Hello everyone! This semester has been crazy in so many ways so far, and I admit that I am still in the process of figuring out how to balance it all. This includes the blog! Anyways, today I want to share with you the devotional, Jesus Always: 365 Devotions for kids. by Sarah Young. The book contains daily devotions for young kiddos, for the kid in your life, or if you are a kid at heart! From the best-selling author of Jesus Calling, Young has put together a collection of encouragement to help kids keep the joy of Jesus in the center of their lives. Down below, I'm going to share with you my favorite three things about the book!
1. The devotional is written from the perspective of Jesus. When the kiddos read the book, they are reading it as if Jesus is speaking to them. When the kids read, or their parents read to them, they aren't just reading about Jesus, but they are hearing the words as if Jesus was talking straight to them.
2. The devotional has a recurring theme of joy, a special gift that Jesus gives us. Children have the wonderful nature of already being full of joy, and this book replenishes this. In the world we live in today, one can never have too much joy.
3. The layout is also very kid-friendly. Each daily devotion has a central verse it is based from, the devotion, and then suggestions for further reading.
While the focus of the devotion may be for children, I have found very quickly that sometimes that simple message is just what I need. Attending a Christian university, I sometimes get so caught up in classes that are focused on theology and things way beyond my comprehension, that I forget the simple truths.
I'm sure you all will love the book as much as I have! If you are interested, click this link to enter a giveaway for a copy of the book!
In general, I like to think that I'm pretty moderate when it comes to makeup. I enjoy getting dolled up on certain days, but most days I have a go-to makeup routine. There are definitely days when I don't wear any makeup, which I genuinely encourage you to do every once in awhile (or as often as you want). However, for me, since I student teach twice a week and go to my internship three times a week, it is important for me to pull together a polished and professional look. Below are 5 of my all-time tested and true makeup products.
1. Bare Minerals Matte Foundation
I have tried many foundations over the years, including both powders and liquids, but this has become my new favorite. I have pale to light skin with lots of freckles, so it is important for me to have a foundation that balances my skin tone, but does not cover up and blur my freckles. This lovely compact powder foundation does the job. Also, they do an excellent job of having a huge array of shades to choose from. I have been a fan of Bare Minerals for awhile now, and this product is my ultimate favorite.
2. Buxom Full-On Lipstick
I will be the first to admit that I own way too many lipsticks, lip glosses, lip stains, and whatever other names there are for lip products. However, this has become my go-to for days where I want something that is bold, but not over the top, and something that will last. My favorite shade is Brooklyn, which they describe as a fig color. It goes on smoothly and the color doesn't fade, and it doesn't dry out my lips. Shop Here
3. Tarte Amazonian 12-hr Blush
This is actually a new product I have discovered. I used to always use a blush by Physician's Formula, but received a sample of this from Sephora and I absolutely adore it! The color I have is called Risque and it is described as a peachy nude, which greatly compliments my fair skin tone. It blends incredibly well and is long-lasting while not being over the-top bold.
4. Makeup Forever Mascara in Smoky Extravagant
I also discovered this product from a sample from Sephora. Hands-down, mascara is one of my ultimate favorite beauty products. No matter how much makeup you are wearing, mascara can transform your look. The brush has a rounded base and thinner top, which allows the wand to produce amazing volume and length, but not look fake. It takes a lot for me to switch mascaras, but this one did the trick.
5. Naked2 Eye Shadow Palette
I normally wear eye shadow about half of the time. When I do wear it, I like something soft and feminine, but with the option of a bit of bold. The colors are neutral with a hint of sparkle. I like to have a beige colored base with hint of light grey and pink. If I want to be more bold, I can also do a great smoky eye.
If someone you love has ever walked away from God, my heart is with you. I know the pain that comes with it well. While we have to leave those situations in God's hands and trust that He is not done with that person yet, the waiting is never easy. However, there is something that we can always do; pray for that person. The fact of the matter is, that person you are praying for, probably doesn't even want you to pray for them, and that could lead to some painful things. . . but do it anyways. I know that situations like this are challenging, and can feel defeating. You don't even know what to say, or what to do. You're scared that you're going to do or say something wrong, and that is going to push that person even farther away. Here are some ideas of how to pray for someone in this situation.
