#IAmYourVoice

#IAMYOURVOICE - Learn how you can make a difference for people persecuted by ISIS.

Blogging is in many ways a privilege. It is a privilege to have people who read my words. It is a privilege that I live in a country where I can freely write. I count it a blessing to write posts that equip and encourage in the areas of homeschooling, homemaking, and faith.

Today, I would like to share with you (equip you with) a way that you can make a very real difference in the world.

The #IAmYourVoice Campaign

Let your mouth be open for those who have no voice, in the cause of those who are ready for death.

As Isis is taking over parts of Iraq and Syria, our Christian brothers and sisters are fleeing their homes to survive. Taking only what their arms carry, often just their children—they are facing even more hardships on the road. The lives they knew before have been destroyed.

ISIS is kidnapping women, killing husbands and horrifically beheading children. The Iraqi and Syrian Christians are so busy running, they have lost their voice to cry for help. Their day is survival.

Living to sundown without anyone dying is their daily goal.

They have been made voiceless. But now we will be their voice.

We will cry out for the children who fear they will be the next victim.

We will call out for the women who fear enslavement by this enemy.

We will speak for the men who cannot protect their wives and children.

I Am Their Voice.

We will let them know that we hear their silent screams. And we are praying and will send help. We will carry your testimonies here so people know what is happening to you.

We will not allow America, or the rest of the world, to ignore you. Alone, we are nothing, but through the blood of Jesus Christ, we are family and we will speak for you. I am your voice.

We need your support to love our persecuted brothers and sisters. Please visit Iamyourvoice.org to find out how you can help.

Let them know you will be their voice. Let them know they are not alone. You no longer have to feel powerless living a world away. Food for the Hungry is already on the ground, serving the
persecuted refugees fleeing the fighting right now. These refugees fleeing the fighting have left everything behind.

Your support will not only provide their physical needs but also will tell them they are not forgotten. You will be telling jthem we hear their cries and that you will speak for them. Together, we are their
voice.

Stand with the I Am Your Voice campaign and tell the persecuted Christians of Iraqi and Syria “I am your voice.”

What a Panic Attack Feels Like

What does a panic attack feel like? One perspective at vicki-arnold.com

You can probably guess that this isn’t a typical post around here. I started having panic attacks in October 2013 and it’s been a long journey to sort things out ever since.

One of the things that I kept looking for in the beginning was someone else’s story. I desperately needed to know I wasn’t alone, but I couldn’t find anything. At that time, I knew I would write about this someday, but it has taken almost a full year for me to be able to do that.

This post wasn’t easy to write by any stretch of the imagination. Reliving one of the worst nights of your life never can be. However, I know that God has purpose for this. For whatever reason, He has allowed these to touch my life. On this side of things, I have some ideas of why, but that is not for today nor do I pretend to have it all figured out.

Today is for sharing what it is like to have a panic attack. To help that “random” person searching on the internet for “what a panic attack feels like” to know they aren’t going crazy, because I was there not terribly long ago.

To help those who think they know how to fix people having panic attacks, but have been fortunate enough to never have experienced one, to have a glimpse of what it is actually like to go through one of these.

As a final disclaimer, I am not saying this is exactly how EVERY panic attack feels like. I can’t know that. I am simply telling you what my first regular attack felt like. So here goes nothing…and everything.

What a Panic Attack Feels Like

My eyes are closed and I am starting to drift off to sleep. Suddenly, I feel a rush of energy and my eyes literally pop open. I am suddenly frantic as adrenaline surges.

My heart starts to pound and my breathing is picking up speed, as if I’ve just ran a mile. I head to the bathroom, where I can turn on a light, the darkness is palpable.

I can’t quite figure out what I’m doing. My hands are shaking and my feet are cold. I can’t stop moving, even little movements help.

I remember that this happened once before and try to tell myself that I’m being irrational. If I can just calm myself down, I can get through this.

