26.6.17

Book Review of MY NAME IS RIVER by Wendy Dunham & a Giveaway

by Sally Matheny

(My Name is River by Wendy Dunham)
If fictional worlds merged, I bet twelve-year-old, River Starling, in My Name is River, would pal around with Opal, the little girl in Because of Winn-Dixie. Both girls have similar spunk and curiosity.

However, the author, Wendy Dunham, masterfully presents River with the “class dork” for a friend. Since River is running low on camaraderie and has been assigned to do a class project with him anyway, River decides to give Billy a chance. Besides, her Gram always says, “If you judge a book by its cover, you may miss a Hemingway.”

Billy, a patient, kindhearted, handicapped student embraces life with a positive attitude. Experience has taught him how to adapt when necessary and persevere until a job is done well.

On the other hand, River impatiently waits on the answers she has about her life—like where are her birth parents, and her adoptive parents, for that matter. What can she tell people when they ask about her name? And what will happen to her if something happens to Gram?


Set in 1983 in West Virginia, River’s friendship with Billy grows deeper as they work on their school project, deal with a school bully, and as they search for answers to serious life questions.

My Name is River is a Christian, 144-page, chapter book published by Harvest House Publishers for readers ages 8-13.

Not only is it written with a Christian worldview, but also since Billy’s dad is a pastor, the reader is privy to hearing a clear message of the gospel presented in the story.

Readers will relish River’s honest and humorous viewpoint of the church, especially since she’s never attended church before.

     "I decide that even though they're technically called pews, I'm still going to call them benches. I don't think a word like pew is nice enough for a place like this."    - stated by River in My Name is River


I highly recommend this wholesome and entertaining book. I think girls may like it best, but boys will find value in it as well. Readers will “discover the unforgettable story of one girl’s search for a place to call home.”

I look forward to reading the sequel, Hope Girl, later this summer. But for now, I’m giving away a copy of My Name is River. Who wants to win this delightful book?

All you have to do to enter is make sure your name is on my email list. You can do this by entering your email in the sidebar on the right where it says, “Follow by Email.”

Once on the email list, you’ll receive updates from this blog, which is usually just one, but occasionally two per weekI hate spam. Don’t you? That’s why I will never share your email address with anyone for any reason.

That’s it. Easy as pie, right? I’ll place all the names from my email list in the drawing and will announce the winner on July 3.

If you'd like more information about My Name is River check it out at:
Amazon, Harvest House Publishers, or anywhere books are sold. 



While we’re waiting, I’m curious. What are your kids reading this summer?








22.6.17

Summer Treasure: A Review of A Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story

by Sally Matheny

Seeking Summer Treasure
(Pixabay photo)
It’s summer. Are you afraid whatever your child learned this year will wash up on a deserted island surrounded by a sea of forgetfulness? Oh, honey, me too.

I strongly support a short vacation from schooling, because as a homeschool mom, I need one, too!

However, two months without doing anything results in two or more months of recovering forgotten information once the school year starts back.

So, what are moms to do?

To avoid a revolution, strategize a compromise that is unique and fun. A Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story, may be the answer. In a coconut shell, it teaches the basic elements of a story.

Below is an excerpt from the letter to parents. Muster up your best pirate voice and read.

“Criticism be like a storm that sinks thar brain ship. But don’t be fooled—praise can be as deadly as sharpenin’ yer sword with a krakens tooth. So ye won’t be seein’ us give out no magical gold stars or blue ribbons or any o’ that thar landblubber stuff that be fillin’ a youngin’s head wit’ nonsense. We just have ‘em do thar work an’ laugh an’ dance an’ play along. Nothin’ quite as much fun as creativity, ya har!”
                                 -an excerpt from the notorious Pirate Captain Yogger LeFossa’s letter, 
                                                                      The Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story


A Pirate's Guide t' th' Grammar of Story
The Pirate’s Guide is an all-in-one creative writing curriculum for students eight years old and up.

If your child is eleven or older, he will be able to work independently through this interactive, consumable book. But think how entertaining it would be if you donned an eye patch and read aloud Captain LeFossa’s words before your child began the day’s assignment.

