28.12.14

Get Engaged? Before You Set the Date There’s One Thing You Need to Do

by Sally Matheny

Get Engaged? Before You Set the Date...
Are you thinking about getting engaged?

Apparently, many guys think Christmas and New Year’s Eve are great times to bend a knee and propose to their sweeties. Studies show December is the most popular month for engagements. 

Did you recently get engaged? 

Congratulations! But before you set the date, there’s one thing you need to do.

23.12.14

Commemorating Christmas in Bastogne 1944--Book Review of No Greater Valor

     by Sally Matheny

     
No Greater Valor commemorates
Christmas at Bastogne
      Seventy years ago, German troops outnumbered and surrounded the US troops in Bastogne, Belgium. Hopes of a silent night diminished. However, not only did the U.S. troops hold fast to their faith and courage, they witnessed divine miracles that Christmas. They held Bastogne.

     
     Dr. Jerome Corsi, author of six New York Times best-selling books, extensively researched numerous WWII resources including military documents, personal diaries and letters. The result of his research is his latest book, No Greater Valor: The Siege of Bastogne and the Miracle That Sealed Allied Victory.”
     
     “Battles are won by military power, but wars are won by spiritual power,” said William Arnold, the WWII US Army chief of chaplains.
    
     Dr. Corsi, intrigued by how the Siege of Bastogne was “won by a small group of American soldiers who largely believed in God in accordance with the Judeo-Christian traditions,” wrote No Greater Valor for a number of reasons, which he shares in a lengthy but enlightening introduction. He asks, “Is it possible to make the case, even today that the faith of those who fought at Bastogne invited God to play a direct hand in how the battle turned out?” Then, Corsi sets out to make that case.    
    

15.12.14

You're B.A.C.K. (Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindness) Cards

 by Sally Matheny


God's greatest act of kindness was sending Jesus
 

      Last week, I shared with you an activity for surprising others with acts of kindness. Below is a copy of the card to leave behind for the recepient. Feel free to copy and use it as you wish.
     Thanks to all of you who are sending me messages of how this activity has blessed you while you were blessing others!





You’re
B.A.C.K.!

(Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindness)

You've been blessed by an act of Christian kindness.
You’ve heard of people doing
random acts of kindness, right?
Good news!
The best acts of kindness are from God.
But his deeds are never random.
Because God loves us so much,
he intentionally 
sent his only Son,
Jesus Christ to save us.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
When life ends here on earth,
whoever believes in him
will live forever
in heaven.

We hope you enjoy God’s blessings.


30.11.14

Review of Children's Book: It's Not About You, Mr. Santa Claus & 2 Giveaways!

by Sally Matheny
    
It's Not About You, Mr. Santa Claus
If you don’t want to exclude Santa Claus, but still focus on Christ this Christmas, then you’ll want to check out It’s Not About You, Mr. Santa Claus: A Love Letter About the True Meaning of Christmas. (Morgan James Publishing)

     First, the author, Soraya Diase Coffelt, has an interesting story of her own. She is a native of U.S. Virgin Islands, a lawyer, and a former judge. Soraya serves on mission trips to Honduras and the Amazon and has volunteered in the children’s ministry for fifteen years.   

     

     
     Soraya established As the Stars of the Sky Foundation, Inc. in 2012. This non-profit corporation assists the physical and spiritual needs of children, which brings us to the book, It’s Not About You, Mr. Santa Claus.

     All the proceeds from the sale of Soraya’s books go toward the foundation. How cool is that? Also, she has donated two books to give away! 

     Be sure to enter for the drawing at the end of the post by entering a comment in the comments section below. Two, randomly chosen winners will be selected on December 8, 2014.

     It’s Not About You, Mr. Santa Claus is written from a child’s perspective in the form of a letter to Santa. I like that the illustrations allow the child to be either a boy or a girl. We only see the hand writing the letter. 

     The child believes in Santa, elves, and flying reindeer but this year instead of writing a letter asking for things, the child wants to tell Santa something—the true meaning of Christmas. 

     The story begins with Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, includes the angels and the shepherds, and ends with information about King Herod and the Magi.

     I like the shepherds not minding the smells of the stable animals because "they were used to them" and "smelled like them, too."

     The child shares the reason we have Christmas. He ends the letter by thanking Santa for all he does and tells him he still loves him, but he loves Jesus more. He writes,

     “This Christmas, instead of asking you for more gifts, I’ve told you about the most precious gift of all. Jesus was born to be our Savior and Lord.”

     A simple, sinner’s prayer is included on the last page.

     While scripture is not quoted in the story, the story is accurately told according to the Holy Bible. 

Author, Soraya Diase Coffelt
     If you’re a parent wanting to keep the Santa Claus traditions, yet share with your child the origin and truth of Christmas, this colorful and Santa-friendly book is the way to go.

