WOPS (Wives of Perpetual Students)


Warm-up #1: Resetting the Stopwatch with Kairos Time

Soul Element Exercised: Timelessness

 

“In the spiritual life, God chooses to try our patience first of all by His slowness. He is slow: we are swift and precipitate. It is because we are but for a time, and He has been for eternity. . . . There is something greatly overawing in the extreme slowness of God. Let it overshadow our souls, but let it not disquiet them. We must wait for God, long, meekly, in the wind and wet, in the thunder and the lightning, in the cold and dark. Wait, and He will come.” – Frederick Faber

 

“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” – Dallas Willard, on the health of the soul

 

It’s been a shocking two months since I’ve last written, and it shows how much I’ve become locked into the chains of chronos time (gr. scheduled, chronological time). But a little over two weeks ago, at 25 weeks along in my pregnancy, I took my last chance (pre-child) to go on an intensive retreat with 52 students from our Jesuit high school where I work, a retreat called Kairos (gr. “God’s Time”). It was a chance to step out of the office, step out of my responsibilities as a wife at home, and focus on the spiritual needs of myself and the community of the retreatants there with me.gods-time-1

The retreat was an intense four days of talks, reflections, prayer, small group chats, and emotional revelations, from seven in the morning to past midnight each night. Day two included my 25-minute talk as a retreat leader on the topic of “God’s Friendship”, which was simultaneously empowering and emotionally draining. It required me to dig down to things I hadn’t touched in a long time as I rehashed my history, including my faith struggles during my parents’ cancers, the pain and disorder of my father’s loss, and my own intense loneliness as I navigated those years feeling isolated in the experience due to my age and entrapment caused by my dependent status. To make sure the kids listening understood my perspective from these rough years of my late adolescence and very early 20s, I didn’t hold back on those elements; however, the meat of my talk arose from those moments (and I shared most of them) when I realized, sometimes many months after the events, that I wasn’t alone, in any of it, ever.

I won’t share the whole talk here. It was a long one. But I will say that writing it and giving it served as a reminder to me, as much as a revelation to some of the kids, that God is active in our lives in quiet ways, through gentle reminders, circumstantial blessings that are unexpected, and the generous hearts of others who follow an impulse that goes beyond mere human kindness – the kinds of gestures that can’t be explained by anything but the influence and presence of the divine.

I went back to my room that night to find a thick mail packet on my bed. Although most students (despite the secrecy surrounding this retreat) have come to expect that a part of Kairos is getting some letters from your loved ones as an encouragement, I was surprised as an adult leader to have notes from anyone but my husband, to whom I’d shared the details of the retreat ahead. As I opened note after note, I realized he’d done more than just follow an impulse to write me a little something for my Kairos mail; he’d hacked into my email to contact relatives, college friends, and even high school friends. I also opened several notes from many of my coworkers, sometimes surprised by their candidness as they shared their thoughts on their past four-and-a-half years with me.

And as I read past two in the morning in that Spartan little retreat room with one light, I remembered those many moments in my life when these note-writers had shown me that I wasn’t alone. I remembered, too, the intense spiritual talks with some of them that had influenced me in darker times.

Even though I came home on Day 4 from the retreat to almost immediately engage with the real-world and its demands again, the spiritual time-out allowed me to remember, as I embark on this next part of my life journey, this time as a parent at the end of my twenties, that I’m still not alone.

I just had to take the time to remember this truth by disengaging myself from the world’s notion of time and dipping into the non-scheduled space of eternity.

I need to do it more often, and I hope that anyone reading this gets inspired to take off for a little time to themselves to relive moments of God’s kindness in their lives. After all, it’s hard to understand and enjoy that kind of eternal, everlasting love unless we can turn off our calendar apps and schedulers for a little while and experience the time our soul is made to dwell in: an unlimited continuum not measurable with a minute-hand.

Taking that little space to breathe gave me one relieving piece of knowledge: that God measures our lives as a kind of ripening, and not as a rush.

