Saturday, July 31, 2021

Sisters' July Reading Challenge


The July Reading Challenge was such fun for both of us. You know it is good when your sister comes over for supper and reads an essay out loud from her book. I hope that in the midst of the summer craziness, that you took time for words. 

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1. Read a magazine from start to finish.

Charity - Daughters of Promise: Resilience (Issue 34)

I struggle to read entire magazines. I think it might be because I don't feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a book and adding it to my book log. I was delighted to have a reason to read this magazine from start to finish, and it was worth it! This issue challenged me more than usual. I found myself jotting down quotes which is always a good sign. Resilience deals with hard things--lives that are not perfect, in a world that is flawed. But we, as Christians, serve an amazing God.

Gina - I too read and thoroughly enjoyed the Resilience issue of Daughters of Promise. I was challenged by the stories of those striving to know and serve God even when He feels silent.

2. Read a book with a color in the title.

Charity - The Turquoise Table by Kristen Schell

Kristin is just an ordinary mom living in an ordinary community. But she wanted to know her neighbors and experience life with them. So she painted her picnic table turquoise, placed it in the front yard, and moved her family activities out of the backyard. They became front-yard people. I loved how this book was practical, and though the concept was a challenge, it also felt as if I could implement the concepts into my life no matter where I am. The question I am left with is, am I willing to give up my privacy, my quiet, and make my life one that people can enter into?

Gina - The Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt

Jeff's mother left when he was seven, and he closed his heart to emotions. But when she enters his life again, Jeff finds out how painful love can be. I loved the view of Eastern Maryland and the lovely shore. I had never read this middle-grade novel, but it made me want to reread Dicey's Song, which is in the same series. Voigt has a beautiful and heartrending way of describing the emotions of children.

3. Read a book of essays.

Charity - Endless Feasts: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet compiled and edited by Ruth Reichl

From breakfast in Maine to dinner in Tibet, this compilation of articles from Gourmet magazine was truly delightful and sometimes gut-rollicking hilarious. Not only did I gain a view of years past but also other countries, others states, and high class social events. The essays are from a variety of writers and span from 1949 to 1999. They cover travel, home cooking, restaurants, and just fun stories. May I issue a warning? You might want to avoid reading this book while hungry!

Gina - The Points of My Compass by E. B. White

Most readers know White as the author of Charlotte's Web and other children's stories, but White was also a talented essay writer. I was thrilled to find this collection of essays written in the late 50s and early 60s at a thrift store. White divided his time between his homes in New York City and a quiet cove in Maine so his topics include the demise of the Maine railroad, a book he is reading, politics, his old cook stove, and the New York pigeons. The book gives a glimpse of life during the Cold War before the first moon landing, from someone who wasn't trying to write history, but to describe life. Some of the essays held my interest sixty years later better than others, but whatever White writes, he writes well.

4. Read a book or listen to an audio book in a vehicle.

Charity - I delight in finding a good book to entertain me in the car. Though I told Gina that this month's audio book was a little too sappy, it was still rather fun. I also find it essential to take books with me if I even think there will be a moment of waiting and boredom. So books in my car are just a normal part of my nerdy existence!

Gina- We took a trip to North Carolina to visit family and listened to Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary Schmidt. As usual, Schmidt didn't disappoint. His books always include a struggling youth and a caring adult who teaches a specific topic while helping the teen cope with the hard things in life. In this book a butler shows up at Carter's door just when the family needs a stable adult. This was a story that all ages could enjoy and managed to make me want to watch a cricket game. My biggest complaint is that the cover makes this look like a book for younger readers but I think teens will enjoy it more.

5. Read beside water (ocean, lake, river, pool, creek, or lawn sprinkler).

Gina - My children enjoy splashing in the stream in a quiet park near our home on hot summer days. Most years I say I'm too busy, and only get there a time or so, but this year I've been trying to ignore the work and the annoyance of soggy clothes, and visit the creek often. I always find that my spirit is revived after an hour sitting with my feet in the water. I always bring a book to read and usually read a few pages, but I'm often distracted by the children, or just feel like staring into the ripples. I told Charity she should meet me at this park with her book for a photo shoot. 

Charity - My reading by the water was brief. Actually, I read my magazine while I waited for Gina. And then we enjoyed book talk instead of reading. But I do have in mind a lovely little spot to take my book someday - so maybe in August.

We'd love to hear what you are reading. Do you like to read outdoors? Do you have a recommendation for audio books for our August traveling?

Check back in a few days for the August Reading Challenges.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Book Review: Peanut Butter and Dragon Wings

I knew I was in trouble when I read the introduction to Peanut Butter and Dragon Wings. Shari Zook says, "This is not a book about self-care. This is a book about receiving the care that surrounds you."

