What is my best self?

I recently stumbled across a really amazing and totally free online course called The 4 Essential Habits of Healthy Families.

 

 

 

We all want the best for our family is right? Of course in this information age we are often overloaded, torn in so many different directions … we wind up never really doing anything. At least I have to admit that happens to me now and then.

 

I was definitely intrigued when I saw that habit number one was entitled “How to Nurture Your Best Self” (and bust the productivity myth).   Right away I was inspired and encouraged to reconsider how I define health and why balance and self-care so important.

 

The point was made immediately that health is more than just not having a disease but it’s overall health: physically, spiritually, emotionally. Are we really living a life that is balanced and full of meaning?

Again and again I heard it said that only with balance and self-care can we really enjoy life and be truly healthy.  It is so important for us to not worry, which of course reminded me of how Jesus tells us to cast ALL of our burdens upon him.
Are we getting enough sleep? I know I am not. With a four-month-old baby who doesn’t sleep through the night this is probably my biggest challenge to overall health and balance in my life right now.
Did you know that Einstein was so bad at school his family wanted him to become a plumber so he could support himself? Supposedly his entire scientific career was a meditation on that.
Crazy right?
But we do need to get better sleep, not just because we like sleep, but it’s about the bigger picture. It was mentioned that in the summer months if we just go out early in the morning we can set our circadian rhythm, which will then help tell our bodies it is morning and in time our body will recognize night in the darkness.

There was a recommendation to us light filtering softwares for watching TV or working on electronic devices in the evening.  I was not aware of such a thing but am definitely going to look into this more myself!
The use of magnesium oil and Epson salt baths. It is said this counteracts the effects of stress and helps with the production of melatonin. These are important !
What about self-examination? Even the Bible talks about how we need to examine ourselves daily, search our hearts and our minds to route out those things that will only destroy us.
There is a five minute journal I read about, that helps us to see where we need balance. Every day in the morning, you write three things you’re thankful for and what would make your day a great one. Then at the end of the day you look back and reflect on the amazing things that happened, the things that didn’t happen, and how the day could’ve been better. It sounds like a great way to help see the bigger picture and prioritize a bit more clearly.

 

We all know how important it is to build rest into our daily lives. I mean, even God took the seventh day to rest. And really if we are living according to the Word of God we are commanded to take that day to rest.
If you are like me though you feel like the list of things to do never ends and so when you do sit down to relax you feel SO guilty. But I have to say,  the more I reviewed this one course, there more I realized that while my work may never be done I do need to take the time for relaxation myself.  To balance and rest; to energize and reflect.  I need to find that balance in my life.
What about you? If you’re struggling with some of these things just like I am, do check out this free course. I mean, it’s free, so what do you have to lose?

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Nichole Nordeman ~ The Unmaking ~ Review

We love music in this house! It seems there is always someone singing around here.

So of course I was more than happy to review The Unmaking, by Nichole Nordeman. :-)

 

 

The Unmaking

The title song The Unmaking was such a powerful reminder of what it truly means to be born again, living for Him.

 

“What happens now…..When all I’ve made is torn down….When all of You, is all that’s left…..The beauty in the breaking…Had to lose myself, To find out who you are.

Before each beginning, there must be an ending; Sitting in the rubble I can see the stars….This is the unmaking”

 

 “Only when we’re broken are we whole.”

 

About The Unmaking:

“Before things in our lives can be resurrected and given new life, certain things must die.  Before beauty blooms in spring, roots must do the hard work under the hard frozen soil of winter.  Before you renovate and re-build, you tear down the parts of the structure that are weak or damaged or dangerous.  Before we make, we must unmake.”  Nichole Norman

Buy it now:

About Nichole Nordeman:

Nichole Nordeman is a recording artist and songwriter for Sparrow/EMI CMG, with numerous number-one and top ten singles to her credit and cumulative CD sales of over one million.  A two-time Gospel Music Association winner for Female Vocalist of the Year, she has won a total of nine Dove Awards, including the best-selling album, Music Inspired by The Story.  Her best-known songs include “Holy”, “Legacy”, “Brave”, “This Mystery“, “Why”, and “What If”.  She lives with her family in Tulsa, OK.

