What I Read in June

vintage yellow hardback book cover of I Chose a Parson

I Chose a Parson

by Phyllis Stark

This 1956 vintage book I picked up merely for its cover. It wasn’t until I really flipped through it that I found out it was a pastor’s wife autobiography. Awesome! Being a pastor’s wife, I love reading books by other pastor’s wives. I Chose a Parson was by an Episcopal pastor’s wife and it was so funny! I was literally laughing out loud during it although she is so verbose that it takes some work to get to the punchline. There was almost nothing spiritual in the book until the very end when she talks about the importance of praying together daily as a husband and wife. The habit forces you to settle arguments since how can you pray with someone that you are mad at?

the great gatsby

The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I listened to this book last year now I listened to it again. Why am I so intrigued by The Great Gatsby? My goal for the summer is to find a used copy with an inspiring cover and then next year I will read it slowly and find out why I’m captivated. I am still wondering whether Gatsby is a good guy or a bad guy. Maybe that is the point.

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Marching Orders for the End Battle

by Corrie Ten Boom

This was my pursebook this month. There were a lot of great insights and quotes to use while I write my devotional book on Revelation. Corrie Ten Boom felt it keenly that we were living in the end times. Between living through the two World Wars and the rise of Communism, who could blame her?

I found a great tip in Marching Orders for the End Battle for when you come across a hard part of Scripture in the Bible. She says you can hang it on a hook. You can read more about that here.

I feel bad about my neck

I Feel Bad About My Neck & Other Thoughts About Being a Woman

by Nora Ephron

You probably know Nora Ephron’s movies When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle. Earlier this year I read (listened to) her novel Heartburn which is autobiographical and very bitter about marriage which prevented me from loving the book. I Feel Bad About My Neck was hilarious without the bitterness. It’s a short story collection which is something I’ve been reading more of lately. I especially identified with the Three Stages of Parenting short story. I say “short story” loosely. They are more like autobiographical essays.

The Outsiders

The Outsiders

by S. E. Hinton

I loved this book as a teen. I read The Outsiders and S.E. Hinton’s other books over and over again. I decided to revisit it since there is a teen at church reading it now. Unfortunately, I did not love it this time. It was very YA with the theme of figuring out where you belong. Plus, it was kind of dated. The dated-ness of it did not stand out to me as a teen though. Written in 1967, the library copy I read was from 1995. (Do you dig it?) I’m still glad I read it. It was nostalgic to remember how much I loved the book back then.

Lou Hoover

Lou Henry Hoover: Essays on a Busy Life

edited by Dale C. Mayer

I’m reading through one biography of each First Lady of the United States. With Lou Hoover, I hit the Great Depression for the first time. That’s one of the great things about reading through American history with people’s stories. You hear the same time period over and over from different perspectives. I read about the Civil War 17 times from Julia Tyler whose husband, former president John Tyler, fought for the Confederacy but did not live to see the end of the war to Edith Roosevelt who, as a preschooler, watched Lincoln’s funeral train from the window of her New York home.

This was the first time I read a book of essays instead of a formal biography. I enjoyed the format of Lou Henry Hoover: Essays on a Busy Life and I hope that other First Ladies have similar books about them. Lou Hoover was busy! She had a geology degree from Stanford. She lived all around the world with her husband, Herbert Hoover, while he did his work as a mining engineer. Lou was the active president of the Girl Scouts and was active outdoors person from the time she was little and would go on camping trips with her dad. She gets overshadowed by Eleanor Roosevelt, but Lou did a great job as First Lady.

 

What did you read this month? Would you recommend any of the books?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Birthing Hope by Processing Fear

When author Rachel Marie Stone said she was on her way to Mali, Africa to live with her husband and her two sons, I was thrilled for her and her family and was looking forward to hearing how God would use them in that place. I didn’t hear much through social media about their experiences, so when I heard she was writing a book that in part shared about her time there, I was eager to read it.

I had already read Rachel Stone’s reflective book Eat With Joy which talked about Rachel’s journey from an unhealthy view of food to a celebratory view of food. I appreciate Rachel’s writing which is a mix of sharing her life experiences and sharing the facts and the thoughts that lead to her shift of mindset.

Birthing Hope was written with the same reflective voice with beautiful words that draw you into the scene. You are there with her in Africa, in the birthing room, when she helps a woman give birth only to find out later that the woman is HIV positive. Rachel had not worn gloves. You travel with her through the fear of that realization and through her contemplations of how much fear has gripped her life in general. She shares the thoughts that have brought her through fear and given her hope.

birthing hope

If you liked Katie Davis Majors’ books, you would love Birthing Hope, especially if, like me, you were disappointed in her latest book, Daring to Hope. This is not a reflection on Katie Davis Majors herself. I admire her courage and her obedience to the Lord. However, I was hoping the book would have much more detail about her continued ministry. Instead, Daring to Hope was an emotional roller coaster with some Scripture along the way. In contrast, Birthing Hope is deep. Rachel uses her head as well as her heart and invites the reader to do the same. I appreciated the variety of books Rachel quoted from to develop her reflections.

