Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Sisters' March Reading Challenge


Charity and I enjoyed the March Reading Challenge so much. The amount of challenges was much less than the Brighter Winter Challenge and felt more doable. Here is a review of what we did for the challenges.

This post contains affiliate links.

1. Read a book set in Ireland (in honor of St Patrick's Day).

Charity: Let Me Die in Ireland by David Bercot
Several years ago I read this book for the first time and it impacted my life deeply. Reading it again only challenged me more. St. Patrick’s life is surrounded by many myths and this book seeks to bring a story to tell the truth about this man of God. Not only is his life story fascinating and educational, it also bears testimony to what it looks like to be a part of the Kingdom of God.

Gina: A Slip of a Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff
 This is a free verse novel about the Irish Land Wars. I listened to it on audio and the reader's Irish accent added a lot of pleasure to the listening experience. Nory Ryan's Song is by the same author and also about the Irish Potato Famine, and I may have enjoyed it more since it is in prose not in verse. 

2. Read a book written by a female missionary.

Charity: Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose
As a young wife, Darlene traveled into the jungles of New Guinea with her husband. They were ready to serve God among the unreached. But World War 2 and the Japanese invasion of the island would change her plans. This is her story of God’s faithfulness even while facing unimaginable suffering. Gina and I place this among our top favorite books by a missionary. 

I had read this book as a teenager and thought it would good to reread the wisdom in these pages. Elliot writes Scripture-saturated books. This one starts with a study of the Lord's Prayer then proceeds into a discussion of finding God's leading and will.  

3. Read a book about food.

Charity: Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
This memoir was the product of an impulsive thrift store buy. Though it’s focus is far from just food, she still had me drooling over her descriptions of Italian cuisine. Through the pages of this book she tells about the beauty of Italy, the trials of renovating an ancient house, the culture in small Italian towns, and, most of all, the amazing food that is placed on her table. My favorite part is her two chapters of recipes. Some day I hope her meals will grace my table in PA.

All of Reichl's memiors are a step into an unfamiliar world of food and culture. Save Me the Plums tells of her years as the editor of Gourmet magazine. I liked Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires more but this trip into the high-stress magazine world and high society of New York City was fascinating.

4. Write out a quote and tape it to your mirror.

Charity: “I have been safer here, overshadowed by Your love, than I would have been anywhere else on this earth outside of Your will” - Darlene Deibler Rose

Gina: "God gives us more than we can handle because what we can't handle drives us to dependence on Him." - Masonheimer

5. Mail a book to a child, invalid, or friend.

Charity: I was overjoyed to have an excuse to send a book to a friend who recently moved away. I sent a book by one of my favorite authors, Elisabeth Elliot. A few months ago, during a hard week I picked up her book Keep a Quiet Heart, and it was perfect for those days. Each chapter is an excerpt from her newsletter, so it is short and could be used as a devotional. 

Gina: My mother-in-law, who spends most of her days alone, told me that she looks forward to a good book so I ordered a copy of A Chance in the World by Steve Pemberton to be mailed to her house. I've never read this book but it had been recommended to me. Maybe I can read it next.

If you did one or more of the March Challenges, we'd love if you shared in the comments.

Check back on April 1st for the April Reading Challenges.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Strength for Today and Hope for Tomorrow

Long-time readers may remember that nearly ten years ago, Ed was ordained a minister at our church. That week had been hard as I surrendered part of my husband. In the years following, we experienced the challenges of church ministry but also found joys. Seeing God work in our lives and the lives of others was rewarding. The extra time spent studying God's Word was a blessing. We enjoyed being part of the ministry team at our church. 

That all changed with Ed's illness and death. Since then I've struggled to figure out my role and identity in our church. Who am I if I'm a former pastor's wife? Typically widows of ministers are in their seventies or eighties. Young widows are rare, but young minister's widows are even more rare. I didn't feel like I fit any normal category in the church.

This week a new minister was ordained to take Ed's place in our church. I fully supported the ordination and was glad to see our church moving forward. It is a joy to see a younger man take a leadership role.

But the week was also harder than I expected. Emotions that I've buried deep were raked out to the surface. I had to recognize and name some of my coping mechanisms that I've used as a barricade. 

Last night at the ordination, the service began with the well-known hymn "Great Is Thy Faithfulness." It was the perfect reminder to me that God has been faithful the past ten years, and His faithfulness would continue in my life and in the life of our church.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness
by Thomas Chisholm

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

Here is a video if you'd like to listen. (If reading by email, click over to the blog.)

