Scripture Journaling

I don’t know about you but for me, it can be really hard to stay focused during my devotion time or for that fact, even starting it! I wake up and immediately my mind starts setting an agenda of all things that need to be done. I feel an urgency to get up and make things happen, especially if I have slept in. Devotions can easily be put on the back burner…and as my day unfolds, I know that that was a mistake! Why? Because everything is different when I start my day out in the peace that only my Heavenly Father can bring into my life.

I have tried devotionals and had little success in finishing them because I easily bore of the same thing over and over! About a year ago, I was struggling with things that were out of my control, basically everything (because let’s be honest, as humans we control nothing.) I wanted to find a way to proclaim God over the situations that I faced and I also desired to know what the Bible had to say about the things I was struggling with. I know a lot of the Bible by heart, thanks to my Christian upbringing but the verses I learned as a child are just a small portion of what God has to say over me as an adult.

So, thanks to Pinterest, I found daily plans for writing Scripture on different topics! This has empowered me in a whole new way. I love writing out God’s word! Sometimes, I may just write the verse once but many times I end up writing it out several times to enable me to have it not only written in my journal but also to have it written upon my heart.

Journaling God’s word is the perfect way for me to do my devotions. I not only write down that day’s Scripture but I also write down our needs as a family and prayer request that God has put on my heart. I love going back and marking needs and prayer requests as answered! God’s timing is perfect!

I want to encourage you to dig deep into Scripture and find exactly what He has to say for your life. Write it down, memorize it, and speak it over your existence!

As they say at our kid’s church, “The Bible is God’s word and God’s word is true!”

Hebrews 4:12 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

12 For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints, and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.

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Tips and Tricks for Visiting Silver Dollar City (part 1)

 

I was knee-high to a grasshopper when I first went to Silver Dollar City. I have many fun and fond memories that were created there! It was there, that my husband (boyfriend back then) bought me Dippin Dots on our first unofficial date and also there that both of my kids rode their first roller coaster!

I am an old fashioned gal and I love that Silver Dollar City celebrates the old-fashioned ways! From candle making to pottery, it can all be found in its shanty like stores. The shows are always top notch! And don’t even get me started on the food! If you don’t love it, you must be in the wrong park!

Here are a few things that I have learned over the years going to Silver Dollar City.

Get there early!

Silver Dollar City has a “Park Opening Ceremony” every day that the park is open. In this ceremony, the National Anthem is played and past war veterans are recognized for their service. Every time I go and watch this display of patriotism, my chest fills with pride that America is my home! The ceremony takes place 15 minutes before the park officially opens. Give yourself extra time to get there…the incoming traffic can be crazy and you never know when you will catch a tram to take you to the park’s entrance.

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Grab a map or download the app!

I personally like the paper map over the Silver Dollar City App but I can see the benefit of both. With the paper map, you can navigate throughout the park with ease, there are also large maps placed throughout the park to assist you if you become lost. The SDC app will tell you the wait time for rides, which can be helpful but not guaranteed to be completely accurate.

Silver Dollar City with small children.

Amusement parks with small children can be challenging but one thing I love most about SDC is that it is a family park! There are changing tables in every bathroom and they even have Family Restrooms! This is a big thing for me because I am uneasy about sending either of my kids to the restroom by themselves. And for nursing mothers, there are nursing stations (look for the smiley face on your paper map) located in certain areas of the park!

As a mother of two children, the first place we head for, after arriving at the park, is the Measuring Station (Located in the Grand Exposition near the mini rollercoaster entrance). Here they will measure your kids and give them color-coded bracelets and a matching flyer so that you know which rides your kids can ride! Not only that, but it will also have your phone number on it in case your child wanders away from you. This saved us so much time and heartache in the end…but go there first because the lines can get quite long.

Places you will want to visit with small children:

  • Firemans Landing
  • The Grand Exposition (tucked behind the swings are rides perfect for little littles. E8 on your paper map.)
  • Homestead Ridge
  • Riverblast
  • Flooded Mines (Warning: Its dark in there)
  • Half Dollar Holler
  • Train Depot (There are robbers but they are friendly and put on a fun show. Have something the kids can give to them, a piece of candy or gum.)

Saving money on food.

Like all amusement parks, SDC food can be quite expensive for a family! We have found ways of saving money on food when visiting SDC and here are our tips…

  • Carry an empty water bottle. The restaurants will gladly fill it for you, once you are in the park.
  • Pack a brown bag lunch. We have a small soft-shelled cooler that we pack with sandwiches, Lunchables, or even sandwich wraps in. We easily save between $30-50 each time we do this.
  • Pack snacks. I try to pack something special, something we don’t get all the time… it helps to calm all the cravings you get by smelling the yummy food around you!

