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Review: Journey Through the Night by Anne de Vries

Journey Through the Night-rgb

When I started to read Journey Through the Night to my youngest daughters, they expected to be bored.  However, by the third paragraph one of them jumped up.  “What!  John does judo?”  The other one was interested by the next page.  As the story moved on, they begged for chapter after chapter.  Once, when I could not read aloud any longer, I stayed behind in the lawn chair and, forgetting all my duties, finished the entire book even though I had read it many times before!  When I talk to others who have read this book, they invariably tell me how wonderful it was.

So, what is this amazing book?  Journey Through the Night follows John and his family through the five years of Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.  Intense humanity and deep thoughtfulness run through all its exciting events….

You can read my complete review at The Curriculum Choice.

Hope, A Few Blades of Green Grass

A few blades of green grass

“Even when the grass looks entirely brown, always, when you get down on your knees and look closely, you will see some blades of green.”*

There is hope in that, and comfort.

Sometimes, when life happens and homeschooling and other matters seem to be hopeless, the little positives gain huge importance.  If you look closely, you will see these good things.  And, even more so, if you are down on your knees in prayer, you will see them.

When you do see happy moments, small bits of recovery, little victories, tiny steps forward, then be sure to celebrate them and give thanks to God!  For it is he who gives these enormous little victories.  He is in charge of these joys as well as all the challenges.

Therefore give thanks for the few blades of green and if you can’t see them, get down on your knees and look more closely.

May God bless you and give you hope.

*This was quoted by Wolterstorff in  ‘The Peculiar Hope of the Educator’, an essay that reminds us that all education is based on hope.

For more encouragement visit Raising Homemakers, Titus 2 TuesdayR&R Wednesdays, WholeHearted Wednesday, Wednesdays with Words, Trivium Tuesdays, and Finishing Strong.

Review: Another Way Home by Deborah Raney


Danae had only one wish these days. She wanted a baby, and that desperate desire colored her whole life, straining her marriage and her relationship with her sisters, her family, and God. The infertility treatments weren’t working, not even after three long years. On top of that, her husband Dallas refused to consider adoption, because he himself had been adopted.

Finally Danae realized that she had to do something, anything, to get her mind off her obsession, so she began to volunteer at a women’s shelter. It was scary at first, with two safe rooms and all sorts of security protocols in case the women’s partners would find them. Although Dallas was still concerned, Danae got over her nervousness after a while, and befriended Misty and her sweet little boy Austin.   And then, one horrible day Misty’s abusive husband showed up….

With the close-knit Whitman clan of Home to Chicory Lane and Two Roads Home (links to my reviews) supporting them, Danae and Dallas faced a future they could never have imagined, one that God had been planning all along.

Like these other two Chicory Inn books, Another Way Home is about family in all its aspects: marriage, parent-child relationships of all ages, sibling relationships. Deborah Raney’s sympathetic characters are true to life, depending on God and each other, struggling with the difficulties of life, slowly learning to see their own sinful blind spots. As we follow Danae’s struggles the author wisely and subtly contrasts the ways of self-pity and of gratitude.

This Deborah Raney novel, just like the other ones, has something for everyone, not the least because we all struggle with self-centered sin and we all need to be reminded that God’s ways are good. Another Way helped me through a difficult time and I found it hard to put down.

This is yet another book in the in the 2015 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Booknificent Thursdays, Literacy Musings Monday, and The Book Nook.  

Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided by LitFuse.

Learning, Books, and More (Weeks 8-10)

Our family, by Miss 13

Our family, by Miss 13

Usually our days are fairly humdrum, to the kids at least.  We eat, do schoolwork, care for our animals, eat, take a break, learn some more, go outside, take a break and do chores, eat, hang out, and go to bed.  Yes, there are appointments, outings, and projects, but nothing huge.

Occasionally, though, things are different.   On Remembrance Day we and hundreds of others attended an outdoor service.  After lunch I read aloud a few more chapters of The Mouse on the Moon, a spoof on politics during the cold war and the race to the moon.  After that we watched the Unlocking the Great Pyramid and were reinvigorated by the fairy tale of a solitary architect solving some of the big problems of Egyptology/pyramid structure.  Then we took the dogs to the river, scrambling along an old fallen tree to sit above the water.  Oh, yes, we did a tiny bit of ordinary work: organ, Future Learn Dutch, reading, and catechism, but that was all.

