Sunday, October 18, 2015

Book Review: The Photograph by Beverly Lewis

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It is hard to pass up a new release by Beverly Lewis.  All of her series include sweet, relatable stories that are true to the Amish culture.

This novel, the third in her latest series, centers around a photograph a young Amish man finds by happenstance while on a train trip. He isn't sure why, but he keeps the photograph, along with the book where it was slipped inside. The Amish girl in the photograph never seems to leave his mind, and he is more than surprised when he actually comes upon this very girl during his visit to Eden Valley. Not only does he find the girl, but falls for her during his visit.  

It isn't until later that he learns who the girl actually is from the photograph, and that he has a very important part in finally bringing her home.

If you are a Beverly Lewis fan, or just love Amish novels, you will want to make sure this book is added to your reading list, whether or not you have read the other two books in the series.

Want more good books to read?  Clock on the "Book Reviews" tab and see the list of all my reviews by subject.  Also, please subscribe by email or follow via one (or more!) of the social media outlets for updates!

Affiliate links included in this post.  Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House book review program. I was not required to write a positive review; the opinions I have expressed are my own.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Homeschooling: Today in American History - Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

On October 3, 1789, our first president proclaimed November 26, 1789 a day of "public thanksgiving and prayer," recommended by both Houses of Congress.

In their request, they asked Washington "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

The Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate on the last Thursday of November was established by Abraham Lincoln, and formally made into law by Congress in 1941.

To read George Washington's proclamation in PDF form to save or print, visit this link.

This history is from The Heritage Foundation's First Principles series.

Friday, September 25, 2015

#musesofamom: My Easy Tips for Having a Successful Garage Sale

As we start to look forward to cooler weather here in Central Texas, we will begin to see another season of garage sale shopping. With the kids back in school, it's the perfect time to clean out closets as new back to school clothes take up space.  If you are taking advantage of the cooler season to have your sale, here are 24 great tips to get you started toward sale success. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Book Review: It's Good to Be Queen by Liz Curtis Higgs

In my bookcase are books from many authors, but there are a handful who I truly adore and will buy their newest title as soon as it's released. Liz Curtis Higgs is definitely one of those writers.  One day I hope to meet her, because she is so authentic in her books, she's a great rapper and I can totally relate to her. (Besides the fact that she would be a super FUN girlfriend!)

"It's Good to Be Queen" is another one of her non-fiction, historical books that relates God-given wisdom through a biblical character. This time Liz brings to life the account of  the Queen of Sheba, who was on a quest of wisdom during a visit with King Solomon.

Liz takes the account in I Kings 10:1-13 and gives ten different applications of how we can use this story of the Queen of Sheba in our own lives.  She takes each verse and breaks it down into smaller pieces to digest and study, and adds her own special interpretation through a first person account from "Sheba" herself.

This book would be an excellent choice for a book club or bible study; there are discussion questions and full study guide in the back of the book.

Want more good books to read?  Click on the "Book Reviews" tab and see the list of all my reviews by subject.  Also, please subscribe by email or follow via one (or more!) of the social media outlets for updates! 

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

#TexasHistoryRoadTrip: Enchanted Rock State Park

The second stop on our #texashistoryroadtrip was to the Enchanted Rock State Park, 18 miles north of Fredericksburg, Texas and about a 2 hour drive from the city of Austin. With weekends and holidays extremely busy at the park, we planned our trip for a Friday, arriving about 10:30 AM, when the heat was not yet at the peak of the day.

Miss our first #texashistoryroadtrip post? Read about the Lyndon B Johnson Presidential Library.

Enchanted Rock is a pink granite dome, the second largest batholith in the country, second to Stone Mountain in Georgia (which is quartz monzonite).  There are several hiking trails, but the most popular is the Summit Trail, which goes to the top of the dome.

There is history to Enchanted Rock, although it isn't anything that is visible. To learn about past inhabitants and visitors, read this history of Enchanted Rock from the Texas State Historical Association "Handbook of Texas." This is information that we are adding to our Texas History notebook.  

We also had our science lesson while at the top of the dome, learning about the how all those divots in the rock are "pioneer communities" (see photo below).  We also learned about vernal pools that can be seen in the park. Read more about the Geology, Plants and Animals of Enchanted Rock. 

