December 31, 2016

Remember the Sand

With the turning of a calendar, there is a reflection on the past, and the future. Many look at their year of 2016 and are unhappy with the results. In all honesty, MOST of us are unhappy with the results. All too often we miss the little things that made the year good. Maybe we even miss the big things too, because time has gone by so quickly. As my year calendar year ended, I could think of some big things that happened in 2016. But I also remember a lot of little things. Cards from loved ones. Laughter with friends. Fellowship with brethren. Date nights with my sweetheart. Snuggles with my boys. It’s the day to day things which get you through the year. Big stuff will always happen, and if you let them, they will overpower all the other things. The little things that fill in the gaps like sand between boulders. Problem is that we always seem to remember our year of boulders—and not the millions of grains of sand (ie. Little things).

This year, try to remember the sand.

Yes the boulders. The BIG events. The crisis times. The MOMENTS. Those will always happen. They will always dominate our thoughts and our memories. They will sometimes threaten to squash us. So reflect on the sandy things. The little bits that brought you joy. The kind words. The kind gifts. The smiles. The phone calls. The laughter. The nights with friends. The snuggles on the couch with your spouse or children. The dinner with family. The walks in the park. Fill your mind with the little things that get you through every day, and the boulders won’t be so overwhelming. In fact, you can BURY a boulder with sand.

One way that you can reflect on the sandy things throughout the year, is to make a “Blessings Jar” or a “Good times Jar” or a “Little Things Jar”.

What is it?

Take a quart jar. Wrap ribbon around it. Make it pretty. (or just leave it alone if it’s not your kind of thing. LOL). Make a label for it that says one of the above things.
you can click this and use this one like mine, if you want
Now, next to it, keep a small pad of paper. Or a small pad of sticky notes. Any small paper will do.
Whenever something good happens to you—NO MATTER WHAT IT IS—take a moment and write it down with the date. Then fold it and pop it into your jar. Do it all day long. Do it once a day. Have your family do it too. Keep doing it throughout the year. Then, at the end of the year, you can read about all the POSITIVE things that happened. Some might be big—maybe a new job, new car, new house, good grades, raise, etc—but most will be little. Maybe someone bought you a coffee. Or you received a card from a friend. Maybe you reconnected with someone you hadn’t seen in awhile. Maybe you successfully did 30 minutes of exercise. Or lost 1 (or 10!) pound. Maybe you had a great conversation with your kids. Or had a date night.

The point is to fill that jar with all the things we will likely forget as time moves on. It lets us see the year much differently.

But you know what? Open that jar also on days when things AREN’T going well. When the boulders are overwhelming you. Reach for the Little Things jar and remind yourself of the “sand” you are collecting. It might help that boulder get smaller—or buried.

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December 23, 2016

Be Safe, Be Kind, and Share Love

Hello my friends. Can you believe that it's already December 23rd? This year has just FLOWN by and there have been so many changes here, and I'm sure in your own life. This could be one of the busiest weekends your family may have this weekend--My family is attending a church wide family weekend hosted at the Great Wolf Lodge. We will be joining almost 1500 others as we enjoy time together with sports events, bible studies, seminars, and just a great time. 
I hope that you will remember at least three things no matter what your plans are this weekend:
1. Be Safe
Please. This weekend is absolutely NUTTY on the roads. Watch out for the crazies out there and be safe. People leave their brains at home when they are driving these days. 
2. Be Kind
Please be kind. What? Well, this weekend is so hectic for so many people, that simple kindness goes a long way. Let other cars merge. Let someone go in front of you in a line. Hold the door for the young and old. Pay it forward with buying a coffee for the next one in line. Offer to help a mom with her hands full. Just simply smile at a frazzled parent. Let's promote kindness in all that we do this weekend--and forever forward. The world needs A LOT of kindness right now.
3. Share LOVE
This goes hand in hand with kindness. Let's make sure everyone in your life knows without a DOUBT that you love them and care for them. It might be JUST what they need to hear about today.
Have fun my friends. And I will see you sometime Monday...

