Category Archives: homeschooling

Review of Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West by Kevin Swanson

I don’t know how I stumbled across this book, but it looked interesting so I checked it out of the library. It really made me think.

When our oldest was a teen, we sent him off on a bus to a Worldview Academy week in Miami, Ohio. I didn’t know too much about the camp, but thought it would help him in getting through the rough adolescent years. After reading this book, I have come to appreciate more what they try to do there and at other ministries for teens to help them shape their worldview, before it is destroyed by what they learn in the halls of academia. A Christiann worldview was something I did not receive as a teenager myself, and after reading this book, I realized I learned the hard way.

For example, one day I sat crying in despair in the Hillman Library at the University of Pittsburgh. My faith was belittled and mocked by a liberal anthropology professor who  taught us we all came from apes. Thankfully it did not  destroy my faith. Another instance was when confronted with the abortion issue in nursing school. I never really considered it murder until I was sent to observe one firsthand in my s0phomore year.

I grew up on a steady stream of progressive propaganda and didn’t even realize it. It was reflected by the movies I watched, the music I listened to and affected my whole outlook on life. Without faith, I would have concluded that life was meaningless and absurd, as expounded by Nietzsche in his  writings.

In this book, author Kevin Swanson sets about educating parents and high school children how our culture has come to be where it is today, by the slow and steady erosion of Judaeo-Christian values which started in earnest in the 1850s. Even before then, the damage started by  thinkers like Thomas Aquinas, who separated the “sacred” from the “secular.” Humanists such as Rene Descartes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau laid the foundation for the big changes which exploded in the twentieth century.

Also discussed are Marx, Dewey, Darwin, Sartre, Mark Twain, Steinbeck and Hemingway, among others. Their literature formed the basis of my high school English reading. Sadly, most  came from Christian backgrounds but somehow lost their way. Not only they were lost, but they helped many others to follow their example. On page 126, Swanson states that Charles Darwin, upon entering Cambridge University, wrote that he “did not then in the least doubt the strict and literal truth of every word of the Bible.”  By the end of his life and completing his writings, he declared that the Bible is “no more to be trusted than… the beliefs of a barbarian.” What happened?

Mr. Swanson contends that the trail of destruction the apostates left us has destroyed Western society. He calls for a new generation to rise up and reclaim our heritage. I am not sure that is still possible at this point. For the end times were predicted to be (as they are now)  in the Bible:

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power… II Timothy 3:1-5

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how our society’s values have undergone such enormous change in the last couple of generations. For parents, read it to be forewarned against what your children are taught in the public schools. And if homeschooling, don’t make the mistake of thinking your children will be able to discern the difference of humanistic writings from what they are taught in church. Get yourself prepared by reading this book.

Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West was published in 2013 by Generations with Vision. Citations and a selected bibliography are included. The author is a homeschooling father who is also a pastor and the host of a daily radio show called Generations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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George Mueller of Bristol: His Life of Prayer and Faith by A. T. Pierson

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If you want a challenge in your faith walk, I recommend reading the biography of a remarkable man, Mr. George Mueller, the founder of homes that housed thousands of orphans in the 1800s in Bristol, England. This book gives a detailed look at the life of Mr. Mueller from one who was greatly influenced by Mueller in his spiritual life. This pastor from America, Arthur. T. Pierson, was a personal friend of George Mueller.

The story is outstanding not because of George Mueller in and of himself, but that he proved in his life and ministry that God was a prayer hearing and answering God. He sought first of all that God might be glorified in answering his fervent prayers for the many needs of his ministry. In fact, everything Mueller accomplished for his ministry (which grew steadily from humble beginnings) was not from going to people as a source but instead was accomplished through fervent prayer.

Mueller chose never to broadcast a need for his orphanages to anyone, however, but only to God. Even all his helpers were not allowed to broadcast any need, but only to petition heaven for their needs. How different this is than the approach used today with ministries having telethons and begging for money. Many times Mueller, his wife and his helpers were sorely tested and lived in poverty themselves as they gave just about everything they had for the sake of the work. Reading these testimonies, it really put me to shame, to be honest. These workers sold all they had for the sake of the work and did not count their lives dear unto themselves,just like the Apostle Paul said of himself in the book of Acts.

