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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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 is My Neighbor

A few months ago, we got the opportunity to review for Apologia and I loved their Bible curriculum! Loved it! So, when I saw Volume 3 – Who is My Neighbor and Why Does He Need Me? I prayed to get the opportunity to review this one as well. I am picky. I probably shouldn’t put that out there for the entire world to see, but there it is. I am picky. Picky about the Bible curriculum my kids are using, learning from, etc.

In fact, I was talking recently (before receiving this review) about being *tired* of Bible Curriculums that focus on Bible stories. While I think they are important, at some point, we got to the point where my kids knew them. I particularly wanted a curriculum that taught my kids what to do with what  they had learned. How to apply it. How it looks in real life. And while I do my best to give them that as their parent, I longed for a curriculum where that was the focus. And then I received this book! (Or to be precise – the Book, the Notebooking Journal, and the Coloring Book!)

The book is recommended for ages 6-14 and costs $39. There are eight lessons in the book – Does Anyone Really Need Me, How Can I Make a Difference, Who is My Neighbor, Why did God make Families, What can I do for my Country, Why can’t we All just Get Along, Who is God’s Family, Why does the Church Need Me – that is some great stuff! This book helps them focus on being the “salt” and “light” in this world.

The front of the Notebooking Journal ($24) contains a Sample Lesson Plan, which when done three times a week, would take sixteen weeks. Or done every day, would take just a little over 9 weeks. It includes questions, vocabulary, word searches, mini books, Prayer pages, Praise Report Pages, Verse Memorization (and that’s all in the first twenty pages!) The coloring book ($8) is great for smaller children to reinforce what they have learned and as a nice keepsake.

We loved this curriculum! We did receive this free in exchange for an honest review.

We have been blessed!

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Too Young

I was four years old and two months when I understood that I was a sinner. When I understood that NOTHING I could do could pay the debt of my sin. That I was on my way to hell. I was not that old, but I understood the importance of believing on Jesus, and asking him into my heart, and asking Him to be my Saviour. November 11, 1984 is the day I sat on the bottom bunk of mine and my sister’s bunk bed and asked my Daddy to pray with me. When I asked him how to make Jesus my Saviour. It was a Sunday night. But, I grew up in church. We even lived on the church property for a very short time, and then moved across the street from the church. Daddy went to college there. Mom taught at the Christian school. Church was our life. Jesus was our friend.

In 26 years (Yes, I am thirty!), I have never once doubted my salvation. I’ve been under some great preachers. (Even heard Jack Hyles once). I have studied my Bible. I have been a Soul-Winner, Door-Knocker, Sunday School Teacher, Jr. Church Worker, Bus Worker, Nursery Worker, Ladies Lesson Giver, Teen Worker. I have taught my kids the Word of God. Two of my children have accepted the Lord as their Saviour. And I have never once doubted my Salvation.

After Austin and I were married, HE was convinced that four was TOO YOUNG. He doubted my salvation. He didn’t think I could truly be saved. I begged and pleaded with the Lord. “If Austin could in any way be right, If my salvation was in any way in jeopardy because of age, I begged God to show me, to convict me, to pull me.” And I never once doubted my Salvation.

Because it’s not age. It’s not knowing all the answers to catechism. It’s not being able to explain it to another living soul. It’s not saying a specific prayer. It’s not a feeling of being bad and wanting to be good. It is belief. Pure and simple. The Bible says, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine hear that God hath raised him from the dead, thou SHALT BE SAVED. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9, 10, 13 – emphasis mine), All we have to do is Believe and then Confess.

My little girl is starting to question. She is starting to feel the pull. She is starting to understand. And I pray with all that I have that when it clicks, she comes to her Mama or her Daddy to pray. It’s the most important decision she will ever make in her life and I am in her corner cheering her (silently) on!

I am so Blessed.

Five special blessings to me today: My Salvation, That Jesus Paid the Price, That Jesus freed me from the bondage of sin, That I am able to share the gospel, That you’re never Too Young



Austin and I have always had a heart for Missions. There was even a time where we opened ourselves up to God’s Will, asking Him if he was calling us to go. He wasn’t, but He was giving us a tender spot. A heart for all the lost who have never heard. We love missionaries. We respect missionaries. We have supported missionaries and mission work. We recognize the sacrifice. We understand the call. But it’s still scary. It’s scary for missionaries to take their families and go overseas or to other parts of the world. Even more scary when it’s our family! That is where we are at now. His sister and my sister are both actively working on getting out to the Mission Field.

It is such a strange pull, a strange tug of war emotionally for us as their family. Like I said, we love missions. We love mission work. We love missionaries. But in our human-ness, we fear for them. We worry. We pray. And pray. And pray.

My sister and husband (Elisabeth and Peter Putney) are beginning Full Time Deputation in July (one month after the birth of their first baby!) Read all about their Mission work to Colombia at  SeekandSaveColombia.com. They are planning on going around the states earning their support and plan to be on the Mission Field in Medellin, Colombia in 1-2 years.

Austin’s sister and her husband (Amy and Gabe Girdner), and their two-year old son, Liam, have already bought tickets to Burkina Faso, Africa for a six week survey trip and then possibly will be doing full time mission work there. Read all about their journey at our12stones.wordpress.com.

Please pray with us. Pray for their safety. Pray for God’s Will to be done. Pray for the lost souls. Pray that they are able to accomplish the Work God has sent them to do. But also, can I ask, pray for the family. Pray for the family that is going and pray for the family that is left at home. The family that will be worrying and waiting for the next phone call, or update, or word.

We have been blessed.


