Friday, December 20, 2013

Long Overdue Homeschool Update

We are in our fifth year of our homeschool journey and I haven't been so good about documenting all the changes and the growth.  So this will be my attempt to condense all those years with a brief summary.

I will preface by stating a little bit of my background so you will get a better idea of the overall picture.

I am a bookworm.
I am a learner
I am a lover of History.
I was a History major.
I was a high school History teacher.
I am now a homeschooler.

So back in 2009 when we started our homeschool journey, I had a school at home mentality.  And while there is nothing wrong with that, I soon discovered it wasn't for us.  The next year although I didn't buy a complete box curriculum like I had done for the first year, essentially the mentality was the same--school at home.

Fast forward to 2013, I am still struggling to overcome that mentality.  Education has to be this way and that way with books and tests.  But it's slowly happening.  I am gradually moving away from this model of education to:


The Lord has been impressing upon me the importance of discipling our children.  It is more than learning for the here and now; it is about the eternal.

And while we do the 'regular' subjects, the way they are done and the extras added have been captivating my attention and heart.

These are just a few resources that we have used or are using that are part of this journey.

1.  Bible
The Bible has always been a part of our schooling as the foundation and the continuing building blocks.  The Lord is just taking us on a new route with His Word (which I hope to blog about soon).

2.  Worldview Books
These are just the ones I had bought long and had not done, but I am definitely looking into buying more of this genre.

3.  Literature
We love to read over at our house but with a full schedule of (sometimes fluff) school work, it was getting harder to squeeze it in.  No more.  These books have been a great addition to our homeschool.  Even though I don't agree with every thing written, they provide great discussions.

4.  Outside the Box
This is the biggest area where I need growth.  Incorporating non-traditional methods (unit studies, lapbooking, journaling) are making their way to our daily learning.

It is so fun to look back where we started and where the Lord has brought us to and where He is still taking us.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Review: The God Puzzle

In The God Puzzle:  How the Bible Fits Together to Reveal God as Your Greatest Treasure, Valerie Ackermann seeks to "present the Bible as one seamless story and share deep truths in a way kids will understand."  This workbook is targeted for kids ages 7-12.

I will preface my review by stating that I am a mother, homeschooler, and Sunday school teacher.  That being stated, my review is based on how effectively I could use this book in different settings.  

From the start, I can say that this is a meaty book.  There is not fluff or busy work but convicting and challenging topics to stimulate and encourage a child's spiritual growth.  I liked the spontaneity of the presentation of the lessons.  Although each lesson included the read it, talk about it, and talk to God about it portion, the lessons had a diversity of activities to engage the child in the material.  The diagrams and illustrations were very helpful in communicating ideas.  

As I worked on it with my daughter, I enjoyed the conversations it sparked.  The author did an exceptional job  in tailoring it towards children without diminishing the power of the Gospel.  I appreciated the author's understanding that children are capable of understanding the Bible.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading my daughter's responses in the "talk to God" portion.  

Whereas, I enjoyed it immensely as a homeschool mom because it was full of Scripture, as a Sunday school teacher, I question how long would it take me to do a lesson.  Sure I could skip some of the verses, but I would not want to.  I think it would work best in a new believer's class setting rather than for a child who has read the Bible.  

I enjoyed reading and working on the book alongside my daughter.  Although I do not agree one hundred percent with the author's theology (Lesson 18), I would recommend this resource for a new believer.  I look forward to seeing the author's upcoming titles.  

I received a complimentary copy of above mentioned title from Litfuse  in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book Review: God's Great Plan

In God's Great Plan, author Melissa Cutrera focuses on the story of the Creation, Fall, and Redemption using  "simple, memorable rhymes to teach children these important truths.

Each member of our family read this book by themselves and each of us was impressed with the simplicity and yet depth of this book.  First, the illustrations are simply beautiful.  Some pages can be taken as too dark and dismal for children, but I think it poignantly expresses the darkness of sin itself that is beneficial for children to know.  The juxtaposition between light and darkness clearly shows the child our condition due to the Fall and the hope in Redemption in Jesus.  

