Monday, August 14, 2017

Rosa of Linden Castle ~ A book review

This was originally written as a review for The Old Schoolhouse® magazine back in March of this year. To read the original post, click here.

Lamplighter publishing, christian fiction, rosa of linden castle

Rosa of Linden Castle, originally written by Christoph von Schmid in 1845, and re-printed by Lamplighter Publishing beginning in 2000 is recommended for ages 9-14. This tale follows Rosa beginning with her early years, growing up in Linden Castle with her Father, the brave knight Edelbert, and her virtuous and humble mother Matilda. The story continues until Rosa is about 15 years old. It uses both the difficulties she incurs, and the blessings she receives, to teach the character traits of sacrificial love, obedience, and enduring trials.

The story starts during Rosa’s young life, when her father is often away fighting alongside the Duke of Swabia, and her upbringing and training are the chief responsibility of her mother. Matilda sets Rosa a good example of being industrious and kind to the poor and needy. Rosa learns to love and obey both her parents and her Savior.

Tragedy strikes when Rosa is about 14 as her mother takes ill and quickly dies. Her father rushes home from battle in time that the family has one last parting scene where Matilda reminds them both to love one another, and remember their Savior. Not too many months later, Edelbert’s arm is severely injured in battle, and he returns to Linden Castle to recuperate. Before he is fully healed, his fighting men are recalled to battle, even thought Edelbert cannot yet join them, and Linden castle is left with meager protection. In swoops Kunerick, the self-centered knight of neighboring Forest castle. He storms Linden castle, imprisons Edelbert for his perceived past wrongs against Kunerick, and overtakes those left behind in order to claim Linden castle as his own. Rosa runs out of the castle gate pleading with Kunerick for her father and too late realizes she is locked out of the castle and any help she might find from their faithful servants. With no other options to pursue she remembers her father’s admonition to seek out his faithful friend, Burkhard the collier.

After a long trek to locate their hidden valley, Rosa is welcomed into the family of Burkhard, his wife, and daughter. As she adapts to life in their humble home, concern for hr father’s well-being is always foremost in her mind. Rosa devises a plan to try and gain employment at Kunerick’s Forest castle to learn of her father’s fate. Burkhard’s family helps her fashion a disguise, and his daughter accompanies Rosa most of the way on the long trek to try to gain employment. As Rosa’s friend waits in the edge of the forest, Rosa manages to gain employment as the servant of the Steward’s ill-tempered wife. 

Will Rosa be able to shoulder the great responsibilities and hard toil her new position requires? Will her humble service win over her ill-tempered Mistress? Can Rosa keep her identity a secret and learn of her Father’s fate? Can the Savior who softened Rosa’s heart overcome the hardness of Kunerick’s heart? All of these questions and more are answered as the reader continues along Rosa’s journey. Rosa of Linden Castle would make an excellent read-aloud for family time, or a solid choice for those 12 and up to read independently. Because of the time when the work was originally published, readers may want to have a dictionary, or dictionary app, handy to look up unfamiliar terms. An example is Burkhard the Collier. in the 1800’s, a collier was someone who carried, manufactured, or sold coal. Today the definition of collier is a coal miner.

Although this book at first may appear long for the recommended ages of 9-14 at 253 pages, the story keeps a brisk pace, making it a satisfying read. At approximately 5x7”, this hardback book with imprinted cover can take its place alongside other quality literature for children on your shelf, or be easily tucked in a purse or backpack for reading on the go. It currently retails from Lamplighter Publishing for $20. Older teens who read Rosa of Linden Castle may find the character of Rosa a bit too goody-two-shoes, and yet, she is held up as an ideal of how we should learn, be chastened, and grow in our following of the Savior. Perhaps it was common at the time the book was first written, but I found it a bit unusual that the words Jesus or Christ are never mentioned, only God and Savior. It does, however, keep to Lamplighter’s goal of promoting a Christian Worldview.

