Sunday, October 12, 2014

Why I'm Fighting Demons...and you should be too!

My life-long love of literature doesn't seem to be hereditary. I have a child who likes to read, and three children who will read a few things. But none of them seem to have the deep-seated need to curl up with a good book the way I always have.

So, when they DO pick up a book, I'm always anxious to ensure that they're reading something that's beneficial, edifying and challenging.

Have you seen what passes for youth literature these days?

Years after I was legally and obviously an adult, I still visited the youth sections at the library, finding new treasures and revisiting old ones.  But over the last 15 years or so, it's grown very difficult to find anything worth reading on those shelves. I want to pin-point the start to shortly after the Harry Potter series was released, but I honestly don't know where it all began.  Somewhere along the way, the idea of the supernatural became something not only to capitalize on, but something writers decided needed to be conveyed as desirable.  Something to aspire to.  Something to yearn for.

NOT COOL!

I grew up reading Frank Peretti books. While fiction, they at least accurately conveyed the seriousness of the supernatural.  Demons, vampires, witches, ghosts, demigods. The mystical, the metaphysical, the paranormal.  The Bible makes it clear that there is more out there that we cannot perceive. There is an 'otherwordly' realm in which real things happen that affect us.  But it also makes it clear that those things are not to be taken lightly. That what is out there is deeply and deadly serious.

I was more than thrilled to discover Brock Eastman's 'Howlsage'.  Not only a book that my non-bookworms were excited to read, but a book that puts the supernatural in the correct light.  That uses the fictional to teach the Biblical in a way that both appeals to and excites young readers.

Mr. Eastman's 'Howlsage' was written to be the first in a series.  Shortly after publication, though, the company that published it got out of the fiction business.  So 'Blizzardsage' and 'Crimsonsage' (parts 2 and 3 of the series) were put on indefinite hold.

I'm SO excited to announce that the 'Sages of Darkness' series is about to be a reality.  Brock Eastman has put together an awesome Kickstarter to fund publication of the entire series.  He's about $1000 away from his goal right now, and no one wants this to succeed more than I do (well....it's possible he does!)



Are you sick and tired of the glamorizing of evil? Do you wish you could find something exciting and relevant for your kids to read? Do you want to be a part of bringing some sanity and reality back to youth literature? Do you want access to more books that even reluctant readers enjoy?

Go check out the Kickstarter for 'Sages of Darkness', chip in what you can, and pass this along to everyone you know.  We have less than 72 hours, but I know if everybody tries, we can definitely help get this Kickstarter above and beyond the minimum. Help fund the series! Help #FightaDemon!!!

Friday, August 15, 2014

My heart's true home

There aren't adequate words to describe the way I feel as I drive the final 2 hours into Colorado Springs.  It's like coming home, every single time.  The mountains were hiding today behind dark rain clouds, so my first glimpse of them was only minutes before we hit the east edge of town.  Despite the drizzle that accompanied us for the last 90 minutes or so, I still had to stop every 30 minutes or so to take a few (awful quality, because I forgot my camera and had to use my iPad) pictures.  Pictures that don't do justice to the broad open plains, the rolling hills, the sky that stretches up forever.


No matter the weather when I make the drive, there's always that moment when the landscape stretches out before me and I have to choke back the tears of happiness.  I love this land.  There's something about Colorado that speaks to my soul in a way no other place does.  I've traveled fairly extensively.  I've found beauty in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee.  Even Louisiana, Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas have some amazing features.  And my original home - New Mexico - has some wonders that take my breath away.

But Colorado is different somehow.  Being here lightens my soul, swells my heart and I feel closer to the Creator than any other place on earth.  I find it difficult to drive when I'm here, because all I want to do is stare out the window.  Or better yet, stop, and get out of the car and just BE in the midst of this.


Pictures (even good ones from a decent camera) don't do this land justice.  You have to be here to really experience the amazing way the sky goes up so very high.  And how the horizon stretches so very far. 

The trip from Indiana brings us across I-70 through the Kansas plains into Colorado.  About an hour in, we cut down US24 to drop down into Colorado Springs from the northeast.  US24 winds and dips and crests through 60 miles of ranch land and a few tiny towns.  Despite the ups and downs - which are sometimes so gradual you might not notice them but for the sudden downshifting of the engine as it tries to compensate for the grade and keep to the cruise control-set speed - much of the land around you seems to be nearly-flat grassland.  Very few trees at all, and most of those are planted as windbreaks.  Then you notice a hill here...a draw there...the shadow of a small plateau far to the southeast.

