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Curriculum Plans for a Relaxed Homeschool High School (ages 15, 17)

Due to health issues our home high school has gone from very intense and academic for our older three to more relaxed while still rather academic for the younger two.  We no longer set long term accomplishment goals as, ‘this is how much we will do this term,’ but we set process goals like, ‘this is what we will do each day if possible.’  I constantly keep my eyes on our goals for each subject and frequently adjust methods.  We cover a broad range of subjects, but have short lessons.  Sometimes it seems as though we just inch along whereas we would have jogged in the past, but I just remember that being faithful in doing things little by little does work.

Even though I’m certain these home high school plans will change, perhaps they will help someone else whose teens need a relaxed yet academic high school program.   (Note that links are generally to my reviews; there are no affiliate links.)

Bible—A written report on each book of the Bible is one of our high school requirements.  Other aspects include earning about Christianity in life and in society.  This year Miss 17 will work on Schaeffer’s How Should We Then Live? with some help from Omnibus 3.  That is not an easy book so it may take a while, and I will need to prepare carefully with background information and so forth.  Once that is finished, I hope to go through Pearcey’s Total Truth with her, but that is even more difficult so we will see.  In terms of concepts, this may well be the most difficult aspect of her year.

Reading—We will be studying How to Read a Book, the best guide to the art of reading for teens and adults.  Also, I require at least an hour of reading per day—fiction, nonfiction, subject-related, or just for fun.  (In the past I needed to limit the amount of reading time; now I need to encourage reading and limit screen time instead.)

Church history—In the fall we will focus on Reformation times using The Reformation by Nichols.  We will read at least one substantial book about Luther (I currently have four on my reviewing pile) and also use some of Simonetta Carr’s informative biographies for a more in-depth reminder of those days.  I hope we will be able to listen to a few church history talks.  If we get stuck in the Reformation for the whole year, that’s fine.  If not, we will also look at early church history beginning with Bede (via Ambleside Online) and then Eusebius’s The Church History and Athanasius’s On the Incarnation (as suggested here) with Omnibus 2.   I would love to do some timeline work with the girls as well.

Math—In the past we’ve used Key to Algebra and Key to Geometry as an introduction to the topics and then focused on Singapore’s New Elementary Math, an advanced math program, finishing up with its New Syllabus Additional Math and/or Life of Fred Calculus.  We are considering switching to Saxon Math instead because it is apparently easier though also solid.

Literature—BJUP Literature texts for grade 9 and 10 are good introductions to literature, and that is what Miss 14 will continue to work on.  I’m still planning Miss 17’s American and Canadian literature course.  For Miss 17’s American lit, we will use selections from American Literature (BJUP), Omnibus 3, Omnibus 6, and sevensistershomeschool.com, with Nancy Wilson’s Reading with Purpose as a spine.  I’m also intrigued by the Center for Lit’s Socratic method and could perhaps adapt that for Canadian literature, but as it is ‘Christian friendly’ but not ‘Christian’, that might not work for us. (I will be watching their free seminar on King Lear on August 14 to help me decide.)

Writing and Composition—Jensen’s Format Writing is a good fit for Miss 17 and she will continue to use it.  Her Bible reports follow the five paragraph report format.  Since Miss 14 is still not able to spend much time learning due to her concussion last winter, I do not expect to emphasize writing this year.  If we focus on essential learning (reading, math, science) and discussion she will build a solid background for writing once she is well again.  We will do grammar via Daily Grams and the Rod and Staff program, and spelling and vocabulary using an old Reader’s Digest book, How to Increase Your Word Power.

Science—Apologia Biology and Chemistry are good courses and we will continue to go through them slowly.  With its careful and humorous drawings, Macauley’s The Way We Work is a brilliant accompaniment to Biology.  The girls also do a project and some related reading for each science course.  (Elsewhere I have reviewed Apologia high school science materials, discussed course levels, and talked about how to tweak the courses.)

Logic—Miss 14 will continue on in the Building Thinking Skills books and Miss 17 will finish Wilson’s Introduction to Logic and carry on with James Madison Critical Thinking.

