Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cynthia Ruchti Shares Ragged Hope - Interview!

When I think of Cynthia Ruchti, the words grace and hope come to mind. Not only are they very prominent themes in her books, they exude from her personally. I've been blessed to get to become acquainted with her just a bit through ACFW these past couple of years but ICRS was the first time we sat down for an interview. And before we even started, she took the time to pray over me about a couple of things that were going on in my life. She is a treasure and I'm delighted to share that interview with you and tell you about her brand-new book. We also discuss her recent novel, When the Morning Glory Blooms, which I reviewed in April.

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

Cynthia Ruchti
(Abingdon Press)
ISBN: 978-1426751172
July 2013/208 pages/$15.99

Where do we find hope when it’s clouded by the ashes of other people’s choices?

What do you do when your life is affected by someone else’s choices? Where is God when you are doing everything right yet, because of someone else, everything is wrong? This insightful and hope-giving guide will comfort, support, and encourage you through whatever situation you must face.

Cynthia Ruchti, who has walked this road herself and has spoken to hundreds of people through her radio show, assures readers that God is ever present and offers unwavering love. There is hope, grace, and a future in every situation—even (and especially) those we did not cause but now live. Vetted by professional counselors and caregivers, this is the one guide you need to thrive no matter what you are facing.

Available at, Amazon, and other retailers.


Cynthia Ruchti has more than three decades of radio broadcast experience with “Heartbeat of the Home” radio and currently serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers. Find Cynthia on the Web at, on Facebook, and Twitter.


This book is a gem. The simple and honest title gives a hint of the gentle grace found within its pages. Although filled with heart-rending, real-life anecdotes of folks who are reaping the difficult and life-altering harvests that others have sowed, this book is not oppressive but will uplift, inspire, and encourage you. Those not personally experiencing challenges such as those described in the book will become more sensitive to ways they can come alongside and support those who are wearied by the trials assailing them. Each page pulses with compassion and tenderness, and even the questions for reflection at the end of each chapter are presented gently without chiding or condemnation. Ragged Hope can be used by individual or groups. (It would make a marvelous study for a ministry team). Don't miss this wonderful book!


I'm so excited to have the opportunity to sit down and talk to you in an "official" interview. I love your books and the grace you weave into them. I recently read and reviewed When the Morning Glory Blooms . It is a beautiful story which touched my heart! It handles such a difficult subject that can be so divisive. It has both contemporary and historical elements. Pregnancy outside of marriage was such a hard thing so many years ago still even today, especially among Christians people just don't know how to handle it. Can you share how you came to write about this and how you decided to pull in the multiple threads of the three women from different generations who are connected, yet it's not a familial story.

The initial seeds for the story started many, many years ago and partly it was because of situations within our own family, our extended family, where there was an unwed or an unplanned pregnancy that shook our world for awhile. And watching the approbation of God's grace onto a situation that is difficult no matter how you look at it, and from whoever's perspective that you look at it. So initially, the story just started with Anna. I was trying to imagine, if you take what's happening in our lives and you put it back into the setting of the 1890's, when the church very definitely had a hard time embracing or knowing what to do with unwed moms. There was a time when an unwed mom wasn't even allowed to come into the church. She wasn't allowed to come to the church services because that would be inappropriate. That was the thought of the time in the church culture. So to have a woman in the 1890's who would be trying to run a home for unwed mothers was a challenge that wasn't even going to receive support. She wasn't going to receive government support. She wasn't going to receive support from the people she would have hoped would have been most compassionate and most full of grace. That was a tough thing.

As I toyed with that story, I realized there were more layers. And then I introduced the idea of Ivy, who is the character in the 1950's element of the story who is in her early twenties. She's been "around the block" a few times. She's pregnant with the baby of her boyfriend who is serving over in the Korean conflict, and he's unaware that there's a baby growing inside of her. She doesn't want to tell him. She's afraid it's going to destroy the relationship, and what woman hasn't felt a thing like that at one time or another? So she holds the secret to herself for way too long. She's also dealing with the fact that she has no place to live. She's living temporarily with her father who is about to kick her out of the house because he doesn't know what to do with a daughter who is pregnant in that stage of life. In his mind, he's probably thinking, "When she starts to show, I can't have her living here anymore." He's not only emotionally distant, but he doesn't know what to do. I am absolutely sure in my heart of hearts that that's been the position of some dads down through the centuries, not just in the 1950's. That also showed up in the 1890's story as well.

I had these two stories going back and forth where Ivy now is not only expecting a baby that she has no idea what to do with and can't even really relate to, she's caring for Anna in the nursing home, when Anna is now in her 80's, reaching the end of her life. Many people who are taking care of Anna in the nursing home expect that these wild stories she's telling are just the ramblings of a mind that's not quite there anymore, not realizing that they're the stories of a remarkable life and the way that God used her to touch so many women and bring them the true picture of what God's love and grace and hope are like.