Ordinarily, however, we are a lot more focused on formal academics.  We continued with our Apologia Physical Science and Biology, worked on math, read an enormous amount, took a few tests, and wrote hardly anything at all.  Both girls are taking a short online Dutch course and find it a pleasant break from what we were doing and a good review as well.  We’ve been faithfully spending a small bit of time on our once-every-few days learning: a drawing course, music history, and King Alfred’s English, and it’s amazing how much can get done in short snatches of time.

I have been experimenting with FutureLearn, one of the Massive Open Online Course providers.   The three-week ‘Introduction to Dutch’ course is the girls’ first online university course, and it seems to be a good fit for them.


Fall has been very pleasant here.  My girls still wear flip flops and shorts occasionally, although they have discovered that frosty grass feels nippy on bare toes.

Our bunny has developed a real personality.  Loving, opinionated, funny, and determined, she enchants and exasperates us by turns.  Watching her wash her ears should be enough to make anyone realize that a Creator must exist.  Watching her throw a temper tantrum and fling her food bowl across her new cage made us all laugh in in amazement at our gentle Bunbun other side.

Inspired by I Know How She Does It I kept a time log for a week.  All my guilt about not spending enough time on homeschooling disappeared; we spend huge amounts of time on it.  I suppose that time flies when you are having fun.  I’ve also become more intentional about doing the things that matter.

Other than that,

  • therapeutic riding volunteer work is over for the year,
  • there were various events (filming of LifeTOUR, a coffee house showcasing amazing musical talent, Hamlet, an Evensong with the most beautiful music, a phone call from China(!!), a wonderful book sale, and so much more),
  • the garden is almost finished (kale, beets, carrots, parsley, and turnips are left,) and
  • we enjoyed many other happy moments.


I’ve finished The First Fossil Hunters, 31 Days to a Clutter Free Home, Linnaeus, and I Know How She Does It and have started Prayers that Changed History, Money Making Mom, Teach Like a Champion Field Guide, and The Debs of Bletchy Park.  I’m also still slowly wending my way through King Alfred’s English, How to Really Love Your Child, Joy at the End of the Tether, Trial and Triumph, Tales of Ancient Egypt, Beth Moore’s Stepping Up, The Traveler’s Gift, and 2 Chronicles.  And I’m writing reviews of many of them….

The girls have been reading Don Aslett’s zany time and productivity books (How to have a 48 Hour Day and How to do 1000 Things at Once) and the novels of Louis L’Amour .

Reading aloud:

The Mouse on the Moon, Isaiah, and Romans.  We finished The Secret of Willow Castle.


  • National Geographics:  Unlocking the Great Pyramid (the fairy tale of a solitary architect solving some of the biggest questions puzzling Egyptologists, great to accompany a study of ancient Egypt or architecture, one of Miss 15’s top learning resources).
  • Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch (awesome, go see it if it is still available),
  • Irreplaceable (very worthwhile and moving, review coming up)

Recommended Links:

A wise look at truth, shame, and art, and another one about shame, the media, the gospel, and how to be kind.

If you want to see more carefully curated links, follow me on Google Plus.

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


The Torch Thrown by Failing Hands


Here is one way to catch the torch, thrown to us by dying soldiers through the years, and hold it high.

We can defend the ill, elderly, and disabled in our country.

Currently one simple way of doing this is by signing this petition.  Many other opportunities exist and as you read the declaration, you may find something else you can fit into your life.

Will it be uncomfortable to get involved? Undoubtedly.

Will it take time?  Certainly.

But then think of those who gave their youth, their health, their lives to uphold life and freedom for us.  Read this 100 year old poem, written in the trenches of World War 1.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Isn’t it almost sacrilegious to relate the issue of protecting our ill, elderly, and disabled to Remembrance Day?  Many think not.  For example, at our local ceremony today, this was read aloud:

The Red Poppy of Flanders

The blood red poppy of Flanders is immortalized as an emblem of sacrifice and remembrance for the honoring of the thousand who laid down their lives for the ideals which we as Canadians cherish.  The Poppy challenges us to serve in peace, as in war, to help those who need our help and to protect those who need our protection.

So please, dear fellow Canadian, catch that torch and step up to the fight.  At risk are your vulnerable loved ones, your fellow-citizens, and, yes, even yourself as you age.

For those of you living in other countries, there may well be a similar situation you are facing.  Face it head on, then, with wisdom and energy.

May God bless us all and give us courage, strength, and wisdom.

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