Friday, November 23, 2018


The world finds value in things. Today in the US is known as Black Friday, the day that traditionally kicked off the Christmas shopping season. Isn't that in and of itself a problem? We have a holiday season, not marked by the presence of the One who is supposed to be celebrated, but rather marked by how many more days we have for consumerism until the 25th of December.

This post is not a slam on celebrating Christmas, far from it. What I've been thinking about though is how we, as Christians, can turn the season back to a celebration of Christ's birth and what He would do for us here on the earth.

Can we find value, not in things, but in people? Can we choose to spend our time this season seeing the value in each person that God created? Can we choose to value the opinions or life-earned knowledge of others? Can we value the sanctity of life? Can we please get back to remembering the baby that was born instead of the number of shopping days left?!

I enjoy being a good steward of the money God has granted us. Most people enjoy getting a good price, a value, when they are at the store, but there is so much more to value than things. I love being able to spend wisely, give with open hands, and see God at work. More than anything this season, what I want is to see lives transformed by the message of the good news that those angels told the shepherds about in Luke 2: Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

Value the things that have eternal significance. 

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday community. Hop on over and join us!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Old Schoolhouse Flash Sale - only thru Friday night!

*this post contains affiliate links*
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are spending your time having a great time with family and friends. I just popped on here because I would be remiss if I didn't let you know about this awesome two-day only sale on PRINT copies of The Old Schoolhouse magazine!

I have read The Old Schoolhouse magazine for years and years, and I'm super excited that it is going back to print for all four issues each year. I'm planning to buy a gift subscription for our library, for all those families who might be looking to homeschool. Who might you give a gift subscription to at this awesome price? Be sure to pick up a subscription for yourself too! Think about it, and make sure you get them ordered before midnight on Friday!

One year (4 issues) only $10!
Get the PRINT trade magazine for homeschool families delivered to your door every quarter during our 48-hour Thanksgiving Flash Sale and SAVE BIG! Each issue, over 120 pages, is packed with ideas, inspiration, and practical tips for your homeschool and your home. Plus, there is bonus holiday content, an Annual Freebie Directory, and resource guides.
Grab a one-year subscription for just $10—that is about the cost of a single issue! Why not treat yourself, along with a friend or two, and get a head start on your Christmas list? You have to ACT FAST though. This sale is good Thursday and Friday only (Nov. 22 & 23). 


Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving, 2018, thankfulness

We hope you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving day. 
We are so thankful for you, our readers!
Enjoy the day with your family and friends. 
Remember, we have so much to be thankful for today, and every day!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Books With Bean ~ A Christmas Carol

Book reviews by teens, A Christmas Carol, Dickens, Scrooge, Marley

Title: A Christmas Carol  

Author: Charles Dickens

Published: December 19th, 1843

Genre: Christmas, fiction 

Summary: You have probably heard the tale before: Marley is dead and Scrooge is left to deal with the business of lending to the poor. As Christmas comes, Scrooge has no time for it nor for anyone who does. All he worries about is his money and making sure he has plenty of it. That is until Marley returns from the dead and shows Scrooge the shackles that weigh him down. Marley says three ghosts will visit Scrooge and he hopes Scrooge heeds their words.

What I liked about it: I have a love hate relationship with Dickens, as in I love this book and The Tale of Two Cities, and I hate Oliver Twist with almost everything in me. I love this story, it is really one of the first of the type of stories that we as a society seem to love these days. The story where the bad guy is just misunderstood, and if he were shown a better way he would change. I can’t remember the first time I heard this story. It certainly wasn’t by reading it. I don’t think I had even read it until I was probably 14. It was either the Muppets version (which I highly recommend) or the Disney version with Scrooge McDuck. This story is about learning from our pasts and becoming better for our futures. It is about loving everyone no matter how old or young, how rich or poor, and not doing it just for what we can get in return. This is an important lesson that we have been talking about in Church recently and I feel like it is one we don’t pay enough attention to. 

Language: None

Romance: Scrooge, we learn, was engaged as a young adult but it was broken off. It is important to the story, but it’s never written in a way that I would consider inappropriate for anyone reading it.

Violence: There is talk of death and hunger but it’s never gory.

Magic: Well there are the ghosts of course but it’s not really explained how they work. 

