Saturday, November 18, 2006

Girltalk Book club

In the past, one of the most helpful exercises I've found is to read Christian books along with a friend. That way, not only can we spur one another along in our reading, we can discuss how the book is impacting our lives. I'd really recommend this practice. And so: if you're looking for a reading partner, the ladies over at girltalk are set to start the next book in their book club.

The girltalk bookclub are going to be reading together a biography by Sharon James, Elizabeth Prentiss: More Love to Thee. Keep posted over the next couple of weeks at their blog to find out when they'll start reading and join in with the questions they ask, and enjoy! But, in order to do that you'll need to get your own copy of the book. The girltalkers explain how to do that if you are Stateside, but if you are in the UK go here and here to get your copy.

But just to get you warmed up: let me tell you a bit about the godly woman we'll read about. Elizabeth Prentiss was a Presbyterian pastor's wife, a writer and poet. She is best known for her popular hymn "More Love to Thee, O Christ", and her book, Stepping Heavenward (which I'm enjoying reading at the moment).

In 1845 she married George Prentiss and settled in New Bedford, MA, where George became pastor of South Trinitarian Church. After settling in with the parishioners, and having a baby, within a period of three months she lost her second and third children: one as a newborn, the other aged four. She wrote this poem in that year, 1852, on the occasion of the baby's death:

"I thought that prattling boys and girls
Would fill this empty room;
That my rich heart would gather flowers
From childhood's opening bloom.

One child and two green graves are mine,
This is God's gift to me
A bleeding, fainting, broken heart -
This is my gift to Thee."


Though she continually struggled with poor health, Elizabeth went on to have four healthy children. After her death, her husband published The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss (1882), so that the more costly experiences of her life could be used to strengthen and comfort others. Elizabeth's peculiar trials indeed enabled her to sympathise even more deeply with those who suffered, to the point where, much later in life, she declared that she "loved the house of mourning more than the house of feasting."

Sharon James' biography therefore asks: "Do you feel that you would be able to grow in love for God and others - if only your circumstances were different? Maybe you find that the sheer demands of everyday life squeeze out time for God? Read this true story to find out how one woman discovered that the most difficult circumstances are "God's school" to teach us more about his grace; the very bust times are precisely those times when we need - and can find - God's strength; the worst of tragedies can draw us closer to God."

This looks like a book we can learn much from. Again, I would recommend Sharon James and her books: so let's take this opportunity, along with girltalk, to read and learn together from this remarkable woman's story.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Nicki, Catriona, and Nita,
Thank you so much for your excellent blog. I found you at the beginning of the month and check in daily now. You are a huge encouragement to me, a pastor's wife of a relatively new church who is endeavoring to be a titus2 woman for the younger women in our fellowship. Thanks for the fine quality of all your offerings.

I'm am looking forward to reading this biography. The Letters and Papers of EP is one of my favorite books. I have read and shared it with many women. Sharon James biography of Ann Judson is another treasure!