Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Pencil Grip, Inc. -Thin Stix Review

The Crunchy Kiddos and I were so excited to receive a set of Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors by The Pencil Grip, Inc. to review! We reviewed their Kwik Stix last year and loved them. Popper had actually asked me then if there were any that were thinner. Who knew that a year later he would get a set to try! 
Thin Stix by KwikStix

Thin Stix are solid tempura paint sticks. The kiddos say that they have the same feel as a glue stick. They are thinner than the original which allows for more detailed painting, which Popper was absolutely pleased to find out! My favorite part is that they dry in 90 seconds and are almost completely mess free! That means no paint shirts, no newspaper protected surfaces, no prep or clean-up! I love that on those days when I am not in the mood for the creativity to take over my house, I can still say yes to painting. My kiddos love the freedom they have to create almost anytime! I know it sounds a bit cliche, but it really is a sanity saver in our home.

I always remind my kiddos that they have to use Thin Stix carefully. Brother Bear and Sister have a tendency to press too hard and crush the paints. It makes them very upset when that happens so I make it a point to remind them each time. I also remind my kiddos that the paint stays on the paper. 

I decided to use Thin Stix the first day while we were listening to an audio book. I thought it would be a great way for them to keep hands busy and listen to the book. I had secretly hoped for pictures that went along with the book we were listening to about early US History, but I did not give instructions for them to do so. 

Here are the works of art that were created during that time:

Popper has really been enjoying all our readings lately. He created a picture of the Mayflower and the Pilgrims that were aboard. 

Brother Bear has found humor in the Boston Tea Party. He thinks it is funny that they dumped so many cases of tea. He says he wants to dive into the harbor and see if he can find some of the tea bags. (I explained that tea was made differently then and that it was a very long time ago). 

Sister was sad when she heard what her brothers had created. "Mommy, mine isn't anything about the book. I didn't know." I assured her that there was no rules that it had to be. She explained that her picture is of her and her cousin flying in a butterfly machine to the top of a building to see inside. 

I think all the kiddos did a fabulous job on their artwork! They really enjoyed the new Thin Stix and the freedom to paint. We used them mainly during free art and audio book time. There were several works of art created during the last few weeks. I decided to let the children pick a their favorites to showcase for you! Below are the ones that they chose to share:

These are a great addition to any classroom that wants to allow kiddos to paint and be creative, but doesn't want the mess. We love our Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors. There are several different sizes and color combinations available on The Pencil Grip, Inc.'s website. We have already begun making a a wish list for our next purchase!

You can connect with The Pencil Grip, Inc. online:

Other members of the Crew received a set Thin Stix as well. You can read how they used them in their homes by clicking the link below:

No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Focus on the Family- A Review

We are a superhero loving family. The influx of movies that are superhero based, but not always family friendly have made it difficult to allow our kiddos to enjoy their favorites. We have struggled to help our boys find a way to enjoy the world superheros, and still honor God's word by being careful what they watch on TV.  Needless to say finding out that Focus on the Family had created a superhero named Captain Absolutely made this momma incredibly happy! 

 Captain Absolutely

I learned that Captain Absolutely was originally written for Focus on the Families Clubhouse Magazine by Wooten Z Bassett and Illustrated by Dennis Edwards. It was ran over a 5 year period and has now been compiled and turned into a 105 page full colored comic book.
A little summary: Captain Absolutely was originally a librarian names Josiah King. One night there was an explosion caused by sunflower seeds, a computer, and of course nuclear power (this is a superhero comic after all)! This turns Josiah into Captain Absolutely! He finds himself trapped in the library reading the Bible! After he gets out of the rubble, Captain Absolutely begins to battle Dr. Relative using the Word of God and the truth that it holds! 

Popper was thrilled when this book finally arrived. He disappeared into his bedroom and began devouring it! He excitedly came in from time to time to tell me that he would pop-in and tell me things like:
"Hey Mom, Captain Absolutely was a librarian and there was this big explosion...." 
"Did you know that Captain Absolutely helps others by using the BIBLE! That's so cool!"
"Look, Bible verses in the pictures, that's awesome! Where's my Bible?" (probably my favorite comment!)