Things to know if you visit:
  • Entrance fees are $7 per adult; kids 12 and under are free.  
  • If going on a weekend, go early and arrive early. The park closes once it has reached capacity for the day, which can happen early. There is a sign on Ranch Road 965 that flashes if the park has been closed. 
  • Carry plenty of water. 
  • Take a picnic lunch. We were starving once we descended the rock and the boys wouldn't have been able to make it back to Fredericksburg!  
  • Dogs are allowed on the trails; take plenty of extra water for them. We almost wished we had booties for our pup's paws to protect her from the hot granite she experienced on the way down the rock.
  • More nearby geologic attractions to visit are described on Texas Through Time. Another easy stop on the way back to Fredericksburg from Enchanted Rock is Cross Mountain.  
We spent some time exploring at the top of the dome, but after a hot and tiring descent, we didn't go on any of the other trails this visit.  

After a quick sandwich picnic, we headed out and back through Fredericksburg,  Although we have been to Fredericksburg many times, and plan to go back to see other historical sites, it was the steeple on a church that caused us to make a quick right turn for a look.    

This is St. Mary's Parish, which dates back to 1846 with the arrival of German settlers to the area. The new church next door was built in 1906. Both churches are still in use today. It was interesting to note that the first parish steeple is designed more like the old missions, while the new church has the traditional steeple of the early 1900s.

Fredericksburg is known for peaches, and although it was at the very end of the season, we hoped to find a place to pick up a few fresh peaches. Outside of Fredericksburg on Highway 290, we found a peach stand that was still open, where we picked up a dozen fresh peaches.  A little farther down the highway, we saw our place for dessert: Bariloche Farms. This was our first visit, but we can attest that the homemade peach ice cream and peach cobbler is just the best!  It has a wonderful gift shop with canned foods and specialty items along with baked goods.  

It was an exhausting day, but another great #texashistoryroadtrip! If you have visited this location, why not leave your comments and suggestions below for others?  Another exciting adventure will be posted soon! 

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Links provided in this post are non-affiliated and for your benefit as you research your own #texashistoryroadtrip.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

#musesofamom: How Should Christian's Respond to the World's Ridicule?

Yesterday on my personal Facebook page, I shared an article that reported results of a survey, claiming that secular parents were raising their children just as good, and actually better, than Christian parents.  Secular parents do a better job, the survey concluded, because their kids have "rational problem solving, personal autonomy, independence of thought, avoidance of corporal punishment, a spirit of  'questioning everything' and, far above, empathy."  As a result, these kids will have better morals since "morality comes not from a book, or a guy up in the sky, but from the idea that how you treat people matters, because how people feel matters."

As a Christian, this upsets me. I witness how the morals of this country are actually declining because of this secular thinking.  I realize how certain groups, representing just a small minority, are forcefully pushing their own secular agendas forward, regardless how the majority of other Americans feel about it.  I see how these same groups are grabbing the attention of politicians who then feel that they have to "give in" to this minority just to be politically correct.  I certainly do not perceive that people are being treated any better, nor are they given any more empathy, than before.  

Even more frustrating is that Christians are becoming the target.  We are continually being scolded and reprimanded for believing what we believe.  When we stand up for what is right, we are bashed and smeared for being insensitive and fanatical.  When we fail, we are ridiculed and condemned as hypocrites.  

Does it upset you too?

Monday, September 07, 2015

#TexasHistoryRoadTrip: Lyndon B Johnson Presidential Library

Since we decided that 7th grade was the year we would do Texas History, we couldn't wait to get started! We did not purchase curriculum, but instead, we are doing a unit study I designed (which will start going online soon) along with a series of road trips. We are fortunate to live in the central Texas area, so many historical spots and museums holding the basics of Texas history are local or a day trip away.

This week we made the first stop of our #texashistoryroadtrip at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidental Library, located on the University of Texas campus in Austin.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

#musesofamom: How to Win the Battle for Your Teen's Mind

On a morning not long ago, I read an online group post that the teenage son of a well-known person in that community had committed suicide.  This young man was from a family of faith and strong beliefs. It breaks my heart when any parent must suffer the death of a child.  There is no high school graduation, no more birthdays, and no way of knowing how the Lord planned to use his life.  The sorrow for the family will be ongoing and the numerous “whys” may never be answered. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Book Review: I'm Happy for You (Sort Of ... Not Really) by Kay Wills Wyma

I'm Happy for You (Sort Of...Not Really) by Kay Wills Wyma
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Get out your highlighters Girlfriends, because you are gonna find tons of wisdom nuggets in this book you will want to mark and re-read!