     To learn more, visit Soraya’s website www.asthestarsofthesky.org

     Be sure to leave a comment below in order to be entered in the drawing for one of the two free books! These will make great Christmas gifts.



(This giveaway has ended. Alleena and Pam are our winners.)

    
    

     

25.11.14

Announcing the Winner of the Creative Writing Curriculum!

Rafflecopter randomly selected the winner of the "Ocean Adventures in Writing" curriculum:

Tracy Teague of N.C.

Congratulations, Tracy! The author of the curriculum, Jan May, will be emailing you soon about your prize!

24.11.14

Want Fun Thanksgiving Ideas to Bring the Family Together? Go Vintage!

by Sally Matheny


    

Go Vintage This Thanksgiving

 Searching for fun ideas that will bring the family together this Thanksgiving? Me, too. My family doesn’t know it yet, but I plan to go vintage this year.

     I love traditions, especially during holidays. However, our current technology is threatening to exterminate one of our most cherished traditions—family time. This post is not a ranting against technology. I’m actually thankful for it. It keeps me connected to family and friends.

     

     However, when we are able to come together in the same place, I want face-to-face, heart-to-heart, talking, laughing, and everyone-fully-engaged-time.


     So, we’re going vintage—the pre-cell phone, pre-computer, pre-iPod, pre-satellite dish, pre-electronic gaming system era. 

     True vintage items must be at least fifty years old. No need to panic. You may be surprised how long many of your favorite things have been around! 

     Want to go vintage with us? Challenge your friends and family to turn off the distractions for at least three hours this Thanksgiving. Focus your full attention on the people that are gathered in your presence and enjoy the blessings. 

17.11.14

Sending You a Tropical Breeze - Review of Jan May’s Ocean Adventures Creative Writing Curriculum & a Giveaway!

by Sally Matheny

     
Sending You a Tropical Breeze
A cold wind may be whistling outside your window but today, a tropical breeze is coming your way.

     Do you have a young, reluctant writer in your home? I do. My fourth-grader freezes over when he’s required to write. He hates it. Which is why I was eager to try out Jan May’s curriculum, Ocean Adventures in Creative Writing.  Clearly stated on the front cover is the statement, “Even the reluctant writer will dive in!”

     
     Not only did I plan to get my reluctant writer’s toes in the water, but I also hoped the curriculum would splash enthusiasm into a homeschool co-op class I was teaching.

     The students ranged in ages from eight to twelve. Only a third of the class professed to enjoy writing. Here are a few of their comments upon completion of the class:

     I liked writing a story about my ocean adventure. I liked being able to choose my own animal instead of being assigned one. – Meredith (10)

     I’ve never been able to write this much in one week before. I never wanted to write this much before this class. – Samuel (8)

     I loved how fun it was. I liked the ocean theme. [The lessons] were easy to understand. – Zac (10)

     
     What makes this curriculum so likable to students?

Freedom
Ocean Adventures in Creative Writing
·         to research an own ocean animal of their own choosing
·         to create their own ocean community setting
·         to devise their own characters and plot
·         to focus on the story more than grammar and punctuation

Bite-Sized Lessons
·         Character, Setting, and Plot
·         Writing beginnings, middles, and endings
·         Spicing up your story
·         Editing

Fun Factor
·         Opportunities to interact with friends
·         Additional art and craft ideas
·         Spotlight presentation at the end


    What makes this 53-page curriculum attractive to teachers?

Easy
·         Easy to follow teacher notes
·         Clear and concise worksheets for students
·         Printables of twenty ocean animals and handwriting paper with an ocean-themed border

Adaptable
·         Easily incorporated into other school subjects
·         Written primarily for ages 8-12, it is great for use by students of various ages, within the same setting
·         For students at various writing skill levels

     The curriculum offers ten lesson plans before students present their final story. Jan May offers additional ideas that could easily stretch this curriculum over several months, if desired.

     A “spotlight theatre” is suggested for the culminating project where students present their stories. However, my class opted for a sunlight theatre outside. 





     The reluctant writers may not be in the deep waters of writing yet, but they sure enjoyed wading out past their knees.

     After presenting their stories, several students experienced the exhilaration of riding their first wave. That’s a great feeling and usually it prompts a desire to do it again!

     If your students are dreading the winter blahs of writing, consider sending them a fun, tropical breeze with the Ocean Adventures Creative Writing program.

                                                 *****
    

    
Author, Jan May is a veteran homeschool mom, freelance writer, and book author with a Christian worldview. Connect with her at www.newmillenniumgirls.com.

