July 20, 2014

{review & giveaway} Well Planned Day Wall Calendar

{This post contains affiliate links. I was provided with a copy of the Well Planned Day Wall Calendar in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and a good review was no guaranteed.}

We all need calendars, right? Isn't it more fun when you have a pretty calendar, rather than that free one from the bank?

It's no surprise that I'm a huge fan of the Well Planned Day products. The Family Planner is my number one most necessary item for homeschooling. So when I was presented with the opportunity to check out their Wall Calendar, of course I said yes!

The Wall Calendar is very pretty, with nice graphics that are not overwhelming. Really, what we all want and need is big spaces for each day right? Well, this has them. 

There is also a little box on each day, that can be used for whatever you need.  Bible reading done? Check. School finished? Check. Everyone survived the day with no major injuries? Check.

One thing I really like, and I find lacking on some wall calendars, is the year at a glance on each page. Sometimes I'll just need to know what day of the week a holiday or birthday is quickly. Rather than having to flip ahead, it's right at the bottom of each month. I find that very helpful.

There is a great sale going on at Home Educating Family right now. If you purchase a Well Planned Day Family Planner, you can add a Wall Calendar to your order for only $.99!!  This sale ends on July 31, 2014.

Home Educating Family has also provided one Wall Calendar for a lucky reader! I'm making this a super fast giveaway so enter now and tell your friends! This giveaway will end on July 23 at 10 AM. Winner will be notified by email and product will be shipped directly from Well Planned Day. Good luck!

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{Giveaway sponsored by Home Educating Family.}

July 19, 2014

Momma, Take a Break!

I have a friend that is struggling with taking some time away for herself. She's had this crazy year and lots of stress and really needs a break. But she's a mom so momma-guilt is in full swing.

Why do we do this to ourselves, moms? I see three clear, biblical reasons that moms need a break sometimes...

1 - Jesus did it.

While this list is not exhaustive and doesn't show that Jesus withdrew to have a quiet cup of coffee with a friend, I think we can see that Jesus placed serious value on moments of quiet. If it was necessary for the Creator of the World to find quiet, don't you think we need it too?
Mark 1:35
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Matthew 14:23
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.

Luke 6:12
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
 Luke 22:41a
He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ...

2 - An empty cup can't serve anyone

As mothers, we are called to serve our families. I know we all try to do that with excellence, joy and a pure heart. But if we are exhausted and cranky, are we really serving our families well?

Titus 2:3-5
 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—  that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,  to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

3 - Relationships are vital in the Kingdom of God
When women sit down together and talk about more than diapers or birth stories, it's an opportunity for them to speak life into their tired hearts. It's time to share struggles and prayers and encouragement. It is when the cups get filled to overflowing and hearts get mended together. It is not selfish to want relationship with fellow women of God. It is what binds together our hearts together and strengthens us for the hard days.  
Mathew 18:19-20
 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

So please, moms. Don't believe the momma-guilt that would have you believe you're selfish or not enough or inadequate. You are none of those things. Find a few moments to breathe. Find quiet so you can hear God speaking to your heart. And find friends that will help hold you together. 

{Are you thinking this sounds impossible? Quiet, peace, getting out of the house?! I'll have some ideas for you next week!}

July 16, 2014


Get computer/blog work done vs. fold laundry vs. take the girls for a walk

Clean the kitchen vs. read the review books I have due vs. read to my girls

sweep the floors vs. research the final few pieces of curriculum we need vs. go swimming

This is what my summer has looked like.
Learning to balance my side jobs (mainly this blog) with keeping my home and animals with enjoying my children is keeping my on my toes and feeling a bit dizzy at time.

I've realized that even though I started doing reviews because hello, free books!, I keep doing them because I love sharing the things I've discovered with people. If I see you in person and you ask me what I've been up to, chances are you'll hear something about this thing I found for some great price. Or we will wind up talking curriculum and you will leave my house with at least one book to borrow. I like talking to people about stuff. So reviews are fun for me. I hope you find them helpful as well. I'm trying to balance reviews with writing about the things the Lord is showing me, homeschool thoughts and some random updates about our little hobby farm. It's work. I'm learning, slowly. If there is anything you've heard me mention once or wonder where I stand on something, ask away. I'd love to hear what you want me to write about.

Summer is flying by quickly and I can't say that I'll be sad to see it go. As much as it grates against every fiber of my slightly-hippie-being, we will be instituting a family schedule this fall. With my commitments apart from homeschooling being a bit more intense and having two middle schoolers, an elementary student and a preschooler, it's time to suck it up. The older girls are getting into some harder subjects and I need to keep things moving along at a more predictable pace. It's new territory for me and I can't say I'm looking forward to it. I like our free-flowing days a bit too much it seems. So if you have any pointers for me, share them please! We need dedicated time for several subjects as we have had to break some things into upper and lower grades, time for my computer work (preferably as quiet as possible) and a strict morning chore time because this mama cannot function when there are dirty dishes in the sink.

Are you ready for summer to end or are you clinging to every bit of warmth you can get?