When I had the opportunity to read and to review this new release by Kay Wills Wyma, I clicked so fast it made my mouse scream. Kay's first book, "Cleaning House" (my review HERE) was such a fun read, I was sure her newest book wouldn't disappoint, and I was right.  

Kay Wills Wyma bravely approaches the subject that so many of us deal with: the "Comparison Trap."  With our constant scrolling, seeing photos and videos of others make us feel that we have lives that incomplete. As a result, we often have the need to perform, to compete, and to bow to the pressure of comparing our life with the lives of others. In this book, Kay shares stories and examples from her family along with insights that will encourage you "Dare to Not Compare" and realize that you can have a life of contentment, freedom from social pressures, joy and the ability to really be happy for others!  

Want more good books to read? Click on the "Book Reviews" tab and see the list of all my reviews by subject.  Also, please subscribe by email or follow via one (or more!) of the social media outlets for updates.

Affiliate links included in this post. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books ( book review program. I was not required to write a positive review; the opinions I have expressed are my own.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

#musesofamom: How Today's Pop Culture Influences Our Kids.

Update (08/2015):  This post has become one of the most frequented in this last month and because of that, more people have read my strong views on today's pop culture. There was backlash from some readers of different views who felt my post was biased and unfair. This may appear to them as being the case, but from my Christian point of view, I feel the points expressed in this post are based on biblical truths.  As a result of other respected critiques, I have edited this post to somewhat soften the tone; however, there is nothing changed overall from the original theme.  

What do you think about today's pop culture?  Is it just entertainment? Does it make any difference on our families?

You may or may not agree, but I do hope you will read my insights today on pop culture.  I believe that we need to see it as a significant force in society today, because it is something that will impact the thinking and beliefs of our kids, no matter what their age.  

Saturday, May 23, 2015

#musesofamom: Should Christians Publicly Give Their Opinion on Other Christians?

Have you ever been disappointed in someone you "follow" online?  Would you unfollow or unfriend?  
That's my case today. Sure, every blogger may post something that we may not agree with (mine included!) but we follow anyway. In my case, I unfollowed because I felt these Christian writers' criticisms were unnecessary. It was unsettling to read their harsh and cutting statements against another Christian family, albeit a public family, in regards to a terrible incident that took place several years ago (before they were on television). The family has since made very sincere, public statements regarding the incident (which was the result of a pop culture magazine breaking the story). Mainstream media outlets have kept the story highlighted on every social media feed. 

Out of the gate, let me say this first:  I am NOT condoning the confessed sin or stating that the victims were unharmed.  However, I do think that it is unnecessary for Christians to opine (although their right, certainly) on any type of “scandal” such as this.  I'll tell you why.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Book Review: A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home

My latest book to review was a fun read -- it's like several of  Pinterest boards all in one book! The contents are trendy, colorful -- it is meant to inspire (it will!) and not intimidate you (it won't!).

These gals have put together some lovely ideas for your entire home, as well as fun do-able makes for entertaining.  So many of these genre of books are engaging, but when thinking about it, would you really try to make any of the projects?  However for this book, the authors have provided inspirational projects with an abundance of photos and easy-to-follow step by step directions. There is a little bit of everything, from painting, sewing, baking, gardening, decorating, organizing . . . the creativity vibe is endless.  This will be a book that I will keep on my shelf as a go-to for brainstorming new projects. 

Ready to get started on some amazing decor?  You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Want more good books to read? Click on the "Book Reviews" tab and see the list of all my reviews by subject.  Also, please subscribe by email or follow via one (or more!) of the social media outlets for updates.

Affiliate links included in this post. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books ( book review program. I was not required to write a positive review; the opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review: "Fight Back with Joy" by Margaret Feinberg

Margaret Feinberg is definitely on my list of favorite bible teachers.  After reading "Wonderstruck," I was eager to learn more from her next book.

As a follower of Margaret's blog, I was already aware of her battle with cancer and now current remission. When this new book was announced, I was quite surprised to find that the subject was joy.  
Hmm.  Joy? 

With awesome respect for Margaret's bible knowledge and teaching, I already knew that I would read this book regardless of the subject. And I admit, I was curious!

Friday, January 16, 2015

#musesofamom: Four Ways to Help a Grieving Friend

When crisis and tragedy touch the lives of loved ones and friends, it is sometimes difficult to know the best way to respond to their circumstances.
What do I say?  What should I do?  How do I know that they want me to help?