Category Archives: books

Pursued To Eternity book ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Stories can often convey ideas and influence thoughts that we as people struggle to articulate. Pursued to Eternity shows us just that. This is a fictionalized story, though it is so well written that it can pull you in and make you want to research more about the people in the story. This short story is an easy read and is within reading ability for most middle school students and up.

John Riley is the author of Pursued to Eternity. He wrote this story to mix the truth of salvation and apologetics (defending the truth of the Bible) with fictional story lines that intersect. The story is written with the purpose of defending the Bible and bringing truth to those who doubt the Bible. The idea of evolution is addressed in the story, as is the idea of an old earth. One of the main characters is an athiest but God is pursing him, thus the title of the book.

The story line spans several locations and several centuries, bringing the old to the new through geology and archaeology. But first, there is an introduction that addresses ideas of time, pursuit, eternity, and history. Bible references are throughout but are particularly common in this introductory section.

Connor Bridges and Alan Bridges were brothers. The book starts with a retrospective from Connor Bridges. He begins by telling us who his brother was and that he died a few month prior. And Connor is rejoicing because Alan turned from athiesm to Christ right before his death. And then Connor tells us the story.

It begins centuries ago with the story of a dinosaur hunt. We follow the hunt to see that the wounded creature took a man to his death with it. Next we are in Egypt about 1000 years later. We follow the story of Egyptians who sympathized with the Hebrew slaves and helped them secretly. The man and his family have to quickly leave the city when it is suspected that they had been found out as helping the Hebrews with food, medicine, and money. After they leave, though, God does something even more amazing – the ten plagues are upon the Egyptians. The daughter of the family that has escaped to the desert is keeping a record of all this in her diary which she hides in a clay pot in the sand before the family is discovered and punished with death for treason.

Jumping forward in time to 2020, we find the Bridges family going through their lives with the two brothers at odds over beliefs. There is a great discussion included of Conner talking to Alan about why he believes the Bible and science are on his side. After this discussion, Alan announces he is leaving for a new job in Kenya. The family is concerned.

Conner’s life continues on as he goes about teaching biology. His students are smart, interested, and questioning. They ask him tough questions that the school boards has forbidden him to respond to with anything other than the teaching of evolution. Outside of school, he met his students one day and he encouraged them to pursue their questions and told them he would help guide them but all work must be their own. The students start a website of questions that the science curriculum doesn’t answer for them. They research it. They want to know.

Well, because Conner is connected to the students, he ends up facing termination from his position for it. Despite so many in the community supporting him and his students, he loses his job. But all is not bad – he is able to join Alan in Kenya. And wait until you read about what they find!

This all adds together to create a compelling story that is easy to read but has a lot of depth to the Biblical truths it teaches. The Biblical references are clearly noted so that the reader can double check them for truth and it makes for a strong apologetics storyline.

I found that by the end of the story that the characters felt very real and I wanted to go searching to find out more about the “finds” in the story. Of course, it is fiction so the characters weren’t real, nor were the archaeological finds. This is well written and can provide a good foundation with simple reading for someone struggling with the teaching of evolution, big bang theories, and athiesm. Will it be the only thing needed? No. You have to be involved with the new students learning about God but this is a good little book that can head them in the right way through a fictional story that has a lot of Bible truth in it.

If you would like to know more, you can visit the website for Pursued to Eternity.

You can also visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about what other families thought of this short novel with a fictional setting and apologetics storyline. I encourage you to do so.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Milton Hershey, a YWAM biography ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

It is no surprise to those of you who read this blog that our family enjoys the YWAM Publishing biographies. We have a shelf full of these biographies and we look for them everywhere we go. Each of the biographies they publish, whether part of the Heroes of History or part of the Christian Heroes series or part of the series for the younger students, are well-written and interesting to read. Combined with the unit study materials, these biographies make for a great study with your students of any age. We received the Milton Hershey: More Than Chocolate biography, along with a download of the unit study. (The site says that you must be a register user to take a look at the available unit study.)

YWAM is a company with a mission to reach the people of the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. They train many people to go out to share the gospel but they also publish materials that help students see the Christian character of many people from our history. That is what their unit study and biography series is all about.

