Be Softer

I have been doing a lot of preparing and praying this month. Reflecting on what it is that I want for my children and also for my family. I am looking at who are children are. Each of them individually. My husband. And myself. As a wife and a mother I need to see clearly those habits which are good and even those ones that are not so good.

I admit this wasn’t from experience that left me walking on sunshine! I am Max I struggled to swallow some hard truths about myself. Having spent most of last year studying the Book of James with my children for their Bible quizzing program there was a lot but I believe God showed me regarding how I speak to him and how I ought to speak to them.  

I don’t pretend to be someone who is soft and gentle all the time. The fact of the matter is that I admit I am very focused on getting things done. I tend to see everything is very black and white. There was a problem? Here are the steps to resolve it. Let’s do this now.

It seldom that I take that I admit to allow my children to really Express and work out their emotions. Haven’t come from a family we’re being emotional was something that was seen as a weakness I admit that to this day I tend to shy away from those type of things. Too often I catch myself telling my kids to stop it and suck it up. Rather than helping them to work out those emotions and manage them I fear more often I encourage them to ignore and discard them.  

My disdain for dealing with emotions of course puts me in a place where I fear my responses to my children more often harm them than help them.  Too often I do not meet them in a calm and gentle but rather accusing and confronting.  I may not wait to hear what they have to say or try to find detailed out what caused the fight that just broke out.  

I have to admit that God has shown me many things but I am not proud of. About how I use my words especially when it comes to my children.  I think too often I forget that they are little children and the bus I expect more of them than I ought to. I forget to consider the opportunities which are presented by their struggles as chances for us to grow and minister to one another.   Instead I see them as disrupting something which I am putting more importance on than I should.  

Too often I think, I demand when I could request. Instead of being harsh and annoyed I need to be calm and joyful. 

I often I’m telling my oldest son that attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. In retrospect I would do well to remember this myself. I wonder how often my attitude has conveyed towards my children something that is hurtful. 

While it is so important for our children to learn to speak truth we need to remember to temper it with a gentle touch and a bit of love.  I watched my youngest daughter who is only one year old run to her older sister today to give her a big hug when her sister hurt herself in our living room.  

How we need to be so willing and quick to lend a hand and give a gentle touch when we see another with a need.  It Might Sting a bit it’s so important for us Mamas to look carefully and honestly at ourselves now and then. Especially as we seek to teach our children and guide them in their behavior and their words and we need to be mindful so much more of our own. 

All Things Bright and Beautiful

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful, 
The Lord God made them all….

For as long as I can recall I have loved the words of this hen, Always such a soothing and comforting reminder, from when I was a child, to days when I struggle today as an adult. There is a peace and an assurance that comes from this classic. And so I was super excited to have this one come in the mail for my daughter! was she ever thrilled to receive it too!

  Each page brings to life, in the most beautiful fashion, the words of this lovely, classic, hymn. As we read and journey with the three youth in this story, we are so blessed to be reminded of how all that we see and hear, is from the Lord. All created by Him for His glory and for us to be amazed and overjoyed with.  What a wonderful way to share the great works of God with our children.

The illustrations bring to life HIs creation, in a most beautiful way; so gentle and soft it seems that you could reach out and touch them. As though they are real, right before you. We are big lovers of art, and this is full of vibrant, life light images. Every page.

This truly is a wonderful addition to any library! I know this fast became my daughter’s favorite book!
And of course, its always a blessing to share with our kids, the love and power of our great Creator.❤

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#AllThingsBrightAndBeautiful #FlyBy

Amazon buy link: All Things Brightand Beautiful

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree ~ A Schoolhouse Review

I admit, I am not a big fan of technology. I try to limit screen time as much as I can. While I do see many benefits to some of the stuff that is out there, I really struggle with managing and monitoring all of it.  Often I find too, that there is very little educational content to things (I say its fluff). While I want to allow my kids time for fun, I want to see learning happening at the same time. Because learning can be fun. Last year we had the opportunity to review Star Toaster and we really enjoyed it! This year we have been given the chance to review their new app, Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree. Being that my kids really like using apps for “learning” we did not hesitate to agree to this one! Here is a chance to have an app that is sure to bring lots of fun (and secretly lots of purpose) to our days.




If you are not familiar with this company, Star Toaster creates amazing interactive books for our kids! The stories are so fun to read together and they are full of lessons on a variety of subjects. As you complete each lesson, you are able to care for more and more of these orphaned woodland creatures. A big bonus for my creature loving kiddos!