The author's use of rhyme may make some think that the lines would be catchy little phrases just to suit the story's rhythm and yet this is the complete opposite.  Although rhyming, the message embedded was clear and simple without being over simplified or watered down.  The forthrightness in which the author explains man's sin nature is refreshing.  I really enjoyed how she included the Sovereignty of God, the sinlessness of Jesus, the victory over sin at the cross, and many more other details.

My family and I enjoyed this book thoroughly.  It is a wonderful tool for evangelization and Sunday school.  Although a children's book, it presents the gospel thoughtfully and thoroughly.  

I received complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Book Review: Why Christ Came

Joel R. Beeke's & William Boekestein's Why Christ Came: 31 Mediations on the Incarnation seeks to 'encourage us to celebrate Christ's birth more deeply, see more clearly how it is connected with the rest of His ministry, and recognize its importance for our lives.'

Although the authors themselves did not represent this book as a good evangelization tool, its title piqued my interest that it may be an evangelization tool especially for the upcoming holiday season.  Whereas, I think it could be used to introduce someone to the gospel, I would not recommend it for that purpose.  

The daily devotions were short and provided a plethora of Scripture, something I very much appreciate since Christ is shown all through out the Bible and not just the New Testament.  The version chosen would have been better replaced with the NIV84 or another reliable translation.  What I could have done with out was what seemed to be an inundation of quotes or references from other works.  I did not feel that it added any understanding to the day's devotional but rather took away from the poignancy of it often confusing it with another's opinions and ideas.  The veracity of the Bible is enough for this reader.  

I especially enjoyed days 20 and 21 of the devotional.  The juxtaposition of Christ coming to bring peace and to bring a sword was exceptional.  

As previously mentioned, I think this book 's concept would have made for a great evangelization tool but its execution is far better suited for the Christian community.  

I received complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Book Review: Caties's Secret

Catie's Secret by Laura Allen Nonemaker 'invites young readers to join an exciting adventure while it teaches a valuable lesson.'

In Catie's Secret, you not only get a beautiful story of learning to love others just as God created them but also the blessings of forgiveness.  Mayor Benny's explanation of the garden's secrets was such a great reminder that we too have been designed by God with a purpose that may not be apparent just yet but is there nevertheless.  Herbie's determination to seek Catie's forgiveness was commendable as was Bella's prayer to God for help in the situation.  

Overall, this book was such a delight to read.  The illustrations are simply adorable and captivate the reader's attention immediately.  The bonus materials at the end distinguished this book as more than just a story but a resource.  It provided discussion questions, fact page with links for further study, as well as an audio download of the book.  I can see this book used in a classroom setting or as part of a homeschool unit study.  

I received a complimentary copy of above mentioned title from Litfuse  in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Catie’s Secret is the second book in Laura Allen Nonemaker’s children’s series, God’s Secret Garden Adventures. Laura is celebrating Catie's Secret with a Kindle Fire Kid Pack giveaway!

One winner will receive:
A Kindle Fire

Butterfly Pavilion Hatching Kit

Butterfly Pattern Carryall Bag

Butterfly Suncatcher Kit

Benny's Angel T-Shirt (small)

Catie's Secret and Benny's Angel with free E-Live audio downloads by Laura Nonemaker
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 23rd. Winner will be announced November 25th at Laura's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Laura's blog on the 25th to see if you won.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Book Review: Think 4:8

Tommy Newberry's Think 4:8: 40 Days To A Joy-Filled Life For Teens is designed "to help you reach your goals and live the successful, purposeful life God has planned just for you."

As the mother of a teen, I am on the look out for good resources for my child.  This book is short and concise.  The topics included in the forty days are great.  I appreciate the author's commitment to centering this book on the Word of God rather than human thought and reasoning.  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the four action points at the end of each day which reminds children that our faith is to be lived out.  The exercises were not just merely busy work but thought provoking questions and exercises.  

The size, cover, and shape of the book is very appealing.  Whereas I appreciate the author's use of different translations of the Bible, I would have preferred the NIV84 version throughout.  

The following are my daughter's take on the book:

Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. Philippians 4:8 (The Living Bible)

Think 4:8: 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life for Teens is a book directed for the teenage audience sharing biblical truths found in Phillippians 4:8 on how to transform your mind and attitude. "What you choose to think about and focus on today can impact the rest of your life."

