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   and Founder:

   Dawn Wilson


Entries in Cynthia Ruchti (7)


Gasp: A Relationship's Last Breath

Cythia Ruchti is a hope-lover, hope giver and hope promoter. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she offers hope for all human relationships (and our ultimate relationship with the Lord).

"Who sits sipping coffee when a dying man or woman lies on the hardwood floor of the coffee shop or the breakroom at the office?" Cynthia says. "Even people with minimal skills know that someone needs to start CPR, call 911, and ask, 'Is there a doctor in the house?'"

At first, I (Dawn) thought this sounded a little like the beginning of a mystery, but knowing Cynthia, I figured it was more likely a powerful life lesson. I was not disappointed!

Cynthia continues . . . 

With relationships—marriage, parent/child, friendships—isn’t that what we too often do?

We sit idly by, caring but not responding.

“That’s for the professionals.” As if that absolves us of the responsibility to act, to do something, even if our skills are amateur at best, even if all we know about CPR is what we’ve seen on TV dramas.

But sometimes the last gasp occurs before the professionals arrive on the scene.

And sometimes the relationship in trouble is our own.

It’s been said that the number one killer of relationships is neglect.

  • How many friendships would still be alive if years, distance, and neglect hadn’t gotten in the way?
  • How many parent/child relationships could be strong and vital, life-giving, if given more attention when they started to fade?
  • How many marriages list “neglect” as one of the reasons for their “failure to thrive”?

Although the following scripture specifically speaks to a community’s forsaking or neglecting their relationship with God, doesn’t it also give a gripping word picture of the way we handle distance in marriage relationships or friendships?

“For our fathers…have forsaken Him and turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the LORD, and have turned their backs. They have also shut the doors of the porch and put out the lamps…” (2 Chronicles 29:6-9 NASB).

What a poignant visual! Leaving a porch light on is an expression of hope. He will come home. She will return. We will be okay. We’ll get through this. It may be long into the night, but we’re going to make it.

In this incident in the Bible, the people had boldly extinguished all evidence of hope. Lights off. We’re done.

After decades of marriage, my husband and I still disagree. Shocking, isn’t it? But even when our disagreements reach what seem to be impossible impasses, neither one of us reaches to shut off the porch light, because hope lingers in our commitment to one another.

Most MARRIED couples can recite the list of relationship CPR (Caring enough to Proactively Resuscitate) instructions:

  1. Maintain frequent date nights, even if you’re empty nesters. Get away from the house and its responsibilities for a while to focus on each other.
  2. Set aside an extended period of time for a getaway at least once a year.
  3. Be intentional about what the other person needs, honoring him (or her) above yourself (See Philippians 2:3. Check out the Phillips version—“Live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and one spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people’s point of view.”)
  4. Learn and respect your mate’s love language.

What would that list look like if our connection WITH GOD is the relationship that’s been neglected, left gasping?

  1. Re-establish a regular time to leave all other concerns behind and focus on listening to Him.
  2. Make it a priority to create an extended time for aloneness with the One you love. A silent retreat. A day-long or week-long sabbatical from other responsibilities. Unplugging. Fasting.
  3. Set your own needs aside to concentrate on what God wants from you—worship, adoration, devotion…
  4. Learn and respect God’s love language—OBEDIENCE (John 14:15).

If your human relationships or your connection with God are gasping for air, what CPR measures do you intend to implement?

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope, an ever-lit porch light hope, through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. She and her grade-school sweetheart husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five (to date) grandchildren. Her latest novel is A Fragile Hope (Abingdon Press). In June, Worthy Publishing releases her book of encouragement and reflections called As My Parents Age

Graphic: adapted, Click at Morguefile.


Building on the Memories

Cynthia Ruchti's novels and novellas brim with hope, and in this Christmas UPGRADE, she writes of the hope we can build into our lives as we "reclaim" the past for a brighter future.

Cynthia asks, “How can we knock off the barnacle-like debris and use what once was ugly or hurtful to build new, God-honoring, family-preserving memories?”

This is one of the most beautiful concepts the Lord has taught me (Dawn) through the years, and Cynthia expresses it in a hope-filled way. Someday, the Lord will make all things new (Revelation 21:5), and we often see His hand of restoration at work today.

Cynthia continues . . .

He sat in the encroaching cold, the collar of his work coat turned against the wind, his right hand wrapped around the handle of an ancient pick, his left holding a brick encrusted with crumbling mortar. The brick was one of hundreds piled next to him.