Overall, both Arlene, aged 16, and I enjoyed reading Rosa of Linden Castle. It will take a space on our shelf alongside other Lamplighter titles we have purchased in the past. This book is a solid read for the recommended age group of 9-14. If you have children older than 14, I would suggest you look at the Lamplighter books recommended for ages 12-99, as they would probably be a better fit for independent reading. They have a plethora of titles to choose from with the superb presentation of old-fashioned covers, quality binding and stories with solid morals and interesting plots.

FTC Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review, I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are mine, or those of my family.

Monday, August 7, 2017

When your mind says yes, but your heart says no

heart says no, grief, coping, time

It has been just over three weeks since my dear friend Sharra passed from this life into the next. Her memorial service was filled with joy, light, and Jesus. Since then, there have been several times I wanted to sit down and write. My mind says: hey, you have time to go write now... but my heart has been saying no a lot.

I wouldn't say that all of my lack of drive for writing is because of grief, because while I miss Sharra a lot, I know she was received into the arms of Jesus and she would want me to be celebrating for her, and with her. I am. 

Something else I have been doing is asking God to give me direction for what to write about Sharra's influence on my life and how God used her to draw me into an even deeper relationship with Himself. Friendships like that are rare. 

I want to treasure the memories of our time together, while still looking forward to what God has planned for my life. It's not that I'm uninspired - I have a lot of things on my list to write about that I want to share with you, it's just that right now my heart is saying no to writing. 

I'm hoping you'll stick around and see what God does with this time of reflection I'm going through. Hopefully by next week my heart will stop saying no, and start saying yes again. It can be a challenging thing, when your heart and mind don't agree. Have you ever been there? I'm waiting for the release that I know the Holy Spirit will give in His timing, for the joy that comes in the morning and stays. In the meantime, would you join me in prayer for Sharra's family?

There will still be hand-lettered Scripture verses on Sundays, Wednesdays, snd Saturdays, and hand-lettered song verses by Arlene on Thursdays. Hopefully I'll be back next week with some joy, and writing, to share!

Friday, August 4, 2017


Today's Five Minute Friday writing prompt is: try

five minute friday writing prompt, try

Do or do not, there is no try. 

What comes to mind when you hear the word try? For me, this quote from Yoda from a Star Wars movie popped into my head. Why? Maybe I was just in a strange mood this morning, or maybe, it's because it is true.

We often hear about trying harder to achieve a goal, or trying something new. But the reality is, more often we need to decide to do something well, or not do it at all. 

When our children are little it makes sense to encourage them to try again. To continue to work at a skill, like tying their shoes or riding a bicycle. But as adults, we might need to just buckle down and do something. Maybe we do not do it as wells we would like, thus we might say we tried to do it. Let's just be keepers of our word and do the things we say we will. If we really do not expect to get something done, we should just say "no," not... "I'll try."

We cannot make God love us more then He already does. We do not need to try to win His favor. What we need to do is simply follow Him. Some days we will do a good job of it, and some days we will mess up. But we will be doing something. We will not try to read His word, we will read His word. We will decide to give up the world for Jesus - at least that is my hope for each one of us!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Jarro-Dophilus Women ~ A Moms Meet Review

I received this product for free from Moms Meet ( to use and post my honest opinions. 
Compensation for this post was provided and this post may contain affiliate links.

Jarro-Dophilus Women, gut health, vaginal health supplements

Good digestive health is not just helpful, it is necessary for our bodies to function correctly. For women, that need for a healthy balance goes beyond our digestive tract. Let's face it ladies, we also need to take care of our urinary tract and our reproductive tract health. Whether you are 20 or 50, Jarrow Formulas has a probiotic formula that can help you keep your body working well.

For this Moms Meet review, Jarrow shipped their Jarro-Dophilus Women formula, plus a few extras. The Women's formula is based upon years of clinical research. The four strains of probiotics used in this formula are strains found in the vaginal tract of healthy women. To read more about these, visit Jarrow's website.