I loved that not only was he reading (which is sometimes a struggle for my boy) but he is reading a book that is based on the truth of God's Word! 

There were several times that I went searching for him and found him up on his bed reading. It was so good to see him excited about reading! Usually, reading is a struggle and can sometimes lead to tears. Not with this book! He was/is thoroughly enjoying every page.

It wasn't long before the other 2 caught on that this book was a good one and began to beg for Popper to read to them. This is how I found them that night as they were supposed to be getting ready for bed. He was reading (out loud!) to his younger siblings! I cannot adequately express my excitement when I saw this other than I cried. They all are hooked on Captain Absolutely and his adventures battling Dr. Relative! My favorite part, they are getting Biblical truths that they may not even be realizing!

In the back of the book there is a character outlines that teach more about each character, but also includes a Bible verse that corresponds with each character. 

Also in the back, two pages entitled "Big Questions." These are questions that help put the truths learned in the story into real life scenarios for the children. These are great discussion points for us as we help our kiddos navigate life in Christ!

I decided to ask Popper what his thoughts were on Captain Absolutely. Here are his responses:

What is Captain Absolutely about?

"There was an explosion at the library. Josiah King, the librarian, finds the Bible. While he waits for someone to save him, he begins to read the Bible. Then he becomes Captain Absolutely and starts his adventure with Hana, a girl who becomes his side kick. They start battling bad guys using the Bible."

What did you think about the story?

"I think it is a good way for people to learn about the Bible. Because it uses Bible verses throughout the book to show how Captain Absolutely is battling the bad guys."

Do you think other kids your age (8) would like this book?


What was the main point of this book?

"To tell people about the Bible."

I think this book has been a great addition to our home. I have never seen Popper read with such excitement! I think this book would be great for superhero loving kiddos of all ages!
You can connect with Focus on the Family:

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to review Captain Absolutely as well. You can read what thought by clicking the link below:

Captain Absolutely {Focus On The Family Review}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Radiant Grace Studio Bracelet Giveaway!

I am so excited to share this new product with you! My friend, Amanda, has been making jewelry for a while now, but recently decided to make it available to the public by opening her own Etsy shop! The name of her shop is Radiant Grace Studios!

Amanda makes beautiful handmade pieces (and even takes custom orders)!  I wanted to showcase some of her work here to share with you!

In honor of her opening her studio, she made a bracelet for me to offer as a gift to one of you! You can enter for  a chance to win the gorgeous bracelet below! It is made with Czech fire polished and metal beads with a waxed linen cord. It is adjustable, but the bead length is 6 inches.

It is made with my favorite colors, so, I have to admit I'm having a hard time parting with it! 😉

This giveaway is open to the US residents only. I will announce the winner next Wednesday, May 24th 2017!

You can email Amanda about a custom order or with any questions you might have:

Visit her Etsy shop to see all of her current pieces available:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Only Passionate Curiosity- A Review

We homeschool moms all have times when it just becomes too much. The stress of trying to schedule lessons, doctor/therapy appointments, clean the house, cook dinner, and still manage to stay sane: it becomes overwhelming!  We feel like we are at our breaking point! If you are like me, in that moment you begin to question if you are actually cut out for this gig or if your children would be better off in a public school. Most of the time, in those moments, I feel like a failure, more than that, I feel utterly alone! 

I was relieved to find out recently that this is a very normal reality for a lot of moms. Thankfully, I was given the opportunity to review an ecourse called Homeschool Rescue by Only Passionate Curiosity. Their motto is "Breath New Life Into Your Homeschool." I knew that was what I needed!

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

Homeschool Rescue is a 60 day ecourse. It includes 5 modules that each have 3-5 lessons, printable worksheets to help reinforce the videos in your own life, bonus material that is being added to constantly, and online support in the form of a Facebook groups and emails from the creator, Heather. There is also a printable planner that can help keep you on track if needed.

I knew that this would be hard to fit into my already full days. I knew that finding another 20 minutes or so to myself would be almost impossible. What I also knew was that if I didn't figure something out, our homeschooling journey could be over. I needed this course! 

