Sunday, February 28, 2016

1 John 3:18 ~ Love in Action

1 John 3:18, Christian encouragement

What did your actions say this past week?

Were they actions that showed love?

Did your behavior point others towards the Truth?

Christian, we ought not be like the world! When is the last time you acted in a way that showed the love of Christ to those around you? When did you last try to make the workload easier for someone... instead of harder? When were you putting the needs of others before your own desires?

I ask, because God has been showing me that I need to be acting, not just telling. My children have been reminding me that I've not been focusing on others recently, and I've been getting cranky.

Has this happened to you too? The wonderful news is that God's mercies are new every morning! I can start afresh! You can start afresh! We can choose to rely upon Christ as our all in all, instead of trying to rely upon ourselves. We can choose to trust His strength to be enough for today, for tomorrow, for next week. We can choose to love others with our actions, and in truth, entrust them to the care of our Heavenly Father.

Let us choose to not only love with words and speech this week, but to also love with our actions! Make the way easier for your fellow traveler. Show Christ's love to those around you. Don't think about if they deserve it or not ~ remember, YOU and I did not deserve Christ's love and mercy ~ yet He freely gave them to us anyway!

Love in action was Christ dying on the cross for you and me. Love in action is me choosing to make the way easier, to lighten someone else's workload, to focus on others, to stop being cranky. What does love in action look like for you?

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Working and Homeschooling ~ An Introduction

Working and Homeschooling

Our girls are now in High School. 

I have always worked outside the home during the years we've been home educating them, which has been from the very beginning. While I've written a couple guest posts on other blogs about the process, I've never written much here about it.

That is about to change.

Many of you have asked how we manage to homeschool while both parents are working.

It hasn't been easy, but God has always shown Himself faithful. I'd like to share some glimpses into our life, and offer suggestions on how you can survive as a working Mom in a world full of homeschooling responsibilities.

Not everything can be explained in just post or two. So I'm challenging myself to share some of the journey and challenges each week during March and April. 

I think you'll find it eye-opening. For those of you who are stay-at-home-Moms (SAHM's,) it will probably reinforce your joy at not needing outside employment. For those of you whom God has called to work outside the home AND still homeschool your children, I hope to offer encouragement and a lot of laughter.

Life as a working, homeschooling Mom is tough. It requires daily dying to yourself and your wants. It requires a HUGE support system, even if that is only your spouse and a friend or two. It requires depending on God to see to the details, and it requires faith. Faith that if God has called you to this ~ He will see it through to completion.

If God has NOT called you to homeschool and work, you'll know. It will fail. If He HAS called you ~ hang onto your hat ~ this is a wild ride!

I'm going to include suggestions every week, and the first one is this: stop thinking of doing school at home, and think about educating your children.

Ponder that thought for a week. 

Besides God, that philosophy of educating your children is the only other essential thing that can help you make it thought this!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Waking Beauty by Sarah E. Morin ~ A Review

Prince Arpien Teric Elpomp Herren Trouvel of Conquisan was the third son. 

Arpien had a name befitting a king, but knew he would never inherit the kingdom. 

These two facts led to Arpien's decision to wake Princess Briar Rose Steward, commonly called Brierly, claim her heart and win her dowry of Sentre Forest.  Then he would have a Kingdom to rule. 

It shouldn’t be that hard, should it?

Waking Beauty, Christian Fantasy book

Thus begins an enchanting tale of mishaps, discoveries, and adventure written by new author Sarah E. Morin. I was introduced to this truly amazing piece of fiction by my teenage daughters, who both suggested I read it . . . when they were done, of course!

As a reviewer I am often sent books to read in exchange for my opinion. This review is different. I checked out Waking Beauty from our local library, and long before I finished, I knew I wanted to share this gem with you. I think you’ll love it too!

Written in the style of an old English tale, Waking Beauty weaves a masterful spell of learning, patience, self-sacrifice and fortitude through 67 delightful chapters. Readers will laugh, cringe, and maybe even cry as Arpien tries not only to win Brierly’s heart, but also to convince her that she is actually awake. After sleeping for 100 years, Brierly’s thinking is muddled and she believes she is still in the dream world.

I enjoyed this allegorical story immensely. It was my favorite new book of 2015. The characters are fully developed, and quite believable. Brierly’s cousin Nissa just might have become my favorite because of her unwavering faith and determination, even in the face of ridicule.

Waking Beauty was printed by Enclave Publishing and is in the Young Adult Fiction/ Fantasy genre. We would put it in the Christian Fantasy section at our house, alongside The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, and The Kingdom Series by Chuck Black. I would recommend this tale for ages 13 and up. Adults will also enjoy the story presented in Waking Beauty as it does not follow a traditional fairy-tale plot line, but rather twists and turns and makes itself difficult to put down. This is not a romance book, although there are elements of romance as Arpien tries, mostly in vain, to figure out how to win Brierly’s heart and her understanding.

