Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tribe Life Tuesday: Community & Honor

A weekly post from my childhood to grown-up friend Carrie ~ 
sharing her awesome life and her desire to have community while doing it!

Community is as rewarding as it is messy and, believe me, it can get messy. To be in community with someone looks like making room for them, all of them, the really great parts and the less great parts.

For example: I remember a period of time when I purposely disconnected from community because I believed my view on a matter was the right one. I saw no fault in me and lots of faulty thinking in the other party. Confrontation would turn into arguments without any resolution and that is never the point of confrontation.

Several years after my disconnection and reconnection to community, I was reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Danny Silk, in which he states, “the goal of confrontation is to restore connection.”

That was like a sonic boom in my mind. Why didn’t I know that or see that?? Of course that’s the point! I have been doing this wrong the whole time… 

You see, my goal of confrontation was to get you to see my point. More importantly, I wanted you to change your mind and embrace my way of thinking. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. I was young and dumb and that was my truth but all it did was isolate me and remove me from a healthy relationship.

When we isolate ourselves we put limits on our life. We limit our capacity to be in healthy, authentic, self-less relationships.

Community is where you get to fully be you and I get to fully be me. Here we lay down our weapon called control. When we do that, we create safe places for one another to grow and be loved unconditionally in a judgement and competition free zone. This is what authentic community looks like. It’s face to face, it’s joy and sorrow, it’s hope and pain, it’s success and failure and we share it all together. Once we allow ourselves to be in such a community, honor is a natural outflow.

“The principle of honor states – that accurately acknowledging who people are will position us to give them what they deserve and to receive the gift they are in our lives. Honor creates life giving relationships.” – Kris Vallotton 

Honor is seeing people for who they are not what they’ve done, or what they can do for you. It’s being able to look at them through a lens of kindness, forgiveness, mercy, honesty, and love. Honor is invaluable; it’s an unmatched currency and can only be given by those who have fought for it.

Let’s choose to fight for honor within our communities today. Though life may be messier when done in community, there really is no better way to live.


Review: Learning Eggs

Reading Eggs

Wow! WOW! WOW! I am just not sure I can adequately write this review. I have never felt completely overwhelmed with a review for GOOD reasons. There is so much on this program, and it is fun for the kids that I just don't even know where to start. My kiddos absolutely LOVED LOVED LOVED the fun online learning opportunities in the Reading Eggs program. Honestly, I have NO idea how to write this review and actually make it not be thousands of words long.

There are FOUR main sections:
  • Reading Eggs Junior (Ages 2-4): This is where my four-year-old daughter placed
  • Reading Eggs (Ages 3-7): This is where my six-year-old daughter placed
  • Reading Eggspress (Ages 7-13): This is where my two boys placed
  • Mathseeds (Ages 3-9)
Reading Eggs was developed for kids ages 2-13. It starts at the very, very beginning so kids need NO previous experience to get started. This program is great for homeschool parents but it is also designed to supplement what children are getting at school.

Reading Eggs was so fantastic that my boys have BEGGED me to buy them a spot. Here's the reason why. As part of my "review agreement", I received TWO free six-month subscriptions. I used them for my daughters (ages 4 and 6). My boys each did a free two-week trial. When it was up, they were absolutely begging me to get them subscriptions. They were absolutely fanatical about the program and just begged to do it every day.

Reading Eggs allows you to know exactly how your children are doing by providing an email delivered to you at the end of each "map." As a child finishes the "map", they take a quiz, and the parent receives an email sharing how they did. In addition, on each of my kids' dashboard, you can instantly see an overview of the reading skills they have learned and the number of books they have read.

One of the reasons they loved the program so much is that the program was set up with rewards. As the child completes lessons, they earn acorns (math program) and eggs (reading program). These can then be turned in for games and fun things to do. The inventors of this program really nailed it on the end combining the things kids LOVE to do (games, songs, variety, and rewards) in such a nice package that they truly can't resist wanting to log-in again.

