Book Review

As a mother and grandmother, I am always on the lookout for a good devotional for mothers. I found just that in, Praying for Girls, Asking God for the Things They Need Most, by Teri Lynne Underwood. She offers a devotional and prayers for a daughter’s identity, heart, mind, relationships, and her purpose. She then speaks a little wisdom to mom for herself and how to speak to her daughter whether she’s a little girl, middle girl, and older girl. She finishes it off with two special sections just for Mom, something many devotionals don’t consider. I’ll be gifting this book to my own daughter and her little girl.

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Book Review – All She Left Behind

All She Left Behind is a historical novel written about real people who lived in Oregon in the 1870’s. It tells the story of a young woman who wanted to be a doctor, but struggled with reading and writing. It has a more realistic tenor to it than just a novel based on history. That said, it tells a bittersweet, melancholy story of the stories of a woman forced to deal with a husband and son bound by addiction. Even after her husband divorced her, the shame of that marriage and his behavior followed her throughout her life despite the joys and successes she achieved. Although the story is well written, I personally prefer more optimistic stories. But the author provides historic evidence in the author’s notes of the story, so the story stays true to the facts of this woman’s life.

Book Review: These Healing Hills

Women have always fought great struggles to work in the medical profession. Author Ann H. Gabhart tells wonderful historical stories of women’s accomplishments in many professions, and she doesn’t disappoint in These Healing Hills. Francine Howard had an interest in medicine but thought she’d put that behind her once she married and had her own family, until the man she loved jilted her. So, she put that dream behind her to become a Frontier Nurse in the mountains of Kentucky, against the wishes of her mother. But, unlike most of the Frontier Nurses, who saw the work as a job, Francine came to love the people and the country. Get a cup of your favorite tea or coffee and curl up to walk in Francine’s shoes as she builds a new life for herself.

Disclosure: Revell Books provided me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Cherished Mercy

Tracie Peterson wraps up her series Heart of the Frontier series with Cherished Mercy. The youngest of three sisters, Mercy has grown up on the frontier. She survived the wagon train west. She survived the Whitman Massacre. Now a young woman she has a desire for peace between the natives and the white man, while many only want the natives gone. Travel with this brave young woman who goes to live with a missionary couple to help the wife with a difficult pregnancy. While there she survives the hardships and the loss of her friends but develops a relationship with the couple’s adopted child and the brother of the missionary. Walk with her as she grows as a woman and a missionary in her own right. A wonderful historical read by Peterson.

Disclosure: Bethany House Publishers provided me with a copy of this book to give an honest review.

Book Review: The Promise of Dawn

Lauraine Snelling has kept readers coming back for more ever since she started writing books about her Norwegian ancestors. After writing about Norwegians who settled North and South Dakota covering several generations, she has moved her story to the woods of Minnesota with a brand new family, Rune and Signe Carlson. After working and scrapping to save their money, then accepting fare money from their relative in America, they arrive in New York City. They are shocked at how different it is from previous immigrants’ letters home, but they are determined to succeed. As always, Snelling tells a compelling story of how these early settlers overcame unimaginable odds to build a new life out of the wilderness. This heartwarming story offers yet another lens into the lives of the people who settled America and made it their own.

Disclosure: Bethany House Publishers provided me a copy of this book to do an honest review.

Book Review – Chasing Secrets

Chasing Secrets is Book 4 in the series Elite Guardians, written by Lynette Eason. Not your typical bodyguard agency, this company is “manned” mostly by women, beautiful women. But, don’t let their beauty fool you. Each and every one has special skills from law enforcement to Special Forces. Rest assured, they can protect their charges. Take a walk on the dangerous side with Haley Callaghan as she faces the nightmares of her childhood in West Ireland, as she pursues justice in her adopted home of South Carolina. Go along with Haley and Detective Steven Rothwell as they work to discover the secrets she can’t remember, the dangers assaulting her now, and stop a killer before she is killed. All the while she’s trying to get to know an Irish grandfather she didn’t know she had. Another great book by Lynette Eason that will be a great get-away for her current fans as well as her new fans.

Parents as Educators

Parents as Educators – First published in the Church of God Evangel Magazine August 2006

There has been much controversy regarding the type and quality of education our children receive. The public schools complain that the parents take no interest in their children’s education and blame low grades, truancy, and delinquency on that belief. The parents, in turn, blame the schools, citing lack of discipline, lack of dedicated teachers, and poor teaching methods as the reason for low grades, truancy, delinquency, and adult illiteracy.