 

Warm-up #2: Cleansing Breaths to Replace “Comparisonitis” with Gratitude

Soul Element Exercised: Peace and Perspective

 

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder

 

“To be truly grateful, you must not only recognize the benefits or gifts that come your way, but that they are not just random acts; they are not accidents. They are coming from Someone who has good intentions for you.” – John Ortberg, Soul Keeping

 

I’ve been home from the retreat for a few weeks now, doing what women in their third trimester tend to do: scurrying around completing childbirth education, scheduling prenatal medical appointments and tests, planning for the mountain of work to get done (or leave detailed guides on how to do) before maternity leave, and trying to outfit the necessities in the nursery (oh, and doing taxes, because it’s that time again. Joy.).

I admit, when I sat down in February to figure all this out in terms of my calendar and our budget, I felt frankly overwhelmed, anxious, and at times resentful.

Not that I wasn’t grateful to be having a healthy baby – I was and still am—but I had been running seemingly every day into women who are or have recently been pregnant and who have far more of this figured out, or have had the luxury of more personal time and more financial resources due to their husband’s full-time employment, than I do. These well-meaning women have kindly asked if I’d heard of this class yet, or if I’d joined a prenatal yoga group, or gotten scheduled for massages to help with pregnancy pains, or how often I was able to nap during the day (my answer – never, during the work week).

Pinterest before bedtime didn’t help. I stumbled with a sort of helpless nesting-instinct-driven-fascination onto blogs written by women who have had the resources and time to set up and document beautiful nurseries in well-proportioned houses, and buy adorable and expensive clothes, toys, knickknacks, and doo-dads. I came across scholarly articles telling me that I was a bad mom because I hadn’t also shelled out a lot more money to take this other special class, or have this special test or treatment, before my due date arrived.

I’d shut off my laptop some nights and wander the 20 feet into the single bedroom of our apartment which I realized had been all furnished with hand-me-down furniture that I’d cobbled together into something resembling “cozy”. I had one area by the window where I was hoping to fit in the rudiments of a nursery, and I was having trouble envisioning what would go where in a small room that was seemingly full already.

Even as I shut off the lights, the smallness and the shabbiness of the room still dimly shadowed my mind as I thought back to the sparkling affluence and beauty of the things I’d looked at others enjoying on the web as other couples filled up their big nurseries and big houses with exciting things for their newborn.

And then, on the penultimate weekend of February, my in-laws arrived to offer a cradle that had been in the family for decades. My husband had once slept in it, and other kids on that side of the family, too. And in our tiny apartment, it was a better answer than a huge crib, at least for a little while. It came inside with us from the backseat of their car, out of the cold and snow.

This is the little cradle with so much history.

This is the little cradle with so much history.

As I polished up the old wooden cradle and gave it an experimental rock, I noticed some things about it. The first was that it had been well-sanded to a gleamy smoothness before it had been stained, and its components had been put together entirely by hand using a tongue-and-groove design; there’s not a clunky nail in sight. And then, as I looked closer at some of the scratches and nicks in the wood, I recognized places where wedding rings, toys, and maybe other furniture had scraped this cradle as babies were placed in and lifted out of it, from years and years in my husband’s family, in days and nights of loving routine and fretful concern.

I thought about the hours spent in previous generations sitting beside this cradle, and all the sudden, all of it – the stuff on Pinterest with that posh designer feel, the anxiety I felt about putting the nursery together in time, the worry I felt about finances being there when we needed them – it just went away.

And I remembered to be grateful for what we already had, which was all that was really going to matter: that this child would be born with a loving extended family and the commitment my husband and I have for each other. That’s all that most babies for thousands of years have ever been able to ask for, and it’s all that any expecting mom can really hope for.

 

But on that note about all this other baby stuff, stay tuned for some upcoming posts about Bringing Up Baby on a Budget….

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I am so shocked sometimes at what store-bought “natural” chemical peels cost!

But I sure do love the bang that those lightly acidic zingers do for the face in terms of killing off acne bacteria and revealing fresh, glowy skin cells! At 27, my skin has slowed down its cell turnover enough that I often see dullness, but it still creates enough oil for acne…So, needing a facial is rather common for me!

What does a girl do when she needs a facial and can’t justify the $35-a-jar stuff from Sephora in her budget?

She goes to the produce aisle and raids her cabinets!