1. Pray that they realize their need for a savior
At some point, at some level, the person you are praying for recognized Jesus as savior, or they would never have been a Christian. The fact that they walked away from their faith might call into question the strength of how strong their relationship with Jesus was to start. However, the point of this is not to judge someone on why they walked away, but to pray for them to walk back. For whatever reason, they have come to the conclusion that they don't need anyone else, that they can save themselves on their own. It is so important to be praying for them that they will realize they cannot do it on their own, and they are in dire need of Jesus.
2. Pray that God-loving and God-fearing people come into their lives
While they will most likely not be intentionally seeking out godly relationships of any sort. Pray, pray, pray, that godly people come into their lives. People that will talk with them, love them, and encourage them in faith, but will also let them know they are making a mistake from walking away. As you know, I always want to be as real as possible on here, so that is why I say that so harshly. I'm not here to say, oh encourage them and pray for them, but if they say it's not for them, let it go. The truth is, some Christians have become to worried about being accepting and politally correct that they become to careful when evangelizing. Do you believe that Jesus is the one and only way or not? If you do, you better act like it. We have lost our sense of urgency.
3. Pray for their pride to be destroyed
Similar to the first point, some people just think they can do it all on their own, they don't need anyone, especially a savior. That mentality is from the Devil, and it needs to be torn down before they will ever acknowledge and accept their need for Jesus. This might mean they go through some hard and trying times to get to this point. If that is what it takes, pray for it. Know that you are not praying for bad things to happen to them in order for them to lose their stubborn pride, but pray for what matters, that their soul be saved.
4. Pray for surrender
A person that walks away from faith needs to surrender their heart back to God. They have built up a wall around their heart that is not easily broken. However, the power of God can tear down those walls, and I can promise you that God has been faithful and has been doing that. However, that person does have to take the step of surrender eventually. Pray for that to come into their lives.
5. Pray for tough love
Lastly, I suggest you pray for tough love. Pray that people come into this person's life that love them dearly, and want what God wants for them. Pray that they will help guide them back to Christ, even if means giving tough love. Give and show love that is founded in God's truth, but that also does not shy away from God's truth. Believe me, you are not doing them any favors by condoning their walk away from God.
Also, for all of those that are reading this post and relate to its content, I pray for you. I pray that God will give you strength to continue this battle. It is not easy to watch someone walk away from God, and it can feel like a heavy burden to bear. Stay strong in faith, dear friend, it is a fight worth fighting.
I am so thrilled and honored to be nominated for the Liebster Award by one of my favorite fellow bloggers, Erin Ruscel, from http://daveanderin.blog. Erin is an amazing and thoughtful blogger, so make sure you go check her blog out! I have been blogging for almost two months now, so I had heard of the Liebster Award, but did not have much knowledge on the subject. For those of you who aren't aware of what the award is, it is a blogging award given by other bloggers to new and growing blogs (usually with less than 1000 followers) to help them get noticed. Starting a blog has been an incredible journey already in a mere two months. I am so excited to see what will all unfold in the next year. Down below, I will be answering Erin's questions for me, as well as nominating five other wonderful bloggers. Also, check out the rules for nominees at the bottom!
My Questions from Erin!
1. How long ago did you start your blogging journey and why did you start blogging?
I started my blogging journey on July 1, 2017, so it has been almost two months now during the time I am writing this. I started blogging because I love writing, and believe it is one of the gifts God has given me, and blogging was a way I could share my love of God and love of life with others.
2. Who is your biggest supporter? Tell me about them!
Hands-down, my mom is my biggest supporter. She has always been there for me and always will be. As I have become a young women, she has become my best friend. Even with this blog, she has been nothing but supportive and encouraging.
