Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas - Where the Sacred Meets Reality

I am up this morning with a childhood anticipation. Today is the day our household celebrates. It's Christmas Eve, and our family is spoiled to share this day together, a day early. For years we traveled to both sides of the family on Christmas Day, so we chose to set this day aside just for us.

As I sit awake, with my Christmas lights aglow, I treasure the silence. I am longing for a fresh, hot cup of coffee, yet I fear to start the process of making one lest I awake the others in my home.

I am enjoying the peace of this morning, when my soul can be refreshed and my heart feels the peace and joy of just being alive, having a life with good things - even when life can be so tough at times.

I am reminded of the true meaning of Christmas,
when the SACRED meets REALITY.

"All is calm. All is bright." 

We sing those words with hope and with confidence, and it creates a very nostalgic picture of when Christ was born. It was a very sacred moment indeed!

However, we must remember, that Jesus - the Son of God - came to earth, a place full of heartache and sin and strife, a place full of less than the ideal many times. When He was born, the scene was not as pretty as we sometimes imagine. Our Savior was born in a stable, when his parents found no comfortable place to birth him and welcome him, and the arduous process of taking care of a special newborn baby took place that day.

And although the situation to welcome our Savior was a humble one, we focus on the glory of it.

Singing "O Holy Night", "What Child is This", "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and much more puts our hearts in a worshipful, thankful, sacred mode where we allow our reality to become dim and accept the awesomeness of our God and His love for us.

I have heard various people say they haven't felt very "Christmassy" or that is just doesn't feel like "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year". Grief, relational difficulties, financial strain, and other pressures of life swarm us and fill our daily lives with intense struggle. 

YET, there is a Savior. There is a sacred moment when Christ came to earth, to display His love for His creation and to save us from our sins and help us in our dismal reality.

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

May the love of Jesus fill your hearts and home today!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder;
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Review of Modernity History - a World History Course from Compass Classroom

First of all, let's get this out in the open... I am not a history buff, so this is one subject in our homeschool where I can feel a bit lacking. Therefore, it is important for me to have high quality resources that I trust and value.

Enter Dave Raymond's Modernity course, a world history course that covers 1500 to the present and the maturity of Western civilization.

I was sent the DVD course to review, and I must say that I am thoroughly impressed!

This course is interesting, engaging, and very informative!

Dave Raymond has a great teaching personality. He is not monotone. He speaks clearly and thoroughly, and he has a love and knowledge for the subject of history that comes through his teaching vibrantly! Even if someone is not a history lover, Dave Raymond works hard to pull in his listeners.

Dave Raymond begins the course with the reasons WHY we should study history. I love this! After all, many students ask the question, "Why do I have to study this anyway?" Dave Raymond lays a great foundation for learning the subject of history, prepping students' hearts and minds for what they are about to embark upon.

The course itself is well-structured, covering a central, exciting topic each week: philosophers, empires, the scientific revolution, the French revolution, wars, rulers, etc. Rather than jumping from subject to subject, there is focus for several days, which provides thoroughness and makes the material easier to understand and more interesting.

Quotes from authors and others embellish Dave Raymond's teaching, and the lecture is full of intermittent historical pictures, which help the student to stay focused and also create a visual picture of the events, people, and places he is learning about. 

The course is a one year course that consists of 27 lessons, 4 projects, a student reader, a teacher's guide, weekly exams, and a year-long portfolio, making this course an excellent choice for any high school history credit!

For more information about Dave Raymonds' Modernity course, you can visit Compass Classroom --

A handful of months ago I did a review for Compass Classroom - a company that has a variety of high quality educational resources for families. If you missed that, you can check it out here

I received a free copy of the Modernity course in exchange for an honest review of the product. All opinions are my own.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Giveaway - A Copy of "Becoming Mom Strong"

If you follow me on Facebook at all, you know that I was hoping to do a Giveaway in October and another one in November. Well, October flew by faster than I had hoped... At least I am *starting* the giveaway in October. ~smile~

So, the giveaway starts now, and I will choose a random winner on Friday via Rafflecopter -- because Fridays are awesome! To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on my blog (or on Facebook), telling me why YOU would like to have a copy of this book. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am giving away a copy of Becoming Mom Strong, by Heidi St. John. I love Heidi St. John and have for years. She's just an authentic woman who loves God and family and lives, writes, and speaks about it in various avenues.