In the beginning, I struggled to find the time to watch the videos and complete the homework. I wanted so desperately to stay on track and be involved on the Facebook support group. Much to my relief, it wasn't long before Heather sent out an encouraging email about working at our own pace. I breathed a huge sigh and kept trucking through, and man, am I a glad that I did! I do want to make a note here that the emails from Heather are not daily or even weekly. In fact, I loved that they seemed almost random, but always right on time for where I was in my progress through the lessons. They were the encouragement that I needed to keep going. 

The lessons are designed to build on each other and start with you evaluating your current homeschool in the first module called "Triage Your Homeschool." The questions were tough and sometimes hard to answer, but I knew change was needed, and since I was the only one reading my answers, there was no sugar-coating them. The reality was a hard one for me to swallow at first, but the grace that I felt from Heather, encouragement that I wasn't the only mom feeling this way or going through this was so reassuring. 

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

The second module, "Time Management Systems & Organization" is probably the one that I needed/need the most. I want to be organized, I try to be organized, but I have four children. I feel like every time I almost get there, life happens! This was a great module to remind me, a self-proclamined curriculum junkie, that there is too much of a good thing. It has been tough, but the purging has begun. This is HARD for me, but I am realizing with each box I fill and get rid of and each shelf I organize, that now I have only what we actually use. I know where to find it and quickly. It really has begun to reduce the day-to-day stress of planning, teaching and learning for me and the kiddos!

I am still working through the course, and since Heather has forbidden us from using the word 'behind,' I will say that I am right where I need to be for this stage of my life. I am grateful that I can get serious about each lesson and apply it in real time. I never feel like I am being rushed to finish. Because I have a lifetime membership, if one lesson's homework takes longer than I thought it should, that is okay. I just keep moving forward.

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

There is so much more that I could talk about. I am beyond grateful for this resource. It has truly helped "Breath New Life Into our Homeschool!" I know that it could for you too! If you are struggling with fatigue, completely overwhelmed, or may be just stuck in a rut, this course is for you. I absolutely love the support that it gives moms. 

Homeschool Rescue is running a Summer course for a new group of parents starting in June. You can sign-up today to reserve your spot in the live course by visiting their website!

You can connect with Only Passionate Curiosity online:

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given the chance to use this course as well. You can read about their experiences by clicking the link below:

Homeschool Rescue {Only Passionate Curiosity Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Catching Up!

To say that life has been crazy lately would be an understatement. I figured I should pop-in and give a little update on our lives.

Two weeks ago my sweet niece and nephew came to visit from out of town for the day and we took all the kiddos to the zoo. I never did get all of them in one picture, but I was able to capture some very precious memories being made!

When we returned home we found that our plumbing had completely backed up from a clog. Daddy T and B to the rescue! They spend all night Saturday and most of the day Sunday finding and unclogging the pipes. I am so grateful to my guys for working so hard to fix this major problem! (and saving us money by doing it themselves!)

We have almost finished up our main school for the year. We are pairing down to just a few basics for the summer including an upcoming review that we are all enjoying and excited to share with you soon:

My quiet time has been a bit challenging lately. I have been going through a study by Melissa Spoelstra called "Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World." With us beginning the foster care journey, where everything is unstable and changes sometimes hour by hour, I thought it was appropriate. 
Our case has been moving more slowly than I had thought or hoped that it would. However, God is using this time to definitely show Himself to me in a real way. Last weeks lesson: Surrender. That was a tough one:

We received word Friday that we will be signing our contract this week and officially opening our door to a placement. That reality has been a tough one for me this Mother's Day. Realizing that as we welcome a child/children into our lives, it is because a family has been torn apart. I am having to remind myself why we are opening our home. Daddy T reminded me today that this is what God has called us to do. We are to step in and walk along side these children and their parents as they work to rebuild their lives and restore their families. That responsibility is very real to me right now. Surrender is definitely a word that I need more practice with!

So, that is what has been happening for the last two weeks here in the Crunchy Household. I am looking forward to the summer break for the first time ever (we usually school year round). I think we need the break this year!
I pray that you are having a great end of year! Finish strong Momma! You are almost there! 

Friday, April 28, 2017

While We Wait...