     Jan is graciously offering a free download of the Ocean Adventures Creative Writing curriculum to the one winner Rafflecopter selects on November 25, 2014. There are several ways to increase your chances of winning. 
Rafflecopter will accept entries between midnight on 11/17/14 and midnight 11/25/14.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

11.11.14

Veterans—Why Children Still Need You

by Sally Matheny    

Surely they served with our children in mind.
Those who have served in our Armed Forces, during times of peace and times of war, have surely done so with our children in mind.


From the Revolutionary War to the latest war on terrorism, our service members have fought to protect our freedom and way of life.    
     
Many service members hoped their service would provide a better life for the next generation.


Not only do I want to express my appreciation, I also want to remind veterans why our children still need you.    
                                        

3.11.14

Girls’ Devo Book Review: Just Sayin’ by Carol McAdams Moore

by Sally Matheny

Just Sayin' by McAdams Moore
Don't judge this book by its cover. This paperback, 90-day devotion book is perfect for daughters (ages 8-12) who love digging & doodling. Each two-page devotional contains a scripture (NIV or NLT) and questions to get your girls pondering. Best of all, they'll love the opportunities to put their thoughts into pictures, puzzles, quizzes, and more.

One devotion is from Psalm 95. After some reflection on the scripture, you draw inside a frame of hearts a time you had a hardened heart and another space is for how you look living out life with a soft heart.

You can check out other sample pages from the book at Christian Book Distributors.





In addition to the topics and the various "doodle" activities, the terminology in the book will also appeal to girls 8-12. (ex. "peeps"= friends) 

Published by Zonderkidz, Carol McAdams Moore’s devo book for girls is in Christian bookstores and on-line for around ten dollars.  

This book appeals to the heart
and your artistic side!
I wasn't sure I'd like this book based on the cover (maybe I just don't care for dogs in sunglasses) but I do like this book! It has Truth and the fun factor. It will appeal to all types, but especially to those who don’t enjoy a lot of reading. Devos are short, substantial, and snazzy. 

Sorry. I'm not giving this book away. I've got a certain girl in mind to receive this one. 

However, I will be giving away a free, children's writing curriculum the week of November 16 so be sure to check back for details on that!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255. 

27.10.14

Winners of the 3rd Annual Climb-a-Tree Contest!

   
     Thanks to all of you who sent in photos via email, facebook, and other venues. I loved seeing all the smiling faces in those trees! Some of you perched low and some perched a little higher. Some were even hanging upside down!
   
     The number of entrants grows every year! We put all the names in a drawing and the winning names drawn were:

(drum roll)




Child: Sarah of Caroleen, N.C. (you'll receive your cool, outdoor toy very soon!)

and

Adult: Donna of Concord, NC ( You should receive your $5.00 Starbucks gift card in time to                                                                  tackle Monday morning with it.)


     Thanks everybody for participating. We'll do it again next year.
     Until then, keep climbing.

20.10.14

Third Annual Climb-a-Tree Contest

by Sally Matheny

Climb-a-Tree (but not this one!)
For the past two years, I’ve hosted a Climb-a-Tree contest. It all began after reading a report that 1 out of 3 children have never climbed a tree. Are our children becoming too comfy on the couch? Or is it the parents? 

Maybe it's the fears of all the “what-ifs.” Don’t let worry keep you in a sanitized, cushioned bubble.   

Fun and adventure await you at the base of a tree—not to mention a slew of learning and confidence building opportunities.

I almost decided to forgo the contest this year until a friend’s child approached me and asked about the next tree-climbing contest. We don’t want to disappoint, so here’s the announcement for the third annual Climb-a-Tree contest!


Who: Parent-Supervised Children (ages 5 and up) and Parents

How to Enter:   Easy—send me a photo of your kids in a tree. List their first names only. They’ll be entered into the drawing for a prize.  The winner will be awarded a cool, outdoor toy based on the child’s age.

However, this year, I’m increasing the rewards.

For every teen and adult who is in a photo (in a tree!): Your name will be entered into a drawing for a $5.00 gift card from Starbucks. (Because I figure some of you want to get in on the fun, too.)

Deadline: Send me photos via this blog, or post them on my facebook page. All photos are due by 6:00 p.m. (EST) on Monday, October 27, 2014.

If you don’t want to post a photo, but would like to enter the contest, just private message me and I’ll add your name to the drawing.

We’ll announce the winners on this blog on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014.

Here are things to remember:

Be safe!

Avoid this.
Posion Ivy




            









                                                       And this.
Poison Oak












Use good judgement and you won't need this.





Take this challenge at your own risk. Follow the safe Guidelines for Tree Climbing.



Angry Phone Calls





I don’t want any of these.











Or these.


Lawyers


















Having fun outdoors!




This is what we want to see! 










Be adventurous! Get outside and have fun together!





