A Homeschool Mom’s Wish List

Our_Wish_ListFor us the school year has already begun. Curriculum was purchased ages go, new supplies grace our shelves, and activities are on the calendar. While we might have everything we need to get the year started right, it’s always fun to dream of items we wish we had. We’re not talking our run of the mill crayons, paper, or scissors. No, these homeschool wishes require a little more space or money or thought.

To somewhat reign in this dreamfest – because who wouldn’t like a massive home library at their disposal or a room addition for learning – we will restrict this list to simply learning supplies. Things I could buy at any given time should the budget allow, but for one reason or another I have yet to make the investment. Here are few a tools which would be grand to have at my disposal for the current homeschooling year:

A Black Chalkboard – I don’t exactly know where I’d put one of these babies, but I really want one. I see so many lovely photos of homeschoolers using them to assist with their learning or displaying diagrams of nature studies. They look handy, and neat.

A Letter Board – Again, probably not a practical supply. But this is a wish list after all. My wish list. Thus, I’d like a letter board. I’d enjoy being able to display Bible verses using this medium or edifying quotes to uplift our spirits.

A Shadow Box – We still don’t have a perfect spot to display our nature finds. I think it would be fun to have a central location for the children to show their latest acquisitions and gain inspiration for continued learning.

Another Stack of Books – Yes, our library cards still work. However, I have an increasing list of books which I would prefer grace my home library instead of sitting in our library basket. Some books are keepers, no matter how great a library you have access to.

More Bookshelves – If I’m going to get more books, I’m going to need more bookshelf space. It’s a never-ending problem. One I have no intention of fixing.

Subscriptions – There are a few companies to which I would like a subscription. Amongst them would be Wild+Free, Wild Explorers Club, MEL Science, Kiwi Crate or Tinker Crate, Lit Box, and a few others. There are different reasons for each, but all of them would be of benefit and tons of fun.

A Good Walking Stick – I once saw a picture of a family which had a walking stick. On the stick they would carve tiny images of their hikes/nature walks to remember them by. Ever since then, I’ve been looking for a walking stick. Nothing fancy, just something tall enough for me to use and sturdy enough to make the journey. It is more likely I will need to find such a walking stick, rather than buy one, but I’d like one all the same. I’m keeping my eyes open.

An Instant Pot – Did I say that right? While not strictly a homeschool tool, I would find this exceedingly helpful in making home life easier and assisting with meals during our learning day. That and it just looks fun.

In truth, none of these items are essential for learning. Each are mere wishes, something to think upon and possibly invest in the future. The Lord has always provided for our learning year and given everything we need. I know this will always be so. But, on occasion, it’s fun to peruse learning tools other families find of benefit or discover new tools for learning.

As we’re launching into the coming year, may we remember to be thankful for what He provides daily. May we give thanks for our ability to homeschool and disciple our children. We might not have everything we want, but we have everything we need.

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
~ Philippians 4:19

Your Turn!: What’s on your homeschool wish list? Share with us the top three tools you’d enjoy in your learning corner.

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He’s Building a Cathedral

Building_a_CathedralThe waking of children, cleaning of the house, cooking of food, running of errands, character building, discipling and homeschooling keep me tied to the moment. I can get bogged down in my day-to-day experiences to the point I lose sight of my overall goal. It’s as if they are walls surrounding me, preventing me from seeing beyond the day’s activities. I can become overwhelmed, disheartened by thinking I am not making progress but instead spinning my wheels. Then the Lord gently reminds me these daily responsibilities are important and necessary. I might not see the end picture, but He does. He is building a cathedral, and no cathedral was built in a day.

The Lord has great plans for my children. I know this because God’s Word speaks to this truth. But what about those times it feels as though nothing is being accomplished? We are still facing the same issues we were last week, or last month. We get frustrated with one another. Even when we conquer one area of concern, another is soon to follow. What can we do? How can I to realign myself with God’s Word and once again focus on the Lord’s purpose for our family?

