Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Earth Science Curriculum

This spring my sister in law emailed me about a curriculum I hadn't heard of before.  It is called A Child's Geography.   The first volume is written by Ann Voskamp.  The second volume is by Ann Voskamp and Tonia Peckover.

I have been reading these two books this week.  I finished the first one yesterday, so I'm going to begin by reviewing Volume 1.  

This book is titled A Child's Geography.  The title is a bit misleading.  One typically thinks of continents, locations, topography, and maps when you think of geography--or at least I do.  This is not what volume 1 is about.  Instead, Volume 1 is essentially a study of earth science.  Some of the topics covered are the lower and upper atmospheres, the continents and oceans, the structure of the earth, latitude and longitude, and earthquakes and volcanoes.  Typically, all of these fall under the study of earth science.  

What makes this curriculum different are two particular aspects of how Ms. Voskamp writes about this subject.  
1) She endeavors to inspire a wonder of God's creation in students.  Frequently, scripture is cited and God is given frequent credit for his creation.  
2) She is not disparaging of others who do not recognize that this world we live in is God's creation.  I think it is wise to speak the truth in love, but we do not need to be disparaging.  

The book is made up of 11 lessons.  These lessons could be done once or twice a week.  They are similar to unit studies, but I wouldn't divide them up over more than 2 days.  In each lesson, there is a portion to read with your children.  Then, there are a few short comprehension questions.  After the lesson, students are asked to write a post card to someone about what they learned.  There are templates for post cards on the CD-ROM enclosed with the book.  You could mail the post cards or collect them in a notebook.  Then, there is a section titled Reaching Out to His World which is intended to prompt students to think about the needs of other people.  A list of possible books you can read for further resources follows.  For each lesson, a field trip idea or other exploration and learning craft are also included.

As I read through this book, I was very impressed.  I look forward to using this curriculum with my children.  It lends itself to working well with multiple elementary age children.  I think this curriculum would best be suited to grades 1-6.  I loved how she spoke about the Lord and creation.  I have been looking for a book like this that would help me explain that God has created everything and how marvelous that is!  The sections on reaching out to the world will open up great opportunities to help my children become more aware of the struggles and suffering of others.  I read through each craft and thought they were all feasible, made with inexpensive ingredients, not too labor intensive, and would be genuinely fun.  

The only suggestion I have is in regard to supplemental resources I'd recommend.  Definitely, you'll want to have a globe.  There may also be concepts in this book that are difficult for students to understand the first time around.  Beakman's World is an old show that you can watch instantly on Netflix.  Several of the episodes are on concepts in this book.  Veritas Press publishes a book and workbook (sold separately) titled Legends and Leagues.    This book and some of the workbook could be tacked onto the end of this curriculum.  It is helpful that each lesson has suggested reading resources.  You may find that these resources help make up for the lack of pictures in this book.  The pictures in A Child's Geography are small and there aren't as many as I have typically found in science books at the library.  

I love the content of this book.  It is well written.  I do wish there were more pictures, but that can be supplemented.  My plan is to use this in our fourth grade curriculum.  I will follow it up with an Evan-Moor geography book and then do a study of the state we live in.  

You can see a preview of the book here on this website:

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bramley Books.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Looking at things from a new angle...

Recently, I posted my review of Chasing Sunsets on Amazon.  The author, Eva Marie Everson, commented on my review and we began a short dialogue about her book.  I was challenged and encouraged by the dialogue.  So, I asked her if I could repost it here and she acquiesced, so here it is.  I hope you will find it interesting:

My review (which I've previously posted on this blog):
Ah, Christian romance. I haven't read one in a while. I've been very hesitant to, actually. I decided to read a new one coming out titled Chasing Sunsets by Eva Marie Everson

Storyline: Kim has two boys, 10 and 14 years old. She and her husband, Charlie, divorced a year ago. Her dad convinces her to go to Cedar Key for a vacation while her ex-husband has her boys during the summer. There she begins to process her family's past and her present. She meets up with her first love, Steven. The story is about her facing the truth and coming through the fire.

Writing: This story is written well and Ms. Everson is very descriptive of the setting and characters.

Plot: The plot is developed slowly and well. It is set in the present, though the main character is surprisingly technology free.

I feel like writing a review like they do on Focus on the Family's website Plugged-in. I've included the positive parts. Now, I want to explain the sexual content and negative parts.

Sexual Content is a funny word to use in regard to Christian books, so perhaps I should use a different phrase like "Romantic Elements".

This book centers on the ending, healing, and beginning of romantic relationships. So, it is understandable that there would be some mention of physical intimacy. Now, this book doesn't go as far as Amy Inspired, a book I reviewed some months ago--and don't recommend at all. But, I wish there weren't as many mentions of Kim and Steven kissing and how attracted they were to each other. Those passages made the book seem more like a Harlequin Romance than a Christian fiction book, though I'm sure they weren't as graphic as Harlequin books probably are.

There is one negative aspect to the book that didn't sit well with me. I discussed it with my mom. It didn't strike her the way it did me, but I know that I am particularly concerned about nuances in language and wording. There is a scene on pg. 366 when Kim says "we both deserve to be happy again, however we choose to find that happiness...just because we're parents doesn't mean we've stopped being human." I believe that what we write reflects what we think. The word "deserve" sets off a huge alarm in my head. We live in an age where divorce is so prevalent. When I was first married, the Lord convicted me that if I began thinking about how I "deserved" to be treated or "deserved" to feel, then I would be headed down a very slippery slope. The Bible talks about joy and God promises to give us hope (Jer. 28:13), but there is no promise that we have a right to or that we deserve to be happy. This assumption is at the core of this story and I think it's a very deceptive, and even dangerous belief.

This book is a well written, enjoyable story. It will draw you in and let you escape for a few hours. I know I'm picky about the messages that fiction impress upon us. I think that being aware of them helps us filter them out and that is my hope in writing what I have about the romantic and negative aspects of this book.

Ms. Everson's response:

Oh, I love a good debate! :)
First, thank you so much for reading Chasing Sunsets and for giving your honest, heart-felt opinion. I'd love to discuss it with you, as I believe good writing causes us to want to debate the issues we face in this life. Since this is our place to do so, here are my comments back to you on the book, the characters, and the writing of both.

First, I do hope you noticed that as believers, Kim and Steven held back from what would be a true, physical attraction. Just because we are Christians doesn't mean we don't have feelings. AND, as divorced Christians, those feelings have already been "awakened" as Song of Solomon so subtly puts it. As a woman whose first husband chose to leave, I remember well the issues surrounding being divorced...and I've certainly counseled those who face and fight those feelings as well. (I've now been re-married for some 30-plus years. :) ) But Kim and Steven make conscious efforts to NOT walk down a dark path that could only lead to additional heartache.

