Book Review – Redeeming Grace (Ruth’s Story)

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I recently had the opportunity to read and review the new book Redeeming Grace, by Jill Eileen Smith.  This is a biblical fiction book based on the life and story of Ruth.  I have read other books in this series based on other women in the Bible, and was excited to see another book out based on one of my favorite Bible characters.

Smith tells the story of Ruth’s marriage to Naomi’s son Mahlon, and the sad turn of events in which Mahlon dies.  The two women return back to Bethlehem, full of grief, wrestling with thoughts of God’s goodness and whether He still cares for them.  Then, Boaz enters the scene – who Smith portrays as struggling through his own grief over losing his wife not long before Ruth and Naomi arrived back in town.  All three characters have to wrestle with their own pasts and losses, and learn that God has not forgotten them, but is orchestrating their lives to carry out His plans of love and faithfulness to their families and the nation of Israel as a whole.

Though many of the experiences in this story are not details we know from the biblical account, Smith has a way of weaving them in so readers are able to put a personality and connection to what they know from the biblical account.  (For example, it was not common for well respected men of that day not to have ever married, so perhaps Boaz was a widow?)  I was really able to think about Ruth’s story in a more detailed way and what emotional struggles she might have gone through due to her loss.  Furthermore, Smith did a great job incorporating details on the true customs and traditions that really did occur during the time when Ruth and Naomi lived.  The details involving the barley harvest and Feast of Weeks were fascinating to me.  Also, all of the details and festivities put into the bridegroom’s arrival to get his bride were so beautiful, and reminded me of Christ and His Church.

I especially love the story of Ruth now that I have too have experienced loss, have had to figure out life on my own, and have wrestled with questions about God’s love and faithfulness.  Ruth’s story brings so much hope that God has not forgotten the widow, but has a special place in His heart for them.  He is weaving together a beautiful story only He could write through the hard times, and  He is always working on something even when we can’t see it.  That is portrayed so beautifully through the life and book of Ruth.  I really appreciated how this book helped me think about her life and possibly real experiences and emotions in new ways.

I received the book Redeeming Grace from the blogger Revell Reads program, in exchange for my honest opinion of these books.  

 

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Rediscovering my “why”…

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If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I have a big place in my heart for Compassion International, and the work they are doing around the world to offer sponsorships for children in need.  I am happy to blog for Compassion and share its mission with others because I think it’s important.  It’s been awhile though, since I’ve mentioned anything about Compassion.  Lately, it’s been easy to go through the motions a little as I follow through with the sponsorships our family has – writing letters, praying, and sending financial gifts – just as part of our normal routine.  Why?  Because it’s something good and important to do, right? And because the kids are oh so cute, of course.

That is, until I went to see the movie “Lion” this past weekend.  Wow wow wow.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you must get yourself to a theater soon and experience this remarkable  movie that was based on a true story.  Just be sure to bring a full box of tissues along.  Because this story is so sad… but so hope filled too.  I won’t give away much, but the challenges and poverty that the main character has to overcome, and the way these hardships follow him throughout life until he is forced to face them and find some answers – well, it’s amazing.  It was so very eye opening to the needs of children around the world today, and the reality of hope seeming so hard to find when you don’t even know where your next meal will come from or where you will sleep that night.

To be honest, I’ve had a few days lately where I just want to throw a pity party because my life is not often going how I planned for it to go.  It is amazing how quickly I can go from a “praise God” moment to a “woe is me” moment when I stop focusing on what really matters and get hung up in my own story instead of remembering that this is God’s story, and HE should be the one getting all the glory.  But when the reality hits me once again of the poverty and need many people are currently facing, I realize how trivial my little problems are.  And I remember all of the blessings I’ve been given by His grace alone and not through anything I did to deserve them.  It helps me get my eyes off myself and focus on giving His love to others as a result of His giving His love so lavishly to me.

This is why I probably need our sponsored Compassion children in my life even more than they may need me in theirs.  Because their story really has nothing to do with me.  God will find a way to provide for them, I wholeheartedly believe.  But the sovereign way that He has chosen me to play a part in showing them His love in tangible ways is such a beautiful gift.  And when I choose to say “yes” to His work in action, He reminds me how great He is and how small I really am.  It’s quite humbling.  And it becomes my constant and better “why” as I move through my own moments and days.

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So, why do I partner with and promote Compassion?  Because I believe I have been given the opportunity to encourage the precious children we sponsor that their Heavenly Father sees and loves them.  To remind them that He has a plan for them, no matter how hard life might seem right now.  And to invest in their present and future so that they see His love in tangible ways, and hopefully choose to follow Him. The cause of Compassion International is a beautiful thing that is impacting thousands around the world even today.  If you want to learn more about how Compassion International is changing the world one child and future at a time, check out the following video below.

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The Beauty of Silence…

I’ve got a confession to make.  I’ve come to the realization that I think I’ve got a “frenemy.”  Maybe you too would be honest enough to admit that you have one of those in your life?  Both a friend and an enemy… the oxymoron of complicated relationships.  My frenemy, however, is not a person – but a spacial awareness in life that I find myself facing regularly and trying to battle through.  And that, my … {…Read More}

New Year, New Word… or Not.

We’ve all just turned the page on another calendar year, and the wave of opportunity and fresh starts has hit us once again.  No matter how bad or how good 2016 turned out, it’s over – and we each have been blessed with a blank slate of another year to write on.  I know that at least for me, the realization that it’s once again the time of the year to reevaluate my life and … {…Read More}

Thanksgiving blessings…

Just like that, another Thanksgiving is upon us.  (Does anyone else feel like this year flew by?) For those who have experienced loss, this can be such a bittersweet time of counting our blessings, yet feeling that ache of missing those no longer with us that churns in our hearts a little stronger around holidays.  We are definitely feeling it, but there is still so much to be grateful for, and I always want to try … {…Read More}

When the carving brings hope…

A few weeks ago, we sat down like so many other American families this time of year, to invest a night in the activity of carving pumpkins.  Now, you must understand that I make this incorrect assumption every year when we buy pumpkins and plan our carving night… that is, I tell myself that my kids are old enough to do the carving now.  I know.  Faulty.  But to justify my thoughts, my kids do … {…Read More}

The beauty of the slow brew…

I will never forget the way our house used to smell each morning after I brewed a pot of coffee. It wasn’t just any old brand of coffee, either. This was coffee made of rich Ethiopian beans that we would get through a company supporting fair trade and small business opportunities in developing countries. And, as an extra bonus, five dollars of every bag bought went to help fund our pending adoption. B never really enjoyed … {…Read More}

Why we should all keep walking…

I don’t know what it is about walking, but it’s really enjoyable for me. And I feel like I don’t do enough of it. Walking is an easy task in and of itself, but it can sometimes be laborious too. You can set out for a walk eager to get some exercise, and come back home exhausted due to the length of the walk you took. Of course, now that I’m trying to train for … {…Read More}

When birthdays become life lessons…

Calling all the mamas out there today… Yes, you, with the child you feel like you are constantly disciplining for the same old reason.  The one who wears you out with the way you have to stay on top of them with a balance of discipline and love, wishing you could just love without the discipline for just one day.  Isn’t disciplining so exhausting?  It wears me out and makes me long for a day … {…Read More}

Like a conquering hero…

  Last weekend, the kids and I got tickets to go watch our local orchestra perform for next to nothing.  We got great seats and sat back to listen to an amazing performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony… which, in case you didn’t realize, is actually more than the “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” part we all know well.  70 whole minutes, in fact.  While the kids started squirming a bit, I tried to follow the … {…Read More}