Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

We have known a few people who, recently, have gone out on missions trips to various parts of Africa. This has led my kids to some curiosity about this part of the world and what it is like to be a missionary, in general. I know I always enjoy stories and testimonies of this sort, so I was definitely more than willing to read and review Venturing with God in Congo from Conjurske Publications. Join Darrell Champlin and experience some of those powerful moments they encountered in their missionary years, beginning in 1954. 

When I was younger I had considered joining the Peace Corps, maybe it was not really missions work but at the time that was all I knew of ways to go and provide care and support to areas with desperate need. Not sure what happened that I never went, but as I get older, I greatly admire those men and women, young and old, who are so willing to go and serve. As my oldest son grows, he seems to become all the more eager to travel the world. Hopefully sharing Jesus as he goes. ūüôā

Venturing with God In Congo is a collection of stories from the 1950s and 1960s, so you aren’t just travelling to Africa, you are also going back in time! How exciting is that. Within the pages of this lovely, very sturdy book we received, are stories of the many adventures that made up his time in Africa.

Can you imagine suddenly finding a cobra in your living room? We read about their little mud and stick house (makes me feel better about my long term renovation house), how it eventually went up in flames and then was replaced with a cement block house (much like our own). I read stories like this and am so moved by the faith had, to simply know and not fear, because God is in control of all things. I get squeamish just looking at the snakes in their enclosures at the zoo.

“Do you know God?”

Do I really know God? Who is the God that I serve? Do I really believe that He is my provider and protector? I write this in surrounded by people in fear of this virus that seems to be everywhere. That is taking over and causing people to act and think foolishly. I read Psalm 91 and I think of the power in those words. In every place and situation we need to claim these promises as our own.

There are so many ways in which this book is just amazing! We loved reading and learning how to pronounce words in Lingala as we read through this memoir.

My kids liked seeing the family tree and also the timeline of major events. As we read, we would often go back to see where things were – the visuals really made this book come alive – even the photographs inside helped my kids to see what was as we went along.

My younger son loves maps – he is my boy who is in all those details – so he appreciated the map that was included in this book. Charting the travels of Darrell and his family. Looking these places up online as we went along to see what they look like now.

What amazing truths and lessons we learn here in what our faith can look like. There is something admirable about these men and women and children who are willing to just go wherever God may call them. With little to nothing, they go out to boldly and lovingly teach the good news of God’s salvation – And God ALWAYS shows up in the big things and in those littler things. Glory!

This book is so much more than a collection of testimonies regarding missions work in the Congo. This is a blueprint of what great faith looks like. I think of these as letters, written to direct and instruct us in the way we should go. The way we should live, does it show our faith?

Without a vision the people perish. Let us know, let us go and let us share this vision that God has for His world and His people. This book, it is a call for everyone of us to consider, “Do we know God?” There is so much that our great God has for us but we must be willing to cast it all aside and follow Him. Let us get uncomfortable, let us be challenged to draw near to Jesus, to reach out and to share and love as He does!

Read the reviews other members of the Review Crew wrote after they read this amazing, inspiring book that challenges and grows our faith and love for our mighty God.

Venturing with God in Congo {Review}

It’s Beautiful to be Brave

As a mother of two little girls, I often ponder – what does it really mean? To be beautiful … what is beauty really? My girls often tell their friends that they are beautiful; they tell each other too. Beauty is deep though. I know that. Because I have struggled with this concept in my life…Haven’t we all?


In our world today girls are ”¬†bombarded (overwhelmed?) with ‚Äúthinspiration‚ÄĚ messages and pressure to ‚Äúdo it all‚ÄĚ; they become skilled at¬†wearing a mask of perfection. “



So many women struggle with feeling left out, not good enough, lonely and unsure of themselves.   Are we really brave? How can we possibly be beautiful?





In Brave is the New Beautiful, Lee Wolfe Blum shares stories from  women who are beautiful and brave. Who have struggled, questioning their own beauty, and in their search, have found true beauty. This is a read you cannot put down; woven in is her own journey along with inspirational stories from everyday women who bravely took off their masks and live an authentic life. With reflections and call-to-action questions, we are all  encouraged as we read to be brave enough to be who we really are and who God has for us to be .





‚Äú‚Ķbravery is at the root of true beauty‚Ķ‚ÄĚ

Blum pin1



As I read this brought back so many memories Рof clients I worked with long ago Рlost and empty souls who seemed so far from what the world would see as beautiful. Yet they were stronger, lovelier than so many. They were real and raw; there was nothing hidden. So are the women whose stories are told within the pages this book. These stories, these reflections, they redefine beauty for us. They make us consider for ourselves what beauty is and who we are striving to be beautiful for. Are we authentically who we were created as? I really enjoyed this book! Really. I read it in one day!