The app, Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree, is available on iTunes and is only for Apple devices. We used our iPad for this but it also could work on an iPhone; it does require an iOS 8.0 minimum.  This is recommended for children ages 9 to 11. I used this with my oldest son who is 10 and a very reluctant reader. I also used this with my younger son who is soon to be 7 and  struggling but eager to read for himself.


This app is a prequel to the original Star Toaster story, The Treasure of HighTower.  This is a 122 page interactive book telling the story of Abba the Flying Squirrel in the form of a journal, written by Abba himself, telling of his adventures with his friends in their fort called Tangletree. As our kids read there are highlighted words and phrases which they are able to touch and learn more about, expanding on both their vocabulary and grammar too. And there are also lots of great activities for them to do along the way. The Right Writer, encourages them to identify proper grammar (homonyms, compound words, etc) as they complete Job Training and Help Wanted opportunities in their journey. I have to say my favorites were the Cricket Cards!:-)







What kind of shorts does a cloud wear? Thunder wear..” 

There are so many ways that this app makes reading fun! And this isn’t just a story. It is such an adventure! As they read and gain Job Training, they can become Sound Scientists. or Hedgehog Pro’s.  They can study to become a Load Lifter or a Woodlands Wordsmith. They have such fun titles for every one of the activities that are in this story for our kids. It really makes the story become so much more alive and helps encourage our kids in their reading too! There are even little tips for our kids along the way, like the Memory Tip that encourages them to picture something they are trying to remember in their mind; its a great way to encourage the use of visual reminders!

I truly am impressed with the variety of lessons within this app! I love the story; it has great quality characters. A story line that is truly inviting and really draws you in! The chapters are short enough for my oldest son (who really doesn’t like to read) to enjoy. There are 75 lessons with over 120 tasks for to challenge our kids. Every activity is designed to help our kids learn valuable skills in math and science, character/virtue training, grammar and so much more…. I definitely recommend this app. For both my reluctant reader and my struggling reader this has both engaged and encouraged them!

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

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Crew Disclaimer

Not Meal Planning 

I make fasting look easy. Or so I’m told anyway. The thing is I have never really been much of a food  person. Well other people drool over chocolate now and then I might have a craving for an M&M or a peanut butter cup. I like my granola and yogurt. I’m a big fan of fruits and vegetables. But I don’t like to eat and as you can imagine I don’t like to cook.

As a mother of four and a wife that just doesn’t work. I have tried meal planning in the past. So far all that it has done is give me a headache and bring me very close to the use of some rather colorful language.  Too many cookbooks and too many recipes. Too much substituting fake food for real food and trying to keep everyone in the house pleased with what’s for dinner.   Striving to find healthy and tasty food!

The other day I said no more. I determined I would not go all in with meal planning. I determined instead that I would un plan meals.

Does that sound crazy? My little girl tells me that it does and I guess that makes sense because honestly I feel like I’ve been going a little crazy as of late.

So how is this mama here going to un plan her meals?  Let me tell you. I will even give you recipes and tools to use in case you want to un plan too!

I am sure you can imagine how I am so overwhelmed with meal planning just by the picture above. I mean look at all of those cookbooks and magazines. Full of recipes that look delicious and they take forever. Every page has something that looks like such a yummy treat but if I can keep it real here I don’t have time or the energy to make all of these fabulous looking things!

I have 4 children who all have very unique tastes and while I do not cater to their individual wants I still strive to make meals that we can all enjoy it together. As we come closer to restarting a full load of homeschooling I also need things that can be made painlessly. And sometimes in a pinch.

Truth be told all of these fancy meals I do so enjoy from all over the world but its just not realistic for our family in this season. Sure now and then we will enjoy a fancy dish from France or perhaps something spicy from Spain but for our daily meals I have to be realistic and focus on what can be made. I am not one for hours of standing over the stove it’s just not going to happen. No matter how badly I want to. If I am honest I will only bring myself misery and are we not called to do everything without grumbling or complaining?  Why test myself like that?

My version of un planning is simply one thing. Setting myself up to succeed. Being realistic so that I can do everything everyday. Full of joy and happiness and a song in my mouth.  What good are all those fancy meals anyway if we’re all Miserable as we make them and eat them?

I have found a simpler way. So for now those many cookbooks are boxed up and hidden away. Instead I have a binder .  Nothing fancy just a simple red binder with a couple heart stickers my daughter placed on its cover.  And inside are all recipes that I have found to be favorites of those I love the most.  It isn’t really a meal plan but it’s a start.. add a bit of freedom and a lot less stress at mealtime .