Some parents have chosen either to homeschool or to enroll their children in private schools as their solutions. Most parents, due to finances, job demands or larger families, have had no choice but to keep their children in public schools. The parents demand a better education for their children. The schools cry out for more money, even though many question the allocation of current funding. This has become a vicious cycle with parents and schools on opposing sides, and the children are stuck in the middle, without voice or empowerment regarding their own education.

I am a single parent of two grown children and have dealt directly with public schools and private schools on these issues. I decided upon a different course of action with each of my children when the situation became intolerable in our public school system. This was done after much prayer and research based on their individual personalities, gifts, talents, and future plans.

I pulled my son out of public school in his junior year due to an assault and battery in the classroom between classes. I homeschooled him for the remainder of the school year, and he earned his GED at age 17. He went to work full-time and soon found a job with a small computer manufacturer, where he learned how to build computers. He later moved to a larger computer company, where he studied and became a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) at age 21.

The counselors at our public school had wanted to push him toward a college-prep program, but I knew my son has always been a hands-on learner with no desire to attend a four-year college. What this large, inner city school was not able to do was give students individual attention for their specific learning styles and talents or to consider their future goals and plans.

When my daughter was in middle school and planning for high school, this same school district took a very different approach. She was put into the traditional, general program, even though her grades were high, her work was always done early, and she had declared her major and college choice at ten years old. When she asked for more challenging work, they told her to “read a book.” My daughter actually lost interest in reading because of this forced, dry, continual excuse for not challenging her academically.

When I tried to withdraw her on open enrollment, the school refused to release her, based on some measurement of racial balance. Since I knew the violence there was not a temporary problem but a long-term one, I decided to homeschool her for one year and then I enrolled her in a Christian high school in a neighboring city. This school is a long-established, college prep, fine arts school that made it possible for my daughter to attend with the help of financial aid. My daughter went on to earn her education at her college of choice and is now a music teacher at a music studio.

She would never have been properly prepared for this by our local public school because they had pigeonholed her in the wrong category in middle school. Throughout this decision-making process, I researched at great lengths the pros and cons of home education and private schools versus public schools, based on the options available to me. I believe I made the best, most informed decision for my family.

For those who are still facing these decisions, there are many things to consider. Some strong proponents of public school argue that only public schools offer the best opportunities for extracurricular activities. I found that this Christian school offered the same extracurricular opportunities. Also, some homeschool groups join together to offer their children these same opportunities.

Some say public schools do offer their high academic standards, and I agree. I have found, both in my personal experience and in my research that academic standards vary with each individual school, whether it’s public, private, or homeschool. I also found that fine arts opportunities are rare in anything but a private school.

Finally, some argue that parents who choose private schools or home education are overprotecting their children by sheltering them from unsavory conditions that they likely will eventually have to face in the world. To this argument, I answer an adamant, yes! Our children are precious gifts from God. He has given us our children as a heritage and a reward (Psalm 127:3-5). They come to us as tender, innocent lambs, and it is the parents’ responsibility to protect them and shield them from as much danger and evil as possible. Parents are their children’s first and most lasting teachers (Proverbs 1:8, 9).

God has commanded us as parents to train, teach, and protect our children (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4; Deuteronomy 6:1-9). In all things, we are to demonstrate our love for them. This is a mirror of God’s love for us. God created each human being in His image, and our children are the most precious fruit of the Kingdom. They are the only things of this life that we can take to Heaven with us. We must pass down a Godly heritage to them if they are to continue to carry God’s Word to the world and enjoy His blessings. We must teach them that no matter what wind of doctrine is presented, the final authority is God, and this authority is found in God’s Word.

Each family must choose the best education for their individual children based on their needs and their situation. This must be done prayerfully. Some families may find they are blessed with good, quality, public schools with many opportunities. Others may be stuck in an inner-city school with no other options. Still others may be able to utilize home-schooling or private schools.

Whatever decision is made, we must actively teach basic Biblical foundation at home. God never intended the church or school to be parents. We need to instill in our children their rightful identity and heritage. They are created by God, in His image. We and our children are not simply higher forms of animals that are bound by uncontrollable physical desires. Neither are we our own gods or creators, able to improve ourselves by our own power or override God’s laws.

Let us pray constantly for our children’s protection and for God’s wisdom and guidance for the wondrous task of training them to reflect the image of Christ in their lives. Then, when our children are properly equipped, they will be able to go out into the world and carry out the Great Commission, which was given to us by Christ just before His ascension into Heaven.