Counting Blessings in a New Year

Just 19 days ago we ended the year of 2017, and are now a little over halfway into the first month of the new year! In this rush of a month, I have been trying to find ways to count my blessings, which at times has been a bit of a challenge. My readers will understand what I mean about challenges… those little buttons that our children keep pushing that make you question your own sanity — the back-talking, the arguing, the bad habits, defiance, etc. Such is the joy a parent must endure until the end of child-rearing years. However, we can also find joy in these! Let’s look at Scripture, and I’ll help you tie it in to your homeschool, as I have mine.

Paul was writing about unity in the church in Ephesians chapter 4, but I see many instances where this could be used in the home environment with this excerpt from verses 1-3.

“Therefore, I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” (NIV)

Just think; if we could take just these verses, and connect them with our homeschool environment, as well as our Christian relationships with each other inside and outside the home, what unity as a whole you could experience!

I want to share an experience my oldest has been dealing with lately. We have been taking her to horse riding lessons as of December. She has quite a bit of basics down from previous experience and lessons before we moved to California, so, her instructor chose a gelding who has been a great beginner horse because of his gentle nature. It was immediate to see the issues with horse and rider connection; the horse was being defiant, doing exactly opposite of what he was being asked. The more her horse, Chilly, was asked to trot, he would walk or come to a complete stop. Even just following the outer fence was too tempting for Chilly, who, over and over again, defied his rider and followed through with his own ideas, including trying to exit the arena. Go the opposite direction, avoid the jump, come away from riding next to the outside fence… the list goes on. Now, at this point, my daughter was so frustrated and upset that her horse wouldn’t listen that she started to give up. We saw this in her reactions. However, we continued to encourage her to push on, to never give up, no matter how hard a circumstance she was having, no matter what buttons that horse pushed. I am happy to say that, at the end of the lesson (30 mins past her slotted time), she was able to end on a good note, including being the first rider on her first lesson to be allowed to try the jumps.

So, what does a text about church unity and a defiant horse have to do with counting blessings?

First, don’t forget where the blessings come from, and thank God for them.

Psalm 68:19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Selah.

Psalm 103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 105:1 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!

Psalm 116:12 What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Psalm 107:43 Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.

Psalm 118:1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Second, don’t forget to find joy in trials! When it’s hard to count your blessings, take your mind off of the problem by seeking God in prayer.

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:2 Keep your mind on things above, not on worldly things.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Remember, God will always help you in your time of need.

James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

God will always help His faithful ones.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Organizing a Growing Family, One Small Step (or Book) at a Time

I never knew adding a third child would require so much organization! But, I’m not one to scoff at organization; if anything, I love my lists, I love my To-Do Binder, I love checking things off and seeing my progress, or re-arranging my day to fit what didn’t get done, and working around it. My husband is always amazed how my lists keep growing, and never seem to end, but it helps me when my brain is always thinking of a million other things to keep myself organized and keep me from forgetting something. To also be fair, adding a third child to our mix is certainly something that added to my growing lists of to-do’s, but it also showed me that if I don’t write things down, I’ll have a chaotic mess on my hands of things that I’d simply forget to do.

I also realized that adding a third meant that I’d have less time with my other two. Ollie, who’s now 3, and Holden, who just turned a year, would be getting less time with me once our Xander makes his appearance. I already split my time between them decently, but always give more time to Ollie because he’s the one homeschooling and has very high ambitions; Holden simply is learning words, and motions, and is pretty content at joining in whatever we’re doing as long as he gets to sit on my lap or make a mess with blocks a short arms reach away. Adding Xander to things will definitely rock our homeschooling world and life.

One thing I realized early on, that I can maintain as a constant, is reading time. We have so many books in our home, I feel like there’s little to no time to read them all, yet I’m always itching to crack them open! I’ve always installed a “quiet time” when Holden was napping, from the moment we brought him home from the hospital, and now I plan on doing the same thing once Xander is born in a few days time. How well that’ll turn out, I haven’t a clue. So far when I hush Holden, all he does is scream louder with a big grin on his face… He’s my little curve ball, this on;, he’s his own little man. But, at least Ollie has always understood it and respected it, and he does help me keep Holden calm when needed, but he also has come to love “quiet time” because it gives him time to do his own thing — from playing, to reading his own books (yes he can read simple books; it’s amazing how much he’s learned from us reading aloud to him), to simply using his iPad or watching cartoons on the TV (yup, we use both iPad and TV as our way to gain a few minutes of peace, and I’m not ashamed to admit it; in fact, I know my sanity will be relying on those two devices this winter when they can’t burn off energy outside).