Languages—For French the girls hope to finally, finally finish French is Fun 1, and maybe move on.  For Dutch, Miss 17 will continue with Help!, a wonderfully thorough course used in the Netherlands for adult foreigners, as well as with simple stories and conversation.  Miss 14 often listens in to the stories and picks up a lot that way, but I do hope to add casual Dutch to her learning as well.

Accounting—Miss 17 is studying Professor in a Box Accounting.  It is a good course, clear, practical, thorough, and completely self-contained.  I do not need to know the topic at all which is perfect because I don’t.

Physical Education—Miss 17 still needs a bit of theory to finish the one required credit; Miss 14 is avidly reading Temertzoglou’s Kinesiology (very politically correct), learning about muscles, and designing exercise programs.

Art—Miss 14 is always taking nature photos.  I would also like to do some nature drawing with both girls—this would contribute to their fine arts credit as well as their biology project.  Above all, noticing God’s creation is an important way of learning about him, as he has shown in the Bible numerous times.

History and geography—Both Canadian and world history will be on the back burner this year as we focus on church history.  So will geography.  Still, that never means learning in these areas won’t happen since we focus a lot on reading to learn history as well as geography.

Memory Work

  • Review:  texts, Psalms, hymns, catechism portions, grammar facts (English, Dutch, French), Canadian Prime Ministers, historical dates, geography facts, literary terms.
  • Learn: “How Great Thou Art”, 3 poems, several song stanzas, church history timeline, methods from How to Read a Book, vocabulary (English, Dutch, French), Latin and Greek roots of words related to biology. Once I read a poem about the contents of each book of the Bible; if I can find it again, we’ll all learn that, too.

Volunteering and work—Miss 17 works at an ethnic store and we are looking for a suitable volunteer opportunity that will not interfere too much with school and work.  Miss 14 volunteers with therapeutic riding, is hoping to sell eggs once her chicks start laying, and gardens for the neighbors.

Dreams—If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years, it is this:  trying to do too much leads to disaster.  So here I list the things I used to actually try to do, but now will fit in only if it works easily.  I would love to listen to Diana Waring’s funny and insightful history talks.  (Eventually the girls will finish both volumes of Streams of Civilization, but those work best for teens who already have a decent grasp of history.)  I hope to take our old cassette tapes of great musicians and figure out a way to use them in the car.  Ideally we would read poetry aloud each day and do picture and nature study each week.  It would be fun to finish History of English Literature for Boys and Girls although that can wait until we learn British history. I would also like to incorporate some TED or TEDex talks but they are often not Christian; perhaps some talks from Augustine College and various creation resources will do instead.

Mommy Training—In the past our teens did a fair bit of independent work.  That approach is not ideal right now, so I need to know the material well enough myself to teach on the fly, unless I want to spend each evening preparing for the next day.  Of course, that is a challenge for this old mommy brain, but a good one.  I hope to write about this soon.

We also have several subjects that casually carry on throughout several high school years—history (Canadian, world, church, art, music, science), civics, geography, physical education, and others.  This works well for the girls, but I need to be extra careful to record everything appropriately.

I have collected some of our curriculum plans for other years , which you may find helpful.

If you need to adapt your schooling because your teen is not doing well, please read “When Your Teen Can No Longer Focus”.

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to follow me on Google+ where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, or connect with me on GoodReads where I  (eventually) share what I read. 

This article is linked to Finishing Strong and Raising Homemakers.

Review: On Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson

Natalie O’Ryan is not who she seems to be, at least not to her fiancé Russell.  When, as a generous surprise to her, Russell books their wedding in her hometown in Prince Edward Island, she realizes that she will not be able to hide her past from him any longer.

Nor will she be able to hide it from herself, because the people from her past—old friends, neighbors, and enemies—remember her.  What is just as distressing, she remembers them:  the busybody who caused her impulsive flight to from the Island, her old friend Justin, the lighthouse that was so often her refuge, and her parents.

When some of the townspeople vindictively put roadblocks in the way of her wedding, the solutions involve Justin and many of the dear people who loved her as a child. Her fiancé Russell, though eager to get to know her past, is called back to Nashville to deal with a work emergency, leaving Natalie to plan their wedding while dealing with a past that keeps on catching up with her.

