PASSION WHOLE HEART LIVE CD (REVIEW & GIVEAWAY)

We love music! My children have their own mp3 players that are filled with their very favorite songs.

 

The power of music is just amazing. How it can brighten any day; it consoles, sometimes it provides healing and comfort.

 

So we were really excited to have the chance to review WHOLE HEART by Passion Music, provided by FlyBy Promotions.

 

 

WHOLE HEART is an exciting new live album from Passion—captured at Passion Conference 2018 in Atlanta, GA.
Just a few of the Passion Artist featured are: Kristian StanfillMelodie Malone, Matt Redman, Tauren & Crowder. Pretty amazing, no doubt? 
Whole Heart Track Listing:
1. Whole Heart (feat. Kristian Stanfill)
2. Almighty God (feat. Sean Curran)
3. God, You’re So Good (feat. Kristian Stanfill & Melodie Malone)
4. Reckless Love (feat. Melodie Malone)
5. Heaven (feat. Sean Curran)
6. More Like Jesus (feat. Kristian Stanfill)
7. Hallelujah, Our God Reigns (feat. Brett Younker)
8. Ghost (feat. Crowder)
9. Ever Almighty (feat. Melodie Malone)
10. Great Are You Lord (feat. Matt Redman)
11. All My Hope (feat. Crowder & Tauren Wells)
Info about Passion: http://passionmusic.com/story/ 
“A generation living for His name! That IS passion.”
 There is something so beautiful about songs that are written and sung just for Jesus!
I think of how David was a man after God’s own heart; a man of praise and worship!
May we also seek to love and glorify God. 🙂
Purchase your own copy here:  http://capcmg.me/PassionWholeHeart
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UltraKey {Bytes of Learning Review}

Being able to type, accurately and quickly, is an important skill for our kids to learn nowadays. My husband was especially pleased to see that we were given the chance to review UltraKey Online Family Subscription from Bytes of Learning. Because this is something he has been very serious about our children learning.

UltraKey Bytes of Learning

I admit to being rather surprised by how involved this program really is. I have never been a fan of typing; I still peck at the keys with two or three fingers most of the time. Not good right? While this is technically an online typing program, it is also a lesson in posture, finger positioning and more! There are twelve lessons in all, taught with animated video, recommended for ages 8 all the way to a “little old lady” says my daughter. For this review we received a one year family subscription.

UltraKey Online Family Edition

I actually set up an account for myself as well as my oldest son, on this program. Truth be told, I know this is something I really need to improve upon. As a home educating momma who also works at home, I imagine the time I could save, if I could type properly. And fewer mistakes being made is always a wonderful thing . There is nothing that drives me batty more than completing an email or a service announcement to then realize all the corrections I need to make before it is really complete.

Since my oldest son is a speech/debate kind of boy, it was encouraging to him to hear in one of the videos that the value of typing well “communicates your idea or thought to others.” A great way to look at it. When we cannot speak face to face, typing is another way to share things we want to share with others. And don’t we want to do that as best as we possibly can? Nothing worse than an email that you have to work to decipher!

This is a self paced program meant to be used for twenty minutes per day; offered with 3 user, 5 user or 8 user options, this is a great tool for any family and for any age! There are numerous challenges and practices available for use as you go from learning the letters, to words and then sentences. But before you begin you must complete the lessons on posture and finger placement. These are not long but did they ever show me (and my son) how terrible our typing form really is! Each lesson introduces between three to four keystrokes; there is a warm up that comes before each one. Get those fingers warmed up and ready to work! What is really fun is that they even have stretches built into the lessons. Type for a time, take a break, get up and stretch, then come back and work a bit more. A wonderful bit to any program for boys that cannot sit still for long! And the audio that goes along with each lesson is so upbeat and encouraging! It makes even the “worst” lesson enjoyable.

Once we completed the videos (my son especially enjoyed their posture puzzle) we moved on. We began with an assessment that made sure we started out right where we needed to be. Once we were ready to get started, for fun, we got our goals set up (you can determine your own – we let the program set the goals for us for now). For each lesson there is a record kept of the progress made; this includes speed and accuracy. My oldest son is all about speed; I on the other hand am all about accuracy right now. 🙂 Complete the lesson and then go to Spell Check; here you can see how you are achieving your goals. You can choose length or time. Any trouble? Here comes extra practice – this is all about improving how we type. As you get better, see how well you progress as well, by hiding your typing. Sounds scary to me! Ha-ha

This is such an amazing program. I never liked typing, nor did my oldest son, but this has really made things much more enjoyable for us. Since each account is completely customizable my son spent quite a bit of time choosing a background screen, colors, the voice he wanted to hear as he worked, even the colors.