I’m probably not the only mom who has purchased materials for my children with the plan but those materials would just make our kids be better behaved. In fact I just got some amazing materials in the mail the other day that I was so sure would be just what my kids need.   

Maybe you already see what I do. I should have known and been prepared but I never saw it coming.
I know how inadequate I am as a mama. There are days that I just sit before the Lord and I have no words because I know that I just messed up again. And while I know the his mercies are new every morning I also know that if I cannot be the change living for him doesn’t have the power that it should.  I cannot be a witness to others or to my own home if I cannot do this right.  

Psalm 119 59 speaks to this saying ” I have thought about my ways and turned my feet to your testimonies. ”

Self-examination. It’s so important. Yet it’s also so hard for me because I expect far more of myself but I should. I know that I need to release myself from the expectation I have that I will do everything perfectly all the time. I need to forgive myself when I Stumble and fall. And I need to remember but God forgives me.   

So as I read through these new materials and gain a better understanding of the ingredients of Godly parenting and discipline I see so much within myself.  I understand that as I strive to train up my children in the way that they should go I also need to train up myself. 

I cannot continue to beat up myself for my kids when I see areas of weakness. But I do need to sit down so that we can identify these areas together and then pray for repentance and deliverance and forgiveness.   Then we need to make new ways. Ways that will encourage diligence and faithfulness.

It’s one thing to want but it’s another thing to go after it. As I read and seek the Lord’s Direction in all of this for myself and my family I am reminded but I only need to be obedient and faithful.  

 Let us simply Begin by speaking words of love and blessing to one another. But I show love and compassion comfort and support. Let us remember especially with our children they’re young foolish hearts. Most importantly let us love one another in deed and simply love our neighbor as ourself. 

Not Enough 

I am thinking today on how we are never really enough.

My family has hosted exchange students time and time again through the years. And I do believe with every boy and girl that we host we learn more about ourselves. We see are glaring inadequacies. There are times that having these young people in our home I have to wonder how anyone could possibly think that I am able? Other times I struggle to understand how any parent could send their child so far away and for so long.

I tend to be someone who looks at myself with a very studious eye underneath a very magnified microscope. I expect complete perfection. I think sometimes I even demand it of myself. Where is the Joy in that?

I forget how blessed we are and then we welcome in someone new to our home. Someone who often times lives very differently than we do. Yet I welcome them in hoping and praying but I can be a little bit of light in their lives. I seek to show them the truth that they may never have the opportunity to receive if not here. And I expect so much of myself but I fail myself. The funny thing is no matter how many times I perceive their time in our home is something that is less than ideal for them every time I am told how blessed they felt they were to be here.  

And of course sometimes there are those students cool remind me if he’ll pick you earlier and separate from the world our family is. And I have to remember to stand firmly upon all that the word of God says. I forget that we live differently. I forget that we look different. I forget but to some are very tiny house with so much in need of repair doesn’t seem to be as great of a blessing as I see it. I failed to remember that not everyone sees a sink full of dishes and non-stop laundry and Loud kids bouncing all about as things that are good.

Regardless every time I remember how inadequate I truly am to do anything on my own. I remember that beautiful truth but apart from Christ I can do nothing but with him all things are possible. All things. And so no matter how inadequate I may be I know that my God is more than enough .  

As this world seems to crumble and fall apart more each day it inspires and encourages me to live more for him today. It reminds me of how important it is to get our flesh under submission. And I am inspired to be that woman that is considered such a blessing to her family. To be meek and to be gentle. To always see the blessing with in any situation.

There is so much out there in the world to distract us and to keep us busy so that we do not have time to stop and to hear that still Small Voice that belongs to the Lord. Let us boldly seek those who desire truth the Lord’s touch.

Beric the Briton ~ Schoolhouse Review

 By now I am sure most of my faithful readers here know how much we love audio books in this house! By far our favorite audio dramas have been those produced by Heirloom Audio Productions. That said we were super excited and so happy and counting our blessings when we learned we would get to review their newest drama, Beric The Briton.  In addition to a physical copy of the CD’s we also received a number of wonderful electronic freebies:


  • Beric The Briton MP3 Set
  • Beric The Briton E-Book
  • Official MP3 Soundtrack
  • Printable Cast Poster
  • Inspirational Verse Poster
  • Behind the scenes video







I have loved G.A. Henry’s writing for as long as I can remember.  But my boys never really took to them. Being that one is a very reluctant reader and the other is struggling to get this reading thing, these audio dramas were just what we needed to inspire both boys!

