Showing posts with label Book club/Bible study notes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book club/Bible study notes. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Lot to Be Thankful For...


I'm posting a big THANK YOU to all who ordered my book recently, I appreciate it! I'm grateful because it's another opportunity to share the comfort God has granted me. I'm so thankful to God! That's why I do this blog, my book, and the Lifeboat support groups. My greatest satisfaction is in seeing widows come out of their grief and begin to live again---you're my heroes!

And speaking of heroes, today is Veteran's Day so let's all thank every veteran we see. They all sacrificed far more than we may ever know, and thank their wives and widows too. May God bless them all! And by the way, I'd like to shout out "Thanks, Dad"---to my dad who served in the Navy during the Korean War. I'm sure he'll be attending all the services and parades he can to honor those he served with. His memories and patriotism run deep.

Do you have a GROUP DISCUSSION GUIDE yet? It's a 5-session guideline for starting a casual book club or widows group using my book. Groups have been starting up all over---Minnesota, Oklahoma, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, etc., etc., even Malaysia!
If you'd like a free discussion guide too, just email your mailing address to me at [email protected] and I'll drop a free copy in the mail for you. And of course, rest assured that I do not sell or even share your address or info with anyone else.

I hope you'll enjoy the many features of my book.
  • I know what "widow fog" is like---those days when we find it so hard to concentrate. So I designed the book for those days too!! You can just read the "postcards" at the start of each chapter. As you flip through them you'll see Ruth and Naomi transform from grief to gumption to redemption!
  • Later on, when you're ready for your own transformation, start using the journaling exercise at the end of each chapter. You'll be amazed as you look back on your own life and see what the Lord has brought you through and the blessings that stretch out on the path ahead of you.
  • And then, you can even use it with a small group. As we found out at the widows retreat this weekend, we need each other! Good things happen when widows get together. The instant comraderie, encouragement and love are beyond compare! Aside from a whole weekend together, going through my book with your friends is the next best thing. Request the discussion guide for your own group, or to give to your church's womens ministry or grief recovery team for consideration. 
  • To order a copy just click on the book cover at the right top corner of this blog. (Email subscribers click HERE to get to the blog website so you can order).
Have a sweet day, and thanks again, ferree

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Discussion Guide, Week #5

Dear Reader,

I hope you'll join me in praying for our 9/11 families who suffered loss and who courageously carry on and continue to serve in their communities and our country. Please pray for our public servants and our military, and that the Lord would see fit to continue his mercies and kindness to all.

This concludes the discussion guide, and you now have all 5 weeks worth. Blogs are a good resource for widows, but it’s so good to talk face to face with other widows, and I hope my book Postcards from the Widows' Path has provided you the perfect opportunity.
Remember, you can gather two, three or more widows or others for a time of friendship, support and meaningful conversation any time, and with just about any book or blog. It can be your own casual group of friends, or an organized church event. Meet around your kitchen table, or a casual coffee shop, or your church library---any place that's comfortable and distraction free. You’ll cherish the sacred reflections and find renewed hope. ferree

Week 5: Blessing—chapters 21-25 of Postcards...; Ruth 4 

Icebreaker: Which postcard did you like most? Which chapter was your favorite? Which journaling exercise was most helpful for you? Find out if anyone did the research on Matthew 1. Ask if they were surprised by the number of widows in the geneology of Christ and if they found it significant.

Discussion Questions

· Which of the struggling women's stories in chapter 21 did you find the most tragic or unsettling? How can knowing about their struggles help us with our own?

· Who are the women in your family line who have overcome obstacles and hardships?

· Which Hebrew name for God on page 201 means the most to you?

· Sketch a timeline of your life as described on page 208. Use it to briefly tell a bit about your life.

· What difference would it make in the world today if we began to treat the people in our sphere of influence as if they will someday be royalty?

· What might intrigue you about Isaiah 54:5?