After a youth filled with thievery and rebellion, George Mueller became a believer while studying Divinity at the University of Halle, without any interest in God. A friend invited him to a Bible study and the sight of people praying on their knees that night drew Mueller into seeking his own personal relationship with Christ. He functioned as a pastor for over sixty years. In his retirement years, he took on an evangelistic outreach that took him all over the world. Yet his principles remained the same: the needs were always placed before God and God alone to provide. Mueller kept a Narrative of the Lord’s dealings with him, after being influenced reading the autobiographical narrative of the Lord’s dealings with John Newton, a pastor he admired, who is famous for writing the hymn Amazing Grace. In Mueller’s own narrative, great detail is given to showing how the Lord answered specific prayers in His own timing, and by reading about the details of this Narrative, it imparted great incentive for me to continue in my prayers like the persistent widow in Luke 18. George Mueller prayed for two people’s conversions for over 60 years, and even did not see the answer before his death, but stated: “I have not a doubt that I shall meet them both in heaven; for my Heavenly Father would not lay upon my heart a burden of prayer for them for over threescore years, if He had not concerning them purposes of mercy.” (page 302)

Another important takeaway from this biography is to learn George Mueller’s Bible reading habit and of making himself happy in the Lord as the first order of each day. What a beautiful idea, to start each day making sure that one is happy and content in their relationship with Christ as the most important thing. He read the Bible through two hundred times during his lifetime.

This book is long, 375 pages, but is edifying and worth the read. I should not compare myself to George Mueller, for Scripture says that is unwise, and I fall way short. But, I can glean great encouragement to petition God like George Mueller did, for Mr. Pierson stated:

“While men are asking whether prayer can accomplish similar wonders as of old, here is a man who answers the question by the indisputable logic of facts. Powerlesssnes always means prayerlessness, It is not necessary for us to be sinlessly perfect … but it is necessary that we be men and women of prayer–habitual, believing, importunate prayer.” (pages 371-372)

George Mueller lived like the faith heroes of Hebrews 11, therefore his faith and life of prayer is worth imitating today.

This book was published by Kregel Publications in 1999.

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One of my baby book faves: Disney’s Pooh’s Early-to-Bed and Early-to-Rise Hum

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Wouldn’t it be nice if life was as easy as following the advice in this precious board book, tested and approved by my grandson to bring delight to little eyes?
While I prefer the original A.A. Milne Winnie the Pooh books to the Disney ones, I take an exception with this book. I have to admit I have as much fun reading it as (hopefully) the little guy enjoys hearing it. He hasn’t started fussing yet so I think he likes it. ( I will test it on my other grandson too, who is a bit further away, on my upcoming visit.)

It starts out with, as you can see, “Bees buzz in the morn to tell a bear to rise.” This is time for Grandma to act rather foolishly and pretend she is a bee and tickle little grandson under his chin, making bee noises. The next lines in the book become rather Ben Franklin-ish, saying that a bear who stays in bed will never be wise. The next page encourages Pooh bear to enjoy his day, and not to dawdle on the way. The kicker is on the following page, the Pooh Bear is to hum and not act glum. When I get to the word “hum” I start humming vociferously. Then, by humming and not acting glum, he will have lots of friends and things will work out in the end. The last page says the old Ben Franklin proverb of early to bed and early to rise can make a bear be successful in his endeavors.

Doesn’t it you make you wish a happy life could be obtained as simply as that? Getting up early, enjoying your day, humming and not acting glum? These are all good suggestions for little ears to hear. Maybe I should try them all more often!

The way this little board book rhymes makes for lots of fun using lots of inflection. When I put the book up close to my grandson’s face, he seemed to light up. I read to my own kids a lot when they were little, but it seems I even enjoy it more as a grandma. And it is never too early to start reading to babies, IMO.

I found this book at a library book sale, it is copyrighted 1999 by The Pooh Properties Trust.

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A Review of Captive to Conqueror by Harold Wildish

Captive to ConquerorSomewhere or other, I found a copy of a rather unknown book by a Plymouth Brethren missionary named Harold Wildish who died in the early 1980’s. His story is remarkable. This is an English book and its contents are from a meeting at Filey of the Christian Holiday Crusade put on by the Movement for World Evangelization. The speaker, Mr. Wildish, had a topic of Romans 5-8 and Romans 12: 1-11 and that is the content of this book. Each chapter began with the exact Scripture reading and then his exhortations from each passage. He reminds us that the battle of sin and death has already been won by Jesus Christ and of the great truths we need to appropriate from Romans 6 and 7 about being dead to sin, alive to God, and married not to the law, but to Christ. These are teachings we need to sink our teeth down into. For we can’t appreciate the victory that Romans 8 describes without knowing what Christ has done, once and for all, with our sin.