By the end of the day, he’d cleaned a dozen bricks of barnacle-like debris. By the end of another day, the pile of unusable bricks shrank measurably as the stack of “now what?” grew.

Before they’d tumbled into a messy pile, the bricks had formed the walls of a storage shed on the man’s parents’ farm. When the man was a small boy, the storage shed held garden tools, his father’s grimy work bench, and dark memories of abuse the father had renamed punishment.

The boy had dropped an egg on the way from the chicken coop to the house. An endless round of wallops with his father’s leather strap.

The boy left his jacket at school. More welts.

The boy lingered too long at a friend’s house. The cost was a night alone in the locked shed—no lights, no food, no blanket.

As the barnacles of unkindness and cruelty fell away now with each tap of the pick, the memories crumbled, no longer holding power over him. He owned the house now. The brick storage shed had been torn down.

He was paving the walkway through the garden to the house with the bricks that had once represented pain.

When finished, the project drew tears, not because of the once solid memories, but because of the beauty of a firm, well-lit, soul-pleasing path.

That’s what restoration experts do—take the crumbling, useless, broken, tired, ugly, rotted elements of a home or a life and remake them to create either a better version of what once was, or something entirely new. Like walls of an emotional prison turned into a pathway to freedom.

It wasn’t until I was well into writing Restoring Christmas—a book with the restoration of an old fieldstone farmhouse as its settingthat the full impact of the connection struck me.

Christmas and restoration. Synonymous in so many ways.

  • Jesus came to restore the relationship with God that hadn’t been possible since sin entered the world.
  • The gift of God’s Son restored hope for mankind.
  • Jesus coming in human form restored our faith in God’s indescribable, unfailing-no-matter-how-long-it-takes love.

Do some Christmas memories bite into your soul like a whipping strap bites into fragile skin?

An uncle refuses to come to the holiday celebration if his brother will be there.

A grandparent’s obvious inequality in gift-giving for a favored grandchild sends a wave of discomfort through the whole family—oldest to youngest—every year?

Christmas celebration has lost its luster in light of the medical crisis the family’s facing? The memories won’t be the same in the assisted living center that now substitutes for the family home that once served as the gathering spot?

Unforgiveness is an unwelcome guest at every holiday meal?

How can we knock off the barnacle-like debris and use what once was ugly or hurtful to build new, God-honoring, family-preserving memories?

  • In some instances, the only option is to let it go—the unfairness, the inequity, the resentment. Humanly impossible? Yes. But the Father sent the Son to be the restorer of relationships.
  • Old traditions that spotlight the pain of uncomfortable memories may have to be reworked to become something new. It’s not the same without Grandpa reading the Christmas story? What if the new tradition were hearing the story through the sweet voice of the youngest reader in the family? The Father sent the Son to give us a new story to tell.
  • Uncle Fred refuses to attend the family Christmas? Pray for restoration but pass the potatoes. Christmas isn’t a celebration of earth’s perfect families but of the Son who was sent to make restoration possible because anything of earth isn’t perfect.

What is an important but previously painful or uncomfortable Christmas memory that you can reclaim from the rubbish heap and watch God turn into this year’s restoration project for your family?

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in Hope through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotionals, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren. Her recent novel—Restoring Christmas—shows the parallel between a couple restoring a fieldstone farmhouse for a reticent homeowner and God’s restoration work on human hearts.  You can connect with her through or


When Faith's Song Goes Silent

When I think of Cynthia Ruchti, I think of hope and wisdom. It's the hallmark of her life and ministry. In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she calls us to value the unique song of silence.

“What happens," Cynthia says, "when faith’s song goes silent? Or is missing key notes? Or grates on our nerves because it feels out of tune?”

Oh, how well I (Dawn) remember a whole long year when faith's song felt out of tune. I was miserable and depressed. And I know what Cynthia says is true.

Cynthia continues . . .

Many of us express our faith in song:

  • He’s a Good, Good Father
  • I’m Standing on the Promises of God
  • He’s All I Need
  • How Great Is Our God
  • This Is Amazing Grace
  • Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine

But the heart doesn’t always feel like singing, at least not an upbeat, confident, triumphant song.

Life’s circumstances can threaten to turn our “praise songs that work great for cardio exercises” into a dirge, a lament, or a barely-hanging-on-how-miserable-can-this-get? blues tune.

Every time we open to the book of Psalms in the Bible, we’re reminded it’s not a twenty-first century problem. Listen to the way the psalmist David intertwined the wrestlings of his faith with the truths that held him in their grip:

“Get me out of this net that’s been set for me because you are my protective fortress(Psalm 31:4 CEB).