Her lyrics speak to such humility; her talent shines through in this “unplugged” version of The Unmaking!

 

 And as a momma  of four (with one being an itty bitty girl) I just loved Slow Down. What a fabulous reminder for us to just slow down!

 

Although I was previously unfamiliar with Nichole Nordeman, I consider myself SO very blessed for having received this for review. Such depth and beauty within every one of her songs. I don’t think I could say there was just one that moved me but every one of them reminded me, in some way, of where we come from. How we must decrease so that He may increase.

 

 

Its the beauty of brokenness in song!  <3

 

Follow Nicole Nordeman

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How Are We to Train Them?

“He that has trained his children for heaven, rather than for earth-

for God rather than for man – he is the parent who will be called wise at the last.”

–J.C. RYLE

 

 

 

We have been hosting foreign exchange students for quite some time now.

Its been a blessing in so many ways to our family…this year is no different. In fact this year we are hosting a lovely young lady from Norway!  While there are so many differences between our family and hers, we are sure that all shall be blessed in this journey we are taking together.

 

 

The other day I had to take her in to the local school to register for classes.  As many of you know, I am sure, I am a big advocate for home education. I find the public schools to be, mostly, heartbreak and politics with very little real learning taking place. However, the school we visited is a charter school in our area, a lot smaller, more selective in the students that attend, and highly recommended by some friends in the faith. So we were willing to give it a try.

 

Its been so long since I have been in a school myself. Yet as we walked those halls, as we met teachers and students who were there for the morning….As I saw the political posters hung about  and the super relaxed, laid back, we are all equals environment, I admit I felt suddenly very overwhelmed with a sense of foreboding.

 

 

This is it for so many children. This is where they gain their most trusted of friends, where they establish their own family away from home. Here is where they will be told what to think; they will miss out on so many experiences. They will learn more political agenda and less true history.  They will sit in seats and listen to someone tell rather than them being directed to finding the answers, discerning facts from fiction. Their hands will be still; they will hang out more than expand wisdom. They will learn to accept all things from abortion to homosexuality, to tolerance and the evils of God.

 

 

One particular student we met, just broke my heart Such a happy and friendly boy (although it took me a bit to determine he was indeed a he)! It hit me – he is a good kid, lost, confused. Without God. He is accepted and embraced as he is by those surrounding him, perhaps his parents pray for his lost lifestyle choices, perhaps they do not see the danger in his life themselves. It hit me hard. As parents, we certainly want to encourage our older kids to make choices, to learn and follow their passions, but if we are true to the Word of God there will be a limit. There are things that are just not okay.There are choices that may not be His will for us.

 

 

As parents we need to be willing to say No. We need to be willing to take back the authority that we have. Why do we allow some of these things? Our children with piercings all over their faces; our daughters dressed so immodestly, showing off far too much of what we are clearly told to honor and cover? Why are so many willing to allow their boys to wear jewelry and make up? To dress in a fashion that is not meant for their gender?

 

 

I am not sure these words are even sufficient to express how sorrowful I was for the kids I met in this school. For the kids I see at the mall, the coffee shop….I see so much potential within them, if they could just learn, and meet, Jesus. So they too could see how perfect they are AS they were created. His purpose, His will, His image. Can’t we embrace that? Can we not teach our children to image the image they were created in?

 

 

I am more than ever before convinced that the schools are no place for our children. You cannot be salt and light in a place that closes the door on God himself. It is not possible. He was kicked out remember? We need to reach out, of that I have no doubt, but we need to do so with our children. How can they possibly safely manage all the darkness that is within these walls? Jesus sent them out together; they went together. After they were grown; after they surely had a firm foundation. We must do the same.

