Friday, October 12, 2018

Adventure is Waiting

My older kids grew up on audio adventures, so it has been neat for us to continue that tradition with my youngest son, age 11.  Reviewing the digital version of Season 6: Underground Rising from Brinkman Adventures  was a treat that brought a big smile to his face.  Let's face it, who doesn't like a good adventure?

The Brinkman Adventures is a faith based adventure series featuring a family of missionaries, the Brinkmans.  Each story, about 26 minutes long, is based off the lives of real life missionaries. Some are recorded in two parts, as were two from this season.  Founder Ian Bultman and his production team hope to one day be able to support missionaries through their ever growing Beachglass Ministries which produces the Brinkman Adventures, both on CD and in digital version. In the meantime, they are inspiring future missionaries one story at a time.

Titles from season 6 include-
  • Dutch Underground (parts 1 & 2)
  • Twice Born Fly
  • I Wonder Why?
  • Free Burma Rangers (parts 1 & 2)
This 2 plus hour season is a change from their previous 4 plus hour sets, but I think is a more manageable series to listen to.

One neat thing about Brinkman Adventures is that by going to their website you can get the back stories to all of the adventures in each series.  This area often includes interviews from the real missionaries involved, pictures, videos and more.  In our favorite adventure in season 6, Twice Born Fly it also includes a video of a fly metamorphosis!  Also on the website you will find podcasts to listen to that will expand the adventures even more!

Our Use and Our Thoughts-
After a quick download of the adventures to my computer we were ready to listen!  Because of the relatively short length of each adventure, it has worked out well for the two of us to listen to these either right before or right after lunch, in between school subjects.  Despite the still hot weather here in Arizona, it provides some snuggle time with my boy.

I have to admit, I am not an auditory learner like my boys and have sometimes struggled with listening to audio dramas in the past.  This is not the case with Brinkman Adventures.  I do not know if it is due to the length of each one or how exciting and intriguing they are, but like Colby, I often find myself sitting on the edge of my seat to see what happens next.

My boys have never struggled with their listening skills (with audio dramas, that is) and love listening to Brinkman Adventures.  Colby will often listen to them while he is playing in his room, and even occasionally while reading a book, go figure.  They are also great for longer car rides around town or while off on an adventure ourselves.

We often differ on picking our favorite episodes, but such was not the case this time.  We both agreed that our favorite story from Episode 6 was Twice Born Fly.  For me, I just loved that the gospel was so clearly pictured using a story that the dad told his kids about a dream he had, and that it eventually led to the decision for his young son to be saved.  The conversation between father and son and what it means to be "born again" is precious and brings back memories of a conversation we had with our own son just a short year ago.  Colby loved the dream part of the story the best.  Not surprising as it involves a prison break out!  What is it with boys and their sense of adventure, right?!

Our second favorite was the I Wonder Why? adventure.  While the family involved started with heartache, the story follows their adventures of following God's lead to sell all they have and move to another country to help orphans.  Because Colby was adopted as a small child, this story gave us much to talk about!  We were not only able to discuss how hard it would be to sell all we have and move away from friends and family, but also what it means to help others and how that can look different to different people.  Orphan stories are sometimes hard to listen to, but for our family, it is another opportunity to discuss how the Lord has blessed our family and many others we know through adoption.  Another central theme to this story was forgiveness and changed hearts once we are saved.  Again, a great way to introduce some pretty deep discussions to your family time.

Ever so generous, The Brinkman Crew is offering our readers a discount through the end of this month!  Think about Christmas, my friends, it is just around the corner, and these would make great gifts!

Friends,  you need Brinkman Adventures in your life.  You don't have to just take my word for it- over 70 of our Homeschool Review Crew members reviewed Brinkman Adventures as well.  Click on the banner below to read what they had to say.

Brinkman Adventures Season 6 Reviews
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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Do You Know Your Bible? REVIEW

The Bible is a big deal in our house.  It is the basis of our faith- God's Word passed to us so that we might know Him, worship Him, and teach others about Him.  So when we were given the opportunity to review Books of the Bible At-A-Glance I was thrilled!  Books of the Bible At-A-Glance is just one of many Bible resources from  Teach Sunday School.

Also available are Sunday School lesson plans, craft ideas, games, hand outs, skits and plays and so much more. Teach Sunday School allows for home use as well as church and small group use.  It really is a one stop shop full of resources and you can print as many copies you need.

 So what is Books of the Bible At-A-Glance?
You could consider it your Bible cheat sheet.  Remember the days of Cliff Notes?  This is kind of like that- an overview of the Bible in a condensed, but thorough version.  While it should not replace your Bible reading, it can indeed enhance it.  All books of the Bible, that is 66 in all, are represented.

