WHERE THE ROAD LEADS

Are you living a destination life or an explorer life?

Much of my life is spent headed for a particular destination–the end of a project, the specific spot on the map. But on a recent research trip to Bayfield/Ashland/Madeline Island in the northernmost tip of Wisconsin, I allowed myself the freedom of exploration. As I pointed my car down this road, I didn’t know if it would be a rough or smooth ride, lead me to civilization or away from it, provide rest stops along the way or not, afford me scenic overlooks or lead me deep into the woods.

Park north of Bayfield road 2It didn’t matter. I was in explorer mode.

What would happen if you and I adopted that mindset more often in day-to-day living?

“Where will this lead?” Don’t know. Let’s go exploring.

“I’m afraid to move forward because I don’t know where or how this will end.” It’s about the journey.

“I’ve never been down this road before.” All the more reason to stay observant.

“If I only had a guide…” We do.

My sister-in-law has embarked on a journey through breast cancer. The road is steal-your-stomach rough in some places. She didn’t expect this detour. And she didn’t expect the kind of breathtaking scenery it would afford her either. The kindness of friends and family. The blessing of compassionate as well as wise doctors. Newly approved “promising” medications. Peace that passes understanding, unexplainable, overriding everything, indescribable, worth-talking-about peace.

Philippians 4:7 Common English Bible–“Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.”

She’s living an explorer life, a life of discovery. She’s discovering that the rhythm of the tires on gravel sounds much like someone speaking her name to the Healer: “Jesus? Betty! Jesus? Betty! Jesus? Betty!”

Jesus? Beauty. There’s beauty even on this unfamiliar path. Don’t let us miss any of it while we go exploring with You.

THE CHIN HAIRS OF LIFE

My sister and I roomed together at a women’s retreat this fall. I spoke for the general sessions and taught one workshop. My sister taught a workshop based on her testimony of living out a “Ragged Hope” experience.IMG_1836

One night after lights out, I rumbled around a plastic bag in my purse, trying to keep quiet, but having a terrible time masking the sound of searching.

“What are you doing?” she whispered from across the room, the darkness making both her voice and my rumbling seem louder.

“My tweezers,” I said. “I found a chin hair.”

“One? You found only one of them?”

Like pre-teen girls, we giggled in the dark over how ridiculous we sounded.

Despite the hour, despite the risk of waking my almost-asleep roommate, despite the lack of light in the room, I was desperate to take care of that offending chin hair. I pawed through that plastic bag of purse extras until I found the tweezers and removed the offender.

Am I ever that determined to remove other offensive things in my life? Would I move that quickly to change the channel on TV if something inappropriate scrolled across the screen? Am I that determined–chin hair determined–to, even in the dark, clear my conscience with God? Would I go to any lengths to stop a thread of gossip? Where’s my fierce conqueror mode when the subject is a small hair of resentment or disappointment?

When I dig in my purse now and hear that familiar rumbling sound, I’m reminded to be at least chin-hair desperate in dealing with other things in my life that shouldn’t be there.

Have you ever caught yourself fiercely determined about something relatively meaningless? Still doing that today? Or are you an overcomer?

The Season of Harvest

I had the distinct privilege of appearing via Skype on the Harvest Show at the end of September. The archived show is here:  http://www.harvest-tv.com/video/dsp_playshow.cfm?showid=1590

It warmed my heart to hear this subject introduced right at the beginning of the broadcast!

At about the 11 minutes and 30 seconds mark in the show, hostess Valerie introduces Ragged Hope and our discussion, which concludes at about the 21 minute mark.

God says in His Word that there is a season for everything. I never dreamed my “seasons” would also include television. But I’m grateful, oh so grateful, for every new audience that can be reached with a hope-filled message and the realities of our stories intersecting with God’s.

May hope hem you in!

Waiting Takes Forever

Our family gathered in a circle in the yard, holding memories and a memorial service for her. Such a good old gal. So faithful. So beautiful, even in old age. Oh, we loved her. But with disease coursing through her, there was nothing we could do but get out the chain saw and cut her off at the base of the trunk.

The maple tree.

She’d reigned over our yard for so many years, we had to link arms to hug her girth. Every fall, she dressed in the most beautiful colors to show off for the neighbors, the sassy thing. The kids played in her shade, collected her leaves for science class and craft projects, pressed their backs against her when thinking, and raked her crisp castoffs in late autumn.

We hated to see her go. My daughter felt the impact deep in her soul when we stood inside watching the maple’s towering height crash to the ground the day it came down.

The next Christmas, my husband handed each of us a unique gift–a jewelry box made from the maple tree wood. And a round donut of a keychain of maple wood for our just-got-her-keys sixteen-year-old daughter. Amy is well in her thirties now.

And my wonderhubby did one more thing that year the maple came down. He dug up a seedling at its roots and planted it in another part of the yard, not at all confident it would make it. Good years and bad, heavy frosts and not enough snow, too much rain, too little rain, and waiting, waiting, waiting.

We mowed around it. Its growth could hardly be measured year to year. One leaf does not make good shade.

Waiting takes forever.

But it always produces something…either in our circumstances or in our souls.

I snapped this photo earlier in the week. Lush, cool shade. This autumn, it promises to outdo its parent tree in fall colors. It took forever. But it was growing all along. Maple tree now

And isn’t that just like life?

The Tremble on the Water

I’m facing a daunting deadline this week that makes me feel the need for speed, the press to hurry. But what I hear God saying is, “How can I whisper my answers to you if you don’t sit still?”

I can crank out my answers.

I’d rather have His. You, too?

How is that showing up in Your life this week? Are you mentally living a week or a month ahead of where you really are? Hear that two-fingered whistle? It’s the Lord calling you back to where He is so you can take the journey together.

Be Still Waters

A Little Trivia Goes a Long Way

Ragged Hope endorse largerThursday evening’s Author Chat party for Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices on Facebook was exciting and challenging. During the party, we asked two sets of trivia questions. The winners of the trivia contest have already been announced  http://litfusegroup.com/blog/winners-announced-from-cynthia-ruchtis-ragged-hope-author-chat-party. Here are the correct answers to the questions:

1. The Bible lists hope as one of the Big Three things that “abide” or endure. (True—Three things endure—faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.)

2. The suicide rate among the middle-aged has dropped dramatically in recent years. (False. It’s risen dramatically, most significantly among men in their 50s.)

3. The phrase “Hope springs eternal” is originally from a poem by Emily Dickenson. (False. It’s from Alexander Pope’s “An Essay on Man.”)

4. If you do a Google search for the word “hope,” you’ll find at least one reference to this Ragged Hope book on the first page of links. (True. It did on my computer. Wonder if it will for others!)

5. The word hope/hopes/hoped/hoping appears approximately 100 times in the Bible. (False—In some form, the word hope appears 160 times in the Bible.)

6. For 33 years, I wrote and produced a daily radio broadcast called Heartbeat of the Hope. (False. Trick question. Heartbeat of the Home)

7. Ragged Hope is my fourth book. (False. It’s my sixth.)

8. One of the authors of 90 Minutes in Heaven wrote an endorsement for Ragged Hope. (True. Cec Murphey)

9. None of my other books have been non-fiction. (False. His Grace is Sufficient…Decaf is Not was nonfiction.)

10. My release prior to Ragged Hope was a novel—When the Morning Glory Blooms, the story of three eras of master gardeners. (False. It was the story of three eras of women dealing with the aftereffects of unplanned pregnancy.)

Thanks to all who participated!

Extra credit: Which of the above answers was most startling to you?