In our home we call it DHS time, the hurry up and wait and wait and wait. It's brutal for me. I overthink and replay so many scenarios in my head of these children that need love. My prayers become broken phrases throughout the day of prayers for children...families, for grace and redemption. I spend time reading my Bible pulling strength from the Father.  It really is a time of preparation for me. 

Spiritually: I am connecting in ways that I pray continue to grow and sustain me during the late nights, the fits, the visits, the court dates, and ultimately the reunification process. Emotionally: I am learning to be stable in the waiting. And physically: I am trying to rest, enjoy time with family and friends that may become less frequent with the addition of children to our home. In all of this I know that God is preparing me for the life change that is about to happen.

So for today, I rest in the truth that my Father is the same yesterday, today and forever. That He is never late, but always right on time. I trust in His sovereignty to know exactly what this momma needs before our doors open. And that He has a plan for my family as well as every single child in the care of DHS right now.  

For one of those precious sibling groups, it's our family. We will get the call, open our doors, and walk along side them and their parents as they travel this part of their journey. My prayer is simple: That we are able to show them Jesus. In all that we say, in all that we do, in every twist and turn that His love pours out of us and onto them. That they would come to know of His love for them, His redeeming power, and His ULTIMATE forgiveness. 

But for now.....we wait. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels”- A Homeschool Crew Review

One of the struggles I have always had as a Christian is remembering that the Bible stories that I grew up hearing about, actually happened. I went to public school and learned all about world history, but I was never taught where those beloved Bible stories fit into that timeline. I knew this was something that I wanted to teach my kiddos. In fact, it is on my top 5 reasons why I homeschool! 

Lately, I have been on the lookout for a way to help my family understand how biblical history and world history intersect. When we were given the opportunity to review Drive Thru History®'s Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels.”, I knew I had found a key to help in my quest to teach and learn how it all worked together at the time that Jesus came!

Drive Thru History The Gospels

We received a 3 disc DVD set that includes 18 thirty-minute-episodes and a study guide. It was all packaged together in a nice folder style case.

The study guide was a great resource for me to make sure that my younger kiddos understood what they were watching on the videos. Each video had corresponding pages in the study guide that included a key verse or quote from the episode, a summary, discussion questions, and a reading section that shows where in the Bible the accounts could be found.

I really appreciated that the discussion questions were simple and could be answered by all of my children. Some of the questions really got conversations started that continued until dinner time when Daddy T could join in. I loved that this was able to get the whole family talking about Jesus and the events that surrounded his birth and ministry.

When I very first began this series, I thought that I would use it for Popper and B to watch at night, or even as a family. However, I ended up showing it to Popper, Brother Bear, and Sister during our video time once a week. We would then read the Bible portions out loud and answer any questions that they may have. I loved watching how intently the littles watched the videos. They really enjoyed them!

Daddy T was a little sad that we were watching the videos without him during the day so he began watching them of a morning before work. I wish I could have gotten a picture of him watching intently for you, but he gets up at 4 am and I do not (mornings and I are not friends)! He says that he is enjoying learning more about the history that surrounds the Gospels. 

I think this was a great addition to our homeschool. We are not completely though the series yet, but we look forward to our weekly video and discussion as we continue. It is definitely a resource that we will use for years to come. I think that as my kiddos get older they will be able to better understand the timeline and series of events that were happening during Jesus's ministry. 

You can connect with Drive Thru History® on FacebookYouTube, and Instagram.

There were other members of the Homeschool Review Crew that received a copy of Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” as well. You can read all about their experiences and how they enjoyed it by clicking the link below:

The Gospels {Drive Thru History® Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

When the Statistics Became More Than a Number.

Thomas and I have always sort of 'known' that we had a calling to foster care, our hearts ached at the staggering statistics. We started the process about a year ago and, because of circumstances beyond our control, had to put everything on hold. 

Fast-forward a year later, we moved right next door to my parent's which increased our support system. We are attending a church that supports foster parents in more ways then I could have ever dreamed possible. The decision to re-open our home should have been a no-brainer, right? I wish I could share with you how great it was to know that it was time and that I trusted God and that I just did it without any reservations at all, but, that my friends, was not the case.

