GrowingForChrist

Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Organizing…..Part 1 (crafts)


I’ve discovered Pinterest and it’s fast becoming dangerous to the point that it actually got me in the drive to do more scrapbooking and card making but I couldn’t get to my craft cabinet.

I spent Sunday cleaning and purging and now I will be able to get to my craft stuff as well as my overwhelming surplus of fabric for sewing.  This is what it now looks like (sorry for the dark pictures):

That picture is of my stamps and my fabric, batting, etc.

This picture is my craft cabinet, drawers with my cutting and embossing folders for my Cuttlebug.  There are some things on the floor of the closet I need to still put away but believe me this is way better than it was.

This is the closet in our hallway that we had to put my craft stuff in since we gave the one bedroom to our son and the girls have the other bedroom (yes we only have 2 bedrooms).  I had to have a place to hide all the scissors and dangerous stuff and this was the only place out of sight that worked.

I’ve been asked how do I organize our school in a tiny space (all 624 sq. ft. of it!)  and that will be in the next post. It’s nothing earth shattering but I’ll share.

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FIRST Tour: Dawn of the Golden Promise by BJ Hoff


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

BJ Hoff

 

and the book:

 

Dawn of the Golden Promise

Harvest House Publishers; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

BJ Hoff’s bestselling historical novels continue to cross the boundaries of religion, language, and culture to capture a worldwide reading audience. Her books include Song of Erin and American Anthem and such popular series as The Riverhaven Years, The Mountain Song Legacy, and The Emerald Ballad. Hoff’s stories, although set in the past, are always relevant to the present. Whether her characters move about in small country towns or metropolitan areas, reside in Amish settlements or in coal company houses, she creates communities where people can form relationships, raise families, pursue their faith, and experience the mountains and valleys of life. BJ and her husband make their home in Ohio.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

In the fifth and concluding volume of her bestselling The Emerald Ballad Series, BJ Hoff brings the exciting Irish-American historical drama to a climax with all the passion and power readers have come to expect from her.

The saga finds Morgan Fitzgerald adapting to life in a wheelchair as a result of an assailant’s bullet to his spine. Meanwhile, his wife, Finola, must face the dark memories and guarded secrets of her past. In New York City, policeman Michael Burke is caught in a conflict between his faith and his determination to bring a dangerous enemy to justice.

This unforgettable series began with the promise of an epic love story and an inspiring journey of faith. The finale delivers on that promise.

About This Series: BJ Hoff’s Emerald Ballad series was one of the most memorable series published in the 1990s. With combined sales of 300,000 copies, these beloved books found a place in the hearts of BJ’s many fans. Now redesigned and freshly covered the saga is available again to a new generation of readers—and BJ’s many new fans due to her highly successful Amish series, The Riverhaven Years—The Emerald Ballad series will once again find an enthusiastic audience.

 

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 384 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736927964

ISBN-13: 978-0736927963

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Dark Terror

For hope will expire

As the terror draws nigher,

And, with it, the Shame…

James Clarence Mangan (1803–1849)

Near the coast of Portugal

Late June 1850

A little before midnight, Rook Mooney left his card game and went on deck. The starless night sky churned with low-hanging clouds, and although the wind was only beginning to blow up, Mooney knew the storm would be on them within the hour.

He hated sea storms at night, especially the ones that came up all of a sudden. The Atlantic was bad-tempered and unpredictable; she could turn vicious as a wounded witch without warning. Even the most seasoned sailor never took her for granted, and many a callow youth had been turned away from the sea forever by a particularly savage gale.

Had it not been for the brewing storm, Mooney would have been glad for the wind. Lisbon had been sultry, too warm for his liking. He was ready for Ireland’s mild skies.

Hunched over the rail, he stared into the darkness. Although they were another night closer to Ireland, his mood was nearly as black as the sky. He had thought to see Dublin long before now, but instead he had spent three months in a filthy Tangier cell for breaking an innkeeper’s skull.

The darkness deep within him rose up and began to spread. It was her fault. The Innocent. His hands tightened on the rail, his mouth twisting at the memory of her. All these months—more than a year now—and he still couldn’t get her out of his mind. She was like a fire in his brain, boiling in him, tormenting him, driving him half mad.

Nothing had gone right for him since that night at Gemma’s Place. He spent his days with a drumming headache, his nights in a fog of whiskey and fever. His temper was a powder keg, ignited by the smallest spark. Even women were no good for him now. He could scarcely bear the sight of the used, worn-out strumpets who haunted the foreign ports. They all seemed dirty after her. Her, with her ivory skin and golden hair and fine clean scent.

Like some shadowy, infernal sea siren, she seemed to call to him. He was never free of her, could find no peace from her.

His grip on the rail increased. Soon, in only a few days now, they would reach Dublin. He would go back to Gemma’s Place. This time he wouldn’t go so easy on her. This time when he was finished with her, he would put an end to her witchery. He’d snuff out her life…and be free.

All at once rain drenched him. Waves churned up like rolling dunes, pitching the ship as if it were a flimsy child’s toy. Angry and relentless, the gale whipped the deck. Salt from the sea mixed with the rain, burning Mooney’s eyes and stinging his skin as the downpour slashed his face.

He swore into the raging night, anchoring himself to the rail. He felt no terror of the storm, only a feral kind of elation, as if the wildness of the wind had stirred a dark, waiting beast somewhere in the depths of his being.

Drogheda

The small cottage in the field seemed to sway in the wind. Frank Cassidy resisted the urge to duck his head against the thunder that shook the walls and the fierce lightning that streaked outside the window.

After months of following a maze of wrong turns, Cassidy could scarcely believe that he now sat across from the one person who might finally bring his search to an end. It had been a long, frustrating quest, and up until now a futile one. But tonight, in this small, barren cottage outside the old city where Black Cromwell had unleashed his obscene rage, his hopes were rising by the moment.

Friendship had motivated him to undertake the search for Finola Fitzgerald’s past, but nothing more than the unwillingness to disappoint Morgan had kept him going. He owed his old friend a great deal—indeed, he would have done most anything the Fitzgerald had asked of him. But in recent months he had wondered more than once if this entire venture might not end in total defeat. Every road he had taken led only to failure. Every clue he had followed proved worthless.

Until now.

The possibility of finding his answers in Drogheda had first occurred to Cassidy months ago. A Dublin street musician’s vague remark about an unsolved murder in the ancient city—a tragic mystery involving a young girl—had fired his interest and sent him on his way that same week.

According to the musician, a woman named Sally Kelly and her son Peter were likely to have information about the incident. Cassidy had wasted several days in Drogheda trying to locate the pair, only to discover that they had gone north some years past.

He started on to Cavan, eventually traveling as far west as Roscommon, but found no trace, not even a hint, of the Kellys. He started back to Drogheda, discouraged and uncertain about what to do next. To his astonishment, a casual conversation with a tinker on the road revealed that a youth named Peter Kelly had taken up a small tenant farm just outside the old city only weeks before.

Now, sitting across from the lad himself, Cassidy could barely contain his excitement. Even the brief, fragmented story he had managed to glean so far told him that this time he would not leave Drogheda empty-handed.

“If only you could have talked with me mum before she passed on,” Peter Kelly was saying. “She more than likely could have told you all you want to know. There’s so much I can’t remember, don’t you see.”

Kelly was a strapping young man, with shirt sleeves rolled over muscled arms. His face was sunburned and freckled, his rusty hair crisp with tight curls.

“Still, I’d be grateful to hear what you do remember,” Cassidy told him. “Anything at all.”

Dipping one hand into the crock on the table, Kelly retrieved a small potato, still in its jacket, and began to peel it with his thumbnail. Motioning toward the crock, he indicated that Cassidy should help himself.

For a short time they sat in silence, perched on stools at the deal table eating their potatoes. The cottage was old, with but one room and a rough-hewn fireplace. Boxes pegged to the wall held crockery and plates. A straw mattress was draped with a frayed brown blanket. There were no other furnishings.

Peter Kelly had a friendly, honest face and intelligent eyes. “I don’t mind telling you what I recall,” he said, “but I fear it isn’t much. ’ Twas a good seven years ago, or more. I couldn’t have been more than ten or eleven at the time, if that.”

“And your mother was employed as cook?” prompted Cassidy.

The youth nodded. “Aye, she had been in service for Mr. Moran since I was but a wee wane. It was just the two of us. Me da had already passed on long before then.”

“Tell me about Moran,” Cassidy prompted. “Was he a wealthy man?”

Kelly took another bite of potato and shrugged. “Not wealthy and not poor,” he said. “He had an apothecary, but he also acted as a physician of sorts. His father before him left the business and the property. The land was fine, but not exceedingly large. There were some small crops and a few trees—and a lake.”

“And Moran himself? What sort of a man was he?”

Again the lad shrugged. “I recall he was an elderly gentleman. All alone, except for the daughter. His wife died in childbirth, I believe. As best I remember, he treated Mum and me fine.” He paused. “Mum said Mr. Moran doted on the daughter.”

“You mentioned the day of the shooting,” Cassidy urged. “I’d be grateful if you’d tell me about it.”

Peter Kelly licked his fingers before reaching for another potato. “I recall it was a warm day. Spring or summer it must have been, for the trees were in leaf and the sun was bright. I was in the woods when I heard all the commotion. I wasn’t supposed to go in the woods at all,” he explained, glancing up, “for Mum was always fearful of the place. But I played there every chance I got, all the same.”

