Monthly Archives: January 2013

A Servant’s Heart

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Hey, everybody!

As I finally have some time to sit down and write, here is the promised post. I hope you enjoy it; I am super excited for this one! As you know, I’ve been working on a “Through the Bible in a Year” plan, which takes me through the entire Bible in 365 days by breaking down into itty-bitty chunks. With dedication and much prayer, I have been able to find time each day since the New Year to read, and I just finished the Book of Ruth. (Which isn’t saying much — there are only four chapters in the Book of Ruth, so it only took me one day’s worth of reading to get through this one!) And, so far, Ruth’s story is my favorite Old Testament story of all. I just adore a good love story, and the Book of Ruth shows us God’s grace towards all those who do nothing other than love and serve Him. Ruth was such a model lady for everyone seeking a pure, honest, and loving life in the Lord.

Here’s a quick (okay, well maybe not quick) summary of the Book of Ruth:

There was a woman named Naomi, an Ephrathite from Bethlehem, Judah, who lived with her husband, Elimelek, and her two sons Mahlon and Kilion. The family went to Moab to live there to escape the famine in the land where they had come from. Not long after, Elimelek died, and she was left with only her two sons, who married Moabite women, and then died themselves about ten years later. (The Bible doesn’t mention how they, Naomi’s husband or sons, died. But all I can say is that poor Naomi had some pretty bad luck!) So Naomi was left living with her two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth.

Then Naomi got word that the Lord had come to the aid of His people and had ended the famine, she decided it was time to return home to Judah. So she packed up what little she had and set out on the journey home, with her daughters-in-law following closely behind her. But Naomi turned to them and said, basically, “Thank you for your kindness, and may the Lord show you the same grace you have shown me. Go back to your own home now; the Lord help you find rest in the home of another husband.” (Aww, nice!)

At first, Ruth and Orpah protested, saying, “No! We’re staying with you.” Naomi eventually convinced Orpah, and she left to go back to her mother’s home. But Ruth refused to leave her mother-in-law.

“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. 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.'” ~Ruth 1:16-17

Okay, so once Naomi heard this, she knew that Ruth was serious, and that she really was going to stick by her side. So the two women arrived at Bethlehem, and lived together there. Ruth followed harvesters at their work in the fields, picking up any leftover grain they left behind to feed herself and Naomi. As it turned out, she was working in the field of Boaz, a man from the clan of Elimelek and a relative of Naomi. He noticed Ruth gathering the leftover grain in the fields, and asked the overseer, “Hey, who’s that girl over there?” So the overseer told him who she was and what she was doing there. And Boaz said to her, “Hey, listen, stay here in this field; don’t go find another field to glean in. Stick with the other women in the field. I’ve told the men not to lay a hand on you; you’re completely safe here. And whenever you need a drink, help yourself to the water the men have gone to fetch.”

Ruth, naturally, was surprised and delighted, but confused. She didn’t know what she, a foreigner, had done to make him notice her. Boaz told her, “I’ve heard all about what you’ve done for your mother-in-law after your husband’s death — how you left your parents and your homeland to come live with an unfamiliar people in a new land. May the Lord, the God of Israel, whom you have come to take refuge in, repay and reward you for what you have done.”

And so their relationship began. Ruth continued to glean in his fields and tried her very best to be the most obedient and faithful servant she could be. Boaz kept his eye on her the whole time, making sure she was all right, once inviting her to share mealtime with him, and even ordering his men to pull out some stalks from their sheaves and leave them for Ruth to pick up. (Double-awww!) When Ruth came home each day with enough grain to last for a week, Naomi got curious and asked, “Where did you glean today? God bless the man in whose field you worked!” Ruth then told Naomi about Boaz, and then Naomi told her that he was, in fact, of the clan of Elimelek, and a relative of hers.

Naomi knew that she had to find a husband for Ruth, and Boaz had obviously proven himself as a man of the Lord. She hatched a plan to get things moving between them (see Ruth 3-4). Boaz could see what a loving and devoted servant Ruth was, both to him and to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and he married her. Ruth and Boaz had a son named Obed, who was the grandfather of David, of whom Jesus Christ was a direct descendant.

Think about that. That’s a huge deal! So, if Ruth was the mother of Obed, and Obed was King David’s grandfather, then that means that Ruth was directly related to Jesus, the Savior of Mankind! Why is this such a huge deal? Well, Ruth started out as nothing special. She was just a poor widow and a foreigner in Judah. But Boaz took notice of her good deeds and saw what a loyal, loving person she was, and so did God. The story of Ruth proves that God can take even ordinary people and transform them into something wonderful. It proves that God has the power to write a beautiful happy-ever-after for all those who love and believe in Him, just like He did for Ruth, the poor Moabite servant girl. This is great news!