On the topic of what we deserve. Please know that when I write FICTION, I am writing out of a character's head. I so totally immerse myself in my characters and my stories, my family has to wait for me to decompress (or decompose, according to how you look at it ... LOL) when I come out of my office. They know by the look on my face that I'm someone else, somewhere else. It'll only take me a minute or two, but I'll be back! :)

Do I personally believe we DESERVE to be happy...not always, no. To DESERVE means you EARNED something. In Kim's mind, she hasn't DONE anything to NOT deserve being happy. She gave her marriage everything she could. But Kim also understands that one day her boys will grow up and get married and have families of their own. Her dilemma is making sure that--with a fine man like Steven (he's not a convict or an abuser of any kind!)--she can convince her son that while he has a right to live his life, so does she (to a degree). Parents will sacrifice for a season for their children, but their is a line and a boundary. As a parent myself, I made certain that my ENTIRE world did not revolve around my children. I am a wife, FIRST. There were times when being a mother slipped around that first place entry, but I always knew that one day, my children would leave (they have...) and find their own mates (they have...) and have their own children (they have...) and I would do well to get a phone call. :) I know parents who have made their children their ALL and when those kids leave, they are depressed, without a life, without a purpose, without a goal. It's soooo sad to me. Kim WANTS to be happy. Who doesn't? She thought she was happy in her marriage...and I think she was...but Charlie (the cad!) wasn't. :) So does that mean she doesn't get a second chance to be happy with someone? I don't think so. Remember, Kim wasn't saying she deserved to be happy in her marriage. Her marriage was over. I think there is a BIG difference.

And, boy oh boy!!! Do I agree with you on the whole "deserve to be happy in marriage" point! I get so rattled when I hear that. "I'm not happy anymore..." Well, I don't remember hearing anything about happiness in your marriage vows. :) (I'm just tough like that, I guess...)

One point I hope you caught (and if not, think about it now...) is the thread of a father's role in our lives. Kim has a good father (not perfect, but good). He's been the rock in their home. Steven is the godly single dad we see so few of these days. Rosa's father was NOT a good father. Patsy's bio-dad was a good man, her step-father was a creep. Charlie...well... Charlie THINKS he's a good dad ...and sometimes he IS a good dad...but Charlie truly is selfish. You can be that just as soon as something doesn't sit well with him in his new agreement with Kim, there's gonna be a me-me-me moment. Kim is ready to face that now.

Thank you again for your review! It means a lot to me! :)

Eva Marie Everson
Chasing Sunsets

My response:

Thank you for several things... 1) for receiving my review well. I strove to write my comments in a way that would not come across as harsh or critical of you as the author of this book. I always keep that in mind as I review a book. I have reviewed well over 200 books in the last 3 years and as I've corresponded with authors I am very aware that you invest your heart in what you write. 2) for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response to my review. I appreciate each of your points.

So, let me respond...
My mother is divorced. She is a believer and my dad is not. So, the question of how Christians feel about divorce is indeed a personal one for me.

Yes, they did hold back from their attraction and indeed that is a good thing to note. I read (and reviewed) a Christian book once that I literally set down because I thought the characters had had sex in the book. I am so sorry that you went through what you did--but I trust that God has worked through it. One of my best friends has also gone through her husband leaving her several years ago. I really appreciate what you've written in your comment about that aspect of their relationship. I hadn't examined it in that light.

Your point that it is fiction--yes it is. What I've found that concerns me as I've read so many books is the trends and themes that I see across books. Often I find the same value among several characters and my concern is what that implicitly says to the women reading the books. Though you are not responsible for what someone thinks when they read the book, I think fiction is powerful because of the messages readers take from it. Two years ago, I remember reading three or four fiction books in a row that all carried the same theme. Jerry Bridges writes in Respectable Sins about his concern that what we consider sin today will be seen as acceptable 10 years from now (this concern is based upon how much our culture has changed in the past 10 years). I share that concern and so I am sensitive about the values have (and develop) and lessons characters learn in the course of the story. As my pastor said to me in a discussion I had with him about books--"what we read, we believe".

I agree with you about what the word "deserve" means. What you wrote is really a catch 22, though. In saying that we don't deserve to be happy, that doesn't mean we deserve not to be unhappy. Actually, in the Bible God tells us that we will suffer in this life. It isn't going to be easy. I do agree with her explaining to her son that while he may disagree with her, she is the parent. I would phrase it differently though. She is an adult and he is not her parent. Just as she cannot live his life for him, he cannot live hers. I don't think it's really a matter of having a "right to live" the way she wants to.

I am on the same page with you about parenting. We have to protect and guard our marriages. We are wives before we are mothers. I remember hearing that when I first got married in a talk on Family Life and that conviction has stayed with me for the past 10 years.

I don't know that the idea is much different between saying we "deserve" to be happy in life and we "deserve to be happy in marriage. I don't think we "deserve" to be happy in life. If we are and if we find happiness, what a blessing that is! That is a gift of mercy and grace from the Lord. I love Ecclesiastes 3:1-14.

I did notice the different fathers and I did admire Steven's commitment to being a good father. I also noticed Rosa's husband and how he loved her and their children. Kim's father was an interesting character to me. He reminded me of the imperfections that we all have as parents. Many times in life we are simply coping with the challenges in our lives. There may be times when our children don't understand our decisions, yet we do what we feel we must--and we pray every step of the way.

Thank you again for your comment and sharing me so many of the things you thought about as you wrote your book. Because of your comments and what you have challenged me to consider, I will probably choose to read your second book if it comes across my email...

In Christ,
Ms. Everson's 2nd response:
Thank you again for your comment and sharing me so many of the things you thought about as you wrote your book. Because of your comments and what you have challenged me to consider, I will probably choose to read your second book if it comes across my email..

From Eva Marie: Well, you better! :) I wouldn't have it any other way. I love that we are discussing this.

Perhaps the best phrase when it comes to happiness is this: "I deserve to try to find happiness."

As a believer, I have noticed so many in my ministry who wallow in their self-pity. All the while, I'm looking at them thinking, "You have so much to be grateful for. Now be grateful!" :) Being grateful may just be the start to being matter our circumstance. As Paul said, being satisfied in all things. Rich or poor. Healthy or sick. I'm paraphrasing, but you get my point.

