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Lessons in Generosity

November 14, 2021

Another Way for week of November 12, 2021

Lessons in Generosity

Would you give up much of your free time to help a woman who can no longer do errands like groceries and other shopping, or take care of things in her own home because of complications with dialysis? Lucinda is a writer friend who did just that for about two years. She was single at the time and I’m guessing in her late twenties—a time many of us would not get so involved.

Lucinda is a conservative Mennonite and an amazing writer. I have to put that out there because she has diligently studied creative writing, and practiced various forms of descriptive writing for years. Recently she studied for a year at Sattler College in Boston, Massachusetts. Sattler is a Christian college which opened in 2018 with about 75 students.

Lucinda in the little home library her husband created for her.

Picture this: a young woman walking the streets of Boston in a long, plain dress with cape (extra material sewn over the bodice of a dress for modesty), and a head covering. This is not Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where this style of dress is very common.

I was privileged to write a letter of recommendation for Lucinda to get into Sattler because at that time I had recently served as the managing editor for her first book, Anything but Simple: My Life as a Mennonite (Herald Press, 2017). That book was a joy to read as an editor. We also spent a morning together when she visited our Presbyterian church and had lunch. She had a book signing that weekend. A reviewer of that book says, “This woman was born to write. Her use of a certain word in just the right place is at times genius.”

In a new book, Turtle Heart: Unlikely Friends with a Life-Changing Bond, I enjoyed her hundreds of finely-tuned descriptions of expressions on faces, smiles, and cold hard stares: “She studies me, tilting her head. She looks skeptical.” “I have seen her face –impassive behind her small, rimless glasses, spark without warning into joy, spitefulness, sorrow.” “Her eyes grew intent and her brows angry.”

What she tackles in this book covering approximately two years of a deep friendship with a woman much older and vastly different than herself, is remarkable and a lesson in generosity. The main character besides Lucinda is Charlene, a half Ojibwe (American native) who grew up in a family of 14 children. The book is based on a journal Lucinda kept for a couple years when Charlene was nearing 70. Luci also had recorded some interviews with Charlene when they both lived in Rusk County, Wisconsin.

Charlene grew up doing tough and tiresome “man’s” work with her brothers on the farm. But one brother in particular was hateful and hard to live with. Luci learned to know Charlene when she was working as an aide in a nursing home and Charlene lived independently, but depended on others to drive her to dialysis appointments an hour away. Luci became one of the drivers and as their friendship blossomed, she began to spend many hours a day and week outside of her work time helping Charlene around her home. In the book, Luci confesses she began to covet time for herself and other interests.

“I love my daddy too.”

Charlene was an addicted smoker, and while Lucinda abhorred smoking, she tolerated being around the pollution because she began to love Charlene as a sister and fellow believer. Charlene’s faith stemmed around native traditions honoring the Creator, but over time she read the New Testament through and major portions of the Old, while also studying the Bible with Luci’s father (a pastor), and mother. The refreshing thing about Luci’s father is he was able to be honest in answering some faith questions with “I don’t know.”

Baby Annaliese smiled at me immediately! Love her one sock on, one sock off!

The book is worth reading if you like well-written memoirs, biographies, or even popular Amish romance novels. Lucinda’s way with words and suspense is anything but plain: it will make you look at your own relationships, and why people sometimes have difficult personalities. Put it on your Christmas list! And I won’t spoil things by telling you what a turtle heart does that’s unusual.

Find Lucinda’s book on Amazon or her website, Send questions or comments to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.


AND if you happen to live or be in the Rusk County, Wisconsin area this coming week, check out several options where you can meet and greet Luci and buy one or ore of several books she’s written!

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. I too am familiar with Luci, having read and reviewed both of her memoirs. I enjoyed reading your impression of her writing from an editor’s point of view.

    She will continue to bless the world with her words and generous spirit. How fortunate she is to have the wholehearted support of an equally generous husband.

    Thank you, Melodie. 😀

  2. It was interesting to visit in their home in western Maryland, a very short visit because we were heading home from Indiana at the time. I wished we could stay longer. Luci has a passion for writing and it will be fun to see what comes next from her computer!

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