BSF Start Dates 2016 for the Study of John

Hey all!

Oh, how I’ve missed you all!  I hope your summer has been a time of rejuvenation, rest, growth, and blessings!

I’m SO ready to dive back into the Word on a consistent basis and study John and his testimony of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Next week, I will post an overview of what we can expect from our study.

Please post your start dates below and location if you don’t mind.  I’ve been getting lots of questions on when we’ll begin and it’ll help others know when as well especially those who haven’t yet signed up yet and are curious.  I haven’t yet been contacted by my leader so I’m unsure of mine.

For those of you searching for a class to join, click HERE for the search link.

Thanks in advance and I look forward to our study!

Many blessings and hugs!

I, Juan de Pareja

I, Juan de Pareja

I, Juan de Pareja

I, Juan de Pareja is the 1966 Newbery Winner for Children’s Literature by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino.  Told from the perspective of Juan de Pareja, a slave to the famous painter Velazquez, we see life in the seventeenth century for a slave.  When Juan’s mistress dies, he is transferred to Velazquez as a young boy.  He is always treated kindly, but he is still not free to do as he likes.  Yet, Juan accepts this, knowing he cannot change his lot in life and that God has a purpose for his life here on earth.

Juan secretly teaches himself to paint for it is against the law for a slave to participate in the arts in Spain at the time.  He faithfully cares for Velazquez and his family and mourns when Velazquez’s daughter dies at a young age due to illness.  He travels with his master all over Italy with his master and faithfully nurses Velazquez when he is ill.

In this book we see Juan make the most of his life.  He is faithful.  He is loyal.  He is a good friend to those whom he serves and meets.  He is always cheerful.  He follows his passions.  He is rewarded in the end when Velazquez grants him his freedom and a wife.

Great novel for portraying the 1600’s and life at court.  However, Juan is treated kindly.  For most slaves, their lives were dismal and miserable and they were treated cruelly.  Most did not have noble masters and most struggled every day doing back-breaking work and struggling to find enough food.  Thus, this is a great depiction of a noble’s life and how some slaves were treated.

Juan de Pareja ended up creating works of notable art himself, some of which hang in museums today.  He is the exception of the day for a black slave, but an important one.  Kids will learn the value of staying true to themselves and to God and the value of hard work despite your circumstances.  It’s the age-old story we so value here in America:  work hard and you can do anything.

One more great thing about this book:  it will make you want to know who exactly was Diego Velazquez and what did he paint?  He was the official painter to King Philip the IV and painted many of the royal family’s portraits.  His portraits are considered masterpieces for his ability to capture the sitter’s expressions and personality.  Personally, I had known who he was and some of his famous paintings, but I didn’t know much about him and his family or Philip the IV.  Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, descendants include some of the current royal family of the Netherlands and Spain through his only surviving daughter.

Great historical book.  Great conversation starter and great book to dig deeper about the time period and the characters in the book.  Great insight into painting the in the seventeenth century.  Well-written and true to a slave’s perspective.  All around great book.




Holes by Louis Sachar is a Newbery Winner for 1999–and for good reason.  Stanley Yelnats (Stanley spelled backwards) is fighting a family curse-one that’s been around since his great-great-grandfather.  He’s in the wrong place at the wrong time his entire life–including when he’s accused of stealing shoes and sent to Camp Green Lake (which is anything but green).

At Camp Green Lake, he’s forced to dig a hole every day five feet deep and five feet wide.  When he’s done digging his hole, he’s done with his work for the day.  It’s hot.  There’s no water but what they are given.  He gets a four minute cold shower and food out of cans.

The boys are told if they find anything interesting to report it and then they don’t have to dig their hole.  Stanley finds a fossil (not interesting).  Then he finds a gold casing with the initials KB on it.  This proves interesting.  They boys are forced to dig around the place they found this for days.  Stanley determines they must be digging for something.  But what?

Camp Green Lake didn’t always be dry.  100 years ago it used to be a lake.  Kate Barlow used to be a school teacher at Camp Green Lake.  She falls in love with an onion picker named Sam.  Their relationship is a scandal because Sam is black.  Sam ends up murdered and Kate ends up taking revenge as a thief.  Legend has it she stole money and buried it.  Here.

Stanley ends up finding the buried treasure (which incidentally belonged to his great-great grandfather) and ends up helping his family and his friends at Camp Green Lake.  Oh, and that curse?  Broken!  This story is full of so many twists and turns that my summary is just the surface.  It’s an excellent and quick read that the kids will enjoy.  Sachar is a master of pace and every chapter just has you wanting to read more.

I’ve always wanted to read this book since it’s so famous and it’s fabulous.  You won’t regret your time spent.  Charming characters.  Great twists.  All around good fun.  Funny too!

Heart of a Samurai

Heart of a Samurai

Heart of a Samurai

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus is a novel based on a true story of a 14 year old boy who was shipwrecked on a deserted island in 1841.  After surviving off of the local birds and fish, the boys are rescued by a passing ship.  The problem:  it’s an American ship full of barbarians!  Manjiro fears for his life, but slowly he realizes the Americans are just like him and they are there to help them.  He learns all about sailing and whaling.

