So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90.12

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Book Review - Into the Whirlwind

Into the Whirlwind
by Elizabeth Camden
Chicago 1871 - Mollie Knox, expert watchmaker and owner of the 57th Illinois Watch Company, is enjoying the benefits of the city's wealth.  Her business dealings with Louis Hartman's grand Chicago department store assure her of a market for her fine watches.  But change is in the wind.  When disaster strikes, who will she turn to?  Who can she trust?
This is the second book I have read by Elizabeth Camden and I enjoyed it very much.  The author has obviously put a lot of research into the historical background of the story and I appreciate that.  I enjoy historical fiction that uses authentic details and likely scenarios rather than over romanticising the past.  I'm not sure how many women owned businesses of the scale of Mollie's watch company in America in 1871, but the explanation that her father began the company and left it to her when he passed away seems plausible enough.
The characters are quite interesting and there is good character development even among the secondary figures.  There is one character who is so annoying you dislike her almost right away but her attitude is very fitting to the action going on.
The novel has a strong romantic storyline but that is not the only focus of the book.  It is "Christian" fiction but unobtrusively so.  There are a few mentions of prayer, faith, and the Creator.  This is an interesting historical fiction read with a clean romance story.
My rating: 4 stars
Please note: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in return for my honest review.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Book Review - Stopping Words That Hurt

Stopping Words That Hurt: Positive Words in a World Gone Negative
by Dr Michael D Sedler

The basic theme of this book was gossip and the destruction it can cause.  I appreciated the author's insight into interpersonal relationships and the illustrations he provided.  The author is an ethnic Jew and a Christian and it was interesting to read about some of his experiences growing up in a Jewish home.  His section on the Holocaust is quite gripping as well.  I had never really thought about the psychology of the Nazi regime that made so many German citizens do what they claimed they didn't want to.

However, I found that this book was long on psychology and short on theology.  There was much space devoted to the positive/negative actions of the words we speak and there seemed to be the implication that words themselves are powerful, almost in a magical sense.  Dr Sedler says "Speak truth to your fears!" (p.146).  This sent up a few red flags for me.  It  sounds vaguely like Word of Faith or Positive Confession teachings.

Dr Sedler really did not dig into the New Testament teaching on the behaviour/testimony of believers.  There were many Scripture passages cited in the text - many of them were from the Old Testament (which is good), but there wasn't much dealing with the example of the early church.  Another thing I found odd was that Dr Sedler appears to be confused about the local church.  Dealing with Matthew 18.15-17, he says "Who, exactly, are we calling the church?  Is it the Body of Christ at large?  Is it the local congregation?  Is it the elders?  We need to figure that out before we begin the process." (p.221)  

On p.222, Dr Sedler writes,"I have seen issues brought before a church (emphasis mine) on a Sunday morning and I have cringed!  After all, in a Sunday service, who is in attendance?  Only members?  Only believers?  Certainly not!  Then why are we parading our issues in front of people who might have no idea about godly reconciliation and who certainly have no need to hear them?  This type of gossip and criticism only serves to alienate people and push them further away from God."  The local church  (a group of Christians meeting in a particular place) is not meant to be a social club for the unsaved.  There should be certain times when the church meets where there would not be any unsaved in attendance.  For instance, the early church broke bread together on the first day of the week (Acts 20.7).  These were disciples remembering their Lord's death, burial, and resurrection and fellowshipping together.  This would be the perfect opportunity for dealing with problems within the local church.  As another example, the believers that I fellowship with meet each Lord's Day morning to break bread together and remember the Lord's death till He comes again.  This is a meeting for sincere believers only.  Visitors who are not known to the group and have not brought a letter of introduction are asked to simply observe the meeting and not partake of the emblems.  The group would handle problems/discipline in this way.  First, the elders would become aware of a problem or situation within the fellowship and they would investigate it quietly and privately.  If need be, they would present it before the group after the breaking of bread.  However, before the matter was discussed, all the children and anyone not in fellowship in the local assembly would be dismissed.  Then the situation would be disclosed in as direct and brief a way as possible and the course of action be revealed.  Any questions/comments would be taken to the elders in private.  I'm not saying that we are perfect, but this seems to follow the pattern of the New Testament in dealing with issues within the local church.  If one is trying to counsel Christians on appropriate behaviour, you first should have a firm grasp on what the New Testament church is.

This book is very well-written, in a style that is easy to read and understand.  It was definitely an interesting read and not something I would normally buy for myself.  However, I cannot endorse this book wholeheartedly as I find many problems with the general theology.  This book is more psychology than Biblical instruction.  If you do choose to read this book, please read it with extreme discernment.

I would give this book 2 stars for the writing style and 1 star for the content.