3. What is your favorite post that you have ever published on your blog? Why?
My favorite blog post so far is "Asking the Hard Questions." This topic is very close to my heart because it is something that I had to struggle and wrestle with the spring of my sophomore year of college. I had the wonderful experience of taking an apologetics class as required for the Honors Program at my school. The class has by far been the most soul-searching and overall beneficial class I have had. This post reflects on that experience and brings to light some of the questions we tried to answer in class.
4. What are your goals with your blog?
My overall goal is to spread the Gospel and give encouragement. Writing has always been the way I best express myself, and this is my effort in doing that. I hope to meet new people who are trying to do the same. Right now, I am open to whatever God wants to do with this blog.
5. If you had to give your personality a color, what color would you be and why?
I actually just had to answer this question in class last week. I would have to say the color yellow best aligns to my personality. When I think of yellow I think of sunshine, and I like to believe that I am a positive and happy person.
6. Your top 3 tips for being successful… go!
1. Find your identity in Christ
2. Be intentional of who your surround yourself with
3. Rely on the power of Jesus, and not the opinions of man.
7. What has been your favorite thing about blogging so far?
I have so loved being in this welcoming blogger community. Everyone I have had the pleasure of talking and interacting with has been so encouraging and supportive.
8. What do you do other than blogging?
I am a junior in college studying elementary education, so when I am not blogging I am normally pretty busy with homework and making lessons plans. I also enjoy exploring new coffee shops with friends and baking.
9. Tell me a little more about yourself and/or your family!
I am going to graduate college in just under two years and will become an elementary teacher (hopefully 3rd or 4th grade). I am an only child with two very loving parents. I am a very independent person who falls somewhere in the middle between an introvert and an extrovert. I have a huge heart for kids and love interacting with them.
10. What advice can you give to newer bloggers trying to make it in the blogging world?
Right now the best advice I can give is to schedule time to work on your blog content and stick with it. I started my blog over the summer right before my junior year of college. I scheduled time before and after work everyday in the summer when I could sit down and write. However, as I started school up again a couple of weeks ago, it became more difficult, and I have had to be very diligent in scheduling time.
I Nominate . . .
Emily from @fearfullywondefullyme
Hannah from @alifetransformedblog
Carolyn from @faithfullycarolyn
Rosa from @alwaysrosablog
Moriah from @bravehaven.sisterhood
1. How long have you been blogging, and why did you start?
2. How has blogging been different than you expected?
3. What do you like to do in your spare time?
4. What are your biggest passions?
5. What do you hope your life looks like in 5 years?
6. What is the book you most highly recommend?
7. Share the best advice you have been given.
8. Share with us your favorite post you've written on your blog.
9. If you could have any career in the world and not have salary or location be a factor, what would you do?
10. What is your favorite quote?
Rules for Nomination
1. Write a blog post in acceptance of your award.
2. Link the blog post back to @erinruscel
3. Nominate at least 5 other startup bloggers
4. Include a list of questions you’d like them to answer & notify them.
5. Answer my questions above!
Again, I am so honored to be nominated! I love all of the bloggers I nominated above and am so excited to be passing this award onto them. Make sure all of you guys go check them out!
I had an entirely different post lined up to post today, but just a couple of days ago, something different became heavy on my heart. While this post might not be my most polished, it is one right from the heart. I believe that we, as Christians, have lost our sense of urgency. What I mean is, I believe that we have become too concerned about being careful and cautious about how we share the Gospel, about how we say it to not offend anyone, so much so that we have lost the purpose. We have become too worried about being accepting and politically correct, that we have lost the urgency of the message of the Gospel. Let me be the first to make sure you understand, that I firmly believe you are to love everybody, just as Jesus does. One of the things I find the most frustrating is when others put words in my mouth because I am a Christian, and assume that I don't love people I disagree with or am different from.
