Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Review: Let the Little Children Come

Let The Little Children Come

This is just a FUN review to for me to write! Let the Little Children Come sent me their Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sampler Pack and boy were these unique and just plain FUN! It is always fun to write a review like this -- for a great product that you only have good things to say. 

I'm not sure what I expected ... just a boring old tract maybe? But these weren't even close to boring. They were incredibly fun! The sampler pack I reviewed contained ten of their most popular tracts.

Animated Tracts
 Let the Little Children Come Gospel TracksI wanted to take a moment to just highlight a few of our favorite tracts via video. And I wanted to start with their animated tracts. Check out these two videos where my daughter Abigail illustrates how these animated tracts work. These animated tracts allow you to capture and hold the attention of children as you share with them the gospel message! You just place the striped plastic sheet over the images and slowly slide them from left to right and voila -- let the fun begin!  

Pop-Up Tracts
 Let the Little Children Come Gospel Tracks
And here is one of the Pop-up tracts -- pictured in this video below. These use a pop-up to convey the salvation message to children:

Here are my girls showing off a few of their favorite tracts:

Oh man are these fun!!! These employ a fascinating folding mechanism and a detailed guide sharing how to use these. There is a picture of heaven, a picture of sin, a picture of the cross, and a picture of our clean heart! So fun. You can flip these forever trying to figure out how they work:

 Let the Little Children Come Gospel Tracks

Colors of salvation products
We are probably all familiar with some of these yellow/black/red/white/green colors and their symbolism. The packet includes three products for those:

 Let the Little Children Come Gospel Tracks
And here is a picture showing everything you receive in your sample packet:

 Let the Little Children Come Gospel Tracks

Make sure to check our Let the Little Children Come and all of their great products including the: Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sampler Pack. You can also visit them on Facebook by clicking here. In addition, I reviewed another product for them in the past. You can check that our by visiting the following link. 

Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools {Let the Little Children Come Reviews}

 Crew Disclaimer

Monday, October 30, 2017

Feels like Turkey

Duygu came with a few presents: rakı (very famous drink John loves), Turkish çay (tea), and locum (Turkish delight) .... feels like Turkey around here again. The girls are having çay with Duygu each day.

Abigail is SO funny to us. She was the one who was "born and raised" in Turkey. Hatice often gave her tomatoes to chew on and foods that Americans never give their children. And I really feel it has stuck with her. She loves to drink the tea! Loves Turkish foods. So neat!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

What is mantı?

I had someone on my Blog ask me what mantı was. Mantı is a Turkish food pronounced (Mon-tuh). Here are some pictures of mantı. It is basically a dumpling stuffed with meat and served with a yogurt/tomato sauce. I loveeeeee it:

My Turkish friend Rana says that if you want to buy ready-made she suggests only this company: Palo Alto Pasta Company.  She brought it with when she came to visit, and it was very good. 

We Bought a Farm: Veronica the Chicken Whisperer

I've always loved the angles and views Veronica captures on the farm ... and this is no different. This is what happens when you go out to the chickens "around" feeding time but fail to feed them. Ha!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Hatice -- cok Tatla

Hatice called me this morning at 7am. Having Duygu here has made me miss her so badly.

I didn't know she was able to video chat with me, but she somehow called me. And we both sobbed as we talked -- from happy memories and missing each other so much.

I already had my friend Rana chat with Duygu and tomorrow I hope to have Duygu speak with Hatice so they can swap good information that my limited Turkish won't allow.

Here's a picture of us chatting this morning:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

We Bought a Farm: My heart is BURSTING

I don't know if I can adequately put into words what the arrival of DUYGU has done for my heart. She only came in two nights ago and to be honest, I didn't really think about her arrival that much. She was from Turkey which had intrigued me when we connected on "WorkAway", but I have been so busy and I am often talking to many volunteers at the same time trying to negotiate their arrival and departures, that I didn't really have time to focus on her coming. 

