Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The World of Jesus by Dr. William H. Marty

This past year, in our homeschooling, we studied the ancient world, the curriculum is entitled "Creation to the Greeks." This book, The World of Jesus covered a teeny bit of what we learned about (the end of the year stuff) and covered a lot of what we'll be covering next year in "Rome to the Reformation." All that to say that this book will be a useful tool in our homeschool year next year!

The World of Jesus opens up/reviews/introduces the history of the time of the end of the Old Testament through and past the New Testament. It's great background information that will help during your Bible reading/Bible study times.

I WILL say that the book is a bit, ummm. . . full of information-- I have been reading it for a month and a half -- it's not the kind of book that you can zip through -- if you want to digest the info. I think it's a good tool, a good reference, and we will be using it as such. It's not necessarily organized or laid out the way I would do it, but the information is there.

I would recommend this book. Don't get turned off by the amount of information in it; if you try to read it straight through, you might get bogged down. Read it bit by bit. Or use it as a reference.

I received this book for free from Bethany House publishers for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Follow-up info on mulching in garden!

Well, I think I'm totally a convert to using mulch in the garden!! My earlier blog post (HERE) talked about my beginning with the mulching in the garden. Now, here it is, almost August, and the garden is SO much more weed-free (or at least light on weeds) than it usually is! Usually about this time, there are so many weeds that we can hardly find the plants :)

We've used grass clippings and straw for mulching; straw for mulching some of the pathways, and grass clippings for some of the other paths and around the plants. I guess the free aspect of the grass clippings makes them much more appealing! :) Thanks to my children for being willing to help collect the mulch matter.

It's my prettiest garden to date. I will definitely be using mulches in the garden from now on!!

As a side note, some of the other new or new-ish stuff that we're using this year is the weave method for staking tomatoes (read it in Organic Gardening magazine-- HERE ) and also did half the garden in beds like the article in Mother Earth News this spring (here).

Here are some pictures of our garden at this point! So far from the garden we've harvested and enjoyed broccoli, basil, cilantro, a few beets, swiss chard, and about 6 little grape tomatoes :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Little Pilgrim's Progress by Helen Taylor

When I was a child in the '70's my parents read Little Pilgrim's Progress to the family around the supper table; we all loved the story. Now, as a parent, I am happy to say that my children are equally loving the story!

This printing, by Moody Press, features a great cover illustration, which adds to its appeal.

The story follows Christian, a pilgrim going to the Celestial City. Along the way he encounters many situations and meets many people. I'm not really going to re-cap the story, because it's so well known. I do want to say, however, that it is a great tool as a read-aloud. The language IS a bit dated, but that's great for this purpose, the kids get to hear these terms in context and it enriches their language experience. Also -- the names of the characters, such as Faithful, Obstinate, Mistrust, Prudence, Discretion, Talkative, Diffidence, Despair, Mercy, and so on -- bring up great conversations with our children. They describe character traits which we either wish to claim or to shed.

There is excitement and drama in the story, and the chapters are very short. If you're reading a chapter a night, there will be lots of time for discussion! I love to hear my kids discussing the characters and events on their own also.

I would definitely recommend this book as a great read-aloud for a family. It's good for a whole range of ages, just be ready for lots of explanation and discussion!

I received a copy of this book from Moody Publishers for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

kids and gardens

My daughter walks in, looking kind of sneaky, holding something kind of to her side/back. Quickly mommy asks what she's hiding. Her response -- just a snack, Mom. . .


Now, what kind of mom would I be if I tell her not to eat the vegetables?! :) Ah well, that's why they don't end up on the table. . .

Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home by Gloria Furman

The book Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman is a book written by a mom, to other moms. She speaks of frustrations that we can relate to, whether identical to situations in our lives or just kind of like it. She has so many challenges in her life and her family; she uses these to illustrate living through God's grace, with the Gospel foremost.

The "treasuring the Gospel in your home" is, I think, our response to God's mercy and grace in sending His Son to die for us. He did this for us, so of course we can/should/will live for Him, with this foremost in our motivations.

The book is not a list of some sort, of things we ought to and ought not to do, but rather illustrations from the life of the author of how she lives according to the Gospel.

Different topics focused on in the book include things like hospitality, generosity, pain, the mundane(!), our broken-ness, idolatry, and other things that challenge our day-to-day lives. The author speaks candidly and gives the reader so many things to think about. It is good to be reminded of this truth by which we should be living our lives.

