Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wee-wind Wednesday

Let's jump back to this date ... 2010. Our house got "Booed" and Isaac thought it would be great fun to put the bucket the surprise came in on everyone's head -- include Elijah AND Scrubs.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Because of Isaac welcomes new little one!

I LOVE when I get the opportunity to share this news. One of our Because of Isaac couples -- Kevin and Tessa -- have met their forever son this evening. Please join me in celebrating the SIXTH child to find their forever family through our organization!!!!

Carson Allen Yawn

Tribe Life Tuesday: Don't Quit Your Daydream

Welcome to the tribe of daydreamers!
We’re all daydreamers, mind wanderers, and reality escapers, some are just more identifiable than others. These days there seems to be a lot of negativity around daydreaming, some even equate it to laziness. But for the next few moments, let’s go on an adventure.

Take a minute and picture the biggest dream your currently have…

Dream big.
The sky’s the limit!
Do you have it?
That, my friend, is an amazing dream!

Here are 2 of my dreams:
            1. Own a luxury plane
            2. Adopt children from various countries and have a beautifully diverse family.

*If you feel comfortable sharing some of your dreams, please comment below, I would love to hear all about them! (You can comment anonymously too) *

Now that you have your dream in mind, let’s go after it. Let’s pretend for a moment that there is nothing holding you back. Imagine that you have endless resource, how would your dream change? Would it get larger?

It may seem far-fetched, even impossible, but I believe we can make these dreams happen! Two of my favorite words are “why” and “not”, so I have to ask you: Why not? Honestly, why not go for it? It may take a while and it will probably have some painful moments, but the dream is worth it, and more than that, the process is worth it!

The amazing Walt Disney once said, All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” and boy, does it take courage to follow a dream. It seems as though dreams are free in the mind and costly in our actions. Our dreams rarely take reality into account and it can be hard to balance the two. I find it particularly difficult to dream when I have a lot going on in my life or when I have experienced disappointment. During those times it feels like that precious, dreaming, mental space can be easily ransacked by the normal things of life like the job, my family, money, etc.

Dream space has to be fought for. I have to fight to get it back and fight to protect it from invasion. As adults, more accurately,responsible” adults, the notion of daydreaming is too lofty and practicality is most important. But boy, oh boy, is that FALSE. The practical details of life are essential and they will ALWAYS be there but it is the splendor of dreaming that fills us with hope to keep going. My advice to you is: allow yourself to dream. Allow yourself to see what doesn’t exist, to believe in a bigger life, a life where anything is possible. Let’s break open the bottle of imaginative thinking and drink up!

Think that daydreaming is just for kids or anyone other than you? Think again! Even science backs up the practice of dreaming. Science says:

You daydream less as you get older.
Peter Delaney, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, has done extensive study on this and notes how daydreaming is the imagining of the potential future. But as we grow older and into adulthood, daydreaming slows, as if the future before us is shrinking.

Daydreaming turns off other parts of the brain.
Empathy and analytics are two key systems in our brains that keep us functioning well. When a tricky numbers problem comes up at work, the analytic side of your brain effectively shuts the empathetic side off to maximize your ability to solve the problem. There’s no room for empathy when you’re deep in analytics. But, when you’re daydreaming, your brain cycles beautifully through these systems seamlessly as they turn each other off.

Daydreaming makes you more creative.
Creativity is really just the association of things in a new or unique way. Oftentimes our daydreaming mind will be able to make connections that, if we were thinking about it, we would never come to.

If you want to learn more about what science has to say about day dreaming, check out this National Geographic article.

While daydreaming is wonderful and hold many benefits, I do know there should be a balance in everything. Dr. Kaufman, an NYU psychology professor and author, has advocated for each person to “balance your focused mind with your wandering mind. … The latest research on imagination and creativity shows that if we’re always in the moment, we’re going to miss out on important connections between our own inner mind-wandering thoughts and the outside world. Creativity lies in that intersection between our outer world and our inner world.” To learn more about Dr. Kaufman’s thoughts, check out this article.

I want to leave you with this: to dream is to explore untapped realities, to lend your soul to ideas and concepts that have yet to hit the real world. I encourage you to reflect on the world around you, visualize your big, bold, bright future, and let that passion fuel you to take a step. You have great dreams inside you that are just waiting for you to be courageous. I believe in you! You can do it!

