Home to Harmony

Home to Harmony

by Philip Gulley


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Home to Harmony by Philip Gulley

Welcome to Harmony ...

In this acclaimed inaugural volume in the Harmony series, master American storyteller Philip Gulley draws us into the charming world of minister Sam Gardner in his first year back in his hometown, capturing the essence of small-town life with humor and wisdom.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060727666
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/16/2004
Series: Philip Gulley Harmony Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 228,379
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.54(d)

About the Author

Philip Gulley is a Quaker minister, writer, husband, and father. He is the bestselling author of Front Porch Tales, the acclaimed Harmony series, and is coauthor of If Grace Is True and If God Is Love. Gulley lives with his wife and two sons in Indiana, and is a frequent speaker at churches, colleges, and retreat centers across the country.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Home to Harmony

When I was in the second grade, my teacher, Miss Maxwell, read from The Harmony Herald that one in every four children lived in China. I remember looking over the room, guessing which children they might be. I wasn't sure where China was, but suspected it was on bus route three. I recall being grateful I didn't live in China because I didn't care for Chinese food and couldn't speak the language.

I liked living where I did, in Harmony. I liked that the Dairy Queen sold ice cream cones for a dime. I liked that I could ride my Schwinn Typhoon there without crossing Main Street, which my mother didn't allow.

I liked that I lived four blocks from the Kroger grocery store, where every spring they stacked bags of peat moss out front. My brother and I would climb on the bags and vault from stack to stack. Once, on a particularly high leap, my brother hit the K in KROGER with his head, causing the neon tube to shatter. For the next year, the sign flashed ROGER, which we considered an amazing coincidence since that was my brother's name. He liked to pass by at night and see his name in lights.

I liked that we had no curfew and after a certain age could wander anywhere in town we pleased. My parents were not lax; this was the usual order of things in our town. Harmony presented so few temptations that it took a resourceful person to find trouble, and we were not that clever. This was a burden to us. We wanted to wreak havoc and be feared as hoodlums, but the town would notcooperate.

Most of all, I liked that Harmony sat on Highway 36, which began in Roanoke, Ohio, near the Cy Young Memorial and ran west through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas to Commanche Crossing, Colorado. There was a map at the Rexall drugstore that showed all the towns along Highway 36 with a gold star stuck on Harmony. Most folks don't know about us because, when you open the Rand McNally map to our state, we're hidden underneath the left staple. That's fine with us. We're modest people, inclined to shun attention.

On summer days I would sit on the bench in front of the Rexall and eat Milk Duds and watch the license plates. Then I would pedal home and eat Sugar Pops cereal down to the bottom of the box, to the free license plate in every box! I would reach down, pluck out that license plate, blow the sugar off, then hang it from my bicycle seat and pretend I was from Rhode Island or Arizona or wherever the license plate dictated.

But pretending was as far as it went. I never wanted to live anywhere but Harmony. When I went away to college and other students asked me where I wanted to live after school, I would tell them Harmony. They said I lacked ambition, which wasn't true. They confused contentment for stagnation, a common mistake. Even at that young age I knew contentment was a rare gift and saw no need to seek it elsewhere when I had found it in Harmony.

On my first Sunday back after college, Dale Hinshaw, an elder of the Harmony Friends Meeting, asked me what I was going to do with my life. I had given considerable thought to that question but hadn't reached any conclusions. I told Dale I wasn't sure, but when I found out I'd be sure to let him know.

That was when Dale prophesied that God was calling me to the ministry.

"Sam Gardner," he declared, "the fields are ripe for harvest. Go ye into the fields."

I took him seriously, for Dale Hinshaw was rumored to be wise, though I would learn later that rumors of his wisdom were circulated only by persons who did not know him well.

I went to seminary, despite Dale's warning that theological training would be my undoing. He said, "You don't want to go there. That's a nest of atheists at that school. They talk about God being dead. Boy, won't they be surprised."

According to Dale, God was going to surprise a lot of people.

But I went to seminary anyway, graduated after four years, then took a church in the next state over, where I pastored twelve years before leaving for health reasons: I was sick of them and they were sick of me.

I had met my wife in college. Her name was Barbara, and she was the first woman besides my mother to show the faintest interest in me. It took six years to persuade her to marry me. What I lacked in charm I made up for in persistence, and I finally wore her down. We had two sons, Levi and Addison.

Now I was taking my family to live with my parents in Harmony. I was sorely depressed. Thirty-eight years old, married with two children, and living with my parents.

