I Give Up: A Net Galley Review


What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

These words penned by Laura Story left me in tears the first time I heard them. I was at a women’s conference one weekend with ladies from all over our district. A dear international worker shared the mental health struggles her daughter was facing and that had brought them home early from the field. Then she sang this song and I was left speechless and tear-filled. At the time, I was facing my own hurts, my own health struggles, and questioning God’s goodness in it all. Yes, He had seen me through, but why in the first place?  

Fast forward several years. I had the opportunity to hear Laura Story speak at another women’s conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the fall of 2018. This time it was not merely our district gathering, but women from across the nation. I had never heard her testimony nor realized the source of those beautiful lyrics. I listened as she candidly spoke about seeking God in the trials and all the ways He had taught her through her husband’s brain tumor and the after effects of the trauma from surgery. 

I was so excited to have the opportunity to read this part Bible study part biography part conversation with a friend over coffee. What struck me so deeply about Laura as she spoke was the genuineness of her faith and of who she is. She is honest and raw about things that are difficult to be honest and raw about. We want to hide and say everything is well, when it is not. 

In reading this beautifully crafted work Laura Story easily weaves in and out of storytelling, first her own story, then a story from Scripture. This seamless intertwining drew me into read more.

While of course our paths are different, she has struggled with many of the same questions I have. How do you walk in complete surrender when you have lost control? How do I daily surrender in the face of the unknown for one I love deeply? For Laura it was her husband. For me it is my daughter. We have many unanswered questions regarding her health. Today she is stable and living a healthy active life, but we have an understanding there is something lurking beneath the surface and we do not know when it might rear up again. There are more questions than answers and the doctors are mystified. This particular book helped me to answer, “Yes,” to the Lord in how I will choose to surrender to Him. 

I highly, highly recommend this title to anyone who has ever gone through a struggle or thinks they might one day. It will be give to my children as they enter into adulthood. I plan to reread it myself when I’m once again struggling to surrender. 

Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Who Was Jonah? & Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus? from the Kingdom Files series by Barbour Publishing: A TOS Crew Review

Barbour Publishing
 For the last year or so I have included reading a chapter from a biography every day as a part of my daughter’s schooling. They have the chance to choose any person they want and read an age-appropriate biography of that individual. They have had the opportunity to read about a wide range of individuals. Since most of these have been from more recent history, Beth and Grace were both excited to get to read 2 books from the Kingdom Files series: Who Was Jonah? and
Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus? from Barbour Publishing.
Kingdome Files Who Was Mary Mother of JesusKingdome Files Who Was Jonah
Biblical biographies are a lovely way to continue our historical study of Scripture. Materials like these are an excellent way to reinforce our worldview that Scripture is 100% historical. These fantastic little biographies are quite engaging! They are structured in a modern way and are written so that even early readers could enjoy them. As long as your students can handle small chapter books, they can read these on their own. If they are not quite there yet, or you would like to engage with these titles as a family, they would also make very nice read aloud selections.  

These two read through the books in less than a week! Even though I only assigned one chapter a day, they eagerly read much faster. They also decided to take a chance to read each other’s books. 

The books are illustrated beautifully inside and out. The color cover invites the reader to dig in and learn more. Within the pages are beautiful drawings which feel like sketches. The pages art structured like a notebook “clipped” notes which are shadowed to give a 3D appearance. 

As far as the information, it is historically accurate and completely compatible with Scripture. I love knowing I can send my girls off to read material which will supplement and never contradict God’s Word. That is a rare find in children’s literature and it is important to know a company is trustworthy. Barbour Publishing has proved themselves to be a trustworthy resource in our household time and time again. 

My favorite part is the “Power File” section towards the end of the book. This creates greater substance beyond just the facts. We are a family who wants to study God’s Word as a historical text, but also as the living, active Word of the Lord. It should and does teach us if we are willing. There are 10 life application lessons directly written to kids so they see that God’s Word is for them too! This is such an awesome feature.

Seeing my girls snuggled up reading is one of the greatest blessings of homeschooling. They get great pleasure reading and learning from what they read. Including biographies in our daily structure. These are great resources for your family to start the habit as well!

The best news is, these are not the only books in the series! Take a look at all these great titles available in the
Kingdom Files series…

The Kingdom Files  WOW! Check out what my Crewmates have to say!   Kingdom Files {Barbour Publishing Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Heroes of History: Milton Hershey from YWAM Publishing: A TOS Review Crew Review

YWAM Publishing
 Our family enjoys learning bout the origins of what we take for granted in our daily lives. There are so many things we can’t imagine living without even though most of those items are luxuries and for convenience. Take chocolate for instance. I can’t imagine not having a Hershey’s candy bar available whenever I want and neither can Grace! If she is ever asked what her favorite candy is she responds without hesitation, “Hershey’s chocolate!” When I told the girls we were going to get to learn more about the man behind the chocolate everyone was excited. We have been reading Heroes of History- Milton Hershey, a part of the Heroes of History series from YWAM Publishing.