Recommended Age: I don’t really think there is anyone too young for this story, well maybe an actual infant, but that’s about it. A younger child may be more ready for a movie version first, but it is definitely worth it. As someone who has been watching the movies made from this story since I was a kid, I can say honestly that it is a powerful message that only grows more strong the older I get and the more I understand what is going on. The Muppets version is amazing and it is a classic that definitely gets me into the sharing and caring mood every December.

Book reviews by teens, A Christmas Carol, Dickens, Scrooge, Marley

Friday, November 16, 2018

Prayers for the Battlefield by Heidi St John ~ a Tyndale book review

Where do we go to find answers for the toughest questions about motherhood? Not those questions like how do I get my baby to sleep through the night, which, in hindsight, is a pretty tough one, but those truly tough questions? Questions like: How do I protect my child from the evil in this world? How do I face those unexpected challenges with my teenagers? Where can I find comfort and strength when I feel powerless? Those kinds of tough questions! We turn to God, desperately seeking His help.

In our heads we know the answers to these questions are found somewhere in our Bibles, but in our hearts, we need some comfort now, not three or four years from now when we get to reading 3 John or 2 Thessalonians in our limited, ten minutes a day if we are lucky, quiet time. Moms, especially those with young children lean on God all the time. We pray, but often it is limited to: Dear Jesus, help me! Now please! How do busy, overworked, sleep-deprived moms find time? We trust God to provide it… eventually. In the meantime, many moms turn to reading devotionals. Something with real truth in it, with a lesson from Scripture, but that only takes about 5-10 minutes. Devotionals are usually smaller than our Bibles and more portable. They can be tossed in a diaper bag or a briefcase. I am so happy to share with you some great news: God uses all of our interactions with Him to teach us, mold us, and make us more like Christ. Five minutes or two hours, He will use them all!

MomStrong, Heidi St John, Tyndale publishers, devotional for moms

Two months ago, Tyndale Momentum released a new devotional for moms from Heidi St John: Prayers for the Battlefield, Staying MomStrong in the Fight for Your Family and Faith. It is all the things a devotional should be. It is filled with truth, with lessons drawn from Scripture. Heidi shares examples from real life, and a huge dose of encouragement for moms of all ages and stages. Prayers for the Battlefield contains 31 devotionals that remind us that we cannot win this war alone, but God can. 31 different reminders that while the daily battle rages around us and our families, God is right there beside us.

Prayers for the Battlefield contains real help for those super tough questions we encounter, because it contains God’s Word. After the Introduction, that reminds us the battlefield is a spiritual one, for the very souls of our children and the rest of humankind, you will find the 31 devotionals divided into six sections. Each of the six sections covers an area where we need guidance for our own lives, and knowledge about how to speak truth into the lives of our children. You can read them one a day from start to finish, or you can turn to the index in the back to find the particular help you need for that day: courage, rest, protection, provision, wisdom and more. There will never be a day when these Prayers for the Battlefield are not appropriate, either for yourself, or for a friend, until you wake up on the other side of eternity.

Each day’s reading begins with a verse or section of Scripture. Then there is the devotional thought, a practical look at how God works this truth from Scripture out in our lives, and often how He worked this truth in the life of someone else that is recorded in His Word. Then Heidi shares a prayer for you to pray. As I mentioned earlier, this prayer either applies to you personally, or to one of your friends, so pray it! Don’t just read it, pray it. Pray it with a longing to be more like Christ, to stand strong in His strength, and to help carry other Moms to His throne of grace. At the end of each day’s reading is a short listing for Praying the Scriptures. 

As I read through Prayers for the Battlefield, I was reminded of how God wants to meet each of us and show us His heart for our lives. I was reminded of how I had been almost every one of those moms that these prayers were written for during my 20 years of motherhood: the mom who feels powerless, the mom struggling with bitterness, the mom who needs courage. Reading through the book cover to cover reminded me to pray for the other moms in my life. The final devotional in Prayers for the Battlefield is for the mom who wants to influence future generations. While I’m not to that point in my life yet, since neither of our daughters is married, I know from watching my friends that I want to be one of those moms, and someday the Grandma, who still influences future generations for Christ. Right now that practically means speaking truth into our daughters’ lives, and speaking truth into their friends’ lives as well. Expanding my circle of influence through loving others well.