 
These kids and teachers, they are good and kind and lovely people. But they need more. We need to find ways to be that light we are called to be. Without risking our children. As our “daughter” begins her school year, I pray, I know our church prays, for her to be kept safe, to be kept strong in Him. We need to pray too that those who are within the walls can reach out to those who are seeking something more. I encourage our “daughter”, as I have each one every year, bring a friend to church. Bring them to our safe place; introduce them to our sweet, precious Lord!

 
As parents, we need to teach our children this. Reach out. Compel them to come! Show them love, get to know them. We are not friends with the world, His word is clear, but we are given a great and powerful job to do. We must preach the Gospel and we must do so boldly. Perhaps our voice shakes, maybe we don’t quite get the words right, but He always moves on those who are willing to open the door to Him. We are responsible, momma and dad too, for what they know. What do we allow? What do we encourage? Let us be sure we teach them, gently, to love and to honor themselves and their Creator. When they do there will be such a presence about them, what great things shall be done for the Kingdom of God!

 

 

 

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Roman Town Educational App (Dig-It! Games Review)

We love history. We love puzzles and games; logic and critical thinking exercises. After all, isn’t the goal  of home education to help our children learn HOW to think? So, I was super excited to have a chance to review two games that encompass all of these things and now I can say we have fallen in love with Dig-It! Games; particularly Roman Town (iOS App) and Mayan Mysteries (Online Game).

 

 

 

The first game, Roman Town (iOS App) is specifically for Apple devices but the second game, Mayan Mysteries (Online Game) is designed for the computer (it also worked for us on our tablet, just not Apple devices). There is an iOS app version of Mayan Mysteries although this was not a part of our review.

 

 

      This app is a free download in the Apple App store, however in order to complete the game in-app purchases are required. For the purpose of the review, we received the in-app purchases. This one does require iOS 8.0 or later and states it is solely compatible with the iPad only.

 

Roman Town begins in Pompeii.  This is a mystery game which teaches both history and logic/critical thinking skills, while also exercising spatial reasoning, memory, math, and so much more!!  As  you go through the game clues are provided, often requiring the player to complete a mini-game puzzles as they track a thief named Ladrone. With these puzzles and games they learn about Roman history, architecture, Roman numerals, historical design of the city and aqueducts (engineering), word roots and even daily life as it was in this ancient civilization.

 

This game is designed for ages 9-11, and it does meet the Common Core standards for grades 5-8.  This is great for any and all lovers of puzzles and history; even my almost six year old son enjoyed some of these games as we completed parts of the game together :-)

 

Unexpected Homeschool: Mayan Mysteries and Roman Town learning games from Dig It!

 

 

 

My oldest son especially loved all of the ancient games within this app.  As he tracked Ladrone and talked to tourists in Pompeii he received clues , often having to play a game to get the clue.  Every one of them was a great exercise in logic and strategic thinking.  Happy Momma Here <3

 

 

What a fun way to learn history, practice mathematics, and explore the ancient world of Rome!  My oldest son really loved learning and practicing reading Roman numerals in these amazingly fun challenges!  I admit to taking some turns myself; we are hooked!

 

 

Mayan Mysteries is a fully loaded online game based in seven real-life Mayan excavation sites. Cool right?  The game is designed for grades 5 through 9 (ages 11 and up) and while it is playable for younger children, some of the puzzles are quite involved.  For the younger ones, it is best if we do it together~

The game begins as a comic book in the style used to introduce the player to the characters and the plot, of the game. As you play, you follow along with an archeologist and his niece and nephew who are trying to save the mythical city of Ich’aak from looters. There are puzzles to complete, and as you do, you collect clues from the various excavation sites which were looted to move on (there are 25 puzzles in all throughout the whole game).

As the game progresses there are amazing details to be learned of the Mayan people and their culture, the excavation sites themselves, the Mayan calendar, even math!  The puzzles offer lots of opportunities for critical, logical thinking; this is a great way to exercise the mind of any history lover if you ask me!