Too often, if the people we know approach the idea of Jesus as, "eh, it's not for me," we just accept that because we don't want to push anything and we don't want them to not like us because they think we don't accept them as they are. Well, here's the thing, do you believe Jesus is the one and only savior, or not? If you do, you better act like it. You don't have to be perfect, we're all human, and we're going to make mistakes, miss opportunities, but you better try. Only the Lord knows how many opportunities I have missed out of fear of being out of my comfort zone. The Gospel is urgent. Let me repeat that, THE GOSPEL IS URGENT. The evil and suffering of our sin are so great that Jesus had to die for us. He obviously considered it to be a big deal. Too often we forget, that one day, the world is going to end, Jesus is going to come back, and that will be it. We always think we have tomorrow, but we don't know that. That friend you've known for years, but have never shared the Gospel with, she might not have tomorrow. That college student you see studying at your favorite coffee shop every week, they might not have tomorrow. And they also might not know Jesus.
With all that has been going on lately in the world with racism and hatred on so many levels, some of you might be quick to say that Christians need to prioritize being accepting and focus on love, not pushing a Bible down someone's throat. I agree that we need to show love, the love of God, and treat everyone as people created by a God who loves them dearly. However, look around. All of these that are happening at an increasing rate are screaming out for the Gospel. The Gospel is the only permanent cure. We can try and make peace and fix things with our mere human minds. However, I am convinced that the problems of this world, cannot be fixed by broken humans, but by the truth and love of the Gospel. I am not suggesting that you hit people over the head with a Bible, I am suggesting that we don't let the fear of being thought of as unaccepting and intolerant to stop you from spreading the urgent message of the Gospel. One day, it is all going to be over. And I don't know about you, but I want to get as many people over to the side of Jesus before that day comes.
Tomorrow, I am flying back to school for the new academic year. I am halfway done with college, and today I look back at the past two years and look forward to the next two years. Throughout my college experience, I have learned many new things, and today I thought I would share with you 10 lessons college has taught me outside of the classroom.
1. Friends are Family. Chose carefully.
The friends I have met in college are the most amazing people. They are some of the most loving and supportive people I have ever met in my life and I am so incredibly happy they are in my life. God definitely blessed me with wonderful and life-long friendships through school. That being said, choose your friends carefully. Your friends in college will have a significant impact on you. You are no longer in high school where you see your friends for eight hours a day and occasionally on the weekends. You live with these people. Very quickly, you will know the good and the bad parts of them. Make sure the people you let into your life are people who will leave a good impact.
2. Own what you believe or it won't last long.
I attend a Christian university, so I am blessed to have Christian professors, Christian classes, chapel once a week, and a plethora of ministries right at my finger tips. However, even if you attend a Christian university (but especially if you don't) you need to make a conscious decision of what you believe. You are no longer living at home with parents who made you go to church and youth group. You get to choose how you're going to live your life. You need to own your faith in order to keep it, otherwise, you endanger letting it fade.
3. If you drink coffee. Invest in a single serve coffee maker. SERIOUSLY.
I've read some other lists that have included coffee makers as a waste of money, I highly disagree. If you are a person that drinks coffee regularly, invest in one. Personally, I only typically drink one cup at a time, but I do that sometimes a few times a day. Due to this, I don't use a big pot coffee maker because I won't drink all of it. It's true that the campus dining options will most likely have coffee, it's not always available to you. On my campus, you have to use a meal swipe every time you go in, and they are only open certain hours. I don't have unlimited meals, so I don't want to waste it going to get coffee. You'll be thankful you have a cup of coffee ready to go on those chilly mornings walking to 8:00 AM classes.
4. Be confident in yourself. The ones who matter think you're great.
I know that you still don't know entirely who you are and what you want to do, and that can shake your confidence at times. However, be confident in woman God made you to be. Surround yourself with people you love and who love you, they are the people that matter. The last thing I want for you is to miss out on great things in life because you're confidence is shaking. This past late spring, some of my friends and I were going to go to the beach. I had never been to the ocean before and initially was really excited. However, I was so close to letting the fear of wearing a swimsuit in front of my friends that I almost didn't go. I thought everyone would be thinking that I was too overweight to wear a swimsuit and people would stare and whisper. None of that happened in the slightest. All I remember is having one of the best days of my life with my friends. If I had let my fear get the best of me, I would never have had that day.