The Milton Hershey biography was a joy to read. My youngest daughter, 12 years old and in 6th grade, read it with me. We thoroughly enjoyed reading about the life of Mr. Hershey and all the challenges he went through. It was quite a surprise to us both to learn how many business failures he had in his life and how much he had to overcome in people not believing in him. We marveled a his perseverance and success, and applauded how his mother and his aunt and a couple of friends continually assisted and encouraged him. We were startled to learn that Mr. Hershey was first successful with carmels, not chocolate, and that he lost a huge amount of money at one point. We were thrilled, though, when he weathered that storm with the full support of his workers and came back stronger than before. We were surprised to learn that he built a huge factory in Cuba to provide the sugar he needed at his Pennsylvania factory.

But most of all, we were so please to read about his philanthropic adventures. While his success in the carmel and chocolate making businesses were exciting to read about, it was heart-touching to read about the ways in which he paid back (plus!) the people who invested and supported him – how he provided for his mother and his aunt beyond anything anyone expected of him; how he set up a town (Hershey, PA) to provide a beautiful, wholesome place for his workers to live, so unlike his early experiences of company towns; how he created a place to work where the employees shared in the success and were fully invested in the business.

But again, there was one thing above all else that we marveled at – the foundation he created to care for orphan boys. This foundation was probably the thing that was most successful for Mr. Hershey and his wife, Kitty. It was where their impact lived on the most. They touched the lives of hundreds of young boys and men who needed it, providing healthy and wholesome food and education, teaching them how to be strong, productive members of society. The boys made him proud!

The Milton Hershey biography is a joy to read and we are so happy to add it to our shelf. In addition to reading the biography together, Miss J used some parts of the unit study to further enhance her learning. She worked on the biographical sketch of Mr. Hershey. She completed the printout of the timeline of Mr. Hershey’s life and work, along with some of the more important world happenings, like wars and economic hardships. She marked the included map for important places from the story. She created a piece of artwork with a saying from Mr. Hershey. We talked about some of the questions from the unit study that go along with each chapter of the book. We did a taste test of a couple of different chocolates and read up a bit more on the processes of making both caramel and chocolate. We made some caramels. (They definitely were not soft ones, though!)

We made caramels, which is how Hershey started out.
printable pages from the unit study

The unit study is a downloadable product. There are two parts to it that are most applicable to the book. One is the blank maps, timeline, and biographical sketch to fill in. The other is the unit study that includes suggestions on teaching the book and unit, as well as additional suggestions for supplemental books, sites, and resources. There are 8 parts to the study guide.

  1. Key Quotes
  2. Display Corner
  3. Chapter Questions (answers are included)
  4. Student Explorations
  5. Community Links
  6. Social Studies
  7. Related Themes to Explore
  8. Culminating Event
screenshots from the unit study

As you can see, the unit study provides a lot of material to use as you feel is appropriate for your students. It is highly adaptable and can be easily modified to fit your students, age levels, interest levels, or ability levels. There is plenty here to fill a week or a month, depending on how you choose to use it. It worked well to allow us to take a much needed 2 weeks break from our normal history curriculum to work with this unit. Miss J had a good time and was able to choose activities that really brought the story alive for her.

We are always pleased with the biographies presented by YWAM Publishing and recommend them for all ages. I even enjoy reading them myself. The Heroes of History series includes a large number of people who have influences the history of America. If you would like to see other ways to incorporate the YWAM biographies and unit studies, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew and click on any of the links in the link up at the bottom of the page. Each link will indicate which biography they reviewed so you can find some that sound particularly interesting, or just randomly choose a few to see what they did. Either way, you’ll see real families incorporating these great products into their educational times.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Want to read more about the biographies we have used? Check out these previous reviews.
Jacob DeShazer

George Washington Carver

Amy Carmichael

Gladys Aylward

Clara Barton

C.S. Lewis

Online Book Club – March Wrap-up

March means Irish and green and fresh and new for me. I enjoyed rereading a novel about an ancestor from my past. Honor O’Flynn: a search for the True Will of God, by James P Bailey, is the story of Honor and how she came to be in America. I had forgotten a good bit of the story line so it was good to read it again.

In the book, Honor was kidnapped off the coast of Ireland when she was a young teen. During the horrific days that followed in the hollows of a nasty ship, she is friended by a kind woman and a teenage boy. The woman sold herself as an indentured servant so she could provide for her children, hoping to bring them to America before long. The boy came to make a better life than he could have had in England. Honor was going to be sold as a “tobacco wife” to the highest bidder. These friends helped her more than she could imagine.

