Sharing new authors, books, movies, and products with you is such a joy! If you are looking for homeschooling reviews from a transparent relaxed learning eclectic lifestyle with two active middle school boys - - you may enjoy my main blog - .

Friday, April 26, 2013

These are the Days of Elijah, a Review

RT. Kendall weaves us through the life of Elijah, a prophet in the Old Testament. I received this book for free from Baker Publishing Book in exchange for review.  I requested this book because of the title, “These are the Days of Elijah”.  We are going to a home style church that meets on Weds and have been experiencing the presence of God in amazing ways.  I had thought that the book was more towards current times – “How God Uses Ordinary People to Do Extraordinary Things” – but it is a walk through of Elijah’s actual life. 

That aside, the book was refreshing.  If you have not studied who Elijah was, what he went through, and how he stood for the Lord, and then ran in fear of a woman, and hid when depressed – then you will want to read this book.

I really enjoy R.T. Kendall’s style of writing. Deep enough to be a wonderful Bible Study with cross references and the verses printed out in the text, yet conversational, as if you are having visits with R.T. himself as he tells you about one of his friends. I have been privileged to sit in wonderful Sunday School rooms soaking in the sharing of these great men of old. It feels just like that when reading this book.

This type of conversation and deep learning by someone who is sharing from the heart is rare. He brings the historical knowledge forward in a way one can easily understand, enriches it with New Testament references from Christ and Paul, and then brings it to your level today of how it relates to you. I have enjoyed reading pages in the evening.

I am thankful for men like R.T. Kendall who write these wonderful works for us.  I recommend this book for anyone wanting to get to know Elijah or for a small group read.

Baker Publishing Group

ISBN  9780800795375
Dimensions  5.5 x 8.5
Pub. Date  Apr 2013
SRP  $14.99

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ring the Bell, a Movie Review & Giveaway

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I am so excited to introduce the movie Ring The Bell to you!  I just have a few words to help share my enthusiasm. Matthew West. Stephen Curtis Chapman. Casting Crowns. & Baseball. If you knew me you’d realize my review was now over. Ha.

We are in the thick of Youth League Majors Baseball here in our small tourist town.  And, since I just got my car out of the shop after 7 weeks for a 3 hour job, I can just say – I could identify with this movie.

We had to watch it in two parts, some during lunch and some after baseball practice.  My husband and boys came in and out. I think I may be a great mom’s movie. I LOVED the music and the concert with Casting Crowns. I gigged at Matthew West’s role with the baseball team and enjoyed seeing Stephen Curtis Chapman as the pastor. They did a great job. I paddle on the lake with Re-Creation in my MP3 Player and have been Matthew’s #1 fan since his first drive up Hwy 101 to sing in Coos Bay many years ago.  But beside these major favorites – I just have to share that the movie content was just. so. good.

It was captivating. It is not predictable. The story turns and twists. It doesn’t go where you’d expect, and save for the hint on the cover of the DVD, you don’t really know where it ends. In fact, the end is pretty open, you really don’t know what the main character will do with his experience in this small town.


I have the opportunity to give a copy of this DVD away and you are going to want it for sure! Comment here on this blog post for your chance to win!


From the Publishers - About Ring the Bell:

Ring The Bell shares the story of a slick, big city sports agent Rob Decker who seems to have it all. But on his latest mission to sign a high school baseball superstar, Rob becomes stranded in a small town where the simplicity of life—and the faith of the people—stand in stark contrast to his own fast-paced, win-at-all-costs mindset. Torn between these two worlds, will Rob have the courage to let faith transform his life? This heartwarming story of redemption is sure to entertain and inspire the whole family.

Ring The Bell features a host of well-known Christian music artists, such as Mark Hall along with his band Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Matthew West, all who play a role in this inspirational drama. Several former and current Major League Baseball all-stars are also featured in the film: ESPN analysts John Kruk and Rick Sutcliffe (a former Cy Young Award winner), along with Ben Zobrist.

This family-friendly movie was produced by Mark Miller, Beach Street Records' founder and Casting Crowns’ producer. Miller, who is also the lead singer and founder of country music group Sawyer Brown, co-wrote the script with Thomas Weber and Weber directed the production. 