I would recommend this book; it is a good book for an individual, but I think it would also make a good book to discuss as a group.

I received this book for the purpose of this review from Crossway ( as a part of their Homeschool Book Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review.

Lead Me Home by Stacy Hawkins Adams

Lead Me Home is a fictional book, the story of a stay-at-home mom and pastor's wife. A woman who lives with a life-crushing secret. The main character, Shiloh, has many roles. She is the mom to 4 boys, aged 9-17. She is the wife of a pastor, the daughter of a pastor. She is active in the church and leader of a women's Bible study. She is a sister who wishes she had a better relationship with her sisters.

Throughout the course of the book Shiloh is stretched in many different ways. She finds joy substitute-teaching music; she fights envy/competition of another woman in the church; she is offered opportunities to tighten family bonds. I guess the largest conflict in the book is a conflict within her. With God's help, she comes clean of the big secret which has been seemingly running her life for too many years. It is a hard thing for not only her, but for her family as well.

I don't want to give too much away, so I won't say more on that matter. You'll have to read the book. :)

It's not a "fluffy read" in the sense that it does require a bit of processing, it covers several thought-provoking topics. It's well-written and you'll find yourself reading quickly through it (and maybe staying up later than usual to read a little more!) It feels very honest and you will just delight in the freedom given to Shiloh upon her confessions and opening herself to God's plan.

I would definitely recommend this book. Give it a read!

I also want to highlight something in the beginning of the book. I don't know if you are a person who reads the dedication in the front of the book, but in case you are not, this one struck me, so I wanted to make sure you read it! :) Here's what it says: "This book is dedicated to you, wherever you are and whatever your circumstances. May you not only be entertained by this story, but also inspired to recognize and embrace the blessings borne from your life's broken places. May your soul be refreshed and your spirit filled with peace." Thank you Stacy Hawkins Adams, for caring so much about your readers!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

The Real Win by Colt McCoy and Matt Carter

The Real Win, written by quarterback Colt McCoy and Matt Carter is a book written by men, for men! :) I got a chance to read and review this book and though I am not a man, I did enjoy it and recommend it to a male audience. My husband is already enjoying it, and he is not a big reader.

The book's authors focus on different topics of importance in a Christian man's life, such as your legacy, your role as spiritual leader in your home, being tempted, idolatry, trials, and others. They are topics that are relevant and important.

The way this book is written is using illustrations from the lives of the authors. They are little windows into their lives, which many people can identify with. They are not all illustrious, from little to large pictures of how we fail in our own strength, but how God can use us and grow us. There is Scripture and Scriptural principals used throughout the book, not just these men's ideas, but teaching from the Bible.

I think that one of the best aspects of this book, to me, is that it is very readable. What do I mean by that? It's not dry, trudge -through-it reading, but rather is written in an interesting fashion. This is a great way to teach. I would definitely recommend this book; it would also make a great gift for a man you know!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summertime :)

Ah, the views of summertime! :)

The garden looks lush, full of weeds :)

The bees are working hard

Meat birds, survived the recent crazy rains :) But almost ready for the freezer.

The layers are happily cruising the yard

The meat rabbits, growing nicely

The kids garden, where they're growing stuff for the food shelf

And a hive buzzing with activity.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Rainy rainy rain!

Wow! I cannot believe how wet it is here! We've had so much rain that the ground is saturated and everything that falls just runs off rather than soaking in. Sounds like spring, right? Not like July!! Strange! Hot temps, high humidity, and lots and lots of rain! Yesterday after the 4th of July parade it was soooooo hot and humid; when the sky darkened a little we figured it would be a good time to butcher some of our broilers (chickens). We were planning on doing a dozen. As soon as we began the rain started. Not just a little rain, a HUGE deluge :)

It came down and down and down! We were standing there dripping wet and the water began running around our feet, then up to our ankles! It was coming through the lawn and through our butchering area so strongly that we didn't let the kids or the dog near the ravine, because it was soon a raging river! Weird weather!

Our poor laying hens also! Their coop was flooded, way flooded! Ahhh! They had all been just foraging around the yard till the water started flowing -- poor girls, they were huddled under a cedar bush, up to their bellies in the water! We carried them over to their coop and put them in. They happily stayed in there till the rain stopped and the water diminished.