Honor had thought she was meant to serve God as a nun in her hometown teaching children. This new turn of events had her perplexed and she was seeking to see God in her new circumstances. She learns that things are not always what we plan and that God can be served where you are.

Spoiler***
Honor does marry, willingly, William Logsdon and goes on to live a long life in America. These two are actually in our family line, though this is a novel. It was unclear by reading the notes in the book how much of this is created and how much is based on fact. It is a fun read, nonetheless, and is a good story, indicative of the times.

I didn’t search for any other books for the theme this month.

Please visit the other participants to see what they read this month. There has been a variety of books this month.
Hopkins Homeschool
The Life We Build
Homeschool Coffee Break
A Net In Time

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

February Online Book Club Wrap-up

So, as much time as we had at home, I didn’t read nearly as many love-themed books as I had planned. I was unable to get to the library to see if they had a print copy of the CS Lewis book The Four Loves, which I had really wanted to read. I’ll keep it on my radar and maybe I can get it before long.

The book on theme that I did read was My Mother’s Quilts. I treated it as a devotional book, reading three or four thoughts per day. Each of the thoughts was based on a quilt one of her family members had created, running all the way back to the Civil War era. The thoughts focused on family but also on lessons the Lord can create from daily encounters or common items. This is a highly recommended one. Just beware – you may want to start quilting. I know I do but my machine isn’t working right and I can’t find anyone to fix it!!!

I read a couple of others books that hit on the idea of love in a different way:

Animal Days by Desmond Morris – This book shows how much the love of learning or a profession can drive your life and make it something you are really proud of. This is the story of a zoo keeper and how he ended up there, where the zoo life took him, and many of the lessons he learned from it. I really liked this book and would recommend it.

When I Was Yours by Lizzie Page – This is a novel about a family who takes in a refugee from London during WWII. It jumps back and forth between the years of WWI and WWII, tying memories and choices to their current day situations. It highlights how choices affect others and how we can make one choice that will change the course of our lives for the better. This is one I enjoyed (there was a scene or two that I wish weren’t included – the shock value is useless and it cheapens the book to me).

I also worked on the series of Hamelin Stoop by Robert B Sloan. It is a review for the 3rd book that will post early next week on the Facebook page.

What did you read this month? Do you recommend it?

Be sure to visit the other members of the Online Book Club to see what they are doing this month for the theme of Winter.

Hopkins Homeschool
The Life We Build
Homeschool Coffee Break
A Net In Time

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Winter ~ Online Book Club January Wrap-up

For the winter challenge, I chose some books that had wintery themes or scenes in them. Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane, in particular. Their books are fiction but tell of real life that they experienced in one way or another.

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a semi-autobiographical account of a winter that was harsh and hard. They, and many others in the area, almost did not survive it. From the stories of bravery to the recounting of the daily grind stuck in a small room while preserving heat and food as much as possible, the family must survive. They depend on Ma and Pa and each others as they all try to work together and encourage one another through the long days and dark nights of blizzard after blizzard after blizzard. I had forgotten some of the parts of this story and it really helped me appreciate my blessings and material possessions even more. Those were some tough folks who settled the prairie!

Young Pioneers by Rose Wilder Lane was joy to reread and was a short read. She follows in the footsteps of her mother well. This book tells the story of two young (teenagers, really) pioneers as they journey west and settle into a dugout. After what promises to be a prosperous yield of crop, the prairie does what it does best – throw up obstacles. Between the locusts and the lack of jobs, leaving the area is the only option. But if they leave their homestead, others will move onto it while they are away for the winter and take it from them. What to do? One leaves and one stays. This is the tale of their lives.

These were the two main ones that I read, though I did also pick up Winter Cottage by Carol Ryrie Brink. I had a book from childhood, Caddie Woodlawn, that was a favorite. A couple of years ago, I saw Winter Cottage at a used book sale and grabbed it but hadn’t read it. I did this month and really fell in love. A family of a father and two daughters are trying hard just to survive. Their car breaks down on a trip through the woods and they take shelter from the weather in a winter cabin. They don’t know the owners but need something and so choose this option. This is the story of their time at the winter cabin and the adventures. While I don’t love the taking over of a house that isn’t their, I adored the way this story took unexpected turns and showed that open hearts and honest hearts can go a long way towards making wrongs right.

Be sure to visit the other members of the Online Book Club to see what they are doing this month for the theme of Winter.

