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Life, Learning, and Books (Weeks 18, 19, and 20)

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Our beautiful amaryllis has been blooming and blooming.  And now Miss 18’s is ready to start!  To misquote Edith Schaeffer, there is something very wholesome about having one’s mind full of the question of whether or not the amaryllis bud has opened. Actually, Mrs. Schaeffer was writing about lettuces coming up, which makes me think of gardening seed catalogues and the daffodils, planted last fall, that will soon come up.

Miss 13 often takes her bunny to the basement to run around freely.  When anyone walks down the stairs, Bunbun hops over in a hurry, eager to have her little forehead stroked.  She has given our family so much joy!

We’ve had cold, cold weather, and rain, and warm, warm weather, but not much snow.  Our snowmobiling friends are not happy with this winter, but we are.

Even so, we are thankful that winter won’t last too much longer, especially since the past weeks have been full of illnesses, some mild and some very nasty.

In the meantime, while we wait for spring, we enjoy enormous cups of tea and hot chocolate, and do our schoolwork in front of the fire in our sunny living room.

Schoolwork

We’ve been focusing on the basics—math, English, history, science, Bible, Dutch—but it has been fun to add in some extras.  We are learning about basic economics using Whatever Happened to Penny Candy by Richard Maybury, thinking about the future using Career Exploration from 7Sisters, studying medieval history by watching Secrets of the Castle from the BBC, and learning about nature by laughing through Dune Boy by Edwin Way Teale.  And Miss 13 started a math notebook where she writes down all the rules and facts she has learned.  Miss 18 did that before starting her math degree, and it is really helping her.

In somewhat related news, I reached a new level in Duolingo Dutch and am inordinately pleased with that.  The kids like it that I’m doing the same program they are, and it’s a bit of pure, almost guilty me-time that, it turns out, inspires them, too. So it’s all good after all.

Reading  (to see what I’ve read this year, check out GoodReads)

During their daily reading time the girls have gone through Richard Hammond’s story of his severe brain injury, Joel Salatin’s discussion of modern farming, Enid Blyton’s adventures, books about the English Lake District where Beatrice Potter raised sheep, and more.

The girls and I finished several school books:  Trial and Triumph (church history), Victory on the Walls (history, Bible, English), Around the World in 80 Days (English, geography), and Owls in the Family (Canadian literature, humor).

We’re reading two books aloud:  Whatever Happened to Penny Candy and Dune Boy.

I also finished Gifted Mind, a story about the MRI; Brain Maker, about the influence of gut microbes on brain health; and Stepping Up, about the Psalms of Ascent.  I’ve started Prayers that Changed History, The Peaceful Wife, and The State of the American Mind, and I’m hoping to read another book about the discovery of the MRI, The Long Road to Stockholm, since there is a lot of controversy about it.

As for Bible reading, I’m still working on Jeremiah with the girls after meals, although we took a break to whiz through Nehemiah since we were reading Victory on the Walls for school. I’m still reading Psalms for myself, and when my husband is home, we read 2 Corinthians at meals.  In fact, we just finished it yesterday.

Links and Quotations

“If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy,” from a review of Breaking Busy. Like all pithy sayings, this has an element of truth but can also be very misleading.  In any case, it’s something to think about.  I was offered the book to review, but have decided not to accept it…because it may make me too busy.  But I will request it for our public library because I’ve heard more good things about it.

And here’s something I’ve always wanted to do, although I would probably be too scared to actually do it.

This post is linked to Kris’s Weekly Wrap Up and Finishing Strong.

 

Review: Susanna Don’t You Cry by Zachary McIntire

Susanna Don't You Cry

Ever since the horrible day his father, Ross, walked out, Chuck Kincaid’s mother, Susanna, has been a wreck.  And despite Chuck’s best attempts at parenting Kelly, his little sister has been drifting into the wrong crowd.  Chuck knows who is to blame for all this—his father— and he hates him.

But life continues.  Mother and children struggle on, completely on their own, until, one day, Susanna is called into her boss’s office.  She is put on probation, and in her desperate state it seems there is only one way out….

From a fatal plane crash to a fatal car crash, from drugs to fostering teens, from publicly standing up for Christ to living for him day to day, the family’s lives are full of one crazy situation after another.    Read the novel to find out how salvation comes first to Susanna and then to Kelly, and to learn what happens to the rest of the family.  They all grow and change, and sometimes it is shocking to see who they are becoming.

Deftly, with both humor and emotion, Zachery McIntire even manages to address the important concept that salvation is a free gift and that we all depend completely on God’s mercy, not ourselves.  He does not gloss over the fact that Christians can have hair-raising lives, but he does, perhaps, portray the victorious side of Christian life so much that those who struggle spiritually may become discouraged.  This is my only criticism of Susanna Don’t You Cry.  It is a skillfully-written story in all respects, and astonishingly so for a first novel.

Susanna Don’t You Cry will captivate and inspire both teens and adults.  From graffiti to the grace of God, from scandal to salvation, from hatred to hope, Zachary McIntire has woven the gospel into the very structure of this captivating novel.  Yet there is no preachiness here, just a great story about some very human characters.  Even so, this book could have some uncomfortable moments for non-Christians and that may be a good thing.  I recommend it.

For more information about Susanna Don’t You Cry by Zachery McIntire (and for other books, some free, by the talented McIntire family), please see the Elisha Press website.  This book is available from Amazon in both print and ebook formats.  During February three copies will be given away.