He also really enjoyed the Game Zone (a great way to motivate when someone doesn’t want to do their lesson for the day) where there are lots of fun activities to reinforce what is being learned. There is also a Typing forum where you can take typing tests or just practice typing freely. There is a record of the details kept for each test you take; a nice way to see how and if we are progressing. So you can see those good habits and those habits that are not so good. This program is encouraging; so many wise reminders to simply “keep at it”.

 

 

While I admit this was not something I was super excited about in the beginning, I have to admit I have found this to be a fabulous tool, not just for my son, but myself as well. In fact throughout the time we have been using this my younger son (he is eight) has been watching and has recently requested that he “Have a turn” at typing. We will definitely be continuing to use this for the time we are able (although it truly is quite affordable if we should want to continue beyond the subscription we were given). I definitely recommend checking them out if you are in need of something to help encourage and better the typing skills of you or your children.

UltraKey {Bytes of Learning Reviews}

BYTES OF LEARNING

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Wulf the Saxon {Heirloom Audio Productions Review}

 

Heirloom Audio Productions

Guess what time of the year it is? That’s right, it’s time for reviews! Another amazing and exciting year as a part of the Schoolhouse Review. And what better way to start out the year than with our very favorite vendor Heirloom Audio Productions and their newest adventure,Wulf the Saxon! This is one of those things that we just cannot get enough of. Every one of their stories is so full of adventure and excitement taking you back in time.  For my four children, ages two to twelve, history takes on a whole new meaning when it comes alive like this! For this review we received Wulf the Saxon Single Pack which is over 2 hours of amazing audio adventure designed for ages 6-16 (but really, for all ages to enjoy!) on 2 CD’s. Do you know the difference between a duke and an earl? And what is a thane anyway? Listen to this story and you will certainly find out!

 

Wulf the Saxon   My kids were in awe that this time we traveled back to 1065. This story takes place in England and also in France. My younger son said, “Is that even possible? That’s like more than a century.” ha-ha  It can definitely be pretty hard to imagine life so long ago. Thankfully with these stories it all becomes so much clearer! Oh the things we can learn … from ONE  story book! 🙂

 

 

Being that my boys are all about boats and sailing, this was such a timely treat! My oldest son is actually really looking forward to summer when he can do some sailing classes and learn how to motorboat on the lake near our house with his fellow Scouts. My younger son simply plans to build his boat. He certainly is handy and is always trying to create something out of what is seemingly nothing. Suffice to say, this has not only peaked their interest in sailing but also has inspired them to explore a bit more this great world we are a part of.

 

 

 

 

 

The timing for when this arrived was perfect too; just in time for a long road trip we had to take. Time in a car goes by so much quicker when we have one of these; certainly there are a lot fewer fights and fusses when these stories are on. Of course if this had not come, we would have enjoyed one of their other wonderful tales but it is always fun to have a new story to enjoy! And can you believe this is the ninth one they have completed? I admit I went and counted all of ours because I couldn’t believe it. G.A. Henty has been one of our favorite writers for some time now because of how well he brings to life historical events and people.  Being able to live and experience those same stories in this way, is even better! I simply do not have the words to express how well these are done. I will say though my boys refer to these as “movies” at home because even though there are no pictures on a screen you can see so clearly the characters and the places and the events as they take place.

 

 


 

From  the very beginning I could see that this was a story that my boys especially, needed to hear. Really hear. We have really been struggling to encourage them to show kindness one to another. When we meet Harold he is “wearing a hole in the floor” (my kids love this phrase because we had a hole in our floor not long ago). We hear “It is not always good to let others know what you think.” What truer words to be spoken! What a powerful and difficult lesson to learn. My boys, even my older daughter, struggle to learn this lesson.  My son’s were horrified with the idea of someone “having their ears slit” – this being an actual punishment done to people long ago what a thing to research  – was even harder for them to believe. Yet it was something that brought about a deeper discussion that we need to have ears to hear; we need to control our tongue and not always say what we want to say. Self control. Wisdom.immediately when this story begins we see the damage that words can do.  Insolent words. Speaking out of wrath – quarrelsome boys – Can we, and do we, represent our Lord with our words? If not, what then?

