The Most Famous Love Words

by Sheri Schofield

The harsh realities of paganism surrounded Ruth in the land of Moab—until the day she met Mahlon, a young Jewish immigrant. Ruth’s people worshipped Chemosh, known as “the destroyer.” Her people offered human sacrifices to Chemosh, usually young children and babies. But when she met Mahlon, Ruth was introduced to the living God, Jehovah, whose laws required love and life, not fear and death. It was revolutionary!

Mahlon and Ruth were soon married. Mahlon’s brother, Chilion, married another Moabite woman named Orpah. But their joy was cut short when Mahlon, Chilion and their father died, leaving behind their three widows. Their mother-in-law Naomi decided to return to her hometown. She urged her daughters-in-law to return to their families. Orpah eventually did.

But Ruth refused to be parted from Naomi. Why would she want to stay in Moab and suffer under the worship of Chemosh? She told her mother-in-law, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God,” (Ruth 1:16 NIV).

Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, Ruth worked in the barley harvest to gather grain to feed Naomi and herself. The people of Bethlehem grew to respect the young widow for her faithfulness to Naomi. Eventually Ruth married a local landowner, Boaz, and provided a son to inherit Mahlon’s land, a son who was laid in Naomi’s lap, to bring joy to the widow.

While Ruth’s words to Naomi are often used in wedding ceremonies between a bride and groom, those words were originally meant to show the devotion of a young woman to her mother-in-law. Ruth became Naomi’s caretaker, her provider. She did it out of love.

Caretakers often support and provide for others who cannot live on their own. Older women care for husbands whose health is failing. Husbands care for wives who are incapacitated in some way. Parents care for handicapped children. Many caretakers work without thanks, for their loved one cannot speak or understand or express words of love. Yet those caretakers give unselfishly day after day, year after year, serving those whom they love.

Most people do not understand or even think about the sorrows of those who have taken up the role of caretaker in their homes. Often, those who give care do so out of an inner strength, upheld by the Holy Spirit. They have learned to stand alone, in God’s strength.

Valentine’s Day is very hard for many caretakers. Do you know anyone who serves in that capacity? Have you considered sending him or her a Valentine this year? How about a card signed by many, letting this lonely worker know they are loved and appreciated?

Let this Valentine’s Day be the beginning of a pattern among us. May the Lord help us seek out and recognize the Ruths who patiently and quietly serve others. Let’s tell them they are loved and treasured. We can lift their spirits with our encouragement. Let this Valentine’s Day go beyond romantic love and touch the servant-hearts of those in need of joy.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Award-winning author, illustrator, and Bible teacher Sheri Schofield ministers to children and their families through her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids. After serving Jesus through children’s ministries and personal evangelism for many years, she understands how to communicate God’s plan of salvation clearly to those who are seeking God.

God? Where Are You?: Answering Your Questions About God and How You Can Find Him by [Sheri Schofield]

Her first book on salvation, The Prince and the Plan, was designed specifically for children. But during COVID, Sheri sensed the need to also provide help for adults. Her new book for adults, God? Where Are You?, tells tells who God is, how we became separated from him, and what he is doing to bring us back to himself through Jesus. At the end of each chapter is a section called “Food For Thought”, which answers questions many unbelievers have, such as—If God is good, why do terrible things happen?—Is anyone too “bad” for God to want to rescue them from sin? This biblically based book is short and easy to read. 

Join the conversation: How can we show love and support for those in a caretaker role?

It’s Never Too Late: Surprised by Love

by Patti Richter

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Song of Solomon 2:4; NKJ

Heart-shaped chocolate boxes abound for Valentine’s Day, and some can be found in senior-living communities, though romantic couples are hard to spot. But one residential center I visited a few years ago was abuzz over a pair of love birds in their 80s.

The couple, Jim and Marion, had avoided public displays of affection, like hand-holding, “since people talk,” Marion said. But they couldn’t hide their joy, especially from those familiar with their pre-courtship behavior: Jim was withdrawn; Marion mostly kept to herself.

Marion, my mother-in-law, said it all began with a game of bridge. She’d lived alone for 25 years and preferred independent activities like exercise, prayer, and Bible reading, but she also enjoyed playing bridge, and she knew her way around the table. “It keeps an old mind sharp,” she explained. Her otherwise limited social life consisted of attending Sunday worship services and providing Christian mentoring to several women.

Providence brought Jim to the bridge table. His wife of 57 years had died unexpectedly only weeks before their planned transition to assisted living. Grief and stage-four pancreatic cancer kept the otherwise sociable man from caring about his new surroundings. The former engineer who once flew helicopters remained holed up in his apartment for nearly a year, surfacing only at dining room hours. Jim’s daughters pleaded with him to get out and meet people, and he finally complied by signing up for bridge.

On a summer day, shortly after Jim rejoined the living, Marion noticed him walking toward the courtyard bench where she sat reading. He seemed glad to see her, saying, “I’d like to learn some tips on the game.” (He later admitted that Marion’s voice and personality delighted him and made him want to spend more time with her.)

Marion’s initial interest in Jim was limited to his soul. She learned he’d faithfully attended church all his life without ever reading the Bible. After she invited him to study the Bible with her, she realized Jim was brilliant. He asked compelling questions that led to meaningful discussions between them. As the weeks passed, his flame of interest in God’s Word became a fire of desire to know God in a personal way. Jim soon fell in love—with Marion, and with Jesus, his Savior.

Marion observed how this naturally kind and compassionate man went out of his way to assist others. She came out of her shell around Jim and realized she’d been lacking in the love department by keeping to herself. And her heart warmed to him.

The depth of love the two began to enjoy surprised and overwhelmed them. Marion, who’d felt unlovable for most of her life, described it as “a gift from God, heavenly, more than I could comprehend.”

By late fall, Jim and Marion hosted their families for dinner in the private room of an Italian restaurant. We all met and interacted awkwardly until Jim rose from his seat, which took a while. In wide-eyed wonder we watched him struggle to pull a ring box from his suit pocket and ask for Marion’s hand.

By Valentine’s Day, the couple’s spring wedding plan took a back seat as Jim’s cancer moved to the front. Their love story would close in the same way it had begun, focused on God’s Word. In the hours before Jim’s peaceful departure, Marion sat beside him reading from Romans:

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at with more than four hundred published articles.

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Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: What’s your favorite love story?