· Do you "run your race" any differently now as compared to when you first started this journey? Compare your answers on pages 227 in section five, and page 11 in section one.

· Name three different things you look forward to in heaven.

Conclusion: Thank everyone for coming and decide if you'd like to get together in a month or so for a social time. You've probably begun to develop some good friendships so give everyone a chance to exchange phone numbers or email addresses if they haven't done so by now. If the Lord leads, close your time together by forming a circle, hold hands, or each place a hand on another's shoulder and read the blessing on page 201 as a prayer over all of you. Or follow your previous closing prayer routine.
 
P.S. The best place to order Postcards From The Widows' Path is right here on this blog. Click on the Bookstore tab at the top of the page and you'll find a safe and secure PayPal button. You don't need a PayPal account either. If you prefer to pay by check, please email me with the # of books you want to order and your shipping address. I ship by media mail only and your order will arrive in 2 - 9 days.
For International orders, you must email me first with your country and mailing code so I can send you an invoice which you can securely pay with a credit card.
And finally, if you'd like a free printed copy of the discussion guide, please email me at [email protected]

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Book Discussion, Week #4

Dear Reader,

Blogs are a good resource for widows, but it’s so good to talk face to face with other widows, and my book Postcards from the Widows' Path provides the perfect opportunity. Over the next several weeks, every Thursday, I'll post each of the five sections of the discussion guide to Postcards.... That way you will always be able to access it right here in the blog whenever you're ready for a group. I think this will be a good solution for my overseas friends like Babs, in England, who's in a widows group the Lord is beginning. This way she won't have to wait for it in the mail.
Maybe you'd like to gather two, three or more widows or others for a time of friendship, support and meaningful conversation too. Meet around your kitchen table, or a casual coffee shop, or your church library---any place that's comfortable and distraction free. You’ll cherish the sacred reflections and find renewed hope as we journey through Ruth.
ferree
 
Week 4: Waiting—chapters 16-20 of Postcards... ; from Ruth 3:1-4:8
 
Icebreaker: Which postcard did you like most? Which chapter was your favorite? Which journaling exercise was most helpful for you? Some widows remove their wedding ring right away, others will never remove it. How does everyone feel about their wedding ring?

Discussion Questions

· Why do you suppose the villagers didn't pitch in right away and initiate the kinsman-redeemer help for Naomi and Ruth? Do you think you might be in the same sort of waiting period Naomi and Ruth were in? Let’s list some ways they could have responded to this frustrating situation.

· Which response did you check off on page 155 regarding remarriage?

· How different is dating in today's culture from when you and your husband were dating?

· What safeguards do you think are best for a widow? Why is it important to protect virtue?

· Have there been times when you've felt like you've been waiting in the dark like Ruth? (page 170)What happens to faith when we can't see ahead? 

· Which verse on page 172 meant the most to you? Explain why if you'd like.

· Which character traits of Boaz would you most admire if you met a potential "Boaz" today?

· What would happen if you had a "Naomi" in your own life? When have you found yourself being a "Naomi" to another widow?

Conclusion: Take prayer requests and close in prayer. Thank everyone for coming and decide when and where you'll meet next time to talk about section five—Blessing. Remind them to read the chapters and do the journaling exercises. This time they may also do some research if interested: Read Matthew 1 and list all the women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ. After counting them, find out how many of them were widows.
 
P.S. The best place to order Postcards From The Widows' Path is right here on this blog. Click on the Bookstore tab at the top of the page and you'll find a safe and secure PayPal button. You don't need a PayPal account either. If you prefer to pay by check, please email me with the # of books you want to order and your shipping address. I ship by media mail only and your order will arrive in 2 - 9 days.
For International orders, you must email me first with your country and mailing code so I can send you an invoice which you can securely pay with a credit card.
And finally, if you'd like a free printed copy of the discussion guide, please email me at [email protected]

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Book Discussion Guide, Week #3

Dear Reader,
Blogs are a good resource for widows, but it’s so good to talk face to face with other widows, and my book Postcards from the Widows' Path provides the perfect opportunity. Over the next several weeks, every Thursday, I'll post each of the five sections of the discussion guide to Postcards.... That way you will always be able to access it right here in the blog whenever you're ready for a group. I think this will be a good solution for my overseas friends like Babs, in England, who's in a widows group the Lord is beginning. This way she won't have to wait for it in the mail.