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December 16, 2016

Remember Now {Five Minute Friday}

Hello my friends! We are here on one of the last Fridays of the year. Did you know today is my birthday? Yes indeed. I was blessed to be able to have a day to run errands by myself, and when I came home I discovered my mom had my boys clean my house nearly spotless! What a birthday present! And then she fixed the dinner I used to request every year when I was younger. She hadn't been able to make it for years, so she was very excited about that. My family gave me a TON of love. And tomorrow night, I believe we are all going out for dinner and to see Rogue One. I love spending birthday's with family!

It is another Friday, and that means a new word for Five Minute Friday--this one is simply: Now.


What do you think of when you think of the word NOW? Does it have a sense of urgency? I mean when we are young we know that when our parents say "Come here NOW!" That means, get your butt in gear and move. Or when you are in a race, you might here--and "NOW!" and you rush to start. Now means to do immediately. It's an action word.

One of my most favorite scriptures uses the word "Now"...

Remember NOW your Creator, in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come..." Ecclesiastes 12:1

Why? Why the admonishment to remember NOW?
Well, if you think about it, our lives are fairly untroubled in our youth. So if we build a relationship with our God when we are free from a lot of the world's troubles, it will fill our tank. Fill our tank for us to pull on later when we are older and the "difficult days come..."

I love to look on all HE has created and ponder all the time and care involved. I like to think on how much He cared to make the Earth perfect--and how much more He cares about man. These moments of peace definitely help when trouble comes.

What are you doing to remember your Creator now?


I hope you and yours have a most wonderful weekend! On Sunday I will be working hard on a new venture for me that sort of just popped up out of nowhere. I look forward to sharing it with you, and giving you a run down of other things that are going on. Think of Sunday as being a catch up! And of course, we have the upcoming TEN FAVORITE REVIEW ITEMS from 2016. That will be fun to share with you!
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December 9, 2016

Finding Joy {Five Minute Friday}

Hello my friends! I am so sorry that I have missed the last couple weeks of Five Minute Friday! It's been so busy! I hope that you are staying sane in the craziness of this time of year. We are looking forward to peaceful completion of the year, and we hope to finish the year
The word JOY has a special meaning for me. As many of you are aware, my husband and I have had infertility issues for several years. When I experienced my second miscarriage (I've had four, including an ectopic), I was at a very low point. I was very bitter. I saw several unmarried young girls getting pregnant during that time, and went through the "why not me" stage. Then in the fall of 2012, I discovered I was pregnant after trying since January 2011. I was so happy and thankful. We went to Georgia to attend our annual week long Feast of Tabernacles--and on the evening before everything began, I started having a miscarriage. There I was away from home, celebrating one of my most favorite of God's feasts--more joyous and eager to celebrate thanks to our blessing that year--and then BAM. I have to start with a miscarriage. There was no joy. There was pain. There was sorrow. There was bitterness.

The next morning--for the sun always rises no matter what--I got up and I felt bitterness to my core. I was full of the "not fairs". So I decided I needed to have a long talk with God. I walked out onto the beach of Jekyll Island. As I climbed up onto the bridge that goes over the rocks to the beach, the golden sun hit the water and made it sparkle. The waves crashed on the shore. The sand stretched seemingly endless. And I felt so very small. The vastness of creation weighed down on me. But it was beautiful. Even in my bitterness, I was moved. So as I admired God's handiwork, I gave my heart to Him again. I asked that He remove the bitterness. That I needed to I didn't even know what to pray. 

So I simply asked Him: "Lord. I need You to help me find JOY every day." 
"Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” ~ Nehemiah 8:10
Would you also believe that a few hours later, when we attended church that day--the very first of my friends that I saw was a darling beautiful woman...and when I saw her moving towards me, I just cried...because her name--is Joy. God brought me Joy--I had asked, He had answered in a way beyond what I had even prayed for. And as it turned out, Joy found me every day that week. She put her arms around me and together we praised God for His mercy and love. 

