Resources for Purity in Today's World

A Tough Subject in Today’s World

Purity is a tough subject in today’s world.

Some think it’s “outdated.” Some consider it to only mean physical purity. Others may value purity but don’t feel they can “regain” it after choices they may regret.

This month at Do Not Depart, we’ve been discussing the topic of purity in today’s culture.

Before you read my post there today, I suggest read the following two articles:

  • This article at A Deeper Story discusses purity’s relevance in today’s world and how purity extends beyond the physical. I love many articles at A Deeper Story because they are written for many kinds of people, and they certainly don’t shy away from tough subjects.
  • This post from Lisa is one of the most non-judgmental and welcoming posts I’ve read on the topic of purity. We have dirt and chipped pieces, but God still loves us. “Grace, dished out even on chipped china, is an irresistible meal.”

After you’ve read those, head over to Do Not Depart today for my post with over 10 resources for purity in today’s world. This list includes books, websites, review sites, and articles to encourage you both as an adult and in guiding your family. Resources for Purity in Today's World

Let me know about your favorite resources in the comments at Do Not Depart.

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

Trusting Beyond the Past {Book Review – The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron}

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at
 the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for
distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young 
girl—a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with
 William Hanover—the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul—who may
be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William
 slowly unravel the story behind the painting’s subject: Austrian violinist 
Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented
 violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks
 everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her
life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and
barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds 
beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner
recesses of her own troubled heart.

-from the back cover of The Butterfly and the Violin

I’ve now read two WWII novels in the last two weeks, both by debut authors.

And both good reads.

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron (Thomas Nelson, 2014) beautifully and powerfully covers deep emotions felt among possible prisoners of WWII and blends it with identifiable relationship and faith struggles in common day. The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

The author writes this book from Adele’s point of view in the early 1940s and from Sera’s point of view in current day Manhattan. The author offers a strong, distinguished voice in each period allowing the reader to easily tell which time period is being read, as well as glimpses into that particular culture. Sera’s story is almost as much as about Adele’s story, but I enjoyed the way the author shows Sera learning from history to grow in her current life.

I felt the first two chapters are a bit obvious in telling backstory, but future chapters revealed smaller bits of backstory slower and in intriguing ways. I was also somewhat surprised at Adele’s boldness in a conversation with her mother in an early chapter. It seemed uncharacteristic considering the dangers Adele and Vladimir had just discussed and the stifling society presented to that point. Even with these small issues in the early chapters, the actions and emotions portrayed are so powerful and interesting, the reader won’t want to put this book down.

This book also asks reasonable questions about faith within unreasonable circumstances.

“Where is He? Why does He not answer the prayers of the many here?” – p. 175

The supporting characters, particularly Penny, Omara, and William, are strong and defined. They greatly add to the story in events, intrigue, and relatability.

This book tackles heart-penetrating themes, including living beyond our past mistakes, believing in God even when we only see evil surrounding us, and opening our eyes to God’s presence and beauty everywhere. As a huge fan of historical fiction, I love the author’s note at the end of the book and find this subculture of Holocaust art extremely interesting (and something I’d like to read about more).

“This, child, is our worship. To live and survive and play to God from the depths of our souls. This is the call that binds us. When we worship in the good times, it brings God joy. But worship in the midst of agony? That is authentic adoration of our Creator.” – p. 235

What period of historical fiction do you find most interesting?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Signing Time and Bundle of the Week. If you click on a Signing Time link or Bundle of the Week and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

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For Such a Time by Kate Breslin (Bethany House, 2014)

Building Resiliency {Book Review – For Such a Time by Kate Breslin}

In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.

Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy. Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?

-from the back cover of For Such a Time by Kate Breslin

Wow. This book.

For Such a Time (Bethany House, 2014) is Kate Breslin’s debut novel, and it’s an amazing debut. For Such a Time by Kate Breslin (Bethany House, 2014)

The book is a retelling of the story of Esther, set in Nazi-occupied Europe (particularly what was then Czechoslovakia). The main character, Stella Muller/Hadassah Benjamin, is Esther. Her Uncle Morty takes Mordecai’s role.

Chapter one draws you immediately in with its intensity. The reader is as unsure about Stella’s future as she is, which is a testament to the author’s writing. This author conveys intense and varied emotion well. This book is definitely not a light “beach read,” but so rewarding.

Each chapter begins with one verse from the book of Esther that foreshadowed the chapter’s events. I found this tactic interesting, and it didn’t detract from what I was about to read.