Thank you for dreaming with the Tribe today!

See you next Tuesday.


Review: Middlebury Interactive Languages

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
Middlebury Interactive Languages makes learning a new language so much fun! We jumped at the chance to review Elementary Spanish 1 (Grades K-2) here in our home. Making sure our children learn a language amidst our homeschool curriculum is very important to us. We've decided that while JB loves German and I love Turkish, Spanish is probably the best choice for our family and where we live in our country.

The program is intended for one student. Since my boys are both in second grade, I decided to let them take turns doing lessons. When I review a product, I really like to get the opinions of all the kids that are participating in that particular lesson as they have very different personalities and likes/dislikes.

From the mouth of babes
Anytime even one of my boys says they like a schoolwork assignment, I sit up and take notice. They are both very opinionated about schoolwork and do not hesitate to tell me when an assignment or program is not up to their expectations.

So when we hit upon a program that they both find interesting, I especially take notice, and it definitely gets a good review from me.

When it came to Elementary Spanish 1 (Grades K-2) from Middlebury Interactive Languages this program received rave reviews in our house from both of my second grade boys. Here was what the boys had to say:

Isaac: "It is one of the best school work assignments we do. Listening to the music is the most fun for me."
Sidge: "I think it is pretty good. I like to watch the videos."

When it comes to the videos, this is what Sidge is referring to:

See for yourself
When you log in to the program, you come to a screen that looks like a calendar. I've taken a screen shot below so you can see it:

Each day has a short activity for the child to complete. These activities are very manageable in length and effort needed. Here is a screen shot of what my boys would see when they began a lesson.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
Each item that they needed to work through is on the left. As they completed an item, they'd click on the next one to move on. Types of activities that they might have the opportunity to complete include:
  • Watching a video about the culture of a region (as I showed above)
  • Printing out a sheet to color
  • Clicking on pictures to hear the Spanish word
  • Taking a short test
  • And much more!

Usually my boys could complete each lesson in well under fifteen minutes. This is a very manageable amount of time for them. And since every lesson is so varied and different, they never complained of boredom or frustration.

What Middlebury offers
We received a six month subscription for Elementary Spanish 1 (Grades K-2). However, our Spanish program is only one of many offered by Middlebury Interactive Languages. Other programs include:

  • Elementary Spanish 1 (grades 3-5)
  • Elementary Spanish 2 (grades 3-5)
  • Middle School Spanish 1 (grades 6-8)
  • Middle School Spanish 2 (grades 6-8)
  • High School Spanish 1 (grades 9-12)
  • High School Spanish 1 Fluency (grades 9-12)
  • High School Spanish 2 (grades 9-12)
  • High School Spanish 2 Fluency (grades 9-12)
  • High School Spanish 3 (grades 9-12)
  • AP Spanish Language and Culture (grades 11-12)

There are also classes offered in other languages like French, German, and Chinese!

You can also check Middlebury Interactive Languages out on Facebook, Twitter (@Middinteractive), Pinterest.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday Truth

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tips from "grown up" moms

I recently asked a few of my mom friends that I really respect and who have children who are a bit older then mine what they wish they'd known or wish they would have done when they had kids my kids' ages. Here were their tips!

Are you a veteran mom? Have something I should add? Please leave a comment!