Prayer – Whether it’s lies from the enemy, hard truths which need to be faced, or just a difficult day needing to be dealt with. I am going to fail if I do this on my own. Before I turn anywhere else, I need to fall on my knees and seek the Lord. With Him all things are possible.

Encouragement –  The Lord has given us friends and family to edify us during these moments of discouragement. They pray for us, perhaps show us where we have deviated from the plan, and come alongside us to work together toward the end goal. When I become overwhelmed by the cares of today and lose sight of the bigger picture, it’s these like-minded Christians I need surrounding me.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back – While this seems discouraging, in truth we are still making progress! What might seem like a setback could in fact be additional lessons the Lord feels we need in order to perfect the lives He is building. The goal is righteousness, which often means practice, practice, practice. We need to think positive! Progress is progress, no matter how slow or tedious it might seem at the time.

This is Only Phase One – The building up of these children does not end with us parents, though we ought to be the ones laying a solid foundation for the work which will continue throughout their lifetimes. When I become overwhelmed that my children are not perfected today, He reminds me the job is not done. He is still working in each of us, myself included.

This is Not My Project – Though this was just mentioned, it’s worth repeating. I am not in charge. God is. The Master Builder has given me – a poor layman – instructions and objectives. My job is to carry those out to the best of my meager ability, understanding He is not only working through me, but cleaning up after my messes, laying groundwork for future accomplishment, and perfecting these little people. If this is His work, I need only be faithful and trust in Him.

My prayer is that the Lord continues to help me see as He sees. To no longer be bogged down by day-to-day responsibility, but rather be invigorated by each act of service knowing there is a greater purpose. His purpose. I may not see the bigger picture; the final plan. But I can rest in knowing the One who does.

No matter where today finds each of us. May we seek Him wholeheartedly. May He fill us with His presence, renew our minds for the task at hand, give us strength beyond our ability and peace which surpasses all understanding. When we stumble and fall, may He lift us higher than we could imagine. And when we lose sight of His vision, may we move forward in faith. These children are not our own, but His. May we embrace the blessing of assisting in His building of their lives.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
~ Jeremiah 29:11

Your Turn!: If you could give up one daily household task, which would it be?

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Review: Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart (Young Readers Edition)

Wicked_Bugs_ReviewBetween all our nature walks and exploring of the great outdoors we come across some very interesting creatures. I wish I was better at identifying all of them, knowing details on their structure and tidbits of fun facts my children might enjoy. So when Algonquin Young Readers contacted us and offered a copy of their young readers edition of Wicked Bugs: The Meanest, Deadliest, Grossest Bugs on Earth we were overjoyed. Today, we’d love to share this incredibly fun and educational resource with you!

In the young readers edition of Wicked Bugs: The Meanest, Deadliest, Grossest Bugs on Earth, Amy Stewart’s information-packed, impeccably researched New York Times bestselling book for adults has been adapted for middle grade readers, bringing to life weird and dangerous creatures with full-color illustrations by the talented Briony Morrow-Cribbs. Organized into thematic categories (“Everyday Dangers”, “Unwelcome Invaders”, “Destructive Pests”, and “Terrible Threats”), Wicked Bugs entertains as much as it informs, delving into the extraordinary powers of many-legged creatures.

Algonquin Young Readers graciously sent us an early release copy of Wicked Bugs. When our book arrived, included in our package was an illustrated leaflet advertising the book’s release on August 8th of this year and an oddly adorable stuffed bookworm by Giant Microbes.

Before turning our attention to Wicked Bugs, we took a moment or two to giggle over our newest stuffed animal. I confess I have never actually seen a live bookworm, much less one which is stuffed. This was a special treat! We then took a moment to peruse the included leaflet to get a preview of what was to come in our new book. Wicked Bugs isGiantMicrobes_Bookworm
filled with chapter after chapter of intriguing creepy, crawly creatures. The book is incredibly thorough, giving fun details children of all ages will appreciate. The full-color illustrations are liberally peppered throughout the read, adding an up close look at our nature friends.