Boy, do I agree with you on the 10 year issue. I cannot believe the state of our world. I really cannot. My mother died this past year and, as I told my brother, she was really ready to go because she had gotten so discouraged with the state of this world and even with the condition of the church.

I see so many in the church who are just not walking intimately with Christ and are therefore stretching the boundaries. Some of my characters are just like this...but I want them to reach a place by the end of the book in which they realize something has to change.

At the same time, I don't want to beat people over the head! :)

Thx for your comment back!

Eva Marie

What I most appreciated about Ms. Everson's comments was her willingness to dialogue with me about her book.  Her points challenged me to think about her book from different angles than I had been looking at it from.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wonderful, Convicting Story...

Every once in a while, I get the chance to read a wonderful novel for children.  This week was one of those weeks.  This morning I finished reading The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson.

The Friendship Doll is about a Japanese doll, Miss Kanagawa. This book is a series of interrelated short stories about this doll and several families. When I started reading this book, I was a bit distracted. It didn't draw me in. The doll and the first short story annoyed me and irritated me. The writing was good from the beginning, but I wasn't so sure about how this book would turn out. I'm very thankful I stuck with it. This is a wonderful book! It brought me to tears and even as an adult it made me reflect on life's suffering. 

The stories of the young girls begin with the opulence of the roaring 20s. The next story is set in the early years of the great depression. The next stories are set later in the 1930s. The final story is set in the present time. Each of the stories has a message of what matters. Love, loyalty, kindness, bearing with one another in love--all of these are embedded in the short stories amidst great suffering. 

In one of the short stories, a child dies and that is why I recommend that this story is appropriate for middle schoolers.  If your child has known children that have passed away or had family members pass away, he or she may be ready to read this.  But, I wasn't sure that all 4th and 5th grade girls  would really understand the weight of the stories in this book (I think girls will be more likely to read this book than boys).  Each of the stories deals with the suffering of life--the death of a parent, deep financial struggles of families, death of a child, loss of a living parent, alzheimers...  These are challenging topics to discuss with children and help them understand.  This may be a wonderful book to read aloud with your children and discuss.  Talk with them about the decisions the parents and children made and why.  Ask them what they thought of their decisions.  Help them understand that suffering is a part of life, but that God is with us every step of the way.  That is the one part of this book that is missing.  God.  He isn't mentioned in any manner or form.  So, although he isn't included, he also isn't disrespected by the story. I think reading this book would be a great a chance for you to share with your children about death, heaven, and God. 

As a parent who is always looking for good, solid books for my children to read, I highly recommend this book. I plan on incorporating it into our curriculum in 7th grade.  I'd also recommend this book to adults. It may really make you pause and think about how petty our cares are at times and how great true suffering and loss is as it did for me. We need to remember what matters and live that way. 

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Having Fun with Photos

I think photography is fun.  Even if I am the only one that likes my pictures, I think it's fun.  Sometimes I think I get caught thinking that it's only worth doing something if I'm good at it or if other people like what comes of what I've done.  I know this isn't true.  It's fun to just do something because I enjoy it.  Taking pictures is one of those things for me.  

In March when we sold my motorcycle, my husband wanted me to get something that I would enjoy "doing".  I wanted to get a DSLR.  My dad gave me a Canon Eos Elan camera when I graduated from high school with a telephoto lens.  I used it a lot during college and the next few years after that.  But with the arrival of our point and shoot digital camera, I set down my film camera and pushed it to the back of the closet.  It was hard for me to justify using it when I had to pay to develop the film and I didn't know which pictures would be good on the roll of film and which ones wouldn't turn out well.  It also involved more work on my part to take the film to the store and pick it up than uploading the pictures to a site on the web and ordering them from home.  

My sister in law got a DSLR about two years ago and I marveled at the wonderful pictures she took with it. The shots she got of her family were awesome!  (I think "awesome" is a permanent word in my vocabulary because of growing up in LA).  Seeing her pictures made me want to take more pictures.  But, point and shoots are the same as SLR cameras.  They're nice, but the pictures aren't of the same quality.

So, when my husband proposed that I could choose a new "hobby" and purchase a new tool, I knew I wanted a DSLR.  I knew the two choices were Canon and Nikon.  When I went to the store, the Canon DSLR was just like my old camera.  It wasn't exactly alike, but it was very similar.  I compared features and knew I wanted to get a Canon.  I asked my sister in law and discovered that she and two of my brother in laws all have Canons.  So, Canon it was.  

For the past two months, I've been taking pictures and enjoying it.  Here's one I took while we were on vacation:

My husband loves to take pictures too and so he's enjoyed it as much as I have.  It's been fun to share my camera with him and enjoy the hobby together.

For about a month, I've been wondering if my old telephoto would work on my new camera.  When we had friends visiting last weekend, it came up in our conversation and they told me that they want to get a Canon DSLR because of the interchangeability of their lenses.  They encouraged me to try out my old telephoto lens.  And it worked!  I was thrilled.  It would save us a lot of money and I didn't feel like I was wasting my old camera.

Yesterday, I went to a friend's house to take pictures of her garden.  It was quite fun.  She took a lot of pictures with my camera too and enjoyed seeing her garden through the camera lens.  Here's a picture I took from her garden yesterday of a dragonfly

Here's a picture I took inside her house

What I love about pictures and cameras is the idea of trying to capture what we see.  It prompts me to look more closely at what is before me.  It also evokes in me a sense of wonder at the composition of our spaces and world.  Essentially, I am marveling at God's creation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Creation and Evolution

I grew up attending public schools.  I read the Bible, but didn't give much thought to whether or not evolution was true.  I had only a little interest in science, so I learned what I needed to know to pass my classes and then I moved on.  I took Biology 101 in college and that was the extent of my science studies in college.

When we began homeschooling, I knew I would have to figure out what I think about Old Earth and New Earth theories of Creation, as well as the theory of intelligent design.  I would also have to dig into evolution and understand the flaws in the theory.  I have to admit that I haven't dug into all of these yet, but it is on my radar and I see it coming!

Yesterday, I was confronted by my lack of a clear perspective when I picked up a book I received for review.  It is titled Marvels of Creation:  Breathtaking Birds by Buddy and Kay Davis.  This book was written with the help and assistance of the staff of Answers in Genesis, Ken Hamm's Ministry.