5. Find where you study best and use it.
Obviously, studying is crucial in college. You do not want to waste thousands of dollars to have to go to school an extra year because you failed classes. I encourage you to find what environment you study best in and use that to your advantage. Personally, I study best in coffee shops. I like how there is a little bit of a buzz around me. That keeps me alert and focused. I've tried studying in libraries, and while I do that sometimes, it is usually too quiet for me. If I'm in my room, I normally get distracted by other things I need to do, or I fall asleep. I love either going to the coffee shop on campus or some of our local coffee places in town.
6. Make and use a budget.
My first year, I really didn't do much to budget. I found myself wasting money on things I really didn't need, and honestly, in a dorm, didn't really even have room for. It is a wise idea to lay out a budget for all the things you normally spend money on, that includes the basics like gas, any groceries, personal care items, but also your fun money. In college, you will be going out with friends, which is good. However, it can also get to be expensive. It's okay to say no to going out every once in awhile if you simply can't afford to be spending more money. I promise you they're still going to be your friends. This year I'm trying something new where I'm going to take out a set amount of money in cash at the beginning of each month for fun spending. So anytime I go out to eat, buy coffee, go to the movies, or something like that, I'm not blindly using my debit card. I write out my monthly budget on paper and put it in my finance binder, and then I also use the free app WellSpent to track it daily.
7, Schedule me-time every week
Every day you are going to be pretty busy and even overwhelmed with classes, homework, and possibly a job or an internship. With that brings a lot of stress, which is why setting aside time every week for some much-deserved "me-time" is so important. My favorite way to do this is by putting on comfy clothes, using a face-mask, and doing something like painting my toes, watching a TV show, or even just planning things on Pinterest.
8. Accept that you will stay up late
Once again, college means studying. Don't buy into the people who say you don't need to show up to class and you can study the night before and slide by. I am a person who likes her sleep, and I normally don't enjoy staying up after midnight. However, final exams, term papers, and projects for lesson planning sometimes require it. That's the lifestyle of college, and just remember that it won't last forever. So go to your favorite study spot, chug a cup of coffee, and fight through it.
9. Call your mom
Whether you are just about to embark on your college adventure for the first time, are in the middle of it like me, or are about to graduate, call your mom. Just because you're starting to be on your own, doesn't mean you don't need your mom anymore. Personally, the way I get my stress out is talking it out. My mom has always been the best listener I know, and she lets me sit and rant about whatever I need to until I feel better. So don't think you're too old to call your mom.
10. It's okay to not know the answers
Right now I am 20 years old, and there is so much I don't know. My first year of college, and a bit of my second year, I had times where I freaked out over if I chose the right career path, was it really smart of me to go to school so far away, and other things. While I'm still a worrier naturally, I've come to rest easier that I don't need to know all of the answers.
I don't know what you're going through, and I'm not going to pretend that I do. We all have our trials and tribulations, and if you haven't yet, I can promise you that you will. Some might be more exhausting and pressing than others, but they are all real and they all hurt. I so wish instead of you just reading these words off of a screen, that I could be there with you to talk, pray, and cry through whatever it is with you. Since I can't, I want to be as authentic as I possibly can in this post.
So I want to start out by saying that you are not wrong in being exhausted, tired, and burnt-out by carrying the weight of whatever it is you are dealing with. We were never created to carry that burden. Jesus will carry it for us if we let Him. However, that means letting it go and handing over control to him. The truth is, handing control over can hurt. I think sometimes Christians make it sound like "give it to Jesus and it is all good." Their heart is in the right place, but it takes a long time of leaning on God and learning to trust to get to that point. To be honest, I'm not completely at that point yet, either. I give it to God, but that is something I have had to do day after day when I have taken control back from God because I worried, and didn't surrender it all the way. Even when I knew that God was all-good and all-powerful and not trusting Him was completely ridiculous, it's still hard, and He knows it's hard. That is because we are human, and we don't see what He sees. Letting go means letting go of the problem, means letting go of the outcome and putting it completely in His hands.