Russell was just as disappointing as a character as he was as a person; Natalie’s internal turmoil was spelled out much too clearly to preserve the flow of the story; and Justin’s perfection was a bit too much.  Yet this story of hurt and forgiveness, truth and misunderstandings, fear and growth struck a chord in me.  We all need grace, we all misunderstand and are misunderstood, we all have hang-ups and need to face ourselves as well as others.

This poignant Christian novel, though not written as smoothly as some, will bless anyone who thinks about it.

This summer I am reading a lot of Miss 14’s style of books, hoping to be able to enjoy and discuss them together.  Perhaps this will even be an opportunity to compare styles of writing and discuss both literary and biblical standards of excellence.

If you enjoyed this review, you might want to follow me on Google+ where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, or connect with me on GoodReads where I share what I read. 

This is yet another book in the in the 2017 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook

Disclosure: This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. and is available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Summer Flowers Sing God’s Glory

God has given us so much beauty to enjoy!  The flowers in our world show us the glory of the Creator as clearly as more dramatic creatures do, if only we actually stop and notice them.

Bee balm and pink yarrow.  This juxtaposition of colors and shapes stopped me in my tracks and encouraged me to start really noticing the beauty God has given us, leading to this blog post.  I hope you, too, will be inspired to look at the beauty God has placed around you.

Bee balm, pink yarrow, and scented roses.  Smelling these roses is one of the special treats of summer and reminds me of the wild prairie roses in the Manitoba ditches of my childhood.

Bee balm, daylilies, daisies, and white yarrow. The flower gardens are more overgrown than usual this summer but that, too, can provide beauty.

Daylily, hosta, bee balm.  How many shapes and colors God has made!

White yarrow and bee balm.  When I look out of my kitchen window, the bee balm seems to glow with its own light.  In fact, from a distance these flowers seem almost fluorescent.  As a scientist, I wonder about that.

A field of yarrow.  Mr. 22 calls it a weed because it spreads so vigorously, but I love it.

Creeping thyme and wild daisies in our lawn.  Even this wet summer, when my husband mows the lawn regularly, the daisies manage to bloom.  During dry summers when the grass turns brown, our lawn becomes a riot of wildflowers–daisies, pink and white yarrow, pinks, and even little yellow flowers whose name I forget.  The thyme is always there but rarely as luxuriantly green as this year.

Daylilies, transplanted from our ditch years ago.  As in real life, light makes all the difference.

Two kinds of poppies.  They self-seed and surprise us in unexpected places each year.

My mother gave me the seeds for this years ago, and it is one of the prettiest poppies I’ve seen.  Some flowers are single, but the doubles remind me of ballerinas, especially when there is a light breeze.

This poppy looks almost like abstract art.  Bright sunshine can do that.

In fact, light fundamentally changes how we see and feel.  The light of God’s Word is even more powerful in its effects.

So we keep our eyes open and see how God reveals himself in this world, and we fill our minds with his Word to help us understand.  It’s a never-ending cycle of delighting in our Creator by seeing what he has created and by reading how he is busy redeeming all that he has made, including us.  By reminding us of God’s incredible power, the whole process gives us trust and comfort, just as it gave Job.  (Job 38:1-42:6)

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to follow me on Google+ where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, or connect with me on GoodReads where I  (eventually) share what I read. 

Quotations from 102 Top Picks

While reading 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum, I came across so many worthwhile quotations that I could not fit them into a formal review.  So, today my review is being published on The Curriculum Choice and I’m posting these quotations here. (Links are to my reviews and articles; there are no affiliate links on this blog.) 

On worldviews and education, including math education

This summer I am studying Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey again.  The following quotation by Cathy mirrors a lot of what is said, in great and thorough detail, in Total Truth; Cathy applies some of these ideas in 102 Top Picks.

Parents who try to leave all spirituality out of learning are either purposely or inadvertently teaching their children a materialistic philosophy. If spirituality and transcendence never enter the discussion, you are teaching children that the world consists only of what they experience with their senses and know with their minds. It might allow for the possibility that God exists, but if He does, He is so irrelevant that He has nothing to do with important things like history and science. Even though most people don’t think of materialism as a religion, it serves that purpose with its own answers to the big questions of life and the reason for our existence.