“I rejoice and celebrate in your faithful love because you saw my suffering—you were intimately acquainted with my deep distress” (Psalm 31:7 CEB).

“Have mercy on me, Lord, because I am depressed. My vision fails because of my grief, As do my spirit and my body ...

"Strength fails me ...

"I’m a joke to all my enemies ... I scare my friends, And whoever sees me in the street Runs away ...

"I am forgotten, like I’m dead, Completely out of my mind ...

"But me? I trust you, Lord! I affirm, ‘You are my God.’ My future is in your hands(Psalm 31:9-15 CEB).

No matter how long the lament, how soul-rattling its lyrics, how far distanced from hope its tune, the song turns from minor key to major when the Truth gets its solo.

When faith’s song seems to have gone silent, for whatever logical or unexplainable reason, we have options:

  • Listen to the fear-inducing noise our rusty, creaking soul makes in the hollow, silent spaces.
  • Listen to the unbelieving or skeptical world that claims silence is a sign of God’s absence, despite reassurances to the contrary in God’s never-silent, never-will-I-leave-you-or-forsake-you Word.
  • Realize that silence is its own song.

My music educator father often said, “Play the rests with as much intensity and focus as you do the notes on the page. Rests are not moments of nothingness. Play the rests.”

When only twenty-two, the hymn writer Robert Robinson penned these faith-gone-silent words in 1757. How true they ring today.

“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”

Listen for the significant, pregnant-with-promise moment of silence after that familiar confession in this modern version (video) at the 5:15 mark. It will steal your breath, and steel your resolve to keep listening in the silence.

Do you value the silence or fear it? And if your answer is fear, reflect on the “and”the moment of resting and regrouping—in Psalm 46:10.

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

Unlike many other verses in the Bible, these eight words appear without alteration in translation after translation. These words.

Stillness—or silence—was prescribed by God as a prelude, or an accompaniment, to knowing He is God, and finding our rest and courage in that truth. Is it in part because a whisper sounds loud in the silence?

So I’ll ask again, and prepare myself to answer the questions honestly too.

     Do you value silence?

          Have you heard its song?

               What did it teach you?

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope. She’s the award-winning author of more than eighteen books and a frequent speaker for women’s ministry events. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin. Connect with her at or hemmedinhope; or check out her recent releaseSong of Silence.

Graphic of bench, courtesty of Morguefile.


The Nightmare of Lost Agendas

Cynthia Ruchti's prose is heart-healing, filled with hope. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she encourages us to place our hope in God in one of the most practical areas of our lives—our schedules.

"I glared at my computer screen as if it had betrayed me," Cynthia said. "My calendar—ergo, my life—was gone!"

I (Dawn) shudder to think what that might feel like. I live by the calendar! Thankfully, there's some good advice here for people like me. And you?

Cynthia continues . . .

The calendar template showed when I clicked on the icon that nightmarish day. But all the spaces were blank.

I had no record of upcoming doctor and dentist appointments, no notations to remind me to send in a blog post before its due date, no scheduled radio interviews or contact information, no schedule of speaking events two years into the future, no record of events from the past, and NO HOPE of retrieving the information.

I checked the iPhone version and the iPad version, grasping at electronic straws.


Panic remained off-stage for a while. There’s always a way to retrieve lost information, isn’t there? I’d invested in a hefty backup system.

Looked there.


I contacted the company that sponsors the calendar.

     “Can’t help you, ma’am.”

I searched my files and piles of paper, thinking I might have printed off the next three months’ worth of calendar pages, at least.


That task—printing off the calendars—was on the To-do list on the now blank calendar.

All my agendas, lost. All opportunities, gone.

With a distressing number of phone calls and apologies to doctors’ offices and event planners, I could piece together bits of the missing information. But I couldn’t retrieve what I couldn’t remember was gone. It was on the calendar so I didn’t have to trust my brain and its sketchy recall abilities.

Days passed with no solution. I had no idea what I might have missed during those disturbingly empty days.

But I began to see what I could gain—a new perspective.

1. “My times are in His Hands” (Psalm 31:15 NIV).

They’re not the indentured servants of an online calendar.

 2. “You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail” (Proverbs 19:21 NLT).

I’d planned and planned and planned, wedging responsibilities between other responsibilities when I saw the slimmest opening. In a moment, my carefully constructed plans were gone. But God’s plans for me hadn’t and wouldn’t change.

3. “People plan their path, but the LORD secures their steps” (Proverbs 16:9 CEB).

I’d considered my calendar written in indelible ink. Instead, it was disappearing ink.