All her life, Ruth was nothing other than loyal, obedient, and full of love for her mother-in-law and the Lord. She didn’t do anything amazing to deserve credit. But the Lord took notice of her because of her gentle and obedient spirit, and her servant’s heart, loyal till the very end. Her life was a true model of the way God wants us to live. What if, starting today, we took Ruth’s story as an example for our own lives? What if we stuck by our friends through thick or thin, no matter what life threw at us? What if we carried out all our tasks obediently and without question? And, most importantly, what if we loved the Lord God with our whole hearts and surrendered ourselves completely to His unending love? If we managed to do this, we can be sure that the Lord would write for us the same happy ending he wrote for Ruth so long ago. God has wonderful plans for you and me, plans of unimaginable joy and peace with Him! However, before we can know of these plans, we have to put our whole heart, soul, body and mind into living like Ruth did. Of course, as humans, we are incapable of doing this on our own, but the Lord can help us to live the way He wants us to. All we have to do is ask Him!

So today, let’s try and turn our lives around and begin again with a new perspective: the perspective of a loyal servant of the Lord. Surely our deeds will bring us much happiness in our lives, and much joy to others; for God never forgets any of His servants. He has wonderful plans for all those who live the way He commands us to, and the story of Ruth is assurance that no good deed or act of kindness goes unseen.

“Well done, good and faithful servant.” ~Matthew 25:23

Your friend, Olivia

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STTA #7

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Hey, everyone!!!

First of all, sorry it’s been so long! Just a reminder – I am SUPER busy during the school week, and the past few weeks have been crammed with midterms, projects, events, and all kinds of other craziness. But I’m really glad to be back, and I have a couple of really neat posts coming up soon that I hope you’ll like!

So, here is the STTA for today: If you were a dessert, what would you be?

Mmm, dessert! My favorite meal of the day… I am absolutely in love with anything and everything chocolate. That being said, if I were a dessert, I would be a sugar cookie with gobs of chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles on top! I’m simple and unfussy, but frosted with a layer of sugary sweetness, sprinkled with colorful fun! How does that sound? Yummy, right? 😉 (Hmm…if I were a cookie, I think I would eat myself. Hardee-har-har!) So, what about you all? Do I have any brownies out there? Jelly doughnuts? Snickers bars? (Sorry if I’m making you hungry!)

Please feel free to share!

Quote of the Day #3

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“A two-year-old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.” ~Jerry Seinfield

Okay, I have nothing to say on this one. It’s just funny. (Fine – it’s REALLY funny.) Haha, I am laughing out loud right now! This is so true! Actually, thinking about it, this can also apply to puppies, and rambunctious little brothers… 😉

Quote of the Day #2

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“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” ~Walt Disney

I think this quote is just perfect for the New Year, as we make our resolutions and set our goals of what we plan to accomplish in the coming year.  What makes dreams so wonderful? Well, dreams are safe. In a dream, anything can happen, no matter how splendid or just plain unrealistic it is, but it tends to leave out all the hard work and determination necessary to follow that dream. With no sweat or perseverance at all, our hearts’ desire is handed to us on a silver platter. We get to experience all the glory and joy of a dream come true, without any of the hard work to get there. Let’s face it: that sounds pretty nice! If only all dreams were that easy to accomplish…

Wait a second. Reality check: no dreams can be achieved without any work at all. Nada. None. All dreams require guts, and test your courage and persistence through hard work. This fact is scary to some people. Some people are intimidated by the thought of the dedication required to follow their dreams, even if it is a cause they believe in, and are then scared away before they begin. Walt Disney was a smart man. He recognized the truth that, if we are unable to give our very all towards making our dreams come true, there is no way that it’s ever going to happen. If we truly believe in it, we will find a way to achieve it, no matter how crazy, unrealistic, or out-of-this-world it is. So dive in, and find a way to accomplish your dreams today! You can do anything you set your mind to, people. 🙂

STTA #6

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What are some goals you have for the New Year?

To clear it up, this could be anything. It could be to earn better grades, to eat healthier, or to work on being kinder to a sibling. (These goals are also called resolutions.) This year, in 2013, I am going to try my hardest to be the best friend I can be. That means keeping secrets, remembering birthdays, and always making time for my girlfriends when they need me. I’m also going to try to get back on track with my running to train for a possible half-marathon in June, and to make time to read the Bible and talk to God every day. (Another goal I have is to stick to my goals throughout the entire year!) So, what about you? What are you going to try to accomplish in 2013?

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

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Hi everyone!

First of all, Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful 2012, and that the coming year will be filled with blessings for you and your family. I am SO excited for a New Year. I feel like 2013 is going to be a good one. 🙂

For the past few days, I’ve been enjoying some wintery fun at my grandparents’ cottage in the mountains. My family had a very nice time, drinking a mug of hot chocolate daily and spending lots of time reading and making use of the rare snow. I took several pictures while I was there, which I thought would make a good post. The mountain cottage is my paradise; I can never breathe or sleep so easily as when I am there. I thought I would share some of my paradise with you. Hopefully through my photos, you will be able to get a sense of the still, silent beauty and timelessness of the mountains in the wintertime.