Woven among the instructional and activity sections is an ongoing, entertaining story about Captain LeFossa, his talking monkeys, and their quest for an unusual treasure.

This adventurous tale features your student as the main character of the story, which pulls him right into the action.

Each brief “chapter” of the story incorporates a skill or concept introduced in the instruction and activity sections that follow.

While The Pirate’s Guide is witty, it is not void of valuable weight.  

“This is a serious curriculum that teaches the fundamental building blocks—the grammar—of a story.”

This is just a sampling of areas covered:

Mindstorming              Setting                               Values
Rules                          Symbols                             Backstory  
Problems                    Characterizations                 Character Values
Mystery                      Character Contradictions      Ticking Clock
Story Engine               Plot                                    Character Functions
Character Arc              Gaps and Expectation          Transformation

Currently, my twelve-year-old son and I are working on Chapter Argh Aye Aye (Ch. 7). There are twenty-six concepts covered in the 328-pages of the soft cover book. We’re taking our time and not rushing it so we can absorb and savor. The book suggests twenty-minute sessions, which is about what we’re doing.

I would not say my reluctant writer has become an enthusiastic writer just yet. Remember, we are only in chapter seven.

However, because of the lessons’ bite-size portions and their excellent presentations, The Pirate’s Guide has produced a more attentive student at my house. His understanding of what makes a great story, as well as his writing skills, are progressing.

I asked him what he liked most about the workbook. He said,

        “I like the pirate story. It’s fun. I like that I don’t have to do a lot of    
        writing all at once. I get to make lists and answer questions about 
        writing.”

This is true. The student learns about various writing concepts over a span of several lessons before actually putting them into practice by writing a complete story. 

One of the most important things I’ve witnessed is my son developing a can-do attitude toward writing.

And that, my friend, is a summer not wasted.

Since this blog has a Christian emphasis, I inquired about the faith and worldview of the author before agreeing to review this product. 

I was assured that while the product was not written specifically for the Christian market, it was written with a Christian worldview. “Nothing in it would contradict the Bible or Christian beliefs at all.”

I know that’s as important to you as it is to me. Here's a little more about the author, Chris Hansen.

“Chris Hansen has over a decade of experience training professional filmmakers and storytellers in creativity. He was the executive director of the Piko Fellowship in Screenwriting, a long-term residency program for film and television writers. As a founding member and senior advisor to the Wedgwood Circle, he has been a creative partner among a team of award-winning artists.”

Chris and his wife homeschool their three children and speak at numerous homeschool conventions.

We plan to continue working through the Pirate's Guide this summer. Based on what we've experienced so far, I recommend this book, especially for those who struggle with writing. And for those who may jump ship if you don't choose something entertaining as well as educational.


For more information:



So, readers, what educational treasures are you seeking for your children this summer?


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher in return for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


17.6.17

Are We Teaching Our Children to Dishonor Their Fathers?

by Sally Matheny

Are we teaching our children to dishonor their fathers?
Honor.

One, simple word, yet highly esteemed.

Most Christians know the fifth commandment given by God.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”  Exodus 20:12

Perhaps we’ve heard it so often we have become complacent about it.

I wonder. Are we teaching our children to dishonor their father?

Let me say, I understand not all fathers exhibit behaviors that are excellent and praiseworthy. Dads make mistakes. Some make more than others do.

However, God did not say honor your parents if they are kind, popular, or (fill-in-the-blank). God said to honor them.

I specifically want to address moms today.

As Christians, we long for our children to grow closer in their relationship with God. We know this is the key for them to thrive on this earth with hope and joy.

We pray that they will long for, learn from, and lean on Jesus Christ. One way to teach our children how to revere the Creator of the universe is to teach them how to how to honor their earthly father.

The best way to educate is to live by example. There are three ways to model honor—with attitude, words, and deeds.

Honor Begins With Attitude

I could say honor begins in the heart but if love or respect is lacking in the relationship, then that may not be the case.