Rubbing his big hands on his trouser legs, he went on. “But didn’t I go flying out of there fast enough when I heard the screaming? Took off as if the devil himself was after me, I did.”

Cassidy leaned forward, his muscles tensed. “What screaming would that have been?”

“Why, it sounded for all the world like a mountain cat in a trap! ’ Twas too far away for me to see, but I could tell the ruckus was coming from near the lake, at the far end of the property. I took off running for the house.”

He glanced at Cassidy, his expression slightly shamefaced. “I was but a lad,” he muttered. “All I could think of was to get away from the terrible screaming without me mum finding out I’d been playing in the woods again. She was a stern woman.”

“So you saw nothing at all?”

The boy shook his head, and Cassidy felt a shroud of familiar disappointment settle over him. Still, he wasn’t about to give up. “And what happened then, lad?”

“Mum hauled me into the kitchen, then went for Mr. Moran. He told us to stay put while he went to investigate.” He paused. “I saw a pistol in his hand, and I remember me mum was shaking something fierce. We heard the shots not long after Mr. Moran left the house with the gun.”

Cassidy’s interest piqued. He leaned forward. “Shots, did you say?”

Kelly nodded. “Mr. Moran was shot and killed that day.” After a moment he added, “Everyone said it was the teacher who murdered him.”

Curbing his impatience, Cassidy knotted his hands. “What teacher, Peter?”

Young Kelly scratched his head. “Why, I can’t recall his name—it’s been so long—but I do remember he was a Frenchman. Mr. Moran was determined his daughter would be educated, you see, and not in no hedge school, either. He hired the Frenchman as a tutor, and to coach her in the voice lessons. She was musical, you know.”

Cassidy’s mind raced. “This teacher—he lived with the family, did he?”

“He did. It seems to me he had a room upstairs in the house.”

“But what reason would he have had to shoot James Moran?”

Peter Kelly met Cassidy’s eyes across the table. “The story went that Mr. Moran must have been trying to save his daughter from the man’s advances, but the Frenchman got the best of him. Mr. Moran was elderly, mind, and would have been no match for the teacher.”

As Cassidy struggled to piece together what Kelly had told him, the youth went on. “I’m afraid I don’t know much else, sir. Only that Mr. Moran died from the shooting, and the daughter disappeared.”

Cassidy looked at him. “Disappeared?”

“She was never seen after that day,” said Kelly, crossing his arms over his chest. “Mum went looking for her after she found Mr. Moran dead, but there wasn’t a trace of her, not a trace. Nothing but her tin whistle, which they found lying near the lake. No, they never found her nor the Frenchman.” He drew in a long breath, adding, “Mum always said she didn’t believe they tried any too hard, either.”

Cassidy frowned. “Why would she think that?”

Peter Kelly twisted his mouth. “The police didn’t care all that much, don’t you see. The Morans weren’t important enough for them to bother with, Mum said. They didn’t know where to look, so they simply pretended to search.”

Cassidy drummed his finger on the table. “Could the girl simply have run off with the Frenchman, do you think?”

The other shook his head forcefully. “No, sir, I’m certain it was nothing of the sort. Mum was convinced the Frenchman had done something terrible to the lass, and that was why Mr. Moran went after him. But Mr. Moran, he was that frail; a younger man would outmatch him easy enough, she said. Mum was convinced until the day she died that the Frenchman murdered Mr. Moran and then ran off.”

Cassidy rubbed his chin. “But that doesn’t account for the girl,” he said, thinking aloud. “What of her?”

“It pained me mum to think so, but she always believed the Frenchman took the lass with him.”

“Abducted her, d’you mean?”

Peter nodded. “Aye, and perhaps murdered her as well.” He seemed to reminisce for a moment. “Mum never liked that Frenchman, you see. Not a bit. He gave himself airs, she said, and had a devious eye.”

Cassidy’s every instinct proclaimed that at last he had found what he was searching for, but he had been thwarted too many times not to be cautious. Getting to his feet, he untied the pouch at his waist and withdrew the small portrait Morgan had sent him some months past.

He unfolded it, then handed it to Peter Kelly. “Would this be the girl?” he asked, his pulse pounding like the thunder outside. “Would the Moran lass resemble this portrait today, do you think?”

As Kelly studied the portrait, his eyes widened. “Why, ’tis her,” he said, nodding slowly. “Sure, ’tis Miss Finola herself.”

Cassidy stared at him. “Finola?” he said, his voice cracking. “That was her name—Finola?    ”

“It was indeed,” the lad said. “And didn’t it suit her well, at that? Tall and lovely, she was, and several years older than myself. Wee lad that I was, I thought her an enchanted creature. A princess…with golden hair.”

A wave of exhilaration swept over Cassidy. He had all he could do not to shout. According to Morgan, the one thing Finola Fitzgerald had seemed to remember about her past was her given name.

“You’re quite sure, lad?” he said, his voice none too steady. “It’s been many a year since you last saw the lass, after all.”

Kelly nodded, still studying the portrait. “ ’ Tis her. Sure, and she’s a woman grown, but a face is not easily forgotten, no matter the years.”

“Now that is the truth,” agreed Cassidy, smiling at the boy.

“Is she found then, sir, after all this time?” Kelly asked, returning the portrait to Cassidy.

Still smiling, Cassidy stared at the portrait. “Aye, lad,” he said after a moment, his voice hoarse with excitement. “She is found. She is safe, and a married woman now.”

“Ah…thanks be to God!” said Peter Kelly.

“Indeed,” Cassidy echoed. “Thanks be to God.”

Nelson Hall, Dublin

For the second time in a week, Finola’s screams pierced the late night silence of the bedroom. Instantly awake, Morgan reached for her, then stopped. He had learned not to touch her until she was fully awake and had recognized him.

“Finola?” Leaning over her, he repeated her name softly. “Finola, ’tis Morgan. You’re dreaming, macushla. You are safe. Safe with me.”

Her body was rigid, her arms crossed in front of her face as if to ward off an attack. She thrashed, moaning and sobbing, her eyes still closed.

Outside, thunder rumbled in the distance and the lightning flared halfheartedly, then strengthened. As if sensing the approaching storm, Finola gave a startled cry.

Morgan continued to soothe her with his voice, speaking softly in the Irish. It was all he could do not to gather her in his arms. But when the nightmare had first begun, months ago, he had made the mistake of trying to rouse her from it. She had gone after him like a wild thing, pummeling him with her fists, scraping his face with her nails as she fought him off.

Whatever went on in that dark, secret place of the dream must be an encounter of such dread, such horror, as to temporarily seize her sanity. The Finola trapped in that nightmare world was not in the least like the gentle, soft-voiced Finola he knew as his wife. In the throes of the dream she was a woman bound, terrorized by something too hideous to be endured.

No matter how he ached to rescue her, he could do nothing…nothing but wait.

In the netherworld of the dream, Finola stood in a dark and windswept cavern.

Seized by terror, she cupped her hands over her ears to shut out the howling of the wind.

The wind. She knew it was coming for her, could hear the angry, thunderous roar, feel the trembling of the ground beneath her feet as the storm raced toward her.

Faster now…a fury of a wind, gathering speed as it came, raging and swooping down upon her like a terrible bird of prey, gathering momentum as it hurled toward her…closing in, seizing her.

Black and fierce, it seemed alive as it dragged her closer…closer into its eye, as if trying to swallow her whole. As she struggled to break free, she heard in the farthest recesses of the darkness a strange, indefinable sound, a sound of sorrow, as if all the trees in the universe were sighing their grief.

She tried to run but was held captive by the force of the wind. It pounded her, squeezing the breath from her, dragging her into a darkness so dense it filled her eyes, her mouth, her lungs…oh, dear Jesus, it was crushing her…crushing her to nothing—

Finola sat straight up in bed, as if propelled by some raw force of terror. She gasped, as always, fighting for her breath.

Soaked in perspiration, Finola stared at Morgan, her gaze filled with horror.

Still he did not touch her. “You are safe, Finola aroon. ’      Twas only a bad dream. You are here with me.”

She put a hand to her throat and opened her mouth as if to speak, but made no sound. Finally…finally, she made a small whimper, like that of a frightened animal sprung free from a trap.

At last Morgan saw a glint of recognition. Finola moaned, then sagged into his waiting arms.

Stroking her hair, Morgan held her, crooning to her as he would a frightened child. “There’s nothing to harm you, my treasure. Nothing at all.”

“Hold me…hold me…”

Tightening his arms about her still more, he began to rock her gently back and forth. “Shhh, now, macushla…everything is well. You are safe.”

He felt her shudder against him, and he went on, lulling her with his voice, stroking her hair until at last he felt her grow still. “Was it the same as before?” he asked.

Her head nodded against his chest.

He knew it might be hours before she would be able to sleep again. So great was the dream’s terror that she dreaded closing her eyes afterward. Sometimes she lay awake until dawn.

Her description of the nightmare never failed to chill Morgan. It had begun not long after their first physical union. Although he could scarcely bring himself to face the possibility, he could not help but wonder if their intimacy, though postponed, might not somehow be responsible.

At the outer fringes of his mind lurked a growing dread that by marrying her and taking her into his bed, he had somehow invoked the nightmare. He prayed it was not so, but if it continued, he would eventually have to admit his fear to Finola. They would have to speak of it.

But not yet. Not tonight. Tonight he would simply hold her until she no longer trembled, until she no longer clung to him as if he alone could banish the horror.

Unwilling to forsake the comforting warmth of Morgan’s embrace, Finola lay, unmoving. Gradually she felt her own pulse slow to the steady rhythm of his heartbeat. “I’m sorry I woke you,” she whispered.