I began praying God would provide a job. I prayed every day. I wasn't picky -- any job would do. In the thick of my prayers, Pastor Taylor of Harmony Friends Meeting died. Both his parents had died of heart problems, which he feared would happen to him, so he'd begun to jog and was hit by a truck. This was not the answer to prayer I had envisioned, and I went to Pastor Taylor's funeral burdened with guilt.

He was buried the week before Easter. The church held a meeting to decide what to do. Fern Hampton, president of the Friendly Women's Circle, seemed less concerned with Pastor Taylor's death and more concerned with his poor timing.

"For a minister, that was pretty inconsiderate of him to go and get killed during Lent," she...

Home to Harmony. Copyright © by Philip Gulley. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

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Home to Harmony 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book. If you love to watch the Andy Griffith show, if you love comfort food, or anything that gives you that warm feeling that you get around good friends and family, this is a must read. It just makes you feel good, as do many of Philip Gulley's books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My father was a Methodist minister, mostly in small towns. This book brought back a rush of memories of both small town living and church life. Just like the settings, Gulley's 'Harmony' books are filled with humor and warmth. I regularly found myself calling my siblings to read aloud a portion of the book because Gulley had so perfectly captured a person or a moment exactly like those with which we had grown up. Gulley's easy-reading writing style adds to the intimate feeling you have with the characters, especially Pastor Sam. And the gentle way Gulley lays in his faith and common sense messages is comfortable and unthreatening, even for those not looking for a lesson. I'm sure cityfolk who understand that their community is like a small town will appreciate the down home flavor of the book. People are people. However, I'm not certain the unchurched would find the book very appealing. That, of course, leaves them two options. Get to church and get to know Gulley's people. Or, miss some really enjoyable reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book leaves you smiling, laughing out loud, and pondering what ministers actully have to put up with in our churches. It is a real 'feel good' book that left me loving visiting Harmony.
Spidergal More than 1 year ago
Laugh out loud funny and a book I couldn't put down. It's on my "best books" list.
Nik43 More than 1 year ago
This, as all the books in Gulley's Harmony Series, contains subtle, delightful messages about the human condition. Broad appeal! I have given it as gifts or loaned my copy to a diverse group of people, and all want to read more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I rented the audiobook from the library and listened to it in the car while on a trip with my cousin. It was wonderful, we are from a small Iowa town, and wish our pastors had been so wise. This is priceless.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book so much, at times funny, touching and full of good, biblical truths this book is a breath of fresh air in today's hectic world. I only wish that I could live in Harmony, although I could do without Dale Hinshaw, I know his double!
BillWhoUsedToLiveThere More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I've read in a long time. It's so easy to get into. It is funny, as the other reviews say. But it's so real. We used to live in a small town 30 years ago and as I read, I can put a name or a place from that town on every chapter I read. I'm only half way thru the book and can't put it down. Worth every penny!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very very charming. Don't miss it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a gem of a book. A must read for one looking for pure pleasure. A book you will want to share
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reminds me of places and parts of my childhood insightful and funny touches the heart
Guest More than 1 year ago
A joy to read! Gave me many laughs, and thought provoking at the same time. I have read 2 of Philip Gulley's books, and bought 2 more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book and the other (Just Shy of Harmony) and thoroughly enjoyed both of them. They were very much like the Jan Karon 'Mitford' series. I certainly hope that the author continues this series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think I just finished a new 'all-time favorite'. This book will make you forget your problems and count your blessings. Mr. Gulley has a wonderful way with telling a story. You will laugh; you may cry. I guarantee you will have a lot to think about after this one. Please come to Harmony and spend some time there!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a fabulously funny, warm and wonderful audio tape. My husband and I couldn't wait to get back in the car to listen. It will restore your faith in the basics.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looking forward to the others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed everything about this book. Do yourself a favor and buy it. Enjoyment throughout & easy reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You fed my soul. Thank you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After finishing Jan Karon's wonderful MITFORD series, I did a search for similar books... and was pleased to find the Harmony series. I've read a few of them so far, and for the most part am enjoying them... the series offers several enjoyable characters and many good life lessons.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Iam a lover of the cheap books. Thee stories are good,for the reasons you stated . Happy Reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been on a reading frenzy of late.All the books I've purchased have been in the $2.99 catagory.Thanks to reading the reviews,that's generally what I go by, thanks to all for taking their time to jot their opinions down. Granny B.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sqSC More than 1 year ago
Love the dry humor of Philip Gulley - if you are in need of a smile or a peaceful read this is the book for you. Occasionally there is a good laugh to add to the fun. The author defines his characters well - so much so that one gets to know them and feels if you could stroll into Harmony that you could address some of them by name.
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