A Beautiful Life

A Beautiful Life

One of my memories of Vacation Bible School as a child is the puppet quartet. We had a puppet quartet that would sing a hymn as part of the daily activities. I can close my eyes and remember each of the puppets, their clothing, and how the puppets looked when they sang those high notes – singing up to God with the nose wiggling with “effort.” I loved it and those songs the puppets sang stuck with me. This is one of those songs.

A Beautiful Life

1. Each day I’ll do a golden deed
By helping those who are in need;
My life on earth is but a span,
And so I’ll do the best I can.

Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
A few more days and I must go
To meet the deeds that I have done,
Where there will be no setting sun.

2. To be a child of God each day,
My light must shine along the way;
I’ll sing His praise while ages roll
And strive to help some troubled soul.

3. The only life that will endure,
Is one that’s kind and good and pure;
And so for God I’ll take my stand,
Each day I’ll lend a helping hand.

4. While going down life’s weary road
I’ll try to lift some trav’ler’s load;
I’ll try to turn the night to day,
Make flowers bloom along the way.

If you would like to listen to it, I found a recording from a church of Christ in Salem, MA, on YouTube.

As I was thinking through these lines again, I saw a beautiful picture of friendship. Not the tried-and-true, long-term friendship. But, rather, the type friendship we should strive to have with anyone we come in contact with. The friendship of one who is “encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” (I Timothy 2:11) If we try to be a friend who lifts “some trav’ler’s load” or tried “to be a child of God each day” or tries to lend a helping hand, what a difference we could make for the kingdom. My goal this week is to be more of this kind of friend. I may not have many who call me a friend but maybe I can be friend, whether they’ll call me that or not, and serve God first.

At Home.

Made By Me – July Blogging Challenge

This summer, J got to attend “Princess Camp” at her dance studio. She had fun dressing as a different princess each day. I made her Cinderella and Belle dresses 2 and 3 years ago, respectively. So, they needed a little tweaking to still fit. I cut a triangular piece of matching material, added the Velcro in the correct places to line up with what was there, and – viola – an extender for the costume. This makes it possible for her to wear them for a while longer and yet, when she passes them down to someone else, they can take out the extender and it will fit them well.

Belle Cinderella

She also dressed as Jasmine one day, which I made last Halloween. Her first costume was actually pjs that have Ariel on them.


The last one, for her performance, I whipped up from a costume leotard that my middle giggly girl designed about 4 years ago. I cut off part of it, added some details, added a skirt, and she was thrilled with her Sleeping Beauty/Aurora costume. J did all the designing for this one and I did the sewing. It was a fun collaboration and she learned a bit more about what can and cannot be done with altering already created items.

Sleeping Beauty

Sewing is fun for me and I am glad when the girls want something for themselves since it is mostly doll sewing these days.

At Home.


I am linking up for the July Blogging Challenge with A Glimpse of Our Life and This Day Has Great Potential.


Parent Training Center Giveaway

Giveaway alert! I don’t participate in these very often but this was one I wanted you all to see. I have been impressed with the materials I have seen from the National Center for Biblical Parenting. I have enjoyed being on their Launch Teams for some of their materials. While I know that the Bible directs us to action and baptism for redemption and salvation, which these materials tend to not indicate, I think there is a lot of good, solid, Biblical advice offered. I encourage you all to check out their materials and see if you think they are a good fit for you. And share them with your churches. This time around, the Launch Team is actually promoting the Parent Training Centers.

A Parent Training Center is a church that intentionally trains parents, providing resources and tools both for discipleship of believers and for evangelism to families in the community.

The National Center for Biblical Parenting offers resources, and practical support to help you become the Parent Training Center God designed. The Equipping Program contains a number of mobilization tools to help you advance to the next level in your parent discipleship ministry.

With this program you’ll interact with experts as well as other pastors and church leaders. Receive personalized guidance for your unique church situations. Use resources that will equip your parents to reach their children’s hearts.

Parent Training Center Giveaway for Churches

To introduce your church to the Parent Training Center concept, we are hosting an awesome giveaway that includes some of our best church and parent training resources, along with a $100 gift certificate to the National Center for Biblical Parenting store. Here’s what your church could win:

Parenting Is Heart Work DVD Church Kit ($199.95 value)

Equip parents to touch the hearts of their kids with this biblically-based, practical training program. Parents and teachers of children 2-18 years will benefit from this life-changing curriculum. The Parenting is Heart Work Church Kit includes:


• Eight 35-minute video sessions

• A Leader’s Guide with reproducible pages for attendees

• A copy of the 256 page book Parenting is Heart Work

The videos were filmed before a live audience of parents and children. Using drama, Bible stories, and lots of illustrations, Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN will energize you and provide you with tools you need to strengthen your family. Use this eight-part video series in your church, small group, or even in your own family. Many times parents have to change the way they parent in order for children to change the way they live.