A lady from a Bible study that I am attending posted a blog post about saying "I'm blessed," it resonated in my mind for the next few weeks. I began to realize how privileged we are. My prayers changed from 'bless my family' to 'Father, please help us not waste our privilege.' I asked Him to help us to use the privileges that we enjoyed to glorify Him.  
**I feel a warning is necessary here! DO NOT pray stuff like this unless you are ready for God to break your heart and change your world!**

That is exactly what happened! Over the course of the next month God began working in Thomas and I's hearts concerning foster care.  I have always seen the statistics of the number of siblings that are separated when entering care because homes can't/won't take sibling groups. I began to realize that if I hadn't been 'privileged' enough to have my parents, and something were to happen to Thomas and I, that could be our kiddos counted in those statistics!

So, I made the call. We would begin again the process of opening our home to foster care, but there was something that just felt off. I knew that this was right, but my selfish nature kept trying to buck it's selfish will and interfere. I struggled. When Sunday came the following week, I was beat up emotionally and spiritually. I was exhausted and about to throw in the towel. Why would anyone want to walk this road?

That day our Middle School Pastor at church brought a Missions Moment. I do not remember much from the video he showed or what he said, except this:  "Those statistic that you see on the screen, those are not just numbers! Those are people. Jesus died for them and they need someone to tell them that good news!"  

Jesus broke my heart! Right there in the middle of the Mission Moment at the beginning of our service. Those statistics that rocked my world all suddenly became far more than just a number, they had faces and stories. I wept. I was embarrassed and ashamed of the selfishness that I had been harboring. I knew that I needed forgiveness. I also knew, right then, that this was absolutely the calling that He had placed on our lives! We were to be foster parents.

We don't take this lightly. I believe that this is our mission field. So many are called over seas, but God chose to call us right where we are, in the middle of a crisis. A broken world, filled with broken families who are in desperate need of a Savior. Our job is to show His love to these families as they work to restore their lives and start over. We are in the business of reunification of families. 

That is why we are becoming foster parents! We want to share His love with both the children and the parents in the foster care system! We know that this calling won't be easy, in fact, we know the very opposite is true. We will love these children like our own and then we will say goodbye and hand them back over to their parents. We will have to learn to trust God in a whole new way. We may never know what will happen to these children once they leave our home, but we trust a God Who does! We must learn that we only have today and the intensity of that truth. 

We covet your prayers as we welcome these children into our home. Pray that we will be able to share His love to these families.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Beginning the Journey...

We are beginning our journey this month, but I am sure that her journey began before we even signed our fist form. We started training last week; I wonder what she was doing? We bought a bed yesterday, I wonder where she slept last night? Sister picked out a pink stuffed dog especially for her, I wonder what she held onto last time she was scared?

I am not sure where she is or what her life is like right now. I don't know what her life story is or when our path will cross. I do know that when we get that call, we will be ready. Ready to give her love and support, to pray with her and help her heal. We will be there as a support for her family, to show them the love of Jesus. Our family is already preparing. We are praying for her and her family even today. 

I wish there wasn't a need for foster care. In a perfect world, there wouldn't be, but this isn't a perfect world. This is a broken world in desperate need of Jesus. We believe that we have a calling to share the love of Jesus with people. Our specific calling is to the children and families in the foster care system. 

I ask that you keep us in your prayers as we start this journey. Pray for the children and families that we encounter. Pray that Thomas, the children, and I would be able to share the love of Jesus with them. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sunday Night and Peace?

It's Sunday night, and already my brain is swirling about what tomorrow may hold. The business of the upcoming week has begun to chip away at my rest. In the middle of a thought, the Lord reminded me of a verse that our Pastor used this morning. I read it in the Amplified version to get a better grasp on what Jesus was saying. As I read it I knew that stress, anticipation, and anxiety had no place in my mind tonight!
I thought that I would share it with you in hopes that it would encourage you as it has me!

So, as you enjoy these last few hours of your weekend, and as you wake-up in the morning, you can rest assured, sweet Momma, that He has overcome the world! 

