Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Perfect Summer Author

Character vacation link-up goes until Saturday! Don't forget to check out the fantastic posts that have been added, and be sure to add your list of characters you'd love to vacation with! :)

If you're looking for the best book to get your imagination sparked this summer, Jules Verne is a fantastic guy to pick. He'll get you excited about science--real science--all at the same time you're chasing bad guys around the globe.

I've read quite a few Jules Verne adventures, and here's the short list of why I think he's a fantastic classic author:

Swashbuckling Adventure
You'll never be bored reading a Verne book. Pirates attacking a group of five men. Villains being marooned for years. Secret codes falling into the wrong hands. Sons facing blindness to save their mothers from villainous torture. Heroes being lost in subterranean caverns. He ladles on the joy of cliffhangers in a believable and gripping way. He's a unique brand of adventure novel--one that children would love, and yet one that is very much written so adults can love it too.

Manly Heroes
Jules Verne writes the old-school style of manly hero--the one that doesn't need to be hugely angsty or emotional to connect with readers. His heroes don't cave to cowardice (except maybe Axel, but he learns), they meet all obstacles with a stubborn determination to overcome, and when the moment calls for sacrifice and danger, they come through with flying colors. I think it's good for modern readers to be reminded of this type of character and its potential, especially because Verne clearly differentiates between the different personalities of men and women, which is an important message in our day and age.

Advanced Scientific Discoveries
The coolest thing about Jules Verne is that his characters made discoveries that were new in his time but completely plausible as well. He wrote about characters travelling to the moon in rockets in the 1800s (From the Earth to the Moon), advanced submarines (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea), and advanced weaponry (The Begum's Millions--which I haven't read in ages, so I can't recommend it yet). In my opinion, he's true science fiction, because he's creating logical inventions that help the characters achieve plot goals in a way they could not otherwise. And it turns out he wasn't so crazy in his ideas after all--advanced submarines, weaponry, and space rockets are all tangible realities of today.

Exotic Settings
Perhaps Jules Verne's only flaw is that he tends to wax eloquent over his settings. It can be boring on occasion, but you have to admit it's different than the traditional England and American ones. From India to deserted islands to places in Africa and outer space, he doesn't settle for anything ordinary. While you're there, you'll get the people, the geography, and any interesting tidbits of culture he himself learned about. The Russian setting in Michael Strogoff was particularly challenging with all the names I didn't know how to pronounce, but the burning river scene at the end couldn't have been nearly as effective anywhere else.

His humor is another fun part of each tale. From Passepartout leaving on the gas lamp while he and his master travel the world, to the beloved acrobats Point Pescade and Cape Matifou, Verne sprinkles his chases and explorations with laughter beats that still make our family smile after multiple re-reads. Wherever his characters are the comic relief follows, and I don't know about you, but I love a good comic relief.

If this peaks your interest in Jules Verne, allow me to make some suggestions on where to get started:

Journey to the Center of the Earth--The only book of his I did not like on first reading, it's actually turned into one of my favorites. Cool underground tunnels, a reluctant young scientist turned explorer, and a half-crazed professor intent on success, this journey through underground lakes and lava has entertained me several times. My copy has lost both its front and its back cover now, and in June I informed it sadly that it couldn't come with me on vacation because it was too fragile.

Around the World in 80 Days--This is a family classic. We've listened to Jim Dale's audio book recording on countless road trips, and it's very clean aside from a few instances of swearing (which you'll probably find in all Verne's books, though not often). The emotional Passepartout and phlegmatic Phileas Fogg make an endearing pair; the cultures they encounter are very interesting, and Jules Verne's portrait of boisterous, mercenary Americans is too funny for words.

Mathias Sandorf--The book Jules Verne calls his "Count of Monte Cristo" of his explorers series, it closely mirrors the original Dumas plot line. You'll enjoy exotic settings, Mathias Sandorf's lost family, and epic nighttime graveyard scenes. Plus the aforementioned Cape Matifou and Point Pescade.

If you've been struggling with summer boredom or blah days, try curling up with a Jules Verne book. He'll transport you to a different world in a different time where good guys better the world and bad guys do their level best to thwart them.

