Friday, March 22, 2019

E is for Elizabeth I's Speeches and Letters (Blogging Through the Alphabet)

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Queen Elizabeth I remains one of the monarchs I enjoy reading about the most. Well, to be truthful, I enjoy learning more about the rest of her family as well. The Tudor period of English history is one of my favorite time periods to study.

One of the assignments in my education classes at college was the preparation of several lessons and the mock teaching of them to my fellow classmates. As a history major, I wrote history lessons including one entitled: An Introduction to Elizabeth I through her speeches and letters.

In order to understand the words of Elizabeth I, it is a good idea to look back on her family's life. A timeline of events prior to her life is a good starting point to understand Elizabeth's point of view. Some of the things to think about include the following questions:

  • When did the Tudors come to power?
  • Who was the father of Elizabeth I? 
  • Who was the mother of Elizabeth I?
  • What was the Great Matter? 
  • What happened to Elizabeth's mother?
  • Who ruled after Henry VIII? Edward? 
  • What happened during the reign of Mary? 

Important Speeches and Letters 

During the lifetime of a leader, they will pen many important letters and make many important speeches. For Elizabeth I, the majority of hers dealt with marriage and religion, as these were two very important topics of her reign. Let's examine a few of the notable ones. 

Response to Parliamentary Delegation on Her Marriage, 1559

On February 7, 1559, the speaker of Parliament requested the Queen marry and a later addition to the petition was that she marry within the realm – not a foreigner. In this 1559 speech, composed and written by Elizabeth herself, she wanted to assure the House of Commons that she would not make the same mistake as her sister, Mary, and marry outside the realm. 

"I am descended by father and mother of mere English blood, 
and not of Spain, as my late sister was." 

While she appreciates their petition, she also reminds them that she does not need to meet their demands as she is the Queen. She believes that God has preserved her and led her in her reign. She will not make a hasty decision, nor one that causes harm to her kingdom or her subjects.

Response to Erik of Sweden's Proposal, 1560

In a letter of statesmanship, Elizabeth writes that she has no affection for Erik (or anyone for that matter) and still wants to live a single life. She writes her refusal to marry him is not because she has not seen him, although she will not marry anyone she has not seen (she is covering all her bases here – no fooling Elizabeth). 

Response to Parliamentary Delegation on Her Marriage, 1566

Necessity forced Elizabeth to answer Parliament in regards to marriage again. On October 21, 1566, the Lord Treasurer met with her to explain that both the House of Commons and the House of Lords petitioned her regarding marriage and succession. They begged her to either declare her will on the matter or put an end to Parliament so they could all go home. 

Elizabeth was very angry with them. She had already answered their questions regarding marriage. She promised them she would marry and would do so as soon as possible – when it is convenient. When addressing the second point, succession, she said she was annoyed that they – the foot – should dare to direct her – the head. It was not up to Parliament to meddle in her affairs. 

"My Lords, do whatever you wish. As for me, I shall do no otherwise than pleases me. Your bills can have no force without my assent and authority." 

On Religion, 1583

In this speech, Elizabeth is reminding her people that all matters must take root in religion. The slandering of the queen by the clergy cannot be tolerated. Elizabeth has read God's book, the Bible, and believes God has made Britain wonderful for them. She will rule her subjects by "God's holy true rule." 

The Farewell Speech, 1601 

The love of Elizabeth's subjects was like a jewel to her. She was very thankful to be queen over them. she loved her subjects. 

Elizabeth was grateful to be God's instrument to preserve her people from peril, dishonor, and oppression. She never set her heart on worldly goods but ruled in answer to a higher judge – God. 

"I see all and say nothing" – Elizabeth's motto 

Elizabeth I had learned greatly from her sister's mistakes and knew that she had to identify herself with her subjects, her people. In order to not rely upon Parliament, who were forever pushing her to marry, she cut her expenses in half and established a solid credit line. Elizabeth did not have to rely upon Parliament to request money. 

In relating her thoughts and opinions to Parliament and her subjects, Elizabeth displayed her fine education. She was an eloquent writer who used involved sentences to share her thoughts on many subjects including those of religion, marriage, and succession.

Looking for more information about the Tudors? Why not read about Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, or the Tower of London

Resource and References 

Elizabeth I Speeches: Response to Parliament (1566), Spanish Armada, Farewell Speech 

Selected Writings and Speeches of Elizabeth I at Fordham University

Free Download of Tudor Events Timeline 

Blogging Through the Alphabet 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Book Club: Book Review of Far Side of the Sea

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On occasion I happily stumble upon new books to review that check off all the boxes for what I enjoy in a book. Kate Breslin's Far Side of the Sea from Bethany House is a work of historical fiction set in World War I Europe with a touch of a light, Christian romance. One of my favorite styles of books is historical fiction. I also like nonfiction works and I love studying World War I so this book was one that I quickly finished in a few days.

