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Seekers of the Lost Boy: A Review

Read our review of the children’s novel, “Seekers of the Lost Boy.”

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“‘What is that?’ Simon half-whispered his thoughts aloud. Ignoring the icy fingers of wind that slipped down his coat neck, he trained his eyes on the strange object at the water’s edge. There was something mysterious about the smooth object embedded in the beach’s shoreline. It glowed.”

Thus begins Taryn Hayes’s new youth novel, Seekers of the Lost Boy, a story set in the Western Cape of South Africa.

The tale focuses on a homeschooling family, the Wards, who embark on a journey to track down the author of the message in a bottle. What they learn in the process about their country and themselves is more than they ever set out to accomplish.

Several components make this book unique. Firstly, the fact that the main characters are homeschooled gives a refreshing glimpse into the perks and potential drawbacks of this particular educational choice. Since our family happens to homeschool, my kids loved being able to relate to main characters in a way that they have never been able to relate before. Weeks after we finished the book, I caught my son borrowing a phrase used in the book by the Ward family, as he announced, “I finished my seat work.” Seekers of the Lost Boy, among other things, gives flesh to the stereotypical skeleton of homeschooling that many people never get to see or understand.

Another unique aspect I appreciated about this book was how historically informative it was for our family. Though I am an American, my husband and children were all born in South Africa. Seekers of the Lost Boy was a wonderful launch pad for me to delve into more details about South African history with my children.

As the story weaves through flashbacks of apartheid and the forced removals in District Six, it provided a great platform for family discussion, and even prompted me to check out children’s books from the library on the life of Nelson Mandela. I also found myself clicking around on Google to show my kids pictures of the former and present District Six.

My greatest motivation for passing this book on to others is the clear gospel message that it contains. I really appreciated the way Hayes intentionally and lucidly wove the truths of the gospel into the fabric of her novel.

In terms of constructive criticism, one component that could be enhanced, in my opinion, is the spiritual development of the characters. Without giving away too much of the storyline, there are conversions that take place amongst some of the characters. I would have loved to see more about how the gift of salvation specifically affected those characters who were converted, and how their lives were changed in practical, day-to-day aspects — but rumor has it that this may be the first in a series of adventures for the Ward family. If so, I look forward to seeing how their newfound faith plays a role in their family as they grow in grace and sanctification.

Overall, I am grateful to Taryn Hayes for making this book a reality, as it not only provided much enjoyment for me and my kids as we read it together, but also resulted in fruitful discussion for us as well.

This wholesome, educational tale is one I have already purchased three times to give to American friends and family members as a gift. If you’re looking for a good story and a fun and easy way to learn more about another culture, pick up a copy of this book.

Seekers of the Lost Boy can be purchased on Amazon here, and more information about the book and the author can be found here.


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Kate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. She is married to a South African and together they have three children. Kate is the author of the e-book, Letters to Grief, hosts the Five Minute Friday blog link-up, and has contributed to several other online publications. She blogs at Heading Home and can be found on Twitter @k8motaung.

5 Comments
  • I would give it to my 11-year-old daughter who is a voracious reader!

  • Onome

    If I win this book, I will read it with my 3 kids (10, 8, 5). I am sure it would be a great inspiration to them.

  • The book looks quite interesting. If I won, I read it aloud with my son. :)

  • I would love to read this to my three kids who are homeschooled. It would make the perfect read-aloud as we are South African and homeschooled.

  • Congrats to our winner, LeAnn H.W.! I’ve sent you a message via Facebook.

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Musings On Aliens and UFOs

In a culture that’s obsessed with aliens and UFOs, it’s interesting to see what Scripture has to say about being from another world.

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Aliens from outer space. UFOs. Overall people seem to be fascinated with the possibilities.

Drawing from writing by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, Georges Méliès’ 1902 silent movie Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon), is often credited as the first science fiction film. Its ground-breaking special effects prepared the way for future science-fiction films with its portrayal of a spacecraft being launched to the moon.

