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Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry Hardcover – April, 2000

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books (April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446525316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446525312
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

In an age when "keeping up with the Joneses" refers not only to material riches but also to a whirlwind of activities, author Katrina Kenison humbly asks, "Just whose standards am I living by, anyway?" Kenison, mother of two sons and former annual editor of The Best American Short Stories anthology since 1990, understands the hectic agendas, short tempers, and full-time careers today's families endure. But she has also learned to limit the chaos. The title comes from Kenison's youngest son, Jack, cuddled up with mom one quiet afternoon as she crochets mitten strings. He holds up a long piece of yarn and proclaims, "I'm knitting a mitten string for God"--a sweet phrase, but a bit misleading. Despite a sprinkling of minor religious references, the larger focus of Kenison's beautifully written first book lies in living with care and awareness. Chapters with titles like "Grace," "Healing," "Spirit," and "Breathing" offer soothing pictures of a family life that honors patience, imagination, and Sundays without plans. Kenison weaves together personal stories and wisdom from such philosophers as Thoreau and Anne Morrow Lindbergh; the graceful resulting tapestry shows how peace and simplicity can be savored in a world hell-bent on pushing people to accomplish more, own more, and do it all as quickly as possible. --Liane Thomas

From Publishers Weekly

This heartfelt collection of essays will strike a chord with any mother whose response to the "arrythmic" pace of modern life is a yearning to "shut the door, stop the noise, and tune in to our own inner lives." Drawing on hard-won insights from her own struggle to achieve balance (she gave up a successful career in book publishing to work from home and raise her two young sons) and to infuse her family's days with meaning, Kenison's richly anecdotal musings on such diverse topics as "peace," "simplicity," "play," "Sabbath" and "discipline" resonate with honesty and wisdom. Though this is not a religious book in the traditional sense, Kenison's contemplations are suffused with a spirituality that thrives on connecting with others and with nature and finding the sacred in the everyday. Rendering an intimate portrait of family life with grace and a lively sense of humor, Kenison, who for the past 10 years has edited The Best American Short Stories, is most impassioned and enlightening when she shares "moments in which we were bathed in grace, moments when we were astonished by the simple joy of our togetherness." Though each essay ends with a pat homily, some of which are jarringly treacly ("Someplace deep within me, I carry every story I have ever heard, every story I have ever lived, every story I will ever need"), readers will be left feeling refreshed and encouraged by the generosity of spirit that prompted these thoughtful reflections. (Apr.) Cahners Business Information.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

KATRINA KENISON's work celebrates the simple gifts of everyday life, the beauty in the ordinary, the grace of the present moment. Her book Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry has become a classic for parents of young children. In The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother's Memoir, Katrina shares the bittersweet challenges of life with adolescents. Her memoir Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment is an intimate account of loss, change, and transformation in the year following a dear friend's death and a son's departure from home.

A former literary editor at Houghton Mifflin Company in New Haven, New York, and Boston, Katrina became the series editor for The Best American Short Stories in 1990, a post she held for sixteen years. She co-edited, with John Updike, The Best American Short Stories of the Century. With her yoga teacher, Rolf Gates, she wrote Meditations from the Mat: Reflections on the Path of Yoga.

Katrina has been a featured guest on Oprah and her essays have appeared in O The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Family Circle, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Above all a wife and mother, Katrina is also a passionate reader whose idea of heaven is a hammock under a tree and a hardcover book in her hand. She lives in the New Hampshire countryside with her husband and sons and their border collie, Gracie. Her YouTube video of a reading from The Gift of an Ordinary Day, one of the most-watched book trailers of all time, has been viewed by nearly 2 million people:

Customer Reviews

I'd highly recommend it for any parent.
I think the ideas in the book have even MORE relevance for children with special needs, who often thrive in calm, centered environments.
Learning All The Time
It's packed with great ideas and a lot of uplifting monologue.
Jenny Miller

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Learning All The Time on December 16, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As others have noted, this book is a series of reflections about motherhood and the importance of slowing down to savor daily life with loved ones.