I’ll admit that as I neared the end of the book, I rationed myself to a chapter a day because I didn’t want the book to end. Hopefully Sarah is already writing another book, or can be convinced to start soon. I thoroughly enjoyed this one!

I encourage you to pick up a copy from your favorite bookseller or your local library. It is also available as an E-book from the Enclave Publishing website

I hope you enjoy meeting the Thorn King, and finding out what he teaches both Brierly and Arpien!

Sarah E. Morin Author Bio

You can visit Sarah's website by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 ~ A Crew Review

Arlene and I have been exploring the online lessons and printable worksheets available from a Pro Plan membership at This review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew has turned out much differently than I initially expected. We were asked to review the material available for the older grades (Middle and High School levels.) What we've found by digging into the website is that while it may not contain everything we'll ever need, it is definitely worth the price!, online lessons, printable worksheets has several layers to it, each with a lot of options. It does what the name implies, it helps you teach. This site is probably the largest conglomeration of teaching videos, printable worksheets, and customizable tests I've ever encountered. At first, I was skeptical. After all, we're not really the worksheet type of family. Would I find enough options here to make it worth our time? The answer is: YES.

It took us a couple of weeks to find our groove for how best to use the website. Because each family's style is different, I'll try to give you an overview of some of the things you can do, print, and learn here, and then tell you about our favorite ways to use it., Online lessons, printable worksheets has tests and worksheets for just about every subject you would expect to find in grades K-12. If you've got a favorite curriculum, the Pro Plan allows you to customize your own tests and quizzes, even using their choices of graphics and/ or diagrams. If you're wanting to make your own test for a biology course, you can use the Create a New Test feature to select the grade level, subject, type of questions, and then hit search. There are questions other users have made, there are diagrams to label, there are multiple choice many options! I named my test cells, then I choose parameters, and hit search. For "cell diagram" as a keyword search, it found 414 pre-made questions. Now, understand that not all of them were what I was looking for ... but that is a lot of choices! I learned to be more specific in my search terms.

Ok, so maybe you're not jumping up and down to make tests, what else is there to do on How about choosing from worksheets that are already completed? Ones that just happen to go along with what you've been studying, like the Famous Paintings Quiz? I wanted to see how many of these Arlene could identify without any help. There were options available on how she could take the quiz. I could have chosen to print it out, OR I could assign it to her to take by a certain date, OR I could just let her take it right now - online, and either write down the answers, or tell me orally. We're not into printing a lot of tests when she can answer them orally, so that is the choice we've made most often.

Another cool feature of the Pro Plan from is the ability to choose from their online self-paced lessons. They have lessons available in Math, English/ Language Arts, and Science. The lessons are made up of text to read, sometimes with diagrams to illustrate, and videos. The 10th grade science lessons include Biology, Chemistry, and Physics options. All of the ones we did had required videos as well as a section or two of reading. Some of them had pre-lesson questions to see how much you knew beforehand. 

A word of caution: these lesson videos come from several sources, including's own videos, Khan Academy,, and YouTube. Each teacher or family is going to have to decide what they want to do about the way these lessons link to various sites. Perhaps if you're going to let your student use this site freely, you might consider an internet nanny software. Arlene is not allowed free reign on the internet. In fact, we're quite picky about both the sites she visits, and the amount of time she spends online. I found it easiest to have her work through the lessons when I was sitting beside her on the couch. Often the text in the lessons, or the related information at the end of the lesson, links to other sites., Online lessons, printable worksheets

Because this was a review, and not us trying to stay on a specific topic the whole time, I let Arlene suggest which lessons she wanted to read and watch. Two of the lessons she wanted to do were listed as 8th grade Earth Science lessons. They were The Ring of Fire and Types of Volcanoes. Arlene already knew some information about the Ring of Fire, so we set off to learn more. These two lessons had several interactive activities, including building your own virtual volcano and watching it explode, and clicking on various earthquakes around the Pacific ocean. We visited links that led us to Discovery Kids, the US Geological Survey website, and an article on I thought both lessons were thorough and interesting. Arlene liked that there were videos and activities, not just reading.

Arlene took several of the online tests and quizzes in various subjects. We also printed out some of the worksheets and helps. Who doesn't like nice, crisp staff paper for writing down their newest musical composition?


We found the Game Generators page. This page allows you to customize three types of game sheets: traditional bingo, choose your own subject bingo (the example is Day in the Park Bingo,) and Word Searches. There is some serious fun to be found here! Want to make a bingo game for a co-op class? Or maybe your child's birthday party... or a baby shower... or just for fun? There is a customizable toolbox on the right side that lets you change the title, words used, or number of bingo sheets to randomly create for your game. The Word Search Generator has a similar toolbox where you can choose to change the words, decide if some of the words are placed backwards, and if you want to make and print an answer key., Online lessons, printable worksheets

I decided to make a word search for Arlene out of random terms from biology class. I named it "parts of the eye, ear, and skin." I just wanted to see what it would do. This tool is SO cool! When Arlene saw what it could do, she wanted to make a word search for Kurt, with things related to Pittsburgh. When you're finished creating your word search (or bingo cards) you can print them, or save them. I suggest you do both! I know this was designed for teachers, but this would be so much fun to use for an activity for a baby shower or birthday party!

If you want to try out the Free Printable Game Generators, you'll need to make a account. You can sign up for a free account to try it out. I'm pretty sure that most of you will find that you want to sign up for the Pro Plan to get the most usage out of The free account only lets you use the Test Maker feature to create tests and worksheets up to 10 questions in length, and the Game Generators. The Pro Plan ($24.95/year) allows you access to all the lessons as well. This is a great value, especially for Middle School and High School when you understand your students need to get used to taking tests regularly, even if your curriculum doesn't focus on regular testing. If you're a school or business, has a Group Pro plan for $199.95/ year for up to 30 users. This would be great for teachers as it allows them to use the online testing features for up to 500 students.

Overall, we are pleased with the Pro Plan from I have found teaching lessons that help explain the difference between mitosis and meiosis, I've seen Arlene interested in the interactive teaching tools, and I really like the Game Generators! Click on over to and take a look for yourself! To find out what features other Crew members used the most, click the banner below.

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HelpTeaching Review

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, February 22, 2016

Psalm 27:1

Whom shall I fear, or of whom shall I be afraid?

The answer should be no one, and yet, sometimes I forget.

Sometimes I fear the world will influence me too much. 
Sometimes I fear for the safety of my family.

Then I am reminded that God holds us all in His hands. The fear fades away when I focus on His love and care. Perfect loves casts out fear, and no love is more perfect than that of my Heavenly Father.

David ended Psalm 27 with these words, words we should memorize and meditate upon: 
"Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!"

Be not mindful or afraid of the world. 
Let your mind be filled with the goodness of God ~ wait for the LORD!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Walk in the Woods

During a recent break in the winter weather we went on a walk in the woods. We had a goal in mind . . . besides just getting out of the house and into the fresh air. We went to see the skunk cabbage blooming. 

Skunk cabbage you ask? Yes. It's a plant that grows in the wetland seeps in our nearby State Park. It grows a few other places around us, but is easiest to find in the State Park. We had often seen it growing in the wetlands during the summer, but we wanted to see it blooming. Skunk Cabbage is not exactly a flower that garners awards for beauty, but it is unusual, unique.

A walk in the woods can have a goal in mind, or it can be a time for reflection and re-creation. Bundle up, take a walk, and get yourself out into the woods soon. Every season looks different, go find something unique in your woods!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sweet Success... maple sap!

Maple tree sap, TapMyTrees, maple sugaring

About a week ago, Kurt helped Arlene and I put the taps in our maple trees. The weather was actually a little bit too warm last week for us to get sap. Then, it turned colder. Hurray! Today we had sweet success... maple sap in our buckets!

I know it will take several days of collecting sap to have enough to boil, so I asked the ladies at the local bakery to save us a couple of empty icing buckets. Emily scrubbed them twice, then I bleached the one we wanted to use today... and triple rinsed with hot water, just like our book instructed. Hopefully we will have enough by this Saturday to try boiling it down into syrup.

We are excited to be using our maple sugaring kit from Tap My Trees. Stay tuned, we'll post another update later this month!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Colossians 3:15, Christian living

Colossians 3:12-17English Standard Version (ESV)

12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The third chapter of Colossians provides so many practical ways to live in Christ, and for Christ. In it, Paul reminds the Colossians, and us, to set our minds on "things that are above," that is, to set our minds on things of Heaven. To put our focus on things that God the Father, and Christ the Son are focused on. It is so easy to get distracted by all the things around us on this earth that desire our attention. When we choose to put our mind on eternal things, then the peace of Christ truly can rule in our hearts. If we let our minds focus on earthly things, that peace flees. 

I want to be the one who sets her mind on things of God. I want to be kind, humble, patient. I want to have a compassionate heart. In order for God to change me into this person who follows after Him, I need to seek the things that are above.

I need to be still before God. I need to be before God. I need to stop striving, and just be. 
I cannot change myself, and yet, time in His presence changes me. We need not leave His presence just because the world is rushing past us. God truly is omni-present. He is everywhere. We can find Him wherever we are. 

It is time to allow the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts, and in our lives.

It is time to be thankful.

It is time to be in His presence.

It is time to be.

Praying that as you seek Him, time in His presence fills your heart with peace!

Monday, February 1, 2016


L.M. Montgomery quotes

Tomorrow holds the promise of a new start.

Wherever you are today, whatever has happened, take it to God, leave it all at His feet. 
The good, the bad, the joys and the sorrows. Ask Him to give you a fresh start tomorrow, and to lead you by the hand through your day. Trust Him to know what is for your good, and most importantly, for His glory.

Sleep peacefully tonight, knowing that God makes you to dwell in safety. 
He will be there to hold your tomorrow.