But, as winter came closer and I finally stepped out of the denial that it was coming, whether I wanted it to or not, I knew I’d be spending a lot of time inside the house with my boys (winter, in New England, along with a newborn, is not a place you want to venture out a lot in). So, I had made a long list of books to read, or re-read, not just for myself, but for my boys as well. We have a large library collection growing within our home, and the public library is less then a three-minute drive from our house (and along Daddy’s route home), so books will never be scarce.

Back in November, I began filtering through our books, not just mine and my husband’s collection, but the boys as well, reorganizing, donating duplicates, recycling books that were too damaged from Holden’s teething phase from us not stopping him quick enough, and doing a quick glance at books that were gifted to us that I hadn’t decided if they were worth keeping or appropriate for our home.

  • So, I sat down and went through the boys’ books first. I was amazed at how many duplicates we were actually gifted, and how many we hadn’t touched! I reorganized the books on a sheet of paper of preference of what we’ll be reading first, and on down the list, until we got to books that Ollie voiced he was excited to re-read.
  • Next, I did the same to mine and my husband’s books; filtering through so many unread books didn’t take quite as long as it did for the boys’, but it felt really good to organize myself and our many books. These I organized from appropriate enough to read aloud (Sherlock Holmes series, anyone?), to ones that I’d read quietly on my own, and ones I’ve been itching to re-read.
  • Following all that fun organization, I ran through my lists of books I’ve been wanting to borrow from the public library, and made an actual list instead of all my sticky notes, and highlighted titles in my various homeschooling books (The Well Trained Mind, Honey For A Child’s Hearty, The Read-Aloud Handbook, among many more), and my cell phone notes, and screenshots of books I came across on Pinterest and walking through Barnes and Noble. I actually wrote them all down on a list (preference didn’t matter, I was just excited to have everything in one spot) and even made a digital list on the public library’s website so when I’m ready to rent the books, I simply log on, click, and when it’s available the hubby will swing by and pick it up for me!

I can’t tell you how happy I was when I saw my list back in November! I was so proud of myself for being organized and ahead of the curve when it came to this, because I knew once Xander came, homeschooling would basically be out the window until not only was I ready to start our new routine, but Xander was ready for a routine, and Ollie and Holden were ready to start a new routine. Homeschooling will now become a household event, I feel, where as before, we could do it during nap time, or when Holden was preoccupied with rearranging my kitchen drawers. Now, I feel like we’ll need to work homeschooling into and around our “new routine.” But in November, I felt like at least our days would be filled with literature (even if it were to be for five minutes a day; I’d take what I could).

But, as December rolled around I realized that even if I could read to my sons for five minutes a day (or more preferably), it wouldn’t be “enough” for Ollie. I thought we’d be taking a break from “school” starting the week of Thanksgiving on until after Christmas, start a tad bit after Christmas, then drop everything again right before Xander was born… Oh, was I wrong on all accounts. My oldest would ask to do school at least every other day. He loved our routine, he loved what he was learning, and that flame of learning had already been ignited, and he didn’t want it to go out, and I couldn’t be the one to extinguish it. Here I was thinking he’d love a break, he’d love to just play all day and not do a thing; next thing I know he’s picking up his own books and reading them to himself or to Holden, asking me to read to him, asking me to “do school today.” My idea of a break completely went out the window! So, we’d do school when he’d ask, and I realized my original “grand plan” back in November was not going to cut it come January. I went back to the drawing board and came up with another game plan:

  • Go through the workbooks/printables I had collected for Ollie, rip the pages out of the books, organize them by easiest to hardest, and subject matter (if possible), and place them in a clear sleeve in a binder (preferably five pages to a day or more to offer variety). If possible, even attach some with sticky notes that could be used along with the book lists I designed back in November so he’d have something to do while I (or a relative who’s moving in with us for a month to help) read to him.
  • Also, I went through all our supplies of art and craft items (glue, paint, foam cut outs of letters and images, pom-poms, pipe cleaners, construction paper, etc.) and stocked up on what I was short on. If I (or my family helping) needed a break and Ollie wanted to do something more constructive and independent, I could just lay it all on the table and let him go to town without needing much from me other than a little supervision.
  • Going through the kiddos’ art supplies gave me a light bulb moment to where I could probably organize at least two coloring pages, two arts and crafts, and one book with activity planned out per day in the same binder I had originally created for the “To-Read” list. (I doubted this would work for every day, but the beauty is that it can always get pushed back, or pulled ahead, and I had options available for my kiddo other than the iPad or TV. It also gave options to those helping us the month of January into February to easily find something entertaining to do with Ollie).

But, those are my plans, at least as to what might help gain our sons some sort of stability, some sort of scheduling, but also make my life easier as I try to maneuver this new world of having three sons, a lively dog, managing our home, homeschooling, and being a good wife and partner to an amazing husband. Some of it might work, some of it might not. But, the beauty of homeschooling, the beauty of adding a curve ball to our routine, is that we get to try new things, and we get to explore these new ventures as a family. God planned our family, we didn’t, and it’s all been amazing exploring His plan for us as a growing family. We trust in Him to help guide us, because no matter how much organizing I do, there’s no way to plan for it all. I just pray that what I have put together will help make things a tad bit easier on me, the husband, the boys, and those coming to help us for the month. Either way, everything is in God’s hands, and that puts my heart and mind at ease.

Mundane Days of Faithfulness

The winter months — with recovery from the holidays, colder temperatures, and the end of the school year seeming so far off — are often when students appear to struggle. For parents the colder, shorter days can be seen as days to get through in order to get to the days which are warmer and longer. In the winter months in the midwest, it’s a time of rest for the land and the plants; even cows and chickens take a break from producing milk and eggs. The winter is a sustained period of time where not much appears to be happening, but it’s a crucial time in the farming process. Just as the farmer has a time without the appearance of success, so too, families can have a season where not much appears to be happening. There are ways, though, to make the mundane days, meaningful.

During this time focus could be changed to demonstrating how to work at something for a little bit, and be satisfied with incompletion. The process is the important part.

When I think of an example of appreciating repetitive and mundane experience, and focusing on the process vs. the outcome, each time I come back to chores. When I look at chores in a way that I will only be satisfied when every dish is clean and put away, all the clothes laundered and put away, and the house straightened and looking company ready, then I am setting myself up for frustration and an irritable mood. I am also modeling the idea that satisfactory work only occurs when the desired outcome is met.

I’ve worked, prayed, and continue to practice accepting time spent on a project as good enough. Beyond accepting “good enough,” the repetitive nature of most tasks lends itself well to engaging in mindfulness activities which soothe the mind, body, and spirit.

The easy task of matching socks and prayer go well together. Singing and worship in the middle of dishes increases energy, both physical and spiritual. Vacuuming and mopping the floor works well with taking deep breaths and adding a blessing or a mantra to focus the mind. My favorite deep breathing activity is also a prayer. When I breathe in, I pray, “Whatever You give me, I accept.” When I breathe out, I pray, “Whatever You take from me, I let go.” I have found increased connection with God, and flexibility in following God’s plan for me by incorporating this deep breathing prayer with my chores.

In Deuteronomy 11:19 we are to “Teach them (the Word of God) to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” While it may feel awkward at first, modeling and demonstrating mindful connection to God throughout the day are powerful tools of faith to impart to your children. You may wonder, then, how does this apply to school work?

My husband, a concert level musician, taught me that in order to learn how to do a skill quickly and accurately, I first needed to learn to do the task slowly and methodically. Whether taking my licensing exam or folding laundry, in order to improve my skill, I need to take action slowly; and, once learned and done accurately, I can increase the speed of completion. School work is about acquiring new skills, in-depth study, and communicating the knowledge acquired. The process is similar to what I described with chores. Frequently, there isn’t a satisfactory end. Reading, writing, and math all require practice, a lot of practice, with frequent mistakes and trying again. If the focus of learning is on a satisfactory outcome, we can set up our relationship with our children to be one of frustration and irritability. I present for your consideration: What if the process of learning chores and prayerful mindfulness will ease any learning frustrations, because knowledge of the process of learning will already have been experienced by your child(ren) through learning the process of chores?