Wicked Bugs is an incredible resource. We very much enjoyed reading about each intriguing insect. One of our favorite chapters included “Zombies”, a truly chilling selection of insects which inhabit other creatures and force them to do harm on their behalf. The “Death Watch Beetle”, referred to by Edgar Allan Poe in his frightful story “The Tell-Tale Heart” was fun as well. Many such educational factoids may be found following the colorful descriptions of each bug.

While I shudder at the thought of running into any of these mean, deadly, gross bugs in real life, we truly enjoy this read. The illustrations are wonderful and add to the charm of the book. The book itself is a simple read. While intended for middle grade readers, we believe young readers would appreciate having selections read to them; removing the barrier of hard to pronounce scientific names.

Before setting Wicked Bugs on the bookshelf and adding it to our nature section for continual referral, we definitely wished to take a moment to visit the Wicked Bugs website. Who knew what exciting adventures, resources, and activities might be available? We were not disappointed. We found a downloadable lesson plan for Wicked Bugs, discovered where Wicked Bugs have been viewed as part of a national traveling exhibit, read a special Q&A session with Amy Stewart, and viewed the Wicked Bugs trailer. The trailer is definitely a highlight of the site!

While I certainly hope we never run into any of these “Wicked Bugs” while on our nature walks or outdoor explorations, it has been tons of fun learning about God’s creatures and adding tidbits of knowledge to our homeschool adventure. We’re very pleased to add Wicked Bugs to our growing nature studies resource shelf!

In addition to Wicked Bugs, Amy Stewart has written several other fascinating reads including The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential. To learn more about Amy Stewart, Algonquin Young Readers, and Wicked Bugs, please visit their websites or follow on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, and more!

FTC Disclaimer

Your Turn!: What’s the “meanest” bug you’ve discovered in your learning adventure?

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Do YOU Say The Pledge of Allegiance?

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Do YOU Say The Pledge of Allegiance?When setting up our children’s learning routine, there were several areas of study on our list which we felt could not be overlooked. We carefully planned each course, knew the direction we wanted to move in, and proceeded with an open mind. It wasn’t until we joined a formal learning group for activities and socializing that it became obvious we had entirely skipped one particular point of learning. Our kids did not know the Pledge of Allegiance.

It’s funny how things like this seem to have skipped my mind entirely. While I am sure we said The Pledge in my younger years of education, I cannot for the life of me remember ever saying The Pledge in high school. (This is not to say we didn’t, but that I certainly do not recall having done so.) Therefore, when I went about setting up our own learning routine, saying The Pledge each morning did not even occur to me; not once.

It took several weeks of attending a homeschool co-op for our kids to finally get it down, but eventually we got it. In addition to the American Flag salute, we also learned the Christian Flag salute. By now, they have become second nature and the kids could say them front, back, and probably put them to song.

What’s interesting is that while we’ve learned this for group events, we still do not say The Pledge each morning. Frankly, it just doesn’t occur to me. It’s not that I am opposed to saying it. I suppose I’ve just never found it necessary. Please, don’t think us unpatriotic. We love being American; we love living in the United States. I believe it should to be said for public events and before particular celebrations. I just don’t know if this is something which my family needs to have as the starting point of each day. This is generally reserved for devotion.

I might also add I find it interesting that younger grades are encouraged to say The Pledge of Allegiance and yet higher learning establishments do not have this tradition, nor is this something done at the beginning of everyone’s day. It seems to be only an elementary learning practice. I feel a research project coming on…

Am I the odd man out? I’d love to know how other families tackle this sticky issue.

“If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”
~ Numbers 30:2

Your Turn!: Is saying a pledge to the nation’s flag only traditional for American citizens, or do other countries require this as well? Do you say The Pledge each day? Share with us why you do this and what importance you believe it plays in your home.

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What If Life Was a Formula?

