Happy Birthday for me = A FREE Gift for YOU!

Printable Store free gift

Quick Note: If you like freebies and bargains, be sure to check out this post with 40 FREE Christian books for your kindle, and this post with lots of free books for your kindle, and several others for $.99 and $1.99

So, it’s not my birthday yet, but October is my “birthday month” so I am giving you all, my beloved readers, a gift. A couple, actually.

First of all, I get tons of emails weekly inquiring about my previous freebies (the ones that are now for sale in my shop). You all know how this works…I create a new printable and it is available for FREE exclusively for my subscribers for about a month (so, subscribe now to be sure that you’ll get those!) I also share it with facebook likers (so “like” me on facebook to get them first). Then, after that period, they go on sale in my shop.

Special #1: Any one Printable Pack FREE

But some of you discovered my blog after some had been released, and have sent me messages wishing you could get a past one for free. So, Now is your chance to get your choice of ANY one of my printable packs for FREE!

Choose here and checkout with the code birthdayfree to get any one of my printable packs for free, up to $3.99.

Special #2: 50% off your ENTIRE order in my shop!

If you would like to purchase more than the one free pack, I have a great deal for you…use code birthdaysale to get 50% off your ENTIRE purchase in my shop. And, the best thing is that you can combine these codes! So, you can get the free pack, and then get 50% off the rest of your order as well!

Bonus: Get my e-book for just $2.49!

Intentional Marriage 3d Cover

My ebook, Intentional Marriage, is regularly priced at $4.99, but for the entire month of October you can get it for just $2.49 using the 50% off coupon above.

Important Note: I will be going to kindle select very soon with this book. What that means is that it will only be available in kindle format. Now is the last chance to get the PDF before that happens.





All Christians Should Be Missionaries

Missionary man holds his bible with interlocked fingers to pray.

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting every Christian should move to Africa, or some other far away place. Sometimes, we make things too complicated.

We see missionaries who are sent out into the far reaches of the world, those who are risking their lives, and even those who are reaching thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of people both in our nation and abroad.

Missionaries must be great. And we don’t feel great

I recently had a conversation with my 5 year-old about this. We were discussing how daddy missed the Independence Day celebration with us last year because he was on a mission trip.

My 5 year old said, “Only missionaries can go on a mission trip.”

Sometimes, in their innocence, little kids just get so real. Because I think that’s what a lot of Christians think. That only “special people” can go on mission trips or serve.

  1. That only those called to the mission field or ministry have the ability to spread the gospel message; and
  2. That only those called to the ministry or to be missionaries have the responsibility to spread the gospel message.

The truth is that we all have both the ability, and the responsibility to spread the good news of Christ.

At dictionary.com, a missionary is defined as:

1. a person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism or other activities, as educational or hospital work.
2. a person strongly in favor of a program, set of principles, etc., who attempts to persuade or convert others.

3. a person who is sent on a mission.

The first part of that definition is the one that typically comes to mind when we think of a missionary. However, the second and third parts are equally valid and important. As Christians, we have the most important information ever in the world, and it needs to be shared.

More importantly, we have all been sent on a vital mission. Jesus said,  

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
-Matthew 28:19-20

We may not all be called to foreign missions or to full time ministry, but we are called and equipped to spread the good news of ChristWe owe it to people around us to share the hope that we have. (1 Peter 3:15)

In that conversation with my son I mentioned earlier, a few minutes later he said that there was a little boy he spoke with one day who said that God isn’t powerful.

I asked him, “Did you tell him that God is powerful?”
He replied, “Yes, but he didn’t believe me.”
I said, “See, Logan, you were kind of being a missionary right then–you were telling somebody the truth about God.
He shook his head, “But that was before I even knew about missionaries.”

Again, the child gets to the heart of it. It was before he even knew about missionaries. Sometimes we Christians can get bogged down with Christianese. We have a special vocabulary for everything. And if we don’t know the right terms it must not count.

If I’m talking to God, I must not be doing it right, unless I call it prayer.

If I’m praying for others, I must not really be doing it if I don’t know about “intercessory prayer.”

And if I’m witnessing, it must not really matter unless I know about missionaries and ministry terms.

But the truth is, a lot of our Christianese doesn’t come from the Bible at all, they are just man-made terms to describe and define things we do.

So, I want to say…whether you know about missionaries or not, whether you are called to go to Africa, or into the ministry…or not, we all have a responsibility to our neighbors to share the good news of Jesus Christ with them.

Please know that I am not in any way trying to undermine the amazing efforts of those who we typically think of as missionaries. Those extraordinary people who are dying to self daily, and who are risking their lives to share truth with a dying world. I am not trying to undervalue their efforts. Maybe they deserve to have a special title that is all their own.

But maybe, sometimes we use that special title as an excuse to sit in our comfy homes and leave the serving and witnessing to others. Because “it’s their calling and not ours.” But that’s where we are wrong. The fact is that we are all called to die to self, follow Him and serve others. We all have a responsibility to share the friend and savior we have with a world that is dying without Him. Every single one of us.


Thriving Thursday 10/2

Don’t miss my great list of nearly 40 free books for kindle that you can get right now…all from the best publishers and authors in Christian fiction, so definitely check that out.

So, you might remember that last week I was in St. Louis for the ACFW conference. It was awesome, and I can’t wait to share all about it next week, including an ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers)-inspired giveaway that I am so excited about!

This week, I shared about a fun Birthday tradition that we have instituted at our house.

Birthday Basket 4


I also shared about a fun homeschool field trip to make apple cider.

Making Apple Cider A Homeschool Field Trip

I also shared some fun products from Crossbow Education, that I hope you’ll check out.