As I thought about that and watched Ivy and Anna interact, I thought, "This still goes on!" This is an internal wrestling match that happened since the beginning of time and is still going on today. I look around my community today and my church today and I see teen moms and I see the idea of a teen pregnancy being celebrated on television and idolized in some ways and thinking, "People, where is the 'reality' part of reality TV? Where is the concept of how far the ripples go in a thing like this? The human drama is what creates this novel that is full of drama but very much full of heart, also. And also, what I pray is a clear picture of what do you do when someone is broken? Well, you help them pick up the pieces. You love on them all the more because they're broken. You find ways to show them where is hope hiding and where is the grace in all this.

So I added the third element, the modern day story, where it's told from the perspective of the mom of a teen mom. What does a mom of a teen mom go through? How does she help her daughter become a mom when she doesn't know how to be a mom? And how does she wrestle with her own issues of "where am I helping and where does this turn into enabling, and how are we going to manage this? How are we going to walk side by side? I'm the one raising your child, in essence, but you need to be a mom. How are we going to work that all out?"

I think one of the biggest challenges, maybe, is knowing - and pendulums swing. It used to be such "hellfire and damnation" with churches, and now it's swung so much toward grace that we don't see a lot of emphasis on repentance. Finding that happy balance between showing that love and God's grace and yet there being accountability --

There are consequences!

Yes, consequences and recognition that yes, this was sin.

There was one line in the book, in particular, where that kind of became encapsulated for me. The father and the mother in the modern-day setting are sitting in church waiting for the service to begin, and their daughter has just taken their grandson to the church nursery. She doesn't even know how to give her child over to someone in the church nursery yet. They are watching the announcements scroll through on the screen as they do in many churches. And slide after slide is talking about one kind of recovery group or service opportunity and then Teen MOPS and all those kinds of things flowing through. The dad just casually comments, "I wonder how much money the church is having to invest in paying for other people's mistakes and sins." There's a soberness to that. There's also a realization that this is part of what God designed a church to do, to embrace or welcome or engage with those who are broken because that's where they are going to find healing. God is the only source that's going to bring healing. But I didn't want to leave the book giving the impression that there are not heavy prices to be paid, consequences to be paid. And this particular story, When the Morning Glory Blooms, some of those prices were paid many, many, many years down the road. Some of it is in emotional health that has been damaged and needs repair. Some of it is, when you keep a secret, it is going to eat away at you. And in other ways, there are things where "Okay, we think we're going good now" and here comes another wave of consequence for not following God's perfect plan in the first place.

Can you talk a bit about the title? It's such a sweet title! And oh my goodness, the cover! I just love it!

Thank you, Linda! I love the cover, too. I think Abingdon Press did a wonderful job choosing a cover which wouldn't necessarily reveal which era this was from, since there are three eras represented in the book, but also it's a little bit mysterious but hope-giving at the same time, which is great.

When the Morning Glory Blooms is the title that came to me in the writing of the story. As I'm following along and writing the Anna story from the 1890's, there was a scene that I wrote--and I'm one of those people that I don't know exactly where I'm going when I start writing a book. I know a basic plot and then I take off from there. And I'm just as excited to discover what these characters are doing as the reader is! That's the way I write. It just happens to be my style. But I got to this wonderful scene where there was a brokenhearted mother in the 1890's. Her husband had, in essence, kicked the daughter off the back of the wagon and left her at Anna's doorstep because he didn't want anything to do with a young woman who had, in his words, "gotten herself pregnant." And probably, in those days, he wouldn't even have used the word pregnant. But he just wouldn't even talk about it and essentially kicked her off the back of the wagon. Anna took her in and ministered to her and was helping her grow. The mother, who you kind of sense from the background might have been forbidden by her husband to have contact with their daughter, would find ways to show up at this home that Anna was running. She would find ways to reconnect. She would also come back and give back to that community - bring cloth for diapers, bring little things that Anna's home could use to love on these women. One day she came with a little scraggly section of morning glory vine. Quietly, without even saying a word, she just planted it beside this house. Anna had no sense that this mother's gift to the home was going to survive, especially since it was a drought year and it had all odds going against it. But then the day came when that vine took root and it was filled with blossoms and it became so symbolic, then, throughout the whole story that what starts out looking like an ugly black seed of something, in God's timing and in His healing love and light can turn into these twisted tight blossoms that unfurl to reveal the most beautiful, beautiful flower that, honestly, looks like it's glowing from within.

Oh, I love that. You have a non-fiction book coming out soon, also, right?