Here is a video of my nine-year-old, Isaac, working through a lesson in the "Reading Eggspress" portion of the program:

And here is a video of my six-year-old daughter doing the "Reading Eggs" portion: 

There are also some fantastic BONUS materials on the site, totally your's for the using!
  • Activity Sheets -- there is actually a worksheet for EVERY lesson that they do. It is seriously never-ending. These printables give you something hands-on that you can use for each lesson that your child does.
  • Homeschool -- Of special interest to me was the curriculum breakdown, week by week, for my K-2nd graders. 
  • The Eggsperts -- This is a video series which follows Sam, Jazz and Tom which takes young kids on a quest to find clues, hatch eggs, and meet friends in every episode (which is just under 8 minutes.) (You can also download the Eggsperts Appisodes). 
  • If you log in, there is a chat available at any time to help you with any problems you have.
Reading Eggs
Here's the greatest news! You can get a free 4 Week Trial 4 Week Trial of the program for your child or children. But be forewarned. If you do this trial, your kids will want you to purchase them spots. I promise! It is just too fun of a program not to want to be a part for longer.

To get a Reading Eggs account, visit here. And follow these links if you want a free 4 Week Trial of Reading Eggs 

Check out reading eggs on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube. Review:

Reading Eggs

 Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, October 14, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Turkey Processing Update

Turkey processing day came and went. In the end, it was a success. To share a breakdown/comparison:

Last year we processed 48 turkeys.
We had 1,030 pounds of meat.
This was an average of 21.45 per bird.

This year we processed 30 turkeys.
We had 638.14 pounds of meat.
This was an average of 21.27 per bird.

We had nearly an identical return this year even though we monitored how much we fed the birds much more this year. We did 12 skips flat of feed everyday during their last four weeks.

After we sold 18 of the turkeys, there were 12 left for us. Ten were immediately broken down and ground. The other two will be used for our Thanksgiving dinner and the grandparents Thanksgiving dinner (we are celebrating separately this year.) We will eat our 255 pounds of meat for free.

A few notes:

  • Don't let your kiddos bring the ice to the filled chill tank without specific instructions that loading the ice in a dirty wagon first isn't okay. We had to empty and refill the chill tank to start the morning.
  • Having a freezer break the moment processing began is a lot less than ideal.
  • The Lord always brings the right people along to help us.
  • Turkeys are processed when they are 18 weeks old.
  • Our smallest turkey was 13 pounds and our largest was a quarter of an ounce shy of THIRTY pounds.
  • We are so thankful for the way the Lord always provides the help we need to get the job done. Our new friends Annie and Susie joined us. They are co-workers in Knoxville and really love our farm and have been volunteering periodically. Oh my gosh! We absolutely could NOT have accomplished the day without them and still have been standing at the end of it. So blessed to have them there. We also had our WWOOFer Tijmen here to help. Wow did we need him. (More about him in a bit!) We also helped process our friend Kymberly's five geese. She and her daughters came and helped and then we processed their geese. 
We have decided we will NOT be doing turkeys again next year. We have decided to cut back and this is one of the areas we are going to cut back. However, I think that we would like to do turkeys again in the future, and we may consider doing a few for ourselves in the upcoming year. 

Do I love processing day? I do not. I don't like killing animals. However, I really appreciate seeing our hardwork pay off and what happens when you raise animals the way they are supposed to be raised. There is a great feeling of accomplishment.
This picture is right before we got started in the morning. The turkeys are brought up from a kennel right over grampa's (in hat) head. Susie (yellow shirt) and Annie (white shirt) were absolutely INCREDIBLE. The boys helped the entire day -- although we found the turkey's weight prevented them from helping as much as they do with the chickens.

Our WWOOFer, Tijmen, with a goose feather in his hat after we hit a delirious point at the end of the day. Tijmen's strength was really, really important as getting the turkeys up into the kill cones was really challenging because of their weight. Truly, the Lord brought the PERFECT people along to make for the smoothest possible day!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday Funnies

Hannah decided to make a potty out of an egg. I never know how she comes up with these things, but you'll hear her tell everyone that the potty swallows poop and pee:


Sidge corrected Hannah the other day. When Hannah tried to argue, Isaac said: "No, Hannah, Sidge is quite right."


Hannah: "Hey Mom, I'd like this clock in this magazine for Christmas."
Me: "Okay, we could ask Santa for it."
Hannah: "No, I just want it from UPS."

Review: Time in my Pocket

Okay so this is a very cool review for me to write, and one I am incredibly honored and excited to share.  

I actually worked with this author, Gina Dewink, at the RLS Foundation for a number of years. We actually worked remotely together (me from northern Florida and her from Minnesota) so we have only met in person one time. However, we became friends during our regular correspondence through work. I actually ate lunch with her and my co-workers from the Foundation with little Isaac in tow the day before I had to stop questioning my perpetual stomach upset-ness and take a pregnancy test and learned I would be a mother again very shortly.

But I digress ...

This review is for Gina's first book: Time in My Pocket. And folks, it is really, really good. 

