By Bridget Halfyard
“…Esau took his wives from the women of Canaan: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite – also Basemath daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth. Adah bore Eliphaz to Esau, Basemath bore Reuel, and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jamal, and Korah…” Genesis 36:1-14
The genealogy that rattles on in Genesis chapter 36 is long and drawn out. At first, it feels boring and I often skip it. I can honestly say I do not know anyone who has memorized these genealogical verses in the Bible, but it would be an interesting verse to show off at a party. Some chapters of the Bible go on and on, and on, listing name after unknown name, after names of people that have no relevance to me; people from a long time ago and from far away.
Recently, I have learned that maybe these names are relevant; and that having special people in my life is important. The genealogy of a bloodline or the legacy of people in our lives had significant implications on all of our spiritual health and well-being.
During my forty years at Teen Ranch, I inherited a spiritual lineage that I am very proud of. It is a collection of connected people who inspire me, mentor me, and always find time to support me; women who lovingly provide spiritual provision over my life. If I was to write a chapter in my spiritual book, it would begin by listing several Teen Ranch women who are named Ann, Ashley, Bev, Bonnie, Carol, Carolyn, Christine, Corrie, Debbie, Geri, Heather, Kathleen, Lee, Lynda, Michelle, Nancy, Natalie, Rachel, Sharon, Tabitha, Val, Valerie, Velvet, Wendy, Yvonne and there are others. When I look at these names and reflect on my heart-connection to them, this naming of names tradition is no longer boring to me. Even though all of these women have a different genetic-family bloodline, they are all part of my genetic-spiritual lineage.
Growing up at Teen Ranch was a lot of fun. The people that I was privileged to meet along the way, both men and women, served as prominent role models for me as a young child, preteen, and of course during the wonderful mullet years of being a teenager. They continually poured into me developing confidence and direction as I grew into adulthood.
I sincerely believe that where we come from plays an important historical part of what shapes us. Who our parents are, the siblings we inevitably spend many years with, the friends and boyfriends we intermingle with, all play a role in shaping who we become. But most prominently, it is the women in my life who have been an influence, an example; a team of careful guidance, direction, and provision over my life. When prayer is needed, a quick phone call, a drive to the ranch, an email, or a text, is all it ever takes to any of these women to become the hands and feet of Jesus for me. As guided by Proverbs 31: 20 these Teen Ranch women in my spiritual lineage have shared their genuine hearts and have been true to the calling of “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy”. I have called some of these women after 10 years of not connecting and still quickly got responses. I found Natalie 30 years later and just in a Facebook message she was right back into my life where we left off.
The women I have met at Teen Ranch have taught me to live with integrity and honesty and in Proverbs 31:26 I have been a witness of how “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue”. As I write to you today, as others in the Bible have written, I write in thanksgiving for the compassion, joy, faith, love, hugs, direction, and most significantly the spiritual discipline that my spiritual mothers and sisters have passed on to me. Through them, I have inherited a lineage of a spiritual family that is a treasure chest of life-giving wealth for me.
I no longer skip the genealogy parts of the Bible and today I am a lot more curious to know each of these people; just like knowing my spiritual mothers and sisters, who have all played a part in shaping my heart and teaching me to be the hands and feet of Jesus.