Maybe you'd like to gather two, three or more widows or others for a time of friendship, support and meaningful conversation too. Meet around your kitchen table, or a casual coffee shop, or your church library---any place that's comfortable and distraction free. You’ll cherish the sacred reflections and find renewed hope as we journey through Ruth. ferree

Week 3: Working—chapters 11-15 of Postcards...; from Ruth 2:1-23
 
Icebreaker: Which postcard did you like most? Which chapter was your favorite? Which journaling exercise was most helpful for you? Have you had any days this past week when you could barely "Do the next thing?" Is anyone in the group having sleeping problems?

Discussion Questions

· What sort of needs did Ruth and Naomi encounter? How are they similar to widows’ needs today?

· How can needs be doorways of opportunity? How would a prayer for kindness and rest, and Ruth's looking for a field in which she'd find favor, apply today?

· How would you have felt if you were waiting, like Ruth, for Boaz to determine your fate?

· Have you personally found your relationship to Christ to be at the "My daughter" level, or is it more impersonal? (page 114).

· Who are the people in your life who play roles similar to Ruth, Naomi and Boaz?

· Which of the roles on a "board of directors" for a widow do you think would be helpful? (page 140)

· How can gratitude truly provide a turning point in a widow's life?

· What are you most afraid of? What sort of help do you need to face that fear?

· What are some practical tips and words of advice you've heard since the funeral?

Conclusion: Take prayer requests and close in prayer. Thank everyone for coming and decide when and where you'll meet next time to talk about section four—Waiting. We'll discuss our experiences and perhaps frustrations of waiting for help, talk about dating and remarriage in today's society, virtue, and what each one might like to look for in a man.

P.S. The best place to order Postcards From The Widows' Path is right here on this blog. Click on the Bookstore tab at the top of the page and you'll find a safe and secure PayPal button. You don't need a PayPal account either. If you prefer to pay by check, please email me with the # of books you want to order and your shipping address. I ship by media mail only and your order will arrive in 2 - 9 days.

For International orders, you must email me first with your country and mailing code so I can send you an invoice which you can securely pay with a credit card.

And finally, if you'd like a free printed copy of the discussion guide, please email me at [email protected]

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Discussion Guide, Week #2

Dear Reader,

Blogs are a good resource for widows, but it’s so good to talk face to face with other widows, and my book Postcards from the Widows' Path provides the perfect opportunity. Over the next several weeks, every Thursday, I'll post each of the five sections of the discussion guide to Postcards.... That way you will always be able to access it right here in the blog whenever you're ready for a group. I think this will be a good solution for my overseas friends like Babs, in England, who's in a widows group the Lord is beginning. This way she won't have to wait for it in the mail.

Maybe you'd like to gather two, three or more widows or others for a time of friendship, support and meaningful conversation too. Meet around your kitchen table, or a casual coffee shop, or your church library---any place that's comfortable and distraction free. You’ll cherish the sacred reflections and find renewed hope as we journey through Ruth.

Week 2: Changing—chapters 6-10 of Postcards...; from Ruth 1:10-22 

Icebreaker Which postcard did you like most? Which chapter was your favorite? Which journaling exercise was most helpful for you? If you could live anywhere in the world you wanted, where would you choose to go?

Discussion Questions

· On page 59 is a list of some misconceptions which are easy to believe when we are suffering. Which one do you think is the most common for people today?

· Discuss the three choices for widows in chapter 7. In which group do you find yourself---1) remain? 2) return? 3) risk?