All the ingredients are there. Let’s grab some:

  • Baking Soda
  • Honey
  • Fresh lemon (cut in half, or if a big lemon, in quarters)

Got your goodies yet?  We’re ready to do this thing.

Enjoy this awkward step-by-step shot from my iPhone at night. Wonderful photography, I tell ya!

 

Step 1: Prep the Natural Chemical Peel

Note the Aldi's products. See? Saving money already!

Note the Aldi’s products (honey and baking soda). See? Saving money already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pour the honey on first after you've squeezed the lemon a bit.  The honey has natural antibacterial properties!

Pour the honey on first after you’ve squeezed the lemon a bit. The honey has natural antibacterial properties!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then add the acid neutralizer: Baking Soda. The honey will keep it separate from the acidic lemon juice until you're ready to apply it all to your face. And the baking soda is a nice exfoliant!

Then add the acid neutralizer: Baking Soda. The honey will keep the soda separate from the acidic lemon juice until you’re ready to apply it all to your face. At that time, the baking soda makes a nice exfoliant!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 2: Prep the Face by Cleansing

Off with makeup!  I'm using Trader Joe's green tea soap.

Off with makeup! I’m using Trader Joe’s green tea soap. If my Clarisonic had a new head, I’d use it instead of a towel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 3: Gently Rub on the Mixture

Boy, you can see how badly I need this. All broken out on the forehead and chin.  Ick!

Boy, you can see how badly I need this. All broken out on the forehead (and chin, not shown). Ick!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 4: Try Not to Pick at the Lemony Bits as Mixture Sits for 5 Minutes

Failing at not picking/dabbing at the bits of lemon flesh leftover.

Failing at not picking/dabbing at the bits of lemon flesh left over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 5: Rinse Completely Off

All clean!

All clean!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 6: Put on Your Anti-Agers and Moisturizers of Choice

 

Love, love, love this stuff. And it's so cheap on Amazon. At night, I add a little coconut oil to this for moisture.

Love, love, love this stuff. Smells like orange and vanilla and is full of retinol and Vitamin C. And it’s so cheap on Amazon considering how long a bottle lasts! At night, I add a little coconut oil to this for moisture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the day, I use the Simple Moisturizer with SPF 15 when I'm not spending more than an hour or two outside.

During the day, I use the Simple Protecting Moisturizer with SPF 15 when I’m not spending more than an hour or two outside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 7: Wait a Few Days and Repeat As Needed… Until You See Results

 

LEFT: Age 27.5. RIGHT: Age newly-22.

LEFT: Age 27.5.
RIGHT: Age newly-22.

 

 

This is after about 10 days, doing the Lemon-Honey Peel twice and resting a few days in-between. I’m still a little broken out on the “phone-side” of my chin, but I think a lot of my former “glow” is restored. What do you think, reader?

Until next time, your stingy, citrus-y friend,

 

Ruth

 

 

I have a confession to make.

As a WOPS (Wife of Perpetual Student) and current bread-winner, I shop at the Dollar Tree.

Not the Dollar Store (where things are cheaper, but don’t actually cost a dollar), but at the Dollar Tree where everything, is, in fact, a buck or less.

So what’s actually worth buying at the Dollar Tree, you ask?  Isn’t it all crappy stuff?

Crappy…hmm. This word requires a bit of a mental shift.

Here’s a few things my middle-classist brain had to learn to wrap around:

  • After poking around and hedging my bets, I found a lot of the stuff is surprisingly co-equal in quality to what you’d find in Target within its store-branding or even the standard name-brand.
  • I realized that the kind of stuff I’d buy there is the kind of stuff that are things that aren’t meant to last forever anyway, regardless of where I buy them.  In fact, most of the things I buy there are the things we all use for a few minutes at a time and toss.

With all this in mind, I figured, why not spend just a buck on things like that?  Isn’t that a fine deal? Why spend any more than that, so long as it gets the job done?

So here’s what I typically get . . . And if I know the normal price of something, I’ll throw it in there, just so you can see that I’m not crazy buying this stuff on the cheap:

1. Paper products: 100-packs of napkins ($2.89 at Kroger), paper towels, etc.

2. School stuff for my grad-student hubby: packs of pens, pocket folders, and spiral notebooks, 3×5 cards, even colored pencils and crayons for me!