  • Stand firm without showing anger. 
  • Hold them accountable but give plenty of grace. 
  • Don't say it if you can't enforce it. 
  • Apologize often, forgive freely, be humble, speak softly, look them in the eye, make them look you in the eye. 
  • Have them get in the habit of confirming everything you say with 'yes Ma'm'. That way they can never give the excuse that they didn't hear you. 
  • Things will never be fair. They may as well understand this early. When my kids say something is not fair, I agree and say we don't want fair because it wasn't fair that Jesus paid the price for my sin. 
  • Don't let them complain about being bored. Don't get angry. Just calmly say: "That's great because I need help with such and such." They learn quickly not to be bored, haha! 
  • Their world should revolve around yours and yours should revolve around God
  • Be intentional about praising them on heart issues. If you want them to believe that it's what's inside that counts then praise them for their tender heart or unselfishness or hard work. They will get praised plenty from others about being beautiful or having a cute dress.
  • Put them to work and make them feel like you rely on them. Like they contribute to the family and are irreplaceable. Say things like "What would I do without you?" Watch their faces when you say these words. They beam with pride!
  • Don't comprise on TV and movies. Don't allow your children laugh or be entertained by sin that God hates. 
  • Pray pray pray. Thank God for allowing you to raise his children and beg him to step in with his strengths where we are weak. 
  • Don't be in a rush all the time. Slow down. Listen to them. Laugh with them. Cry with them. Hold them.  
  • Pick your battles and then win them only if it's important. 
  • When you discipline be firm not angry, consistent not unreasonable, disappointed not hateful. Give them every opportunity to succeed. Try not to put them in situations that you know they will fail in. 
  • When they make a mistake, don't say they are bad or shame them. Assume they are good. Say something like, "what's up Abigail? That's just not like you to hurt your sisters feeling?" If we tell them they are good often, it becomes who they are and they will live up to it. 
  • Remember, consequences are not supposed to be pleasant. If they are unpleasant, you will find that they will not get in trouble as often. Then everyone is happier all the time. For example, if speeding tickets were just $10, who would slow down?
  • Here's a little piece of advice that is common sense but someone had to tell me. When feeding kids meals, don't fill up your kids plates with huge servings of their favorite foods and then put a dab of their less than favorite on the side. They will just fill up on the favorite (i.e. Mac-n-cheese) and then you will have to beg them to eat the green beans. Start with a small serving of each on their plate then when they finish all, give them as much of their favorite as they want. It took me 3 kids to learn this! 
  • Let each of your kids know often that you choose them. Something like, "Hannah, I am so blessed. If God lined up all the three-year-olds in the world and let me choose one, I would choose you. Wonder how he knew that?" It never fails to bring a smile.
  • Let the kids see you love on their Dad and vice versa. As they get older, they will give you the respect that john gives you and John the respect that they see you give him. It's all about actions not words. 
  • Do as much together as a family as is possible: family dinners, vacations, day trips, game nights, etc. It gets harder as they get older but still make the time because it goes by so quickly and you want to establish that family unity which will, hopefully, make them want come home after they leave.
  • In the difficult times, remember that this isn't the end of the story. God is and will continue to work in the lives of our kids, just as He does in ours. Ultimately, He is the one who shapes their hearts. So don't give up, remain steadfast, and be encouraged!
  • Be willing to apologize when you've said and done something wrong or hurtful. My father did this and it made a huge impact on me. Be real--own up to your imperfections (they'll see them anyway.
  • I wish I had been more quick to pray with our kids over specific concerns and just regarding all of life in general.

Sunday Sermon

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Review: A Love Made New

A Love Made New by Kathleen Fuller is the third book in An Amish of Birch Creek series.

This one focuses on the third sister -- Abigail Schrock -- who knows God can make all things new, but does that include her broken heart?

I am, a little "Amished" out and am realizing I need to take a break from reading these series of books. However, that is no slight to Fuller's writing. She is a strong author and her stories will not disappoint. If the Amish subculture is new for you, you will find this a light, easy, sweet story. Everyone is falling in love in Birch Creek, and when heartbreak descends on Abigail's world, she feels as if she is the only one to be left out of meeting the man of her dreams.

And that's when Asa enters the picture. Can Abigail find the peace and joy she so desperately desires? Read on to find out for yourself. provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Ballet love

My friend Kristin took these beautiful photos just "off the cuff" during our ballet rehearsal today. Her daughters are close to the same age as mine and will all be in our ballet studio's production of Sleeping Beauty in January. If you live locally, please consider giving her your photography business by clicking here. Not only is she REALLY good, but she is VERY affordable as well. 

First camping trip!

We took our "new" camper out for the first time this past week. We just went for two nights about two hours away in the Pisgah National Forrest to practice using the camper and figure out what we don't know, need to bring, etc. 

I have written about our camper previously. We found a great deal on an old 2001 camper and decided to purchase it. Hotel rooms for a family of six are terribly expensive (you can't get one room when you have more than 5), and we really want to see America with our kiddos who have spent much of their childhoods overseas. We are really hoping that we will be able to do that in the camper staying places for around $30 a night instead of $130+ a night!

