Hazy Days

the shadow of the life to come

Hazy Days

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Gone to print!

coverAfter three months in the publishing works, Seekers of the Lost Boy has gone to print! 

Wow!  What an experience this has been.  I’ve learned more obscure little details about grammar than I ever learned in my three years as a University English major.  I’ve been amazed by others’ superb talents.  And I’ve worked harder on this project in these last three months than I did writing the story.  Yup, publishers work their authors hard! 

But the result is simply beautiful.  I can’t wait to share it all with you.  But, with a May 2013 release date, I will have to hold my horses.


I can share this beautiful cover created by the talented Johan Koortzen (with some over-extended author opinion included, poor guy!)

Isn’t it beautiful?  I’m thrilled with his work both on the cover and inside the book.  There are a few extra design surprises that have made this book that much more polished, thanks to Johan and his team. 

Now, it’s a matter of getting this book from print to distribution.  I promise to let you know as soon as possible!  The first to know are usually those following my Facebook page, so feel free to join up there by ‘liking’ my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/tarynhayesauthor



In the meantime, please help me get the word out about this book.  It’s all about a family homeschooling the Sonlight way.  The kids find a bottle on the beach one day, never imagining how it will change their lives.  They find themselves deep in an investigative adventure that uncovers a family secret, a history they never knew and a question they never thought to ask: Who is God and does he care about me?

There is lots of intrigue, adventure, fun and even an extremely quirky DJ.  And there are deeper, more reflective moments too. 

One of my personal favourite elements of this book is the melding of two cultures over a broken history.  In South Africa, segregation in the form of apartheid forced families apart.  As the kids in this story look back over the last 30 years they are confronted with their country’s broken past, but they are also given hope for their future.  It’s District Six meets Meadowridge at Muizenberg Beach.  It’s bitterness at injustice blossoming into freedom to hope.  It’s gratitude for Grace. 

I hope you find that too!

Living books we love

IMG_4669-790916You know how some things in life are difficult to describe, but you’ll instantly recognise it when you see it?  That’s a little like the concept that our homeschooling experience is based on.  Living books.

Sonlight, our favoured curriculum, is built on the principles of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education.  And central to that are living books.  But what are living books exactly and how do they form a framework for anything?

Here’s where my difficulty arises – adequately describing living books is almost impossible.  I can tell you that they are books that ignite the reader with enthusiasm, interest, warmth and emotion.  I could say that they’re usually written by someone who has intimate knowledge of their subject matter.  I could point out that they could be anything from prose to poetry, fiction to non-fiction – they can vary from subject matter in degrees so vast that one living book may examine the intricacies of insect life, while another living book will explode with colourful descriptions of early South African history.  I can even direct you to websites that explain with clarity what is meant by the term “living book” – like this website, for example, or over at Amblesideonline too.  And I most certainly can tell you what it’s not.  It’s not dull.  It’s seldom a dry boring textbook or compendium of collaborated ideas.  In fact, just about every school book I ever encountered would never touch the hallowed honour of living books. 


But, even armed with this information, how do you know which book on that dusty shelf is a living book?  What elevates it above others and causes it to pulse with life? 

Ah!  And here’s the rub.  You don’t know.  Not until you know.  Yes, a great many people have gone before us and discovered beautiful gems of living books that will probably be living books in anyone’s hands.  But, when you read that book that causes you to learn with great strides of interest and enthusiasm; that ignites within your gut a delight in the words, the images, the concepts that spill from each page; that leaves you with indelible memories of not only what you learned but what you felt while you learned – then you know that you hold a living book in your hands.

Since embarking on our Living Book adventure, we’ve interacted with books that have brought us great joy, sadness, understanding, learning and insight.  I have watched my young children understand social concepts I only began to grapple with in high school.  I have seen them be filled with passion for the gospel and heard their heartfelt prayers for people groups across the world.  I have heard my own heart sing with joy as I watch their little minds turn over a new idea with great delight.  I have been amazed as the living book we’ve enjoyed didn’t end at the last page, but instead continued chapter upon chapter in the interests and lives of my children – from play acting to further study to creating contraptions of their learning. 

Some of these books I’ve written about here on our family blog. Such as …

And the Word Came with Power – a wonderful autobiography of a young American farm girl who became a bible translator in the remote jungles of the Philippines.  It’s a wonderful example of a living book impacting on not only our knowledge but our hearts too.  The beauty of this book is that it led to the girls interacting with the author herself, enabling them to find out what has transpired in the last 20 years since the book was written:  Balangao People today.

20110620-160131.jpgThe Door in the Wall spoke directly into my eldest daughter’s life experience – despite being written about a young boy during the times of knights and castles, this book impacted her in an unforgettable way. 

Follow my Leader taught us more about the facts around the life of the blind than any textbook ever could.  And shortly after reading this inspiring story, we met a blind woman by chance, with her beautiful dog Jet.  It led to a fascinating conversation – and another example of how living books continue to teach us long after the final chapter has been read.

The Apple and the Arrow was one of our first experiences of reading a true living book that I’d never have chosen myself.  Seeing how it impacted my kids when I never imagined such a book would, made me glad that I was following the Sonlight curriculum.  For, despite knowing a living book when you’ve read one, choosing what to read beforehand was a task I found daunting.  Sonlight took care of that fear.  With their huge selection of some of the best books I’ve ever encountered, we are spoiled with living books that have shaped us, grown us, taught us and educated us beyond my wildest imaginings!