I'll be honest. I don't have much time to read. And I love to read. So when Gina mentioned sending me a copy of her book in exchange for reviewing her book, I wasn't sure what to expect. A self-published by a first-time author. Would it be worth my precious reading time?

The answer: YES, YES, and more YES! 

I actually found myself yearning for my before-bed reading time so that I could have more time with the characters in this incredibly well-researched and incredibly well-done novel. In fact, I actually brought it with me for the reading time I get during bits and pieces of Abigail's ballet lesson and on the couch with kids swirling all around me. (I very rarely attempt to read during the day as I get frustrated when the kids interrupt me. But I simply could not wait until night time to keep reading.) 

It was THAT good.

Whatever I expected was BLOWN out of the water by this novel. Gina's writing was FANTASTIC. I especially loved her ability to paint a character in vivid imagery and colors. I could absolutely picture each of the characters both in present day and after the novel shifts sixty years in the past.

Did you know that most people in the U.S. check their smartphones 150 times a day? Keep this in mind as you think about what it would be like for a modern day housewife to be suddenly transported back to 1947 Hollywood in the body of a much younger woman?

While all of Gina's characters were well-painted, it is her drawing of Liza Anderson in Time in My Pocket that set the tone for this novel. I love the voice of the frumpy mom from my era suddenly finding herself living in the thighs of a buxom beauty from the 40's in Hollywood. Can you even imagine? 

Gina imagines for us and the voice of this character and the others who walk alongside her are brilliantly depicted in the pages of this novel. I'm sure we've all wondered what would happen if we were younger again. Or if we could live in a different era. But if we were doing so while quite aware that this wasn't our life?

I loved the wit and dangers intertwined into this novel. I loved that it combined romance and modern-day problems with those of the challenges of life decades ago. Oh the importance of a library before smartphones! And while I will refrain from ruining the book for you, I will say that I thought the ending was brilliantly done. Oh, and while there is a small amount of bad language in the book, I did think it was properly placed and overall a pretty clean novel fitting for younger readers as well.

Okay, I could go on and on. Instead, I'd like to do a giveaway of this book as I really would like to share Gina Dewink's writing with others. I also would really like to encourage you to go to Amazon and download or purchase a copy of Time in My Pocket for yourself. Simply leave a comment along with your email address below this post and in one week's time, I will randomly choose a winner!

Well done Gina! I am incredibly proud of you and proud to say I know you!

P.S. Oh and the cover of this book was SO WELL DONE! I absolutely thought it fit the novel perfectly!!!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Review: Brinkman Adventures

Brinkman Adventures
Brinkman Adventures As my husband and I were growing up, we were big fans of Christian audio adventure series. Some of the ones we listened to are still around, but I decided to try a different one with my children during the last few weeks. We had the opportunity to review the Brinkman Adventures -- specifically we tuned in for the Brinkman Adventure Season 4. 

Prior to listening to the first episode, I lazily did not do a lot of research. However, after Episode 1 which chronicled the family's "failure" of a family vacation, I visited the website and spent some time really browsing around. 

I think that to understand this product, it is vital to understand what goes on behind this product. You need to know that these are based on a real life family and that while the names have been changed, the actors and actresses play themselves! Knowing that makes these adventures really come alive. Sometimes I would think a certain voice seemed a little bit off as I listened. But then I realized that they weren't necessarily using locals to do the voices -- they were using the actual family to produce this. This gives you a whole new appreciation for what you were hearing. In addition, while some of the events are dramatized or changed a bit, most of the adventures are based on things that really happened to this story. 
Even better is that you can read about the story behind each of the adventures on their website. However, you have to be warned that if you view the backstory, it could spoil the adventure for you.

It is always hard for me to "show" an audio program because it is so, well, not visual. But I thought if I highlighted one episode we really loved and discussed it, it would make the program come as alive for you as it does for us when we listened. I have included pictures of our own farm along the side because this episode left us talking about our farm and attempt to "use the land" correctly for quite a long time.
I'd like to take a closer look at Episode 43 with you. This was by FAR our favorite episode, and I should warn you that this will be a spoiler (but well worth it in my opinion!)

This episode looked into the lives of Glen and Rita who serve in a remote part of the Congo where they run a Bible School that trains villagers to be pastors. Glen also flies into these villages with no roads between them using a powered parachute and will show these people the Jesus Film. Most people have never even seen a movie so seeing videos (and even ones that Glen has taken of them are incredibly amazing to them.) 

