Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas - Where the Sacred Meets Reality

I am up this morning with a childhood anticipation. Today is the day our household celebrates. It's Christmas Eve, and our family is spoiled to share this day together, a day early. For years we traveled to both sides of the family on Christmas Day, so we chose to set this day aside just for us.

As I sit awake, with my Christmas lights aglow, I treasure the silence. I am longing for a fresh, hot cup of coffee, yet I fear to start the process of making one lest I awake the others in my home.

I am enjoying the peace of this morning, when my soul can be refreshed and my heart feels the peace and joy of just being alive, having a life with good things - even when life can be so tough at times.

I am reminded of the true meaning of Christmas,
when the SACRED meets REALITY.

"All is calm. All is bright." 

We sing those words with hope and with confidence, and it creates a very nostalgic picture of when Christ was born. It was a very sacred moment indeed!

However, we must remember, that Jesus - the Son of God - came to earth, a place full of heartache and sin and strife, a place full of less than the ideal many times. When He was born, the scene was not as pretty as we sometimes imagine. Our Savior was born in a stable, when his parents found no comfortable place to birth him and welcome him, and the arduous process of taking care of a special newborn baby took place that day.

And although the situation to welcome our Savior was a humble one, we focus on the glory of it.

Singing "O Holy Night", "What Child is This", "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and much more puts our hearts in a worshipful, thankful, sacred mode where we allow our reality to become dim and accept the awesomeness of our God and His love for us.

I have heard various people say they haven't felt very "Christmassy" or that is just doesn't feel like "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year". Grief, relational difficulties, financial strain, and other pressures of life swarm us and fill our daily lives with intense struggle. 

YET, there is a Savior. There is a sacred moment when Christ came to earth, to display His love for His creation and to save us from our sins and help us in our dismal reality.

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

May the love of Jesus fill your hearts and home today!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder;
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Review of Modernity History - a World History Course from Compass Classroom

First of all, let's get this out in the open... I am not a history buff, so this is one subject in our homeschool where I can feel a bit lacking. Therefore, it is important for me to have high quality resources that I trust and value.

Enter Dave Raymond's Modernity course, a world history course that covers 1500 to the present and the maturity of Western civilization.

I was sent the DVD course to review, and I must say that I am thoroughly impressed!

This course is interesting, engaging, and very informative!

Dave Raymond has a great teaching personality. He is not monotone. He speaks clearly and thoroughly, and he has a love and knowledge for the subject of history that comes through his teaching vibrantly! Even if someone is not a history lover, Dave Raymond works hard to pull in his listeners.

Dave Raymond begins the course with the reasons WHY we should study history. I love this! After all, many students ask the question, "Why do I have to study this anyway?" Dave Raymond lays a great foundation for learning the subject of history, prepping students' hearts and minds for what they are about to embark upon.

The course itself is well-structured, covering a central, exciting topic each week: philosophers, empires, the scientific revolution, the French revolution, wars, rulers, etc. Rather than jumping from subject to subject, there is focus for several days, which provides thoroughness and makes the material easier to understand and more interesting.

Quotes from authors and others embellish Dave Raymond's teaching, and the lecture is full of intermittent historical pictures, which help the student to stay focused and also create a visual picture of the events, people, and places he is learning about. 

The course is a one year course that consists of 27 lessons, 4 projects, a student reader, a teacher's guide, weekly exams, and a year-long portfolio, making this course an excellent choice for any high school history credit!

For more information about Dave Raymonds' Modernity course, you can visit Compass Classroom --

A handful of months ago I did a review for Compass Classroom - a company that has a variety of high quality educational resources for families. If you missed that, you can check it out here

I received a free copy of the Modernity course in exchange for an honest review of the product. All opinions are my own.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Giveaway - A Copy of "Becoming Mom Strong"

If you follow me on Facebook at all, you know that I was hoping to do a Giveaway in October and another one in November. Well, October flew by faster than I had hoped... At least I am *starting* the giveaway in October. ~smile~

So, the giveaway starts now, and I will choose a random winner on Friday via Rafflecopter -- because Fridays are awesome! To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on my blog (or on Facebook), telling me why YOU would like to have a copy of this book. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am giving away a copy of Becoming Mom Strong, by Heidi St. John. I love Heidi St. John and have for years. She's just an authentic woman who loves God and family and lives, writes, and speaks about it in various avenues.

I am in the middle of reading this book, along with a couple others - eh hem - and it is ENCOURAGING!

This book is a great read for moms who want to gird up and refresh themselves and their visions for their walks with God and their love and sacrifice for their families.

The book points women to the Lord for their strength, helps them gain better resolve for their homes in a culture that feels very anti-home/family at times, and supports them in their decisions to be moms who desire to love and lead their children to Christ.

Best wishes and many blessings!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

My Busy September and a Giveaway: Rest and Release!

Well, September is here... and I've got one week to go! September and May are my busy months, busier and crazier than Thanksgiving and Christmas, I believe.

September is the start of everything: full time homeschool, Wed night church (where I lead and teach), homeschool co-op (where I teach), flute, piano, ballet, the culmination of three kids in soccer, and more ...

And I am sure you have your own list!

In the midst of it all, I feel a bit scattered and crazy, and I continue to tell myself:

"Stop stressing"
"Focus on the moment" and 
"Do the next thing" (Thanks, Elisabeth Elliot!)

And what a perfect time it is for me to do a
Bible study called, "Rest and Release".

I have a feeling some of you are due for this as well.

So... I am doing a giveaway. The giveaway starts ASAP and ends Monday at midnight, because Monday is my birthday, and that seems like a good way to end a birthday - to bless someone with a book that may help her rest and release a bit more in life. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can do this Bible study on your own or you can join Courtney at on October 1st when she starts the study! Check out her site for more details. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Historical Stories of Survival: A Review

A few years ago I did a review of Justine Gamble's Girls of American History unit study curriculum -- intriguing lessons about history based on the American Girl book series.

Justine is back with another great unit study curriculum:

an engaging study of history, targeting 2nd through 5th graders, based on the I Survived series of books.

The I Survived books cover various key subjects/events throughout the ages:

  • Pompeii
  • The Titanic
  • The American Revolution
  • Pearl Harbor
  • September 11th
  • ...and other significant catastrophes

A comprehensive guide of study, Historical Stories of Survival works alongside the I Survived series to provide a well-rounded, exciting view of these time periods.

Justine's heart is to provide an education that draws students in and helps them remember what they learn. Through her curriculum she provides a multi-sensory experience for children.

The Titanic unit, for instance, has a long list of resources to pick and choose from: books, Titanic build kits, coloring books, puzzles, etc. In the unit guide itself, there are fill-in-the-blanks, word searches, and a board game you can create! Through various readings and activities children are encouraged to read, hear, see, write, and do things that enhance their learning of the subject.

Each unit is intended to take about six weeks. During the first week, you read "I Survived" book, do crafts, and create a lapbook. During the subsequent five weeks, you continue the study through subject-related books and activities, using the lenses of history, geography, science, and language.

The units include:

  • Detailed weekly schedules
  • Book list: required and suggested
  • Craft resources
  • Field Trip Ideas
  • And more!
Depending on how you choose to use the material, Historical Stories of Survival can be used as more of a core curriculum or as a supplement to what you are already teaching in your home. 

If you are looking for a well put-together, history curriculum that will educate and entice your elementary students, check out Historical Stories of Survival.  

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Iced Coffee - My Favorite Summer Drink

Iced coffee has become my favorite drink this summer! I learned how to make a good cup of it on my own, and now I'm attached! It's a perfect way to drink coffee on these warmer summer days.

You can make fantastic iced coffee by the cup or by the pitcher.

By the cup - My favorite way!
Brewed Coffee
Half and Half
Chocolate Syrup

If your coffee is hot, you will want to make sure you use a cup that won't crack when pouring in the coffee. I LOVE my insulated cup.

First, place a handful of ice in your cup - to fill it about halfway.
Next, pour in the coffee. You will not want to fill the cup more than about 3/4 full.
Add a good dollop of half and half or you can use milk and/or cream, or even creamer.
Then put in about 1 to 2 T of chocolate syrup, stirring briskly.
If your coffee was freshly brewed, you will want to add another layer of ice.
*You can choose a different sweetener than chocolate syrup - creamer, another flavored syrup...

By the pitcher
Courtesy of Comfy in the Kitchen
5 cups of brewed, strong coffee
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cream

First, I like to pour some ice into the pitcher.
Next pour in the coffee.
Add water, sugar, and cream and mix well.
Add more ice and keep refrigerated.

Monday, June 19, 2017

My Summer Bucket List: Relax, Refresh, Regroup

Normally when someone makes a summer bucket list it looks like this:

*Picnic in the park
*Go to the beach
*Ride bikes to the local ice cream parlor

This summer my bucket list is less concrete and more conceptual.


Entering into the summer, I was over-extended. Worn out. Juggling a lot of balls.

To be honest, this struggle has been going on for years now, and it seems hard to break the cycle in this crazy, fast-paced world.

BUT this summer, I am trying to do something about that.

My intentions and hope for the summer are for me to get to a spot where I feel confident and strong heading back into fall with a new school year full of demands and decisions.

FIRST, I am planning to RELAX more.  I need time just to sit and do nothing. Time to watch the British Baking Show with my family. Permission to wake up late some days, take naps, and sit and smell the roses. Time to play games with my kids, go for walks with my husband, and ENJOY the summer.

SECOND, I am planning to REFRESH. As I stated, I desire to be more confident and strong and more at peace as I head back into the fall. I need strength - spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical. I am prioritizing Bible times, breaking away from the snare of social media, planning for healthier eating and physical activity, and continually trying to make decisions that help me focus on taking care of myself and my household and living the life God has created for me.

THIRD, I am planning to REGROUP, to reorganize and review my home and life. I am taking care of projects around the house that are hard to get to throughout the year - starting with painting our kitchen cabinets, which I am currently in the middle of doing. I need to file away last year's school and plan for the next year. I need to make a good plan for the classes I teach at our homeschool group and church and get teachers and curriculum established for the girls' groups I oversee at church. There is plenty for me to do to feel prepared and renewed for the new year's duties.

I read something on Instagram today, and it fits the bill as the desire for my children and for myself.

"We tend to think that our children need a summer full of activities. What they really need is some down time, family time, and maybe even a little bit of boredom."

This is my prayer for myself and my household, that we will have some down time and some connecting time -- time just to sit and appreciate life, time to regroup and feel ready for what lies ahead.