When God Says “Yes”

From her earliest days, Meadow Rue Merrill dreamed of adopting a child, and she longed to travel to Africa, even wrestling a promise from her husband that if she promised to marry him, he would not stand in the way of her going. Redeeming Ruth is Meadow’s record of God’s “yes” to her dreams — and it stands as powerful evidence that the unfolding of our dreams may not look exactly as we imagined.

International adoption is complicated even without a large family and economic limitations. The Merrill family had both, but when they met tiny Ruth, she captured their hearts.  Ruth  had traveled from Uganda through Welcome Home Ministries, Africa, to stay with a family in Maine (friends of the Merrils) where she could receive physical therapy. When Meadow and her husband Dana held Ruth’s limp body for the first time, they were astonished at her level of disability from cerebral palsy — and at the way their hearts responded to her.

Desire warred against ambivalence as Meadow and Dana weighed the wisdom of bringing a profoundly disabled African child into their already-full-and-busy home located in the whitest state in America. Yielding to what Meadow described as Dana’s “annoying habit of believing that God will take care of us,” (22) they took one tentative step after another, weathered countless setbacks, and put thousands of miles on their vehicle until one momentous day, Meadow and Ruth boarded a plane for Uganda to finalize Ruth’s adoption.

Time to Walk

In the spirit of “leaving the 99 to save one,” Meadow spent nearly a month in Uganda chasing paperwork, caring for Ruth in primitive surroundings, living among the other orphans and workers at Welcome Home. There, she gained insight to the hopelessness of Ruth’s future, forever trapped in a body with the skill set of a two-month-old infant, if she did not gain entrance to the United States and the privilege of hope that comes with education, health care, and rehabilitation.

Together, the Merrill family prayed for healing and trusted for progress, but what would healing look like? Her big brothers and sister prayed specifically that Ruth would walk and talk. Would a cochlear implant restore Ruth’s hearing? Meadow pondered theological implications of her daughter’s fragility:

“[P]erhaps God’s purpose was higher than ours. Perhaps instead of healing Ruth, he intended to heal us of our selfishness and pride. Wouldn’t that be a miracle?”

A Faith Journey into God’s Yes

Redeeming Ruth reminded me of why memoir is my favorite genre. Not everyone who reads Meadow’s descriptive prose will be able to appreciate her references to Brunswick area landmarks or have memories of sunny days at Popham Beach and walks around the trails of Mackworth Island that heightened my appreciation for the setting. However, it will be a rare reader who does not identify with the struggle to hold onto a dream that keeps slipping away or to continue in faith when sight is alarmingly out of sync with expected outcomes.

The Merrill family’s unique story is a valuable resource for anyone who is learning to trust God’s motives and struggling to live well in the tension of pursuing a dream while holding it loosely, for within the flow of story, priceless principles emerge:

Close the door on worries.

“I can believe what my  mind is telling me, which is ‘Panic!’ Or I can believe what the Bible tells me, which is that children are a blessing. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I close my eyes and picture myself physically putting my trust in God the way I’d put something in a cupboard. I give my worries to him. Then I close the door.”   (149)

Love like a fool.

“Even if you love and lose, keep sharing God’s love anyway. Love in the face of suffering and grief and heartache and loss. Love beyond racial and religious and physical borders and barriers. . . You won’t have to look far to find someone who is hurting, someone without a voice, someone waiting to know they are loved.” (203)

There is nothing of value that may be lost here that will not be redeemed in heaven.

“Everything life takes, love restores. Everything. Broken bodies. Broken hearts. Broken dreams. No matter how painful. No matter how devastating. God can transform even our greatest sorrow into something good.” (201)

The unfolding of Ruth’s story rebukes the notion that God is made visible only in happy endings. Loving and caring for Ruth became Meadow’s offering to God, “one small piece of this broken, pain-pierced world that [she] could redeem.” It will surprise no one who has read the New Testament that redemption is a costly process. In the midst of grinding fatigue and great joy, discouragement and soaring faith, mourning and soul-deep comfort, the Merrill family continues to live their way into God’s high purpose for bringing Ruth into their family.

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This book was provided by Hendrickson Publishers in exchange for my review.  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.”

Additional Resources

Downeast Magazine is a favorite here in Maine, and Meadow shares an excerpt from Redeeming Ruth in their March 2017 issue. You can read it here.

A fellow member of the Redbud Writers Guild, Meadow wrote an article featuring her adoption journey for September 2017 issue of The Redbud Post: A Promise, a Prayer, and an Irresistible Smile.

For more of Meadow’s fine writing, including her blog, be sure to check out her website.

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Featured image from Meadow Rue Merrill’s website.

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

49 thoughts on “When God Says “Yes””

  1. Ruth and Meadow’s stories sound amazing! God’s still in the business of changing lives, and I think he knows we need Scripture wisdom and current heroes. Now, pardon me while I jump over to Amazon to order a copy.

