Thursday, June 17, 2021

Book Club: Book Review of The Heart's Charge

 A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of The Heart's Charge by Karen Witemeyer; background photo of horse

I received a COMPLIMENTARY copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing At Love's Command in June 2020, which is the first book in the Hanger's Horsemen series. I was very excited to have the opportunity to read and review the second in the series, The Heart's Charge. Both stories were very inspirational and exciting to read.

book binds of At Love's Command and The Heart's Charge

Finding a Safe Place for Their Hearts 

In this second book in the Hanger's Horsemen series by Karen Witemeyer, we learn more about what happened to Mark Wallace and Jonah Brooks after the events in the first book. The story opens with an exciting adventure as they come upon a woman alone needing help to deliver her first baby. Mark and Jonah are then left with the care of this infant. What exactly will they do?

The journey of Mark and Jonah takes us to a foundling home run by two independent women. One, Katherine Palmer, is already known to Mark. He had known her and actually proposed marriage to her ten years before. The second woman, Eliza Southerland, is determined that she does not need to be involved with any man and can do all the work at Harmony House with only Katherine's assistance. As you can guess, romance soon joins the tale of these four individuals.

Even with the blossoming romance between Jonah and Eliza and the rekindling of love between Mark and Katherine, there is more to this work of Christian historical fiction as two of the four Hanger's Horsemen seek to assist one young boy who says that children have been disappearing. We also see the lives of the children living at the foundling home and how Eliza and Katherine are helping them grow, learn, and love. To prevent any more of the boys who ride the rails from going missing, Mark and Jonah persuade them to stay at Harmony House. So, we see more of all the children interacting, helping each other and learning from the ladies who run the home and the men staying in its barn.

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of The Heart's Charge by Karen Witemeyer book cover

Trusting in God 

At so many moments in The Heart's Charge, we see the different characters seeking God for help and either placing their trust in Him or being reminded to do so. The story was entertaining and suspenseful. Packed in between the scared Eliza riding a cavalry horse and Mark repairing Harmony House, I found many moments that reminded me that "we've all broken his (Jesus') heart with the poor choices we've made. Yet the Good Book teaches that God delights in showing mercy" (242-243). Personally, I find myself seeking God's mercy more and more every day. Seeing the reminder of God's compassion demonstrated in a wonderful work of fiction was most welcome. It is nice to read books that are both entertaining and uplifting. 

I enjoyed the individual stories of Mark, Katherine, Jonah, and Eliza, all equally. It did not feel like any one character was neglected as we followed the four adults around with their daily tasks at Harmony House and in the pursuit to find evidence of who was kidnapping children. Sometimes when there are too many characters in a book, some get lost, but not in the case of The Heart's Charge.  

I would recommend The Heart's Charge to those who enjoy Christian Romance, historical fiction, and an entertaining tale. It provides not only much-needed relief from the hectic world of today in a good story but is also a reminder that God can see us through even the worst moments. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Wordless Wednesday: Figures in Motion

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo: Wordless Wednesday: Figures in Motion; Chinese Empress

 Please Note: I received complementary copies of these books through the Homeschool Review Crew. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo Figures in Motion Clara Barton

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo Figures in Motion Constantine

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo Figures in Motion Frederick Douglas

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Wordless Wednesday: Figures in Motion Greek soldier

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Book Club: Book Review of Help Your Kids Learn & Love the Bible

 A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of Help Your Kids Learn & Love the Bible

I received a COMPLIMENTARY copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

A brand new wonderful resource available to help parents on the journey to teaching their children about the Bible has been published by Bethany House Publishers. Help Your Kids Learn & Love the Bible by Danika Cooley gives parents "the tools and confidence to study the Bible as a family." In three parts and only 199 pages, Cooley provides advice, experience, and personal stories that will help parents "initiate and strengthen your child's relationship with the Lord through His Word." 

About Help Your Kids Learn & Love the Bible 

Sandwiched between an introduction where readers are introduced to the idea that they are Generation Bible and a conclusion that reminds us of several real-world stories that "the whole Christian history is full of faithful parents" (184) are three parts that give you the practical advice and concrete ways in which you can help your children learn and love the Bible. 

