Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices

By Cynthia Ruchti

When I purchased Ragged Hope, I assumed that I’d be reading stories that might help me as I am challenged by the pitfalls from the poor choices of the people around me. I’ve been there. Most likely, we all have.  Instead, I learned how to better serve others who are in emotional, physical, and spiritual pain from the consequences of other people’s choices. The part of the book that I appreciated the most and prayed about even more, is the section after each story where she says, “If you know…”, where the author shares tips on ministering to those who need hope. I’ve never read a book like this that offers such good ideas on how to reach out to the hurting. Because her words brought the realities to life, I found myself praying for the people in the chapters.

Cynthia shares stories of tragedy, pain, and rebellion. More than that she reaches into the heart and examines how the person survived. I love how she reckoned hope to a baby’s blanket, where the satin edges were worn and tattered, yet the blanket brought comfort and hope.  Some stories brought tears while others called up empathy. But most of the testimonies sounded familiar. In fifty-six years, I’ve seen many of the same struggles and lived the same desperate cry for Jesus’ hope.

This is a must read for anyone who ministers to others and wants to offer the hope of Jesus to a hurting world. Every church and public library should have this book on the shelf. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lifeline by Christy Barritt

In Lifeline, Julianne Grace doesn’t want to ask Bradley Stone for help. But desperation propels her toward him. He’s not sure he can help. Too much hurt and baggage weigh him down. Trouble is… a relentless predator won’t let them rest.

The author delves into the ugly truth of physical and mental abuse in this fast paced, edge-of-your-seat suspense. Packed with emotion, the story leads the reader through fear and horror as the characters fight for their lives. What I like about Christy’s books is that she always weaves in a thread of hope. Even as my heart fluttered and I shuddered at the terroristic circumstances that surrounded Julianne and Bradley, relief washed over me as their faith kept them calm and guided their path.

As Julianne faces unexpected and close to impossible circumstances, I love seeing her change from frightened and fragile to strong and courageous. In the midst of these incredulous conditions, Barritt knits in a story of love and respect between two injured hearts.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

When the Morning Glory Blooms by Cynthia Ruchti

Cynthia Ruchti weaves together the stories of women, across decades, who experience heartache, hope, and joy. In the 1890s, Anna steps out in faith to protect and nurture women no one else wants. Ivy makes a choice in the 1950s that will change her life forever. Move to 2012, Becky’s frustration with her daughter Lauren leads her down a path she never planned to travel. To complicate matters, she must find a way to show love to her friend Monica, whether she wants to or not. One element ties their stories together, hope.

The picture paintings that the author creates make this book stand out. As I read, I worked beside Anna and Puff as they scrubbed and repaired the old homestead where Anna planned to take in unwed mothers. I sat with Ivy as she poured over letters she tried to write to her baby’s father. With Becky, I wanted to comfort her as she struggled with caring for an unexpected grandson from her teenage daughter, Lauren.

Cynthia shows heartache, friendship and new life through the eyes of one who knows what it is to love fiercely. I met Cynthia and talked with her about her story. She writes as one who offers hope that glows in the dark. In the midst of stress, she turns to God and seeks His guidance. This shows in her writing. She’s a woman who’s experienced life and knows what it means to trust God.

I highly recommend When the Morning Glory Blooms. Not long after I finished the book, I saw morning glories along the road. They now remind me of God’s love and the hope he brings to my life. Pick up a copy of this book, you’ll be glad you did.

You may also want to read Cynthia’s latest nonfiction release, Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices.

What are you reading?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Taxi Rides and Navy Pier

My co-workers and I arrived in Chicago for the American Library Association conference. We flew in then caught a Go Green van. Our driver, George, a native Chicagoan, entertained us with stories and history about his beloved city. Did you know that Cool Whip, skyscrapers, and the juke box originated in the Windy City and that the nickname doesn’t refer to the wild breeze, but to politicians from the past? All facts, according to George.

Registered for the conference, we enjoyed a delicious lunch, then headed out to explore the city. We learned early that Chicagoans like to honk. The beeps and tweets sounded like a concert. Every taxi we rode in, three in all, honked at least every ten feet. And speaking of taxis, we can say that we experienced a crazy heart-in-your-throat ride, like you see in movies.  Our first driver, a sweet young man named Jose, chatted with us and drove with perfect safety. Driver two made our hearts stutter. He swerved, honked, slammed his breaks, and pretty much made us wonder if we should ever get in a taxi again. Thank goodness, our last driver made a smooth path to our hotel.

If you get to Chicago, go to Navy Pier, walk around, enjoy the people and the beautiful view of Lake Michigan. We hopped on a boat and enjoyed the tour of the shoreline. The boat sailed past the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, the highlight for me, as we listened to the history of this exciting city.

Off to Printer’s Row today and then to ALA.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Born and Raised in a Small Town

As John Cougar Melloncamp sang, I was raised in a small town. People valued Main Street, with Woody’s grocery, Odell’s drugstore, the library, bank, you get the idea. We even had a men’s clothing store and a fabric shop. Mom knew if I walked downtown after school for a scout meeting, my friends and I were safe.

My work in progress is set in the fictional small town of Turtle Creek, Ohio.  The town’s growing in size and acquiring a taste for arts and crafts, college kids and coffee.  I’ve enjoyed researching and visiting small towns as I pieced Turtle Creek together.

One of the villages I considered is on my route to and from work. The street corners host huge planters of pink petunias accented by purple and green. The sidewalks have a terra cotta brick trim. The drug store window invites the shopper in with an eclectic array of gift items. They even have a donut shop, florist and antique store, that make you want to stop and visit. Yet, the sites I enjoy most are not stores or eateries, but murals. This little town boasts a painting that invites the passerby for donuts or pizza. The other rings out the history of the town. If you’re familiar with Williamsburg, Ohio, you know what I’m talking about. A small town treasure.

Do you have a favorite small town? If so, where?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Review-The Face of the Earth: A Novel

By Deborah Raney

Mitch’s wife, Jill, calls to say she’ll be home for dinner. Except, she never arrives. It’s as if she’s disappeared into thin air. His neighbor Shelley wants to help find her best friend, but she’s not sure how close she should get to Mitch. Life needs to move forward, but how, when someone you love is missing?

I lost some sleep over this page turner, filled with questions, suspicions and the perfect thread of tension. This story opens the door to speculation and understanding of what it must be like to wait on the missing person to come home. Do they put life on hold for months or years at a time? Or do they move forward as they hold on to hope? Faith is tested and prayers are flung at God as Mitch, Shelley and their teenage children search for Jill.

Deborah penned a beautiful story of characters with real flaws, broken dreams and faith that carries them through.

Do you like characters with 'real' flaws? If so, who's your favorite?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Going to Summerfair

What do the buttery smell of popcorn, fiddles, harmonicas, a women’s barbershop quartet, and row after row of vendor’s booths filled with colorful art have in common? They are all a part of the annual Summerfair in southwest Ohio.

Early Saturday morning, my daughter and I trekked through one of the largest art and craft shows in the country. We enjoyed meeting the artisans and seeing the work of their hands. I appreciated that many of the artist’s found a way to capture God’s creation on canvas or some other creative form. Photographers, painters, jewelry makers, fiber artists found a way to bring the beauty of the world into focus.

Every vendor invited to participate went through a juried system. Of the one hundred plus artists, I’m posting my top ten favorites, so you can have a taste of Summerfair, too.

Top Ten (You’ll want to see them all):

Is there an art and craft show near you, which you enjoy?