 

 

“Not punishment but a step to your future…” 

 

 

Whatever trial may come our way, it is so important that we take our experience and we learn from it.  It has been said that there is always something positive to see in any situation but we have to choose to see it. What a great lesson for our boys to learn – that each moment of our lives is a little experience but can shape us in such a big way. My husband I really did chuckle again and again as we considered and compared Wulf himself, to our own children.  His impetuous behavior and quick action (and speech). The struggles he endured being banished (because of his temperament) and how he grew as he journeyed with friends, learning so many valuable lessons. As we journey with Wulf we see him grow from a quick tempered boy into a courageous and loyal young man.

 

“There is a degree of patience that must be learned….”

 

 

This story is full of adventure that is going to leave you on the edge of your seat! Follow Wulf as he sails through the storm (close your eyes and you can really see it, that’s how real it feels!).  We have talked a lot about what it means to show honor but this story was so full of opportunities to really engage our children in a discussion about what good character and virtue really looks like.  We all came to truly love and admire Wulf as this story unfolded. My boys get bored so easily but this one – this is so full of action – war and dungeons – trouble at sea – kidnapped – it all happens fast too! There were many times that I had to listen again because I missed a detail that mattered. Of course every detail matters! These stories are quick; every character matters! Clearly Heirloom Audio truly desires to bring to life history, particularly as it relates to our life as Christians. We are reminded again and again within the pages of the scriptures the importance of remembering, of telling our children, of the great things God has done. These stories are another way to do just that.

 

 

Wulf the Saxon {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews} 

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Easy is a Myth

I was reading the other day. I don’t get the chance to read as much as I would like but recently I picked up a book was recommended to me by a friend and I determined that I would read it right away.

You see my family has been in a bit of a rough patch when it comes to learning. Instead of being excited about opportunities and really loving the learning we are grumbling and complaining. We are fighting and not really learning anything at all.

We have never really doubted the choice we made to keep our children home. Sure there have been days when I might have been tempted to send them off to someone else for a day or two but by the grace of God I always remember why.

On some days when we are struggling to get through a program or worksheet I forget. I forget that these books and worksheets aren’t really that important. I forget that children need to be children and they need to have some freedom to learn. To explore and to play. I have to remind myself that the best learning is done because there is desire.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it’s kind of scary when you pack up all those books and curriculums and put the programs aside for a while. Day after day of just letting kids be kids. You see the life in them and you see that lights within but it’s still a bit scary.

I remember going to school myself. I remember how much I hated it. I felt like every day was such a waste. When I would rather be home making music for writing a story. When I wanted to explore and go on a bike ride or a walk and just see what I could find in the local park but I couldn’t because I had to go to school. It seems like such a waste!

Depending on who you talk to they will only confirm adamantly that kids need to know this or that by a certain age. Some folks even say that we have to send our kids to school because it really is what’s best for them. These people make me so sad.

I took a step of faith when all of our curriculum was put into boxes. Out of sight and out of mind. I walk by faith every morning but I strategically-placed Legos and sketch books and crayons about the house. I make sure better keyboard is plugged in and that the shed out back is warmed up so my oldest son can drum.

I’m not gone but they are forgotten. Even if it’s only for a little while. But about our house are so many opportunities to learn and explore. Seeds to plant so we can watch things grow. Books that bring things to life. Airplane models to build and robots to build and control.

I read and it reminds me of the value of going off the path and of reconnecting with the world around us. I reminded of how important it is to learn to let go because we can’t control what they will become. It isn’t our right to choose their path. I am simply here to guide them and encourage them. I am not here to control them.

Some people say that it just isn’t possible for everyone to homeschool. I beg to differ. If we are truly willing and if we truly see the value of setting our children free to choose their path we will make a way.

It is a beautiful thing to be able to stand back and see our children as they grow and learn. It is good to be there when they make mistakes. It is good to be able to inspire them and encouraged them to follow whatever their passion may be.