So, let’s say it begins in the mind. It is an attitude we choose because God calls us to do it. If children have a loving father, this may not be near as difficult as it will be for those who do not.

Still, even if blessed with a godly father, we are naturally bent towards disobedience and selfish ambition. We need help in shaping a mindset pleasing to God.

5.6.17

How to Venture in a New Direction

by Sally Matheny

[How do we move when we are content where we are?
Pixabay photo]
I bought a beautiful hydrangea bush to plant in my yard. The flower, still in its pot, has been moved to four different locations. I can’t make up my mind where to plant it. The last time I planted a hydrangea, it died. I’m afraid I’ll mess this one up as well. After four weeks, it’s struggling because it's still sitting in the thin, plastic container, waiting on the transplant.

Our lives can be like that. Whether a school year closes, a business year ends, or we find ourselves pondering on New Year’s Eve, the question remains. Did I make a difference this year? Should I stay where I am? How do I know if I should venture in a new direction?


26.5.17

5 Ways to Make Our Kids Rich by Memorial Day

by Sally Matheny
    
Memorial Day-Teach the Next Generation


Here's five ways to make your kids rich by Memorial Day. 

Begin by telling them about Memorial Day.

Memorial Day—it’s more than a day off, more than grilling out, and more than sashaying in the days of summer with store sales.

Originally, the holiday commemorated those soldiers who died during the Civil War. Over time, it has developed into a day of remembering every person who has served in the military and given the ultimate sacrifice.
     





Talk about what attributes the military must have. Do we desire to have these as well?
Courage,

respect, 

and a good work ethic. 

They preserve peace when possible and fight for what is right, when necessary.

Preserving peace when possible--
fighting for what is right when necessary.


It's important to share our sense of gratitude for those who fought and died to protect our way of life. We can’t rightly do that to those who are no longer with us. 

But, we can model for our children how to appreciate retired veterans and those currently serving in the military.

Take time to hear their stories through books, lectures, letters, and films.
Talk with veterans. Glean wisdom from them while we still can. What did they learn from their time in service? What do they want the next generation to know?

Say Thank You

Teach children to honor veterans with:
a firm handshake of gratitude,
attentive eye contact (whether the person is standing, or in a wheelchair),
and somehow, 
either in word or deed, say "thank you."

    
By God’s sovereignty, what our military has done, and continues to do, is one reason we are able to enjoy the freedoms we have today.
Pray for them and ask God to bless our military, our veterans, and especially the families of those whose loved ones died while serving our country.

When children discover the value of freedom and the price that has been paid for it, they'll realize no matter what their circumstances, they are rich. 

24.5.17

The National D-Day Memorial: Clearly a Worthwhile Journey

by Sally Matheny

The National D-Day Memorial
The fog on our June 5 vacation, reminded me of another foggy June 5.

Our family vacation in the summer of 2015 began on a sunny note, but quickly immersed under thick clouds and drizzling rain. 

Even though the dreary weather lounged in Virginia for days, we still had plenty of choices of things to do.

The day of our departure was June 5. The dense fog that had lingered all week rose just above the treetops. The rain ceased so we hurriedly ventured on a chair lift ride up the mountain before checking out. By the time we reached the top, we were in the dense fog again and couldn’t enjoy the view. 

We decided we might as well head home. As we descended the mountain, I thought about how the thick clouds caused problems on another June 5. Originally, WWII’s D-Day was scheduled for June 5, 1944. 

However, British meteorologists said the weather would not permit a successful invasion of Normandy, France. Although it was sunny on June 4, Eisenhower trusted the meteorologists and wisely postponed the invasion until June 6.





The National D-Day Memorial was a thirty-minute detour off our route. Usually, the GPS is set for home and there are no stops except for the essentials—gas, food, and restrooms. But this year, we chose to deviate from our set ways.

By the time we reached Bedford, Virginia blue skies welcomed us. The admission tickets purchased at the Welcome Center include an optional guided tour. At first, we thought the price was a bit high. However, after discovering it is a non-profit and does not receive federal or state funding, we deemed it reasonable.  At the conclusion of our visit, we all thought the D-Day Memorial was clearly a worthwhile journey.

