Still Life…

It’s that crazy time of year. Lots to do and lots to celebrate.

I’m the first person to acknowledge that lately it’s hard to stay focused and to keep my peace.

We traveled for this last holiday and while it was nice to get away it was even nicer to come home again. For the moment anyway.

But then we get to unpacking. Trying to find a place for everything so everything has a place. And in our little house that can be a real challenge. Maybe even an exercise in futility? Haha

I often remind myself that those other houses we visit that are so clean and tidy and organized are full of people who work and whose children go to school. I remind myself that my children are educated at home and all the work that I do is done at home. A perfectly tidy and always clean home would be impossible.

Yet even remembering that there are days when the piles of stuff and the mess and the toys strewn all about the house gets to me. When there isn’t enough time it can be frustrating and when you aren’t even sure where to begin that can make it even worse. Has anyone else ever joked that it would be easier if the house just burnt down?

As we have been moving further away from doing formal school at a table and has made it even more challenging to manage the home. So many projects. So much experimenting and creating. Oh all the wonderful things… but where does it all go?

We have drawers and closets that are full of things. Many of these things my husband put there for safekeeping. Boxes of stuff that we keep just in case…. but just in case what?

As our family grows and as our children explore it seems the stuff becomes more and more. My younger son: wood carving and tools . My oldest son: leather working and painting and drumming . My oldest daughter: ballet and baking and stuffed animals. And my littlest lady: dolls….lots and lots of dolls.

So where can it all go? And what do we really need?

Being that for as long as I have had children I have been organizationally challenged I know things need to change. I know that the mess cannot continue to exist. I accept that there will be some mess but our current mess just won’t work.

So I pleaded with my husband to consider letting go of some of the stuff that we have been hanging onto just in case I asked by children to reconsider the books and the stuff that they have. Did they love it? Can they consider leaving it?

As I work each day I remind myself but it’s not about stuff. We can’t take any of it with us. Sometimes what we have the comes who we are. Other times what we have keeps us from becoming who we are meant to be.

I think about the scriptures say that the wise woman builds her home and the foolish tears it down. With her own hands. I wonder sometimes if she tears it down because she’s so stressed by all the stuff. We cannot let all this stuff getting away of the greater task that we have been called to.

It is a reminder that we need to seek first the kingdom of God. May we never be so busy or tired or distracted by the things of this world but we cannot focus our eyes on the only one who really matters.

Crafty Classroom {Review}

It is so fun when my kids can learn in a way that allows them to do! Creation and inspiration are must have ingredients when it comes to growing a love of learning in our kids. The Crafty Classroom is one of those resources that really knows how to make learning tons of fun for our kids who are pre-K to Grade 3. since my girls are younger (seven and four) and love to read and write, I was really excited to have the chance to review Fables & Tales. We received this as a pdf download and my daughter got right to work once it arrived. πŸ™‚

I am not really one of those crafty mommas. I wish I could be but its just not in me. At least not at this current season I am in. My children however (especially my daughter) loves to create and I certainly want to encourage her love of drawing and storytelling. As a struggling reader too, it is always a blessing to find materials that she can enjoy, while also being challenged and inspired!

This is a super fun workbook with eight weeks of Fables and Fairy Tales for our kids to enjoy. A few of those included in this are: The Ugly Duckling, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Little Red Hen, The Gingerbread Man, and Hansel & Gretel. There are 133 pages of activities from reading to coloring, writing, comprehension and more. This is super easy to use because it is all right there; there is even a weekly outline in case (like me) you need someone to really break it down for you.

My daughter got right to work when she saw this. She really struggles when it comes to reading and writing but her eagerness to master these tasks is so encouraging. She is determined and she never gives up. We begin by reading the story together (the goal is to read it fluently by the end of the week). Each day there was is are different activities to complete and each one is presented in a really neat way:

  • Character Profile: Answer questions about the characters in the story (descriptions, name, personality, etc)
  • Story Starters: Answer questions based on the image shown from the story
  • Character Feelings: Based on the scene, how do characters perhaps feel?
  • Compare & Contrast: Consider characters in the story, one and another
  • Story Sequencing: Cut and paste images into the proper order
  • Story Sticks: Cut and paste onto popsicle sticks to tell a story of your own
  • Problem and Solution: Using picture prompts write a solution to a problem
  • Foolish Fairy Tales: Using nouns, verbs, adjectives fill in the blanks to make a silly tale
  • Story Circles: Choose a character and setting to brainstorm your own fairy tale
  • Write Your Fairy Tale: Use your ideas to write your own fairy tale with a beginning, middle and end.

It certainly seems like a lot yet it is all done in a way that, at least for my girl, she didn’t want to stop working. She loved all of the fairy tales and fables that were a part of this and most importantly she really enjoyed completing the different worksheets. I have even found her making her own story circles in her writing book since we began using this. I think I have a budding writer on my hands. πŸ™‚

If you have younger children then I definitely recommend that you consider Crafty Classroom. There are even more amazing products that they have to offer; whatever your needs these are quick and easy while also packed with lots of great learning as our kids have so much fun!

Be sure to check out the other Crew reviews below! There were so many different products our team got to review and I am sure you will find at least one so fun!

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Fight for that Joy!

It’s a struggle.

But God…

Even when I serve and no one shows their gratitude…

Even when someone lies to you…deceives you…they let you down .. disobey and the disrespect…

But God…

He is our strength. He is our refreshing.

No matter what’s going on in our day we must choose.

We don’t always choose well (at least I dont).

We (I) need to cling to and claim those promises of God.

Even when it’s broke and we can’t fix it. It doesn’t matter what or why.

God sees.

We do all for His glory.

And the joy overflows in us when we do as the Lord wills.

Seize that joy !

Unlikely Places

Sometimes I work with a foreign exchange program. We may host and other times I am simply a support to students and families. This year I have been asked to once again lead a group of students and families for the coming school year.

I see so many opportunities to minister when it comes to this sort of thing. Often both students and families are unfamiliar with a faith of such love and compassion. They do not know that God is alive and active with every one of us who seek after Him.

One family I will be working with is the sweetest Muslim family. Their children are just darling. I always believe that God directs our steps and orders our path. This experience is no different.

This was also a powerful lesson for me. I have honestly always admired this faith for the dedication that is shown. Their kindness and hospitality.

From the moment I entered this home I was attended to as low I was an honored guest and not a stranger at all. It was a sincere concern and care for my well-being. And we had only just met.

It got me thinking how if we as Christians just walked out walk as deeply as they do and claimed it as personally as they do. What would I say if it looks like if we really lived it out with no abandon?

The Bible says we are in the world but we are not of the world. Yet so many of us has made ourselves so comfortable where we are. Inside of bringing the world alongside us the world is bringing us alongside it.

We had an evangelist visit some time ago who stood in our politics and proclaimed to us how clear I love you more and more of the world in our churches these days.

It was a call to arms. A call to live out purpose Jesus has for us. How vital it is for us to be fully armed, strong in the Lord that we can stand against any wicked thing that comes our way.

There is a way that is right. We are told to seek after those ancient paths. To live out our faith as Jesus did.

That needs to mean so much more to us. It needs to mean so much that we served and loved with no questions asked. With no regrets. All for Jesus..

I see so many who are lost, the light of the world is not in them and yet they do all they do joyfully.

When is Muslim mama said to me, “I can see you are tired please sit down and let me get you a drink of water;” I thought of all the times I have been at another’s house or one has been at my home, while we may have offered one another a drink, it was not such a deep recognition of our state.

So I pray to be able to see others as this woman saw me. To be sensitive to their knees and joyously minister to them.

As the church body is just not what we are supposed to do? Why not we? Let our love be a love in action!

Power in Prayer

God separated the one from the many. Before he could use any of those men and women we read about he had to set them apart.

Not just from a few either but often from everyone. He had to put them in a place where they would learn that He was all they need.

As God has been walking with me through some things in my past, I have begun to see how the “loss” of my most dearest friends had to be for me to be where I am today.

I consider the life lived before. The people who were my closest friends. I had to be away from those who were always my rock so I can see who my true Rock was.

I consider what I know of these friends today. I know I could not continue to be a part of their world. God made a way for me to have power to pray for their salvation.

It breaks my heart to see so many of them lost. Even more that they are blind to how lost they are. It God says He draws those to him who have a heart that seeks after him.

Just just the other day and worship service, I saw be very old and very dear friend of mine on his knees at an altar.

Perhaps this is a sign … Of coming revival. A reminder power of prayer.

The prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

I do not consider myself a righteous man … I know my righteousness is but filthy rags.