One part of the book particularly moved me. Wildish described being away from his wife and preaching in a hot, “sin soaked village” in South America. He said at the time it was one of the hottest spots in the world, and he lived at the time in the back of a building where the mosquitoes buzzed all night and oily food nauseated his stomach. He went down to the muddy Demerara coast that evening, and the slightest breeze refreshed him in his spirit, and gave him the fulness to preach to sweaty, sin filled souls.

Somehow, although he felt like quitting, the Spirit touched the hearts of all those who attended his message that night. After he dismissed the group, everyone stayed in their seat, they all wanted to get right with God that night. Two years later, people were still talking how he ministered to them mightily through the Spirit of God. Lives were changed because he persisted through adversity.

I love finding books like these! I consider them little gems among the many voices of Christianity today. This man ministered in Africa and Jamaica and in the Amazon area. His messages are still available to listen to today at sermonindex.net. http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/viewcat.php?cid=1408

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A Review of Nelson’s Cross Reference Dictionary to the Bible edited by Jerome Smith

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This book is a great addition to my Bible study tools. It takes every verse of the Bible, and gives cross-references for some of the words and/or phrases. If you believe that Scripture is the best commentary on Scripture, you cannot go wrong with this resource.
To illustrate, in the photo I took above of a page from Matthew includes Matthew 21:43 which reads in the KJV: “Therefore I say unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”

In the cross reference guide, the words referenced from this verse are: “The kingdom of God,” “shall be taken,” “from you,” “and given,” “a nation,” and lastly, “bringing forth.”
For the reference “The kingdom of God,” 5 other references are listed, but three of these have a + sign in front of them. In the front of the book, the explanation for this symbol means that when you go to that reference you will find more verses on the same theme. (Scripture is the best commentary on Scripture!) So you will find more on “The kingdom of God” when you look up those references, which will lead you to more references. In other words, you can get happily lost in the Word of God.

The next group of words “shall be taken” has nine references listed and two of these also have the + sign, meaning there are more references on the same theme when you go to the verse listed. On and on these references go with more + signs frequently intermingled among them.

I do not like to just take someone’s word that a particular teaching is correct, but am persuaded I need to come to my own conclusions through the Word of God. This resource helps me to do just that. Another thing I like is that the paper quality is fine, it doesn’t feel like cheap newsprint. The book is nicely bound in sturdy hardback edition. I got mine off Amazon after reading good reviews there, and have not been disappointed. The book is based on the KJV of the Bible.

Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible is published by Thomas Nelson, copyright 2007.

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An Oldie but a Goodie- More with Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre

100_0047If I could tell of one cookbook I leaned on more than any other during the years when I was raising my family, it was this simple cookbook, published by a Mennonite woman back in 1976. This simple spiral bound cookbook was a great friend to me as I searched for nutritious, and compassionate recipes thoughtful of others in third world countries. Mennonite women sent the recipes to the author.
Doris told of how Americans use so much sugar. She gave the statistic that Americans ate 120 lbs. of sugar and refined sweeteners yearly. And this was nearly forty years ago! I wonder how much more it is now. She made me think about poorer countries. Doris suggested having one meal weekly as a “meager meal” so that we who had plenty would be mindful of those who did not. (A meal like beans and rice would qualify as a meager meal.) This also helps children to learn that not everyone in this world goes to bed with a full belly each night, so it is a great teaching tool.
My kids loved the recipes, and some have become family traditions: Honey Baked Lentils (on page 106), Vietnam Fried Rice (p. 130), Basic Corn Bread (p. 78) and Tangy Tuna Mac (p. 123). In the recipes, Doris was mindful not to overdo it on meat or sugar.
At the end of each chapter of recipes, she featured a “Gather Up the Fragments” section which told of handy ways to use up leftovers, so that excess food would not go to waste. Also there are handy recipes for home-made granolas, soap, play paste for children, all kinds of handy little information for saving money and being frugal.
You can probably guess that my copy is pretty tattered by now, and it has a little love note from my daughter on one of the recipe pages. When I was a young bride, another young bride who happened to be a classmate of mine at nursing school, told me how much she loved this wonderful recipe book. So, even though it is old, I am sharing it now with you. If you read this book with its handy info, you will save money and hopefully restore a sense of serenity to our crazy, overburdened lives.
One last disclaimer: Doris gives recipes for soy and talks about it being a good protein replacement. However, there is some controversy with soy, estrogen and breast cancer, so do your own research on that.

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Review of “The Friendly Book: by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Garth Williams

I perchance found this little gem at a yard sale or library sale. My edition is dated 1981, but it is originally from 1954. I am sure most people know Margaret Wise Brown. She is the author of the famous Goodnight Moon, which many have known and loved and shared with their children.