Then... There they are.  You crest a hill, and the Rocky Mountains rise up to meet you.  Beckoning.

Hello Mountains!
Today they were cloaked in shadow from the dissipating storm for the longest time.  We were only 15 minutes out when they finally peeked out from the cloud cover.  And just like that, I'm home again.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

16 years

When I was a little girl, dreaming someday of being a wife and mom, I'll admit, I never dreamed about today.  I thought a lot about the romance I'd have with the man I'd someday marry (though I had no idea about who he'd be).  I thought a lot about rocking babies, nursing babies, holding babies.  I dreamed about first steps, first words, and first foods.  I dreamed about packing lunches and sending them off to school, though in time I'd come to discover God had other plans for us.

I didn't really dream about temper tantrums, rebellious arguments, messy rooms, "It's not my fault", the friends that might come into my kids' lives, or many of the other challenges of parenting.  And I have to admit that through it all, I still hold my dream of being a wife and mother as closely and cherish it just as much as I did when I was eight years old.

Raising kids comes with all kinds of challenges, and a completely unexpected joy that cannot be adequately put into words.  It's ironic to me that this past week saw the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the two cases decided by the Supreme Court that would allow unrestricted access to abortion in our country.  We passed the 55 million mark.  55 million innocent boys and girls that will never be rocked, never be nursed, never be held.  They'll never take first steps, say first words, experience first foods.  No one will pack them a lunch or walk them to the school bus or take a picture of their first day at school.  Likewise, their mothers will never deal with temper tantrums, rebellious arguments, be required to keep a straight face when told "it's not my fault" when clearly it is.  Those mothers will not have to deal with the challenge of a friend that might not be appropriate, or swell with pride when a friend is picked that is a good influence.  In fact, for all we know, many of the children that could have been friends were never given life either.  And in all of it, none of those mothers will experience the unique joy of being that child's mother, even if they go on to have other children.

Ryan is my oldest.  This will post exactly 16 years, to the minute, that he was pulled from my abdomen.  He is not my first, though.  My first was lost at 10 weeks to a miscarriage, approximately 16 months before Ryan was born.  And my second child was lost to a gut-wrenching decision to exterminate his life to save my own.  I've read several pro-life apologists who claim that ectopic pregnancy may indeed be the only legitimate reason to perform an abortion "to save the life of the mother" but having someone legitimize what happened does not make it any easier.  That child's life was extinguished a mere 13 months before Ryan was born, and I fully realize that had that child been able to live, Ryan would not be here.  For every birthday in our house that is celebrated for our 4 living children, I privately mourn another 4 that were lost to miscarriage, and the 5th whose life was taken to save my own.

I find it difficult to look at my own children without seeing the ones who are missing, and I wonder how many mothers of those 55 million find themselves in the same situation.  I pray that they would find peace and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ, and be able to go on, as I have, to celebrate the joy of motherhood.

So here I am, with 16 years of laughter, tears, heartache, pride, and an immense joy.

It's gone so fast.  Surely it was just yesterday that they handed me my son, who was so tiny and fragile I wasn't sure I'd be able to hold onto him.  Surely it was just yesterday I asked my mom to run out and buy some preemie clothes, because he was swimming in the newborn clothes (which finally fit him at 6 months).  I once picked up a book that suggested that a child's character was pretty much formed by the age of six, and I remember thinking "then I have plenty of time."

It flew by, faster than I'd ever dream possible.  My baby boy is now driving me around town, making faces at me as he carries 40 lb bags of salt down to our basement, and complaining about Algebra.  I'm sure I'll blink a few more times and he'll be living on his own, married, and holding a job...maybe even have a child of his own.  As the Psalmist says, "our days are like the grass" and yet, some days it feels as though the grass changes slower than my children do.  When it's 3am and the baby won't stop screaming unless you walk in circles around the living room singing, it seems as though you'll never get through it, never get enough sleep, never have a minute to yourself again, never be able to take a shower again.  But you'll turn around, faster than you can imagine, and almost find yourself wishing someone would come bursting into the bathroom at the most inopportune time, just so you can feel reassured that you haven't missed it all.  The older my children get, the more I realize how short and how precious time really is.

