And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Monday, July 25, 2016


Colossians 4:2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving...

Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

It's so easy to fall into a repetitive rut with prayer. That sounds horrible to even say because how can communication with God be a rut? Of course it isn't God who is in the rut but us. How often do we find ourselves saying the same basic prayer at each meal or the same basic prayer at bedtime or the same basic prayer when we arise in the morning? I think once we get into the habit of praying regularly then we let that habit become automatic instead of the deep, soulful time with the Lord that it is meant to be. 

As I have become more diligent about reading the Word, I have let my prayer life suffer a bit. Lately Hubby & I seem to be in the midst of several storms of life. While I am sure that God has a plan for each of these situations, the stress can be overwhelming at times. After life slowed down for a bit recently, I was able to see that my stress and anxiety was directly aligned with a prayer rut. I decided then and there to be more concious in my prayer time. 

Already I'm seeing God move in some areas that didn't seem significant enough to pray about before. As with most things in life, I've been in similar seasons before and should know better but ya happens and we repeat our bad habits. 

In our relationship with the Lord, we must give equal time and concentration on His word and on prayer. I think it is also important to be in relationship with His other children. 

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Does your prayer life ever become a rut?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Inspired to Equip Us

Wolves, Gladiators, and Shipwrecks #LivetheAdventure

Heirloom Audio Productions has to be our FAVORITE discovery since joining the Schoolhouse Review Crew. Their newest audio theater production, Beric the Briton, has been our latest review item. The kids were both ecstatic to open the package to find a shiny new set of CDs based on another G.A. Henty adventure. This is one of the few activities they enjoy doing together with no bickering!

This 2 disc set includes 2 and a half hours of adventure with plenty of extras. We received the physical 2 disc set along with access to a special package of downloads. The most exciting bonus is a 389 page e-book of the original Beric the Briton story by G.A. Henty. We also received a printable Bible quote picture, a printable promotional poster, a digital study guide, an MP3 download of the audio book, an MP3 file of the musical score, and a Behind the Scenes documentary video. For anyone who does not receive the Live the Adventure newsletter, access to it is included also. Beric the Briton is offered in a few different package choices that can all be found on their website.

Of course, our favorite part was the audio theater production! The kids popped the first disc in as soon as they were able, and we finished it quickly during trips back and forth to town. Beric is a Briton, but he spent time living with Romans and learning some of their ways and strategies. Now his island is going to be attacked by the Romans, and he finds himself thrust into the battle. He and his friend Bodouc face many hardships and finally find themselves enslaved to be gladiators. Every moment of this audiobook is full of excitement and anticipation.

In the past with other Heirloom Audio productions, I have used the study guide to ask the kids questions at the end of each listening session. This time we kept the study guide until the end, and then we went over the questions. We also spent some time working on the vocabulary words contained in the guide. The kids really enjoyed looking up Roman remains on Google Earth as suggested in the study guide. They explored and spent lots of time asking questions and looking at the available pictures and graphics on the Roman Empire on the app. This was their first experience with Google Earth, but they LOVED it. I would love to print the study guide, but it would require quite a bit of ink. I keep saying I'm going to check into having it printed at an office supply store but with crazy summertime activities, I just haven't had the time.

The cast is full of talent with names like Brian Blessed, Brian Cox, Cathy Sara, and John Rhys-Davies providing voices. The sound quality is very pleasing along with the musical score although the excitement can be LOUD at times. This was a great adventure to keep us entertained in the car as we make 20+ minute trips to do errands. Both Apple and Speedy were wrapped up in Beric's tale and couldn't wait to find out the ending. I also enjoyed the story and appreciated the extra elements of study that the study guide provided. With a story that involves wolves, lions, gladiators, shipwrecks, war, and a little love, it's hard to imagine anyone that wouldn't be hooked!

I think with each production Heirloom Audio improves. Every new audio book we receive from them becomes our favorite. It's hard to say which one is the best overall. We often refer to the stories and I am constantly recommending them to other families. The theme of faith is woven seamlessly into each story and makes me love them even more.

See what other Crew members thought of Beric the Briton:
Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

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Monday, July 18, 2016

A New World

Book 2 of the Summer Grove series by Cindy Woodsmall finally arrived on my doorstep for review. Fraying at the Edge continues the intriguing story of two young women who have learned they were switched at birth. Skylar grew up in the world with 2 parents who are both now married to other people and have other stepchildren. Ariana grew up in an Old Order Amish community with her closer knit but poor family and many siblings. In Book 1, the 20-somethings were told they had to switch lives for a year or suffer worse consequences.

Skylar has been thrown into an Amish home with no electricity, little money, and no way to score the drugs she thinks she needs. Ariana is forced to get a driver's license, remove her prayer cap, and wear Englisch clothing. Both girls experience a complete upset when they arrive to their new worlds. The swap of the girls affects both of their families and everyone around them.

This was such an interesting storyline. Skylar and Ariana face unusual circumstances, and I think the author did a great job of walking the characters through the challenges. A Book 3 should definitely be in the works! After reading another book about them, I can't wait to find out how things end for Ariana and Skylar. There's no telling in this particular series.


The first Sunday School lesson I ever taught was on the fruits of the Spirit. I come back to that verse in Galatians again and again. It's one I've covered with my kids several times in several different ways over the years. It is a verse that is easy to remember that should guide and remind us what we should be as Christians. Unlike the "shall nots" of the Ten Commandments, this is the "shalls". Both are important and relevant, but sometimes we need to hear what to do instead of what not to do.

It's been a tough few weeks for us. Hubby and I find ourselves removing friends from social media and avoiding the news and Facebook. We take refuge with friends and family that have reached out to offer support and prayers during these difficult times. We cling to our friends who live similar lives and understand the toll it takes on our family.

Mostly we fall to our knees and pray. We pray for a change in our nation. We pray for our neighbors to find the Lord. We pray that we are doing enough with our children to help them know God and find their own walk with Jesus. It's tough. It's a time of painful decisions. It's a time of change.

However, we won't dwell there in the difficulty. We will rise up each morning and remember what we should be. I ponder over those fruits as I go throughout my day. I think of ways to remind my children to bear those fruits. I thank God He gave us His word so we'd know. So we could follow Him. So we can count our blessings.

If you are in a tough place, don't live there. Find joy. Find peace. Be gentle and faithful and exhibit self- control.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse that you return to again and again? I have lots but I think I'd call Galatians 5:22 my favorite parenting verse. It's the one I must remember the most as a parent and the one I want my children to emulate. It's the one I want to live out as a Christian.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Bible for Pre-Readers (Giveaway Included)

Not so long ago I was teaching my two to read. It was always a struggle to find books that were easy to read but more than just a few words. Both kids progressed past the phonic books, and it seemed like we were always looking for something for them to read that wasn't quite a chapter book. I wish we had The Look and Tell Bible back then! This latest review item is just right for 3-6 year olds that are starting their own reading journey.

What a better place to start than with the Bible? This large hardback book is sure to catch your little one's eyes with its appealing illustrations. The 23 pages are made of shiny board book material so there's no worries about rips or tears. The Look and Tell Bible begins with the story of creation. It uses a mixture of words and pictures to tell the story. Next come the stories of Noah, Joseph, Moses, David and Goliath, and Daniel. Each of these includes one page of key words with large illustrations and then a page long story. You can see a great preview here. Your little one will also get the stories of the birth of Jesus, the feeding of the 5,000, the Good Samaritan, and Easter. 

This big boardbook hits the highlights of the Bible to share the Good News with your youngest children. The shiny pages and bright illustrations will keep them interested in the tales. If they are beginning to read, a book like this will help them gain confidence as they work through familiar stories with the mix of words and pictures. What a great gift this would be!

Would you like to win your own copy? I have one to giveaway. Enter via the easy Giveaway Tools widget, and one entry will be randomly selected on 7/19.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Reading Through the Bible

If you've been around here for awhile, you know we've spent the last year and a half reading through the Bible with our adult Sunday School class. We aren't finished yet, but we've come all the way through the Old Testament, and we're well into the New Testament. We began reading a book or half of a book of the Bible through the whole Old Testament. When we began the New Testament at the beginning of the year, we slowed down a bit and read just 4 chapters a week. After the Gospels, we felt the urge to go back to covering a book a week as we were eager to get into some of Paul's letters.

If you are seeking a new study for a class or community group, I encourage you to put away some of the popular and wonderful DVD and book studies for awhile. There are some great ones out there, and we've enjoyed many of them. However, I believe just reading and studying God's word has huge significance. In any group, you are likely to have people who read through the Bible frequently, some that dabble along in it, and some who have never read it in its entirety. Reading and discussing God's word together is a great way to fellowship and strengthen relationships.

We've been so pleased with our weekly discussions with our class. I feel like every person has drawn closer to the Lord even if they weren't able to keep up with the reading each week. I hope we've all made our Bible time a habit that will continue for the rest of our lives.

Recently we read Romans. It occured to me that many churches and pastors recommend the book of John to new Christians. It is a great starting point for someone who needs to understand Jesus and His life, death, and resurrection. After reading Romans, I'd say it is the next book from the Bible that a Christian needs to read. Paul covers so many areas of faith and life that are pertinent today. As Christians, we must know God's will and much of it is covered in the Bible. Reading it from cover to cover gives us a clear view of God's plan and His story for us.

It seems especially in these times, we need to cling to the words God has given us and look away from social media and the news. We can't learn God's will from other people. We can't abandon God's word for someone else's interpretation. We must read His word. We must pray regularly. We live by faith, not by our works but how can our faith be just if we aren't in communion with Him who we believe in?

I don't have a 5 step plan for you or a directive for what time of day is best. In fact, the only advice I can give you is to set a goal and stick with it. Whether it's reading 1 chapter a day or 1 book a week or the whole Bible in a year, set a goal and share that goal with others. Working in a group as we have will keep you accountable. If you miss a day or a week or even a month, just pick up and start again. God's word is always available for us and that is a huge BLESSING!

Art for Apple #drawinglessonsforkids

ArtAchieve graciously gave us their Entire Level I program for review. Apple has spent the last few weeks working through some of the lessons. We are always on the search for good art videos and lessons for her because I am no art teacher! There are no particular ages to begin each level of ArtAchieve. Apple started with Level I so she could really get a feel of the lessons and using various mediums. There are 4 levels of ArtAchieve available.

Level I contains a total of 13 lessons and the first 4 are available free to anyone! Those first 3 lessons are an introduction to ArtAchieve's methods and introduce drawing lines, objects with corners, and round objects. They also give information on shading. The 4th lesson is a drawing lesson entitled The Czech Cat. You can see one of Apple's uncolored versions of it above. After reading my review, I would encourage you to go and get those 4 free lessons!

Each lesson is online on ArtAchieve's website. When you sign up for an account, it will hold your purchased lessons for one year. You can buy lessons indivdually or in a bundle. The lessons vary but most include a warm up page that can be downloaded and printed, a lesson that can be viewed as a video and as a Powerpoint presentation, and a printout of the outline of the drawing. Those are all accessible through your account. The website also offers information about each drawing and other interesting things to study to go along with each lesson. That page on the website gives the appropriate age range (if there is a specific one) and a list of lesson specific supplies. A tab at the top of the website will also take you to a specific supply list for all the lessons. 

John Hofland is the ArtAchieve author and instructor. He does a great job explaining and showing the process of each drawing. He's included an informative page of FAQs on the website to give tips and further explain the methods he thinks are best. He recommends students listen to music during the lesson, and he shows them relaxation methods. During the video lessons, he shows a piece of art that gave the inspiration to the lesson, and he teaches them about it. For example in Lesson 3: The Hungarian Insects. he gives details on insects and what makes them unique. Following that short lesson, he goes over the supplies the student will need for the lesson, and then he does the relaxation exercise. Next is step by step instruction so the student can create their own drawing. All of the same information is available as Powerpoint slides. Students can use the video or the slides or both! Apple started the lessons using the videos, but recently she said the slides are easier for her so she's been using those.

The Czech Cat

I am so impressed with ArtAchieve! It's certainly more than drawing lessons, but Apple's artwork has shown great improvement. Not only is she drawing new things with success, she's going back and trying the lessons over and over. I think we've seen about 10 versions of The Czech Cat. Her favorite part of the lessons is that she gets to use different mediums. She's already used a variety of permanent markers, washable markers, crayons, colored pencils, pastels, chalk, and acrylic paints. Those are just the ones I've seen her using. The lessons give suggestions for the best materials to use, but it does say it's okay to use substitutions. Apple has received and purchased many art sets over the years so I think she's had all the suggested materials.

The Owl From Bali

Apple really likes ArtAchieve because she is able to do the lessons completely on her own. She also enjoys the freedom to move around through the lessons in any order. She's been doing the lessons in order, but she has been going back to some of them to work on the drawings further. This really is the best homeschool art program we have found so far! She is actually learning different techniques through the videos or slides and she doesn't need my non-artistic assistance. I've already seen her using some of those techniques to create her own drawings. I highly recommend trying the free lessons, and the price is very reasonable if you decide you like them as much as we do! I have a feeling she's going to want to start Level II as soon as she finishes Level I.

See more ArtAchieve reviews:
Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

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Twitter:  @artachieve

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Save 20% in July! #hsbible

Contains affiliate links.

We LOVE GrapeVine Studies! It is such a low stress way to cover Bible with your kids as a class or family study. Stick figuring gets the kids involved in the story, and the lessons open up discussion as a family about God, the Bible, and our beliefs. Both of my children enjoy GrapeVine studies, and they often ask to start a new one. While Speedy isn't a big fan of arts or crafts, he really likes stick figuring. Apple is getting older but she enjoys having a folder of work for each study. I'd like to invite  you to take advantage of a big sale happening at GrapeVine now! This is just in time for beginning classes in the fall:

Bible Heroes Bundle

Want to try a lesson for free? Get a free Joseph eLesson.

See my review of GrapeVine's Old Testament 1 study.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Latin Derivatives #hsreviews

Apple recently began Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin: Derivatives I from Laurelwood Books that was sent to us for review. She completed a Latin I course last year. While she isn't quite ready to begin a new Latin class, I thought it would be great to keep her dabbling in Latin this year. This Derivatives I book was a great way to do that. 

Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin is a gentle workbook aimed at grades 2-5. While Apple is in a higher grade, I felt like this was a good no-pressure study for her. This is a paperback workbook with a total of 144 pages, and it includes an answer key in the back. There are 15 lessons, and it is recommended to divide each lesson into 2 weeks of study. There are 7 days included in most weeks, and then every 5 lessons a review is included. Each lesson presents 10 Latin words with their English derivatives. The activities include tracing, fill-in-the-blank, matching, crosswords, and multiple choice. There are also short writing assignments. The beginning of the workbook includes 2 pages of notes on pronunciation and Roman Numerals. The back of the book contains a 2 page vocabulary list of Latin words. 

Aside from keeping up with some Latin study, I think learning derivatives is a great way to reinforce vocabulary and spelling. Apple has enjoyed using this workbook. She likes tracing the words in cursive, and she also is enjoying the easy activities. Since she is looking forward to a full workload for 7th grade in the fall, the pace of this Latin workbook is great for summer. I assigned her lessons as recommended. Most days she completed more than 1 activity because they were so short. For the first day of a lesson, the student reviews a chart with the 10 Latin words along with their meaning and English derivatives. They trace the words in cursive for the first activity. For Apple's current lesson, the second exercise is a fill in the blank. The next day she will match an English derivative to its Latin word. For the days following she is to fill in a story, do a multiple choice page, write a story, and finally do a word search. That is 2 week's worth of activities. 

The title of the workbook comes from a series of Latin readers and workbooks that are available from Laurelwood Books. Olim in Latin means "once" so the books are filled with stories and parables. There are 6 Olim readers with 6 corresponding workbooks. This Derivatives I book can be used in conjunction with that series, or it can stand alone. We've been using it alone.

From what we have seen with this workbook, I think the Olim books would be a wonderful way to initially introduce Latin to an elementary student. This Derivative I workbook could certainly be used with an upper elementary student that has some cursive experience. I think it would be a great way to start down a road of Latin success! I also appreciate that in this workbook some writing is included. Students are encouraged to use as many of the words from their lessons as they can. This has led to Apple writing some fun short stories. She is looking forward to completing this workbook before moving on with further Latin study. Speedy is in the age range for this workbook as well, but he has not done any cursive study so this was a better choice for his sister. 

I've enjoyed browsing all the other items that are offered from Laurelwood Books. From Patriotic Penmanship to State the Facts, there is a little something for everyone. They are graciously offering YOU (my readers) a 20% off discount using the code "blogger 121". This code is good until August 15, 2016. 

The Crew members had the opportunity to try several different products, see what others received and what they thought of them:
Latin and Penmanship {Laurelwood Books  Review}
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Monday, July 4, 2016

Hospitality Update

Well we've passed the halfway mark of the year. Time passes so quickly! Wasn't it just the first day of the year? Since we can't stop time, we just have to roll with it. While I haven't done a great job of inviting one family over a month as I intended with my "word of the year" choice of hospitality, I have enjoyed keeping track of who has been to our home. I've been much more aware of the need to connect with people on the whole in 2016.

In June, we had my parents and my nephew in our home several times. The kids also enjoyed having one friend each for a sleepover. We had neighbors drop by one day that I had not met yet. They were very friendly, and I certainly would have invited them in the house but Hubby was working night shift so was snoozing when they came by. We did have a lovely little visit outside though, and I enjoyed meeting more folks from the neighborhood. It made me even more aware that I haven't been diligent about meeting the people who live near us. Of course we know a few of them, but I think I should be working harder to become familiar with those who live so close to us.

While my word of the year has been hospitality, I've really been praying about making more connections here in our little town. We've been here 3 years now, and I just haven't gotten past the acquaintance stage with anyone nearby. It's harder than I thought it would be! Since we live in town, I really don't have many excuses other than we are at home a lot, and I just have not found many opportunities to talk to people.

Despite all that, I am happy to be going strong with my goals for the year, and we love our home. Have you been hospitable this summer? Have you fully abandoned your resolutions for 2016?