He silenced her with a finger on her lips. “There is nothing to be sorry for. Hush, now, and let me hold you.”

Something was coming. Something dark. Something cold and dark and sinister…

Thunder boomed like distant cannon, and Finola shivered. Wrapped safely in Morgan’s arms, she struggled to resist the dark weight of foreboding that threatened to smother her.

It was always like this after the nightmare, as if the black wind in the dream still hovered oppressively near, waiting to overtake her after she was fully awake. Sometimes hours passed before she could completely banish the nightmare’s terror.

Were it not for the safe wall of Morgan’s presence to soothe and shield her, she thought she might go mad in the aftermath of the horror. But always he was there, his sturdy arms and quiet voice her stronghold of protection. Her haven.

“Better now, macushla   ?” he murmured against her hair.

Finola nodded, and he gently eased her back against the pillows, settling her snugly beside him, her head on his shoulder.

“Try to sleep,” he said, brushing a kiss over the top of her head. “Nothing will hurt you this night. Nothing will ever hurt you again, I promise you.”

Finola closed her eyes and forced herself to lie still. She knew Morgan would not allow himself to sleep until she did, so after a few moments she pretended to drift off; in a short while, she heard his breathing grow even and shallow.

After he fell asleep, she lay staring at the window, trying not to jump when lightning streaked and sliced the night. She hugged her arms to herself as the thunder groaned. In the shelter of Morgan’s embrace, it was almost possible to believe that he was right, that nothing would hurt her ever again. She knew that with the first light of the morning, the nightmare would seem far distant, almost as if it had never happened.

But just as surely, she knew night would come again, and with the night would come the dream, with its dark wind and evil hidden somewhere deep within.

After a long time, Finola began to doze. But just as she sank toward the edge of unconsciousness, the wind shrieked. Like the sudden convulsion of a wren’s wings, panic shook her and she jolted awake.

Feeling irrationally exposed and vulnerable, she listened to the storm play out its fury. Thunder hammered with such force that the great house seemed to shudder and groan, while the wind went howling as if demanding entrance.

Again she closed her eyes, this time to pray.

 

My Opinion:

I’m still reading this, review will be posted when I’m finished.

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Learning…………….


Wow!  Two days before September and into our 5th week of school!  Can I just say how wonderful it’s been this year to be so on track.  I  don’t know if it’s because Christian is older and can do more things with us or just that I’m feeling more in control of school this year.  Whatever it is I’m grateful for it and can only pray we continue moving on at this pace.

The children are enjoying Mystery of History Vol. I again and even Christian participates some.  We are 3 lessons into our Apologia Botany, and we’re waiting for the junior notebooking journal to be released so I can get Christian caught up.  I was going to add in Bethanne’s Latin, all 3’s Spanish and art this week but we’re taking a trip to see a Cleopatra exhibit and a historical re-enactment education day this week so I’ll be adding those subjects in next week.

We studied the ancient Olympics and the children made crowns for the winners – Bethanne made hers to fit her Webkinz lion, Tracy.  These are just bay leaves glued/taped onto pipe cleaner but they had fun.

One of the science experiments was to make our own leaf chromatography – using leaves, alcohol and coffee filters.  It didn’t work.  We’ll retry the experiment on Wednesday maybe using markers if we have to otherwise we’ll do the leaf skeleton and see if we can make that work.

Rubbing the leaf’s green onto the filter:

The strips of filter hanging in the jar w/alcohol:

Now today the children had to build a wall like that of Nineveh (think Jonah) and had to make it wide enough for three small cars to fit side by side, and the towers had to be more than twice the size of the wall.  The cars represented chariots.  This of course was for our MOH study today.

We moved on to seeds today and we had to soak bean seeds so we could open them up.  All three children really enjoyed this project and it was interesting to learn how God made embryos both in human form as well as plant form.

I’m so blessed to be able to home educate my children.  It’s a learning experience for me as well as I’m learning things that I wasn’t taught in school – I’m so glad to be able to teach these things to my children and see them grow in the Lord.

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TOS Crew Review: Apologia "How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids" by Rachael Carman


PhotobucketVendor Name: Apologia

Vendor Contact: Apologia Contact Form

Name of Product:How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids” by Rachael Carman

Price: $13.00

Age Range: moms (and dads)

 

Photobucket

Often times I find it easier to go through the motions of being a mother, not really knowing and loving, just getting through the day without losing my patience or yelling at the top of my lungs.  That isn’t what I want though, I want to be a mom, one who doesn’t feel interrupted when I have to stop talking on the phone, or stop washing dishes once again to break up a fight, a mom who intentionally loves being a mom and one that her children can look back on with fondness and maybe even a bit of joy.

When I was given the chance to read the newest book by Rachael Carman titled “How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids” I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.  It’s not a book about being a perfect mom, it’s about letting God in and letting Him take over the helm of the ship.  It doesn’t matter if you have one, three or eighteen children if you don’t know your children then this book is for you!

H.E.A.R.T. is an acronym in how to be a better mom especially a better homeschooling mom.  It’s hard to raise your children, educate your children, take care of the house, maintain your marriage, among other things and that is why these five steps are so simple but yet so needed.  You don’t have to do them all at once, take it one step at a time and begin with the one the Lord leads you to work on or even the one you know you need to work on.

At the end of each chapter there is a ‘heart checkup’ which will help you in going through the step you’re working on.  Each checkup is between three and five questions to get you thinking about your life with the Lord, your children and your husband.  With Scripture sprinkled through out you’ll see that what Rachael is writing about and how it applies to life is Biblical and how to put God at the center all the while getting to know your children and the life God wants them (and you) to have!

Please stop by and check out the TOS Homeschool Crew blog for more reviews on this wonderful book!

**I was provided a copy of this book from Apologia in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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FIRST Tour: Life-Changing Bible Verses You Should Know by Erwin and Rebecca Lutzer


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

Erwin and Rebecca Lutzer

 

and the book:

 

Life-Changing Bible Verses You Should Know

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, Senior Pastor of The Moody Church since 1980, is an award-winning author of more than 20 books including Walking with God. He’s a celebrated international conference speaker and the featured speaker on three radio programs that are heard around the world. Rebecca Lutzer has used her gifts of hospitality, mercy, and teaching to minister to many women. She is an RN and enjoyed working as a surgical nurse for several years. They coauthored a book on the women in the life of Jesus and how He changed their worlds titled Jesus, Lover of a Woman’s Soul. They have been married for 35 years, live in the Chicago area, and are the parents of three married children.

 

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Erwin Lutzer, senior pastor of the Moody Church, and his wife, Rebecca, encourage readers to reap the blessings of memorizing Scripture in this gathering of relevant verses, 35 topics, insightful explanations, and engaging questions. This foundation of wisdom inspires readers to experience God’s Word in powerful ways.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 208 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736939520

ISBN-13: 978-0736939522

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Adversity

Psalm 46:1—God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

1 Peter 1:6-7—In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

When we think back to the devastating earthquake in Haiti that killed nearly 200,000 people, many images come to mind, but one image that stands out well above the others is that of a young mother being interviewed on television as she held a baby in her arms.

“I lost my son…he died in the rubble.”

“Did you get to bury him?”

“No, no chance; his body was crushed in the rubble; I just had to throw him away.”

Just then the camera zeroed in on her backpack as she prepared to board a bus. Stuffed in a side pocket was a Bible. As she boarded the bus she could be heard, speaking to no one in particular, saying, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…” Her voice trailed off as she disappeared from view.

When the report was over we just kept staring at the television for a while, pushing back tears and letting what we’d just seen sink into our souls. A dead child with no chance to plan a funeral and pay respects to her precious little one, a baby in her arms, and she was boarding a bus that was going she knew not where. Yet she still expressed belief; she still trusted that God is her refuge and strength.

Faith in adversity!

This mother—God bless her—began quoting Psalm 46, which was written as a praise song after God spared the city of Jerusalem from an invasion by Assyrians who were threatening to annihilate the inhabitants. In the midst of a harrowing escape, the Israelites found God to be an unshakable pillar.

God is our refuge. A refuge is a safe place you can run to for shelter when life’s storms are swirling around you. No wonder this dear mother found solace in this psalm, which continues, “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” (verses 2-3).

Yes, the mountains did give way and fall into the heart of the sea, but God is unaffected by the fluctuation on events of earth; He is always there, solid, unmoved. When the mountains are shaking and the ground beneath you is quaking, run to God, and He will meet you. Yes, even when our world falls apart in the aftermath of a horrendous natural disaster, God is unchanging and remains with us.

In the midst of the devastation, God is our source of supply. The psalm continues, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells” (verse 4). Most likely that refers to a tunnel that had been built some time earlier to bring water into the city in case it was ever besieged. The people of Jerusalem saw this provision as God giving them specific help at their time of their need.

Then the psalm gives us a command: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (verse 10). Let us cease striving and let God be God. Even in adversity He is there; or perhaps we should say especially in adversity He is there!

Adversity should not drive us away from God; rather, it should drive us into His arms. He is there for the grieving mother, and for the family that has experienced indescribable loss. The psalm ends, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (verse 11).

God wants to be believed. And our faith is more precious to Him than gold, which perishes. When we continue to trust Him even when there appears to be no reason to do so—and we go on believing God’s bare Word, our faith will “result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7).

