Issue 7

Furnishing Eternity:
A Father, a Son, a Coffin,
and a Measure of Life

David Giffels

David Giffels has written a memoir about confronting mortality, surviving loss, finding resilience in his Midwestern roots, and seeking his father’s wisdom while constructing his own coffin. Giffels grew up fascinated by his father’s dusty, tool-strewn workshop. So, when he enlisted his 81-year-old dad to help him with the unusual project of building his own casket, he thought of it mostly as an opportunity to sharpen his woodworking skills and to spend time together. Then the unexpected deaths of his mother and, a year later, his best friend, coupled with the dawning realization that his father wouldn’t be around forever for such offbeat adventures—and neither would he—led to a harsh confrontation with mortality and loss.

Over the course of several seasons, Giffels returned to his father’s barn in rural Ohio, a place cluttered with heirloom tools, exotic wood scraps, and long memory, to continue a pursuit that grew into a meditation on grief and optimism, a quest for enlightenment, and a way to cherish time with an aging parent. With wisdom and humor, he grapples with some of the hardest questions we all face as he and his father saw, hammer, and sand their way through a year bowed by loss.

A Prairie Girl’s Faith:
The Spiritual Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Stephen W. Hines

Although the faith of the Ingalls family pervades books in the Little House series, the more specific details of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s faith have never been fully explored. It took extraordinary pluck for anyone to survive the harshness of frontier life— from a house fire and numerous crop failures to the loss of a son and Almanzo’s crippling stroke. Wilder clung to the “greatness and goodness” of God during these challenging and often life-altering times.

Stephen W. Hines, a recognized authority on Laura Ingalls Wilder, reveals that Wilder was more than a gifted storyteller and America’s most beloved pioneer—she was a woman of remarkable faith. Hines draws on his extensive research, including his interviews with people who knew her personally and Wilder’s insightful newspaper pieces and life stories, to demonstrate how her faith sustained her in difficult times.

A Prairie Girl’s Faith also features nearly 30 authentic pioneer recipes from people who knew Laura and her parents—even one from Ma Ingalls herself! These recipes, along with memorable quotes, period music, and historical context, open a wider window into the life of pioneers and the beliefs and culture in which Wilder lived.

Paul: A Biography

N. T. Wright

In this definitive biography, renowned Bible scholar, Anglican bishop, and author N. T. Wright offers a radical look at the apostle Paul, illuminating the humanity and remarkable achievements of this intellectual who influenced Christian theology.

For centuries, Paul, the apostle who “saw the light on the road to Damascus” has been one of the church’s most widely cited saints. While his influence on Christianity has been profound, Wright argues that biblical scholars and pastors have focused so much attention on Paul’s letters and theology that they have too often overlooked the essence of the man’s life and the extreme unlikelihood of what he achieved.

Wright contends that our knowledge of Paul and appreciation for his legacy cannot be complete without an understanding of his Jewish heritage. Giving us a thoughtful, in-depth exploration of the human and intellectual drama that shaped Paul, Wright provides greater clarity of the apostle’s writings, thoughts, and ideas and helps us see them in a fresh, innovative way.

Paul is a compelling modern biography that reveals the apostle’s greater role in Christian history—as an inventor of new paradigms for how we understand Jesus and what he accomplished—and celebrates his stature as one of the most effective and influential intellectuals in human history.

Fall from Grace

Danielle Steele

Picking up a Danielle Steele book can be both satisfying entertainent and a guilty pleasure for some. Her latest novel tells the tale of a woman who has fallen from a great height and must rely on herself for her own sense of security and to define her happiness. Sydney Wells’ perfect life with her wealthy, devoted husband vanishes when he dies suddenly in an accident. Widowed at 49 years old, she discovers he has failed to include her in his will. With his vicious daughters in control of his estate and no home or money, Sydney finds a job in fashion, despite her own designer daughters’ warnings. Naïve, out of her element, and alone in a world of shady international deals and dishonest people, she is set up by her boss and finds herself faced with criminal prosecution.

What happens when you lose everything? Husband, safety, protection, money, and reputation gone, faced with prison, Sydney must rebuild her life from the bottom to the top again with honor, resourcefulness, and dignity. Sydney finds herself in the process as well as courage and resilience. Taking life by the horns, she revives her own career as a talented designer, risking all in an exotic, unfamiliar world. She is determined to forge a new life she can be proud of.