In the episode of The Mysterious Palm Feller we are transported via the powers of audio to their mission which is on 1,000 acres of land that has been with their ministry since the 1930's. They talk about the people in this area are hunters and gatherers which means they often kill any animals they can get a hold of whether they are young or old. As a result, wildlife has become scarce and the only thing they can really plant, corn, is very bad on the soil. So they started to cut down trees to make room for more corn to be planted.

Glen and Rita are using their 1,000 acres to show people in the area how to take care of the land. This was so interesting for our family to listen to being as that is what we are trying to do on our 100 acres in rural Tennessee. They are showing people how helpful planting trees are and also that you can raise domestic animals for food to help save more of the wild animals. 

I love what the website says about the "real story" about this episode 
when the author writes: "It is hard to convince people who are hungry and barely surviving to trust that the extra work will be worth it." This really resonated with me. This is how I feel here on our farm. Not that we are hungry, but the old farmers around us don't understand why we would waste our time doing the things we are doing! One of the actors in the story said of Glen's mission: "I can see that as a mission, you're not just dealing with people's spiritual needs, you're dealing with their physical needs." And the response is: "Yes, I like to call it a holistic ministry!"

In this particular story, someone was chopping down the palm trees on their mission's land. They were trying to catch the person responsible but were not fast enough t do it. He ended up confronting a man he thought might be responsible and was lead to a local witch doctor which is who they were collecting the palm sap. He ended up confronting the witch doctor and bringing him to Christ! It was an incredible story.

This is just one example of the great stories on these adventures. When this episode was finished, Abigail begged for me not to turn off the radio, and she ended up listening to the next one all by herself! We ended up listening to all twelve episodes but in various ways. Sometimes one child would listen to one. Sometimes we would all listen to one together. Sometimes a few children would listen together. We did it in various ways. We really enjoyed all the episodes. 

Both of my boys said that Episode 43 was also their favorite. But Abigail really enjoyed Episode 42 "The Crashed Kitchen." 

The Brinkman Adventures is produced by Beachglass ministries which is a non-profit and non-denominational Christian organization. Take a moment to check out the Brinkman Adventures on Facebook by visiting here! 
Brinkman Adventures Season 4

 Crew Disclaimer

Tribe Life Tuesday: Community & Honor

A weekly post from my childhood to grown-up friend Carrie ~ 
sharing her awesome life and her desire to have community while doing it!

Hi! I am Carrie and I am so excited to be sharing with you today. As we dive in, I’d like you to consider the following questions:

  1. Am I happy? 
  2. Am I with people who make my life better? 
  3. Am I contributing to making the lives of others better? 
Continue pondering your answers to these questions as we begin our discussion of two subjects I’m deeply passionate about: community and honor.

A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals; joint ownership or liability

High respect; esteem; a privilege

So, how do these two gifts pair up? I immediately think of a hot air balloon – it’s massive, there are two main parts, it has a unique woven design that is stunning when it rises to fly, and it doesn’t explode under pressure.

In this metaphor, community is the balloon (referred to as the envelope) and, like the beautiful colored balloon, the tapestry of humanity choosing to share life with each other is a design that is unmatched. Your community is much like the balloon with its fabric intricately woven together. It is no accident that you have ended up where you are, with the people you are with.

Now honor is definitely the basket. It’s the weight that contributes to the sturdiness of the entire structure. It holds everyone together.

The balloon doesn’t fly without the basket and the basket doesn’t fly without the balloon. You see, community won’t be all it can be without honor and honor can’t be fully achieved without community. And, none of this happens without a little fire! There will be moments in community where fire is present, it will get hot and probably uncomfortable, but the balloon has a protective sealant preventing it from burning up. Covered with the right coating, the fire is an accelerant that allows you to take flight.


When you are with the right people, even the difficult moments, like having an honest conversation, setting healthy boundaries, and being vulnerable, don’t seem as hard because you are covered by the right people who will protect you.

So how does this apply? What does this look like walked out day to day?

Well, one of the most important things to keep in mind as we pursue being in community with people is keeping the main thing the main thing. We have to be sure that we are seeing people in their best light and not looking for fault or failure in them. Community really is about coming alongside and helping each other live our best lives.

Here are a few tips that you can keep handy as you do life with others – consider this your pocket guide to community:

  • Everyone is welcome into community 
  • Community is about relinquishing the desire to control others
  • Community is a gift 
  • Honor makes us better humans 
  • Be wildly rebellious, brave, & strong & find community
See you next Tuesday!