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!


Can you believe we are almost to the end of this Blogging through the Alphabet series? 

The letter for this week is Y

blogging through the alphabet, years

Y is for Years
The days are long, but the years are short. 

Have you heard that phrase before? I can attest it is true, each day can seem so long, especially if someone is potty training or struggling with long division. Mama, I am here to remind you that the years of homeschooling are short. From where I sit, with 14 years of homeschooling behind me, and only about a year left in front of us, it seems quite short indeed.

Finding joy along this journey has been so much easier when I remember to look for the blessings in the everyday activities of life. Some days it might seem like the only thing to be thankful for is that your children brushed their teeth before bed. If it is: still be thankful for it! 

There will be tough days.

There will be days when you doubt if you have made the right choice for your family. Go to God and ask Him to remind you about WHY you started on this homeschooling journey.  Get back to focusing on your why. So what if it takes your child longer to learn their multiplication tables? You are in this to be their parent until they are old enough to not need you anymore, which pretty much means forever, or at least 25! LOL! So if it takes them longer to learn multiplication, how to read, or how to do long division, remember, you still have a few years left to help them.

The picture above is from around 2010. Not really that long ago for me, but for our children, a huge chunk of their lifetime ago! The pictures below are from 2016. What a difference just a handful of years can make.

blogging through the alphabet, years, adult children

There will be better days ahead

Stop trying to do it all by yourself. God is able to meet all your needs. When you focus on how able God is to provide, and stop focusing on trying to do everything yourself, you should find more joy, and less stress. We can all use more joy! More joy for Mom means better days for everyone!

As a Mama who has always needed to work while homeschooling, I will tell you that over time you won’t remember the lack of sleep, but you will remember their joy when your children master something new. You will remember when they smile and tell you they love you! 

Make the most of each day, and remember to enjoy the years too!

Linking up with Annette and Amanda
A Net In Time Schooling

Happy Independence Day!

Independence Day, celebration, fireworks

As our nation celebrates its independence, may we remember to be dependent upon God for each day. May we look to Him for guidance in our lives, and find His blessings in our families and friends.

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, July 3, 2017

My 30 Minute Summer Skirt

refashion maxi dress to skirt, easy summer sewing projects

For the past two summers, I have wanted a new skirt, but have not found anything I liked in a price range I was willing to pay. 

It's summer, I want something cute, and comfortable. Especially the comfortable part!

So I decided to do some digging at Goodwill and see what I could find to refashion. For last summer I purchased a white and red sundress with a zipper and turned it into a skirt. When I finished it Kurt said "You should have taken pictures and written about it for the blog." Bummer. I had not thought of that. So this year, I remembered to take pictures for you to see the steps.

This year's purchase was a blue Maxi dress with a printed design. It had an under layer that I wanted to keep for the skirt, so I could be modest without needing a slip. After all, the whole reason for not wearing it as a maxi dress was because I wanted to be modest-LOL! I found the dress at Goodwill. It was the 1/2 off color of the week, so it cost me $3. I've been sewing for a long time, it took me about 30 minutes to do the project and take the pictures. This is an easy project, which you should be able to do with your own sewing machine without too much trouble. Even if you are slow at sewing, it should take you less than 2 hours.

First, you need to find the dress.

I always look in the dresses one to two sizes larger than what I wear because I am intending to move the empire waistline of the dress down to a regular waistline. So if you wear a 6, look at 8's or 10's. If you wear a large, look in the XL section.

Go try the dress on in the changing room, and pull the dress down to see if the length and size will fit where you want the new waistline to be. If yes, purchase your find and take it home to wash it. Dry it on high heat so if it is going to shrink any, it will happen before you begin sewing.

Below are the 8 steps I took from Maxi Dress to my new favorite summer skirt.

refashion maxi dress to skirt, easy summer sewing projects

Step 1: sew around the dress about 1" below the waistline, this keeps the dress and underdress together when you cut off the top.

refashion maxi dress to skirt, easy summer sewing projects

Step 2: cut just below the waistline and above your sewing line

refashion maxi dress to skirt, easy summer sewing projects

Step 3: go look in the mirror again and decide how much more you need to shorten the length (if any.) Sew another ring around the skirt part just below where you want to shorten it to. Then cut off the extra. Because of the printed design of the maxi dress, I wanted to take the extra off of the top, not off of the bottom where it might destroy the flow of the design.

refashion maxi dress to skirt, easy summer sewing projects

Step 4: zigzag around your new top edge. This helps reinforce the skirt together to the underskirt, as well as prevent unraveling. 

refashion maxi dress to skirt, easy summer sewing projects

Step 5: Turn under the top edge at your sewing line, and then turn it down another 1.25" to make a pocket for the elastic. Sew around the skirt at the bottom of this pocket, leaving  a gap of about 3" in the back to insert the elastic.

refashion maxi dress to skirt, easy summer sewing projects

Step 6: pin down one end of your elastic to the back of the skirt, and then use a large safety pin to feed your elastic through the pocket you sewed. Remember when measuring your elastic that you need it to be comfortable when stretched, but still tight enough your skirt won't slide down. I used 3/4" elastic as the pocket was just over 1".

refashion maxi dress to skirt, easy summer sewing projects

Step 7: after checking to make sure your elastic is the correct size, sew the ends together. Pull the elastic all the way into the waist pocket, then sew in the ditch of each side seam to prevent it from turning over during washing and wearing.

refashion maxi dress to skirt, easy summer sewing projects

Step 8: sew the opening in the back of your new waistband closed, leaving a tiny opening in case you later decide you want to access the elastic to adjust the back and make it tighter.

Ta-da! You're finished! Go enjoy your new summer skirt.
I've been enjoying mine!

refashion maxi dress to skirt, easy summer sewing projects