God answers prayers. His joy is our strength. His joy is MY strength. 

I continue to seek the Lord's JOY every day. 
May you and yours have a most blessed weekend--and a most refreshing Sabbath day to those who keep it.

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December 5, 2016

My Top 10 Favorite Kitchen Tools {2016 Gift Guide Series}

Welcome back to another post in my 2016 Gift Guide series! Today I'm going to be sharing with you some of my absolute FAVORITE items for my kitchen. Some will be big, some will be small--but all have my stamp of approval! As you know, cooking is one of my hobbies, so I am in the kitchen all the time. I also have a thing for kitchen gadgets. Fortunately, I have found some great ones which have saved me a LOT of time in my kitchen prep--or I just love to use them. I hope that this list will help you, if you are figuring out what to get a friend or family member who loves to cook!
My Top 10 Favorite Kitchen Tools {2016 Gift Guide Series}
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Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

1. KitchenAid Stand Mixer

When my grandmother (maternal) died in 2004, I was offered her KitchenAid Stand Mixer. We took it home and I put it on my counter. And there it sat. Not getting used much. But I was working full time and just wasn't doing a lot of cooking. So we ended up passing it on. Flash forward to 2014 when my paternal grandma died, bequeathing me her stack of favorite cookbooks, the old family recipes and her...KitchenAid Stand Mixer. THIS time, I was ready for it. And let me tell you, I have given that baby a workout! I use it for everything from dough to batter to making creamy mashed potatoes. I LOVE that I can get it set up and just walk away. I also love that I have a pasta attachment and sausage attachment. No extra machines needed. This baby gets used at least 3-4 times a week and it has well earned it's place on my counter. I highly recommend one of these for any home where there is someone who cooks a LOT. 

People, let me tell you. BEST PURCHASE FOR 2016 in my kitchen. I have been so happy to have this baby. It does EVERYTHING and more. And all the issues I had with my other Oster run of the mill normal blender--gone. This baby can crush ice in record time. It can turn whole apples into a smoothie without any bits. Horseradish, ginger, garlic--whirled together and nothing left behind. Even frozen fruit--it doesn't bog it down nor stay chunky. Adding leafy and stem herbs? No worries. NO tangles around the blade. AND it has a 96 oz pitcher! Let's not forget the food processing attachment and the single serving smoothie travel cups. Oh man. I LOVE those! If I'm making a smoothie for me, I don't need the pitcher! Just put it in my cup, give it a whirl, put on a lid and go! Seriously. I can't say enough about this thing. Even my mom is trying to figure out how to justify replacing her "works perfectly fine" blender, in order to get one like mine. She has fallen in love with it. If your family is a smoothie family and your normal blender gets bogged down--or you have issues with frozen fruits not getting chopped--you need this. Unlike a "juicer" you can put the whole fruit or veggie in and get it completely chopped! Not wasting anything. Go for it. Even if you go for a smaller Ninja. It's worth it.

3. Kitchen Digital Scale

With our beef business, I needed a good scale so we could check on our various packaged meat weights. I also use it in cooking for weighted recipes, but not usually. One of the things I absolutely wanted, was a scale that went over 10lbs. Fortunately there are quite a few selections out there. One of my favorites is this 11lb Food Kitchen Scale with Removable Bowl. I love the sleek design, and that I wouldn't need a separate bowl. This Slim Stainless Multifunction Scale also goes to 11lbs, but is flat for the more bulky objects. It's more like the one I have (that I can't find anymore). Either of these is a good option for someone who needs to know weights in their business or cooking. I also like to use it to figure out shipping costs when I'm sending something. 

Oh man. I use this ALL the time. For cooking and for tea. I love having it ready where I can get boiling water in a matter of a couple minutes. I keep it full. Another item I probably use every week several times. And it doesn't take up room on top of my stove. If you have a tea lover, you definitely need to snag this for them, if they don't have it yet. There are several different versions. I have one similar to this one on the left. There is also a 1.7 litre one that is by the same company, but with a more rounded design.