Yet God is good. Always. He hears and He responds to our prayers.

If we will pray and seek his face and turn from our wicked ways THEN He here’s and he heals and forgives.

I cannot even imagine what God’s plan is for these lost friends from long ago. But I do believe that he is doing a work within every one of them. I may never know or see but I will trust in the Lord.

How great is our God. How amazing opportunities is His love.

The Kingdom Code {Review}

My oldest son just started his first job this summer; working as an assistant camp counselor at our local zoo he will receive a financial stipend at the end of his service. He is already spending the money he will earn – I think we need some financial education over here. What better time to receive for review The Kingdom Code ? They offer biblically based course in financial education through the creation and operation of their very own business. Teaching money management, financial responsibility, budgeting skills and seeking to help build a strong work ethic, this is one of those “can’t miss out on it” programs. We received The Complete Starter Kit which includes a Textbook, Student Packet, and Teacher’s Guide. As a bonus we also received, a JR Budget Kit and The Kingdom Code Coloring Book.

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The Kingdom Code textbook is spiral bound, with 240+ pages written directly to our students. There are 27 lessons (34 weeks) recommended to be taught one lesson per week, through two sessions of about 45 minutes. This is an amazing program designed to teach our children how to make and manage money, God’s way. Through this program our students create and manage their very own business. Every lesson contains eight sections:

  • Proclamation
  • Check Your Path
  • Quest for the Clue
  • Code of Honor
  • Treasure Seeking
  • On Your Own
  • Kingdom Keys
  • Congratulations
  • Bonus Code Work

That sounds simply amazing right? But there is more (I feel like an infomercial, saying that ha-ha) from historical fiction to history highlights. Throughout the lessons there are also: Action Time, Share Your Thoughts, Exclamation Shields, Clues to the Code and lots more.

Each lesson is designed to give our children something to think about (an essential question) along with learning goals and target skills. So much of this was an opportunity for reflection, not just creating a business but also knowing what it is that causes people to impulse buy or what we see and hear that gives us the desire to spend our money. These are good things for us to consider. I honestly never would have thought to cover these sort of things myself. What stood out to me most of all was not the lessons in creating a business but the emphasis on who you become as the owner of the business. Sometimes I think we forget how much character matters.

Both of my boys (my hubby too) have always had a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit about them, so this was pretty exciting for them both. Not too long ago my boys got the idea to offer pet care services to families in our neighborhood. There are tons of dog owners where we live so it seemed like a home run to them. Until they started doing their research and learned how many others there are who provide these same services in our neighborhood. While I did encourage my son to stay the course and just consider how he could reach people, he decided to move forward in another direction.

He loves sweets. He will often bake cookies and cupcakes for friends so it made sense to him to continue to do so and just charge a small fee. This was a fabulous idea (one he already has a small group of customers for too) but I did encourage him to consider the cost of all that would be needed for many baked goods.

So many great ideas coursing through his mind – the other day I overheard him trying to convince his younger brother to be a partner in a yard working business. Or a woodworking one. My younger son has quite the talent for wood working and carving – he has made a few swords that have really got the attention of some of the boys they know (maybe the parents weren’t as pleased).

As they both try to figure out which business they shall really focus on, it is amazing listening to them consider alone and together, the various pieces that need to fit in place to make their business a success. A future plan is for them to showcase and sell whatever goods they have at our church and perhaps a farmers market or two. I love how they are already considering outreach!

Since our kids are never too young to learn, there is even a super cool JR KCK Budget Kit introduce our kids to budgeting and saving. This kit includes: KCK Budget Poster, one sheet of JOEYS Stickers, My KCK Budget Percentages Page, six coloring book pages, and instructions to assemble the Budget binder and zippered pockets (you do need to purchase these yourself but we had stuff around the house we were able to use for this and our other one easy peasy). My daughter is saving up her money for a rabbit (since daddy said a definite no to a pony). She even has her younger brother building a rabbit hutch for our backyard for her. As payment for the work he is doing she agreed to provide him with a bunny of his very own. These kids sure know how to get things done.

Have I said before that this is a simply amazing program? I love how it isn’t just speaking to creating and running a business but it walks with them, step by step. What a great way to set our kids up for a successful experience. I don’t think there is anything that this program doesn’t cover. From the very first lesson, to the very last our children are encouraged to not just create and execute a great business but also, to develop a great character. And to see that whatever we do, we ought to do it as though we are serving the Lord himself. We are so very blessed as people of God and we need to be ready to bless others in the same way. Whether we buy or sell or trade, there is a way that we can do so while glorifying God!

