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From the Greatest Expert on Love

A picture from the past; today it is only the tablecloth and some special food.

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

With that in mind, what are the most important life-rules of all?

Jesus said,

  •  The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 
  • The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  (Mark 12:29-31)

May God bless you, dear reader, as you patiently work out what all that means in your life, moment by moment, with joy and thanksgiving.

Related articles:

On loving God and those around us

On marriage and relationships

On Valentine’s Day

Special Exhibitions in Ottawa, 2020

Over the years we have seen some amazing things at special exhibitions, from the Dead Sea Scrolls and one of the earliest copies of the Magna Charta to the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci and paintings by Van Gogh.

However, we almost missed several of these special exhibitions because it’s hard to keep track of what’s coming up.  To solve that problem, I’ve made a list of the year’s special exhibitions in Ottawa and am sharing it with you.

These are special exhibitions at some of Ottawa’s largest museums and galleries. This list does not include the permanent exhibitions, some of which are amazing, nor does it include all the smaller museums and galleries. However, it should help you schedule outings and field trips.  (If there is a must-see exhibition at a smaller museum or gallery, please let me know in the comments.)

Just to remind you, many Ottawa museums are free from 5PM to closing on Thursdays and most of them have free passes available from the Ottawa Public Library. However, there are extra entrance fees for some special exhibitions and some require advance registration. Also, some museums are closed certain days of the week. Always check the website to avoid disappointments.

Canadian Museum of History

  • Jewish Journeys: Stories of Immigration, May 9, 2019-Feb 23, 2020
  • Unceded: Voices of the Land, May 3, 2019-Sep 7, 2020
  • A Nation’s Calling Card, Mar 29, 2019-Mar 29-2020
  • Beyond Bluenose: The William James Roué collection, Jul 1, 2017-Jun 30, 2020
  • Doc McStuffins: The Exhibit, Jan 25, 2020-May 18, 2020

Canadian War Museum

  • Canadian Forces Artist Program, Feb 14, 2020-May 18, 2020
  • Invasion: Canadians and the Battle of Normandy, Jun 6, 2019-Mar 31, 2020
  • *Royal Canadian Legion Poster and Literary Contest, Jul 1, 2019-Jun 15, 2020

National Gallery of Canada

  • Hanran: 20th Century Japanese Photography, Oct 11, 2019-Mar 22, 2020
  • Beautiful Monsters in Early European Prints and Drawings (1450-1700), Nov 29, 2019-March 29, 2020
  • PhotoLab 6: New Generation Photography Award Exhibition, Oct 11, 2019 -Mar 22, 202
  • Àbadakone/Continuous Fire/Feu continuel, Nov 8, 2019-Apr 5, 2020  extended until summer 2020
  • William Blake,1757-1827: Illustrated Books, Jan 14, 2020-Apr 26, 2020
  • William Kentridge: More Sweetly Play the Dance, Dec 14, 2019-Nov 8, 2020
  • Canada and Impressionism: New Horizons, coming in Fall 2020
  • Becoming Rembrandt, coming in Spring 2021

Canadian Museum of Nature

  • Me and My Microbes: The Zoo Inside You, until Mar 29, 2020
  • Butterflies in Flight, until Mar 22, 2020 (photos of last year’s exhibition)
  • Qilalukkat! Oct 25, 2019-Sep 13, 2021

The three museums in the Ingenium Group (Canada Science and Technology Museum, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, Canada Aviation and Space Museum) are, unfortunately, not advertising upcoming temporary exhibitions. However, they do have many daily events, especially in the summer. They often have special weekends and when they do have special exhibitions, they can be brilliant (like the one last year about Leonardo Da Vinci) so it is worth checking their calendar of events frequently.

Note: I am not necessarily recommending any of these exhibitions, just listing them.

*This exhibition is free and could be a great inspiration to any student interested in entering the contests, which are highly recommended as a supplement to history, art or literature, and also as outside validation of homeschool marks.

I have written about some previous exhibitions:

Picture Books in the Homeschool

Picture books form the foundation of most homeschools. They are fun, build memories, teach a wide variety of concepts, and can fill a child’s mind with so much that is true, good, and beautiful.