Each book has a dedicated page with all sorts of information packed into it.

  • Title
  • Order in the Bible- What book it is in order, whether in the Old Testament (39 books) or the New Testament (27 books)
  • Who authored the book- Included is the author's name, or ideas of who is speculated to have authored it if it is not for sure,  or simply unknown.
  • Dates Written- These are often approximate, but are noted if so, and help to give you a point of reference on a timeline.
  • Time period- This tells the complete time period the book actually covers in history if applicable.
  • Famous stories included- These are the accounts you will be most familiar with if you have any Bible knowledge.  
  • Most famous verses- These were gathered from the web of the most searched for verses.  In many cases they are ones you will be most familiar with and hear quoted often.
  •  Important points about the book- This is an outline of the book.

How we have been using  Books of the Bible At-A-Glance and what we think.

When we first got the pdf of Books of the Bible, I printed the file off and bound it so it would be easy to reference.  I did a quick perusal of it first and then put it aside until we could use it as a family.  Because we do nightly devotions as a family that includes Bible reading, I knew this would be a good resource for us.  Before beginning a new book of the Bible I am able to pull this reference out and read it to the family giving them a little background before we start.  This year we are reading the Bible chronologically and so we just began reading Esther.

Though we have read Esther many times together, this was a good way to remind the kids when it was written and why.  Included in the Important Parts About the Book section, it told that the events took place in Susa which is now a part of Iraq, so you get a little geography too!  By giving a general overview of the story, it helped us to anticipate some things that would happen.  This was especially good for our 11 year old, who obviously has not read through the Bible as many times as our 16, 21 and 24 year olds.  

One of the things we would like to begin doing is memorizing some of the verses the study lists.  We have been excited to see there are many we already know, but because this information was based on a web search, there are some verses we are less familiar with.  Take note that some verses are not necessarily ones that would point someone to faith if trying to teach the gospel to someone, but are occasionally ones that just speak of the main focus of that book or help to tell the story.  

I love this little reference book!  It is so easy to use and is perfect for a quick glance when you need basic information about a book of the Bible.  It is easy to use and understand so I would not hesitate to use it with younger kids as well.  Though we have used it for our family use, it would also be perfect to use with kids in a Sunday School setting, or even to pass out for adults in a Bible study for reference.

I have also been able to use this in my own personal Bible Study time to reference things I am reading and obtain additional information.  It is great to be able to have that information at my fingertips.

I think you will be blessed by  Books of the Bible At-A-Glance as well as the other phenomenal resources from Teach Sunday School. 
Books of the Bible At-a-Glance { Teach Sunday School Reviews}
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Friday, September 28, 2018

From House to HOME!

 I firmly believe that people are what makes a house a home.  Any house can provide four walls and shelter, but until you put people in it who love, laugh, and live there, it is simply that- a shelter.

We want this house to be a home.  Not just for us, but for all who walk through our doors, whether for just a few minutes or for days.  We want people to feel welcome and loved.  Because they are!

Aside from a few boxes in the library/office and the garage (let's not talk about that yet) we are unpacked and settled! 

We are HOME! 

 And we have a calendar packed with names of people coming to visit already.  It is so exciting.  There are rooms ready and plenty of space and it makes me grin from ear to ear.

So for a quick tour- minus the library which is still a work in progress and will get its own post and the boys room, well, because...boys!

I tried to take the after picture from the same viewpoint as our before, but bear with me regardless- I do not claim to be a photographer.

This is the Master Bedroom. It is on the main floor, which makes me very happy.  I was going to get rid of the yellow paint, but it is growing on me so it may stay for a while.

This is the view from our kitchen eat in area to the living room.  The chandelier is lovely, but not our style so we will try to sell it and replace it at some point.  It's on the to-do list!

If you are sitting on the leather couch, this would be your view with the kitchen to the right.

This is our basement family room.  Currently on Sundays, it is filled with young adults having coffee, sharing food, playing games, and lots of laughter.  Makes my heart so happy that they feel welcome here.

And the view from sitting on the couches.

On the top floor is the boys' loft- also where their bedrooms are.  We pray it will be a great space for pre-teen and teen gatherings as well. The couch is also a pull out bed for kids to use.

Just a quick kitchen view.  The jury is still out as to how I feel about open cabinets.  In theory, I love them, but I am not convinced the visual clutter won't get to me in a few months.  Time will tell.

Yes, our hall bath was lavender.  Not sure why as it did not go with anything else in the house, but Ashton fixed it quickly for me and a sweet friend gave us the mirror!