The first three pages of the book are the introduction.  This introduction essentially mocks evolutionists and paleontologists.  I did like some of what the authors wrote such as this thought:
"This book is different from most nature books in that it seeks to honor God as Creator and give all glory to Him...Even the world in its cursed state (because of the fall of Adam) can still show beauty, design, and purpose." p. 9
But, much of what they wrote in the introduction grieved me.  When I wrote my review of What is God? by Apologia, I expressed this concern.  When we paint what much of the world believes as stupid, we can do much harm to our children.  Yes, they need to know that evolution is wrong, but not that it is stupid or ridiculous.  The Bible does not call us to ridicule or scorn those who believe differently than we do.  We are to speak with love to all and respect them because they are God's creation, too.  I can only imagine if someone who wasn't a believer had read this introduction over my shoulder how they might have then reacted to me for reading it.  I think the person reading over my shoulder would have assumed that I would then judge them if they didn't believe in God.  I believe the intention of the authors was to alarm the reader and impress upon the reader how important it is what he or she believes about creation and evolution.  But, the language pushed me away from their thinking rather than towards it.  

The introduction aside, I liked the rest of the book.  The font is small, but the pages of the book contain interesting information about the birds included.  There are a few mentions of God and wonder of God's creation, but not as many as I would have expected.  I would have actually liked to read more mentions of the Lord and marvel of his creation.  The birds included are ones from all around the world.  They are both common and unusual.

After reading the book, I realize that I need to dig into evolution and creation.  I believe in creation and not evolution, but I am not in favor of disparaging the other side.  I find that as people we feel that we must make the other side look bad in order to feel good about the side we're on.  But, that's not true.  I think we can build a logical, constructive case and contradict the case of our opponents respectfully and without being alarmist.  When we disparage, criticize, and alarm many people stop listening.

Setting the introduction of the book aside, the rest of the book was nice.  I enjoyed What's that Bird?  by Joseph Choineiere and Claire Mowbray Golding more.  Though What's that Bird? is not a Christian book, I think that as parents we can talk to our children about the marvel of birds and what the Bible says about birds.  God created them and we want our children to know that.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book from New Leaf Publishing for review.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Historical Fiction for Girls

A few years I read a book titled Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt.  I love this quote about what good books do:
"Good books have genuine spiritual substance, not just intellectual enjoyment.  Books help children know what to look for in life.  Reading develops the taste buds of the mind as children learn to savor what is seen, heard, and experienced and fit these into some kind of worthwhile framework."  Gladys Hunt, Honey for a Child's Heart, p. 21

There is a saying that goes "You are what you eat".  Essentially, what you put into your body shapes how your body feels and what you are able to do.  In the same way, you might be able to say "You are what you read."  Our minds are stretched or stunted by what we read and put into our minds.  What we read feeds how we interact with others and with the world around us.  It shapes our worldview.  What we read doesn't determine our actions and thoughts, but it does feeds them.  

After reading Ms. Hunt's book, I desired for my children to grow to love good books.  I knew they needed to be fed a diet of good books rather than "junk" books.  So began my search...

Over the past two years my oldest daughter has grown to love reading.  Her reading level happens to be above her maturity level at the age of 7.   So, I am on a constant search for books that are appropriate for her to read.   Recently, I had the chance to read two books from a series of historical fiction Wendy Lawton has written for girls, the Daughters of the Faith series.  

The first book I read was The Tinker's Daughter.  It is a story based on the life of Mary Bunyan.  John Bunyan, the puritan preacher who wrote Pilgrim's Progress, had 10 children.  Only the name of one of them is known, Mary.  It is also known that she was blind from birth.  This story is loosely based upon those few facts and what can be known about what life was like for the Puritans.  At the beginning of the story, John has been taken to Prison and his second wife Elizabeth is expecting her first child.  Mary sets out at the beginning to find a way to provide for their family while her father is in prison.  

There are several things  I love about this story.
-It is well written.  Attention was paid to details--even in how color was described in terms of sound or touch, which is appropriate when speaking to someone who has never seen color (or at least that's what I found when I researched it).  
-I like the use of the glossary at the back and the italicized words to help readers know which words are explained in the glossary.  It is very helpful and makes the story more sound more feasible.
-The story of how Mary came to truly trust God to take care of her and her family was a sweet, hopeful, and encouraging story.
-I am glad that the author explained at the end what is and isn't known about Mary Bunyan.  This will help readers understand that this is historical fiction--but it is not a biography.  Just as many movies say they are based upon a real story, so are many books.  These adaptations are not 100% true to the real story, but they resemble what is known.   

I did ask Autumn to read it and she acquiesced, but she didn't get into it.  I think this is because though she can read the book, she still wants a few pictures.  This would be a great book for 4th-8th grade girls.  It is listed in Heart of Dakota's history read alouds for 6-8th grades.  

The second book from this series is The Captive Princess.  This story is based upon the life of young Pocahontas.  Wendy Lawton follows the same format of using a glossary to help readers with words that are important to the story and that need to be explained.  Her writing again is engaging and interesting.  I could picture what Pocahontas' world was like.  I have to admit that I knew very little about Pocahontas until I read this story.  It again is a historical novel based on what is known about Pocahontas' life.  I was drawn in more by Mary Bunyan's story, but both stories are good reads.  They are books that I would feel comfortable with my daughters reading.  I know that they will remember who Pocahontas was after reading this story.  Heart of Dakota's reading program also recommends this book as part of their 4th-5th grade optional selections for girls.  Knowing that confirms to me that this book is appropriate for girls in grades 4-8.  

There are 8 books in Ms. Lawton's Daughters of the Faith series.  They are each set within 1600-1950.  These books could be a great supplement to your homeschool history curriculum or reading for historical/biographical fiction.  Some of the stories, I suspect, are more based upon fact than others simply because there are some figures in history that more is known about than others.  If you're not homeschooling, I would also recommend these books to parents who have children in school and are looking for good books for their daughters to read.

I highly recommend this series for girls in this age range.  Yes, I did say "girls".  I happen to be one of those people that believes girls are more likely to be interested in some books than boys--and that the same is true in reverse about other books.  

Please note that I received complimentary copies of these books for review from Moody Publishing.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chasing Sunsets

Ah, Christian romance.  I haven't read one in a while.  I've been very hesitant to, actually.  I decided to read a new one coming out titled Chasing Sunsets by Eva Marie Everson

Storyline:  Kim has two boys, 10 and 14 years old.  She and her husband, Charlie, divorced a year ago.  Her dad convinces her to go to Cedar Key for a vacation while her ex-husband has her boys during the summer.  There she begins to process her family's past and her present.  She meets up with her first love, Steven.  The story is about her facing the truth and coming through the fire.

Writing:  This story is written well and Ms. Everson is very descriptive of the setting and characters.

Plot:  The plot is developed slowly and well.  It is set in the present, though the main character is surprisingly technology free. 