The main characters of Far Side of the Sea are Lieutenant Colin Mabry and Ms. Johanna Reyer. We journey with them through France to Spain in search of Jewel, Johanna's sister, and Jack, their father. A few of the characters were first introduced in Breslin's earlier novel – Not By Sight – but I did not feel at a loss for not having read this prior novel. (Although I will be reading it soon as I enjoyed Far Side of the Sea so much!)

"That trust is quickly put to the test, however, when their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot and their search for answers quickly turns into a battle for their lives." 

Over the course of 367 pages, Breslin takes us on an intriguing journey of spies, coded messages, carrier pigeons, and a brief history of the Irish fight for freedom from one girl's perspective. The paperback book also includes an author's note which provides a few historic details about World War I and ten discussion questions that are good for a book club.

Throughout the adventure of searching for her sister and father, Johanna learns from Colin to trust in God and that miracles can happen. During their journey to Barcelona, Colin shares a wonderful story about how he overcame his stutter and came to talk to God once they "got to know one another."

While some may see the events that took place in regards to his stutter as mere coincidence, it is very easy to see that God had answered Colin's prayer and aided him in being like the other boys at his school. Now he just has to trust God's plan for him after his injury on the battlefield.

I would recommend Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin to those who enjoy historical fiction or Christian Romance. If you like spy tales or mysteries, this might also interest you as it is a complex tale of German, French, British, and American agents. I will definitely be looking for other books by Kate Breslin in the near future.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wordless Wednesday – Using a Homeschool Class to Learn How to Edit Photos

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Our teen son is taking Image Editing and Creation at and for one of his assignments I asked him to choose from several photos and apply the different editing techniques he had learned to those photos. Here are the results for the photograph of the Abraham Lincoln bust.

Lincoln bust
Original photograph 


Lens Distortion 



Interested in more Wordless Wednesday posts? 

I have shared photographs in the past that our son has taken at Walt Disney World, of nature in our home state, and spring. In addition to sharing his photographs, I have also shared Wordless Wednesday posts of trips to historic sites and museums like Eckley Miners' Village Museum.

More About the Course 

Image Creation and Editing from is a 36-week long course that teaches students how to use GIMP (a free image editing software program). 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Drive Thru History® – Take a Look at the World of the First Christians – A Review of "Acts to Revelation"

Reviewing the latest DVD collection from Drive Thru History® was a wonderful opportunity for our family. Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation" looks at what happened after the Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ. Our host, Dave Stotts, takes viewers on an adventure through the modern Mediterranean world so we can travel back in time to see what the lives of Peter, James, Paul, Barnabas, and others were like during the early history of the Christian Church. Everyone in our family was eager to get started with Dave again as he drove "Steve McQueen" through Israel and then continued his adventures in Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, and Rome in other vehicles.

The special edition is a beautiful 3-DVD set with a Study Guide attached to the DVD case that provides beautiful photographs, summaries, discussion questions, suggested readings, and additional historical information. The case is well made and looks very nice sitting on our shelf as we watch each new episode. My only complaint would be that I would prefer if the Study Guide was removable but I can also see the potential for it getting lost if one could remove it.

Drive Thru History® offers "fast-paced, content-rich history" through over 50 episodes and this latest series is no different than the others in the series that we got to watch when reviewing Drive Thru History® Adventures last year.

Watch the Trailer!

How Our Family is Enjoying Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation"

Almost every night after dinner, our family has been joining together in the living room to watch Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation" much like we did when we reviewed Drive Thru History® Adventures. By watching Dave Stotts present the lives of the individuals in the New Testament as he traveled through the Mediterranean Sea area, we are able to pause and discuss what he was talking about in each episode. There are many opportunities to make connections to modern day events, such as those in and around Syria.

When our two younger children are older, we will use Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation" as part of our homeschool curriculum as we read and discuss the questions and the recommended readings from the Bible. For now, they are enjoying watching the programs with us as a family.

The Study Guide 

The Study Guide of Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation" provides viewers with an introduction to the 18-episode series. In the last series of Drive Thru History®, viewers joined Dave Stotts in modern Israel as he documented the birth, ministry, life, and resurrection of Jesus according to the Gospels. With this new series, each episode is covered in the Study Guide with an introductory quote, summary of the episode, discussion questions, reading, and a side road.

Example of Study Guide for Episode 13

"When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved." Luke, Acts 27:20

The summary shares a map of Malta as well as a brief explanation of the "perilous journey at sea." The Side Road provides some background information about Publius, the chief official of Malta. Discussion questions include:

  • Name at least two other people that were on the ship to Rome with Paul. 
  • After the shipwreck on Malta, why did the locals think that Paul was a god? 

At the end of each episode there are suggested readings for the viewers.

What We Like About Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation"

A short list of the aspects of "Acts to Revelation" that our family enjoys:

  • Humor of Dave Stotts
  • Use of maps
  • Examination of historical sites 
  • Cool cars 
  • Perfect length of episodes (approximately 27 minutes) 
  • Use of paintings to illustrate Biblical events 

We love the use of technology in the episodes.