The Family Toolbox DVD Church Kit ($179.95 value)

he Family Toolbox has 8 lessons for parents, teens, or both in a small group setting. Each one has a 1-2 minute scene of a family living life and experiencing common challenges in their relationships. A discussion guide prompts dialogue among parents and a 10-minute teaching session featuring Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN gives practical tools to use right away.

As the group works through the lessons parents learn:

• How to focus on the heart instead of just behavior

• The cues you give that tell your children when you mean business

• Practical ways to remove conflict from the problems of family life

• How to end correction times with impact

• A tool for maximizing heart change in the correction process

• The value of teaching kids to accept no as an answer

• Ways to reduce anger episodes in children

The Family Toolbox is designed for families with children ten years old and up and is an excellent resource for small groups. Each lesson can be done in 20-30 minutes, but could also lead to discussion and dialogue lasting an hour or more.

Coupon to purchase resources in the NCBP Store ($100 value)

Visit the NCBP store to discover a plethora of church and parent training resources.


To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:

This giveaway is open to residents of the U. S. only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.  Entrants to this giveaway will be added to the email list for the National Center of Biblical Parenting.


I’ll be sharing it with our elders for them to investigate and see if it is something that would be appropriate for our congregation. Maybe you’ll do the same?

At Home.




With Lee In Virginia – a TOS review

With Lee discs 2

Once again, we have been treated to an amazing learning experience through audio theater with our review of With Lee in Virginia. This is the newest audio drama to be produced by Heirloom Audio Productions. And it surpasses their previous two in quality and enjoyment. (You can read our reviews of Under Drake’s Flag and In Freedom’s Cause when you are done reading here, if you’d like.)

Heirloom Audio Productions is striving to bring history to life. The stories they tell are adapted from G.A. Henty novels. But they don’t just adapt the story. They research it. They travel to the places the characters will go and see the things the characters will see. So that they can get it right and make it even more interesting to the listener. And they search out Christian examples of God infusing lives. You can learn more on their website.

CD cover
As you might guess from the title, With Lee In Virginia is set in the Civil War. It is the story of Vincent Wingfield, his relationships, and his experiences in the war. After joining the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia, he serves under General Robert E Lee and General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Through interactions with Vincent and the men, we learn a lot about General Lee’s character and General Jackson’s character. All three men are Christians with a strong belief in God. Duty, prayer and love for your enemies is a strong theme throughout the story.

If you have never experienced an audio drama production, I highly recommend any of the tiles from Heirloom Audio. We have enjoyed all three of their productions so far and this one I think is our favorite. I don’t know if it is because it is a story about America but this has already gotten a lot of play. An audio drama is a story that is acted out, completely, except you do not have the visual acting. It is all audio. The voices are animated. The sound effects are spectacularly real and descriptive. The story is easy to follow. It is full-fledged acting with audio being all that is recorded. Amazing and enjoyable!

Robert E Lee quote

When we received this two-disc set, E snatched it the minute the box was open. She was free for the afternoon so she took the discs and went to her room. She didn’t come out until the story was over. Since then, she has listened to it at least four other times. The story is so engrossing, the sounds so effective, that she loves it. She has learned a lot and is absorbing more each time she listens.

One of the wonderful things that Heirloom Audio does is to create and include a study guide for the production. For this set, inside the paper insert, there is a link that you can go to on the computer to access the study guide. The study guide is a great asset for learning with the audio productions. It helps direct thinking and guide the listener to more specific ideas or topics that might be missed or need to explored more deeply.

With Lee discs and study guide

For our use, we printed the study guide and took it to have it bound. It cost about $4 to have it spiral bound. We will be able to use this in the future now, as well. There isn’t room in this study guide to do the writing so E used notebook paper and wrote the numbers and answers on blank notebook papers. Each page of the study guide is correlated to a track or a section of a track. This is a wonderful addition to the study guide this time! You can follow the track and then stop the disc and answer the questions. And, if you are struggling with an answer, it is easy to find where on the disc the answer should be and listen to it again.

Each track or section of a track has three parts to the questions: Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words. E had to answer all but one question each in Listening Well and Thinking Further. This was a compromise between us and allows her to skip questions she thinks are too easy or too hard. She did have to define all of the words, though. She just wrote them on notebook paper.

E working with study guide

J, age 6, loves the audio dramas, as well. She would find her way into the room anytime E would put on With Lee In Virginia. When it came time to work with the study guide, I had J answer some of the questions for Listening Well and Thinking Further out loud. We also discussed the Defining Words.

The study guide included a few other items of interest. There are two Bible studies – one a study of duty and the other titled Love Your Enemy. There was a short article on sectionalism and a page on Slavery in the Bible. There may have been a couple of additional items but these are what I printed off for the girls.

The track listings for the questions was my only complaint about the study guide previously. Now, I don’t think I have any. And, they have added some recommended reading lists for parents and older children. How awesome! One additional thing that I loved about the study guide was the images of historical pictures, advertisements, and documents on the pages. First source materials for the students to see – fantastic.

As part of our review we received a number of additional materials that are available to you, depending on the package you purchase. We received a copy of the G.A. Henty novel that has been made into an ebook with illustrations added by Heirloom Audio. There was a poster that could be printed with the quote from Robert E Lee. We were given mp3 versions of the production, as well as a copy of the soundtrack.

We highly recommend With Lee in Virginia and all of the Heirloom Audio Production titles.

At Home.


Catch up with Heirloom on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WithLeeInVirginia
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeirloomStories
Google+: https://plus.google.com/b/114534826166314080647/114534826166314080647/posts

Read additional reviews from the Review Crew by click the banner below.

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama ReviewCrew Disclaimer

God Will Take Care of You

God will take care of youThinking through the post I shared yesterday, I couldn’t help but dwell on hymns today that focused on the care God provides for us. And I am so thankful (which is the July Blogging challenge word for today). We see his care and concern for His people throughout the Bible – provisions for the Israelites while wandering in the wilderness, giving David guidance through Nathan and others, providing the resources and plans and ability for Noah to build an ark, sending help to Paul after he was blinded, Naomi’s daughter-in-law Ruth working the fields to bring grain, Jesus feeding thousands with only a few fish and loaves of bread. There are so many examples in the Bible.

There are also people around us who can share the ways God has provided for them, whether it is a spiritual care that was provided or whether it was physical need that was met. God loves and will provide for us. This doesn’t mean he will solve all of our problems if we do what He tells us to in the Bible. He won’t miraculously remove any physical ills we have just because we believe. It means we can be secure in knowing, that once we have obeyed Him by repenting and confessing our sins and being baptized, our future is in heaven with Him. Where no moth or rust can destroy and no thief can break in a steal or kill. We are secure in eternity when we obey Him. He has taken care of us through His son Jesus – his death, burial and resurrection. God is good and He will take care of you.

So, this brought me to this hymn – God Will Take Care of You. If you want to listen to a recording of it, visit the Great Songs Chapel site from Oklahoma Christian University.

God Will Take Care of You

Words by: C. D. Martin, 1904
Music by: W. Stillman Martin, 1904

v 1. Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
God will take care of you;
Beneath His wings of love abide,
God will take care of you.

God will take care of you,
Through ev’ry day, O’er all the way;
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.

v 2. Through days of toil when heart doth fail,
God will take care of you;
When dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you.


v 3. All you may need He will provide,
God will take care of you;
Nothing you ask will be denied,
God will take care of you.


v 4. No matter what may be the test,
God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast,
God will take care of you.



As you walk through today and tomorrow, remember that God will take care of you. He loves you.

At Home.

I am linking up for the July Blogging Challenge with A Glimpse of Our Life and This Day Has Great Potential.

If I Knew Then – July Blogging Challenge

If I Knew Then

This is a hard one for me. I could easily take on the norms:

  • If I knew those I loved would be gone so quickly, I’d do things differently, hugging more, talking more, loving more.
  • If I knew the girls would grow up so quickly (yes, we’ve heard it forever but it is still a surprise for me almost daily), I would focus more on them, on loving moments, treasured times, and all that.
  • If I knew that I would be teaching my girls at home, I would have saved different things and gotten rid of different things along the way. I would have looked at things differently 15 years ago.

The reality for me is, when I think of the challenge phrase, I think I am kind of glad I didn’t know then what I do now.

Because then, I wouldn’t be me.

I wouldn’t be the wife I am today. I might be worse; I might be better.

I wouldn’t be the mom the girls know today. I might be better but I might not.

As a couple, we would have chosen differently if we knew then all that we do now – about jobs, about education, about where we lived. But then, we wouldn’t be as strong as we are. Everything we have gone through has strengthened us.

We treasure our girls because they are here with us. We miss the two babies we aren’t able to cuddle and love on. But having gone through losing them in pregnancy, we treasure our girls more than I can put into words. We grew so much in our trust and faith in our God through those losses. We are stronger, we see life more clearly, we treasure each day more. While painful, those were good for us in the long run. Would I love to have it different? Absolutely, but we are better for it. God walked us through those times, giving us hope and help and strength and comfort. Without Him, it would have been so lonely. But we have been able to share that hope and help and comfort with others going through the same sort of loss a number of times because of our first-hand knowledge. And we know that we will make it through because of Him.