I feel like writing a review like they do on Focus on the Family's website Plugged-in.  I've included the positive parts.  Now, I want to explain the sexual content and negative parts.

Sexual Content is a funny word to use in regard to Christian books, so perhaps I should use a different phrase like "Romantic Elements".

This book centers on the ending, healing, and beginning of romantic relationships.  So, it is understandable that there would be some mention of physical intimacy.  Now, this book doesn't go as far as Amy Inspired, a book I reviewed some months ago--and don't recommend at all.  But, I wish there weren't as many mentions of Kim and Steven kissing and how attracted they were to each other.  Those passages made the book seem more like a Harlequin Romance than a Christian fiction book, though I'm sure they weren't as graphic as Harlequin books probably are. 

There is one negative aspect to the book that didn't sit well with me.  I discussed it with my mom.  It didn't strike her the way it did me, but I know that I am particularly concerned about nuances in language and wording.  There is a scene on pg. 366 when Kim says "we both deserve to be happy again, however we choose to find that happiness...just because we're parents doesn't mean we've stopped being human."  I believe that what we write reflects what we think.  The word "deserve" sets off a huge alarm in my head.  We live in an age where divorce is so prevalent.  When I was first married, the Lord convicted me that if I began thinking about how I "deserved" to be treated or "deserved" to feel, then I would be headed down a very slippery slope.  The Bible talks about joy and God promises to give us hope (Jer. 28:13), but there is no promise that we have a right to or that we deserve to be happy.  This assumption is at the core of this story and I think it's a very deceptive, and even dangerous belief. 

This book is a well written, enjoyable story.  It will draw you in and let you escape for a few hours.  I know I'm picky about the messages that fiction impress upon us.  I think that being aware of them helps us filter them out and that is my hope in writing what I have about the romantic and negative aspects of this book. 

Please note that I was given a complimentary copy of this book for review by Revell Publishing.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Venturing Into New Territory

I suppose I've given this entry a strange title.  A few weeks ago when I had my end of year review, I felt quite confident about what we've been doing and our plans for next year.  I worried that pride comes before a fall and my husband reminded me to just enjoy it while it lasted, because it would likely pass.

And it did.

Last Friday, I started having a reoccurring thoughts about how I've been teaching Autumn about writing.  I added a creative writing program this year to supplement Well Trained Mind's Writing with Ease, Year 2.  I found that Write About Me and Write about My World, published by EPS, were wonderful additions.  The rote method of Writing With Ease has some gaps.  There is no enjoyment of writing in the course for the student.  I didn't want Autumn to miss out on that enjoyment--especially since she is very creative.  As a side note, many of the passages used in WWE were also above her comprehension level (which interestingly is above grade level).

For next year, I ordered Writing With Ease, Year 3 and Just Write, Book 1 (the next book in EPS' series).  On Friday, a friend shared with me that she has found that it is not the curriculum that determines a child's success and enjoyment of it, but rather the time she spends with her children engaging with them as they use the curriculum.  This wisdom began sowing seeds in my mind.  Another friend recently mentioned to me that she is using a curriculum that many of my friends are using--Teaching Textbooks.  But, she has found that she cannot set her son down at the computer to do 2 lessons on his own.  Instead, she assigns 5 problems, checks on him, and then assigns 5 more.  Though the curriculum is intended to lesson a parents need for supervision and involvement, in her case that is crucial to the success of her son with the course.

What these two women said to me stayed in my mind.

On Saturday, I felt like I should sit down with Just Write and give it a second glance.  As I perused it, I began to feel that it wasn't enough.  So, I pulled out a scope and sequence that I had from my public school teaching days for K-5th grades.  I began to map out the writing skills that my children need to learn in grades K-5.  It has felt daunting to put together my own curriculum.  My weakness when I was teaching in public schools was switching curriculums and paths midstream.  I have compensated for this by choosing textbooks that I follow through to the end.  We used strictly textbooks for first grade.  For Autumn's second grade year, I added one unit from a Theme Pockets book by Evan-Moor.  My children loved it.  I saw how much they enjoyed it and learned from it.  I resolved then and there to add more smaller, well planned units.

But, put together my own writing curriculum?  That still seemed daunting.  I have seen how God has grown me in my weaknesses each year.  I know that next year I am going to have to become more engaged with my children and let go of more of my down time in the afternoon.  It looks like writing may be one of the new challenges ahead of me this year.

This morning, based on the scope and sequence, I identified these skills that my children need to develop in their ability to write--Please note that these skills can be taught with multiple elementary ages at the same time.  Younger and older students can listen to the others as you ask appropriate questions for their skill/grade levels.  Heart of Dakota does this with their Reading Program.

1)   Connect to the Text                    Children need to learn to connect to their text by connecting to their own experiences, what they know of the world, or what they've learned about in another text (or media source)
 * These connections enable students to process what they learn and turn those ideas into original thoughts.  Connecting to the text allows students to begin making predictions based on what they've learned in the past.

Connecting to the Text is an active skill taught through reading and teachable moments.  For this skill, I will put it in my plans--to make sure I remember to talk to them about the connections, but no formal curriculum is needed.

2)  2 Column Notes                       This skill begins in third grade with identifying the main idea (on one side) and details (on the other).  
> Curriculum I'm going to use:  Teacher Created Materials has a series of How to... books to teach children how to write reports.  For third grade, I'm going to use the book How To Write A Simple Report.

3)  Sentences                                Basic sentence formation begins in first grade.
> Curriculum I'm going to use:  Autumn needs to practice how to write sentences and Sami needs to begin to learn, so we are going to begin with Evan-Moor's book Write a Super Super Sentence, as recommended on Veritas Press' website.

4)  Paragraphs                              Once we've covered sentences, we're going to move onto beginning paragraph writing.
> Curriculum I'm going to use:  Evan-Moor has a book on Paragraph Writing for grades 2-4 

4) Research                                This skill is introduced in fourth grade so I'm not going to worry about it until next year when I introduce them to note cards.  I will teach Autumn to use note cards when she writes her state report next year.  I plan to use TCM's Simple Report book again.

5)  Stories                                  Autumn loves to tell stories, but she has written very few of them.  Part of this is because her handwriting has taken time to develop since she is a year ahead in her studies (she has a late birthday).  I haven't compelled her to write them, but it is time for her to learn the parts of stories and how to write them.  Sami is going to learn how to write simple sentences and draw pictures to tell her story.
> Curriculum I'm going to use:  Evan-Moor has two books How to Write a Story for grades 1-3 and How to Write a Story for grades 4-6.  This year we're going to start with the first book.

