Monday, March 20, 2017

Book of the Month: Alone Yet Not Alone


   Autumn has come to the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania and the Leininger family is harvesting their crops in preparation for the long winter ahead. But their lives are suddenly shattered by a series of raids encouraged by the French and led by Allegheny Indians, culminating in what became known as the Penn's Creek Massacre. The two Leininger sisters, Barbara and Regina, are captured and sent to live with separate Indian tribes. Will they remain true to their faith while living in a pagan society? What has become of their family? Will Barbara and Regina ever meet again?


   Intriguing and moving with a delightful ending, this book captured my interest from the start. What I find even more remarkable is that it was written by a descendant of the main character! Also, a map is included in the book detailing Barbara's travels, which I found very helpful.


   There is some romance as Barbara grows up and eventually gets married, but it's not excessively detailed.

My rating for this series is:

5 out of 5 stars (I loved it and would recommend it to anyone)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Touching History - Philadelphia, part 2

     In the previous post about our trip to Philly, we saw Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell (check out that post here). Today, we'll take a look at three more of the dozens of historical sites in Philadelphia.

     Standing right next to Independence Hall, is the Library Hall of the American Philosophical Association (APS). The organization was started in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin and numerous others. Still in existence today, it's purpose is to "promote useful knowledge."

     The building displays a marble statue of Ben Franklin holding an inverted scepter in one hand, an open book in the other, and is wearing a toga (because togas are a must-have if you want to look philosophical).  :) 

     In 1751, Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond (who was also a founding member of the APS) saw the need for and decided to start the Pennsylvania Hospital. It was the first hospital to be established in America and is still in operation today. The hospital was created to "care for the sick poor of the Province and for the reception and care of lunaticks." Interestingly, the official seal of the hospital portrays the account of the Good Samaritan with the words "Take care of him and I will repay thee" inscribed underneath. 

     The statue in front of the building, visible in the lower left of the picture (which I took while we were driving, hence the poor quality), is of William Penn holding an unfurled document entitled "Charter of Privileges to Pennsylvania MDCC."  

     Our last visit in Philadelphia was to Christ Church, which was frequented by several of our founding fathers. Built between 1727 and 1744, this Anglican church, with its 200 foot tall tower and steeple, dominated all other buildings in height until 1856 when Tenth Presbyterian Church was built.
Unfortunately, due to time and weather, entrance up into the steeple is prohibited. :(  

     Inside the grand church, there are many colonial-era pieces. The chandelier has been in use since 1740, the pulpit dates to 1769, and part of a wooden carving depicting King George III's coat of arms is also on display. 

     The royal coat of arms formerly hung on the outside of the building but was torn down and smashed during the Revolution. Part of it however was secreted away and has since been returned for public viewing. 

     Notable individuals who attended Christ Church include Betsy Ross, Benjamin and Deborah Franklin, John Penn (grandson of William Penn), and George and Martha Washington. In fact, row number 58 is renowned for being the Washington pew. 

     As we exited the church, I was delighted to see the lights had been turned on in the steeple. 

     And thus we conclude our trip to the city of brotherly love. While there are so many more sites I wished we could have seen (Christ Church burial ground being one of them), the trip was thoroughly enjoyed. Of the five places we saw, my favorites are Independence Hall and Christ Church. I love the upward-pointing style of Georgian architecture as it always causes me to lift my eyes towards the heavens. Also, being able to see and touch the places where the godly founders of our nation worked and worshipped was truly thrilling.

Have you ever visited Philadelphia? What were your favorite historical sites?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Book of the Month: Faith and Freedom Series


Guns of Thunder (book 1)
     In the first book of the Faith & Freedom series (the sequel to the Crown & Covenant series), we're introduced to the great grandson of Duncan M'Kethe: Ian. Colonial America is on the eve of the French and Indian War but between tediously tilling the family plot of land, defending the corn from hungry birds, and attending grammar school, Ian has little time to worry about the pending conflict. But when his best friend, Roland, is captured by the French during the Raid on Canso, Ian enlists in the army and along with his Indian mentor Watokoog, sets off with the colonial army to capture Louisbourg and hopefully free Roland.

Guns of the Lion (book 2)
     Ian M'Kethe's life-long dream of going to college is finally coming to pass. Before he leaves, his grandfather gives him a letter from a relative in Scotland....
     Gavin Crookshank, a loyal covenanter, is captured by dragoons while tending his sheep and conscripted into King George's navy. After distinguishing himself as an excellent marksman, Gavin is sent back to his beloved Scotland... but as a spy for the king. Torn between love for his country and the desire for peace, Gavin embarks on his most dangerous mission yet: spy for the king's army while secretly spying on the king's army as well.

Guns of Providence (book 3)
     Skilled with the longbow and violin, and filled with patriotism, Sandy M'Kethe (son of Ian M'Kethe) sets off to aid his fellow countrymen in the American Revolution. After a long stalemate with the British, the American army occupies Dorchester Heights and is finally able to liberate Boston from British occupation. Released from service, Sandy and his fellow soldier Salem decide to join the fledgling American navy. Thus, they set out to harass his majesty's ships aboard the Providence, captained by the legendary John Paul Jones.


