We’re Going to be Okay, Okay?

Good Evening!

Or morning, or afternoon, whatever time of the day it happens to be, I guess. This blog has been a long time coming. That’s what happens when you’re unsure of what is actually happening in your life: you avoid telling anyone specific details about what is going on because you’re not sure if you would even say the right things.

I have been in Phoenix, without my husband, for six months now. I have no plans to return to the Chicago area, and he is aware of that.

Sorting all of this out doesn’t come easily to me, as I always thought I’d be married forever. I felt like God gave me my marriage, and that meant that it was going to be hard, but good; tough, but enduring. I thought my husband and I would be one of those old couples who are still capable of making each other laugh with a stupid inside joke 20 or 30 years later. I wanted that with everything in my soul when I got married. God, or the universe, or life, or luck, or other people, or a terrible combination of the aforementioned had another idea in mind. I’m coming to accept the previously un-thinkable idea that my journey is elsewhere, no matter how much that hurts and feels like an impossible nightmare at moments. This is my life, and time marches forward, unrelenting and uncaring that I’d like it to stop and back up just a bit so I can breathe and evaluate what brought me here.

I won’t get into specifics because I feel like having a blog or a social media account doesn’t mean that you need to spill everything out into the world all the time, especially at the potential expense of others. As a writer, I’m tempted to bare my soul for you all, as I often do, but in this case, I simply can’t bare too much. And that’s okay. You don’t need to know everything in order to know this: marriage is complicated, sometimes loving someone looks differently than you thought it would, nothing actually lasts forever (though we love it when it lasts ‘til death because it’s grand, sweeping, dramatic, and beautiful), and that I’m going to be okay.

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Unfortunately, it’s really easy, even within (or especially within) Christian culture to start pointing fingers at people whose marriages fall apart. Maybe you’ve heard people say that divorce is un-biblical, or that it’s different for us (people who are saved) because we’re supposed to know better; as if having a hard marriage is to be expected for non-Christians, but not for people who love God. Maybe you’ve said those things yourself, even if just to reinforce your own ideas about what you think your marriage should look like. Please, don’t point fingers when I tell you that my marriage fell apart, or speculate about who didn’t love God enough. Please don’t tell me stupid things like, “This is going to be terrible for the kids” as if I need your guilt on top of my own to crush me while I try to sleep at night and fail. As if I don’t know how terrible it is for all of us. Divorce is terrible. I think anyone who has been here or even seen the view from right over the ridge could tell you that none of us want to be in this situation. If God is bigger than all the other problems in the world, than He’s bigger than this, too. We’re all going to be okay, okay?

Life gets in the way of the things we think we are going to have, doesn’t it?

As for me, I am finishing up my final semester at ASU for my bachelor’s degree in English, and I plan on graduating this Spring. When I wrote about homeschooling and going to college at the same time, I had no idea that I would soon be dealing with an even more frenetic pace juggling a job, public school, college, a home, and a toddler. Whew! I haven’t been here because I’ve been thinking, writing for myself, and journaling in private, but I also haven’t been here because I’ve been slammed to the wall with work every single day to the point where sometimes I feel like my head may explode.

That can happen, right? Spontaneous combustion from being overworked? I think that’s a thing.

With that in mind, I don’t plan on blogging for another three to four months, and then I will re-evaluate what I want to do. So many people come to visit my blog to read homeschooling reviews (which I no longer write), or to see craft/gardening posts (two hobbies that are not on my radar right now as I try to flip my life back right-side-up again), so I don’t know if the interest is even there for me to continue posting my current journey in this blog.

Thank you to everyone who comes here to check in on me and see how my family and I are doing, and please feel free to check out all of my past blogs. There’s still awesome content in the archives that I worked hard on for years, so check it out! If you have any opinion on whether you’d still like to follow my blog, even if I go outside of the realm of homeschooling and urban homesteading, please comment and let me know. You all are awesome, and I have missed my blog immensely. I hope to pick up the pieces of it at some point. Until then, take care of one another.