My 16 years with Ryan have been nothing short of miraculous.  My two funniest stories are that 1) We once thought Ryan was strong-willed (bwahahahaha!) and 2) At one time I patted myself on the shoulder for how well I'd raised him (BWAHAHAHAHA)!  I can say for certain that while Ryan is one of the least strong-willed children in the world, and is for the most part every parent's dream child in the maturity he has and the choices he makes, I know that, 1) God created him like that, and I have very little to do with the person he has become, and 2) I could be the best parent in the world and still have a child that makes poor choices.  God has given me these children for a season, and while it IS my responsibility to do my very best to bring them up as Godly, kind, loving, caring, thinking, helpful, selfless individuals, all I can do is my best.  God is in control, and I am only a steward for a time.  My job is to do with my children what God wills, not what I will.

Ryan is the kind of kid that many parents wish they had, and many kids wish they were.  He tends to be good at just about anything he decides he wants to do, and with very little effort he is able to succeed where many others try hard and fail.  It would be easy for me to pass that off as something I've somehow helped with, though I know that's just the nature God has gifted him with.  But more importantly, it would be easy to take pride in his worldly successes and miss the important part: It is the character that counts.  He can win all the awards in the world, and they mean absolutely nothing if he does not have good character.

Just like every other human being on the planet, I sometimes get hung up on the wrong stuff, and I would fail my children as a parent if I didn't stop and force myself to take a good hard look at the character they are developing.  It shouldn't matter whether he can play 5 instruments, or none.  What does matter is the glow of joy he gets from helping out with the babysitting in our small group, and the love he has for the little kids in our church.  You can't get that from any course at school, and you can't buy it with any sum of money.  In 20 years, no one will care whether he ever won a speech or debate tournament, but you can bet that every single person he meets along the way will remember the way he treated them.  So when I say I'm proud of my son, it isn't because of what he can or cannot do.  I'm proud of the kind of person he is becoming, and I'm overjoyed to say that he is living his life for God, not for himself.

I cannot imagine what the next 16 years will bring.  I know he will continue to grow, and change, and move on.  I know this because despite my repeated demands that he STOP, he continues growing.  I pray for my son, that he will continue to follow Jesus, that he will put relationship before opportunity, that he will grow in character rather than popularity, and that he will step out of our household a man of God.  He is my firstborn, and 16 is both a blessing and a curse.  I want to slow time down and cherish these last few years that he is under my roof, yet I'm holding my breath to see what his future holds.

I can say for sure, when I was dreaming of this moment, I could never have predicted how sweet, and how painful it would be.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Indy WAPF Groundwork Conference

Indiana Folks:


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http://www.indywapf.org
GROUNDWORK CONFERENCE
Promoting farm-fresh, traditionally prepared,
nutrient-dense foods
DATE: Saturday, September 15, 2012
TIME: 8:30 - 5:30 (check-in will begin at 7:45 am)
COST:  $55 (until August 1) 
Check out our website for more detailed information.

WHAT IS GROUNDWORK?
Groundwork is a conference designed to promote farm-fresh, traditionally prepared and nutrient-dense foods while exploring topics of optimal health, food freedom, non-toxic therapies and sustainable agriculture.  

THE EARLYBIRD CONFERENCE RATE IS ABOUT TO EXPIRE

WHAT TO EXPECT
• Taste & learn about nutrient-dense foods
Hear documented research from local & national experts
Sample & purchase local farm raised foods
• Enjoy a farm fresh lunch prepared by Homestead Heritage
• Encourage, connect and inspire yourself & others
• Learn to prepare great tasting, nourishing, family-friendly meals

INVITE YOUR FRIENDS!
SHARE ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER!
FORWARD THIS EMAIL!