6)  Poetry                               I have to admit this is my weakness.  My husband loves poetry.  He reads it regularly.  I don't enjoy it quite as much and feel quite weak in my understanding and knowledge of it.  But, it's important.  So, we're going to introduce it as well.
> Curriculum I'm going to use:  Evan-Moor's book Writing Poetry With Children for grades 1-6.  Next year, I will plan on ordering Evan-Moor's Poetry Patterns book.

The last book I ordered is to help make all of this a bit easier:
Evan-Moor's Giant Write Every Day.  This book includes writing prompts that children can write about.  The homeschooling world and formal classrooms are different in so many ways, but there are many wonderful routines that formal classrooms have.  One of them is that in many elementary classrooms children write daily in their writing journals.  Sometimes these writing exercises are formal assignments (ie. the beginnings of the day's lesson in paragraph writing or how to write a story) and sometimes they are simply for the enjoyment of writing.  I want to introduce this idea into our homeschool classroom.  The girls are going to have writing journals.  This book will make things a little easier.  Typically in a writing journal, a student will keep a running list in the front of writing topic ideas.  Some days they will get to choose one of those ideas and other days they are asked to write on the topic they are given.  I know that the homeschool classroom is different from the classes I taught, but I think that this is a flexible idea.  I'm sure we'll tweak the idea a bit this year, but I'm looking forward to making it a part of our days.  This year such writing will only amount to a sentence or two most days.  

I know that using these books is going to require a bit more planning on my part for our writing curriculum, but I like the way Evan-Moor's books are laid out. The 6 books cost $52.20.  They are reproducible so I will be able to use them with all 3 of my kids.  I am still planning on using Writing With Ease, Year 3 and Just Write, but they will be used as parts of the curriculum rather than the whole.  There are 36 weeks of lessons in WWE and I will aim to do a third of them.  The skill I didn't mention that Writing With Ease helps students practice is summarizing.  It also helps students think (and then write) in complete sentences because they are required to answer questions about the passages in complete sentences orally before writing down their summaries.  Just Write includes pages for writing a story.  When Sami and Eli go through this age, I likely will not purchase Just Write for them if this year goes well with the Evan-Moor books.  They should be quite enough.  WWE is also reproducible so I won't need to invest any more for third grade writing.  

I did look for a complete writing curriculum that I could use, but costs were daunting to me.  Many homeschoolers love Institutes for Excellence in Writing.  It is quite an expensive program though.  The DVD teaching set begins at well over $100 and each year's course costs between $100 and $300.  When I have looked at IEW's teacher guides they haven't made sense to me in the past.  Two veteran homeschooling friends encouraged me this weekend with the advice that even if everyone else loves it, if it doesn't appeal to you then it is probably not wise for you to use.  If you don't want to use something, you probably will procrastinate with it and possibly not get a lot of use out of it.  There are other Evan-Moor and TCM books that will cover these same components of writing through 6th/7th grades, so I am hopeful I will be able to use these books.  Editor in Chief is a curriculum that has also been recommended to me for middle school.  

If I were looking for a preplanned kit, I would probably use Bob Jones.  I have looked at a friends' materials and I like how they integrate grammar and writing.  The homeschool kit for 3rd grade is $91.  But, I would need to buy additional student books for Sami and Eli which would cost $42 additionally ($21 each) which would bring the cost to $133 for the course.  Using these books is a much less expensive option for us if it works out well.  We'll see!  I am going to keep BJU in mind for when we get to Middle and High School.  It may be a good option for us then.  I have been told by a friend that because BJU does update their editions it can be hard to get additional workbooks for the same teacher's editions if you have multiple children using the course over the years.  One of my friends who has 3 boys has bought 2 workbooks after her first son has gone through the course.  Then, she knows she likes it and it has worked for her family before investing for the other boys.  But, this way she also doesn't miss out on having the student books for her teacher's edition if they change it in the years after her first son has completed the course.  

Another friend of mine uses Switched on Schoolhouse which also integrates writing and grammar.  She has successfully homeschooled many children and so it has obviously worked very well for them!  We are not prone to using our computer much in our schooling at this point (and that isn't in the plans) so I don't think we'll go that route in the future.  But, it is another option out there.

A few months ago I had a random conversation with a gal who teaches writing to homeschooling students.  She shared with me that many homeschooled students she's seen are not good writers.  She isn't sure as to the cause of this, but suspects that many moms are nervous about critiquing their child's writing and may feel unsure of themselves.  At first I was puzzled by her remarks (which were loving and gracious, not critical).  I wondered why this was the case.  And then... well I found myself in this quandary about Autumn's writing curriculum this weekend and it completely made sense to me!  WRITING is a complex process.  It seems so simple, it really is a complex process to be taught and broken down.  And the process which I've felt confident about began to seem quite formidable to me.  

A few weeks ago, I had shown a friend the scope and sequence I had for writing and I had been daunted by it immediately.  I realized this weekend that I needed to tackle it head on and not be afraid of it!  Homeschooling grows us as much as our kids, right? ;)   So, that was why I sat down and wrote down the main skills that needed to be taught.  I had a huge binder of lessons on how to teach the skills, but I set that aside because it was too vague for me--I needed a simplified guide (or in my case set of guides) to help me accomplish what I knew my children needed.  I found the Evan-Moor books on Veritas Press' curriculum list and that's where I began.  

I realized this weekend, too, that it is easy to feel insecure about our own ability to correct our children's writing, but that is why we (I!) need to relearn the grammar with them and reinforce their grammar lessons by gently correcting their writing.  Not making a a big deal of it--requiring them to recopy their work when necessary--and encouraging them always that they are making progress--highlighting what they've done well!  Those are my goals.  Sometimes I do these things well and sometimes I don't.  I'm a work in progress, but I need to have confidence that God will be my strength in my weakness.  I have always firmly believed that God first made me a classroom teacher and now a homeschool teacher that I might trust Him in my weaknesses--because believe me--they all come out in teaching!  But, I daily see God's grace in how He guides my heart and mind to what I need to teach them (teachable moments) and how I need to teach them (curriculum).