3. Cleaning products.  Where else can you get a gallon of bleach for $1 to refill your bathroom cleaning spray or add into the wash?  Or a gallon of vinegar for the same? Some cleaners are even name-brands like Pine-Sol (same size is $2.46 on Google Shopping), Comet ($3.99 on Google Shopping) and and Barkeeper’s Friend ($1.99 on Google Shopping). And that’s not to mention the cheap packages of sponges, gloves, dish soap, and scrubby brushes.

4. Bathroom beauty and hygiene supplies, like the ones pictured here on my sink–yep, all Dollar Tree stuff! Why pay more for pink razors, girls? And baby wash is the BEST body wash in terms of gentleness–even for adults!

photo of dstore buys

And I buy much more in this category that happened to be less photo-handy at the moment, like baby oil (makeup remover), hand soap, toothbrushes, shaving cream ($2.99 at Kroger), mouthwash, floss, hair ties ($3.19 at Walgreens), bobby pins ($1.69 at Walgreens), and even clarifying shampoo ($1.99-4.99, depending on brand . . . I figured out awhile back that even fancy shampoo is in your hair for about a minute or two to clean it, whereas conditioner is what actually is formulated to deposit on the hair shafts and make a difference in your hair. I only invest in conditioner!).

5. Random purchase-musts that come up in the holiday seasons or on special occasions and threaten a tight budget. Next month, why go broke spending $5 per bag of trick-or-treat goodies when you can get that bag of name-brand mini-Smarties or Snickers for $1? Why cough up $3 for a co-worker’s birthday card when you can get one that’s hilarious for $.59? Not to mention Christmas gift bags (typically $3.99 for a pack of plain small bags at Target) and tissue paper and rolls of wrapping paper ($3.00-5.00 in many stores!) at a $1 per roll!  And the holiday designs on these are actually becoming progressively more modern and cute… like something I’d find in a big-box store. Their rolls of ribbon are also only $1, as are multi-packs of rolls of clear adhesive tape.

I can often leave my dollar-saving-haven with a bag in each hand, having paid roughly $10 total, and not having to come back for a couple of months.

So, in a year, I estimate that I save roughly $50-80 just by shopping for these things at my somewhat-shady local Dollar Tree.  That’s cash Boaz and I can use towards more fun things in life than just these boring little staples; don’t you agree?

Until next time, your cheap-o friend,

 

Ruth

 

There was twirling. Much twirling. Photo courtesy of my friend Olivia; background courtesy of southern Indiana and the Ohio River.

There was twirling. Much twirling. Photo courtesy of my friend Olivia; background courtesy of southern Indiana and the Ohio River.

Back in college, I loved dressing like a cross between a gypsy ragamuffin, Victorian heroine, and fairy princess all put together.

Hence why I loved this skirt.

It was a tiered composite of patterned cotton, mostly yellow and had greys and browns and pinks and reds and white all put together in a sort of tiered peasant style.  It was gloriously simple; I could just pull it on with the elastic over my hips like a little girl–and run around!  I might have done that often. See this photographic evidence from 2009….

But what is a young lady to do when she not only leaves behind her early–heck, even her mid-twenties (when such frippery is appropriate) and then destroys that much-needed elastic waistband after so many years of playful wear?

Toss it out and buy something more adult and functional? Not if she’s cash-strapped and has an emotional attachment to the skirt.

No…Ruth, being Ruth, harvests and refashions.

Now, I’m no where near a refashionista, and certainly not the Refashionista (go ahead, click that link and visit her site!).  But I do have some skills with a needle and thread.

With a Sunday with some downtime and some Netflix, I got working. And since it turned out okay, for your benefit, I made a little tutorial.

 

TIERED SKIRT TO INFINITY SCARF REFASHION TUTORIAL

STEP 1. Cut around the area of the skirt you want to keep, keeping the material in its original, complete skirt-circle. Make sure the diameter of this skirt-circle is sufficient to allow for wrapping around your neck; if it isn’t, you may need to “break” the circle, and cut several long strips instead. Keep any existing skirt lining as well, if possible. Toss the unwanted fabric.