19.5.17

Memorial Day: Respect and Remember

by Sally Matheny


Respect and Remember (Photo courtesy of flickr.com)
Respect and remember.  

They defended our right to worship freely and our right to speak publicly.

They carried arms in hopes that we would not have to; but also they protected our right to bear arms if so choose.

Even though most of them did not know us, they placed themselves as shields to prevent evil from entering our homes.


They fought with all their might for liberty even though it cost them their own.



“Greater love has no one than this: 
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” 
John 15:13


Enjoy your day off from work. Relish the time spent with friends and family. Our fallen heroes would want you to enjoy the freedoms they fought so hard to protect.

But, surely, the least we can do is lay down our golf clubs, our T.V. remotes, and cell phones to respect and remember those who laid down their lives for us.

 
Please pause at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day and thank God for those who have served and died for our country and our freedom.

Respect and remember.


Photo by Sally Matheny




  

10.5.17

Wedding Day Security Checklist: Armor for the Bride

by Sally Matheny
Wedding Day Security Checklist:
Armor for the Bride
Your wedding day quickly approaches. Have you considered security for the event? 

Remember the enemy desires nothing less than to sneak in and crash a celebration. 

Consider the following Wedding Day Security Checklist, specifically with the bride’s armor in mind.

Wedding Day Security Checklist

Wedding Dress

You gave great consideration choosing your dress.
Let the dress remind you of the purity of God’s Truth and Righteousness. 

After the wedding, you'll find somewhere to store it . However, keep in mind the need to strap on God’s Righteousness every day and cinch it with His Truth. 



It’s essential to protect your heart and mind. Keeping them pure will
always make you lovely, no matter what you wear. 

   
Wedding Shoes

The days of waiting fill with excitement. You’re ready to run down the aisle to your groom! 

Wisely, you're breaking in your wedding shoes ahead of time so they'll be ready to serve you. But that one place on the heel still rubs the wrong way so band-aids are needed.
    
Let the shoes remind you to be ready to serve your Lord first.
Then, serve your husband before anyone else. This is not always an easy
thing to do. 

Sometimes he may say something that rubs you the wrong way.

Don’t allow disagreements to linger and fester. That only leads to unnecessary pain and can worsen by developing a calloused heart.

Resist worldly advice. Usually it's ineffective or it's only a temporary fix. 

When trying days occur, seek aid from your Comforter. Trust fully in Him and He will give you everything you need. Sometimes that is through the godly counsel of a pastor or another strong Christian.

6.5.17

Hope Presses Through Hardships


by Sally Matheny
Hope Presses Through Hardships
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your circumstances? Sometimes things happen beyond our control. When we have no power, we still have hope. Hope helps us press through the hardships.

Betty Patzke's story exemplifies this. 

When Betty Patzke’s brother, Jack, enlisted in the Army Air Forces in November 1942, her hope of seeing him again remained strong.

The first of many heartbreaking ordeals for the Patzke family occurred on April 8, 1945; the day German soldiers killed Jack. The end of WWII was only five months away.

One month later, Betty lost two more siblings to the war. Her brother Dick, age 13, and her sister Joan, age 11, died from the explosion of a Japanese balloon bomb. The bomb was the only attack on American soil causing death.

Betty’s pastor, Archie Mitchell and his pregnant wife had taken the Pantzke children and three other teens in their Sunday school class to the beautiful Gearhart Mountain of Oregon for a picnic. Arriving at Leonard Creek, Rev. Mitchell let everyone out while he parked the car. In a matter of seconds, lives changed forever when an explosion pierced the air.

Almost 10,000 balloon bombs were launched from Japan on November 3, 1944. The Japanese military designed the bombs to travel the Pacific Ocean via the jet stream. They hoped the bombs would wreck havoc on American soil. Only 400 of the balloon bombs, called fugos, reached North America. 

The one landing on Gearhart Mountain brought death to 26 year old, Elsie Mitchell and her unborn child, as well as all five Sunday school students ranging from age eleven to thirteen.