FEATURED SPEAKERS
Kevin Logan, MD attended Indiana University School of Medicine with a residency from the University of New Mexico in Internal Medicine and additional training in Chinese Medicine and multiple post-graduate training courses that integrate a mind, body, and spirit approach to illness.  Kevin's talk for the conference is titled "Dangerous Grains".
Michael Gossweiler, DDS attended Indiana University School of Dentistry, completed a residency in hospital-based dentistry in 1990 and received his specialty certificate in periodontics from the University of Kentucky in 1992.  In 2005 he and other members of his family, who are also dentists, became aware of the effects of mercury on their health.  Since that time, he has transitioned to holistic and integrative dentistry.  Michael will be talking about the Inside and outside story of fluoride.
Catherine Rupp, MD is trained in internal medicine and pediatrics.  Catherine has also acquired NAET certification and has most recently received training by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride.  She is currently the only certified GAPS practitioner in the Indianapolis area.   
Chris Masterjohn is currently a doctoral candidate pursuing a PhD in Nutritional Sciences with a concentration in Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition at the University of Connecticut and author of website Cholesterol and Health and the Daily Lipid and writes for the Weston A Price Foundation website Mother Nature Obeyed.  Chris will have an opportunity to speak about the research of Weston A Price, the benefits of animal foods, and the synergistic effects of fat soluable vitamins A, D and K.  
Stephanie Seneff, PhD is a published MIT Senior Research Scientist.  Her interests are varied but focus most recently on the benefits of sun exposure, sulphur, the dangers of statin drugs and vaccinations.  
Don Huber, PhD is Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology at Purdue University and an expert on the dangers of GMO's and Glycophosphates.  Don most recently gained recognition and notoriety for his public questioning of the safety of modern agricultural practices and request for more thorough testing.
Denise Minger is a health writer and the owner of www.rawfoodsos.com, a blog dedicated to debunking bad science and discerning the truth about health - especially when it comes to animal foods, vegetarianism, fat, and other controversial topics.  She's currently working on her first book, "Death By Food Pyramid," to be published in early 2013.
Indianapolis Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation
PO Box 44 Keystone, IN 46759
Chapter contact, Leslie Gray
info@indywapf.org | Phone: 317-842-3757 | www.indywapf.org | www.westonaprice.org

Sunday, May 29, 2011

New music makes me sad

We've been listening to several homeschool convention speakers whenever we travel in the car lately, and yesterday Megan (5) asked if we could listen to some SONGS instead.  So today I flipped over to some Beethoven, and was surprised that the whole crew listened without comment.  The last time I tried classical music in the car, the situation was mutinous.

Later this afternoon, I began humming a line from the piece we'd been listening to, and to my surprise, Aaron (11) said "is it just my imagination, or was I just thinking about that a few minutes ago?"  Onto the computer I went, clicking open my music program and starting the song in question.
"This song?" I asked him.
"Yes, that one."  So I let the piece play, and once again, classical music filled the air without any complaints from my children.

There is a danger, however, in playing any piece of classical music around me for very long.  Inevitably, it leads to me thinking about my long, lost music collection...and I grieve.

In late 2001, we moved from Louisiana to Indiana.  I lovingly packed up my 250+ tapes, that I'd hauled from New Mexico to college, back to New Mexico when I got married, through two moves in New Mexico, to Louisiana, and through two more moves in Louisiana.  Somewhere along the way, I'd begun to collect CDs, the "new" music medium, but the tapes were listened to as much as, or more, than the CDs.  I moved them to Indiana, where they waited for over a month while we looked for a house.  They were one of the first things I unpacked.
Somewhere around 2003, the last tape player in the house died.  The tapes sat unplayed for months until the day I did a massive cleaning in anticipation of the birth of our third child.  Once again, I lovingly boxed them up, and I stored them on top of the laundry room cabinets.  Not out of sight, not out of mind, but out of use, at least for the time being.
We moved to our current home in 2006.  It took us two weekends to move out of our previous house, but that was partially because a good portion of our belongings were being stored in my sister-in-law's garage, so we essentially had to move out of two separate places.  We packed, moved and unpacked what we needed that first weekend, and went back the second weekend for the rest.
I very vividly remember crawling on top of the washer and dryer to empty the laundry room cabinets and to fish the boxes of tapes off the top.  I know I put the boxes...in a box.  Which one, I don't recall so vividly.  That was the last time I saw them.
At least once every six months or so, I go a little crazy in missing them, and tear through every still-packed box left in the house.  All the boxes in the basement, all the boxes in my room, all the boxes in the garage.  I untape and open every single one.  Even the ones that I know don't have my box of tapes.  It's been nearly four years, and I've almost resigned myself to the fact that the tapes are gone.  Whether they never got packed, or were mistakenly thrown out, or left at the curb or put in a pile destined for Goodwill, I'll never know.  All I know is that they're gone, and I'll never get them back.