Jenna

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Book Review: Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl

I have the great privilege of bringing you a book review today: Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl. This gorgeous paperback landed on my doorstep a little over a month ago, a Christian Fiction book about a woman U.S. Marshall who becomes the target of a local gang, unbeknownst to her. The book strongly advocates for respect for our police force, faith in God, and healing. It’s labeled Defenders of Justice 01, so I’m assuming this is the first of a series that is in the works.

First off, the good stuff: I love a strong female protagonist, and Mercy Brennan fits the bill. She’s tough (but can be squishy on the inside when you’re privy to her thoughts), she’s made her own life after coming out of a tough past, and she doesn’t fall apart at the seams when things get tough. The back cover blurb sounds promising and action-packed, “It isn’t until a freak ice storm strands them [Mercy and her fellow officers] at a remote location… that the full severity of the situation becomes clear. As the storm worsens, the forces of nature combine with a deadly enemy to put them in great danger…” Also, I liked that there were hints of Christian themes without the pushiness and preachiness that sometimes come with this genre of writing. The cover is gorgeous with blue tones, snowflakes, and a bold yellow spine.

Now moving into what I didn’t like so well: the writing is not as strong as I would have liked. There were many places in the book where I stopped reading and said aloud, “What?!” If it were out of shock at the plot twist, this would be acceptable, but as a reaction to character development or the general style of the prose, not so much.

There are places where I felt like either Mehl was explaining facts to herself as a writer, so she would remember them, or she was talking down to her audience instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt that they some general truths about police, criminals, and human relationships. On that note, the criminals are overly criminal –terrible people who are one-dimensional thugs –and the police are a little too saintly. For me, this doesn’t mirror real life (not every cop is a saint, and not every criminal is evil), and that extreme dynamic tends to pull me out of a story.

Some of the dialogue feels natural, but other parts are stilted and were a struggle for me to get through. There are places where the author relied on a conversation to reveal a lot of backstory, even though the conversation didn’t seem like one that those characters would necessarily have with one another. There are also bits of prose that don’t seem to fit with the overall tone of the surrounding text. For example, “One false move… and the cartel would order hits as easily as Mark ordered fries at McDonalds” (Mehl, 60). This sounds like the punchline of a joke, but it’s in the middle of a serious section of text dealing with the main character, Mercy, potentially being on the cartel’s hit list, or possibly being a dirty cop. In the context, it seems like an odd choice.

Lastly, I assumed that there would be a strong environmental theme to the book due to the title, Fatal Frost, but the big ice storm doesn’t hit until right before page 100 –awfully far into the book for something that ties into the title. One of the reasons I picked this book was for the wintery atmosphere that I assumed would seep through the pages and wrap me in an icy world where I could hold my breath in suspense as I waited for the plot twists. Sadly, that’s not quite what I got out of it.

Honestly, if I bought this book on my own, I wouldn’t have made it past the first 50 pages (which is the space I give every book in which to hook me as a reader), but because I received it for a review, I felt like I had to finish it. I tried hard to be interested, and I kept at it for a full month, putting it down whenever I felt disappointed in it. Finally, I made it to the one-month mark, but I was only on page 100. I wanted to want to finish it, nevertheless, this is as far as I’m ever going to get. I couldn’t force myself to finish it in order to review the whole thing, and for the sake of both you, dear reader, and the author who wanted a review written for her book, I am greatly sorry. This book isn’t for me. That’s not to say that it’s not for someone; I personally didn’t like it.

This is the last book review I will be writing for a while. While I have been blessed by being able to review both “regular” books and homeschooling curriculum on my blog, I’m not going to be able to continue either for some time. I hate to leave on a negative note, but I hope you enjoyed it all the same. I’m not sure what route my blog will take after this, but I’ll have another post up next week about life as it is now, my particular challenges as a mother/student/wife/child of God, and where I think I might be headed (you never know when God has something up His sleeve, eh?). Thank you for reading, as always, and we’ll talk soon.

