Thursday, April 30, 2015

Are You Living a Beautiful Life?

I am overjoyed at the fact that I get to watch the 2-year old daughter of my long time friend (sister through love) once a week! Since my girls are older now, watching her grow and develop brings back fond memories. Those of you that have parented more that one child, know how amazing it is that each of your children are so distinctly different. God truly crafts and creates each of us so miraculously and specifically!

With my oldest being 21 and my youngest turning 14 this year, I had already lived through the toys strewn all over the house, sleepless nights, naptimes, and all things that go with that age. So the days that I am blessed to have this sweet little bundle in my care for the day, are the BEST! I find that I have some fresh eyes, or fresh perspective. Let me explain what I mean. Today she pulled all the tissues out of the tissue box, dumped out the train set, pretended to blow all the dogs' noses, and unrolled a whole roll of toilet paper. She also joined me in singing Jesus Loves the Little Children, told me I was pretty and held my hand as she sat beside me and played on my iPad. You see what I mean? Definitely the BEST!
This is The Beautiful Life
 What is so different about me watching this sweet little bundle as opposed to the struggles I went through as a young mom?  PERSPECTIVE!  You see, perspective is so important!

As a young mom I found myself worried about many things. I found that I compared myself to the moms I saw around me, instead of relying on Christ to be my strength and wisdom. It took me a little bit to realize that the best thing I could do for my family and myself was to be the best "me" I could be. To be completely honest, sometimes that meant sitting in the middle of laundry holding one of my kids, or reading to them when I really wanted to be doing my hair!  Can any of you relate?

What I realized is that God doesn't make mistakes. He didn't make me and then wish that I would be like so and so. He gave me the family that He wanted me to have, and His desire is that I would live a Beautiful Life through Him!

I heard a powerful sermon this past weekend at a Women's Encounter by Michelle Bell about what it takes to live a "Beautiful Life." (I wish I had a recording of it, I would share it on here.) She shared a little about going through the same struggle as a young woman of God trying to see who was living that beautiful life that she could duplicate. What she found....what I have found is that the "Beautiful Life" looks different for all of us. What it takes is being exactly who God made you to be. Be faithful to God in every age and stage......and don't rely on your feelings. Our feelings are fickle at best and deceitful at worst.

God placed you in the right family, and gave you the kids he wanted you to have. When we go through hard things, we can face them in the strength and hope that comes only through Christ. You see, the Beautiful Life doesn't mean that it is always perfect, it simply means that we are keeping ourselves eternity minded. We need to keep our hearts open, always listening to what He has for us to do. As a Christian we all have a ministry to fulfill for Christ. Sometimes that means when our kids are small, they are our ministry. Or it may mean that when someone calls or stops by needing to talk, they are not an inconvenience, God has entrusted them to us as our ministry. It means that when our life takes a turn that we didn't expect, He already knew it would happen. He is still with us, ready to help as long as we put our trust in Him.

You might ask, how do I find perspective? Proverbs 3:5 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." I am reading a book written by Bill Hybels entitled "Simplify" He talks of the importance of at the least 15 minutes sitting in a chair or somewhere alone, spending time listening for God to speak to you for the day. He calls it "chair time."  Spending time in the chair will definitely help you gain perspective as you go through life.

Keep your eyes focused on God. Allow Him the opportunity to speak to your heart. Trust Him with your whole life. Stay eternity minded! That is PERSPECTIVE!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

