Some people are raised by doting parents in a loving home where they have a safe place to grow, to belong. Others come from homes broken by an absentee parent, hurtful words, regrets, promises not kept or a myriad of other sins. In All My Belongings (Abingdon Press/May 6, 2014/ISBN: 978-1426749728/$14.99), author Cynthia Ruchti tells the story of a young woman who feels out of place within her own family and must learn to live in the shadow of guilt and shame that haunts her as a result of her father’s crimes. A new life and a new identity can’t free her from a past that refuses to go away.
Even as a little girl, Jayne Dennagee felt disconnected from her parents. When her mother was diagnosed with ALS, Jayne put her own dreams on hold to give her mother a level of care her mother could never give her. As medical bills force the family into continual downsizing and her mother’s illness becomes her father’s sole obsession, Jayne is forced to grow up too quickly.
When Jayne’s father takes matters into his own hands after his wife’s suffering escalates, Jayne makes the only decision she can live with: She turns him in to the authorities. She soon finds herself running from her father’s “doctor death” reputation, determined not to let his deeds steal her future. She legally changes her name from the recognizable and shame-tainted Jayne Dennagee to a more hopeful Becca Morrow, and with the aid of her one remaining friend and mentor, she accepts a new job hundreds of miles away, caring for the elderly, ailing mother of young businessman Isaac Hughes.
Settling into her new life, Becca adapts easily to caregiving for someone who is grateful for every kindness, someone through whom a latent faith is coaxed back to life. Her heart is drawn to Isaac — an honorable man who not only notices but appreciates her. But when Isaac’s mother passes away under unusual circumstances, Becca’s past resurfaces. The unnerving details of her family history point to Becca as a murder suspect. All sense of home and all hope for love she has so desperately longed for vanish. Even if she can clear her name, what will be left of her heart?
Then a phone call from prison shakes her to the core. The man she has been running from reaches out to her for help, asking for more than he himself ever provided. Can Becca forgive her father and pay the high price of inviting him back into her life, or will his legacy make it impossible to open her heart at all? She has spent so much effort running from her broken home, searching for a better place to belong. Can it be that her forgiveness and God’s grace can make her broken home the birthplace of what she’s needed all along?
“Throughout the years I’ve listened to the heartbreaking stories of others who were abandoned, ignored or neglected, and whose parents acted as if they had no children even though they did,” explains Ruchti. “Sometimes as we gain from what we survive, we discover what we were seeking was ours all along. Our life strips away the distractions so we see the One who created a belonging place for us that can’t be taken away by how we feel or what happens to us or where we came from.”
Ultimately, Ruchti hopes readers will discover that forgiving and loving when it’s most difficult can lead to the most tender memories; that even through the ugliness of dying, the end of life dances with its own beauty; and that finding where we belong is often less about a place or a reputable family history and more about a faith that forms the foundation of all other belonging.
About the Author
Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels and novellas, nonfiction projects, speaking events and a history of 33 years of on-air storytelling through The Heartbeat of the Home radio broadcast.
Her books have been recognized by Retailers’ Choice, RT Reviewers’ Choice, Family Fiction Readers’ Choice, ACFW’s Carol Award nomination, and other honors. All My Belongings is her eighth release (including three non-fiction books). Ruchti has also written articles for numerous magazines and industry publications and currently serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers.
Ruchti lives in Wisconsin where she spends her days diving into words, worship and wonder. It is her delight to serve on her church’s worship team and creative arts team. One of her greatest joys is helping other writers grow in their craft. Cynthia and her husband have been married for 40-plus years and have three grown children and five grandchildren.