Apologia has quickly become one of my favorite publishers of homeschool curriculum. I have a deep respect for what they believe and what they publish. I've shared several of their books with you throughout the past few years -- curriculum studies, apologetics texts, encouragers -- and I stand behind the quality of what they produce. The latest book that we've been reading at Long Leaf Academy comes straight from the heart of Apologia as well.
Published by Apologia WholeHeart as a challenge to young women to reach higher and go deeper in their relationship with JESUS CHRIST, Journeys of Faithfulness is a devotional book recommended for girls ages 12 and older. A 232-page softcover book written by Sarah Clarkson, Journeys of Faithfulness leads you to creatively explore the spiritual journeys of five women from the Bible -- found in both Old and New Testaments. The five women included are sisters Mary and Martha, Mary (the mother of JESUS), Esther and Ruth. Divided into four parts of three chapters each, Journeys of Faithfulness encourages women of all ages to spend time looking at how GOD can reach into the life of an ordinary girl and through her love and obedience, bring HIS beauty and grace to this world. (Italics excerpted from the back cover of the book.)
Written in a conversational tone, Clarkson brings each of the women's stories to life through a "behind-the-scenes" look at what the Biblical heroine might have been thinking as she went about her daily life. Immediately following each "might have been" account, there is a personal devotion, a Bible study consisting of selected Scripture to look up and then answer questions about, and a Journey Journal. Space is left on the Bible Study pages so that the questions can be answered directly on the page and the Journey Journal section features lined pages for you to write about your own spiritual journey and see the hand of GOD at work in your life as you read along.
Author Sarah Clarkson uses a fictionalized account of each of the five women featured -- a story that portrays the thought processes of each as she sees it. I look at these stories as a way for the intended audience (young women) to understand how the Bible is relevant to them. Although I certainly realize that the Bible needs no help in being relevant to each of us, I do understand that we each have different learning styles and interests. Because my three girls have such different personalities, I was keenly interested in seeing what they individually thought of this book. After reading through it by myself, though, I decided to wait awhile before introducing it to the Princess. She is only 11 so not in the recommended age range and I realized that she was not quite ready for some of the themes presented in the reading.
My 16-year-old had absolutely no problem reading Journeys of Faithfulness. She enjoyed the insight into the possible back-stories of Mary and Martha, Mary, Ruth and Esther. The stories of their lives did not bother her and she says she had greater empathy and understanding for them after reading them. She understood this to be one person's viewpoint on what might have happened. My 18-year-old, on the other hand, was bothered by what she felt were additions to GOD's WORD. She is a purist and says that we simply do not know how each woman felt and therefore it felt wrong to her to assume one way or another.
As I read Journeys of Faithfulness, I appreciate the stories for what they are -- stories to help us maybe understand things a little differently or perhaps a little bit better. I think of them like this: When I became pregnant with my first child, I looked at the Biblical account of JESUS' birth with completely different eyes. Although the Bible doesn't tell us much about Mary's pregnancy and delivery, I couldn't help but think about her as she traveled to Bethlehem with Joseph. I was so very sick during all of my pregnancies. Travel was nearly impossible at times. I felt such empathy for Mary as she prepared for the birth of the baby she knew had been sent to SAVE the world. I marveled at her compassion as she settled in to deliver in a stable -- a stinky, smelly stable. I wondered what she thought and what went through her mind as she prayed and readied for the arrival of the KING. I could imagine that she was a bit frightened at the unknown and anxious to see the beautiful features of her baby. I am sure she counted JESUS' toes and fingers.
The devotional readings that accompany each chapter are solid and the Bible study portions are taken directly from Scripture. The questions to be answered are challenging and thought-provoking. For example, when reading and studying the chapters on Esther, girls are directed to read Colossians 4:6 which says
Let your conversation [speech] be gracious and attractive [seasoned with salt] so that you will have the right response for everyone.and answer the following questions: What do you think it means to "season" your speech? How can you prepare yourself to bring grace to everyone who hears? Ah, that we will all learn to bring grace. What a world this would be -- fitting and proper.
You can look over the Table of Contents and read Chapter 1 about Mary and Martha and determine if Journeys of Faithfulness will be a good fit for your family. You can purchase your very own copy to study along with your daughter(s) for only $13.00 on the Apologia website. I recommend at the very least that you make yourself available for any questions that might arise. Moms and daughters studying Scripture and dialoging about their own journeys of faithfulness make a great team. Keep the doors of communication open and the love of the FATHER before you.
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