We went through a year of unemployment, using up the savings we had so carefully stored, not knowing what was in our future. But, that year has brought us to a wonderful place where we are close to family and working and serving with a wonderful congregation of the Lord’s people. The career change that happened that year was sudden and surprising in many ways but it has been one of the best things that has happened for us. Was that year tough? Yes. We struggled through a lot of uncertainty. Did we grow? Yes. More than we would have if we had had a steady income or not had a new baby in the house. Are we better and stronger in our faith because of it? Absolutely. God guided us through that year, putting people and resources in our path that helped us. We made it through because of Him.

These are a couple of our “hard times” that people often look back on and say “if I knew then…” But really, I am glad I have gone through these times. I am a better Christian, a better wife, a better mother, a better person because of these things. So, while “if I knew then” might be something many people desire, it is not for me. God placed me in all these situations for a reason and I hope I am honoring him with the way I respond and learn from each.

At Home.

Linking up at A Glimpse of Our Life and This Day Has Great Potential for the July Blogging Challenge.

SimplyFun – a TOS review

SimplyFun challenge

Do you believe that play has a purpose? SimplyFun does. This company strongly believes that play can make the world a better place, increase learning, and build bonds and strengthen family ties through interactive and educational games such as Shape Whiz.

Shape WhizReviewing Shape Whiz has been a blast and it is one of those products about which our family has said “I can’t believe we got to review this! It is so much fun!” Begging to pull the game out night after night, we have played this game several times a week since we got it. We have enjoyed being together and playing together. That doesn’t even touch on all the math – yes, math! – that the girls learned.

Math/Geometry and critical thinking skills are the focus of the academic learning with Shape Whiz. The math skills include things such as area, perimeter, and angles. Terminology includes greater than, less than, parallel, sides, line of symmetry and more. The learning is so engrained now that these are almost every day language for the girls; they are not just for math time anymore. Playing Shape Whiz so much has helped the girls see these things in every day life and application. It is wonderful!

set up to playCritical thinking skills show up throughout the game, as well. To play, you have a mathematical statement that you have to find the answer for. It isn’t really a question, more a phrase. Something like “< two lines of symmetry”. Or maybe “perimeter of > 8″. (Some of these took quite a bit of out loud discussion between At Home Dad and I to decide what it was asking for but once we figured out the patterns, it made all of them easier to read.) Each player has shape cards turned up in front of them that may or may not answer the statement. The players are racing to find the card that fits the statement. There can be more than one right answer or no cards that fit the statement. This is challenging your thinking skills and forcing a player to be able to verbally defend their answer choice when another player questions the card.


We played this game several different ways, modifying it for the youngest member of our family to be able to participate. At 6 years old, she could not compete with her older sisters in speed since we had to explain a lot of the terminology to her. So, when she was playing, the person turning the statement card over had to read it out loud and then each person had to give her a chance to answer it first. Then every one could jump in and race to answer the it. When I played with just me and her, we just answered the questions together one by one, learning the words and phrases. She picked up on a lot of the concepts and ideas quickly.

When we played without the 6 year old, we tried to play it by the rules. The first couple of times were hard; it is definitely a game that you learn the rules by playing. We played with just the blue cards for a while, as these were the simpler shapes making the answers a bit easier to find. Once the girls became a bit more familiar with the terms and application of the concepts, we switched to just the green cards with the more difficult, less straight-forward shapes (such a tear drops and semi-circles). We did mix the cards some to play, as well.

Shape Whiz box

This is a definite hit for our family. We will be using this game a lot. It is fun to see the girls mathematical reasoning skills growing by leaps and bounds through a game that can be played in 30 minutes or less. Even a busy family can find 30 minutes to spend together playing a game.

Building Smarter Kids and Stronger Families through the amazing Power of Play! – that is SimplyFun.

If you would like to experience the power of play, visit SimplyFun. They have offered At Home readers a discount code that is available through July 31, 2015. At checkout, just use the code SHREVIEW for 15% off of your first purchase. You can’t beat that. I have been eyeing a couple of their items to use this code with. I imagine you’ll find something, as well.

At Home.

Find SimplyFun on social media.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simplyfun
Twitter: https://twitter.com/simplyfun
Instagram: https://instagram.com/simplyfun/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/simplyfun/

To find more reviews of SimplyFun, Shape Whiz, and another game titled Expanders, click the Review Crew banner.

Simply Fun Review

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