These shorter, colder, perhaps even mundane days allow activity in a household to slow down; the focus of learning can be on the basics. Through repetition and mindfulness, a child can grow physically, developmentally, and spiritually during a time when you are unlikely to see any “academic fruit.” These days are important, if we can model the skills we want our children to integrate, and allow children freedom from constantly striving for the moment of success.

“What will you do in the mundane days of faithfulness?” ~Martin Luther

Teaching the Preschooler — Informally, Part 2

With the push for earlier and earlier academics, sometimes parents feel their child may fall behind if they do not get started, even at such ages as 2 or 3 years old. Yet, as Adventists, we are counseled not to start formal academics until the ages of 8-10 years old, depending on the child.

Does this mean we simply allow the child to exist and not take advantage of these early years when the brain is growing so quickly? No, it simply means we use informal methods of teaching. The child who learns to love learning will benefit their entire lives. In this article, I will be giving some examples of how a parent can still ‘teach’ but do so in a manner that will help their child rather than hinder him.

When considering early education (and even later education in my opinion), think of Deuteronomy 6:7 that talks about teaching our children as we go about our day. The idea is that we are to make learning a natural process. As we cook our meals, we can show how to cook. We can discuss about creating healthy menus. We can talk about why we eat a certain way, and even why we may prepare foods in certain ways. At the store, we can teach price comparison and how to choose the best produce. This is an example of how natural learning can be used for older children.

So applying this natural learning for the preschooler, here is a running list of some ideas:

  • Read, read, read: While reading, point out pictures, discuss colors, shapes, etc. Ask what is happening from the picture. Ask what they think will happen next. There is an endless variety of topics that can be easily learned about while reading.
  • Art: Be willing to allow your child to experiment and get messy. Again, there are art books out there of the Masters. Reading about them and then trying to duplicate their art is a great art lesson, all natural. There are so many arts/craft books that one library cannot hold them all. There are limitless choices online. Pinterest has many choices. Colors can be learned. Different mediums such as water color, crayons, markers, plaster of paris, glue/paper, etc.
  • Science: This can be walking outside and learning the plants. Learning how to plant seeds and take care of them till harvest. For older children, this can lead to learning how to preserve that food. (Oops, this is supposed to be focused on preschoolers.) Comparing sizes of seeds, putting them in order by size, color, type of food/flower. Science can also be learned in the kitchen by cooking. Measuring, comparing ingredients, and even tasting. Helping them make charts with all this information. Help them make estimates of what will happen if you water one plant more than another. What if you water one seed more than it should be watered? What happens?
  • Math: There are series in the library that teach basic math skills. Again, cooking is a great way to teach math. Science can be easily combined with math with many activities. Math can even be used in art in studying proportions of various art displays. Just practice counting while singing songs can be fun and educational.
  • History: This can be learned by studying the Bible, having worship. It can be learned by reading real life books on various historical figures. Creating a timeline together can be art and history while being fun. There are some wonderful missionary books on the early church pioneers.
  • Writing: With writing, I would keep things very informal since it is largely a physical development issue. If they want to ‘write,’ then give them a large pencil or fat crayon with some blank paper. If they begin to ask how to draw or write a letter, then show them, but not until they ask. These preschool years really need to be child-led in learning. This way the parent knows they are ready developmentally and not being pushed. There are many inexpensive books out there that teach writing, beginning with drawing a line. Again, let the child begin by asking. You will see them begin drawing certain shapes and lines naturally. They will start trying to imitate your writing. So, of course, I’m going to suggest that you show writing by writing in front of your child. As you write, you can simply say out loud what you are writing about, if appropriate. When you make your grocery list, name out loud what you are putting on the list. You can even spell the words out loud. This makes learning all natural and fun. Plus, they see the practical application of the skill.
  • Play in the water.
  • Run and chase each other.
  • Take your child with you as you run your errands. Talk to them and explain. Today, I was taking my granddaughter somewhere. I missed my turn so ended up driving through this neighborhood with very large, expensive homes. She started asking questions. I ended up discussing values and how our values help us choose what we spend our money on. It was all natural and very important lesson for this little girl. She made a statement at the end that she was glad that mommy and daddy decided to spend their money on the family rather than a fancy house.
  • Sing, jump around.
  • Play child-led activities.
  • Do housework together.
  • Lay on the ground and look at the clouds. You can find shapes and discuss how clouds are made.

I could go on to list dozens of more activities. I hope these will give you some ideas to get started. The articles I shared in my last post gave some ideas that will also jumpstart your own thinking. The main idea is to live life with your child. Don’t park them in front of an electronic device. Instead, BE with them. Live with them. Interact with them. By doing these things, you can set a foundation for life-long learning and a brain filled with amazing abilities to learn and create.

Find Me a Good Book!

What homeschooling family doesn’t love to gather ’round and snuggle down with a good book? Every family I have come across, especially ours, loves the family reading hour. For us, evening worship time is our best time to relax with an uplifting story. Loving good books is certainly not limited to homeschoolers! When I was growing up, I remember many cozy evenings gathered in the living room, listening to Mom read. It is one of my most cherished family memories.

In our home, we have chosen to follow the counsel given us in Philippians 4:8…

Whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

With that in mind, we have an easier time choosing books than we used to. If we have a question about a book, if it first passes the “Is it true?” question, then that helps us right away to know if it should stay in our stack. Not all true books are uplifting, though, so we have to judge the story by the other criteria as well. Noble, of good report, praiseworthy…all of these are goals for reading material that will help to put good thoughts into our minds.

Our family is not the authority on good books, but because we have read so many wonderful stories, I thought it might be nice to share some of our all-time favorites, so that you may expand your libraries or remember an old favorite that we also enjoyed.

Here are some of the stories we have enjoyed that we have given ten thumbs up! These are listed in no particular order.

(When I share a source, it’s just one place where you can get these books, not necessarily the best. I only linked sites that either had several of the series, or that had reviews and a description of the books for you to see. I normally buy books off of amazon.com if I can, just because it’s easy, and we get free shipping. But, I normally look around for the best price. The links I provided are not always the best price. We get some books on Kindle, and listen to many on audio.)

Paula the Waldensian, by Eva Lecomte, available here. This is my husband’s favorite. It is a wonderful story of a young girl who ends up witnessing for her faith within her extended family after her father dies. Her character is what makes this book so inviting. Good for everyone, all ages. Our boys liked it. I think a girl would really enjoy it.

Image result for paula the waldensian

Tip Lewis and His Lamp, by Pansy,  available here. This is the one book on this list that we read upon recommendation of someone that I trust, and then I found out that it is maybe fictional. I don’t put this in the category of most fiction, and maybe I’m just rationalizing things, but I still put this book up among our recommended ones. It really has deep themes and comes from the point of view of a young boy-turning-youth who struggles with anger, conversion, and his walk with the Lord. We read it every couple of years, and it is very good for contrasting the eternal realities from the trivial things we commonly focus on.

Dare to Stand Alone, by Bradley Booth, available here. This book will amaze you! It is the story of a young man (18 yrs old) who stands for Jesus in the Russian army, amidst pressures to conform. If you want to see how God honors those who honor Him, read this book! Every youth should read this one!

Front Cover

The Seventh-Day Ox, by Bradley Booth, Kindle version here. This is another one of how God shows His power. A Russian pastor is imprisoned for his faith, and God uses him as a witness, and also uses an ox to teach about the Sabbath. This book does relate how the man was made to suffer beatings, so keep that in mind before you hand it over to your child. It’s good to read these kinds together so that you may discuss it as a family. The book does not overly focus on this, but it is just something to keep in mind.

The Unlikliest Hero, Desmond Doss, available under a different title here. Almost everyone has now heard of the story of Desmond Doss. If not, Desmond was a soldier who served as a medic during WWII, where he held to his convictions on the Sabbath and not carrying a weapon. This is a good book that tells about his life, as told by his second wife, Frances. It’s good to hear about real heroes.

