Meadow Rue Merrill dreamed of the perfect family: two boys and a girl. Then she and her husband would adopt. Together they prayed, “Lord, if you have another child for us, you will have to bring that child to us.” Miraculously, he did. Only that child wasn’t anything like they’d imagined. Born in Uganda and abandoned at birth, Ruth had severe disabilities. Would they adopt her? That was the question God seemed to be asking. The answer would stretch their faith, test their endurance, and bring them more joy than they’d ever imagined. It would also break their hearts and open their eyes to the needs of other abandoned children and people with disabilities in the developing world.
Meadow Rue Merrill is an award-winning journalist with two decades of published writing experience. She began reporting for The Times Record, a daily newspaper in Brunswick, Maine, and spent the following eight years corresponding for The Boston Globe. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, Family Circle and other regional and national publications. Most recently she has written for Harvard University. Merrill has regular columns with The Portland Press Herald, Maine’s largest newspaper, and Down East magazine, where she is a contributing editor. Her memoir, “Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores” releases in May 2017.
When 16-month-old Ruth arrived in Maine from an orphanage in Uganda, she couldn’t sit up, roll over, or speak, but her life spoke volumes about the importance of family, the meaning of faith, and the power of love.
Faith Notes: Words that EncourageLife is often rough, mine included. Some days seem designed to crush your hopes and dreams. For inspiration and understanding, I turn to the same words that have guided generations, the Scriptures. Are you weary? Searching for encouragement? Me too! Faith Notes are weekly, Scripture-based meditations drawn from my everyday life and shared in the hope that they will strengthen your faith and brighten your day. Subscribe below.
I was saddened last week to learn of the death of Stephen Hawking, one of history’s most eminent scientists. I admired his persistence and ability to overcome the devastating neurodegenerative condition that crippled his body and stole his speech. Yet, as much as I appreciated Hawking’s seemingly unquenchable search for knowledge, I strongly opposed his conclusions, which pointed to a universe without a creator.read more
We were late for a family-reading night at our youngest child’s school. It was dark and cold. The end-of-winter ground was oozing mud, and the parking lot was packed. I slowed our minivan in front of the brightly lit building, wondering where to park. And that’s when I saw it: just enough room off the edge of the pavement to pull alongside another vehicle. “Do you think it’s OK?” I asked my husband, Dana, who sat in the front passenger seat while our young sons prattled impatiently in the back.read more
A picture came across my Facebook news feed this week, a stick-skinny boy, ankles poking out of his black trousers, flat belly peeking between the gaps of his partially buttoned shirt, grimly smiling as he holds out what looks like a tub of margarine. It was posted by Welcome Home Africa, the Ugandan orphanage from which my husband and I adopted our daughter, Ruth.read more
This week as students and faculty are laid to rest in Parkland, Florida, I sat at my computer and studied their faces, praying for their families. I read about their too-short lives, gunned down on Valentine’s Day by a violent and mentally disturbed young man who should have never been allowed access to a gun. And I was shocked to discover my own name there.read more
Last year I celebrated Lent for the first time. The churches in which I grew up seemed to skip from dolling out Christmas cookies to cutting the Easter ham with hardly a pause to reflect on the passion of Christ leading up to the pivotal moment of our faith. I fasted one meal a day, which caused me to pause every morning I gave up breakfast to thank God for all Christ gave up for me.
This year my husband, Dana, decided to join me. Wanting to pursue a healthier physical life as well as a healthier spiritual life, we decided to give up wheat, milk products, and white sugar for the 40 day season, which this year began on Valentine’s Day. Forgoing the traditional gift of sweets, Dana took me out for breakfast.
Young and new in love, I unpacked the English stoneware dishes that my mother had helped me pick out at Jordan Marsh years before in anticipation of this day – the day when I would furnish my own home. She didn’t call it a hope chest. Not wanting me to put all my hope on getting married, she called it a “home chest,” for the day I would furnish my own household, married or not.
Yet there I was, newly married, as flush with love as the petite cranberry flowers printed on the cream colored dishes that I carefully set in the cupboard of the tiny apartment that my husband, Dana, and I had rented on the third floor of an old Victorian, halfway up the coast of Maine. Setting up our first home was among the happiest times in my life. Shopping for our own groceries. Learning to cook. Coming home to each other and sharing dinner each and every night on those delicate floral dishes.