Reverend Henry F. Lyte was a pastor in Scotland who battled tuberculosis most of his life. On his final Sunday, September 4, 1847, amid many tears the congregation sang a song he himself had composed, “Abide with Me.” It spoke of the unchanging God in an ever-changing world:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;

The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.

When other helpers fail and comforts flee,

Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;

Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;

Change and decay in all around I see;

O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;

Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.

Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;

In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

The young mother in Haiti—who was clutching an undernourished baby in her arms and had no time to mourn the tragic death of her son—found solace in the God who was still beside her when the earth gave way. “God is our refuge and strength,” she said amid her grief and uncertainty of the future.

In times of adversity, our faith can hold fast. And God is both honored and pleased.

Taking God’s Word to Heart

Reflect on the account of the Haitian mother who tragically lost her son. How has Psalm 46 been a source of strength for you during adversity? What other Scripture passages do you turn to for help in difficult times?

What does it mean to you that God is your refuge? In life’s journey, why is God’s unchangeable nature a source of strength for us?

Recall an instance when God provided timely help for a specific need. What did that experience teach or confirm for you about God’s character?

What are some ways God has used adversity to shape your life?

Why is God honored and pleased when we exercise faith in times of adversity?

 

My Opinion:

As Christians we know there are Bible verses we should know at the drop of a hat and I think we sometimes take for granted that we have a Bible that we can physically open and read from.  It’s fortunate that at this point in time we have that freedom but what would happen if we didn’t have a Bible available to us like those in China, the Middle East or Russia?

Life-Changing Bible Verses You Should Know is a book that is packed with verses for almost any life situation.  Hope, Eternal life, Heaven, Hell, Anxiety, temptation, purity, and more are among what the authors have written on carefully selected verses.  Each area has a verse or two or three that goes along with that subject and then there are some words on how it can be applied and then study questions.  Regardless of whether you read it straight through like other books, read it and then come back to it as needed or just use it as a reference book during a certain trial this book is wonderful for the Believer.

If it’s wonderful for the Believer then it is a great resource for the seeking or non-believer.  What to know more about Jesus, salvation or Satan?  That’s in there to and this would be a great starting point for the non-believer or young Christian who needs more knowledge to chew over and understand.  The writing isn’t a deep theology and any lay person can easily understand and it’s a book that gets to the heart that every Christian should know these verses.

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Litfuse Tour: "Blue Skies Tomorrow" by Sarah Sundin


About the book:

Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but at least his stateside job training  B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life.  As he courts Helen Carlisle, a young war widow and mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work, the sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril.  After Ray leaves to fly combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, Helen takes a job in a dangerous munitions yard and confronts an even grave menace in her own home.  Will they find the courage to face their challenges?  And can their young love survive until blue skies return?

About the Author:

Sarah Sundin received the 2011 Writer of the Year Award from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and her second novel A Memory Between Us is a finalist for an Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award.  Her stories are inspired by her great-uncle who flew with the U.S. Eighth Air Force in England during World War II.

Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.  Visit with Sarah online at: Sarah Sundin

You can buy the book at Amazon


To celebrate the release of Blue Skies Tomorrow, the final installment of the Wings of Glory series, Sarah is giving one lucky winner A Vintage Kindle Prize Package!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One winner will receive:

* Kindle with Wi-Fi

* Handmade vintage apron for you and a friend (see a photo here)

* Blue Skies Tomorrow (for Kindle)

To enter just click one of the icons below. But, hurry, giveaway ends on 9/10. Winner will be announced on 9/12 at Sarah Sundin’s blog. Details and official rules can be found when entering the contest.
Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

My Opinion:

I rarely stay up into the early hours of the morning to finish a book, as a busy home educating mom of 3 I just don’t have the time, but I made an exception for Sarah Sundin’s newest book, Blue Skies Tomorrow.  I was up until almost 2 a.m. and then I was like I need more!  This is the conclusion of the Wings of Glory series and while I haven’t read the others I will soon be seeking them out as I couldn’t put this one down, it’s a very powerful and moving book.

Usually I find some fiction to have very one dimensional characters or the female lead will constantly dwell on her problems.  While Helen does think of her problems, who wouldn’t with what she’s been through (no spoilers), she doesn’t use them to make them whiny but she uses them to actually make her stronger both in her Faith in God and mentally.  This was a page turning book, I will mention there was some kissing as well as some non-explicit mentioning of blossoming feelings however this was only briefly and was done in a way so as not to offend readers.

While I loved the story the fact that it’s set in WWII England and America makes it a fascinating, albeit, fictional study of that time in history.  Given that my great-Grandpa was a WWI vet and my Grandpa was a WWII vet I found it even more inspiring and felt I could relate to what was going on and gave me a glimpse of some of the things men overseas faced, and even those who had a non-combatant status.  Sarah made history come alive and it tickled me when I saw that Wright Patterson was mentioned – this is a large Air Force base about 30 minutes from me.  The short of it is – I loved and enjoyed this book!

**I was provided a copy of this book through Litfuse in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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Cooking


I made bacon wrapped chicken for dinner Monday and Christian wanted to help me.  I don’t like letting the children handle raw meat so I told Christian he could do the manly job of pounding my chicken for me.

He went to town on that chicken and enjoyed helping me.  He so wanted to help me wrap the bacon around it but, again, my fear of raw meat and children.  Thankfully he understood and was content to just pound the chicken.

If you try the bacon wrapped chicken, serve it with a loaded baked potato – the flavors complement each other very well – and maybe let your children help you pound the chicken.

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FIRST Tour: A Young Man's Guide to Making Right Choices by Jim George


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

Jim George

 

and the book:

 

A Young Man’s Guide to Making Right Choices

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri James, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jim George and his wife, Elizabeth George, are Christian authors and speakers. Jim, author of A Husband After God’s Own Heart (a Gold Medallion finalist) and The Bare Bones Bible Handbook, has MDiv and ThM degrees from Talbot Theological Seminary. He has served in various pastoral roles for 25 years and on The Master’s Seminary staff for ten years. Jim and Elizabeth have two married daughters and are grandparents.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Guiding a young man toward making right choices will equip him to think carefully about his decisions, assuring a more fulfilling and successful life. Help boys to gain the skills they need for facing all life’s challenges.

In this book, Jim George focuses on all the high points of a young man’s life—the things that matter most. Teen guys will learn…

  • why prayer and Bible reading are so essential
  •  

  • what makes for the best kinds of friendships
  •  

  • how school and social skills contribute to a strong future
  •  

  • how to stand strong against temptation and peer pressure
  •  

  • what contributes to healthy and biblical perspectives on dating and purity

Young men will enjoy Jim’s balance of biblical insight, personal anecdotes, and candid forthrightness. And they’ll gain the skills they need for making right choices in response to all the challenges that come their way.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.99

Reading level: Young Adult

Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736930256

ISBN-13: 978-0736930253

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

 

Making the Right Choices

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.  —  Joshua 24:15

Jason, a typical teen guy, was suddenly jolted out of a deep sleep by the clamor of trash cans being rolled to the street curb. At first he was mad, wondering,     Just who do they think they are making all that racket so early in the morning? Don’t they know a busy guy needs his sleep? Then a second wave of adrenalin hit, this time with fear, as Jason rolled over and looked out his window. Oh, no!   That’s Dad doing my chores…again!   I’m really in for it this time!

What time was it anyway?   Jason thought as he looked at his alarm clock. Oh, no, I’m late  —  way late! Did I forget to set my alarm?   He had planned to get up early to finish his English paper, which was due today! Drat and double drat! There were a lot of things he had planned to do last night — finish his English essay, work ahead on his history paper, maybe catch up on his Bible-reading schedule for his church youth group, and finally get around to writing a thank-you note to his aunt for the birthday money she sent several months ago. (That was his mom’s Number One assignment for last night, and he had thought to himself,   No worries; it’s waited this long. Maybe tonight, right?   On and on…and on…Jason’s “Things I Meant to Do” list went.

But Jason had ended up getting a little sidetracked. And why not? The money his aunt gave him had been well spent…on a new DS game. Well, one challenge level led to another, and before long Jason had battled the “forces of evil” so long on his game (a full hour past the bedtime curfew his parents had sent) that his mom had forcefully interrupted and made him end his simulated life-and-death struggles and turn out his light.

Life Is Full of Choices

Jason had begun his evening with great intentions of making right choices. But something pulled him away from those good intentions. And in the end — actually, the next morning — he began to suffer a landslide of consequences due to those bad choices.

As the section title says above, life is full of choices. And the funny thing about choices is that sometimes the same exact choice might be bad for one guy but okay for another. Take, for example, the simple choice of breakfast food. Jason’s friend Marty is trying to make the basketball team. He’s a great shot, but he has a problem keeping his weight down, so he needs to be more disciplined about what he eats. Eating several bowls of a certain cereal each morning with lots of milk and sugar would be a huge caloric problem for Marty, but it wouldn’t be a problem for Jason because he’s as thin as a rail!

Do you realize your choices for each day begin at the end of the previous day, when you decide what time you need to get up and then set your alarm? And the next big choice is actually getting up when you hear the alarm clock…which then leads to getting dressed, doing your chores, eating breakfast, and getting to school on time. Your choices continue right on through your day and include doing your homework and being a good family member when you get home, until you set the alarm again at the end of the day.