 
The game autosaves too, which is a huge benefit for us, since my oldest would at times get frustrated and need a break from playing. But you can go back to re-read the clues that have been collected, view achievements and artifacts found, even replay some of the puzzles to raise your score. It can all be played again and again too :-)  Makes for lots of fun!

 

 

My boys just could not get enough of Roman Town; they worked together, sometimes we played as a family even, replaying some of the games or just reading the clues and facts provided.  For my oldest son, some of the puzzles were a bit easier for him than expected (a nice challenge for my younger son) but there were also plenty of other games that really made him think.  We love a good challenge around here.

 

I was super impressed with how much we all learned from these games.  As I said they are full of fun learning and this is an excellent addition to our history lessons!

 

Even though these games are independent of one another, the characters and story line with the thief, Ladrone, makes a bit more sense after playing Mayan Mysteries. The story in Roman Town was much simpler, less involved than the one in Mayan Mysteries, which I think my older son preferred. But there is a new appreciation gained from playing Mayan Mysteries first; regardless they are both excellent games to be enjoyed no matter how you play them.

The games and puzzles are all a part of the Roman or Mayan history and culture so these are not your typical online games to play. Each ones relates in some way to either the Mayan or the Roman times. For example:

  • Code Breaker:  Try to determine the  4-digit code to unlock a safe to reveal a clue.
  • Knucklebones:  Similar to a dice game but using bones instead of dice; a game of chance.
  • JigsawAssemble the jigsaw pieces to complete a picture.  Could be a painting, a drawing, an ancient tool…just move the pieces into place.  Many puzzles had about 8-10 pieces, but some had more.  My younger son (he is 6) really liked this one!
  • Pipes:  Another favorite of my younger son; figure out how to put the joints and pipe pieces together underground to connect and complete the flow of water to the surface.  Both boys loved this; would have been fun if it increased in difficulty though.
  • Maze:  Tilt your device to move a ball through the maze.  It could be have been more challenging said my 9 year old son but my younger boy just loved it!  As did my daughter who is four.
  • Calculi:  A popular Roman board game, it looks like a checkerboard but is similar to tic tac toe but with five in a row.  The boy played this one again and again.  They really enjoy strategy games like this one, and I had to pry them away from this one.

 

Overall, we definitely recommended either of these educational games for encouraging and enhancing critical thinking skills through game play.  And the fun little facts that they will learn along the way are a great bonus!

 

Dig-It! Games ReviewConnect with the Dig-It! Games on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DigItGames
Twitter: https://twitter.com/digitgames
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/digitgames


 

Crew Disclaimer

 

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Becoming

I have been reading a lot this year mostly about our need for joy and peace, with the hopes of becoming a more joyful and peaceful mom and wife.

I never realized before now how powerful the word becoming is. I mean if you think about when we say have you come in we are talking about an action. A change. Something is happening, big or small.
Which makes me wonder what I am becoming. Am I becoming a more godly wife and mother? Am I the coming unless godly wife and mother?
 I realize I can only do this if I have joy and peace within me. And this can only be done when I have time spent with the Lord. Time, and listen for his voice. Time to read worship and praying. Not rushed need prayer but one that is slow and sincere, one that takes the time to find the words.
I often think of that proverbs 31 woman and wish that I could be more like her. Then it hits me, I am becoming like her. But those words were not written by her, rather they were written of her. Others perceptions through time. Maybe I admire her today more than I want stead. Perhaps my perception has changed and I now see the many qualities that we read of that relate to her, as goals and ideals. Not at all a list of the rules or do’s and don’t’s.

If we do this life properly according to his well we are all becoming more and more like him every day. If we are truly living God we need to become, we need to change. Things will be shaken, flash will rise up and we will have to beat it down again and again. Yet each time we do we will become stronger we will have more of him and less of ourselves.  
I say this to remind myself that when those hard days come, when I feel like I just can’t, He can. And when I get it out-of-the-way and let Jesus take over, when I simply follow him, great things happen ! 
  