Shannon Ethridge says, ‚ÄúVulnerability breeds vulnerability, bravery breeds bravery. Beauty breeds beauty.‚ÄĚ ‚̧ ‚̧



This really is a wonderful and powerful read. It reminds of us the value of being our situations and experiences through the right lens. Are we looking at everything through the grace and love of God? Again and again, as I read the stories told within this book, I had to stop to wipe tears; I had to get paper and pen to write down notes and thoughts that came to me. How beautiful every one of the women whose stories are told in these pages.



“To reinvent myself, I had to quit.”


Read this. I mean it. See grace in action. See God’s love and true beauty. Real, raw life. That is what you will find in these pages. No filters, no pretend, no masks. Can we quit? So we can begin again. The right way? God’s way? We all have to realize, He has a better way for us. If we just trust Him.



  • How do you define beauty?
  • Do you think of yourself as a brave woman?
  • Why do you think it‚Äôs so difficult to forgive others?
  • What does it mean to you to trust God?



Read this. I mean it. See grace in action. See God’s love and true beauty. Real, raw life. That is what you will find in these pages. No filters, no pretend, no masks. Can we quit? So we can begin again. The right way? God’s way? We all have to realize, He has a better way for us. If we just trust Him.¬†Let us be courageous ladies; let us be brave as we go forward to find the new beautiful within every one of us!




Night, Night Farm ~ FlyBy Promotions Review

We love books. My little girls (18 months and 5 years old) love to snuggle up and read a good book with momma.
So I was so excited to have the chance to review a copy of  Night, Night Farm

We have had this one in our house for awhile now and it has been a huge hit from the moment it arrived. It’s a traveling companion as we are out and about.

Its a favorite read for sure; we enjoy it at bedtime, even during the daytime hours! ūüôā

Between teaching on thankfulness and on farm animals, there is so much we enjoy about this book.


This is a super sweet and very colorful book; the story is so simple and yet so powerful.



As we read, we see each little one,from the kittens to the cows, thanking God for those little things that are a part of our every day.

How often do we forget to thank God for those little things? Apples and good dreams (my daughter prays for good dreams every night now) and for momma and daddy; warm beds and baths and the moon….


This is a wonderful little board book; a soft padded cover and so many bright colors and images to see! Very eye catching  ~ this is one I would grab for a closer at the bookstore…  Just to see more  The illustrations are done by Virginia Allyn and they are so amazing.



 We have solutely adore this book! If we paid at the beautiful illustrations. And every page is such a sweet words. And let’s not forget the important lesson with in this little book. Let us thank the Lord for every little thing. Especially little ones.   

“I Love You Just Because” Review

‚ÄúI Love You Just Because‚ÄĚ
by Donna Keith is a book about a family of bears; all very different yet all together in one place, for God’s purpose.

“Three very different bear cubs live together in one place,

Each chosen for these parents by God of love and grace.

And when the cubs ask why they’re loved, their parents often say,

‚ÄėWe love you just because you are God‚Äôs gifts for whom we prayed.‚Äô‚ÄĚ


This is such a wonderful lesson for all of us when we feel we just don’t belong or perhaps we cannot understand why we are where we are. Our family is such a blessing; God knits us together. How priceless, for our kids to know, that God chose them. To be my son and daughter. God chose them to be the brother and the sister. He chose their momma and their daddy. All things are by His design and for His purpose.


This book is full of sweet, gentle illustrations by Alison Edgson and rhyming text, ‚ÄúI Love You Just Because‚ÄĚ will help little ones understand their parents’ love for them and God’s too.  That love isn’t something to be earned but that which is given. It is simple and unconditional. A true gift. With the same friendly bear family from Donna Keith’s first two books ‚ÄĒ ‚ÄúI Love You All the Same‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúI Love You Even When‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ the sweet story of this book will remind you that family members love each other … just because. No matter how different we may be; no matter the struggles we may face, we all love one another. Always.


This 20-page board book is for children 4 to 8 years old and was published by Thomas Nelson on June 7, 2016.



Learn more about this book and others on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Learn more about Donna Keith on Facebook.

Power in Brokenness

There is power in freedom. There is healing to be found in this freedom.




Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame by Heather Davis Nelson deals with shame; understand and heal form brokenness. Break the chains and find freedom in your life from the shame that has kept you captive for so long.