I am in the middle of reading this book, along with a couple others - eh hem - and it is ENCOURAGING!

This book is a great read for moms who want to gird up and refresh themselves and their visions for their walks with God and their love and sacrifice for their families.

The book points women to the Lord for their strength, helps them gain better resolve for their homes in a culture that feels very anti-home/family at times, and supports them in their decisions to be moms who desire to love and lead their children to Christ.

Best wishes and many blessings!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

My Busy September and a Giveaway: Rest and Release!

Well, September is here... and I've got one week to go! September and May are my busy months, busier and crazier than Thanksgiving and Christmas, I believe.

September is the start of everything: full time homeschool, Wed night church (where I lead and teach), homeschool co-op (where I teach), flute, piano, ballet, the culmination of three kids in soccer, and more ...

And I am sure you have your own list!

In the midst of it all, I feel a bit scattered and crazy, and I continue to tell myself:

"Stop stressing"
"Focus on the moment" and 
"Do the next thing" (Thanks, Elisabeth Elliot!)

And what a perfect time it is for me to do a
Bible study called, "Rest and Release".

I have a feeling some of you are due for this as well.

So... I am doing a giveaway. The giveaway starts ASAP and ends Monday at midnight, because Monday is my birthday, and that seems like a good way to end a birthday - to bless someone with a book that may help her rest and release a bit more in life. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can do this Bible study on your own or you can join Courtney at on October 1st when she starts the study! Check out her site for more details. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Historical Stories of Survival: A Review

A few years ago I did a review of Justine Gamble's Girls of American History unit study curriculum -- intriguing lessons about history based on the American Girl book series.

Justine is back with another great unit study curriculum:

an engaging study of history, targeting 2nd through 5th graders, based on the I Survived series of books.

The I Survived books cover various key subjects/events throughout the ages:

  • Pompeii
  • The Titanic
  • The American Revolution
  • Pearl Harbor
  • September 11th
  • ...and other significant catastrophes

A comprehensive guide of study, Historical Stories of Survival works alongside the I Survived series to provide a well-rounded, exciting view of these time periods.

Justine's heart is to provide an education that draws students in and helps them remember what they learn. Through her curriculum she provides a multi-sensory experience for children.

The Titanic unit, for instance, has a long list of resources to pick and choose from: books, Titanic build kits, coloring books, puzzles, etc. In the unit guide itself, there are fill-in-the-blanks, word searches, and a board game you can create! Through various readings and activities children are encouraged to read, hear, see, write, and do things that enhance their learning of the subject.

Each unit is intended to take about six weeks. During the first week, you read "I Survived" book, do crafts, and create a lapbook. During the subsequent five weeks, you continue the study through subject-related books and activities, using the lenses of history, geography, science, and language.

The units include:

  • Detailed weekly schedules
  • Book list: required and suggested
  • Craft resources
  • Field Trip Ideas
  • And more!
Depending on how you choose to use the material, Historical Stories of Survival can be used as more of a core curriculum or as a supplement to what you are already teaching in your home. 

If you are looking for a well put-together, history curriculum that will educate and entice your elementary students, check out Historical Stories of Survival.  

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Iced Coffee - My Favorite Summer Drink

Iced coffee has become my favorite drink this summer! I learned how to make a good cup of it on my own, and now I'm attached! It's a perfect way to drink coffee on these warmer summer days.

You can make fantastic iced coffee by the cup or by the pitcher.

By the cup - My favorite way!
Brewed Coffee
Half and Half
Chocolate Syrup

If your coffee is hot, you will want to make sure you use a cup that won't crack when pouring in the coffee. I LOVE my insulated cup.

First, place a handful of ice in your cup - to fill it about halfway.
Next, pour in the coffee. You will not want to fill the cup more than about 3/4 full.
Add a good dollop of half and half or you can use milk and/or cream, or even creamer.
Then put in about 1 to 2 T of chocolate syrup, stirring briskly.
If your coffee was freshly brewed, you will want to add another layer of ice.
*You can choose a different sweetener than chocolate syrup - creamer, another flavored syrup...

By the pitcher
Courtesy of Comfy in the Kitchen
5 cups of brewed, strong coffee
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cream

First, I like to pour some ice into the pitcher.
Next pour in the coffee.
Add water, sugar, and cream and mix well.
Add more ice and keep refrigerated.

Monday, June 19, 2017

My Summer Bucket List: Relax, Refresh, Regroup

Normally when someone makes a summer bucket list it looks like this:

*Picnic in the park
*Go to the beach
*Ride bikes to the local ice cream parlor

This summer my bucket list is less concrete and more conceptual.


Entering into the summer, I was over-extended. Worn out. Juggling a lot of balls.

To be honest, this struggle has been going on for years now, and it seems hard to break the cycle in this crazy, fast-paced world.

BUT this summer, I am trying to do something about that.

My intentions and hope for the summer are for me to get to a spot where I feel confident and strong heading back into fall with a new school year full of demands and decisions.

FIRST, I am planning to RELAX more.  I need time just to sit and do nothing. Time to watch the British Baking Show with my family. Permission to wake up late some days, take naps, and sit and smell the roses. Time to play games with my kids, go for walks with my husband, and ENJOY the summer.

SECOND, I am planning to REFRESH. As I stated, I desire to be more confident and strong and more at peace as I head back into the fall. I need strength - spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical. I am prioritizing Bible times, breaking away from the snare of social media, planning for healthier eating and physical activity, and continually trying to make decisions that help me focus on taking care of myself and my household and living the life God has created for me.

THIRD, I am planning to REGROUP, to reorganize and review my home and life. I am taking care of projects around the house that are hard to get to throughout the year - starting with painting our kitchen cabinets, which I am currently in the middle of doing. I need to file away last year's school and plan for the next year. I need to make a good plan for the classes I teach at our homeschool group and church and get teachers and curriculum established for the girls' groups I oversee at church. There is plenty for me to do to feel prepared and renewed for the new year's duties.

I read something on Instagram today, and it fits the bill as the desire for my children and for myself.

"We tend to think that our children need a summer full of activities. What they really need is some down time, family time, and maybe even a little bit of boredom."

This is my prayer for myself and my household, that we will have some down time and some connecting time -- time just to sit and appreciate life, time to regroup and feel ready for what lies ahead.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Giveaway for Mother's Day - $15 Amazon Gift Card

Mother's Day is around the corner, and I'm giving away a $15 Amazon gift card! (and I am not being paid by Amazon to do it).

This gift comes from me to you. ~SMILE~

Moms are important! They give life to the new generation, and then they pour their hearts into them: raising, training, loving, giving, serving ... endlessly.

This giveaway is for you, moms.

Happy Mother's Day!
I pray your day is truly blessed.

I will announce the winner Friday morning. Wouldn't that be a good way to start the weekend?!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Pure Flix: Enhancing Your Homeschool Curriculum with Media

What do you think of when someone says, "Pure Flix"?

Family-friendly media streaming? Yep, me too!

And when I think of that, I think of sitting down for a nice, entertaining show, 
but did you realize you can use Pure Flix
as a resource for your homeschool?

Pure Flix has movies about Science, History, Government and more!

How wonderful it is to supplement your regular curriculum with media that your student will enjoy, reinforcing his learning and introducing new material!

If you'd like to try a sample of what Pure Flix has to offer, they have a FREE 4-week homeschool curriculum. 

Below you will find more benefits to using Pure Flix and some of their resources. For more information you can check out Christian movies at

Friday, April 14, 2017

My Easter Menu

I have finally got my Easter menu under control. My menu seems to be fairly similar from year to year, with a little tweaking here and there.

This year's menu:

Crockpot chicken piccata
Honey glazed carrots
Broccoli salad
Cheesy potatoes (from my mom)
Farmhouse Bread
Banana Split Dessert

Does your menu stay consistent from year to year?
What are you eating this Easter?

Special foods help us celebrate a special occasion...

Jesus' glorious RESURRECTION from the dead, 
after living a sacrificial life and dying a sacrificial death.
He lived and died that we might truly LIVE.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Oven Baked Mexican Rice

Yes, I am still alive.

It's been a month since I've posted. Ugh.

