Monday, September 21, 2015

TGSGI - Chapter 3

"When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more."  Ruth 1:18

Welcome to chapter 3 of "The Girl's Still Got It"!  In this chapter Liz breaks down 4 short verses that are filled with high drama, bold exclamations, deep commitment, and emotion.

Last week we wondered what life Orpah & Ruth had to go back to: could they find new husbands after being married to Israelites?  Were they welcome in their mother's homes after being childless widows?  Was Naomi looking out for them or for herself by suggesting they return?  I like to think that returning to their families was a smart move; that finding new husbands was possible and that they would be allowed, if not welcomed, back home.  Otherwise, their initial decision to leave with Naomi would not be significant.  And Ruth's conviction to stay with Naomi would not be divine.

As we read Liz's dramatic interpretation of Ruth 1:14-18, she paints a vivid picture of Ruth and Naomi.  As Orpah starts back toward Moab, Naomi tries again to urge Ruth to go with her.  But, Ruth's response is defiant and courageous and (I think) divinely inspired.  Liz helps us to understand the importance and the impact Ruth's words are having on Naomi.  We have heard these words before, so often perhaps, that they have lost a bit of their edge.  But, imagine hearing these words spoken to you or by you during a crossroads in your life.  Perhaps you have... how did that moment change your life?

I'm not fully convinced on every aspect of Liz's imagining of Naomi.  She did a lot of research and Naomi's words and actions do lend themselves to a certain personality, but I'm not buying in 100% to her dramatization.  Mostly because I'm about Naomi's age (though not exactly her time of life) and as I read the book of Ruth, I find myself relating to her more than to Ruth.  I tend to be a bit of a complainer, even in the midst of doing something I don't want to do, but know it's right thing to do.  So, when we read verse 18 (above) and Liz & other scholars interprets it as "angry, fearful, exhausted, sullen, depressed, beaten down" (pg. 52) I disagree.

On page 45, Liz brings up the possibility that Naomi is testing her daughters-in-law, in a roundabout way.  This makes total sense to me!  To explain my thought process would take a short paper, so I won't get into that.  But, let the idea sit with you for a bit and see how it changes your view of this turning point.  In the end, I think Naomi's silence is her own turning point.  After all, what more is there to say after seeing the work God did in Ruth's heart?  The test was over and is it possible, that Naomi had a slight smile on her lips?  Could she be pleased that she will have a loving, strong, courageous companion for the rest of her days?  Not that Naomi would let on - that tough exterior built up over the last 10 years will take some time to completely fall away.

A few other things to really pay attention to:
*  "But"... on page 46 Liz expands on this storytelling tool.  It's what makes stories so exciting!!
* The idea of leaving everything you know and embracing a whole new way of life - talk about an exciting & scary adventure! (page 48-49; Kindle readers: after "Your people will be my people...").
* We plant seeds, but the Lord changes hearts (page 49; Kindle: under the heading THE BIG ONE )

To deepen your understanding and your faith, spend some time answering the Study Guide questions in the back of the book.  This time spent in quiet reflection of how the stories of the Bible are connected to each other and how they inform and impact our lives, is where faith grows in breadth and depth.

Part "b" of question 2 is one we will specifically discuss.  Feel free to start the discussion in the comment section below or (click here to go to the blog).  We'll make a list on Friday and I'll share it in it's entirety (a combination of blog comments and the Friday list) on the blog next week.  I can't wait to see what you each come up with!   Other comments and questions are welcome, too!

Don't forget, we are collecting much needed women's products this Friday.  Thank you for your generous donations.  In this way we are doing God's work with our hands and directly impacting our community, helping those in need.

Your Partner in Ministry,

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Monday, September 14, 2015

TGSTI - Chapter 2

"Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again.  So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland." Ruth 1:6

Yesterday was Rally Day at church.  A day to kick-off the new Sunday School year, to celebrate the mission trip of the Youth over the summer and enjoy a church picnic on the front lawn.  A day to rally God's people after a "time apart" (aka summer break).  It's a day of making connections and reflecting on the work of our church with each other.

