I Have Been Blessed

All about how God has blessed me. In my marriage, with my six children, through homeschooling, and our faith with recipes, large family living, and updates on our life.

Journeys of Faithfulness


Apologia has given us the opportunity to review Sarah Clarkson’s book, Journeys in Faithfulness: Stories of Life and Faith for Young Christian Women. Although this book is targeted for girls ages 12 and up, I opted to do this review to read this book for myself. I love women’s studies, and am blessed to be given the opportunity to present a monthly women’s devotional at our church’s Ladies Meeting and am always looking for ideas or ‘kickstarts’ to a devotional, especially studying women of the Bible.


This 232 page paper back book offers historical fictional accounts of Mary and Martha; Mary, Mother of Jesus; Esther; and Ruth.  Through this text, the author challenges young women to deepen their relationship with God. Each section includes three biblical stories of these women, fictionized with added details, thoughts, and insights the author believes the women would have felt or done. Devotional sections with the author speaking straight to the young women, encouraging them in their  walk with God, and  Bible Study sections to get them in their Bibles and digging deeper , and includes a  journaling spot following each section. This book would be best used as a devotional between mother and daughter(s).


I am sometimes wary about books that fictionize Biblical stories, but I truly felt these were well done, and accurately portrayed. The stories were sweet and touching. It is a great devotional, and I can easily see doing this with my own girls once they were a little older. I also felt like this book challenged me in areas and helped me to realign my own relationship with God.


This book sells for $13.00. See a Sample Chapter or Table of Contents. I felt blessed to have been able to read this book. I was offered this book free in exchange for my honest review as part of the TOS Crew. See what other people thought of this book by clicking the banner below.


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My children love to read. They love stories. They love to submerse themselves into an adventure and see what happens. I was thankful that Beloved Books allowed us the opportunity to review their audio collection of the Sugar Creek Gang Volume 1.

The Sugar Creek Gang Volume are wholesome Christian adventure stories about a group of boys that are read straight from the text (good for following along if you also have the actual story) and dramatized (“with voices”, as my eleven year old told me.) My oldest son loved listening to these CD’s and devoured them. The story is “fun to listen to” and “very entertaining”. They were very “Christian-y”, which means that not only is there a gospel message written expertly into each book in a simple, easy-to-understand style, but the whole series is a discipleship journey. The books also add in education through nature studies, poetry, hymns and science.

Volume 1 of the Sugar Creek Gang CDs includes 12 CDs with the following stories: The Swamp Robber, The Killer Bear, The Winter Rescue, The Lost Campers, Chicago Adventure, and The Secret Hideout. Each story is about 2 hours long. They are currently available for purchase for $54.95 with free media rate shipping.

In The Swamp Robber, the Sugar Creek Gang discovers a disguise hidden in an old tree that might belong to the robber that is hiding in the swamp … but then find a map hidden near the tree. The boys also end up encountering the robber,helping Bill Collins (the narrator) welcome a baby sister, and save someone from a black widow spider bite. A good lesson in “sowing and reaping”.

In The Killer Bear, the boys learn a lesson on forgiveness. In this story decisions are made at revival, and while at the strawberry patch the boys encounter an angry black bear.

In The Winter Rescue, Little Jim’s pet baby bear goes missing. The search for the bear takes the boys to a cabin in the woods where they learn all about the power of prayer.

In The Lost Campers, the boys realize what it means to be saved – both physically and spiritually. On their camping trip they find a train car without any tracks, and an “honest to goodness” Indian, resplendent with war feathers and beads.

In The Chicago Adventure, the boy’s trip to Chicago is an adventure that starts with an airplane ride over a storm and includes a visit to a museum, an elevated train ride, and a chance to perform on the radio at the Moody Bible Institute. In this story the boys learn that Jesus is the only way to heaven.

In The Secret Hideout, the boys learn and understand the parable of the lost sheep, while spending the night in a cave that has a hidden passage near the cemetery.

I felt blessed to have been able to review these audio books, and with how much Brendyn loves them, I may move them into the car as our new something-to-listen-to. We did receive this product free in exchange for this review. We have been blessed.

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Children in Church

For a long time, God has been using a myriad of examples to prove to me over and over that my children and my family are the Ministry God has called me to.  Because of that, I found that over the past year it has really started to bother me that we get to church and my family separates into different places, only coming together again when church is over. It’s something Austin and I have talked about a lot. So, like how most things happen, I was thrilled to see Great Waters Press, (who published Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young), offer up the opportunity to review a book called, Children in Church: Nurturing the Hearts of Worship, by Curt and Sandra Lovelace. This book is available for pre-order for $12 (with Free Shipping), by clicking here.