I was given a copy of Fatal Frost by Nancy Mehl in exchange for an honest review. All opinions contained within this blog post are my own, and I’m in no way required to give a positive review. If you are interested in becoming a book blogger for Bethany House, you can visit their book blogger page here.

Take Care,

Jenna

Book Review: The 100 Most Encouraging Verses of the Bible

Today I get the privilege of bringing you a book review on a fantastic topic: encouragement. I received the book, The 100 Most Encouraging Verses of the Bible by Troy Schmidt, last month. It came to me in the middle of a season of tough stuff that I’m still navigating (sometimes, very poorly). It’s been a blessing to remember that there is goodness, there is light, and that there is hope in the face of trials. Let’s face it: sometimes, you just need a little encouragement. Sometimes, I need a lot.

This book is similar to a devotional, and though it doesn’t loudly proclaim to be one, the back cover blurb says it’s “perfect for daily devotions.” For each Bible verse, there is the verse printed at the top of the page, then below is a short reading about how the verse applies to your life and why it is encouraging. This book would work great as a short morning or evening devotional, where you could spend 10-15 minutes with one verse a day, reading and then meditating on how the reading applies to you specifically. I didn’t get to read it this way, as I don’t have 100 days to read a book before I get the review posted on my site, but you could use it that way. In fact, I will probably pick it up again in the future and go through it one day at a time, one verse at a time.

Overall, I like the idea of the book. The formatting is easy-to-read, and it’s a small enough book that you can take it with you anywhere. It easily fit into my purse, where I could pull it out while waiting to pick up the kids from school or while waiting in line somewhere while running errands.

Some negatives (in my opinion) are:

The verses Shmidt uses are from many different translations – ESV, NIV, NASB, and NKJV. I’m not sure why the author chose to do this, and I won’t get into a debate on translations, but I found it to be an odd choice. I didn’t read it alongside a copy of the Bible I usually read for study (ESV, if you care), but I’m curious how (if at all) the book would be different if the author chose one translation and stuck with it, or how I would interpret each daily reading alongside my Bible.

In addition, some of the verses weren’t particularly encouraging to me. They are great food for thought, but they aren’t all verses that I would give to someone who is hurting and who needs encouragement. For example, “So the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life’ ” (Job 2:6, p. 26). The reading after that verse talks about how we can share our tough times with others who are going through them and they can see God’s goodness within them, and that through this verse we can tell that Satan is not all-powerful. To me, this is not very encouraging. It’s like being sick and having someone say, “Well, at least you’re still alive!” (Job’s friends, anyone?) True, but also not super helpful. I personally find the book of Job to be an interesting read (albeit a downer, admittedly), but I’m not going to try to encourage others with the book of Job. Ever. That’s just me.

In conclusion, I like this book as a short devotional to use daily for 100 days. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but there are many good reminders about what the Bible says about God’s character and how He loves us. That’s where this book shines.

If you are interested in buying a copy of The 100 Most Encouraging Verses in the Bible, you can click here. If you’re interested in blogging for Bethany House, click here to visit their book blogger’s page. See you next time!

Note: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes. Opinions contained within my blog are my own, and I’m in no way required to write a positive review ever. Thanks for reading!

Changes, God, and Finding Joy in the Small Things

Change is upon us. I should have seen it coming, since change is one of life’s great certainties, but a change of this magnitude comes along only a few times in a person’s life. At least that’s what my best friend assures me of. I’d like to think that my life doesn’t hold too many more of these giant uprootings within it.

I’m in Arizona again, for an uncertain amount of time, maybe until the day my Father calls me home. My husband is still back in Indiana. While I can’t (and won’t) get into details online, I can say that life got pretty ugly for a while. Change was necessary. My husband and I are in agreement about that. My kids have always been homeschooled, and they started at a charter school this last week. I have pick-ups, drop-offs, violin rental, tutoring, breaks, early release days, and homework to manage for the first time ever. I’m in the process of looking for a place to live and a job that I can do around my full-time college schedule and my kids’ school schedule.