5. Bread Machine

One of the best things we bought for our home when we were first married was a bread machine. Man, we used the tar out of it. I STILL love them. The only reason we don't still have one, is that our last one broke, and I needed a new place for my Kitchen Aid Standing Mixer! But if I had enough counter space, I would TOTALLY have another one. I really like the 2 lb bread machine because it makes the perfect sized loaves. I really love this Hamilton Beach Programmable Bread Machine. It even has settings for gluten-free if you need this setting. Another one that is popular (#1 actually) is the Oster 2-pound Expressbake Bread Machine. I had one almost identical to this one--I believe it makes a loaf in just 1 1/2 hrs. Did you know most bread machine's also make cheesecake?! 

6. Coffee Grinder

Okay--I know many of you are going "no. I don't do coffee beans." Right? Me neither! But this has still becoming a major tool in my kitchen. Doing what? Spices! I LOVE to have fresh peppercorns and other whole spices at my disposal, and this little baby grinds them up quick as a wink! It is small--about the size of a small 16oz pop bottle--so it's easy to store. It's really fast with a stainless steel blade and inner bowl. Now I also use it for coffee beans, and I can do a normal size bag of beans into ground in about 5 minutes. My sons love using it for me. LOL

7. Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven

This is at the TOP of my list right now. Seriously it is. This is the ONE pan that I don't have yet, that is the top of my wants. The main reason I love it, is for the porcelain enamel. This makes it work fabulously on the top of my flat top stove without me worrying about scratches. Another reason I love it--cast iron handles and a metal top handle. This makes it oven safe. And what is the best thing about it? I can use it for double cooking--starting things on my stovetop and then shifting it to the oven. I have several recipes I would LOVE to do this for, but without this tool, I am out of luck. I'm holding out hope for it as a birthday gift in a couple weeks! LOL. And this comes in a TON of colors. I'm partial to the Caribbean Blue, and the Spice Red.

8. Fruit and Vegetable Chopper

I don't mind shopping vegetables. But when I have to do a TON of vegetables, it gets rather tedious. And when faced with a garbage bag full of green/red peppers, it becomes groan worthy. FORTUNATELY, we had recently purchased the Fruit and Vegetable Chopper from Progressive. We were leery about the fact that it's predominately plastic, but let me tell you. After chopping that GARBAGE BAG--yes I do mean that in every sense of the word--of peppers, we were convinced! What used to take about 2 hrs, took an hour tops. One of us sliced the peppers open and the other chopped. Bam. perfect size. a container to catch them. We filled our freezer bags quick as a wink. I also use this chopper for mashed potatoes. It keeps them uniform and small for boiling. Hard boiled eggs or strawberries? Yes there is a soft food slicer blade as well! It also comes with a piece for cleaning the chopper lid. I am very pleased with my chopper--BUT if you are wanting a smaller version, I have always enjoyed using the smaller chopper for chopping/mincing/dicing.

9. Stainless Steel Cookware Set

About 6 years ago, my husband splurged and bought me a brand new stainless cookware set for our anniversary. We had decided to throw out the non-stick (toxic!) and bring in a new style of pans. Although they were a challenge to get use to at first, we now ADORE them and exclusively use them (other than my lone cast iron skillet). This set is very similar to the set I own--but has even more pieces!! I have never been sorry that we switched, and encourage you to bite the bullet and do it too!

10. The Pioneer Woman Kitchen/Dining Collection

If you want to lose me in a store (like Walmart), take me to the kitchen section and let it have items from The Pioneer Woman collection. My absolute favorite is the Pioneer Woman Flea Market collection! I already own several pieces from the collection including a tablecloth, measuring cups, measuring spoons, and the adorable stainless steel measuring spoons. My goal is to get a few of the baking dish pieces too. And the towels/washcloths. The beautiful trivet collection. And anything else that jumps into my cart. LOL. I use recipes from The Pioneer Woman cookbook all the time. Her sausage gravy and her meatballs are family favorites! I totally recommend any of the Pioneer Woman line of kitchen and dining products!

