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.

Friday Funnies

Hannah goofing around at ballet.

She found some points hoes in the lost-and-found box and decided to play in them.

Hannah: "I'm going pretend I'm the Mama and I have no kids."


Dawn: "Are you going to do a ballet?"
Hannah: "Actually it is going to be a performance."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

We Bought a Farm: Grinding

We just bought a meat grinder. With all of our turkey and doing sheep, pig, and hopefully deer in the future we thought it was a good investment. Here are Dad, JB, and our new WWOOFer, Lane (Shelby's husband) grinding away!

The unruly home

Keeping the house a livable and welcoming place is a constant and challenging task. You are finally catching up with your laundry just to enjoy your beautiful empty hamper for a few hours before it piles up again after bath.

You deliberately decide to have a playroom to keep all the toys contained in one place but you forget your kids are free rangers who like to explore and don't enjoy being confined to a particular space.
So your day goes like this... CLEAN. ORGANIZE. REPEAT.

Every day

Every month

Every year

Sometimes you even wonder if there is any point to all of this work! Obviously, we need to maintain a minimum level of control and hygiene so our households don't become chaotic places, but I wonder if certain practices might make our lives easier.

I don't know what your personality is. Maybe organizing comes naturally for you, or maybe you are seriously overwhelmed by it. Whatever the case, your home and your mental health can benefit from reflecting and following these tips.

1. The more you own things, the more the own you! I find this so very true. The more you have, the more you want to acquire. Watch out for this! Stuff will not satisfy your soul. It will, on the other hand, distract you from the Only One who can truly make you feel fulfill.

Purchase what you need or what you find beautiful but in moderation. Simplify. Have a minimalist mindset.

2. De-clutter. Go through a room at a time and sort the items into piles:

Do this every few months.

3. A place for everything and everything in its place. Containers. Containers. Containers! Use baskets, boxes, bins, etc. to reduce the number of items you have lying around, then place them in the right location according to its functionality.

4. Find creative ways to store stuff to make your home more spacious and airy. Here are some ideas!

There are multiple options out there to get your house looking organized and put together. But not only that! Once every item has a place to belong to, your life will be easier. Not only would you be able to find things quickly, but also this "life style" will considerably reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning the house.

Teach and involve your kids in the organization process, so they understand the value of things:
- Show them how to take care of their things.
- Encourage them to save to purchase a desirable item so they grass the cost of things.
- Allow them to participate in a garage sale to teach them to get back.

Studies showed that clutter affects your brain's ability to concentrate and process information. Clutter overloads your senses leaving you stress out!. If this is you... do something about it! You are just one decision away to take control of your unruly home. I can guarantee you will feel so much better and the upkeep of your home will be much less demanding!

 So... organize away!



Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Do YOU want to write for the Homeschool Review Crew?

I can't say it enough: I LOVE writing for the Homeschool Review Crew. And now YOU CAN TOO!

I encourage you to read through THIS BLOG POST or look at THIS APPLICATION. And if you decide to apply, please mention MY name when you do as I can get some extra cool perks for referring you!

All you have to have is a Blog and a presence in social media. In exchange you get access to TONS of AMAZING products that you can use for your homeschool curriculum.

By being on the crew I have been able to homeschool for basically $0 a year!

Review: The Familyman

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} ReviewsHard to believe that we are already seeing the leaves changing and that Christmas is around the corner. Part of doing reviews is reviewing products ahead of time so that those who read my Blog can learn about products before the season approaches. And today, I want to share with you about The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection from The Familyman. These are also available as Digital Downloads. This collection includes EIGHT audio stories!

These are all narrated by Jim Hodges, truly an amazing storyteller. If you listen, I did a short video recording of three of my kiddos listening to one of the stories. You can clearly make out his comforting and soothing voice in the background:

Hodges works with Familyman Ministries who brought us these Christmas stories. We were sent digital downloads of the six stories from the collection. We were also given an additional two Christmas stories that are only available in digital format. Included in the collection of six stories are:
The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews
  • Captain Chaos and The Manger Blaster
  • Cootie McKay's Nativity
  • The Stranger
  • The Bishop's Dream
  • Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest
  • Gladys Remembers Christmas
My seven-year-old Sidge told me that the stories were "Pretty good!" which is saying a lot for my boys to response so positively. Normally, anything that resembles school gets a fairly gruff response. :)

I wanted to take a moment to just very briefly summarize four of the six audios.

  1. "Cooties McKay's Nativity" was one of our family's favorites! This is the story of a simple man who helps fix a broken nativity and how he finds Christ in the process. Like the other stories in the collection, the stories provide hours of listening enjoyment but more important, they reinforce the true meaning of Christmas. 
  2. "The Stranger" was also another one we enjoyed. Sidge summarized by saying: "The stranger came to everyone's house and only one time did one family let him in." Like the other stories in the collection -- this one gets to what Christmas is really about and those memory that really stick with you when you do the right thing and treat someone the right way. 
  3. "Captain Chaos" is a less realistic story with a superhero theme. "Captain Chaos" erases the birth of Jesus from history and listeners are left to see what it would have been like if Christ had never been born. My superhero loving boys found this one very intriguing. 
  4. "The Bishop's Dream" looks at the true history of Saint Nicholas. The reader is allowed to perceive what Nicholas would think of what our holiday has turned into over the years. 