Spending money on food in a smart way.

So, SDC has commemorative mugs that you can purchase for around $15 and this ensures you a refillable mug at a discounted price all year long…for that year, anyway! Years ago, my husband and I bought one…unbeknownst to us that mugs after that year would be dated and only good for the purchased year…so, we lucked out and have a mug that may have a cracked outer shell but is still accepted for a discounted rate. We treasure that mug! If you find an SDC mug at a garage sale or even on eBay…make sure that they are not expired. You can clarify this by reading the fine print that is normally found under the mugs handle.

On average a meal for one is going to cost you upwards of $10. If you are a season pass holder, make sure to show them your pass so you can get a discount on your meal!

To be continued…

The Little Lady Next Door

“Who is mowing on a day like today?” I asked myself as I looked out my window to see my 90-year-old neighbor pushing her small lawn mower. The temps were close to 80 and definitely not ideal for her to be doing such a task. I took it upon myself to go next door and remind her of exactly that. As soon as she saw me she let go of the mowers handle and gave me a grin that only a child in trouble could emulate. She amazes me! Nothing keeps her down! She is always smiling and speaking life into anyone who will stay long enough to listen. I aspire to be like her not when I am that age but every day I exist on this earth.

I remember the first time I met her! We had been searching for a house to purchase and finally found one in an older part of town. The house we wanted was being inspected and like any first-time buyer, we were present to get as much information as possible. As we waited for the inspector to crawl out from under the house, she emerged out of her backyard where she was obviously tending to something in the backyard. My husband and I took it upon ourselves to ask her a few questions about the neighborhood and her neighbors (the owners of the house we intended to buy). With a grin on her face and a sweet disposition, she sold us on all of the above. Miss G stole our hearts and made me excited about having a grandma-lady next door. Five years later she continues to charm me with her words and actions.

I have learned that we are slowly losing our heritage by not passing on information. Miss G is an avid writer and has documented all of her life in journals. She is ever ready with an entertaining story from her past and I love hearing her stories! Once she approached me with a request, she needed someone to type up a few of her stories…I felt blessed to oblige her with this request. After receiving the typed copies, she proceeded to distribute her stories to friends and family by mail.

Her yard is as squeaky clean as her house, garage, shed…etc. Everything she owns is lovingly cared for! How she is able to keep up with so much is a mystery to me. She cares about what she has with passion and a sense of responsibility. Unlike most Americans, whose waste is astounding…we no longer fix things but throw them out without a second thought. Her generation finds it hard to throw away something that could be repaired and used for many more years to come. Talk about recycling!

The biggest thing I have learned from Miss G is her love for God. It flows over to everyone she meets. Her heart is so in love with her Heavenly Father and it reflects in her smile which consumes her whole face. She is a bright light that will not be snuffed out. She once told me that she had someone come and help her with something and while they waited for it to be taken care of…she saw an opportunity to tell them about the Lord. What a passion! If I learn nothing more from her, I pray that it will be that, to always be ready to share about our Heavenly Father in a moments notice.

Miss G is a part of our family and an inspiration to me on a daily basis! I am so thankful for such a loving neighbor and a great example of what growing old with grace truly looks like.

 

 

The Blessing Jar

A few years ago, I was at a homeschool co-op Christmas party. It was a beautiful time of laughter and friends. We had a table covered with a variety of tasty foods and dispensers full of hot cocoa and coffee close by to chase away the chilly evening. We were having our fill of laughter too. Watching one another stuff a pair of nylons full of balloons and placing it atop our heads like a pair of deer antlers.

During a lull of the festivities, two friends pulled out Mason jars decorated with a piece of brown twine and the date 2015 hanging from the neck of the jar. Affixed to the middle of the jar was a label that said Blessings. One of the two friends began to explain that there was a jar for each of us. A gift to use in our homes to remind us of the blessings we have received during the year, maybe a handwritten note of a blessing, a ticket stub, or a receipt. It was such a simple gift but one that has blessed my home for three years.

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We still have our Blessing Jar sitting on our small bookshelf. My son and daughter know exactly what it is and what it means. They often remind me to put the paper that represent a given or received blessing into the jar. So much so, that my son asked me to put the gas receipt into our Blessing Jar… because “filling the car with gas is a blessing”.

Every year it is filled with ticket stubs, receipts, small notes…etc. Each New Year’s Eve, I empty its contents and pour them into a small Ziploc bag labeled with the passing year’s date. Last year it was so full that I considered buying a bigger jar but I haven’t found the heart to get rid of the one that was given to us. It is special.

 

Bless someone with a small blessing…you never know how big it will become in their life or how full it will make their Blessing Jar.