· During grief, some widows are drawn closer to the wonder and love of God, as Ruth. Others struggle like Naomi. How do you see faith existing in both of these women?

· Have friendships changed for you since your husband died? If so, what are some character traits you need to look for in new friendships?

· How would you have felt and responded to the villagers of Bethlehem if you were Naomi returning home after ten years and so much loss?

· There are both similarities and differences between Naomi's outburst in Ruth 1:21 and Christ's cry from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? How are they similar? How are they vastly different?

· Do you view your experience in following God as closer to Ruth's or more like Naomi's?

Conclusion: Take prayer requests and close in prayer. Thank everyone for coming and decide when and where you'll meet next time to talk about section three—Working—taking the next step, a turning point in grief, safe people and much more!

P.S. The best place to order Postcards From The Widows' Path is right here on this blog. Click on the Bookstore tab at the top of the page and you'll find a safe and secure PayPal button. You don't need a PayPal account either. If you prefer to pay by check, please email me with the # of books you want to order and your shipping address. I ship by media mail only and your order will arrive in 2 - 9 days.
For International orders, you must email me first with your country and mailing code so I can send you an invoice which you can securely pay with a credit card.
And finally, if you'd like a free printed copy of the discussion guide, please email me at [email protected]
 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tips to Start A Widows Group

Have you ever thought about starting a widows group? It's pretty easy to do using my book, Postcards From The Widows Path. Last Thursday I posted the first weeks' group discussion questions, and this Thursday, will be week #2. They'll continue each Thursday into September, five weeks in all. You are permitted to copy and print today's guide and the five session posts, but not to charge for it. Freely you have received, freely give, like Jesus said. 

The following will help you see how a discussion group works and give you some pointers about the time frame and group dynamics. The principles apply even if you don't use my book. I just hope you'll start a group! If you'd like to receive a printed copy of the whole guide in the mail, please send your request and mailing address to me at [email protected]
ferree

Discussion Guide
These simple guidelines will lay the groundwork for good discussions:

· Pray about starting your group. Pray about the time, location and who will come. Pray about everything! The Lord will guide you and be with you in every interaction.

· Postcards from the Widows’ Path is divided into 5 sections. Everyone should read the same section before they come. Each chapter only takes about 10 minutes a day.

· Decide on a time and place to regularly meet. Explain that your book discussion time will be around 45 minutes; the entire time together about an hour, or hour and a half if you’re dining. End at the agreed upon time even if you haven’t covered every question.

· Use this discussion guide to help you facilitate the conversation; or you may print off a copy for each person who will attend.  

· Let me emphasize this: I’ve given you too many questions! Don't use then all or you’ll never get through! Before meeting, select the ones you think most important or engaging for your particular group. The icebreaker questions are always optional.

· Create a "safe" environment for sharing. Let your group know that no one will be pressured to answer; what's said in the group stays in the group; set a box of Kleenex on the table. Crying will happen and it's okay.

· Give everyone an opportunity to talk. Remember that some people are reserved and will not speak up unless you provide them the opportunity. Don't hesitate to ask.

· The guide questions are designed to generate thought and conversation, not to find a right answer. This isn’t an exam. It’s a chance to talk, grow, and hope again.

· Questions? Just email me at [email protected] and I’ll be happy to help you out.

 
5 Features to Love About A
‘Postcards from the Widows Path’ Group
· It only takes five sessions
· Adapt each discussion to the pertinent issues of your group
· Form new friendships with other widows who ‘get it.’
· Easily order more books at www.widowschristianplace.com
· The discussion guide is free! Although protected by copyright, the author grants permission for discussion groups to make as many copies as needed for free distribution to participants 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Discussion Guide, Week #1

Dear Reader, Blogs are a good resource for widows, but it’s so good to talk face to face with other widows, and my book Postcards from the Widows' Path provides the perfect opportunity. Over the next several weeks, every Thursday, I'll post each of the five sections of the discussion guide to Postcards.... That way you will always be able to access it right here in the blog whenever you're ready for a group. I think this will be a good solution for my overseas friends like Babs, in England, who's in a widows group the Lord is beginning. This way she won't have to wait for it in the mail.
 
