It is really, really hard to choose my favorite book. So many amazing books have literally changed my perspective, challenged my thinking, and become a catalyst for change. Three stand out: A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot, Under the Overpass by Mike Yankovski and Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss. Of these three of the best books for moms, today I would choose Stepping Heavenward as my favorite. I love that book!
The book begins when the narrator is 16 years old and I love how we follow the same person through her journey into adulthood and throughout her life. I was captivated by her story, and most importantly the changes wrought as she took each day as a step closer to heaven, deeper into a relationship with her Heavenly Father. I can’t wait for my daughter to read this book so we can laugh and cry about it together!
Stepping Heavenward has made me a better mom, a better person, and a better wife. In fact, I was just thinking it is about time for me to read the book again. I hardly ever read a book a second time, but this is just one of those books. If you are a mom, you need to read this book. Seriously! You will be encouraged, challenged, and inspired. All moms need that!
“And there are my children! My darling, precious children! For their sakes I am continually constrained to seek after an amended, a sanctified life; what I want them to become I must become myself.”
It is a rare day that I spend reading a non-fiction book from cover to cover in as quick a time as I can manage. In fact, I cannot remember a day in all of my history that I have read a non-fiction book without breaks for fiction, let alone in one day. I could not put Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski down. I read the book in every spare minute from Tae Kwon Do practice through ballet and again at night until the book was done.
If you are not ready to make some changes in your life, don’t read this book! Yankoski details his time undercover as a homeless person. Basically, he and a friend spent six months of their life traveling from one major city to another living as homeless people on the streets. They could not travel until they had the funds. They didn’t take any funds with them except money for a one-way cab to the hospital in case of emergency. They didn’t touch it. They didn’t take but a minimum of clothing. They panhandled for money, ate in soup kitchens and rescue missions, showered only every three to six weeks, slept with rats, and lived the experience as if it were real.
As if they could not just pack up and head home whenever the going got rough or the six months was over. They tried to find refuge in churches, and were shocked at the number of times they were turned away and were not even allowed to stay and worship — let alone offered food or clothing. They tried to encourage and witness to the homeless they lived near and fellowshipped with and discovered that most are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or both and many have mental illnesses. Lives were changed. Mostly their own.
I cannot wait to have my children read Under the Overpass. I have already changed how I live. See, for several weeks or months or years now I have been struggling with how I can clothe the naked and feed the hungry in the middle of my suburban, middle class, stay-at-home-mom-with-six-kids life. And, I always think I will start remembering to at least buy a bag of groceries at the grocery store to put in the town food pantry box. But, I always forget. For months at a time! And I walk out the door with a shrug and a vow to do better next time.
Except this week I decided that wasn’t good enough.
Without time to go back through the store, I decided to take the hit where it hurts — from my own week’s groceries. I’m sure I did not give enough, but I am not going to have enough sugar, flour, or chicken broth to make it through the week’s meals without another trip in the cold to the grocery. At least I do not have to walk! And, I am hoping that by sacrificing what I need from my own stash each week I will eventually remember to actually purposely buy useful food for our hungry in my hometown.
I am also actively looking for other opportunities to help the poor in our community. I wasn’t doing that before.
Please buy this book and read it. And buy it as Christmas gifts. It’s compelling. It’s fascinating. You won’t want to put it down. You will walk away a better person for it.
A Chance to Die is the compelling and inspiring story of Amy Carmichael. Amy went to India at a very young age to serve as a missionary. Amy spent all of her life in India and died there in the orphanage compound she built to save girls from slavery and prostitution. She saved hundreds and hundreds of girls and adopted many as her own. Her story is amazing and reminds me of the modern day young lady who lived and wrote Kisses for Katie. Both books will astound you and go on your favorites list!