Jungle Doctor Series (19 in all), by Paul White, full set available here. (This series is much cheaper if you buy it through Library and Ed.; see below) We really love this set. You can buy them one at a time off amazon.com or similar, or get the whole set for a good discount. Paul White was a medical missionary (non-SDA) who worked in Africa in the 1960s. He shares insight into the culture and how to reach the local people. That aside, these books are just plain FUN! We laugh so much, but learn so much at the same time! Don’t let the funny covers fool you — this series has depth. These books are different than any I’ve read before, and it takes a little bit to understand them, but then you’ll be hooked! The doctor takes a medical diagnosis and describes it in the beginning of the book. Each book focuses on one particular tropical disease, like malaria. Then, through the story you begin to understand much more about the disease by seeing how it affects people. Also woven into the story line (and these books are taken from his experiences in clinical practice) is a moral/spiritual lesson that is really impressive. The characters in the books learn through their own mistakes/trials lessons that help them to see God’s character more clearly. I highly recommend these books.

Little House on the Prairie Series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Everyone knows about the Little House books, and they are classics! Our favorite is probably Farmer Boy, as we have a household of boys, but we really enjoyed them all. There is just something within us all that resonates with the simple life that these books portray.

One Miracle After Another, by Pavel Goia, available here. If you have not read this book, GET IT! If you want to see how God answers prayer, read this book! You will be amazed and awed at our wonderful God! And you will be challenged to trust Him more as you see how one man had his faith rewarded over and over again! This book will engage all ages, not just older folks!  (The very first chapter mentions a scene that he witnessed that you may want to skim over and skip if you think your kids aren’t ready for it. It’s not inappropriate, just more mature.)

One Miracle After Another

Guide’s Greatest Series, various authors, available here and amazon.com. These books contain short stories that are really great for a short worship. They are easy reading in my opinion, so if your kids are just getting into chapter books, these would be a good choice. There are so many to choose from — angel stories, mission stories, animal stories, rescue, Christmas, escape from crime, and just many topics! Our kids love them! We don’t currently read the Guide, but these are classic stories from the early years.

Christian Heroes, Then and Now Series, by Janet and Geoff Benge (favorites within this series are Nate Saint, Jim Eliot, Amy Carmichael, and Jacob DeShazer), available here on YWAM website. The list of famous Christians in this series is quite impressive, and these are kid-friendly biographies that make good read-alouds. These also are good for kids who enjoy chapter books, although I consider them to be more advanced. These are probably good for fifth- to eighth-graders, I’d say, but that’s just judging from my own boys, who don’t whip through books in one night. We sometimes listen to these on an audiobook, because many of the books have been made into audio format. This helps us on long car trips, or just while running around town, to learn some history. I don’t know if it’s just me, but once I listen to or read a bunch of these, I start getting bored with the style of writing in them. That’s not saying they are boring to listen to per se, but I have a hard time, because the format is similar in many of the books, and I find that I drift off mentally toward the final chapters in some. The solution is to pick stories that you know have an exciting ending, if you know anything about the lives of the people! My kids do enjoy these books, and we have read many.

A Song for Your Honor, by Kay Evans, available here. We are just finishing up with this one! I bought the book after reading the description, and I believe this book addresses a fear many homeschoolers have — that of someone reporting them to the authorities. I sped through this book myself; then we sat down to read it as a family. My family didn’t want me to stop, but that happens when you get a good book! I will say that this story has excitement and adventure, but the element that makes it stand out for me is the solid faith and closeness that this family demonstrated through their heavy trials. This book is one that I thoroughly recommend, as does my whole family. Be prepared to see God’s hand in the affairs of the fatherless and widows.

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Anything by Norma Youngburg — Singer on the Sand, Jungle Thorn, Miracle on the Mountain, Nyla and the White Crocodile, Taught by a Tiger,  available here. All are missionary stories appropriate for all ages. These are especially interesting for Primary aged children, but, honestly, we all love these stories!

Front Cover

Evidence Not Seen, by Darlene Deibler Rose, available here.

Peace Child, by Don Richardson, available here. *Warning!* This book is rather graphic in the first few chapters, and I would only recommend this as a read-together book for older children, as it describes how a cannibalistic tribe operated before learning about Christianity. But, it is an excellent example of how one missionary related to his local culture group.

Robby the Robin, by Velma Craven Meyer, available here. A wonderful story about a friendship between a baby robin and his adopted family. We really love this book!

Image result for robby the robin velma meyer

The Sam Campbell books, available here as well as many other places, used or new. These are classic stories of a naturalist who lives in the North Woods and befriends all kinds of wild animals. Funny and endearing stories that everyone loves! I probably got ours from the ABC, but you can find many used copies. Interestingly, I’ve heard there are an “Adventistized” set, and a standard set. From what I’ve heard, maybe the SDA-ized set skips references to smoking and coffee. I don’t know how to verify this, but it’s just what I’ve heard in the homeschooling circles.

