Monday, October 20, 2014

Z is for Zoo, Of Course!

Z is for Zoo - what else? What is funny about that is I had been struggling with what to do our last Blogging Through the Alphabet post on, and in God's perfect timing, we spent the day at the zoo with friends last week.
Hey, it's the little things, right?
So there were animals...

And children who pretended to be animals...

And then a pack of kids...
Yes, we might have been as big a spectacle as the actual animals.  When you travel in packs that seems to happen!

Yep, that is a big group! But let me tell 'ya, the zoo is much more fun that way!  Thank you T family for spending the day with us!


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Family Toolbox Review- Teaching 16 Life Success Principles

Let's face it, parenting is hard.  And parenting preteens and teens can often be even more difficult.  But there is help out there to help us navigate the difficult times and issues we often face.  The Family Toolbox,  produced by the National Center for Biblical Parenting, for ages 10-18, is one of those resources.  And a GREAT one at that!

I recently had the pleasure of being on a promotion team for The Family Toolbox and able to use the resources in my own home with my family.  This DVD based program is meant to teach parents how to handle issues with their kids as well as help children learn to modify their behavior.  Each of the 8 video lessons teach two Life Success Principles.

Each lesson taught is broken down into two separate video clips.  This first clip for each lesson is a 10-12 minute discussion with authors of the program, Dr. Scott Turansky and Joannne Miller, RN, BSN.  These discussions are meant for parents to view alone.  In them, they discuss the two life principles being taught and strategies for teaching those lessons.  Biblical background and examples are used when applicable.

The second video clip is 1-2 minutes long and intended to be watched together as a family.  That video is a dramatized family scene, highlighting two Life Success Principles that need to be addressed.

Once your family watches the videos together, you turn to the accompanying workbook.  In there you will find a few different resources for each of the 8 lessons.  The first is a general overview of the lesson, telling you what two Life Principles are being taught and what to look for in the video.  You as the parent should read through this section before beginning.  The next thing you will find is a teen success worksheet.  On that worksheet is a scene introduction and discussion questions.  The discussion questions are broken into two parts, one for each of the Life Principles.  These questions cover things from "what did you see?" to "what would you do?" type questions to help facilitate family discussion.  Each of these life principles is related to a bible verse and a question is tied to that part as well.  The lesson concludes with some thoughts and a prayer.  

The final resource you will find is a parent page.  This page helps you as a parent to think about and respond to not only things you heard in the parent portion of the video but also the family video clip.  It allows you to work through some of the strategies and put your thoughts and plans on paper. 

What did we think?
Wow!  I have to admit I am impressed.  Many years ago my husband and I taught a parenting program that we loved and this reminds me of it in many ways.  Powerful ideas but in an easy to learn format.  I like that the video clips for the family are short, but can be used to get a conversation flowing.  They do portray some pretty harsh scenes with arguing  and harsh words, so I would suggest you preview them beforehand to make sure you are comfortable with them as well as be careful using them with younger children in the room.  The questions are good, solid questions that will be helpful if you feel you need guidance.  Otherwise, I would encourage you to listen carefully to your children and let them help direct the conversation.  As the authors state, "Behavior is a symptom of a heart issue", and I think we all often get so caught up in just "fixing" the problem that we forget to fix the heart.

My favorite lesson?  Lesson 6- Accepting No as an Answer! The authors point out that we must teach our kids to live within limits.  After all, that is a skill that we will take with us into adulthood.  By teaching kids to accept no as an answer and by teaching kids to be problem solvers rather than whiners, we can say goodbye to arguing, badgering and whining.  Sign me up!  I love that there are real life solutions taught as well.  In this chapter an example is saying to your children, "That's whining, come back to me with a solution."  By equipping ourselves with simple statements like this, we are helping children take control of their own behavior and responses.

The Family Tool box can be purchased for $99.95 or downloaded for a suggested donation of $79.95.

You can also connect with the national Center for Biblical Parenting-

Friday, October 17, 2014

Say Thank You- 52 weeks of family scripture memorization

We love manners in this house.  Between a military dad and southern roots, we are sticklers for manners.

One of the first things we teach our kids is the phrase thank you.

"What do you say when someone gives you something?"  Thank you

"What do you say when someone does something nice for you?"  Thank you

We drill it into their heads and, hopefully, eventually into their hearts.

So much so that once while playing UNO with our first born son, we asked him what he needed to say with just one card left.  His response..."thank you?"  Ummm, no, in this case, UNO will suffice! ;)

People like to hear the words thank you.  People need to hear the words thank you.

So it makes sense to me that God, the giver of EVERYTHING, deserves to hear the words thank you as well.

Thank you, God, for life.
Thank you, God, for family.
Thank you, God, for all that you have blessed us with.
Thank you, God, for loving us.
Thank you, God, for salvation.

What are you and your children thankful for today?


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Apologia iWitness- TOS Review

Apologia Education Ministries is at it again!  This time with a new, AMAZING series that you are going to love!  Trust me on this!

We have had the pleasure of reading iWitness Biblical Archaeology ($14.00), Old Testament iWitness ($14.00) and New Testament iWitness ($14.00).  These little books, about 60 pages each,  pack a punch and are ideal for family reading as well as for children ages 11 and up if reading independently.  Our family has done a little of both.  Two of my kids grabbed the one they were most interested in and ran to their rooms with it.  Because we have nightly family devotions, we have also been able to read a few parts of them as a family as well as use them as a quick reference when a specific conversation came up during our nightly Bible reading.