This book is also very sweet. It reminds me a little bit of Richard Scarry books, because the beautiful full color illustrations have little dogs riding in cars, on trains, rabbits riding in boats, etc.

There is a rhythm to the theme of “I like…” First is cars, then trains, then stars, snow and more. Each item liked has its own little verse to accompany it. One neat thing is she lists different kinds within each category. This would be a great way for a parent to interact with their child as they read the book. The child can identify them. For example,  on a two page spread there are many colorful dogs. She writes of six kinds: big, fat, old, little, doggy, and puppy dogs. The  parent can ask the child to identify all the little dogs on the two page spread. Then, you could count them together. Then you could work on colors. “How many little dogs are wearing blue?”  In other words, parents can use this book to help not only with language skills, but colors, counting, and discrimination.

Children will like it because the colors are bright and the rhythm is inviting. It is especially nice when the parent can add some expression to the words, which could easily be done here. So, if you are able to find this old book, it will provide a chance to turn off the TV, the phones, and just sit down with your preschool child (who is absorbing facts like a sponge) and have some quality time together.100_1795

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Review of Sarah Whitcher’s Story by Elizabeth Yates

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I found an ex-lib copy of Sarah Whitcher’s Story for sale at a local library and bought it. I remembered hearing about this book while I was homeschooling my children. The hardback version that I bought was beautifully illustrated in black and white sketches by Nora Unwin.

Last night, I sat down and read it. It is based on a real event that happened in Warren, New Hampshire in the late 1700’s. A little daughter of a pioneer family named Sarah Whitcher becomes lost in the woods outside her log home one day. Her mother and father had gone to get supplies and Sarah wanted to go with them, but was not permitted. Her older brother was to watch over her and some of the other children.

But Sarah slipped away and no one could find her by the time Mother and Father got home. In the meantime, she is playing in the woods pretending she is her mother and father. It starts to rain and she cannot find her way back to the log cabin. She ends up being protected by a mother bear who treats her like she is her bear-cub. But Sarah does not realize that it is a bear protecting her, for she thinks it is the family’s dog.

The community rallies around the Whitcher family in the attempt to find the little girl. Neighbors come from far and near to help out in the search every day for three days. Sarah’s mother is only heartened when she hears her husband tell her to trust in the Lord that Sarah would be found.

After the third day, the neighbors are ready to give up the search, for they think she will not be found alive. Mrs. Whitcher implores them to come back for one more day of searching, and so they agree.

Sarah’s parents refuse to give up hope and on that fourth day a stranger walks into the clearing saying he had  dreamed three times about a little girl that was lost and in the dream was shown just where to find her. He tells them he will find her. The Whitcher’s neighbor accompanies him, but in disbelief.  Astonishingly, the man walks to the spot that he saw three times in his dream and finds the little girl there.

A signal is given by gunfire that Sarah has been found and soon all the neighbors are rejoicing with the Whitcher’s. Mr. Whitcher says that He knew the Lord would help them find her somehow. At the end of the book, the stranger soon leaves but he hears the village singing praises to God as he walks away.

This is a great book for readers in elementary school. It could be read by the child alone but it also would be great for a read aloud. Emphasized within are the values of faith, family and community. It shows children how neighbors used to help each other out and worked together, something that has sadly become less and less common.

The black and white pictures are endearing, especially of the little girl Sarah. This is an older book, published in 1971 by E.F. Dutton, but it is a classic. It will help children learn about our pioneer heritage as well. I really enjoyed it, and it reminded me of my love for reading pioneer stories when I was a girl. It will be worth the time taken to share with your young readers.

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Baby Sewing and Cloth Diapers Made Easy-Babyville Boutique

I became a grandma last weekend!! I cannot wait to see my little grandson, who is a bit of a distance away. It should by the end of the month for sure. He looks a lot like his Daddy and his Mom did a great job delivering him. He is in very good hands.

In honor of my grandsons I am posting today about  my newest craze, making baby clothes, baby quilts and Babyville cloth diaper covers. .

My husband bought me a White sewing machine 25 years ago, when we had two of our kids. The first thing I sewed was a little red and white print cotton romper outfit for my daughter. I taught myself to sew when my three kids were little and had a blast. The first thing I sewed was a little red and white print cotton romper for my daughter. I went over to my friend Kathy’s and she showed me, step by step how to cut out the pattern and sew it together. I could not believe I actually did it, as I had a sewing nightmare in 7th grade home ec. class and was scared of the sewing machine. Later, I discovered the nightmare could have been relieved if someone would have taken the time to show me how to thread the machine!