It's sure to give your summer some golden days to remember.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Notebook Collection + Kindle Name Poll + Story Pinterest Boards

Today, I thought I'd give you a peek inside my current notebook stack. I've been using these fairly regularly over the past few weeks for stories, studies, and scheduling, and I absolutely love them. They are happy places of work and thought. This post is partly inspired by Elisabeth Grace Foley--because I love looking at people's notebooks.

With huge thanks to sis who helped me take pictures.

The Scheduling notebook 

This book is a dream. I got it at the beginning of the year, going back to my mom's tried and true method of scheduling for our school years. Consistent scheduling has been a lifesaver. At the beginning of the week, I make a list of tasks I need to accomplish that week--the big rocks. Then I make daily to-do lists and check them off--things to do, occasional reminders to pray for people on certain days, etc. Scattered in between are monthly goals, quarterly evaluations, and notes for Bright Lights lessons. 

I got this book because it made me think Cinderella and that made me happy. It's been a haven of order and remembering things, as well as productivity and accomplishing reasonable goals.

The Jimmy notebook 

I started the Jimmy book just this week (The Jimmy book, for those who are wondering, is stolen from L.M. Montgomery's Emily character, who always kept Jimmy books when she was growing up.) In my Jimmy book, I am starting my second 1,000 gifts list, which was something my mom suggested starting up again. I'm also keeping a log of self-care ideas, and specific ways I've been doing self-care. Not only is it exciting to plan throughout the day what I can write down on both those lists, but it's also a little haven of happiness to jot in every night before I go to bed. This notebook was given to me by a very special friend, and it is made from elephant dung and recycled paper.

You read that right.

The Story notebook 

This book came out again after a recent vacation to see friends. The story bug struck again--I started having ideas for a story entitled Daddy and I (you can haunt the Pinterest board here) and making notes accordingly: Snippets of character conversations. How they look and feel. Little gems that make them real in my mind that I can spin into story when I'm ready for the real thing. 

This notebook also has the account of Jaeryn Graham's birth. Such interesting information. 

It is the friend I bring with me to most social gatherings. It makes me feel secure. In case something traumatic happens, or the car breaks down, I will have it with me for comfort. 

(Interested in more story boards? Check out my newest brain child here.)

The Study notebook 
This notebook represents the last few weeks of my life. I've been working through accreditation as a writing instructor in a popular curriculum, and in this notebook I write out the assignments I have to turn in. I eventually caved and went to the computer for longer assignments, but I actually enjoyed writing out paragraphs with pen and paper. There was a deep connection to the process through that means which felt enjoyable at the time.

The Sermon notebook 

Nope, I don't write sermons, but I do take notes on sermons and Bible studies I attend. A couple of years ago I started this tradition, needing some help in my struggles to listen to long auditory talks. A sermon notebook was the perfect answer. It tucks right into a pocket of my Bible case, along with pens, and I can whip it out to write down the pastor's outlines, facts I didn't know, things that comfort or convict: anything I want to remember. 

The Canada notebook 

This is the newest little buddy added to the collection. I don't know what goes in him yet, but the time will come. I am not worried. He looks cozy and casual, and I want him to be a place full of good memories. Stories. Whatever it happens to be. Whenever I get a new notebook, I always keep it around until the right subject matter comes. When the right moment strikes, I know deep in my soul what belongs in it.

And there you have the notebook collection! These all see pretty regular use right now (barring the Canada one, which gets frequent fond looks while it awaits new content) and each notebook is a place of happiness, discipline, and productivity.

What subjects do you like to put in notebooks? How many notebooks are you currently using? 

Kindle Poll:

 I have two names in the running for my Kindle: 

Small (from Winnie the Pooh) so that when I lose it and find it again, I can say "I found Small!"

Or Jeeves (from Wodehouse, of course) because it will be my efficient and ever-respectful right-hand assistant. 

Which name would you pick? :D 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

10 Fictional People I Would Take on Vacation

Confession: I have watched two movies on my new Kindle and read 0 books so far.

Nope. Not ashamed. Haters gonna hate--er, I mean, it felt very relaxing and that was exactly what I needed to do.

Besides, sis and I have had grand fun the last couple of nights reading print books snuggled up together before it's time for bed, and that's just as good as reading on a Kindle.

End of confession.