 

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You go Where you Focus

“The Christian or was it to the world to be supernaturally joyful.” says     A W Tozer. 

We are told in the word of God if we seek first the kingdom of God all else shall follow. 
  

So if God is good all the time, if we really believe that, then when we focus on him we shall be changed to be more and more like him. If that happens then we should show that supernatural joy that it is said we owe to the world, right?
It’s all about where I focus is.  My son just learned how to ride A two wheeler. He fell a couple times, he lost his balance and you ran into things once or twice when he wasn’t watching where he was going.
So it is with us, in all things, if we do not keep our eyes focused on where we are going we will stumble and we will fall. That’s not to say that if we are truly focused we will never fall but it will be much easier to get up when we keep our eyes on the one that really matters.  
No matter the struggles we go through whether it be in our marriage, day to day life as a momma, work or play  we must strive to keep our eyes on Jesus. Focus on him and then no matter what storm comes our way we will have that peace within knowing that we are in the hands of the one who controls the storm itself.
None of us have a perfect marriage, none of us are the perfect parent. But we know the One who is perfect. Our creator, our Savior, our Lord. The only one that matters.  

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Whistlefritz Spanish Fun for Kids

  

My oldest son is almost 10 and he loves learning different languages.
He started with Chinese about two years ago when we were hosting a boy from China. Since then he has learned how to write some Chinese characters and speak the language of it too.

This summer we had a sweet girl stay with us from Spain and this made him decide he wanted to learn Spanish too. At that same time a wonderful company blessed us with a collection of materials for learning Spanish specifically for children ages 1 to 7.

We received  five DVDs and two CDs full of songs, lyrics and translations. This even came with a parent/teacher translation guide to help mama learn too!  

Since the only language I can really speak somewhat fluently is German, this mama was ever so appreciative of the big book of Spanish lesson plan that came as a part of the set.
  

Lesson one for example was “who am I?” It was so easy, laying out the goal and objective right away. The vocabulary words to be learned are all listed in English and in Spanish as well as a list of materials for a fun craft. My little ones especially love making things 😄

For about a half an hour each day we would sit together and learn Spanish.  Even though I know absolutely zero Spanish this program made it fun and easy for me to help all three of my little ones learn from my youngest who is three to my oldest who is nine. 
The lessons ranged in topic from colors two numbers. Even mathematical concepts and exercises in sorting. My oldest son enjoyed making a collage to describe the names of different shapes and colors in Spanish.
  

 One lesson discussed “where I live” and my son drew the picture above the show where he lives. In this lesson they learned how to identify the names of places where people live and where they live with flashcards that we colored in and laminated.

There were also sequencing cards, these were used to help teach seasons and activities and some storytelling too. My five-year-old son loved this one. We would mix up the cards so he could order them and then tell us the story in his own words using as much Spanish as he could. 
  

My three-year-old daughter loves to sing so she really enjoyed the CD that was full of Spanish learning songs. While she can’t read it did include a book full of vocabulary words and the lyrics to each song along with the translation.  This is a wonderful way for the younger ones to learn a foreign language!

  
Especially for children games are an excellent way to learn! We have a cabinet full of games that help our kids to learn geography and history and languages too. We had lots of fun with this memory game (especially since mom could never seem to remember where any card was ha ha) but my boys especially excelled at this one. As they would flip over each card they would say the word in Spanish, there is a cute picture on each one to help if you don’t know what the words for, and whoever had the most cards in the end why. I think it was my five-year-old almost every time!

It sure isn’t easy learning another language, but it certainly doesn’t have to be hard either.  With this program I have to say I found it easy even for myself to quickly learn basic Spanish. And how funny is it when we get to learn something with our kids?  I firmly believe that languages are a great way to exercise the mind and an even better way to really learn about the world that we live in.  

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