Friday, November 20, 2020

A Time to Keep Silence

There are many fiction books written about Amish and Mennonites, but Emily Steiner recently published a book quite unlike  the typical "bonnet fiction."

A Time to Keep Silence
is the story of Monica Mast, an older single who started a job in a new community since she had to quit teaching school. The past stalks her as she tries to find her place in a new church. She soon encounters Justin Reinford who is struggling with his own disappointments from people's expectations. 

The typical writer would have Monica and Justin marry and live happily-ever-after, but A Time to Keep Silence shows the loneliness and misunderstanding that singles can face in a tight-knit Mennonite community. This is a book that an older single may relate to, and those of us who are married can read to understand the challenges of singles. 

A Time to Keep Silence is the first book in a trilogy about Monica and Justin. Emily gave me a sneak peak at the second book in the series, and though the book make me mad in some ways, now I can't wait to read the third book. These characters are real enough that I feel invested in their lives.

Emily has also written several historical fiction books. The Lilly of Appalachia series contains three books. Under the Bridge tells of Lilly's growing up years in a Kentucky mining community and her desire for an education and travel. Under Fire continues Lilly's story as her community is caught up in the violence of the coal mining riots in the early 1900s. Under the Juniper Tree follows Lilly and her family as they flee Kentucky looking for a place of safety but find more tensions in their new home in West Virginia.

You can buy A Time to Keep Silence for $12.50. The Lilly books are $10.99 eachvor $30.00 for the whole set. Regular shipping is $3.00 for the first book and $0.50 for each additional book. If you buy six or more copies (any title) Emily is offering free shipping. Email Emily at and mention that you read about her books at Home Joys for this pricing.

Emily gave me a review copy of A Time to Keep Silence but the opinions on this review are my own.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Tie Between

I remember exactly where I was when Suellen first told me about her writing project. On that day, I had no idea that I would be her target audience.

A few years before, Suellen's sister Lydia lost her husband in a farming accident. As Lydia adapted to life as a widow, she wished for a book that would not only talk about grief but also the practical subjects of raising children and all the changes that come with being a widow. When she couldn't find such a book, Suellen offered to compile it for her. The Tie Between is the result.

Suellen surveyed many Mennonite and Amish widows to compile this book. I appreciate their honesty and vulnerability as they shared the challenges of widowhood. Many writers contributed articles, poems, and stories to the book, mostly widows but also those who lost a sister, a child, or a parent. 

I'm not sure why, but I haven't searched out many books on grief, though a few have come my way. So when Suellen gave me a copy of her new book a few weeks ago, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it. But I flipped open the book and soon found myself unable to put the book down. Reading through these pages helped me feel understood as a widow. I kept thinking, "So that is normal. Others feel this way too."

The Tie Between contains over 300 pages with sections for widows, such as grief and child training, and for those who support a widow, such as church family, siblings, and parents. While some of the content is specific for widows, much is relatable to anyone who has lost a loved one. One chapter is specifically about helping children cope with grief.

You can get a copy of The Tie Between from Suellen for $14.99 with $3.00 shipping. Shipping costs decrease with the purchase of multiple copies. Suellen doesn't have email, but if you email me at  I'll give you her contact information. The Tie Between is published by Carlisle Press and available at bookstores that carry Carlisle books.

Suellen gifted me with a copy of The Tie Between, not knowing that I was going to do a book review. I have several other friends who are publishing books this fall, so watch for some more book reviews in the coming weeks.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

May The Mind of Christ My Saviour

This hymn has been a favorite of mine for years, but I rarely hear or sing it. When we sang it at church the other week, I thought it would be the perfect theme song for the coming year. 

May His love fill you like the waters fill the sea.

May the Mind of Christ, My Saviour
by Katie Barclay Wilkinson 

May the mind of Christ, my Saviour,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.
May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.
May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.
May the love of Jesus fill me,
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.
May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.
May His beauty rest upon me
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.

Here is a video so you can hear it. (If reading by email, click over to the blog.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

From the White House to the Amish

 I never get tired of hearing how God meets a person and changes their life. 

I just finished reading Katrina Hoover Lee's new book, From the White House to the Amish, that tells of the life of Thomas E. Kirkman. Katrina wrote the story of Kirkman's life as told to her by those who knew him, with fictional details added to flesh out the story. 

Thomas grew up during the Great Depression and saw God answer his mother's prayers. But his mother's illness drove Kirkman away from God and took him far from home, including time spent working at the White House and in the CIA. 

I enjoyed the glimpse of life in the 50's and 60's, including some of the stories I remember my dad telling me such as President Eisenhower's presidency, the Cuban Missle Crisis, and Kennedy's assasination. I've liked books about White House life, such as Upstairs in the White House by J.B. West, and it was a treat to meet West again in this book as Kirkman rubbed shoulders with famous people.

Through an unusual set of events, Kirkman met an Amish man who changed his life. So much of the media surrounding the Amish, from Amish TV shows to Amish romance novels, is negative or confused, and it was refreshing to read a respectful account of sincere Amish.

From the White House to the Amish. gives you a little history along with the story of a man's journey to Christ.

Katrina is offering Home Joys readers 10% off on her website. Use the coupon code Gina10 when you check out. You can also get the ebook version. You can learn more about Katrina on her blog.

I'd love to hear about other books that you have enjoyed that tell of God's work to draw men and women to him.

Katrina gave me a review copy of the book, but the opinions in this review are my own.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind

My brother and his family invited us to spend this past weekend in northern Pennsylvania. The cabin was tiny so we spent as much time as possible out doors even though the weather was cold and rainy for part of the weekend..

But food tastes better outdoors anyway.

Cousins make the best playmates.

The weekend included hours of game playing and far too much coffee. (Ed would be shocked to learn that I'm now enjoying coffee.) Hauling water from the spring and living without indoor plumbing was a good experience for all of us.

The boys took their dogs hunting, carved wooden spoons, and target practiced.

One thing (among many) that I love about vacationing with another family is that I can sneak out for a walk alone. I hiked up the dirt road, my attention sidetracked by the stream rushing down the mountain. The height of fall color had faded to rusts and browns, but a winter forest holds charm.

The silence was nearly startling. Most of the time I couldn't hear a vehicle, a dog, or any sign of humans besides my own panting. 

I'm not sure what makes me want to pray more, the city or the wilderness. When I'm in a city I want to cry out to God for mercy for all the sad eyes I see. But when I'm in the quiet of God's creation I feel wordless with worship. 

Many words are being tossed around this election week. It is enough to make a person want to disappear into the Pennsylvania wilderness until spring. But I believe that God isn't rattled, His throne isn't shaken, and His Kingdom will prosper whatever the next weeks hold. 

The hymn "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind" came to mind tonight as I thought of hymns that speak of peace and preparing my heart for worship. (No mountain stream needed.) Whittier, a Quaker, included many Sciptural references in his poem. He obviously knew His Bible well, from the Old Testament to the New, to write these words.

May each of us find the beauty of His peace in His still small voice.

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
by John Greenleaf Whittier

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

Here is a video that shares the tune that I'm familiar with. (If reading this by email, click over to the blog to view the video.)


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