I do not know what my children will become. I cannot determine who they will be when they are old. But when they are home with me and we walk together and we talk together and we learn as a family I hope and I pray that they are learning that loves matters most of all!

Don’t Know Why

It has occurred to me that I am a control freak.

Especially when it comes to my family and my home. I’m a firm believer that there is a way that is right.

It seems lately however when it comes to our home learning that the less control I have the more we get done. The more freedom I allow my children to explore the more progress I begin to see.

Of course I still do need to sometimes take control. It’s important for them to see and know the difference between things that help them to grow and things that don’t.

My children are all too familiar with my references of television and video games being little more than sugary treats.

We need to be wise in those things we spend our time on. Everything influences us one way or another. Which way do we want to go?

We all have habits. Some bad and some good. The question is do we recognize them? And once we do what do we do?

My oldest son believe strongly in completing his work as quickly as possible. If you finish his math no matter how poorly he does at least he can move on to the next thing. But this is not a habit we want to encourage.

We need to go out work heartily and we need to do it diligently. We need to work for the Lord whatever we put our hands to.

There will always be tasks we prefer not to do. I say about this as I load yet another load of laundry. I remind my children of the value of gratitude as I load a dishwasher again.

We either see the tasks and two trials set before us as blessings from God or we see them grumbling and complaining. We see them as something that keeps us from doing what we want.

But God is greater plans and a purpose that is so much better! When we put our hand to that plow and we work the work of the Lord who sent us to where we are for what we must do today.

Everyday is a gift. We simply have to recognize that. And then rejoice in His goodness because that dirty laundry and all those dishes are simply a testimony to His blessings.

Every breath that we breath is a gift. The steps that we take. Hearing the birds sing in the morning and seeing the sun rise up.

Certainly we cannot control everything in life. I remind myself daily but I cannot control someone’s heart and mine. Nor can I control their tongue. But I know the one who can give them the desire.

We can take control or we can step back and rest in knowing the one who is in control. We can have peace and joy and love knowing that all things work together for his good. And His good is our good if we are truly seeking His kingdom first.

Life never seems to go the way we plan. But thankfully it’s always according to the Lord’s plan. Isn’t that a relief to know?

Because isn’t it all about Jesus?

Let us Be a Garden of Righteousness

As I was reading this morning, I came across this sweet poem and i had to share.

I ponder so often lately, what it really means: to be righteous, to be meek, long-suffering….

 

These are things He tells, not that we should be, but that we ARE to be.

We are a garden; things are planted within us every day. What we hear, what we see, where we go – every thing plants a seed. What is growing in my garden? Am I tending it properly? Wisely and quickly weeding out those things that will cause bitterness, anger, pride, deceit, selfishness…. Can we seek to be good gardeners? 🙂

 

I Surrender

Maybe this cold winter weather is getting to me. Anyone else feeling just a bit lazy and unmotivated?

I was chatting with a dear friend the other day about this. As she was going through some struggles with her family how important it is for us to trust in the Lord and Just Surrender our situation.

Certainly it isn’t easy to just let go but when we do it’s amazing how God works. We see things that we wouldn’t have seen if we hadn’t put our faith in Him.

It is all about our perspective. When we are surrounded by darkness and when we allow those negative thoughts in we exude that very same thing. Too often I fear when trials come we run from God instead of running to Him.

Again and again the past week or so I have heard so many messages confirming the value of us seeing trials as triumphs. I have been reminded repeatedly but God uses these things to give us a powerful testimony to his goodness and his love.

Can we see the goodness even in the mess? No matter how it seems things are falling apart we must remember but sometimes these things must happen in order for everything to fall into place.

If we can just submit to Dad’s well. If we can just acknowledge but our trial is for our good how his glory will be seen!

2018 Word Of the Year Rest

2017 went by too fast and 2018 is starting out the same way for me.

 

Perhaps it’s because my children are getting older. There is more that we are doing now. And with that there is even more of a need for us to focus on slowing down and taking time to rest.

 

There’s so much to consider and there is so much to learn when it comes to rest. I was reminded as I was reading the other day but rest is not something that is suggested but rather it is something that is commanded. Not to be desired but to be needed. A necessary. Something good.