Like many families, ours enjoys heating up the popcorn and viewing an imaginative sci-fi movie together. In fact, one of our favorite fun places to dine is Disney’s Hollywood Studios Sci-fi Diner in Orlando. It offers a 1950’s retro drive-in movie theater atmosphere serving food to parked cars while playing campy science fiction movies, capturing the time period’s fascination with the topic.

Major interest in aliens from outer space exploded in the 1950’s, a decade sometimes described as the “classic” era of science fiction theater with it’s surge of producing low-budget, comic-book style films targeted at teenage audiences. Alien threats to humanity, UFO invasions, and abductions are common themes as seen in War of the World, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and It Came From Outer Space.

Aliens in Our Midst

Currently, networks offer programs dedicated to exploring possible alien and UFO sightings with shows like Ancient Aliens, UFOs: Untold Stories, Nasa’s Unexplained Files, and more. One recent episode of one of these shows presented a segment discussing “what if humans are the aliens on earth?”

This hypothesis coincides with a religion birthed by American science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard and his writings, The Church of Scientology. Its doctrine states a human is an immortal, spiritual being (thetan) resident in a physical body. Or, stated in easier-to-understand terms, an alien life form that inhabits human beings.

Turns out biblical references address society’s curiosity on this theory.

Genesis 2:7 describes how humans came to live on earth, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” As described in scripture, humankind’s breath of life did come from an other-than-earthly source.

And concerning who are citizens and who are aliens in the world, Jesus identifies the distinction in His prayer for His disciples, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). He continues to distinguish His followers in John 18:36 stating, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

Of UFOs and a Snatching Away

Musings on Aliens & UFOs

In 1977, Steven Spielberg’s film Close Encounters of the Third Kind depicted a public fascination with UFOs, along with the year’s release of George Lucas’ Star Wars. Interest continued with the 1980’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, a story of a lonely boy who befriends an extraterrestrial stranded on Earth.

In the 1970’s, Christian rocker Larry Norman also offered thoughts on aliens and UFOs in his trilogy of albums which included Only Visiting This Planet, So Long Ago the Garden, and In Another Land. His third album contains some of Norman’s most well-known work, selling more than 120,000 copies by 1985. In Norman’s song “UFO” lyrics assert:

He [Jesus] will come back like He promised with the price already paid,
He will gather up His followers and take them all away,
He’s an unidentified flying object,
He will sweep down from the sky

Jesus reveals His plan to return for His people in John 14:3 stating, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Mark 13:26-27 provides a clearer picture of what His return will look like to those on earth, “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.”

So scripture does describes a coming snatching away of people on earth like represented in the 1990s-2000s popular Left Behind series of novels and films by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.

In his 1969 album Upon This Rock, Norman addressed this concern as well in his song “I Wish We’d All Been Ready,” stating while growing up in church he hadn’t heard this preached from the pulpit.

Two men walking up a hill
One disappears and
One’s left standing still
I wish we’d all been ready
There’s no time to change your mind
The Son has come and you’ve been left behind

Closing Reflection

In consideration of the ongoing interest in our culture with aliens and UFOs, this topic certainly opens up authentic opportunities to discuss what scripture has to say on the possibilities. With curiosity on the rise, yet another avenue to open conversation about God’s love and His kingdom of another realm (John 3:16,17).

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3 Fun Ways to Parent in Real Time

Have you been hoodwinked into believing motherhood is a rat race? If so, here are 3 fun ways you can slow down and parent in real time.

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I’m a planner. We’re talking semi-serious Type A, time-urgency issues.

My husband Ted can confirm this. Although, I predict he’d most likely tell you this obsession I have with time isn’t strictly a bad thing. Rather, when it comes to weaknesses and strengths, it’s a case of both/and.

How so?

Ted likes to say that if it weren’t for my goal-oriented, hyper-active Little Engine That Could personality, we’d be a lazy family. After all, if it were up to him, our off days would consist of naps and driving no more than 30 minutes from our house. And while I love my share of afternoon rest, I crave adventure in … well, as my favorite Disney princess would sing … “the great wide somewhere” a little more.