This is recommended for children age six and up but my younger daughter who is four loves listening to these too! This is over 2 hours of story time; it arrived just in time for our drive to Michigan which is 3 hours long and it kept everyone mesmerized for the whole drive.

The quality of this production is simply amazing!  Full of actors (well known to many although new to me) like Brian Blessed, Cathy Sara, Tom Alexander and John Rhys-Davies. I love the music; it adds to the ambience of the story so perfectly. In fact, if you close your eyes, I do believe, you can really live the story as you listen.





This also includes an amazing study guide so that you can really go so much deeper with this! The study guide is full of details that bring this story even more to life, if that’s possible. There is a brief biography of G.A. Henty, Nero, and Queen Boadicea. There are also historical details, and lots of great recommended resources for further learning on the Brittons and Romans in the 1st century.  There are exercises to go along with each “chapter” within the story; these help with comprehension and aid in learning through Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words.



We really learned SO much from this one! I mean, I could go on forever about all the good things that are a part of this! The significance of the coliseum in Christianity; the importance of studying history and the value of doing so through the Bible.  For our boys (who love to fight and destroy) there was a powerful, yet simple lesson, on the command, Thou Shalt not Kill. And of course, a fabulous short study on the One True God and the truth that there is only one way.  Full of scriptural references my oldest son especially loved this part of the study guide (so many call him the little preacher) where he was able to dig into his Bible. See and read what the Word of God says on these things. This is a glorious addition to this fabulous program!




My oldest son absolutely loves these! Have a said that yet? These CD’s are still in our van and he still goes right to them when we are traveling. The story never gets old for him (any of us really!). These truly are a great way to encourage our kids to study history; the scripture woven throughout the story, it makes it even greater! Such a powerful story with such an eternal lesson. Our kids are learning so much as they listen, without even realizing it. I really do encourage you to consider adding these to your collection. And if you don’t have a collection, perhaps its time to start one😀

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review


Beric The Briton FB Page

The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty series FB page

Heirloom Audio Productions social pages




Instagram: @HeirloomAudioOfficial

Crew Disclaimer

In our Heart


I was reading the other day (and I admit it stung a bit) how “our pride causes us to filter out the evil we see in ourselves, it also causes us to filter out God’s goodness in others. When we are sitting in a sermon or studying a passage, it’s pride that prompts the terrible temptation to skip the Spirit’s surgery on my own heart and instead draft a mental blog post or plan a potential conversation for the people who “really need to hear this.”






I hate to say it but I cannot count the times I will say, “I have got to get so and so to listen to this one”.



I truly believe I am being helpful; I am assisting them in growing in Jesus. But maybe I am not. After reading the words I read, I am definitely sure of one thing. I need to check my heart. Perhaps my good intentions are not as good as I have always considered them to be.



Jonathon Edwards writes, “The spiritually proud person shows it in his finding fault with other saints. … The eminently humble Christian has so much to do at home and sees so much evil in his own that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts.”
I am a perfectionist. Recovering anyway. And I know that this can come across the wrong way to others. I see myself through a microscopic lens; I tend to expect more of others than I should. I consider it okay, because I expect so much of myself as well. But it really doesn’t work that way at all. In fact, my need for everything to be just so, exact and perfect…It overshadows God.  If I see perfection as something I can truly obtain…What does that say about my understanding and need for Jesus? I cannot be perfect. Only He can. Accepting that confirms the greatness of God and HIs love and mercy towards each of us.

Again Edwards writes, “Christians who are but fellow-worms ought at least to treat one another with as much humility and gentleness as Christ treats them.”



When I look down my nose at another, or when I “see” an area of need, in another’s life….Am I truly being humble and meek? I know all too well how imperfect I am. I see too clearly my faults and shortcomings. Yet very rarely does someone come to me to tell me I need to hear or see something (at times this is okay though, really).  We ought to encourage one another. We ought to strive to lift one another up. But showing where others fall short isn’t always the best way to do that.




It;s my struggle and its also my goal. To be more intentional in seeing my need in any situation. Not overlooking others needs or making myself more important than others…but as I read and study, as I listen to the sermons preached — what does it speak to me? Where can I grow? Its a prayer I need to pray more regularly again.



“Lord give me wisdom, give me a word that I may know you and walk more closely to you today, than yesterday.”




It is good to encourage one another. It is necessary for us to share what we see with others. We cannot grow without that encouragement and direction. Yet we must clearly see ourselves as well. As someone who is always so very focused on what to do, and what to do next…I need to slow down. I need to appreciate the moments more; I need to listen for “my word” in things and not just point my finger to another as being “the one this word is for”.