Yes, life is full of choices. Someone said it well:

My life is not made by the dreams I dream but by the choices I make.1

Choices Through the Rearview Mirror

You’ve probably been to a camp or retreat or youth meeting where there was a “guys’ sharing time,” a time when those who were brave enough recounted some of the choices they made in their past. It’s as if they’re looking at their past in a rearview mirror. (If you drive, you know all about looking into the rearview mirror to see what’s going on behind you, and if you don’t drive, you will one day!) Now, the guys who shared were no longer living back in their past, but they could still see, remember, and taste the consequences of their choices — both the good and the bad. Their sharing may have included phrases like…

I wandered off the path…

I became like the prodigal son…

I fell away from the Lord…

I got sidetracked in sin…

I lost my first love…

I strayed from the truth…

I made some wrong decisions…

I went off the deep end…

I got in with the wrong crowd…

I’ve sat in on a few of these sharing sessions myself, and I couldn’t help but wonder, What happened? How does someone wander off the path, lose their first love for Jesus, stray from the truth, fall off the deep end, or get involved with the wrong crowd?

Well, we both know what happened, don’t we? Somehow, at some time, for some reason, a wrong choice was made. Maybe it was just a little lie. Just a little shading of what’s right. Just a little bending of a rule. Eventually, as this happens again and again, there comes a day when making wrong choices became all too easy. And it’s usually not until then that a guy realizes his life has become a mess.

Checking Out God’s Word

It’s one thing to read a book written by an author about a subject, but it’s quite another to read the Book — the Bible — written by the Author of all things, God Himself. In this book, I’ll share a lot of thoughts and tips with you. Most of them are things I’ve learned over the years. I’ll pass them on to you as a young man who’s in the process of making decisions that will shape your future. But the things you should definitely make sure you take to heart and pay the most attention to are the things God Himself tells you in His Word, His Book, the Bible.

When you get to this section in each chapter — entitled “Checking Out God’s Word” — you’ll find a number of Bible verses. I’ve included the text of the verses for you so you can read them without having to grab your Bible. I also invite you to mark up the verses and make notes. You don’t have to do that if you prefer not to. But don’t hesitate to circle certain words and underline things you want to remember. Put a question mark beside anything you wonder about or want to know more about. You can even draw in the margins. I’ve tried to leave enough space for you to write out your thoughts about what God is saying. Do whatever will help you understand the verses and make them your own. (And of course, it would be a good idea at some time to look up the verses in your Bible.) Here we go, from God’s Word to you.

The Israelites made a choice — Joshua, the leader of God’s people, asked them to do exactly what we’ve been talking about — to make a choice. Listen in as Joshua speaks to the people about choosing between serving God and serving false gods. According to the verses below, what choice did Joshua give to the people? And praise God, if you read further in the book of Joshua you will discover that the people made the right choice, choosing to serve God.

Fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:14-15).

Lot made a choice — Lot was the nephew of Abraham. Because of the large number of cattle the two men possessed, Abraham asked Lot to choose between two parts of the land. One part was green and with plenty of water — perfect for grazing cattle. The other part was dry hill country and not so perfect. In fact, it was a desert. According to the verses that follow, what was Lot’s choice?

Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered…So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east (Genesis 13:10-11).

Sadly, Lot did not choose wisely. He chose the grassy green pastures — which just happened to be near the two most wicked cities of his day, Sodom and Gomorrah. His choice was based on what looked good. Unfortunately, the consequences of that choice were devastating for Lot and his family.

Joseph made a choice — Joseph was a teenager when his jealous brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. There, in a strange land, Joseph was all alone without family. In time, his master’s wife flirted with him and wanted him to sin with her. After all, nobody was around, she explained. Who would ever know?

How should Joseph respond? Note his choice and the reason for his choice.

He refused…[and] told her…“How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:8-9).

Joseph chose to live his life God’s way. He honored God. God then honored Joseph’s choice and made him a leader of the land of Egypt and the savior of his family.

Daniel made a choice — Can you imagine being taken prisoner and forcefully moved to a foreign land as a teenager? And once you got there, you were told to turn away from your religious beliefs and to follow instead the ways of those who lived in the pagan land? Well, that’s what happened to Daniel. In the place where he was taken, Daniel was told to eat foods that were forbidden by his Jewish background. What pressure! What did he do?

Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way (Daniel 1:8).

Daniel chose to live life God’s way — not only on this one occasion, but also numerous times during his many years in this foreign land. At every step and every day, God blessed Daniel and promoted him to high positions of leadership.

Things to Remember About Choices

— Attractive choices sometimes lead to sin.

— Good choices have positive long-term results.

— Right choices are sometimes difficult.

Making the Tough Choices

I’m sure you already know your actions are a matter of choice. Sure, some choices are made for you. They are out of your control, and are made by those who are responsible for you…like your parents, your teachers, your coaches, and your youth leaders. But many choices each day — and almost each minute of the day — are yours to make. Do you yet realize that these choices are a matter of your will? You get to decide what you will or won’t do, how you will or won’t act. You make the choices, which means you can’t blame anyone else for what happens next.

As you prepare to make the tough choices, the choices that must be made, can you think of one tough choice you need to make right now? What’s holding you back? Peer pressure? Fear? Pride?

Pray young Solomon’s prayer right now. He asked God, “Give me wisdom and knowledge” and “Give your servant a discerning heart…to distinguish between right and wrong” (2 Chronicles 1:10 and 1 Kings 3:9). Then make that choice — the one that’s keeping you from living your life God’s way. Make the right choice, however tough it is to do so.

Things to Do Today to Make Right Choices

Read again the section “Choices Through the Rearview Mirror.” Do any of the comments mentioned in the guys’ sharing time fit your life today? If so, talk it over with God. Admit to God any wrong choices you’ve made. Then ask Him for the wisdom to make the right choices starting right now.

Read again Joshua 24:14-15 (see “Checking Out God’s Word”). As you look at your life today, do you think you are making the kind of choice Joshua and the people made, the choice to serve God and God alone? Why or why not? What first right choice will you make to begin choosing to serve God, to live for Him? Is there something you should be doing, but aren’t? Something you know God wants you to do, but you’re not? Be honest. The king and warrior David was brutally honest with God. He asked God to…

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

As you have already read, choices are a matter of your will. You get to decide what you will or won’t do, how you will or won’t act. Think of two or three things you can do daily that will better prepare you to make right choices. Then, of course, begin doing them.

Guy to Guy

Jot down three things Jason failed to do that started his day down the road to chaos.

What could you tell Jason to do differently tomorrow?

Of all the verses shared in this chapter, which one meant the most to you, and why?

In what ways are you like Jason, and what new choices do you need to start making?

Would You Like to Know More?

Check It Out

Read Proverbs 1:10-19. What warning is given to the young man in verse 10?

What is the advice given to this teen guy in verse 15?

What is the end result for those who make the choice to participate in evil deeds (verse 19)?

It’s your turn to read about Lot’s choice. Read Genesis 13:5-11. How is the situation described that made a decision necessary (verses 5-7)?

What did Abraham propose as a solution (verses 8-9)?

What choice did Lot make, and why (verses 10-11)?

Now quickly scan Genesis 19:12-29. What were some of the results of Lot’s choice?

What choice was made by two brothers in Matthew 4:18-20?

What choice was made in Matthew 9:9?

Have you made this choice, or do you need to? Be sure to think about it.

God’s Guidelines for Making Right Choices

Treat each day as being important. “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Admit your need for wisdom…and ask for it!    “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5)

Work at developing a deep respect for God.    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

Make sure you have a vital relationship with Jesus.    “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (Ephesians 1:17).

Be willing to pay any price for the truth. “Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23).

God’s Guidelines for

Making Right Choices

Treat each day as being important. “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Admit your need for wisdom…and ask for it!    “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5)

Work at developing a deep respect for God.    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

Make sure you have a vital relationship with Jesus.    “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (Ephesians 1:17).

Be willing to pay any price for the truth. “Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23).

 

My Opinion:

I read this book with my son in mind, granted he’s only 5 but one day he’ll be 10, 13 and then a man.  I want to train him to be a man of God, not a man of the world where he compromises his beliefs because of what current culture tells him.  He wants me to read it to him now, he doesn’t quite understand he doesn’t need to know what’s in the covers just now but he will.

This book encourages young men to stay in the Word – right from the get go the author says that by not staying grounded in God’s Word then young men (all of us, really) won’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to doing the right thing at home, school (or homeschool), church or just out.  I’m not quoting just paraphrasing what I got from the book.  The study questions at the end have the reader digging into Scripture to aid them in their answers.

Since dating vs. courtship is a ‘hot’ topic in our house I was intrigued to see what was said about relationships with girls.  Surprise!  He doesn’t make a case for dating or for courtship – the advice given is how to approach girls such as not being to friendly (“chummy”), not being to complementary, beware of girls whose speech is questionable, beware of girls who do not dress modestly, and the clincher is beware getting to close to girls who are not Christians.  The author encourages boys to keep their parents involved, staying pure both morally and physically, being together in a group setting – not a one on one dating situation, refraining from dating seriously until their is purpose which is marriage as well, the girl being a true Christian and the boy continues to grow Spiritually.

Overall, this book is practical and will be time less, the same truths that are in it now for a young man will be the same truths that will aid my son when he is old enough since it’s built on Scripture.  If you have a boy who is entering young adulthood then this book may help keep him grounded in the faith when his peers are leaving the church or just acting like a Christian.

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Transpiration experiment – Apologia Botany


As promised – we finished our transpiration experiment yesterday!  Go figure, th plant actually had to be in the sun to do it’s work.  I’m learning so much along with the children – like for instance: I had no idea that plants (leaves) have ‘mouths’ they are called stomata.  These mouths take in the carbon dioxide we exhale and give off the oxygen so needed by us!  That is where the transpiration comes in to play – when the plants have too much water and need to let it out.

