A Few of My Favorite Things {November 2017}

I had a lovely Thanksgiving Day with my family (including some Joma pumpkin pie), a Thanksgiving evening with dear friends, as well as a separate Thanksgiving celebration with our team. We are now fully into the season of listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies. I’m also busy getting ready for my sister’s wedding, so this month’s roundup will be relatively short, and I’ll meet you again at the end of next month. ~Elizabeth


The Sword Bearer by John White. I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a faith-based action/fantasy book that some have compared to Narnia. Like all alternate worlds (I’m thinking Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga here), it takes a while to “get into” the world and get used to the rules of the world. (In fact I think the only reason Narnia and Middle Earth don’t seem strange to us is their familiarity, because they are definitely strange.) I plan to read the rest of the series. Eventually.

Death by Black Hole by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I returned to this book and am actually making progress on it. It’s a collection of lightly edited magazine articles from over the years. I stopped reading it last year because the material is so dense. I wanted to understand simply everything before moving to the next chapter. But I’m reading it differently this time around. I’m looking for the bits I do understand or that spark my imagination and reflecting on those. Or I note the bits I don’t understand but find particularly intriguing and look them up later. What’s also really fun is talking about the new ideas with my oldest son, who loves astronomy right along with me. A caveat about Tyson – he’s not a believer and is quite skeptical of faith and religion. So while he’s extremely knowledgeable about astrophysics, a discerning Christian reader has to know the limits of listening to him.

I also just finished John Clayton’s The Source and am starting Hugh Ross’s Navigating Genesis. I love John Clayton’s “Does God Exist” ministry. I grew up listening to his videos, have attended several of his seminars, and have shared their links before. While this most recent edition of the book was good, it wasn’t quite meaty enough in the science or theology departments for me. Perhaps that’s because I’m so familiar with his material, having heard him several times already. So I felt I needed more. I do think Ross’s book delves deeply into both science and theology and I am looking forward to finishing it. (I try to balance my reading of non-believing scientists with believing scientists.)

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (free on Kindle!). I’ve wanted to read this book for a while and decided to just take the plunge. I am currently less than a fifth of the way through (it’s a long one). The language is not too terribly difficult, and the story is immediately engaging. (But what else could one expect from a writer of classics??)

Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins. A delightful read-aloud from our Sonlight curriculum. Subtly feminist and definitely pro-family.



Why I’m Basically Fergie by Katie Kleinjung. All about a massage gone wrong. If you’re like me, you just might be rolling on the floor laughing with this one.



We’ve been watching Studio C lately. As I’ve mentioned before, Studio C is a comedy group who’s squeaky clean, so the kids are completely safe watching it. Not all of them strike me as funny, but some of them are hilarious. Three of my personal favorites are: Channel SurfingInternational Relations, and Republicans vs Democrats.

The Song. I watched this movie again for the third time. It’s so refreshing to see a Christian movie both artistically done and also unafraid of the grittier aspects of our lives. The storyline is based on the life of Solomon.

Mother’s Morning Basket with Jennifer Mackintosh and Pam Barnhill and related blog post. I was inspired to keep my Schole books in a (Sonlight) canvas bag so they’re always handy around the house.

The Use and Misuse of Charlotte Mason’s First Principle with Brandy Vencel. Short but meaty, like all Brandy’s Aftercasts. (As a side note, Charlotte Mason’s 6th volume on education, A Philosophy of Education, is excellent.)

A Conversation with Katherine Paterson at Read Aloud Revival. Only 30 minutes and definitely worth your time.

Parable of the Polygons by Vi Hart and Nicky Case. An interactive module on diversity, segregation, and choice. See also Vi Hart’s YouTube channel for many hours of mathematical fun.

The Stable Marriage Problem (and many others on the Numberphiles Youtube Channel).

Securing Food for Millions in Cambodia — a 13-minute featurette on the importance of the Tonle Sap Lake here in Cambodia.



“O Worship the King” by Robert Grant. This song just came to me one night as I was fixing dinner, and it was exactly what I needed to hear and what I needed to sing. I belted it out for the rest of the night, most especially the third verse which is my favorite:

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
in Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail.
Thy mercies, how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!

You’ll Find Your Way by Andrew Peterson. For children and parents. How does Peterson do it over and over again, sing both what we most need to hear and what we most want to say?

We Are Hungry written by Brad Kilman and performed by Jesus Culture. This song played on my ancient little iPod Shuffle while I was on my way to oral surgery, and I sang it to myself the entire time. It got me through the procedure.



I heard a message from Renay West on healing. Two things stood out to me: 1) Healing is a process and 2) Healing is something we must pursue. I don’t think either of these two points was brand new to me. I think I knew them on some level of my soul. But I needed to remember these truths. Too often I am impatient for healing (whether spiritual or physical). I don’t want to wait. I forget healing is a process. And I need to remember that I must pursue healing. It’s an active waiting. I’m thinking here of both my physical body and my mind/soul. I need to pursue healing by taking care of both as best as I can and trusting God to take care of the rest.

This passage from Kathleen Norris’s The Cloister Walk on apocalypse caught my attention, after having spent some time last month reading Alyssa Wilkinson’s How to Survive the Apocalypse:

“We often use the word ‘apocalypse’ to mean catastrophic destruction, and cosmic upheaval is evoked in Daniel and the book of Revelation, and several gospel passages, in images of earthquake, fire, and plague, of the sun and moon darkening, the sea turning to blood, and stars falling from the sky. But destruction is no what the word ‘apocalypse’ means, and it is certainly not the heart of its message, which is hope for persecuted or oppressed communities in crisis, hope for those on the losing end. . . . It asserts that the evils of this world are not incurable, that injustice does not have the last word.

Apocalypse as a form of prophecy not only reveals the fault lines of the status quo, it takes our true measure with regard to it: the discomfort we feel when the boundaries shift is the measure of our allegiance to the way things are.”

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