Before I went on vacation, I thought it would be enjoyable to make a list of characters I would like to take on vacation with me. After all, who wouldn't like a vacation with specifically chosen fictional buddies?

And then I thought, pretty much the War of Loyalties cast. Strictly for Jaeryn's money ("Buy me this and buy yourself a good plot line.") and Terry's spontaneity ("Sure! Let's go try that!").

Oh, wait, I should do something more fair.

Here we go, from real, honest-to-goodness published fiction.

\The Cook /
Susan, from the Anne of Green Gables books. I believe it was cherry pie she used to make, so whenever we were all depressed (like the night before we went home) Susan could make us cherry pie. And she would call everyone dear.

\The Storyteller/ 
Everyone needs a storyteller, especially on vacation. There's nothing quite so delicious as sitting round the fire at night telling old tales. I would go with The Story Girl. She would tell interesting tales, and we would all shiver and glory in them.

\The Musician/ 
Elnora Comstock. Beyond a doubt, so I can hear her violin. Her talent gives me such a craving to pick up a violin and achieve the same prowess myself.

\The Adventurer/ 
Alan Breck, as a nod to my current read of Kidnapped. Because if I were with fictional characters, I would want a spice of risk and danger to my vacation (this city girl can dream, right?) and Alan would certainly provide that. He'd also play the pipes very nicely when Elnora needed a break from violin.

 \The Comedian/ 
Sir Percy. Whenever we were tired, he could say "Sink me!" and we'd all start laughing again. He could also be the underwriter of this whole trip because he's rich enough.

\The Counsellor/ 
Amy Dorritt. Without a doubt. One of the scenes I feel as if I have experienced in literature is when she's sitting outside the locked Marshalsea with Maggie waiting for morning to come. Amy is faithful and uncomplaining, and a very merciful comforter whenever you need a hug. Plus, she deserves a vacation.

\The Defender/ 
Such a hard decision, and so many gallant men in literature that will have to be overlooked. This truly is terrible. We'll have to do a separate soldiers category. But for this first one, I'll go with Perceval from Pendragon's Heir. He would be a good defender, and he would also lend to the general air of good cheer. He could duel with Sir Percy in his spare time.

\The Medical Help/ 
Doctor Chilton. Who seems like the gentlest literary doctor I could possibly want to have along. Or possibly Doctor Watson, who I think would be equally caring and gentlemanly.

\The Mechanic/ 
This is cheating a bit, but I think I would take Gina Winfield from War of Honor. She's the sort of lass who feels quite comfortable with nuts and bolts, if you needed something made or fixed. She'd also make sure everyone was treated fairly, and she'd be a great back-up cook.

\The Pastor/ 
Colin Albright. He's kind. He gives more of himself than he ought to, and he'd be that steady, gentle rock of Christian character that is able to keep a diverse group of people in harmony with one another.

I don't know about you, but this sounds like the most epic vacation in the history of ever. I mean, who generally needs a defender on their vacation? And with this lot of folks, I would definitely want it to last an entire summer.

This sounds like a short story challenge. Or a TV show, like Dickensien.

Who would you take on vacation? Link up below by July 30th and let us see what you would pick!

Friday, July 15, 2016

July Characters Letters

Welcome to this monthly feature on the blog! I've been slowly collecting another installment of character letters, and finally have a third batch ready to go. (Click here and here for older ones.) Thanks to suggestions from lovely readers last time, and a few additions of my own, we have the following installments for your reading pleasure. It's slightly shorter than usual due to intense studies, but I hope nonetheless enjoyable!

To Boromir

Hello Old Chum,
Things aren't working out to great for you lately, I heard. Not really surprised with the dad you've got. Denethor is a prime candidate for reading You Never Stop Being a Parent. If you give it to the eagles, they can get it to him express mail. Also, technology in the form of palantirs is not really his thing. If I were you, I would strongly discourage their use. Technology in the form of magic rings is not really your thing, either. It will not lead to long life and happiness. I suggest you refocus your efforts elsewhere.

Respectfully yours,
Lady B.

To Hitch

My Dear Fellow,
Kissing girls without permission is one in a very long range of decisions that Have Not Worked Out For You. Bootleg liquor looks like it's going to be another one. Please, please don't go through with it. This is the 1920s. Bootleg liquor is illegal, and you could spend your time better by drinking orange phosphate instead, like Lilla suggested. I like you heaps, though, and your new wing walker is very cute.

