An Unblinking Look at Midlife

News Release
April 12, 2017

An Unblinking Look at Midlife 

Veteran columnist explores the indignities and perks of midlife in When Did Everybody Else Get So Old?

HARRISONBURG, Va.—The questions of midlife are quieter and deeper than clichés involving motorcycles and illicit affairs suggest. Who have I become? Is this all there is to life? Why does God feel so distant at this
point of my life?
Or, to quote musician Paul Simon, “Why am I soft in the middle? The rest of my life is so hard.”

Author and veteran columnist Jennifer Grant takes an unblinking—and often humorous—look at the transitions of midlife in When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? Indignities, Compromises, and the Unexpected Grace of Midlife (Herald Press, May 2017).

From the emptying nest to the sagging effects of aging, Grant acknowledges the complexities and loss inherent in midlife. As she leads readers through the events of her 40s, stories of loss and crushing identity and faith crises are followed by chapters marked by acceptance and gratitude as she finally gets her footing in midlife.

“I started my forties looking too often into the mirror and getting tangled up in my thoughts—my goals, my shifting identity, my disappointments, my hopes,” Grant says. “As I leave this decade behind, I find myself focusing less on me and more on how I might, bit by incremental bit, help to make the world more whole.”

As Grant addresses issues like hormonal swings and a teenager’s scorn, Grant’s middle-aged readers will recognize themselves in the pages. More than just a memoir, When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? encourages readers to live fully and embrace this stage of life. Author Jon Sweeney calls the book a “necessary, awakening memoir,” and journalist and religion writer Cathleen Falsani writes, “What I didn’t expect was to have my breath taken away, torrents of tears followed—sometimes on the same page—by uncontrollable belly laughs.”

Dorcas Cheng-Tozun, author of Start, Love, Repeat, notes, “This memoir, unexpectedly, helped me look forward to experiencing my forties and fifties.”

Of her own middle years, Grant notes that she and her husband will be empty nesters in four short years. “Our two daughters will be gone, grown, off discovering the people and purposes that will shape their adult lives,” Grant describes. “As much as my heart will strain sometimes, and feel as if it just might tear apart with missing my children, this is all as it should be.”

Jennifer Grant is a writer, editor, and speaker. A former health and family columnist for the Chicago Tribune, she is the author of four previous books, including the adoption memoir Love You More. Her work has also been published at websites such as Aleteia/For Her and on the Sojourner magazine blog God’s Politics. Grant is a longtime member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and lives in Wheaton with her husband, four children, and two rescue dogs. Find her online at jennifergrant.com or on Twitter @jennifercgrant.

When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? is $16.99 and available at Amazon and other retailers as well as from Herald Press at 800-245-7894. The book is to be released May 2, 2017.

To schedule an interview with Jennifer Grant, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

MennoMedia Staff
High-resolution photos available

 

 

Some recipes “stick with you for life,” Amish cookbook author says

April 6, 2017

Syndicated columnist Lovina Eicher releases first solo cookbook

HARRISONBURG, Va.—Herald Press is publishing a new cookbook by prolific Amish recipe author Lovina Eicher: The Essential Amish Cookbook: Everyday Recipes from Farm and Pantry.

The cookbook’s more than one hundred recipes are accompanied by full-page color photographs—both of recipes from the cookbook and of Amish life—as well as tips to enhance and enjoy the dishes or memories associated with them. Many recipes include smaller color
photographs illustrating the creation of the recipe step-by-step.

While this is Eicher’s first solo project, she is experienced at sharing recipes. She is the author of Lovina’s Amish Kitchen, a syndicated column published in newspapers across the United States, as well as in a weekly blog hosted by MennoMedia. She has also collaborated with other authors or editors to create several other Amish cookbooks, including The Amish Cook at Home, The Amish Cook’s Baking Book, The Amish Cook’s Family Favorite Recipes, The Amish Cook’s Anniversary Book, and Amish Cooks across America.

Eicher began her cooking career at a very young age, helping her mother, Elizabeth Coblentz, in the kitchen. “One of my earliest memories was watching her knead the dough when she was making cinnamon rolls,” Eicher recalled in an interview. “When she’d go in the next room to do something, I’d quickly squeeze the dough. It just looked so fun.” Elizabeth Coblentz was also well-known for her syndicated column, The Amish Cook.

Eicher’s latest cookbook is divided into 13 sections, ranging from basic categories like “Soups and Salads” and “Meats and Main Dishes” to more specialized ones like “Amish Wedding Meals.” Some recipes are staples in any cookbook, such as for homemade bread or muffins. Some encourage users to get a little more creative in the kitchen, such as Rhubarb Coffee Cake, BLT Salad, and Amish Wedding Nothings (also known as Knee Patches), a fried, doughy, airy dessert often served at weddings.

