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We Could Ever Imagine
A Brief Review of
Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores
Meadow Rue Merrill
Hardback: Hendrickson, 2017
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Reviewed by Dorothy Littell Greco
Every few years I read a book that challenges me to the core and makes me question my integrity as a follower of Jesus. Redeeming Ruth is one such book.
My most familiar confession is: God forgive me for not fully trusting you and for hoarding my time. Because this is my reality, I lack the courage (and sufficient faith) to even consider adopting a special needs child. Thankfully, author Meadow Rue Merrill and her family exhibit both courage and faith.
In Redeeming Ruth, Merrill deftly recounts the adventures and the heartbreaks of adopting Ruth, a special needs child from Uganda. Her brilliant writing steers clear of sentimentality and religiosity, allowing the powerfully redemptive story to speak for itself.
From an early age, Merrill dreamed of a life that included marriage, a career in journalism, multiple biological children, and one adopted child from Africa. As she was giving birth to her their first daughter, another baby was born—and shortly thereafter abandoned—in Kampala, Uganda. Almost 18 months later, this frail little girl was sent to the states for medical treatment. Merrill’s friends happened to be hosting Ruth during her treatments. From the moment Meadow and her husband held Ruth one Sunday morning, they both sensed she was the fulfillment of Meadow’s dream.
But God-inspired dreams seldom play out like Hallmark specials.
Ruth was deaf and had cerebral palsy. Meadow’s days became a blur of therapy appointments, juggling the diverse needs of four children, and working through the inane bureaucracy of international adoption. The Merrills were certainly not naive going into this. They knew that following God sometimes demands more than we can ever imagine. The following is an exchange between the author and her husband:
“Is [the adoption] worth it?”
“My second job only lasts until Christmas.” He pulled back the quilt and climbed in [bed] beside me.
“I’m not talking about the job. I’m talking about the stress, the medial appointments, the lack of money, the all-out effort to get through each day. Do you realize how much adopting has cost us?’
“A few thousand dollars?” He pulled up the covers and closed his eyes.
Merrill’s refuses to don rose colored glasses or spiritualize their choice. She vulnerably invites readers to witness how God repeatedly showed up in the midst of their weakness, their questions, and their exhaustion. Redeeming Ruth is a deeply moving and inspiring account of what it looks like to act on Jesus’s directives.
It was so like God to arrange for Ruth to come to a small town in rural Maine knowing that she would meet a family with sufficient faith and courage to accept his radical invitation to love. Readers will be indebted to the author and her family for saying yes.
Dorothy Littell Greco writes about marriage, leadership, and the intersection of faith and contemporary culture for Relevant, Christianity Today, The Mudroom, Sojourners, and many other publications. Her first book, Making Marriage Beautiful, was released in January.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com
Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith
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