Throughout the series a number of paintings are used to help bring the stories to life.

Our three-year-old has enjoyed looking through the photographs and images in the Study Guide with me as we watch the episodes while I like being able to use the discussion questions to check for comprehension and retention. Having the answers in the back of the Study Guide is also helpful in case you need your child to watch the episode and answer the questions before you are able to sit down and enjoy Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation" yourself.

One of our five-year-old's favorite parts are the maps. Both my husband and I agree that it is very useful to actually see on a map where the early leaders of the Church traveled. In addition to the maps, our five-year-old son also loves the theme song. At the end of each episode, he gets up and dances through the credits.

Two specific scenes that really stuck with our two younger children were that of Dave in the sheep's clothing and the image of Dave getting dressed into the armor that the Spartans would have worn at the Battle of Thermopylae.

The history major in me LOVES how Dave incorporates different historical facts to provide evidence of the historical accuracy of the Bible. I also like the fact that the variety of religions is not shied away from but included. I feel discussing the different temples in such places as Corinth really helps viewers understand the challenges that Paul and other early leaders faced as they traveled the early Mediterranean World.

Another feature of Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation" that I like is the overlaying of the ancient buildings and cities on top of the modern day cities. I love being able to see the comparison and change that has taken place over time.

My husband enjoys seeing the maps which enable the viewer to follow the travels of the early Christians as we move through the books of the New Testament after the Gospels. They provide a good correlation to the book of Acts and the corresponding letters of the Bible.

Our family would recommend Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation" for families, couples, or individuals interested in learning more about the time after the resurrection of Jesus. Each episode is short but packed full of amazing information as Dave tours various historical sites as well as modern day cities. Personally, I think this is one DVD collection we will watch over and over.

The enthusiasm of Dave and his obvious love of history are great parts of this series.

If you would like to learn more information, please visit the following sites: 

If you would like to see how other families have used Drive Thru History® "Acts to Revelation" in their households, please visit the reviews of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Review Crew.

Friday, March 15, 2019

D is for Dickens (Blogging Through the Alphabet)

This post contains affiliate links. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

One author with whom I have a love-hate relationship is Charles Dickens. When I was younger, I enjoyed his Christmas-themed stories but during high school I found reading his other works difficult and demanding. It was not until I got to college that I began to reread some of the novels I had read in high school and really began to appreciate works like Great Expectations, Hard Times, and A Tale of Two Cities. Now I cannot imagine not enjoying a classic story by Dickens.

Why are the works of Charles Dickens popular? 

Why have people been attracted to Charles Dickens' novels since their publication? Because his characters are very appealing and because of the realistic settings of his stories. In addition to bringing to life the slums of Oliver Twist, the boring classroom of Hard Times, or the scary cemetery in which Scrooge is buried, Dickens also brought to life objects with his descriptions.

His works ranged from lighter and more humorous stories to ones in which he examined societal problems like workhouses, poverty, and greed. Depending upon which novel one reads you can get an overview of life during the Victorian Era from Dickens.

"So much has Dickens become a part of the popular imagination that his characters have taken on a real and lasting identity" 
(Hard Times ix).

Personal Life of Charles John Huff Dickens 

Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England on February 7, 1812 but his family moved to London when he was two. This city would be influential in his novels and stories. Another influence that would play a role in Dickens' works is that of his family's monetary difficulties. His father, John Dickens, spent some time in debtor's prison and at the age of 12 Charles Dickens worked in a factory for a few months to help support the family.

In addition to a brief stint in a factory, Dickens also worked as a newspaper reporter which would help his writing develop. He would use the skills acquired reporting on debates in Parliament to help him write very convincing character dialogues in his fictional works.

Charles and Catherine Hogarth married in 1836 and had 10 children but they separated in 1858. One of the reasons for the disenchantment of Dickens with his wife is said to be the number of children he had to support. He blamed this upon her. Even though Dickens wrote that they separated amicably, Catherine did not get to see her children beyond their oldest, Charley, who moved in with her.

Mr. and Mrs. Dickens did travel together to America in 1842 where Dickens met Edgar Allan Poe in Philadelphia. There are several letters between the two authors providing evidence of their meeting.

Reading Aloud

In addition to writing, Dickens was also interested in drama and the theater. He enjoyed attending the theater as well as producing and acting in amateur productions. One of his joys was reading A Christmas Carol aloud to his family and friends. At the first reading in 1853, the story took three hours to read but by the time he was done condensing it, A Christmas Carol would only take one hour to share aloud. According to Cedric Dickens, Charles Dickens' great-grandson, "He wrote rattling good stories to be read aloud, read to an audience of family and friends" (as quoted in Christmas with Dickens by Cedric Dickens). Do you read aloud any of the works by Charles Dickens?

Do you have a favorite Charles Dickens' novel or short story?

Interested in reading more about Edgar Allan Poe or perhaps looking for a good study guide for a work of C. S. Lewis? Be sure to check out my other posts.

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