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Change feels like a four letter word right now, but I know God is using this time in my life to remind me of what’s important. What I do next matters. It would be easy to fall into despair or give up my convictions, but the easy thing is seldom the right thing to do. Instead, I’m taking my life one day at a time and trusting God to provide for me, guide me, and keep me safe. I know that He’s bigger than my (very big) problems.

I’m doing my best to be content in the dead heat of summer. We spent a good month with no air conditioning in the car, which meant cooling off with Icees every time we drove and avoiding the car during the hottest part of the day whenever we could. Every time I got in the car, I looked up at the blue sky and the billowing, fluffy white clouds and counted them as joy. Maybe my insides were cooking, but I could see the Superstition mountains welcoming me home and the sky stretching upwards into infinity instead of hanging over me like a grey shroud. There’s joy in feeling safe, feeling like you’re home, feeling like you’re welcome.

I’m counting my blessings daily. We have air conditioning in the car as of this week. We are safe. My kids are excited to be here. I get to meet a professor that I really respect this week; she’s been awesome to me, and I never got to meet her face-to-face before because I was Indiana over the last year. We were blessed with some school uniforms for the kids and a few outfits for me. I wrote a story through the pain of leaving Indiana, and my creative writing teacher said, “People need to read this.” One of my students from my internship said that I encouraged them to keep writing, and that they were looking forward to sending me more of their work. My kids have the best smiles and giggles. I can wear flip-flops again without feeling weird about it. I’m living in my favorite sunglasses again. I’ve got a rockin’ foot tan going on. Phoenix is home to some of my favorite women who love Jesus and who support me in amazing ways.

There are more things that I’m grateful for, but I think the point is that even on the darkest days, there are bright spots. There are kind words, hugs, shafts of sunlight peeking through the darkness after a monsoon, hot cups of coffee, and beauty everywhere if you look for it. I hope that you find joy today, even if you have to look really hard for it. It’s there.

 

 

5 Things to Focus on When Life Gets Hard

Every time my college classes start up again, I have a hard time keeping up on my blog. I’m just being real here. This summer semester happens to be more frantic than usual, as I’ve spent most of it in Phoenix, Arizona with family. On top of being away from my own bed, desk, kitchen, food, and all the normal comforts of home, the summer semester classes are a week shorter (which actually makes a huge difference!), and I’m going through some things emotionally that are making it very hard to study.

So, my blog has fallen to the very last priority on my list, and since the list keeps getting longer, my blog has been neglected. It’d be cool if I could develop robot-like abilities during stressful, busy times, and get it all done. Unfortunately, I’m human just like everyone else. Maybe your family is struggling with illness, relationship issues, too-busy schedules, or something else. Whatever it is, remember that we’re all human and that you can’t do everything all the time. Oh, and that’s OK. It really is.

Today, I thought I’d talk about five things you can focus on when life feels unmanageable, because I think we all feel that way at some point. Keep on chugging, exhausted one. This, too, shall pass. I’m reminding myself, also; we’re in this together.

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 1. God – Sometimes, when we focus on our relationship with God, other things become less important. Other times, we gain clarity and understanding through prayer and studying the Word. Really, you can’t go wrong with having some quiet time with God every day and seeking His solace.

Bonus: I believe that God gives us certain people in our lives that can help us when we struggle, if we allow them to. Use the resources God has provided for you.

2. Your health/self-care – Eat well. Choose healthy snacks when you can, stay hydrated, and try to sleep when you can. If your body feels like garbage, your whole life suffers. Get some sunshine every day and go for a quick walk, even if you don’t feel like spending more time outdoors. The vitamin D and exercise will boost your mood, which helps when you’re going through a particularly stressful time. When you’re stressed, your immune system actually suffers. Try to treat your body well during this time.