Among the missing...
  • The recording of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, given to my by John Reno.  John was a surrogate father to me throughout high school, and this particular version was directed by his brother Phil.  This tape opened up the world of Broadway musicals to me.  I've tracked down four different recordings since then, but none of them are as good as that first one.
  • The complete symphonic recording of Les Miserables, including the libretto (the little music book with notes and lyrics).  Three tapes in all, and I listened to this one so many times I'm surprised the tapes would still play.  I'd never seen a live musical yet, and when I finally did see this one, it was just like I'd imagined it.
  • Following the theme of musicals, I'm also missing my tapes of Grease (both the musical and the movie soundtrack), Miss Saigon (complete London recording, with Lea Salonga), Aspects of Love (which has beautiful music and a terrible story) and many more.
  • And in the theme of movie soundtracks, I had nearly every Disney movie soundtrack, even the live action movies like Newsies.  Soundtracks from the Disney animated movies filled a large section of my collection: Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, The ORIGINAL Fantasia, and The Lion King.
  • My classical collection - what started this post - is what I miss the most.  Let's say I had unlimited funds and could replace all these taps.  Well, with my classical collection, I wouldn't even know where to start in reconstructing it, because I don't know classical music by name, or composer.  I only know it by tune.  
Let me explain.

I grew up as a Suzuki violin student.  For those of you who don't know about Suzuki, here's a quick summary: You learn to play by listening, just as you learn to speak your native language by hearing it.  I didn't learn to read music until I was in late elementary school, after I'd already played the violin for 6-7 years.  I wasn't proficient at reading music until late in high school.  But starting in sixth grade, I played in one of the highest-rated youth orchestras in the United States: the Albuquerque Youth Symphony (AYS).  Since I wasn't all that great at reading music, and we had to learn three full programs every year, I ended up with a LOT of classical music.  Every time we received our new program music, I'd beg my parents to go out and purchase me tapes of the music we were playing, so I could learn my part.  4-5 pieces of music per program, times 3 programs a year, times 7 years equals nearly 100 tapes.  Add to that 4 years of All-State Music Festival in high school, during which we learned another 4-5 pieces, and a year that the AYS was invited to play with the New Mexico Symphony; I probably owned 120 tapes that had been purchased so that I could learn one of the pieces on each tape.  I learned the majority of that music knowing what it sounded like.  19 times out of 20, I couldn't tell you the Title of the piece or the name of the composer who wrote it.

Another set of tapes that is forever lost to me are the live recordings of the high-school AYS and All-State orchestra performances.  Those probably aren't all that great, and I rarely listened to them.  But they were a sign of accomplishment - something I could point to and say "I played that" (something I often tell my husband when I hear a piece of music on TV or in a movie).  There's a piece of my history in there, and now it only lives in my memory.  

That is, unless I happen to unearth a box that has previously eluded me, and rip off the packing tape that seals it shut, and discover the treasure trove that I've mourned the loss of many times over.

Friday, May 27, 2011

TOS Review: Read For The Heart

I wanted to start off this post with a couple of clips from the movie You've Got Mail that have some interesting insights into books and how they influence us.

video

I agree wholeheartedly!  I believe the books we read and have read to us when we're children shape our identity and our worldview in a more compelling and significant way than any other books we read throughout the rest of our lives.  In fact, I'm one of the (very) few people who doesn't buy into the "at least they're reading something" idea - the excuse that is usually given when a parent admits that all their child will read is Captain Underpants or Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger (I kid you not, that is a real book!).  

  video
One of the 20th Century's most profound truths: YOU ARE WHAT YOU READ

I love books.  If you were to set foot in my home you could probably tell pretty quickly.  I mean, sure - there are only two bookcases downstairs and one upstairs, so you might have to be a bit of a sleuth to figure it out.  So look around.  Notice the piles of books on nearly every flat surface?  The entire right side of my desk covered with books? If that isn't enough to convince you, ask me why both the "school room" (currently under construction) and my bedroom currently look as though we just moved in even though we've lived here for nearly 5 years.  At last count we had over 40 boxes - all of them full to the brim of books.