What_If_Life_Was_a_Formula?I just don’t get it. I did the research. I planned appropriately. I was so excited to make this event happen. Yet here I sit with my day in shambles and confusion filling my mind. Some days, no matter how hard I try, things go awry. It’s enough to make me wish life were a formula and all I needed to do was plug in the right building blocks. Then I’d always get the results I’m looking for. Wouldn’t I?

Instead of a geometry formula – one which never changes and can be depended upon – I am often faced with daily problems which rival any algebra equation. There are a multitude of operations, the order of which is important, and unseen variables which keep popping up. To make matters more confusing, even when I think I might have solved things correctly, something pops up which throws me right back into the thick of things. It doesn’t help that some of those factors in my equation have freewill. They bounce around my equation at whim, constantly causing me to re-evaluate where I stand and what my final outcome might be. Sometimes they clump together, making my eyes cross. Other times, they hide until the last-minute. Just when I think I’ve gotten it figured out, they jump out and like to watch me scramble. Other times, other times, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t figure it out.

Yet even as I sit here thinking on life’s uncertainty and wondering where I keep going wrong, I have to wonder.

What if those pesky variables are really a blessing in disguise? It’s those little unexpected surprises which often lead to something beautiful. Things I never would have planned and yet they fill me with goodness as I marvel at God’s work. The bouncing variables keep me flexible and growing. Through these circumstances I am forced to grow and become more than I would have if left with a rigid formula.

What if this equation called today is God’s mercy and grace? The Father knows in His infinite wisdom that I have a tendency toward a desire to be in control. If left to my own devices and my rigid formula, I might grow to depend upon my own strength and work. Perhaps forgetting God’s goodness all together. As He carefully places these changes in my perfect plan, He is reminding me He is boss and not me. He gently causes me to remember that without Him this is not possible and I need Him. He forces me to abandon my plan and gaze upon His own. His plan is always far better than mine.

Looking back on the day, I still shake my head. No, it’s not what I had in mind. I am tired and a little empty. My idea of what the day should have looked like is in shambles. But I am no longer confused. No matter how hard I try, life is not a formula. I do not have the ability to rearrange variables nor adjust freewill to fit my desires. Instead, I rejoice in what the Lord gave us and trust He is in control.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
~ Isaiah 41:10

Your Turn!: What helps you refocus and relax after an unplanned, crazy day?

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Focusing on Marriage Amidst Crazy Homeschooling Life

Focusing_on_MarraigeIf you’ve visited us in the past, you know we normally don’t discuss the topic of marriage on A Homeschool Mom. Before you start thinking this is because we’ve got it all down, let us remove that barrier here and now. Marriage is a crazy ball of fun we’re still working hard at. But, every once in a while, it’s helpful and edifying to focus on keeping our relationship standing amidst the adventure called life and homeschooling.

Let’s face it. We have a lot on our plates. We homeschool. We parent. We clean house, cook meals, run errands, serve in ministry, and so much more. All on a daily basis. With all the busy-ness which consumes our lives, we can often overlook our marriage to a point we are stretched thin. There are days my perspective can become skewed and I start wondering if I am getting as much out of this gig as I am giving. The Lord gently reminds me of the purpose of our marriage and asks me to focus on these two things:

My Spouse is a Child of God – This man I am blessed to do life with is not just my husband, but a child of God. What an amazing perspective! Often, I can forget this factor out of familiarity and this is dangerous. My constant prayer is that the Lord would help me to see my husband as He sees him. The man is not perfect, but he is being perfected by our Heavenly Father. He is being made righteous. He is covered by God’s grace and forgiven. He is first and foremost my brother in Christ. Wow! When I put my earthly perspective aside and get a glimpse of what God sees, I am humbled beyond belief and beg forgiveness. The man God has blessed me with is a good man; so much more than I deserve. He is also much more than mine, He is God’s. What will I do with what God has given?