3. The people directly in your care – You might be tempted to take on extra projects even though you’re already stretched thin. Pick and choose wisely. Say no if you need to. Make a list of priorities and be sure to include the basics, because they are important. If you have a spouse and kids, those things go at the top of the list, right underneath caring for yourself. Beyond that, you need to decide how much you can tackle right now. Be kind to yourself, and carefully choose what you can reasonably handle.

4. Things you enjoy doing – It’s alright to enjoy something that seems frivolous. As long as it doesn’t become your whole life while you ignore your responsibilities, scheduling time to do things you enjoy is crucial to your mental well-being. When  you are in the right frame of mind, you can handle the stress of life so much better. Don’t feel selfish. Our spouses, kids, friends, and family should know that we enjoy doing things for ourselves also. We’re human after all, right? Have fun. Laugh. Smile again. Enjoy your life; this is it.

5. Finding joy in the small things – There’s something beautiful in remembering that sunshine on flower petals is special, that a child’s smile can touch your heart if you let it, that drinking a cup of coffee is a sweet spot in the day, and that a kind word is better than gold.

Find your joy in the small things, and the big things seem a little smaller. It won’t make them go away, but it will help you remember that not everything is terrible. It will remind you that God has a plan for you… that tough times now don’t mean tough times forever… that life is good, even when it sucks.

Do you have anything else you try to focus on when life is trying? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Until next time, take care of yourselves, and I hope that you find joy and light in your day.

 

Give Me Truth

I watched a video yesterday of a bearded lady. She’d spent her whole life since adolescence trying to make herself look more like what society says she should look like, trying to get hide her hairy body and face. She shaved every day, and she even tried laser hair removal; the doctors told her that there was nothing they could do for her to get her hair to stop growing the way it was, so she spent a good chunk of her life frustrated over the way she looked. Recently, she decided to let it go and grow out her beard because it was something that was a part of who she was born as: a lady with a lot of hair. It’s inspiring and lovely. If you can find the time to watch it, please do. She seems so sweet.

It wasn’t until I saw the video of this woman that another blog post I’ve been trying to write began to gel in my mind. She talked about being yourself, about how sometimes you think other people will judge you if you show who you really are, but often you’ll find that others value your transparency. People are drawn to others who are honest and who don’t pretend to be something they’re not.

This resonated with me because I value truth over almost everything else. If you ever visit my Facebook page, the banner picture says, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. – Henry David Thoreau” I don’t have time for people who are one thing in public and another thing when you get them alone. Call this a result of my upbringing, or a part of what I was born with, but it’s a deep conviction of mine.

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In truth, being a blogger is very difficult for me. I struggle to find the balance between truth and kindness. I don’t ever want to offer up a fact at the expense of someone close to me, and while I don’t mind spilling my life out onto the screen, not everyone appreciates this sort of thing. One of the biggest challenges for me in this area is the Christian church: these posts sum up a big chunk of my frustration: Do Kids Belong in Church? and Dear Church, I Love You, But…. Every time I blog about my experiences in church, I feel like I’m being a traitor, like I’m exposing the flaws of someone I love. I feel like I’m making following Jesus seem less appealing, and that’s not something I’m trying to do.

However, my truth is this: I did not grow up Christian. In fact, at various points in my life, I’ve lived with people who were practicing witches. I did not grow up in Christian culture, and when I see the difference between what Jesus calls us to in the Bible and what actually goes down in a community of believers, it turns my stomach. I love Jesus. I frequently dislike his followers. I feel like it shouldn’t be that way, but I’ve struggled more in finding a place within a church than I’ve ever struggled finding a place in a secular environment or any other group of people.