After reading some of the research on Jarrow's site, I wanted to try this women's formula out for myself. I've taken regular probiotics for digestive health for years...and I can tell if I've missed them for more than one day. But this was the first time I had tried a formula to help the rest of me - something specifically designed to help my reproductive tract health. I was not disappointed! This formula has a food-grade enteric coating, something I knew was important because I wanted the probiotics to stay potent until they reached my small intestines. 

The first thing that impressed me was the way Jarrow Formulas sends their products. They use a cool ship packaging that helps the probiotics arrive still in their optimal temperature range so they stay effective.  If you order online you can have them cool shipped to your home. I looked at our local Fresh Thyme Market for the Jarrow Formulas line. They keep it in the cooler case so they all stay fresh and effective. You can also get them from other local health food stores like: Whole Foods Market or Sprouts Farmers Market.

Jarrow Formulas, cool ship, probiotics

Once I got into the box to the products that Jarrow sent, I saw that they had sent us four different products. The Jarro-Dophilus Women, Fem-dophilus (designed for vaginal and urinary tract health support,) Yum-Yum Dophilus (a chewable probiotic formula for children that needs refrigeration,) and Jarrow-Dophilus Infant (probiotic drops for babies.) 

While I have been trying out the Women's formula, Arlene (age 17) has been trying out the Yum-Yum Dophilus chews. While Arlene is above the originally intended age for the Yum-Yum Dophilus chews, she found that taking them daily during the past month has helped her digestive tract stay regular, and she has been sleeping better as well. As a teen with an activity packed summer, I was thankful yo be able to provide her system an extra boost for the month of July which is usually her busiest month of the year. 

More about Jarro-Dophilus Women

Why is vaginal health a key component that we often overlook? I really don't know except that maybe we just get so busy being women: wives, mothers, daughters, employees and employers that we only think about it if something goes wrong. What if we started taking one extra minute a day to keep our reproductive tracts healthy so we wouldn't be slowed down by something going awry? I think it is time to take that minute! Jarro-Dophilus Women uses the patented Astarte strains that have been researched multiple times. If you're going to choose a supplement, make sure it is a quality one like this one from Jarrow Formulas!

I've been taking the Jarro-Dophilus Women for four weeks now. The very first night I started sleeping more soundly. By the end of the first week I could tell my digestive tract was back where it needed to be. Since then I have seen a gradual increase in my energy level. Being completely honest here: this past month has been one of the mentally toughest I've been through in recent years. Having my gut and reproductive tract in excellent health has gone a long way to help combat the stress!

Overall, I have been duly impressed with the quality and scientific research behind the Probiotic supplements from Jarrow Formulas. I can highly recommend them for you and your family. Take the time to get educated about which probiotic strains are recommended for the issues you are facing and then take action - take that one minute a day towards better health!

Connect with Jarrow Formulas on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram


Friday, July 28, 2017


This Friday's word is: inspire

Only 5 minutes...

five minute friday writing prompt, inspire

What inspires me? 

It depends upon the day. Sometimes inspiration, for words or art, or even for a sewing project comes welling up from somewhere deep within me and just pours out. Other days it takes me a good, long while to feel inspired. 

Frankly, some days I don't feel inspired at all, but I know that God still has something for me to do, so I get up and get started on whatever is still waiting on that week's to-do list.

Often, my inspiration comes from nature. Looking at the beauty in the world that God created can usually inspire something in me. 

Occasionally, I just really need a shot of inspiration and I cry out asking God to inspire me. This seems to happen most often when I'm coming up on a deadline for my monthly newspaper column and haven't been thinking ahead about it. That's when my pre-work prayer includes something like this "and Lord, please give me something worth saying for this month's column, because I am fresh out of inspiration."

My inspiration for life though, that always comes from God. Sometime it comes directly from reading His Word, and sometimes it comes from times of fellowship with other Christians who inspire me to continue on in this race we are running.

Today, today my inspiration came from my children. They each have faced great obstacles with grace and determination this summer, and I was reminded that the same God who helped them overcome will help me overcome as well.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Look Up!

How often in the busyness of life do we forget to look up?

