Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Cry From Egypt

PhotobucketRaising Real Men, by Hal & Melanie Young, chooses wisely when deciding what to post, publish, or promote. They are desiring to encourage parents to make wise, lasting choices for their children. While it sound like this might only be for parents with boys, it's not. One of their newest releases, A Cry From Egypt, solidifies this. At a price of $12.50, it's not going to break your budget, but it would be a great choice for a birthday present.

Both our girls love reading allegories. This review was awarded to Arlene (age 12,) who finished the book (for the first time) in less than a week. Then she was disappointed that it wasn't time to post the review yet... what, we have to wait until everybody else on the TOS Crew is done reading too??? (Yes, I did LOL!)

PhotobucketSo, if you're looking for a solid, captivating book for your child to read, or for a family read-aloud, we both give A Cry From Egypt thumbs up! When Arlene got to the plague of frogs, she wanted to know which plague came next, so she would have an idea what might happen in the book. Being a Mom, I told her to go get her Bible and look it up herself! (I did remind her to look in Exodus.)

Below, you'll find Arlene'e review. This 176 page book, written by homeschool graduate Hope Auer, is the first in a series titled "The Promised Land." (It even includes a preview chapter from the second book.) As a parent, I appreciated not only the quality writing in the book, but the choice of the Young's to publish a book by a homeschooler. Not just because she was educated at home, but because it gives an example to our own girls about one of the many different way God can choose to use your life. By writing quality books, Hope Auer is using her God-given gifts to edify others. She is building up some of the youngest in God's Kingdom, for His glory. You can learn more about Hope, and her heart for encouraging others on her website :

So, now, the part you've been waiting for: Arlene'e review :)

A Cry From Egypt is a book about a girl named Jarah and her family who are Israelites, well all except her Mother who worships the Egyptian gods instead of Yahweh. Her family includes her Father, Mother, and siblings,
(Ages approximated) Eitan 18, Shayna 15, Lemuel 14, Jarah 12, Tirzah 8, Raphael 5 and  Yanni 2.
It’s about what happens to them during the plagues on Egypt. When Jarah first hears about Moses she learns not all the  Iraelites like him while others believe he is the deliverance God promised. They are what I guess what you might call a normal family with arguing parents. Hers argue all the time, mostly about religion. Her mother is trying to teach them the ways of Ra and her father about Yahweh. Jarah has kind older brothers, a flirtatious older sister, a little sister and funny younger brothers. Speaking of funny, once during the plague of frogs Raphael asks why the Egyptians don’t just kill the frogs and their mother replies you can’t even think about killing a frog, frogs are sacred. 
(exerpt from page 60)
Raphael stared at  her and blinked“you mean you and the Egyptians worship..frogs?”
“ No,” mother said in exasperation. “One of the gods is Hegret. She has the head of a frog. Frogs are associated with fertility and resurrection because they come from the NIle. So frogs are sacred because they represent the goodness of Hegret. We don’t worship frogs. We just hold them as sacred.”
Raphael stared at his mother for a moment and then burst into laughter. “You- you worship frogs?” He was laughing so hard that Tirzah and Yanni started laughing with him. It was all Jarah and Lemuel cold do to hold their composure and not laugh with them.
“Stop it, all of you. This is a serious matter!” Mother shouted, angered by this offense against her beliefs. 
(end of exerpt)
Their Mother is like this for most of the plagues because she and most of the Egyptians believed this was punishment from the Egyptian gods since all the plagues had to do with something  sacred to them: their cattle dying, the nile turning to blood, the frogs invading (since of one of there gods has a frog head), although the Israelites believe it was Yahweh trying to save them from the Egyptians. In the end the Israelites are set free and the story continues in the next book. I liked it a lot, it is not dry or boring.

As members of the TOS Crew, we received an advance copy of A Cry From Egypt free of charge in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are ours.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Overwhelmed or Underwhelmed

Where are you today? Are you at work, on a field trip, at the kitchen table working on math with your children? Are you feeling overwhelmed, or underwhelmed? 

Let me try to explain. 

Life here in America goes marching on whether you are ready for it or not. For most of us, we are trying to put as much activity into each 24 hours as possible. Sometimes that is overwhelming to our senses, our mental state, and our bodies. At other times, we feel like we're in a rut, and the word "underwhelmed" (if it's even a word) comes to mind.

Why not take today, and be overwhelmed by something different. 

Be overwhelmed by God's great love towards you. 

Not feeling it? Then maybe it's been too long since you stopped the maddening flurry of activities and spent time with God. Right now, where ever you are, take some time (even just the next 5 minutes) and ask God to overwhelm you. To love you, to cherish you, to make Himself known to you. Read your Bible, recite the 23rd Psalm, spend time seeking God. You need to stop thinking about doing it and DO IT!

Then later, you'll find your feelings have changed because your thinking has changed. Life may still be rushing by you at a frantic pace, but you won't be frantic. You will have the peace that passes all understanding. You will have drawn near to God, and He will draw near to you.