Maybe you'd like to gather two, three or more widows or others for a time of friendship, support and meaningful conversation too. Meet around your kitchen table, or a casual coffee shop, or your church library---any place that's comfortable and distraction free. You’ll cherish the sacred reflections and find renewed hope as we journey through Ruth.
ferree

Week One: Grieving—chapters 1-5 of Postcards; based on Ruth 1:1-9
 
Icebreaker: Which postcard did you like most? Which chapter was your favorite? Which journaling exercise was most helpful for you? How would you feel after a 50-mile hike like Naomi and Ruth took?

Discussion Questions
· The widows in Ruth seem pretty special since we can read about them in the Bible, but in what ways were they like ordinary women today?
· What are the ways a person's identity might change because of loss?
· How can listing her losses help a widow through grief?
· What tasks could you start on now in case you decide to move in the future? What would it take for you to decide to re-locate after loss?
· What sort of mountains and challenges do you face? How would seeing them as part of the scenery along the way, rather than the destination, offer hope and help?
· What do you think of the statement that every widow needs both kindness and rest? What might have happened in this Bible story if Naomi had not prayed for kindness and rest? What should we do if we feel our prayers are going nowhere?
Conclusion: Establish a routine of taking prayer requests and closing with a prayer. Thank everyone for coming and decide when and where you'll meet next time. Session 2—Changing—will include the three choices of widows, how friendships change, Naomi's big meltdown and more!
 
P.S. The best place to order Postcards From The Widows' Path is right here on this blog. Click on the Bookstore tab at the top of the page and you'll find a safe and secure PayPal button. You don't need a PayPal account either. If you prefer to pay by check, please email me with the # of books you want to order and your shipping address. I ship by media mail only and your order will arrive in 2 - 9 days.
 
For International orders, you must email me first with your country and mailing code so I can send you an invoice which you can securely pay with a credit card.
 
And finally, if you'd like a free printed copy of the discussion guide, please email me at [email protected]
 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Heaven's Shore (chapter 25)


AUTHOR NOTES
 
Dear Reader,
Look at what Jesus prayed and fill-in-the-blank with your name:

"Father, I want _________to be with me where I am, and to see my glory…" John 17:24 (NIV)

Can you begin to imagine that incredible day?
 
At my last heartbeat, that is all it will take. Just one last breath, and I will be there. My foot will step on heaven’s shore....Earth’s veil will lift like a shadow’s passing moment.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Read Revelation 21 for a peek at a bit of heaven, the New Jerusalem.

This incredible city will be the eternal dwelling of God’s family. Why not start looking forward to it now? What is the first thing you’d like to do when you arrive in your new home? Who are the people you will look for? Which of the beautiful things in the New Jerusalem will you want to explore first? May God bless your anticipation and fill you with his life-giving hope as you set your heart on these things above.

PRAYER

Almighty God,
You know my affliction, weakness and loss, and yet---You. Want. Me. You’re preparing an amazing, beautiful place for me, a glittering city beyond my wildest dreams because of your immense and glorious love. I’ll finally be home, where all longings and heartaches will find peace. Thank you for your abundant kindness, rest, and hope for my grieving heart.
Amen.

(excerpts from Postcards From The Widows Path, pages 233, 235, 236, 237)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Belonging (chapter 24)

AUTHOR NOTES
Read Ruth 4:18-22

The book of Ruth closes with a genealogy, something like the scrolling of credits at the end of a movie. Before the house lights come on and we walk out of our theater, let’s consider why such a lovely story would end with a family tree.

These closing verses of Ruth are the book’s final clue for a widow seeking true happiness and joy, hope, and purpose. A widow’s cure for loneliness and the prescription for joy is found in family and legacy: the epitaph on our tombstone and our notch on the family tree record our people and place—the spot of love on the earth where we belonged.