I love books so much that while other students left for college with their CD collection, their pictures or their entire wardrobe, I used up most of my packing space for the books I wanted to take.  I even broke down crying the night before I left when I realized that I wasn't going to be able to take all of my books (and back then, I actually did only have two bookcases full of them).

The right books are friends.  They teach me, and help me grow.  They open up new worlds and make my current world better. Reading these books changes me, helping me become the person I want to be. 

In the same way, reading the wrong books is like hanging out with the "wrong crowd."  On the surface, the wrong books can seem innocent, neutral, sometimes even helpful, but once you really hold these books to the correct standards, it becomes clear how damaging they can be.


That was an incredibly long intro, I know, but it's the best way to explain why I liked Sarah Clarkson's Read For the Heart from Apologia Press so much.  Read For the Heart is in some ways similar to other books about books.  On the surface, it seems to be a book that lists suggested reading materials for a variety of ages.  But Read For the Heart has heart.  Sarah Clarkson begins the book by leading you through her own experience growing up with great literature being read aloud in her home.  In many ways, her experiences and feelings about books and reading mirror my own.

I guess the most succinct way to compare the books is to say that other books about books are books about what to read, but Read For the Heart is a book about what to read aloud and what to give your children to read, and how, and most importantly, why.  Actually, the entire title, as you can see above, is: Read For the Heart: Whole Books for Wholehearted Families.   It explains how your ideas and loves and worldview and very being can be influenced for Truth and Right through the books you are exposed to as a child. Check out what Sarah has to say about why she wrote the book (italics mine):
"Experts have written many excellent books on the merits of great literature and useful guides to selecting worthy books.  I am not an expert or a critic.  My perspective comes from the other side - from a young heart, mind and soul shaped by storybooks.  Although this book is a handbook, with lists and tips galore to guide you into the world of children's literature, I also consider it to be a story and an invitation not just to a reading list, but to a reading life.
As I have considered the many wonderful reasons to read, a steady progression of scenes from my childhood has come to my mind, each one a poignant portrait of a reading life.  One by one, these scenes remind me of the reasons I read: for a wakened heart, a strong mind, and a steadfast soul."
This book quickly became a cherished friend.  I identified with Sarah's childhood experiences with books on a very personal level.  As a parent, one of my greatest desires is to pass along to my own children this reading life.  Sometimes I get lost in the logistics of it all, and lose sight of the real reasons that I read aloud or give certain books to my kids.  It's not about the hours logged, or getting through a certain number of books per week, or checking one more off the list.  It's about passing along a heritage, gifting my children with the true joy of discovering another "friend" in a story, and the certain knowledge that growth and change is taking place in our lives because of something we've read.

I feel as though I could probably write my own book about how much I like this book, and why!  This book is one that I may very well end up owning multiple copies of, just so I can lend it out to friends without fear that I won't have access to a copy when I need it.  Sarah's reading recommendations come from her very own childhood reading experiences.  She's very clear that her lists are not all-inclusive, that there's much more good literature out there than she had room in the book to list.  But the best part of this book may not lie in the lists at all (though they're GREAT!), but in the story that Sarah weaves about growing up in a family that cherished reading, that understood that the books you read and have read to you become a part of you in a very tangible way.  I dare you to read it without feeling a twang of envy for the reading life Sarah experienced in her formative years.

Don't take my word for it though.  You can check out a sample chapter of Read For the Heart as well as the Table of Contents.  You can also check out what my other crew members had to say about the book.  The best way to check it out, though, is to just get the book.  It's available from Apologia Press for $17.00 and absolutely worth every penny.  Read For the Heart is one of many homeschooling resources offered by Apologia and so far I've found that everything I've tried from Apologia has been a keeper!

Disclaimer: As a member of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received a complimentary copy of Read For the Heart in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased review. No other compensation was received.