    Dear Michele, a very blessed and happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! Thank you for abundantly share your gifts of writing and insight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, and I appreciated Meadow’s transparency in sharing that her story was not all sweetness and light, and that her faith in God was deeply tested.
      Thank you, Alice, for your encouraging and affirming words, and Thanksgiving blessings to your family as well!

      Like

  2. This sounds like an intense read, Michele.
    I love the application of the “leaving the 99 to go after the one” here. That’s how it is with adoption. The need is so great everywhere–here in the U.S. and overseas. It really requires families to look beyond the masses and focus on one (which is hard to do because the number of kids needing families is almost unfathomable).
    I also love the statement that her story “rebukes the notion that God is made visible only in happy endings.” This is so true. If we really look, He is present in it all.

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    1. Yes. Intense, and difficult to review without spoilers, but well worth the effort. I found it to be immediately applicable to my own struggles with prayer and, of course, such a good recommendation for families who are even considering adoption.

      Like

  3. I need a bigger book budget. Thank you for sharing this inspirational story. And Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for your writing and sharing the books you read and your own journey with God through your blog.

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  4. Wow, so much good truth here. It would be easy to take the problems and obstacles as roadblocks, so I admire their persevering. I’m sure seeing her in those awful circumstances was impetus to keep going, as well as the love they had for her and the desire to follow God’s will. I like so many of the principles you shared. I like the cupboard analogy – in these days of swipe screens, when I need to change my thoughts I envision it like swiping that screen away and bringing up a new one – I think sometimes I might even physically move my hand as if I am sending a screen off-view. I especially love the truth that her story “rebukes the notion that God is made visible only in happy endings.” Thanks so much for sharing it!

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    1. I thought the same thing as I read, and Meadow shares her ambivalence at various points as to whether the roadblocks are a “no” or a “persevere anyway” message.
      That cupboard image was so vivid that it impressed me as well. (By now, you know that I share the things I can’t resist talking about!)
      Happy Thanksgiving, Barbara!

      Like

  5. I ‘met’ Meadow when we both wrote for the same central Maine newspaper. Meadow has moved her writing to a different newspaper and I had not though about her or her writing for some time. She is a beautiful person and a gifted writer. Her faith and commitment to living God’s word is inspirational.

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    1. Wait a minute . . . did I know that you are a Maine girl and have just forgotten, or is this new information? Do you still live in Maine? If you’ve told me this before, I apologize in advance for being dense.
      I hope to meet Meadow at some point. It was great to read her descriptions of various locations, and I’ve also read a few of her Downeast pieces. She’s very inspiring!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Michele,
    This is a beautiful story and encouragement! Since I have dealt with foreign immigration services through my son’s Vietnamese marriage, I know a little about the struggles from that side of the issue. But what great love that God worked in their hearts to care for such a precious little one! I loved this statement: “There is nothing of value that may be lost here that will not be redeemed in heaven.” Such a redeeming way to keep our focus fixed above! Hope you have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

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    1. Yes, our church recently endured a long immigration journey in the transition of our new pastor and his wife from Canada to the U.S. It does try the patience, and I can’t even imagine the process with a disabled child involved.
      Happy Thanksgiving to you as well, Bettie!

      Like

  7. The quote you shared for close the door on worries- Wow!! That preaches and is one I need to copy and post somewhere for myself.

    I jumped over when I saw the name Ruth as part of the title because I thought it might be my favorite woman from the Bible. However, even though it was not, the book sounds amazing.

    Like

  8. I love the quote about prayer and the cupboard, that really stayed with me. Thank you for sharing what sounds like a wonderful book, I’m a fan of the genre too, I’m going to check it out.

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  9. I love your passion and dedication for reading, Michele. Your reviews are thorough.
    I love how the book mentions about -going for that one leaving behind the 99.
    That is how the Lord Jesus was with each one of us. He came searching for his special ONE leaving behind the 99.

    Happy thanksgiving from my heart to your home !

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  10. What an incredible story this is, and how wonderful that Meadow has shared it. Her trust in God is inspirational. This is definitely a book for my reading list. Thank you so much for sharing and for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link Party, Michele! I hope you and your family are having a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    Like

  11. another amazing post, I like to take my time reading your words as I always get so much from them. We often set out thinking we know the answer we seek or the solution we need, yet we are taught things the way we are meant to be in the end. My Aunt adopted a little Aboriginal girl with similar disabilities, that little girl is now 40, my aunt is in her 60’s, it has been a hard journey but such a blessing. #mg

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    1. Wow, thanks for sharing your family’s story of adoption. I have so much admiration for those who step outside their comfort zone in this way. And the journey of others teaches me so much about self-denial and heavy duty faith.

      Like

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