Book Review: The Lifegiving Table

I am a big fan of Sally Clarkson and her books. From her homeschooling tips to her parenting advice, to sharing her homekeeping skills, Sally has been a source of encouragement to me, so I was very much looking forward to reading The Lifegiving Table, her newest book. This book takes many of the home-ministry concepts from The Lifegiving Home and adapts them for, of course, the table.

The Lifegiving Table contains 14 chapters about why and how you should turn your kitchen table into a place of feasting for friends, family, and anyone that walks into your home. Sally Clarkson explains how feasting at the table with family and friends can nurture every part of a person…physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

The other thing I liked about this book was that each chapter featured several “Clarkson Family Favorite” recipes, such as Easy-Peasy Chicken and Rice, Sally’s Birthday Cinnamon Rolls, Sarah’s Best Cream Scones, and Much-Better-Than-Delivery-Homemade Pizza.

I have really been contemplating the main idea behind this book–how you can effectively minister to the hearts and needs of your family by being intentional with mealtime. And as much as I would love to say that all my meals are prepared in a flourish of happiness with adoring, well-behaved children enthusiastically eating the made-from-scratch, organic feast set before them, that just doesn’t happen. Sometimes it’s really all I can do just to get a meal on the table. So, I really appreciated the chapter entitled Living Out Grace, that affirms these seasons of life. Sally gives some advice, though, that I have been trying to take to heart. First, to prepare for busy times by making freezer meals when I get the chance, to not feel guilty about having “snack meals”, and that the heart of ministering through a meal is more important than the meal itself.

Once again, I have found great advice from Sally Clarkson about how to create a restful, inviting home in the midst of this crazy world.

*I received a copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Book Review: Cherished Mercy

I’ve been looking forward to the third and final installment of Tracie Peterson’s Heart of the Frontier series after reading the first two books in the series, Treasured Grace and Beloved Hope. The series follows the lives of the three Flanagan sisters, beginning with the historical event of the Cayuse Indian attack on Whitman Mission in present-day Washington State in 1847.

Book one tells us about the Flanagan sisters’ trek west, and their experiences in the Whitman massacre. It tells of Grace and her newfound relationship with future husband, Hope and her devastating horrors at the hands of the Cayuse men who took the women at the mission hostage, and Mercy, who was only twelve at the time, and how she saw the attacks.

Book two takes place a few years later, and focuses on Hope and her journey of healing from the attacks.

Book three, Cherished Mercy, obviously focuses on Mercy. This story takes place 8 years after the attacks on the Whitman Mission, although there are still strong tensions with the local Indian populace. Mercy has been asked by friends Eletta and Isaac Browning to travel south through Oregon Territory to help with Eletta’s difficult pregnancy, and increasing tensions with the natives at the mission where Isaac is a minister.

While with the Brownings, Mercy meets Isaac’s brother Adam and is intrigued by him, although Adam seems to push her away. After several tragedies, Adam and Mercy begin to wonder if a relationship is part of God’s will for them.

Like the other two books in the series, I really enjoyed Cherished Mercy. It was a good final book in the trilogy, as it brought things full circle. (Not to spoil, but I enjoyed the ending…) While it was a sad and difficult time in history, I was happy to read about the Flanagan girls and how they managed to continue trusting in God despite their world being so uncertain and difficult.

I am sad this series is done, but I look forward to reading the next series Tracie Peterson is working on!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

The Anniversary I Forgot


The other day I looked over at the calendar…September 15th. Not a day of note. We didn’t have any plans. But, I was surprised at the date. Not because of the date it was, but because of the date I forgot.

September 12, 2012. The day Junior was diagnosed with profound hearing loss. The day that officially began our special needs journey. The day I thought I could never forget because the grief was etched so strongly in my mind and heart. As I sat in that sterile audiologist’s office holding my sleeping infant as she went over the results of his failed hearing test, her words were unintelligible through my tears. I thought our world was over…I thought we would never be happy again.