My husband went to India for a few weeks. I could blame it on that.
Motherhood is requiring all of my energies and more. I could blame it on that.
Or I could just blame it on the sheer fact that I haven't posted.

Yep. I just haven't done it. So hopefully that will change.

And it does starting now...

I am sharing a wonderfully delicious recipe for Oven Baked Mexican Rice. I absolutely LOVE this recipe.

I have made this recipe for my family.
I have made this recipe for friends.
I have made this recipe to eat as a side dish and even made it as a main dish for lunch one day.

It is delicious and simple. The only glitch is that it takes a good chunk of time to cook it, so you have to remember to prep it and get it cooking, long before you want to eat it!

Oven Baked Mexican Rice
Original found here at Immaculate Bites
Printable Version

1 medium onion, chopped
1 14 oz can tomatoes, or Ro-tel, or tomato sauce (I have made it all three ways and love them all! My daughter likes the tomato sauce version the best).
1/2 cup cooking oil. I use olive oil.
3 cups rice. I use brown or basmati brown. (If you use white, cooking time should reduce).
2 t salt
1 T paprika
1 T garlic powder
4 cups chicken broth
1 t black pepper
1 1/2 t cumin
3/4 t chili powder

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix all of the ingredients in a 9 x 13 pan and stir well.

Cover tightly with one sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil or two sheets of regular aluminum foil.

Carefully put it in the oven and cook for about an hour and 15 minutes. I check to see if most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Take out of the oven, wait 5 minutes, and then fluff, mix, and serve!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Letting Go of Perfection - A Lifelong Lesson

"What is a weakness you have?"

I can still remember being asked this question during job interviews.

Of course, when you are in a job interview, you don't REALLY want the other person to know you have weaknesses, right? BUT we, all, have weaknesses -- alas, the question must be answered.

I would always tell the other person that my weakness was that I was a perfectionist. I figured I could get away with this one well. I could tell the weak side of this but also a good side.

After all, it is a noble and good thing to strive for perfection, to strive for excellence in all that we do and not settle for mediocrity.

However, striving for perfection means that
we could lose sight of some of the beauty that lies around us.

It may be hard to settle for less.
It may be difficult to start or finish projects.
It may be easy to get impatient or aggravated.
It may be easy to compare situations.
... and more.

Even as I write this post, I am struggling to be satisfied with "imperfection". My loving husband took my oldest two children snowboarding this evening, one of the last possibly good days to go since we haven't had much snow and cold weather this winter. Tomorrow my kids have their high school classes with our homeschool group, and I know that they will be home late, around 11:00 p.m. with some work to finish up for their classes.

My insides would like to worry and fret and get all tied up inside, but somehow, I have to accept this reality and know that life will continue to go on, as less-than-ideal as this seems to me.

I can get worried over something I have no control over, because it doesn't meet the image and standard I create
or I can accept the reality that it is and live with grace.

Once I get a picture in my head of how something should be, it is hard for me to break away from that, and this applies to my entire life - my marriage, my child rearing, my teaching, my relationships, and yes, even my blogging - every part of my life.

And step by step, I am learning, continually...

To let go of perfection.

To still strive for excellence but to accept reality,
with peace and graciousness.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Compass Classroom: An Educational Resource for Homeschoolers

As a homeschooling mom, it is invaluable to have good quality resources that supply tools to educate the next generationour children.

I recently became aware of Compass Classroom, a company that seeks to provide just that!

Compass Classroom desires to create products “that will be useful to moms, interesting to students, and glorifying to God”.
(From their About Us page)

The company started with a vision to support homeschool moms and their educational environments, and this vision continues to weave through all they do.

It provides video courses and materials for various subjects with a desire to fill in the gaps for homeschool families and educational purposes, in general.

While offering a high quality education is important, Compass Classroom realizes that education is better received when it is more enjoyable, so they strive to find satisfactory teachers and produce entertaining substance.

Some of the subjects available are:
  • Latin
  • Economics
  • History
  • Bible Study
  • Poetry

If you need some assistance with teaching certain subjects or would like to add supplemental learning to your curriculum, check out Compass Classroom!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Breakfast Smoothie Bowl: The Basic Gist

With the New Year starting, oftentimes our minds are on making good changes for our health. I have been trying to eat healthier and lose a little weight along the way.