Have your days been filled with joy lately, or filled with struggle or pain? Have you been looking up, away from yourself and into the world around you?

I'm asking because I have found it more difficult than usual to look up this past week. I know that a part of it is grief. Losing a friend, even one who you release into the loving arms of Jesus is hard. 

But I think it has been more than just grief. 
I think I have been doing a lot of introspective thinking as well. Thinking about where Arlene's education should be heading this fall, thinking about where I want my writing to go, and wondering what God's plan for it all is. 

Some days being patient is easy. Other days I just want to know the answers now!

Here's the thing I've found: God is still calling me to look up, to look to Him for all of my care and all of my strength. It's not just that I might miss seeing something amazing, like as shooting star or a beautiful bird or intricate architecture, it is that I might miss seeing God in all of the details, large and small of my life.

So here is to tomorrow, a new day, where I know I will find His mercy and grace once again.

If you have been struggling recently, look up, see the wonderful things God is doing all around you. And if you've been living a life filled with overflowing joy... look up and share that joy with those around you! Your grace-filled arms might be just the hug they need to help them look up as well!

Friday, July 21, 2017


Today's Five Minute Friday writing prompt is: collect

five minute friday writing prompt, collect

What do you collect? Seashells, pictures, little decorative spoons? I think most everyone I know collects something, and as a homeschooler, I know a lot of people who collect books! Our oldest daughter collects quotes. She has a notebook full of them, from such a wide variety of people that it often surprises even me!

As a writer I collect words. 

More specifically, I collect first lines.

I think this goes back to my days of writing for newspapers. You always wanted to come up with an opening line that would catch attention. I also liked writing my own headlines. Some people disliked the headline aspect, but I found it a fun mental challenge to sum up a 500 word article in only four to seven words.

So today I continue to collect first lines, or themes. I have a book with a lot of lines/ themes that have yet to be written. When I get stuck, or writer's block tries to creep in, I often go back and look at those first lines.

Recently though, I've been collecting memories.

Life can be challenging. Life HAS been challenging recently. Besides the usual crunch of time due to the 4-H fair, my best friend passed from this life to the next last Friday. I am spending time savoring the memories, remembering the lessons God taught me through our friendship.

So you, what do you collect?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Trust Fund movie ~ A Crew Review

family drama, movie night, jessica rothe,movie review

We received the movie Trust Fund from Mapelle Films to watch for the Homeschool Review Crew. This faith based movie takes the viewer on an exceptionally well thought out journey. Beginning with a flashback to her childhood, this movie follows Reese Donahue, played by Jessica Rothe, as she struggles to finish her first book. As the daughter of a publishing family, she wants to make her own way, but is struggling with adulthood and  her relationship with her older sister.

This movie is an unusual modern day take on the story of the Prodigal Son (daughter.) If you think you know what happens next, and you don't need to watch it, let me tell you that you are in for a surprise with this movie! Reese has come to meet with her father at his office and sees a report that mentions a trust fund for her and her sister Audrey. As Reese's bank account is overdrawn once again, she clings to the idea that she needs to find out more about the money their mother left them.

After quite a bit of conniving, Reese gains access to the funds and opens an account for herself in Italy, where she had recently been for a writing workshop. She fancies herself in love with the man she met in Italy, not understanding that Milo is not all he seems. Once Reese returns to Italy she sets up what she thinks is her ideal world, spending her time writing, shopping, and living with Milo. The story gets deeper as Reese decides to offer her remaining money to Milo for a business investment, not understanding enough of the Italian language, or Milo's business, to realize it is illegal. As Reese become increasingly involved (by her own insistence) in Milo's dealings, she begins to have doubts about what he is really doing. The scenes in Italian add to the viewer's understanding of just how lost Reese is. There are no subtitles, but you can understand her confusion and hesitation to proceed as she comes to realize that these men Milo is dealing with are actually mafia style family leaders. The DVD does offer a Closed Captioned option for viewers for the English parts (the majority of the movie.)

Reese finally comes to her senses and decides to return home. Her father welcomes her with open forgiving arms, but, like in the Prodigal Son story from Luke 15, there is great tension and an unwillingness to forgive from her older sister.

What makes this movie unique is that this is not the end of the story, it is the beginning of Reese's new life, as she learns that even with her father's forgiveness, there are still consequences to face because of her poor choices. The second half of this movie is so well told that you simply must watch it to understand what I mean.

Trust Fund was produced by the husband and wife team of Isaac Alongi and Sandra Martin. Isaac was homeschooled from age seven (back in the 80's) and has been working in photography and cinematography for over 20 years. He shares a bit of his background and how homeschooling influenced him in a post on the Midwest Parent Educators website. Sandra and Isaac have worked together for over 15 years and have been married since 2003.

Besides producing Trust Fund, Sandra Martin has written a companion book, Love was Near. It was inspired by the movie, but instead of following the plot line of the supposed book Reese is writing in the movie, it is designed for ages 12 and up to read after watching the movie. It is designed to help girls think through their lives as the read what Reese was thinking. Several of the Crew families reviewed it as well (we did not.) To read their reviews, click the banner below. 

Also available from Mapelle Films is a group study guide to use to dig deeper into the themes the viewer has encountered while watching Trust Fund. You can find out more about the study guide on their website.

Connect with Mapelle Films and Trust Fund on Facebook and Pinterest

Trust Fund Movie {Mapelle Films Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, July 14, 2017


Today's Five Minute Friday writing prompt is: comfort, a word that has been on my mind for the past week. Allow me to share from my heart for just five minutes.

five minute friday writing prompt, comfort, loss

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

The verse above has been on my heart a lot this week. 

My best friend is dying of cancer. How can I comfort her and her family? How have my other friends comforted me? Only through the comfort of Christ - the only One who can offer us peace beyond our human understanding.

Life is but a fleeting mist, a vapor, a small silver chain that tethers us to this earth for a short while. Even when we know our loved ones are about to leave this world and see Jesus Christ face to face - it is still hard to let go.

I know my friend's faith - it has challenged and strengthened my own. She has been used by God to call me to a deeper walk with Christ, to love others and to forgive them as Christ loved and forgave me.

My only comfort is in Christ, just as my only true life is found in Christ. 

Her welcome into God's presence will be filled with joy. 

Right now it is difficult for me to be filled with joy, but even in that God is working on me. I've realized it is ok to not be happy right now, but that I can still have that deep abiding joy that comes from the comfort of Christ, even if it is temporarily hidden down deep in my heart.

May you know the true comfort that comes from Christ, and may He give you the opportunity to share it with those around you who are undergoing afflictions and suffering. 

Be that comfort to someone who needs it today.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Z is for Zoos!

blogging the alphabet, zoos, road trip, field trip fun

Can you believe it? We are finishing the alphabet this week with the letter Z!

Z can remind you of a lot of things, but for us, it always comes back to the Zoos! Ever since the girls were itty bitty, like 2 and newborn, we have been taking them to the zoo. When they were tiny and we lived in Indianapolis, my parents always bought us a zoo membership for their birthday present. It is still one of our favorite zoos to visit, and we try to go with my Mom at least once a year, sometimes more.

Indianapolis is not our only zoo though, we also like to visit the Cincinnati Zoo, and we have been to the Pittsburgh Zoo as well. Each of these three major zoos has its own unique experience, and some special features that set it apart as a destination (and a really cool road trip!)

Sometimes we have just gone to look at the animals, sometimes it was to learn more about a specific animal we had been reading about, and sometimes... it is just fun to go to the zoo. 

Have you ever heard the song Going to the Zoo by Peter, Paul and Mary? Kurt has been singing this song to the girls for as long as I can remember. Even now at the ages of 19 & 17 hearing this song makes us all want to go to the zoo. If you've never heard it, here is the song on YouTube. If you start singing it to either girl today, they will want to take another trip to the zoo!

