Tuesday, March 29, 2016

An Unbroken Heart (An Amish of Birch Creek Novel) By: Kathleen Fuller


An argument. A crash. In an instant, Joanna's world is changed forever.

Joanna Schrock has always been in love with her best friend Andrew Beiler since the age of twelve. Now that they have begun dating she just can't wait to marry him. She takes it upon herself to propose to him. Only, Andrew isn't ready for marriage yet. Angry at herself and Andrew, she takes it out on her parents during a buggy ride.

While arguing with her parents a car strikes them and kills her parents and leaves her badly injured. After an extended stay at a rehabilitation center, Joanna comes home only to realize her whole world has changed. Even her feelings for Andrew are not the same. She knows this but agrees to marry him anyway.

Andrew almost lost Joanna in the accident and feels like he needs to marry her right away. Neither one of them are ready and that sends them both spiraling downward. Joanna becomes depressed and Andrew becomes angry.

One thing leads to another and secrets are revealed to both of them. It seems that no matter how hard they try, they will never be together and happy. Joanna has lost her courage and Andrew has resentment toward his father who left them when he was a boy.

As Joanna begins to heal from her injuries and her heart break from losing her parents, she realizes she truly does love Andrew. Andrew learns the truth about his father and comes to grips with how his lift turned out.

God changes their hearts and they begin to heal and grow together.

Wonderful book. I love Amish fiction and this one is one of my favorites.

* I received this book from BookLookBloggers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.*

Sweeter Off The Vine (By: Yossy Arefi)

It is the start of fresh fruit season here in Virginia. Making desserts out of fruit is one of my favorite ways to bake. I also love to use fruits in many other different ways during the Spring, Summer, and Fall. Yossy Arefi's new book, Sweeter Off The Vine, has given me so much inspiration for this year.

Sweeter Off The Vine is a cook book about fruit desserts for every season. As soon as it arrived at my house I opened it and began to dream about all of the yummy desserts I would be making. What I love about this book as well is the author's use of different ingredients such as buckwheat flour, old-fashioned oats, homemade crème fraiche, rye flour, and spelt flour.

The pictures in the book are phenomenal. The book is hard bound for better use in the kitchen.

Some of my favorite recipes are:
  1. Chamomile Honey Panna Cotta (p. 12)
  2. Rhubarb and Rye Upside-Down Cake (p. 31)
  3. Pistachio Pound Cake with Strawberries in Lavender Sugar (p. 43)
  4. Cherry and Chocolate Turnovers (p. 50)
  5. Crème Fraiche and Blueberry Ice Cream (p. 75)
  6. Plum Pie with Hazelnut Crumb (p. 104)
  7. Soft Chocolate and Fig Cake (p. 123)
  8. Caramelized Apple Fritters (p. 151)
  9. Winter Luxury Pumpkin Pie (p. 180)
  10. Cranberry Bread Pudding (p. 186)
  11. Blood Orange Old-Fashioned Donuts (p. 197)
  12. Preserved Lemon Ice Cream (p. 212)
  13. Stick Toffee Pudding With Cranberries (p. 222)
I actually ended up making a strawberry tart and used her recipe for All-Butter Crust (p. 228). I did not take a picture (I know...big mistake!). It was so good. My whole family enjoyed it.

I love this cook book. It is a great addition to any kitchen. With fresh fruit season upon us, you should pick up this wonderful book and use some of the delicious recipes.

*I was given this book by Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.*

Monday, March 21, 2016

Homeschooling Jensen Style

With the homeschool convention season coming up soon I thought I would write a post about what products we use in our homeschool and what our day looks like. This is simply a post with lots of pictures and a few words. Let me know what you use in the comments section. If you use any of the same products I would love to hear from you about what you liked and disliked. I hope you enjoy this post!