14.10.14

Family’s Phenomenal Zip Line Adventure

by Sally Matheny

    
    
The Gorge Zip Line Canopy Tour
      Imagine viewing the beauty of 14,000 acres of protected forestland, at 30-35 miles per hour, while clutching two, small handlebars. 


     It’s not bike riding.

     It’s zip lining—the fastest and steepest zip line in America—and it is a phenomenal adventure for the family.

    


    
 The Gorge Zip Line Canopy Tour located in Saluda, North Carolina provides 1,100 vertical feet of zip line, 3 tree-mendous (easy and smooth) rappels, and one fun, swinging sky bridge.

     My husband, known for his fear of heights, zipped the Gorge several months earlier with his co-workers. He loved it so much he wanted to treat our son, two daughters, and son-in-law to a day of zip lining. He also thought it would be good for me.

     I spent the summer of 2014 learning physical therapy exercises for my feet, I’m thankful for the progress made, but zip lining still sounded like a stretch for me. My walking still compares to that of a chicken’s with a little less swag.

     Nonetheless, my husband had faith I could do it. Our girls were excited and eager for a fun challenge. However, our ten-year-old redhead and our sweet son-in-law were quiet, deep thinkers en route to the zip line.

     I don’t know if it was the unusually cool weather or our nerves that made our knees joggle as our guides cinched up our harnesses.

     The heights didn’t concern me. It’s knowing there would be no opportunity to go to the bathroom for four hours. No medical condition exists, it’s just knowing there will not be a bathroom that makes me think I have to go. After three trips, ensuring there was nothing left in the bladder, I was ready to zip.

    Harnessed in and triple-tethered with carabiners to a steel cable, one has to feel safe, because “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken,” right?

     Right. The guides said we could trust the zip line. Although the weight limit to zip was 250 pounds, they said the cords construction could hold thousands of pounds.
My Family's Phenomenal Zip Line Adventure

     Our kind and patient tour guides gave instructions. I understood what they were saying, but I wondered if I’d remember them when speeding across treetops faster than a hummingbird.

     The excitement escalated as we lined up at the first platform, which the guides called “The Fluffy Bunny.” Awww…who can be afraid of a fluffy bunny?

     
     Amazingly, the somewhat timid ten yr. old is instructed to go first. He climbs on top of a tree stump. His knees bend, straighten, and bend again. He leans forward to jump but leans back again. Still not off the stump, the family begins to cheer him on.

     “You got this. You can do it.”

     A second hesitation and suddenly he steps off the platform.

     A high pitched, whizzzzzzzzzzz….zip.

     We can't see the landing platform from where we stand. No screaming or crashing sounds are heard. The guide at the end radios the line is clear for the next person. Oh, good, he made it. What? It’s my turn? If the timid one can do it, surely this will be a breeze for me.

     You know that stump can be very deceiving. It appears to be 12-15 inches high but when you step up on it, it feels more like 12-15 feet!

    I’m clear to go. I bend my knees but my feet don’t move. Bend, straighten, bend, straighten. Oh, good grief. Why couldn’t they choose another adult to go first? I’m delaying everyone’s fun. Then, I hear the cheers.

     “You got this, Mom. You can do it.”

     Swaying for a moment, I finally just lean forward and step off. I am like that pig in the commercial who hangs his head out the window yelling, “Whee! Whee! Whee!” I love it!

     By the time the whole family reunites on the second platform our knees are still shaking but our eyes are brighter and our smiles bigger. That is until the guides tell us the next zip is named “The Hawk that Ate the Fluffy Bunny.”


Zip Lining is exhilarating!
     
     We continue to root for each other and hug every tree together. With each zip, our apprehensions fade into the cool, fall air. Zip lining is exhilarating!

     Before we know it, three and half hours fly by. After eleven, fabulous zips, we arrive at the end of the tour.

     I hope our family is able to do this again. Zip lining is fun! It's also empowering. We squashed doubts and fears. Together, we learned how to soar.

     The hardest part? Leaning out and taking that first step of faith.

     The coolest part?  Trusting the strong, narrow cable even though it may be eighty feet off the ground. And, even though I can’t see the next destination, I know it’s straight ahead. All I have to do is hold on, lean forward, and trust.

      Another amazing addition is the precious people I have encouraging me—those behind me, and those ahead of me in my journey.

     Now, because of my experience, I can encourage you. Be strong and courageous. Gather your family and inspire them to stretch beyond their comfort zones.  Don't just tell them, show them with God nothing is impossible.


*****
That's Me--Rappelling & Rejoicing!
Post Note: I highly recommend The Gorge Zip Line in Saluda, N.C. The staff are very friendly and well trained. The zipping did not aggravate my health issues. You’ll need to determine what works for you. I didn't think it was a jarring experience due to the self-braking system. You aren't on your feet for long periods. The only parts that were sore after the trip were my arms and hands from hanging on so tightly!