After almost 2 years, the ship docks in Hawaii.  His companions disembark here but Manjiro, who is a good friend of the captain’s, decides to travel on to America.  Here, he sees things non-existent in isolationist Japan:  a train, a carriage, kissing in public, free speech, non-existent social classes, a telegraph, a steam engine, and an elected President.  He learns he can be more than just “a simple fisherman”.  He can be whatever he sets his heart to.

After ten years away from home, Manjiro wants to return to Japan.  Knowing he may be killed as Japan’s policy is to kill all those who have left Japan, he picks up 2 of his companions in Hawaii and heads home.  The government holds him for almost a year and a half.  Finally, he is released and returns home.  His village has not changed and his family has grown up.  However, he is summoned by the shogun (the ruler of Japan) back to Edo (Tokyo) to teach others English.  Manjiro ends up translating for Commodore Perry in 1853 on his historic voyage which opens Japan to the outside world for the first time.  He lives a long life, fulfilling his dream of changing the world by helping Japan to change.

On one occasion, Manjiro ends up in San Francisco looking for gold to finance his trip back to Japan.  When he finds gold, he thinks, “So this is what dreams look like.”  I loved this line because for all of us our dreams are usually small lumps of nothingness that we turn into great heaps of something.

Great book.  Historically accurate to the time period and to the real Manjiro.  Goes somewhat in depth into whaling and how even in this time period, whales are becoming scarce due to overhunting.  Manjiro even calls the Americans “barbaric” for killing whales.  Great historical notes at the end.  Inspirational as Manjiro follows a dream to fruition and makes a difference in his world.  Great underdog tale.  Show the prejudices of the day as well.  Shows the difficulties we all must overcome in this world.  Highly recommended.

The War that Saved my Life

The War that Saved my Life

The War that Saved my Life

“Mommy, I don’t want this book to end!” my daughter said.

The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is a beautiful story of overcoming adversity and finding love set in World War II.  Ten-year-old Ada Smith was born with a clubfoot.  And her mother hates her for it.  She locks her up in their flat, refusing her to ever leave.  She crawls around and enduring humiliating treatments such as being locked in a cabinet and being physically abused.  She stays to take care of her six-year-old brother.

One day Ada decides to teach herself to walk–and she does.  Slowly over time.  Then the war starts and children are ordered to leave the city of London to avoid the bombs from Germany.  Jamie, Ada’s brother, will go, but Ada is told she can’t leave.  But she does anyways.  She sneaks out with Jamie and takes the train to the country.

There, they are the last evacuees to find a home.  And it’s with a woman named Susan Smith who is depressed over losing her best friend and has never had children.  Susan learns quickly, however.  She takes both children to the doctor.  Feeds them three solid meals a day.  Has Ada’s foot looked at and offers surgery if her mother agrees.  She clothes them, bathes them, and provides for them.  And slowly, over time, both Ada and Jamie, learn to love Susan.

Both children grow and learn.  Ada learns she’s not dumb.  She learns to read and write and ride a horse named Butter.  She helps with wounded soldiers and even catches a German spy!  Jamie befriends a cat he names Bovril.  Both children thrive.  Until one day, Ada’s mother shows up.

Ada and Jamie are taken to London but not for long.  Ada, stronger than before, stands up to her mother and gets her to admit she never wanted them and the only reason she came for them was for the money.  The next day London is bombed.  Susan finds the children in London whom she came to reclaim and they return to their home in Kent.  Only their home is no longer standing.  It was bombed.  And in the end Susan saved Ada and they saved her.

Amazingly awesome story.  I can’t recommend this book enough.  It shows the ignorance of disabilities and the treatment disabled people endured long ago.  It shows the determination of one little girl determined to have a life.  It shows the love and compassion of a stranger who opens her heart despite the fact her heart is still bleeding.  It shows the love of siblings and what one will do for family.  A heart-warming story of overcoming adversity despite the toughest odds.  And doing so at an incredibly young age.  A 2016 Newbery Honor Book.  And for good reason.

Summer Prayer Requests

Hey all!

It’s that time of year again.  Finishing up Revelation.  Preparing for John.  Figuring out summer ways to stay in the Word.

Please leave a comment or email me at for prayer requests and/or praises. I’d love to pray for you over the summer.

Mine: Still pray for my husband’s job as he finds out at the end of this month is he has a job or not.  I have been picking up shifts at work so continue to pray that continues and if God wants me to have a full time job that He would open up what He wants me to do.

God bless and have a fantastic and restful summer break!

YOUR Final Thoughts on BSF’s Study of Revelation

Hey all!

It’s been suggested to me to gather thoughts, ideas, comments, concerns, questions, etc on BSF’s Study of Revelation.  I’ve posted some specific questions on the Side Bar if you are interested in participating in those.  Also, I did a survey in November and asked what you all thought so far.  Those results are HERE if interested.

Please post in the comment section.  Any thing goes as long as it’s in a Godly-way.  Some suggestions have been:  what did you like most about the study; what did you like the least about the study; what changes would you make for the next go around; how would you rate the questions, the discussion, the leaders, your group; did you grow with God because of this study; was it worth your time and effort, etc.

Love to all!