At least the garden's liking this influx of water! :)

IndoctriNation Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity by Gunn and Fernandez

Ah, where to begin this book review. Well, first of all, this book is an accompaniment to a DVD which I have not viewed, so this review is purely for the book. This book, IndoctriNation, is basically a collection of essays which have been unapologetically written to persuade readers (Christian parents) of the danger of sending their children to public school. The authors range from past public school teachers and administrators to leading Christian speakers/writers of today. There is no trying to hide their agenda, they blatantly say that they want to persuade readers to take their children out of public school.

I guess I'm not really the intended audience of this book; we already homeschool our children. I don't need persuading :) We are dedicated to homeschooling and are very glad that we have taken this path. As such, much of what was written did not really grab my interest. There were segments about textbooks, add/adhd/ritalin, teachers, industry, history, and so much more. Some segments more inflammatory than other. All these were aimed at Christians/people who believe and follow the Bible and Scriptural teaching.

Honestly, it is a long book. Lots of chapters. Not good flow, just 23 essays plopped together into a book. Wow, I feel awfully superficial writing this, but hey, it IS long and kind of dry -- after the first few essays it just goes on and on, saying kind of the same things in so many different ways. I'd suggest reading it in spurts, a chapter a week or so :)

So -- would I recommend this book? I WOULD recommend the book to Christian parents who are not currently homeschooling. You know, it would also be good for grandparents who question why their children are homeschooling their grandkids. So, yes, I would recommend it in these cases.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review. Here is the book on the webpage of its publisher, MasterBooks.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer

Another fun summer read :) This story by Karen Wietmeyer, Stealing the Preacher, is a fun Christian romance/adventure/western fiction book which makes a quick and easy enjoyable read. The "preacher" in the story, Crockett, is kidnapped and finds his calling and his new family. Jo, who has recently lost her mother, is searching for a leader for their church as well as for her father to come to know Christ. Jackson, a boy with a difficult home life, enters the story in important spots and endears himself to readers. I don't want to give away details, because the book is a fun read. It's filled with interesting characters who are deeper than they appear. The main plots are fun and original. The characters are ones you are interested to read more about and who you can identify with (at least with some of them!)

A few topics such as past hurts and forgiveness are dealt with in a sweet way. It's a nice easy fun read and I'd definitely recommend it! I have read one other of Witemeyer's books (Short-straw Bride) and I think I'll be looking for more of these to read! One thing I have to say -- you know the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover" -- well, take that to heart. I don't know why the cover illustration was chosen, but it doesn't represent the book well at all (other than the pink dress with the brown underskirt).

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Chivalry by Zach Hunter

Let me begin this review by telling you why I chose to review this book. I have a son who will be entering the teen years sooner than I can imagine :) and I thought this might be a good book to read with him, or at least to guide discussions. Those were my preconceptions; as I began the book I realized it is not the type of book I thought it was.

I got off on the wrong foot with the author in the foreword where he attempts to redefine the word "chivalry". He states, "We're going to turn this old notion of chivalry upside down and make it about men and women. We're going to tear down old ideas about only men having the responsibility to be chivalrous and instead imagine a society that is civil--both male and female." Not that I don't embrace the idea of encouraging civility, politeness, respect, etc. by all members of society, but that simply is not chivalry. The word chivalry is steeped in tradition, history, and does not need to be redefined. I wished that the author had just chosen a different word to use.

The author goes over 10 different kinds of codes of chivalry, one in each chapter. Some are illustrated by others' life stories, some backed up by a degree of Scripture. Some of these are such as, "I will respect life and freedom," "I will honor truth and always keep my promises," "I will live and die with honor," and others.

So--did I like the book? Ahhhh, ummm, I have to at this point say that I am definitely not the demographic that this book was written for. :) I am 42 years old and my college years are long behind me. The author is a college-aged fellow, as I read the book I think that when I was a college student I would have thought that his words were much more profound than they seem to me now. Reading it at this age I kind of felt like I was listening to a valedictorian's speech or something like that. Perhaps the value of this book is to be read by its intended audience :) upper high schoolers through college students. It's written to Christian kids to encourage them in how to follow Christ in their lives. There were a couple of topics which seemed kind of superficial or simplified to me and one segment which I did not agree with. I probably would not recommend the book, but I'm sure there will be some people who are inspired by it.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review.