I want to be clear: people who go to church are not necessarily saved, and we’re all at various points in our walk with God, so I get that there will be a mix of people there. I like that. My struggles have been with leaders in the churches we’ve gone to, people who are supposed to be in those positions because their faith is strong, and they’re knowledgeable… also, hopefully loving. Those are the people that I get disappointed in the most when they treat me poorly.

Now that I’m ready to publish my first book, I’ve hit a new reality: I am a Christian author, but I cannot be a “Christian author” (read: recognized within the industry as such) because I do not fit the image and false front that a Christian agent or publisher requires. It feels like trying to fit in at a church where I don’t belong all over again. It’s frustrating. The image that you put forward is more important than the actual person you are. This brings me back to the bearded lady. Watching her, I realized that I am what I am. Just like she was born with a condition that makes her hairy, I am a person who was not raised to ignore all the inconsistencies and hypocrisies of the church. If she can walk around sporting a beard, why can’t I proudly proclaim myself a Christian and still be who I am without pretense and with all my faults (I’m a work in progress, alright)? Why can’t I write about people who have faults too, real, ugly faults, not contrived “minor flaws” that are basically insignificant?

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I live in the real world, not in a world airbrushed over by the church. I’m not a perfect mother (see me reminding myself how to cope with frustration over parenting here ), I’m not a perfect homeschooler, and I’m not a perfect writer, friend, or person in general. I hope you’ve never expected that of me, and I hope I never expect it of myself, either. I am no longer going to sit here and be sad that I cannot fit into a church where everyone pretends like they all have it together (I’ve attended too many), and I am not going to be depressed that I’ll never score a Christian agent or publishing house. The truth is, I’d rather be myself than try to fit into someone’s idea of me. Rather than the perfect Christian book deal, give me stories that are real; let me show my truth, even if it doesn’t fit into someone else’s idea of perfect.

At the end of the day, I hope that whoever is reading my stories or my blog posts appreciates that I put myself forward as I am, that I refuse to pretend like I’m amazing.  Maybe that person (me in the raw!) will resonate with them in ways that a “perfect Christian” cannot.

Isn’t Life Amazing? Or, It’s All About the Trees

All of my life, I’ve loved trees. Trees are like my soul-animal. Soul-plant? Soul-mate? You get the picture. Anyway, it’s always been about the trees. When I was a little girl, I lived in the desert; when I grew up, I moved to a different desert, but I always longed for lush green glory all around me. I felt like maybe trees and me weren’t meant to be.

I guess I was wrong.

Sometimes, a girl’s gotta pray about something and desire it for what feels like an eternity before it becomes reality.

When I was 17, right after I graduated high school, my father and I went on a cross-country road trip from small-town Nevada to Cedar Point (a theme park) in Ohio. I remember three things from that trip: being scared to death while driving through the fog, my father and I hating one another by the end of the trip (totally normal after being in the car with someone you’re not very close with for 5 days), and I remember the trees near the end of the trip. I came back to the desert saying, “I want to move to Ohio or Indiana one of these days. It’s so green there.” People laughed, told me I didn’t know what a “real winter” was like and that I would die, and they crushed my dreams (a recurring theme in my life).

15 years later, I live in the Chicago suburbs and suddenly, I’m here. I’m in the trees. I get to live in the place where a young, immature girl fantasized about running away to and starting a new life amid the forest.

Mind blowing.

My family moved here in time to see the trees lose their leaves and rest for the winter. Now, the bare branches and brown landscape have flushed with spring foliage, the shades of green are without number, and even the air smells green: fresh cut grass, wet leaves, the forest covered in dew. The land is alive, and I feel like I’m seeing the earth wake up after a long hibernation for the first time in my life. When I walk out my door, I’m smiling, even when the kids are fighting, I have too many things to get done and not enough time, or when I’m falling over tired but I have to keep going.

It’s amazing where God has carried me to at this point in my life. Sometimes I doubt, sometimes I hate that things aren’t exactly what I had planned for myself (show God your plans…), and sometimes I’m so tired of the way things are in my extended family, my head, my country, and my household.