ARTistic Pursuits: Sculpture Technique - Construct Review - TOS Crew

ARTistic Pursuits Review
My daughter's and I had the privilege of receiving the book below, Sculpture Technique: Construct, by ARTistic Pursuits in the mail to work through for this review.
ARTistic Pursuits ReviewI don't know about you, but in our homeschool it seems the first thing that goes out the window when we are trying to complete our educational goals is art education. With my girls in Middle and High School we seem to push hard toward the academic and leave the creative out. This curriculum has been so much fun to work with! We were able to not only spend time being creative and working with our hands, but it was even more fun doing it together!
Product Details
The Sculpture Technique: Construct book is a wonderful art curriculum and it explains everything you will need to complete the book and has a comprehensive list of items you will need for each unit. With this art curriculum you will have the opportunity to make your own paper, create planes with cardboard, create paper-mache projects, and create art with wire. Don't worry if you have never attempted any of these projects before in your homeschool, we never had either and we had a blast! We also had no trouble taking the list to the store and finding the items we didn't have at home to complete the projects. I wish we would have taken pictures at the store. We were so excited as we were getting the few items we needed to pick up! The supplies we needed were minimal, we had some of what we needed in our own craft bin, and you may too!
We are ready to get started!
How Did We Use This Product
We looked through the book and chose several projects for us to work on for the review. Then we spent time everyday working on our projects. Our favorite project was paper-mache. The hardest part of this project is deciding what it is that you want to create! Daughter 1 created a baby dinosaur popping out of an egg, and daughter 2 created a colorful fish. Don't worry if you have never done anything like this before with your kids, everything is spelled out clearly in the instruction section of the lesson.
Little tidbit of helpful information.....we didn't have newspaper when we started our paper-mache project and so we decided to use construction paper. I don't recommend anyone following our example. Construction paper is too heavy and it was difficult for us to use to form our creation. We quickly moved to newspaper on day two of construction, but the main portion of our foundational work was already completed and it was too bumpy. Lesson learned!
My Bottom Line
We all enjoyed this curriculum very much. When we received it I was a little nervous about whether we would be able to work through it. I was so thankful when I opened the book and found the supply list and then the page entitled, "How to Use This Book." My mind was set at ease.
Then at each unit, the instructions spell out what needs to be done step by step. Nothing is left ambiguous at all. It walks you through each section perfectly.
I have to say that all three of us enjoyed the time we spent around the table working on our projects. Not only is creativity like this good for our kids, but the time we spent together was priceless.
I have no doubt that you and your homeschool will benefit greatly from this wonderful art curriculum, I know we did!
Check out the website, and see what other options they have for curriculum. There is something for every age and stage and I know that you will love it!
ARTistic Pursuits Review

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Spin-Off

Indianapolis Area Event
This is a great event for families! Bring the kids for a fun day of food and fun! We will have bouncers, carnival games, food and face-painting!

Lifeway Church is located at 3500 E. Thompson Road

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Star Toaster: Orphs of the Woodlands Review - TOS Crew

Star Toaster Review
We received Orphs of the Woodlands The Treasure of HighTower online educational resource and game by Star Toaster, to review and I have to say it was absolutely spectacular! They have really put together an amazing online curriculum that is fun and educational!  From the moment my daughter logged in, she was hooked, and when she got done she was begging for more!!
We have tried several different online methods of education with my daughter, and until now, we had never quite found anything that both fit our needs with her learning style and held her attention! It doesn't take much looking to notice that our society has become more and more "techy." With the advances in technology, it is not uncommon for homeschool families to incorporate online schooling into the homeschool year, or even the day. Star Toaster's Orph's of the Woodlands is the way to go! This is not simply an online book, it is much, much more than that.
From the first page, this book brings the student into the story and makes them a part of it.  As my daughter chose the name of her character, it was placed in the book through to the end. She was so excited about that!  I was excited that she loved the book so much and that it was sprinkled with positive character qualities. The main character of the book always answered everyone's requests with "I will do my utmost." What a great thing to intertwine into the story!
After each chapter the students can participate in the game portion of the book. They complete "jobs" to earn gold stars to take care of the orphs (orphans). Each job, reinforces skills that were discussed in the book. There are hundreds of lessons that are woven into the story, and it is done in such an excellent way! Then with the gold stars, you can purchase plots of land and other items to help care for the poor orphs that need help. By the time that my daughter completed the book this is what her skills tally looked like.
Math     66 Jobs
Science   32 Jobs
Language   29 Jobs
Vocabulary   66 Jobs
Thinking Skills   62 Jobs
Character   19 Jobs
Life Skills    34 Jobs
The Arts   6 Jobs

Below is the game screen where the orph care is arranged. After completing jobs, the gold stars are used to purchase items needed by the orphs to survive, and also to purchase more plots of land.
Star Toaster Review
Putting it to Use:
My daughter and I read the book together. We had planned to work on it three times a week, but we ended up working in it everyday. We took turns reading it aloud to each other. Well, at least at first. It didn't take long before she was so caught up and intrigued by the book, that she went on and read most of it without me. I had to catch up on my own! Another wonderful feature of this curriculum is that I received updates on the status of my student and what she was learning via email. The Progress Report email also lets me know what is coming up in the next chapters that she will be reading. I love the fact that it is so easy to track what your student is learning and how well they are comprehending it all!
My Bottom Line:
AMAZING!! I found this to be an amazing resource that we can't live without in our homeschool. We are anxiously awaiting the new book that should be releasing sometime in the near future! My daughter asks everyday if I have heard anything about it! I find that so great since my daughter is not a fan of least until now!  Thank you Star Toaster!! We loved Orphs of the Woodlands: The Treasure of HighTower, and we can't wait to see what you have in store for us next!!
Please take some time to check out the website and sign up for a free trial. You will be so glad that you did! 
Star Toaster Review
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To see more reviews on this topic, click below.
Star Toaster Review

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What a Girl Needs From Her Mom - Review & Giveaway