I know what it feels like to be scared of letting something go out of your control. Surrendering that thing, whatever it is, to God, and saying "God, I give this situation to you, because you are the God Almighty, and you are in control of it all." While it is going to be hard, there is something I can assure you, God is good. I can always promise you that. He is not out to destroy you or to just make this life hard for you to watch you suffer. He has a purpose, and it is a good one. Hang on to that promise with all your might. Sometimes, that's all that's going to get you through it. You will not always understand. That's also something I want to touch on. So easily, we can get discouraged when we don't understand. That's because many of us have grown up hearing "You might not understand why God is doing what he's doing." We accept that, but we unknowingly give it a time limit. We're okay with not knowing for a week, for a month, maybe even a year. But when it becomes years of not knowing, and seeming like nothing is changing, that's when you really need to cling to the promise.
One of my favorite worship lyrics is from "King of My Heart" and goes "when the night is holding onto me, you are holding on." Click this link to listen to the song. Every time I hear those words, it just speaks to my soul. As Christians, we know that God never promised an easy life. We still have to fight through this life, but God is always holding on. When we are in the middle of the seemingly most hopeless situations, have courage in knowing that God is holding on. He knows the situation, he knows the most minute details, and He knows how it is all going to work out. Believe, me I know the pain of knowing that we might not know how it works out for years. The truth is when we hold on to the hope that we will know someday why things happen, and one day God will work it out. It could mean tomorrow, next month, or it could be in 50 years. I don't say that to discourage you or to limit God's power. I say that because it is true, and because we can't try to guess God's plan and purpose for whatever you are going through. So take heart, and know that whatever you are going through, God is holding on to you.
While summer might be quickly escaping, we still have the rest of August to enjoy before the school season. Today, I want to share with you one of my favorite summer beverage recipes. I love blending this up quickly and enjoying it on my deck on those hot afternoons. Not only is it super delicious, but it is also naturally low-calorie! This recipe makes 1 serving for a tall glass.
1) Fill a tall glass 2/3 full with cold water. Mix a personal sized Crystal Light Lemonade packet into the water, and pour the mixture into a blender.
2) Chop up 6-8 frozen strawberries and add to the blender.
3) Add 1/3 cup of frozen blueberries and 6-8 ice cubes into the blender.
4) Blend until smooth. Pour back into a tall glass and enjoy!
Ruth might be one of the shortest books of the Bible, but it contains so much hope and is a beautiful story of God's provision and restoration. Since it is only four chapters long, I thought I would break it down by chapter so we can really dig into it. Grab a cup of coffee and let's begin!
In the first five verses of Ruth, we see Naomi, Ruth's mother-in-law, go through tremendous heartbreak. First, she loses her husband, Elimelech, and she is left to be the sole caretaker of her sons. If that wasn't hard enough, ten years after her sons were wed, they both died, as well. She was now a widow with no more children and was left with two-widowed daughters-in-law. Naomi tells her daughters-in-law to go back to their mothers and fathers because there is nothing she can do for them. She sacrifices her comfort and enjoyment by asking them to leave her. I can't imagine the amount of strength it would take to purposefully let go of more people after having lost everyone else she loved due to no fault of her own. However, while one daughter-in-law, Orpah does leave, Ruth refuses to. Ruth says, "For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge" (Ruth 1:16).
While Naomi is very self-sacrificial and contains many noble qualities, she is also still human. When she and Ruth return to Bethlehem, Naomi was bitter because she used to have a full life and she thinks that God has taken it away from her. This part specifically really spoke to me because it is such a human reaction and one that I see every day in many people's lives, including my own. When we lose something, whether it be a family member, a relationship, a job, or many other things, we accuse God of taking it away from us. However, how silly is it of us to accuse God of doing something that would hurt us. God does not take things away to be mean or to destroy lives, I am certain of that. While Naomi's situation may be different than many of ours, God often times takes things away to protect us, or for other reasons that we do not understand. This relates back to the question of suffering (check out my last blog post for more info on that).