July 15, 2014

{review & giveaway} Persecuted

About the book:
The Question Is Not IF Attempts Will Be Made to Limit Religious Freedoms, But When

John Luther, simply wants to share the Gospel and enjoy a quiet life with his family. He never asked to be at the center of a political controversy, but an ill wind has been blowing through the halls of Congress, and supporters of a new religious-equality bill see Luther's endorsement as critical.  When Luther refuses to lend his support, he unknowingly sets in motion an explosive plan bent on destroying his reputation and undermining everything for which he stands. His once-normal life is turned upside down as he becomes a fugitive left with only one dangerous option--putting everything he holds most dear at risk while he fights to expose the truth. It is a mission that brings him face-to-face with the coming storm of persecution that could threaten the very fabric of our nation's freedoms.

Persecuted is written by Robin Parrish and Daniel Lusko. You can find the official site for the movie and book here or you can purchase a copy of the book here.

My Thoughts:

If you are interested (or enraged) by politics, you need to read this book. I read it in one morning, completely ignoring all other responsibilities. The story line is excellent, a bit frightening and very gripping. It definitely has a mature theme, as this is a book about the dark side of government and our own sinful nature.

The thing I loved the most about this book is the real transparency of the characters. John Luther, the main character, flashes back to his tumultuous past. And to not spoil the story, I'll just say that several of the other characters also share their struggles and doubts - whether or not they overcome those struggles. The depth of the conspiracy at the center of the story really made me think about the role of government in our lives. It really is something that I can see happening int he world around us. It's something that on the surface doesn't seem horribly bad but as the layers are stripped away, you realize how much persecution it really would create for Christians in the United States.

Since I live in a very rural area, the movie is not coming to a theater near me so I was very thankful to receive a copy of the book. I will be anxiously awaiting it's release onto DVD! You can go here to see if it will be coming to a theater in your area. It opens July 18.

If it isn't coming to a theater near you, grab the book or even better -- enter my giveaway for a paperback copy of Persecuted!  To enter, just leave a comment below. The giveaway will end on July 22 at 10 PM. Winner will be notified by email. Good luck!

"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.”

Stopping by from MomMaven? Thanks! Enter below!

July 12, 2014

Family, Community, and a Free Episode of Adventures in Odyssey

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 For a limited time, you can listen to a new episode of Adventures in Odyssey for FREE! Album 58, The Ties that Bind, will be available this fall for digital download and CD purchase, but if you join the Odyssey Adventures Club, you can listen to the full album now! Guess what? The $5 special held last month was extended through the end of July, too, so you can join in the fun for only $5!

Here's what part one is about (which you can listen to for free HERE):

It’s a time of surprises as Wooton becomes the celebrity guest at Comic-Connellsville and Whit finds himself in conflict over the upcoming “Let’s Get Together Festival” in Odyssey. Plus, hear an interview with writer-director Paul McCusker about the entire 14-part series.
Album 58 was inspired by Focus on the Family’s The Family Project, a 12-session small group experience that explores the theological, philosophical, and cultural underpinnings of the traditional family, and combines that information with inspiring stories and practical tools to help 21st-century families thrive.

One way families can carry out God's design for families is by serving their community—right where God has planted them, being His hands and feet together. Want to serve your community with your family, maybe make a day of out it? Here are some fantastic ideas from some Adventures in Odyssey bloggers and club members:

  • Make scarves through the year and deliver them to your local homeless shelter at the start of winter, or regularly donate food to your local food bank. —Shirley 
  • Our family likes to help with Meals on Wheels. We also do reenactments of the Civil War and WWII to help educate people on history. I like to show my kids that we should be servers and givers by taking meals to people who need them (i.e. baby just born, someone died, someone had surgery, etc.). —Erin 
  • We have been visiting a nursing home with friends once a month. The kids just sing and then we fellowship, but the ladies love it! —Lisa 
  • We make lap blankets for nursing home residents and take the time to visit with them. We also collect food for the local food pantry. —Donna 
  • We make blessing bags to give to the homeless when we encounter them. We also donate clothes and food to a local shelter. —Amy 
  • Our MOPs (Mothers of Prechoolers) group supports our local Pregnancy Support Services with donations, gifts, and notes. We also supports the Durham Rescue Mission, which helps people break free from addictions and restore families. —Melissa 
  • We live in a very rural area. Our church serves two of the poorest zip codes in the state, and about a decade ago, they started operating a food pantry out of a closet. It has expanded since then, so we now use the closet for storage, but the pantry is basically a classroom. The kids and I serve over there a lot. My 17-year-old and I go to Care & Share (50 miles away) to get food to bring back to the pantry. All of us help unload and stock shelves. On pantry days, everyone can get involved with helping people go through the line, playing with the kids, carrying boxes out to cars, etc. There are so many hungry folks, especially in the summer when school breakfasts and lunches aren't available, and helping a bit to put food on some tables is such a blessing for us all. —Debra 
  • We pack food bags each month for the homeless and needy through a thrift store that offers an outreach to the community. We also help clean our church and our Sunday school. —Michele 
  • We work through our AHG troop to do several service activities a year. My girls just recently made bracelets they are selling, which 100% of the profits goes to Hope House in Africa to help young girls. —Sarah 
  • Our church works with a homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta. We cook food ahead of time, and when our schedules allow we ride down with the group to serve the food. My son always reminds me when we haven't been for awhile, so it's something he looks forward to. —Maria 
  • We do lots of random acts of kindnesses within our community: pay for others' meals, leave change at a vending machine, hand out Gatorade/granola bars to people on the side of the road asking for food. We also love to support Mobile Loaves and Fishes. —Kathryn
Did that provide some ideas to give your family service activity the kick-start it needs? What other ideas do you have for serving your community? Share in the comments!