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog and homeschool!
See my Disclosure for more information.
3 Girls, My Guy, and I would like to thank Family Christian bookstores for gifting us a copy of What a Girl Needs From Her Mom in exchange for an honest review. Please enter the giveaway at the bottom of this page for a chance to win your own copy!!
I remember the day I brought my first of three daughters home from the hospital. I was excited but oh so nervous about what it meant to be a mom. I didn't know if I would wake up when she cried, or if I would know what to do with her if I did wake up! ha ha! Then just when I would figure out what I was doing, God would bring another little beauty into our lives with a completely different personality, and we would begin anew!
Although each child is different, there are some things that remain the same, and that is what this book, What a Girl Needs From Her Mom is all about. We all have questions as moms like: How can I instill good values? How can I counter unhealthy body image stereotypes? How can we navigate through emotional ups and downs?  I had these questions and many, many more as I stared into the tiny eyes of each of my girls. Desiring that they would understand how much they are loved not just by me, but by the God who created them. I wanted them to be free to be themselves and not worry about what other people think. I wanted them to grow to be mentors to those around them.....and I remember all these desires bubbling through as tears as I held my precious bundles close to me, wondering if I had what it takes to be their mom! Knowing that I was hand selected to parent these precious ones was a weighty calling.....believe me ladies, parenting is a calling.
What I love about this book is the practicality of it. It touches on topics like:
Navigating the Tech World                                     Practicing Being Present
Keeping Girls Media-Safe                                       The Deluge of Technology
Connecting in the Midst of a Busy Career             New Trends to Watch For
Postpartum Depression                                          Counteracting Discouraging Words
Roadblocks to Communication                               Developing Confidence
Practicing Being Present                                        Friendship Issues
Learning Your Daughter's Love Language            Celebrating our Children
The Power of Encouragement                                Praying the Distance
A Foundation for Character                                    Mother Love
The list could go on and on. This book is full of wonderful tidbits of Godly wisdom from someone who "has been there, and done that." There are also discussion questions at the end of each chapter. Those can be used a couple different ways. You could discuss them with your daughter or granddaughter as you go through the book together, or you could easily use this book as a small group book study.
My Bottom Line:
I really enjoyed this book. This is not a book to sit down and try to gobble it all up in one day. This is definitely one to chew on. Feel free to take the ideas and suggestions within this book and find a way to apply them to your personalities and your family structure. You will enjoy the way that Cheri Fuller shares her wisdom, it's like finding little gems.
She is a gifted writer and knows how to quickly get to the heart of the matter.

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Living Your Life With the Bathroom Light On!

I am the mom of three amazingly wonderful girls. They have brought me incredible joy as I have watched them grow from baby to young lady! It has not been without challenges, but we were all stronger for them. Something that I truly love is how they love God and their family and do their best to follow His commands in their life. One big question I have is, why is the bathroom light always on!!!

You may think I'm kidding, I'm not. To some of you, this may be familiar territory. I have turned that thing off about a gazillion times, and yet every time I walk by the bathroom, the light is on! How does that happen?  I am bewildered for sure!  Not very long ago, I was giving one of my very fact filled, important lectures to the girls about the need to conserve energy by turning off all the lights. To which they responded, "We turn off all the other lights, we just always seem to leave on the bathroom light."  (This much I already knew!! :-))

That is when God dropped something in my heart. How many of us are guilty of the same thing? How many of us give God everything but one thing.....the ONE thing that we think we will manage ourselves? We are obedient a point.  My girls were obedient to a point and wanted me to be sure to realize that all the other lights are turned off, just not the bathroom light.

God desires all of us. He doesn't need us to manage areas that we think He can't handle. He is the God of the Universe. He created everything we see.....with His Word!!! We can TRUST Him!!! All through scripture we find God telling us to give Him our whole heart. Sometimes that can be scary. We aren't quite sure what He is going to do with our whole we hold back. We trust in our own understanding, and that is our first mistake. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight."

I have been as guilty as the next person. I remember thinking I had to protect my little area, even from God!  OUCH!  Have any of you been there.  I found myself miserable, worn out, and way out of my element. The only way to truly find peace and rest is to give it all to God. That is really what He is waiting for!

Just as I love my girls and they can trust me to always have their best interest at heart. We can trust God....even more!
Deuteronomy 6:5, Mark 12:30, and Matthew 22:37 all echo the same sentiment, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength! When you are doing that, loving God with all your heart, soul and strength.....there is no holding back. You are no longer keeping that one area for yourself. You can stop living with the bathroom light on, because that is when He can make your paths straight!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

God's Word is Life

Have you noticed that we all have a tendency to whitewash the sin in our lives?
We explain it away, ignore it, rationalize it.......but find that it is so hard to actually face it! When it comes down to it, we would rather look at the speck in our brother's eye and ignore the plank in our own! 

I know I'm not the only one that has had to face the fact that I had sinned......but, it is so important to keep our accounts short with God. We are human, there may be times in our lives that we sin, but it is so important to be like King David and repent with humility and brokenness!