The author makes it clear to the reader that the transformation of the mind and attitude is not a night to day process, taking time and dedication from the reader's part. The process is broken into 40 days, in which the reader experiences different lessons ranging from The Joy of Free Will to the The Joy of His Presence. Unlike many authors who create teen devotionals, Tommy Newberry and Lyn Smith remained Biblically sound and did not water anything down. 

Since I enjoy reading, I would have enjoyed more material, however the very small readable portions are easily doable for the average person. Following the reading portion comes the "Work it" section where the reader can jot his her personal struggles in certain areas, future goals, or whatever that chapter's material consisted of. The "Talk it" section prompted the student to share what he is learning and working on in that chapter. Lastly, came the "Post it" section where the author summarized the day's lesson on a post it. This section was a personal favorite, it provided a simple thought that I could focus on throughout the day. 

Think 4:8: 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life for Teens is a teen devotional I would easily recommend for teens. Renewing our mind is not a one time occurrence or a 40 day one either but a lifelong choice. I can definitely see myself picking up this book time and time again. I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

I received a complimentary copy of above mentioned title from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Book Review: Memoirs of the Way Home

Gerald M. Bilkes' Memoirs of the Way Home:  Ezra and Nehemiah as a Call to Conversion "demonstrates these biblical memoir's relevance for us today as they challenge us to consider whether we are in the far country or, by grace, on our way back home to God."

The author fantastically captures the meaning, depth, and application of the books Ezra and Nehemiah in the Bible.  The author masterfully sticks to the Bible as his source rather than spouting his own opinions.  He takes the reader throughout the Bible to further develop the points he is highlighting from the Biblical context of both books.  Because the author lays the Bible as the foundation to understand the text, he accurately portrays their relevancy in today's Christian community.  The reader should not attempt to read this book without having a Bible in hand.  

This book is a real Bible study.  It is not meant to be read instead of the Bible but alongside it.  There is no fluff but rather filled with thought provoking material meant to stir one into action.  The questions provided after each chapter are so insightful rather than the usual busy work given.  By presenting the two books separately, the author did a wonderful job in presenting the material in a clearer and in depth manner rather than had he attempted to combine the two.  

Because the author makes it a point to continually point the reader to Jesus Christ, this book is a wonderful resource that can be used with new converts, Bible study groups, and even in a family Bible study setting.  I commend the author for tackling an often overlooked topic in Christian circles--a call to conversion.  

I received complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book Review: Jesus on Every Page

Jesus on Every Page:10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament written by David Murray seeks to reveal “Christ’s presence throughout the Old Testament—in the Creation, the Law, the Psalms, the Prophets, and the Proverbs.”

Beginning on the road to Emmaus the author begins with giving a clear Biblical foundation on Jesus from His own testimony, Peter’s, Paul’s, and John’s.  The author piques the reader’s interest to find out more about Jesus, but now rather than looking solely at the New Testament witnesses, he turns the interest to the Old Testament. 

The author starts in Creation and works his way through the Old Testament.  The author’s goal is worthwhile and noble but the delivery was a little lacking.  It could definitely come from my expectation that the book was going to be more an expounding of the Scriptures themselves to see Jesus rather than various quotes from other author’s works on the subject and the Bible verses referenced all to often solely in the notes.  This is not to say that the author does not provide Biblical evidence which he does just not as the central focus.   Each chapter is broken up into subtopics making it hard to keep track of all the information presented in a cohesive manner. 

I applaud the author’s intent and believe this could be a valuable resource for a new believer. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, October 7, 2013

Empties: September

I can't believe how many half-used products were lingering about that we have been able to use and get out of the house.  This little experiment has really helped me to:

1.   see just how much "things" can start to accumulate and take over cabinets, drawers, closets, etc.

2.   curb my purchasing
Before I would usually pick up two of items, you know just in case whereas, now I wait until said item is almost finished in order to repurchase.  Some times I get a better deal and sometimes I don't.  And I am ok with that:)  The space and clutter-free environment is more important to me right now.