I received this 160 page book and sat and read it in one setting. And since then I have been back to it several times. My husband and I have talked about it. There are nine chapters: Beginnings, Elements, Decisions, Pointers, Preparations, Supplies, Hints, Conflicts, Observations and then a section called: Note to Church Leaders.


The beginning of the book lays out the foundation of why they believe that children worshipping together with their parents is biblical and the model that the early churches followed. There are several scripture references given, both Old and New Testament. Throughout the book they offer examples, pointers, tips all in the way of making it easier to teach your children how to sit in church respectfully and appropriately so that your family can be together. It is my personal belief (and I am sorry to be controversial for a second, here) but I do believe that Sunday School and Junior Churches and Teen Programs and other such programs were not created for Churched kids. It is my belief that they were created to bring the unchurched kids in and give them a safe environment for them to learn and grow. I think there is HUGE value to Children’s programs, especially in conjunction with a Bus or Van ministry. And I have been a proponent for a church nursery so that I could focus on a service and not feel like a juggler, trying to juggle keeping preschoolers quiet, toddlers still, and a baby quiet – all while trying to hold my Bible, or the hymnbook, listen to the preacher, and pray we’re not disturbing all the people within a ten foot radius. But, as I grow and learn, I desire for my family to be together. I desire for us to worship corporally, instead of individually. I desire to work through this book, using their examples and train my children to sit in church and enjoy the service with me.


This book has been a Godsend to me. It truly gives a Biblical basis for bringing our children into the worship services and offers practical help to make it not only survivable, but gives us ways to teach our children to engage in the service and worship the Lord. I feel blessed to have been able to review this book, and I hope that as time progresses, you will see our family, making more effort to worship together!


We received this book for free in exchange for a review. We have been blessed.



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Uncover Exciting History

My darling eleven year old son would like a Kindle for Christmas. And I am as-of-yet undecided about it. What I love about it is that there are SO MANY educational applications and books available!  Recently, I have been able to review such an e-book on my personal Kindle. Golden Prarie Press has allowed us the chance to review Uncover Exciting History, by Amy Puetz.

This book has 25 Chapters, with four Bonus Chapters, with each chapter offering short  stories (about 5-6 pages each) about Christian Heritage topics such as Christopher Columbus, The Story of the Constitution, The Mexican War, The Oregon Trail, The Pony Express, The Navajo Code Talkers, Marco Polo (and so many more). After each story is a Digging Deeper Section that offers questions, and activities to further investigate into the topics.

Cautiously, I allowed Brendyn to borrow my Kindle and read this book, as he has a genuine love and interest for ANYTHING History-related.

I am going to interject quickly to say, my son likes History, and I as a general rule do not …. Unfortunate, I know…. However, this only presents a problem when upon instances like this, where my son finds it necessary to tell me all the “exciting” facts he learns while reading “fascinating” history. For instance, Chapter Eight, “Crossing the Delaware” here is the conversation.

“Mom, you know the Battle of Trenton?”

Me: “No”

“You know, during the Revolutionary War?”

Me: Um, yeah, okay.

“George Washington didn’t lose any men and the other guys lost 21 guys, 90 were wounded, and 900 were taken captive. Can you believe that?”

Me: Yeah, wow!

He enjoyed the book, and the stories were short enough that I could “lend” him my Kindle for short periods of time to allow him to read the stories. This book sells for $11.96 as an E-book, available in Kindle, Nook, or PDF format. Or as an illustrated print book for $15.96.

We did receive this free in exchange for this review. We are so blessed.


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I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

So far everything we have reviewed or bought from Apologia, we have loved. I was very interested in this book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, – their first Apologetics Curriculum for High School Students, even though I have no high school students. (Well, at least, no high school students, yet.) The title of this book drew me in and the idea that it defends the Christian faith, and prepares you to “always have an answer”, is a topic that I felt I could use a little studying on. I would dare say my faith in God is stronger than it has ever been, but my ability to portray that to others with boldness and effectiveness is something I need work on. I also feel like I know of several people (right off the top of my head) who could (and I pray, would) benefit from reading this book. 

The book, coupled with Apologia’s Workbook, provides a whole course of study that tackles the question of absolute truth. And although I am a fast reader, I am not nearly completed with this. This study is recommended for grades 9-12 (or an adult who feels like they might also benefit). The book sells for $16. The Table of Contents offers Chapter Titles such as: Can we Handle the Truth, Why Should Anyone Believe Anything at All, Do We Have Testimony of Jesus, Who Is Jesus, If God – Why Evil, and MUCH more. This book is over 400 pages long and I actually look forward to studying all the way through it. The understanding I am getting and the way this forces me to really examine what I believe is at oftentimes, convicting.