Wednesday, May 25, 2011

TOS Review: Considering God's Creation

I have two non-negotiable requirements to even consider using a science curriculum.  First, the curriculum cannot perpetuate the myth of evolution (To be honest, my first instinct was to use the word "lie" instead of "myth".  That's how strongly I believe in the truth of Creation.)  I don't mind a text or program that presents the argument of evolution as an unproven, unbiblical theory but I absolutely refuse to give my kids a book that presents evolution as fact or "one of many possible truths".  Second, I don't want to spend even 1/2 the amount of time preparing for the lesson as it takes to teach the lesson.  It's science for crying out loud.  You're supposed to be able to walk out the door (or even stay inside) and study the world around you.  It shouldn't take four specialized shopping trips and two hours of prep time to teach your kids about the solar system, the human body, or the plant world.
I was pleasantly surprised when we received the Considering God's Creation set from Eagle's Wings.  They specifically describe Considering God's Creation as "A creative, in-depth encounter with natural science from a Biblical perspective." and "...science the way we wish we'd been taught!"  The program can be adapted for grades 2-7, and can be a quick overview or an in-depth study.  Best of all, it doesn't require anything for projects that you wouldn't find in your home - mostly crayons, tape, glue, and the occasional shoebox.  Best of all, each lesson requires the use of a Bible, as the program is intended to teach children not just about the science of God's creation, but how to defend Creation to those who believe evolution.


The program itself consists of a student workbook, a teacher's manual, and an audio CD.  The audio CD contains 23 songs and poems that go along with the lessons and can be memorized.  The student workbook is essentially the "projects" that go with each lesson - pages to color, booklets to put together, diagrams to cut out and put together, cards to cut out, etc.  Below are just a few samples of the activities from the student workbook.


Check out more samples here.  Also, on the right side of this page, underneath the order information, you can check out a few of the sound clips from the audio CD.
The teacher's manual has a short introduction that explains the many versatile ways this program can be used, and how to adapt it to different grade levels, or even use as a supplement to other programs.  Then it provides the preparation info, the vocabulary, the reading portion, instructions for the activity and notebook, the Bible reading portion, a section called Evolution Stumpers (more on that in a minute) and the review for each lesson.  Also included is a section called Digging Deeper that provides multiple resources for that particular lesson topic to use with the lesson or assign to older students for a more in-depth study.

Teacher's Manual Sample Page
 Click to view larger version
The Evolution Stumpers section is particularly geared toward teaching students to defend Creation to those who believe in evolution.  Mostly they're just a series of questions.  Though some of the answers are in the lesson they've just covered, there is no answer guide for this section, and no "right" answer for every one of the questions.  It's just a jumping-off place to get students started thinking about what they believe, which is critical to defending it.  As one of my favorite teachers has said: It's not enough to give students the information they need to know about their faith.  They need to know how to think through what they believe and why, so they can answer people when they ask the hard questions.
The subjects covered in this course are:
  • Universe
  • Stars
  • Solar System
  • Earth
  • Light
  • Sound
  • Wind
  • Weather
  • Clouds
  • Rocks
  • Plants
  • Insects
  • Mammals
  • Reptiles
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Amphibians
  • Food Chains
  • Reproduction and Genetics
  • Human
  • Animal Anatomy
  • Physiology
The best part about this course - that you get SO MUCH for SO LITTLE.  The entire set (teacher's manual, student workbook, audio CD) only costs $29.95.  A limited copywrite on the student workbook allows you to copy the workbook pages for your own family to use, but you can also purchase additional student workbooks for $13.95 each.

I love the intent of this course, and I super-love the adaptability of this course.  We usually use Apologia's science courses, and we were able to get through the Universe/Stars/Solar System/Earth portions of the Considering God's Creation program.  It dovetails perfectly with Apologia's Astronomy course.  

I planned to have a "light" summer this year.  We're not taking the summer off, but we're not going to be doing much school work.  After using this course for several weeks, I decided that we'll be using the program for our summer science study, doing about two sections a week and concentrating more on the activities and defense of creation aspects than going real in-depth.  We'll be getting to the human anatomy and physiology section just in time to start our Apologia Anatomy course and I'll dovetail those together.  

Bottom line, this is easy and enjoyable to use.  It's a fantastic product at a fantastic price, and would be an excellent addition to any homeschool.

Check out what my other crew members have to say about this product here.


Disclaimer: As a member of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received a complimentary set of Considering God's Creation in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased review. No other compensation was received.