3.  exercise self-control in other areas
Yes, I may be disciplined in the "beauty supply" department, but what about other areas?  It has helped my stock up mentality.  Instead of purchasing food because I know we will eventually eat it, I don't buy until we have consumed the food we already have then buy.  This is somewhat made difficult because we do the majority of our shopping at Costco, but it is doable.  It has also helped in the clothing and school supply areas:)

This round included:
1. Airwick lavender scent (not my favorite)
2.  Scentsy Ocean:)
3.  Lubriderm-will not repurchase since I am looking for more natural products
4.  Clean & Clear toner-have one more bottle of this
5.  Renpure Conditioner-will repurchase once I go through my other conditioners
6.  Body Shop lemon scrub-still have a few to go through...I think four of these
7.  Reach floss-I have quite of few of these (floss in general) to go through
8.  Listerine strips-I actually have to go out and buy some:)
9.  Tom's toothpaste-this takes some time to get use to:)

I will probably wait a few months before making another empties post because there really isn't much left.  As of now my total empties total is: 35!!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book Review: Apostate

In Apostate:  The Men who Destroyed the Christian West, Kevin Swanson presents "the story of the decline and fall of Western civilization.  It is the story of uncommonly powerful men, unfathomably evil men...apostates."

Author Kevin Swanson accomplishes a phenomenal feat in presenting the apostates, their ideologies, and its consequences in an understandable manner.  The reader is immediately captivated by the subject matter since it is presented in a relative manner.  Apostasy is not a church problem, but a human problem with grave consequences.  Its tragic consequences are evident in the decline of families, societies, and nations.  

The author moves through a chronological order thus allowing the reader to see for themselves the growth of ideas and their influences on people, the society in which they live, and eventually the West. Great detail is given to the exploration of each apostate's work, its anti-biblical worldview, and its influence.  The author provides many footnotes but more importantly a lot of Bible verses to show the opposition of these ideologies to the truth found only in God's Word.  

Whereas the author took great care in providing many references, I did question the "devout Christian parents" portrayed in the lives of these apostates.  The author often makes mention that these Nephilim are raised by devout Christians which bears to question where is the author receiving this information?Is it by their own admission, by the testimony of others,  or by their fruit?  The author would do well to either leave these comments out or state the source of these suppositions.

Overall, this book is a wake up call for the Church, the true Church.  Avoidance, ignorance, and living in unawares is unacceptable.  The Church must come to grips that the spiritual world exists, there is a war, and we will win!  In the meantime let us not grow weary, compromise, or become negligent.  

I would highly recommend this book for parents, educators, and church leaders.  

I received complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Monday, September 23, 2013

But I Prayed

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, "Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed." But I prayed, " Now strengthen my hands."
Nehemiah 6:9

How many times can this be said of me?

The enemy has come around and frightened me, weakening my hands?

How many times have I given in and left the work deserted, unfinished, incomplete?  I can look back at those times and see the rubble staring right back at me.   Mocking me.  Reminding me again of yet another failure.  

I made mistakes.
I failed.
I doubted. 
I feared.
I sinned.

But I prayed.   And prayed.  And  others prayed.  And they prayed. And prayed.  And we prayed together.  And we prayed and prayed.  And continue to pray.

And I beg Jesus to strengthen my hands so that I will complete the works He prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).  

And He does.  He strengthens my hands, my heart, my mind, my body.  He strengthens.  

And in prayer He has shown me that He not only strengthens, but He is my Strength.  

And so after failure, half-hearted attempts, good intended tries, I pray.

Yes, I have made mistakes, failed, doubted, feared, and sinned.  But today I pray, "Now at this very moment, in the midst of this rubble, contrary to the opposition, Jesus, strengthen my hands to lift them up to You.  May fear never grip my heart so that I become weakened and leave what You have assigned to me incomplete.  Rather, may Your perfect love cast out all fear and may Your love continually sustain me.  I pray in Jesus' Name.  Amen"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Summer Recap

Summer is not officially over until September 22 but around here in NYC, let's face it-it's over!:)

Our summer unofficially began around April 29 since our family headed to the Dominican Republic to visit a dear family we love.  When we returned the whether was warm, so we just got into the grove of summer.

I am so grateful to the Lord for all He allowed us to do this summer but more importantly what He has done in our lives.  There is always ministration and growth and in the name of Jesus we trust in Him there will always be.  He is AMAZING!