If, on the other hand, you believe in God, it should be important enough to impart to your children—or else what’s the point of believing in Him at all? If faith and knowledge of God are important, then they need to be incorporated into the learning process within the content as well as the methods of presentation. You teach what you believe and you demonstrate your belief by the way you act, how you speak, and how you treat people. (P 25)

Yes, all our subjects, even math, should acknowledge God.  This is something that can be done poorly (as in some curricula where math story problems adapt Bible characters and Bible scenes to the problem at hand, whether subtraction, fractions or anything else) or it can be done well as pointed out in Mathematics: Is God Silent?    Cathy quotes one slightly exaggerated example to show just how pervasive worldview can be even in math.  Considering that at least one US high school math teacher has labeled a student a bigot for insisting that there are right and wrong answers in math, this example is not too extreme.

“The Loggers New Math”

Teaching Math in 1950: A logger sells a truck load of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1960: A logger sells a truck load of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1970: A logger exchanges a set “L” of lumber for a set “M” of money. The cardinality of set “M” is 100. Each element is worth one dollar. Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set “M.” The set “C,” the cost of production, contains 20 fewer points than set “M.” Represent the set “C” as a subset of set “M” and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set “P” for profits?

Teaching Math in 1980: A logger sells a truck load of lumber for $100. Her cost of production is $80 and her profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math in 1990: By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees? There are no wrong answers.

Teaching Math in 1996: By laying off 40% of its loggers, a company improves its stock price from $80 to $100. How much capital gain per share does the CEO make by exercising his stock options at $80? Assume capital gains are no longer taxed, because this encourages investment.

Teaching Math in 1997: A company outsources all of its loggers. The firm saves on benefits, and when demand for its product is down, the logging work force can easily be cut back. The average logger employed by the company earned $50,000, had three weeks vacation, a nice retirement plan and medical insurance. The contracted logger charges $50 an hour. Was outsourcing a good move?

Teaching Math in 1998: A laid-off logger with four kids at home and a ridiculous alimony from his first failed marriage comes into the logging company corporate offices and goes postal, mowing down 16 executives and a couple of secretaries, and gets lucky when he nails a politician on the premises collecting his kickback. Was outsourcing the loggers a good move for the company?

Teaching Math in 1999: A laid-off logger serving time in Federal Prison for blowing away several people is being trained as a COBOL programmer in order to work on Y2K [Year 2000] projects. What is the probability that the automatic cell doors will open on their own as of 00:00:01, 01/01/00? (P 23)

On learning, learning styles, and learning disabilities

The authors of Make It Stick, a very practical book about learning theory, point out that effective learning is rarely easy but requires effort. In fact, catering exclusively to a person’s learning styles can be counterproductive in the long run.

After her extensive discussion of learning styles, Cathy suggests how to address this problem:

This does not mean that you teach each type of learner only with methods that suit his personality and temperament…. Instead, you use methods that work best for each child when introducing new or difficult subject matter. Once they have grasped a concept, use other more challenging methods when they are less likely to be stressful or produce failure. You can help strengthen students’ weak areas such as short attention span or lack of creativity by working on these problem areas within subjects that are especially interesting to your child or subjects in which they excel. (P 44)

In this context, Cathy addresses learning disabilities. Every child has strengths and weaknesses, but sometimes more is going on.

A word of caution is needed here. Sometimes you can mistake the characteristics or evidence of a learning disability for a learning style. If you have tried everything—paid attention to learning styles and methods and retaught five different ways—and your child still “doesn’t get it,” he or she might have a learning disability. Sometimes a child will appear to be a Wiggly Willy because a learning disability interferes with reading, writing, or thinking processes. If the work is too difficult, your child might act bored, restless, or inattentive to avoid dealing with the “impossible” task. (P 46)

If you suspect that your child has a learning disability, here are some things to think about.  Is your child perhaps “Overwhelmed, Underchallenged, Unmotivated, Disobedient, or Just Plain Lazy?”    Or is there a change in ability as discussed in “When Your Teen Can No Longer Focus”?   You could explore the concept of psychoeducational testing at home, but for the sake of your child, do get professional help if necessary.