Ring the Bell is available on DVD for only $19.99 

DVD Special Features:

  • The Heart of "Ring the Bell"

  • Casting Crowns “The Well” Music Video

  • On Set with Casting Crowns

  • Famous Faces

  • A Very Special Movie

  • Ringing the Bell
  • The Artists and Music of "Ring The Bell"

  • Website:
  • Watch the Trailer:
  • Facebook:
  • Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 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.

    Desperate, Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe


    DesperateHope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe

    By Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson
    Published by Thomas Nelson

    I do remember. As I sit in my cozy chair, computer on my lap, quiet home, hot coffee and the promise of a day filled with the adventures of my two older boys. I remember.

    The early times. When they were younger. When I didn’t know. When everything was new. And a friend came alongside to help me. At first it was my best girl friend, I’d drive to her house, hand her my crying son, or sometimes just park and point to the car seat as I fell onto her couch asleep before I found horizontal.

    The Lord has brought me friends and mentors and mentors who became my best friends at each point of my journey. Now, 15 years into being a mom, some days I forget how the very fiber of my life depended on those couch moments. 

    Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson had a similar relationship.  I already loved Sally, and met Sarah Mae through this book. Through Sally’s writings, she has already been one of my mentors. Through the power and connection of Social Media, I feel closer to her as I see her life on Facebook and send messages.  This book is open and transparent. Each writer a public figure – sharing their shortcomings and victories in mother hood.  I’d say this is targeted to the younger moms -

    I would say that, but I couldn’t. As much as this is an encouragement to those new moms, it pulls out a desire, a motherly obligation, to realize I am now at the stage of helping those younger moms. This book may give you a calling to become that mentor they so need. 

    I have been a bit hesitant to swap roles, my youngest is 12. I’m not sure how they will turn out and what sort of credentials or right I have to breathe into another’s home and family. However, I don’t have to be a fix it counselor with all of the right advice. I could just be the mom who steps in for an hour to watch the kids while mom naps. Or the mom who plays games with the kids at the park, or the mom who helps a small child with their math home work with a smile on days that their mom is exhausted.

    I actually read this book some time ago, joined a FB support group going through the book chapter by chapter and have made changes in my life because of the calling I have felt. I participated in a New To Homeschool gathering at the local Library, Got involved with our weekly mom meet up on Tuesdays and have tried to have an ear open for those moms who need an extra hand around town. I have been praying that my home may be warm and welcoming to anyone who stops by and needs a rest and retreat.

    No matter where you are on this journey of motherhood, I urge you to read this book, pray about your role in the community of believers and pre-believers – and take at least a small step at either reaching out and accepting help or lending a comforting ear or helping hand.  I couldn’t help but covet the time that Sarah Mae got to spend with Sally over tea and some flowers.  But then a flood of images of those who have been there for me comforted and took the coveting away and replaced it with thankfulness.

    Book Description, From the Publisher:

    "I just can't be a mother today."

    These words have been whispered to God in quiet desperation by mothers who love their children to the depths of their soul, but who are struggling with how hard motherhood is.

    Motherhood turns you inside out. Sometimes you feel overwhelmed by how tired you feel; the days go on and on, and you want to be a "good" mom, but you feel like a failure so much of the time. What happened to all your ideals? When did you end up feeling so...lost?

    Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson have been to the edge and back. Desperate is the story of one young mother’s trials and one experienced mentor’s priceless exhortations. Desperate is not a book about despair, nor is it a rule-laden mothering manual. It is a bouquet from a friend who has been there, reminding us that we are not alone. Sarah Mae’s unvarnished account of her own struggles mothering three feisty young children is a lesson in learning patience, loving idiosyncrasies, accepting help, and—most of all—leaning on God.

    Each chapter includes a brief Bible study with journal exercises to help you find your own quiet center, and get you back into the fray soul-filled and refreshed. Written with candor, empathy, and faith, Desperate is like coffee with a trusted girlfriend; one who knows how hard being a mother can be, and how to navigate the often turbulent road.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> 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.