The companion Workbook, which sells for $33, helps the student to understand what they are reading and remember critical points. The Workbook also presents supplemental material, study questions, and activities designed to encourage personal reflection and discussion.The answer key is downloadable on Apologia’s website.The book is great, but the Workbook draws even more out of it, and out of me, as I study it. It causes me to slow down and really focus and pay attention. It makes me seriously think!

My intention is to not only complete this on my own, but to also set it aside for when Brendyn can do this study as well. I think it will be a meaningful addition into our Curriculum, and into our Faith System that we can always stand ready to give an answer for the Faith which is in us. (I Peter 3:15) We did receive these two books free in exchange for an honest review. We Have Been Blessed!

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Who Am I and What Am I Doing Here?

Just the Title of this book from Apologia seems deep. Back when I was looking at changing curriculum, Apologia was definitely one of the sites I looked at, as their well-known in the homeschooling circles, primarily for their Science Curriculum. This book, Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here? is Book Two in their Bible Curriculum. Although the Books do Build on each other, this book has no problem standing on its own. For our review, we were generously sent the Book ($39), the Notebooking Journal ($24), the MP3 audio recording of the Book CD ($19), and the Coloring Book ($9).

My first impression was that these are really high quality books. the textbook is hardcovered and sturdy, sure to withstand the roughness of my boys reading them with full color pages. There are eight sections … What are We doing here, What will you make Today, What’s On Your Mind, Can you Trust Your Feelings, Will you Choose Wisely, How will You Run the Race, What Kind of Fruit are you Growing, Who do you Think You Are … The book’s main purpose is to create a Healthy Self Image based on Biblical Truths. The book mainly uses the NIV translation, but recommends using the translation of your family’s choice as well.

The Notebooking Journal is Spiral Bound with a sturdy spiral (important for my boys!!) and is consumable. The pages are full color and give prompts for the child to write what he learned or got out of the lesson. There are open ended questions for them to answer, worksheets, vocabulary, activities to do, corresponding books, songs that go along with each unit, and more. I have heard a lot about “Notebooking” and seeing this well put together example was useful for me as a parent-teacher, but also a valuable asset for the student going through the book.

The Coloring Book helps younger learners connect the lessons visually, and give them something to do with cute coloring pages, and the audio recording would be great for readers who couldn’t quite read yet, or as a switch up to an older kid having to read. The recordings are in MP3 format.

I was really impressed with this Bible Curriculum, honestly one of the best I have seen. We will be going through this whole study and I would definitely order other volumes! We did receive these items at no cost to provide an honest review. Other homeschoolers reviewed this and you can find their reviews as well here.

We are truly blessed!

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Vintage Remedies

We were able to review a book called Vintage Remedies for Kids. This is a workbook, for kids aged 2-6, to introduce them to natural living and healthy lifestyles. There are three sections in the book – Food and Drink, Health and Wellness, and Healthy Lifestyles. Each section is broken up into a few chapters, and each chapter is broken into parts – Parents Section (background information to inform and educate Mom so she can sound like she knows what she is talking about!!), Read to Me (a Section to read to your children), Additional Comments, Thinking it Over (a few questions to ask for comprehension, Leading By Example (changes Mom can make so that the kids see what they are learning in real life – i.e. eating more fruit, eat more real food, tell children why one food might be healthier than another when making dinner), Featured Project (for example a recipe to encourage what they have learned), Additional Projects (for further learning and encouragement).

There was a lot of information in the book that was very common-sense to me as the parent, but not necessarily something I would think to make a point of with the kids (the why’s of things – why we need to eat our vegetables, wash our hands, take our medicine … why it’s healthier to grow our own food than buy it, etc.). There was also things I didn’t know (what plants and herbs are good for what). Vintage Remedies for Kids would make either a great Unit Study, or a good Health and Nutrition component to Homeschooling. This book retails for $25 and I know at least my kids love projects that mean they get to help out in the kitchen!

I did receive this book for free to offer an honest review on it, which I feel I have done with this blog post. Other homeschoolers also reviewed this book, and you can see their review and mine here.

We are so Blessed!


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Artistic Pursuits

Most of our Art Education up until now has been comprised of drawing and art projects of the cut and glue or water-color variety. So we were excited to receive a book that offered an actual Art Curriculum. For our review we received Book 1 for K-3rd grade from Artistic Pursuits. This book has 32 lessons (10 that cover artist activities such as imagining and observing. 7 lessons cover artistic elements such as 2-D and 3-D, shape, form, and color. 15 lessons cover ancient art from Cave Paintings to 13th Century art.) Each lesson has an art project for the children to complete.