On detailed learning goals

Most home educators worry about whether or not their children are keeping up with what “other schools” are teaching. This sort of concern can be a helpful prod to keep us focused and making progress. However, it can also be a distraction or even a diversion from what we really need to be teaching each of our children. (P 48)

After thinking through our priorities and approaches to homeschooling, we need to make all this practical: we need to determine what each child needs to learn.  In this we can be driven by what ‘other schools’ teach, by a uniform curriculum like the US Common Core, or by textbook companies, or we can think outside the box to determine what our own goals are for each child.

I believe that God created each child as an individual with particular gifts, abilities, and interests. He has a unique plan for each one. God’s creativity gradually becomes visible within each child as he or she matures, an unfolding delight that we can either appreciate or deny. We appreciate it by recognizing and working with each individual child, or we deny it by trying to force children to adapt to others’ ideas about how they should grow and learn. (P 49)

The mantra of much of the national education reform legislation over the past three decades has been “educating for the high-skill, high-wage jobs of the 21st century.” Translation: children need to learn knowledge and skills that others have predetermined are necessary to prepare them for the workforce.

We see this very clearly in our present educational system at the high school level. Education is becoming primarily about vocational training rather than development of an individual person with a body, mind, and soul. Part of that training might require learning enough to get into college, so they can get a degree, so they can get a job—simply a more complex form of vocational training.

While young people should be prepared to get a job when they get out of school, many parents believe that education is as much or more about personal development, learning to think, developing integrity, and spiritual development. After all, what benefit is it to raise young people who have the knowledge and skills to make lots of money if they are culturally, spiritually, and ethically clueless? (P 51)

Everyone operates by one worldview or another. The default worldview of our modern society is a materialistic humanist worldview. (Some might call it secular humanist.) It teaches that man is an accidental product of evolution. There is nothing more to him than his physical existence. God doesn’t exist and there’s nothing after death. It shouldn’t be surprising if people with this worldview believe that they should to try to get the most they can from this life because this is all there is.

In contrast, a Christian worldview colors everything with the belief in God’s existence. Because God is real, we believe He has revealed truth to us. Part of that revelation is the reality of life after death, the fact that we have a soul, and the fact that Jesus Christ died for us so that we can have eternal life with God. This understanding means there’s much more to life than the present physical reality. There is a larger purpose and meaning to almost everything. Our lives are not to be lived as if we are accidental entities. Instead, God calls us to live life mindful of the purposes to which He has called us.

Conflicting worldviews—whether they be Christian, Secular, Jewish, Buddhist, or something else— produce some conflicting educational goals. Certainly, they all share some common goals such as acquiring reading, writing, and computation skills. However, we are likely to differ in some choices of other subjects to be taught, what is to be taught each year, the amount of time and attention we spend on each subject, and details within subject areas. (P 51, 52)

Thus we need to think clearly about what and how we want our children to learn.  We need to be sure that the methods and topics we choose reflect our Christian worldview and agree with the Bible.  And then, after all the hard work and careful planning, we need to remember that we can plan all we want but in the end it is God who decides what is going to happen.  Thus we also need to be flexible in how we implement our goals, realizing that at any time we may need to change our method for achieving them.

As you gain experience, generally you will feel freer to create your own goals and worry less about what everyone else is doing. (P 56)

On logic and worldview studies

Whenever I ask my husband what he feels is important in our homeschool, he stresses logic.  Cathy Duffy agrees:

I am convinced that a grasp of logic—at a minimum, what is called informal logic—is essential to a good education. If you can’t think straight and then express your ideas logically, if you can’t spot the shysters and the propaganda and sort through it to the truth, then your education is incomplete.

In addition, many logic books on the market are fun to use. P 322

And we would agree with that, too.  Our children re-read The Fallacy Detective and The Thinking Toolbox purely for fun, and they also really enjoy the many mysteries in the James Madison Critical Thinking course.