I will post again as we make our way through our school year about how these books are working for us.  Yesterday, I found the curriculum lists I made when I read the Well Trained Mind 5 years ago.  I read it before I had begun teaching Autumn, so my lists were based solely on that book.  It was interesting to see that I've used only 1 or 2 things from that list!  I learned a lot as Autumn went through PK4 and K about what kind of teacher I am and what I like and don't like.  The lists I made when Autumn was in K, though, are what I've used for 1st and 2nd (excepting Math).  As much as I would love to know what I will need for middle school and where exactly we are heading, I feel at ease realizing that I will learn more as we get there.  It isn't time yet.  It's enough to tackle this year and ponder 4th and 5th grades.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Much to Live Up to

Last year I read a book that took me quite by surprise.  I did not expect to like it.  I actually expected to dislike it.  But, I found that I loved it! It was a book titled The Sword by Brian Litfin.  It fits into a genre of fiction known as speculative fiction.  Essentially, the world goes into a future dark age when a virus wipes out most of the world's population.  This is deftly described in a very concise few pages at the beginning of The Sword.  God's Word has been lost and so has faith in Him.  It has been replaced by Idolatry and the worship of many Gods.  The Sword is the story of Teo and Ana and their discovery of part of God's Word.  I knew when I began reading The Sword that it was to be the beginning of a new trilogy and that I would have to wait a year for the second installment.

That time has come.  The Gift was published in April of this year.  I have looked forward to reading it and I finally got a chance to read it this week.

I'm not sure quite where to begin.  So, I'll begin with the cover.  I was surprised by how the cover affected me.  It reminded me of a Harlequin type fantasy romance novel.  It set me ill at ease and didn't appeal to me.  But, I opened up the book and began reading.  The story picks up where the first one left off.  There is a 2 page prologue that is brief but complete to set the stage for this second book in the trilogy.  This book can be read independently as an engaging story, but I would recommend beginning with the first one simply because it is a really good story.

The Plot:  I enjoyed the plot immensely.  The plot, with all its twists and turns, is engaging and interesting.  Some of the twists are predictable, but many are not.  In this book, Teo and Ana set out to find more of the sacred writing of Deu.  They found a portion of the Old Testament, but know that there is a second part of the book that is missing.  This book tells the story of their continuing quest.

The Writing:  I did not find this book to be as well written as the first.  It is difficult for me to say exactly why.  The language and grammar seemed too casual--too much like how we talk today.  Every culture seems to have its own colloquialisms and I didn't notice any in this futuristic culture.  At one point in the story, I couldn't picture Teo and Anna saying "Yeah, sure." when it was included in the story.  It didn't fit with their characters for me.  I was pleased, however, with how easily Mr. Litfin was able to convey when the characters were speaking in different languages while keeping the story fluid.

I think perhaps my misgiving about the cover is linked foretold of the amount of romance that would infuse the story.  I'm not sure that it was vital to the plot to include as much description of the women's clothing and their body movements as there was.  It made me somewhat uncomfortable at times.  The descriptions were a bit more like modern romance novels than Jane Austen's novels.  My discomfort reminded that this is an adult fantasy fiction book, not one for middle or high school students.

I enjoyed this story and am glad to have read it, in light of my one misgiving.  I do look forward to the third installment of the trilogy next year.  I would not, however, recommend this series to teenagers.  I know that young adult fiction now reads like adult fiction, but I am still of the opinion that teenagers shouldn't have to be adults yet and their books should be appropriate for their levels of maturity.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway Publishing for review.

Unsettling Movie

Last night while I was up writing, I watched a movie on Netflix called Nothing But The Truth.  It was unsettling.  The plot has many ramifications, but taking the basic plot out of context, the basics are these:  all choices we make have consequences.  We may think we know what those consequences will be, but often we don't.  We may justify that we are doing the "right" thing because it is based on what we want--not taking others into consideration.  

Some people might disagree with me on that interpretation, but I know I'm seeing this movie in light of the circumstances of someone I care about.  

(Please note I do give away some of the plot.)  At the beginning of the movie, a reporter chooses to disclose the identity of someone who's identity needs to remain a secret.  Because of the reporter's decision, the woman loses her job, family, and ultimately her life.  Because of the reporter's decision first to pursue the article and then not to disclose her source, she loses her freedom for several years, custody of her son, and her marriage.  One could say the consequences were because of her choice not to disclose the article, but really they are because of her choice to pursue the matter in the first place.  When you see where she initially gets the information, it will make your stomach cringe.  She knew she was putting people at risk when she chose to pursue the article.  Yet, she chose to pursue it--in the name of journalism.  Sometimes I know there is value in this.  In this story, I did not see that value.  I saw heartache and twisted self righteousness-- a "right" to the truth.  This reminds me of something I've heard people say before "It's my life.  I have a "right" to do this.  It affects no one but me and there's no harm in it."

Sometimes we do things that we don't believe will affect people but they do.  It is inevitable that our choices will have consequences for people indirectly.  This is undeniable.  "Not unto ourselves alone are we born." is the motto of Willamette University.  I find this to be a true statement, regardless of what one believes about God.  We kid ourselves if we think that our actions won't affect others.  

The terrible tragedy is that as with this movie's story the consequences are far more horrific than one can initially foresee.  Morally, there was a problem with the source this woman used.  That is the first clue, I think, that tragic consequences would ensue.  

That is how Satan decieves.  In Genesis, Satan first deceives Eve by simply twisting what God says that it might sound almost the same--but not quite.  And then he turns that twist into a lie.

Genesis 3:1-3 NIV
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
 4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

We have to guard our hearts.  Such lies are deceptively appealing.  They look right.  They sound right.  But, they aren't.

I am reading Depression: A Stubborn Darkness by Ed Welch* right now.  Today I read this quote: 
"First, sin might feel natural but we were originally created to live without it.  True humanness-blessed humanness-is sinless humanness.  Of course, on this side of heaven perfection is impossible, but as we battle with sin we get tastes of how we were intended to live." Ed Welch, Depression: A Stubborn Darkness (p. 76)

That quote might sound disconnected, but we are to be wise as serpents--deception comes in many forms and we need to be careful about the decisions we make--they can lead down many paths we would not want to take if we knew what lay at the end of them.  

*(If you're wondering if this book is a good one--yes, it is, but I will say more about it when I finish it.)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Commentary for Children

The idea of a commentary for children was very interesting to me.  With a Bible commentary, you can read a passage in the Bible and look to the Bible for insight and help with concepts or words that you'd like to have more explanation for.

Nancy E. Ganz wrote a 5 book commentary series for children that has been published by Shepherd Press.  Recently, I began reading the first book on Genesis.  The older edition included the teacher's notes.  Shepherd Press has made them accessible here:  

This book is interesting.  It was not what I expected it to be.  It does not follow the typical form of a commentary.  With most commentaries, you can look up a passage in the Bible, open the commentary and find comments for that passage.  The entries in this commentary overlap and go back and forth in Genesis.  Ms. Ganz explains in the introduction that this commentary is a compilation of the Sunday school lessons she taught.  She mentions using them with a class of 8 year olds.  In reading this commentary, it's hard for me imagine using it with 8 year olds.  The language and grammar seems much more appropriate for middle schoolers.  The lessons would be pretty long to do in one sitting with my girls who are 5 and 7.