Do you despair at the thought of empty, lonely years ahead of you? Does your house overwhelm you with memories and silence, holding no promise for joy to once again fill its halls? Please don’t give up! You’re in chapter one of your grief, just as Naomi was when she cried out in bitterness, loneliness, and misery.

But, if you put one foot in front of the other and determine to live in God’s promises, the pages will begin to turn. You’ll move on to the next chapter, and someday your arms will hold the fulfillment of joy and God’s purpose for you. He longs to bring you into his full satisfaction and delight. He does so through the framework of family: "God sets the lonely in families." (Psalm 68:6 NIV)



DISCUSSION QUESTION

There are three types of families for most people: the natural family of blood relatives; the extended family of those who happen to live under the same roof; and our sisters and brothers in Christ--our church family.

To which family group do you have access? Which family do you see as the one God has set you in? That doesn't mean you have to like them much, but as you begin to love them with God's love, you'll begin to like them a little bit more and the sense of belonging will begin to grow at last.

PRAYER
  
Dear Lord,
I praise you and thank you for your love, protection and care for me. I’m amazed and filled with wonder that you've placed me in a family. Continue to teach me all about this relationship and your good plans for me. Continue to heal my brokenness and grief as I trust in you and follow your good plans for me.
Amen.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Opening Our Arms (chapter 23)

AUTHOR NOTES
Ruth 4:14-17

Naomi held a newborn baby in her arms, and she learned something as he looked into her eyes: Good things can still happen. Her girlfriends assured her that her little grandson would renew her life and care for her as she aged. Naomi accepted the baby, drew him to herself, and became his primary caretaker. 

Ruth, Naomi and the Child Obed.
1860, Simeon Solomon.
Wood engraving on
India paper from Dalziels' Bible Gallery
God has the uncanny ability to distill goodness out of the worst disasters when we are willing to open our arms and hearts to receive them as Naomi did. He’s comfortable with paradigms: with grandmothers serving as mothers, with widows finding new love, with faith as an action rather than a feeling. He’s the Man of Sorrows, yet he is always rejoicing...
 
When we get stuck in grief over the past, we devalue the present. We easily overlook and miss the touches of new purpose God sends our way. There are co-workers, friends, and family at hand, and God has put them around us for a royal reason. Could it be that, like Naomi, we are left to raise royalty, the people of his glorious kingdom?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

When Naomi drew Obed into her arms, she accepted the grace of God and saw to it that her life would not be wasted on the mediocrity of pining over the past and wishing for what might have been. Mediocrity could have never raised a royal future.

What sort of future do you envision for yourself and the people God has entrusted you with? Have you embraced the people God has sent your way? How will you bless those people and enable them to righteously rule the world

PRAYER

Dear Lord,
I lift my arms to receive your grace. Open my eyes to gaze upon my future. Help me fulfill the purpose and legacy that you have left me here to accomplish. Good things still happen, Lord, and I thank you that I am part of your plan.
Amen.

(excerpts from Postcards From The Widows' Path, pages 212, 215, 216, 218)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Our Illusion of Control (chapter 22)

AUTHOR NOTES
Read Ruth 4:13

        I’ve never heard a sermon about Ruth’s life being out of control, about all her helpless ups and downs, but I know she experienced them. She probably married Mahlon, Naomi’s son, when she was around fifteen years old. She experienced infertility with him, and by the time she was twenty-five, she’d already been thrown into the role of a childless widow. Then she left her homeland and moved to Bethlehem with her angry and bitter (but full of faith) mother-in-law. She knew deep poverty, hard work, and extreme risk. She also knew rescue, redemption, and romance. And then, God enabled her to conceive.
        A graph of Ruth’s life wasn’t level, peaceful, or anything close to "normal." It zigged and zagged with peaks and valleys, one right after another. We get so caught up with her romance and redemption that we often lose sight of the real Ruth, a woman full of heartaches, struggles, and questions. We also lose sight of the Lord, the one who conceived not only her story, but also the little life sprouting within her.