What is more, you need logic to understand how the world’s opinion of itself is not the same as the Bible’s; if we don’t know how to think clearly we will easily be swayed by all sorts of false ideas.  That being said, if we refuse to acknowledge and thank God, then our ability to think will be compromised. (Romans 1:21)

In my opinion, logic goes hand in hand with studying worldviews. We have to teach our children to think and reason clearly before we can expect them to seriously address the big questions of life such as, “Who is Man?,” “What is his purpose?,” “Does God exist?,” and “What happens when we die?” Answers to questions such as these inform our worldview and influence the way we think about almost everything. (P 327)

Some of the 102 Top Pick reviews themselves contain similar gems of wisdom.  New homeschoolers, especially, can benefit from Cathy’s expertise, and even after two decades as a homeschooler I find myself encouraged by her.

At the end of my formal review of 102 Top Picks, I wrote, “Homeschooling parents inevitably waste money—and often their children’s time and patience—on curriculum mistakes.  Investing in 102 Top Picks will reduce that problem.”  As a bonus, 102 Top Picks is full of helpful ideas, like the quotations above, that become more profound the more you think about them.

Discount:  Cathy is generously letting me offer you a $3 discount that is good here through 8/31/17: AKA2017. (This can be used on either print or ebooks but it won’t work for just the charts.)

If you enjoyed this article, you might want to follow me on Google+ where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, or connect with me on GoodReads where I  (eventually) share what I read. 

Disclosure:  I received a PDF version of 102 Top Picks from Cathy Duffy in order to review it.  I receive no compensation for giving my honest opinions.

May and June at our House

One of our pet chickens. The craziest things can and do happen at our house….

The past two months have been such a dizzying whirl that in July our birthday calendar was still on the May page!  We had two family gatherings, thousands of miles on the road, gardening, birthdays, an anniversary, get-togethers with friends, many visitors, 23 chicks, the end of the hockey season, Canada’s rainy 150th birthday, and slow but steady homeschooling…. There were very happy moments and incredibly sad ones, and sometimes it was all completely overwhelming.  It is such a comfort to remember that we belong to Jesus.

Highlights of the past two months include watching Miss 14’s pet chickens grow.  When she hand feeds them lettuce and dandelion leaves they are wildly eager for each yummy green bite, and Bunbun hops up to beg for her share, too.  Other highlights:  Miss 24 has graduated from university, Miss 17 is learning to drive, our road has been newly paved, and we finally have a Costco membership.

Homeschooling continued these past months, slowly.  Almost every day we did little bits of Dutch, French, logic, Bible, literature, science, math, and more, and when there was work or another interruption, we caught up the next day.  Some days we also studied Canadian history and literature.  Because it was a slow school year for both girls, we are planning to continue studies throughout much of the summer.  I remember a public school mom who set her children learning and exercise goals throughout the summer, and our homeschooling goals are not much more than that if the girls focus.

Summer is also the time to prepare for the next school year.  Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top Picks is helping me plan the year, and I’m also gaining inspiration from Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth as well as Brandi Vencel’s church history suggestion to read the actual documents instead of books about them.  Miss 17 likes the idea, and with the help of Omnibus II it should be possible….

It is also necessary to rest.  My husband says I’m too earnest; I still have not figured out what that means, but I do know I’ve been too overwhelmed too often lately.   Last year I was so ill that I quit playing the organ, but now I need that music time desperately so I’m slowly strengthening my arms to be able to play regularly again.  I’m also trying to be outside in the early morning freshness, to relax by reading both serious books and fluff, to simplify, and to say ‘no’.

As for my 2017 goals,

  • I occasionally manage to walk 10,000 steps a day, but the steps are spread throughout the day and I need to take it easy the next day.  A solid walk is just not possible for me right now.  It is difficult to gain strength and endurance, but if I don’t try to gain I will only lose what I am currently able to do, so I keep pushing against my boundaries.  Last summer and fall I was increasingly dizzy and that went away with B12 supplementation, which I quit in the spring.  Since then I’ve become dizzy again but now that I’ve started taking B12 again that is slowly going away and I’m hoping to gain some energy as well.
  • In the past two months I have become much more familiar with Romans 5-8, but have not actually memorized much.
  • Because I’m sleeping better, I write less wee notes to myself at night.  That means less to do lists, less ideas for articles, less insights.  And, really, that is fine.