It’s not working.

I grab my Bible because I know the Word of God is alive and powerful. I take my waterproof copy to the shower because water has always been soothing to me. I am in the shower for less than two minutes because I can’t sit or stand still.

I feel like I should cry, but can’t. I am pacing and shaking.

I open to the book of Psalms and start reading. I want to read out loud, but my mouth doesn’t feel capable of moving at this point. I keep reading. My heart still pounds and now there is a feeling of being strangled creeping up from my chest to the base of my neck.

“Jesus, help me.” is all I can manage to mutter as I start to feel as though I am surely dying. My stomach starts to turn in knots. I’m now doubled over, but this doesn’t help my breathing so I straighten.

I can’t make my eyes focus on the words anymore so I set it down and begin to sing Revelation Song in my head.

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, Holy, Holy is He.”

Every part of my being is crying out to him. And then it starts. The whispered what ifs, they start small and I can handle them.

“What if you wake your husband up? He has to get up early…”

It’s ok, he’s sleeping soundly.

“What if this is a heart attack?”

No, I tell myself. No. But, wait. Why are my arms numb? No! We’ve been here before. This is a product of my struggling adrenal glands and the resulting hormonal mess that is my body right now.

“Did you check on the baby? What if he isn’t just sleeping soundly?”

No. He is sleeping soundly. Safely. He is fine, I will not wake him because I am a mess.

They start coming faster and more furious. I rebuke them just as quick, but the fear persists. I rebuke. I cast out. I cut off. All in Jesus name, the name above all names. I believe with all I have. I know this is nothing bigger than He. The funny thing about panic is that it is anything but rational.

Then, quietly, the next wave starts.

“Ah, ye of little faith…faith the size of a mustard seed moves mountains. Just how small is your faith?”

And this attack leaves me scrambling because I don’t know how to answer. Because the truth is, the truth I know with all my heart is that I am nothing without Him. I am weak, it is only through Christ that I have any semblance of strength. It has never been more clear to me than at this moment. I control nothing.

And right now, I’m exhausted. I’ve not cried any tears, but I feel as though I’ve spent hours doing just that. My eyes want to close, but the moment my eyelids drop, my body goes into fight-or-flight mode. I bring my Bible back out and focus on Psalm 3.

“But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.”

My racing heart is slowing and my breathing is steadying.

“Bless the Lord, oh my soul. Worship His holy name.”

I am able to stop pacing, but my body is humming with energy. Step by step, I work my way to bed. I try sitting. I try laying down, but my heart and mind start to race. I get back up.

Finally, I am able to lay back in a semi-upright position, with my Bible open on my chest and allow my eyes to close off and on.

The last time I see the clock before drifting into a fitful sleep, it is a full three hours after I first got up.

“Lord, I need You. Oh, I need You. Every hour I need You. My one defense, my righteousness. Oh, God, how I need You!”

This song was what finally brought the tears…three days later.

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Newbery Medal Winner Books – Printable Checklist

Newbery Medal Winner Books - a Printable Checklist at Vicki-Arnold.com

Over on The Library Adventure, two of our writers have put together their list of favorite Newbery Medal Winner books. As I was editing them, I made notes to check out certain books. Then I realized that my kids are coming into the right age/stage/ability to read these. So I decided to put together a checklist of all the Newbery Medal Winner books to print off for each of my kids.

A little background before I continue…

About the Newbery Medal

The Newbery Medal is awarded by the American Library Association each year to the book deemed “most distinguished” among children’s books. It is named after 18th century bookseller, John Newbery. The purpose of the medal is to encourage original creative works for children.

It was the first children’s book award in the world. The American Library Association also typically names Newbery Medal Honor Books, which are considered to be noteworthy also. Previously called “runner-ups,” the name was changed in 1971.

The Newbery Medal has been awarded annually since 1922.