Here are a few snapshots of our summer (or at least what our camera captured:)...Enjoy!
 our trip to Dominican Republic
you can see more here and here

Me & my Girls, Daddy & his Girls (celebrating the end of another homeschool year), beginning a Bible Study group in our home,  beginning another semester of teaching Sunday school

Husband with his father and uncle, Syd and I shopping (this is dangerous), and all 3 sisters spending time together:)

Celebrating birthdays, carnival fun, and remembering all the wonderful family in Christ we have

Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Review: Red Like Blood

Joe Coffey and Bob Bevington, authors of Red Like Blood:  Confrontations with Grace, introduce "story after story of brokenness and the grace that entered it."

In theory, this is a great idea for a book but the materialization was a disaster.  The stories seemed disjointed.  There were examples of make-shift, hyper grace with no apparent Biblical base.  The language made the book almost unreadable.  One of the authors is a pastor and his use of vulgarities was more than disappointing.  The need to use such filthy language for shock value seemed immature.  

There were some some stories that had redeeming value such as the AA meeting and Phil & Euretta.  The M&M illustration was helpful.  However, anything the reader may have taken from the book was trumped by the distasteful language and incongruity of the stories.  

Overall, the idea of the book to showcase God's grace to everyone, those in the church and those finding their way back is great.  But it failed to deliver.  Few Biblical references, rare glimpses of Biblical grace, and foul language make this book not a recommended reading.  

I received complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Jesus is...

Three thoughts I have been meditating on are:

Jesus is all I have
Jesus is all I need
Jesus is all I want

I am challenged by these statements and convicted.

Is He truly all I have?

Is He truly all I need?

Is He truly all I want?

Are these mere words or even desires of my heart but not reality? Ummm, there is a lot to think about.  Lately, these statements have been working in me when I am tempted to depend on my own strength, seek comfort elsewhere, and look outside of Him for anything.

I know it's not enough to desire Jesus to be all I have, all I need, all I want.  And I also know that this has to be His work in me.  

13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Philippians 2:13

I am trusting on His Word to accomplish this and NOT my best efforts.  I will not try!  I will trust!

81My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.
Psalm 119:18

114You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
Psalm 119:114

Friday, September 6, 2013

Empties: August 2013

1.  Renpure Originals shampoo-already repurchased another one
2.  Renpure Originals deep penetrating reconstructor-won't repurchase because I didn't notice a difference from this and their conditioner
3.  Gillette shaving gel-jury is still out on this one:)
4.  Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Body Scrub-have six minis to work through
5.  Bath & Body Works Juniper Breeze shower gel-have quite of few of these to work through
6.  DenTek floss picks-have one more bag of these to work through
7.  Swisspers rounds-I keep buying the wrong ones and now have like 200 more to work through:(
8.  Crest 3D White toothpaste-still debating on whether to buy a fluoride toothpaste
9.  Bath & Body Works Paris Nights body lotion-have two more to work through
10.  Act Kids fluoride rinse-Sara didn't like it (she prefers the spicey ones:)
11.  Crest Kid's toothpaste-see above

I really feel like we are making progress over here clearing out the clutter!  Last month 15 items and this month 11 for a total of 26 items out of our house!!!!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Review: Timothy

Brad Riley's Timothy: A Little Fish with a Big Purpose!  is the familiar Biblical account of two stories interwoven into one to create a lesson on obedience.

This book contains a beautiful lesson that God can use big and small alike but the key to both big and small alike is obedience.  Peter had to trust Jesus' command that the fish (Timothy) would have a coin and Timothy had to obey his mother and grandmother.  Interweaving these two stories demonstrates God's greater purposes that we may not fully understand but get to enjoy so long as we walk in obedience to His commands.  

Because these are two separate Biblical accounts, I would strongly suggest reading the actual Biblical accounts afterwards.  This way it can further discussions on Peter, Timothy, obedience, trust, and faith.  In order to give an accurate account and not foster confusion as to why there is no father mentioned, reading the Biblical account is imperative.  

I can see this book being used as a tool within the home and even in a church setting for further study.  The illustrations are simply beautiful and will definitely engage the attention of small children.  The author's note to parents/grandparents is very encouraging and timely.  I would be very interested to read the author's upcoming titles when available.  

I received complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Emergency Kit

Having you ever been outside and gotten a cut?  Or maybe went out to lunch and it didn't sit So well with your stomach?  Good news is we all have been there.  Bad news, for the most part, we weren't prepared.