Now there are far more than 10 things that I think are awesome for a kitchen, but THESE ten are items that I personally love and think any cook would love to receive as a gift! I hope that I've given you some new ideas to explore as your going about your gift buying over the upcoming month and throughout the year to come.
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November 30, 2016

Fresh from the Bookshelf: Unblemished by Sara Ella {Book Review}

I was very excited to receive a gift package of SIX new books from The Fiction Guild (a review division of Thomas Nelson Publishing), in honor of their anniversary a couple weeks ago. There was a mix of genre and many were new-to-me authors. While I don't have to review all of them, I knew there were several I wanted to read. But where do I start? Every book lovers dilemna! LOL. I decided to start with debut author Sara Ella and her young adult fantasy book Unblemished. I really enjoy young adult fantasy, so I decided to give it a go!
Unblemished by Sara Ella ~ A Book Review

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Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

About the Book

Unblemished is the debut novel for author Sara Ella. Unblemished brings us to the world of seven Reflections--parallel worlds, in which Earth as we know it is the 3rd Reflection. Our lead character Eliyana (aka El) lives in 3rd refection in the city of New York. She loves her city where she lives with her mom Elizabeth and her best friend (and yes her crush) Joshua. But it's not perfect in her world, and she knows this with every person she meets--for she was born with a birthmark on her face. An unusual red vine-like collection of flourishes that cover the right side of her face. Having been subjugated to all sorts of teasing, disdain, and avoidance by most of society Joshua and her mother are the only ones who treats her as if it's not there. 

A few weeks before she turns 18, her life turns upside down when her mother is killed in a fire. Suddenly she's thrust into a world without one of the only two people who have loved her. But then, after the funeral, everything she knows as normal explodes, when it's revealed that there is a boy with the power to render his victim immovable, arrows soaring through central park, a man appearing and disappearing, and her best friend Joshua revealing he's her Guardian from another Reflection. Thrust immediately into scenarios clearly unworldly, El must accept that everything she's ever held to be true, may be a lie---including her mother's death and her family history. Now she will do anything to find her mother and be reunited--including being taken to another Reflection where everyone is out to get her--because it turns out her birthmark is not just a birthmark, it's a sign that she's someone they have been waiting on for a very long time, and has the power to bring either light or darkness to the world, depending on who has her in their control.

My Thoughts

I don't know what I was expecting with this novel, but it blew me away! Once the story started going, I couldn't put it down. It was just the type of fantasy I enjoy with twists and turns every step of the way, and the kind of plot where just when you are sure you have it figured out--you get slammed with something else. 

There was SOOOO much in this book. I had to re-read chapters now and then because little pieces were strewn and I needed to make sure I didn't miss anything! The lead character Eliyana is very well done and really grew and changed throughout the book. I enjoyed having pieces of her past woven throughout the story. I am not always good with first person narratives, but this one was very well done and I think it might have lacked something if it had been done any other way. 

This book had pieces of other fantasy books I have enjoyed--like the 13th Reality series by James Dashner with its parallel worlds, the Animorphs series where humans can morph into other creatures, and Twilight in that people had a special gift (aka superpower). But I don't think I ever felt like "Oh I've read this before." It was like taking the best of everything I loved and putting it into this book.

The ending makes you think--and throws a MAJOR twist you don't see coming--or at least I didn't, and actually explains the Prelude in the book (which I JUST figured out). I was left just wanting to pick up the next book and start reading!

I think Hollywood could have a FABULOUS time with this book--it has everything they love. Love triangles, "super powers", secrets, good vs evil, battles, and personal sacrifice. 

I also want to add, that while I initially expected some sort of Christian fiction tie-in (there wasn't any mention of God or the gospel--beyond obvious dark v. light, good v. evil and a few deeper messages hiding--kind of like JR Tolkien and CS Lewis do), the book is a CLEAN fantasy. There are just a couple quick kiss scenes. And the battles aren't gory. I think this makes it a great choice for those who want to provide a "safe" fantasy series for their children.

I know it's shocking, but I have given Unblemished one of my rare 5 star ratings. It was everything I could have asked for in a Fantasy novel and more--great plot, twists and turns everywhere, no slow parts, constant having to piece things together, a lead character with faults--and it left me wanting MORE! I cannot wait to get the next book in the series Unraveling which will be released July 2017. I have heard from the author, that this is a trilogy, which means nothing will be completely resolved in book 2 either! LOL

Unblemished (Book 1 of Unblemished Series)
by Sara Ella

It's going to be so hard to wait until July 2017 for the next book! But Unblemished is actually a book I would read again, so I could pick up things I missed the first go around--the true sign of a 5 star book! I hope you will add this book to your TO READ list if you like fantasy, it doesn't matter that it's YA genre at all.

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November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Blessings

Be safe my friends. There are a lot of crazies on the road out there. Enjoy this Thanksgiving! I know that we will be enjoying our first one with my parents moved out here. It's been a couple years since we had a Thanksgiving all together. I know that we have so much to be grateful for--especially considering what happened a couple weeks ago. Life is precious and I am blessed to be able to enjoy it surround by family and friends--may the same be for you!
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November 23, 2016

Homeschooling (and other) Black Friday Sales News!

It's hard to believe, but we are on the cusp of Thanksgiving again. One of the fun parts of Thanksgiving, is starting to find out what kind of sales are going to be happening the next day, including the incredible Cyber Friday/Cyber Monday deals that you can find for many of your favorite homeschooling companies! I have been trying to keep my ear to the ground, and have found two THREE major sales that I wanted you to know about!
The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

Cyber Weekend Membership Sale
As I shared earlier this year, is a product that I didn't know I needed. I was blown away at how useful it was for my homeschool routine. And it was so easy to navigate and find things. I am happy to say that the Cyber Friday sale this year is a great offer--$25 off the LIFETIME membership.

Do you know what Lifetime means? It means one price--with forever access. To all the creations. Past. Present. Future! Access to everything that has been created and will be created! You don't get opportunities like that very often--so make sure you take advantage of it! I was leery about whether or not this product was right for me, but I'm so glad that I took a chance and explored it! Now I use it almost every week!

If you aren't sure if a membership is right for you, make sure you at least get signed up to get the 600+ page sampler!

Free Notebooking Pages Product Sampler from

#2 w/Dove Channel Subscription!

Educational giant and entertainment giant Dove Channel have teamed up to offer one full year of both services for one low price. From November 23-30, readers can purchase a full year of BOTH programs for just $99, a savings of $100. This gives them access to all 300+ courses on and thousands of hours of entertainment and educational content from Dove Channel.If you are already a member of Dove Channel, can be added for a special discounted price, and if you are already a member of, Dove Channel can be added for a discount. All the details can be found on this page:

I am currently using both of these homeschooling resources and am finding them incredibly helpful for supplementing what we are already doing. They fill in a lot of gaps, and help us out whenever we go on "rabbit trails". I hope that you will be able to snag them for your own family--or give them as a gift to someone you know!

#3 Educents
Educents is having a great deal for Black Friday! They are offering 15% off any order under $250 with the code GIVEJOY. And if you really want to save, you get 25% off any order of $250 or more! Not mention FREE SHIPPING on all orders AND you can earn 5% back on all your orders too! Whew! Talk about a great deal! I highly recommend you using this deal to get the LIFE OF FRED series if you haven't already! Educents already has some of the best prices on those books!

And did you know that you can get $10 off you first order just for signing up? Who wouldn't want an extra $10 to spend--I sure love "free" money! Make sure you sign up to claim your $10 and then enjoy checking out what Educents has to offer--there is WAY more than homeschool related products! Plenty of items for the home, school, or for gifts!

Oh and you don't have to wait until Friday to save...there are TWO PRE-Black Friday sales going on right now that you can take advantage of!
Either way you choose, you get to save money! Start saving at Educents today!

Make sure you follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you don't miss any of the last minute Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals that I will find! They will always get posted there first!