This small book needs to be in the hands of every mom you know, from the one who is pregnant for the first time, to the one whose children have left the nest to begin her own families. Prayers for the Battlefield retails for $12.99 in hardcover or ebook form, but I want to encourage you to buy in bulk. Buy copies for all of your mom friends: for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for their birthdays, for a just-because you love them present. Then, for those who come back and tell you how much reading these Scriptures and praying these prayers has increased their faith, given then hope, and helped deepen their trust in God, go get them a copy of Heidi St John’s book from last year: Becoming MomStrong.

Find hope, rest, and perseverance, read Prayers for the Battlefield, and stay MomStrong.

Connect with Heidi on her website, blog, Facebook, or Pinterest 

I received a complimentary copy of Prayers for the Battlefield from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. I am disclosing this according to FTC regulations. No other compensation was provided.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Ice Storm

Today I was planning to write up and post a book review...

But an ice storm came through last night, the power has been out for four hours, and it is too cold to want to try to type it all up on my phone. So I guess that will need to wait for another day. It’s time to curl back up under my blankets with a mug of hot chocolate and read another good book. Stay safe out there!

Friday, November 9, 2018


Today's Five Minute Friday word is: burden

five minute friday, free writes, Christian living

In Matthew, Jesus called those who were weary and heavy laden to come to Him for rest. In Galatians we are called to bear one another's burdens. How do we do this? How do we lay our own burdens upon Jesus and yet humbly take up one another's burdens? It all begins and ends with prayer. 

Jesus is calling us to come to Him for rest because He knows that we today, just like those people 2000 years ago, will try to do it all ourselves. Our pride gets in our own way and we don't want to ask anyone else for help. We have convinced ourselves that we will be the one person who can hold it all together and have a perfect, or nearly perfect, life in our own strength. Oh friend, stop believing that lie. The ONLY ONE who can hold it all together is the ONLY ONE who led a perfect life - Jesus! Because He loves us so much that He died for us, He knows that we also need help with the daily living. He took our place in death, and now He wants to BE our place in life. When your life is focused upon Jesus, amazing things happen!

One of the most amazing things about laying down your burdens and allowing Jesus to carry then for you is that then you realize you have time, space, and strength to help others carry their burdens and lay those at Jesus' feet too. We take up the burden of a hurt friend, a sick loved one, or a homeless person we meet in the park because we know how much our own lives changed when Jesus took our burdens. We begin by praying for that other person, and then we listen to see if God wants to use us as His hands and feet to help them physically as well. Maybe you offer to drive your friend to their Dr appointment, or make a meal for your sick neighbor. Perhaps God calls you to give a meal to the homeless person, or direct them to the local shelter where you volunteer.

Bearing one another's burdens is what we do as Christians. It is what we were made to do. The world sees what we do and knows it is spurred on by love, for no one would do it otherwise.  The world knows we are His because of our love for one another. Put down your own burdens and carry someone to God in prayer today.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Books With Bean ~ The Schwa Was Here

book reviews, book reviews by teens, Neil Shusterman

Title: The Schwa Was Here 

Author: Neal Shusterman

Published: 2004

Genre: Young Adult 

Summary: Have you even met a person that you just can't remember? Maybe you know that they are there and just don’t pay attention to them or maybe you go through life and it isn't until some time later that you realize that they were right next to you the whole time and you never even noticed. For Antsy it's the latter, Calvin Schwa, or the Schwa as he is better known,  has sat next to him in school for years; always on time for class, always ready with the answers and always just waiting to be noticed. But there is just something about him that makes most peoples' eyes move right over him in a crowd or skip past him like he’s not even there when he is by himself. Everyone at school has heard of him of course, but he is one of those weird urban legends that you are never sure if they are real or not. Antsy never noticed him until the day he is given an unbearable plastic dummy by his dad who works in product development for a plastic company. On the day Antsy and his friends Howie and Irma go out to try and break Manny as they have dubbed him, they first really notice the Schwa and from that day on Antsy is curious to see how far being mostly invisible can be pushed before it finally gets noticed. It turns out pretty far. In a group of kids in a classroom, when counted, only 1 out of every 5 people notices the Schwa is there. Finally on a dare the Schwa goes into the realm of Crazy Old Man Crawley and turns out he is one of the people who can notice the Schwa just by looking around. As payment for not turning them over to the cops, Crawley has them walk his 14 dogs every day and what at first seems like the ruination of the boys summer turns out to be a lesson in both friendship and trust.

