I am continually amazed at how Apologia Educational Ministries does it again and again. I guess I shouldn't be surprised anymore. From the time we first opened an Exploring Creation Science text (and we've been through most of them), to Apologia's Worldview Curriculum, to most recently reading I Don't Have enough Faith to Be an Atheist offered by them, we have been enamored. But more importantly we have been inspired, we have been educated, and we have been drawn to the heart and the word of God. I mean, surely at some point even the most trusted company will produce a product that this opinionated mama isn't absolutely in love with, right? So far, Apologia keeps proving me wrong...
Journeys of Faithfulness: Stories of Life and Faith for Young Christian Women written by Sarah Clarkson and published by Apologia. Now, I must say that I am pretty sure that I no longer fit the category of how I would define a "young" Christian woman, especially considering that the age recommendation by Apologia for this book is ages 12 and up. So, I was a little hesitant about how relevant I would find the book. I soon found that I had no reason to worry.
Journeys of Faithfulness is a bible study, a devotional, and a collection of engaging biblical fiction stories all wrapped into one. The book is divided into four parts each devoted to the stories of a biblical heroine/s. The Table of Contents is as follows:
Part One : Mary & Martha
Chapter One: Learning to See
Chapter Two: A Circle of Glory
Chapter Three: The Hush of Love
Part Two : Mary, Mother of Jesus
Chapter Four: Story-Formed Soul
Chapter Five: Swords and Starlight
Chapter Six: The Great Adventure
Part Three: Esther
Chapter Seven: Heart Alive
Chapter Eight: For Such a Time
Chapter Nine: Courageous Beauty
Part Four: Ruth
Chapter Ten: Claiming the Light
Chapter Eleven: To Walk in Darkness
Chapter Twelve: Desire of My Heart
Each chapter is also divided into four parts. In each chapter, you will first find a short story. Sarah Clarkson has artfully crafted twelve short stories based on the biblical stories of these historical women. I'll be honest, my favorite genre is biblical historical fiction but I consider it a rare find to find an author who does it well. I want to read a book that is riveting and inspiring, that offers me an escape but delivers me safely to worship at the feet of the One who created me. If I am going to read a work of fiction, I want it to inspire me. Sarah Clarkson delivered with each chapter. Obviously, she has taken some liberty when writing, but she still stays true to the biblical truths of each story. Her stories offered new insights into the lives of these women that I thought I already knew so well. Miss Clarkson, if you are reading, I am hoping to see full novels in your future...I will be first in line to purchase them! I hope you stick with biblical fiction...it's my favorite. :)
Following the short story, each chapter contains a devotional written by Clarkson that is a few pages long. Once again, I was impressed with how Clarkson wrote truthfully and transparently. As a fellow "wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve" kind of woman, I appreciate that Clarkson was willing to share her struggles and the truths that God led her to. I agree that the material in both the stories and devotionals are suitable for ages 12 and up, but don't let the "young" label stop you from delving into this book if you are quite a few years away from age 12 like me! These devotionals would be suitable for all ages and stages of womanhood. As a matter of fact, I found God gently convicting me almost immediately at the beginning of this book with Clarkson's following passage:
"The Spirit of God is alive and calling out from the very core of our hearts. We have the Bible available to us, and we can offer a prayer at any moment. But the great requirement is that we be still enough to listen. We must hush our hearts every day so that we can learn, hear, and follow."
Finally, each chapter includes a bible study and several lined blank pages to record your own personal "Journal Journey". The bible study includes 3-5 scripture passages chosen by Clarkson that relates to the story lesson to be looked up as well as life application questions.
I would definitely recommend Journeys of Faithfulness by Sara Clarkson. It is a beautiful study and book and at only $13, it would also make great Christmas gifts for the women in your life! Be sure to check out the Apologia website to read a sample first chapter and the Schoolhouse Review Crew for more reviews of this product.