My Favorite Newbery Medal Winners

As I put the list together, I was surprised by how many I remembered reading. I don’t know why, seeing as I had some great English teachers through the years, but I digress. I decided to give give you my top 5 favorites, in case you want an idea of where to begin.

  • Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink – I read this aloud to my kids. We enjoyed it almost as much as The Little House on the Prairie series.
  • The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois – I think I was in 7th grade when I read this for language arts. I remember it being one of my favorite reads that year.
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler by E.L. Konigsburg – Hands-down, my favorite book on the list. I devoured this one in 6th grade. Living in a museum (or library) was a part of my dreams regularly at the time.
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry – This book touched my young heart. I re-read it several times before leaving 5th grade.
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry – Probably the first dystopian novel I read. I am still fond of that genre to this day. I am also reeling from the fact that this wasn’t a stand-alone book, there are three other books that I now need to read.

My runners-up would include Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli and Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan.

The Books on Our Immediate To Read List

You know I’m a fan of to read lists. Here are the three on my list to read to my kids as read alouds in the near future:

I’m also going to see if I can get my hands on some of the older books and see about adding those in.

About the Printable

This printable is nice and simple. I have organized it into two columns per page, for a total of three pages. The books are listed from the earliest (1922) to the most recent (2014). There is a check box next to each title so you can check it off as you read it.

Download your copy today!

Our 2014-2015 Homeschool Curriculum

Our 2014-2015 Homeschool Curriculum Choices - 6th, 5th, 3rd grades and a toddler

This school year we have 6th, 5th, and 3rd graders and a 2 1/2 year old. We have a bit more structure to our school year this year. Before I dive into our curriculum choices, I think it would be beneficial to give you a little insight into the way we homeschool. Sort of a short, crash course in our educational beliefs.

When the kids are younger, we believe in the letting them be kids. We do not use curriculum for every subject. I use a curriculum to teach them to read, we use workbooks for math, and they practice handwriting with workbooks, but that is easily done with free printable worksheets now. Those are the planned subjects up to 3rd grade. We cover history, science, art, and everything else in a more delight directed manner.

What is delight directed? It’s a fancy shmancy way of saying we follow the kids’ interests. We check out lots of books from the library, watch documentaries, and generally explore topics as they come our way. They explore, I answer questions, and introduce them to ways to find answers as I have to search out how to answer their questions.

In 4th and 5th grade, I introduce them to using a planner, and we added some specific group study subjects (history and science). They are responsible for their Bible, math, and handwriting (these are assigned curriculums).

This year our group study subjects are worldview and history. They are individually studying science and I have added some critical thinking skills curriculum. They are also doing a more formal language arts program. Since we are not doing science together, it means they are doing it on their own this year.

Another thing I should note is that we are not overly concerned with our kids performing “on level.” I have seen them be far “behind” in things and after a few months, they will suddenly click and fly through concepts. Our main focus is to create good learning habits and foster a love of learning. To us, that is more important than them learning XYZ by Nth grade.

Basically, through 3rd grade, their formal workload is pretty light as we explore things of interest. We add some structure to 4th grade, upping the ante at 6th grade, with the goal of independent learning for high school and beyond. That’s the plan anyways.

So here are our 2014-2015 homeschool curriculum choices!

Our Group Work Curriculum

I use the Well Planned Day Family Homeschool Planner to keep our homeschool organized. I reviewed it previously.

6th Grade Curriculum Choices

Our sixth grader is using the Well Planned Day student planner this year. I will be sharing more about it in a full review later.

5th Grade Curriculum Choices

Our fifth grader is using the Ultimate Daily Planner for Students this year. I wrote a detailed review that you can check out, but the reason I chose this one for him is the larger lines for writing down assignments. He is not ready for college-ruled lines just yet.

3rd Grade Curriculum Choices

Our third grader is currently mad at me for not getting her her own planner, too.