Recently my homeschooling friends at the Curriculum Choice put together a list of their favorite picture book blog posts. Here are some of the highlights of that resource, with my contribution at the end.

Heather gave several science ideas based on picture books such as Snowflake Bentley and Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas. She also wrote about Beatrix Potter, the wonderful Five in a Row curriculum, and how to organize a home library.

Tricia’s family also enjoyed Five in a Row as well as Tapestry of Grace, both book-based curricula. Her family combines picture books with wonderful pastel art lessons.

Alison and her little girls love seasonal picture books. She writes about board books, book picnics, and 40 must-read picture books.

Eva, whose children are older, looks back on picture book days and explains how picture books led to art studies. They also were part of nature studies and unit studies in her family.

And here’s my contribution:

Although our family’s actual picture book stage is long past, we have read some good ones lately. More and more quality picture books are being written for older children, teens, and adults. Some of the best nonfiction books these days are lavishly illustrated with photographs and they are easy to find in nonfiction sections of good children’s libraries.

In terms of artistic merit, both literary and visual, The Girl Who Drew Butterflies is outstanding, one of my favorite books.

Simonetta Carr’s beautiful Christian Biographies for Young Readers church history books are both informative and inspiring for all ages, not just young readers. I highly recommend them for general history as well as for church history for all ages, including high school, as a superb series of introductions to important Christians and their times. The illustrations make all the difference.

If you wish to read The Anglo Saxon Chronicle for high school, try to find an illustrated version. As I recall, Anne Savage’s version is excellent; we ended up buying the illustrated, annotated version edited by Carruthers which is not as good, but still helpful. Writing about this motivated me to buy the Anne Savage version for Miss 19—she doesn’t know yet, and I can’t wait to see her face! I can’t wait to reread it myself as well.

And if you really wish to understand Beowulf, find the illustrated version by Seamus Heany and John D. Niles. The translation is remarkable and the archeological pictures of places and treasure bring the story to life as nothing else can.

We have always loved Garth William’s drawings in Laura Ingalls Wilders’ Little House on the Prairie series. We read those over and over, once even losing one on a transatlantic flight.

Also I can’t resist mentioning the many novels we read aloud as a family that are not really picture books at all, but that have filled our minds with all sorts of pictures.

If you enjoyed this review, you might want to connect with me on GoodReads where I eventually share what I read or friend me on Facebook where I occasionally show up.

Disclosure: I am not compensated for mentioning these books or for mentioning the Curriculum Choice article.

This post may be linked to Booknificent Thursdays, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook as well as to Inspire Me Monday, Homemaking Linkup, Friendship Friday.

Review: The Sweet Taste of Providence by Christine Farenhorst

I have been reading The Sweet Taste of Providence for well over a year. Last winter it was beside my fireside chair. A few times a week I would pick it up, read a story, and then ponder it, knitting thoughtfully. During the busy gardening season it sat on my bookshelf, and recently I took it down again. Inspiring, consoling, and a safe place for adults to consider the deepest questions of life, this would also be a wonderful book for homeschooling. I wish it had been around when my children were younger, and I am sharing tidbits with them now in the hope that they will read it on their own.

“History is like a large, beautiful cake. We can cut it into wonderful slices of providence, feast on them piece by piece, and be fed. The stories within this book are such slices.”

These words, on the back cover of The Sweet Taste of Providence, describe the book, its purpose, and its effects precisely. Christian Farenhorst, author of many historical books, has written 74 very short stories for this historical devotional. Each one leads the reader to reflect, in some way, on God’s grace, and discussion questions help with this.

Most of the stories are suitable for ages 8 to adult. Some of them may be too emotional for little ones, though. Life is rarely easy, and God’s people often face especially difficult times. This is good for all of us—including little ones, eventually— to realize. (The somewhat popular idea that good Christians have easy lives is contradicted by any study of history.) Yet it is also important for us all to realize that God cares for us lovingly even in the hard times, and Farenhorst reminds her readers of this over and over.