During this time, I had the opportunity to talk with a few people about the youth.  We are fortunate to have an active youth group and Sunday school.  However, we still see the decline of young people's participation from the time they are confirmed until they have children of their own; and wondered and guessed as to why this happens.  Those high school, college, and early adult years seem to be a normal 'time apart' in our personal faith cycle.  I know I am certainly guilty of it.  And 2 of my children are in that time (high school & college) and don't always make it to Sunday services, even when the rest of us are going.  There are as many reasons why this happens as there are people; but it doesn't mean they (we) have turned out backs on God.

When I read chapter 2 of The Girl's Still Got It, where Liz talks about our opening verse (above) I was reminded of the natural faith cycle of regular attendance and regular absence.  I'm not saying it's something we should do (take time away from the church), but it seems to be something we do, as humans.  Naomi left for 10+ years, the prodigal son left for a time, and our young people often find themselves attending in an off-and-on fashion from about age 15-25 (NOT a statistic, this is from my own personal experience).  And certainly not everyone!  There are active faith organizations in every high school & on every college campus.  There are dynamic, energizing ministries that are made up of mostly that age group.  So, this is not a blanket statement, but one I think many churches notice.

My point is: Naomi was in a foreign land, but she did not abandon her faith.  She kept her eyes on the Lord.  She kept her ear tuned to news from her homeland.  Why?  Hope.  She knew, even in her difficulties and whining, that the Lord would not abandon her.  It wasn't easy and she was not the most graceful throughout the situation, but she was brave and eager to rejoin her people and return to God, physically, to dwell in the land he had given her people.  (For me, "Judah" represents my church.)

I think it's that way with the 'least represented' age group.  It may be that this is a natural cycle of exploring, testing, and asserting one's faith in a different direction.   It's not that they (we - because this can occur at any age!) turn our backs on God, or our faith, but something else pulls us in a different direction.  The world, in Naomi's case starvation, has a more immediate priority for a time.  But that doesn't mean that we completely lose faith.  Even if we are like the prodigal son and live it up for a while, we know that God will not abandon us.

If we keep a listening ear tuned to the heart of God, we will always return to Him.  And He will always receive us "Filled with love and compassion..." Luke 15:20a.  

There is tons of great stuff in chapter 2!  If you haven't already read it, read it today.  Take the rest of the week to answer the questions in the study guide.  Jot down your answers and any other insights you have as you read.  Liz is great at explaining what's 'lost in translation' and really brings these verses to life!  How does it translate into your life?  What parallels to do you see?  How is it informing your faith journey?

I am eager to know how you are doing with this!  If you are reading this in your e-mail click here to post in the Comment section.  Let's start a conversation!

Your Partner in Ministry,


"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Girl's Still Got It! aka TGSGI!

"Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again.  So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland."  
Ruth 1:6

If you have or know of school aged children, this week was an exciting (hopefully) week!  Back-to-school!  In most cases the children are returning to both the familiar and the unfamiliar.  They are often returning to a school building they know and will know some kids in their class.  But they will also have new kids in their class, a new teacher and new expectations.  If you've ever relocated over the summer, you & your children have had the experience of back-to-school where everything is new!

So it is in our story of Ruth and Naomi.  Naomi has been living 'out of town' for a long time; she is "returning to her homeland", but some things will be different.  Ruth & Orpah, the dutiful daughters-in-law, start to go with her.  Guessing that the prospect of a whole new life is a bit overwhelming for Orpah, she takes the opportunity Naomi offers and returns to Moab.  Ruth, however sticks around.  Her passionate words are found in Ruth 1:16-17.

Looking at just this experience of returning (Naomi) and going (Ruth) to Judah, ask yourself how you would feel in each character's place?  When was the last time you returned to a "place" (this could also be a situation, person, idea) from which you had a long absence.
Have you ever had to pick up and move to a whole new "place" (again, this could be forming new relationships, meeting new challenges, etc)?
How did that make you feel in each of these situations?  Perhaps you are in the midst of this right now, can you describe your thoughts & emotions?