I pray that you have a peaceful night and week ahead!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer: A Homeschool Crew Review

Have you ever read a Bible story and wondered about the background of the people? This is something that I do on a regular basis. I wonder what was going through Esther's mind, the lady with the issue of blood, and what about Hannah after she gave Samuel to Eli in the temple. I have found a love for books that take the Biblical accounts, mix them with historical fact, and add in a little imagination to follow people in the Bible that are simply mentioned for a chapter or two.  
Imagine my delight when I was given the opportunity to review a book exactly like that!  Peggy Consolver - Author penned a story about the Gibeonites of Joshua 9-10 called: "Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer."

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver}

When I first received my copy of "Shepherd, Potter, Spy -- and the Star Namer" in the mail, I had to go back and reread Joshua 9-10 in my Bible. So little is said about these Gibeonites that I hadn't ever thought about them. After I read about them again I wondered how Mrs. Consolver was going to bring these people, who were barely mentioned, to life.  

In the beginning of the book we are introduced to Keshub, a young Gibeonite boy who is tending the families sheep in the morning and learning to become a soldier in the afternoon. His real dream in life to see and experience adventure beyond the confines of Gibeonite territory. Little does he know the adventures that await him. 

As I read through this book, I was made aware, for the first time ever, of the other people, the ones that lived in Canaan before God gave it to the Israelites. I never thought about the rumors that went through camps, the fear of impending defeat by a group of foreigners taking over land, the question of whether or not you would survive an attack and if you did survive, where would you live? 

This book opened my eyes to the other side. I am not going to even pretend that there weren't questions about why it had to be this way. I spent several days in prayer trying to find peace in God being all knowing, all powerful, and just even though my heart was aching for these people groups being forced from their lands.  I had always lived with the understanding that Canaan was the promised land to God's people. I just never thought beyond that. This book challenged me to dig deeper. I am still in the process, even after 6 weeks, of studying the Gibeonites (descendants of Ham). I do not understand everything, but I am searching. My next search will be the Amorites and their selfish king. 

I love history and this book helped to create another layer of history to the Bible stories that I had never thought about! I think it is a perfect way to start learning and teaching the Bible from a point of historical context. It has definitely sparked a new interest in me!
When I originally requested to review this book, I intended on having Popper read along side me or even co-read with me. However, after reading the first couple of chapters we discovered that this book was simply too advanced for him and I chose to read it alone. I think this book is geared more towards upper middle school/high school to adults. I am definitely going to have my kids read this when they are older to help teach them to dig deeper into their Bible stories. 

There is also a study guide available for this book.  It has maps and keys to help the reader visualize where the events are taking place. The guide includes a couple of links per chapter to videos or resources to help you better understand parts of the story. It is a great addition for helping to get a better grasp on the book as a whole!

About Peggy Consolver

The author, Peggy Consolver, is was raised in Oklahoma where she graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. She taught in a Dallas high school for a while and then enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom to her 2 children. She now enjoys teaching Sunday School and women's Bible studies that challenge women to dig deeper into the stories!

Mrs. Consolver had started writing "Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer," but was struggling to make the story come alive. She decided to take a trip with a couple of her friends to visit Israel and walk where the Gibeonites, that she was writing about, actually lived. Through a sequence of events she was able to spend 18 days with the Associates for Bible Research in Israel in 2010. Here the story of Keshub and his family came alive to her and she was able to write about their experiences from a place of better understanding.  

You can connect with Peggy Consolver-Author on Facebook.

As usual several of my Crew-mates read and reviewed this book as well. You can read their thoughts about it by clicking the link below:

Shepherd, Potter, Spy--and the Star Namer {Peggy Consolver Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

City on a Hill Studio- A Homeschool Crew Review

With three boys in our home, discipleship and raising godly men is a constant topic of conversation for Daddy T and I. We pray that God will show us ways to better connect with our boys and to lead them to become godly men that are capable of leading a home. Of course this means we are always on the lookout for ways to help us to connect with them and to share more of God with them.  Recently, an opportunity came to us through the Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit by Manhood Journey & City on a Hill. Daddy T and I were both excited to find a resource that was geared towards a dad and son discipleship. We could not wait to get started!