The message at the heart of Help Your Kids Learn & Love the Bible is that as a family you can read the Bible from cover to cover, no matter if you have preschoolers or high schoolers. Reading the Bible as a family can become a natural part of our day using the plan and advice of Cooley.

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of Help Your Kids Learn & Love the Bible cover of the book

Part One: You're the Leader 

Cooley helps put to bed the myth that the Bible is too difficult to read as a family. Our children can appreciate the Bible as we find a translation that works for our family, look at which parts we can skip for our younger children (for now), and find ways to go to God and His Word every day. And yes, there will be times when we need to adjust our plans, but that is okay. 

Part Two: Faithful Reading 

To help parents understand the Bible, Cooley looks at the authors of the Bible, all the "i" words - inspired, inerrant, and infallible, how the Bible is organized, and the primary themes of the Bible. I truly appreciated Cooley's reminder to look for the main themes and read the Scripture in context. 

Part Three: A Daily Walk 

In this final section, Danika Cooley shares how to actually help your kids learn and love the Bible. From round-robin Bible reading to concrete hands-on activities, there are so many wonderful ways shared to help parents. Songs, puppet shows, memorizing scripture, praying the Bible, and other ideas will help you make your Bible reading time come to life. 

book cover of Help Your Kids Learn & Love the Bible

My Thoughts 

I loved Help Your Kids Learn & Love the Bible. The practical advice and suggestions for teaching your children, like creating a 'bookcase' of the genres of the Bible, to the personal stories the author shared were wonderful. One of the things I liked the most about Cooley's book is the fact that she speaks of her homeschooling experience. As a homeschooling family ourselves, it was nice to read about how one mom incorporated the Bible into her family's homeschooling day.

While reading Help Your Kids Learn & Love the Bible, I had my pen ready because there were so many parts that I wanted to notate and revisit. Even though we use several different homeschooling curriculum pieces that allow us to bring the Bible into our daily lessons, I found many new ideas from Cooley's book. I want our family to work on Scripture memorization more and create more crafts with our younger children. I also want to go through the list of works consulted to find more information to help our family grow in the Word of God. 

I recommend Help Your Kids Learn & Love the Bible to parents whether their children are homeschooled or attend public or private school. There is so much useful information and advice to help us set up a routine of Bible reading. Churches would also find the book helpful so they can minister to their families and help them bring their children to the Bible. I feel this book will help our children fill their hearts full of Scripture. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Blogging Through the Alphabet: J is for Johnston

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo: photo of cannon;  Blogging Through the Alphabet: J is for Johnston

Albert Sidney Johnston was no stranger to military life before the first shot was fired upon Fort Sumter. He had fought for both Texas and the United States against Mexico, and he spent time in the West before his home state of Kentucky seceded from the Union. He has been described as tall, posing a sense of humor and quiet authority. Jefferson Davis is quoted in a book by Shelby Foote as saying that Johnston was "the greatest soldier, the ablest man, civil or military, Confederate or Federal." 

Johnston was one of several generals of the Confederacy serving in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. Forts were relied upon in the West to protect the Confederacy against both land and river-borne invasions by the Union. These forts would be hotly contested. In this post, I will discuss Johnston and two forts – Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. 

pencil drawing of Fort Donelson from
Fort Donelson

Fort Henry 

As one of the weakest points in Johnston's long defensive line in the West, Fort Henry was attacked on February 6, 1862, by Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant and Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote. While the Confederates put up a fight against the Union gunboats in the river, they eventually surrendered. After this capture, Grant said he would capture Fort Donelson on February 8th. With the coming bad weather, an attack on Fort Donelson had to be postponed, but Grant's men were still in a position that separated Johnston's men. 

What to Do Next? 

Johnston really had two options available to him. He could concentrate all his men (about 35,000) at Fort Donelson and maybe counterattack to get Fort Henry back into Confederate hands, or he could give up Kentucky and focus on the defense of the factories and depots in Nashville. So, would Johnston try to defend Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River and perhaps get Fort Henry back (situated on the Tennessee River), or would he retreat to save the men for another day? 

