Knowledge and Practice and Get to Know Phyllis {Book Club}

God is abundantly kind

We did it. For the first time in Book Club we read two books in tandem, going back and forth. Yay us!

Today we finish up with the final (short) section in Scouting the Divine and reflect on it and Humble Roots, I appreciate how one book (SD) explored God’s word and the other (HR) fleshed out how one of God’s attributes for us (humility) can be lived out. We need both, the deepening of our knowledge of God + the deepening of the lessons in our hearts and behavior.

This stood out to me at the end of Scouting the Divine: “The insights and truths I’d discovered while scouting the divine allows me to realize something big about myself: my view of God is fractured. The Scriptures describe us as seeing in a mirror dimly, but I don’t feel like my mirror is dark as much as it is shattered. I see shards of truth but grapple to understand how they fit together.

“My broken understanding of God makes me feel helpless. In my heart and mind, I know that God is abundantly kind. I know he is the purest definition of wisdom and the designer of love. On occasion, I have found myself captivated by his beauty, but more often than not I am confused by his master. To say the least, our incomprehensible God is difficult for me to grasp. . . . Yet as I reflect on my time with the wine, wool, and wild honey, some of the pieces in my broken understanding of God come together for the first time. In each setting I was able to recognize something new about God and his kingdom”


Of Humble Roots Amazon says, “Humble Roots is part theology of incarnation and part stroll through the fields and forest. Anchored in the teaching of Jesus, Anderson explores how cultivating humility—not scheduling, strict boundaries, or increased productivity—leads to peace.” I understand that Amazon is trying to pull readers in, but this book offers more than peace, it offers God’s presence. I will agree with the “stroll through the fields and forest,” a perfect book as the season has changed. (Maybe not in your world, but at least on your social media feed!)

I won’t be able to hear or read the word “humility” without thinking of our time together and the lessons we have learned. Sheep will make me think of the sheep in some of your worlds. And berries . . . who knew so many grandparent memories are tied to berries! Thanks for reading. As always, I am richer for reading these books in community with you.

Next week we start North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (free on Kindle) and written in serialized form from 1854-1855. When it was compiled in one volume in 1855, people could read it without having to wait for a week to go by. Sort of the binge reading of the 1800’s like the binge watching of our day. Nothing is new under the sun. Ha! We will discuss chapters 1-13.

What will stick with you from our spring reading? If you don’t know, in the summer, I host a Summer Reading Challenge, complete with prizes. You are welcome to join!

I am excited that we Get To Know long-time Book Clubbie, Phyllis, today.

Introduce yourself. If you can share . . . where are you living? How long have you been there? What do you give a majority of your time to? What passport country do you hail from?

We live in Ukraine, and before that we were in Russia, for a total of 16 years in this part of the world. Mostly I’m a mom, but I also minister at an orphanage for kids with disabilities. Passport country . . . USA.

How do you prefer to read your books? Physically or electronically? How has living overseas shaped your preference?

I actually prefer electronic, but living overseas has probably shaped that. When we first started that wasn’t an option, and I really felt a lack of books. Now I have more than I can get to! Lately my reading has changed because I’ve discovered how to check out ebooks from an American library. I used to read almost all free older books. Now I read modern books from the library, too. Oh, and Open Library! That opened up to me recently when I got an iPad and fast internet.

Do you tend to read one book at a time? Or have multiple books going at once?

Multiple books. Definitely.

Which Velvet Ashes Book Club books stand out to you? In other words, which do you remember? What do you remember about them?

Wonder was my favorite. I recommend it to everyone. We even bought it in Ukrainian for our neighbourhood children’s library. Other than that one, I also loved Ove. I guess it’s the amazing characters that I remember.

In the last year or so, which book or books that you have read would you recommend?

Laurus is a new favourite of mine. (Amy here, Laurus looks intriguing!!)

Where do you do most of your reading?

At home. I read in just about every free minute that I can find.

What book has changed you as a person other than the Bible :)? How did it change you?

It’s been a while since this one affected me, but it was such a big deal that I have to mention it. When we first moved to Russia I read Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow over and over again. Before that, I had a problem with worry. After, I can say that it’s (mostly) gone.

What was a favorite book in childhood?

Rilla of Ingleside (and many others. It’s hard to choose just one!)

What are you currently reading?

Wodehouse binge! I just finished several Jeeves and Wooster rereads in a row and started on Mr. Mulliner which is new to me. (Amy here, I hadn’t heard of Mr. Mulliner! I enjoyed when we read Right Ho, Jeeves.  Should we read a Mr. Mulliner book for a future book club read?)
–the VA book club books
–Путь (Ольга Адамова-Слиозберг)
–Утопия у Власти
–Most of the books from AmblesideOnline Year 6 to keep up with (and follow behind) my kids as I homeschool them
(Amy here. Phyllis, my hat’s off to you for reading in Russian. I could Google translate the titles you shared, but I’m going to leave them in Russian so others can be impressed. I only lasted through one year of the language in college until my dream of teaching Russian crashed and burned and I turned to studying math because, unlike Russian, math is easy :-).  Ah, the sprinkling of the gifts. I’m so happy to picture you sitting with a cup of something hot, reading IN RUSSIAN! Your latest fan girl, Amy)

Overall, do you tend to read more fiction or non-fiction? Are there any genres you just can’t get into?

Both. Genre I can’t get into: modern Christian fiction.

What do you have on your “to read” list?

Hannah Coulter for sure.

I love these “Get to know.” Thanks Phyllis!


  1. Elizabeth Trotter May 29, 2018

    This was fun! I enjoyed getting to know you more, Phyllis! Your answer about modern Christian fiction cracked me up. I also love Wodehouse and Ingleside. I think we follow a lot of the same people, because I get regular recommendations for both Laurus and Hannah Coulter. 🙂

  2. melissa May 31, 2018

    Phyllis, I love that you also love Linda Dillow’s book, Calm My Anxious Heart. That’s a favorite of mine, too.

  3. Phyllis June 2, 2018

    It was a little strange to see my name up there, even though I knew it was coming. 🙂 Amy, Mr. Mulliner would be great for a book club option. Short, funny (hilarious!) stories… what could be better than that? I think it would work really well between more serious books, to give us a break.

    Melissa, weren’t you the one who said Calm My Anxious Heart was one of your life-changing books in a recent post like this one? I was so surprised and happy to see that, too. I didn’t think it was a well-known book, but you and I definitely have something in common with it.

    Yes, Elizabeth, I think you and I are in the same circles online, even outside of Velvet Ashes. 🙂

  4. Suzanne June 4, 2018

    I have been absent from the Book Club for some weeks because of academic deadlines, having returned to a little part-time study. I have read LOTS in recent weeks and have loved it but am more than ready now for some good old laugh-out-loud silly reading material. And thanks to you, Phyllis, and especially seeing as ‘North and South’ was free(!!), I have just spent the last half hour giggling my way through one of Mr Mulliner’s tales. Thank you for the recommendation.

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