Please note: I received a free copy of this book from Chosen Books in return for my honest review.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Book Review - Dragonwitch

Dragonwitch by Anne Elizabeth Stengl

(fantasy genre)

Dragonwitch begins with the story of Alistair Calix-son (heir to his uncle the Earl Ferox of Castle Gaheris) and his betrothed Lady Leta, daughter of Earl Aiven.  It's your typical arranged marriage scenario - neither one cares too much about the other but they aren't given a choice in the whole situation.  There is something else going on, though - something darker.  Why is Alistair's mother fighting so hard to assure her son's place as her brother's successor?  And who exactly is the mysterious Chronicler, the dwarf who spends his life working in the Earl's library?

This is the third book I have read in this series.  I still haven't found any of them to equal or surpass Heartless, though.  It remains my favourite so far.  Like Starflower, I enjoyed Dragonwitch moderately.  Once again, all the stories running simultaneously (at least two or three at a time) makes the reading a bit confusing.  I actually read the book twice before beginning this review to make sure I had a good grasp on the story.

As with Starflower, there is quite a lot of implied violence but nothing graphic.  At times it is hard to discern whether a character is good or bad, but in the end, good triumphs over evil.  Having some of the same characters from Starflower return in another story gave this book an interesting and unexpected turn of events.

I would give this book 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.  It is a clean, moralistic fantasy and an enjoyable read.  The negative things about the story are the confusing multiple story-lines and the assumption on the part of the author that the reader has read the previous books.

Please note : I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing Group) in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Blackboardesque Card

I love blackboards and they seem to be all the rage right now (not that I really follow the trends!), so I decided to try my hand at a blackboard card.  I used white pigment ink on black cardstock for the blackboard part.  The stamps are from Stampin' Up.  The dotted paper is patterned cardstock from the Recollections line (Michaels).  The card is an ivory card base that I stamped with kind of a zigzaggy background stamp (also from Michaels, one of those $1.50 ones).

It didn't come out as well as I thought it would, but it was fun to try.  Thanks for visiting today!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


I haven't abandoned my blog completely.  Life has just been really busy.  However, I have a number of posts in the works, including one on the challenges of clutter and some book reviews.

My blog has a new follower.  Welcome, Danielle!  Thanks to all for continuing to follow my blog even when I'm not very consistent.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Homemade Lesson Planner

I hope this isn't so simplistic a post.  There seems to be so much information, reviews, etc about homeschool plannners.  I don't want to add to the confusion but I would like to share my planning/record keeping system.  If you already have a wonderful, organised system that is working fine for you, please feel free to disregard this post.  You have my permission ;)  If you are feeling overwhelmed or simply don't know where to start, read on!

I have tried all sorts of things - free planner printable forms, free samples of  homeschool planners, and "real" teacher planners.  The problem was I was always modifying all these in some way and it was frustrating.  I was also surprised that some planners have rules - never write in pencil, use this planner exactly as it's laid out, etc.  I was ready to admit I was a complete planning failure.  Then I got a bright idea.  Instead of wasting printer ink printing out pages I wasn't satisfied with, I decided to design my own low-tech version.  By looking at other planners I got an idea of what I wanted my planner to look like.

These were my final guidelines:
-one week's lesson plans per page
-lots of space to write
-a place to put extra notes for the week
-separate sections for each child and myself
-lines for writing on

I decided what I needed was a large divided notebook with 3 sections.  Last July, I found Mead Five Star notebooks at a dollar store in Charlottetown for $3.  They had enough pages to lesson plan for both children for the year plus an extra section for me to use for other purposes.  The notebook was divided into 3 sections with pocketed dividers made of heavy cardstock, perfect for storing loose papers.

Once I got the notebook home and decided on how things would be laid out, I simply got out a ruler and pen and divided the pages (front side only) into 5 sections horizontally leaving a section at the bottom for other notes.  I labelled these 5 sections Monday to Friday down the margin.  I wrote the child's name and the week at the top of each page.  Then I simply write in pencil the subjects/activities/assignments on the lines.  I've developed a system for what order I write everything down in for a uniform look and to make it easier to find things.

I didn't sit down and draw up a full year's worth of pages at a time.  Whenever I have a few minutes, I can fill out a few pages so I generally have them ready to go when I want to write down my lesson plans.

I hope this hasn't been too basic or boring for anybody but this is just another way I have found to stretch my homeschool budget.  It may be labour intensive to some, but as I enjoy the planning process of our homeschool journey, making my own planner is a fun thing to do.

I have to say, I love the idea of some of those beautiful planners out there.  I also love having exactly what I need.  It's a pretty low-tech solution (notebook, pen, ruler) but it works for me!

Thanks for visiting today!

Friday, 22 March 2013

It's March...

...and so I guess it's time for my first post of the year :)

In my defense, we are spending the winter travelling so I don't have ready access to the Internet.  Quite frankly, my mind has been going in so many different directions the last number of months that I haven't been able to think of anything to write about that anyone would care to read.  However, I have come up with a few posts that may be of interest or use to someone out there.  So, thank you, dear readers for bearing with me!