We used Horizons Math this year (levels K and 1). We only got through one book (and likely that is all we will get through) but the boys have loved it.
I used Mary Ellen Tedrow's Penmanship books for K and 1. They have learned to write bible verses, famous quotes, and, of course, their ABC's.
Classical Conversations:
We used Classical Conversations as our main focus of learning. The boys have learned about all of the major historical events from Creation through Man walking on the moon. They have memorized 400 facts so far this year including science facts, math facts (skip counting, the area of a triangle, etc.), geography, Latin, English Grammar, and so on. They have memorized Exodus 20 as well. We also have a community day once a week where we meet with other CC families and have fellowship and learning. Best decision we have ever made for our family.
We start our day by doing a Bible lesson and devotion. We have used the Adventure Bible (which has color pictures and lessons included) as well as Jesus Calling for little ones. It is a great way to start any day.
For my 5 year old I have been using 100 Easy Lessons. It worked well with my 7 year old to learn his basic phonics skills. My 5 year old is going through the book at a high rate of speed. He is a very fast learner.
For both of the older boys I utilized my home library (which you can see is quite large). We read a lot of books. I also do a read aloud with them (examples are: The Littles, Robin Hood, Sign of the Beaver). My 7 year old had an "ah-hah" moment over Christmas and reading just clicked. He has a real love for reading now and begs to read all the time.
My 7 year old has really loved learning to draw this year. This Watch Me Draw book has been wonderful. He gets it out and draws a new creation and then colors it. My 5 year old loves to color in coloring books. We have about a million of them ;-)
What my little man does:
I got these little work books from the Dollar Tree. He is totally obsessed with Sesame Street, especially Ernie (he just had his 3rd birthday and it was Ernie themed). He scribbles and colors in them while we do our school work. He thinks he is something with his school books. It is so cute.
What Our School Day Looks Like:
  1. We usually wake up around 7am with breakfast and coffee right away.
  2. Around 9am (after a little while playing) we have a clean up session. I do the dishes and they clean up their room or the back room.
  3. We do our school work at different times during the day. Sometimes we begin before lunch and sometimes I wait until after lunch. It depends on the weather.
  4. We usually begin our school work with Bible reading and CC memory work then move on to math and reading. We finish with read aloud time and then the boys work on their presentations for the week (they give an oral presentation each week at CC about a different subject).
  5. The afternoon is left for free time. They can play outside, play in the play room, or watch a movie (again it depends on the weather). They are all boys so they usually choose to play outside as much as possible.
  6. Since my boys are still so young our homeschool day isn't longer than about 2 hours (that is a long day for us...usually it is about 1 hour).
Mommy spends the afternoon catching up on laundry, blogging, reading, cleaning, or resting (I live with chronic pain from several illnesses so resting is part of my day whether I like it or not).
Head on over to heav.org to check out the speakers for this year's convention. It will be held on June 9, 10, and 11. Don't miss it! I will also be having a giveaway for a family convention pass some time in May. Be on the lookout!



Thursday, March 3, 2016

One More Step (Finding Strength When You Feel Like Giving Up) By: Rachel Wojo


I have been reading Rachel "Wojo" Wojnarowski's blog for years now. She is so inspirational and encouraging in her writing. She knows God and loves Him very much. It shows throughout everything I have ever read from her. Her new book One More Step is about finding hope in the midst of pain and struggle. Having lived through a failing marriage and her daughter's heartbreaking diagnosis, she knows a thing or two about rising from the ashes. I suffer from chronic pain (due to four illnesses that contribute and different sense of pain). That is why I chose to review this particular book.

Rachel Wojo uses a different hymn for each chapter of the book. She grew up learning them with her family and they hold a special place in her heart. She sang them in her childhood and she sang them after her divorce. Hymns have such deep meaning and she shares what each one means to her and why she chose that one. I teach my children hymns and have a deep love for them as well.

Here is a list of some of the hymns she includes in her book:
  • "It Is Well With My Soul" -Horatio G. Spafford (His testimony is so powerful)
  • "Love Lifted Me" -James Rowe
  • "Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus" -Louisa M. R. Stead
  • "Amazing Grace" -John Newton
  • "Open My Eyes, That I May See" -Clara H. Scott
  • "Take My Life, And Let It Be" -Frances R. Havergal
  • "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross" -Isaac Watts
That isn't all of them but those are a few that stood out to me as I was reading One More Step.