 

Our Schooling Choice…

DSC_8477Homeschooling seems to be picking up speed, becoming a very common choice for families in the Midwest and around the country. I was homeschooled from day one and am thankful that my parents chose that direction for me. It was exactly what I needed. I know homeschooling isn’t possible for most families. I know many who found it was not the right fit for them, but for my family, it is exactly what we need for this season of our lives.

It hasn’t always been easy and many, many times, I have thought about how our lives would be if I sent my kids to public school. Why? Because financially it seems like that is the right thing to do, it would be easier. But each time God meets me in that difficult season. He has provided for us to continue to homeschool and I know He will continue to do so.

Why do I homeschool?

Because I truly believe that this is the path God has paved for us. I love that both of my children can learn in the method that works best for them, whether that is audible, hands-on or visually, I can adapt anything to their specific need.

I love that my children are able to study the Bible and Biblical principles, outside of Church, on a daily basis. Now, you might be thinking “they can do all of that and go to public school…” and you could be perfectly right in thinking so. I know a lot of families that are able to do exactly that and their kids are thriving both in school and in their spiritual life.

I just know what I want for my children and I know that public school won’t supply my vision for them.

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What curriculums/programs have I used?

I have used all of the below listed curriculums at one point or another and each served its purpose for that season of life.

Using a curriculum that glorifies God is a HUGE plus but exploring God’s creation is an equally amazing plus! I think teaching my kids through travel and life experiences is a great blessing for us! I love sharing in the excitement of new things with them. Teaching them life skills from a Godly perspective is such a beautiful thing for me!

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Will I homeschool through high school?

That is my intention. I don’t know what tomorrow will hold but I know who holds it and I know that in every season of our lives God will direct our steps.

What about college?

Did you know that colleges are actively accepting homeschooled students?

It’s true! I have several friends that have children in college or have children who have completed college. After which, they continued to have successful careers even though they were homeschooled.

Check out Annie: https://www.annieandeverything.com/

She has great advice for parents who are homeschooling through high school.

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How do I make it through the difficult days?

Prayer, friends, family and an assurance in my Heavenly Father.

My husband is my sounding board when things get rocky…he helps me keep a level head and points me back to our Heavenly Father on a daily basis.

I, also, have an active group of homeschooling momma friends and public school friends. It’s a blessing to have such great friends. I know I can reach out to them anytime. They often confirm that they are struggling too and that none of their lives are perfect, no matter how good it looks like on social media.

Do you have homeschooling questions? What are they?

 

Adventures at Legoland Florida

A few years ago, we decided to make a trip to Florida, driving down the Atlantic coast and returning by the gulf coast side. We had a set budget and two weeks vacation. We decided to tent camp whenever possible. Now, I knew that sounded ambitious but we were up for the challenge! Not everything went as planned (weather and car sickness) so, we did have to stop a few times and stay at a hotel.  Otherwise, we camped at some of Florida’s amazing state parks and really enjoyed the beautiful beaches and old forts that came along with the entry fee.

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We really wanted to go to Walt Disney but after looking at the prices, we decided it wouldn’t be a possibility for our family this time. We still wanted to do something “big” for our wonderful kiddos. One day by accident, I discovered LEGOLAND in Winter Haven, Florida.

How? Well, I came across a coupon that said KIDS GO FREE in one of my kids Lego sets. I had no idea what this place was but they had me at “KIDS GO FREE”. After a lot of research, we decided that we had found the “big” event we were looking for.

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From the moment we walked up to the ticket booth my kids were SO excited! I have to admit so was I! This place looked amazing!

If you have any LEGO lovers in your family…this is the amusement park for you. My kids were four and six at the time and I loved the fact that my youngest child could ride almost every ride, with the exception of maybe one or two. And on top of that, every ride had an area for the kids to build LEGOS while their parents stood in line. It was a lifesaver!

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If your kids are like mine, they have a ton of little LEGO mini-figures hanging around…if you bring them with you, you can trade them with the staff at the park. Each staff member has a lego name tag that has LEGO figures attached to it. Just ask them to trade and they will!

We were allowed to bring food into the park and that is always a plus in my book! I don’t know about your kids but my kids have to eat every 5 seconds ( I exaggerate a little). So, having a backpack full of snacks and water really helps our budget! We brought sandwiches and ate them on a picnic bench in the shade (it was a scorcher of a day).

From going to Egypt to exploring Legoland USA to Ninjago and Star Wars… Not including the LEGO creating stations and driving school… there was oh so much to see and do. My son was convinced that we needed to move there after our first trip. I don’t blame him a bit…

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Something we didn’t know when we arrived was that tucked away in the corner of the park was a botanical garden! It is called Cypress Gardens! And it’s beautiful!

