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 and began working as a presenter of several music variety and talk-based shows, along with heading up the news 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. Her Christian faith is central to all she does, and her heart is to communicate God’s love through His Word. She has written for the Our Daily Bread Ministries publication for several years and occasionally is blessed with the opportunity to preach or speak for women’s retreats. Her new book, God Speaks: 40 Letters From The Father’s hits the 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: I think sometimes we forget how important small choices or patterns often disregarded as insignificant can be a seed that grows into unwanted 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 intentionally seek wisdom in all my interactions 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 to always be ready to speak the truth in love, perhaps especially when it comes to my role as mum to twin teens.
Kathleen: When we begin to 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 hearts, so 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 having to craft 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 to 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 of life. What’s God taught you about moving past failure into the blessing of forgiveness that only He alone can heal and even bring personal growth to?
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, live more grateful, 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 right choices, we need to purposefully choose to stop and listen when God speaks. 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 with 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.