     As usual, Bond does an excellent job of intricately weaving Biblical doctrine and historical information into a thrilling tale. The end of the last book nearly had me in tears, but I won't spoil it!


     The second book (Guns of the Lion) had more romance than the others. While terribly thirsty and feeling near dead, Gavin meets the daughter of a clan chief who helps him and he quickly falls in love. However, he has to get back to spying and they never meet again in the book (though we learn in the last book they do indeed get married).

My rating for this series is:

4 1/2 out of 5 stars (I loved this series and would recommend it to older audiences due to some romance)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Touching History - Philadelphia, part 1

     Being near to many of our nation's key historical locations has afforded our family numerous fascinating field trips. In this blog series, Touching History, I'll share with you some of the places we've visited.

     Recently, we took a trip to New Jersey and stayed in Philadelphia for a few days.

The Delaware River


     When William Penn received a massive tract of land from the king of England as repayment for a debt, he was delighted and named it Pennsylvania. He christened its capital "Philadelphia," which is derived from the Greek words "phileo" (meaning "to love") and "adelphos" (meaning "brother"). Penn's main desire for this new city was that religious freedom would be upheld. He believed that in doing so, God would "bless and make it the seed of a nation." Indeed, Philadelphia would be the birthplace of our nation's two greatest documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and would also become America's first capital.

     Independence Hall is well-known as being the place where both the Declaration of Independence the Constitution were signed. But before that, it was known as the Pennsylvania State House. It was under construction for 16 years (1732 - 1748) and was supervised by Andrew Hamilton. The original design did not include a tower or steeple. The present day tower and steeple were built in 1828.

South side of Independence Hall.

Statue of George Washington outside the front entrance.

Restored clocks on the eastern side. 

     The east room of Independence Hall was where the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania met to hear and judge cases. Note the Defendant's Box on the lower right, which is where the accused would stand throughout the trial. Interestingly, the practice of having the defendant stand throughout the trial is where we get the phrase "standing for trial."

     In May of 1775, Philadelphia loaned the western room of their State House, called the Assembly Room, to the founding fathers for the Second Continental Congress. It was in this room, on July 4, 1776, where they accepted and signed the Declaration of Independence. Twelve years later, in 1787, the founding fathers would again meet in this room for the Constitutional Convention. After several months of heated debates, the US Constitution was ratified and signed. 

     Much of the original look of the Assembly Room has been lost to time but thanks to the work of the National Park Service, it has been mostly restored. There are, however, two original artifacts on display. The wooden chair sitting behind the table at the front of the room is supposedly the chair George Washington sat in during the Constitutional convention. 

     Also, this period inkstand is believed to be the one used by the signers of both the Declaration and Constitution.

     Across the street from Independence Hall is perhaps the most iconic piece of Philadelphia: the Liberty Bell.

     In 1751, the Pennsylvania Assembly ordered a bell be made to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the writing of Pennsylvania's first Constitution, the Charter of Privileges. A bell was duly cast and prominently displayed in the town square. Unfortunately, someone rung it, causing it to crack. A new, sturdier bell was ordered to be made. So the old one was melted down and recast. While it was more durable, the bell now had a terribly annoying clang. Finally, a third bell was formed, which is the one we see today. Inscribed around the top of the bell are the words, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all inhabitants thereof. Lev. XXV X  By order of the assembly of the province of Pennsylvania for the State House in  PhiladA ." 

     There are numerous theories as to how the Liberty bell obtained the crack for which it's famous. However it's commonly believed that the final crack was made when it was rung for several hours in celebration of George Washington's birthday.  

     Visiting Philadelphia, observing Revolutionary period architecture, and walking where many of the godly founders of this nation walked, was a thrilling experience for me! So much American history is located in Philadelphia and I wish we had time to see it all. If you're ever in Pennsylvania, set aside a week of free time to visit Philly!

     Be sure to watch for the next post where we take a look at the American Philosophical Association (started by Ben Franklin), America's first hospital, and Christ Church. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book of the Month: Crown and Covenant Series


Duncan's War (book 1)
     Duncan M'Kethe loves his family and his faith and is willing, even eager, to defend them from the vicious talons of King Charles II. Yet his father insists that the Scriptures instruct us to love our enemies. How does he balance this with defending his fellow Covenanters?

King's Arrow (book 2)
     Angus M'Kethe (younger brother of Duncan) is renowned for his skill with the bow, which he puts to good use protecting his sheep from crows that prey on the lamps. But with bloody Claverhouse and his Royalist allies, Angus' skill may be needed in doing more than killing crows.

Rebel's Keep (book 3)
     John Graham of Claverhouse is even more determined to wipe out the rebellious Covenanters. Will the M'Kethe family survive his murderous schemes? Will they have to flee their beloved Scotland?


     Douglas Bond is one of the best historical fiction writers I've read. Once you pick up these books, you won't want to put them down. What I especially love is how he weaves theological discussions into the storyline. It makes for an intriguing and edifying read.


     I honestly can't think of any reasons why you shouldn't get this series!

My rating for this series is:

5 out of 5 stars (I loved it and would recommend it to anyone.)

Stay tuned for the next review of the follow-up series by Douglas Bond: Faith and Freedom Trilogy!