Toddler Educational Plans

This guy’s work isn’t easy, all the books from the library he wants, lots of building with blocks, and exploring outside with his siblings. It’s tough work, this playing business.

I do have a list of items that I would love to be able to fit in to our year, but these are the ones we are using throughout the year as of now. I have some items to review for you so sign up for email updates so you don’t miss those!

Other Curriculum Options

I LOVE seeing what everyone else is doing in their homeschool. Call me nosy, I’ll answer. ;) The other Indiana Association of Home Educator bloggers have all decided to share our curriculum choices with you. You can find them linked below.

Back 2 School - 2014 Curriculum Choices Blog Hop from IAHE bloggers
Be sure to visit the other IAHE Bloggers:

 

Are you homeschooling in Indiana?  We’d love to connect with you!

IAHE.net Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest

Should I Budget for a Homeschool Convention?

Should I Budget for a Homeschool Convention? - one perspective from Vicki-Arnold.com

Homeschool families around the country are gearing up for the new school year. Some have already started (like our family). Others are taking advantage of the freedom of homeschooling and not starting until after Labor Day. Still others school year round with smaller breaks throughout the year versus a long summer break.

You may be excited to use those new books on your shelf or overwhelmed at the costs you are looking at. Today I would like to encourage you to consider one more piece to your homeschool budget. Homeschool conventions.

Convention season is still months away so it may seem my timing is odd. I assure you, it’s not. Right now you are hopefully excited at the prospects of a brand new year. That’s great, it really is. Unfortunately, excitement tends to wear off after a while. This is where your homeschool convention comes in to play. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s look at why you should budget for a homeschool convention.

Why Should I Budget for a Homeschool Convention?

1. State homeschool conventions fund your state homeschool associations. Your state homeschool associations are your voice in the political world. Your state homeschool association monitors the legislation moving through your state government for anything that may impact homeschoolers. This is a HUGE job.

The wonderful lady who did this for our state organization (Indiana) personally went through 2,000 bills in 1 legislative session. And she wasn’t paid a dime because convention attendance has drastically dropped in the last few years and the organization can no longer afford paid staff.

Your family’s convention registration helps cover costs to keep homeschooling a safe, viable option in your state. Your presence at the convention gives your legislators a visual for the community the state organization represents. In Indiana, our legislators are invited to attend the convention so they can see this first hand. State organization conventions are important.

2. Encouragement, you need it. Homeschool convention speakers are wonderful people. I am happy to know a few. They share their experience and offer bother encouraging words and practical help. Sessions can range from specific subject help, homeschooling stages help (high school!), encouragement for parenting, and tips for homemaking or working from home while homeschooling.

3. The exhibition hall. If you have never been to a homeschool convention, you have really have no idea of how awesome this is. It can be very overwhelming (which could be another reason to choose a smaller convention…), but it is such a blessing to be able to physically look through a curriculum you are considering spending your hard-earned money on.

Check the vendor list of any convention you are considering to see if the companies you are looking for will be there, if they aren’t you can always contact the convention organizers and let them know that you would love to see them there. Most convention organizers are very open to hearing feedback from attendees and potential attendees.

Here’s the big secret that I didn’t know until I attended my first convention, there is so much more than just official curriculum in the exhibit hall! When we attended IAHE‘s convention this spring, our favorite vendor booths were the one full of science stuff (boxed experiments, state specific photo guidebooks, and much, much more), the traveling used book stores with loads of books at great prices, and the one that had so many microscopes in a variety of strengths and prices.

Ok, that and the Apologia booth. I’m a big fan of Apologia’s, but they are traditional curriculum so I left them out of that little list.

You can also find booths selling blank books, sketch books, and  paper. I’ve even seen booths selling kitchen items like wheat grinders, you know, because you aren’t an official homeschooler until you’ve ground your own wheat and made bread. ;) (For the record, I’ve never done that either. Shocking, I know.)