I was actually a bit concerned because I usually "hire" wwoofers for help on the farm, and it was obvious from her profile that she would be more of a help with indoor things like cleaning and cooking. But she said she was willing to help on the farm, I didn't have anyone else booked for the month, and she was from Turkey. My friend Rana helped me with some references, and I decided to go for it.

And then she got here. And within just moments, I suddenly felt my heart get soooo happy.

Our friend Annie picked her up from the airport. Annie lives in Knoxville and was able to help me avoid a long drive to the big city. It was late when they arrived, but early the next morning, Duygu immediately jumped in to help us with harvesting before our first frost:

She jumped right into the kitchen. Here is a photo of the stuffed peppers she threw together:

And then today she made MANTI!! Oh my ... melt a woman's heart why don't you?!

Even better, Abigail spent an entire hour STRAIGHT helping her with the Manti. It was the sweetest thing ever.

Another pic:

I had no idea how much my heart needed this woman in our home. I know it has only been a few days, but there is just something so familiar and comfortable about the sound of her voice. It brings back such wonderful memories of a place that holds such beautiful memories for me. I've also been shocked how my Turkish has come back to me. I really thought I had lost most of it ... but as she practices her English and I practice my Turkish, it is coming back so quickly. 

I spoke on the Blog previously about the fact that we have found out one of our previous WWOOFers has been arrested. If what he did is true, it is a very scary thing that he lived on our farm. And it made JB and I question EVERYTHING. But God, he wouldn't let us go. He has made it clear that HE wants us to continue to host these people. And so, that is what I am doing.

And Duygu's arrival shouted to me: KEEP GOING WENDI! I WANT YOU TO DO THIS!

To have her and Tymen here with Veronica on the weekends is nearly the perfect combo of people here. Just three fantastic individuals who make the world a better place!


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Review: Lost in the Reflecting Pool

I just finished reading Lost in the Reflecting Pool by Diane Pomerantz. This was a beautifully written memoir that I believe could be a great source of support and encouragement for anyone going through (or recently emerging) from an abusive relationship or an unhappy marriage. For someone like me, who is in a happy marriage, the words were nearly impossible to believe and truly brought into perspective all I have to be thankful for.

In Diane's case, the abuse was not physical but it was just as damaging. 

I loved the talk of infertility and adoption in this book. In addition, there is a large discussion surrounding her battle with an aggressive form of breast cancer. 

Diane is a psychologist and she falls in love with Charles who is a psychiatrist. This is a psychological love story and chronicles Diane's struggle to survive within and break free of this relationship.

I'd like to give away my copy of this book which I received in exchange for my honest review of this book. Leave your name and email address, and I will send you a copy of this book. (I can only mail within the USA.)

We Bought a Farm: When God Brings the People for the Harvest

I've been feeling a bit swamped ...

Here's the thing. I do not get involved with the garden on the farm. Not because I don't want to. I just can't add another thing. I know the animals now. I can't know the garden. At least not yet.

But we are getting ready to have a big frost, and so we needed to harvest from the garden.

And here's the thing: GOD KNEW THAT. I mean he knew I was going to feel swamped months ago and so he put in motion that the right people would be here to help me when I needed it most.


I continue to be floored by how many times God provides people before I can even utter that I need Him.

About two weeks ago, we said good bye to Jacob. He has been a long-term intern here at the farm. In total, he was here for about nine months. Here is a photo of him building a Magnatile tower with some of the kids:

Losing Jacob was tough. He could run the farm. He was simply amazing and was simply beyond words in the level of his help around the farm. He truly is family to us, and we hope he will come back and visit us often.

As he left, he overlapped with Tymen, a Dutch wwoofer who has been with us previously. He can do any hard and heavy moving job on the farm. He can also move the animals which not many volunteers can do. The kids love him. The grown-ups love him. Hannah absolutely adores Tymen. And this trip out here, he won Abigail over as well. He will be joining the Dutch military next year, but we are hoping maybe he can come see us one more time before his time begins:

Tymen was only supposed to stay a month but has decided to stay longer! We were so excited about this. And then, at the same time, our Veronica came back to us. She comes in on Friday evenings and leaves on Monday mornings. Her help is incredible as well, and I just love having her around:

I don't have a picture of her, but a wonderful woman named Pilar who attends our church has also started volunteering on our farm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She is helping us a lot in the garden, and is another fantastic asset. 

We've had another volunteer coming to us now and then. Her name is Annie. She lives in Knoxville -- just over an hour away, and is one of the strongest women I have ever met. She helps us soooo much on the farm. Whenever she comes, she just jumps right in. She is a teacher at a deaf school and is also teaching the kids (especially Sidge) .. sign.

However, despite all this help outside, I have still felt a bit swamped. So much to do inside! And then, God saw to it to bring DUYGU (duey like the duck and then goo). She is pictured below with Annie:

Now here is what is amazing about Duygu. She is Turkish. Turkish. Oh the sweetness of hearing her Turkish accent. It makes me so happy just to hear her. I worried I had forgotten a lot of my Turkish, but I have jumped right back into it.

And here's what's better ... while she wants to help outside on the farm, she really wants to help inside with cooking and cleaning and kids and those types of things. When I agreed to have her, I wasn't sure this would work out as my need outside is often stronger than inside. But with Annie and Veronica and Tymen here (and one of our old favorites, MaryAnne, returning to us next week), I have the outside covered. And now I have inside help!

With a hard frost coming in the next few days, we had to harvest as much as we could from the garden. Pilar and JB and the kids did a lot of the harvesting and Grama (pictured below) and John started off the "what to do with all this stuff" in the kitchen. Dugyu has been a gem helping in the kitchen as well:

Lots of peppers and tomatoes... a couple of big piles of chard and kale... the last of the beans... some Molokai Purple sweet potatoes roots and greens (both edible!)

God blows me away ... every ... single ... time! 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Review: Kid Niche Christian Books

Kid Niche Christian Books
I had the opportunity to review Kid Niche Christian Books product Weave Your Word in Me -- Part 1

This is a Bible and Prayer Curriculum designed for students in grades 4-6. You could use it in a Christian school, in a homeschool (like we did), or in a church. You could also simply use it with one of your "tweens" in your own home. I used Weave Your Word in Me -- Part 1 with my boys who are in the 3rd grade. (This is compatible with KJV, ESV, NKJV, NASB, and NABRE).

*******(By the way can I tell you how hard it is for me to even consider that my boys are old enough to be a "tween." I do NOT want them to grow up.)

Please note: The product is designed to be used with ONE student. If you purchase it, you should purchase one for each student. However, I decided to have my boys work through it together and team up so that I could get both of their opinions on it. Each lesson, one of them would do the writing and one of them would do the Bible reading. And then they took turns. 

I should also note that there is a Part II for this product as well. You can buy them separately or buy them together as a unit.

Written by Susan Case Bonner, this is a Bible study and prayer guide which helps young people understand who God is and how to talk with him. It is designed around the nine verses of My Whole Self Before You which is a rhythmical prayer modeled after the Lord's prayer.

I took a video of my eight-year-old, Sidge, reading the prayer:

Here is a sample of what my two boys came up with during the second part of the first lesson:

And here is another sample of a lesson that they finished:

Our overall review. Listen folks, my boys are picky about things they like. They complain about schoolwork readily. So when both of them give a review like this, that means good things in our house! Anytime I get two thumbs up from TWO kids, I sit up and pay very close attention. Even better: NO COMPLAINING! Oh how I love those words!!!!

Here is what each of my boys had to say:

Sidge (age 8): "Good. It's fun. I love looking up stuff in the Bible."
Isaac (age 9):  "I like it because it counts as school work and is fun."

This would work beautifully in any home. Each morning (or anytime of the day of course!) you simply give your child a Bible and their workbook and have them work through a lesson. There are questions and fill-in-the-blanks and different ways of reinforcing questions with each lesson.

Each lesson took my boys around 15 minutes. It was a very reasonable amount of time, and they seemed to almost look forward to doing it. We did about 3-4 lessons a week for the month or so of my review period which means we are over halfway through it right now. It came already hole-punched and so I just put it in a three ring binder.

This is a great product that we thoroughly recommend!

You can check them out at Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

Weave Your Word in Me {Kid Niche Christian Books Reviews}
 Crew Disclaimer


We Bought a Farm: Our Weekends with Veronica

This girl:

I genuinely love this girl. There aren't many people outside of my family that I can say this about. She is my little sister. She has a secure place in my heart. 

I have known Veronica (aka "V") since she was about four years old. We went to church in Kentucky together. Then, when JB and I moved to Minnesota, her family relocated at the same time. During JB's first year of medical school, we lived in a mother-in-law apartment underneath her family's house.

During our first year in Turkey, Veronica lived with us and helped me when I had to "storknest" in Germany.

Now, she is going to school about four hours from us. And she is studying horticulture and is interested in our farm. (And I think she likes our family too!) So she is coming in on Friday evenings and leaving on Monday mornings. 

We are all soooooo excited to have Veronica with us every weekend. This woman is so beautiful inside and out, and the Lord has such huge plans for her. Please pray for her! Pray that the Lord will guide her life and use her exactly as HE has planed.

Veronica also takes some great pictures. Here are some of the photos she took this weekend:

We took our family and Veronica and Tymen to "Fender's Farm" for a HOT fall day!



Dutch wwoofer experiencing one of these southern fall festivals for first time. We love Tymen!!!

Veronica and Hannah selfie.

This last pic was taken by JB. How beautiful is this:

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Preach It!

I have not made any secrets about the fact that I've been struggling a bit.
In fact, this past week I actually sat down with JB and asked him to evaluate me and see if there was anything wrong with me .... I am forgetting EVERYthing.
A quick example: yesterday JB called me on the phone and told me to check Isaac's pulse ox. I went into the bedroom, saw Abigail had broken one of my necklaces accidentally, and somehow hung up on JB and returned to the living room not even realizing I had been talking to him or on my way to check Isaac's pulse ox.
My brain wants to figure it out and fix it. Could it be homeschooling? Could it be the farm? Could it be a husband working a lot? 
It could.
But then my cousin calls me, and she is in suburbia with four kids who are not homeschooled and she is losing her mind equally.
And then, this morning, my mom sent me this article.
And I realized ...
I am a mom of four little kids. WHAT DID I EXPECT?!
This time is wonderful and beautiful and yes, hard. I need to suck it up and embrace it all at the same time. 
It's an adventure. It will be over before I know it. 
And know I am not alone!

