Monday, October 19, 2009

Historical Fiction Review: Sarah's Wish Delivers!

The best part of homeschooling, personally, has always been reading good books with my kids. They love it too! There’s something about a great story that is the highlight of our day together and also can be the downfall too…at times I just can’t stop reading and other school subjects may suffer just a bit because of it!

So, the chance to read a great story, as part of reviewing for the TOS Crew, was an eager task for us all. Sarah’s Wish, by Jim Baumgardner, is one of those wonderful stories that tend to edge out other schoolwork; it pulls you in and makes you want to keep reading to see what happens next! Sarah’s Wish is the first of three books chronicling Sarah’s life in the dangerous times of North verses South and the Underground Railroad.

Set in the mid 1800’s when the Underground Railroad was in full (but highly secretive) swing, Sarah’s Wish starts off with a bang-- a runaway wagon that leaves Sarah an orphan-- and keeps sweeping the reader quickly along. There’s a certain secret Sarah promises to keep for her mom and a couple of bad dudes that want to uncover that secret: slave catchers. At just 12 years old, Sarah is frightened yet brave as she carries on her mother’s work and eventually has to learn to trust others that are part of the network of people working to help slaves escape too.

More than anything, Sarah wishes and prays for new parents. Through the comfort of her pastor and the help of local characters like “Granny” and “Doc Baum”, Sarah is well loved, protected and taken care of. Finally, she receives word that a family, whom she has never met, wants to adopt her as their own! This is an answer to prayer but met with mixed feelings as she must leave the town that she loves and the work her mother entrusted to her as well. She journeys to meet with the family but finds that her dreams and their reality may not be as compatible as she hoped…

Author Jim Baumgardner is a wonderfully colorful character himself. Hailing from Kansas, Mr. Baumgardner is a living part of history in the Old Cowtown Museum where he tells stories to visitors each day as the “town barber”. His “Sarah” series began as a quest to make great wholesome stories for his grandkids to read. They have become a special treasure that he is sharing with the rest of us as well! I highly encourage you to visit his website where you can order all of Sarah’s books and enjoy good, clean and educational fun for the entire family—books worth passing on in your home library or proudly giving as gifts! In fact, you can have your books autographed by the author, just look for the box to write in the name you wish for him to address it about a personal touch! Sarah’s Wish is just $9.99 on the website, with free shipping. Or, get all three Sarah books for $39.95 (retail would be $47.97) and free shipping too!

One terrific feature is that each book comes with a code from the publisher that allows you to download the audio book for FREE! You can then burn it onto your own CD to listen to in the car or download it onto an MP3 player. Also, if you sign up for Mr. Baumgardner’s email list, you will get a fun and informative newsletter with interesting historical facts about life in Sarah’s time period, herbal remedies (that “Granny” recommends), words of wisdom, contests for the kids and more!

If your family loves to read as much as we do, don’t miss this opportunity to give your kids wholesome and adventurous books that teach history while they entertain. It is a great investment in worthwhile reading!
This just in!!! Mr. Baumgardner is offering a special price for those of you visiting his website thanks to a TOS Crew Blog (yes, this is one!). If you will contact him via his link, and ask for the TOS Crew special order form, he will email it to you and you can save even more! Don't you feel special?!!!

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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.