May the Lord bless you and keep you, may He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, may the Lord lift up your countenance, and give you peace.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Unusual Circumstances

Just last week I picked (and ate) this strawberry from our garden. How did that happen??? Unusual circumstances. This summer we had a LONG drought. When the regular rainfall returned, many of our plants were confused. Several of our starwberry plants put out new blossoms and a few even had fruit, like the one in the picture. Now, granted, it wasn't as big as the usual strawberries are in June, but it was  a welcome surprise!

Do you find yourself in what you would call "unusual circumstances" often? As Christians, our lives should seem unusual to others, our words and actions should be different from the world around us. How can we give an answer to the question about the reason for our hope (1 Peter 3:15) if those around us never ask? Maybe they're not asking because we look, talk, & act just like everyone else. That is a sad commentary on our lives. We should be different. We are called to be different (Romans 12:2)!

It's not always easy to live in unusual circumstances, in fact, it's usually quite difficult, and maybe our fruit is not as big as we would like. But that is not an excuse to stop living a life that follows Christ. Imitating Christ requires us to live a life of sacrifice and selflessness. These are hard things to do, especially in this world of "more everything!" Are not your family, your friends, and your eternal destiny more important than "things?" When struggles arise, as Christians, we are called to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). I know, it's not easy. It can be a special challenge when the other person is also a Christian. We tend to think "why me, why do I always have to be the peacemaker, why can't they ever give in?" Guess what? Toughen up cupcake, because God calls YOU to do the right thing (forgive, offer grace, turn the other cheek) whether the other person ever matures or not.

Marriage is hard, parenting is hard, LIFE is hard! But take heart, Jesus has come to give you life, and that more abundantly!!! 

So stop. Pray. Forgive. 

An amazing thing will happen, your joy will return. Maybe the fruit will be small, that's ok, it's still a gift from God, your loving Heavenly Father, who wants to give you an abundant life, a life filled with Him.

Next week, tomorrow, today, choose that abundant life. Choose to walk away from your own selfishness, choose to follow Christ. One day, someone will ask, and you'll be ready to give an answer for your hope!

If you're still searching for that hope, Jesus offers it to everyone. You can find out more. Read your Bible (you can find a free version online here,) or visit our friend at Reasons for Hope here.

Praying you find God walking right beside you in all your unusual circumstances. He's there, you just have to look!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Everyday Cooking by Vicki Bentley

PhotobucketPerhaps you are a cookbook collector, or maybe you're just a Mom or Dad desperate to get something on the table for breakfast, lunch, & dinner (preferably more than one meal each day,) then may I make a suggestion? We've been reviewing a cookbook for the Molly Crew 
from Everyday Homemaking called "Everyday Cooking" by Vicki Bentley. It is rather good, and contains not only recipes, but helpful kitchen hints and budget-friendly advise sprinkled throughout its 103 pages. With a purchase price of $17.99, it's in the mid-range price for cookbooks. Worth the money if you plan to use it, a little pricy if it's just a shelf-decorator. (So use it!)

Everyday Cooking, digital cookbooks

We received the PDF version of the cookbook, originally published in 2006, and updated in 2011. The cool thing about the PDF format, is you can print the whole thing, or just pick & choose the pages you want. We used the table of contents to scroll through the 4 recipe section: Appetizers & Dressings, Bread & Grains, Main Dishes & Soups & Sides, and Desserts & Snacks. Then we wrote down page numbers to view. Finally, we looked at the pages and decided which ones to print off to work on first. We will probably end up printing most of the pages eventually to put in a 3-ring binder to put on the 'cookbook shelf,' but since neither of our girls like rice, we skipped those recipes to start with.

The formatting is well done, with one long and one short recipe appearing on most pages, so you aren't frantically looking for the next page to finish reading the instructions that go with your recipe just because someone (who shall remain nameless in this review) 'borrowed' the next page to go try out another recipe! [Has that ever happened to you?] When the recipe and instructions fill almost a whole page themselves, Vicki has ingeniously inserted a budget saving or kitchen hint to fill in the blank space.

Personally, I was encouraged that the cookbook recommends many things we already do in our household (like having your own grain mill, or putting drip-catchers under the olive oil bottle.) If you don't have the kitchen gadgets, or the budget to purchase them, there are back-up instructions (like mince finely, or stir thoroughly.)

If you really like to bake, or cook, or both, many of those kitchen 'gadgets' are really kitchen 'investments' that will save you time and money over the long run. Here's a personal example: About 11 years ago, I was reading a nutrition book that showed how many of the nutrients are removed ( and only a few put back) from wheat to give you "enriched, bleached flour." So I thought "whole wheat!" While this is a better option, whole wheat flour loses much of it's nutrient content on day 3 (after grinding) as it begins fermenting. So, what to do, what to do??? Invest in a grain mill. The following Spring, when we were doing our tax returns, I had a wish-list of things I wanted to suggest if we got money back, on the top of that list was an electric "WonderMill Whisper Mill." We set aside $199 from our tax return and purchased one. This morning, more than 10 years later, my Husband, Kurt, used the mill to grind up fresh whole-wheat flour to make pancakes for breakfast. Whole wheat flour at our local grocery costs from $3.99/$6.99 for a 5# bag (that was ground more than 3 days ago!) We continue to grind our own flour, from chemical-free wheat berries that run about $15 for 25# (which makes almost 38# worth of flour!) That would equal $30-$53 worth of 'old' flour from the store. If you're thinking about following Vicki's advise and purchasing a mill, I just did an internet search for the same mill we have. They now run $260-$300. Well worth the investment!

Now, about those recipes...We now have 3 new "favorites" from the book: granola, blueberry muffins, and 'Bekah's Blueberry Buckle." For years, I've had friends tell me they just throw "this and that" into their homemade granola. While I consider myself an excellent baker, it really helps to have a written recipe to start from... not just "this and that." Then, once you've made the recipe, you can imagine and experiment with it on your own. The granola hadn't even been out of the oven an hour when Kurt started making suggestions for future batches. The girls waited until a day or two later to put int heir requests for the next batch.

I wanted to see how easy the recipes were for a novice to follow, so I let each girls do one by themselves. Emily, age 14, made the blueberry buckle (which is kinda like a coffeecake, but yummier!) It turned out really well, ( I had to help remind her what "fold, cream, and cut" mean in baking terms,) but next time we'll probably make it in a wider pan, because it was rather thick and we'd rather have it divided into more servings, than have each serving be so large. The recipe said use a 9' sq. pan, but we will probably change to a 9x13" pan for next time. Note to self- take it out right when the timer rings!

Arlene, age 12, is a little more experienced with helping me bake, so she made the blueberry version of the "Basic Muffins" all by herself (except for a little help getting them out of the oven when done.) The only struggle she had was in her expectations. Because the recipe didn't mention the yield (# of muffins it would make) she greased both muffin pans hoping it made 24, like our cupcake recipes do. Alas, it only makes 12 muffins, so she had a greased pan to wash for naught. She wrote "makes 1 doz" on the recipe sheet for next time. They were really yummy, sorry, no pictures, we ate them all before I remembered!

I would recommend this book to almost everyone, but especially to two groups: Moms wanting to make more from scratch either to: A- save money or B-improve the nutrient content of their family's food, and to Moms and Dads wanting to teach their children how to cook and/or bake. You can argue semantics with me, but being a good cook does not necessarily mean you're a good baker, or vice versa. I have the baking down pat, but as my husband lamented a few years ago "she's a good cook, she just only makes 8 things!" You'll be glad to know I've worked up to 22 things I can cook, and with the help of this new cookbook, I'm hoping to make that 30 different meals by Christmas. After all, that's a whole month's worth, and I can't wait a whole month to make pizza again!

I really need to make some tortilla chips again soon, so I can try Vicki's version of nacho cheese sauce, it sounds infinitely better then the stuff in the jar from the store!


As members of the Molly Crew, we received the PDF version of the cookbook for free in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are ours.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


By Emily Emmert

I am a traveler. 
I’ve been to China, Australia, even the North Pole. 
I have been to middle-earth, Narnia, and Alegasia. 
I have seen trolls, pixies, and dragons. 
I’ve traveled with Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, and Daniel Boone. 
I’ve been to the top of Mt. Everest, and 20,000 leagues under the sea. From the center of the earth, to beyond our solar system. 

I was at the Civil War, the World Wars, and all the revolutionary wars between and before. 
I’ve seen royal births, royal weddings and royal deaths. 
I’ve had tea with Queen Elizabeth 1 and Catherine the Great of Russia. 

I’ve been on covert missions as a spy, I’ve saved the world from aliens while helping the Avengers, and I’ve almost died numerous times. I’ve ridden in a train, a wagon, a space ship, a submarine, and a flying car. 

I’ve meet Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman. I saw the transcontinental railroad, the Oregon trail, and the courts of Genghis Kahn. I’ve met Indiana Jones, seen the Ark of the Covenant, and gone inside the Aztec city of gold. I’ve been in the T.A.R.D.I.S., seen the end of the world, and man’s very first days. 

I’ve traveled the Caribbean as a pirate, gone to Neverland, and been to alternate universes. 
I’ve been on paths that go nowhere, that go forever, and ones that never go the same way twice. 
I’ve survived Canadian winter, a summer in the Sahara, and the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. 

I’ve dined with gods, kings, and generals. I was at the beheading of Marie Antoinette, there when Marie Curie discovered radioactivity, and when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. 
I was there when the slaves were freed, women got the right to vote, and Abraham Lincoln was shot. And I have never left my living room. I am a book lover, a traveler in my own right, and I wonder where I will go tomorrow.