Back in Bethlehem, Ruth goes out the fields to glean after the reapers. Boaz, a relative of Naomi, discovers her and asks the man in charge of the reapers who she was. Another man tells him, and Boaz tells Ruth to stay in the field and stay close to the women. He tells her that the men will not touch her, and she can drink the water the other men have drawn. Ruth is in awe of his kindness and she asks him why he is showing so much favor to her. He says that he has heard of what she had one for Naomi. Ruth thanks the Lord for his kind servant, even though she herself, is not one of his servants. Boaz tells the men in the field to let Ruth glean even among the sheaves and to not reproach her (Ruth 2:15). When Ruth goes home with the barley she collected and some leftover food, Naomi asks who was so kind to her, and Ruth answers that it was Boaz.
In Chapter 2 we see Ruth take initiative in taking care of herself and Naomi by going out into the fields, showing Ruth's self-sacrificial love for Naomi. Boaz shows God's love by receiving her in such kindness. It makes me ask myself whether I show the same kindness in my day-to-day life. When someone comes into my life, whether it be a friend or an unexpected stranger, how to act when they need something from me? Do I give just a little bit, or do I try my best to do all that I can to help them? Boaz didn't simply just let her go in the leftover parts of the field, but let her go among the sheaves, protected her by having her go with the other women, and told the men to not touch her. I'm going to make it a goal of mine to be showing more kindness to the people I meet as Boaz did.
Naomi tells Ruth to go to the threshing floor and to wait until Boaz is done eating and goes to sleep. After that, Naomi instructs her to uncover his feet and lay down by them. Ruth does this and Boaz wakes up startled to see a young woman at his feet. He tells Ruth "May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich" (Ruth 3:1o).
Another character trait of Naomi is that she is quite good at playing matchmaker. She knows Boaz is a noble man, and that if Ruth goes to him, he will do the worthy thing by marrying her. Boaz says that if the redeemer does not take the land that Naomi now owns from her husband (which would also come with Ruth) than he will himself.
Boaz goes to the redeemer, to tell him of the situation with Naomi and Ruth. Naomi was selling the land of her husband, and whoever bought it would also acquire Ruth. The redeemer says he cannot, so he tells Boaz, who is next in line, to do it himself. Boaz does just that and marries Ruth. Later on, she had a son, finally giving Naomi a grandson. Ruth's son would become the father of David, who would be in the genealogy of Jesus.
The end of the story reveals God's powerful restoration. Ruth is now remarried to a kind man of God, and her mother-in-law can rest knowing that she is going to be taken care of, as well as she now has a grandson. Not only was he Ruth's son, but he would be the father of David, and would lead the line to the eventual birth of Jesus. God used two average people, Ruth and Boaz, to continue an amazing lineage. A once hopeless situation of loneliness and loss resulted in a beautiful family. Have faith in knowing that God can turn any situation around, including yours.
It's okay to ask the hard questions. This was something I learned this past year in my first ever apologetics class. When I walked into that class in January 2017, I came in along 15 of my fellow friends and members of an honors program at a Christian university. Many of us came from similar backgrounds, married Christian parents, from an upper-middle class lifestyle, and who grew up going to church. I went into the class expecting to get some answers for how to defend my faith to people I considered atheists or people who just didn't "get" Christianity. What I was not prepared for, was being bombarded with questions that I did not know the answer to, and had never even thought of before. Each class period, many of us left angry and frustrated for different reasons. Sometimes we were angry because the prosecuting question was invalid, or because it couldn't be answered logically. Other times we were angry because quite frankly, we didn't know the answer, and that made us uncomfortable.
