22 June 2011

Kindred Spirits- A Century Apart

I love to read.  


Mostly biographies and journals.  

I am not typically a journal writer myself. 
 Yet, if given the option 
between a journal and/or a collection of letters
 or the latest fiction, 
I will choose the journal and letters every time. 

 The older, the better. 
 And if the journal is from one of 
my favorite authors, 
even moreso. 
 I suppose it is because I want to see 
if my interpretation of the author 
matches up with the person revealed 
in their private writings. 

Ironically, my favorite authors are usually 
writers of fiction.....
but, very old fiction.

Lately, I have been reading

I "met" Mrs. Prentiss after being introduced
 to her book, Stepping Heavenward.  
Elisabeth Elliot mentioned the book on her radio program many years ago.  

Since then, I have purchased and have 
given away several copies. 
Lamplighter Publishing has a beautiful 
cloth-bound edition which is one of my favorites. However, you can find inexpensive paperback copies in several stores, and these are the ones that I usually give away.

Stepping Heavenward is in journal form
 and begins when the protagonist is sixteen years old.  It is a record of her
 spiritual journey and maturation.  

I must say that it has a resonance
 that I rarely have found. 
Lots of "ouches" and "stings" as I read along
 and found that I had many of the same
 flaws and desires of "Katy". 

 I remember that Elisabeth Elliot said the book was actually a fictional depiction of the 
author's true life. 
I remember wondering if that was so.

Now with the advent of e-readers, 
it is possible to find many old books that one may never find in print. 
 With the i-phone apps, I have been reading these letters and journal entries from the author of Stepping Heavenward and 
I have not been disappointed. 

I have discovered that Mrs. Prentiss wrote several other books and I will be sure to read as 
many as possible.  
However, I also discovered the reason I enjoy reading letters and journals so much.

 I have met a kindred spirit.

I do not claim to have any of the depth of Christian piety or character that 
Mrs. Prentiss obviously had. 

But it is the difficulties and weaknesses that she dealt with, and the way she handled them,
 that sets me at once to feel that, 
had I known her in person, 
I could sympathise with, 
and yet long to emulate her.

 She wanted to "help" others.  
To point them to Christ.  
She had no idea that 150 years later, 
women would read her books and still feel the same things that her contemporary readers felt.

The readers of SH did feel a kinship to her.  
They wrote to her by the hundreds.  
Many people bought numerous copies and gave them away to friends. 
Women from all walks of life wrote to her and said that "they were Katy". 

She was amazed.

In her day to day life, 
she was susceptible to bouts of excruciating pain that would come and go. 

Reading her journals, the description sounds very like fibromyalgia or something similar. 
If she "overdid it", then she would pay for it by days of severe fatigue and pain. 

She loved nature and collected mosses and ferns and all sorts of things. 
She was able to spend the summers at a cottage in the country which renewed her health.

 She was a pastor's wife and felt that it gave her a special privilege to help others through trials. 

Like many mothers in the 1800s, 
she buried children. 
She was especially touched 
when any mother lost a child. 
She ministered to them in a way
 that others could not. 

To her, heaven was so real, that she longed for it, but understood that she was needed 
where she was. 
Her greatest desire was to love Christ more.  

The familiar hymn, "More Love to Thee
was written by her.

I have not finished reading these 
"letters and journals". 
They were published shortly after her death and edited by her husband.

 I always, dislike getting to the end of such books. Of course, I realized all along that 
she is not now living on this earth, 
but this type of reading truly lets you touch the mind of another person regardless of their address. 

I can say that she, who lived a quiet life, 
has touched countless others for 
the Kingdom in a lasting way. 
I want to thank her when I see her, someday.

She wrote several books and I found a list on Wikipedia, which I will list here for you.

Little Susy's Six Birthdays, 1853
Only a Dandelion, and other Stories, 1854
Henry and Bessie: or, What they did in the Country, 1855
Little Susy's Six Teachers, 1856
The Flower of the Family: A Book for Girls, 1856
Peterchen and Gretchen; or, Tales of Early Childhood, 1860
The Little Preacher, 1867
Little Threads; or, Tangle Thread, Silver Thread, and Golden Thread, 1868
Little Lou's Sayings and Doings, 1868
Fred and Maria and Me, 1868
The Old Brown Pitcher, 1868
Stepping Heavenward, 1869
Nidworth, and his three Magic Wands, 1869
The Percys, or, Ever Heavenward or, Toward Heaven or, A Mothers Influence 1870
The Story Lizzie Told, 1870
Six Little Princesses and what they turned into, 1871
Aunt Jane's Hero, 1871
Golden Hours: Hymns and Songs of the Christian Life, 1873
Aunt Jane's Hero',' 1873
Urbane and His Friends, 1874
Griselda: A Dramatic Poem in Five Acts, 1876 (trans. from the German by Friedrich Halm)
The Home at Greylock, 1876
Pemaquid; a Story of Old Times in New England, 1877
Gentleman Jim, 1878
Avis Benson; or, Mine and Thine, with other Sketches, 1879


  1. Thank you for these book suggestions. I would love to read Stepping Heavenward, sounds like a real blessing!

    1. It's really good....one of those books we can give to teen girls and know it is timeless enough for their mothers.

  2. I love to read the same type of books, i.e. biographies, non fiction etc.. I'm currently reading General Custer's wife's book, "Tenting in the Plains." Very fascinating, I love it. What is the saying? Real life is better than fiction? I'll have to check this one out. I have heard of her. Thanks for the blog.

    1. I've always heard that real life is stranger than fiction....and it is so true....which reminds me of another book....my favorite all time book, in fact and maybe I will do more book reviews about books that I doubt very many folks know about....hmmm....and General Custer's wife? wow....not a common subject for sure....I bet that is fascinating since I have only had one view of him presented in history.....people....what we can piece together about them....real people....are fascinating, are they not?

    2. Sounds like you have a good idea brewing there. I'd love to punt some book ideas your way if you want some? I love to read so much, always have since I was a kid. I think a book review is an excellent idea. You gave me an idea to mull over.

  3. I love journaling, too. This is an interesting series I should check into. I'm your neighbor at CBCE.