This is yet another book in the in the 2016 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, Literacy Musings Monday, What to Read Wednesdays and The Book Nook.  For more encouragement see Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 Tuesday, Tell it to Me Tuesday, and Finishing Strong.

Disclosure: I received a pre-release copy of this book from Elisha Press for the purpose of this review and, as always, am not compensated for it.

Noticing Miracles

A miracle: 9 stunning flowers from one amaryllis bulb.

A miracle: 9 stunning flowers from one amaryllis bulb.

Life is full of miracles, but we so seldom see them.  Especially when daily details discourage us, dragging our eyes downward, or pain stuns us, blinding us to blessings.

Yes, it is so easy to focus on everything but the good gifts God gives us, on the irritating, the mundane, the horrifying, or even the merely boring.  And often these things do require our focus; we do, after all, live in this broken world.

However, in order to ‘rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances’ (1 Thess. 5:16-18a) we need to consciously direct our minds elsewhere, to Christ our Savior.

Paul gives practical advice on how to do that.  After writing to the Philippians about resolving conflict, rejoicing, and dealing with anxiety, he concludes by saying,

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

Set your minds on such things, no matter what.  Obey the Bible and make the effort to see these kinds of things.  They are miracles, each one of them, in this broken world.  Notice them, appreciate them, give thanks for them, rejoice in them.

May God give us all eyes to see, and ears to hear, and hearts to receive all the blessings that he has given us.

Review: Gifted Mind, Inventor of the MRI

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More than simply a straighforward account of Dr. Damadian and the MRI, Gifted Mind is the memoir of a delightful, talented gentleman who is determined to share the hard-won lessons of his life while telling you of his dream to fight cancer.

When Damadian was a young boy, his dear grandmother died a horribly painful death due to cancer.  That memory stayed with him as he studied at Julliard School of Music, learned chemistry, entered medicine, and had the breakthrough insight that led to the MRI scanner.

But there is more to his story.  As a Christian, Damadian wanted to spend his life helping other people, and developing the MRI took every ounce of determination he had.  He struggled to find supplies, support, funding, space, and, later on, acknowledgement, all while reaching for his goal of developing his idea and building MRI scanners.  In the process he lost his faith, but God called him back, out of evolutionistic atheism, with a miracle involving superconducting wires.

That brings us to the center of Damadian’s life.  He is a Christian, a creationist—a 6-day creationist, in fact—and he makes no bones about it.  Instead, he enthusiastically shares his views in this book, indicating why they make sense scientifically as well as theologically, and explaining how evolutionism affects scientific discoveries and society.

In his passion for truth, Damadian also struggled with the politics of scientific discovery, especially when the Nobel Prize was awarded to people who came after him in his discovery of the MRI.  And, yes, this is one of the cases where the Nobel Prize committee’s decision has been widely challenged.  On the other hand, others recognized Damadian’s work and, really, it is God and the sick he was working for all along, not prizes.

Gifted Mind by Kinley and Damadian is a rambling book, like sitting down for an evening’s chat with an enthusiastic inventor.  It covers everything from Damadian’ childhood and his conversion at a  Billy Graham meeting to the details of the MRI, patent law, the Nobel Prize controversy, and the ‘science fiction’ of evolution.

Obviously, at some points this book is controversial.  Controversy cannot be avoided in life, but how we deal with it can be important.  Damadian’s position on the Nobel Prize issue is well-documented with images of patents and other relevant data.  His position on creationism is also defended well.  However, in both cases emotion plays a somewhat larger role than I would like, and some of the writing is unprofessional, with excessive capitals.  There is also some unwarranted implied connection between God’s truth in the Bible and the history of the discovery of the MRI.  Some would say all this adds to the appeal of the book, but I found it rather embarrassing.

Even so, this book will fascinate anyone with an interest in the human side of science.  It will also appeal to those interested in the development of the MRI, as well as to those interested in the political side of science and the Nobel Prize.  Finally, it is a breath of fresh air in a world where many oppose direct creation and where a vigorous and well-funded promotion of theistic evolution challenges those who hold creationist views.  Recommended.

This is the kind of book I would recommend for your teen’s science and math reading

In honor of Dr. Damadian’s message, here are links to some resources about creation:  Answers in Genesis, Creation Ministries International, and Creation without Compromise.  Related reviews on this site include Busting Myths by Sarfati and Bates, Total Truth by Pearcey, and The First Fossil Hunters by Adrienne Mayor.  I’m also looking forward to reading Dire Dragons by Vance Nelson.

This is yet another book in the in the 2016 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and may also be linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, Literacy Musings Monday, What to Read Wednesdays and The Book Nook.  For more encouragement see  Tell it to Me Tuesday, and Finishing Strong.

Disclosure: I received an ebook from Master Books via Cross Focused Reviews and, as usual, my opinions are my own and I am not compensated for this review.

 

Just a Glass of Water, and a Smile

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Recently, during an exceedingly difficult afternoon, a stranger kindly asked me if I needed anything.  A glass of water, perhaps?

I hadn’t realized I was thirsty, but he had.  He saw the need for water—and the need for encouragement—and provided both.

Just a simple glass of water.  

Just an encouraging, compassionate smile.

But it added a bit of comfort to a background of horror.

May God bless this stranger.

And,

May God give each of us

eyes to see,

a caring smile to share,

and the courage to reach out

—even to strangers—

even if

all we can give

is a glass of water, and that smile,

and a prayer.

Amen.

 

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