Our congregation's recent ladies book club meeting took us to the picturesque little town of Harmony, Ind., the setting of our spring book selection:
Home to Harmony by Phillip Gulley
(Click the link above for ordering information.)
The book is a series of vignettes about the citizens of Harmony, as observed by lovable Quaker minister Sam Gardner. Pieced together, these short essays give a nostalgic, tender view of hometown America.
Since the book is written from the viewpoint of a minister, we asked our minister's wife, Mia Medlin, to open our meeting with devotional thoughts. Mia shared memories of the congregations she and Randy have served -- from Randy's first full-time preaching job when they were newlyweds, through their years raising children and growing churches, to their present work -- and first grandbaby -- with our congregation, the University Church of Christ. Mia shared touching moments and lessons learned through the years. When Mia recounted the ways Christians rallied around them during challenging times, we were reminded how precious our Christian family is.
As we looked back down the road Randy and Mia have travelled, we could see God's blessings in each step. Like Sam mused in Home to Harmony, "Sometimes I feel like I'm sitting at God's table and I've just had one piece of blessing when God smiles and says, 'Here, Sam, have another.' "
For this hometown celebration, we planned a backyard barbecue theme. Three of us did fun summer tablescapes. The first photo shows a glimpse of my table, a Fourth of July picnic theme in red, white and blue. Above, you see Nancy Itson's Corn and Sausage Days Festival table in black, yellow and green.
Nancy is an avid fan of Phillip Gulley and the Harmony series, so she incorporated fun details from the book, like place cards for some of the characters in the book.
Missy Jones used her favorite summertime dishes and bright napkins to add vivid color to her watermelon table. I loved her attention to detail in sprinkling watermelon seeds around the table.
Along with fresh-cut garden blooms, Missy brought sweet potato plants she picked up from a nursery. Missy said she likes to buy plants that she can use to decorate for a party, then add to the landscape of her home. This is a great tip for getting more for your money.
We asked guests to bring a favorite backyard barbecue dish, and we enjoyed a delicious summer meal of BBQ sliders, chips and dip, baked beans, and an assortment of colorful salads. Missy prepared an iced tea bar with freshly brewed unsweet tea served with simple syrup, artificial sweeteners and fresh fruits for flavoring. She also brought the refreshing watermelon salad pictured above. I ended our meal with summer sundaes with homestyle vanilla ice cream in waffle bowls topped with sweetened berries. We always enjoy such a wonderful balance of delicious foods at our book club meetings!
"The Chicken Noodle Dinner is the event of the year for the Circle and they take it seriously -- and don't you forget it. If you are elected to the presidency of the Friendly Women's Circle, you had better be able to pull off the Chicken Noodle Dinner or impeachment proceedings will commence." ~ Sam Gardner in Home to Harmony
We enjoyed such a lovely summer book club, I think even the toughest critic in the Friendly Women's Circle would approve.
If you have read any of Phillip Gulley's books in the Harmony series, please share your thoughts in the comments below. And be sure to stop by tomorrow for the announcement of our newest book club read -- and a chance to win a copy of the book.
"Sometimes what we think we need isn't what we need at all, and what gets thrown in for good measure is that which fills our hearts." ~ Sam Gardner in Home to Harmony by Phillip Gulley