Each story is bite size in length (most range from about 15-30 minutes) which was perfect for us to listen to in one or two segments. I also think the price (just $25) is VERY reasonable and affordable for families wanting to make sure that they remain focused on the TRUE meaning of Christmas -- which of course is Christ's birth.

You can also find more information on this product by visiting them on: FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterestGoogle Plus or on their Blog

*You can also check out the collection of 8 stories as well by clicking here. 

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

We Bought a Farm: FREE Live Presentation

JB is speaking TODAY for FREE. You just have to register for the event. 
John will give an information packed presentation outlining his first year on their family’s new farm/homestead. He will give specifics on how he is developing and managing his land, animals, and plants. He will provide the good along with the bad so that you can learn from his research, trials, and errors. This will be a fast paced presentation full of useful information, so have your pen and paper ready.

We Bought a Farm: Turkey Day

We have now processed 48 turkeys. It all started on Sunday around dinner time, when we walked the turkeys down from their pasture currently at the top of the hill to a fencing area in our yard. Mom managed to get a short video of this. The turkeys are relatively easy to move, they are just so friendly and so slow!

Here are some pics of us moving them:

Our friend Shane drove down from Charleston, just to help us for the day.

In their new paddock.

Mary Ann took care of the turkeys since she arrived in late August. Processing them would not be easy for her. I was so blessed to get this picture of her with the turkeys. (She doesn't like photos!)

Our group working. We had four WWOOFers, and another family of three that wanted to process their own birds joined us to help. In addition we had Dad, Shane, JB (of course!) and our new friend Rick from church who helped us with BOTH the chickens and the turkeys.

Then we move into the garage for quality control. The birds were SO big we had to use this tool that our WWOOFer Lane is holding to remove the necks. All the birds ranged between just under 15 to close to 29 pounds!

This is just ONE breast cut down. We took a few turkeys and cut them down. We plan to grind some of them in the next few days/weeks.

This was our largest Tom. 28.5 pounds!

In the end we ended up with about 1,030 pounds of meat. And here is where you feel your hard work finally pay off. It cost us approximately $3,000 to buy these birds (about $18 a piece as a baby!) and feed them for 18 weeks. We have sold about 20 and have made about $2,500. We hope to sell around 5-10 more, but even if we don't, we can eat the other 500 pounds of our meat for close to free. This has been our goal all along, to make the kind of meat we want to eat and be off-set our costs by selling the meat to other people who appreciate the high quality of what we do and value that we are treating our animals with respect until their last moments.

It was a HARD day but MAN did it feel good to be so productive!

Tuesday Truth

Monday, October 17, 2016

We Bought a Farm: Mini breakdowns

It happens irregularly. I can't really find a consistent pattern. But every now and then, my eyes fill up with tears (or I at least think they should be filling up even if they aren't cooperating) and I want to just throw in the towel.

Most often it is when JB is on a tough stretch of work at the hospital. He was busy yesterday doing his 5th shift in 7 days (and one of those was a sleeping day as he was coming off nights.) It was Sunday. I was trying to get everyone to church. We were processing turkeys the next day. We had a friend coming in town, a WWOOFer leaving, a sick WWOOFer -- you know the type of things that have you teetering a bit.

And then I drove up to our farm after church to see that all our ewes and found their way out of their enclosure.

I wanted to scream.

In fact I stayed calm. Myself, my father-in-law and one of our WWOOFers patiently got all the sheep back home. They hadn't completely decimated the fence like they had done a few days back so it was a relatively easy fix.

(We are investigating why the sheep keep getting out. We are wondering if a predator is scaring them or they have just learned how to out-smart the fence.)

But inside I was stewing and having major doubt and self-talk with myself. This is too hard. You can't succeed. You aren't a farmer. This was your husband's dream. 

As usual, when I feel this way, I shoot JB a text. He listens patiently and doesn't even bring up the fact that he had lost two patients in 12 hours and had to sit down with two different families and discuss their loved ones deaths.


The emotion passes. I truly know we are supposed to be here. We have agreed that we need to cut back, and we are working on that. No life is perfect. Nothing goes smoothly all the time. But this farming thing?

I always thought college basketball conditioning and motherhood and teaching a class of high school seniors all on the verge of flunking were some of the hardest things I ever did.

But this ranks up there.

Hangin' in there and keepin' it real,

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday Sermon

Remembering my favorite home

This is how I feel every time I think of Turkey. 
The place I lived is still there. 
But it doesn't exist as I remember it. 
Families are no longer allowed to live there. 
And the families that were my family are gone. 
This place will always hold memories too big for me to put into words. 
I often want it back. 
The simple life of parks on every corner, 
walking everywhere, 
all Christians attending the same church, 
and community stronger than you can ever imagine.
A grocery store with only the essentials. 
Stores I could let my children run freely in. 
Kisses from strangers.
And the beautiful Turkish people that I loved so dearly. 
But it's gone ... 
and I think of it often with tears in my eyes.