D is for devotion

de·vo·tion (noun) : a feeling of strong love or loyalty : the quality of being devoted : the use of time, money, energy, etc., for a particular purpose

My dear children,

What are you devoted to? What holds your hearts, your loyalty? What is first on your mind, in your hearts and on your lips?

Maybe in this season of your life your devotion is directed to a someone. A young man or woman who has caught your eye and stolen your heart. Perhaps it is your children, my grandchildren, who are the object of your devotion. Your family is a good place to exercise devotion.

My prayer for you all is that your one true devotion will be to the Lord. That He would capture your heart like no other. I long to hear that each of you are so lost in the Lord that your family needs to seek Him to find you.

I promise you, my children, that a life devoted to the Lord will reap benefits beyond measure. Your marriage will be stronger, your love will be more abundant, and the peace you will have when the world around you seems to be in chaos…….. is worth every moment spent in pursuit of a passionate, devoted life to Him.

~love, mom.


Just because…..

I am gonna brag on someone for a bit.  Why?  Well, because this is my blog, and I can…. and every once in a while I just feel like bragging up on people who are important to me. Sisters in the faith need to build each other up…. so, here I go.

This lady here is one of a kind. She is a dreamer, encourager, and lover of Jesus. She also happens to be my boss.  ( And no, this is not an attempt to butter her up for a raise…lol) Today is her birthday and this is just my version of a card.

Before she was ever my boss I thought she was pretty cool.  She published this magazine that I had stumbled onto… the articles encouraged me.  They recharged my passion to homeschool, especially on those day where you are ready to flag down the public school bus and hand them a few more kids.

She dreams up stuff to bless homeschoolers with, gathers a team of people, gets them excited about her vision and leads the charge as everyone pulls together to make it happen. No one shares the same office.  Most of us have never seen our coworkers, yet we function as a great big family. She keeps her finger on the pulse of 4 + different divisions….  homeschools…. travels with toddlers…. and manages to keep a really good sized family fed and watered. If you look up multi-tasking in the dictionary, I am quite sure her picture is there.

She is a lover of Jesus. This is the quality that I admire in her most. Her family stuff, and work stuff, and life stuff….. have been a wee bit crazy at times…. and no matter what the circumstance…. she displays grace and lifts praise to God for who He is. Her faith is deep.  Her heart full of worship. Her words full of encouragement.

She is real.  Just so you guys don’t start to think that she is a glowing tower of perfection…..  she will be the first to admit…. that snuggles come before dishes and dust bunnies probably breed in the quiet spaces under the couch….  but sometimes that is just the way life is. Love counts for way more than a swept floor, perfectly folded laundry and sparkly plates.

So dear boss-of-mine, my prayer for you today, on your birthday is that you continue to grow in God’s grace, to seek his wisdom for your life…. and that you have many, many more years as the chief snuggler of all your babies and one day grandbabies. I praise God for the woman He has created in you.

Happy Birthday.


Asia: The Peoples and History, a review

* the following post is a review of a book. I have received no compensation for reviewing this book, just an electronic copy, used for the purpose of this review*


Book:  Asia: The Peoples and History

Genre: Curriculum

Situational Uses: Home Bible Study, Sunday School, Children’s Church, Homeschool

Author: Bonnie Rose Hudson

Website:  www.writebonnierose.com

E-Book available at: The Old Schoolhouse Magazine  for $6.95

Kindle Version available at: Amazon.com for $6.95

Print version is coming soon!

We used this book as a family devotional.  Each week, we broke from our usual family time and we would read a story and answer  the discussion questions from Asia: The Peoples and History.  My husband and I want our boys to have an understanding of other peoples and cultures. Life is so different when you live outside of the United States. We want them to know that not all the world has three or four Bibles to read or church buildings to meet in each week. Living in other cultures can be very difficult.

We are involved with a mid-week children’s ministry with our church and have been studying the missionary journeys of Paul in Acts. Our study of Asia: The Peoples and History helped us see that the need for the gospel hasn’t changed since the time of Paul. People today still need to know about Jesus.

Bonnie Rose Hudson uses vivid imagery to help your children experience what people in Asia experience each day. You will learn a bit more about the history of each country you study. There are also activities to help reinforce learning about each country and answer keys are included.

This book has studies on the following countries: Laos, Bangladesh, Napal, China, Iran, and Vietnam. If you were to follow a weekly study program the book would cover sixteen weeks worth of lessons.

My boys (ages 11 and 7) enjoyed the stories and activities each week.  They were always a little sad when a story ended, they wanted to hear more about the characters! My husband and I enjoyed listening to the boys answer the discussion questions. It was exciting to hear how they are growing and interpreting the world around them.  I think the best part for me, was hearing how they incorporated these lessons into their prayers.  With each new country we heard them include requests with their nightly prayers. It is a blessing to hear your child pray for people and places that need the Lord.

I encourage families to think about purchasing this book as a devotional study. It is a fantastic way to help your children learn about the people of Asia.

As a family, we decided to offer up a list of countries for Ms. Hudson’s next book.  We were thinking we would like to know more about the people and believers in the Philippines, Japan, Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Kazakhstan, and North and South Korea.  What countries would you like to know more about? 


Pre-Sale! $4.95!

This sale is only good from 2/17/2014 until 02/23/14

Remember a few weeks ago when I told you I would be reviewing a book for one of my friends? Well, my review will post next week…..  but I wanted to let you know about the Pre-Sale. The book is available now and for a few dollars less than its regular price.

$4.95 is a bargain for this great study on Asia.

We have been using this book as a family devotional and it has been a wonderful trip through Asia.  If you are looking for a great little family study this book might just be for you.  You can click on the picture and be taken directly to the purchase page.



I don’t receive any compensation for reviewing this product.  I am just excited to share something a dear friend of mine wrote.  Thanks for reading all the way to the end of the post.


The first step

My journey began with an e-book…

I told you I was impatient to read all about it, so the point, click, read version sated my instant gratification need…..I loaded it on to my kindle and parked on the couch to see what I could learn.

About 4 chapters in….  my head started to feel like it might explode from all the information. It was the best headache of my life….. as I read, things I new about food were confirmed…

I knew we needed healthy fats in our diet….. This is why I could never get behind all the low fat – no fat way of eating.  Besides, I like butter….butter is good.

I also “knew” that many of the carbs I was eating were quick carbs, ones my body was choosing to view as simple sugars…. and I knew that those types of carbs were not doing my body any favors.  (evidenced by my hypoglycemic crashes)

As I read on, I found out I would be able to have the best of both worlds.  Butter and bacon and also carbs that my body could take the time to digest without turning them into fat layer number three.

I started with the very next meal…. That night I ate my first “S” meal.  It was satisfying. (hence the “S” title) It was Steak and broccoli with a salad and my broccoli had butter…. it was so good!

I love eating this way.  I feel so much better.  I no longer have a bloated belly… I have energy.  I have an endless variety of foods that I can eat…. as long as I keep my meals with fats, separate from my meals with carbs.

I started eating the Trim Healthy Mama way November 1st. I didn’t feel deprived over Thanksgiving…. or over Christmas.  This month, the scale shows I have lost 35 lbs. I have lost inches too…. I was a size 18 (should have been a 20) in pants.  I am now a loose 16…. and some 14′s fit.  Never in my life has the scale moved in this direction. Ok, once…. when I never ate anything… and I was maybe 24.

If you have struggled in the past with losing weight…

If you feel like to have to only eat certain foods to lose weight….

If you feel like you are fasting to lose weight…..

Please consider buying this book and just reading it.  The information in the first three sections apply to every human on the planet. You don’t have to be a Mama to change the way you eat…. and eat your way to a healthier self.

Find out more at www.trimhealthymama.com




An Upcoming Review

I am excited to share with you something that a very dear friend of mine wrote.


I will be using this book with the boys in the weeks to come and you can learn more about it by going to Bonnie’s website.

The book is available February 24, 2014. Sign up here to receive information on pre-orders, discounts, and all the information on where you can purchase a copy.




the ah-ha photo


Somewhere in October….  my son snapped a photo of me.  Later that night as I was scrolling through the photos he took from his pint sized vantage point I saw myself, just like my children do.

I was fat.

Now before you write to me and tell me that I shouldn’t be so mean to myself.  I say those words, not to be hateful, but to be truthful.  I was always the skinny girl.  I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted. I never really gained a bunch of weight.  I was active in sports as I grew up and this helped keep me trim.  So inside my head lived this skinny girl.  Even at 40 she was there.  She was keeping me from seeing what was really on the outside.  In my head I still thought I was skinny.

I could get up and down off of the floor with relative ease.  I could still run and chase the boys…. I could help my husband lift and move things that most women couldn’t.  I still thought I was skinny, because if I was fat, I would have trouble with all those things.

That night, as I sat in a rented beach house listening to the waves crashing on the shore below, the realization that the skinny girl in my head was a liar ………  became a motivator for change.

…… because, without a doubt I was fat.

I needed to be honest with that number on the scale.  It read 250 lbs and it was climbing…… I was adding chins and rolls to places there should be one or none.  I had to get serious about this or I would hover at 250 or keep growing.  Neither one of those options sounded remotely acceptable.

When we arrived home from vacation I went to look for a book that a few of my online friends had used and were seeing some success with.  It is called A Trim Healthy Mama.
I ordered the e-book because I was impatient to start reading and see what this was all about.

Little did I know that it would be the first day the skinny girl stopped lying, and started cheering…….

Each week I will share a bit more of my journey with Trim Healthy Mama.


Sandcastle Sweets

I have decided to start the business that everyone keeps telling me I should start.

I am now officially in the candy business.

What started as a fun (and rather delicious) experiment over ten years ago, is now a business.

If you enjoy hand-dipped chocolates and caramels you need to visit Sandcastle Sweets.

Stop by and see our selections and all Valentine orders receive 10% off! (good until February 14, 2014)


welcome 2014

I have missed this little corner of cyberspace. A place of my own creation, where I can say what is on my mind and in my heart. I come today in a reflective mood, looking to find a way to adequately communicate with words what the year 2013 has been about.

To properly reflect and recap I suppose that one should start at the beginning…..

January of 2013 found us in a state of near homelessness. Our home of nearly six and a half years was being sold. The owners had stopped paying, and as the renters we were powerless to purchase the home or change the eminent loss of a roof over our head.  We needed to be out by February 1, but we had no where to land. In the middle of the month, we signed a lease on a new house that we first saw in October 2012.  The house was $300 more a month than what we had been paying.  We had been unemployed for a year, at this point, and we just had to trust God that the house He had provided; He would pay for.


February 2013 was spent unpacking and settling in.  Our new home had a new furnace and we were blessed to have a warm place to rest our heads. Excitement and hopefulness had returned.  Evan was on the verge of turning 19 and he was heading to Memphis to set about finding his fortune.


March, April, and May of 2013 were spent in preparation for Tayler graduating from High School, and setting her sights on which college she would attend in the fall.There were scholarship weekends to attend, FASFA’s to file…… No one really tells you how much paperwork is required to get a kid into college!  Yikes!  That was a learning curve!

Through it all, God provided.  He made a way for Tayler to fly to Iowa to her college scholarship weekend. He answered prayers like “Lord, we have enough money to fill the car with gas or go to the store for food, but not to do both.  Help us to know which one to choose.”  His answer was in the form of a check so that we could do both.

We spent these months caring for Jody’s mom as her health declined….. she would eventually go home to be with the Lord in May.  Our hearts were heavy as we moved on into the summer.