Too often, I see myself through a sense that is not entirely truthful. I am and always have been extremely hard on myself, I expect a lot. Of others too. And then I am frustrated when they fall short (and when I do too!). I am reminded today, and every day, that God is so merciful and so graceful to me.. To every one of us. I mean, honestly, I am baffled always, that He chose me. Me. I mean,  I can clearly see people who are far better (kinder softer, meeker, gentler, more social) and yet He chose me. I will never understand why but how grateful I am that He did! And how inspired I am to strive to be more like Him today and tomorrow.



I heard it said not long ago that “If how we respond and live today is the same as when we were saved, if nothing has changed, if we are not more like Christ, then we are doing this thing all wrong.”



Let us do this well. Running the race, striving to hear Him say, “well done  good and faithful servant!”






ABeCeDarian ~~ Schoolhouse Review

ABeCeDarian Interactive Reviews



We have had lots of great products to review lately. A number of them have been related to the task of learning to read and write.  The ABeCeDarian Interactive A Workbook from the ABeCeDarian Company is one of those which we were given the opportunity to review.  While you can purchase physical books from them, we received the Interactive Workbook and the Teacher Manual – A–  both of these in digital form. 




ABeCeDarian Interactive Reviews





ABeCeDarian is a research based, multisensory decoding program for beginning readers; it is designed for ages five and up, to assist them in learning to read and write.  ABeCeDarian Interactive A Workbook  is designed to be used online however while this can be used on a regular computer, we found that it worked best on our iPad (this can also be used on Kindle Fire as well) where my son and daughter could use their fingers to trace the letters as we went along. Michael Bend, Ph.D. is the founder and president and has created this phonemic-based leveled reading program which teaches students from non-reader (Level A or Kindergarten) all the way through 6th-grade (Level D).




One thing I found to be a bit of a struggle was that this program is more student/teacher-led. This is not something you can just set your child up with and walk away from. While the lessons are fairly short, since there is no sound or method of assessment, it is very important for momma (teacher) to be fully involved in this one. The program will allow the student to move on to the next page without completing the prior one, and while I do appreciate the flexibility this allows, at the same time, it is a challenge for my younger two who, perhaps, have not truly mastered one thing and yet move on to another. At the same time, I think its nice for my younger ones to have the ability to move about in their work. My daughter preferred the writing portion of this; we have to go over letters and the sound they make fairly often right now. 

My older son however preferred spelling and reading to the writing portion. So in some ways, the ability to navigate back and forth can be a good thing. And of course, I admit, it encourages me to have that extra time with each one of them as we go through the lessons every day. I can see where we are challenged and also where we are doing well. I tease my son that he and daddy have golf to bond over, and he and I have letters to bond over. haha





I admit it, I’m definitely more of a fan of physical books than digital materials. While I try to live in a more minimalistic way at the same time it seems much easier to home school my kiddos with physical materials. 

 ABeCeDarian’s interactive workbook however is a nice medium for us for right now. Both my son (6) and my daughter (4) have a fun time with this program. It isn’t too simple but also is not so advanced. The lessons are very reasonable in length too for both of them. I can work with them on this, even though they are each in a different place and it encourages them to strengthen and advance their skills. I do wish there was something that marked where we left off each day as I can be a bit forgetful (four kids does that you know) and so some days after it loads, we spend more time trying to determine where we left off. With my daughter its not such a big deal since the review is a good thing for her, but my son can get a bit temperamental if he has to wait too long or repeat the same thing too often. He is really enjoying the reading and spelling skills he has gained from this however.




This really does have a good variety of exercises though to help with all things reading, from letter recognition to sounds and basic reading/writing/spelling:


  • Writing letters and words (we used our finger on the iPad)
  • Creating Words from Letters
  • Reading Pages
  • Sentence Fill in Activities





The ABeCeDarian Interactive A student Workbook  is $14.95 for one year and if you need or want to have ongoing access after the year ends it is $4.95 for each additional year. The PDF of the Teacher’s Manual – A is free, or if you prefer a print version you can get one for $9.95.  Not bad at all if you ask me. It does need some tweaking (loading time is rather slow) but its definitely a great idea! If you need something to help encourage reading and writing, this is a great option, especially if you have more time to be really hands on with your kiddos. As a mother of four, I admit this challenged me to really take the time to sit with my two and work through the lessons within this one. Again, I really do believe this program has great potential and while it didn’t work out so well for us, we are planning to complete the 48 lessons within. It’s a great combination of reading and writing (I love how both are included!).



ABeCeDarian Interactive ReviewsConnect with ABeCeDarian: