Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - Birthdays

This week we are thankful for birthdays! Specifically, Emily and Arlene both have birthdays this week. (So I'm sure you'll understand if I keep this short.) Kurt and I are thankful for the young ladies they have grown up to be. We are thankful for all the experiences we have had as a family while educating our daughters at home ... on the road, in the forest, and on the beach, to name a few of our favorite locations.

We are so thankful for God's calling on our daughters' lives. We are thankful for all the friends and family members who have come alongside us on this journey. Thank you for allowing us to share a part of that journey with you here on our blog.

The picture below was taken this past March when we went to see bald eagles roost. Life is an amazing journey, enjoy it with your family!

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Thankful Thursdays

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Unbroken Legacy of Faith Edition - 2 DVD Set - A Crew Review

Have you ever a watched movie that changed something in how you think about life? Have you been looking for a place to get quality movies to watch with your family? Thanks to the Schoolhouse Review Crew we have had the opportunity to learn about, a website devoted to “Christian Movies to Inspire and Entertain.” We have been reviewing the Unbroken Legacy of Faith Edition. This 2 DVD set has the not rated version of the movie Unbroken, based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand, about the life of Louie Zamperini, along with a bonus feature The Real Life of Louie Zamperini on one disc, and over 90 minutes of bonus features on the second disc that share the faith story behind the movie Unbroken.

If you haven’t heard about the movie Unbroken, it follows Louie Zamperini’s life from his troubled childhood to High School and Olympic track star, and on through WWII as first a Army Air Corp Bombardier then a POW in a Japanese prison camp, through a series of flashbacks. Louie’s life is amazing in the twists and turns that God allows that draw Louie to Christ. The theatre version was rated PG-13, but the DVD we received in the Legacy of Faith Edition is unrated. The movie should be previewed by parents before watching with your children under 15. Unbroken shares the harsh realities of Japanese POW camps during WWII and the deplorable conditions and treatment the POW’s endured. This two hour and 18 minute movie is intense. Our girls (15 & 17) watched it with me. Though we all learned so much about Louie Zamperini’s life, and WWII, both girls said to include in our review that parents really need to watch it all the way through before sharing it with their children.

The movie disc also has a feature The Real Life of Louie Zamperini, which runs almost 30 minutes and features interviews with Louie, his children, Laura Hillenbrand, and others. This feature focuses on telling more of the facts of Louie’s life from the Olympics through his death that were not covered during the movie. This feature is safe to watch with all of the family, even the little children.

As impactful as the movie is, the second disc may be even more so. The Legacy of Faith Edition disc contains over 90 minutes of bonus content in several sections. There is a CBN interview with Louie, a message from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association with Louie, and an almost hour-long interview between Louie Zamperini and Pastor Greg Laurie. During the  Louie and Laurie interview, Pastor Laurie asks Louie questions that center on the sections of the Unbroken movie and the faith and trials behind each part. Louie shares from his heart about the things he did right and wrong in his life. He then shares about how God got ahold of his life during the Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles. Billy Graham shared the message of the cross, forgiveness, and salvation. At first Louie walked away mad, but returned on a later night where he gave his life to Christ and the real miracle of his life began.

My favorite bonus feature was the one from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association  (Captured By Grace,) that allows Louie to tell you in his own words about his life. It tells the story from both the view of Billy Graham at his first major crusade in Los Angeles, and from the perspective of Louie as a heartbroken, traumatized war veteran, who suffered daily nightmares because of the torture he endured in the POW camp. Louie was a sinner who met his Savior under that tent. Christ changed his life completely.

Each of the features on this disc should be ok to watch with your family of various ages. I was amazed to learn how Louie returned to Japan after receiving Christ as Savior and shared his faith with the prison guards he had suffered under at the POW camp. Those men were at Sugamo Prison for war crimes when Louie went with his message of forgiveness. He forgave them and told them about Jesus.