With Alicia heading out to do volunteer work, I thought I should assemble an emergency kit for her.  And while I was at it, I did one for myself too.

Kit Contents:
Pain relieving spray
Insect Repellant
Tide to Go
Nivea Creme (ashy elbows:)
Nivea Lotion
Colgate Wisps
Hair tie
Bobby pins
Safety pins
Eye drops
Nail Clippers

So there you have it, my emergency kit.  Others items I think you could include but I couldn't get to fit are clear polish (run in your tights), sunscreen, body spritz, floss.

These kits are super easy to assemble and cost efficient as well.  The cosmetic case is a Target freebie, some items were samples, and others coupon freebies:)  These are handy to toss in your purse, keep in the car, or at work.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Book Review: The Gospel Call & True Conversion

Paul Washer's The Gospel Call & True Conversion "challenges such easy believism as he examines the real meaning of things like faith, repentance, and receiving Christ."

This book is a challenge for every Christian to thoroughly examine the manner in which they preach the gospel.  Through reading the well laid arguments of what the gospel is and is not, Paul Washer confronts the reader to examine the message they are preaching but more importantly how that gospel message has affected their lives.  Page after page, the reader is exhorted to examine his life to see if they are really in the faith according to the Bible and not based on a supposed declaration of faith that bore no fruit.  

The author  refutes the often misuse of the Scriptures themselves in evangelizing with numerous biblical references.  Clearly, this is not the author's opinion on the subject, but the truth found in the Bible which is too often neglected or flat out rejected to appease the carnal man.  The author does well to point out the consequences of catering to the carnal man.  Not only is the carnal man himself lost but he who preaches another gospel, which is no gospel at all, is equally lost.  

Paul Washer lays out the truths of the Bible clearly.  He demonstrates the fallacies of Western Christianity where the gospel is man-centered and rightfully so, redirects our attention to God, the One who began a good work in us is also faithful to complete it.  Not only does the gospel begin with God (because He is love) but also ends with Him (He is the One who gives the growth).  Our conversion is not based on a decision we once made but rather on His calling us.  Our remaining in Him is not based on our works but His through His Holy Spirit who is not only with us but in us.  

This book should set on the bookshelf of every Christian for two reasons.  First, we would do well to remind ourselves of the true gospel and evaluate our message in evangelizing.  Secondly, we would do better to test ourselves to see if we are really in the faith.  

Interview with Paul Washer:

I received complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Empties: July 2013

Do you have three or four bottles of lotion?  Or two body washes cluttering your bathroom?  Well, me too, which is why I decided to clear the clutter and focus on getting rid of half-empty bottles around my house.  This is will not only help me clear the clutter around the house but also limit what I am buying (because although the Bath and Body Works sales are tempting, I don't want 10 bottles of body wash in my house:)

So, here are the products we finished in July in no particular order:

1.  Scentsy Just Breathe bar
2.  Scentsy White Tea & Cactus bar
3.  Up & Up all purpose towelettes (will not be repurchasing)
4.  Up & Up Cotton Rounds (repurchased already but the wrong ones:(
5.  Up & Up Children's Gummy mutltivitamin (will not repurchase)
6.  Crest 3D White Toothpaste (will not repurchase)
7.  Purell Hand Sanitizer (will not repurchase)
8.  Body Shop Grapefruit oil (already have another one in my stash:)
9.  Vitamin E lip balm (will not repurchase)
10.  Boots Expert Sensitive gentle cleansing wash (will not repurchase)
11.  Kiss my Face Shower Gel (already repurchased)
12.  Lubriderm Daily Moisture (finishing off another bottle)
13.  Reach Total Care floss (lots of floss to work through)
14.  YSL Champagne perfume (actually gave my other bottle of this away)
15.  Listerine Pocketpaks (already repurchased)

Note:  We didn't start using all these products in July; we just finished them in July.  Also, choosing not to repurchase doesn't necessarily mean the product wasn't good, I may just have something else in my stash I want to get rid of or am looking to buy a more natural product.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Book Review: Indroctrination

Colin Gunn and Joaquin Fernandez present, Indoctrination:  Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity, one of their objectives being "to equip the homeschooling public with the ammunition necessary to effectively defend our educational choices....using these resources to graciously challenge our brothers and sisters who are still deceived by the public school system."