Fondly Yours,
Lady B.

PS. Can you give me a ride in the Jenny sometime?

To Ben-Hur

Hey Man,
You and I hung out for a long time. Weeks, in fact. I was not the most faithful of companions. On the level of Samwise to Job's friends it was more on the latter scale of things. But I mean, it could have been worse. Just go talk to King Turgon when you get worried and ask him how long it's been since we hung out. He's got a war he needs help with in the most secret spot of Middle Earth, but I gave your Jewish revolt precedence. He did not have Iris to deal with, however. You needed extra reinforcements.

Regretfully Yours,
Lady B.

To Gilbert 

Dear Gilbert,
Most girls probably like nicknames. Sweetie. Precious friend. Girlie. Things like that. I generally have to Google such names for my stories, because I am neither romantic nor creative along those lines. Angel and Cupcake are others I've seen repeated ad infinitum. The former is a theological lie, and the latter is goofy. As bad as they are, however, I have never seen Carrots make the list. Try Googling next time.

Yours Fondly,

To Tintin

Dear Tintin,
You know, football players may be in danger of later troubles from the amount of times they get knocked on the head. So far I think you are in trouble too. You've passed out twice in this book (three times counting the dehydration) and that can't be good for anyone's grey fluff. If I were you, I'd try a helmet and a bullet proof vest. Also, don't hang out with Thompson and Thomson. They generally cause explosions in their wake.

Your Aquaintance,
Lady Bibliophile

Random News 
In other exciting news, I bought a Kindle! While I'll have various internet functions I can use it for, I primarily bought it as an e-reader. So after it arrives today *impatient bounce* I will start getting it set up. Look out for informed opinions on e-readers here on the blog in future!

And now I'm off for more studies. Hope you all have a lovely and bookish weekend!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Bridezilla of Christ, by Ted Kluck & Ronnie Martin

Coming next Tuesday, one book that every Christian should buy.

The Book 

Sometimes, Church Hurts

The Church, the Bride of Christ. That description conjures up images of radiant white bride, eyes sparkling with peace and harmony, right? Maybe that’s why it’s such a gut-punch when that Bride behaves more like a grade school bully or a hot tempered drill sergeant.

What do you do with that reality, a reality that sometime hurts? Ted Kluck and Ronnie Martin aren’t interested in 140 characters of tweetable comfort. They’d rather share their own stories of being both the wounded and the wounder.  Plus they offer practical, yes-you-can-do-this steps to moving forward in those times not if, but when the Church hurts. 

Bride(zilla) of Christ is a verbal I.V. dripping with the mercy found only in Christ. Though you’ve been wronged, or perhaps wronged another, there is cause for great hope. The hurt is not the deepest thing. Grace is deeper still.

My Thoughts
Probably reading that description conjured up times you've been hurt by others...or hurt others yourself. I once heard Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth say, we all take turns being the oppressor and being oppressed. In the complication of being hurt by believers, we can often occupy both positions at once. 

I think this is an important book. I've never read one like it thus far, addressing the issue of Christians hurting Christians. It's a prevalent issue, one that's swept under the rug. It's also one I've been learning about this year--the humility that giving and receiving forgiveness with fellow believers requires. Thus, I think it's a timely book. Whether it's a family member, a fellow church attendee, a friend, or even a leader in the national Church that you feel has let you down, this book gives much insight, challenge, and healing. 

It's not a sugary comfort book. It confronts you with your own sin in the process. If you haven't forgiven someone, it may be because you aren't understanding the Gospel yourself. Christ died for our unity. He suffered the anguish of the wrath of the Father so that we might be one body. We shouldn't cast aside that unity in anger, even with those who have wronged us. 

Forgiveness comes down to our understanding of the Gospel. If we cultivate an entitled spirit, then we're going to have a hard time with the unselfish service that forgiveness requires. We're going to think people owe us apologies and perfect behavior, when as Kluck and Martin say, all we are owed is the wrath of the Father. 

This book delves deep into Gospel, unity, and the darkness of an unforgiving heart. While offering comfort and understanding to the offended and the wounded, neither author leaves you in a shell of hurt. That's not where any Christian is supposed to stay. 