The Indianapolis Zoo is the youngest of the three zoos mentioned above. It moved to its current location in 1988. It has changed a lot in those years since, mostly for the better! It has a great Oceans building, which hosts fun interactive exhibits like petting dog sharks and some small water critters (think touch tank from Finding Dory, but smaller!) There is also a Humongous  Dolphin pavilion to watch the shows, and an underwater viewing dome - so cool!

The Pittsburgh Zoo is older, but well kept. While some of the animal exhibit areas seem a little on the small side, the real star of the show for us was the PPG Aquarium. This was so amazing, we could have spent all day just in the aquarium! If you have ever watch the River Monsters TV show...they have live arapaima fish in one of the tanks! The girls had watched that episode of River Monsters with Kurt, and we had read the book Made in Heaven: Man's Indiscriminate Stealing of God's Amazing Design, so Emily especially was all excited about learning about this Amazonian fish. Then we walked into that part of the PPG aquarium and they had more than one! She literally sat on the floor and stared at the tank for several minutes - then she came and got me - Mom, you HAVE to take some pictures!

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens is a masterpiece! It has been around since 1875! Seriously, 1875! That makes it the second oldest zoo in the US. Every exhibit here invites you to come learn about and appreciate the animals. Each one has its own unique flavor, and the layout of the zoo on the rolling hills of Cincinnati offers some wonderful viewing opportunities. If you have never been here and you are wondering if it is worth the admission price - oh yes! A dozen times yes. Plan to come as soon as the gates open in the morning and stay all day. You still won't have time to see everything well, but you'll love what you do see!

Why the zoo? What makes it one of our favorite places to go? You can go to have fun, you can go to learn about animals, or flowers, or to ride the zoo train. You can have a picnic lunch, or buy food there. The zoo is a place to make lasting memories. 

What is your favorite animal to see at the zoo? Do you have a favorite zoo we should add to our next road trip? Leave a comment and share your favorite zoo story!

Linking up with Annette and Amanda:

A Net In Time Schooling

I will go

hand lettered songs, I Will Go

Friday, July 7, 2017

1 Peter 4:8

1 Peter 4:8, bible verses

I've been online a little more this past week than usual. One theme seemed to keep coming up in almost every posting I read- contention

There were people over here arguing with people over there. There were people far away arguing against people who had long been dead, trying to prove the intents of the hearts of the deceased. There were even some people who just wanted to stir up some arguments to entertain least that is what I got from their posts...

Where are we? Who are we? If we are the children of God, if we are those who follow Christ, we probably ought not to be in any of those situations. While a true need to give a Biblical defense for our faith is often called for, it must be done in love. Our lives must be lived in love. Christ called us to follow Him, and to do so, we need to be servants, and we need to be willing to set aside our fleshly desire to win an argument in order to love the people around us, whomever they may be.

My life is not perfect, I am not perfect, but I am following the only One who ever was. May His love be the thing that I am remembered for, today, and ever after.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

4th of July sale @

Hi! I just wanted to make sure you all saw that is having a 4th of July Flash Sale! 

Now through 7/9/17 if you purchase the annual membership for $139 you will receive:
- a second year for free
- a super cool tote bag from (color varies)
- the Summer print issue of The Old Schoolhouse magazine

We really enjoy the freedom that gives us to pick and choose as few or as many courses as we want to use for one price for the entire family for a whole year. You can find some of our reviews here.

I have been enjoying my tote for about a month now. (There are perks to being a mainstay on the Schoolhouse Review Crew!) It is a super awesome tote: sturdy, roomy ... and it has pockets! I can fit my laptop, blog planner and regular planner all in the main compartment and zip it shut if I'm headed to the library for the day. Or, if I'm not taking my laptop, it holds several books, my planner, a jacket, and all my shopping lists and coupons for a day of stocking up grocery shopping. It has a large front pocket (which I always fill with snacks,) as well as a water bottle pocket on one end and a pocket big enough for your cell phone on the other end. It also has a couple of pencil/ pen pockets (look at my picture below!)

Now that you know about the flash sale, just make sure you check it out by Sunday the 9th because that is the last day! Hope you are having a wonderful week!