Monday, July 30, 2012

Finding Free & Discounted Books

Teacher Tuesdays

Finding Free & Discounted Books can be a challenge, but with the internet, we have a lot of options, especially if you're willing to use ebooks. You can download a free reader at Kindle for PC. Some are simply pdf's, no reader required. Below is a list of the places I search first when looking for books for our home school.


Project Gutenberg. Find free online books such as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, among thousands of others.

Kindle E-Books. More classics, with modern books thrown in as well. Wuthering Heights, Lord, Teach Us to Pray by Andrew Murray, and The Pursuit of God, to name a few.

Online Literature has lists sorted by author, title, and time period. 

Inspired Reads. This is a blog that offers free Christian ebooks every day. The style varies, but I've found some great free resources.

$1 or Less

Ebay. I just scored a large hard cover picture book lot for under $1 each shipped, including many award winning books. I was looking for some new picture books for my preschooler, and this deal made my month! I hadn't thought to look on Ebay before this for "Lots" of books. Buying in bulk saves shipping.

Half Priced Book Store. Their clearance section often has books that range from $1 or less. Go prepared to hunt. It's not really organized. (At least ours isn't).

Garage Sales. Again, if you enjoy the hunt, this is a great way to pick up books under a dollar.

Paperback Swap. You send your books to other members, and then you get credits for books that you want. Although you're still paying on average $3/book that you ship, they give you credits in advance just for signing up, so you start out ahead of the game. At this point, though, I've been in it long enough that it feels like I'm just paying $3/book.

Amazon used books. I've found that many of their used books also qualify for Free Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. I used this option when ordering school books this year.

$5 This is a great resource, but your minimum shipping rate is $3.99/book, so if you add a 75 cent book, you're almost at $5. This is still much better than running out to the local bookstore, though! And this summer, I found a free shipping special, so my 75 cent books were actually only 75 cents!

What treasure am I  missing out on? Where do you find your book deals?

My Mommy-Mood-Plan

Mommy Mondays

Ever have one of those days when you wish someone would send you to Time Out?

Or make you take a nap? Or tell you to go to bed early?

I woke up a little glum one morning this week, and I could afford the luxury of laying around because we’d planned a relaxing day. However, as I prepare to start school in exactly one week, I realized that though I have spent hours planning our academic schedule, I haven’t taken the time to do some mommy-mood-planning.

What do I mean?

Basically: What do I do this school year on days when I feel like I’m walking through sludge or just “draggin’ my wagon?” Because those days will come. Probably on day 3 of the school year.

I need some mommy-mood-planning for the moments when I won't want to listen to my child read another page of Frog and Toad. When I will think, "I don't really need to check her math sheet." When I'm tempted to just stare at my iphone all day and doodle with friends. When I am dreaming of sandy beaches and late night coffee talks and an uninterrupted day with a book and a sunbeam.

Here's the start of my plan, which I will post with my school supplies:

When I'm TIRED.
Legitimately tired. A child woke up during the night. I was struck with sleeplessness at 3:30 AM. We had friends stay late. I'm sick.

I will…
-        Remind myself that it's not an excuse to sin by scolding my children and negating my responsibilities.
-        Plan a 30 minute nap that afternoon, which will give me something to look forward to, a reward for my faithful service even when I'm tired.
-        Have an extra cup of coffee.
-        Read out loud to the kids at the table, knowing that a couch and a pillow is a recipe for disaster.
-        Take everyone on a walk.
-        Drink a glass of water and take my vitamins.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:19

“Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.” Proverbs 20:13

When I’m BORED.
I look at the 'to-do' list for the day and am strictly un-enthusiastic about what it contains.
I will…
-        Remember that I should not make an idol of “fun.”
-        Consider ways to change it up. Read to the kids on a blanket outside. Build a model from history out of LEGOs. Pull out the paints and create something. Start a game of Monopoly.
-        Not sit down by the computer. I will get up and keep moving.
-        Consider Christ – the cross was not “fun.”

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

When I’m LAZY.
I simply do not want to do the responsibilities that God has for me that day. I don't want to do the dishes. Or clean up the family room again. Or put away those piles of clothes. 

I will…
-        Remind myself of who I am serving.
-        Obey because I’m supposed to, whether I feel like it or not.
-        Pray for help.
-        Make a to-do list and write down how long I think each item will take. I can set a timer and race to the finish.
-        Not allow myself to sit until a few things are accomplished.
-        Turn on some motivating music.

“30 I went past the field of the sluggard,
    past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment;
31 thorns had come up everywhere,
    the ground was covered with weeds,
    and the stone wall was in ruins.
32 I applied my heart to what I observed
    and learned a lesson from what I saw:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest--
34 and poverty will come on you like a bandit
    and scarcity like an armed man.”
Proverbs 24:30-34

I see the school plan I so diligently created, but I feel somehow strangled by it. My mind wants to wander to new and exciting things before I'm even a month into my schedule. I begin to inwardly rebel at cleaning lists, food charts, and daily routines. The plan says I need to take a nature walk with my kids, and I think, "No, I really don't want to today." And slowly, day by day, my plan erodes into more normalcy.

I will…
-        Practice faithfulness.
-        Prayerfully evaluate the activity in question. My plans can be set in pencil, not stone, but I don’t want to form a habit of jumping off the ship.
-        Remember my goals for the year. I prayed over the list and what God wanted to accomplish through our family.
-        Push away from the habit I have of being "all talk and no action." This leads to poverty of our home, and I need to view it that way.

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” Proverbs 14:23

 “Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth.” Proverbs 12:27

When I’m Selfish.
I want to do something fun for me. Spend extra time on Facebook. Browse that internet sale someone tweeted about. Dive into a book when I should be making dinner.

I will…
-        Repent of my selfishness and ask God to help me live for Him.
-        Practice self-control. There is personal time built into the schedule. I need to have patience and wait.
-        If my mind is preoccupied with other thoughts, I will jot them down on a list so I don’t forget them, but I will cease thinking of them and focus on the task at hand.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” I Cor 9:24-27

When I am Interrupted.
I have a plan, and I'm trying to follow it, darn it! Then a child wets his pants, he hits his sibling, or she spills her bowl of cereal. My husband calls with a favor. A neighbor stops in to say hi. Something legitimate needs immediate attention.

I will…
-        Trust His plan for my day.
-        Thank Him for never giving me more than I can handle.
-        Take this opportunity to show faith to my kids.
-        Not use this as an excuse to snap at my children or punish everyone around me with my bad attitude.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

So help me out. What other moods do I need to add to my Mommy-Mood-Plan?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"But he did it first!"

Thoughtful Thursdays

I glance up at the pool to see my three year old son furiously splashing another youngster by leaning back and kicking his feet like a motor. I immediately stopped the activity, explaining that we don't splash others like that. It isn't kind. But my little guy felt completely justified.

"But he went like this to me!" And then he stuck out his tongue and spit.

And that's what we do. Someone spits at us, and we splash them back.

In yesterday's post, we talked about overcoming evil. We try to overcome evil with evil, but like Jay Adams says, you can't fight against evil with its own weapons. We need to use God's.

Blessings. Kindness. Love.

But what if you've been spit at and you don't feel very loving? All you want to do is splash back?

"Love is doing whatever good God says you must do for another, to please God, whether (at first) it pleases you or not. You must do so because He says so, and you don't wait until you feel like doing so. Love begins with obedience toward God in which one gives to another whatever the other needs. Love is not a gooey, sticky, sentimental thing; it is hard to love. Often, it hurts to love."
Jay Adams, How to Overcome Evil, page 35

The idea of overcoming means we don't just swim to the other side of the pool and ignore the person. We love them. It's an action. We overcome with good.

We can't do it alone. We need to be firmly tied to our Ultimate Lifeguard, the Savior of our Souls. Afterall, love comes from Him.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Overcoming Evil

Words for Wednesdays

Evil is everywhere. Dark alleys. Terrorist countries. Movie Theaters.

And though these places seem daunting, evil is also found at the dining room table, the school bus, and the conference table. 