The stories in The Sweet Taste of Providence are about all sorts of people—old and young, famous and unknown, good and bad. Christine Farenhorst writes about Jonathan Swift’s prank, Elizabeth I’s toothache, conscience money, Diana of Poitiers, the stuffed mouse and Charlemagne, Reverend Smytegelt and the angels, Blondin the tightrope walker, Miss X of Bristol, the Bishop of Lichfield and lying, the architect of the Colosseum, Dwight Moody, and many more. Some of the vignettes are happy, some are sad; some have clear and obvious morals and others leave one thinking; some talk about our lives and others point to Jesus.  These stories bring us both encouraging heroes of the faith and sad examples of lives without God.

Open-ended questions, two per story, can lead to personal reflection or lively discussions; so can the Bible text at the beginning of each story. Although the discussion questions are geared to older people, they can be adapted for children.

Farenhorst ends the book with a pointed poem about Jonah Brown and the Great Commission:

…Statistics say and facts construe,

That many vessels have a queue

Of Jonahs anxious to board on,

To leave their calling and be gone

Yet through Christ’s grace, his great command

Vomits our presence on dry land,

And bids us walk our streets with dread

Leaving no prophecy unsaid.

These few lines say enough: once again we taste the sweet providence that reminds us of a responsibility Satan would have us forget.

In a Christian culture that speaks mostly of God’s love, Farenhorst’s tales and discussion questions remind us that we deserve God’s wrath and that that his love and care are pure grace. They also show that God’s love is not about making us comfortable but often involves difficult obedience or even suffering.

The Sweet Taste of Providence is an inspiring tool parents can use as they speak with their children and teens about the Lord. Although it does present great insight into everyday life throughout history, this is not a systematic book for history study. Rather it is a devotional look at historical individuals; it could easily lead to further historical exploration, but that is not necessary.

The whole family can enjoy and be blessed by this book. It is a unique devotional, a great read aloud, a helpful discussion starter for older children, teens and adults, and an effective supplement to history studies.

Christine Farenhorst has written many books about history; I have previously reviewed Katharina Katharina.

For more information about studying history from a Christian point of view, see my review of A Little Book for New Historians. I have also discussed the modern approach to studying history, a literature-based approach to Canadian history, and how one can give high school history credit for a literature-based history course.

If you enjoyed this review, you might want to connect with me on GoodReads where I eventually share what I read or friend me on Facebook where I occasionally show up. 

Disclosure:I received a review copy of The Sweet Taste of Providence from the author and Sola Scriptura Ministries International. I am not compensated for providing my honest opinions.

This post may be linked to Booknificent Thursdays, 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook as well as to Inspire Me Monday, Homemaking Linkup, Friendship Friday.

Review: Riding the Rails to Home by Cleo Lampos

When Stephen comes home with a hard-earned loaf of bread, his ill mother keeps him away so he won’t get cholera too. He runs to get his father from the saloon but is greeted with angry mockery and disbelief. Molly, his sister, is taken away to an orphanage, but Stephen continues to live on the streets, finding work and friendship as a newsboy.

With a bleak future in late 1800’s New York City and only a quilt square to remind him of his mother and sister, Stephen heads west on the orphan train. Will he find a home? Are there actually people who will love an orphan or do they just want slaves? From narrow escapes in New York City to adventures in the West, Riding the Rails to Home follows Stephen as he discovers aspects of life that he could never have imagined.

As Pop, the kind owner of the Newsboys Lodging House tells Stephen just before he gets on the train, “Some people don’t get the love that they need from their parents. But you’ve been here long enough to know that God loves you more than you can understand. He has a plan for your life, Stephen. Try to let God guide your footsteps.” And Stephen does.

A former educator, Cleo Lampos realized that the orphan train children of the past have much in common with today’s foster children—often there are abuse, addicted parents, loneliness, bitterness, and a deep distrust. She deals carefully with these themes, not letting them overwhelm young readers. Boys aged 9-12 will find Riding the Rails to Home a fast-paced yet tender story of a young boy who finds a home and learns about forgiveness and love.

I highly recommend this book for children, especially those who, as the dedication says, ‘face challenges that can be overwhelming.” I also encourage parents to read it and be prepared for discussions and questions.

You can find more fiction by Cleo Lampos on her website.

If you enjoyed this review, you might want to connect with me on GoodReads where I eventually share what I read or friend me on Facebook where I occasionally show up. 

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.  I am not compensated for providing my honest opinions.

This may be linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook  as well as to Inspire Me Monday, Raising Homemakers, Friendship Friday.

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