Whereas this book did not convict or further strengthen my personal stance to homeschool, it did open my eyes to the horrors of the public school system.  It was outright scary.  One article after another exposing the not so hidden socialist agenda promulgated throughout the system sent shock waves.  Does the public school system have its problems?  Certainly.  However, this outright crusade to indoctrinate children throughout this country, whether through mental manipulation or drugs, is blatant and intentional.

As a former educator, thankfully for only a short while, the role seems to be clearly defined as one of complacent obedience.  Teachers are no longer trained and hired to teach but to diagnosis.  Mediocrity and failure are the new standard and thus encouraged.  The goal for appealing to the masses has replaced integrity, work ethic, and overall motivation.  Teachers unwilling to submit are weeded out.  

This is not one author's opinion but a collaboration of experts, educators, and parents who have thoroughly researched this topic and provide many references and not simply personal opinions or experience.  Anyone in the aforementioned categories should look closely into this resource and identify their role as willing conformist or combatant against a system designed to strip parents of their God-given right to educate their children with a Biblical worldview.  

Let us all beware that their socialist agenda is clear--death and destruction to morals, values, and the family.  They want to warp and pervert children from very young to serve their own twisted agendas.  This book is a battle cry for any parent having school aged children to wake up.  The call to action might not be changing the system, but rather not allowing one's children to participate in it.  Neutrality is not an option.  

I received complimentary copy of this book from New Leaf Publishing  in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Review: Saving Eutychus

In Saving Eutychus, authors Gary Millar and Phil Campbell seek to deliver "fresh, honest, faithful and practical insights into preaching the whole word of God, Sunday by Sunday, without being dull."  

This could have been a how-to-preach-better-in-five-easy-steps kind of book, but it was not.  The authors made it a point to begin with the preacher's heart.  The authors' passionate appeal to depend on prayer all the while maintaing the central focus of preaching the Gospel  demonstrated their desire not just to be better preachers, but obedient children of God first and foremost. 

After laying the foundation of prayer and preaching the gospel, the book progresses into giving the reader 10 tips on how to improve one's sermons.  In discussing the importance of scripting one's sermons the author states:

It helps you think through in advance how you'll pace the flow of ideas, and writing it down commits you to expressing yourself in a way that's down-to-earth and accessible.  It also ensures you don't talk for too long.  And that could save a life. p. 47

I thoroughly enjoyed their shared commitment to preaching the Gospel throughout the Bible.  Living during a time when the Old Testament can be discarded as non-applicable to today's New Testament church, it is refreshing to see men committed to preach the whole Bible in context rather than man made principles and ideas.  

Our challenge, then, is to help people understand the flow of biblical theology.  Because when people grasp the Bible's redemptive storyline, the power of God's word is unleashed and the Spirit uses it to change lives.  p.90 

The authors spoke about the importance of critique in order to be pulled backed by particular temptations.  Their continual admonishment to preach with sincerity of heart was sobering.  

What we need most as preachers is to apply the gospel to ourselves--to the motivation, content and manner of our preaching.  often what wee need to do in response to critique is not to try harder.  Rather, we need to repent and run back into the arms of Jesus whom we preach.  p. 116

Their candor in sharing their own experiences, but mostly their challenges, helped to identify the common pitfalls one can fall into.  The diagrams and photograph of their sermon notes created clarity.  Seeing how they worked through the process of sermon writing was invaluable.  The peer review and its importance as well as the resources are wonderful tools.  Overall, this is great resource not only for those preaching the Word every Sunday, but anyone preaching the Word.   

I received complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Book Review: Runaway Emotions

 In his book, Runaway Emotions, Schreve seeks to show "how the truth of the Bible can make sense of our confusion.  The power of the Holy Spirit  can lead us to freedom, and Jesus Christ can give us true peace in the midst of any crisis.  Author Jeff Schreve says, "A specific and compelling message can be found in each of your negative, painful emotions.  God Himself is trying to speak to you through those emotions--right now."   

Although this is not meant to be an all encompassing book regarding human emotions, it does name a few "biggies" with clarity and succinctness.  The author identifies and defines the emotion and its root causes. But its purpose is not to stop there. On the contrary, the reader is just on the cusp of finding out what God would have them do about these emotions. 