Albert Sidney Johnston preferred to retreat to the Nashville-Memphis line and leave only a small fighting force at Fort Donelson. This would save the Confederates under this command to fight another day. This was a very good plan, but he abandoned it. He decided to make a real fight at Fort Donelson, but he only kept 12,000 of the Confederate soldiers at the Fort. The rest retreated to Nashville. And John Floyd was appointed to defend Fort Donelson (just so you know, General John Floyd was sent to the west after he had problems in Western Virginia). 

stockade and tents in civil war pencil drawing from
graphic from

Fort Donelson 

What picture comes to mind when you hear the word "fort?" Personally, I think about a well-defended military position with solid walls surrounding barracks, common areas, storage areas, and more. Fort Donelson was actually just a stockade of around 15 acres of soldiers' huts and equipment sheds. There were two batteries of 12 heavy guns dug into the side of a 100-foot bluff on the Cumberland River to stop attacks by water. Add in three miles of trenches to repeal land attacks, and the fort was pretty well defended, if not a stereotypical fort. 

Attacks on Fort Donelson 

On February 13, 1862, the Union sent several probing attacks. By February 14, there were about 25,000 Union soldiers, ten ironclads, and two wooden gunboats in positions to attack Fort Donelson. The Ironclads fired upon Fort Donelson but moved in too close and ended up overshooting their targets. This miscalculation allowed the Confederates to heavily damage the ironclads. The shots from the Confederate heavy guns would smash through the decks of some of the ships. There were 54 sailors dead or wounded, including an injury to Foote, and no Confederates lost in this part of the battle. 

pencil drawing of ironclad ships attacking Fort Donelson

Early Celebration and Potential Defeat 

The Confederates celebrated the withdrawal of the ironclads, but there was really no cause for celebration. The Union soldiers still surrounded the Confederates. During the night of February 14, after the Confederate generals discussed what to do, they moved Confederate troops to the left side. At dawn the next day, the Confederates attacked. 

The Confederates were breaking out on the morning of February 15, and Grant was caught unaware. He ordered his men to sit tight, and the Union Generals met the force of the Confederates and ended up retreating. One would think the Confederates would keep pushing ahead, right? No, a Tennessee politician, Gideon Pillow, persuaded General Floyd to move the Confederates back to the trenches, effectively losing any territory they had gained from the Union. So, of course, the Union regrouped and regained the ground they had lost during the morning. 

Night into Day 

During the evening of February 15, there were almost 1,000 Union and Confederate soldiers dead, with about 3,000 wounded. The cold continued to creep in while the Confederate leaders discussed what action to take. It was decided to surrender the Fort, but General Floyd and Gideon Pillow would leave and force now-General Simon Bolivar Buckner to handle the actual surrender of Fort Donelson. On February 16, 1862, Buckner surrendered Fort Donelson with approximately 12,000 to 13,000 men to General Grant. 

modified photograph of General Sidney Albert Johnston; A Mom's Quest to Teach:  Blogging Through the Alphabet: J is for Johnston


This surrender would propel Grant towards becoming a household name. Lincoln promoted him to Major General after this Union victory. And the consequences for Johnston's forces in the Western Theater would be devastating. About 1/3 of his force were out of action, and the rest were split, with about 200 miles separating them. He then had to evacuate Nashville on February 23, 1862, which meant that the Confederates lost control of their first state capital and a huge industrial center. 

Johnston was heavily criticized after the losses of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. He was charged with drunkenness and incompetence, but Jefferson Davis stood by him while Johnston ignored the critics. Albert Sidney Johnston wouldn't have time to prove himself an effectual general, as he was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh on April 6, 1862 and died on the battlefield.

Images from and 

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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Wordless Wednesday: Project Time

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo: Wordless Wednesday: Project Time - Fallout Collectables

So mostly wordless...I finally worked on a project to replace framed art in our kitchen. I wanted to put some of my Fallout collectables on display rather than have them sitting in boxes. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo, Fallout Collectables

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo, Fallout Collectables - pins

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Wordless Wednesday: Project Time - Fallout Collectables