Sunday, April 26, 2015

God's Story in 66 Verses {a BookLook Blogger review}

The subtitle of God's Story in 66 Verses by Stan Guthrie is "Understand the entire Bible by focusing on just one verse in each book."

That intrigued me.

I am forever looking for ways to go through the Bible or to teach through the Bible that help both ME and my kids.  This sounded like it could do that, because while I have read through the Bible numerous times, I have to say that there are lots of areas where I really am not sure why I'm supposed to care, or what the point is.

From the publisher:
Treasure God's Word in sixty-six easy verses.

The Bible can seem like a big, intimidating book-mysterious, tedious, and often hard to understand. Written over a span of fifteen hundred years, two millennia ago, God's Word sometimes feels like a mishmash of stories and literary styles. What can be done to make it more accessible to twenty-first-century readers?

Stan Guthrie's answer: begin by zooming in on one key verse for each of the Bible's sixty-six books. Seeking to bring clarity and simplicity to the study of God's Word, Guthrie has written a concise, easy-to-digest collection of wisdom anchored in one verse for each book, from Genesis to Revelation-a verse that summarizes or lays the foundation for that book, placing it in context with the rest of the Scriptures.

Read this book, and you'll feel as if you've read the entire Bible-but you'll also yearn to continue mining its depths and exploring its richness on your own.

My thoughts:  

This is such an easy-to-read book, and I love it.

The "book" part of the book is only a bit over 200 pages, which boils down to just barely over 3 pages per book of the Bible.

I can read 3 pages in one sitting.

I can read 3 pages aloud in one sitting.

Each chapter has a "key verse" obviously, but the part that really excites me is that the chapter not only explains why he chose that key verse, but also gives an overview of how that book fits into the big picture of the Bible.

The text does quote the book some as well, some books more than others.

What I didn't grasp before getting the book is that the point of the Key Verse is to pick a verse that sums up the book.  That means that a verse like John 3:16, while important, is not the key verse for the book of John. 

I am giving some really serious thought to working through this book with my family this summer, starting after AWANA is over (which is really tonight).  I think reading the chapter as a group and memorizing the verse, and then re-reading the chapter could be a really good study for the summer months.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers 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.”

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Dozen Things to Say or Do at a Funeral

It's been two months since Mom died.

It doesn't feel like it has been that long, and yet it feels like forever.

I'm not doing all that well today, and then I see two friends working through the recent loss of their husbands.  Ouch.  One of those men would have turned 47 today.  For the other, it has been six months.  I truly want them to be posting and sharing as they travel this horrible road, but -- selfishly -- both of those status updates were tough to read this morning.  And yeah, that response makes me feel guilty. 

Anyway, I've been thinking about writing a post about things to do, or not do, at a funeral.  This morning, with their posts, it just seems like the right time. 

I'm not saying I'm speaking for everyone who experiences a death in their family, or even that I'm speaking for everyone who loses their mother.  Just my observations, folks.  People all handle things differently, so take 'em or leave 'em. 