While sometimes Kluck's chapters seem to wander into side points and marginal rabbit trails, the book itself and the issues it addresses are vital ones. Christians are fellow sinners and are going to hurt me sometimes. I am a sinner too, and I am going to hurt them. Only in the cycle of repentance, forgiveness, and clinging to the Gospel can we maintain the unity that most glorifies our Lord. Being a bridezilla this side of the fall shouldn't take us by surprise. But we don't have to be at the mercy of our sin anymore, thanks to the sacrifice of our Savior. 

More info, including first chapter sneak-peek. 

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Life Update + 10 New Books!!

Hey there, fellow bibliophiles! It's so good to be back on the blogging circuit again. Jordan's guest post made for a fantastic start back up, and if you haven't had a chance yet, be sure to take a look at Why Modern Readers Should Care About History

People asked me how I felt after accomplishing a milestone of finishing a book series. I didn't tell anyone until recently that I didn't like the way the first draft turned out. I didn't tell anyone else that I was scared. I've been writing scared for a while, wondering if I've lost that deepest, core touch to stories that make them most fulfilling to write. Originally I was going to start redrafting the story this month, but I decided at the end of June that July was just too soon to start up again. I needed some time to rest.

Over the last week, I've been resting. I didn't write at all. I didn't think about writing. I turned off the alarm clock and walked country fields barefoot, snuggled with puppies and listened to random music with the family. Ate wonderful food and watched favorite movies, colored and verse mapped and got my hair curled. Made cheesecake. Stayed up insanely late, did spontaneous things, and read A Cast of Stones after midnight because I could. Laughed. Cried. Let go.

It's hard for this perfectionist girl to let go. 

As a result of cramming in some wonderful "just living", I feel old things awakening. An older, sweeter kind of inspiration to write that I haven't had for quite some time, due to stresses of life. New characters and ambitions--a fresh sense of rest and wonder. I want to write again. I know my characters again. The next draft of my book doesn't look so scary, and it actually sounds kind of fun. 

I have new heroes. New characters that need healing. New settings to try. New adventures peeping around the corner and teasing me with their possibilities. I'm starting to scribble in margins again, holding myself back from anything serious, but capturing ideas as they come along. 

I'm going to make myself do some more just living (and finishing up IEW certification) before I pick up a story. Though I wouldn't be surprised if I did a few casual words here and there. But it's a relief to know that ideas are joyfully simmering for whenever I'm ready to tackle them. 

In bookish news, I did not make it to the 4th of July book sale this year. It's the first time in several years I haven't put in an appearance and added a bunch of new books to my collection. It was for excellent and happy reasons however, and instead---

instead some friends took me to a new Mennonite thrift store the week prior to the 4th and I ended up with just as many books as I normally do. Isn't God good? 

Here's what I picked up: 

Pat of Silver Bush
I had Mistress Pat, but not Pat of Silver Bush. I've been flipping through it this morning. It's crammed with beauty and poetry and laughter and sorrow...I'm wanting to read it as soon as I can. I love Judy and Jingle, and overarching the story is what I called in one of my own stories "the silence of the temporal that is waiting for the resolution of the eternal". 

Emily of New Moon and Emily Climbs
I've read the Emily series and want to own it so I can have a good Montgomery collection. I'm trying to collect as many Montgomery books as I can, to match my mom's collection. I'll have to keep a lookout for the third Emily book. 

A Rose Remembered and Escape to Freedom
Books 2 and 3 in Michael Phillips' The Secret of the Rose series. A WW2 series my mom really enjoyed. I'm looking forward to enjoying it too! 

Post-Victorian Britian 1902-1951
Because I'm still looking for any WW1 resources I can lay my hands on. 

I'm really excited to dig into Redwall. Even if mice in an abbey seems a little weird at first glance. Cluny the rat is a satisfactorily terrifying villain, and I hear from friends that it's great fun. 

Richard III 
Haven't read Shakespeare, and I know Richard is a terrific villain in this story, but I'm thinking it will be fun. 

The Great Gatsby 
Strictly for 20s research. I need it for a story which I'll be talking about on the blog soon. But I don't know enough about the book to recommend it for casual reading.

