Thanksgiving with Cynthia Ruchti, author of many Hemmed in Hope Stories

Just Commonly welcome authors to drop by and share with us their take on a book that embodies a predetermined Word of the Month!  For the full year of 2017, every Monday at 7:00 AM EST, a new post by a new author will be live!

“ The Thanksgiving scene was unlike any I’d experienced. But it demonstrated a true spirit of gratitude in a way that rocked me at the soul level. ”
–  Cynthia Ruchti

"I love to help spotlight other author’s books. But as I considered the word Thanksgiving, my mind was drawn to a book I wrote—As Waters Gone By—and a Thanksgiving scene I didn’t see coming. Bougie Unfortunate—one of my favorite quirky characters—is the owner of The Wild Iris Inn on beautiful Madeline Island on Lake Superior. The accessible-by-ferry-only island and The Wild Iris café do life differently. The Thanksgiving scene was unlike any I’d experienced. But it demonstrated a true spirit of gratitude in a way that rocked me at the soul level.

Bougie hosted a Thanksgiving meal that broke down all social and economic and crisis barriers. Here’s an excerpt from that scene:
“They eat in shifts. Like any big family.” Bougie looped her hair into a rough bun and stuck chopsticks cross-wise to hold it. “Here we go, Emmalyn. Just unlock the door and move out of their way.” 
The directives weren’t far from reality. The restaurant filled within minutes, each patron drawing a number from the upside-down pilgrim hat at the entrance and finding a place among the scattered tables. None voiced a complaint, even those seated at the tables with only a bowl of rice and weak tea. 
What a sight. A table marked Third World Banquet with rice and tea. A table marked Single Parent Family with mac-and-cheese and hot dogs. A table marked Homeless in America with an odd mix that looked like it came from a mildly successful Dumpster-dive. Homeless Anywhere Else marked the table with a bowl of well-aged bread crusts. A Winter Before Thanksgiving table, decorated with Indian corn and pilgrim hats, held bowls of wrinkled turnips, watery venison soup, and flakes of smoked fish. The table marked Prisoners held the kinds of compartmentalized trays Emmalyn remembered from watching documentaries of a 1950s cafeteria. On the trays were pools of runny mashed potatoes, gray-green peas, and a mystery meat that only the cooks knew wasn’t made from roofing tiles. Max had complained about prison food in their early communications. Then he stopped talking about anything. 
The final table boasted everything expected of a Thanksgiving meal—turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mounds of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole with bright beans and homemade onion strings Emmalyn attended to herself, pumpkin pie, Bougie’s pecan custard pie… 
Wave after wave of patrons filed in, ate whatever meal assigned them, the atmosphere far more sober than Emmalyn had ever seen it, and filed out to allow those waiting in line outside in the cold to come in. No one left without dropping a contribution into one or more of the canning jars in the middle of each table. 
Pirate Joe got the nod from Bougie as what looked like the final guests prepared to leave. He took off his work apron and settled himself at the Prisoners table. Alone. He sat with head bowed for more than a few moments, then picked up a dulled fork and tasted everything. 
Emmalyn finished clearing the Single Parent and Homeless Anywhere Else tables and stood near Pirate Joe’s chair. “May I get you fresh coffee?” 
He looked up, intense emotion written across his face. Then a smile spread. “I’d be grateful. But it’ll have to be stale coffee today. Extra weak. Remembering.” He motioned toward the Prisoners sign. 
Emmalyn obliged, hard as it was to give him less than he deserved. She poured herself a cup from the carafé specifically marked for that table and joined him. 
“You don’t have to eat here,” he said. 
“I think I do.” 
He let her confession go unanswered. 
The two ate in silence. And wonder. Freedom had a taste and texture not represented on their trays. It had choices they weren’t allowed this day. They ate in honor of a conquered past, a hopeful future, and those still behind bars.  
How did you spend Thanksgiving, Emmalyn? I shared an exceptional meal with an ex-prisoner named Pirate Joe. Best Thanksgiving ever. 
The leftovers of the traditional meal were boxed for delivery to the mainland. Emmalyn helped a volunteer load her van for the trip to Ashland to a shelter for battered women. An unadvertised shelter. Joe told Emmalyn Bougie knew its location. All too well. One day, it would be Bougie’s turn to tell her story. 
The sting of Max’s letter got lost in Emmalyn’s efforts to serve the community. It dissolved in a pile of runny mashed potatoes. She finished returning the restaurant to its original layout, set the tables for normal service the next day, and found Bougie to ask her if there was anything else she could do. 
Bougie screwed a zinc lid onto the jar from the Prisoners table. “Yes, there is.” She pressed the jar into Emmalyn’s hands. “Go see your husband.”"

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories-hemmed-in-hope through award-winning novels, nonfiction, devotionals, and through speaking events for women and writers. She is the ACFW professional relations liaison and has recently accepted a position as literary agent with Books & Such Literary Management. She and her 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. Her latest nonfiction is As My Parents Age. She recently rereleased A Door County Christmas novella collection with three other authors.

CONNECT WITH CYNTHIA:  website  facebook  twitter  instagram


Emmalyn Ross never thought a person could feel this alone. Sustaining a marriage with a man who's not by her side is no easy task, especially since her husband currently resides behind impenetrable prison walls. His actions stole her heart's desire and gave their relationship a court-mandated five-year time-out. What didn't fall apart that night fell apart in the intervening years. 

Now, on a self-imposed exile to Madeline Island--one of the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior--Emmalyn starts rehabbing an old hunting cottage they'd purchased when life made sense. Restoring it may put a roof over her head, but a home needs more than a roof and walls, just as a marriage needs more than vows and a license. With only a handful of months before her husband is released, Emmalyn must figure out if and how they can ever be a couple again. And his silence isn't helping.


Thank you, Cynthia for sharing!


Title: A Fragile Hope
Author: Cynthia Ruchti
Publisher:  Abingdon Press
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Genre: Inspirational Contemporary Fiction

Josiah Chamberlain's life's work revolves around repairing other people's marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife's unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she's unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken. 

Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what's left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?




Title:  As My Parents Age
Author: Cynthia Ruchti
Publisher:  Worthy Inspired Publishers
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Genre: Christian Living
For most of us it is not the “ifs” but the “whens”: when I notice the first signs; when we mourn the role reversal; when my children need me too; or when I don’t know how to pray. Those are just a few of the fifty-two reflections on the changes, challenges, and blessings of loving your parent as they grow older. Their lives – and yours – begin to change. Knowing that you are not alone, that others have been where you are, is encouraging and uplifting. This is not a how-to, but a me-too, as you see yourself and your own situation lived out in the stories of others.



Don't miss the rest of the Word of the Month series, every Monday.  Click on the image below to take you to posts already published.

Authors, I still have a few spots left throughout 2017. Please contact me via the "Contact Me" form or message me on Facebook if you would like to sign up.  Thank you!

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