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It’s been a long year, with quite a lot of reading, but no posting. This amazing book is what it took to inspire me to write again. I found myself thinking of all the readers I know who would enjoy this book. This true story follows a Czech family from their early beginnings in a free Czechoslovakia, through the tumult of World War II, into the fire of the Communist takeover, and out into the world as they wander in search of a forever home. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys true historical accounts. But far from being a dry recounting of historical facts, Kapra celebrates the importance of peace, family, love, home, courage and freedom.

Abby Johnson was passionate about helping women in crisis, and served as the director of her local Planned Parenthood clinic. Although she worked at Planned Parenthood, Abby truly disliked abortion, and made it her goal to reduce the number of women who needed to receive abortions. Then, Abby witnessed an ultra-sound guided abortion at her own clinic, and instantly knew that things would never be the same for her again.

I could not put this book down. From the opening chapters, I was drawn into Abby’s story. She tells her story honestly, and points out the good and the bad in both the pro-choice and pro-life movements. It was amazing to see how God worked in her life to bring about change for the good, and how God used the faithful prayers of believers to reach out to Abby. It was eye-opening to read about how some in the pro-life movement have been so hurtful to the very women they proclaim to be helping. If you are truly sincere in wanting to end abortion in this country, Abby’s story is one you must read.

We recently watched the HBO mini-series The Pacific. It was a fascinating and horrifying look at the American Marines who served in the Pacific theater during World War II.  One of the featured Marines was a private named E. B. Sledge.  Sledge’s journey from his country home in Alabama to the war-torn islands in the Pacific, and his transformation from boy to Marine were powerful stories.  As we completed the series, we discovered that Sledge had written a book about his service with the Marine Corp.  Eager to find out more about his story, I immediately checked out the book from our library.

Sledge’s book is a straightforward account of his beginnings as a Marine, and of the battles that he fought.  Some of the movements of the troops were confusing to me, as were the references to various Marine regiments and divisions.  I’m sure that readers who know more about the military wouldn’t be confused at all.  But Sledge’s account isn’t just a retelling of troop movements.  Rather, it’s his personal story of the sights, sounds, horrors, defeats and triumphs of war.  It’s graphic at time, but matter-of-fact.  As I ended the book, I was overwhelmed with admiration and respect for the thousands and thousands of troops who have served so faithfully in combat for our country.

Many of the things that Sledge experienced were documented in the mini-series.  If you haven’t yet watched the mini-series, I would highly recommend reading With the Old Breed first.

Soviet Terror

28th April 2011

I read two books recently that shed new light for me on the suffering caused by the Soviets during World War II. The first, Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, is a novel based on the author’s family history. Stalin and the Soviet government used the cover and confusion of World War II to “cleanse” the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, killing outright or deporting millions of people. Lina and her family live in Lithuania in 1941. Because of unknown “crimes,” 15 year old Lina, her younger brother and her mother are sentenced to 25 years of hard labor in Siberia. Only her mother’s sheer determination, her brother’s childlike innocence, and Lina’s love of drawing can sustain the family during their darkest hours.

The second, Hiding in the Spotlight, by Greg Dawson, is a biograhpy of the author’s mother, Zhanna.  Zhanna and her family were Jews living in the Ukraine during the start of World War II. Already suffering under Stalin’s brutal communistic policies, the people’s torment increased as the Germans swept into Russia. Soothed by false promises of kindness from both the Soviets and the Germans, Zhanna’s parents decide not to flee from the swiftly moving German army. Once the Germans reach their town, the Arshanskys soon realize their terrible mistake. Unable to save themselves, Zhanna’s parents manage to save their two daughters. Through the kindness of strangers, and using their amazing musical talents, the girls are able to survive the war in plain sight, by entertaining the Nazis.

An inspirational and practical book for parents who are trying to create a warm learning environment in their homes. No worksheets, no flashcards, just authentic learning experiences.  This book is meant for parents whose children will go on to traditional school, but homeschooling parents will benefit as well.

My two favorite quotes:

Referring to a class of 5 year olds: “I need my kids to talk.  After all, these kids can’t think with their mouths closed.” (p.9)  My son is constantly talking, muttering, and whispering to himself.  But that’s just how 4 year olds think!

“The love of reading and the ability to lose oneself in another world are gifts we give our children when we read aloud to them.” (p. 34)  My parents gave me this gift, and my husband and I are giving it to our kids as well.

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