The author writes from multiple points of views, though mainly from Stella and Aric’s views. Though she uses over five different characters’ voices, each character’s voice is fairly solid and the various points of view are not confusing for the reader.

The events of this book span over less than a month’s time, which seems a little rushed for some of the character relationships. (As I was reading, I felt a few weeks had passed in a couple of spots when it had only been a couple of days.) But, with the extreme circumstances of WWII and the solid characterization in this novel, the reader easily follows along with the story. As with any historical fiction, I love finding out what’s “real” and modified in the author’s note in the back.

“A strong belief in God is like forging steal; it must be repeatedly tested in fire, then cooled in the waters of His mercy before becoming resilient enough to withstand evil.” – p. 307, For Such a Time

This novel respects the biblical story of Esther, but still provides a unique look and new characters. An incredibly interesting read that kept me turning the pages and thinking about the characters.

What major historical event do you want to read new stories about?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {} - includes a list of other resources and experiments, too!

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers

Most of our “science” study to this point has been through living life: learning that a cool breeze feels pleasant on a warm day, food with steam coming off of it is too hot to touch, shade provides a cooler respite from the hot sunshine. But, taking time to understand foundational knowledge of learning science, how to use basic lab equipment, and the steps to experimenting helps us gain better ways to explore what’s around us.

Below are some of the concepts we’ve introduced so far (and a sneak peek to others we’re going to explore). We don’t introduce all these concepts at once, but over a week or two (or longer) to build foundational knowledge.

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {} - includes a list of other resources and experiments, too!

5 Steps to Introducing Science Basics to Preschoolers

  1. Allow free play. This step is one I constantly have to remind myself. I want to dive into the experiment, but I already know how to use the equipment and follow lab steps. My kids are just learning this process. When I brought out our new lab set, I first allowed free play. We named each piece within the lab set, and the kids handled each piece first. I then poured a little water into each test tube and the beaker. The kids poured between the test tubes, beaker, and flask and tested out the eyedropper. Five or ten minutes of free play before we began specific experiments helped them be ready to focus.
    5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {}
  2. Concentrate on basic results (not too detailed yet), and focus more on becoming familiar with the process and gaining experience. Begin with a variety of experiments to engage multiple senses and incorporate various fine motor skills (pouring, gripping, squeezing, pre-scissor skills, etc.). Take time for hands-on experience with the process itself rather than obtaining a perfect outcome.
  3. Begin with great first experiments. Choose experiments geared towards preschoolers both in directions and components. Experiments with quick results help keep budding learners engaged and able to see the fruits of their work, as well as the process of an experiment. Choose experiments that expand on current knowledge and utilize observations children already witness in daily living. We did a simple color mixing experiment, a sink-or-float experiment, and inspected cereal and ants under a preschool-aged microscope in our first week.
    5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {}
  4. Introduce predictions and charting results. For our sink-or-float experiment, I introduced a prediction chart. We described sink (“the object goes all the way to the bottom”) and float (“the object stays at the top of the water”), then predicted what each of our five objects would do. As we tested each one (the best part!), the kids told us if the object was sinking or floating, and I marked it appropriately. After more practice, we’ll let the kids mark their own charts, but this introduced the practice of recording results.
    5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {}
  5. Try “instant” experiments first (like ones above), then complete experiments that take longer spans of time to complete. Experiments that take less than 15 minutes from start to finish allow preschoolers to stay focused, learn, but also see results without getting distracted. As your preschoolers understand the process of experimenting more, advance to more in-depth experiments, like growing seeds or mold explorations.

Special needs considerations: Kids with special needs can perform experiments, too! For our son, I often asked questions with multiple-choice answers to allow him to consider what he viewed and learned. We also helped him grade his motions more smoothly when using the eyedropper by using hand-over-hand assistance. I love that the activity cards included incorporate the sense of smell in a couple of experiments. I’ve read about the link between the olfactory system and increased neuron connections, so I’m excited to use this lab set to further his experiences.

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {}

Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Set and ViewScope

Thanks to Learning Resources and Stone’s Education Superstore, we were given the Primary Science Lab Set and ViewScope to review.

Review of Primary Science Lab Set and ViewScope

We love these sets!

I knew I would quickly fall in love with the lab set, but I’m ecstatic at how excited and engaged my kids are with this set. The set includes a beaker, magnifying glass, funnel, eyedropper, flask with stopper, tweezers, goggles, large 6″ test tube and stand, and two small test tubes with lids and stand. Like most Learning Resources materials, these pieces are durable and easy to clean. (Though, you might need to take a little longer time cleaning the eyedropper out after using colored liquids.) The lab set allowed us to provide a solid introduction of lab terms, and the set is definitely multi-use.

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {}

I love the set of ten experiment cards included! These ten experiments alone cover a variety of subjects within science and engage multiple senses (including sight, touch, and smell).

My only cautions so far: watch for how you place the lids back on the test tubes and hand wash after each use (especially when using scents or food coloring). For young hands, it can be a little difficult to tighten the test tube lids correctly which might result in slight leakage. We also placed a towel or two under our experimenting surface to make clean up even easier.

We were happily surprised with how well the ViewScope works! Not only does it provide experience in using a microscope, it actually magnifies! To test if my kids could actually see through the viewer, I wrote small letters on pieces of paper. If my kids could tell me what letter they saw, I knew they were looking through the microscope correctly and in focus. (Choose letters like “t” and “x” that look the same when inverted.)

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {}

We also caught a few ants and watched them under the microscope. Amazing! This ViewScope uses natural light (which is usually sufficient), so to see the ants in more detail, we pointed a flashlight at the disk. The scope potion can also be unhooked from the base to allow your young scientists to explore outside. This is a great tool for preschool through about 1st grade.

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {}

Look how much the ants are magnified! So cool!

Other Resources and Experiments

What do your preschoolers love studying in science right now?

Disclosure: I received the Primary Science lab set and ViewScope free from Stone’s Education in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other manner.

This post was featured at Homeschool Creations!

This post is also linked up with Homeschool Creation’s Preschool and Kindergarten CornerTuesday TotsToddler and Preschool Moms Pinning Party, the Weekly Kids Co-opShow and Share SaturdayFree Homeschool Deals’ Ultimate Pinterest Party, and Link & Learn.

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Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Signing Time and Bundle of the Week. If you click on a Signing Time link or Bundle of the Week and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

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Chasing God by Angie Smith

Seeing Him All Along {Book Review – Chasing God by Angie Smith}

“So the sermon notes, the stacks of Christian books, and all the fellowship potlucks you have on your calendar are a waste of time if you aren’t relying on Him. Our strength is just not enough to make us grow in holiness.” – p. 86, Chasing God

When an author writes this quote in her book – a book that certainly qualifies as one of those in the “stacks of Christian books” mentioned – you know she’s aiming to be realistic and honest about the truths and struggles of faith. Chasing God by Angie Smith

In Chasing God (B&H Books, 2014), Angie Smith discusses faith founded on love and understanding that love even when we can’t understand the whys and hows of happenings around us. Her main point while introducing the book is that we naturally love to chase something, or we give up chasing easily. This chase doesn’t always translate into a healthy faith.

“…it’s safe to say that our running (chasing) was based on the presumption that we want something more than it wants us.” – p. 2, Chasing God

She goes on to state that the goal of the book is to “offer my thoughts on the difference between looking for Him and looking at Him” (p. 2). She does so through personal stories, in-depth considerations of biblical stories, and reflections on her own faith journey.

Angie’s tone is non-threatening, but extremely effective. She reveals, connects, and convincingly urges all in one paragraph. She offers a good blend of conversational tone with reflective and eloquent thoughts and witty observations. (If you’re not fond of conversational interjections within a book, you might find that aspect a little too frequently, but I found it fun and entertaining.)

I related to Angie’s perspective several times, particularly when regarding perfectionism, feeling like I have to “follow the rules” to show my worth of love, and lack of control. Angie covers realistic, yet deep questions in anyone pursing a genuine faith. She writes on prayer, trusting in daily life, enduring trials, and more.

The chapter on prayer is one of the most influential chapters on prayer I’ve recently read in a contemporary book. I’ve actually begun to change the way I pray largely due to Angie sharing the biblical basis of her own journey in prayer. She guides the reader through examples of prayer from Christ and how we can apply these patterns in a meaningful (not rote or Pharisaical) way. I also love her take on the woman who endured twelve years of bleeding and Thomas’s actual faith in the last two chapters of the book.

For a fresh perspective on God’s love with good discussion on many biblical stories, check out Chasing God.

“He asks us to have the kind of faith that wakes in the morning not knowing how He will provide, but believing that He will, based on what we know of His character.” – p. 118, Chasing God

With Angie’s perspective on chasing God, how do you feel about your faith journey and how much you fee like you have to “earn” rather than just see God’s love right where you are?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other manner.