The author makes numerous Biblical references to illustrate his points. Often the Biblical characters' weaknesses and difficulties can be glossed over, but the author does a great job of vividly portraying real-life humans not that much different than ourselves. 

For the most part, I agreed with the authors diagnosis concerning emotions except with guilt. The author portrays the recognition of guilt as a conduit for repentance but the Bible clearly states that there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus as well as worldly sorrow leading to death. Only godly sorrow can produce repentance which leads to salvation. 

Besides the aforementioned exception, I agreed with the author's premise of identifying the root of our emotions in order to learn what God would have us do with them. There is valuable information within these pages that can be gleaned for anyone trying to find freedom from the slavery of living emotion led lives rather than Spirit-filled ones. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Book Review: I've Got Your Back

In I've Got Your Back, author James C. Gavin uses a parable about four twenty-something's who desperately need help in their careers. What they thought would be a way just to better their careers will turn out be an experience that changes their lives. Even their mentor, Jack Hendrickson, realizes that his combat mission days are not over but just on a different battlefield. 

From their Friday night Bible studies to their Monday work days, following along all four characters gave a clear picture of each of their struggles with leadership. Although the characters themselves just wanted mentoring to become leaders at work, they soon find it to be impossible to limit leadership to just one area of life. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the diversity among the group. Instead of lumping everyone together and labeling them, the author presents each character with individual problems and solutions. There is no one solution fixes everyone except for the foundation of all solutions---Jesus. 

The author takes the reader along for the journey the four are undertaking to discover the truth about the following-leading dynamic. Instead of showing the big picture of the following-leading dynamic from the onset, the characters discover the principles themselves through doing their assignments, reporting their experiences, and learning from their mistakes. I appreciated the fact that it was not your common three steps to be a fantastic leader fluff but rather presented the truth of developing one's unique potential through becoming a REAL follower. 

Although the book is divided into two parts (parable first then the outline of the Biblical principles) and can be read in any order, I strongly suggest reading the parable first. By the time I finished reading the parable, I was able to understand clearly the principles outlined in the second part of the book. 

The author’s thorough use of Bible verses throughout demonstrate his conviction that leadership and followership are clearly God designed and should be obeyed as He ordained. When violated, man becomes an abuser of power and/or a victim of follower abuse. 

I would recommend this book to anyone because as the author clearly points out: 

As we grow in our ability to follow well, we also grow in our ability to lead. This is because leadership and followership are two sides of the same coin. To lead well we need to understand the leader-follower dynamic as God created it. To create the conditions for that dynamic to occur, we need to follow well and help others follow well. The best leaders are also the best followers. p. 194

I received complimentary copy of this book from Handlebar Publishing in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Book Review: Prepared by Grace for Grace

In Prepared by Grace for Grace, authors Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley "make careful analysis of the Puritan understanding of preparatory grace, demonstrate its fundamental continuity with the Reformed tradition, and identify matters where even the Puritans disagreed among themselves."

The authors sought to tackle a subject matter, preparatory grace, which is almost extinct in Christian study and thought.  This is an exceptional read giving the reader much to think about.  Even though the primary sources of Puritan writers may have been difficult, the authors did a wonderful job in clarifying and ascertaining proper meanings in context.  

Not limiting their primary sources to just a few Puritan authors, the book contains a wide range of thoughts that are explored in their proper setting and context.  I thoroughly enjoyed the distinction of terms when dealing with their opposition to Catholic teachings and when they varied in opinions amongst themselves.  

The authors accomplished the remarkable task of presenting the Puritan preachers as loving individuals concerned with the eternal salvation of souls with its assurance in Christ rather than just outward display of good works.  

The doctrine of preparatory contentment to be damned was unfamiliar to this reader and yet provided much interest.  At first glance, the Puritans seemed at odd amongst themselves in this regard and the authors Beeke and Smalley did a superb job and gathering data to further delve into the matter shining light on the subject.

The Puritan movement as a whole believed that preparatory humiliation must include the recognition that God could in all justice damn us to hell, buy they firmly rejected the idea that one must become content to be damned. p. 176 

Overall, this is a thought provoking read allowing the reader enough interest for further personal study.  

I received complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an independent and unbiased review.