This God-given, hard-wired, time-sensitive personality of mine thrives on thinking ahead. I’m constantly on the prowl – yeah, all tiger like and what not – for fun educational activities, local and not-so-local family outings, theatrical productions, and even vacation ideas. There’s no doubt that, as Ruth Schwenk and Karen Ehman write about in their book Hoodwinked, I take time seriously. In fact, as I read these word from Ruth, I couldn’t help but nod in agreement:

One of my favorite verses about the sacredness of time is Psalm 90:12: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The word wisdom in Hebrew means “skilled” …. And here, the psalmist is connecting skilled living with stewarding time. Part of walking in wisdom is being skilled in the stewardship of the days God in his grace has given us. To waste them or mismanage them is to act foolishly and unskillfully.

Not being productive or having a plan in place is difficult for me. In my mind, “productivity = time well spent,” and “plan = time well managed.”

Sometimes, as a mom, all my planning and productivity can eat away at the actual day-to-day enjoyment of my kids.

Here’s the thing, though. The older I get, the more I learn that’s not necessarily true.

Just because I’m careful to not waste time, doesn’t mean I always steward it well. In fact, sometimes I don’t … at all. Sometimes, as a mom, all my planning and productivity can eat away at the actual day-to-day enjoyment of my kids. When this happens, all that “productivity = time well spent” and “plan = time well managed” couldn’t be further from the truth.

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What does this poor stewardship look like for me?

Here’s where that biggest weakness in those semi-serious Type-A, time-urgency issues comes into play. And that’s this: I often live too much in the future.

It’s so bad at times that Ted has to remind me to live in the here and now, not in the six-months-from now. I don’t always like when he offers this correction, but the truth is, I need it. I don’t want to look back ten years from now and realize that I missed the moments of my children’s lives because I was so busy planning for the next moments and the next. I found myself convicted and motivated by these word from Ruth:

Parenting happens in real time. Don’t miss the moments right in front of your nose. Living in tomorrow only causes us to lose today.

So what’s my plan to make sure I don’t miss the here and now moments with my kids? Here are three fun, practical ways I’m attempting to parent in real time.

1. Reading Out Loud

When it comes to bedtime stories, Ted is king of that domain. The thing is, just because I don’t typically read to the kids before tucking them in, doesn’t mean I can’t read aloud to them at all. As a homeschooling mom, I have ample opportunity to work story time into school time.

Parenting happens in real time. Don’t miss the moments right in front of your nose. Living in tomorrow only causes us to lose today. — Ruth Schwenk And you know what I’ve found?

Reading out loud to my kids forces me to slow down and to stop rushing through our schedule and our day. As the kids and I are drawn into the story together, we share in the emotional ups and downs of the characters. We gasp in shock over plot twists and lament as our protagonist faces yet another challenge. In the process, we create shared experiences, knowledge, and memories.

2. Impromptu Dance Parties

At our house, Pandora plays pretty much all day long. Sometimes it’s tuned to the Francesca Battestelli channel, other times to the Michael Buble channel. One of my favorites activities of late, though, is to switch it to the Tween music channel, move the coffee table out of the way, and invite my girls to an impromptu dance party.

As I twirl my four-year-old around and around, there are no thoughts of what’s for dinner, or what time we need to get up in the morning. There’s only me and my girls dancing and giggling together.

3. Cooking Competitions … of the On-Screen Variety

Whether it’s Cutthroat Kitchen or Cupcake Wars, my girls and I share a love for cooking competition shows. Lately, we’ve taken to watching the shows together, each choosing our “candidate” to cheer for, and then watching to see if we picked a “winner.” It’s been a fun way for us to actively watch television together. And, like reading out loud, it causes me to slow down and create a shared experience with my kids.

Yes, I’m a planner. But this planner is hopeful that those semi-serious Type A, time-urgency issues of mine can become more and more strength and less and less weakness, especially when it comes to my mothering. After all, these parenting days of mine are numbered and I want to live them skillfully.