Step 1

Choppity chop! I wanted to keep the grey parts and the patterned calico with red flowers; luckily, they were already sewn together in the original skirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 2: If one strip of the salvaged patterned fabric is not contiguous with the other, you’ll need to add another step here to stitch the two strips together, stitching in a narrow seam with the patterns sides facing each other. Fold the two patterned pieces of fabric at the tier of the skirt where the different fabric patterns now meet at a seam, tucking the lining or other type of inner-facing inside to add extra volume to the scarf.   Gather the edges of the fabric together, forming a tube by pinching the raw edges towards the inside to make a seam.

 

Pinch those raw edges! See the lining inside, sort of like "stuffing" to make it fluffy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3.  The tricky part is next. Close the “tube” by pinning it shut, gathering the fabric as needed to ensure that the circular shape is retained; occassionally pick up the lining or innerfacing as you do this so that the “stuffing” doesn’t bunch up inside in weird places.

 

I cheated a little and just gathered as I stitched... but ideally, your gathers/pins should look a bit like this.

I cheated a little and just gathered as I stitched… but ideally, your gathers/pins should look a bit like this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 4: Sew down your gathers, keeping your raw edges inside. If you want to be clever, cheat your gathers by using a gather stitch, as I do here. How do you do a gather stitch? Imagine you’re drawing a dotted line with your needle, stitching through the looser piece of fabric horizontally, with stitches about 1/4″ apart from each other. Once you’ve done that for a few inches, pull your thread tight, and watch your fabric bunch and gather neatly. Go back over the gathered bit and stitch down the gathers so they lie a little flatter and tighter against each other and the other piece of patterned fabric.

 

Step 4 gather1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 5:  Repeat Step 4 all the way around, adjusting as you go to keep that nice circle!

 

Step 4 gather

Keep it goin’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Done?  Tie off the thread and make a fabulous outfit that’s ready for late-summer, early fall!  Twist it one way to reveal the pattern you prefer, or keep twisting to show both patterns at once!

Tada! Le Scarf! Pair it with fun.

Tada! Le Scarf! Pair it with fun.

 

Cost = $0.00.

Rafashion satisfaction? Priceless.

 

Tune in next Thursday for some more thrifty fun!  There might be another posting on a different topic next week as well — if a wild hair attacks me in the interim.

When I first married Boaz knowing that he would soon matriculate into a full-time grad school program that would take three to four years to complete, I admit, I was nervous.

I looked around for a community of other women who had done this—gotten married with their spouse in grad school full-time—and I found quite a few ladies in the blogging community who called themselves “WOPS” (Wives of Perpetual Students). While I discovered a handful that were living in ways similar to mine, I also found many who were not, including several ladies who had gotten pregnant shortly after marriage, worked at their job up until delivery, then had to live off hubby’s student loans or his skinny graduate living stipend while raising tiny kiddos (man, tough stuff). The ladies who were in my boat—no kids yet and working full-time—had great things to say about filling up the time in the evenings when hubby was studying, being intentional about setting aside time to share with him, and being pretty frugal, and I appreciated that. (Visit the WOPS blogroll here.)

Outdoor dates are romantic, fun and free!

Outdoor dates are romantic, fun and free!

But I wished in all their postings that there was more of a single-stop, step-by-step for the financial planning part of this process, a plan that went beyond just budgeting to get by. I wanted a plan that would help us not only survive financially, but also thrive post-graduation by helping us lay the foundation to maybe, just maybe, get a little ahead. On less than the equivalent of one starting teacher’s salary going into my account (with a huge chunk taken out in taxes and to pay our combined health insurance), this seemed fantastical.

 

Until I dug a bit and started reading.

 

And readers, I read, and do read, a lot. Not just advice from other WOPS, but from folks in the financial independence movement. So, for all the other gals out there like me—or maybe just for other people who are working with a small income who want to still figure out financial plan—here are three principles Boaz and I have adopted based on some good advice:

 

#1. AVOID (OR GET RID OF) DEBT. Simply put, don’t put your foot in a hole. Avoid or (pay off any existing1) student loans, avoid credit card debt, avoid a car payment wherever possible by not buying a “new” car, avoid the one-two punch of a house down-payment-plus-monthly-mortgage-payment by sticking with a little apartment or rental unit (emphasis on “little”, since space equals money in the renters’ market). You get the picture—just live well inside your means, keeping a small footprint as your goal. Being young and in love, you don’t need a ton of stuff to be happy, just each other.