Of course there is so much more to rest than most of us think. I recently began reading and studying this for myself. Already I have learned so much about the depths of rest. A greater purpose and meaning. It is not just about “sleep” but a state of mind and body. Can we rest in how we eat and the activities that we engage in? Can we embrace and seek to succeed in a sacred rest?

Simplicity in the meals. It certainly is a bit more challenging when it comes to shopping and cooking but you have a fresh meal but isn’t full of all kinds of crazy stuff. We recently got an Instant Pot and with that I am beginning to see so many possibilities. I have also dusted off my slow cooker because – healthier meals make for healthier bodies and minds. And when those are in a right place, we feel better and can enjoy and appreciate rest all the more. We keep it simple; simple enough some of the meals even the kids can help make!

 

 

We are also trying to rest more in that we know we cannot say yes to everything. There are archery lessons; book club and hockey and Bible quizzing. So many things that we would love to do and places we hope to enjoy. But when we are running all the time – trying to fit it all in – we are not rested. We are not truly enjoying the experiences we are having either. We need to slow down. Last year my focus was on mastery. It was a time of encouraging my children to find and stick to something. My oldest son has really stuck to his drumming. My younger son to his hockey. We still get out now and then to do what we can (wood carving, sledding, hiking, baking, rip sticking) but we are more careful. My kids may not appreciate the stream of “no’s” that they hear some days but we are learning to enjoy and be at rest in all that we do and where we go.

We are trying to focus (in this super cold Wisconsin weather even) on turning things off; unplugging and getting out there. Certainly there are benefits, I am learning, to these screens, but we need to be wise with how we use them. I have a cell phone, I wish I didn’t. I have a kindle which i really do appreciate but there is nothing better, than to get away. It’s so hard sometimes to really relax and appreciate all the beauty of creation when there are all these beeps and alarms and ringtones going off. I always tell my kids, when I was little we didn’t have a television, and the phone wasn’t something that it is now. We were happier, healthier, more at peace. We need to go back to that. Maybe not every day but sometimes. Because I think it is sad how disconnected we all are from one another. So much opportunity to communicate yet so little true relationships are made. It is work to build strong relationships. But it is work that needs to be done.

 

 

 

There is so much more to living a restful and healthy life. As I read in the pages of Sacred Rest, there are so many different forms of rest; every one of them needed in order for you to stay well rested, and satisfied. As it is said within the pages of this book, “Staying busy is easy, Staying well rested–now there’s a challenge.” As one who feels (with four children) constantly in a struggled to find and enjoy “rest” I appreciate being able to learn more about what it means to rest. And why I need to rest, in all the various ways, we ought to rest. Like so many things, God gives us exactly what we need. Surely the Sabbath was commanded, because without rest, where will we be? It is uncomfortable (for sure!) to start doing little things, to make time to rest (creatively, spiritually, physically, socially) but there is a peace that comes when you do. And there are promises given, to those who, in faith, rest. What better way is there to show that we have that perfect faith, than to take a break, pause and rest. In the middle of whatever mess we are in … To rest and be blessed ❤

This year is the year to celebrate and live the Sabbath day, every day, in some way. To begin to share and live out those simple habits that bring about a peace in the body, mind and spirit for the whole family. The Bible tells us again and again to choose joy; we are reminded that we are to be led with joy and gladness. This year is about resting. And finding a deeper relationship with the Lord, in that rest. Not just for myself. How I want to be able to pour out those good things; how I want to be able to reap a harvest for the Lord. But first we must be willing to submit and enter in …. And so I shall. Whatever it takes. 🙂

 

 

“The stars do their work without fuss; saints of God also ought to do their work without fuss. It is through those who are one with God that things are done all the time. Saints cannot be overcome by panic but should be at absolute rest, because of their oneness in Him. Consequently he can work through them. A sanctified saint is one who is perfectly confident in God because sanctification isn’t something the lord gives us but rather, Himself, in me. A sanctified saint is at leisure from himself and his own affairs; confident that God brings all things out for good.”

 

 

 

This learning of rest continues to encourage me in so many ways. I am not there yet but I’m slowly making steps that will allow my family to live a life that is full of that sacred and a beautiful rest. We have to chose to slow down, we must make the choice to intentionally rest. And when we do this we will experience a peace like no other. We will see the light, instead of the darkness.