I don't do well in accepting help. (That might be an understatement.) I remember one morning many years ago when my children were all babies, and I woke up with a painfully stiff neck. I was barely able to get out of bed, but I hobbled through the motions of caring for my family. Ed looked at me before he left for work and said, "Are you going to call your mom and ask for help or do I have to?" By this time, he knew how stubborn I was about asking for help.

In the last four years, I've been forced to accept help. I've opened checks that paid for our medical bills, served casseroles made by other hands, and watched others cut firewood, do home repairs, and care for Ed. I'm incapable of providing for my children alone, and I know it. I'm grateful for all the ways others have held up our family.

But I'm still slow to admit my emotional needs, and if you ask me how I'm doing, my default will be "I'm fine." Last year  I read a book that made me realize how deeply my identity was founded on feeling capable, efficient, and productive. I'm most comfortable giving and serving. I don't want to look needy and helpless and am willing to fake to the point of deception to hide my needs. 

For months I had Colossians 4:19 hanging in my kitchen. "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." I've seen God meet my needs, and I'm grateful for the abundance of His riches. But what if I'm missing part of the glory by shutting myself from the people of God? 

So that is the background in which I opened up Peanut Butter and Dragon Wings by Shari Zook and read of her desperation when being capable and efficient didn't work anymore. She faced challenges in parenting, ministry, and marriage and watched God reach out to her through other people.

Shari writes beautifully and has the ability to laugh at herself. But she doesn't shy away from looking straight at the reader and asking the hard questions. She tells of her discovery of her own failures and losses and practical ways to reach out for the grace of Jesus through the ministry of others.

If you live locally, I'd love to say that you can borrow my copy of Peanut Butter and Dragon Wings, but I think I need to reread it first. One of my friends asked if I was interested in reading through it slowly, maybe two chapters a week, and discussing the end-of-the-chapter questions together. That kind of vulnerability scares me silly, but Shari has modeled it and showed us how beautiful honesty can be. 

If you want your own copy of Peanut Butter and Dragon Wings - and you do if you are a mom of a challenging child, or are a foster mom, or have faced depression, or avoid asking for help until you are dying, or are a pastor's wife (and that pastor disappoints you), or want to find a mentor. You can find your own copy at Amazon (affiliate link) or the publisher Herald Press. You can also get a sample of Shari's writings at her blog Confessions of a Woman Learning to Live.

Shari gave me a copy of her book as a friend, but didn't require a review in return. All opinions in this review are my own.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Rosemary Yogurt Flatbread


I get in a rut with food, especially what I serve guests. If you have ate a meal at our house this summer, you likely were served flatbread wraps. 

My brother spent a couple years in the middle east and acquired a love of naan. A friend gave us this recipe for flatbread that is similar to naan, but simpler to make. The actually cooking takes time, but it isn't difficult. Especially if you don't worry about making your flatbread perfectly round.

I prefer them small, easier to handle and eat. We like to load them with veggies such as lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and avocado. Add some cheese and grilled chicken and drizzle with a yogurt sauce. The possibilities are endless and usually depend upon what I have on hand, but the result is always a satisfying meal.

Rosemary Yogurt Flatbread

3/4 cup warm water

3/4 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk

1 Tablespoon instant yeast

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp salt

1 long stem of rosemary (strip off leaves and chop)

4 cups flour

Mix all ingredients except flour together. Add flour until makes a soft dough. Knead for five minutes. Divided into 12-15 balls and cover with a damp cloth. Rest for 15 minutes. Preheat skillet to medium-high heat. Roll out each ball of dough and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Yogurt Sauce

1 cup of plain Greek yogurt

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

1/8 tsp cumin

1 T lemon juice

Mix all ingredients. Drizzle over flatbread wraps. Store in refrigerator.

What are you eating on these hot summer days?

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Sisters' July Reading Challenge

 Looking forward to another month of great reading!

This post contains affiliate links.

1. Read a magazine from start to finish.

If you don't subscribe to a magazine, pick one up at the store on a topic that interests you.

2. Read a book with a color in the title.

For example: The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

    The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

    Red Scarf Girl by Ji Li Jiang

3. Read a book of essays.

For example, authors such as Dorcas Smucker and Elizabeth Elliot have compiled books of essays. Or books with a collection of essays from various authors such as The Living of These Days.

4. Read a book or listen to an audio book in a vehicle.

5. Read beside water (ocean, lake, river, pool, creek, or lawn sprinkler).

I can't wait to hear what you enjoy reading in July.


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