Overall, I heartily recommend this 2 DVD set, that currently retails for $19.97, for your family. While watching the Unbroken movie and seeing the emaciated bodies of POW’s and the torture they received may not be something you want to watch over and over again, it will open your eyes and your heart in a new way. To hear and see how truly horrific the POW camps were added another layer to my understanding of how God never leaves us, and showed me how He was guarding and guiding Louie to Himself all the way until that day under the tent at the Billy Graham crusade. All of the bonus features will be watched over and again here at our house. They remind us of God’s faithfulness and mercy.

The life of Louie Zamperini was amazing. Louie died on July 2, 2014 at the age of 97. After surviving 47 days on a life raft, two years in a POW camp, and years of struggle with PTSD induced nightmares, God changed Louie’s life for eternity when he accepted Christ’s gift of salvation. Louie skateboarded until he was 81, and skied until he was 91. He took that gift of salvation and led a life devoted to giving to others. 

My favorite quote from Louie’s interviews is “you have to be charitable to the end.” Am I being charitable, am I being loving, to the end of my life? Each time I watch this 2 DVD set from I will be reminded of Louie’s life and what it means to be Captured By Grace. Review

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 5/14/15 - More Abundantly

I was in college the first time I read all the way through my Bible. There were a lot of books that just weren't read from very often in church while I was growing up. I knew I needed a deeper understanding of God, and that there must be answers to my questions in there somewhere. I think that first time reading all the way through gave me pause to realize just how much God has left us in His Word. As I was thinking about what I'm thankful for right now, my mind keeps going back to a verse I had heard growing up, but didn't even begin to understand until college. Reading through God's Word opened my eyes and my heart. God helped me understand a lot of things, but I'm still working on others.

In the tenth chapter of John, Jesus refers to Himself as the good shepherd. Knowing what I know now about sheep, I can understand my great need for a shepherd. I am thankful for Christ to lead, guide, and protect me. The verse that keeps coming back to mind is John 10:10. "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." NKJV

What does it mean to have life more abundantly? If we asked ten different people we might get ten different answers. The answer that matters is what God meant about more abundantly. I have not figured all of that out, but I know it hinges on verse nine: "I am the door, if anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and go in and out and find pasture." ESV 

Sheep can be quite content in a pasture with a good shepherd. Am I content? Hmm. 

What about your life? Is it an abundant life? To live more abundantly does not mean having more things, it means having Christ.

I want to be thankful for everything that God has blessed me with, but most importantly, I want to be thankful for Christ. 

Abundant life. 

Think about it.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 5/7/15 - Forgiveness

I am thankful for forgiveness. Thankful to receive it, thankful to be able to extend it. Life rarely ends up as we plan it. That makes forgiveness even more precious. We can change the outcome of any day simply by offering forgiveness to those who might have wronged us. We also need to forgive ourselves. God changes the end of a life when He offers us forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ. That should cause us all to shout for joy!

Have a wonderful weekend - go spend some of it with your Mom!

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance - A Crew Review

I first heard Heidi St. John speak at a homeschool convention I attended early last year. Several of my friends had heard her speak a few weeks prior and shared how encouraging she was. I wanted to hear Heidi myself because my friends told me she was full of humor, grace, and honest reality. She did not disappoint. After hearing Heidi speak I went down to her booth and purchased a copy of The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight. While listening to Heidi speak I had been reminded once again that I had been doing a lot of drifting as a homeschool Mom and needed to do more planning. This Spring I had the opportunity to review Heidi's Book, The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Romance, for the Schoolhouse Review Crew and I answered "pick me, pick me!"

Both books are available from Real Life Press in printed softcover or eBook versions. For this review I received the eBook version of The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance and read it on my tablet. The tagline for this book says "nurturing your marriage through the homeschool years." I liked that thought, and I knew I needed a push to spend some more time focusing on my husband. As Homeschool Moms we seem to have about a million things on our minds everyday, and, as Heidi points out, physical time with our husbands sometimes isn't one of those top things. On the converse, I think husbands must think about the physical side of marriage all the time.