My favorite quote from the book is related to how Rachel changed how she looked at the people she was interacting with in her new overseas home.

Rachel said:

“Watch and learn. Suspend judgment and the impulse to intervene; meet people as people, as subjects of their own sovereign lives, not as objects and bit players in the drama of mine.

Convicting. Meet people as people. This is what Jesus did. This is what God wants whether we are in Mali or in the United States.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Should You Take Your Kids to a Funeral?

Since my husband is a pastor, my children have been to a lot of weddings and a lot of funerals.

My 8-year-old has already been to eight funerals in her short life.

Some of those people who we gathered to remember have been family members and some have been part of our church family. They haven’t all been close to my children, but some of the people were.

Should I take my kids to the funeral_

Just last weekend my husband’s grandmother passed away and my children knew her well. Last year a dear older man from church passed away. This man was like a grandparent to my children and my 8-year-old especially enjoyed sitting with him every Sunday at church. She didn’t sit with him so much as she snuggled with him before the service started and before she was dismissed to go to children’s church.

For our family, it has been valuable to include my children when we attend a funeral.

Why did we decide to bring our children along to funerals?

I shared in the Family Life Column at Pandora’s Box Gazette the advantages of taking your children to funerals so you can decide whether or not it is right for your family. Hope it’s helpful!

 

 

A Tom Hanks Themed Dinner Party

Instead of going out for Valentine’s Day, my husband and I like to create a fun meal at home. Last year we created a Hamilton themed dinner.

This year we decided to create a Tom Hanks themed dinner. For the past two years or so we have been watching Tom Hank’s movies in chronological order. It’s been a fun ride! I peaked in the 90s when we got to watch Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and A League of Their Own. My husband has already gotten me to watch more adventure movies than I care to watch in a lifetime because of the DaVinci Code series books and others. We only have about 8 more movies of his to go before we have watched them all! Continue reading

Book Review of Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman Behind the World’s Best Selling Devotional

Ordinary skills can be used for the kingdom. It’s not just the big name teachers and preachers who impact the world for the LORD. When ordinary people use the skills God has given them in faithfulness and prayerfulness, people’s lives are impacted.

Gertrude Chambers impacted the world through her ordinary, day-job skill. Before she married the preacher/teacher Oswald Chambers, Gertrude (whom Oswald nicknamed Biddy) was a stenographer who used shorthand to take rapid notes while someone was speaking. She excelled in this skill. The average person speaks 100-125 words per minute. Biddy could write in shorthand at 250 words per minute.

After Oswald and Biddy were married, Biddy used her shorthand skills to take notes when Oswald was preaching and teaching. Later, she used her notes to publish what Oswald Chambers had spoken.  Continue reading

Countdown to Christmas with Children’s Books

This year we are counting down to Christmas with Christmas children’s books! The idea is that every day leading up to Christmas we unwrap one book and read it together.

We have a basket in our living room with the countdown-to-Christmas books. I wrapped the books simply. This year I wrapped them mostly in packing paper from Amazon boxes. Last time I used newspaper. Continue reading

Fewer Choices, Less Stress for the Holiday Season

When my youngest child, Molly, was 5 years old, an elderly friend took our family to the Dollar Store. For Christmas, she wanted to treat each of our children to five things from the store; five things of their choice.

The day we met at the store, it was crowded with people getting ready for Christmas. Everyone was trying to get in and out quickly, but we leisurely browsed up and down each aisle so the kids could see all the choices. In the first aisle, Molly saw some pretty wrapping paper and bows and picked them up. When she did, I said, “Are you sure? Maybe you will like the next aisle better.”

The second aisle was filled with toys! By the time we were two steps into the aisle, Molly had picked three more things. She was excited about the five things she had picked out.

A minute later one of her sisters found something fun on the shelf and said, “Look Molly! Look at this! You should pick this instead!” She reluctantly chose that toy instead of one of the items already in her arms.

This pattern continued up and down every aisle. Either I asked Molly if she was sure, or one of her sisters persuaded her to pick something else. Once we had finished browsing up and down every aisle, we checked out, and went home happy with our purchases –or so I thought.

Read the rest of the story at Pandora’s Box Gazette.

Rachel Schmoyer writes a regular Family Life Column for Pandora’s Box Gazette the fourth Monday of the month. Thanks for reading!