Now that you've put yourself in Naomi's sandals and Ruth's sandals, I hope you have a stronger connections to these women.  Yes, these two women lived a long time ago, in a very different time & place.  But, we have much in common with them and I hope you are starting to feel it!

I'm so excited to get together with you to talk about all of this!!  I wish we could meet for half the day!  Alas, that is not possible.  So, come here and type your comments, insights, & questions.  We can begin or continue conversations right here on-line!

Read "Before We Dive In" and "Chapter One" of The Girl's Still Got It, prior to our first meeting!  Take a few notes and jot down your thoughts & answers to the questions in the Study Guide in the back of the book.

I'll see you in ONE WEEK!!!   In person or on-line, I cannot wait!

Friday, September 11 at 9:15 am!

Your Partner in Ministry,


"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tasty Tuesday

"I scream! You scream!  We all scream for ice cream!"

As summer winds down, one favorite memory for many people is indulging in ice cream!  It's the perfect summer treat: smooth & creamy & refreshingly cold on a hot summer's day.  Everyone has their favorite kind: soft serve, hard hand scooped, and gelato.  Personally, I like them all and one of my favorites is vanilla ice cream on a soft, warm waffle!  

Ice cream comes in every flavor you can imagine!  From the standard chocolate & vanilla to the classic strawberry & butter pecan to the exotic mango and the strange lumberjack (waffle cone, maple syrup & crumbled bacon).  You name it and someone, somewhere probably makes an ice cream flavor of it.  Even how you eat it caters to an individual's fancy: you can get it on a stick, in a sandwich (chocolate, cookie, waffle), a cone (traditional or waffle), a bowl and even layered in cake.  You can top it with nuts, fruits, candy & syrups!  It's probably one of the most individual desserts ever invented!  

From the ringing bell of the Ice Cream Truck to the long lines at the local ice cream parlor, it's a summer treat enjoyed by the masses!   People make a living creating this delicious treat and some have built an empire on it!

This summer I discovered a "new" ice cream while browsing Pinterest!  That form of social media can really cut into my productivity.  But, I've made some great discoveries and No-Churn Ice Cream is one of them.  This latest craze in dessert has probably been around for some time, but it's popularity is back in the spotlight!  Just like traditional ice cream, you can create any flavor imaginable.  The differences being: 1) it's base is only 3 ingredients and 2) the only kitchen appliance you need is a mixer.  It's so simple it's dangerous!  Don't believe me?  Check out my Pinterest Board dedicated to Ice Cream.  I used the basic chocolate ice cream recipe to create chocolate marshmallow, one of my family's favorites.  This is something my family will be requesting (or making themselves) from now on!
No-Churn Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream

As much as I love this no-churn ice cream craze, traditional ice cream is worth the extra effort on occasion.  Especially if you have summer-fresh fruit on hand!  There's nothing like fresh peaches, sweet & juicy & oh so delicious!  God knew what he was doing when he created peaches, down to the enticing soft yellow-red of the outside, while the inside is a glorious golden color!  I don't know how anyone can't like them!  My son being one of those people - so strange!  That just means more for the rest of us!  We had a few peaches that were ripening faster than we could devour them, so I decided to get out my ice cream maker and churn some homemade peach ice cream!  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!  It certainly lived up to the high expectation of creating memories of summer's favorite dessert!  And the combination of ice cream and fresh peaches could only be descried as "Mmmmm".

Homemade Traditional Vanilla-Peach Ice Cream

I hope you'll give the no-churn ice cream a try - your friends and family will be impressed!  If you share it with them, that is :)  And if you have an ice cream maker that's collecting dust, get it out and churn some delicious homemade ice cream!  

Share your favorite ice cream flavor in the comments below!  Do you have a favorite ice cream shop?  I'd love to check it out (if it's close).  In my town everyone goes to Denville Dairy, it's the summer (spring & fall) gathering place, especially after sporting events.

I hope you enjoy these last few official days of summer!  Packing some homemade ice cream into your freezer may help you hold on to summer, even into autumn.

Your Partner in Ministry,


"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24