Seriously, Homeschool Conventions Rock

In all seriousness, consider attending a homeschool convention this coming spring. If you only have enough budget for one, choose your state convention if at all possible. If you can afford it, do more.

After your state convention, I recommend Teach Them Diligently. It is a unique conference. The mission of Teach Them Diligently is to equip families to disciple their children for Christ. This means that a lot of their sessions and vendors fall outside of homeschool specifics.

Don’t get me wrong, homeschooling is a focus. It’s just that they focus on growing Christ-centered families first and homeschooling is a natural branch of that. Many of the sessions I saw on the docket last spring would have been relevant to parents with kids in other educational settings, too.

In summary, I strongly encourage you to support your state organization and their convention to help protect your family’s rights in regards to education. If you can afford to, I then encourage you to attend a Teach Them Diligently conference for more encouragement.

Ministries Making a Difference Around the World

Ministries Making a Difference Around the World - Together we really can change the world.

Together we can change the world.

One of the reasons I love my church family is their heart for reaching out to help marginalized people. Our missions board organizes an annual International Fair Trade Expo each year. It was there that I learned about many ministries working to make the world a better place for marginalized people across the globe.

I’ve wanted to create an informational post for a long time to highlight ways that everyday people like you and me can have a global impact. The time has come for me to just do it. I started this list with those I knew about and then took to Facebook to ask my friends. They didn’t let me down.

I’d like to challenge you to read through this list and then turn to prayer to see where God may be leading you to help. Together we really can change the world.

Ministries Making a Difference Around the World

  • Compassion International – Sponsors financially support children from all over the world. Sponsorship is just a small portion of what Compassion does.
  • Samaritan’s Purse – Their most known program is Operation Christmas Child, but they also have ministries to aid in crisis situations, natural disasters, support military veterans, and more.
  • Children’s Hunger Fund – Literally feeding the hungry children around the world. Each $1 you donate provides 20 meals.
  • Restore Haiti – A ministry that provides medical, educational, and nutritional needs in Haiti. You can sponsor children through them as well.
  • Youth With a Mission – Connecting willing workers with projects all over the world.
  • American Leprosy Missions – Curing and caring for people with leprosy. They also recently worked in the Ebola outbreak.
  • Living Hope – Works with at-risk kids to provide emotional, physical, social, and educational needs.
  • Matthew 25 Ministries – Provides humanitarian aid and disaster relief around the world.
  • Word Made Flesh – Works in the poorest of communities, serving children who work in sewers or the streets; women forced into the sex industry; and children soldiers fighting in civil wars.
  • Amani Ya Juu – Means “higher peace” in Swahili. This ministry serves marginalized women in Africa, teaching them to sew and run a business. The fair trade products you can purchase through their website directly helps a woman who has nothing.
  • Wipe Every Tear – Rescues girls and women from the sex trade industry in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
  • RecycloCraftz – This ministry works with widowed, unemployed, and orphaned women to help them create a business to support them and their children in Zambia.
  • Education and More – Educating children and aiming to reduce poverty in Guatemala.
  • Sari Bari – Sari Bari works with women in India’s red-light district. These women have heartbreaking stories that start at very young ages. The ministry teaches them to sew and they make beautiful blankets out of recycled cotton saris.
  • World Gospel Outreach  - Works with the poor in Honduras.
  • Samaritan’s Creations - Beautiful jewelry and accessories created by Thai women whom the ministry has rescued from Bangkok’s red-light district.
  • Mission Lazarus – A ministry that works to provide educational, medical, agricultural, and spiritual help to those in Honduras and Haiti.
  • Medical Ambassadors International – Providing medical help worldwide.
  • Community Livestock Integrated Development Consultancy – Located in Uganda, CLIDE works in the area of community development.
  • Gospel for Asia – Focusing on the 10/40 window, you can sponsor a child or a missionary to help spread Christ’s love and provision.
  • United Methodist Committee on Relief - A wide range of services provided.
  • Insight Resources International, Inc. – Entrepreneurial guidance for people, businesses, and communities around the world.
  • New Missions – Another option for sponsoring a child’s needs in Haiti.