Marriage is not an Ice Cream Bar… The Theory of 50/50 – I’m sure we’ve all heard this expression. We bring our portion to the marriage, fully expecting the other person to bring theirs. Together, we function at 100% and everything works well… You have to love God’s math. He asks us to bring everything and lay it at His feet. If I walk into this relationship only expecting to do half, and even then only giving when the other person fulfills their role, I’m missing the bigger picture.
From a human standpoint this doesn’t seem fair. We fear being taken advantage of; maybe not getting what we think we need in return. The Lord takes hold of my heart and reminds me of something important. I’m not doing this for my husband. I’m doing this for the glory of God. In a greater sense, I am not even giving my husband 100% – although he might certainly benefit – I am giving 100% to God. I cannot tell God I was only willing to give half when He was willing to give all.
It is also important to point out my perspective could be the one out of focus. Perhaps my spouse is giving 100%, all they have, but right now “all they have” is fragile and they need prayer or assistance. Maybe I am asking something unreasonable and need a heart check.  We all have moments when we are weak. Am I helping or hurting?

While another child of God might not be able to litter our floors with socks or leave a sink full of dishes, these principles still apply. I am to love as Christ loves. I am to serve as Christ leads; wholeheartedly. By renewing my perspective and giving my all to God, the Lord is able to strengthen our marriage and this will overflow into the rest of our life.

Our marriage matters! Before our learning year gets much further and our calendar fills to capacity, it’s vital we take a moment to be sure our marriage is where God wants it to be. This is the perfect time to ask one another big questions, be sure we’re on the same page, and pray over our relationship. If we skip this step in all our homeschooling/life planning, we put everything else at risk.

“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Matthew 19:6

Your Turn!: How often do you and your spouse go on dates? Who tends to plan them?

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Revisiting Homeschooling 101

Homeschooling101On occasion, I have the pleasure of advising families who are new to homeschooling. We  talk about how to begin setting up a homeschool routine and the basics of a good education. Rather than frustrate them with long notes to take, it has been suggested I write these ideas down and make them available to everyone who might be interested.

Below, you will find a list of links to a few posts which help remove the stress, confusion, and misdirection that often comes with new territory.

As you read, please be in continual prayer about where the Lord is leading your family. Our goal is not to dictate your coming school year, but merely to come alongside you on your journey. May you find this information helpful and edifying:

“In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
~Philippians 4:6

Your Turn!: Perhaps you’ve been homeschooling awhile. What is the best piece of advice that was given as you launched into your learning adventure?

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Review: In the Reign of Terror by Heirloom Audio Productions

Review_Reign_of_TerrorThere’s nothing quite like a solid audio book for a long drive. During a recent road trip we had the privilege of reviewing G.A. Henty’s  In the Reign of Terror produced by Heirloom Audio Productions. Now, we’re hooked and can’t wait to share this enjoyable resource with you readers.

Heirloom Audio Productions is “passionate about bringing real history to life”. This is obvious by the great lengths they put into each production. Their vast audio collection includes such titles as Under Drake’s Flag, In Freedom’s Cause, With Lee in Virginia, and more. Our story, In The Reign of Terror, tells the story of sixteen-year-old Harry and his terrifying experience during the French Revolution. Harry is sent to France by his father to improve his education. While living with a Marquis and his family, Harry’s attachment to them increases even as he becomes more fearful of a growing threat towards them. Before long, citizen arrests begin and the household must flee for safety. What follows is a story of danger and adventure as the family attempts to save the king, free friends, and rescue family. Unfortunately, not everyone will make it out alive.

Having planned a long day-trip, this seemed the perfect opportunity listen to our audio book. We fueled up the SUV, popped in our disc, and prepared to enjoy. We were able to finish disc one of two on the drive down – approximately one and a half hours on the road – and the second on the drive home. Everyone in the family was present, making listening more fun. We discussed both story and overall impressions as we progressed through In The Reign of Terror.