The Cost of Discipleship
This was a squeal-i-can't-believe-it moment. I am beyond thrilled to have Bonhoeffer's excellent book about the cost of following Jesus in my collection. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Why Modern Readers Should Care About History

Jordan Jachim is a friend and fellow bibliophile our family meets occasionally at the homeschool conference circuit. He's a lover of history and I always enjoy looking through the posters he sells that give facts about various historical time periods. I asked him if he'd be willing to share some thoughts on history and books with my readers, and the following post is a spectacular look at why modern readers should care about what happens in the past. If you're a modern reader who wants to know why we should still read classic and historical authors, this will give you every reason you need. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

Every reader is a student of history, perhaps even without knowing it.  Any time you pick up and read a book, you are reading something that was written in the past.  Even this post was written in the past.  Admittedly, it is not the very distant past, but it was still written a few weeks before being published.  The study of the past is known as history, but many people believe that history is boring.  They have a mental picture of history that looks something like this: 

In 1954, the Soviet Union absorbed the small Eastern European country of Czechoslovakia into the USSR.  The Soviets quickly rounded up “dissenters” and harshly punished them with labor in the uranium mines. No one was safe, and none of the accused had any hope of a fair trial. Escape from the country was nearly impossible because armed guards, electric fences, and minefields barred the way between Communist Czechoslovakia and free Austria.

The paragraph above is factually accurate but fairly dry.  I read one history book where the author had a knack for making even the most exciting events (Hannibal crossing the Alps, for example) seem boring.  But what if history is presented more like this:

The refugee peered cautiously above the hill.  The Communists wanted to punish him, even though he had done nothing wrong.  There was no hope of a fair trial and his only hope of safety was crossing the border from Communist Czechoslovakia into free Austria.  As he looked down the hill and into the village, he saw, to his horror, two Communist soldiers loitering in the street.  Each held the leash of a large German Shepherd dog.  If those soldiers and their dogs caught him, he would be shot or forced to work the rest of his life in the uranium mines.  But the wind was blowing from the dogs towards the refugee.  This meant that the dogs could not smell him.  For ten minutes the soldiers talked and then they walked away.  Nervously, the refugee crossed the street—but no one saw him.  In a few days, he was safely on Austrian territory.  Freedom!

This paragraph is much better.  We sympathize with the refugee and rejoice when the wind keeps him safe from the dogs.  Perhaps this paragraph even makes you want to learn more about Czechoslovakia under Communist oppression.  Well-told history lets us sympathize with the people in it.  Or, the same concept can be put another way: Doubtless in reading, you have read very descriptive books, where you can understand why the characters react the way they do.  But also you have read some books where the characters are flat and stale.  One type of book remains in your mind; the other is quickly forgotten.  So it is with writing history.  History itself is not boring, but people can present it in interesting or boring ways.

Now that we have seen that history is not boring, it is time to tackle the title question:  Why should modern readers care about history?

One reason that you should care about history is that it can be every bit as exciting as a good work of fiction.  The paragraph about the Czech refugee above is a true story.  Many other stories like this lurk in the pages of history.  The best place to find true stories of people in history is in writings that were written at the time an event happened.  These are called “primary sources”.  Newspapers of an era and memoirs by eyewitnesses both fall into this category.  One example of an interesting story hidden in a memoir is found in Dwight D. Eisenhower’s autobiography Crusade in Europe. In it, Eisenhower tells the story of two kind GIs who discovered a vault of Nazi treasure as a result of their kindness.

A second benefit of studying history is that it enriches one’s reading.  Oftentimes, a historical event or person is referenced in a novel.  An easy example of this can be found in Sherlock Holmes’ adventure “The Noble Bachelor”.  When discussing the separation between England and America, Mr. Holmes blames “the folly of a king and the blundering of a Minister.”  With a knowledge of history, it can be seen that Holmes is talking about the American Revolution, and is blaming King George III and then Prime Minister Lord North for losing their American colonies.

A more interesting example of historical knowledge enriching reading is found in chapter 14 of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel David Balfour (set in 1751).  “One incident of my imprisonment is made memorable by a consequence it had long after.  There was a warship at this time stationed in the Firth, the Seahorse, Captain Palliser.” 