As you can see, you can support these ministries by donating funds or buying items created by the people (largely women) your money will help. Consider doing holiday or birthday shopping with one of these ministries online or finding a local fair trade store.

Picture Smart Bible K-3 Curriculum (a Review)

The Picture Smart Bible for K-3: Old Testament - a review from vicki-arnold.com

About Picture Smart Bible

The Picture Smart Bible comes from Picture This! Ministries, founded by Dan and Juanene Peters. The goal of the ministry is to “get people into the inspired, dynamic, life-changing word of God, so that God’s word can become implanted in His people.” They do this because they believe the Bible is the inspired, only infallible word word of God.

This is a mission I can get behind.

The Picture Smart Bible is the original Bible study curriculum and is a comprehensive overview. The study covers history, doctrine, geography, and more. The study is aimed for students in 4th grade to adults. You can purchase The Picture Smart Bible as a printed text, a digital download, on cd, or a combination of the above.

K-3 Picture Smart Bible: Old Testament

Up until early 2014, there was no option for younger students, but Picture This! recently released the study of the Old Testament in The Picture Smart Bible specifically for grades K-3. It can be purchased as a book or a download. I was provided with a free copy of the download so that I could share a review with you lovely people.

Each book of the Old Testament is covered in an overview of 25 lessons. The book gives you an overview of how the study is designed to flow with a breakdown of each component (and why it is used). There is also a section on teaching tips that covers several areas including preparations and how to use it in a classroom setting. There is a chart for the “Power Symbols” and then you dive into the study.

For each lesson, you are given a master copy of the student’s coloring page and then the lesson itself. Each lesson is laid out and you are walked through each component of the page step-by-step. Lesson supplies and optional crafting materials are spelled out. The key people and object of the lesson is also listed so you can reinforce that throughout the lesson.

There is an “orientation” section that gives you wording to give your student an overview of the lesson as you start. The lesson includes an exact script you can use with lots of Bible references, some are specifically marked to be read, others are supportive that you could use for further study (copywork?). The lesson ends with some review questions and a key Bible verse for memorizing.

After the 25 lessons (some books are combined into one lesson), there is a resource section with printable maps, timelines, and other illustrations. The last section contains all of the student pages.

My Review of Picture Smart Bible: Old Testament

I had never heard of the Picture Smart Bible Curriculum before this review. As I’ve read through the text and used it a little (more on that in a minute), I really like it. The lessons aren’t terribly long and the teacher’s script is very easy to use. I go back and forth on whether I like scripts in curriculum, but sometimes it is just nice to have it laid out for you so you can pick it up and go.

I appreciated in the teaching tips that they break the preparation down into parts: spiritual, physical, emotional, and family time. When we do Bible study with our children, it is easy to forget that this is an eternally important matter and we have an enemy who would love for it to not happen.

One downside was that I was unclear whether I was supposed to draw these out on my own (ha!) or simply lead her through her page step-by-step like the lesson has laid out. I chose the latter (in the future, I’ll likely color along with her). You may find it a fun, creative exercise to draw your own.

Pros

  • Easy to use format. Lessons laid out step-by-step.
  • Hands-on, especially good for kids who like to color.
  • Option of download or printed book. Download saves space.
  • Illustrations are good. They aren’t too “babyish,” but cartoony enough to be fore kids.
  • The tracing format is good for kids who don’t feel they have drawing skills (like me).
  • It all comes back to Jesus!
  • Helps kids connect the books of the Bible as one, verses just a book of books.

Cons

  • Kids who find coloring boring will likely not connect with the coloring page.
  • Download format. I have a love-hate relationship with downloadable books/curriculum. I love how easy it is to store them, but hate how easy it is to forget them.
  • Need a printer. There are not a lot of pages to print, if you only print the student pages and use a tablet or laptop for the directions, there are only 25 pages to print.