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Where Winter and Clouds Are No More

The first spring crocus appeared this week. 

I love the coziness of winter and delighted in the snow we received this year, but, when March arrives, I'm ready for spring.

This week we had warm enough days for the first trip to the park. Even in the dreary brown, there is spots of color. I even saw the first robin at the park.

My little girls add color to my fridge.

And our local library reopened this week. 

Only this year do I view walking through the library, pulling stacks of books off the shelf as a sign of spring and hopeful days. 

For years I had reserved stacks of books for pick-up since libraries and babies didn't mix well. But that is one more example of a routine that I lost the past few years. So even though my library offered curbside pick up and home delivery, I haven't used it much the past year. I've missed sitting down on the couch with my littles and stacks of unread books.

Last week I was convicted and inspired through our revival meetings. I planned to share a song we sang last week, but instead this one came to mind. 

Without Jesus, my soul stays in the barreness of winter.  In His presence is the joy and growth of springtime.

How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours 
by John Newton

How tedious and tasteless the hours
When Jesus no longer I see
Sweet prospects, sweet birds and sweet flowers
Have all lost their sweetness to me
The midsummer sun shines but dim
The fields strive in vain to look gay
But when I am happy in Him
December's as pleasant as May
His name yields the richest perfume
And sweeter than music His voice
His presence disperses all gloom
And makes all within me rejoice.
I would, were He always thus nigh
Have nothing to dread or to fear
No mortal so happy as I
My summer would last all the year
Content with beholding His face
My all to His pleasure resigned
No changes of season or place
Could make any change in my mind
So blessed in the light of His love
A toy would a palace appear
And prisons would palaces prove
If Jesus would dwell with me there
Dear Lord, if indeed I am Thine
If Thou art my sun and my song
Say, why do I languish and pine
And why are my winters so long
Lord, drive these dark clouds from my sky
Thy soul-cheering presence restore
Or take me up with Thee on high
Where winter and clouds are no more

You can listen to the song being sung on the video. (If reading this by email, click over to the blog.)

Monday, March 1, 2021

Sisters' March Reading Challenge

I've been enjoying the Brighter Winter Reading Program the last two months. It has helped me stay offline, read books that have been lingering on my shelf, and connect with other readers. The Brighter Winter Reading Program is organized by Daughters of Promise magazine for two months in the winter. Each month has twenty challenges.

In January I had lots of extra time to read, partly because my little girls had the chicken pox and I stayed home more than usual. But in February I had far less time than usual, partly because of being in North Carolina for a week. I really had to push to finish the challenges.

I couldn't (and probably shouldn't) keep reading at the rate that I did this winter. The pace is a little exhausting. But I do love the  way a reading challenge helps me to read deliberately. And I love how it helps me to connect with other friends who are also doing the reading challenge.

Since we didn't want the fun to end, my sister Charity and I decided to come up with our own reading challenges for the month of March. We set five challenges, three with specific book topics and two with activity-related challenges. 

This post containes affiliate links.

Sisters' March Reading Challenge

1. Read a book set in Ireland (in honor of St Patrick's Day).
Let Me Die in Ireland or Patrick of Ireland by David Bercot (historical fiction about St. Patrick)
Nory Ryan's Song (middle-grade fiction on the Irish potato famine)
In the Company of Others by Jan Karon (from the Mitford series)

2. Read a book written by a female missionary.
Example of authors:
Elisabeth Elliot
Amy Carmichael
Isobel Kuhn
Darlene Diebler Rose
Kate McCord
Katie Davis

3. Read a book about food
Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reihl (a food memoir)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
A nonfiction book about gardening, nutrition, or even chemistry
A biography about a chef

4. Write out a quote from a book and tape it to your mirror.
This could be something inspirational, humorous, or convicting from something you read--even a Bible verse.

5. Mail a book to a child, invalid, or friend.
Share the love of books with a surprise package. You can mail a book from your personal collection or purchase book from Abebooks or Amazon and have it directly mailed to your friend.

These challenges are just for fun. No pressure and no prizes--just a way to encourage each other to read more books and spend less time on our phones. (I know, you are probably reading this on your phone.)

 At the end of the month, I'll share what I did for these challenges and invite you to do the same.

Share in the comments if you want to join us and what suggestions you have for these challenges. I need an idea for an Irish book.


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