The joy of the Lord is our strength but we can only truly experience that joy when we are truly free.



Shame can be defined¬†as ‚Äúfear of weakness, failure, or unworthiness being unveiled for all to see, or fear that at least one other person will notice that which we want to hide.‚ÄĚ Shame¬†happens when we feel we‚Äôve missed the mark; she also¬†explains that shame is a ‚Äúlingering sense that I have failed beyond rescue.‚ÄĚ



She beautifully illustrates¬†how truly we are covered by Christ; even in the Old Testament as¬†Tamar spoke the words ‚ÄúWho will cover my shame?‚ÄĚ when attacked by her brother. How often within the scriptures are we reminded of our freedom, the newness of our life, in Christ when we are truly born again.



D.A Carson says that we do not lie awake at night recounting the ways we think we have brought shame to God through our actions; what keeps us anxious and sleepless are the ways we feel shame before others. He goes on to say that perhaps we obsess over these smaller shame moments because we cannot face our real shame problem: that we live ashamed to walk and talk openly with our Creator. We are Adam and Eve.







This is a beautifully written book meant to remind us of the healing that comes in Christ; there is newness of life. We are a new creation meant to shine His light. We desperately need to embrace all that He has for us because without the freedom and the liberty where is the joy? The joy of the Lord is our strength Рembrace it and learn how to move beyond the shame, to free yourself from these chains which bind you Рkeeping you from all that the Lord has for you!  We ought not, we cannot, afford to live a life of shame when we are made for so much more!



Hunting Hope ~ Book Review

Where would we be with out the darkness? Too often I think we forget about the light that shines in, and through, the darkness.  Certainly all have experienced times of great sorrow and pain; there are days of hopelessness and helplessness. But when we look back on those times, after we are through them, do we see the hand of God that was there with us? Do we acknowledge and testify of the plan that He used that darkness for?



Hunting Hope

There is great power in having hope! Much like¬†faith itself; hope is something that can be seen in our life. When we have it we are stronger, we are more sure, and have greater patience. Life isn’t easy and it certainly cannot always be fair yet there is power and peace in knowing that we are in God’s hands. And living a life that is full of hope. “Every moment in my life proves God‚Äôs faithfulness, not just the winter ones. The spring and summer days speak of Him, too.”



When author Nika Maples was 20 years old, her family experienced that moment that changes everything. They were tested and tried and they had hope.¬†You see, while Nika was attending¬†college, one day she had a brainstem stroke , suddenly, unexpectedly and was left a quadriplegic. She only had 48 to live, said her doctors. ¬†But God¬†had other plans for this young lady and now some twenty¬†years later, you can read her story in¬†Hunting Hope ‚Äď Dig Through The Darkness To Find The Light. Her story is powerful and inspiring, as¬†she shares how¬†important it is to have hope – that we can move beyond whatever situation we may be in and find G0d’s hand in it. As she tells this story, we see and are reminded of how great His plans are; that very hurt can be what brings hope. If we simply keep our eyes on Him.



Hunting Hope¬†is a such an encouraging read. Perhaps you know someone who is in darkness and needs a bit of light; this could help them to¬†grow in courage and strength. As we read we see how important it truly is to think on right things for certainly: “If we‚Äôre out in the cold long enough , we‚Äôll forget how it feels to be warm, to be happy. We‚Äôll start to believe that winter will last forever.”



Nika Maples


Nika Maples is the author of Twelve Clean Pages, the memoir of her survival of lupus and a stroke that left her quadriplegic at age 20. After learning to walk and talk again, she became a public school teacher, winning 2007 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year. She holds an MA in English Education from Columbia University and currently is pursuing an MDIV from The King’s University. When she is not traveling to speak, she lives, writes, and laughs as much as possible in Fort Worth, Texas.




Visit Nika’s Website.

Connect with Nika on Facebook and Twitter.

Visit the Hunting Hope Blog Tour Page.

When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther

We love history around here! We are always looking for great new ways to learn about all of those “important dead people” as my oldest likes to call them. We came across Danika Cooley’s Bible Road Trip earlier this year and have really loved it, so when we saw that there was a chance for us to be a part of the review team for her new book, we were SO excited! ¬†When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther by Danika Cooley is exactly the type of living history book that we like to read. ¬†When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther¬†by Danika Cooley is¬†an amazing story that brings the story of Martin Luther to life making you feel as if you were there for every experience!