Placing a baggy over the plant at it’s petiole and securing it and then watering the plant will result in noticeable transpiration.  Think of a rain forest.

Here are the pictures of our experiment.  The children had the most fun putting their hands inside the bag to test that it really was wet!

The pictures before transpiration began:

The after: I hope you can see the condensation in the baggy:

So that is transpiration.  We had fun with this experiment.  I’m so glad that their is a quality science curriculum that keeps God at it’s core.

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FIRST tour: Still More Stories from Grandma’s Attic and Treasures from Grandma’s Attic by Arleta Richardson


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

Arleta Richardson

 

and the books:

 

Still More Stories from Grandma’s Attic

and

Treasures from Grandma’s Attic

David C. Cook; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The late Arleta Richardson grew up an only child in Chicago, living in a hotel on the shores of Lake Michigan. Under the care of her maternal grandmother, she listened for hours to stories from her grandmother’s childhood. With unusual recall, Arleta began to write these stories for an audience that now numbers over two million. “My grandmother would be amazed to know her stories have gone around the world,” Arleta said.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Grandma did what? You might be surprised. Back in the 1880’s, when she was a young girl named Mabel, trouble seemed to follow her everywhere. She and her best friend, Sarah Jane, had the best intentions at home and at school, but somehow clumsiness and mischief always seemed to intrude. Whether getting into a sticky mess with face cream, traveling to the big city, sneaking out to a birthday party or studying for the spelling bee, Mabel’s brilliant ideas only seemed to show how much she had to learn. And each of her mishaps turned into lessons in honesty, patience and responsibility.

Arleta Richardson’s beloved series, Grandma’s Attic, returns with Still More Stories from Grandma’s Attic and Treasures from Grandma’s Attic, the third and fourth books in the refreshed classic collection for girls ages 8 to 12. These compilations of tales recount humorous and poignant memories from Grandma Mabel’s childhood on a Michigan farm in the late 1800’s. Combining the warmth and spirit of Little House on the Prairie with a Christian focus, these books transport readers back to a simpler time to learn lessons surprisingly relevant in today’s world.

Even though these stories took place over a hundred years ago, there are some things about being a girl that never change. Just like Mabel, girls still want to be prettier or more independent. It’s all part of growing up. But the amazing thing is—Grandma felt the same way! Sometimes your brother teases you or someone you thought was a friend turns out to be insincere. Sometimes you’re certain you know better than your parents, only to discover to your horror that they might have been right. It’s all part of growing up.

Richardson’s wholesome stories have reached more than two million readers worldwide. Parents appreciate the godly values and character they promote while children love the captivating storytelling that recounts childhood memories of mischief and joy. These books are ideal for homes, schools, libraries or gifts and are certain to be treasured. So return to Grandma’s attic, where true tales of yesteryear bring timeless lessons for today, combining the appeal of historical fiction for girls with the truth of God’s Word. Each captivating story promotes godly character and values with humor, understanding and warmth.

Product Details:

Still More Stories from Grandma’s Attic:

List Price: $6.99

Reading level: Ages 9-12

Paperback: 160 pages

Publisher: David C. Cook; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0781403812

ISBN-13: 978-0781403818

Treasures from Grandma’s Attic:

Reading level: Ages 9-12

Paperback: 160 pages

Publisher: David C. Cook; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0781403820

ISBN-13: 978-0781403825

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTERS:

Still More Stories from Grandma’s Attic

When Grandma Was a Little Girl

One hundred years! What a long, long time ago that is! Not very many people are still alive who can remember that far back. But through the magic of stories, we can be right there again.

When I was a little girl, I thought no one could tell a story like my grandma.

“Tell me about when you were a little girl,” I would say. Soon I would be back on the farm in northern Michigan with young Mabel—who became my grandmother—her mother and father, and her brothers, Reuben and Roy.

The old kitchen where I sat to hear many of Grandma’s stories didn’t look the same as when she was a little girl. Then there was no electricity nor running water. But my grandma still lived in the house she grew up in. I had no trouble imagining all the funny jams that Grandma and her best friend, Sarah Jane, got into. Or how it felt to wear long flannel stockings and high-buttoned shoes.

From the dusty old attic to the front parlor with its slippery furniture, Grandma’s old house was a storybook just waiting to be opened. I was fortunate to have a grandma who knew just how to open it. She loved to tell a story just as much as I loved to hear one.

Come with me now, back to the old kitchen in that Michigan farmhouse, and enjoy the laughter and tears of many years ago….

1

Face Cream from Godey’s Lady’s Book

Receiving mail always excited me. I never had to be told to get the mail for Grandma on my way home from school. But sometimes the mail became even more important. Like the time I was watching for something I had ordered from Woman’s Home Companion.

When the small package finally arrived, my face revealed how excited I was.

“What did you get a sample of this time?” Grandma asked as I came in proudly carrying the precious box.

“You’ll see. Just wait till I show you,” I said, promising Grandma the box held something special.

Quickly I tore the wrapping paper off the small box. Inside was a jar of skin cream for wrinkles.

Grandma laughed when she saw it. “You certainly don’t need that,” she said. “Now it might do me some good if those things ever really worked.”

“You aren’t wrinkled, Grandma,” I protested. “Your face is nice and smooth.”

“Perhaps so. But not because of what I’ve rubbed on it. More than likely I’ve inherited a smooth skin.”

She took the jar of cream and looked at the ingredients “This doesn’t look quite as dangerous as some stuff Sarah Jane and I mixed up one day. Did I ever tell you about that?”

“No, I’m sure you didn’t,” I replied. “Tell me now.”

Grandma picked up her crocheting, and I settled back to listen to a story about Grandma and her friend, Sarah Jane, when they were my age.

***

Sarah Jane had a cousin who lived in the city. This cousin often came to stay at Sarah Jane’s for a few days. She brought things with her that we were not accustomed to seeing.

One morning as Sarah Jane and I were walking to school together, Sarah Jane told me some very exciting news. “My cousin Laura will be here tomorrow. She’s going to stay all next week. Won’t that be fun?”

“Yes,” I agreed. “I’m glad she’s coming. What do you think she’ll bring this time?”

“Probably some pretty new dresses and hats,” Sarah Jane guessed. “She might even let us try them on.”

“Oh, I’m sure she wouldn’t want us to try on her dresses. But maybe she wouldn’t mind if we peeked at ourselves in the mirror to see how the hats looked.”

Laura arrived the next day with several new hats. She amiably agreed that we might try them on.

They were too big, and had a tendency to slide down over our noses. But to us, they were the latest fashion.

As we laid the hats back on the bed, Sarah Jane spied something else that interested her. It was a magazine for ladies. We had not seen more than half a dozen magazines in our lives, so this was exciting.

“Oh, Laura,” Sarah Jane cried, “may we look at your magazine? We’ll be very careful.”

“Why, yes. I’m not going to be reading it right away. Go ahead.”

Eagerly we snatched the magazine and ran out to the porch. The cover pictured a lady with a very fashionable dress and hat, carrying a frilly parasol. The name of the magazine was Godey’s Lady’s Book.

“Ooh! Look at the ruffles on her dress!” Sarah Jane exclaimed. “Wouldn’t you just love to have one dress with all those ribbons and things?”

“Yes, but there’s little chance I’ll ever have it,” I replied. “Ma wouldn’t iron that many ruffles for anything. Besides, we’re not grown up enough to have dresses like that. It looks like it might be organdy, doesn’t it?”

“Mmm-hum,” Sarah Jane agreed. “It looks like something soft, all right. And look at her hair. It must be long to make that big a roll around her head.”

We spread the magazine across our laps and studied each page carefully. Nothing escaped our notice. “I sure wish we were grown up,” Sarah Jane sighed. “Think how much prettier we’d be.”

“Yes, and how much more fun we could have. These ladies don’t spend all their time going to school and doing chores. They just get all dressed up and sit around looking pretty.”

We looked for a moment in silence; then Sarah Jane noticed something interesting. “Look here, Mabel. Here’s something you can make to get rid of wrinkles on your face.”

I looked where she was reading.

Guaranteed to remove wrinkles. Melt together a quantity of white wax and honey. When it becomes liquid, add the juice of several lemons. Spread the mixture liberally on your face and allow it to dry. In addition to smoothing out your wrinkles, this formula will leave your skin soft, smooth, and freckle free.

“But we don’t have any wrinkles,” I pointed out.

“That doesn’t matter,” Sarah Jane replied. “If it takes wrinkles away, it should keep us from getting them too. Besides,” she added critically, “it says it takes away freckles. And you have plenty of those.”

I rubbed my nose reflectively. “I sure do. Do you suppose that stuff really would take them off?”

“We can try it and see. I’ll put some on if you will. Where shall we mix it up?”

This would be a problem, since Sarah Jane’s mother was baking in her kitchen. It would be better to work where we wouldn’t have to answer questions about what we were doing.

“Let’s go to your house and see what your mother is doing,” Sarah Jane suggested.

We hurriedly returned the magazine to Laura’s bedroom and dashed back outdoors.

“Do you have all the things we need to put in it?” Sarah Jane asked.

“I know we have wax left over from Ma’s jelly glasses. And I’m sure we have lemons. But I don’t know how much honey is left.

“I know where we can get some, though.” I continued. “Remember that hollow tree in the woods? We found honey there last week.”

Soon we were on our way to collect it in a small pail.

“This is sure going to be messy and sticky to put on our faces,” I commented as we filled the pail.