The only plans worthy of permanent ink status are God’s instructions to love, give, serve, and live according to His Spirit.

By a miracle of grace that I still can’t explain, the calendar notations reappeared days later. But not until I’d caught the significance of what it meant to lose my agendas in favor of the ones that mattered most. His.

The lesson was driven deeper when editing a book I’d written about a woman whose plans were upended by job loss and her voice silenced—blanked—by a collection of traumas. She was forced to face many of the same issues I stared at during the nightmare of my lost agendas.

That book—Song of Silence—just released.  

God misses no details.

Take a look at your calendar. Color-coded? Crammed with activity and responsibility?

  • What if all you’ve included were erased and all that remained were God’s directions for your days?
  • What would it look like then?
  • And what can you do to intentionally erase a few unnecessaries before He has to hit DELETE?

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope, drawing from more than three decades writing and producing a 15-minute daily radio broadcast. She’s the award-winning author of 18 books and a frequent speaker for women’s ministry events. To purchase Cynthia's newest book, Song of Silence, visit here, or to read about it: here. Check out Cynthia's website for information about her speaking ministry.

Graphic: "Computer Monitor," image courtesy of Teerapun at


Ready or Not ... Here It Comes!

One of Cynthia Ruchti's goals in life is to hem people's lives with hope. In this thoughtful Christmas UPGRADE, she encourages us to prepare our hearts for the true, hope-filled meaning of this special day.

“I watched the TV show with fascination as the hungry, curious crowd waited out in the cold for hours for the restaurant makeover to be complete," Cynthia says. "But that’s not Christmas. It comes whether we’re ready or not.”

I (Dawn) must admit, it took me a long time to get ready for Christmas this year. Oh, I readied all the "fixin's" of the holiday, but in the rush ... 

I wonder if I've taken enough time to prepare my heart. 

Cynthia Ruchti continues . . . 

It feels as raw as a bitter December wind, but the sting comes from its inescapable truth. Ready or not, Christmas is coming.

I’ve aged out of my earlier years of Christmas frenzy—two or three cookie exchanges, an endless stream of events and holiday parties that often butted up against one another, the perfect holiday centerpiece/gift/tree/decorations/meal ....

I used to make handcrafted cards for all 140 homes on my Christmas card list, while caring for young children, serving at church, writing for radio, and making homemade gifts for the neighbors.

In some ways, I felt a little like Mary’s birthing coach as Christmas neared, begging her, “Don’t push! I’m not ready!”

I’ve trimmed all but the essential and most meaningful from that overcrowded list of Christmas preparations.

My heart had no opportunity to ready itself for Christmas when my mind was engaged in readying everything else.

The heart that wants to be truly prepared for Christmas in­cludes on the calendar only projects, activities, and special events cleared through, approved by, introduced by God.

A new opportunity is added only when there is clear confir­mation that participation will draw us closer to the heart of Christmas rather than pull us farther away from it, from Him.

Some who are now taking a different approach to filling (or trim­ming) their holiday schedules suggest we ask our­selves questions like these:  

  • Will I be doing this out of a sense of obligation to other people or out of love for Jesus?
  • Will my relationships with my family be strengthened or ham­pered and strained if I partici­pate?
  • What will it cost them? What’s the ROI ("return on my investment") of time and energy?
  • Can I miss this activity or oppor­tunity without serious consequences or a sense of loss?
  • Am I convinced that it will strengthen my spiritual stamina?

Des­criptive of Christ’s birth, these familiar words also serve as guidelines for us in our spiritual preparations:

“Keeping watch over their flock..." (Luke 2:8b).

In other words, not neglecting the needs of our “flock”—our families. 

“Good tidings of great joy...” (Luke 2:10).

This is not losing sight of the truth that, ex­cept for His resurrection, the birth of Jesus is the highpoint in all of history. 

“Born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord...”(Luke 2:11).

 We realize His coming takes on very personal significance.

Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us" (Luke 2:15).

We go straight to "Bethlehem," bypassing some of the social activ­ities and so-called obliga­tions of the moment. 

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).

What would happen this Christmas if we spent less time scurrying and more time “ponder­ing”? 

A cherished Christmas song says,

“Let every heart prepare Him room.”

What activity or obligation are you intentionally trimming from your list this year so your heart can be better prepared? Ready or not, here He comes!

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hopt through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotionals and nonfiction, and also through speaking events for women and writers. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren. Connect with Cynthia at hemmedin and look for her new Christmas novella, An Endless Christmas.

Graphic adaptedNativity crib, from Pixabay.