Good parenting advice is hard to find. In fact, many of us have spent a lot more money than we’d like to admit on self-help books when all of the advice we’ve ever needed on being a great parent could be found right in the Bible. Enter the perfect resource for moms of the 21st Century: Successful Moms of the Bible.
Author Katara Washington Patton, a fellow mom-on-the-go, brings us an in-depth look at the stories of ten, strong women of the Bible who serve as great examples of being a successful mother by any means necessary.
“It’s based on biblical characters but it really is for contemporary moms,” Patton says about the first installment of her new 3-part series. Each chapter begins with an overarching lesson based on the stories of each biblical character.
“I really tried to mix it up,” Patton says. “Of course, I had to include my favorite, Ruth, so she came naturally, and of course, I had to include Mary, the mother of Jesus.”
Patton also included ladies that may be a bit less familiar, including Jochebed, the mother of Moses. Patton’s chapter on Jochebed embodies the concept of protecting your children at all costs. “That woman had guts,” she says. “She saved her son’s life!”
Although her goal was to share the stories of other moms, Successful Moms of the Bible also gives us a glimpse of Patton’s own close-knit relationship with her mother. “My mom died ten years ago in May, so writing about moms is very close and personal to me as we honor the 10-year anniversary of her death,” she says.
Patton says we can expect the other two books in the Successful series within the next several months. Successful Women of the Bible is scheduled for release in August 2016 and Successful Leaders of the Bible, the third and final installment, will be available early 2017.
Single Moms of the Bible is available on Patton’s website.
Who are some of your favorite moms of the Bible? Let’s talk about it below.
When and where we live, when the super-wealthy have robbed the merely wealthy, when the middling classes have lost their savings and the poor their homes, when the issue of immigration is hot and the lives of immigrants are threatened — the issues of poverty and wealth, of immigration and the home-born, mean a great deal. And that is what Ruth is about.
In the biblical story, Ruth was a foreigner from the nation of Moab, which was despised by all patriotic and God-fearing Israelites. Yet when she came to Israel as a widow, companion to her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi, she was welcomed onto the fields of Boaz, where she gleaned what the regular harvesters had left behind. Boaz made sure that even this despised foreigner had a decent job at decent pay. When she went one night to the barn where the barley crop was being threshed, he spent the night with her –and decided to marry her.
But if Ruth came to America today, what would happen?
Would she be admitted at the border?
Or would she be detained for months without a lawyer, ripped from Naomi’s arms while Naomi’s protest brought her too under suspicion — detained because she was, after all, a Canaanite who spoke some variety of Arabic, possibly a terrorist, for sure an idolator?
Would she be deported as merely an “economic refugee,” not a worthy candidate for asylum?
Would she have to show a “green card” before she could get a job gleaning at any farm, restaurant, or hospital?
Would she be sent to “workfare” with no protections for her dignity, her freedom, or her health?
When she boldly “uncovers the feet” of Boaz during the night they spend together on the threshing floor, has she violated the “family values” that some religious folk now proclaim? Or has she affirmed that love engages the body as well as the heart, the mind, and the spirit, and that sometimes a loving body comes before a wedding?
Today in America, some of us are outcasts like Ruth; some are prosperous, like Boaz. He affirmed that in a decent society, everyone was entitled to decent work for a decent income. Everyone — yes, everyone! Even, or especially, a despised immigrant from a despised nation. Everyone — not just a certain percentage of the people.
In ancient Israel, everyone had the right simply to walk onto a field and begin to work, begin to use the means of production of that era. And then to eat what they had gathered.
And Boaz could not order his regular workers to be economically “efficient.” They could not harvest everything — not what grew in the corners of the field, not what they missed on the first go-round. Social compassion was more important than efficiency. No downsizing allowed.
Although Boaz was generous-hearted, Ruth’s right to glean did not depend upon his generosity. It was the law.
Ruth was entitled not only to a job, but to respect. No name-calling, no sexual harassment. And she, as well as Boaz, was entitled to Shabbat: time off for rest, reflection, celebration, love. She was entitled to “be” — as well as to “do.”
Because Ruth the outcast and Boaz the solid citizen got together, they could become the ancestors of King David. According to both Jewish and Christian legend, they could thus help bring Messiah into the world — help bring the days of peace and justice.
What do we learn from their story today?
In America today, many of us live in the place of Boaz. Many others live in the place of Ruth. Our society has dismantled many of the legal commitments to the poor that ancient Israelite society affirmed. What are our own religious obligations?
What are our obligations — those of us who still have jobs, who have not lost our retirement funds to the machinations of the banks, or even those who have! What are our obligations to those who are living in cardboard boxes on the streets or parks of our cities? What are our obligations to those who have been evicted from their homes, to those who have no jobs?
Are we obligated only to toss a dollar bill or two into the empty hats of the homeless?
Or are we obligated to write new laws for our own country like the ancient laws that protected Ruth? Are we obligated to create new communities — local credit unions instead of global banks, food coops and neighborhood clinics, groups of caring people who turn an involuntary “furlough” from their jobs into time to learn together, sing together, plan together to make new places of shared work?
Are we obligated to create a society that rubs away the barriers between the rich and poor, between those who speak one language from those who speak another?