I’m tired.  Aren’t we all sometimes? Exhausted beyond belief at our ineptness, our lack of control, our situation? Today, I’m letting that go. Today, I’m reminiscing on a desire of my heart that took 15 years to be fulfilled.

Isn’t life amazing?

I Shouldn’t Tell You This, But I Will…

    My husband has a problem. You would agree with me, if I told you exactly what it is. In fact, if we were face-to-face, we might really sit and hash it out over coffee, nodding emphatically over the intricacies and pat each other on the back for not having this same problem. If you read it over the internet on my blog or on Facebook, you and I might get into a detailed chat over it; “sharing information” while we silently celebrate the fact that it’s not our problem. Continue reading

Homeschool Review: IndoctriNation DVD

    I was recently invited to review the DVD documentary IndoctriNation by Great Commission Films with my family. They sent me the DVD, we watched it, and I get to tell you all about it! My opinions in this review are all mine and my husband’s. I was not paid in any way to write this review; I just want to share things with my readers so they can decide on the best things for their families. Onto the review!

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    First off, we are a homeschooling family. I’m not sure that we are the intended audience for this film. This film is really geared toward showing people why Christian families should not send their kids to public school. It includes a wonderful history of the school system and the thinkers who have shaped the direction of education in our country. It also talks about what kids are taught and when; it also goes over some of the pitfalls that our kids must avoid if they attend public school. I can see this as a gem to pass on to anyone who is wondering why we homeschool, or wondering if they should homeschool, but I don’t need any convincing in that area.

Great for Adults or Older Kids

    I thought I could sit down and watch this movie with my kids. After all, they are curious about public school and what could possibly be in a film about education, right? The movie starts out with a warning that it includes material not appropriate for younger children. Still, I could not be moved. I couldn’t think of anything that I wouldn’t want my kids to see in a movie about education. Call me naive, but I guess I forgot a lot of the reasons why my kids are educated at home. My goodness! We didn’t get far into the movie before I tucked my kids into bed and finished the movie with just my husband and myself.

    There is a lot of nitty gritty in this film. It is presented wonderfully, but it covers homosexuality taught in schools, birth control being passed out to kids, school bullying, school violence (an interview with a father whose son was killed in the Columbine shootings made me get up and walk out of the room. I was so heartbroken.) There’s also a bunch of stories of Christian teachers being persecuted in school, prayer being banned, and things in the curriculum that promote violence and moral relativism (what is right or wrong depends on the person and situation.) I don’t think I’d let my kids watch this movie unless I had already covered a lot of this ground with them and was willing to discuss premarital sex, Planned Parenthood/abortion, violence/death, and homosexuality with them.

 Reasons to Homeschool

    My husband watched the DVD with me and we discussed it afterwards. The main thing we agreed on: we agreed with everything the movie talks about. We also re-hashed our other reasons for homeschooling such as a 30+:1 student to teacher ratio, way too much seat work and homework for very young kids, not wanting our kids to fall through the cracks in the system, and the type of food they serve in school, including every holiday with loads of treats our oldest son would have to resist (no red #40 for him as we have noticed it affects him fiercely) or just eat and have to lie to us about. Also: early mornings, bending our family to the school’s schedule, Jesus not being taught and having to fight to even speak his name in school for fear of “offending” someone. You could just say we have a lot of reasons. That being said, I don’t think I can tell every Christian I know that they “must” homeschool their children. I’m not legalistic like that and I don’t think it would be fair of me to assume to know your life. I do think the movie brings up a lot of excellent points that we should all seriously consider before making our choice in education.

Worth Watching

    All in all, I would recommend this movie. It brings up historical points that you may not be aware of. It also cites a lot of Bible verses for how we should train our children. Again, I don’t think the Bible says you have to homeschool, but if your family is Christian and your kids are not being taught about Christ “…when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deut. 11:18-19, then you have to consider whether they are learning what they should.