“Probably the wax takes the sticky out,” Sarah Jane replied. “Anyway, if it takes away your freckles and makes our skin smooth, it won’t matter if it is a little gooey. I wonder how long we leave it on.”

“The directions said to let it dry,” I reminded her. “I suppose the longer you leave it there, the more good it does. We’ll have to take it off before we go in to supper, I guess.”

“I guess so,” Sarah Jane exclaimed. “I don’t know what your brothers would say. But I’m not going to give Caleb a chance to make fun of me.”

I knew what Reuben and Roy would say, too, and I was pretty sure I could predict what Ma would say. There seemed to be no reason to let them know about it.

Fortune was with us, for the kitchen was empty when we cautiously opened the back door. Ma heard us come in and called down from upstairs, “Do you need something, Mabel?”

“No, Ma’am,” I answered. “But we might like a cookie.”

“Help yourself,” Ma replied. “I’m too busy tearing rags to come down right now. You can pour yourselves some milk too.”

I assured her that we could. With a sigh of relief, we went to the pantry for a kettle in which to melt the wax and honey.

“This looks big enough,” Sarah Jane said. “You start that getting hot, and I’ll squeeze the lemons. Do you think two will be enough?”

“I guess two is ‘several.’ Maybe we can tell by the way it looks whether we need more or not.”

“I don’t see how,” Sarah Jane argued. “We never saw any of this stuff before. But we’ll start with two, anyway.”

I placed the pan containing the wax and honey on the hottest part of the stove and pulled up a chair to sit on. “Do you suppose I ought to stir it?” I inquired. “It doesn’t look as though it’s mixing very fast.”

“Give it time,” Sarah Jane advised. “Once the wax melts down, it will mix.”

After a short time, the mixture began to bubble.

“There, see?” she said, stirring it with a spoon. “You can’t tell which is wax and which is honey. I think it’s time to put in the lemon juice.” She picked up the juice, but I stopped her.

“You have to take the seeds out, first, silly. You don’t want knobs all over your face, do you?”

“I guess you’re right. That wouldn’t look too good, would it?”

She dug the seeds out, and we carefully stirred the lemon juice into the pan.

“Umm, it smells good,” I observed.

Sarah Jane agreed. “In fact, it smells a little like Ma’s cough syrup. Do you want to taste it?”

“Sure, I’ll take a little taste.” I licked some off the spoon and smacked my lips. “It’s fine,” I reported. “If it tastes that good, it will certainly be safe to use. Let’s take it to my room and try it.”

We carefully lifted the kettle from the stove. Together we carried the kettle upstairs and set it on my dresser.

“It will have to cool a little before we put it on,” I said.

“What if the wax gets hard again? We’ll have to take it downstairs and heat it all over.”

“It won’t,” I assured her. “The honey will keep it from getting too hard.” By the time the mixture was cool enough to use, it was thick and gooey—but still spreadable.

“Well, here goes,” Sarah Jane said. She dipped a big blob out and spread it on her face. I did the same. Soon our faces were covered with the sticky mess.

“Don’t get it in your hair,” I warned. “It looks like it would be awfully hard to get out. I wonder how long it will take to dry?”

“The magazine didn’t say that. It would probably dry faster outside in the sun. But someone is sure to see us out there. We’d better stay here…. I wish we had brought the magazine to look at.”

“We can look at the Sears catalog,” I suggested. “Let’s play like we’re ordering things for our own house.”

We sat down on the floor and spread the catalog out in front of us. After several minutes, Sarah Jane felt her face.

“I think it’s dry, Mabel,” she announced, hardly moving her lips. “It doesn’t bend or anything.”

I touched mine and discovered the same thing. The mask was solid and hard. It was impossible to move my mouth to speak, so my voice had a funny sound when I answered her.

“So’s mine. Maybe we’d better start taking it off now.”

We ran to the mirror and looked at ourselves.

“We sure look funny.” Sarah Jane laughed the best she could without moving her face. “How did the magazine say to get it off?”

Suddenly we looked at each other in dismay. The magazine hadn’t said anything about removing the mixture, only how to fix and spread it on.

“Well, we’ve done it again,” I said. “How come everything we try works until we’re ready to undo it? We’ll just have to figure some way to get rid of it.”

We certainly did try. We pushed the heavy masks that covered our faces. We pulled them, knocked on them, and tried to soak them off. They would not budge.

“I think we used too much wax and not enough honey,” Sarah Jane puffed as she flopped back down on the bed.

“That’s certainly a great thing to think of now,” I answered crossly. “The only way to move wax is to melt it. And we certainly can’t stick our faces in the fire!”

“Mine feels like it’s already on fire. I don’t think this stuff is good for your skin.”

“You’re going to have to think about more than that,” I told her. “Or this stuff will be your skin. There has to be some way to get it off.”

“We’ve tried everything we can think of. We’ll just have to go down and let your rna help us.”

That was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. But I could see no other alternative. Slowly we trudged down to the kitchen.

Ma was working at the stove, and she said cheerfully, “Are you girls hungry again? It won’t be long until suppertime, so you’d better not eat ….”

She turned around as she spoke. When she spotted us standing in the doorway, her eyes widened in disbelief.

“What on earth? … What have you done to yourselves?”

I burst into tears. The sight of drops of tears running down that ridiculous mask must have been more than Ma could stand. Suddenly she began to laugh. She laughed until she had to sit down.

“It’s not funny, Ma. We can’t get it off! We’ll have to wear it the rest of our lives!”

Ma controlled herself long enough to come over and feel my face. “What did you put in it?” she asked. “That will help me know how to take it off.”

We told her.

“If you two ever live to grow up, it will only be the Lord’s good mercy. The only thing we can do is apply something hot enough to melt the wax,” Ma told us quickly.

“But we boiled the wax, Ma,” I cried. “You can’t boil our faces!”

“No, 1won’t try anything as drastic as that. I’ll just use hot towels until it gets soft enough to pull away.”

After several applications, we were finally able to start peeling the mixture off. As it came loose, our skin came with it.

“Ouch! That hurts,” I cried.

But Ma could not stop. By the time the last bits of wax and honey were removed, our faces were fiery red and raw.

“What did we do wrong?” Sarah Jane wailed. “We made it just like the magazine said.”

“You may have used the wrong quantities, or left it on too long,” Ma said. “At any rate, I don’t think you’ll try it again.”

“I know I won’t,” Sarah Jane moaned. “I’m going to tell Laura she should ignore that page in her magazine.” She looked at me. “The stuff did one thing they said it would, Mabel. I don’t see any freckles.”

“There’s no skin left, either,” I retorted. “I’d rather have freckles than a face like this.”

“Never mind.” Ma tried to soothe us. “Your faces will be all right in a couple of days.”

“A couple of days!” I howled. “We can’t go to school looking like this!”

***

“We did, though.” Grandma laughed as she finished the story. “After a while we were able to laugh with the others over our foolishness.”

I looked at the little jar of cream that had come in the mail.

“I don’t think I’ll use this, Grandma. I guess I’ll just let my face get wrinkled if it wants to!”

************************************************

Treasures from Grandma’s Attic

Cousin Agatha

My best friend, Sarah Jane, and I were walking home from school on a cold November afternoon.

“Do you realize, Mabel, that 1886 is almost over? Another year of nothing important ever happening is nearly gone.”

“Well, we still have a good bit of life ahead of us,” I replied.

“You don’t know that,” Sarah Jane said darkly, “We’re thirteen and a half. We may already have lived nearly a third of our allotted time.”

“The O’Dells live to be awfully old,” I told her. “So, unless I get run down by a horse and buggy, I’ll probably be around awhile.”

We walked along in silence. Then suddenly Sarah Jane pulled me to the side of the road.

“Here’s the horse and buggy that could keep you from becoming an old lady,” she kidded. We turned to see my pa coming down the road.

“Want to ride the rest of the way, girls?” he called. We clambered into the buggy, and Pa clucked to Nellie.

“What did you get in town?” I asked.

“Some things for the farm and a letter for your ma.” Around the next bend, Pa slowed Nellie to a halt. “Your stop, Sarah Jane.”

“Thanks, Mr. O’Dell.” Sarah Jane jumped down. “I’ll be over to study later, Mabel. ‘Bye.”

“Who’s the letter from?” I asked Pa.

“Can’t tell from the handwriting. We’ll have to wait for Ma to tell us.”

When Ma opened the letter, she looked puzzled. “This is from your cousin Agatha,” she said to Pa. “Why didn’t she address it to you, too?”

“If I know Aggie, she wants something,” Pa declared. “And she figured you’d be more likely to listen to her sad story.”

Ma read the letter and shook her head at Pa. “She just wants to come for Thanksgiving. Now aren’t you ashamed of talking that way?”

“No, I’m not. That’s what Aggie says she wants. You can be sure there’s more there than meets the eye. Are you going to tell her to come ahead?”

“Why, of course!” Ma exclaimed. “If I were a widowed lady up in years, I’d want to be with family on Thanksgiving. Why shouldn’t I tell her to come?”

Pa took his hat from the peg by the door and started for the barn, where my older brothers were already at work. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” he remarked as he left.

“What did Pa warn you about?” I asked as soon as the door closed behind him. “What does Cousin Agatha want?”

“I don’t believe Pa was talking to you,” Ma replied. “You heard me say that she wants to come for Thanksgiving.”

“Yes, but Pa said—”

“That’s enough, Mabel. We won’t discuss it further.”