Reeling from losing three siblings in one month, how would Betty Patzke press through such devastation? 

29.4.17

The Bible Explorer's Guide Book Review

by Sally Matheny

Teh Bbile Explorer's Guide
by Nancy I. Sanders
Have you ever seen a manger created from stone instead of wood? Do you know what the Euphrates River looks like today? Have you ever thought about what the apostle Paul’s dungeon cell looked like?

My answer was no to all of these questions. But thanks to author, Nancy I. Sanders and Zonderkidz, my answers have changed.

The Bible Explorer’s Guide- 1,000 Amazing Facts and Photos contains 80 pages of just that.

The author has culled intriguing facts about places, objects, people and cultures mentioned in the Bible. Presented with a Christian worldview, the information sparks a desire to go back to the Bible and read more.

The visuals in this reference book are just as appealing as the text. The maps and illustrations are great but the photos are my favorite. Artifacts from various times and places mentioned in the Bible capture the attention of all ages, even though this book is slated as juvenile nonfiction.

If you’re like me and have never been to the Holy Lands, this book may be the next best thing. I have never seen a manger carved out of stone or the beautiful aquamarine shades of the Euphrates River. To observe a photo of the prison where Paul suffered before his death adds depth to my understanding.  

Not only are scripture references given throughout the book but it also includes in the back of the book a simple timeline, a Who’s Who in the Old Testament and in the New Testament.


I highly recommend this book. The hardcover copy retails for $14.99 but I saw it at Christianbook.com for $10.49. It's well worth the price. I’m using mine to enhance our Bible studies at home and in my Sunday School classroom at church. 




Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


24.4.17

How Should We Prepare Our Children for War?

by Sally Matheny 

How Should We Prepare Our Children for War?
Regardless of where we stand on the issue of the military draft, it is the law that our sons, and possibly soon, even our daughters, register with the Selective Service when they turn eighteen years old.

Very few want, or expect, a military draft to occur. But what if…

What if the time comes when we are informed our children will definitely serve in the military? Some of us would have years to prepare, some would have only days.




My son is a few years shy of becoming a teenager. One day he will have to register with the Selective Service. It’s something I prefer not to think about. And yet, if I knew for a fact he would be called up in a few years, how would I prepare him for war?

14.4.17

Christ’s Resurrection: Deny It or Apply It

by Sally Matheny

The Resurrection- Deny it or apply it
(photo by Pixabay)
Plastic eggs or real ones? Hollow chocolate or solid? Stuffed animals or real ones?

These are the decisions people make around this time of year.  They can even choose a combination.  I’m pretty sure you cannot go wrong with chocolate—ever.  Okay, maybe in quantity consumed, but as far as the choice of thickness, then no.  Furthermore, combining hollow, solid, and even crispy chocolates are okay. 

Not everything has to be an either/or selection.

However, some things in life demand a solid stance on one side or another.

Easter is drawing near. It’s more than a celebration of spring and new life. It’s a time to commemorate Christ’s resurrection. Will we deny it or apply it?

One of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, provides us with a testimony of Easter reminders to help us decide.


Easter reminds Christians to have faith—even in the midst of chaos.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

Peter, a disciple of Jesus, loved Him. He swore his allegiance to Him. When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the garden, Peter drew his sword. Heart beating wildly in his chest, he tested his courage by swinging his sword toward the high priest’s servant.

Jesus rebuked him and ordered him to put away his sword. Confusion silently crept in Peter as he watched Jesus relinquish to the guards.

Following Jesus at a distance, Peter’s mind must have been whirling. 
Why doesn’t Jesus change the situation as He has done before? He’s quieted a raging storm, supplied for many out of practically nothing, and even brought the dead back to life. Why does He not take charge of this chaos?

Suddenly, the unthinkable happened. Everything seemed out of control. If his Lord was bound and beaten, Peter must’ve been wondering what could possibly happen next. What would become of him? Had Jesus lost His power? The enemy ensnared Peter in a tsunami of fear.