At first, I thought that I shouldn't be doubting these things and that made me a bad Christian. But here's the thing, God knows about all of these different accusations and facts, and whatnot, and he knows that they can be frustrating for a human who cannot see what God sees. He was not upset at me for having to think through them and get my thoughts and beliefs together. Here are some of the questions we discussed and how we answered them:
1. The Bible has thousands of discrepancies and textual variations among the copies that we have. In fact, we don't even have the original manuscripts. How do we know that the copies we have are even close to the originals and what the authors intended? If the Bible is perfect and inerrant, why would God, if he exists, not preserve it?
I have to admit, this really shook me. This was the assignment that my group was given to dig into and investigate evidence and information on both sides. Bart Ehrman, a popular professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of many books on religion and philosophy brought this topic into the spotlight. He is correct in saying that the copies of the Bible that we have do have thousands of discrepancies and variations. However, Ehrman falsely makes it sound like these variations make a difference to the message of the Bible. 99% of the variations result from spelling and article differences that occurred in the process of transcribing and translating. While we do not have the originals, the manuscripts that society has discovered are among the highest quality and oldest age of any ancient texts. Ehrman falsely makes the illusion that the process of transcribing the Bible had occurred like the childhood game of telephone, with one person from one generation copying it, and then passing it down to the next person in the next generation and so on. However, many people in each generation actually transcribed the manuscripts, providing for cross-checking, and thus many people in each generation were transcribing, not just one. So, in fact, God did preserve the Bible. And while we do not have the absolute original, we have manuscripts from a century later (some of the earliest of all in the world of ancient texts) making any changes to the central Gospel incredibly highly unlikely, since people closely related to original authors and witnesses were still around to validate the copies.
2. The problem of evil and suffering.
One of the most popular questions that non-Christians will bring up to Christians is the matter of suffering. Why would an all-powerful God allow the suffering of good people? Why did he take away the innocent child of a loving couple? Why did the single mom lose her job? Why did the hard-working dad die in the car accident while the drunk driver who caused it walked away with a short jail sentence? These are all valid questions, and they all have the same answer. God allows pain in our lives so we realize our need for the Savior and because God's plan is greater than ours, which can include suffering. Also, God allows free-will, which means that humans can choose between good and evil. Overall, we know that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, so we know that God must have a reason to allow evil and suffering in the world, even if we do not know or understand the reason. When a person is hurting, this isn't always the most comforting thing to say, and I understand that. That is why the process of grieving is important in its season. However, God's promise of renewal is what brings us out of that season.
3. What makes Christianity different from other religions? (Lewis: Lord, Liar, or Lunatic argument)
Pretend you are an outsider who has a buffet of religions in front of you. There is Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and many others. With all of them making different claims, what makes Christianity different and true? A common answer is citing the authority of the Bible. This answer is correct and true, however, is not always enough to convince a non-believer. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit needs to work in someone in order to have them become a believer, and I want to be clear in saying that can happen under any circumstances and in any situation. However, if someone wants me to come up with my best to give them a logical reason for Christianity, I'm going to give it to them. One of my favorite arguments to use is the famous C.S. Lewis Trilemma: Lord, liar, or lunatic. Virtually all scholars agree that the Jesus of the Bible did exist, they just don't all agree that he is who he says he is. However, if we all start from the same base point that Jesus did exist, we are met with three options. Jesus has to be either a liar, a lunatic, or he is Lord. If Jesus was a liar, the other people who lived during this time, witnessed his miracles, and his life, would have spoken up and the stories would not have continued. If Jesus was mistaken about his divine status, due to the nature of his claims, he would be insane. Again, this can be dismissed due to the improbability of Jesus being insane due to the number of followers he gained. After the first two claims are proven improbable, the only option left is that Jesus is who He says He is . . . Lord.
From experience, I will tell you that people will poke holes in your explanations. That's okay, but for now, until Heaven, this is all we can do. Christianity is based on faith and at some point there is a leap from fact to faith. If you know someone who is struggling with doubts, such as those above and many more, I encourage you to pray for them and with them. Offer to talk with them about what you can, work out answers together to what you can, and then give the rest to God.