Fragrant Whiffs of Joy—Book Review and Giveaway

Some time ago, a friend asked me what books I’d recommend for mothers with older children. Books for mothers out there are all books about mothering little ones, she said.

She has a point. No one seems to mind writing about peanut butter fingerprints smeared on window glass and their two-year-old’s tantrums, but who’s brave enough to write about their teenager’s irritableness and parenting lessons learned the hard way?

No, Fragrant Whiffs of Joy by Dorcas Smucker is not a parenting book; not even a book for mothers per se.

Like all her books, it’s a collection of essays originally published in a column she writes for her local newspaper; short essays that each take only a few minutes to read, describing her life as a minister’s wife and Mennonite mom of six.

With an honest and humorous style, she shares stories of how she looks for and finds joy in her everyday life.

She finds joy in applying God’s Word to her life stories, getaways with her husband, ministering to women and her Sunday school class of “squirrely” ten-year-olds, cooking and canning for her household and guests. And she finds joy in her relationships with her adult children (this is where the ‘mothers book’ part comes in.)

She’s humble when her children teach her the techniques of modern communication technology. She cheers them on in their educational and career endeavours, and writes about them in a kind and honest and tender way.

Sprinkled about the book are tidbits of wisdom and inspiration for moms. My favorite:

“Rather than focusing on detailed parenting methods, we should all be seeking to be the best people possible-the bravest, the kindest, the most grateful and joyous and thoughtful. Because daily we see more of our mothers in the mirror and who we are is who our daughters will eventually become.” (page 51)

That being said, if you’re not a mother of older children–or not a mother at all–you’ll still enjoy this book. You’ll have a good laugh at two sisters dressing up like an Amish couple, and your heart will be warmed by accounts of time spent with her aged father.

And if you’re a writer like me, you’ll be encouraged to tell your story.

 “You have a life, a history, a story of your own. It is worthy of telling, and no one else will ever tell it quite like you can. It is yours to tell, and if you tell it well, I promise we will all be eagerly listening.” (page 72)

Dorcas blogs at


Order the book from Dorcas Smucker at
31148 Substation Drive,
Harrisburg, OR 97446.

Books are $12USD each, plus $2 postage.
Checks or PayPal accepted.
Email her at

The book is also available on Amazon.

ENTER to win the Giveaway:

Dorcas has given me one book to give away to one of you dear readers.

Where do you find fragrant whiffs of joy? 

Share your thoughts in the comments section–or email me at–or contact me in any way–and enter to win a copy of Fragrant Whiffs of Joy! I will choose a winner on Wednesday, November 22.

Note***The winner is Gabrielle Marcy.

My Favourite Poem about Motherhood

This poem blessed and encouraged me many a time when my children were small; I couldn’t read the whole thing through without shedding a tear. Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Sheaves                                                          author unknown

Some say that my life is so narrow,  

Environed by four square walls;   

And ever across my threshold      

The shadow of duty falls.       

My eyes wander oft to the hilltops,        

But my heart ever stoops down   

With passion and love for my babies                         

Who, helpless, cling to my gown.

In the light of each new day dawning,  

I see an evangelical stand;     

And to fields that are ripe for the harvest,   

I am lured by a beckoning hand.      

But I have a small part with the reapers,                

Small place in the soul-stirring strife;  

I must care for the babes at my fireside                      

And teach them the lessons of life.

I must answer their eager questions,                         

From childhood to early youth;                                          

I must lead them in paths of wisdom                           

And guide them in ways of truth;                                      

I must nourish their souls and their bodies                 

With untiring, watchful care,                                       

Take thought for “the loaves and the fishes,”             

And the garments which they must wear.

But at night when the lessons are ended                      

And the last little prayer is said,                               

When the questions are asked and answered               

And I’ve cuddled each sleepy head;                           

When the nameless unrest has vanished                    

That has troubled my heart through the day                    

I will kneel in the midst of my children                      

And humbly and thankfully pray:

“Dear Lord, when I come with the reapers                     

To Thee at the set of the sun;                                     

When the sheaves of the harvest are garnered,                    

And life and its duties are done,                                         

I will lay at Thy feet these, my children—                     

To my heart and my garments they cling;             

Though I might not go forth with the reapers,                                                       

These—these are the sheaves that I bring.”

Introducing my books: Fingerprints; Bits and Pieces of Motherhood

While this is not technically my book, I was privileged to contribute to it.

A few years ago, I participated in a survey for Anabaptist women writers. (Darletta Martin and Sheila Petre later compiled this information into a writers directory called Vignettes; Anabaptist Women Writers.) Included with the survey was an invitation from Lucille Martin to contribute to a book for moms called Fingerprints; Bits and Pieces of Motherhood.  

Motherhood is a full, full-time job, brimming with both earthly and eternal responsibilities. You will identify with these moms as they tell about the joys and challenges and, of course, about the countless fingerprints on almost everything. You will be inspired to seek another set of fingerprints in your life and home–the fingerprints of God!

May His fingerprints be evident in our lives as mothers, helping us, enabling us…so that we may one day bring His precious children back to Him.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1,2