I was reading through a devotion yesterday and sin was described in this manner: Sin is blatant mutiny against God, and either sin must die in our life....or God. The choice is ours.

MUTINY!!  I had never thought of it in that way before! Mutiny is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary in this manner - a situation in which a group of people (such as sailors or soldiers) refuse to obey orders and try to take control away from the person who commands them

How often have we been guilty of that.  We try to tell God the way that He should act, react, respond, resolve.....the list goes on and on.

Get a proper perspective of what was done on our behalf from Isaiah. A great price was paid for our sins, so that we could spend eternity in heaven. I am truly thankful for that payment and never want to mutiny against my Savior and Lord. I want to serve Him full blast until I find myself in heaven!

Isaiah 53:3-6
"He was despised and rejected - a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was n so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all."

Ready to Teach: Greek Morphemes Lessons (It's NOT Greek to Me!) Review - TOS Crew

Ready to Teach Review
This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog and homeschool
See my Disclosure for more information.
I don't know about you, but I have witnessed the decline of vocabulary in the school age up through the "millennial" age bracket of our society. We have become a short-cut generation that texts with acronyms and improper grammar, instead of communicating with any use of true vocabulary. That is where Greek Morpheme's Lessons (It's NOT Greek to Me!) Expanding English Vocabulary with Greek Morpheme Analysis by Ready to Teach can help you prep your child and develop their vocabulary through your homeschool. In English, big words are often made up of these smaller word parts that come from other languages - especially Greek. It is believed that we have a lot of morpheme knowledge that is "asleep" in our brain and we just need to "wake it up."This course will take words and break them down in a manner that makes them not only easy to understand, but fun to use!

This program consists of twelve (12) lessons. Each lesson contains instruction on anywhere from 15 to 22 morphemes. Each lesson includes learning activities of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, as well as practice in using context clues as a reading strategy. My girls and I found this program refreshing! Instead of simply implementing memorization of the word and definition, this program uses small word parts that are used to build multiple words. By understanding the morphemes, you are able to not just sound out, but understand words quicker and easier!

So, what exactly is a morpheme?  I'm glad you asked!! Each of us use hundreds of morphemes every day! A morpheme is a part of a word that has meaning.

Take the word autograph for instance.
AUTO means self
GRAPH means write

So when you put the two morphemes together you get the word autograph! We can all understand what an autograph is because we can understand the smaller portions of the word. So imagine if you can learn the meaning of other morphemes that are used in larger words. Possibly words that you haven't heard before? You will be able to comprehend the meaning of the words because you understand the morphemes that make up the word!!!  How exciting!!

What I received in the mail:
To complete this course you will receive a student book, an instructor's manual, and a flash-drive that contained lessons in a PowerPoint format.
The Student Book:
Consists of workbook pages for each lesson

The Flash Drive:
This is an invaluable tool to the course!!!
Lessons - Each of the twelve (12) lessons are contained on the flash drive. There are multiple slides for each lesson, so it is important to move through them as slowly as necessary to retain the knowledge.
Review - Each of the twelve (12) lessons also has a review portion contained on the flash drive. This portion is there so you can test your retention for each lesson. I love this part. The review is a great way to make sure that you are ready to move on to the next lesson.
The Instructor's Manual:
The instructor's manual has several different resources for you as a homeschool parent.
Section 1 - Background, Introduction and Lesson Plan (As well as a bulletin board idea)
Section 2 - Greek Morphemes Lessons
Section 3 - Transparency Masters
Section 4 - Review and Answer Keys
Section 5 - Tests and Answer Keys

Putting it to Use:
My 13 year old used this program 3 times a week. She would sit down and go through the lesson herself on the flash drive and work through the workbook pages. She really enjoyed it! It was simple to use and easy for her to understand, she was also able to go at her own pace. If she didn't understand a portion of the lesson, she could simply replay that portion (LOVE THIS!) Since my daughter has struggled in the past with comprehension issues, I know that this was huge for her. The lessons are on PowerPoint so reviewing one portion of a lesson is as simple as 1-click! I saw my daughter that has always been hesitant to new things when it comes to learning, really open up and blossom while using this curriculum. She took the flash drive with her everywhere, just in case there was time to sit down and dive into another lesson!!  I would say that is success!!!
My bottom line:
I love it!  I am a lover of vocabulary anyway. In fact, I even have an app to help me learn new words everyday. The difference between that and this curriculum.......this curriculum takes the phrase "You can either feed a hungry man fish.....or you can teach him to fish" and applies it to your vocabulary. This will teach you an amazingly easy way to learn new words, and that is the kind of learning that stays with you for a lifetime. Isn't that the kind of learning that we all want for all our kids!
To see more reviews on this topic, click below.
Koru Naturals Review