Ruth O’Reilly-Smith – Writer, Radio Host
Ruth O’Reilly-Smith was born in South Africa. She was bitten by the radio bug in 1995 while studying to be a teacher at the University of Pretoria. She began her career working as a presenter on various music variety and talk-based shows and heading up the news desk at a Christian community radio station. Moving to the UK in 1999, Ruth continued in radio, working in the newsroom and as a host of music and talk-based programs for two separate global Christian media charities. She currently hosts a daytime radio show on UCB2, which is part of United Christian Broadcasters. Ruth’s Christian faith is central to all she does, and she is passionate about communicating God’s love through His Word. She has written for the Our Daily Bread Ministries publication for several years and is blessed with the opportunities to preach at churches, ministries and women’s retreats. Her book, God Speaks: 40 Letters From The Father’s Heart, lands in book stores in October 2021.
Ruth and her husband, Paul, have twins – a boy and a girl. They are part of a local church in Staffordshire, England, where she loves long walks in the countryside, great conversation over steaming hot cocoa, and has recently discovered the joy of baking soda bread.
Kathleen: Sometimes we forget how seemingly unimportant small choices or habitual patterns can often become a seed that grows into unwanted fields of weeds in our lives. Has God taught you a lesson on paying attention to the small choices?
Ruth O’Reilly – Smith: I’ve been reading the book of Proverbs and felt a renewed desire to seek wisdom in all my interactions intentionally, and then I had a vivid dream. My 14-year-old daughter started smoking, and for some reason, I didn’t say anything at first but felt compelled to stop her when she got up to go outside and smoke again. It was a horrible dream, but it prompted me to pray earnestly for her, and it made me realize how important it is always to be ready to speak the truth in love, perhaps especially when it comes to my role as mum to twin teens.
Kathleen: When we pay attention to God’s nudging in our soul, it changes how we prioritize our actions. Our mind is alerted, which allows us to change our heart so that we can choose differently. It is a recipe for successful living. What new thoughts changed your heart and, in turn, your priorities and actions?
Ruth: My love for God’s Word started as hard work when I wrote for Our Daily Bread Ministries. The discipline of crafting devotionals based on the Bible soon turned into a longing to read it even when I didn’t have to. I now wake up early just so I can connect with my Maker through His Word. I also enjoy closing my eyes and being still, and when I have a notebook and pen in hand, I write down what I hear Him speaking to my soul. I’ve been challenged to seek God first, above all things, and when I do, He never fails to order my steps.
Kathleen: Failure can’t be overcome until we learn to forgive. Sometimes it’s others’ failures that have caused us pain, but more often, it is our failures that keep us stuck in the mire and unable to move forward. What’s God taught you about moving past failure to forgiveness that brings about healing and growth?
Ruth: My failure to investigate the restrictions on my UK visa while living in South Africa with my British husband and our eight-year-old twins meant that the children and I had to live apart from my husband for ten months. He’d started a new job in London, and it took that long to get a new visa. The experience broke me. I was crushed as I held my weeping children who missed their dad, and I became a shell of the vibrant young woman I’d been as I willingly cloaked myself with shame and guilt. Jesus healed me, but it took time and a willingness on my part to surrender and walk in obedience to God. I’ve learned to forgive myself, and I’d like to think I’m more vigilant these days. We live gratefully and don’t take anything for granted.
Kathleen: We live in media noise today. I have a noisy dog bark on my smartphone that alerts me to my text messages to grab my attention. The title of your new book, “God Speaks: 40 Letters From the Father’s Heart,” resonated with me. If we want to make the right choices, we need to choose to stop and listen when God speaks intentionally. What makes you stop and listen?
Ruth: I think God gave me twins because He knew I would need two little people who would watch my every action and listen to my every word. This way, I have learned to care about the things I do and speak. Their presence in my life reminds me daily to throw myself on the mercy of God and seek His help in becoming who He created me to be, not just as a mother but as a woman. I grew up people watching. I’d adapt my behavior and speech to fit in with the crowd, but Jesus taught me to look to Him first. In the light of His face, I become better at pointing others to Him.