A Thousand Shall Fall, by Susi Hasel Mundi, available here. This is a very good book, taken from WWII, about a Adventist father who was drafted to serve in the German army. He stayed true to his convictions on the Sabbath and would not kill nor carry a gun. God tremendously blessed him and his family for their faith. We listened to this on the audio CD set available at the ABC. It is a real page-turner, and very inspirational! (There are references to where women and girls were raped by the enemy soldiers, stated matter-of-factly, and, again, demonstrating how God preserved His faithful.)

The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom, available here in many formats. We listened to the Audible audiobook of this, and I highly recommend it — highly! This is one of those books that will move you to tears and challenge your faith, as you see a family truly seeking to follow God, no matter the cost. And, it did cost them dearly. If you don’t know the story, it is about a family from Holland who hid Jews in their home during WWII, and ultimately got caught and put into concentration camps. The story follows Corrie and her sister, Betsy. This is heavy material, but we listened as a family and discussed everything together, and I totally believe that it is appropriate for children above maybe 10, if you feel they are prepared to handle the stark realities of war.

No Heil Hitler, by Paul Cieslar, available at the ABC. Here is a review from the Adventist Review. This is another WWII era book, about a boy from Poland and his family’s faith. As with all books in this was era, I recommend parental reading of this book together, so you can discuss questions your child may have. We did enjoy this one as well.

Ten Peas in a Pod, available here. This is an excellent book about a family some years ago, who lived a very unusual life of traveling around the country, singing, preaching, and witnessing as a family. This book really will inspire you to read and memorize scripture more faithfully, as the children in this family were encouraged to memorize large portions of the Bible. This is a very good book.

Brother Andrew — God’s Smuggler, available here. This is another must-read! Brother Andrew risked his life time and time again to get the Bible into countries where it was illegal. His faith, and God’s provision for him, is amazing!

Mary Jones and Her Bible, available for free PDF download heremany versions available here. We printed and read the PDF from Temkit, so I’m not sure which book on amazon.com is the official version, but I’d say that they all would be inspiring to read. This book tells the story of a Welsh girl who saved and saved until she could get enough money to buy a Bible in her language, which was a very rare thing in those days. It also tells about how her life was changed after having obtained it. This is an old story, but well-worth the time to read it!

Tiger and Tom/The King’s Daughter, available here, and if you scroll down, you will see more in the Character Classics Series, which are all excellent. These are written toward boys and girls, respectfully, but both books contain excellent older stories that I think are great for boys and girls both.

The Miller Series, available here. This series is about a sweet Mennonite family, and each story has a character or moral lesson. I find that these simple stories are refreshing.

There are almost endless places to find good books! So, me listing a few here is just a starting point. I just wanted to mention a few that maybe some people have not heard of. A quick Google search will bring rewarding results, if you just know where to get started.

Some sources:

Library and Educational Services — If you are not aware of this resource,you might want to check into it. This site offers reduced-priced books to libraries, schools, and educators. You have to create an account, and choose homeschool as your category, then you may browse the catalog. Particularly complete sets of books are much cheaper here than most places I’ve seen for new books. The Blue Bible Story books, and My Bible Friends, Jungle Doctor series, Sam Campbell, and many others are offered at very good prices. They also have audio CDs.

Temkit — This is a website with tons of treasures! You could let you child log onto it and they could stay busy for hours (not that you’re going to let them) but would find everything uplifting. This site has many PDF stories and old classic reprints that you can read. It is conservative Adventist. We have find many gems here.

Stories for Childrenwebsite. This site has a ton of stories that are old classics with moral lessons. Very good stories here.

Rod and Staff/Milestone books — storybooks here  The books you find here are very rural oriented and maybe somewhat old-fashioned. Maybe that’s why I like them. There are many to choose from for all ages, and the websites are organized by age to make it easier to navigate.

And I almost forgot to mention the obvious places. The Adventist Book Center, LMN Recources, Orion Publishing, and I’m sure many others, have wonderful selections of books to read!

So…with so many to choose from, the only problem now is where to begin! Grab a good book and get started!