Happy Shopping!

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November 16, 2016

Fresh From the Bookshelf: Shadow of the Storm by Connilyn Cossette {Book Review}

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of being on the review team for rookie author Connilyn Cossette's first book Counted With the Stars. It was part one of a three part series, and after really enjoying the first book, I eagerly awaited the second book Shadow of the Storm. I hoped that this sequel would be just as good, or maybe even better than the first book--and I was eager to continue the Out From Egypt series with Shira's story.

The links on this blog and in the posts may be affiliate links
Please see my disclosure policy for full details and thank you for your support!

About Shadow of the Storm

Shadow of the Storm picks up just a short period of time after Counted With the Stars ends. In Counted With the Stars, we saw the Ancient Israelites being delivered from slavery in Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, and arriving at Mount Sinai. Shadow of the Storm begins in the heat of trouble--with the Israelites in the middle of their infamous golden calf orgy while Moses is up on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments. This story follows the beloved character Shira from book one as she navigates the world of midwifery as an apprentice to the lead midwife Reva. After a delivery goes horribly wrong, Shira finds herself in a situation that seems impossible and bound to a man who betrayed her trust. While dealing with contention between the Hebrew tribes, as well as foreigners fanning flames of rebellion, Shira also deals with long-hidden pain and secrets from her past.

My Thoughts on the Book

You can imagine how happy i was to know that my favorite character from book one was the lead female in this second book. I just really connected with Shira and enjoyed seeing her story flushed out. It was interesting to piece together all the things that happened to make her who she was. I also liked watching her find her feet and gain confidence in what she was able to do--her place within the people. She dealt with many ups and downs, and was so focused on her personal baggage shaping her, she forgot what it meant to be "set free" by God. Her painful backstory of abuse is real to many women today unfortunately--and the quote said by Reva to Shira about how she talks to herself regarding her self-worth is something all could take to heart:

"You are telling yourself lies and believing them. Instead of putting the oil of truth on those scars, you are allowing them to grow thicker. If you do not stretch those scars, tug at them, force movement into them, then they will continue to have a hold over you."

This book also shares a dual story with a Hittite woman named Dvorah who plays an entrical part in the overall story. I enjoyed having her character woven through, though there were times I wanted to shake her.

It was interesting to take on the view of an Israelite going through the events after Mount Sinai. To think about what it would have been like for a Levite to be chosen as the "special" tribe. To see the anger of God taken out on the people over events like the golden calf and the rebellion. It was an intriguing perspective, and I think the author did it convincingly.

I enjoyed seeing Kiya and Eben from the first book playing a substantial role in this book and hope we won't see the last of them. The next book in the series is set to pick up about 40 years later, and the author promises we will see a few of these other characters popping up.

I actually think I enjoyed Kiya's story a smidgen more than this one-mostly because the first book touched me in ways this one just didn't quite do. Shadow of the Storm was still a wonderful story and I enjoyed every part of it. But I didn't get moved emotionally like the previous book. As a side bonus, I will add that the covers of these first two books are just gorgeous! Loving the style!

Shadow of the Storm (Out of Egypt)
by Connilyn Cossette
Available in Paperback and Kindle

Make sure you remember to keep your eyes open for book three in this series, Wings of the Wind which will be coming in May 2017!

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November 11, 2016

What We Have In Common {Five Minute Friday}

Ah. Another week almost done. A crazy week if you ask me. People losing their minds. People acting like toddlers when they don't get their way. Us vs. them. Red vs. Blue. Him vs. Her. Aren't you so over it? I know I am. As we shift into a new presidency, the emphasis needs to be on unity. But in order to do that, we must shift our thinking. And that leads me to this week's Five Minute Friday prompt.

When you think of the word common, you should think about the things that are similar. If we have a common background, it means we share similarities--maybe the family structure, schooling, environment. It brings us together as we celebrate things we have the same.

Have you ever stopped to think that the main mantra for our society is--

November 8, 2016

Sentence Diagramming from The Critical Thinking Co.™ {Product Review}

The Critical Thinking Co.™ continues to produce exceptional resources for the education community in subjects like Language Arts, Math/Science, and Logical Thinking. I’ve been able to review products from the company before, and my experience made me eager to have another chance for their product. I was fortunate to be able to have a chance to review Sentence Diagramming: Beginning with my son over these last few weeks.

About Sentence Diagramming and The Critical Thinking Co.™

Sentence Diagramming: Beginning from The Critical Thinking Co.™ is a 72-page workbook designed to teach students how to diagram sentences in order to be able to see how the structure of English grammar works. The diagramming provides a visual and logical method to learn grammar. Beginning with simple subject-verb sentences, the lessons continue to get more complicated as they diagram with complex sentences and dependent clauses. The book is a consumable workbook with 12 lessons and a review. Each lesson is four-pages long and encourages the student to identify errors in pre-written sentences based on their lessons, to diagram sentences correctly, and to create their own sentences to match their diagramming. Everything geared towards encouraging them to critical thinking in regards to the grammar structure.

Sentence Diagramming: Beginning is geared towards grades 3-12+ and retails for $12.99. The Sentence Diagramming products are available in print or eBook form. There is also a Level 1 and a Level 2 available. 

Our Thoughts About the Product

I was eager to get started on this workbook. I have always found The Critical Thinking Co.™ books to be very well done and to promote logic within whatever subject they were geared towards. Sentence Diagramming is something that I have always enjoyed doing, and my oldest son had done it for awhile back in the 2nd grade. I find that he struggles with matching up parts of a sentence in his grammar lessons, so I hoped going back to diagramming would help him with this issue. 

Initially, he did groan about doing this. But, once we got into it, he remembered that it's actually quite easy--especially with how much he knows about grammar now as a 5th grader. We discovered we could do 1-3 lessons a week depending on how our schedule went. We even took it with us to Florida for our trip, and he knocked out a few lessons there. I think his favorite part of the lesson is the section where he gets to create sentences to match the diagramming lines. I sometimes have to guide him through it, but he's been doing great on them for the most part, and really enjoys creating silly sentences.
Given the lines and they have to create a sentence to match.

The mini-lesson to explain how the diagramming is done for the new grammar portion

Answer keys in the back for the exercises
This actually works really really well for us. I had forgotten how well he does with it. I am strongly considering investing in the Level 1 and Level 2 books--but I am not 100% sure yet. They definitely have helped him visualize how the sentences all work together--and I think that when we are done, his "normal" grammar lessons will become easier for him to do.

This book works for us, because the lessons are short--taking up maybe just 15 minutes tops of our time. They provide great exercises--from finding errors, to diagramming sentences out, to having to apply the knowledge to create your own sentence following the structure provided. This way of making sure they can demonstrate their understanding of their lessons, though this kind of application is ideal!

I really don't have any cons to this product, because everything is self explanatory, even for someone who has never diagrammed a sentence before in their life! I highly recommend it for anyone who has a student struggling a little bit in grammar, or writing. The visual mapping of the sentences provides an additional help for the visual learner too--something you don't always get in grammar studies. 

We will absolutely be finishing this workbook, and like I said, I may decide to snag the next two in the series as well.

Want To Know More?

We have been reviewing the Sentence Diagramming: Beginning workbook from The Critical Thinking Co.™ over the last couple weeks. Several of the other crew members have been reviewing it too, as well as other products from The Critical Thinking Co.™, like software from their Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic Before Kindergarten!™ program (the Fun-Time Phonics!™ Software - 2-PCs Win Download, or the Vowel Sounds Song and Game™ Software - 2-PCs Win Download)! Make sure you go read their reviews as well!
Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}
You can always stay up with the latest in products and sales by following The Critical Thinking Co.™ on social media via Facebook, Google +, and Pinterest!  

I have reviewed other products by The Critical Thinking Co.™ like their The Basics of Critical Thinking book, and their Alphabet Song Game Software Program--so if you are curious in knowing more about what this company offers, make sure you check these out too!
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