I just got done reading this book and I have to preface it before I actually give my review.
I am a tough sell when it comes to reading Christian fiction. When I was young and romantic and full of whimsical dreams about what the world looked like, I gobbled up Christian romance like it was going out of style. I read it so much, my mother had to force me to read other books–or just not read at all. My heart melted at the rugged cowboy with a heart of gold, the brusque, dark rascal turned knight in shining armor. These men of faith who also managed to sweep their princess off her feet with just a few smoldering looks and quotes from the Holy Bible.
Then I grew up and realized that life is not so cut and dried, fairy tales don’t always end happy ever after, and faith CAN’T explain away all the hurts and pains in this world. It can offer a balm for a wounded soul, hope that glows in the midst of the darkest nights, and love to cover a multitude of wrongs.
It can’t fix a person that doesn’t want to be fixed and it can’t heal wounds that repeatedly open and bleed all over the pages of ones life.
So I started to hate Christian fiction. For a long while, it drove me nuts that the writers who COULD offer the world an AMAZING picture of grace and hope and salvation through a work of fiction, somehow just cheapened it with pat answers and a Bible verse every other line of dialogue.
Who talks like that anyway?
Then I met the works of a writer named Francine Rivers and my hope in Christian authors soared again. So I started exploring the Christian fiction world with a little more caution and a lot more appreciation for the gems in the midst of the rubble.
Which leads me to Cynthia Ruchti and her book, When the Morning Glory Blooms. I’ve had the privilege of meeting her and having a couple heart to hearts on life and faith, but I do not know her as well as I hope to someday. However, her heart spills out into the pages of Morning Glory and I love my newfound sister in Christ already. It’s not just because I’m a budding writer, hoping to be in her shoes someday. She’s got a faith that burns like a flame in the darkness and her writing shows that. Even more so, it also shows that just because your faith is strong, doesn’t mean it can’t be shaken by life and what happens in the middle of all your plans. Shaken–not shattered.
The book spans three different eras, telling the story of women affected by teenage pregnancy–either directly or indirectly through ministry to those unwed mothers. The first character, Becky is both a grandmother and mother to her daughter’s precious son while her teenager figures out life and dealing with consequences of her choices. Becky struggles through grieving her daughter’s lost innocence, losing her closest friend, and praying hard that her family doesn’t fall apart because of the beautiful baby boy sleeping in her arms. The boy she loves with all her heart, but wishes he’d entered the world under vastly different circumstances.
Then we meet Ivy, a young pregnant woman whose baby daddy is in the middle of war and a whole lot of uncertainty about the future. Her own father is closed off with grief at the loss of his wife and struggles to scrape together the pieces of the relationship he lost with Ivy.
Through Ivy, we meet Anna, an amazing woman of faith who opened a home for unwed mothers during a time when single women in ministry were not looked upon with kind eyes. Through her journey of Grace, she meets others with faith as strong as mustard seeds and a vision to help her succeed in God’s work. Like the tentative growth of the morning glories in her garden, Anna’s faith unfurls and wraps her “daughters” in arms of Grace and unconditional love. Though she never had children of her own, she mothered so many girls in need of the Father’s healing touch, including Ivy.
These women are connected in faith and a fun little twist that just shows how God loves to write our stories in technicolor. The best part about this book though, was that Cynthia didn’t sugar coat the consequences and humanness with faith as the cure for everything.
Faith isn’t a cure. It’s a shelter in the midst of the storms of life. It’s a life raft when we feel like we are drowning and cannot breathe through the next wave of pain. It’s an anchor to hold a hurricane tossed ship. It’s the rope we cling to when we are hanging by our fingers on the edge of the cliff.
Faith doesn’t fix us or our messes. God’s in the business of doing the fixing. What faith does offer is Grace and a safe place to rest our weary heads while we wait for the Morning Glories to unfurl in the hope and light of the Son. 🙂