Here's the article in its completion:
"This stage of life. It’s hard, you guys.
I’m talking right now to you moms who are in your late 20's to mid 30’s. You have kids. Likely two, three, maybe four of them. They probably range in age from newborns to 7 or 8 year-olds. (Give or take a few, on all of the above mentioned stats).
In this stage of life, you are dealing with exhaustion. Mental, physical, and emotional.
In this stage of life, you are dealing with teething. With ear infections. With stomach viruses. You are juggling nap schedules, and feeding schedules and soccer, dance, or cheer schedules. A million balls you are juggling, and you probably feel like you are dropping most of them.
In this stage of life, you are dealing with guilt. Guilt over having a career, and not spending enough time with your kids, or guilt over staying home with your kids, and not doing enough to contribute financially. Guilt over being too harsh with your kids. Too lenient. Guilt that your house is clean, but your kids were ignored, or guilt that you enjoyed your children all day, and now your husband is coming home to filth. Guilt.
In this stage of life, you are bombarded daily with a whole host of decisions. Some of them life-changing, some of them not. None of them with clear cut answers. Do I vaccinate my kids? Do I not? Do I send them to public school? Homeschool? Charter school? Do I continue to breastfeed? Do I blow the budget so that I can buy all organic? Do I force my child to apologize, even though the apology will be insincere? You don’t know the answers to ANYTHING, but you feel constant pressure to figure out EVERYTHING.
This stage of life is less and less about watching your friends get married and have babies, and more and more about standing by and witnessing your friends struggle in their marriage, and even get divorced. It’s a stage where you’ve got to put in the time and the effort and the work and the energy to make sure your OWN marriage stays healthy. And that’s good, but it’s hard, too. At this point, you or someone you know has experienced infertility. Miscarriages. Loss of a child.
It’s a stage where you are buying houses, selling houses, remodeling houses, packing up houses. And then you do it all again a few years later.
It’s a stage where your hormones are all out of whack. I mean, you’ve basically been pregnant, postpartum, or breastfeeding for the last ten years, right?
It’s a stage where you are struggling with identity. Is my entire identity “mommy”? Is there anything even left of me that isn’t about mothering? Is there something more glamorous I could have/should have done with my life? I LOOK like a mom now, don’t I? I totally do.
It’s a stage where you are on a constant quest for balance, and can never find it.
It’s a stage of life where you are overloaded. Constantly. You are overloaded with questions. Your children never stop asking them. You are overloaded with touch. Someone is constantly wanting to be held, holding on to you, hanging on to you, touching you. You are overloaded with to-do’s. There is so much to do. It never ends. You are overloaded with worry. You are overloaded with THINGS. Your kids have way too many toys. You are overloaded with activities. You are overloaded with THOUGHTS (thoughts about how to not be so overloaded, perhaps?).
It’s hard.
So….what do you need to do to survive it all?
You need to ask for help.
You need to accept help when it’s given.
You need to not neglect your marriage. You need to put your kids down for bed early. Sit outside on the back porch with your husband, drink a glass of wine, and have a conversation.
You need girlfriends.
You need your mom.
You need older friends, who have been there and done that. Who can reassure you that you AREN’T screwing it all up as badly as you think you are.
You need to not feel bad about using your kids nap time every now and again to just do whatever the heck you want.
You need to lower your expectations….then probably lower them again.
You need to simplify. Simplify every single part of your life, as much as it can be simplified.
You need to learn how to say “no”.
You need to practice contentment
You need to be ok leaving your kids overnight, and going away somewhere. Anywhere.
You need to do something you enjoy, every day, even if it’s for no more than 15 minutes.
You need to pray. Girl, you need to pray.
You need a coffee you love, a wine you love, and a bubble bath that you love.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, you need to remember that…..
….this stage of life is beautiful, too. Like, really really beautiful. This is the stage of life where every single older person you ever meet tells you, “you’re going to miss this”. And you already know it’s true. It’s the stage where your kids love you more than they are EVER going to love you again, for the whole rest of your life. It’s the stage where they can fit their entire selves into your lap to snuggle…and they want to. It’s the stage where their biggest problems ARE ear infections and teething and stomach viruses, and you’re not having to deal yet with things like broken hearts or addiction or bullying. It’s the stage where you are learning to love your spouse in an entirely different….harder…..better…. way. The stage where you are learning together, being stretched together, shedding your selfishness together, and TRULY being made into “one”. It’s the stage where you get to see Christmas, Halloween through your kids eyes, and it’s so much more fun and magical than it would be just through your own eyes. It’s the stage where you get to watch your parents be grandparents…and they’re really good at it. It’s the stage of life filled with field trips, class parties, costumes, swim lessons, bubble baths, dance parties, loose teeth, and first steps. And those things are so fun. It’s the stage where you are young enough to have fun, and old enough to have obtained at least SOME wisdom. It’s SUCH a great stage.
But, man it’s hard."
-author unknown