Looking to get your hands on this fabulous program? Be sure to use coupon code 10TKC18 to get 10 percent off products purchased online from The Kingdom Code. They have some great freebies too that you can download if you just aren’t sure.

Want to read more about what others on the Crew thought? Click below.

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As He Delights in Me

This morning I was reading in Deuteronomy….It’s not like I never read it before but this morning as I read…. Seeking something to renew me. Something to refresh me in this season in which I feel so very tired, so worn.

 

Sometimes things just jump off the page at you. You see it, as though for the first time.
There is clarity, perhaps revelation as well. Some thing made new. God is in the business of making things new right? πŸ™‚

 

Slowly, I read words I have seen time and time again:

 

Β “…ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the Lord thy God hath blessed thee.ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the Lord thy God hath blessed thee.”

 

Ye shall rejoice.

 

It isn’t a question. It isn’t a suggestion. It is a simple command.

 

Ye SHALL rejoice in ALL that we do.

 

Because it is in all that He has blessed me.

 

 

 

These days are not what I hoped they would be. Sassy mouths, tattling and tantrums; a house that we long ago outgrew even as our family keeps on growing. πŸ˜›

 

I am struggling with minimizing yet it seems no matter how much stuff we clean out, there is still even more to sort and store and organize.

 

So much noise; so many things making it harder to hear that still, small voice.

Lately how I just long to get away.

 

I remind myself that He is my hiding place. My refuge and my peace.

 

This world is not. Nor is my husband. And my children sure aren’t either. LOL

 

There is power in knowing that He is my portion; He is my joy.

It is said the joy of the Lord is our strength.

Can we not always have that joy if we are simply willing to be joyful?

 

To pray always.

 

To give thanks (for the mess, for the noise, even for what we believe we lack)

 

Just give thanks! πŸ˜€

 

 

When we simply obey His command to REJOICE in all things, for all things are blessings (whether we recognize them as such or not) there is rest. There is peace.

 

 

 

 

 

What do my eyes really see? Can they see beyond what is right now? Right here? Instead of seeing the natural can they look up, to the supernatural? To that Kingdom which is to come?

 

 

My ears…What do they hear? Do they hear commands? Do they hear fights and complaints? Or do they hear opportunities to teach and guide? Chances to pray for hearts and minds to soften and turn.

 

 

I am not my children’s Holy Spirit, I do not have the power to change their hearts. Only God can do this.

Grit & Grace {Review}

I know I need to be more of a warrior momma to my children. Fighting for them, not against them.

Lately I think I have said more moment of feeling incapable. There are days when I am certain I have made a mess of my children. God reminds me that I am not that powerful. He reminds me all we really need is Grit and Grace.

This is an amazing book with 90 devotions to encourage us every day and to strengthen us. Right now. In the midst of our mess.

We are reminded that it isn’t just about giving grace to our children but also to ourselves.

These devotionals are short enough to be read in only a few minutes (which is perfect for me when my four kids keep me running in all directions). I love that there is even a short prayer at the end of each one. Because some days I just don’t have the words myself.

  • There are so many bits of wisdom within these pages:

“Sometimes they and we just don’t know.”

We are kind anyway. At least we should be. How can we exercise more kindness and understanding towards those in need?

Let us have and exercise lots of grit and even more grace.

Let us rise up and claim the victory! For we are greatly blessed.

First Times

My firstborn, my baby boy, is growing up. This morning when I dropped him off for his very first day working as an assistant counselor at our local zoo’s summer camp.

He has been struggling in so many ways; it’s a difficult time. I remember wanting to do more yet still being seen as a child. Because we are still children. But we need opportunities to learn to be more!

I recently was so very blessed with access to a program called Do Hard Things. I am working my way through it very slowly but what an inspiration it is already.

We need to teach our kids how to do those hard things. We need to encourage them to have and find purpose in their life and community.

I think of how the Bible says that even a child is known by his doings. It is good for us to teach our children that what they are doing ought to honor God. No matter their age, they too were created for good works.

I am becoming more intentional and praying for my children. For my oldest son specifically I have begun to pray daily (shame on me for not having already been) for his hands and feet to honor God. I pray for the work that he does and the people he meets to be blessed by God.

