Podcast host shares stories; pastors reflect on experiences

Podcast host shares stories; pastors reflect on experiences

That Sounds Fun: The Joys of Being an Amateur, the Power of Falling in Love, and Why You Need a Hobby

Annie F. Downs
Revell, 2021

In this latest book from Annie F. Downs, who hosts a podcast by the same name, fun is the focus. It’s the chat topic for her podcast each week, and in the book, Downs highlights for the reader that fun is just waiting to be found as an enriching part of life — not just the fun you want but the fun you need to experience a joyful and fulfilled life.

In the opening chapter of the book, she references Eden — that we have lost it, lost its peace. We can find that peace or regain it, she suggests, through what we call fun. The book not a how-to — what sounds fun will differ from person to person. Instead, each chapter is a different story in Downs’ search for her Eden. At the end of each podcast, Downs asks, “What sounds fun to you?” and shares responses from readers. In the book, she references the hundreds of responses she has received from her listeners as well. Downs writes in such a way as to make readers feel as if they are listening to her podcasts. This style may connect with some; others maybe not. (Martha Brown)

A Pastor’s Path: How in the World Did I Get Here?

Hershel Owen
Christian Faith Publishing, 2020

Hershel Owen’s memoir begins with a difficult childhood. “I became aware that our lives were in great danger,” he wrote of his growing recognition of the violence that could be unleashed by an
abusive father. “This was especially true for Mama.”

Born in 1938 in the coal-mining town of Burnwell, Alabama, Owen’s early years were bereft of prayer or faith but instead were filled with deep poverty and loneliness, in addition to dark thoughts of how to escape his father’s abuse.

The first time his family had indoor plumbing came during a move to a cramped Tuscaloosa apartment when he was in eighth grade. There, a neighbor would invite him to join her each time she passed him as she walked to her church.

“She never quit asking me to go,” he writes. Owen eventually said yes, and though he did not understand the experience, he responded to the preacher’s invitation to come forward. “When I got up from that altar, I knew I was a different person,” he shares.

Owen’s stories from these early years lead to what he sensed was God’s call to become a preacher — a call that at the time felt like “the most absurd thing in the world.” He eventually said yes to that call and served as a pastor of churches in Alabama for nearly six decades. “A Pastor’s Path: How Did I Get Here?” is a brief but moving account of his experiences. (Minnie Lamberth)

My Angel Slept with Me

A. Ray Lee
Soncoast Publishing, 2021

This heartfelt and honest memoir published by retired pastor A. Ray Lee is partly a story of a happy marriage and shared life of ministry, but the book focuses largely on a difficult chapter that concluded his earthly journey with his wife, Effie.

The last years of their nearly six decades of marriage were difficult as Lee took on the role of full-time caregiver to a beloved spouse whose physical and mental symptoms were requiring his constant attention.

Effie Lee’s mysterious health problems had troubled her husband for a good while, yet doctors were providing no answers. The official diagnosis, Lewy body dementia, eventually gave an explanation for the physical symptoms as well as the behavioral changes. Learning the name, however, did not make the struggle easier.

Lee’s story recounts the journey to diagnosis and through full-time caregiving while openly addressing his sense of confusion and exhaustion.

The story continues as he writes with that same honesty about his early stages of grief and mourning. In the introduction, Lee said he began writing this memoir as a therapeutic exercise.

His intent is to share his experiences “with the hope that others who have to walk a similar path may find encouragement.”

The title, “My Angel Slept with Me,” comes from a moment of hope that Effie offered as she explained to her family why the nightmares that had been troubling her were no longer a concern. (Minnie Lamberth)

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