I do. July is the official release date and it's called Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices. The two books are not unrelated! The idea of Ragged Hope is that we hear a lot about people whose sins make the headlines. Who is addressing and listening to the needs of the people who are really bearing all the fallout of what that bad decision was, what that sin was, or what that unthinking or negligent act might have been? There are many, many stories in the book. They are all stories from real life, real people who have found ways to cling to a little ragged thread of hope while they're waiting for rescue to arrive. Sometimes that's for a few days or a few weeks. Sometimes it's seasons. Sometimes it's many years before they are going to get relief from whatever it is, the ash cloud that has fallen over them. I have a very clear mental picture of 9/11 when that ash cloud came billowing down the street and the people were running to escape it. They couldn't escape it and they were covered from head to toe in the consequences of something they had nothing to do with. They just happened to be standing there. They did nothing wrong to deserve this but there was this tremendous ash cloud that made it impossible to breathe, and there was nowhere to go where they could breathe. Sometimes when you're caught in the high price that you're paying for what someone else has done, it's like that. You don't even know how you can catch your breath.

This book was written those people, to give them voice and to look at their stories and see what are those admirable things they are doing to keep connected to God, to reestablish strength in their lives. But it's also written for those of us who care about people like that. If we aren't experiencing a fallout situation like that ourselves, we know someone who is. Everyone does. I wanted to explore the idea, what is it I can do in a practical way-beyond just saying, "I'll pray for you"-that's going to help them breathe, lessen their load, and help them to be sure they can cling to that hope. From God's perspective, the hope that He offers is rock solid. It has never moved; it's unshaken, unchanging. From our perspective, as we look at it, it gets worn around the edges, especially the longer a problem goes on in our lives or the deeper those consequences are.

Is it a sit-down-and-read book? Or is it a devotional book?

My hope is that it will serve both purposes. I think there will be some people who will sit down and read it from cover to cover. There will be others who decide they want to use it for their Bible Study group, and they might do one chapter per week. They'll read the story and reflect on it deeply. At the end of each chapter, there are reflection questions for "if you are that person" whose story was told in that chapter. There are some questions to ask and some reflections to think about and some scriptures to look at, too, to ask "How are you dealing with it? What has worked? What would you advise others in the situation that you're in? There's also a set of reflections for you if you know someone like that. Some of them are practical ideas to consider. Some of them are just questions to get us thinking. It's so easy to take the avoidance response. It's so easy to just back off and stay clear and stay away, and many times that's the last thing that hurting person needs. Job's friends didn't do him any service when they tried to shove all kinds of advice at him. When they became meaningful to him in his pain was when they just came and sat with him. Sometimes that's what we need to do.

That is so true. You were really busy, writing these books so close together, or were you writing them simultaneously?

There was some editing that overlapped. But they also overlapped with crises in our own family. I was writing about principles that I needed to apply that moment! We had some ragged hope at our house while I was working on it! That was not surprising because so many times the Lord does that. He asks us to walk through something so we can write about it more authentically.

What has been the most surprising thing of your writing journey and being published?

Honestly-and I don't want this to sound self-serving-I believe that ACFW prepared me very well for what happened when publication came. I wasn't surprised by how hard the work was going to be. I wasn't surprised by how narrow the opportunities are. I wasn't surprised by how long the process sometimes takes. I have been surprised by how much I've loved every aspect of it. I thought just the writing was where I would feel in my groove, and I've been surprised to see how much I really appreciate even the marketing, as long as I keep my eyes both on the Lord and on the reader. So those things haven't been surprising. I like to encourage other writers, when I talk to them in writer's conferences and things like that, that if they make themselves a "one-trick pony" (if only one book is on their heart, or if they only want to write but they don't want to be involved in anything else such as the marketing or publicity or speaking to readers) to really rethink that. Not only is that an important thing to do, but that's really where it all comes together. The words on the page really come alive when the readers bring their imagination to that book, too. Then the Lord meets them there in that whole reading process! That's where the joy really is!

What's on your desk right now? Are you working on some projects?

I have a novel coming out in 2014 called All My Belongings. In a nutshell, it's the story of a woman whose father is kind of a Kevorkian type figure. He believes his community service project is to help people die. She wants to distance herself as far as she can from his reputation, from his life, and from his name. They have a very distinct last name and it's instantly equated with his decisions, which are opposed to the kind of decisions she would make. She feels like she has no place to belong, all through her childhood and now in her adulthood. She feels lost, like many of us do at times. She has longings that are driving her and she doesn't know where to bring them to rest. This novel has beautiful romance in it. It has some suspense and mystery in it as well, and then it has this incredible picture of the way she grows from where she is at the beginning of the book to the end. Watch for that from Abingdon Press next spring.