God’s Great Covenant Bible Course

Classical Academic Press allowed us to review their Bible Curriculum called God’s Great Covenant, New Testament 1: The Gospels. In this course, children follow the story of Jesus. There are 36 chapters, each intended to take approximately a week, that are divided into four units:

Jesus, the Son of Man, Has Come … To Live Among His People
Jesus, God’s Servant, Has Come … To Proclaim the Good News
Jesus, the Messiah, Has Come … To Teach About God’s Kingdom
Jesus, the Son of God, Has Come … To Conquer Sin and Death

This is a complete curriculum, which to me means that the text, worksheets, and quizzes are all included in the Student Book. Each chapter includes a Memory Page, which has the basic theme for the lesson, the Scripture, a Memory Verse, and then also includes a “Key Facts” chart and, my favorite, a “Prophecy Fulfilled” Section. There is also “Story Time” Sections which present the theme in a thorough easy-to-read way. I especially appreciated that in the “Story Time” sections, and throughout the book, the Bible References were given. There is also a Worksheet that correlates to each chapter that have Crosswords, Multiple Choice, Fill-in-the-Blank, etc. and a “Think about it” question to prompt the child into thinking how it applies to them. The Worksheets are very comprehensive. There are also quizzes for each chapter at the back of the book.

The Teacher’s Edition, which I also received, has the full student text included in it, as well as additional background information, more details and facts regarding what you are teaching, and complete answer keys for the worksheets and quizzes. Even as the teacher, I feel that this course provides a lot of new information that you often don’t get in the “Bible Story” type curriculums. I liked that maps and additional geographical information was given, as well as historical and cultural  information. An audio file is also available in which the stories are read aloud in a MP3 format.

The Student Book is available for $26.95. The Teachers’ Edition sells for $29.95 and the MP3 Audio Files are $9.95, or save 15% and buy all three in a bundle for $56.95.

 This curriculum is recommended for fourth grade and up, but even children a little younger could benefit from the stories and text and could do some of the worksheet material, and for a middle-schooler this would be easy to implement as an independent study. I think this is a very well researched and put together curriculum, with my only area of personal dislike, being that the scripture used was not from the  King James Version of the Bible. But again, that is a personal preference type thing, and as all the scripture is referenced, we are able to look up the verses easily. We really liked the Appendixes which included a list of how all the prophecies were fulfilled, a glossary, and a section on the Model Prayer. Seeing the quality of this curriculum has me excited to see what other products Classical Academic Press has to offer!

We did receive this curriculum for free in exchange for an honest review. Other homeschoolers reviewed this product as well and you can find my review and theirs here.

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Resurrection Rolls

I saw that a few home-schooling moms have been doing these with their children this week and my curiosity got the better of me. So, I looked up the recipe and we made these this morning! And spoiler alert – they were delicious. I also liked that they were both science experiment (What do you think is going to happen?) and Bible Object Lesson at the same time.


2 packages crescent rolls

1/2 stick butter, melted

cinnamon sugar (you can make your own)

large marshmallows


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

I gave each kid a marshmallow (this represents Jesus, if you’re along for the Object Lesson part of this!)

They rolled the marshmallow in butter and then rolled it in cinnamon sugar. (This represents the oil and spices they used to prepare Jesus’ body.) We did this part assembly line style. (It helps to have extra marshmallows on hand, in case you have children like mine who have the mindset “one for the pan, one for me, one for the pan …”)

Then you roll the marshmallow in a crescent roll, making sure to pinch the seams together. (This represents the tomb.)

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes. During this time while we were cleaning up, I asked the kids what they thought would happen. Brendyn thought the marshmallow would pop out, like Jesus rolling the tomb away. We turned the light on in the oven and they watched the rolls bake. Tyler thought it looked like the rolls were breathing when they “puffed out”.

After you take them out of the oven, you do see a little marshmallow ooze, but once cool enough to handle, move a roll to a plate and show your kids what happened after they put Jesus into the tomb.

The TOMB was EMPTY!!! What a Great Reminder at Easter Time! (And again, these were very yummy!)


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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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Starting off right

I think there is a desire in most of us to “be the best we can be”. I know I am always striving to see how I can improve – being a better Wife, A better Mom, a better friend, sister, daughter, Christian. I am trying to be diligent in my Bible Study, using a Modified technique I saw here. They use the SOAP approach to Bible Study. For their “S’ – they actually write out the Scripture (they are beginning a Bible Study in Ephesians on Monday), but for mine I am just writing down my daily devotional piece (right now in Genesis). The “O” is an Observation. The “A” is application, and then the “P’ is to pray over what you have read. I am hoping this approach to my Through-the-Bible-in-a-year will not only keep me accountable, but also keep in my mind longer and throughout the day what I have read. It focuses me to try to find the hidden treasures in God’s Word.

I am also doing an online Study with a group, originated from Treasures from a Shoebox. They are going through the Book, Created to Be His Helpmeet. I have read this book once, and have referenced it a couple of times, but am excited to be doing an online study with what looks to be like a great group of Women.

The third thing going on in my bag of tricks is reading through Teach Them Diligently, and beginning using charts I bought from Doorposts, to focus the children’s misbehavior back to the Bible. Showing them that rules aren’t just arbitrary things came up with by mean parents, but actually commands from God. In this, the goal is that the children learn to draw closer to God by obeying Him first!

It really has been a great 2012 so far! And we are looking forward to everything this year has for us. Especially Baby Cassidy who will be joining our family soon (27 days!!!) I hope your year has started off right for you and that you already see God’s Blessings.

I know We have Been Blessed!

Five Special Blessings to Me Today: God’s Word, My Salvation, My Wonderful Husband, My Beautiful Children, Baby # 6 Coming Soon!

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