Learn More About HOODWINKED

Moms have been hoodwinked — tricked into believing lies that keep them from not only enjoying motherhood, but forging friendships with other moms who might tackle the tasks of motherhood differently. Myths such as “Mothering is natural, easy, and instinctive” cause moms to feel like failures if they have questions or apprehensions in raising their kids. Operating from the premise that “The way I mother is the right (and only) way” puts up fences between moms instead of building bridges of encouragement between them. Lies such as “I am my child’s choices” tempt moms to mistakenly believe that if their child makes a wrong choice then they, in turn, must be a bad mom.

This book will enable mothers to:

  • Identify the ten myths of motherhood our current culture perpetuates
  • Replace the lies with the truth of what God says in the Bible about mothering
  • Acquire practical tools to help them form new and improved thought patterns and healthy behaviors
  • Forge healthy, supportive relationships with other moms of all ages and stages
  • Confidently embrace the calling of motherhood as they care for their families in their own unique way

BUY HOODWINKED: TEN MYTHS MOMS BELIEVE & WHY WE ALL NEED TO KNOCK IT OFF HERE.

Also available is the HOODWINKED STUDY GUIDE WITH DVD. Find out more about it here.

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Reflections on Nichole Nordeman’s THE UNMAKING {Plus a Giveaway}

Read our reflections on Nichole Nordeman’s new EP, “The Unmaking.”

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“When I’m younger…”

It’s a phrase my four-year-old daughter uses often. (As you can tell, her concept of aging is still in the early stages of development.) While I often correct her with a “Do you mean when you’re older?” there’s something sobering about her words. They remind me that these days are fleeting. These days of cute misphrases, well-loved blankies, and read-aloud stories. They’re fleeting.

And sometimes, when she proudly proclaims, “When I’m younger…,” I just want to pause and whisper, “Slow down.”

I want to tell her to stay little longer. That it’s fun to be a kid. I want to promise her that I won’t tell the dentist if she sucks her thumb when she thinks that I’m not looking. Or that it’s okay if she talks through movies about topics completely unrelated to the plot. “Sure, go ahead and sing me that song about manners while the movie’s storyline unfolds. It’s okay. You won’t always want to, and I can rewatch this movie when you’re older.”

It’s with those words “when I’m younger,” that I realize perhaps all those people who’ve told me “It goes by fast,” were right.

I think all of us moms – including singer and songwriter Nichole Nordeman – feel the desire to slow down time at some point. But not all of us have been able to capture this longing in song so poignantly as Nordeman has done with the track “Slow Down” off her new EP, The Unmaking. In what’s destined to become many a mom’s musical pick for her child’s graduation, she beautifully captures the emotional tension that comes from raising arrows we need to let fly one day. And, I admit, the first time I heard the song, I cried.

“Slow Down” is one of six songs on The Unmaking. It’s an album that, as Nordeman told Vital Magazine, chronicles a recent season of brokenness in her own life. She shared with them:

“Christians are so anxious to fast-forward to the healing and to the hope and the happy ending of the story where God makes all things new,” she says. “All of that is true sometimes, but we just are so uncomfortable sitting in the tough spot. I think that’s what I wanted to do with The Unmaking, just acknowledge that God is with us, and there is no shame, in fact there’s strength, in sitting in the rubble and being vulnerable with Him.”

While The Unmaking is Nordeman’s first studio release since her 2005 project, Brave, those who have loved and missed her music need not worry that she’s reinvented herself. Vocally and musically, this album is quintessential Nordeman.

Before long, my four-year-old will soon grasp the concept of aging. And, as she does, the phrase “When I’m younger…” will disappear from her vernacular. When that happens, know that you can find me listening to “Slow Down” and crying what may very well constitute an ugly sort of cry as I realize that my baby is one day closer to flying. Yep, that’s a reference you’ll just have to listen to the song to understand.


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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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Seekers of the Lost Boy: A Review

by Kate Motaung time to read: 2 min
5