When Grammy Comes to Play

Authors: Karen Wiswell and Kristine Rauenhorst

Illustrator: Shelley Dieterichs

Published by Lilja Press in 2016

Price: $14.99 hardcover

Synopsis: Karen Wiswell and her daughter Kristine Wiswell Rauenhorst, both from the Twin Cities, understand the special love grandparents feel for their grandchildren. Kristine's twin boys, George and Henry, love nothing more than spending time with their grandparents. Karen's diagnosis and battle with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia inspired this mother/daughter pair to write When Grammy Comes to Play as a legacy for George and Henry.

This story serves as a reminder that the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is precious — and if they cannot be together, they can always meet in their dreams.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Minnesota Chapter.


When Grammy Comes to Play is such a lovely story about the special bond and love between grandparents and their grandchildren. This beautifully written book perfectly depicts the sacred role grandmas have in helping to shape their grandchildren.
— Jenny Simmonds, Fairview Youth Grief Services program director
The way Kristine and her mother, Karen, have handled the subject matter is impressive. Dreams are like a child's favorite 'lovey'  something that they can hold on to, much easier than we can as adults. When Grammy Comes to Play is a beautifully written and illustrated book, and an excellent learning tool for any classroom.
— Cathy Burley, owner of ABC Express Inc., Edina, Minnesota

Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier

Author: Mary Nelson Keithahn

Illustrator: Katie Kangas

Published by Lilja Press in 2016

Price: $14.99 paperback

Synopsis: Adapted from the memoirs of Elfie May Loverin Minard and Frank Clyde Sheldon, her "Double Cousin," Mary Nelson Keithahn's new book Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier chronicles Elfie's story as she and her family find a new life in the Midwest after the War Between the States.

A historical fiction chapter book for readers in grades 3-6, Elfie offers vivid descriptions of life on the American frontier. Questions at the end of each chapter reinforce understanding and expand discussion for young readers.

Watercolor illustrations by Katie Kangas, Keithahn's granddaughter, beautifully enhance Elfie's story.


This heartwarming story, based on actual family diaries and letters, will delight and interest readers grades 3-6. Each chapter is a story based on actual events that Elfie and her family experienced as they moved throughout the Midwest. Mary Keithahn’s research into her family’s history is an excellent addition to the classroom curriculum.
— Katharine Busch Weiblen, Minneapolis Public Librarian, retired

This is a wonderful book for grade school readers, both for its clear, readable prose and charming illustrations, and for its depiction of a part of American history important to us all. Enjoyable for all, especially those who love the Little House on the Prairie series.

— JoAnn Butler, author of historical fiction series Rebel Puritan: A Scandalous Life 

Elfie is a delightful story of a young girl facing her life in frontier America long ago. Elfie's joys, challenges and everyday life will come alive to readers in this chapter book. Mary's use of word pictures and how she wove our American history into each chapter will make it easy for young readers to put themselves in Elfie's place. They will be able to understand and empathize with the hardships and happy times of young Elfie.

Mary's book Elfie is a loving tribute, not only for her close-knit family, but also to countless other families that had ancestors that settled our country. This book will make a valuable contribution to children learning about their state history, immigration and the importance of families.

— Robin Rohwer-Franson, Teacher (grades 2-7), retired

Embracing the Light: Reflections on God's Word

Author: Mary Nelson Keithahn

Published by Lilja Press in 2016

Price: $14.99 paperback

Synopsis: Mary Nelson Keithahn has drawn on a lifetime of experiences as a pastor-educator, pastor’s wife, mother, and grandmother in writing this collection of meditations and prayers. Her commonsense and thoughtful reflections on age-old questions of faith approach familiar scripture with a new twist, making each short essay a delight and surprise. 

Keithahn offers faith with intelligence, and her use of hymns is refreshing. Her ability to weave sacred stories from scripture with stories from her own life make this book rich indeed. 

A detailed table of contents makes it easy for readers to locate meditations for specific scripture readings and days and seasons in the church year, as well as for special life events. Imagery and nuggets of wisdom in this book will attract the readers’ attention, engage their imaginations, and stick in their minds long after they have read the last page.