Hopkins Homeschool
The Life We Build
Homeschool Coffee Break
A Net In Time

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

A Reading Plan for 2021

The first challenge for the year from the Homeschool Review Crew is about reading goals for the adult(s) of the homeschool. We often make plans or goals for our children, especially when it is built into great curriculum like From Adam to Us (what my 6th grader is completing) or Sharon Watson’s high school literature courses. But what about you? Do you have goals?

I am not a huge fan of making a specific list and working through it. The reason is that my moods and ideas change as I grow through the year. Also, sometimes I want something challenging but other times I want something light and easy to read. So, what is my goal going to be?

I think I will keep it the same as it has been for the last couple of year. Read. Challenge myself some. Read the Bible daily. Read good Bible studies. Read biographies. Read some titles that I “should have read;” also known as classics. 🙂 Read some tough things. Read some light things. But mostly, read.

I like to track what I have completed (or bombed out in the middle of) in my school planner. I just jot the title of the book down at the top of my monthly page. I use a color of ink that I like and that is how my tracking works. Simple. Easy. No stress but I see it often enough that if I get off track and quit reading, I’ll get myself back on track.

So, do you have a goal this year? If so, great. If not, I encourage you to make a simple one that will keep you growing and reading.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

December Online Book Club Wrap-up And Turning the Page – Celebrations

Well, I have enjoyed some down time to read this month and ended up reading a total of 35 books. This does include the 24 books that were holiday themed and we used a nightly read alouds. We celebrate many things with books and Christmas is no different. Books galore! There were, of course, books given as gifts as well. 🙂

Other than the 24 books that we read, most of which were picture books, I read 10 of my own. These included the books I mentioned in the opening post for the December Online Book Club. I thoroughly enjoyed The Christmas Cake and The Gift of the Magi. The Birds’ Christmas Carol was odd but enjoyable. These three short stories were quick and easy reads. I also read A Christmas Carol, the Charles Dickens’ classic. I had never read the original before and I enjoyed it a lot. It wasn’t really that long so it didn’t take but a few days’ worth of reading time.

In addition to these books, focused around Celebrations, I read several others sent to me by a friend. You can find reviews of them on the A Net In Time blog, which I am linking on each title. I thoroughly enjoyed The Jane Austen Society and Miss Austen. Another that I just was thrilled with as The Porcupine Year. This was a middle school level book but I loved it an am looking for the other two related to it at the library. A Place At The Table and All of Me were also in the box of books I received. I flew through both of these. I wouldn’t say I loved them but they were still enjoyable and had excellent story lines. Oh, yeah, almost forgot, the picture book We Believe In You was in there, along with My Friendship Journal, which the girls grabbed immediately.

The other one on my list for the month was in conjunction with a unit study with Miss J on The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. She thought she didn’t like the book. She found out she was wrong and begged for more each time we had to stop. A win!

So, as you can see it was a strong month for books. The theme of celebration for the online book club really got me considering and reading a few books that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I enjoyed the month.

Don’t forget to check in with the other participants to see what they read this month.
Also, head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to see what others wrote about for the blogging/social media challenge on Turning The Page. Happy New Year!

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

December Book Club – Celebrations

So, what to do for December for the Book Club? I know – we are already over a week into December. The theme is celebrations and I have tried to focus that down and bit and have been completely unsuccessful. So you know what? I’m going to share a number of books that we read this month. For years, we have wrapped 24 children’s books about the holidays and unwrapped one each night. I’ll share those with you at the end of the month or you can follow along day-by-day on the Instagram or Facebook page. I post those (almost) daily.

For myself, I am reading a number of holiday short stories and books that I have downloaded to my Kindle. Again, I did this years ago but have never ready them. So I am doing that this year. I started Dicken’s A Christmas Carol last night. Previous to that I had looked up some of the short stories like The Gift of the Magi, The Birds’ Christmas Carol, and The Christmas Cake. I will be reading others. Most of these are free to download since they are in the public domain. An excellent way to do some enjoyable holiday readying.

The other thing I am doing this month is reading with my youngest. We are going to work hard on The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe next week as part of our holiday studies. Something different. And of course, we will include some baking of some sort.

What are you reading and doing this month for celebrations?

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

November Online Book Club Wrap-up

I read the short writings from Beth Moore in November as part of the online book club’s theme of “thankful.” I chose these two books of musings for a couple of reasons – one, I had them but had not read them; two, focusing on the gift of love from God – Jesus Christ – is cause for thankfulness to me. I found that I really enjoyed most of both of these books.