Take time to explore it! You won’t be disappointed, I promise you. Make sure to check for events happening in the garden…like a water skiing show. (We missed it because it was the last thing we did.)

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Tips and Tricks:

  • Parking is not free! It is $17 just for standard parking. (Check their website for additional pricing options.)
  • Check local businesses to see if they have any Kids Go Free coupons. This is a big help! We found a $5 off coupon at the local McDonalds.
  • If you cannot find any coupons, buy your tickets online as far in advance as you can. The further out you buy your ticket, the cheaper it is.
  • Bring your own snacks, lunch and refillable water bottle.
  • Get there as soon as they open. Their hours of operation are shorter than most amusement parks. 10 AM-7PM.
  • If you are going to have a couple days, buy both the LEGOLAND water park/amusement park combo. We didn’t go to the water park but wish we had made time to do so.
  • When visiting, don’t forget your sunscreen and a hat!
  • Start from the back of the park and work your way forward. You may not have to wait so long in line. (Good luck at convincing your kids this a good idea.)
  • Don’t forget about the botanical garden!
  • Bring your least favorite LEGO mini-figures to trade with the Staff!

Have any good LEGOLAND tips to share? Please do!

Stretching a Penny (episode 1)

We are a family who survives on one steady income. I am a stay at home/homeschool mom and have been since my daughter was born nine years ago. I am blessed to have always been there for my two wonderful kiddos and all the money in the world couldn’t compare to that.

Being a stay at home has its blessings and it has its setbacks. The blessings outweigh the setbacks for sure! But unlike the families that have two incomes, we have to stretch every penny! Here are a few things we do to help our family to stretch that penny.

Turn out the lights!

Electricity is not cheap! We leave lights off in well-lit areas during the day and have a “Light Brigade” (my two kids) randomly run through the house turning off lights. It has become a fun game with both of my kids but my son (6) takes his job very seriously. I yell out “Light Brigade” and they run through the house turning off lights like well-trained soldiers. Hey, whatever works! Am I right?

ALDI

We shop at ALDI for about 75% of the items we use in our house. I watch for good sales at a local grocery store and sometimes Walmart but the majority of our food comes from ALDI. I buy most of my vegetables, fruit, yogurt, Kefir, milk, eggs, and dry goods there. (just to name a few) I have a lot of people ask about the quality of the food we buy there…to be honest, I haven’t found many things I don’t like from there! I would say it’s comparable to most of the products from top named brands!

Once a week…

We eat out and when I say “eat out” it may be a pizza or hamburger at our local Sam’s Club or Chinese place. I will admit it is not the healthiest of choices but it isn’t very expensive and it’s ONLY once a week! I make all of our meals the rest of the week and “eat out night” is just a “cheat” so mommy can have a night off. What mom doesn’t need a night off? Can I get an “Amen”?

Amazon

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I use Amazon Prime for a lot! From buying my printers” off brand” ink to sending out of town family members gifts. Now if you are thinking Amazon Prime isn’t free, you are right! Prime membership cost $99 a year but I have done the math and just in a birthday gift shipping alone (I have seven nephews and nieces that live out of state) I have almost paid for the membership. We also use our Amazon Prime membership for watching shows on Prime Videos, listening to (and downloading) music on Prime Music and saving our pictures to Prime Photos. It’s worth it!

No Media Subscriptions

No paper, no cable, no magazine subscriptions… just, no. We do have internet but that is about it. We make use of our local library for books, media, movies and a lot more. For movies, we either rent from Red Box or we use our Amazon Prime Videos. We don’t normally go out to the local movie theater and if we do its a treat! We usually wait for the movie we want to watch to come out on DVD and then we rent it from Red Box. The idea quickly turns into a cozy night at home with freshly popped popcorn and snuggles under a warm blanket. Who needs a movie theater?

Just say “NO”

This is my least favorite way of saving money but it is one I have to exercise a lot. On many occasions, I had to say no to outings with friends or invitations to do things that cost. It’s not that I don’t like going out and doing things…on the contrary! But we homeschool and that $30 trip to the bouncy house place could pay for my kid’s next swim lesson session.

Like I said, not my favorite way of saving but sometimes it is necessary when you are on a tight budget.

Clearance

I am constantly scanning for birthday and Christmas gifts or anything useful in the clearance section! Now does that sound cheap? Sure it does! Does it matter if I pay full price for the item that is being gifted or if I bought it at 90% off? Well, to be honest, the person who is receiving “said gift” does not know I bought it at a discount. My kids cannot tell the difference on the Lego set I bought for $15 compared to the same set that is selling for $30+. Again, it’s stretching every penny! Besides, “It’s the thought that counts”, right?

To be continued…