In this gem of a book, Heidi calls homeschooling Moms back to being "That Girl." Maybe you remember her? “That Girl” was you when you got married: flirty, fun, and more interested in sex than grading math papers! Heidi's writing is filed with grace, humor, and heart-felt calls to challenge us to get back to Biblical marriage. Throughout the book Heidi encourages Moms to focus on God first, their husbands second, and then their children. I'll be the first to admit that I've gotten those three out of order a time or two recently. I've not been purposely ignoring my husband, but I'm sure he sometimes feels that way because there is simply so much for me to do everyday. Here is a tip from Heidi - You can't do it all! Can I get an Amen here sisters?!

There is a thought out there that says homeschooling Moms should be SuperWoman and find a way to accomplish everything - everyday. That is a lie straight from the pit of Hell that layers guilt upon us when we fail. God's truth in His Word tells us that we are to come to Him for strength, for comfort, and for provision. What the world tells us and what God tells us are two polar opposites. There is a vast difference between the Holy Spirit’s convicting our hearts and feeling guilty. I was encouraged my Heidi's strong call to return first to the Lord, and secondly to our marriages with an eye on both today and the future. Eventually our children will grow up and move out. What kind of relationship will you have with your husband by then? If you nurture your marriage it should be thriving, but if you neglect your marriage it could be dying. It is a tragedy when we stop following God's plans and start following our own. I have heard of homeschoolers getting divorced. Any divorce is a tragedy, I cannot imagine the grief when children are involved and their world is turned upside down. 

Do you miss your husband when he is gone from home? I do! After reading Heidi St. John's book, I was reminded once again that I need to tell and show him that I miss him. Stop assuming your husband can read your mind - he can't. I can't read my husband's mind, and he is often clueless about what I am thinking. That’s just the way it works - we need to communicate! I sometimes get so weary that I forget that I haven't talked with him about a lot of things that are going on in our lives. 

Heidi reminded me of something I already knew, but had pushed aside... "I am a daughter of the King!" When I remember Whose I am, I am reminded that He brought us together in this marriage for His purposes. My love for God should overflow and provide a fertile place for my love for my husband to grow. She reminds the reader that “With Jesus it’s NEVER TOO LATE!”

I don’t want to live a life that runs parallel to my husband’s, and I’ll hazard a guess that you don’t want to live parallel lives either. I want mine and my husbands' lives intertwined and held together by Christ! Heidi reminds us to watch out that we are not getting sucked into the ‘homeschool vortex,’ or developing a ‘homeschool headache.’ Have you stopped recently to think about what your husband desires for your marriage? She writes “For most husbands, the greatest pleasure he has in his life is the physical relationship he shares with his wife.” Let’s be honest, Biblical marriage includes sex, and lots of it. The world has tried so hard to pervert sex that we might have forgotten that God created sex for marriage. Let’s search for “That Girl” and get back to physical intimacy that glorifies God. Not all of marriage is sex, but a lot of it is! You’re married, go have a PDA (public display of affection) and kiss your husband like you mean it! When your teens start saying “parents are gross,” and chuckle as they walk away you’ll know you’re on the right track.

Near the end of her book, Heidi shares tableaus from her grandparents’ married life. Reading these short scenes reminded me of many instances I have seen in my own family - my Parents, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. Truly loving someone means preferring them, respecting them, showing them your love in actions, not just words.

I have a renewed sense of hope for those years after homeschooling. With our youngest a Freshman in High School, those years will be here soon. I want us to finish our journey well. I want to have a healthy marriage where we rest and thrive in God’s plan. I am going to print out some of Heidi’s words from the very last chapter and put them in my Bible where I will be reminded of them often, “Try to see your marriage as an opportunity to be the wife God has created you to be. When you do, it can change your life. Instead of criticizing your spouse, pray for him. Love him. Prefer Him. Grow old with him. The impact you will have by living out and then leaving behind a legacy of love will reach far into future generations. Finish well.”

I want to finish well, don’t you? Get yourself a copy of this encouraging book. Your husband will be glad you did!

Visit with Heidi on Facebook or Pinterest!

Other members of the Crew reviewed The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight and several other books from Real Life Press. Click the link below to read all the reviews!

Real Life Press Review

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