Apologia Review

Where should you start?  Probably at the beginning, I would say.  Old Testament iWitness does just that.  This book covers topics like the Septuagint, the Torah, Major and Minor prophets, Dead Sea Scrolls and more.  There is some fascinating stuff packed into this little book!  Like did you know that when original Bible manuscripts were copied they made sure there were always 30 characters on each line, or that when a copy of the Hebrew Bible was damaged or replaced it was buried in a special ceremony?  Or that prophets could never be wrong when they foretold something or they would be stoned to death?

Apologia Review

Where to next?  How about the New Testament.  This portion of scripture is probably more familiar to most Christians, but there is still so much to learn.  Who was Athanasius?  Who was Eusebius?  What books were rejected from the New Testament and why?  And most importantly, how do we know these things?

Apologia Review

Often the world uses archaeology to argue against the Bible.  Sad, but true.  In  iWitness Biblical Archaeology, however, Doug Powell uses information about archaeology discoveries to show there are many reasons to trust the claims of scriptures.  Filled with beautiful photographs bound to capture the interest of any reader, Powell talks about the flood and search for Noah's Ark (our favorite part), Old Testament History and the artifacts found that support that history, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as the New Testament and what the world was like during the time that Jesus walked the earth.  Fascinating info, I tell ya!

Our Thoughts-
We really have enjoyed these books a lot, but I found that we enjoyed them more when we read them individually rather than as a read aloud.  They are over the head of my 7 year old, even when he is just listening so the family time reading just did not happened as often as I had hoped it would.  They are filled with great information and I love that the author does not insert his opinion or other ramblings.  He simply presents the facts and where he got them from.  According  to my Bible- major daughter, they are scripturally sound and are not based off myths, legends or one man's sole opinion.  Because I like them so much, I am going to make them required reading for part of our Bible credit in school!  Though some information we may already be familiar with, there is a ton we were not.

Some of my favorite parts of the Old Testament and New Testament books were the sections that talked about how Bibles were copied.  The detail described reminds me of how it is nothing short of miraculous that we even have access to Bibles all over the world.  It also reminded me of how blessed we are to have had people that dedicated their lives to accurately copying the Bible so that we could have that access.  How thankful we should be.

My main complaint-
Though these books are lovely to look at when you first open them up, we found them quite difficult to read. The pages are laid out in a scrapbook form, which makes them visually distracting, in my opinion. Rather than written in a book form, there are multiple sections devoted to different subjects.  While I did not have a problem with those short snippets, as I find they hold younger children's attention more readily, what I did have a problem with was that each section was written in a different font. And fancy ones at that!   The fonts do seem to fit the time period in which you are reading about, but we found many of them cluttered and difficult to read.  One of my daughters noted that there was just not enough white space to make reading pleasurable.  My 12 year old had difficulty with it especially. For those that are visual learners I would be willing to bet this layout would be very distracting.  I would love to see Apologia clean up the pages a little as to not distract from such wonderful reads!

On a whole, we love Apologia's new iWitnness series and highly recommend it!  You can hear an interview with author, Doug Powell, that will give you a feel for his heart behind this new series. Two more books in the series are due out in 2015- iWitness World Religions and iWitness Heresies and Cults.

You can find Apologia-
Facebook –
 Twitter – 
 Google+ -
 Pinterest –

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, October 13, 2014

Y is for You Need to Hear This!

After having a week to settle into the news, as best as one can, of my husband's deployment there has been time to process and think about a lot of things. A few I have already shared with some of you privately, but many I feel the need to say to you as a mass! ;)  After this, we are moving on!  Well, mostly! ;)

Just because I am going through something big does not make what you are going through small.  THIS DOES NOT APPLY TO JUST OUR FAMILY!  Please hear me say this...

I know the human tendency is for us not to want to share our own hard day with a friend when we know they are struggling too.  Our "stuff" just seems to pale in comparison.  Please don't do that.  We all have bad days, and we all need to be able to share with friends.  I used to tell people, it doesn't matter if your husband is gone one day, one weekend, one month, or one year, when YOU are in the middle of it it stinks! Let's don't play the comparison game and please do not feel like you cannot have a bad day just because I am having a bad day.

Please do not be too proud of us!  Seriously.  Some days we will do great (yay us!) and other days we will fail miserably and sometimes publicly.  The pressure to live up to peoples' expectations is a lot of pressure. If you put us on a pedestal, we will all be disappointed when we fall off.  It will happen!

Just because we have done this before does not make it any less painful and scary.  Just have to get that out there.  Yes, this is the third time we have done this.  (one other time for a year and once for 7 months)  As I told my husband, sometimes the fear of the known is actually worse than the fear of the unknown.  'nuff said!

I know it is easy to slip into a conversation about people you know who are going though or who have gone through similar situations.  Unless they have happy endings, please do not share.  I do not want to get into a "who has it worse" conversation, nor hear of all the people who did not make it home.

We are not the only ones going through a hard situation.  All it takes is to step outside your home to see that.  There are people suffering, lonely, scared, and hurting at every corner.  There are people, some of our friends included, that are navigating some pretty hard stuff!  Reach out to those around you and make a difference in their day.

I live in the best community!  I think I have told you that before.  We have people by our sides daily that love us and are taking care of us.  They have won our hearts and we will forever be grateful.

YOUR PRAYERS MATTER!  Really, they do.  Every time I am tempted to sink into fear or despair I remind myself that there are friends all over this world that have committed to pray for us.  Not just say they will, but WILL!  If you are one of those people, thank you.  You are appreciated far more than you will ever know!

God is still in control!  I said it last week, but it remains the same.  And I am reminding myself of it daily.  I pray you are too!


"Trust in The Lord forever, for The Lord, The Lord himself, is the Rock eternal." Isaiah 2:4

Ben and Me