I love to read. Fiction, non-fiction, children's literature, craft magazines, homemaking books, homeschooling curricula---my desk and nightstand are piled high. What a treat it is then, to read something that not only is thoughtful but beautifully written as well. Today's review is one I recommend for any woman---teens, young adults, singles, married with children. You're in for a treat. Company Information: If you have been following my reviews, you will already know that Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc. is no stranger to this blog. One of my earliest reviews is on their worldview curriculum for grade schoolers, and later on, their worldview and apologetics curriculum for high schoolers. Their tagline is "live, learn and defend the faith". The previous reviews focus on learning and defending our faith; today's review is about living it.
Product Reviewed: Journeys of Faithfulness by Sarah Clarkson (paperback, 232 pages). Included in the book are journaling pages after each chapter for your thoughts. Because we were sharing the book, Janna and I wrote our notes in our personal journals.
Note: Sarah wrote an earlier version of this book in 2002 when she was a teen. This review is on her updated 2012 version. Though it contains the stories of the same four women, from what I can tell, it is entirely rewritten.
Age Range: Girls, age 12 to adult.
Parental Preparation: Depending on how you want to use it, you can either read it aloud with your daughter or in my case, Janna and I would read it separately and discuss it later. If the former, then no preparation is required. If the latter, plan on taking about 30 minutes to read, with an extra 15 minutes minimum to read the Scripture passages, answer the questions and journal.
How We Used It: After Janna and I read the assigned chapter, she and I would first start out by discussing the chapter. Each chapter contains a retelling of a familiar narrative in Scripture, some devotional thoughts from Sarah, and closes with at least 3 passages of Scripture with reflection questions. Rather than merely discussing content, we used the chapter as a springboard to talk about what the Lord impressed on our hearts through each of the sections. This has led to not just regurgitating the content but helping us to apply what Sarah has shared into our own lives.
All told, we spend about 45 minutes or so in our discussion. But it has been a rich dialogue, full of thoughts and challenges for both of us. I did not feel like the "teacher," but rather looked at the material as a fellow sojourner along with my daughter. It has opened up very meaningful conversations that has forced both of us to rethink and re-examine our beliefs, values and assumptions.
What We Liked:
- Familiar Bible stories came alive. It is so easy to read these stories in the Bible and forget that they were real people. This book really helped us to see these women as people just like us.
- Sarah's writing is absolutely beautiful. Take a look at the product page for a sample chapter and see if you don't agree.
- Her insights into each of the women are very thoughtful and mature and reflects a wisdom beyond her years. Her thoughts provided me an excellent opportunity to build into my daughter godly character.
One chapter in particular stood out from Mary, the mother of Jesus. I knew that Janna was having a hard time with some aspects of the adoption. We focused our discussion on this insight from a difficult time in Sarah's own life. She writes on page 98: "I look for beauty. I look for starlight. I have trained myself to seek out and wonder at the goodness of God present even in my dusty days. To seek beauty in the midst of fallenness is to have faith in a reality beyond what I can see. Despite the brokenness of the world around me, my heart still perceives glimmers of what was meant to be, echoes from the shattered beauty of creation." (Isn't that beautiful?) After that, we spent some time sharing and looking for the beauty in this time of our lives. I wrote my own list, and hope to keep adding to it.
- The Scripture passages and questions at the end of the chapter are thought-provoking. They will require more than a yes/no answer, more than simply filling in a blank. They force us to look at our own lives, grow in gratitude, and reflect on God's work in our own story.
- This would be an excellent book for a young women's book study.
What We Didn't Like: Nothing! I personally think it is excellent. However, you may not like it if you:
- Do not like authors adding to Scripture. Sarah has added details and people into the biblical accounts to make the story come alive. If that bothers you, this may not be something you want to read.
- Are looking for an inductive Bible study. This is a book for reflecting and pondering, not studying.
Although the subtitle is "Stories of Life and Faith for Young Christian Women," this book is one that I personally plan to finish and even share with other mothers as a resource with their own daughters. If you desire to encourage your daughter to "cross the bridge" from normal living to what Sarah's mother calls kingdom living, then this is a wonderful start. Sarah Clarkson is a wonderful, gentle, wise mentor to the next generation of young women. You won't be disappointed.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. If you'd like to read more reviews on this product, click the banner below!