Redeeming Ruth: A Book Review

Books-Mockup-01Some may think doing hard things isn’t worth it. Some may think one little Ugandan baby with developmental problems is too big a risk for a normal family from Maine. But Meadow Rue Merrill and her family felt differently. The subtitle for this beautifully written book is “Everything Life Takes, Love Restores.” All across the pages, this truth comes through.

What I loved about this powerful story was Meadow’s honesty throughout. She had doubts about adopting this special-needs baby. She didn’t want to trust God with this opportunity. She questioned what seemed plain to her husband, Dana. Honesty about her faith struggles, honesty about her marriage struggles, honesty about her parenting struggles. Everything is there for everyone to read. No holds barred.

But what shines so clearly through as well is the non-stop love and care and advocacy Meadow and her family heaped upon this little girl, and the heart that they bring to the issue of special-needs kids in the poorest of countries in the world. If their family could help, so can yours.

The story comes to life through Meadow’s recounting of her trip back to Uganda with Ruth to complete the adoption process. My palms sweated and my heart raced as they encountered trial, after trial, after trial, but saw God’s provision in every instance. Tears flowed when hearts were prompted to raise money that was needed in just a couple of days. Emotional and heart breaking and heart warming all at the same time, Redeeming Ruth shows us the heart of God through the hands of His people.

Losing a child is an unspeakable tragedy, yet Meadow speaks of the place this tragedy had in her life, in her faith, in her family. Raw emotion, unconditional love, shaken faith. And redemption. God brought that to this little family in Maine through a deaf, disabled baby from Uganda. And He can bring it to you, if you will open your hearts.

You can find Redeeming Ruth starting May 1 at, and and watch the book trailer here.

The Benefits of a Good Guidance Counselor

counselorMy senior is about to meet his 5th guidance counselor in 4 years of high school. Actually, only 3 because he’s just starting his 4th year. I think that’s a shame. I remember my guidance counselor from high school, Mr. Bianchi. He was this short little man with glasses and a mustache. By the time I graduated, he knew me well.

Justin is not going to have that advantage.

In light of that, here are 3 things I think are important in a good guidance counselor:

1. Expertise

The counselor Justin will have this year is brand new to the school. I know nothing about her but her name. None of the counselors I’ve talked to so far are familiar with service academy application procedures. I’m having to tell them what little I know in the hopes that it’s the right thing.

It’s been pretty frustrating.

They’ve all been very nice and accommodating, but what I want is expertise. We have a friend who is the head of guidance at a big Christian school in our area. She has helped a large number of her students apply for service academies. She has been my go-to person when I have specific questions, but she can’t help us beyond giving advice since she doesn’t have access to Justin’s file. She has volunteered to do a mock interview with him before he has to do the real thing with the nomination committees. We’re very grateful for that.

Her school is one of privilege. Our school is a Title-1 school, meaning we’re poor. I think Justin is the first one to ever even apply to an academy. What I want is for them to assure me that they will ask around and find someone who does know something to help them. I want them to be proactive. I think I’m delusional to think that will happen.

2. Availability

I think it’s important that a counselor is available, or readily returns calls or emails, especially for their senior students. I understand summer breaks, I really do, but at the end of last year, and over the summer, I have communicated with 3 different counselors to try to get the information Justin needs for his Air Force Academy application. When 1 would start to help us, she would then leave on vacation and be unavailable. I had to go through the principal and assistant principal to try to find someone in guidance who could help us. Now, he’s got a brand new counselor who just started this week. I haven’t been able to have any contact with her at all. I left a message this morning on her direct line. I left a message yesterday on the general guidance line. I so understand that 3,000+ students are about to descend upon them, but communication is key.

3. Personal interest

I understand the first change in counselors Justin experienced because our high school has a separate freshman campus with 2 guidance counselors for the 500+ students there. But to have so much turnover from sophomore to senior years is concerning to me. Beyond that, I just want to know that his guidance counselor is positioning him to have the best opportunity to do what he wants to do. How can she do that if she doesn’t even know who he is? We still have college applications ahead of us, as a plan B if he doesn’t get the Academy nomination or appointment. I’m so much more depending on friends than I am the school.

So, hopefully this week, as schedules come out and I go on campus to meet Justin’s teachers—which actually isn’t really necessary since he’s only taking 2 classes on campus, both from instructors I already know—I will also meet his new counselor. Maybe I’m wrong about her. Maybe she comes from another school in which she had lots of opportunities to help with service academy applications. I sincerely hope that is the case.

What have you found most helpful about your guidance counselors? I’d love to hear your stories.


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