The author goes through all of the emotions we have had during a time of trial and hardship. We must recognize these feelings so that we can get through it. God equipped us with the Bible for everything we may go through in this life. The first step is recognizing we want to give up. You will then understand the depth of the pit that you are in. No matter what you are going through always pray. God WANTS to hear from you no matter how your day has gone.

"God understands human emotion
because He created human emotion;
you will never experience an emotion
that He doesn't understand."
When we place our hope in Jesus we become delivered from earthly things. He is our Rescuer, our Redeemer, our Shelter. Only Jesus can understand everything you are going through. Placing your hope and trust in people or things or ourselves only leaves us wanting and disappointed. I have been there...many times.
No matter what kind of pain we may be suffering, God's love never fails. He IS love. Lean on Him for support and "pain relief". He will lift you up. Even if you feel like your life is out of control, God is always in control. Knowing that comforts my soul. When we believe God, we believe he will do what He says He will do. He makes many promises in the Bible. He will not fail us.
Sometimes God tells us to wait. Wait on Him. Wait on healing. Wait on what He has in store for us. He will deliver us from that waiting when He feels that we are ready for His plan. No matter what answer you think God will give, He only wants to give us Himself. He is all we need to sustain any trial in this world.
We often ask "God, where are you in this situation?" But, when you start asking "God, will you reveal yourself to me?" supernatural things start to happen. Things beyond our comprehension. God will show up. He will be there with you throughout every single moment of your life. How can we trust God for our eternal salvation but not trust Him for everyday solutions?
"The God who is taking us to heaven
wants to use us on this earth."
God's grace is the most wonderful gift to us. It takes many shapes but it is one size fits all. God gave His only Son to take away the sin of the world. That is the greatest form of grace in history.
Sometimes when God doesn't remove a situation from our lives, He is trying to teach us to rely on Him more. He wants to bring us through the struggle so we can see the joy and really experience His presence like never before. He is changing our hearts in this process by making us more dependent upon Him.
Praying to God should be the first thing we do in any situation, good or bad. We shouldn't use prayer as a last resort. That is why God gave us the gift of praying. He wants to talk to us and hear from us.
"Our reaction to being wronged
is to offer resentment and rejection.
God's response to being wronged is
to offer resolution and restoration."
The quote above is a powerful one for me. I have often held grudges and grew bitterness in my heart toward a situation or person. But, the Bible tells us to let it go. Having these bitter feelings is ungodly. When we choose to forgive, we choose to live for God. If we forgave with as much strength as we held grudges, our hearts would be so much more loving toward others.
I have personally had a ton a negative chatter in my brain. Chronic pain will do that to you. It makes me doubt myself, my faith, my body. But, those times that I have opened God's Word that internal chatter becomes a speck of sand (as Paul said). When I choose to praise Jesus through the pain, I choose to not let the pain become who I am. I am not "Chronic pain who has Kristy". I am "Kristy with chronic pain and a God who is bigger than that pain."
We can become exhausted trying to stay afloat during a storm. The chaos requires a lot more energy than maintaining rhythm. God is our rhythm. He sets the example in Jesus in which we are called to follow. God gives us everything we need to be successful in this life in the Bible. He will meet us where we are and beautiful things come from the mess we have made.
When we read the Bible regularly we become well acquainted with His promises. This gives us hope for the future. We know what to expect. Sometimes we get stuck thinking about our pasts. We think about how we could have done things differently or changed something. But, that just makes it impossible to live in the present. To live for God. No matter what happened in the past, we are not defined by it.
Finding joy in the midst of the trials of life can be hard. But, pure joy comes from God. My relationship with Him gives me joy, not anything I have. Joy is a heart issue. When we have Jesus in our hearts people will see that through the joy we have in our everyday lives. When we show that we have unshakeable joy, we represent Christ to others around us. That is what it's all about.
I loved this book for many reasons. One of them is that Rachel Wojo has been through all sorts of pain in her life. She can relate to many situations and knows the struggle. Her own relationship with Christ has been refined through these trials and she shares her heart in the pages of this book.
*I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.*