:11) In Paul’s journey, Luke tells us the islanders showed Paul unusual kindness. (Acts 28:2) It was unusual for a foreigner to leave her homeland and follow an Israelite back to Bethlehem willingly. Ruth’s kindness for Naomi and her people were unusual. She had done the unexpected and different. She had made sacrifices that people could see. Her love for Naomi was shown by her kindness to her. Her love had been patient thru Naomi’s bereavement and pain. Her love had been understanding through the move and through it all, her disposition had been pleasant and kind. The Israelites could see Ruth’s kindness to Naomi and also her kindness to them. Ruth’s kindness was overflowing to everyone. We are commanded to be kind to one another in 2 Tim. 2:24. Ruth’s kindness was to each person. People tend to gospel about juicy bad stuff. This was juicy good stuff that people could not stop talking about. The word was spreading across the town and fields. Kindness to a mother-in-law was worth talking about for the Israelites. Ruth had surprised them all with her kindness.

19. God was using other people to bless Ruth for her kindness shown to her mother-in-law. Boaz was bestowing a blessing of God on Ruth in Ruth 2:12. “May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, The God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” There are three important words in this verse for Ruth. The first is repay. Boaz is not satisfied with his  generosity, he wants Yahweh to repay Ruth for what she has done for Naomi as well. God was going to replace the difficult times in Moab with blessings in Israel. Boaz had seen God reward people for their actions. Ruth in his eyes deserved God’s blessing for her kindness to Naomi. The second important word  for Ruth is reward. Boaz wanted Ruth to receive a full reward from the LORD God of Israel. Ruth the Moabite had made sacrifices for Naomi an Israelite. She had willing transferred her allegiance from the god of the Moabites to the God of the Israelites. Her former god would not give her anything but her God would give her a full not half but a full reward for what she had done. The third important word is refuge. Like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings for safety, Ruth could count on the LORD being her refuge at any time.  Ruth had come to Boaz and he had offered her his protection, he was personally functioning as the wings of God. He was not only offering her safety but also honoring God. Proverbs says “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” (Prov 14:31) Boaz had used three loaded words in this verse to convey to Ruth God’s blessing for her life. God would repay, reward and be her refuge for what she had done for her mother-in-law. God was going to bless and bless even more than she could imagine.

20. Ruth showed humility in the midst of work. Ruth showed her humility in her response to Boaz. “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord.” she said. “You have given me comfort and have spoken kindly to your servant-though I do not have the standing of one of your servant girls.” Ruth walked into this field nervous and maybe her knees shaking. Naomi had prepared her with what to expect but that did not take away the fears of being in a new place with new people.  Everything was knew and she did not recognize any faces she knew. Boaz had reached out to her. She was so thankful to him. Ruth did not take Boaz’s favor for granted. She asked Boaz if she could continue to find grace in his eyes. He had given her confidence that she would be alright in this field. He had comforted  and consoled her fears. He had given her a sign of relief. Boaz had spoke kind words to her. We never know when a kind word and a smile sends comfort to people we don’t even know. Ruth had just met Boaz but God had used his words to give Ruth a sense of peace and safety. Boaz had treated her better than a foreigner. Ruth was so grateful for Boaz’s kindness. Ruth had remained humble in Boaz’s field. God had used Boaz to show Ruth her importance. She was not even a female servant but God had used this man to comfort and bring relief to her soul. How special is that.

21. God showed Ruth favor during her work because of her kindness to her mother-in-law. “At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over.” (Ruth 2:14) Ruth stayed out in the field when it was time for a meal break. Boaz approaches Ruth, a Moabite and woman, and  invites her to eat with the harvesters. The important was reaching out to the seemingly unimportant to distribute grace. Boaz was showing unusual favor to Ruth. Boaz had generously had more than enough food prepared for his harvesters. One more wouldn’t matter. He wanted her needs to be met more than just doing the letter of the law. He offers her bread that is prepared for the harvesters. He could have left his favor at that but he did more. God does that in our lives. He could give us just enough but He always wants us to have more than we have. Boaz offers roasted grain that is a staple food for the Israelites. Ruth was working hard. She needed more than just bread to give her the energy she needed. Ruth had done the unusual. She had followed and cared for a Israelite mother-in-law. Boaz had done the unusual. He had approached a Moabite woman, offered her a seat with the  harvesters, given her bread, given her grain and satisfied her with food.  Boaz was a man of few words but he had showed grace to Ruth. Through that grace God had poured out compassion, generosity and acceptance to Ruth. The grace that Ruth had showed to her mother-in-law had been returned to her in abundance. God was giving her fullness in more than one way.