It is a very well put together curriculum. We were able to look at paintings that I have never seen before and analyze them. The children love art, so this book is going to be very good for us. So far we have looked at the first couple of lessons, with more scheduled into the curriculum.

This book retails for $42.95 and is non-consumable. Art supplies are required to complete the projects. You can buy them as you go (using coupons at Michaels and JoAnns) or you can purchase an Art Supply Pack that has everything you need right from Artistic Pursuits.

We received this book free to provide an honest review, which I believe has been accomplished by this post. Other Homeschoolers received this product as well and you can see their review as well as mine here.

We are so blessed.

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Fire Safety and George Washington Carver

This was kind of an exciting review for us, for a couple of reasons. Number One the kids are really into firetrucks, fireman, etc. (Especially the boys), Number Two, the company, Marshall Publishing, sent me an unexpected bonus of the George Washington Carver DVD, and Number Three, it was very timely for what we were already learning in school.

Lots and Lots of Fire Safety Songs DVD and Fire Truck Book Combo – it sounds like little boys would like it doesn’t it!!! The DVD had two sections – the first section a short twelve-minute program to teach all the fundamentals about Fire Safety, and the Second, a section filled with songs and scenarios for fun learning! The book is very nice, with glossy pages and full color pictures on every page. It is very informative, listing facts about Fire Fighting, Fire Prevention, Antique and Modern Fire Trucks, A Firefighting Timeline … it also has Fire Fighter Recipes, an old-time Alphabet, a list of Useful Websites, list of Fire House Museums, and all the lyrics from the songs. It’s a really packed book of information.  And timely, for us. We got this book about a week before we were going to be studying Community Helpers in our Unit Study.

The kids enjoyed the DVD, although (at least for my kids) it’s not one on regular rotation that they will want to watch over and over again. Brendyn thought he pretty much knew it all, but Tyler was fascinated by some of what he learned. It is a great resource and one I can see us using yearly when studying Community Helpers. Would correlate greatly with a trip to the Fire Station!!! The book and DVD Combo normally retail for $49.90, but by entering the coupon code TOSF1, This is discounted to $19.95. A great deal especially if you have kids really interested in Fire Trucks, or, like us, they are a part of your studies. The book is an excellent resource for older kids who may be doing a report, or who want more information.

Also, timely for us, Marshall Publishing, generously sent us a copy of their George Washington Carver – His Life and His Work DVD. This was perfect for us, because scheduled right after Community Helpers, our next Unit Study was on Inventions! Brendyn really enjoyed learning about him and watching this DVD. This 30 minute DVD was very informative, and by going to the website, there is also a Study Guide and Discussion Questions to go along with this DVD. This DVD sells for 19.95. By using the coupon code TOSC1, save 15% and pay only $16.95.

We are so blessed to have received both these products for free to provide an honest review which I feel I have done with this blog posting. Other people reviewed these products too. You can see their opinions as well as my own listed here.

Have a great day! We are so blessed!

Five Special Blessings to Me Today: Timely Products that fit right in, Community Service Workers who keep us safe and keep our Community Running Smoothly, Inventors, Willing Learners, DVDs


AIMS (3rd Grade Math)

Another book we were able to review was the AIMS Solve it! 3rd Grade, Problem Solving Strategies. This book starts off with the Chinese Proverb, “I Hear and I Forget, I See and I Remember, I Do and I Understand.” This is a book full of worksheets that expand on Nine different Problem Solving Strategies. Click here to see a preview of the Table of Contents, Introduction, What the Strategies are, and sample pages. This book also came with a CD (so that scanner and copier are not necessary – a major plus for me!) And the license includes up to 200 copies, which makes this book great for Homeschooling Families to use over and over again, but can also be used (and is marketed towards) school use. This book sells for $24.95 and definitely will be a useful asset in a Homeschooling Library.


Although at Face Value, this book looked to be too easy for Brendyn (5th Grade) he enjoyed doing some of the projects and it opened up a dialogue about how different problems can be approached different ways. I also liked that there were simpler pages that even Tyler could get into and complete even if he didn’t understand that he was doing higher order math!

Our family received this book for free to provide an honest review which we believe we have done. Other families reviewed this book and others by the AIMS Foundation and their reviews and mine, can be found here.

We have been Blessed!

Five Special Blessings: Kids who love math, Kids who love reading, Kids who love School time, Kids who love Singing, Kids who love Bible Time.


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