Unfortunately I have to admit, I did not know much about Martin Luther prior to reading, When the Lightening Struck. As most do, I knew he was considered to be the Father of the Reformation, but that was about it.  One fateful afternoon while he was caught in a storm, Martin Luther was nearly struck by lightning. This experience, he felt, was a sign that he needed to give up on law school and become a monk.  Written in a way that shows the experiences of Luther, both good and bad, this is a very well written historical account of his willingness to give it all for the Lord, no matter the cost.



My oldest son is 10; my others are 6, 4 and 6 months old. All love to be read to. My oldest especially loves to read about those men from long ago, especially when its a story full of truth and adventure (exactly what this one is).  Its obvious there was a great deal of meticulous research put into the creation of this story. Its the good, the bad, and the ugly. An inspiring story (my oldest struggles with his own temper) that shows such a true, sincere man, who like all of us, still needs Jesus desperately. So often we see these historical figures as greater than we could ever be, forgetting that they too are human, with needs, and struggles between the spirit and the flesh just as we do. This is a book that inspires us to lean on God, reminds us of the value of endurance and faithfulness as we strive to live and walk in His way. This is a fabulous way to experience sixteenth century Germany for yourself!


Martin Luther quote



Danika Cooley has some great,¬†free¬†resources to use alongside¬†When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther.¬†The¬†Discussion Guide¬†is a colorful 34 page book with lots of great questions to encourage further learning and help you experience Martin Luther’s life in a deeper way. ¬†We really liked the timeline and Scriptures to Consider, within. There is also a 200+ page¬†unit study guide: The Cobblestone Path is based on¬†When Lightning Struck!,¬†and contains further tools for study ranging from art history, to geography, copywork, additional biographies and vocabulary¬†~ you definitely want to get a copy of ¬†Martin Luther Unit Study guide, about 12 weeks long, as you study.





Visit her blog Thinking Kids to get your copy of these downloads!  These are such wonderful materials to help you as you study the Reformation and Martin Luther. I promise they will greatly enhance your experience in this era.



About the Author

Danika Cooley is married mother of four, a grandmother, a writer, and a home educator herself, creating material to help point our children to Jesus. She homeschools her two youngest children in Oregon.  Check out her Bible Road Trip ~ A 3 Year Bible Survey program. This is a free, printable material, aimed at grades 1-12, just print and go! Danika’s three year Scripture survey for preschool to high school, Bible Road Trip, is used across the globe.


Get your Copy!


Amazon ‚Äď Hardcover & Kindle Editions

Christian Book

Grace & Truth Books




luther disclosure




Simplify with Spirit

I’m freaking out lately. Lol


Maybe not really. But I am having a hard time accepting where my home is at right now.


Listening to the Homemakers  Online Conference, and reading Titus 2:3-5 I am inspired and encouraged to really live it out, showing in my life glory and honor to Him.  I am reminded, even in the mess, to thank Him for the blessing of my husband and four children, and my home.



Now I never had anyone to teach me how to love my husband and my children and my home. I never thought there was anything to keeping a home that needed to be taught. I mean this is so easy right? Super simple? ha-ha


I am surprised daily but how much is truly involved, Biblically, in keeping and managing our home if it is really showing Christ, within. I often think of what it means to have a Christ centered home. And truthfully when I imagine it, its not much like our home.


I have visions of this peaceful home where everyone always gets along, we are all happy, we all are gentle and kind and share…..If I make this my focal point, I will fail again and again at making my home a place that shows His love and light.


I remind myself this morning that its about our love for Him, its also about embracing the truth that is Him. Because He is the word and the word is Him. And we are His so we too are his word. He created the world with words; we create our world with our words.


So our home isn’t always what we imagine it to be but today (and my kids and I began our day this way) we will speak His words. We will speak of the Spirit.


M oldest wrote out a list of words that He has God speak to his life. He wrote of the joy God has given him, his love for worship and prayer and the word.  He wrote about him being enthusiastic, eager and loving of God. He wrote of how he was chosen by God. He was created by God in His image, to be His worker. These are precious words for a little man to write.  They are powerful too.


We must know who we are. Its so simple to organize our life by the very One who gave it to us. Who called us and inspired us. It is His Spirit that ought to guide everything every moment and every word. Its a new thing we are doing: To begin eat day speaking those words of life, God inspired, to ourselves, and to one another. To speak blessings just as those priests did, over their people, so shall we.



What can we do when bespeak and do in the Spirit instead of in the flesh? I had a to do list for this morning but instead I tore it up. I spent time in prayer and in worship and now I am writing this….In the Spirit. And my list has been written anew, in the Spirit, a list that encourages and only speaks what will be done.


