Sunday, July 27, 2014

Confident Hope

A heart that is HIS

Last meeting of the summer Bible study, For Such A Time As This.  I can think of no better way for girls to bond together than through GOD's Word. My prayer for them:

I pray that GOD, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in HIM. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

I'm joining with my friend Jennifer over at a glimpse of our life as we share the HOPE we have through GOD.

Scripture and Snapshot
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Flourish -- Balance for Homeschool Moms #hsreviews #flourishathome

Flourish Book Review

Flourish Book Review
It's been one of those days . . . Oh, who am I kidding?  I could say it's been one of those months, but the truth is it's been one of those semesters.  You know the ones I'm talking about?  It's one of those seasons of life when you sometimes feel like you're just spinning your wheels and trying to keep everything moving in the same [positive] direction.  I often think I'm just working to keep all of the many plates spinning and hoping not to let any of them come crashing to the ground. Author Mary Jo Tate calls this living life in "triage mode" in her book  Flourish:  Balance for Homeschool Moms and she offers action steps of evaluation to begin moving out of chaos and into calm.

As I breathe a little from the crazy busy year we've had (a Girl Scout Gold Project and Ceremony, a Girl Scout Silver Project and Ceremony, a Boy Scout Eagle Project and Ceremony, state and international robotics competitions, a high school graduation, and a college graduation, whew . . .) I find myself reaching for the books of encouragement I hold dear. There are books that help me plan, books that remind me why, and books that keep me going -- as a mother, a teacher, a wife.  I am busy.  I am more than busy.  I teach, I minister, I volunteer in my community.  I joke with friends and say that it's the craziness of my life that keeps me sane, but is it?  I know that I need to find balance.

What has quickly become one of my most favorite new resources, Flourish:  Balance for Homeschool Moms ($15.00) comes straight from my friends at Apologia Educational Ministries. You know how very much I trust Apologia.  From the very first pages, Flourish will provide daily encouragement and help you do just that . . . flourish with balance in your busy life.  This is a book for moms.  This is a book for me. I needed this book.  And if you would rather aim for life management instead of crisis management, then you need this book, too.  Really.
What exactly does it mean to flourish? It means to grow vigorously, luxuriate, be revived, or abound. It can also mean making dramatic gestures or adding a creative touch, such as a trumpet fanfare or an embellishment in writing or decorating. The overarching ideas are thriving and abundance.
And who doesn't want that?  I need the creative touch of JESUS so that I can thrive in life.  HIS Word tells us that not only did HE come to give us life, but HE came that we may have it abundantly.  (John 10:10) The best part about Flourish is that Mary Jo has test-driven a lot of mistakes and offers her experience as our guide.  Filled with scripture and inspiring quotes, Flourish speaks to the heart of every mom in need of rest, balance, encouragement, and motivation.  290-pages of life change in action, there are even downloadable helps in pure Apologia-style that will start you on the road to balance and peace.

With included chapters written specifically to single moms (that offer ways married moms can minister to those friends) and moms who own home businesses, Flourish has something special for each and every one of us.  I am using it to reevaluate my life's goals, reset my priorities, and remind myself why it is that GOD has called me to educate my children at home.  Mary Jo offers tested tips on home management, schedule maintenance, and memory making -- and she reminds me to be intentional about taking care of me so that I can take care of the ones GOD has entrusted to me.  Be honest, moms . . . do you struggle with this as well?
When we get bogged down in the difficulties and challenges of our busy lives, we start drooping like a wilted plant that hasn't been watered in a long time. But it's the flourishing plant – one that has been well tended, with the right balance of good soil, water, and light – that grows and offers beauty or nourishment. When you're flourishing, you can take better care of your family so that they too will flourish.
I have decided that this year I will not wilt.  I will not faint.  I will not grow weary.  Flourish:  Balance for Homeschool Moms is helping me to breathe and focus as I slowly work and pray through life.  You can even read the first chapter and check out the Table of Contents to see just how much you need a copy of this book now. 

Moms, it is time for us to stop ENDURING life and begin ENJOYING it.   Join me in following both of these Social Media Links so that you can learn to FLOURISH:

Because we all have the potential to flourish at home,

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review Flourish:  Balance for Homeschool Moms. as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: HomeSchoolPiano #hsreviews

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. ~Plato
Homeschool Piano Review

I have piano players at my house. Each of my children took some form of lessons at some point in their lives. Some loved it.  Some hated it.  But all had at least a year of basic fundamental music.  My college graduate quit after middle school but asked to return to lessons in her junior year of high school.  She regretted that I ever allowed her to stop and continued taking lessons throughout college. My 13-year-old Princess is the only current piano student I have and when the opportunity to review HomeSchoolPiano was made available, I requested it for her.  Here's why:

She has taken piano for several years and begrudgingly gone to lessons weekly -- until 3 months ago when she decided that she LOVED piano and began practicing all of the time.  Following the Spring Recital, we have always taken the summer months of June and July (and sometimes August) off from lessons due to my crazy schedule with church and she's always been ecstatic.  Piano was not her idea of fun -- she deemed it torture.  And then all of the sudden she asked me if there was any way she could continue lessons through the summer or did we have to take off.  We did.  Until HomeSchoolPiano came along and saved the day.

The HomeSchoolPiano -- Complete Set of Books subscription can be used with students of all ages.  We were blessed with a Lifetime Subscription for up to five students which includes the books needed to succeed.  Five students means that even I can learn to play piano.   Now, I don't know what private piano lesson rates are in your neck of the wood, but HomeSchoolPiano is an incredible deal for me.  I currently pay $50 a month for piano lessons for one child or $600 for just one year.  Whew . . .  

Through HomeSchoolPiano, there are two payment packages available -- the Success Package and the Payment Plan.  The Success Package  is ONE payment of $299 which offers you an unlimited lifetime access for up to 5 students.  (Do you realize I just said this was an UNLIMITED LIFETIME ACCESS?  How cool is that?)  The Payment Plan consists of 3 monthly payments of $99.97 and offers you the same unlimited lifetime access for up to 5 students.  Both packages include access to all bonus downloads, jam tracks, and sheet music.    

This subscription program gives you online access to piano lessons that include three different levels (or books).  The three books are easily printed for use by your students.  Those that have never taken any piano lessons before will start with the CorePiano lessons.  Other students may begin with Book 1 for Beginners, Book 2 for Beginner to Intermediate students, or Book 3 for Intermediate to Advanced students. My Princess has taken piano for several years, but has not truly dedicated herself to musical education so we began in Book 1.  The notes were easy for her but practicing the rhythms improvisations have been amazing help for her technique improvement.
She is working on her own composition and has determined that she'll earn the piano position in Girl Scouts (she wants to be the one to play the "march in" and "march out" music for major ceremonies) because the girl who has done it for years Farewelled out in May.  When the Princess realized that position was possibly up for grabs, she started practicing double time.  She has a goal and HomeSchoolPiano has been the perfect tool to help her reach her goal this summer.  

If you have concerns about how your child will adapt to piano lessons provided in an online format, you can do exactly what I did to test it out.  I was not sure if my girl would truly follow through with practicing throughout the summer so I had her sit and watch the free lessons on HomeSchoolPiano before our review period began.  She enjoyed them -- a lot.  She smiled and laughed along with Willie Myette as she focused on the lessons being taught.

I was excited that not only did the 3 - 10 minute lessons grab her attention, but they held it enough that she requested to continue the review.  She has enjoyed working (and reworking) through each of the lessons and I am impressed with the improvement she has shown this summer.  We printed Book 1 and comb-bound it for ease of use.  Each 50+ page book contains six teaching units.  When she completes a lesson, she can repeat for additional practice or move ahead as she sees fit.  Her place is always saved and awaiting her return.  This makes it easy to step away but always know you are welcomed back.

Homeschool Piano ReviewHomeSchoolPiano takes students through six steps of learning:  technique, rhythm, ear training, reading music, playing songs that incorporate what has been learned so far, and improvisation.  It provides ample practice time and encourages excellence through fun.  The Princess has struggled most with rhythm and tends to rush right through notes and rests alike, but she is learning to take her time and count as she claps and vocalizes in Book 1.

The "portability" of these lessons has been one of my favorite things.  We are constantly in motion.  With HomeSchoolPiano, my Princess has found it simple to take her lessons on-the-go.  With the use of her iPhone or iPad, she can easily move from the piano in our family room to the keyboard in her bedroom or pack up and move to the grand piano at church if it's time for me to head in to work.  HomeSchoolPiano is perfectly designed for the busy homeschool environment.  A computer or iPad plus a piano or keyboard (with at least 49 full-size keys) is all that you need to make this work for you.  Your students can master the piano at a time that is convenient for them -- day or night depending on your family schedule.  The flexibility may be the most important part of HomeSchoolPiano.  Artist Willie Myette truly understands how homeschooling works and is welcome in our home.  He doesn't intend to teach you how to "play the piano" but desires to teach students to "play like an artist."  How refreshing to know that individuality is still encouraged and passion is shared.

Homeschool Piano Review

Find out more about the this great music tool through the HomeSchoolPiano Social Media Links:

I'm pretty sure you'll be impressed with what you see.
Because my goal is to raise musical kids, I'm hoping they "unlock the pianist within". join me?

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review HomeSchoolPiano as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

On Wings As Eagles

I'm joining with my friend Jennifer over at a glimpse of our life as we intentionally take a glimpse at GOD.

Scripture and Snapshot
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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Moving Beyond the Page #hsreviews

Moving Beyond the Page Review

I like books.  I like to hold them in my hands and turn their pages and look at pictures.  I like being able to pull several books off of my shelf that center around a similar topic and I like integrating them with one another as we study and learn.  I really like the different books that Moving Beyond the Page pulls together to teach the full measure of each of their individual units.  You might remember that we reviewed two packages last year from Moving Beyond the Page (MBtP) and loved them.  Such a positive prior experience had the Princess excited about reviewing two more packages this year.

Such LOVELY books
One of my favorite things about using the Moving Beyond the Page curriculum packages is that you can completely tailor your choices for the very best individualized learning experience for each of your children. My husband and I had recently discussed must-read literature and agreed that Animal Farm was really an important read.  We spent weeks this school year studying the Stalin-era and labeling maps that coordinated with those studies so I knew my daughter would find the Animal Farm literature unit interesting.  Lucky for us, we were able to review both the Language Arts Package:  Animal Farm  for 12 - 14 year-old students ($22.92) and the Social Studies Package:  The Age of Discovery for 11 - 13 year-old students ($98.83). What a perfect summertime study package to fill in the long, hot, lazy days and keep us motivated, reading, and learning.  I've been looking to add a little excitement to life around here, and MBtP is perfect for that. The best part about the MBtP study packages is the fun, relaxed atmosphere provided for optimal learning.

Each set gives you the option of either an online guide or a physical guide PLUS additional physical components.  For example, we studied Animal Farm in an online format so the learning guide was accessed via the internet BUT the book was a hold-in-your-hands softcover book.  The Age of Discovery was a physical guide so we had a comb-bound lesson plan written directly to my 13-year-old AND four great books to teach geographical concepts and explain scientific changes.  She especially loved the Great Medieval Projects You Can Build Yourself -- and her 15-year-old brother liked it, too.

So how does it really work?

Each unit in MBtP is designed to take 3 weeks to complete.  You can use it throughout the year as a completely integrated curriculum connecting science, social studies, and language arts (just add math) or you can use it as a supplement to any curriculum you already use.  We have used it as a "filler" during the summer to help bridge the learning gap and keep the interest in traditionally studied subjects.  In The Age of Discovery, my daughter has enjoyed looking at objects under the microscope, creating timelines, and studying inventions such as the telescope, barometer, and thermometer.  I appreciate the ease of use as she is able to follow daily directions as she works to complete the unit's assignments.  Tests and projects are included in the 7 lessons and there is a Final Project to conclude the unit.

With MBtP,  I can easily choose units of study based on my child's interests and can allow her freedom to complete all activities (including activity pages) on her own timetable.   Each lesson clearly states what is needed, what is expected, and how long it should take.  The Princess begins each lesson by gathering all supplies needed from the checklist at the beginning of the lesson.  For the most part, these supplies are easy-to-find items such as glue sticks, index cards, scissors, poster board, and art supplies.  She knows which books she will utilize and which activity pages she will complete.  After gathering her supplies, she is ready to begin.

Each lesson starts with a few questions designed to get students thinking about what they'll soon learn in the Ideas to Think About section.  This is like a teaser for the information to come.  Vocabulary words are presented in a brief Things to Know section and then reading assignments are completed and comprehensive questions answered before moving into the hands-on activities.  Each lesson is broken down further as students complete each day's work.  Each "day" of work takes my daughter about an hour to finish -- and she's been know to do two or three days worth of work at a time when she gets enthralled with the material being studied.  I consider that a major plus.

Lessons end with a Life Application that allows you to take the love of learning one step further through links for recipes and video clips.  Tests are completed as part of the lessons so there is no panic moment for your child and answer keys for all assignments are found in the back of the learning guide.

The entire learning process is the same whether you choose the online guide or the physical guide.  In the online guide, students can print each page for questions to be written in or can type the answers directly online and then print their completed work.  The Princess found it easiest to type in all answers and then print the pages to 3-hole punch for her notebook.  Activity pages can be downloaded and printed all together or students can print specific activity pages as they get to them.  For us, it was less overwhelming to print these as they were needed.

Animal Farm is a tough read for some, but MBtP made it easy for my rising 8th grader to tackle.  She enjoyed the personification of the animals and understood the political inferences as she worked through the given activities.  She enjoyed what she was reading as she read through assigned chapters and thought the coinciding activities were fun.  I like that she was not the least bit intimidated as she tackled the  Russian Revolution and studied political satire.  The Princess even found the grammar "fun" when it corresponded to her reading.  She didn't even mind writing the formal letters required for the Final Project.  Learning that is fun and is approached without complaint makes it easy to recommend Moving Beyond the Page.

Make sure to check out Moving Beyond the Page on Facebook.  There is definitely something for everyone to study from ages 4 - 14 (and even beyond).    We look forward to our next unit study because it really is the way my children want to learn.

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review Moving Beyond the Page as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

Click to read Crew Reviews
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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

One Pot Wonder -- Pasta with Ease

There's a new-to-me recipe that's been floating around cyberspace.  I've seen it on Facebook a number of times, so I finally decided to give it a taste at our house.  And it was good.  Very good, actually.  We all agreed that it was definitely a keeper recipe -- and I plan to add zucchini to it the next time I make it.  That will make it even better in my opinion.  

Wonderful Pasta

Here's my variation on the One Pot Wonder Pasta.  Enjoy.

Combine the following in one pot on your stovetop:

12 ounces of thin spaghetti
1 can of diced tomatoes  (I used diced tomatoes with oregano, garlic, and basil.)
4 1/2 cups chicken broth (I used one box of broth and added water as the remaining liquid.)
Dried onions -- a big shake of the jar
Fresh Parsley -- a big handful, chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Bring the ingredients to a boil.  Cover and cook on low for 10 minutes.  Serve with finely shredded Parmesan sprinkled over the top.  A salad and nice hunk of bread would make for the perfect meal.

 photo 9c2d3d39-9e5d-4351-b060-d6251ee13eaa_zpseda17cd5.jpgI'm linking up with my friend Lisa at Home to 4 Kiddos.  Hop on over and try a new recipe today.
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Sunday, July 6, 2014

RAGAMUFFIN: Based on the Life of Rich Mullins -- Movie Review and Giveaway

I've been pouring on praise while listening and singing along to the songs of Rich Mullins for as long as I can remember.  I learned sign language to Awesome GOD at my very first youth camp way back in my very first year in ministry.  The words of that song still resonate deep in my soul as I cry out to my FATHER and I've been teaching it to middle schoolers for years now.  How good it is to proclaim the very awesomeness of GOD.  

Amy Grant's Sing Your Praise to the LORD and Doubly Good to You (both written by Rich Mullins) are still favorites of mine from high school.  I used to ride home from school and church and turn the volume up as I worshiped along right in my car.  

My Deliverer is Coming from The JESUS Record (the record Rich was working on at the time of his death) haunts me in a beautiful way.  Such a poignant reminder that JESUS hears my cries -- and HE is my one and only DELIVERER.  HE will NEVER break HIS promise.  Amen and amen . . . preach it.

Ragamuffin_Mill_SmallRich Mullins has helped to shape my praise through the years.  I daresay he helped to shape the very heart of praise and worship for all of us in ways that we might not even realize.  I knew his music, I knew of his tragic death, but I did not know of the deep agony of the man behind the lyrics until watching RAGAMUFFIN with my family this weekend.