 #2. SAVE UP BY CONTROLLING WHAT YOU SPEND AND EARN. Learn to watch where your money goes and how much comes in. As you do, take some of these steps to save.

  • First, tackle your biggest expense by scaling down hubby’s school fees any way you can without hurting his degree attainment goals (graduate assistantships, special merit scholarships, grants, etc., are all great places to start).
  • Next, expend a bit of energy to make a little extra on the side during some of your after-work downtime (I tutored a couple evenings a week this school year) and have hubby do the same during lighter seasons of study.
  • And finally, if you haven’t already, get out your financial scissors and cut the fat out of your lifestyle expenses. This means sticking to a budget that makes room for savings to grow and even enforcing the act of savings (if necessary) by setting up a direct transfer from checking to savings every month. To create budgetary space for savings, try dropping cable TV in favor of Netflix, Redbox, or Amazon Instant; cutting “entertainment food” like takeout or snacky sweets; and minimizing transportation costs by carpooling or biking more places. There’s a ton more I could put down here in terms of steps to take, but for brevity, I’ll leave them for later posts under my “Frugal” category.

#3. PUT YOUR SAVINGS TO WORK.

  • Once you have a little to work with, take a chunk of that hard-earned savings account nest-egg and set up a mutual fund or other high-earning account. Chances are, any money that’s sitting in your savings account at the bank is simply sitting there; at least a mutual fund will put your money to work for you, or switching to a bank like Ally with a high-APY savings account will actually yield some noticeable dividends.
  • Lastly, remember retirement by contributing to a plan. I happen to have an employer that matches contributions if I throw in a minimum amount each year. If you have an employer that will match like this, too, take advantage of it, even if (heck, especially if) you’re in your twenties (compound interest/earnings for the win)!

 

I know this was a rather involved post, but I hope it was worth the read.

 

For more tips on how to cut the fat in your budget or become more money-savvy overall, I strongly recommend checking out these resources:

  1. Dave Ramsey – because he’s Dave Ramsey, and he’s helped millions save up and tackle their debt using the “debt snowball” approach.
  2. Mr. Money Mustache—a guy with a weird blogging alias who teamed up with his wife to save two-thirds of their combined income during their 20s through sheer “badassery”, then used these funds and their cleverly acquired assets to essentially retire at age 30. Badass, indeed.
  3. The Peaceful Mom – a brilliant SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) who raised four kids on her husband’s $28,000 annual salary without losing her mind or getting into debt.

 

*&* A NOTE ON PAYING TAXES AS A MARRIED COUPLE (U.S.)

It’s worth a visit to a tax advisor to see whether filing jointly or separately works out more to your favor when you’re married. Whatever you decide, when it’s over, transfer any tax refunds into your higher-earning savings account or mutual fund.

 

So, I haven’t written in YEARS.

But to be fair, it’s because huge things have happened: on August 13, 2010, I accepted a position in fundraising for a private school here in town. On October 7, 2010, I moved out—and closer to work—into my own apartment.

The story I’ve woven here on this blog of my life immediately emerged onto a new path: I was no longer Ruth, living with my Naomi, coping after a loss. I just became a person simply starting over—with Mom across town—and beginning a life on my own. Naomi began a new journey, too, of discovering who she was meant to become in her new life, a story no less important, but in the periphery of mine.

And then my little single-girl in quarter-life-crisis-land-story wrapped up in a strange way: after I reached the end of the allegorical comparison of my life situation to Ruth’s, the ending of my own story wrapped up in somewhat the same way as hers: with a romance.

He’s not really a picture of the biblical Boaz (meaning he’s not my boss, or a kinsman-redeemer in the Levirate sense), but he’s an old flame from college that reignited after I shamelessly took some old advice from the original Naomi:

“Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best dress. Then go down to [the place where he works]…” –Ruth 3:3.