We cannot complicate things; let us be done with making things so complex.


We are His masterpiece; we cannot fail for if He says we are mighty, we are mighty And He says so much about us. Let us embrace it and speak it ourselves!


What More Do We Need?

I don’t understand some folks. Why is it we need people like Sarah Young, Joel Olsteen, Beth Moore, Joyce Meyers (do I go on?) to feel good about His word? ¬†I admit it, I am a purist. As much as possible anyway. I stick with my Geneva and my King James – No other “version” for me.

I keep a concordance handy; I strive to study Greek and Hebrew as I can. I don’t say that to give the impression I am smarter or better than anyone else – I have a hunger though for the truth. I don’t want anything but the truth. Half a truth will not set me free; a partial truth will not bring me joy or peace. HIs truth will free me! It can free you too.


Why do we tolerate and go to these false prophets, with their false gospels? Why can the Word, the pure Word of God, not be enough for us?  I cannot imagine Paul or Peter or Mary seeking out another to tell them what His word said about something. I cannot fathom them looking past the One with the answer, for something better or easier. They knew the Word and the truth and they never once needed a different version.  If they did not understand, they had faith in His timing. If they needed an answer, they sought God through prayer and fasting.


Consider¬†1 Kings 13: There was one prophet, a man of God who lied to another; the second was deceived and died because he listened to the prophet, who lied, and put aside what God had said! How many are listening to these voices and putting aside God’s word and using others that seek to inspire rather than speaking¬†the WORD OF GOD? ¬†It not about how it makes us feel but about what is true.


I am so tired of people sharing these tidbits that they say is “God’s word for them” ~ How soon so many are deceived…The Word of God is pure. It is true. The Word was God and is God. Do we really believe HIs word or is it something we just say? And if we believe it, if we are led by His Spirit, why do we need anything more than His Spirit and the Bible to understand and get the answers we need.


There are two sides in this, we cannot forget that there are many voices that speak to us РCan we please get wisdom, get understanding and discern His voice from all of the other ones out there?  We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted, we cannot allow ourselves to be too busy for study of the Word, for prayer.  We must, in these dark days, give ourselves wholly and fully, to Him. Seeking Him in all things.


Are we seeking out devotionals? ¬†Books like The Message, even the ESV and NIV versions that are not really HIs word at all but merely man’s interpretation of His Word (which the scriptures say is not for any private interpretation)? ¬†Have faith, be patient, wait on the Lord and keep His way – He will give us all we need to know as we need to know it. It is far too dangerous, in so many ways, to seek out answers from those who do not have the truth and are not filled with His Spirit born again believers.



Be wise…Be discerning….Know His word – if His word is not enough to inspire and motivate you … you have some bigger problems which no devotional is going to solve!!

(said in love)

Hillsong United EMPIRES

We love to worship in this house; we almost always have worship music playing. Often you can hear one or more of my kiddos singing their latest favorite at the top of their lungs, when you come by. There is such awesome power in worshipping God. ¬†Recently, too, we have been so very blessed with a number of worship CD’s to review as well, this being one of them.


I was so excited to have been given the opportunity to review the latest album by Hillsong United, ‚ÄúEmpires‚Äú. ¬†After all some of my favorite worship songs, like¬†‚ÄúOceans‚ÄĚ, ¬†‚ÄúFrom the Inside Out‚ÄĚ, ¬†‚ÄúDesert Song‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúLead Me To The Cross‚ÄĚ have left me hooked. ¬†With amazing, moving songs like these, how could anyone not want more? ūüôā




About Hillsong United

UNITED is committed to writing songs that speak truth, create a unique sound, connect with churches, individuals and ultimately connect people everywhere with God. UNITED serve in church as a part of the wider Hillsong Worship and Creative team when they are home. When on tour, they are accompanied by the whole Hillsong team’s support and prayers that their ministry would arrest hearts and point people to Jesus, impacting individuals, local youth groups and local churches.


Says singer¬†Taya Smith, this album was inspired by the Beatitudes from the Book¬†of Matthew.¬†Empires focuses on submission and service~ ¬†Powerful ‚̧





Hillsong UNITED was named Top Christian Artist at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards.


See¬†Hillsong United performing ‚ÄúTouch the Sky‚ÄĚ live on the Today Show¬†here.


Follow along via

Check out the Outcry tour this summer: http://outcrytour.com/
Download itunes visit the official website: http://smarturl.it/Empires