We bless and we curse. It is up to choose each day which we will do. As he struggles with some wrong thinking, as he battles negative thoughts, I remind him and I pray for him that he would guard his mind and that the Lord would renew his thoughts daily.

I pray that my son would be a light to those around him. I pray that he would be unshakable in his faith.

We have the power and the authority to bless others in Jesus name. Let it be so at this today and every day when we go out we shall bless others in abundance!

Lightning Literature and Composition: Shakespeare Comedies & Sonnets {Review}

I am a huge fan of classic literature. I cannot imagine how anyone could not just love Shakespeare…But my oldest son is not a reader. The closest he has come to an appreciation of Shakepeare is a comic book style reader he found at our local library. I have been wanting to find a way to challenge him to explore good literature. We had lot of fun a couple years ago when we used some materials from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources so when I saw the opportunity to use their Lightening Lit & Comp Shakespeare Comedies (recommended for grades 11-12) I jumped at it. We received both student and teacher guides.

We did need to have unabridged copies of the following plays:

  • Twelfth Night
  • As You Like It
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • The Merchant of Venice

Thankfully some time ago my husband got me an amazing book of the complete works of Shakespeare! I admit the big book kind of scared my son a bit – I had to explain that it is full of many works and we were only really going to focus on a few. He definitely wasn’t thrilled with me but I was sure he would warm up because A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the first, and my favorite, of all Shakespeare’s plays. Surely my son, with his quirky sense of humor, would enjoy at least this one!

There are eight lessons within this book. Each lesson contains an introduction, plot summary, literary lessons and perspectives. Sounds pretty deep right? Don’t worry – this is all put together so well – no need to feel overwhelmed at all! In the Appendix there are lots of great resources too: discussion questions and project suggestions, reading list, movie and video recommendations and schedules. If you are anything like me, this schedule is something you cannot live without. I admit it, without being told exactly what to do and when I tend to be like a fish out of water. We chose to follow the schedule for a full year, but there is also a schedule for a semester. Since my son is younger than the recommended age, I didn’t want to rush him along.

The first two weeks we did some reading (out loud because then I know he really is reading it) and we dug into the comprehension questions designed for the play we were enjoying together. My son also did some reading along with an audio book for a few times where I just was not able to sit down with him for more than a moment. He has quite a splendid British accent he has developed since we began this!

The third week it was recommended that we watch a movie or video, or attend a live performance of the play we were reading. Not going to happen where we live. Although there is some Shakespeare in the Park towards fall …. So we watched together. I love BBC! I am always all the more fond of programs that recommend BBC and Laurence Olivier. I am not a fan of movies and television – I grew up going to outdoor live performances of Shakespeare and that’s totally the way I roll – but its not always realistic so I do appreciate quality on the screen.

Some of the really fun lessons included were based upon things like, Elizabethan Theater, one titled ‘Did Shakespeare Really Write the Plays and Sonnets” really piqued my son’s interest. He was quite intrigued by this idea which had him wanting to know why that was even a question for some. I think had I let him run with it he could have been quite busy researching this – Maybe another time I will let him delve into all of that.

One thing I really liked about this program was their emphasis on the value of becoming familiar with Shakespeare himself; it is so much more enjoyable, you understand so much more, when you have a greater appreciation for the person and the times. This does a very good job of helping students understand why they should study Shakespeare as well as understanding the criticisms from various schools, from the traditional literary approach (used in this program) to political, feminist, psychoanalytic and more (honestly, I did not know of many of these views myself). Quite interesting!

This really is a very well put together program. The student and teacher guide books have it all covered. There is no way that Shakespeare is too difficult when you have this! I have always believed there is great value in learning from classic literature; resources of this sort I believe are a great treasure. My son did let me in on the fact that he would have preferred the tragedies to the comedies (I was surprised by this) but I think he is still enjoying all we are reading together, even if he won’t admit it. The Lightning Literature and Composition series is a wonderful help for high school students who need to develop those college-level composition skills by responding to great literature. Or in the case my son, these are a great way to challenge and encourage a student to go where they have not gone before. I do believe it is materials like this that cause the spark that causes the fire to burn.

There are many other materials like this, and others for our younger ones, that other members of the crew had the opportunity to review so be sure to click below to check them out!

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