    The Winnowing Season, Cindy Woodsmall, a Review

    Winnowing Season by Cindy WoodsmalI just finished reading The Winnowing season by Cindy Woodsmall. This is a part 2 of a Trilogy, and I had not read part 1. I knew from Cindy’s other books that this would not be a problem. I think that is why I love her books. Each can stand alone, but when you start reading, it’s like you are catching up with an old friend.

    I enjoyed the struggle that the characters went through, and the development of each one. There are enough characters and situations that you don’t feel like you are following one story line. Three main characters each have their own struggle, with a few extra side story lines to help thicken the story. A strong love triangle mixes through this series, and I enjoyed the journey. Outside of that triangle, this story is set in current day following a group of people who want a new fresh start. They are willing to be pilgrims of sorts, travel to Maine, purchase an 80 acre apple orchard, and use each of their skills to restore the orchard, properties, and livestock. Their hope it to start a new area to live in, with a few other families making plans to join them. They meet some fun characters that live in the town, and interact with the English quite  bit. This is more about their moving, hard work in the Orchard, organic farming, and trying to take care of their pasts than a simple Amish home based story. The parents play a limited role, no grandparents are mentioned, Shoe Fly Pie, Root Beer and Creamed Celery are missing along with tables laden with food. There are no weddings, and only a brief mention of fresh bread. This story is about the struggle of people trying to start over, who happen to be Amish. I carried the book with me everywhere for a couple of days in hopes of snagging a few minutes time to read more – until I finished it this morning. If you are in need for a great vacation book or a weekend read, and you enjoy Amish books – this one is delightful.

    The Winnowing Season by Cindy Woodsmall (Sneak Peek) by WaterBrook Multnomah

    Disclaimer: I received a free e-book in exchange for a review. I am participating in a contest by submitting the trailer and first chapter. I enjoy Blogging for Books and am glad to be a reviewer for them.

    Tuesday, April 16, 2013

    One Glorious Ambition: Book Review

    One Glorious Ambition : The Compassionate Crusade of Dorothea Dix, a Novel

    Jane Kirkpatrick


    On Sale Date: April 2, 2013
    9781400074310, 1400074312
    Paperback / softback / Trade paperback (US)
    $14.99 US / $17.99 Can.
    Fiction / Historical
    Paperback Original





    By now, as a reader of my reviews, I’m assuming you know that Jane Kirkpatrick is my favorite author. Jane has a way of finding women who have done interesting things, in times that women were expected to sweep out soddies, entertain families, and bring up children.  I have a feeling that Dorothea Dix is personal to her, since her “glorious ambition” pertains to the the mentally ill and Jane worked in this field for many years.

    This is definitely not a romantic novel, as Dorothea remains single throughout the book. I know many of you love historical fiction and dislike romance novels.

    As a homeschool mom, I really enjoyed this book. We’ve been studying The Art of Argument and the Discovery of Deduction. We have a couple of Homeschool Dads in the Bend area that have successfully run for Oregon seats in government. The Homeschool Testing bill is up again this year and they are asking for testimony.  There is a huge process, in getting laws in place or changed – that require argument on the floor. Dorothea spends many years in Washington DC arguing for her bill to help the mentally insane.

    Also going on during this period is the thought of the states and slavery. Abolitionists are also trying to get time before congress to argue their points.  We just finished watching Lincoln – and I could physically see the environment that Dorothea would have had to argue in. I could see her up in the seats trying to be a lady, urging her chosen spokesman to argue her bill through. I could feel her disappointment time after time.

    What can one woman do to change thousands of lives in America?  She doesn’t just wait for the Federal Government to change; she gets involved at a local city and state level. This has been my cry for the last few years. Yes, we need to be heard in Washington, but what are you doing in your state to make the spot you live better? Are you supporting your Representatives and Senators at a State level?  She got quite a bit more done targeting local entities.

    This was a great read. As usual, following a live person’s life, it is not full of mystery, twists, turns, crying, gnashing of teeth – this is following the life of a real person, through her real life, while she does extraordinary things and makes choices we agree, and sometimes disagree with. You really want to know how she gets on, and you’ll feel compassionate to her losses and gains along the way, and it will leave you wishing you could have helped her.