What can we do — what must we do — to help bring on the days of peace and justice?
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which can sometimes be difficult for single women who are still waiting for their “Boaz” to come along and sweep them off their feet. The story of Ruth and Boaz is arguably one of the greatest and most popular love stories in the Bible. It’s the story of Ruth, whose heart was broken after the death of her husband but healed by her faith in God. Ruth met the wealthy and kind Boaz while working in his field to “glean behind the harvesters” (Ruth 2). In addition to being protective of Ruth, Boaz admired her loyalty to her mother-in-law and her love for the Lord. As hardworking women of God, so many of us often dream of meeting our hard-working, loving—and sometimes wealthy—Boaz, but what are we doing in the meantime? Here are several things you could be doing while waiting on your own Boaz to arrive:
Complete Unfinished Projects
We all have them. Whether it’s that book you’ve been meaning to write or the new business you’ve been planning to launch, now is the perfect time to regain your focus and get it done.
Enjoy Time with Family and Friends
While in a relationship, it is so easy to spend all of your free time with your partner, leaving little room for time with family and friends. Call up your loved ones for a fun movie night, an impromptu girls night, or even a weekend road trip. Tomorrow isn’t promised, so spend those precious moments with your loved ones while you can.
Personal and Professional Development
There is always room for personal and professional growth, so why not start now? Sit down and make a list of all of your personal and professional goals. Perhaps your goals include going back to school to get your college degree, strengthening your relationship with God, receiving some sort of certification in your industry, or losing weight. Whatever your goal is, it is important that you also write down the list of tasks that must be completed in order to achieve those goals.
Read a Book
Yeah, we know. This may sound like an easy task, but in this day and age, taking time to sit down and read a book is easier said than done. Not only does reading serve as a stress reliever from our day-to-day lives, but it also allows us to educate ourselves on a variety of topics that we may have never taken the time to explore had we not been single.
Spend Time with Yourself
When was the last time you took yourself out to dinner? What about going to see a movie alone? Perhaps you should give it a try. Spending quality time alone is actually a great way to build self-confidence in addition to changing your mindset about needing a partner in order to have fun.
Take Time to Explore What You Really Want
Before jumping into your next relationship, now may be a good time to sit down and really figure out what it is that you really want in a partner. There’s a reason why none of your past relationships worked out, so perhaps it’s time to hit “pause” and really figure out what it is that you not only want in a partner, but what you actually need in a man.
What about you? What are some things you recommend doing while waiting on Boaz?
In the Old Testament, her testimony stands out as an example of great love, sacrifice, and redemption. But was Ruth the Moabite breaking the law?
Every once in a while I get an “aha” moment and I can’t turn my mind off, thus preventing me from a good night’s sleep. Last night’s “aha” moment came as I was reflecting on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.
The tendency of faith leaders advocating for a compassionate approach to immigrants is to appeal to the numerous “be kind to strangers” texts in the Hebrew Scriptures. The problem with this approach is that it elicits a universal response from the other side, “Yes, but those were legal immigrants. I’m talking about illegal immigrants. Since illegal immigrants are lawbreakers, they shouldn’t have any rights. And if you think they should, you’re just another godless liberal seeking to undermine the moral fabric of America … etc., etc.” It occurred to me that one of the most famous and beloved women in the entire Bible was an “illegal” immigrant. Her name was Ruth.
I’m not making this up. Deuteronomy 23:3 is clear, “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord forever.”
If you’re still not convinced that descendants of Moab were ordered to be excluded from the congregation of Israel, take a look at verse 6, which says, “You shall not seek their peace nor their prosperity all their days forever.” With this in mind, isn’t it strange that the hero in the story of Ruth is Boaz, a man that showed kindness to a Moabite woman? We look at the story today and know intuitively that Boaz was a hero, but we often forget that Boaz could have very well been considered a villain to the religious leaders of his day. After all, they might have said, the law forbids people like Ruth from being included in Israeli society — and they would have been right.
Kind of strange isn’t it? God writes a law and then commends people for breaking it? I can think of two other examples where this strange paradox occurs. One example is Joseph, the husband of Mary. Once Joseph discovered that his wife was pregnant with an illegitimate child, the Law of Moses said that Mary should have been stoned (Deuteronomy 22:20-21). Isn’t it a little odd then that the Holy Spirit, speaking through Matthew, calls Joseph a “just man” because he wanted to put her away secretly (Matthew 1:19)? Or how about when Jesus commended David for doing what was unlawful — his word, not mine — on the Sabbath because of a pressing human need (Mark 2:25-26)?
Yes, we’re supposed to respect the law, and I’m not saying that undocumented immigrants are right to break into the United States illegally (I happen to believe that nations do have a right to protect their borders); but there comes a time when we have to ask the question of how much should “respect for the law” determine a Christian’s response to those that suffer from economic forces beyond their control?
Let’s not forget that it was famine and death (read: economic hardship) that compelled Ruth to migrate with her mother-in-law Naomi. The same story could be told millions of times over today. If God commended people for breaking God’s own laws because of compassion for their fellow human beings, what might God think of people today that challenge human laws for reasons of compassion? Think about it.