The Best Book I’ve Ever Read

Welcome  Okay, we’re going to exclude The Holy Bible from the book list, here.  That is my all-time life guide book and I can finally say that I spend more time in that book, than any other book.  It’s not just “the good book;”  it’s a GREAT book.  Since I share scripture and Bible journaling almost daily here on the blog, we’re going to excuse this title from my favorites list.

Hiking Through book by Paul Stutzman
Hiking Through by Paul Stutzman, available at paulstutzman.com

 

Food For Thought  I love to read and since I left my teaching job two years ago, I read ALL the time.  This winter, I’ve been reading about a book per week.  Over the years, I’ve read some wonderful books…novels, mysteries, historical fiction, spiritual and faith-based, self-help, and a variety of nonfiction.  I actually prefer nonfiction text over novels, reading anything from Civil War anthologies to memoirs to mental health books.  My current reading season is focused on the topic of Appalachian Trail thru-hiking.

I just concluded my fifth book written by an individual who has completed this impressive 2000+ mile hike in my favorite geographical region.  I started reading these books, hoping to live vicariously through the authors’ experiences, doing something I desperately want to do, but feel no ability (physically or financially) to do so.  I think every person taking on this extreme hike could write their own book and be successful because every individual is going to experience something different on the trail.  Each of the five books I completed had similarities, of course with geographical location, but also in terminology and some common experiences such as physical pain and exhaustion, surprise trail encounters, and “trail magic.”  I enjoyed all of these books.

The conclusion of my most recent book, Hiking Through: One Man’s Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail, by Paul Stutzman (Revell; 2012), found me saying something I had not expected.  I finished, after tears and laughter, and said, “That is my favorite book ever.”  Becoming a favorite book on anyone’s list is a tall order.  I’ve read many wonderful books and claimed many to be in my “top ten” list when I finished.  But I cannot recall any book standing out as the favorite in the way this one did.

This book would not be at the top of everyone’s list, I know, but for me, it has it all.  Hiking adventure, regional colloquialisms, a personal memoir, and a spiritual theme that constantly made me stop to think, meditate, or converse with God.  When I shared this book reading on social media, I informed followers that it was “so much more than a hiking book.”

My husband also reads a lot, but he is not interested in the same subject matter as I am and I’m not into his topics.  But this one book I have asked him to “Please read.”  A middle-aged man seeking peace after great loss, learning the hard way not to take life for granted, and hearing God speak to him from the trail–all messages I feel my husband can benefit from, but more so by hearing them from another man who has walked the path.  So my husband started reading it this week and I hope we have some things to talk about when he’s finished.

So, yes, I highly recommend this book.  Check out the author’s website here for photos, books, and more! (Please note: I am not affiliated with or compensated by the author or publisher in any way; this post is strictly my personal opinion.)

I cannot tell the story here, but I want to share two of the biggest take-away moments I had in this book.  First, on page 202, Mr. Stutzman describes his intention of writing a hiking book without giving any thought of writing a spiritual book, “…but then, I also had no idea that I would lose my religion and become spiritual.  I tell you this–a dialogue with God is available to you, to anyone.  And furthermore, God actually desires conversation with us.”  Yes, Mr. Stutzman!  I agree and I’ve been feeling the same way as I try to push through writing my own book.  My conversation with God is on-going and I, too, know what it’s like to be on the trail and have God speak to me.

I felt a personal connection with Mr. Stutzman’s words yet again, on page 208, as he spoke of God making personal requests from us that we often dismiss as crazy or too concerned with our image for the world to heed God’s message.  I’ve lived these moments, maybe not in the midst of sorrow from losing a spouse or while encountering a long-haired pastor on a five-month hike, but in the midst of my own crisis.  In the epilogue, Mr. Stutzman explains how God led him to write this book even though he had know idea how it would get published, promoted, or brought to the people who needed it most…yet he believed it would, and it did.  I needed this book.  I needed to bond with someone over our love for the Appalachian Trail while receiving a message God intended for me to hear regarding my own personal circumstances.  I needed this book and you may very well find you need it, too.  Happy reading and happy hiking.

Today’s Scripture

I can speak personally to the fact that God will sometimes call us to speak or share His word with others. Mr. Stutzman felt this call while on the trail. I have felt this call and many other authors, speakers, teachers, pastors, and missionaries have experienced this, as well. Feeling God’s commission is not the only thing we all have in common. We will also each experience rejection or “deaf” ears in our work. There will be doubters and nay-sayers. There will be those who shut us out and shut us down. In fact, we may never see the fruit from our labors. But I feel God is saying to each of us, as He did in the calling of Ezekiel, “Tell them anyway.” And so we persevere with the message.

Today’s Recipe

Disappointment. This has been a common emotion for me this past week as it is the second year in a row my husband and I have been unable to take a big hiking trip. My social media memories keep popping up with photos from two years ago when we took a week-long hiking trip in Tennessee and North Carolina. I miss the smell of spring air and early morning chill in the mountains. But I can be thankful for all the wonderful hiking experiences my husband and I have had over the years. I can keep hope that I will once again climb (slowly) those mountain trails.

No matter where or when, hikers everywhere have something in common. Hunger! When and what to eat has been a common theme in all of the hiking books I’ve read, so I’m doing an “ode to hikers” with my dish today. Whether gearing up for a big day of mileage on the trail or coming off the trail after a big day, this Hungry Hiker Hash and Eggs will cover all the food group needs.

Hungry Hiker Hash & Eggs

This dish serves 4-8, depending on appetites! I like to prepare this dish in my large electric skillet because it’s wide and deep, allowing to spread out the hash browns to get crisp. Everything gets cooked in this one skillet, except the eggs. Serve with biscuits or toast, if desired.

Ingredients

  • 8 strips bacon
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 lb frozen hash browns (shredded-type)
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 8-oz pkg diced ham
  • 1 8-0z block cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 eggs, over-easy or poached

Directions

  • In large skillet, fry bacon crisp. Place on paper towels to drain.
  • Add onion and bell pepper to bacon drippings and cook until just beginning to get soft.
  • Add hash browns, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and ham. Cook until hash browns get golden and crisp, about 15 minutes.
  • Crumble cooked bacon over cooked hash.
  • Top each serving of hash with some of the shredded cheddar and one or two eggs.