One thing I have been eating in the mornings is a smoothie bowl. Yum.

Why a smoothie bowl? You ask. Why not just drink a smoothie?

I like smoothie bowls mainly because of the texture you can add to them. By adding various things to your blended beverage, there is crunch and solidity, and it's just nice to have a little variety.

You can look online for all sorts of intricate smoothies, made with specialty items you may not always have around the house.

Here, though, I will show you the basic gist of a smoothie bowl so you can get started, and then you can expand your knowledge and practice.

The two main steps to making a smoothie bowl are:
1. Make a thick smoothie.
2. Top with all sorts of goodies.

You can make a fruity smoothie or a more savory smoothie:

*You can alter these amounts based on your preferences, but this is a start.
1/2 banana, frozen (In my mind, frozen bananas always make the best smoothies!)
1/2 cup frozen berries of your choice
about 1/2 - 1 cup milk, almond milk, etc. (keep on hand in case you need to add more)
You can also add extras like: protein powder, peanut butter, and greens if you'd like

Top with: granola, coconut, seeds, nuts, fresh or frozen fruit... whatever you like!

Peanut Butter Banana
1 frozen banana
about 1 cup milk or almond milk
2 T peanut butter
1 scoop chocolate protein powder

Again, top with your favorite toppings!

Have you had a smoothie bowl? What is your favorite?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Living with a New Year's Mentality - Reaching Forward to What Lies Ahead

How is your New Year so far? Is it going how you expected and planned?

When the New Year is about to arrive, we gather 'round, contemplate and celebrate, creating new resolutions. We are excited about the year ahead and are hopeful for what is to come.

As the days move on, that vision seems to wane, and we get stuck in the middle of daily life reality.

We need a New Year's mentality
to fuel us throughout the year. 

Paul wrote about his pursuit towards hope, towards the future, towards all that the Lord has for him:

"but one thing I do, FORGETTING those things which are behind
and REACHING FORWARD to those which are ahead."
Phil. 3:13

There is a lot of junk on this earth: disease, conflict, hatred, rebellion, disorder, death... Creation is bound in imperfection until that glorious day when Jesus returns!

And until then, we must work with all of our might and all of our mind to stay focused on good things, let go of all that hinders, and REACH forward with faith and hope!

I love this familiar verse...

Phil. 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever things are TRUE, whatever things are NOBLE, whatever things are JUST, whatever things are PURE, whatever things are LOVELY, whatever things are OF GOOD REPORT, if there is any VIRTUE and if there is anything PRAISEWORTHY - MEDITATE ON THESE THINGS.

And that's my goal...

To keep pushing towards good and nobility.
To strive to be constantly thankful for my life.
To love the people around me.
To reach out to the needy.
To focus on the tasks God has given ME.

To make a way out of the miry clay of earthly dealings and the dramatic events of the world wide web and live the good and great reality God wants me to live!

Are you stuck in things about which you should forget?
Are you REACHING FORWARD to what lies ahead?


Let's live lives of hope, fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the author and finisher of our faith and of this Earth!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My Top Posts from 2016

Happy New Year everyone!

It's fun to look back over the past year and see which posts were at the top.

If you haven't gotten a chance to read these, check them out! And I plan to be on the blog soon with an encouraging word for the New Year!

Last month I did a giveaway for Andy Traub's Early to Rise Experience for Moms. If you haven't gotten the book yet, check it out! It could be a key to helping you rise earlier in the morning, and starting the new year on a better foot.

One of the highlights of my year was when my husband and I did the Whole30. I did a few posts with meal plans and also one that summed up our experience, as a whole.

A few well-hit recipes were:
A Great Big Tray of Delicious Nachos
Cauliflower Breadsticks
The Pioneer Woman's Brother's Tacos

At the beginning of the year last year, I did some posts about making time for important things. One of those things is to make time to take care of yourself! Even as this new year begins, I remember the importance of that!

A couple posts to encourage you to remember the goodness of God and treasure each moment:
As Life Unravels, Remember: God Gives Good Gifts
Motherhood: Why I Am Treasuring Every Moment

God bless you, and I look forward
to sharing 2017 with you!