Father's Starter Kit | Manhood Journey

The Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit contains a copy of the book "Wise Guys: Unlocking Hidden Wisdom From the Men Around You" by Manhood Journey co-founder Kent Evans, Two different discussion guides: one for a group setting and one for a one-on-one setting, a DVD of the introduction videos for each session, and ten Maprochures.

The discussion guides are broken down into 6 week sessions that meet once per week. These include:
1. Preparing for the Journey.
2. Setting out on the Journey.
3. Relying on the Compass.
4. Seeking guidance along the way.
5. Encountering others along the journey.
6. We have embarked.

The Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit is designed to allow dads or male role models to come along side boys aged 8 to 17 and disciple them using using five vital principles outlined in the guides.  In the beginning of the one-on-one guide there is an Introduction that helps dads or role models get 'ready' to embark on this journey with their son(s) or boys in their group. It also provides discussion questions to help get they guys talking. This is the first of six 6-week guides to help disciple young guys.

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic product. I loved the conversation starters. I think those really help to open up conversations that wouldn't usually be discussed on a regular basis, but are important to help walk along side and disciple young men. For example, one of the questions, 

" What do you think it takes to go against the crowd?"
This is a hard question even for me. I think it is great to get my boys talking with their dad about these important topics to help them make plans, pray together, and build confidence in Christ to be able to go against the crowd!

My favorite part is the challenge to dads and sons to read the Bible and pray together. I think this is a great resource to help dads gain confidence in leading and discipling their sons. Daddy T has struggled with the fact that he wasn't raised in a home or a church that had discipleship. He has felt at a loss as to how to disciple our boys because of it. The Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit was a great way for him to start on the path of discipling our boys. 

I think this would be a great discipleship resource for men to use with boys in both a 1-on-1 setting and a group setting. I can see benefits to both. 

You can connect with Manhood Journey on Facebook and Twitter. You can also connect with City on a Hill on Facebook and Twitter.

Other member's of the Crew got the privilege of reviewing Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit as well. You can read how they used it and their thoughts by clicking the link below:

Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit {Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Better Together

It's been about a year and a half ago now. I finally feel like I can share with you one of the hardest lessons that I have ever learned (continue to learn) as a wife. 
A little background information: there are times when I wake-up in the middle of the night with the urge to pray for something. Sometimes it is a very specific need, sometimes it is a person, other times I don't know what I am praying for, I just know that I am supposed to pray. I have always semi-joked that this is the only time of my day that is quiet enough for God to get my attention and have me really understand the urgency. This is also the only time that I have unlimited availability to pray uninterrupted.  

It was the middle of the night when I woke-up from a very deep sleep. I remember there was this incredible sense of urgency and panic that almost consumed me. I reach over to wake-up Thomas and realized that he wasn't there. He had picked up a paper route to help with holiday expenses that year. I knew that I needed to start praying for my husband. 

I cannot explain to you what my heart felt and where I was mentally in that moment. I just knew that I served an all powerful, all knowing God and that He knew and that was enough! I prayed until exhaustion took over and I fell in to a restless sleep. I woke-up to my husband coming home. I was relieved to see him, but that dreadful feeling wasn't gone. 

After he left for his normal day job, I sent the kiddos outside and I spent more time praying, begging, pleading with my Heavenly Father to protect my husband. At one point during my prayer, I remember saying, "Father, I know that you love Thomas more than I ever could, but Lord, I just don't want to know what it would be like to not get to talk to him everyday, to not share my world with him, to not have him by my side to raise our children." 

In that moment, I remember hearing God, I mean really hearing Him say to me, "That is how you should feel about me!" It was then that it struck me, I had made my husband my idol. I had elevated him to a position above God. I needed to repent. 

Over the next several weeks, I struggled with that sin. I took to Jesus. I know that He forgave me, but I still needed to work on rearranging my priorities. My prayers began to change over those weeks. 

There is one prayer that stood out, one prayer that remains my hearts cry even now almost a year and a half later. I prayed,
"Father, I know now that if You chose to call Thomas home, I could continue. I could lean on You and raise these children to love You and serve You. I would continue to walk with You, trusting you. I know that You are in control. But, Lord, I also know that You gave Thomas to me to be my friend, my companion, to walk this road of life with me side-by-side. I also know Lord, that Thomas and I, though great on our own, are so much better together. We can serve You better, raise our children better, love on people better. Father, please, let us continue to be better together." 