This book energized me to make several changes in my own life. Part of my motivation for homeschooling this year was a desire to have a more conscious, contemplative, and purposeful life rather than a frantic-mad-dashing here and there life.

In fact, as the holidays approach, many of my friends are feeling "swamped", "overwhelmed", "stressed" - feelings I remember all too well from previous years. While I still have my moments, overall I am much less stressed than last year. The overall tenor of the holidays is much happier and calmer. I have done my best to pare the holidays down to the essentials, to keep things simple and personal, rather than grandly extravagant. Extravagance has its place, but when children are young, I think simplicity makes so much more sense.

I loved this book so much I chose it for my book club of busy suburban SAHMs. I was quite surprised to find only two (out of nine) loved it as I did! Three thought the book had "some good ideas", but they clearly didn't connect with the author.

The other four were quite negative about Mitten Strings. They felt it was too preachy and perfect and Pollyanna-ish, that "real" people couldn't live like the Kenisons without lots of money. But it's not a financial lifestyle she is talking about, it's an internal one, it is simply making a conscious effort to notice, appreciate, prioritize and streamline.

In trying to figure out the mixed response to this book in my book club, I came up with a couple of ideas.
Read more ›
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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In this hectic, fast paced world that our children are growing up in....this wonderful book made me stop, take pause and reflect on the kinds of choices being made that fill my children's days as well as their minds. While reading it I kept thinking how ironic it is that our adult culture is currently embracing Eastern cultural thinking and ways of life through the books we've made best sellers...calming fountains we buy to bring the sounds of nature into our homes...even bead bracelets we wear to bring calmness/serenity/good health to our being. Yet what are we doing to our children? Dashing through their childhood from one planned activity to the next and spending hours in front of electronic equipment with no human interaction. Mitten Strings for God made me think hard about the importance of "conscience parenting"..and reminded me of the wonderful things that unfold in life when you slow down. It is a "must read" for all parents. Thank you, Katrina Kenison.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A dear friend quietly recommended this book to me, but I feel like shouting to the rest of the world that this book has added a quality to my living that I never knew possible. I shudder to think that I may not have breathed in her wisdom and ideas until it was too late.
I have read other books that celebrate living in the moment, and I thought I was doing more of it. But Kenison's practical suggestions, woven with her raw awareness for the simple goodness availabe to us in our lives, have finally brought me to the place, where for the first time in my life, I am making conscious decisions about raising my family and nurturing myself that are allowing me to BE rather than DO.
She has helped me to resist the flow of popular culture, and listen the the voice of the mother and person I know I have always wanted to be.
Like a millenium version of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's "Gift from the Sea", Mitten Strings for God is prayer for mothers to find and live more moments of pure joy and inner fulfillment. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Thank you, Katrina Kenison, for this important book that will become as legendary to mothers as "Gift from the Sea".
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Carole Burrage on May 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a sincere, heartfelt letter to modern-day mothers that quietly points out how easy it is to lose perspective of that which is most important: raising our children in a loving atmosphere of reverence. Sharing her own experiences, Katrina Kenison gives us access to many of her successes and struggles with her two sons. I have "borrowed" several of her methods (creating a "healing basket" to cater to boo-boos, taking deep breaths together to avoid unnecessary blow-ups, developing a relationship with the brownie that lives in our house, to name but a few) and look forward to implementing more. She is a gifted writer who is able to move back and forth with ease between anecdotes and observations while maintaining a connecting thread over whatever the chapter topic may be (check out the table of contents link to the left of your screen).
There are times, however, when I wondered what it must be like to live in her perfect household, where the TV is permanently off and the parents and children play their musical instruments together for family entertainment. And, perhaps I'm a little overly-sensitive, but at the very end, I perceived a bit of working-mom prejudice (though the author admits to working part-time, she is able to work out of her home during the hours her children are in school). For the most part, however, I found this book sweet without being too precious (despite the rather cutesy title) and I do plan to purchase gift copies for friends.
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