I totally happened to call him and mention to him that I’d be in town near him visiting a friend, and that I had some books he might want, based on some interests he’d recently shared. He then happened to ask me to stop by, to deliver said books, to him at work. I might have worn a really cute sundress and some darling espadrilles.  My friend I’d met earlier might have wished me luck. 🙂

All we did was talk—I didn’t do what Ruth did at her meeting with Boaz, when she actually climbed into bed with him (the hussy!). But our night did wind up with the two of us having drinks together later that evening after his shift and catching up. It had been over a year since he had called me up, out of the blue, just to ask how I was coping after my dad died: an act that took some boldness and sensitivity on his part, since we were then about a year post-amicable breakup. It was an act of compassion that I’d never forgotten.

The rest, as they say, is Old Testament history…

Yep, I got married to my Boaz.  August 6, 2011.

Yep, I got married to my Boaz. August 6, 2011.

 

But I’ll give you the run-down of the story, anyway.

Boaz and I dated through the summer of 2010, and I was, at that time, still casually dating other guys in the rather old-school 1950s fashion as you’ve read here on this blog; I kept busy “playing the field innocently”, with no physical or verbal commitments offered to anyone until I could tell which man would not only stick around, but was also the man who I wished would stick around.

In October of 2010, Boaz asked me, “So, what do I have to do to get you to clear the other guys off your social calendar?”

“You want the other guys off my date book?” I replied, pleased. “Does that mean you want to keep me? Because otherwise, we’ll be wasting each other’s time when we could be meeting our potential mates.”

“It’s not a waste of time if I’m serious.”

Oh, and he was serious.

By Christmas of 2010, we had confessed our love, and he was driving up an hour and a half to visit on weekends (with me driving down sometimes, too), and we established a delightful routine that was broken a few months later in May of 2011, when he proposed to me in a horse-drawn carriage. Yes, this man knew my predilection for Austen literature. It was also reminiscent of our first date in 2007, when he took me on a carriage ride in our old historic college town.

We were mBoaz and Rutharried on August 6, 2011, a day after my parent’s wedding anniversary. (Good thing I was an event planner for my fundraising job; it was sure a quick turnaround from our engagement!)

We honeymooned in Oregon, and two weeks later, he started working on his Master of Divinity degree, and I kept on working at my new fundraising job. Ruth has never really left the field.

I’m four years into that fundraising job now, and been blessed by the overarching school environment at my institution of work and its Jesuit roots and Ignatian spirituality. It’s been a time that’s been full of both work-induced stress and home-life calm and rest. No other deaths, dramas, or traumas have occurred, but the softening changes that come about from the conjugal bliss experienced while sharing my life.

And so, my friends, I’m relaunching this blog in 2014, some five years after its inception, with a new focus: the journey that Boaz and I are taking together as he enters ministry, as we both become workers in a different kind of harvest.

In the process, we’ll check in with Naomi from time to time, who has started over her life in many ways as well. She’s left the house my father died in and moved into a condo (less than a mile from my little apartment with Boaz), where she’s resumed her artwork and has totally redecorated every inch of her new home in her spare hours outside of her part-time work. But it’s been a journey for her, too.

So, some topics of this newer iteration of this blog will include:

  1. More of the spiritual—because those have always been my favorite posts to share.
  2. Some gender politics –because being married brings all kinds of perspectives on the male-female relationship in the 21st century.
  3. Musings on work-family balance, and trying to plan ahead for a future baby (no, reader, I am not pregg-o yet! We’ve been putting it off while Boaz is in school; more on that in my Family Planning category posts).
  4. Living frugally—because with a husband in grad school and me on the equivalent of a starting teacher’s salary, we’ve learned quickly how to live simply and focus on what’s important. And it’s freeing, actually; it’s something we’ll do all our lives.
  5. Reflections on this generation of Millennials—because we are a weird bunch in many ways, and we’re also a group that craves some direction, since we’ve been blown about in a world that’s gone global, and also rather multiple-personalitied and crazy.
  6. Books, pop culture, and other neat things –because I love writing about them and reading your thoughts.
  7. My new obsession: nutrition and health, because we live in a world full of lifestyle diseases, including many cancers—which, as a child of two cancer-stricken parents, I’m trying to avoid!

Looking forward to seeing you here.  Thanks for your patience, and welcome, new readers.

Love,

 

Ruth