These three books have been on my stack lately and I wanted to share them with you today!
Hannah’s Choice by Jan Drexler
I haven’t made much time for fiction lately so this one was a real treat! I really enjoyed this book, set in 1842 in the Amish Pennsylvania. The protagonist, Hannah Yoder, comes from a strict and large Amish family, finding themselves battling the lure and sway of the outside culture. Change is in the air and all around them, and Hannah’s parents want to set out for new territory west where they can raise their children protected from the outside world. Hannah finds herself torn between two men seeking her hand in marriage–one who offers her familiarity and home, the other seeking to adventure west. I found myself enraptured with this family, the tragedies and losses they faced, the way they both held together and splintered over the pressures of the outside world. What I think I enjoyed the most was knowing that the author had done extensive research on her own family’s history as some of the first Amish, Mennonite and Brethren immigrants to Pennsylvania, and that this was her imaginative retelling of their story. I also found myself familiar with some of the Amish way of thinking, coming from somewhat of a Brethren background myself. This is the first book in a series and I’m definitely planning on reading book 2 in the fall of this year!
The Gentle Art of Discipling Women by Dana Yeakley
I was drawn to this book because I’m always hungry to be both discipling younger women and be discipled by older women. I also think this piece of our Christian faith can often be lacking. Many times I wish I had an older woman who would walk me through my current seasons and help me wrestle through issues of faith that I can seem to surmount. I also find myself eager to spend time with younger girls and have been missing that so much in these years with little ones at home. I also was drawn to this book because Yeakley calls discipling a “gentle art,” which had me both curious and thankful, as “art” suggests something organic rather than something formulaic and staid. I admit I haven’t entirely read this book, but am definitely going to finish. Yeakley has been on staff with the Navigators for many years and also spent eleven years in Indonesia as a missionary. I felt her words carried weight because of her life experience. The book is structured in two larger parts, the first section grounding the Christian in their own role as a disciple of Jesus first, the second section equipping and encouraging us also to make disciples. First we must be a genuine disciple of Jesus, then we must go and make disciples. I appreciate her emphasis on all that Christ won for us in the first section: we are forgiven, we are safe, we have access, and we are becoming. In the second section she answers these overarching questions: how do we create a life-giving atmosphere? Whom do we help? What do we share? How does discipling one-on-one actually work?
This book comes with a leader’s guide and each chapter ends with a bible study that challenges you both as a disciple and discipler. This makes it a great choice for a group book study maybe for a group of women who want to learn more about the art of discipleship and be equipped. It’s also not a terribly long book, and is quite practical. I am eager to take what I’ve learned and find someone to intentionally disciple and also someone who might be open to discipling me!
The Life-Giving Home: Creating a place of belonging and becoming by Sally + Sarah Clarkson
This mother/daughter co-authored book is a TREASURE. It’s one I would want to put in the hands of every woman if I could. This is not just written for women who are married or who have children, but for any woman who wants to create a home on purpose.
I am familiar with Sally Clarkson’s voice and have loved some of her other books, but her daughter’s writing in this one swept me off my feet! She is an incredible writer and I found her to be a kindred spirit (even though she doesn’t know it yet).
I think the preface that the Clarkson’s make to the importance and value of making a home and why that matters in the scope of the Kingdom is so crucial for all Christian women to read. Here’s a snippet about it:
“One of the first obstacles I find in presenting a vision for the importance of home is the almost unconscious assumption on the part of many modern people that home is inherently a sentimental notion and that beauty is peripheral to spiritual formation. We discount our own homesickness as a form of weakness. We marginalize the beautiful. We dismiss the aesthetic as second class. We think of beautiful spaces and comforting traditions as spiritually unnecessary and underestimate the profound importance of a safe place for growing minds and souls…
We must understand homemaking not as a retreat from the fallen world, not as a retrenchment from culture, but as a profound engagement with it. We must understand the creation of home as a work of incarnational power and creativity. “Kingdom come” doesn’t happen on some cosmic scale; the whole point is that it invades the physical at the humblest level. As Christ was born a tiny human child of Mary, so Christ comes again, invading the human realm in and through our ordinary love of children and friends, spouses and siblings. His Kingdom comes in the way we celebrate, the shelter we make of our homes, the joy we put into what we cook and eat and create, our willingness to welcome strangers into our midst. As the Holy Spirit fills us, our families and friendships and the particular physical spaces of our lives become the spaces where Christ is born again and again–growing, ordering, renewing, healing.”
See what I mean? Incredible. Important. I find so many women who feel that spending time making home cozy or warm or decorated is an unspiritual activity, surely less important that discipling others or sharing the Gospel. I love the Clarkson’s gentle help all throughout the book in seeing that our homes are the very place where we redeem a small plot of this broken, cursed soil and show the world what it looks like to live under the beautiful freedom of God’s rule. To invite others, both strangers and kindreds, into a place that is warm, inviting and intentional, be it decorated on a dime with thrifted finds, or with a comfortable budget.
I also LOVE the way the book is organized. The first small section focuses on building an understanding and common ground for why making a home matters, and what exactly matters about it. Is there a biblical foundation for the value of making a home? Is it about keeping a spotless home, or having a home that is well-ordered and intentional, but prioritizes relationship over cleanliness? Is it about owning a home, or can one build a sense of “home” in their dorm room? Their tiny studio apartment? Their parent’s basement?
The second portion of the book makes up the bulk of it and is broken down by month into “seasons of the home.” I love this aspect of it so very much! Each chapter then talks about the theme of that month generally and then the Clarksons share how this theme was found in their own home with stories and a ton of resources and suggestions.
You will read this book and be so encouraged and inspired to make a home that truly is a space where God’s glory dwells, where love is the common language, where weary souls can find rest and comfort, where growing minds can be inspired and nurtured. A place where strangers become family, wanderers find respite, where discipleship and worship are everyday realities.
I highly, highly recommend it!
Happy reading, friends!
Thanks to Tyndale Publishers + Revell for a complimentary copy of each of these books in exchange for my honest review.
Also, this post contains affiliate links. In other words, your purchase of one of these books via my link above helps support this blog and my family at no extra cost to you! Thank you so very much!