Here are a few photos:

We got a double campsite for the first time to make sure JB felt comfortable pulling in and getting out. He did and said he doesn't need a double again!

The boys brought their pocketknives are were in charge of making the sticks for our marshmallow roasting.

Leave it to Hannah!

Having hot cocoa

Here's a fun video:

And a video of Hannah to make you laugh:

Friday, October 21, 2016

Review: The Truthful Story

I love supporting fellow military wives. Even though my husband is out of the Air Force now, I believe I will always be a military wife in my heart. And Helen Stine is just that. A military wife, author, film producer, and southern bred woman. 

(She spent 27 years as a military spouse while raising her children, traveling, and pursuing a career in early childhood education. Can I get an "Amen" from all my fellow military wives out there!?)

Stine and her husband own an independent film production company and produce films that carry the message of believing against all odds and the power of hope. It was with that same enthusiasm and passion that she penned her first novel: The Truthful Story. 

While this book is not a Christian book (and may challenge some of my fellow Christians with it's approach to the afterlife that comes through just a bit), I found this an incredibly sweet book that really did my heart good! I loved that the family was simple ... happy. That there was a Dad in the book who was a GOOD MAN. That there were mothers and daughters and siblings who loved each other and got along and were living life together. I enjoyed the family and enjoyed that they were mostly normal. And even though I wasn't raised like them, they resonated with me as I read.

I have very little doubt, after reading this book, that Stine will be writing much more. She is incredibly talented, a brilliant story teller, and incredibly thoughtful and profound in the message she portrayed. 

(I am also a sucker for books set in the era of books like The Help. This book has a similar feel as you read it.)

In addition, this book is currently running FREE on Kindle. Please give it a chance. I really think you will not be disappointed. As an avid reader, this was one I wanted to keep reading and did not easily put down. Simply a good, solid piece and a great work of a great author and a great era!

I truly look forward to seeing what else Stine has to offer!

 I received a free copy of this book from Smith Publicity, Inc. in exchange for my honest review!

Tribe Life Tuesday: Following in the Dark (A few days late!)

I find it hard to get my heart settled enough to put together words that will make any kind of sense to the human brain. But I will try. This phrase continues to play over and over again in my head, heart, and spirit:

I'll follow your voice straight into the dark.

I begin to go through my Rolodex of situations currently happening in my life and try to apply this phrase to a specific circumstance because that's the "logical" thing to do. I’m racking my brain to see where this applies. There seems to be so many places that are in the dark right now. Yet this is not what is meant.

Into the dark is the most difficult and the most rewarding. Dark transcends time and space and just is. There's only one way out -- to follow.
Follow the voice that speaks calmly and gently to you.
Follow the voice that you can hear over all the screaming.
Follow the voice that makes you feel peaceful.
Follow the voice that challenges you and makes you feel safe at the same time.

In the darkness there’s a duality of wanting more but having enough, you just have to be aware enough to realize it. In the dark you have the opportunity to learn that the voice you’re following is enough even though the instructions may be minimal.  

Following His voice into the darkness looked like packing up our car three years ago and moving to Texas. Having no idea what was waiting for us or who was waiting for us, we knew His voice was calling. It was in that season of darkness that I learned a new skill trusting through the mystery.

Learning to trust God.
Learning to trust myself.
Learning to trust my husband.
Learning to trust so-called strangers.
I was learning to follow His voice in the dark.

I find myself facing new mystery today. I find myself standing in an unlit room listening for that voice. So I wait and listen and He speaks and I feel like it's not enough, I ask Him to tell me more, but there is silence. Because what needed to be said to draw me close was said. Though I feel unsatisfied, I take a step. Unable to see in the dark, all I can do is listen and then follow.

If you find yourself in this place today or have found yourself here before… congratulations, you've been trusted with the mystery. While this may bring you little comfort, let me remind you of this fact: you are not alone. He is with you and there are others walking in the dark alongside you. Instead of dreading the dark, I invite you to embrace this as an opportunity for growth. Draw closer to Him, listen, and then follow, one step at a time. Because the only way out of the dark is to follow.