This is a little book of wisdom offered in an unassuming and humble spirit. Mary’s rich and varied spiritual journey includes several strands of experience that come together beautifully in this well-structured and readable volume. She is a pastor nurtured in the Congregational tradition, but ecumenical in spirit. She is living a long and varied life full of international travel, yet rooted in the values and straight talk of the Midwestern heartland. In sharing her personal story, she draws upon national and international events over the last 70 years that have shaped our time. Finally, Mary is a poet – more specifically, a hymn writer – with the ability to say in a few well-chosen words what would take most of us many pages to articulate. Through Mary's story, we gain insight into our own faith journey.
C. Michael Hawn, D.M.A., Professor of Church Music, and Director of the Sacred Music Program, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

Mary’s ability to weave sacred stories from scripture with stories from her life makes this book rich indeed.

— Sr. Carol Rennie, OSB, Spiritual Director, Benedictine Center of St. Paul’s Monastery

These commonsense and thoughtful reflections on age-old questions of faith approach familiar scripture with a new twist, making each short essay a delight and surprise. Mary offers faith with intelligence. She isn’t afraid to engage our minds as well as our emotions, and doesn’t ask the reader to lay aside complex and critical thinking.

This is a book that will find a prominent place on my desk where I will be able to reach it often, not just to read, but also to loan to others.

— Rev. Ted Huffman, Pastor and Teacher, First Congregational United Church of Christ, Rapid City, South Dakota

The Price of Victory and the Fear of Innovation:
Brad Robinson's Story

Author: Linda Tedford

Published by Lilja Press in 2015

Price: $35 paperback; $50 hardcover

Synopsis: The Price of Victory chronicles sailor Brad Robinson's achievements and struggles: his desire to advance the world of competitive sailing by building a better A Scow sailboat as a gift to his fleet, and the rejection and vilification he faced by members of the fleet he was trying to help. The Price of Victory is a testament to the value of innovation and what can happen when progress is rejected. It's also about one man's love for sailing and the magic that comes from having the right crew on the right boat.


Not since “Born to Win,” John Bertrand’s account of his lifelong efforts to innovate boat designs that eventually changed the outcome of America’s Cup, have I read a well written story of sailing history with so much intrigue...Tedford’s wonderful prose and the magnificent passion with which Brad Robinson pursued his dream kept me turning pages. “The Price of Victory and the Fear of Innovation” belongs in the pantheon of great sailing literature!
— Terry Kerber, co-author of Major Taylor: The Inspiring Story of a Black Cyclist and the Men Who Helped Him Achieve Worldwide Fame
It’s beyond me how the author distilled such an intertwined story into bite-sized chunks, somehow managing to call it like they saw it without harshly trash-talking their adversaries. Some stern words, but respectful. Wow, that says more than anything else about Brad and Susana. The history and background about Brad and his sailing through the decades makes a great slice of history we all should know about. A great work.
— Dallas Johnson, friend of Brad and Susana Robinson

Sacred Food for Soulful Living:
Recipes from the House of Prayer kitchen

Edited and compiled by the Rev. Ward Bauman

Published by Lilja Press in 2010

Price: $12 paperback

Synopsis: Located in Collegeville, Minnesota at the geographical heart of the Episcopal Diocese, the House of Prayer is a retreat center that represents a shared ecumenical vision between the Episcopal Church and St. John's Abbey. Inspired by the sacredness of preparing and sharing food at the House of Prayer, the Rev. Ward Bauman created and compiled the recipes contained in Sacred Food for Soulful Living.


The recipes in this wonderful collection of most-asked-for dishes at the House of Prayer, are meant to be savored in the company of family and friends. Enjoy!
— Maryjude Hoeffel
The recipes in this book are unique and healthful  with a delicious twist. Having made many of the recipes, I can hardly wait to make them all.
— Carole Baker
That which is life giving deserves to be shared. In this offering one finds recipes and reflections that nourish body and soul.
— Mary Adams

Home is the Range

Author: Raymond A. Newman

Published by Lilja Press in 2009

Price: $10 paperback

Synopsis: Home is the Range offers a unique perspective on Depression-era life on the Minnesota Iron Range. Illustrated with images from the Minnesota Historical Society and treasured family photographs, the book chronicles Raymond A. Newman's formative years among the families that came to work in Northern Minnesota's famed iron mines. While the men worked in the mines and the women ran the households, Newman and his friends – when they weren't doing odd jobs to help support their families' meager budgets – managed to find plenty of ways to get into trouble.

Read more about Lilja LifeStories in Edina Magazine. For additional information, or for a complimentary initial consultation, email us or call 952.893.7140. All of us at Lilja LifeStories look forward to helping you share your story!