To read what everyone else thought of this movie, visit the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew link for this DVD:

IndoctriNation DVD Review 

 

Crew Disclaimer*This post originally appeared on BlogHer February of 2015.*

Review: Egglo Entertainment Easter Curriculum

    I was recently invited to review an Easter curriculum made by Egglo Entertainment. My kids, some friends, and I tested it out, and now I get to give you all the fun details so you can decide if it’s something your family might enjoy. I received a dozen glow-in-the-dark Egglo eggs, The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Book, Egglo treasure Scripture scrolls, Egglo Bible verse stickers, and a download of the Egglo Glow in the Dark Egg Hunt Event Curriculum.

    We set up a pre-Easter, Easter party over at a friend’s house where we read the storybook and talked about how Jesus is the light of the world, then did an Easter egg hunt at night. I’ll admit, I really like the idea of showing how Jesus is light; even in the darkness you can see these eggs. It’s fun. It’s a great memory that our kids will always have.

Egglo Entertainment

    The Egglo Eggs are the center of the whole curriculum. They are plastic glow-in-the-dark eggs that you charge with light and then you hide them in the dark. They feature a cross on the front and open up so you can hide prizes inside them. Currently, they are $9.99 for a dozen and Egglo offers coupon codes for a discount on multiple boxes. I have four kids, and we tested this product out with an extra three kids, so an extra dozen eggs would have been awesome. If you’ve got a bigger crew, I would suggest more than one box. That being said, I coached the older kids on making sure than the babies got at least one each, and they did a great job sharing and helping out the little ones. That was a great lesson in and of itself.

Egglo Entertainment

    We used the extras (stickers and scrolls) as prizes in the eggs. Turbo (7) especially got a kick out of reading the Bible verses he got on the scrolls. The Toolman (5) was elated to find “the most eggs out of everyone” and plastered stickers all over his shirt. I’d say they were excellent additions to the Egglo eggs.  They are a pretty inexpensive way to add to the experience; just $4.50 per dozen for the scrolls and $3.29 per dozen for the stickers. The scrolls are sturdy and I think they will hold up for awhile. The paper is really thick and high-quality.

 Egglo Entertainment Book

The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Book

    The storybook is a paperback book that tells the story of a group of kids who go on an adventure after finding some glowing Egglo eggs. Along the way, they learn about character-building stuff like how to treat one another and how to avoid being bossy. The pictures are big and colorful, and when I asked my kids if they enjoyed the story, they said they did.

On the flipside, I felt like the book was way too long for the age group we were working with. I had kids from 2-9. The 7 and under crowd had a hard time staying in one place to finish the book in one sitting. The older kids didn’t like the story, and the oldest we had at the house (13) was “too old” to hang with us as we did the egg hunt. We wound up reading a few pages while an adult hid the eggs, taking a break to egg hunt and then doing that over again until the story was finished and we were totally done hiding eggs. I think the kids could have gone on egg hunting forever, but it started getting super late and all the adults were exhausted. The website does say that you may want to break the story up into chapters for younger kids, but I really wanted to have an “event” in one day and have that be it.

The downloadable curriculum contains a lot of resources for using these eggs with a youth group or something similar. It has coloring pages, ideas for snacks and Bible study the night of the egg hunt, and printable scrolls with Bible verses in them. I didn’t particularly need it for what we did, but you may find it valuable.

Overall, it is a really fun product and we enjoyed getting to review it. There are packages available, or you can get each thing individually so you can cater to your family more. I suggest looking over everything and then deciding what you like best for your group of kids; not everyone’s family is the same as mine.

If you are curious about how others’ families liked this product, swing on by the Review Crew’s site where loads of other great homeschooling moms reviewed the same products. They are a talented group of ladies; go show them some love, will you?

Egglo Entertainment Review  

My opinions are all mine, and I wasn’t compensated in any way for this review.

Crew Disclaimer*This post originally appeared on BlogHer March of 2015.*