Both of the books are similar in form and format. I have them both in ebook form on my Kindle. They are both mostly poetry with some anecdotes or other background writings included. They are fairly short. They can direct your mind to consider God’s love and gift in a new or different way.

If poetry is not your thing, you probably won’t get as much enjoyment out of these two books. If, however, you find poetry interesting and bringing a fresh perspective to thoughts, concepts, and ideas, these books will be right up your alley.

I found that the writings that took a fresh, human perspective on things – though not necessarily following the biblical accounts of history – really brought some new ideas to mind. The writing on Mary and newborn Jesus really brought home just how terrifying and difficult that time must have been for Mary. The interaction between Mary and Elizabeth made me consider the trying situation they were both in and the comfort they would have been for each other.

Poetry is used to emphasize ideas and one of my favorites follows. It is from Further Still, pp 131-132.

The Poet

You are the Poet, I am the poem.
You gather my lines from sunshine and storm

Glimpses of faith, steadfast and still
To harrowing falls and stubborn self-will

Dance down Jerusalem streets
To despair beneath the weeping tree

Sometimes pleasure – sometimes pain
Sometimes they blend ’til they seem the same

Each passage of life a poignant phrase
Challenging sense in a senseless maze

Alas, and at the end of time
Rhythm will come and words will rhyme.

Paper yellowed, wrestled, and worn
Still You are my Poet … and I am Your poem.

There were several favorites in Things Pondered. These include Seasons (p 108) and My Every One (p 135-136). Heroes was a stunning look at “heroes” of the Bible but the focus was on who was their hero. Time and again I found myself considering how wonderful each of the poems were.

As I find I have to do with writing from those who are Christian and part of a denomination, I need to warn of a place to be wary. There is a part where what denominations refer to as “the sinner’s prayer” is discussed. While much of the writing about this is in line with God’s word, the Bible includes much more in the plan of salvation than just saying a prayer in your heart. Please read and study the Bible with someone who understands that the plan of salvation is not found in a single, independent verse of the Bible. It is covered in many place and includes hearing the word of God, believing that word and that Jesus is the son of God, repenting of your sins (and this includes changing your ways), confessing your belief out loud to others, and being baptized for the remission of your sins. This is how you come into contact with the blood of Jesus, which is the only thing that can save your from your sins and the consequences of that sin. I would be happy to chat with you about this if you would like to. Please contact me.

These books are both very good. They are not study tools for the Bible, which sort of surprised me since I got them at a time when Beth Moore was sharing all of her Bible studies. But, they can bring a different perspective, causing you to pull out your Bible and read what God actually says in the historical account that fueled the poetry and stories written down by Beth Moore. I did enjoy these and there is much to be gleaned from them if you “pick out the meat and ignore the bones.”

Don’t forget to visit the others who are participating in the online book club. You can find them at the following blogs:

Hopkins Homeschool
Life on Chickadee Lane
School Days
At Home: Where Life Happens
The Life We Build
Let’s Get Real
Homeschool Coffee Break
Tots and Me
Bossy Homeschool Mom

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Thankful ~ November 2020 Book Club

I have joined in with some online friends for a book club. We are doing it simply. Hopkins Homeschool is heading it up. Each month, she will announce a theme. We will pick a book based on that theme. Read your book, or books, during the month. That’s it.

I, and some other bloggers, are going to post at the beginning of the month about our choices. Then, at the end of the month, we’ll come back and write about what we did, the book(s) we or our family read, and anything we might have done to make it special. The bloggers joining in are:

Hopkins Homeschool
Life on Chickadee Lane
School Days
At Home: Where Life Happens
The Life We Build
Let’s Get Real
Homeschool Coffee Break
Tots and Me
Bossy Homeschool Mom

For the theme of Thankful, I chose to find a book that will encourage me to be thankful. When I was looking around what I had, I found two books of poetry by Beth Moore. I had never read them before and opened one up. I was immediately struck by the poetry and the vingettes she writes. I decided that these two books would be the start of my thankful books for November.

The two books are:

Things Pondered: From the Heart of a Lesser Woman

Further Still: a collection of poetry and vignettes

I am looking forward to reading about what the others are doing this month. If you would like to join in, just leave me a comment below or on social media about what you are reading under the theme of thankful this month.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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