A Poppy in Remembrance: A World War I Veteran and a Book Review

Every Memorial Day when I was young, my mother and I would attend a service at the local cemetery. The Boy Scouts were there to raise the flag. Local veterans were there in uniform. And a woman was there selling small, red poppies for us to pin to our shirts in memory of those who lost their lives while fighting for our country, a tradition that began during World War I.

Among the familiar faces at the event was an older man, older than my grandparents, who was always perched in a front row seat in his lawn chair. He dressed in a suit and tie with a collection of ribbons pinned to his lapel. On his head, he wore a tan colored pith helmet fashioned with a chin strap.

He was a World War I veteran.

Arlie Oppenheim

My mother recalls the day Arlie Oppenheim was given a turn to share his experiences with war. While other veterans in their speeches gave a rousing call to support the military, this man had a different message.

“War is hell!” he said.

And he is right.

I recently read A Poppy in Remembrance by Michelle Ule. This historical fiction book is set in World War I and spans the length of the war. A young journalist named Claire is ready to make her way in the world as a woman newspaper writer. She is anxious to break free from beneath her father’s shadow and she is struggling with questions of faith.

Claire is an American who along with her father and mother is sent by a Boston newspaper to Europe and Egypt to cover the war for the American people. Along the way, Claire falls in love…she thinks.

Michelle Ule did a fantastic job conveying the horrors of World War I without being graphic. There are no details in the book that will keep you up at night, but it will impress upon you that World War I was an awful war where many men lost their lives for all sorts of reasons.

a poppy in remembrance

In A Poppy in Remembrance, Claire also meets Oswald Chambers, the author of My Utmost for His Highest, who during World War I was a Bible teacher and a chaplain who was popular with many young adults. He spent time answering their questions and challenging them to figure out what they believe about God. He patiently does the same for Claire.

I so admire Michelle Ule as an author. Last year her biography, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, was published. I enjoyed that book immensely so I was delighted that for her next book she chose to imagine what it would have been like to be one of those young people who meets Oswald Chambers and his family. Michelle is so clever to have found a way to imagine within the time and space of history that she researched for her last book.

I would highly recommend that you read both books. It might be helpful to read Mrs. Oswald Chambers first, so you have a good picture of the Chambers family in your head while you read A Poppy in Remembrance. Or if fiction is more of a draw for you, A Poppy in Remembrance could be read first. I’m sure the book will pique your curiosity about the Chambers family and you will want to read the biography, too.

If you want to find out more about A Poppy in Remembrance or Oswald Chambers, I highly recommend you check out Michelle Ule’s blog. Here are some posts to explore:

Themes from My Utmost for His Highest in Poppy

The World War I Charge of the Light Brigade

What’s the Significance of Poppies and World War I?

You can even hear the author read the first chapter aloud!

The First Chapter of A Poppy in Remembrance


Here is some additional information about Arlie Oppenheim:


Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the above links are part of the Amazon Affiliate Program. If you purchase after clicking the link, I will receive a very small fee. All opinions in this blog post are my own honest opinions and are not influenced by participation in this program. 

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.


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.”

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

Review of Reading People by Anne Bogel

If you already are interested in personality tests and analyzing personality then you will love Reading People by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy fame.

I was initially drawn to this book because of the cover (yes, I do judge a book by its cover. Sorry, I can’t help it!). I was also drawn to it because it is by Anne Bogel. Although I haven’t read a lot on Modern Mrs. Darcy, the blog about all things books and reading, I have really liked what I have read. She is intelligent and treats her readers so. She has developed a book club community that is so different than any other blog out there. Her website design is so classy, too. Continue reading

How Tech-Wise is Your Family?

It’s tough to know how to parent when there are so many technological devices around. We can’t really look back to see how our parents did it or how generations before us handled iPhones and tablets and internet. In our house, my technology parenting questions are mostly a result of my son creating a YouTube channel and animating with Flash. Of course, he also wants to spend a lot of time watching and listening to things online. My girls like to watch things and play Minecraft or Prodigy or search for crafts on Pinterest.

Continue reading

One: Unity in a Divided World

Right after Christmas I started to put my kids on the bus. With some short exceptions, I hadn’t done that much in their school careers. But I no longer felt that driving them to school and back again was worth my time and the best choice for them. The bus stop was in our yard so it was in a safe place. The door handles on our minivan were literally cracking and breaking from overuse. And my kids needed some opportunities to figure out how to navigate life in an unstructured environment. I figured the 10-minute bus ride would give them that chance.

So I began to bring them to the bus stop and started to chat with the other adults who come. Two were not very talkative. But one woman began to talk with me. She was cheerful and kind and it was so nice to see her smile each morning. I found out she is a believer in Jesus Christ, too. But when she told me what her church background was, I thought, “she may be believer…but she is wrong about many points of doctrine.” Continue reading