We are surrounded by evil, but God tells us not to be overcome by it. Instead, we are to overcome - we are to win! 

In his booklet How to Overcome Evil, Jay Adams explains from Romans 12 what weapons God has given us to win the battle. Adams encourages, "The Great General never commands His troops to do anything that they cannot do." In short, we are to overcome this evil with good.

Does it seem unrealistic?  Do you find that you're overcoming evil and winning the battle, or are you withdrawing to a peace-fire on the sidelines?

Some of us live in fear. We hear the news, and we cower. Jay Adams says, "When Christians fear evil and evil doers, they do so only because they are unsure or unskilled in the use of their own weapons."

And too often, we fight with the evil weapons of the world. A harsh word. A deceitful tactic. A strategic but sinful plan. Malicious slander. A critical ungracious eye of judgement.

"You simply cannot overcome evil by spreading about more of the same!" Adams says.

I believe this booklet should be on every Christian's must-read list. The principles that Adams sets out from his careful study of Romans 12 will change your life. They’re changing mine. Adams is matter-of-fact and does not pull any punches. At times, he's really in your face. It’s a short read, but there is not a single sentence wasted. 

I recommend it for those who are being unjustly treated. On the flip side, it’s also great for those who find themselves often judging others or trying to control their environment and can’t seem to change. 
A Favorite Part:

Near the end of the book, Adams relates a story of when he was speaking to a group of students, encouraging them to press on. A professor objected to his speech, accusing him of flattery. Adams did not know what to say, as he had never been charged with flattery before, and later he came up with his response should he ever find himself being judged for his motives - matters of the heart - again.

"Sir, you have sinned against me; you have judged my motives. God doesn't grant you that right. But I am prepared to forgive you if you repent."

Perhaps you feel like a helpless victim. Or maybe you have been on the other side. Basically, everyone could use this good reminder. 

"He who overcomes,
I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne,
as I also overcame,
and sat down with My Father on His throne."
Revelation 3:21

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pre-Reading Books

Teacher Tuesdays

I admit it. I shelter my kids. 

"I will set no wicked thing before my eyes."
Psalm 101:3a

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."
Proverbs 4:23

My children's minds are growing daily, and for a short time of their lives, I can stand at the gate and help guard what goes in and out. I know that each family has different values and ways of doing this. Mine are probably tighter than most in some areas, but not as tight as others in different areas.

Movies and music are pretty easy to monitor, but as my 11 year old grows and becomes more of a reader, it's getting harder for me to be the guard over her books. My prayer is that I've taught her right from wrong from God's word so she can learn over the coming years to know how to protect her heart.

For this school year, studying the ancient time period, I bought a dozen or so books from recommended book lists for her to read alone. I thought it might be a good idea to browse a few of them, just to check them. I was honestly thinking more of reading level than content.

Books that make you blush...

Picking up The Epic of Gilgamesh, a book written long ago, between the days of Noah and Abraham, within the first few pages, I was blushing! To see if I was overly prudish, I read a few pages to some friends, and their eyes widened as well.

After that experience, I've decided not to trust book lists, and I will be pre-reading almost all of her books this year. It is a lot more work on my end, but I know it will be worth it. And, I'll be able to enjoy many of the books along with her, like The Golden Goblet which I just finished and thought was exciting and great for the time period.

For the record, I shelter myself too.

I'm convinced more than ever that what I put into my mind via music, media, and books makes a huge difference in my life, and as I get older, my time is more precious and most movies and shows seem more destructive than entertaining or valuable.

And lest people think that books are safer, I would heartily disagree. In fact, my imagination can take me farther in a book than any movie could go. That is a gateway that definitely needs to be guarded!

The time will come, gradually, that she can handle heavier material. But just as I do not plan on reading personally anything that will make me blush before God, I will most certainly not read them to my kids or let their imaginations wild on them.

"For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret."
Ephesians 5:12

Moms - be the guard for your children. And I'd also encourage you to be a guard for your own heart as well.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Recipe Chicken Pot Pie

Mommy Mondays

Today I'll share a family favorite recipe, passed along to my by my sister-in-law, Andi, from someone in her family.