And yet…

The five year anniversary of this life-changing date was missed. Overlooked. Forgotten. That date I thought was forever going to shape my world and become a solemn reminder of our challenges has now become “just another day.”

Being the parent of a deaf child isn’t easy. It never will be. Our days are still filled with therapies and frustrations and broken cochlear implant pieces and phone calls to specialists and insurance companies. But, they are also filled with laughter, joy, and pride. They are filled with Junior whispering in my ear that he loves me, with books and reading and singing, and with Junior telling everyone he meets that he wants to be an astronaut when he grows up so he can visit Jupiter and the Moon like any other five year old boy.

Five years ago, I never thought a day would go by when I didn’t think about the day he was diagnosed. But now, because of all the lessons we have learned along the way, like hope and perseverance, determination and gratitude, it is a day that barely gets a second thought.

Book Review: Abiding Mercy

Abiding Mercy begins 15 years ago in a grocery store in Michigan. Wealthy Roslyn Colepepper is knocked unconscious after grocery shopping (an errand typically run by the nanny), and her 18 month old daughter Adriana is abducted.

The next chapter begins in the Amish country of Northern Michigan and introduces us to Faith Pinkham. Faith is a 16 year old Amish girl who is counting down the days until she can be baptized into her Amish community, and hopefully settle down with a nice Amish boy and start a family.

Faith is content with her life. She works at the restaurant her parents own, The Amish Table, and enjoys fishing, gardening, and church functions. One rainy evening, however, she receives word that her parents have been involved in a buggy accident, and have been injured. Aside from concern over her parent’s injuries, she is required to help even more with the restaurant. Gideon has also started to volunteer in the restaurant duties, so the two of them begin spending a lot of time together and want to begin courting once Faith is baptized.

One day during a church function, however, Faith’s life is completely turned upside down, as she learns about the abducted Adriana and begins to question everything and everyone she’s ever known. Who is she? Where does she belong? Can she ever trust her friends and family again?

I enjoyed Abiding Mercy. I liked how we were following two stories at the same time–the past story of Adriana meeting up with the present story of Faith. It also gave a lot of opportunities for deep thought…how would you react if you were Faith? The parents of the abducted child? The Amish parents of Faith? Gideon? The ending seemed a little hasty, but it was satisfying. Hopefully there will be a sequel, though. I would love to learn how Faith reconciles her past and future.

*I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers and the publishers. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.



Grade 4 Curriculum Choices


I can’t believe my baby is going to be a 4th grader this year. Tater turned 9 a couple weeks ago, and I’m kind of in a permanent state of denial about it. At least she still calls me “mommy” and enjoys being around me. Sigh.

It’s always so much fun to choose curriculum, so I’m excited to start the school year! Here are our curriculum choices for Tater’s 4th grade:

Bible: We are not using a formal curriculum for Bible, but will read Bible stories, study heroes of faith as well as biblical character traits.

Math: We are continuing with Horizons math this year.

Science: We enjoyed Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy last year, so this year we are using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. Tater’s choice…she loves doing science experiments.

Language Arts: We are doing daily Reading Comprehension worksheets, Latin Roots of English, and vocabulary.

Handwriting: No formal curriculum here either…just copywork from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses.

Spelling: We have loved All About Spelling for Tater’s dysgraphia, and will be continuing with the program.

History: Last year I wrote my own World History curriculum using Living Books. We read almost 900 library books last school year and did corresponding crafts and hands on activities. I will be doing the same thing this year except with US History. I’m really excited!

Literature Read Alouds: All our read alouds correspond with our US History lessons. They will be:
-The Matchlock Gun
-Calico Captive
-Johnny Tremain
-By The Shores of Silver Lake
-Rifles for Watie
-Caddie Woodlawn

We will be studying US Artists, popular time period music, and will be doing a lot of arts and crafts.

PE: Tater will continue in karate. She loves it and has shown quite an affinity.

Also, Junior will be starting Preschool work this year. We aren’t doing anything formal unless he wants to (I bought him an Apologia notebook to follow along in science), but he is already an eager learner and will be joining us for history, read alouds, and whatever else he wants!

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