I'm also one of the authors that wrote devotions for Mornings with Jesus 2014 for Guideposts. That was an incredibly wonderful experience, to be able to sit down and produce devotions that will be used in that book. It's wonderful to realize that there will be people all over the world who will be opening up and reading the stories that I've taken from my own life and then thrown the spotlight on where God's principles intersect with what I'm experiencing today, and how do I reconnect with what He wants me to gain from this.

I have other things on my desk, as well, that need a whole lot more work before they can be talked about!

You also are very involved with ACFW on a senior level.

I'm the Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers. What that means is that I serve the organization by making connections with retailers, libraries, book clubs, readers, and the public in the industry. My goal is to make sure they all know about ACFW and that ACFW has its foot in the door so that our membership is at its best advantage in information and contact and connections with the people that are in the same business but coming at it from a different angle. We love the idea of connecting, especially with the libraries and the book clubs and the readers and the retailers , and getting great books into the hands of the people who are eager to read them.

What do you like to do for down time? Or does your life totally revolve around books?

There is an awful lot involved with writing and books, as well as creating magazine articles and that sort of thing. And I go out and speak quite often to women's retreats and women's events. I also teach at writer's workshops. All that is tied into that same subject! But music is a big part of my life. I serve on the worship team at our church. That's a very meaningful time for me. I not only need the worship for my own spiritual engagement and refreshment but I love the way God uses words set to music to bring the heart closer to Him. So there again, words are still involved! I come from a musical family and music is a big part of it.

I love to travel. I don't get as much opportunity to do that as I'd like to, but that may still be coming in the future. I do still knit, although I don't have very much time to knit. I'm a great appreciator of cooking shows and home and garden concepts. I love to experiment with taking something that cost fifty cents and making it look like it cost $500!

I admire you for that! I have friends who tell of going to certain stores and finding a steal that they use so cleverly. When I go to those places, I just see a bunch of junk! I do not have that knack.

It's a lot of fun for me!

You mentioned that you enjoy cooking shows and when we were at dinner with a group last night you were quite delighted by the unique ingredients. If you had a weekend and you had a private chef to cook whatever you wanted, what would you choose?

Grilled vegetables - but that wouldn't be the top order. I'm just getting that in because vegetables would be a smart thing to do! Seared scallops. Creme brulee. For one meal. (She laughs.) I have the whole weekend! Then we might do the same thing the next night. Then we might slip a little crab in there somewhere. That would be good, too! Because I live in the heart of the country, far from any ocean, when I get the opportunity to have real seafood, it is such a delight! I was born in California but only lived there eight days. I think a little part of me lives along the ocean somewhere! When I tasted real Dungeness crab for the first time, I thought I had found my life's food, like people look for a life's verse!

So what would be the thing that you would love to learn how to cook?

Mmm. You know, I see risotto around and I've never attempted it. It sounds like it's tricky. I love to experiment in the kitchen and I would probably would do a lot more of that if my husband were an experiment-in-the-kitchen kind of guy. He's a real meat and potatoes guy. He appreciates meat and potatoes and a few vegetables here and there. Plus he's not the griller in our family; I am. So that's a good question, Linda. I might have to think about that one a little bit!

It was such fun watching you last night. You were so excited about that "lemongrass foam" on your steak and I had never even heard of it!

I know! It was like seeing the best of the best on the cooking channels right there in front of me on my plate! I'm a great appreciator of it and those who can do things like that.

[I couldn't find a picture of the dish you had to share with my readers who might be not know what lemongrass foam is, but you'll probably be happy with this dish: scallops with lemongrass foam! You can have your personal chef fix it. LOL]

Anything else you'd like to share with readers?

Just the tremendous respect I, as an author, have for my readers. I want to give them stories that are going to be worth their time, and I want them to know that we work very hard at that. When they finish a book, my hope is that they either finish it with a sigh, that it was very satisfying to read and that the time they invested was well worth it, or that they will come away thinking in a new way than they have before about a topic or an issue or somebody they care about. Or that they'll walk away with such a sense of refreshment and maybe-and I especially think of this, too-feeling like somebody finally gets what it feels like in their situation or someone was able to express what they felt but didn't have the words for it. That would give me a great deal of satisfaction, to know readers are feeling that way about the book.

Thank you for this! It's been great!

Cynthia Ruchti  is celebrating the release of Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People’s Choices (Abingdon Press) with a $200 Visa Cash Card "Hope" Giveaway and Facebook Party!


One winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Cash Card
  • Ragged Hope by Cynthia Ruchti
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on July 31st. Winner will be announced at the "Ragged Hope Author Chat Part on August 1st. Connect with Cynthia for an evening of encouragement, laughter, and more! Cynthia will also share an exclusive look at her next project and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of Ragged Hope and join Cynthia on the evening of August 1st for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today. Hope to see you on the 1st!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Abingdon Press and Litfuse Publicity as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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