    A perfect weekend read.

    From the Publisher:

    A compelling women's historical novel based on the life of a woman who refused to be defined by her past, conventional Victorian thinking, or the people around her-and changed the face of mental illness in the 19th century.
    Growing up in household full of pain and tragedy, Dorothea Dix thought she was destined for nothing more than teaching and to raising her two younger brothers. She opened her first school for girls when she was fifteen and by twenty-three, was a best-selling author living an orderly and disciplined Boston life. But a visit to a prison to teach Sunday School to women in 1841 launched a new path for Dorothea, one that would turn her personal hardships into great strides for the less fortunate. Dorothea fought for the lives of those with mental illness, the poor and prisoners. Her political savvy, rare amongst women in her time, challenged those who made the rules in the almshouses, debtor prisons and private homes where mentally ill people were often chained and forgotten. Those tragic souls changed Dorothea, too, illuminating the path of peace within her own suffering and bring her "a happiness which goes with you."

    A GREAT BOOK CLUB PICK: The themes of mental illness and fighting on behalf of those that can’t fight for themselves will inspire deep discussion.

    Disclaimer: I received this book for free as part of BloggingForBooks.Org in exchange for a review.

    This is Our Time: Movie Review & Giveaway



    We watched This is Our Time as a family on Sunday afternoon. The movie opens as a mixture of Christian friends and siblings are graduating college and walk with them the first year that they are out on their own. To be honest – the story has a pretty slow start. Introducing us to each character. It has a very strong Christian Theme – but with nothing in particular other than wealthy young adults who use the words God and Christ and Pray quite a bit. They want to “Do what God Wants” and are sent on “Missions for God”. They make a choice of whether to pursue God’s Mission or their own financially secure careers. My husband did ask if this was the most boring overly “Christian” movie we had ever watched. I had to think that this quite possibly could be. Even a Veggie Tale Character doesn’t reference the fact that they are Christian this much.

    However, we had just finished watching a RedBox movie. In it, we heard so many curse words that mentally, I had to turn it off and I was glad the boys were no where near to hear.  It was expected, since it was centered around the mafia and illegal gambling. I did feel convicted that it is expected for a criminal to use foul language but feels uncomfortable for a Christian to say over and over that they are one.  Something to think about.

    About 2/3 of the way through the movie, a shift in the story comes, and from then on out, it picks up steam, emotion and surprises. It really was worth watching the very slow part to get to the end.

    Part of the heart of the company putting this on is to encourage young people to go out and work in the mission field. My favorite part is where one of the characters comes to the reality that God cares more about who we are, and who we become, than what we “do” for Him.

    We’ve been there with Youth Groups and Church Groups trying to find a movie that would appropriate for the entire gathering. I would recommend this movie. The attire is very modest, the relationships are very healthy, and the twists are normal and not over dramatized. The denomination of the group is unclear – so any denomination who Loves God and Christ and has a mentor in their life will identify. At graduation, I thought the mentor was a priest but he was wearing a staff graduation gown. He is a ‘professor’, they do not use the words pastor or such to describe. I could not find one offensive part that young eyes would not be able to view.

    Here is the rundown from the publisher:

    About This Is Our Time

    The movie tells the interwoven stories of Luke (T.J. Dalrymple) and AlĂ© (Erin Bethea), who marry right after school and move to India to serve as missionaries for Embrace A Village, a ministry that cares for those afflicted with leprosy and their families; aspiring financier Catherine (Kate Cobb), who joins a prestigious financial institution determined to make an impact on corporate America; Ryder (Matthew Florida), who lands an impressive job in social media and can’t wait to use the powerful medium for a greater good; and Ethan (Shawn-Caulin Young,) seemingly the odd man out, who struggles to find his God-given-purpose and feels sidelined by God.

    “What they all come to learn is that it never really was their time,” Arnold said. “It always was, always is, God’s time.”

    "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. 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."

    Comment to enter into a drawing to have a DVD mailed to your home.