What I liked about it: I have read this book so many times and it gets better each time. Antsy with his straight forward Brooklyn attitude is an interesting first person narrator. The Schwa is also an interesting person in the way that he deals with his “invisibleness” and how it affects his life both before and after he becomes friends with Antsy. Of the other characters like Crazy Old Man Crawley, Antsy’s friends Howie and Irma, and Lexie, they are well developed and each interesting in their own ways.

Language: One of the things I try to do with these book reviews is find good clean books that parents don’t have to worry about their kids reading. As such almost none of the books have even light swearing and only a hint of romance. This books is a bit different. It has no inappropriate scenes but it does have some language, not a lot and not really anything super hard but it does have a few words that good little Christain me wouldn’t say. Its not anything that I would consider really bad but it is there. 

Romance: There is a not really a love triangle. One of the things Crazy Old Man Crawley has Antsy do is “date” his granddaughter Lexie while she is in town over the summer. Basically it's Antsy's job to take her to parks and museums and that sort of thing. Lexie is blind and yet can still tell whenever the Schwa is in the room. Because of this Schwa becomes interested in her and gets a bit jealous that Antsy gets to “date” her. In the end, Antsy realizes that he and Lexie are just friends, which for a YA book is really nice because a lot of them seem to make it feel like there has to be a romance in every book and having a book where and guy and girl are just friends is really nice.

Violence: Manny the plastic dummy “dies” in several different ways over the course of the story at the boys try and break the unbreakable plastic but its never graphic and even when he finally breaks it is like whatever because he is just plastic.

Magic: None 

Recommended Age: Antsy and his friends are in their mid teens and I feel like to really appreciate the book and its themes and plot you really have to be at least 14-15. However, that being said, the themes of appreciating everyone you know and friendship and all that are good things that can be learned or relearned at any age so there I really no top age for when you can read this book. 

book reviews, book reviews by teens, Neil Shusterman

Thursday, November 1, 2018


31 days of five minute free writes, encouragement, living

This is the last of my posts for the 31 days of Five Minute Free writes. I've been thinking about this one for a couple days, so it may go over the five minutes ;)

Close the door.
Are you close to done?

Which one is it? Either, both.
Let's choose the first one.

God's story is like a novel that never ends. I like to read novels. They give me a chance to delve into another time, or another place, and be entertained. When our girls were really little, I started reading a lot of historical fiction. A library card was free, and I needed a pastime that was free. I still read a lot of historical fiction, but not as much as I used to. There is a satisfaction in getting to the conclusion in the story, but oftentimes, there is a bit of a letdown, because you want to know what happens next. You become invested in the characters of a good book, and they can seem like your new friends. What happens to them next?

Isn't life like that? We want to know what happens next. When God closes one chapter in our lives, we want to be able to read the next one - soon, as in right now! But, that is not always how reading a novel works. You might need to set a novel aside to go make dinner, or help your child with their math lesson. These are real, everyday life occurrences that take precedent over knowing the ending of the story.

God has a way of placing everyday life occurrences in our own story, to turn our focus towards others, and away from trying to find the ending of our story. This is a good thing, a great thing actually. We need other people in our lives to make our story interesting. We also need other people in our lives to keep us humble. So often we need other people to point out the blessings in our everyday lives, so that we pause and thank our Creator. 

While today marks the close of this chapter, it also signals that another one is just beginning. Where will it lead? God knows, and He will be walking it with us!

Thank you for reading all the way through this Write October 31 day challenge. November is here, and that signals NaNoWriMo. (National Novel Writing Month)

While I'm not writing a novel this month, Arlene will be working on her third one this month for NaNoWriMo. I'll be working on writing my book, which means more writing, but a little less of it here on the blog. I'm hoping to get back to Instagram more, which has been sorely lacking during this October challenge. Stay tuned, there's plenty of interesting stuff scheduled for November here on the blog!