My new third grader and I did not get to use this extensively due to some illness and holiday timing issues. However, I have read the curriculum and we will continue using this for her Bible study this coming school year. I think it is a great tool for connecting with your child over the most important book of all time and leading them to the Savior who loves them so much He was willing to die for them.

Giveaway!

Picture This! Ministries has generously offered a download copy of K-3 Picture Smart Bible: Old Testament for a giveaway to you lovely folks. Simply fill out the Giveaway Tools widget below and choose the entries you would like. Giveaway ends July 17, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. EST and is open worldwide.

An Amish Garden (a Review)

An Amish Garden - A 4 novella collection. Looking for some easy summer reading? Read my review to see if it's for you at Vicki-Arnold.com

Summer Reading With Tricia Goyer

A couple months ago, I came across a summer reading initiative for author Tricia Goyer’s work. In exchange for reviews, I would receive some books for free. I chose three books for a few reasons.

One, I was getting serious about including more reading in my days and that fit well with the overall vision of the initiative. Two, I’ve been wanting to read a few of her books as it is and this seemed like a great way to do that. Three, there are three months of summer. Genius, I know.

I’ll be reviewing one book for each month of summer. You can follow along with all the summer reading fun on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #triciagoyersummer. I’m not the only blogger participating so you won’t get overloaded on me.

Want a sneak peek of what I will be reviewing? Check out my summer reading list, all three books are included.

About An Amish Garden

An Amish Garden is a collection of four Amish novellas. They are written by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Tricia Goyer, and Vannetta Chapman. The book is published by Thomas Nelson, runs 416 pages, and includes a reading group guide for each novella.

The novellas included are “Rooted in Love” by Beth Wiseman; “Flowers for Rachel” by Kathleen Fuller; “Seeds of Love” by Tricia Goyer; and “Where Healing Blooms” by Vannetta Chapman. All four revolve around an Amish garden. Shocking surprise, I know.

My Review of An Amish Garden

This was my first Amish novel of any length. I think the only other work from the Amish genre I’ve experienced has been watching The Shunning and being rather annoyed with the sudden ending. Apparently, there’s a sequel, but I digress.

An Amish Garden was a great read. I very much enjoyed the novella format. I am one of those readers that gets sucked into a black hole with a good story. Forsaking everything else, I must finish the story! This is actually why I rarely read fiction. I have too much work to go “forsaking everything else” too often.

I found the novella length to be perfect. The stories read quickly and I didn’t lose too much of my day(s). The stories are easy reads that have just enough mystery of backstory to keep you reading to find out what happened and what is going to happen.

I was going to tell you which one I enjoyed the most, but I don’t know if I could pick. So instead, I’ll tell you what I most enjoyed about each one.

  • Rooted in Love – I could relate to Rosemary’s lack of gardening skills. Shocking for someone who writes gardening posts, yes? It’s something I have to be intentional about, it doesn’t come naturally to me.
  • Flowers for Rachael – I actually loved all the references to flowers and their meanings. The way Rachael and Gideon use the flowers is sweet.
  • Seeds of Love – I’m a big fan of heirloom seeds and I love how they are included here. I love how strongly Sadie wants to preserve her heritage and the touching turn of events at the end.
  • Where Healing Blooms – I love the non-traditional aspect of this one. Emma is an older woman and it was such a heartwarming story. I loved the Naomi and Ruth-like story line of Emma and Mary Ann.

One thing I appreciated about all four of the books is the reminder of how often hurts are caused by miscommunications or misperceptions. It’s a good reminder to not let hurts fester for days, months, or YEARS, but to attempt to reconcile with open communication. It’s something I’ve been reflecting on a lot lately.

Anywho, if you are looking for some fun, quick summer reading, pick up An Amish Garden. I think you will enjoy it! I did.