DISCUSSION QUESTION
(chapter 22 of Postcards From The Widows' Path)

Chart your life on the timeline below. Don’t worry about being exact. Just imagine you take a pencil, start at 0 for when you were born, and bring the line up for a happy event, level with the timeline for normal or uneventful times, and drop it down for hard times.

0____________25____________50____________75__________100 years

Do you have some peaks and valleys? 



It’s humbling to see this bird’s-eye view of life. We realize exactly how little control we have over what our lifeline looks like. We have very little say over the events that pattern our days or the monotony that flatlines them.

Sometimes the only way to get any sense of the whole thing is to see life as just that: a little series of hiccups and spasms on a scrap of paper. Imagine you take that scrap of paper, put it in your hand and wrap your fingers over it. 

Your hand is larger. Your hand is stronger. Just like God’s hand is so much larger and stronger than any of ours. When we put our life in Christ’s hand, he holds us, and the Father holds him. When we’re in God’s hands, our lives—every peak and every valley—are under control: God’s control!


PRAYER

Dear Lord,
Help me realize that when I asked you to come into my heart, you accepted me into yours. Nothing is out of control. Something much larger is going on, in you. Thank you for holding me; I am in you, and you are in me.
Amen.

(Excerpts from Postcards From The Widows' Path, pages 205,206,208,209)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Other Struggling Women (chapter 21)

Today we begin the final five chapters of the book Postcards From The Widows' Path. This section of the book is called Blessing, and I'm so anxious for you to see the tremendous future God has planned for Naomi, Ruth, and widows today who know him! ferree

AUTHOR NOTES
Read Ruth 4

How would you like to be married without even dressing up and attending the ceremony? That's what happened to Ruth! And afterwards, while she was still back at the house with Naomi, nervously waiting to hear from Boaz, the elders of the town gathered around Boaz and pronounced a blessing for Ruth to be as influential, strong and fertile as the founding (and rather scandalous) mothers of their tribe and nation!

Why would the elders mention their ancestresses Rachel, Leah and Tamar in a blessing? The following is an excerpt from Postcards, page 198...

The truth is, you don’t have to have a perfect life to be a symbol of blessing. God uses struggling women to accomplish his purposes. And his purposes are for our good. In the midst of those struggles, when we are stripped of all crutches, façades, and power, we gain a valuable perspective on eternity, God, and our relation to life. Pain and suffering can make us more objective about life, sharpen our values, and—if we allow—develop the courage to live life with passion and drive as never before.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
(chapter 21 of Postcards, and Ruth 4:11,12)

Find out about Rachel, Leah and Tamar and talk about who's story you find the most tragic or unsettling. Read Genesis 29 and 30 for Rachel and Leah; and Genesis 38 for Tamar.

Do you know of women in your own family line who have overcome obstacles and hardships? When did your family arrive in the United States (or where you currently reside)? What sort of losses has your mother, grandmother or great-grandmother experienced? What character qualities would you like be be remembered for?

PRAYER

Lord God,
As I remember women from the past and the struggles they've endured, help me understand how they looked to you and were strengthened and held by you. Their stories encourage me, so I thank you for the precious gift of knowing them.
May others say the same about me some day.
Amen

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Glimpsing God (chapter 20)

AUTHOR NOTES
Read Ruth 4:1-8

Have you noticed there’s a lot of waiting in the book of Ruth? Naomi had lived in Moab for at least ten years, the trip back to Bethlehem had taken four or five days, and Ruth had worked about two months before these events came together. Ruth and Naomi waited for Boaz, while Boaz waited at the city gate and then, according to the law of the day was given a shoe!