YWAM Publishing  We are already familiar with the biographies YWAM publishes and have enjoyed every one we read. This was especially exciting for us because we were already planning to take a family trip to Hershey, PA. The girls enjoyed having the opportunity to learn about the man behind the candy. We read this in the evenings together as our family story time. It was engaging and interesting. While I usually only read one chapter a night, they would often beg for me to read more!  

 I really liked that there were many options so students of various levels can study together. Our girls ages are 11, 9, and 7. All three fully engaged and learned from this study! As a general rule we rarely do worksheet type studying. That means when the girls do use them it is a novelty and therefore quite enjoyable. They also like it that this was a unit done together which is also not typical of our studies.  

 We learned that there was so much more to Milton Hershey than merely making chocolate. His desire to create and provide a community for his workers is truly inspiring. I was especially impressed with his desire to provide quality education for the town. I’m fully aware that not everyone is a fan of this company, but his ideas for the community he built were forward thinking for the time. We were also impressed to learn that the company still uses locally sourced milk to make their products.  

A little peek at our fun trip to Hershey after learning about Milton Hershey!

One of the things I appreciate most about the books from YWAM is that they include study guide materials for use with my girls. While it is fun to learn and read together, I want to make sure the girls are gleaning as much as they can from this time. Each of the study guides includes a number of excellent options for furthering learning. Since these study guides are also written for traditional classrooms there are some interesting ideas, yet a bit impractical for our in-home implementation. Some of these include group activities and classroom display ideas. These are really fun things, but not very practical for us. The items we did make use of were chapter questions and key quotes. We also utilized the written study guide which are highly valuable for students to record while they are reading. While we did not use the essay and further studies section, these are both excellent and well-suited for older students.  Take a look at what my Crewmates had to say!  Christian & History Heroes {YWAM Publishing Reviews} Crew Disclaimer

Bonhoeffer Student Edition: A NetGalley Review

There were many martyrs of the Holocaust, but few have had the theological significance as Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His life sets an example for old and young of how to live out ones convictions even in the most difficult of circumstances.

I will have my oldest daughter read this year as we study other literature written about the Holocaust. I think it is highly valuable to learn about many different perspectives when studying history, especially very difficult periods such as the Holocaust.

The book itself is geared towards the middle school reader. The historical information is provided in a clear and interesting way. Even if the reader has not been made familiar with the intricacies surrounding World War 2 prior to reading this, they will have no trouble understanding all that happened leading up to and during the war. It is especially insightful to understand how the everyday citizen felt about what Germany’s leaders were doing. 

Individuals are famous for their brief moment in history, but we cannot understand the individuals completely without first knowing what led them to those moments. This biography is an excellently written description of Bonhoeffer’s early life and how he became who he was. The clear writing will engage readers fully and hopefully help them think critically about not only World War 2, but also be more aware of all that is going on around them politically and socially.

Now I do want to make it clear that I do not agree with all of Bonhoeffer’s theological beliefs. That being said, I believe studying his life and his thoughts on Scripture are still very valuable. If you also have the opportunity to read the original book by Eric Metaxes written for adults I strongly encourage that. It is excellent and will fill in any of the gaps you may feel was missing in this title.

Disclaimer: I received this title from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any other way. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Get to Know Mary: A Book Look Blogger Review

My girls have been raised knowing a lot about the Bible. When Rose, my oldest daughter, was about 15 months old we started having nightly devotions and Bible time with her. This nightly routine has remained in place ever since and the girls make sure to remind us if we forget for a night!
Growing up as pastor’s kids ourselves, my husband and I know how easy it is for the truth of Scripture to become so common place that it loses its wonder. This doesn’t mean we stop training and teaching our kids, but it does mean we always need to be mindful that we should be making an effort to engage our daughters with Scripture in new ways. 
This new biography series for kids is a great way to engage your children in a new way. This beautifully illustrated book provides insights they may not have thought to ask about before. Alongside biographical information about the individual there are also many cultural and contextual explanations to help the individual feel more real.
Beth has really enjoyed this biography in particular. She likes reading about just about anything and was really excited when I showed this to her. The passages about Mary have always been some of her favorites. Whether winter is in the air or not she’ll frequently flip to the Christmas story when choosing on her own something to read. I asked her what her favorite part was and she said all the information on the sides. That is also my favorite part. I am thrilled for her to be digging deeper using historical and cultural information to understand some of the deeper meanings behind what is in the text. 
If you are looking for accurate and engaging books, these are the way to go. There are several titles to choose from in the series and I hope to get a few more for my girls!
Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook.com® <http://BookLook.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.