Recipe: Chicken Pot Pie

When I made it this month, I cooked split chicken breasts I bought on sale in the crock pot overnight and then shredded them. Next time, I'm going to make two pies. My kids' appetites are getting bigger!

Oh, but I can't fit two in the toaster oven, and we hardly use the oven in the summer. I wonder if I could bake them in the grill.

Refrigerated pie crusts
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. chopped onion
1/3 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
2 C. vegetables (I used frozen california medly)

Chopped Carrots and Celery
1/4 t. pepper
1.5 c. chicken broth
2/3 c. milk
3 c. cooked chicken

Preheat oven to 425
      1. Melt butter over medium heat.  Saute onion, celery, carrots. 
2. Add flour, salt, pepper and gradually stir in broth and milk.  Whisk until thick and bubbly. 
3.  Add chicken, frozen veggies and remove from heat.  Spoon into crust. 
4. Add top crust and slit.
5.  Bake for 30-40 minutes.  (check after 20-25)

Enjoy! Yum!

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Favorite Little Bottles

Foto Fridays

Tiny Bottle, Huge Benefits:

Are you familiar with Essential Oils? They are comprised of a liquid that is typically distilled from the leaves, stems, flowers, bark, or roots of a plant. I buy mine through Young Living. I'll share briefly why I love the ones pictured.

  • Orange & Lemon: A variety of natural cleaning supplies suggest these oils.
  • Clary Sage: Natural Hormone Balancer. Think PMS. I put it on my wrists and ankles. (Caution: It's a mild sedative. Do not use just before driving or you might back into your neighbor's car and then spill your coffee on the way to church. Don't ask how I know this.)
  • Clove: My kids often have leg cramps or growing pains. This warm oil has been a sleep-saver for our family.
  • Melrose: Bug Bites, Ear Infections, Skin Rashes
  • Wintergreen: Sore muscles, and it just plain smells good!
  • Peppermint: Headaches, shin splints, sinus pressure, flavoring for brownies.
  • Lavender: Burns, bee stings, fevers, bruising. It's an anti-inflamatory. I keep a bottle in the kitchen since I have a tendency to burn myself. Often.
  • R.C.: This is a blend that has been our hero oil for upper respiratory coughing. We apply it to their chests and diffuse it in their room. No more visits to the ER.
  • Thieves: A blend of oils that helps fight infection.
  • Eucalyptus: Another great oil for colds and congestion.

There are more, but these are my absolute favorites.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tweeting Awesomeness

Thoughts for Thursdays

Are you following Paul Tripp on Twitter yet? You should be. Why? Because of awesomeness like this:

Now that is using the internet for the glory of God, moving Twitter and Facebook beyond the fluff of what you ate for breakfast and which sports team won.

It's not even possible for me to wrap my mind around these with only a glance. My coffee is brewing and I just might take the time to journal about each and every tweet.  Which speaks to you the most? What scriptures come to mind when you think of it?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

When Your Past Won't Stay There

Words for Wednesdays

My blog is called "Reaching Ahead" from the passage in Philippians 3:12-14 where we forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead. But what if our past won't stay, well... past? What if it affects our present, and as a result, our future?

Putting Your Past in Its Place by Stephen Viars is a Biblical guide to our pasts. He helps us look at them through the lens of scripture. I appreciate his gentle yet firm approach, as well as the systematic way he moves through the book.

His goal isn't to dive into our past to blame others, find our inner child, or anything like that. Instead, he breaks it into four categories, and then he teaches us how to correctly handle each, giving examples from the Bible of people who've been there as well as case studies.

1. When you've been through trials and responded well. (Joseph)
2. When you've been through trials and responded poorly. (Naomi)
3. When you've sinned and responded well. (Peter)
4. When you've sinned and responded poorly. (David)

As one counselee I met with said when she reported on the book:

"I would highly recommend this book to any Christian who is struggling with issues of the past. No matter what the issues, this book (especially with its use of biblical reference) can help steer anyone in the right direction; down a pathway straight to God. It all points back to the Lord who is our ultimate healer and adviser."

I think that just about sums it up!