I watched silently as Ma sat down at the kitchen table and answered Cousin Agatha’s letter.

Snow began to fall two days before the holiday, and Pa had to hitch up the sleigh to go into town and meet the train.

“It will be just our misfortune to have a real blizzard and be snowed in with that woman for a week,” he grumbled.

“Having Aggie here a few days won’t hurt you,” Ma said. “The way you carry on, you’d think she was coming to stay forever!”

Pa’s look said he considered that a distinct possibility. As I helped Ma with the pies, I questioned her about Cousin Agatha.

“Has she been here before? I can’t remember seeing her.”

“I guess you were pretty small last time Agatha visited,” Ma replied. “I expect she gets lonely in that big house in the city.”

“What do you suppose she wants besides dinner?” I ventured.

“Friendly company,” Ma snapped. “And we’re going to give it to her.”

When the pies were in the oven, I hung around the window, watching for the sleigh. It was nearly dark when I heard the bells on Nellie’s harness ring out across the snow.

“They’re coming, Ma,” I called, and Ma hurried to the door with the lamp held high over her head. The boys and I crowded behind her. Pa jumped down from the sleigh and turned to help Cousin Agatha.

“I don’t need any assistance from you, James,” a firm voice spoke. “I’m perfectly capable of leaving any conveyance under my own power.”

“She talks like a book!” Roy whispered, and Reuben poked him. I watched in awe as a tall, unbending figure sailed into the kitchen.

“Well, Maryanne,” she said, “it’s good to see you.” She removed her big hat, jabbed a long hat pin into it, and handed the hat to me. “You must be Mabel.”

I nodded wordlessly.

“What’s the matter? Can’t you speak?” she boomed.

“Yes, ma’am,” I gulped nervously.

“Then don’t stand there bobbing your head like a monkey on a stick. People will think you have no sense. You can put that hat in my room.”

I stared openmouthed at this unusual person until a gentle push from Ma sent me in the direction of the guest room.

After dinner and prayers, Pa rose with the intention of going to the barn.

“James!” Cousin Agatha’s voice stopped him. “Surely you aren’t going to do the chores with these two great hulking fellows sitting here, are you?”

The two great hulking fellows leaped for the door with a speed I didn’t know they had.

“I should guess so,” Cousin Agatha exclaimed with satisfaction. “If there’s anything I can’t abide, it’s a lazy child.”

As she spoke, Cousin Agatha pulled Ma’s rocker to the stove and lowered herself into it. “This chair would be more comfortable if there were something to put my feet on,” she said, “but I suppose one can’t expect the amenities in a place like this.”

I looked at Ma for some clue as to what “amenities” might be. This was not a word we had encountered in our speller.

“Run into the parlor and get the footstool, Mabel,” Ma directed.

When Cousin Agatha was settled with her hands in her lap and her feet off the cold floor, I started the dishes.

“Maryanne, don’t you think Mabel’s dress is a mite too short?”

Startled, I looked down at my dress.

“No,” Ma’s calm voice replied. “She’s only thirteen, you know. I don’t want her to be grown up too soon.”

“There is such a thing as modesty, you know.” Cousin Agatha sniffed.

Pa and the boys returned just then, so Ma didn’t answer. I steered an uneasy path around Cousin Agatha all evening. For the first time I could remember, I was glad when bedtime came.

The next day was Thanksgiving, and the house was filled with the aroma of good things to eat. From her rocker, Cousin Agatha offered suggestions as Ma scurried about the kitchen.

“Isn’t it time to baste the turkey, Maryanne? I don’t care for dry fowl.”

“I see the boys running around out there with that mangy dog as though they had nothing to do. Shouldn’t they be chopping wood or something?”

“I should think Mabel could be helping you instead of reading a book. If there’s one thing I can’t abide . . . “

“Mabel will set the table when it’s time,” Ma put in. “Maybe you’d like to peel some potatoes?”

The horrified look on Cousin Agatha’s face said she wouldn’t consider it, so Ma withdrew her offer.

A bump on the door indicated that the “mangy dog” was tired of the cold. I laid down my book and let Pep in. He made straight for the stove and his rug.

“Mercy!” Cousin Agatha cried. “Do you let that—that animal in the kitchen?”

“Yes,” Ma replied. “He’s not a young dog any longer. He isn’t any bother, and he does enjoy the heat.”

“Humph.” Agatha pulled her skirts around her. “I wouldn’t allow any livestock in my kitchen. Can’t think what earthly good a dog can be.” She glared at Pep, who responded with a thump of his tail and a sigh of contentment.

“Dumb creature,” Cousin Agatha muttered.

“Pep isn’t dumb, Cousin Agatha,” I said. “He’s really the smartest dog I know.”

“I was not referring to his intellect or lack of it,” she told me, “‘Dumb’ indicates an inability to speak. You will have to concede that he is unable to carry on a conversation.”

I was ready to dispute that, too, but Ma shook her head. Cousin Agatha continued to give Pep disparaging glances.

“Didn’t you ever have any pets at your house, Cousin Agatha?” I asked.

“Pets? I should say not! Where in the Bible does it say that God made animals for man’s playthings? They’re meant to earn their keep, not sprawl out around the house absorbing heat.”

“Oh, Pep works,” I assured her. “He’s been taking the cows out and bringing them back for years now.”

Cousin Agatha was not impressed. She sat back in the rocker and eyed Pep with disfavor. “The one thing I can’t abide, next to a lazy child, is a useless animal—and in the house!”

I began to look nervously at Ma, thinking she might send Pep to the barn to keep the peace. But she went on about her work, serenely ignoring Cousin Agatha’s hints. I was glad when it was time to set the table.

After we had eaten, Pa took the Bible down from the cupboard and read our Thanksgiving chapter, Psalm 100. Then he prayed, thanking the Lord for Cousin Agatha and asking the Lord’s blessing on her just as he did on the rest of us. When he had finished, Cousin Agatha spoke up.

“I believe that I will stay here until Christmas, James. Then, if I find it to my liking, I could sell the house in the city and continue on with you. Maryanne could use some help in teaching these children how to be useful.”

In the stunned silence that followed, I looked at Pa and Ma to see how this news had affected them. Ma looked pale. Before Pa could open his mouth to answer, Cousin Agatha rose from the table. “I’ll just go to my room for a bit of rest,” she said. “We’ll discuss this later.”

When she had left, we gazed at each other helplessly.

“Is there anything in the Bible that tells you what to do now?” I asked Pa.

“Well, it says if we don’t love our brother whom we can see, how can we love God whom we can’t see? I think that probably applies to cousins as well.”

“I’d love her better if I couldn’t see her.” Reuben declared. “We don’t have to let her stay, do we, Pa?”

“No, we don’t have to,” Pa replied. “We could ask her to leave tomorrow as planned. But I’m not sure that would be right. What do you think, Ma?”

“I wouldn’t want to live alone in the city,” Ma said slowly. “I can see that she would prefer the company of a family. I suppose we should ask her to stay until Christmas.”

“I think she already asked herself,” Roy ventured. “But she did say if she found things to her liking. . . .”

We all looked at Roy. Pa said, “You’re not planning something that wouldn’t be to her liking, are you?”

“Oh, no, sir!” Roy quickly answered. “Not me.”

Pa signed. “I’m not sure I’d blame you. She’s not an easy person to live with. We’ll all have to be especially patient with her.”

There wasn’t much Thanksgiving atmosphere in the kitchen as we did the dishes.

“How can we possibly stand it for another whole month?” I moaned.

“The Lord only sends us one day at a time,” Ma informed me. “Don’t worry about more than that. When the other days arrive, you’ll probably find out you worried about all the wrong things.”

As soon as the work was finished, I put on my coat and walked over to Sarah Jane’s.

“What will you do if she stays on after Christmas?” she asked.

“I’ll just die.”

“I thought you were going to be a long-living O’Dell.”

“I changed my mind,” I retorted. “What would you do if you were in my place?”

“I’d probably make her life miserable so she’d want to leave.”

“You know I couldn’t get away with that. Pa believes that Christian love is the best solution.”

“All right, then,” Sarah Jane said with a shrug. “Love her to death.”

As though to fulfill Pa’s prediction, snow began to fall heavily that night. By morning we were snowed in.

“Snowed in?” Cousin Agatha repeated. “You mean unable to leave the house at all?”

“That’s right,” Pa replied. “This one is coming straight down from Canada.”

Cousin Agatha looked troubled. “I don’t like this. I don’t like it at all.”

“We’ll be all right,” Ma reassured her. “We have plenty of wood and all the food we need.”

But Cousin Agatha was not to be reassured. I watched her stare into the fire and twist her handkerchief around her fingers. Why, she’s frightened! I thought. This old lady had been directing things all her life, and here was something she couldn’t control. Suddenly I felt sorry for her.

“Cousin Agatha,” I said, “we have fun when we’re snowed in. We play games and pop corn and tell stories. You’ll enjoy it. I know you will!”

I ran over and put my arms around her shoulders and kissed her on the cheek. She looked at me in surprise.

“That’s the first time anyone has hugged me since I can remember,” she said. “Do you really like me, Mabel?”

Right then I knew that I did like Cousin Agatha a whole lot. Behind her stern front was another person who needed to be loved and wanted.

“Oh, yes, Cousin Agatha,” I replied. “I really do. You’ll see what a good time we’ll have together.”

The smile that lighted her face was bright enough to chase away any gloom that had settled over the kitchen. And deep down inside, I felt real good.

 

My Opinion:
I will post a review when we’re done reading them.

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