Having listened to only a few audio books over the course of our learning, we looked forward to this new adventure. We were not to be disappointed. In The Reign of Terror is voice by an incredible cast including Brian Blessed, John Rhys-Davies, Jack Farthing, Cathy Sara, Christian Greater, and Jill Freud. The story itself is intriguing from beginning to end. We enjoyed it tremendously. Audio quality was superb. We can’t imagine this story being retold any better.

Our favorite part of the audio drama was both the opening and close of the tale. Here we were given a comparison of the French Revolution with our own American Revolution. Henty does an excellent job explaining how one was fought for independence, the other to usurp authority. One just; the other chaos.

In addition to the physical audio book, we were given access to “Live the Adventure Club“! Live_the_Adventure_ClubAs a member, we would have access to the Adventure Library which contains bonus content for all purchased audio books. We could view Educational Treasures such as Adventure Study Guides, The Crash Course on the Constitution Lecture Series, and much more. We may view parent resources, kid activities, and the community forum. Our favorite features were the Rare Early American & World Curriculum, the Old Time Radio Vault, and The Day in Henty History.

By choosing the “My Library Feature”, we were able to not only listen to our audio drama via this alternative medium, but view bonus materials. Bonuses included an original In The Reign of Terror e-book, the official soundtrack, a printable cast poster, inspirational verse Bonus_Materialsposters, and much, much more. One feature we were anxious to view was the Study Guide & Discussion Starter. The Study Guide gives a brief biography on G.A. Henty then proceeds to tell us of historical figures mentioned in the book. The Study Guide was broken down by tracks from the audio book discs. For each track, we were given “Listening Well” questions, “Thinking Further” queries, and “Defining Words” (vocabulary from our story). Throughout the Study Guide, we found “Expand Your Learning” panels which gave more background and depth to our tale. At the back of the Study Guide, we were given a list of resources for additional information on the French Revolution. The best pages, in our opinion, were the “Bible Study” at the end of the guide. Using the “Bible Study” we can search God’s Word for truths discussed in the audio book and share these Biblical concepts with our children. For those who wish to break down the Study Guide & Discussion Starter into chapter portions, viewers could select “Start the Adventure” from the “My Library” feature and begin! Start the Adventure breaks down the Study Guide by chapter, including Read-Along Script, Chapter Quiz, Thinking Further Questions, and Defining Words sections.Old_Time_Radio_Vault

We could continue listing the multitude of incredible resources to be found at Live the Adventure, as well as expound on the amazing audio dramas available at Heirloom Audio Production. There just isn’t enough room on this post or time in our day to do it justice. Suffice it to say we wish we had found this resource ages ago.

For now, we’re making up for lost time and enjoying In the Reign of Terror along with Live the Adventure Club. The next time we’re on a love drive, I know what we’re taking along to make the trip more enjoyable… Another G.A. Henty audio book from Heirloom Audio Productions!

If you’d like to learn more about In the Reign of Terror, Live the Adventure Club, or Heirloom Audio Productions please visit them at their website and on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Instagram! To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Heirloom Audio Productions has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

Review Crew Disclaimer

Your Turn!: Which is your favorite G.A. Henry novel?

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The Hidden Danger of Nature Walks?

The_Hidden_Danger_of_Nature_Walks?The lovely photo staring me in the face shows grand hills covered in pines, a stream flowing gently in the background, and chipmunks chatting atop boulders. How peaceful and serene. Until, that is, I scroll the multitude of other photos in the same post and note the day’s adventures were met with snakes, bears sightings, and the possibility of Lyme Disease. How am I supposed to embark on an outdoor adventure when there are so many hidden dangers in taking a simple nature walk?

I appreciate exploring the wild with my children. However, there is a growing concern I might be unable to keep my children safe while exploring the great outdoors. Especially as I tend to be on excursions alone or with a group of other mamas. (Mid-week hikes are not always an option for our hard-working fathers.) People are constantly reminding me to be on the alert for Lyme Disease. Rattle snakes, bears, and mountain lions are also an issue where we live. Guys seem to relish telling us of recent attacks, and how on alert we should be. It can all be a bit daunting. Is it worth the risk?