The dining room- also where the boys and I do some school, so yes, the sideboard is full of current school supplies and curriculum.

And last but not least- YOUR room.  We do have a room currently being used as a workout room and sewing space for Ashton that will eventually be a guest room as well.  Baby steps...

 A quick peak at the girl's rooms-

Our new family mantra is LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE!  (I need a sign, Jennisa!) Pray for us to do that well!

And make your reservation soon! ;)  Your room is waiting.

So is the front porch!


Monday, September 24, 2018

Learning About New York City

The last time I did a review for By the Way, it was for their book on Florida.  It was a perfect fit for this east coast family who lived in Florida for several years.  We are back to the By the Way Book Series and this time around we got to review New York City- By the Way.  Pretty perfect since we have a NYC loving daughter who has gone twice and will try to get anyone she knows to go with her again.

 Ironically she is at school finishing up her senior year, so her youngest brother, age 11, and I have gotten to read this cool book before her- shhhh, don't tell!

The By the Way book series has an ever growing title collection including Ireland, Alaska, Indiana, Colorado and more.  These books are indeed a story, following Alex and Lexi on an adventure to a specific location, but they are also so much more.  Each book is packed full with information; the newest ones even more so than before.  Inside each hardback book you will find geography, history, science and more.  Each page has engaging color pictures to hold the interest of younger children, but the facts you will learn are perfect for your whole family.

Within each book, written by author Joy Budensiek, is the intent to teach kids about God and His world and His truth.

"Discovering Biblical Truth in Everyday Life"

Scripture is quoted often, but in a natural, conversational way.  It is way to present a Christian worldview and open up conversations with your children about God in a relaxing, non-threatening environment. 

New York City- By the Way is a 48 page book of fun!  Alex and Lexi are joined by their classmates on a three day trip to New York City with their teachers. Each day is packed with activities where they learn that, despite being in a busy city, they can still see evidences of God in nature.  While exploring they see many animals including squirrels, ducks, and pigeons. 

They also learn about turtles, coyotes. and butterflies. When trivia is mentioned throughout the book you will often find side boxes with facts about that specific thing.  Consider it a mini encyclopedia lesson!

Also included in the New York book is a whole lot of geography and history.  As the class travels to all 5 of the city's boroughs, they learn about the 175 zip codes that are there and check off as many as they can find as they explore.  They also learn about the history of each area and other neat facts.

How we used this book and what we thought of it-
Like usual, Colby (6th grade) grabbed this book and read it before I had a chance to.  This is NOT a one sitting book!  It is more like a chapter book, but without the chapters.  I think he read it over the course of a few days and he is a pretty voracious reader.  If you are using it as a read aloud, I recommend you take it in chunks- there is so much to absorb and talk about.

I did finally manage to read it on my own and did so in one sitting.  Colby had mentioned several things he thought were interesting, but it was more fun to engage him in conversation after I had read it too!  Sometimes what I find neat is not always what interests him.  Some topics we learned about include-
  • The Subway System
  • The Statue of Liberty
  • 9/11
  • Street Vendors
  • Tube Mail
  • Central Park
  • Chinatown and Little Italy
  • Fanny Crosby
  • The Empire State Building
  • Geo-caching
  • The Bronx Zoo
Of course, this list is just the tip of the iceberg!  I told you these books were a wealth of information!

So my favorite part- hard to choose!  I loved reading about some of the older history of the city, especially about the immigrants who came by way of Ellis Island.  Did you know that in one single day in 1907, almost 12,000 immigrants were processed.  That absolutely amazes me.  Another thing that blew my mind- there are 138 languages spoken in Queens alone!  Can you just imagine what it would be like to hear even just a fraction of them all at once?  No wonder the city is so loud!

And Colby's favorite parts?
Colby LOVED ready about Winkie! She is actually a pigeon, one of 32, that was awarded the Dickin Medal for serving in WWII.  When the ship she was on went down in the North Sea, Winkie flew 120 miles back to her owner and is credited for saving the lives of all the men on the ship.

He was also shocked to learn that there are 5.2 million trees in NYC, with 592,130 on city streets.  Like he said... "who knew?"
There is also a fun picture search where you find 10 pictures hidden throughout the book to entertain and challenge your younger kids.  It might be a way to help keep them engaged if the story gets a bit long for them.

Whether you are a unit study kind of mom, a history and geography fact kid, or just looking to add beautifully illustrated books that teach God's word, you will love this By The Way book series!  The only problem- choosing which one to start with!

By the Way Book Series: New York City, Ireland, Indiana & Alaska {By the Way Reviews}
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