Eicher chose recipes that are easy to follow and that use basic, everyday ingredients. “I went with recipes that I use and like,” she said. “Everyone has a recipe that they like best to make bread. I’ve tried different kinds, and I always go back to the one I started with, which was my mother’s [named Lovina’s Homemade Bread in the book]. Some recipes just stick with you for life, I guess.”

Eicher also recalls making pies with her mother. “When she would make pies, she would give us little strips of the dough that she didn’t need,” Eicher described. “She’d give it to us to play with, and we had a little toy rolling pin, and we’d roll it out and make little pies, and she’d put sugar on it and bake it.”

Eicher first began writing when she took over her mother’s syndicated column after her mother’s passing in 2002. “At first I didn’t consider myself a writer,” she said. “I just wrote a letter like I was writing to a friend. I just wrote about my family.”

She recalls feeling intimidated about following in her mother’s footsteps. “My editor told me that the readers will only read the column for so long because I’m the daughter [of Elizabeth Coblentz]. You have to make sure to keep their interest. I guess something I did worked,” she said with a chuckle.

Eicher now considers writing an important part of her life. “It’s like a diary,” she said about her weekly column. “There are so many things I write about that I would have forgotten. It’s something I have to do that I wouldn’t do otherwise. I think it would be so nice if every mother would just sit down every week and write down what happened that week. You think you don’t have time to sit down and write, but if you have to, you find time.”

Eicher also adds she receives a lot of encouragement from readers. “I just want to keep encouraging them,” she said. “A lot of people out there haven’t been blessed with the faith that I was brought up with.”

Sherry Gore, bestselling author of Me, Myself, and Pie, says, “I love this cookbook. Like thousands of others, I am a big fan of hers!”

Eicher and her husband, Joe, have eight children and live in Michigan.

The Essential Amish Cookbook: Everyday Recipes from Farm and Pantry is available for purchase from Herald Press at 800-245-7894 or www.HeraldPress.com, Amazon, and other online sources.

Luisa Miller, staff intern

To discuss interview opportunities, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

A number of book signings by the author and book launches are planned for the Midwest. See current list here.

High-resolution photos available. All photos here including those on the book cover photographed by Lucas Swartzentruber-Landis or Grant Beachy for Herald Press.

 

What is the essence of Anabaptism?

March 30, 2017

What is the essence of Anabaptism?

New book by Palmer Becker helps explain beliefs of Mennonites and more

HARRISONBURG, Va.—What makes Anabaptism different from other Christian traditions? According to author Palmer Becker, it can be explained by three words: Jesus. Community. Reconciliation.

In the new resource Anabaptist Essentials: Ten Signs of a Unique Christian Faith (Herald Press, March 2017), Becker introduces readers to the key convictions and practices of Anabaptism. Becker is also the author of the small volume, What Is an Anabaptist Christian? now published in 20 languages.

Author Malcolm Gladwell, in his Revisionist History podcast, says of Becker’s three key words, “It’s hard to explain to an outsider how seriously the Mennonites take these three things: Jesus, community, and reconciliation.”

Publishers Weekly calls it “an easy, engaging read for those who want to learn, or be reminded of, what Christianity is all about,” adding that the section on conflict “should be assigned reading for every Christian for its clear-eyed assessment of conflict and effective nonviolent strategies for engaging and transforming it.”

In Anabaptist Essentials, Becker explains the core beliefs of Anabaptism and clearly lays out the differences that define the tradition. Becker explains, “In this book I unapologetically describe ten ways in which Anabaptist Christians are uniquely different from many, or even most, Christians. Anabaptists have often downplayed differences with other believers and highlighted similarities.” While seeking common ground is a good impulse, Becker says, “this quest for unity has also muted many of the unique qualities and strengths that the Anabaptist tradition might offer to the wider church.”

Designed for study by small groups and for use as a basic resource for Christian formation and conversation, the guide includes illustrations and discussion questions. Spanish and French editions of Anabaptist Essentials are planned for release in June 2017.

Becker is a speaker, pastor, church planter, missionary, author, and educator. A graduate of Goshen College, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Regent College, and Fuller Theological Seminary, Becker most recently served as director of the Hesston College pastoral ministries program, before moving to Ontario in semi-retirement.

To schedule an interview with Palmer Becker, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

To purchase Anabaptist Essentials, check here or call 800-245-7894.

MennoMedia Staff
High-resolution photos available