Instead of writing a lot this summer, I’m studying Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey with a group of ladies.   The main idea of this book, that our culture sees material things and ‘science’ as fact and relegates everything else to a subjective sphere where truth is not even relevant, pops up everywhere.  For example, sometimes I think I may want to go into psychology after the girls graduate—there is so much pain that could be helped if there were more Christian psychologists!—so I’ve been reading about psychology.  Recently I finished The Body Keeps the Score van der Kolk, a horrible but encouraging book about trauma that tries to bridge the gap between thought and the material world while still explicitly basing its ideas on evolutionary psychology.  Pearcey outlines what thought processes the author is using.  On the other side of the same Total Truth theme, I’m preparing an article that compares biblical truth with the research results presented in The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages.  (And Total Truth is now on the girls’ reading lists for school, too.)

We are continuing our focus on Canadian books and authors:

  • Celia Barker Lottridge’s Ticket to Curlew, Wings to Fly, The Wind Wagon, and Home is Beyond the Mountains.
  • Janet Lunn’s A Rebel’s Daughter, about the 1837 rebellion in Canada, and Maud, a surprisingly cheerful biography of L. M. Montgomery’s youth, celebrating family and food while also describing difficult times.
  • Stephen Leacock’s Nonsense Novels, a hilarious introduction to literature.
  • One Dominion which pointed out that Canada has a strong Christian background and Christians today have a duty to develop a Christian vision on all of life (Total Truth, again).

The girls are also enjoying Wodehouse, Lee Child, and Garfield, as well as a lot of light Christian novels.

My health reading in May and June included Nourishing Broths (worthwhile) and Nourishing Fats (less info, more hype) that I skimmed during a long drive to my sister’s place (and then gave her for her birthday).  I also finally finished Explain Pain, a very worthwhile book for anyone impacted by chronic pain.

My reading pile is large: 

  • church history—four books on Luther, one on John Knox, Eusebius’s The Church History, and Trunk of Scrolls, a new teen novel about the early church,
  • worldview books—finishing Mere Christianity again, A Shot of Faith to the Head, The God Who is There, Christianity for Skeptics, and Finding Truth; I won’t read all of them but am trying to decide which one is best,
  • some of Miss 14’s fluff books—they are a lot of fun and an excellent distraction, and should help overcome the ‘overearnestness’ my husband mentioned,
  • homeschool prep—I will be using Omnibus II as a background for Bede (via the Ambleside Online summary), as well as for Eusebius’s The Church History and Athanasius’s The Incarnation.   I may also leaf through Tim Tebow’s Bible study, Shaken.  And I’m going through 102 Top Picks to guide the homeschool planning.
  • on hold for now—Bavinck; Resolving Conflict; Love, Honor and Virtue; Growing in the Gospel will all have to wait for a while.

My personal Bible reading has stabilized a bit and I’ve read Luke, John, and part of Acts, although I am continuing to float around a lot, too.  Once, after receiving yet more bad news, I set my audio Bible to Psalm 13 and somehow it moved on to Psalms 113, 130, 131, 132, 133, and 134, all of which I listened to over and over while driving.  What a gift that was!  Of course, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Romans in the hopes of someday memorizing it.  Isaiah 29, Philippians, and John 14 also taught me much, this time in relation to the concepts in Total Truth.

Sometimes reading the Bible can seem humdrum.  Looking at it from the point of view of an all-encompassing book like Total Truth makes it all seem new again.  So does searching it for wisdom when we are dealing with difficult issues. But the most beautiful approach to the Bible I encountered recently came from a young Christian who called me, overjoyed with a new understanding she had of a certain Bible chapter.  She said that God’s Word is so sweet, she ‘wanted to share the candy’ with me!

For mealtime devotions the girls and I read from 1 Corinthians through Colossians and then skipped to Isaiah (“because we’re catching up to where Daddy’s reading, Mom, and I can’t remember reading Isaiah”)  all with frequent forays into Psalms and Proverbs when one of the girls was away.  When my husband was home for meals, we read from I Thessalonians to Hebrews.

And so passed another two months of life, a gift from God that I misused and marred with sin, but a gift none the less.   I am grateful for it.  May God forgive all our foolishness, failures, and sins and help us love and serve him and those around us in the time he gives us this summer.

If you enjoyed this wrap up, you might want to follow me on Google+ where I often mention helpful or interesting ideas, or connect with me on GoodReads where I  (eventually) share what I read. 

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