I’ll be honest, it’s hard to maintain motivation when we’re continually being told of the negative without being given a helpful, constructive method of handling the issues. By all means, alert me to the dangers. I do not wish to be foolish and walk my family into harm’s way. Then, please, teach us how to be safe.

Being informed is key. For example, while Lyme Disease is on the rise, we have been recently informed on how to identify lice, how to handle lice on clothing and skin, measures to prevent being bitten, methods of removing lice from the body, and healthy steps to be taken should any of us be bitten. The disease is no longer as scary as it was because we are now informed. Other dangers will require their own precautions and perhaps hiking with additional families for safety purposes. It starts not only with knowing but seeking a solution.

What I don’t want to happen is for my children to have a fear of nature. That would break my heart. Yes, these dangers exist. Yes, we need to be cautious and make wise decisions. However, nature should not be so dangerous my children are never allowed to explore or fear for their life when in the wild. Instead, I wish for them to have a healthy respect for God’s creation, a desire to learn about nature, and a passion for the outdoors.

When it comes to exploring, I need to know what the dangers might be and do my best to prepare for them. I cannot see everything – this where faith the Lord will either protect us or provide comes into play – but I can do my best to know what to look for and how I can take precautions. Before embarking on our outdoor adventure we pray for peace and protection, knowing no matter what comes God is in control. Then, we enjoy the day.

I refuse to allow the possibility of danger to destroy the moment. God made this world for us to explore and enjoy. It would be a shame for us to deny this gift because we are unwilling to try and trust. We are bringing the dangers of nature walks into the light, exploring possibilities, and together choosing to trust the Lord with our adventures. Now, we have photos of our own outings and excitedly share what God has shown us through the journey.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”
~ Job 12:7-10

Your Turn!: Do hidden dangers of nature walks prevent you from exploring out-of-doors?

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Our July Reads, or The Series is The Thing


While this monthly post generally shares the list of books we’ve read during the current month, we’ve just noticed we haven’t yet returned the list of learning books we checked out last month. In fact, these same books have been gracing our shelves for several months and I have no intention of returning them until they force me. It might be time to break down and just buy them. Maybe. Instead, the family has chosen to spend this month focusing on various series we enjoy. Perhaps some of them have found their way into your home?

  1. Fablehaven (Brandon Mull) – For centuries mystical creatures of all description were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite.
    This is a fun series my girls enjoyed. Every magical creature you could imagine is found within its pages. Very imaginative. 
  2. The Ranger’s Apprentice (John Flanagan) – They have always scared him in the past — the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice. What he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied….
    My little lady didn’t know what to expect with this series and had misgivings at first. She quickly gained an appreciation of both characters and storyline. This series is long, but worth every page. 
  3. The School for Good & Evil (Soman Chainani) – This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.
    I read this series before my children came across these books. I was drawn to the storyline and the idea of roles being chosen simply by looks. Upon further reading, we are forced to acknowledge external appearances do not always indicate the person within, and true love is friendship. The girls loved the series, and it gave us plenty to discuss.
  4. The Cat Who... (Lilian Jackson Braun) – A series of twenty-nine mystery novels and three related collections by Lilian Jackson Braun, featuring a reporter named Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese cats, Kao K’o-Kung (Koko for short) and Yum Yum.
    Not the most action packed of series, I do enjoy the mystery of each story and the silly antics attributed to Koko and YumYum. The books are clean and easy reading.

As we launch into a new month, it might be time to make decisions regarding new purchases and look for upcoming reads. Until then, we’re enjoying these great series and keeping our eyes peeled for books to enjoy. There’s no doubt we’ll find what we’re looking for, the question is how we’ll fit them all into our book box!

Your Turn!: Which series would you recommend; either juvenile or adult?

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