We were really blessed in that we had a lot of supportive folks around. 
  1. At the funeral, when coming over to talk to the family, give your name and your connection to the deceased.  Even if you think they ought to know.  It's really overwhelming, talking to so many people I don't know, but who knew my mom, or know my dad or brothers.  I may not recognize your name, and I'm quite sure I won't remember it.  But tell me anyway, and help me to make the connections.  I nearly broke down in tears when a lady walked over to me to express her condolences, starting with, "Hi, I'm Cassie lastname, and I..."  I cut her off at that point.  As soon as I heard her name, I knew who she was, and we had a nice conversation.
  2. If you start a conversation with, "You must be Glenn and Nadine's daughter!" the advice given above is even more important.  If you aren't positive who I am, then you can bet I don't know who you are.  One woman, who did start with the above phrase, continued with, "My name is Mae lastname and my husband and I had lunch with your parents quite often." That was enough of a cue for me to be able to say, "Oh, Dad said you were here!" and we had a nice conversation.
  3. If you were twelve last time I saw you, and you are now married with tykes of your own, definitely tell me who you are.  I might recognize you in other circumstances, but it isn't likely right now.  (Actually, her mom introduced us, which works too.)
  4. Don't ask me if I think my dad will remarry.  Just don't.  Not only is it none of your business, but my mother isn't even in the ground yet.  This is one where I feel reasonably comfortable speaking for "everyone" -- we are not ready for this question, so don't ask.  This is a family blog, so I'm not going to print what I wanted to say to the SIX different people who asked me this on that day.  What I did was smile and say, "I certainly have no idea."  Really, really, just stop and think about what you are asking.  I can think of NO situation where that question is appropriate at a funeral.  NONE.  I just pray that they didn't ask Dad that too, but some probably did.
  5. If you want to offer help, be specific.  "Is Friday a good day for me to bring over a casserole?  Your family will still be here, right?  I'll bring two then."  I can respond to that.  "Yes, please," or "Thank you so much, but actually, Friday is already covered.  Would either Saturday or Monday work?"  (The casserole was amazingly yummy too.)
  6. Tell me a story.  A short one.  "Your mother always had a smile for everyone.  Always." Or, "I'll always remember the first time I stopped by your house in high school, and your mom was sitting in the kitchen, completely bald, and I realized that she really was fighting cancer.  And she welcomed me as though she had invited me over herself."  It's even better when the story starts with, "I'll always remember..." because I like hearing that someone else will always remember. 
  7. Tell me a funny story.  And if someone else tells me a funny story, be approving as you glance over at me when I laugh.  Mom would have wanted laughter.  Like so many people said to me, she always had a smile.
  8. If you don't know us well, and we're completely sobbing after the funeral, it is a very nice thing to not come over and introduce yourself right at that moment.  Someone scored major points with me when I realized they had done that.  Giving some space to overwhelmed family is amazing. 
  9. If you are asking me how I'm doing, or how Dad is doing, really look at me so that I think you really want to know.  And be okay with any answer I give you.  We both know I'm not "fine," but that may be as much as I'm willing to say right now.  Don't push me for more.  And conversely, don't ask if you don't want me to be honest.  Because I might be.
  10. A hug is often a million times better than words.  Keep the words simple.  "I'm sorry" or "I can't imagine how you are feeling" or "You must still be in shock" are great.  "She's in a better place now" can wait.  So can, "At least she didn't suffer."  If I say either of those things, feel free to agree.  
  11. If you drop off a card, make sure your address is on it.  Just make it easier.
  12. If at all appropriate, ask if you can take a photo of the family.  I really love the extended family photos that were taken at my grandparents' funerals, but nobody thought of it at Mom's.   Posing for a picture and smiling isn't high on the list of things I'd have wanted to do that day, but I'd sure appreciate it now.

Certainly not an all-encompassing list, and I probably missed something obvious.

Funerals can be a really amazing time to celebrate a life, and to reconnect with friends and family.  Mom's was, overall.  It's also a time when people are frazzled, stressed-out and possibly a bit shell-shocked.  Even if the death was expected.  Moreso if it wasn't.

Think before you say something, but even if you say the wrong thing what matters most is that you are there.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Family Friendly Movies with gMovies! {a FlyBy review and giveaway!}

I've stated this before on my blog, but I'll say it once again:  we are always on the lookout for great family-friendly movies.


Hearing that there is a subscription service available, for only $4.99 a month, that offers nothing but family-friendly fare immediately got my attention.

As you can see from the drop-down box, there are quite a few different genres available. 

Another huge bonus for us is that we could install the app on the iPad, and we are able to either have kids watch something on just the iPad, or we can use the iPad to put it up on our TV.  And no, I don't understand how we do that, I just know that we can.

About gMovies:
gMovies offers instant access to almost 300 faith friendly feature films of every genre, in addition to animated stories, television series and biblical documentaries. Always available on your computer or mobile device, gMovies also includes the bible-based animated series “Pahappahooey Island;” teen drama “Much Ado About Middle School” starring Bill Cobbs, Lee Meriwether and Amanda Waters; and the “Left Behind” drama series starring Kirk Cameron and based on the New York Times bestselling books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.

gMovies is operated by UP, America’s favorite television channel for uplifting music and family entertainment, so rest assured that you are being offered the very best in faith conscious entertainment. The Parents Television Council™ has twice awarded its Entertainment Seal of Approval™ to UP for being “an authentic family-friendly cable network.” UP is the only television network to be so honored.
My favorite thing right now is this section here:

That is only the first two rows of documentaries.  We love the Torchlighter videos, and now we have the opportunity to see them all.  Over and over, if we want.