But plenty of other books have broadened our learning experience too.  And I say “our”, because despite the focus being on the education of my children, I too am learning, growing and delighting.  Greek Myths, A Child’s History of the World, George Muller, Understood Betsy, Missionary Stories with the Millers, Grandma’s Attic, Johnny Appleseed, Twenty and Ten, the 100 Dresses, Red Sails to Capri, White Stallion of Lipizza, Strawberry Girl, The Little Riders, Gladys Aylward, Tales of Robin Hood, Walk the World’s Rim, The Sign of the Beaver and much much more have touched our heart and caused us to learn. 

And, with a shelf filled with yet to be read gems from our Sonlight programme for this year, we look forward to encountering many more books that will become alive in our hands, our heads and our hearts.


This post features in the upcoming South African Carnival of Homeschooling Bloggers April 2012 Carnival.  Feel free to pop over to Melanie’s blog to read more from other homeschoolers about their favourite living books.  And feel free to share some of YOUR favourite living books too!

Box Day for 2012

Box Day!

For Sonlighters world wide, this is a day celebrated with joy and great anticipation! And it’s certainly the case in our house. So much so that it was a great incentive for the kids to speed through supper, bath and all the normal and extra chores for the evening.

The picture above was taken seconds before our lounge was littered with books and brown paper packaging. The photos below give a small taste of the next half hour: little noses buried in new books.



And then Kiera, my 9-year old, piped up, “I knew this was a Yearling.” Running her hand over the cover of a book published by Yearling, she looked up at me and said, “It feels like a Yearling!”

Recognizing the publisher by the feel of the book’s cover and pages is bizarre…. Or: it is a tribute to hundreds of excellent books passing through one’s hands and minds, thanks to Sonlight’s excellent selection!

Balangao bible translators: update!

You know how sometimes when you come to an end of a book, you wish you could read a little bit more?  Find out about what happens further down the road?  Or get answers to questions about specific characters or events?  I certainly do!  And today, I got to experience just that…

I wrote a little while ago about the Sonlight book we have been reading: And the Word Came With Power.  It is all about a young American farm girl who becomes a missionary to far off Philippines.  There Joanne Shetler begins translating the New Testament into the Balangao language.  It took 20 years.  And in those 20 years, deep relationships were forged and the most amazing miracles happened.  Not least of which was the radical conversion of hundreds and thousands of Balangao and surrounding tribes.

Reading this book was just a wonderful experience, if not rather exasperating!  The girls peppered me with questions every few sentences, it took quite some doing to stay patient with them!  They were riveted to the story, often jumping up and down on their beds in excitement at what God was doing in and amongst the Balangao people.  It was almost sad when we finished reading the book last night.

One evening last week, after praying for the Balangaoes with the girls, I decided to see if I could find out what they were currently doing.  Google led me directly to a blog recently started by a woman called Robyn.  It tells of the current bible translation work – the Old Testament.  And it details their needs.  They have just recently completed their bible translation centre building. Of course, I was excited to show the girls the next morning and, as mentioned in the previous post, Kiera wanted to write to them.

When we finally finished the book, Kiera noted that the person writing the blog posts is “Robyn”.  And Robyn is the name of one of the missionaries working in Balangao.  Could it be the same person?  We read some more from the blog and realised that twins, Robyn and Joanne, are mentioned in both the book and the blog.  In the book, they were little babies.  And now they are both working on the bible translation!  Wow!  For us to leap from 1980-something to 2011 in the space of a few minutes of reading felt like time travel.  Everything of the book was so fresh in our minds: the people, their love for the Word and the gospel; the miracles God provided; and the on-going work mentioned towards the end of the book.  Marrying events from 30 years ago to events of this very year in the click of the mouse was surreal indeed.  But, oh so inspiring!

And exciting!  Today we got a reply from Joanne Shetler herself answering some of our questions and inviting us to ask some more.

Reply from Jo Shetler

What fun to read this from Taryn!  Yes, these are the Joanne and Robyn mentioned in the book.  And Doming is their Uncle.  Joanne and Robyn’s dad is Doming’s younger brother.  It was Doming who got the ladies interested in doing Bible Translation and he “signed them up.”  Doming passed away from cancer in January 2007, we miss him terribly.

Jo Shetler

Keep asking questions and leaving comments and we will try to answer them.

How wonderful to have answers to our questions.  How sad that Doming has passed away, but how wonderful that he is with the Lord!  Between me and the girls, we have dozens of questions.  We are most grateful to enjoy the rare privilege of getting the real-time epilogue to a brilliant book.  And what a wonderful way to connect with the very people we are praying for, across the ocean in a land far away!  I love how God’s provision of technology allows us to connect with missionaries so quickly and personally.  As a child growing up, I remember feeling quite removed from the life of a missionary.  I remember a slide show or two from missionaries on furlough, depicting a strange land I didn’t feel connected to at all.  I went away feeling that mission work was noble, albeit scary, and probably not for me.  My girls, however, feel most differently.  They have met real missionaries, prayed for them, eaten meals with them, read the most amazing biographies and been excited about God’s work.  And now, they get to enjoy the personal connection with a people they’ve grown to love through the pages of an inspiring biography.

Again and again, I am so very grateful to Sonlight for introducing us to amazing living books that inspire, challenge and grow my children!  And thankful to the Lord for His hand in it all.









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