It is actually the introduction to the teacher's guide that shed a lot of light into Ms. Ganz's approach to teaching and why this commentary is written as it was.  Ms. Ganz's husband is the pastor of Ottawa Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ottawa, Canada.  In the teacher's guide, she identifies a craft, review questions, Psalms to sing for each lessons, and a field trip.  The field trips are rather impractical if you are using this as a part of a Sunday school curriculum, but they are good ideas.  The crafts were inexpensive and easy.  She mentions Psalms because in the RPC denomination, people sing only psalms in church.  They do not sing hymns or contemporary worship songs.  It is the teacher's guide that would make this book very useful to the RPC denomination.  

The effectiveness of the commentary itself depends on the ability of your children to listen to read alouds about theology.  For many families who have raised their children talking weekly with them about the Word, I think this could be a useful and enjoyable book.  In our family, we haven't dug as deep.  We read Bible story books with them and scripture from the NIrV.  So, this commentary wouldn't be very useful to my family at this point.  

But, who might this book be useful for?  I think it would be a helpful resource for teachers in Christian schools, or private school chapel speakers.  It may also be useful for middle school Sunday school teachers.  It may also be useful for your family if you find that your children understand deep theological concepts in elementary school.

I believe that Ms. Ganz's goal is to provide students with a strong foundation for their faith that they might not turn from it when they are older.  This is a good and admirable goal.  Unfortunately, as a friend of mine who is the mother of 15 children said, there is no guarantee.  We love our children and teach them about the Word of God.  We do our best to help them understand.  But, it is God who works in their hearts not us.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Shepherd Press.

Created To Be His Helpmeet

On my last post, I mentioned a book by Debi Pearl about marriage.  I didn't realize that I had gone on such a tangent in my review until two people mentioned it to me.  One gal emailed me and asked me what my concerns about the book are.  I thought I would post my concerns here.

It was a few years ago when I started reading Created to be his 
helpmeet.  I wrote this review on Amazon at the time...

"I was very discouraged by this book.  To summarize briefly what this 
book is about--Ms. Pearl addresses what it means to be a submissive wife and how one would live that out.  What I read didn't sit with me, 
though I do agree with all that I've read in the Bible--that wives are to 
submit to their husbands. 

When I read Created to be His Helpmeet, I began to get very upset and my husband suggested that I stop reading it and just read the Bible. I 
stopped at that point. But, I picked it up recently to try and understand a woman I knew who had been very encouraged by it. I gave the book to my husband, who read several excerpts.  He told me to throw it away.  And this is why... 

I am going to try and say this very kindly (unlike how she speaks in her book). My 
husband felt demeaned by how she wrote about Godly men. He felt she was sarcastic, rude, 
and very inappropriate in how she addressed matters in the book. He also felt that her 
advice was very manipulative and passive aggressive in how to handle conflicts.  Finally, 
he told me to throw it away, because the more he read, the more concerned he was. 

Now someone might want to say to me, well you must not be a very submissive wife if you 
struggled with that book. I will admit, I do struggle with submission, but I think all 
women do--it has been a part of our nature--from the time of Eve's sin.  I have 
spoken to my husband about this, and he does feel I am submissive and that I do honor 
him--and that is what matters to me and I believe--to God. My feelings about the book 
were that her tone was sharp and critical and that she was lacking grace in her approach 
to marriage. Ms. Pearl retold a story and described a woman as "hillbilly ugly" 
rather than just saying she was not very striking or that one didn't notice her at first 
glance. I'm sure there are many other things she could have said that would have had more
grace than the words she used. 

So, my caution is this...if someone suggests this book to you, peruse it first, before you buy it--and be careful! If you struggle with a critical spirit or a harsh tone of voice, I do not think this book 
would be a wise read.  It would encourage any cynicism you might have about your husband's 

Honestly, this book grieves my heart because of all the young women who may have read it 
and felt condemned or trapped because of its advice.  When a book takes on a black and white, critical tone--ie.  if you do this, you are right and if you don't, then you are wrong-- it finds itself 
verging on being legalistic. 

I just wanted to pass that caution along to you. 

One friend told me that she felt the author's point to be that you need to stay in your 
marriage through thick and thin. This I agree with whole heartedly, but I think that 
message is mired down in this book. Please be very cautious about this book... 
That was my review from several years ago.

The story that I remember most from the book was of a woman who's husband was having an 
affair.  Ms. Pearl advised the woman to stay in her marriage and not confront her husband 
because if she did she'd be left with the kids in a small apartment and her husband would 
get everything.  I didn't mention this story in my review.  We are called at times to 
confront sin in our spouse's lives.  It is a difficult thing to do.  I felt very 
unsettled by the advice Ms. Pearl gave the woman in this situation.  Based on the advice, it was as if the woman was stuck and could do nothing.   
Because of my own struggles with this book and others that I've read about submission, I have 
been searching for a book about submission that explained it in 
a gracious, loving way.  I found one in the fall titled Dancing With the One You Love by 
Cindy Easley.  I have found that submission is often written about in a very black and 
white way.  I think this is hard for many women because submission doesn't look the same 
in each of our marriages.  One of my friends was very quiet with her husband and 
didn't speak to him in the way I do with my husband.  She was a submissive wife, but I am too.  It just looks different in our marriages.  My husband and I probably have more 
conflict than they did, but I do submit to my husband and trust him.  Because of who 
he and I are our marriage works differently.  I weigh my words, but I'm not very quiet.  

I know that this is a book that many women have been encouraged by.  I hope I didn't 
offend anyone by alluding to it in my review a few days ago.  If I did, please forgive me.  I would 
be glad to dialogue with anyone about it and I'd love to hear why it encouraged you or if there 
was a particular story in the book that encouraged you.  There was another book that was 
similar to Created To Be His Helpmeet.  I spoke with a gal who read that book recently.  I had cautioned her about how the book could come across at times.  After reading it, she shared with me that she could understand how it could be unwise for a young believer to read it.  A mature 
believer could sift through and find the grace in the words in the book, but to a young believer 
the book likely would come across as very legalistic.  My husband defined legalism for me 
recently as the conviction that what one is doing is right coupled with a critical spirit 
of others who feel convicted differently.  Perhaps the same view could be taken of 
Created to Be His Helpmeet?  Perhaps it is a book that can be filtered wisely.