From my White machine came all kinds of little outfits for the kids. It gave me a real sense of accomplishment to be able to sew for them. In the 90’s, my hubby got me a Singer overlock machine. I also got another machine, an Elna. I enjoyed it so much. The sewing machine started slowing down, however, as the kids got older and didn’t want handmade clothes. I was absorbed homeschooling them and so my hobby went on the back burner.

I started working in the early 2000’s and my jobs took too much time and energy. I was worn out at the end of my days with all the different jobs I worked over the years. The machines were stored away. I mistakenly put the Elna and the overlock in the unheated attic. Bad idea.

When I learned I would be a grandma to not one but two little boys I wanted to start sewing again. I was nervous, though. What if I forgot everything? My first project was an easy tumbler quilt, and no worries, it all came back to me easily, even threading the machine!

Quilting seemed daunting, but it actually was fun. My grandson’s quilt is uniquely his as I embroidered his initials on it and placed a Winnie Pooh patch in the middle. I had so much fun sewing the tumblers together. One day when I was in the fabric store picking out fabric for the quilt, I found out about Babyville cloth diaper covers. My other grandson will be wearing these.

Babyville makes all the supplies you need to make stylish and versatile covers for your baby. I bought the guide book, Cloth Diapers Made Easy and so far have made 4 covers and about a half dozen soakers. Included in the book is the pattern for the diapers and the soakers, all the way from newborn to large. (The soakers are placed inside the covers to absorb the wetness.) Babyville makes cute colorful PUL fabric  for the covers. You can buy a little kit with cuts of three fabrics or you can buy it by the yard. They also have all the accessories you need as well: velcro, snaps, fold-over elastic, even cute little tags to sew on. I  made the velcro ones so far. One of the ladies at Joann made covers for her kids and she told me a baby needs about 5-6 covers per day and about a dozen soakers.

I found out that having my machines sit untended for a long time was not a good idea. I got them serviced, and they told me to run my machines everyday to keep them working well. Now, my needles are humming as Grandbaby 2 will soon be here to meet his cousin!Imager

                              Babyville Newborn diaper covers.

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An endearing story of selflessness…The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico

OK, I admit to you all that I had a book on my shelf that I bought for my children when homeschooling them. It sat for many years. I am not even sure that any of them read it, but last night, I said to myself that the book had sat long enough neglected. I pulled out my ex-library copy of Paul Gallico’s novella The Snow Goose.

I have a vague memory of seeing this as  a movie and it haunted me. For some reason, I thought it was a Christmas tale but it isn’t. However, it does convey the spirit of Christmas as the main character gives his life for others.

Paul Gallico’s short story was first published in the Saturday Evening Post and then made into a novella. Philip Rhayader is the main character, but he is deformed. His one hand is like a claw and he is hunchbacked. Society shuns him so he lives in a lighthouse all alone, but he has a magic touch with the birds he encounters along the English shoreline. One day a disheveled little girl comes to him with a wounded snow goose in her arms. He is able to nurse the goose back to health, and he and the goose eventually becomes attached to Philip.

Though the bird is from Canada, it does not return there, but every winter will fly down to winter with Philip. The little girl, Fritha, comes back every year to see the snow goose. Eventually, a deep friendship grows between Fritha and Philip, even though she recoils because of his deformities at first.Fritha looks beyond the outward and realizes she loves Philip as she grows into a woman.

Britain is at war with Germany in the second World War and Philip hears of wounded soldiers trapped at the Battle of Dunkirk. One day Fritha sees Philip getting into his boat. She wants to go with him, but he must go alone across the sea to rescue the wounded soldiers and collect them off the bloody beach. But actually, Philip is not alone, for the snow goose is flying with him.

He ends up rescuing hundreds of soldiers. But the Germans attack with their machine guns and Philip is killed. The snow goose protects him whenever someone comes near. The bird becomes like a legend. and anyone who sees him is protected.

When the snow goose returns to the lighthouse alone, Fritha knows that Philip is gone. She comes to the lighthouse every day to care for the birds. But, at last, the lighthouse is destroyed by a German bomber.

The Snow Goose teaches adolescents, well, all of us, valuable lessons. Fritha looked beyond an apparent handicaps and saw true beauty in Philip as he cared for the creatures, and the soldiers on the beach. The Snow Goose shows us his loyalty by coming back to Philip’s lighthouse year after year, and guarding his body in death. Philip was kind to all, in spite of being an outcast. Good lessons, all, and revealing the wonder of the spirit of giving as exemplified when God became a tiny baby for our sakes.

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