The video player is based on Adobe Flash Player, so you will want to be sure you have access to the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.  And this is best if your internet download speed is at least 3 Mbps.

Do you want to try it free for two weeks?  Go to the link I just added here, and use code:  FREETRIAL35

Let me know what you think!

I have a 6 month membership to give away!  US and Canada only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Kings of Israel: a Fantastic Family Strategy Game

My family loves to play games.  Particularly, they love to play games where they have to do all sorts of strategizing and planning ahead.

I'm not quite as big a fan of those games, mostly because someone always seems to feel picked on, and I just don't like listening to the "It's not fair!" complaints at all.  I'll confess that as they have gotten older, that behavior has diminished.  However, it hasn't vanished.

A cooperative strategy game, though, gets my attention.  Because then if someone is upset that "It isn't fair," everyone else commiserates.

A cooperative strategy game with a biblical theme is even better.  And this game has already helped all of us to be more familiar with the geography of Israel.

Kings of Israel  from Funhill Games is a fantastic game for 2-4 players, intended for teens and older.  However, both my 9- and 11-year-olds were able to play and do well.  They have had some strategy game experience already, which helps.  But since this is cooperative, it seemed pretty easy to integrate them.

The basic idea of the game is that you represent prophets in Israel, and you are trying to stamp out sin, destroy idols, and turn people back to the worship of God.  This is easier to do during the reign of good kings, like David, and harder to do during the reign of, well, most of the kings of Israel.

The goal of the game is to build a certain number of alters (the number depends on how many players you have) before Israel is conquered by the Assyrians.  Game play is pretty easy, once you have gone through it a couple of times.  Each "round" is represented by the reign of a King, and within that, some basic phases occur:

1. You draw a Blessing or a Sin and Punishment card, depending on whether it is a good king or a bad king.  This results in some sort of good or bad thing happening.

2. Sin increases (represented by black cubes) based on drawing cards from the location deck.  

3. The prophets go to work - the players take turns, and each gets to take four actions.  Actions include moving, preaching (to remove sin from their location), destroying idols, acquiring resources, building altars, making sacrifices, or giving resources to another prophet.

At that point, it moves on to the next king, and the above phases repeat.  Obviously, that is the simplified version.  It is slightly more involved than that, with idols appearing in sin-filled locations, and sin spreading, and short-lived kings having an abbreviated cycle, and so on.

One of the best parts about the game?  The oldest player goes first.  That's always me.  Ha ha ha ha. My kids think it is funny that I'm so tickled by that.

I would highly, highly recommend that you start by playing the easy version, where you get to lay out your cards so that everyone can see what everyone else has.  There is another way to obtain Blessings in Easy mode too.

It is possible to win playing in Easy mode.

I'm not convinced you could win in regular mode, at least not until you are a bit more familiar with the quirks of the game.

That, there, to the left -- that is easy mode.  Everyone can see that I have two Stone and one Wood.  So everyone knows that if they give me a Gold, I can build an altar.

Makes it a lot easier.

Our opinions:  We have played both Easy and Regular versions.  We haven't dared to try the expert version, where a false prophet is introduced.  We have played with 2, 3 and 4 players.

What is amazing about this game is that it is a lot of fun no matter how many players.  It is a very different game with only two, but still fun.  And significantly quicker to play.

It is also very different each time you play.  One of the first things you do in the game is to draw an Ability card that gives your prophet certain strengths.  If you draw the Sailor card, you are likely to be mostly staying near the coast of Israel.  Other cards make it a good idea to stay in the mountain areas, or near the borders with other countries.  The mix of abilities changes your strategy, and definitely mixes up the game play from one game to the next.

There is a great balance between the random factors (abilities, blessings, punishments, where sin pops up, what resources are available) and the strategy portions.  This is an amazing, fun cooperative strategy game and we will play it over and over. 

I'm a sucker for cute game pieces

But wait!  There's more! 

While putting together this review, I ran across a little note in the Rulebook about a Bible Study Rulebook.  That got my attention, and made it so I didn't post this review last week as planned.  It turns out there are three Bible studies available right now, with more (probably) to come.  One study covers the kings of Israel, another covers the prophets, and the last one covers Israeli geography.

These can be used in a variety of ways.  One suggestion for the Kings study is to ask the questions at the beginning of each "reign" and if they get the questions right, you begin play for that round.  If they get a question wrong, there is a hint.  If that doesn't help, there is a Bible verse to look up.

Since my kids do already know a fair amount of biblical history, this seemed a good choice.  Between them they know quite a few of the answers, and it doesn't take long to look up the others.

I love that they are actually learning something in the process, and I look forward to working through the other two studies as well.

Bottom line:  This game is great, whether you play it simply as a strategy game, or whether you use it as part of a family Bible study, or if you take it to a classroom setting.

Homeschool Blogging Connection is giving away a copy of this game, among other great prizes, in their April giveaway.   If you don't win it, you really ought to purchase it.  This game is fantastic.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received products and/or other compensation in exchange for this review.  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.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

April Homeschooling Giveaway!

As part of the Homeschool Blogging Connection team, I'm excited to be bringing information about a really amazing giveaway to you.  I have personally used everything in this huge giveaway, and I highly recommend it all.

In fact, later this week, I'll be posting a review of the Kings of Israel game.  A sneak preview of that:  everyone in this house gives it two thumbs up.

The other products are wonderful too.  This is an incredible package to win.

This homeschool giveaway is brought to you by the Homeschool Blogging Connection team. We will have one grand prize winner who will receive a copy of each prize. That's worth a total of $549! We will also have two additional winners for The Reading Game. Isn't that exciting? The giveaway will remain open until April 30th at 11:59 p.m.

Homeschool Giveaway.

Prize: CTC Math Curriculum 12 month family membership Value: $297

free 12 month-01

CTC Math Curriculum provides a complete on-line learning experience and each lesson teaches as much as an entire school math lesson in an average of just 5 minutes! The family membership is appropriate for all ages.
  • 1,367 animated and narrated math lessons
  • A bank of over 57,000 interactive questions
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Instant feedback to students and regular reporting to parents
  • Algebra, statistics, geometry, trigonometry, probability plus more
  • Your online math tutor

Prize: The Reading Game - Value: $34.95 (3 winners!)


The Reading Game includes six beautifully illustrated story books, six decks of matching playing cards, & a Teacher and Parent's Guide. The Reading Game is appropriate for all children learning to read.
  • Your child can be reading in a week with “The Reading Game”!
  • It starts with a simple fast action-memory card game that teaches five words at a time.
  • Picture flashcards reinforce words learned through game play with simple phrases and introduce capitalization and punctuation.
  • Each of the content rich stories is told using only the 30 words learned through game play.
  • This staged learning format ensures success and no frustration - and builds confidence and enjoyment
    in reading!
  • On completing the series, the student has a reading vocabulary of 180 words, many of them Dolch and High Frequency words and will have successfully read six storybooks all on their own.
  • The Reading Game was created by “Wordly Wise” author Kenneth Hodkinson.

Prize: King Of Israel Board Game - Value $49.99

Kings of Israel Board Game on White Background

Funhill Games is offering one winner the King of Israel Board Game. This Biblical board game is fun for the whole family and educational at the same time. The King of Israel Board Game is labeled for ages 14 and up, however younger children can play the game with assistance.
  • Kings of Israel is a cooperative game that places two to four players in the role of prophets struggling to save their nation from threats both internal and external.
  • Kings of Israel is a board game taking place in Israel (the Northern Kingdom) during the reign of its kings up until Israel’s destruction by Assyria.
  • Players are on a team and each person represents a line of prophets that are trying to remove evil and idols from Israel, while building altars to help guide Israel in the upcoming difficult years.
  • If the players are able to build enough altars before the game ends, they win.
  • If the group runs out of sin cubes or idols, or if the timeline token reaches Assyria destroying Israel, the prophets lose.

Prize: Math Mammoth Light Blue Series CD, grades 1-7(A) - Value: $167.50 USD


Math Mammoth Light Blue Series constitutes a full elementary mathematics curriculum for grades 1-7A.

Some of the main features of the curriculum are:
  • It is mastery oriented, concentrating fairly long on one topic, with fairly few topics per grade;
  • It focuses on conceptual understanding.
  • Visual models and exercises are used a lot.
  • Mental math and number sense are emphasized.
  • The curriculum is nearly self-teaching for many children, since the explanations of concepts are found in the student worktext. Thus it requires fairly little preparation time from the teacher.
  • The curriculum meets and exceeds the Common Core Standards.
Special: Get 33% off of any Math Mammoth Light Blue series products! Use coupon code MAMMOTH777 on this page: Math Mammoth Light Blue Series. This coupon offer is valid 'til April 30, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: All entrants will be added to the Homeschool Encouragement Delivered Newsletter. The vendors in this giveaway will also be provided with your email address.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Grace of God {a FlyBy review and giveaway}

It's been a crazy few weeks in this household, as many of you know.  One thing we always like to do is to sit down and watch a family-friendly movie.  Sometimes, scheduling that in isn't too easy.

We finally did sit down to watch Grace of God  last night, and we really enjoyed it.

Here's the description of the film:

Having lost his faith many years ago, Detective Bill Broadly is called to investigate the disappearance of the local church’s collection plate. As he questions its various church members, rumors swirl as more congregants learn about the theft. When one unexpected church-goer confesses to stealing the funds, the confession resurrects Broadly’s views on God, and helps him see that through faith and belief there really is rebirth and redemption.
The thing says this is faith friendly for ages 12+, but we all watched it (including the 9- and 11-year-olds) and I thought it was fine for everyone.

Part of the concern for younger viewers might be all the questioning of faith going on.  The detective is fairly antagonistic about faith issues when he arrives to start trying to figure out what happened with the $30,000 from the safe.  He isn't a real likeable guy, and he raises some tough questions.

My 17-year-old spent a lot of time talking back to the screen, so the movie took much longer than the 1:39 it is supposed to last.  We had to keep pausing, as he'd be responding to something the detective had said.

We all talked back when he said something about the church being full of hypocrites.  As our pastor says to that, "Oh, no!  We're not full of hypocrites.  There is always room for one more!  Won't you join us on Sunday?"

I have a DVD to give away!  US and Canada only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Friday, April 10, 2015

My Real Life Homeschool has Bright Spots Too

I had plans to write a bit more this week, but it has been just a crazy couple of months, and this week was at least as insane as all the others.

So I could talk about guilt.  That was one topic I planned for.  You know, because every time my kids struggle, I feel like I have totally failed them.  "If only I had..." comes up far too often in my thoughts.

Or I could talk about how long it has been since I've had serious one-on-one time with an adult.  Except that actually, I had a couple weeks of it recently with Dad.  Not quite the same, so be careful what you wish for. 

I could talk about all the things we are missing out on, like paid-for dual enrollment for Connor.  But that depresses me.  Because maybe I am failing him.

Or I could talk about how my job ends up getting me totally crazy busy doing things and I don't have the time to actually do school.  You know, another area where I'm failing.

But there is a completely different side of my Real Life Homeschool.

That is evident when I see my 14-year-old making a stop-motion film with his little brother.  Or when the 16-year-old is brushing his 9-year-old sister's hair.  Or the 17-year-old is making sure I realize that I've hurt the 14-year-old's feelings.

These guys interact in ways that matter to me.

My Real Life Homeschool also includes moments where I'm trying to get out of someplace, only I can't.  Because my kids are busy cleaning up, or putting away chairs, or otherwise being responsible, productive, helpful people.

Real Life Homeschool also includes moments where I have a teen explaining 4th dimension theory to me (not that he succeeds in making me understand it) and people who do understand the theoretical implications inform me that he does have a solid grasp of it.

Or the 11-year-old is having a casual conversation with adults, and they have to get him to define some of the vocabulary he is using.

So, I suppose, I can't be screwing everything up.

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Here are some of the other blogs that are participating.  I'll be linking up ten a day!  Twenty today, because <ahem> I didn't post yesterday.

Life at Rossmont
A Stable Beginning
Happy Little Homemaker
Joyful Hearts and Faces
Day by Day in Our World
Mama's Coffee Shop
Delightful Learning
Double O Farms
Tales of a Homeschool Family
Home Sweet Life
A Rup Life

Indy Homeschool
The Open Window-An Autism Blog
Creative Madness Mama
Hopkins Homeschool
Tots and Me...Growing Up Together
Our Journey
Crystal Starr
A Little This ... A Little That
For the Display of His Splendor