Rich loved JESUS.  He loved JESUS with all of his heart, mind, body, and soul.  And he was human -- with all of those very same things.  As an artist, he was deeply in tune with the love of JESUS, but like me, he also struggled with the GRACE that JESUS so freely offers.  Watching his life play out in the RAGAMUFFIN movie offered an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the contemporary christian music realm in the 80's, and reminded me of my need to seek GOD in ALL things as I realize daily that HE loves me so much more than I could ever imagine.

We started the movie as we drove to be with family for the 4th of July holiday.  Listening to Rich sing JESUS Loves Me straight from his heart moved me to tears.  It was a beautiful moment to share with my husband and daughter.

Yes, JESUS loves me.

We finished the movie last night and I am already planning to watch it again.  There is so much depth to the heart of Rich Mullins -- he was funny, he was real, he was the very embodiment of GOD's Love.  And he struggled to put it all together and have it make sense just like we do.  I found the movie inspiring as I desire to serve GOD with all that I am . . . even though I often feel that all that I am is not near enough.  I am a ragamuffin.

I recommend your buying RAGAMUFFIN for yourself -- and giving away a copy to a ragamuffin in your life.  You'll want to share this movie with those who need to be reminded of GOD's GREAT LOVE for them.  As a note of caution, the movie is rated PG-13 due to language, alcohol, and smoking.  None of this is done in such a way as to glorify those things, they simply explain characterization and serve as a reminder of GOD's GRACE even to "the least of these."  ALL GLORY goes to GOD.

About the Film: RAGAMUFFIN is based on the life of Rich Mullins, a musical prodigy who rose to Christian music fame and fortune only to walk away and live on a Navajo reservation. An artistic genius, raised on a tree farm in Indiana by a callous father, Rich wrestled all of his life with the brokenness and crippling insecurity born of his childhood. A lover of JESUS and a rebel in the church, Rich refused to let his struggles with his own darkness tear him away from a GOD he was determined to love. As he struggled with success in Nashville and depression in Wichita, Rich desired most of all to live a life of honest and reckless faith amidst a culture of religion and conformity.

About Rich Mullins: Singer and songwriter Richard Wayne “Rich” Mullins was best known for his worship song Awesome GOD which has been embraced as modern classics by many Christians. His music has been covered by many artists, including Caedmon’s Call, Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, Michael W. Smith, Third Day, John Tesh, and Hillsong United. Mullins’ musical career formally began with Zion Ministries in the late 1970s, where he wrote music and performed with a band called Zion. Mullins first solo hit, Awesome God, appeared on his third album and brought his music to a wider audience. Rich Mullins was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) on April 29, 2014.

•Film Testimonials:
“Rich was a gifted songwriter with an amazing heart for people. This film reminded me that what really made Rich special was how undistracted he was with the things of this world. His was a heart yearning for GOD.” - Michael W. Smith Singer, Songwriter

“This film captures the life of one of the most important people in the history of modern evangelicalism, a ragamuffin that our children and our grandchildren need to know about.” - Shane Claiborne Author, Activist

I am pleased to be able to share this movie with you and hope that you will take a few moments to enter the giveaway.  You would be blessed to win a copy of this movie for your very own home.  When we finished watching it last night, my husband and I spent quite a bit of time together reading more about the life and heart of Rich Mullins and listening to his talent play out through songs of worship.  There are many more conversations that we will have as we process all that we watched and heard last night.  I look forward to the time together.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

•Church Screening Tour: Thanks to a nationwide church-screening tour from January through May 2014, RAGAMUFFIN traveled to 200 screens where it was seen by over 25,000 people at churches, college campuses and even jails.  If you missed one of those screening dates, you can now own a copy of your own to watch and share with others.  This movie will touch your heart and share the very essence of JESUS with those around you.  

More About the Movie:
Release Date: 7/8/14
Run-Time: 137 minutes
Writer/ Director: David Schultz
Dove Seal: Faith-Based with Caution
Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
Distributor: Capitol Christian Distribution

A soundtrack for the movie featuring so many of Rich Mullins' wonderful worship songs will be available July 22nd.  It will feature Jars Of Clay, Derek Webb, Sidewalk Prophets, Audrey Assad, Leigh Nash and others.  There are even 2 NEW, original, never-before heard songs that Rich recorded in the early 70’s!  This is exciting stuff to me.

You can learn more about the movie RAGAMUFFIN and more about Rich Mullins at the following places:

Official website: 

You can even watch the movie Trailer for yourself:

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

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