Summer 2013. Was a typical summer for us in the high desert. We enjoyed our first summer with air conditioning in about 5 years….. it was heavenly to have a cool house to hide from the 110° weather in.  We spent the summer at our local farmers market working and enjoying our community.

September arrived with crisp air and the beginning of our new school year.  We began our second year of Abeka and had lots of fun learning about our new teachers. Using this curriculum has been a financial change for us…..  It is expensive!  But it has given me a level of freedom in the day to day preparation that has let me work from home and still get the dishes and laundry done.

October 2013 was a month when I felt discouraged. Our finances were at rock bottom. The kids needed shoes, pants, socks…. everything was wearing out, including my optimism. We had planned a vacation, and saved up for it….. and then we had to spend all the savings on rent.  The endless unemployment was wearing on my good humor it was hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

God responded to my discouragement by bringing people to encourage me.  I had friends from elementary school contact us and send encouraging notes and gifts. God replaced all of our savings and then some with gifts from the most unusual sources. He used some friends to bless us with two full months of rent to carry us through the end of year. The boys got new shoes, I did too…..  God turned our despair to praise.

November and December were again full of blessings. Many unexpected ones that allowed us to travel to California and spend Christmas with my side of the family.

This year we have learned how faithful God is.  Despite our discouragement, our failings and our finances, He has made a way and provided for us. His gifts were tangible expressions of His love for our family.

As we move into 2014, I know not what the year holds. I know only that I need to continue to trust in a God that has shown himself faithful beyond measure.



Hands-on History

How many times have you studied history with your children and just wished you could dig a little deeper?  Maybe history is one of those “boring” subjects for your kids and you need a way to bring the subject alive. 

If either of these thoughts have crossed your mind…. let me take a moment to introduce you to a solution that will take care of both issues.

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Home School in the Woods has compiled everything you need to dig deeper and incorporate hands on fun into your studies.

Hunter and I had the chance to explore one of their great elementary school offerings; The Great Empires.

This year we have been studying World History and The Great Empires completely expanded and enhanced our regular textbook study.

When it arrived we were just beginning to study Ancient Greece, so, that is where we began with The Great EmpiresHome School in the Woods provides informative supplemental text that went deeper than what our textbook provided.  It was easy to read and kept Hunter engaged. After reading about Greece we used the map and key to plot and record the placement of the ancient cities.

Our next activity was decorating Greek pottery.  This way by far Hunter’s favorite activity.  We researched different styles of pottery on the internet and printed out a few examples to use as reference.


Hunter then drew his design and painted his very own piece of pottery

Our study continued, with designing our own shield, and making hummus, a yummy Greek treat.  We also read seven books ( all provided in each empire’s project list) to better understand the culture. The books were very easy to locate either electronically and free for my Kindle, or at our local library.

With all the in-depth study, visiting the provided links and reading the books,  our study of Ancient Greece lasted a little over three weeks.  

Our next  stop in our study of The Great Empires has been Ancient Rome. We followed the same path as our study of Greece and read the provided material and mapping the ancient cities. We are just wrapping up all of our reading choices, and as soon as I can gather the materials, we are going to paint our own fresco!

We really can’t wait to start our next ancient adventure.  Hunter has so enjoyed our extra study time that he want to invite the neighbor kids over to study with us this summer!  He is looking forward to learning more about Viking Coins, I am excited for Koi Fish. :)

We chose to use The Great Empires as an in-depth study.  We used all the resources they provided to help us learn more about the subject. If you wanted to just use the activities, you could do that as well.  There are no set rules on how to use the study.

The Great Empires will help you and your children learn more about 14 of the great empires of history.  For a detailed list of the empires that are covered go here. The cost is $18.95 for a downloadable version, and $19.95 if you would like a CD.  We used the downloadable version and it was easy to unzip and use.

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My prep time for each study was about an hour and that was mostly to locate the books we would be reading.  The projects have been easy to gather materials for in my local hometown.  I would recommend this curriculum to any homeschooling family, I do not feel that it would conflict with any particular curriculum or learning style, it would only enhance it.


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