After that prayer, peace flooded my heart in a way that I cannot explain to you. I knew that I would continue to serve along side this wonderful man that God had given me and that we would become better together!

Last week, we were shopping for homeschool supplies in our local Mardel. I rounded the corner and saw this:

I cried. I was being reminded to not put my husband before my Father. This sign now hangs above our bed. It is a testimony of a time when God reminded me that He is to be first in my life. It is also a reminder to never take my husband for granted. Today, I cherish the moments. I know that at any moment God may call my Thomas home, and if He chooses to, then I will be okay. I will lean on my Rock! Until then, Thomas and I strive to be better together!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Creating a Masterpiece- A Review

Last year at our homeschool convention, my husband saw this amazing online art program that he raved to me about for weeks months. The problem was he could not for the life of him remember the its name. Luckily for him, the Crew had an upcoming review product that would help us learn its name: Creating a Masterpiece. We were given the privilege to review their Monthly Plan.  Daddy T is the artist in our home and was elated to finally be able to try that infamous (to our family) art program that he had raved about for the past year. The kids soon joined in his excitement!

Creating a Masterpiece

(This image is provided by and is precious to Creating a Masterpiece. I thought it special to include it in my review. I think it is wonderful and shows what is possible in children of all ages using this program.)

As we began to scroll through the projects available, I tried to keep the kiddos in the Beginner's section. I lost that battle as soon as they found the Lessons in Colored Pencils: Tropical Clown Fish. I should have known. There isn't a child that I know that wouldn't have wanted to try it first. Since we already had the supplies needed to start this project, I relented. 

Daddy T, Popper, Brother Bear, and Sister were the first ones to try out the program. They got everything set up and chose to work on it while I was busy with dinner prep. I loved seeing Daddy T get to be involved with them!

We tried to work through one lesson a week. This would have been a perfect pace for Popper, but Brother Bear and Sister needed a little more time to work. We ended up having to pause the video for them to catch up several times. I have to say, I really appreciate that aspect of the videos, it definitely made learning and assisting easier.

I love the finished projects! We learned a few things through this first project. First, quality does matter. We used colored pencils that we had a home. Since then, we have purchased nicer ones for the next time we need them. Second, Brother Bear and Sister do not have very long attention spans. You will notice the extra drawings on Brother Bear's page. He got a little bored while Daddy was helping the other two. We learned very quickly that on the longer lessons we needed to split them up and complete them in two days instead of one.

For our second project we chose to work as an entire family and complete the Lessons in Acrylic: Caribbean Lighthouse. We purchased everyone a canvas, made sure to get good quality acrylics, and we began. When we started we used cans to prop up our canvas. However, the next weekend I found great easels for cheap at a thrift store. These proved to be extremely useful!

We really enjoyed working on this as a family! Once again, I will brag on the fact that we could pause the videos to catch up and help each other when someone missed something or got a little behind. There were some great memories made during family art time. We want to make this a permanent thing at least one night a week! 

We learned another lesson with this medium: acrylic paints take time to dry. The above picture was after the first night. If you'll notice we were all at different points. The littler ones attention spans were shot, we older ones were helping the younger ones. Needless to say, we had to back track a bit the next art night to get us all together before starting the next lesson.

Drying time and attention spans made my plans go straight out the window. I wanted so desperately to have this one completely finished to show you a final product before I posted my review. Since that wasn't an option, and I did not want to rush these beautiful creations, I am simply going to be able to show you our work in progress pictures. 

We still have 2 more full lessons to complete before this picture is finished. After working through this program the past several weeks, I am learning to appreciate art even more. I understand what artists go through to create masterpieces! 

I cannot say enough good things about this program! Daddy T and I have decided that after our 6 month subscription is finished, we will absolutely be purchasing a year long membership. There are so many great projects to create. I love seeing each child's personality come out in their artwork. 

You can connect with Creating a Masterpiece on Facebook.

Other members of the Crew reviewed this as well. You can read about their experiences and view the projects they chose to complete by clicking the link below:

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer