Posts filed under ‘Books’

Making a School Decision: What Should I Ask?

Our oldest son, Orison, will start kindergarten next fall! We’ve been evaluating our options for a loooong time, and feel like the right thing for him is to send him to school, as opposed to doing homeschool. Perhaps that’s another post.


We’re considering a few different options for schooling. We’ll be looking at a few private Christian schools and a couple public charter schools (classical education). We live in a very urban neighborhood, and feel like the public schools in our immediate area would not be a good fit for Orison.

I’m really new to all this school stuff, so my brain kind of turns to mush when I start trying to figure it all out.

So… do you wanna help me out?

One of the Christian schools is a Charlotte Mason school. If you subscribe to that theory of education, let me know what questions I should be asking, or what I should be looking for at the school.

Both of the public charter schools are Classical schools. Same deal—if you have experience with that model, help me know what to look for or what questions to ask.

I have the book The Well-Trained Mind, but feel really overwhelmed to even crack it open. And plus it’s a homeschool book, so I don’t know how relevant it’ll be for my current search.

And to be honest, I’m a verbal processor. I feel like I learn best through talking! And since I can’t sit down and have a face-to-face conversation with all of you, I’d love to learn from you through a blog conversation.

Thanks in advance for your help!

October 20, 2009 at 11:42 am 74 comments

Make a Decision to Love: Educate yourself.

I have people contact me pretty regularly who are intersecting with stillbirth and child loss for the first time. Some are experiencing it themselves, but more often than not, they’re friends with someone who’s just lost a child.

Most of them have no idea what to do. They’re at a loss, completely unprepared to comfort in something so mind-numbingly awful.

It took me at least six months to want to read a book about loss, grief, or death. It took me a couple months to even read anything. It felt so trite and small to read something that wasn’t about death, but then it felt like too much of a bad thing to read about grief and loss when I was just trying to make it through a day with death all around me.

Lots of people want to give a book to the grieving person. It’s not a bad gift, especially if it’s a good book about grief and loss.

But I want to challenge you one further—read the book first.

I want to tell you a story about what that meant for me. A few months ago, I was given a present from one of our dear friends—an unmarried, male friend. It was wrapped in the way you might expect an unmarried male to wrap a gift, in a brown paper bag with my name scrawled on top in permanent marker.

I waited to open it until later in the night, after he’d left. I unwrapped the package and found a book, a book about stillbirth. I opened the cover to find this inscription:

This is a book I recently stumbled across by a woman whose first child was stillborn. It moved me very powerfully, and I wanted to give it to you… “We read to know we’re not alone,” say the characters in Shadowlands. I hope this book makes you feel less alone.”

I could hardly read his words through the thick tears in my eyes. All I could say over and over, through my sobbing was, “He read the book. He read the book!”

What was a single guy with no children doing reading a book about stillbirth? I’ll tell you what he was doing. He was loving me in one of the most profound ways I’ve experienced from a friend since Felicity died.

This was no quick-fix, at-arms-length gift from someone who didn’t know how to handle someone like me. He had decided very consciously to enter into our pain, into our hell, even just for 184 pages. But that decision meant more to me than almost anything. It was a decision to love.

Too often we panic when we don’t understand how to interact with someone who’s going through tremendous pain. I think one motivation for simply buying a book and giving it is to say, “Wow, I don’t know what all this is about, but this person [who wrote the book] must know something. I mean, they have a book about it.”

Another thing it can communicate is a desire to keep things neat and tidy. If we’re really honest with ourselves we might find something a few layers deeper that’s saying, “I don’t understand this. I’m not very good at all this stuff. So here, here’s a book! That’ll help them, right?”

And neither of those is wrong, necessarily. Buying a book for a hurting person is not unkind; I don’t mean to imply that at all.

But what if we said, “Wow, I have no idea what they’re going through. Here’s a book about it. That’ll help me understand them better, hopefully.” You can equip yourselves to love hurting people! This will give you mileage in communicating and relating with the brokenhearted if you can join them in their brokenheartedness. It’ll help you cry a few more tears for the one who hasn’t stopped crying.

I don’t know if any of you will take this advice. Maybe a few of you will. If you do, I want to thank you in advance on behalf of grieving people everywhere. It will be a transforming step of blessing for them… and you.

October 5, 2009 at 10:40 pm 49 comments

Blogs I Read: Honey for a Child’s Heart

Gladys Hunt, author of the book Honey for a Child’s Heart, writes on her blog about instilling a love of Mother Goose into our children from an early age.

I’ve wondered what collections are best, and always felt overwhelmed by the number of options out there. Gladys gives a few recommendations to moms like me!

I would highly recommend subscribing to this blog. You know how some experts can make you feel really stupid and guilty about all the ways you’re failing in their particular area of expertise? Not Gladys! I’ve never felt guilted by anything Gladys has written about reading to children. Her posts are always interesting and give me new ideas for encouraging literacy in our family.

I really hope you enjoy her blog as much as I have!

July 13, 2009 at 12:35 am 19 comments

Grief Resources Over at Family Life

I had the privilege of reading the book, A Symphony in the Dark, a couple months ago. It has now been released, and you can order a copy or explore some of the other grief resources available over at Family Life.

You can also read more about little Molly Ann Mutz, daughter of Jake and Rebecca (nee Rainey) Mutz, and granddaughter to Dennis and Barbara Rainey (of Family Life). Molly Ann lived for a short seven days, leaving the imprint of her life in a profound and beautiful way, forever.

June 16, 2009 at 12:00 am 8 comments

Free Download of Not For Sale

During the month of February, you can download the audio version of Not For Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade and How We Can Fight It for FREE!

I just finished the download, and it worked really well. I’m eager to start listening.

Thanks to Shawnda for posting about this.

I think it would be amazing if hundreds (thousands?) of us downloaded this book and learned more about this incredibly important social justice issue.

So let’s…

  • Post about this offer on our blogs.
  • Tweet it.
  • Post it on Facebook.
  • Email friends.

What would happen? What could happen?

Educating ourselves is the first scary step. Do we really want to know about this? I confess that too often I’ve kept painful issues at arm’s length, knowing that if I let them closer I might actually have to care.

So here I am, throwing off the temptation of apathy and taking the first step. Will you walk with me?

February 19, 2009 at 5:34 am 15 comments

Peace Like a River Winners!

We have our winners for the Peace Like a River giveaway! They are: JoannaRachel, and Katherine!

I know I told you in my email that I’d get the books right out to you. Well that was before I woke up and it was -20F and with wind chill -34F! I love all my readers, but I’m not crazy. You’re gonna have to wait until tomorrow, when we’re expected to get out of the negatives. Such is life for a Minnesotan in winter!

It was so cold this morning that Orison’s preschool was cancelled. Thus all my bright ideas for productivity this morning were promptly derailed. Ah well, I like having him around.

January 15, 2009 at 2:52 pm 10 comments

Subscribers, win my favorite read of 2008!

I have three copies of Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River that I want to give away to three of you!

Here’s how to win

1. Subscribe by email or RSS. (If you don’t know what RSS is, my husband can show you. It’s really easy.)
2. Contact me to let me know you’re a subscriber.
3. I’ll draw a winner on Wednesday, January 14th.

Bonus Entries!

If you refer a person to this blog and they subscribe, let me know. I’ll enter your name again each time you do it! (I’ll just be trusting you, so play fair. 🙂 )

January 10, 2009 at 10:58 am 61 comments

Book Club

Tonight is the first meeting of my very first book club. I mean, it’s not mine, in that I didn’t start it, but it’s mine in that I’ve read the book and I’m planning to attend and discuss.

I’ve always been a little intimidated by people who talk about their book club. I’ve always pictured them as people much smarter than me gathering in a wood-paneled library-ish room, maybe dressed in tweed, with herringbone socks and wire-rimmed spectacles. They would throw around words like verisimilitude and polysyndeton and everyone would nod their heads thoughtfully and pretend to understand.

By the way, I don’t know those words. I Googled “literary terms” and found the two words that were the most obscure to me. For me, reading is more of a gut-level activity. I either like something or I don’t. Something I read either draws me in or it doesn’t. I’m not a very analytical reader. So perhaps this club will be good for me, teaching me how to read differently.

I’m pretty sure my first book club meeting will not be like I’d pictured, because I already know some of the people in the club, and from what I know of them, they’re not going to be wearing tweed. They might know more about literature than me, and that’s cool. I’m looking forward to hearing other peoples’ ideas and listening to what struck them about the book.

Most of all, I’m excited for a night out of the house.

What good novels have you read recently? And if you can’t think of one, it might be time to curl up with a good story.

November 18, 2008 at 12:21 pm 51 comments

5 books that have made me laugh out loud

Awhile ago, my husband posted on “5 books that have made me laugh out loud.” Here’s my attempt:

Anything Can Happen by George Papashvily and Helen Waite Papashvily
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot
Cheaper By the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The fact that I had to really wrack my brain (and use two books by the same author) to get to five books that made me laugh out loud is sad. Clearly I need some recommendations for a funny book. A good funny book can be a great diversion.

July 7, 2008 at 4:32 pm 52 comments

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