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Math Made Fun

Teacher Tuesdays

After finishing up her final math lesson for the summer, my 11 YO leaned back dramatically in her chair and sighed, "Mom, I just don't know what I would have done without Times Tales!"

Have you heard of Times Tales? It's a pneumonic way of learning your upper multiplication facts. We had to learn the old fashioned way with flash cards and sheer will power. My very creative daughter was able to learn with pictures and stories, in about a month. And she still knows them.

But Times Tales isn't just for those who are struggling. My other daughter, who's great at math, loved it, and it really moved her forward.

I should mention that though the name implies multiplication, they learn their division facts too by finding out what is missing in the story (AKA equation).

Multiplication and Division made fun. I never thought it was possible. Where was this when I was a kid?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

This Week in Pictures

Foto Fridays

For Foto Friday this week, I'll sum-up the week in pictures.

First, we had VBS at our church this week, and it was a family event. Here's the crew on Silly Hat Day.

Second, we celebrated my parents' anniversary and my mom's birthday. What love birds.

Third, I started getting up early to run/walk. I'm not a runner. You can't read while you run. I'm just giving this a shot.

Fourth, my 11 year old when from size 2 shoe to size 6 1/2 womens in just a year!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Give Up!

Thoughtful Thursdays

For today, I'm going to share an excerpt from an essay I wrote for NANC certification. This part still gets me excited...

When we have faith in God, we are choosing to not depend on ourselves for our salvation. As Grudem explains, we essentially say:

I give up! 
I will not depend on myself or my own good works any longer.
I know that I can never make myself righteous before God.
Therefore, Jesus, I trust you and depend on you completely
to give me a righteous standing before God.” 
(Wayne Grudem p 730, Systematic Theology)

This is the beauty of the Gospel.  It is the beauty of the grace of God, and it should cause us to love Him all the more.

Getting Rid of My Stickers

Words for Wednesdays

When Madam Blueberry goes to Stuff Mart, the writers must have been thinking of my love for Super Target. So often, children's books and movies seem to apply to me more than my kids. It happened again today.

Keeping 56 first graders calm during check-out after a full day of VBS is quite the challenge! This afternoon, I read book after book, one of them being You Are Special by Max Lucado, a family favorite.

You Are Special is about a town of wooden people who put star stickers on the popular ones and gray dot stickers on those without any special talents. Punchinello is full of dots, and he goes to the Maker to learn how to rid himself of the unwanted spots.

The Maker asks: 

"Who are they to give you stars or dots?
They're Wemmicks, just like you. 
What they think doesn't matter, Punchinello. 
All that matters is what I think. 
And I think you are pretty special."

When Punchinello asks why he's special, the Maker explains:

"Because you're mine. That's why you matter to me." 


I'll admit it - That was a hug that my grown up thirty-three year old heart needed to feel.

Why am I special? Because I'm His. I am covered in the righteousness of Christ.

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, 
a holy nation,  a people belonging to God, 
that you may declare the praises of Him 
who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."
1 Peter 2:9

But how do we get rid of those pesky stickers? 

The Maker explains:

"The stickers only stick if you let them. If they matter to you. 
The more you trust in my love, the less you care about their stickers... 
Come and see me every day and I will remind you how much I care."

This is one book that I might need to move off of the children's shelf and onto my own.

What children's books have reached out to your heart?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

VBS Memories

Mommy Mondays

Today starts my favorite week of the year:

Vacation Bible School!

The name brings back childhood memories of red Kool-Aid mustaches and sandwich cookies on napkins. I remember our church would have a contest between the boys and the girls: who brought in the most money. Kids came in with sandwich bags bulging with pennies, their hands smelling like spare change. One year there was a train in the front that moved across the stage on a string as the money came in.

I get to work in the 1st grade class tomorrow with my son. It's a nature park theme, and our room is called "The Foxes." I considered getting myself a red shirt and writing on it "Foxes," but then decided against it...

I've realized in this post that I really don't know how to spell the word "sandwich." Auto Correct is certainly my friend.

What about you? What comes to mind when you remember VBS as a child? What do your kids look forward to?

VBS 2011