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Here is what I saw when I looked out my window. Can you ask for a prettier sight?

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I took this picture standing on our back deck.

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The snowy woods just outside our backyard. Big, silent, and yet familiar and warm, even on a frozen December day.

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Tracks! Oh, wait – they’re my own. Oh, well. (:

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As we tromped through the woods, no sounds could be heard except for the occasional scuffling of small animals, the trickling of water, and the rush of the wind through the bare branches of the trees. One of the things that always strikes me whenever I come here is how quiet it is. It takes a bit to get used to the utter silence that replaces the honking of car horns at night.

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This little tree stands all by its lonesome in the corner of our yard. Wouldn’t it look simply adorable strewn with tinsel, with shiny ball ornaments hanging from its branches? And maybe a sparkly star to top it off… It would make the perfect little Christmas tree for all the woodland creatures out in the woods, the foxes and the rabbits and the birds and the deer… (:

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You can be assured that it was very cold up in the mountains. VERY. COLD. My poor appendages were numb by the time we returned to the cottage after sledding or walking through the snowy woods. But I barely noticed it, because I was far too happy just breathing in the sweet scent of the mountains and basking in the bright winter sunshine.

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See how blue the sky is! Here, in the countryside, where large urban industrial areas are miles and miles away, the air is fresh and clear.

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If you look closely, you can see the gently sloping mountains rising behind the trees… What a view!

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Hi Sadie! (We took the dogs, Sadie and my grandparents’ dog, Bonnie, on many chilly walks through the neighborhood. For Sadie, being a Labrador Retriever, bred in snowy Canada, the cold, frosty weather here is preferable to the kind of weather we’d been having at home lately.)

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What do you smell, Sadie? (Probably some little furry critter scampering around in the snow.) Whenever Sadie picks up a scent or hears something, she snaps her head in that direction and her ears perk up, listening. Alert. In tune with her surroundings. (Ha! Only half the time.) She goes into “watchdog” mode. It’s pretty cute – probably because we all know that, honestly, Sadie wouldn’t be able to protect us from a cookie. She’s a sweetie. (:

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Oh my goodness! Look at her little snow beard! (I am rolling on the floor laughing right now.) Right before I took this photo, Sadie had shoved her snout into the snow and was furiously digging around with her nose and snorting for about five minutes straight. (Don’t ask me!) Oh, is this not the most hysterical picture you’ve seen all day? She is SO funny…and adorable!

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There’s my Grandma and Grandpa’s dog, Bonnie (a yellow Lab), up ahead. She likes to be “leader of the pack.”

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Look at all that snow, piled up on the side of the road! It was fun to have so much snow, although it was very powdery and didn’t stick (so not the best for sledding and snowmen). It was very windy, and whenever a large gust of wind came, it would swirl the top layer of  snow into the air, like a miniature blizzard, so that it was almost white and you could barely see a thing in front of you for a few seconds, until the wind died down and the snow settled.

I hope you enjoyed these pictures. I am so grateful to my grandparents for a wonderful winter break, and for the fact that I am always welcome here. Being at the cottage made me think about something. (I know what you’re saying to yourself right now: Olivia’s always thinking about something! 😉 ) I don’t know about you, but it is just so awful when people say that the world is truly a dark and evil place, full of evil people and schemes, and so NOT TRUE. For me, I know in my heart that this is not so when I lay eyes upon even the simplest things of beauty: a bright yellow dandelion waving in a spring breeze, a rainbow, a person holding the door open for another. Such small things; yet so powerful! Do these small moments of grace exist in a world that is truly evil? These things are all the proof that I need of the goodness of the world in which we live. And for me, being able to witness firsthand the splendor and magnitude of Nature during my short vacation at my grandparents’ mountain cottage was a lovely reminder that the world truly is a good and beautiful place. Seeing the snow sparkle, the icicles glisten, underneath the cold winter sun, the sky, going on for miles as far as I could see, bright blue against the dazzling white landscape… God’s Creation is wonderful and magnificent! And the world is a good place, full of light and beauty and hope. I am thankful to have had my eyes opened to this fact, and to have a place where I can always go whenever I need to be reminded of the world’s goodness.

Happy New Year, everyone! Where have you traveled for winter vacation? Maybe your cousins’ house, or a ski resort? Or maybe somewhere warm and sunny… Or perhaps you’ve been enjoying a relaxing staycation at home? 😉 Do you have a place you can go whenever you need to be reassured of the goodness of the world, and the people in it? What are the things that remind you of the grace of God’s Creation? Please feel free to share!

Your friend, Olivia