There were plenty of opportunities for nail-biting and confusion to be sure! In our day of instant messaging and fast food, we’ve lost the skill of waiting patiently, but these people remind us that it’s a necessary part of life. They waited and they survived the waiting, and we will too.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Are there days when you wish you could push a fast forward button on your life? Sometimes the hardest thing about daily life is that it’s just so…daily.

What estate settlement tasks do you need to do? Choose a date and time to start.  And then watch for God in the as-it-turned-out incidents that occur in the days ahead.

As you work through these details, which character traits do you think God will challenge you with most? 
  • Obedience 
  • Patience 
  • Openness 
  • Surrender 
  • Honor 
  • Sacrifice
PRAYER

Dear Lord,
Are you really in the details of my life like you were with Boaz and Ruth? Open my eyes to the orchestrations and the coincidences that you are engineering on my behalf. My heart will stand on its tiptoes to watch!
Amen.

(excerpts from Postcards From The Widows' Path, pages 188, 191, 192)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Recognizing Your Boaz (chapter 19)

AUTHOR NOTES
Read Ruth 3: 10-18

If you fall in love with a man like Boaz, you will be a fortunate and beloved woman.

We’ve already seen many good qualities in Boaz. He was a good employer, cheerful, caring, and respected in the community.

When he and Ruth were on the brink of a marriage contract, we saw him up close and personal with Ruth. He exemplified all the qualities of a good husband in the way he treated her.

Here are other characteristics I discovered about Boaz:
  • He put God first
  • He appreciated and understood Ruth's actions and character
  • He was sensitive to her possible fears
  • He didn't make a promise if he wasn't sure he could keep it
  • He was concerned for Ruth's safety and reputation
  • He was generous and polite
  • He accepted Ruth's strength
  • He didn't procrastinate!
  • He was financially secure
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Which characteristics of Boaz are most important to you?
What other qualities would you appreciate in a new husband?
What are some qualities your children would need or appreciate in a stepfather?

Maybe you won’t get married again. Of course you’ve known that all along, but then again, maybe you will. There’s no harm in being able to recognize your own Boaz when he enters the picture.

PRAYER


Dear Lord,
You are able to do immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine, and asking for a man like Boaz falls into that category! Please work according to your power that works within me. Transform me to accept the work you are doing in my life through the cast of characters like Naomi, Laura, and Boaz who may already be around me.
Amen.

(excerpts from Postcards From The Widows Path, pages 178-183)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Trusting God In The Dark (chapter 18)

AUTHOR NOTES
"... Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet ." (Ruth 3:7b,8 NIV)
 
How long do you think Ruth waited at the feet of Boaz before he woke up? Five minutes? Ten? Two hours? Longer? Think of how alone Ruth might have felt, waiting and wondering in the dark. How often have we widows felt the very same way? At least figuratively speaking, we are in the dark too. Sometimes we’re powerless to affect our circumstances. All we can do is wait for someone to wake up and help us.

Yet God sees us just as he saw Ruth patiently waiting under the stars with the smell of threshed barley cooling in the night air. God designs these waiting times for us, when all we can hear is the nothingness of his silence. Our hearts yearn and strain for him to show himself, but dark times are not for seeing; rather, they are for listening. Life might appear motionless and blank in those moments, but there is a current underneath, and the waiting makes us stronger. Waiting is the isometric exercise of the soul and our faith.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Have there been times when you've felt like you've been waiting in the dark like Ruth? What happens to faith when we can't see ahead?

PRAYER

Dear Lord,
     I’m not sure I want to accept your plan for my situation. So far, you've broken my heart and put me in a hard place. My heart is beating as hard as Ruth’s must have been when she was waiting in the dark at the feet of Boaz. I want to surrender to your will; can I trust you?
     Help me by faith to make my plans, like Ruth and Naomi did;  but--like them-- in faith I will trust you and pray that your plan prevails over my own. Startle me with your comfort.
Amen.

(excerpts from Postcards From The Widows' Path, pages 170, 173)