I assumed that this Captain was a fictional character, until years later, when I came across this passage in another book.  “It had taken Norwich a little more than one month to deliver General Braddock to American shores.  She arrived at the Virginia Capes on February 19, 1755, and sailed on to Hampton on February 20, followed by Centurion a few days later.  Palliser’s Sea Horse and other transports began arriving at the Virginia Capes on March 8, 1755.” (quotation from pg. 69 of Braddock’s Defeat by David Preston).  The same Captain Palliser who appears in David Balfour also sailed to North America during the French & Indian War.

Thirdly, history allows us to learn from the wisdom of others.  I cannot physically ask C. S. Lewis about Christian doctrine because he died in 1966.  But I can learn from him through his writings.  As the great scientist Sir Isaac Newton said, “If I see farther than others, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.”  History is an excellent way to stand on giants’ shoulders and see farther.  No one could hope to learn everything that C. S. Lewis (for example) learned, but through his books, we benefit from his knowledge.

Closely related to the previous point, history helps us avoid mistakes others have made in the past.  There is an old saying “Those who do not know the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Consider the extract from a longer poem below:

“That by some accidental clatter,
Of pristine, crude, chaotic matter,
(But how, an Atheist only knows)
This beauteous universe arose.
That there is nothing like reality
In future life and immortality;
When death our thread of life shall sever,
We go to rest, and sleep forever.”

This certainly sounds like today’s atheists and evolutionists who claim that an accident created the universe and that there is no life after death. But the poem was originally written in 1805!  Entitled Democracy Unveiled, Or, Tyranny Stripped of the Garb of Patriotism, it was written by a United States citizen who was concerned with the anarchy of the French Revolution.  In the poem, he defends the principles of liberty, law, and love for God, concluding by observing: “For, ruled by men and not by law/ Your rights will not be worth a straw.”  We are seeing this today, as many politicians believe that they can redefine laws (both God’s laws and our Constitution) to suit themselves.

But most importantly, history is the story of how God has been working here on earth.  Remember that story about the Czech refugee?  Who was guiding the wind that it should have blown so that the dogs could not smell him?  Who but God?  This is a very rewarding part of studying history: being able to see how God has worked.  Psalm 73 is a good example of this.  In this psalm (which is more like a story than a song), the psalmist laments the fact that the wicked prosper while those who love God struggle.  Then he learns that the prosperity of the wicked is only fleeting, while God has promised to guide him and, when he dies, receive him to glory.  The psalmist was able to see how God has worked through history, and that gave him confidence.  Psalm 73 ends with the psalmist declaring “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.”

Seeing how God worked in history also gives us confidence as we go through life.  I have struggled through some very difficult times in my life and I am certain that you have as well.   But God has promised (in Isaiah 41:10) that He will strengthen and help us.  History proves this over and over.  Elijah was despondent in the wilderness, but God strengthened him.  Jeremiah was thrown into an old cistern to die, but God brought Ebed-Melech to help him.   After being kidnapped and sold as a slave, God strengthened Saint Patrick to return to Ireland and bring Christianity to his kidnappers.

Should modern readers care about history?  Most assuredly.  History is an engaging story of real events, happening to real people.  A knowledge of it enriches reading other books.  History lets us learn from great men and women of the past, and it helps us avoid mistakes others have made.  But most importantly, history teaches us about God and gives us confidence to face the future.  “Seeing therefore that we have so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

 Jordan Jachim is a homeschool graduate who has been homeschooled since 2nd grade. He has loved history since he was 4 years old. Steeped in the writings of excellent historical authors, he desires to make history come alive to others with beautiful artwork and thorough research. To that end, he blogs at Defending the Legacy (www.defendingthelegacy.blogspot.com) and runs Through All Ages LLC (www.ThroughAllAges.com), a company which creates historical paper soldiers, posters and postcards. He is currently working on a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Liberty University. He volunteers as a tour guide for his local historical museum and has worked for the Christian historical-fiction movie Beyond the Mask. In his spare time, he enjoys painting American Revolution military miniatures (also known as toy soldiers).

If you enjoyed Jordan's post today, be sure to check out his fantastic historical posters and paper soldiers at Through All Ages LLC. We have some of them, and the quality of his work is impressive. They would make great resources for school, writers, or history geeks! 
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