What have you been up to this week?

There were so many FANTASTIC posts linked up last week and I can’t wait to see what you ladies have to share this week :)

$.99 Books!

This is a bit random, but I stumbled across these great books all for just $.99 on your kindle, and I just had to share! Affiliate links.

Sale BOok unglued sale book letting go perfect Sale book god loves you

And, this one below is free (subject to change at any time!)

sale book buttercup

Thriving Thursdays Link Up!!!

Thriving Thursdays is a link up for family-friendly bloggers, who are choosing to THRIVE in their lives. It’s a place for us to encourage and inspire one another to live life to the fullest–in Jesus Christ. Link up your posts about thriving–in marriage, faith, parenting, homemaking, relationships, in the kitchen, in frugality.

Everything we do can be a ministry and worship to our Lord. Link up as many posts as you want, and I hope that you’ll take the time to visit some other participants as well.

I am so blessed by the posts you all share! I really look forward to seeing all of the encouragement shared here each week. Keep it coming! Sometimes I highlight posts here, and I also pin my favorites to the Thriving Thursdays Pinterest Board.


Crossbow Education (Homeschool Review)

Disclosure: Crossbow Education provided complimentary products to use with my children, and I was compensated for my time.


Because I have a struggling reader, I often find myself researching every possible way to teach the subject. I have looked up and tried out more reading curricula, methods, and tools than I care to recount, and have found some great products along the way.

A recent search led me to Crossbow Education.

They specialize in teaching aids for children with Dyslexia and visual stress. Today, I’m going to share with you some of the great resources they offer. Though they are especially helpful for children with Dyslexia, I have found that they are great for both of my children–one who is a struggling reader on the spectrum with symptoms similar to severe dyslexia, and the other who is an advanced reader for his age.

Visual Stress

To help those who struggle with visual stress, Crossbow offers a variety of reading rulersThese are offered in several different color options, and you can order sets with one of each color in order to try out which color works best, or you can order sets of a single color if you already know which color you need.

Crossbow Reading Ruler

In addition to helping with general visual stress the guides are great for children with ADD and/or Dyslexia who might struggle with focusing on one area of text.

Visual Spelling Support

My struggling reader learns much better when activities are very hands-on and incorporate more parts of his brain. When he can put pieces together and form connections, things make more sense to him.

In this way, the spelling support has helped him not only with spelling, but also with reading as he forms the connections between the words and letters.  One of Crossbow’s best selling products is their boxes font. This is great for students who are visual learners! You can print out letter shape boxes which students can then fill in and begin to connect the shapes of the letters and words with the words themselves.

Crossbow Education

If you aren’t interested in creating your own words with the boxes font, they offer The First 100 Words set, which includes wipe-off cards with an illustration and the word on one side, with the same illustration and the boxes on the other side. These are great for many things, including handwriting practice. (Note: I did find the write-on/wipe-off cards to be a bit flimsy, so you should be aware of that when planning to use and reuse them).


One of my favorite things they sent us was this magnetic foam alphabet set. From the website:

These foam magnetic tiles focus on the relationship between sounds and their spelling..Stage 1 contains 67 foam magnetic tiles in 4 color groupings: Consonants, Consonants that make to major sounds, vowels and the ‘h’ digraphs. Stage 2 contains 36 foam magnetic tiles in 3 color groupings: Digraph endings, Blend beginnings and Blend endings. Stage 3 contains 36 foam magnetic tiles in 5 color groupings: 3 Letter Blends, Magic ‘e’, Vowel Phonemes, Changeable Vowels and ‘r’ Controlled Vowels. 

We were sent the entire set, but you can purchase stage 1, 2, and 3 separately on their site. I found these letters to be a great tool for teaching digraphs and blends in particular.

crossbow foam letters

Learning Games

We were also sent some learning games, which I was very excited about since I love to use games in our homeschool!

The first is a fun and colorful game called Spelligator. The premise of this game is that you use the letter tiles (some include blends and digraphs) to make words, building them with 3 tiles at a time, and add onto the tiles to change and create more and more words.

crossbow spelligator

For my boys this game was a bit confusing, but the game did offer a “rookie” level, and we modified it for ourselves also to make it more suitable for our family.

Note: My contact at Crossbow Education has let me know that this game is being discontinued, so if you are interested be sure to get it soon!

The second game we received is called Spingoes. There are 2 different types of this game–long vowel rhymes and short vowel rhymes, and the game enforces phonological awareness with word families. The game includes reproducible bingo cards, and a spinner which I love because it can be used for other games as well.

Note: The spingoes games are also being discontinued, so get them now if you are interested. 


I am excited to offer up an AMAZING giveaway! Crossbow Education is going to offer up a FREE plain window reading ruler to the first 30 people who fill out this form. This is a great way for you to try out one of their best selling products! You can also save 15% on all purchases (before shipping) by using the code CBSAVE15





Making Apple Cider {A Homeschool Field Trip}

Making Apple Cider A Homeschool Field Trip

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the abundance of field trips and hands-on learning opportunities we are able to provide for our children.

A few weeks ago, our local homeschool group had the pleasure of being invited to visit an Amish farm and participate in making apple cider. The hosting family was very kind and welcoming to us and were happy to have children enjoying the process.

One of the many things I admire about Amish communities is that they have such a strong sense of community. They come together to help one another in ways that we don’t often see in this country anymore. In addition to learning about making apple cider, our children were able to see firsthand, the truth of the statement, “many hands make light work.” There was a lot of work to be done, but there were also a lot of people pitching in, so everything went quickly. And, the work was more fun and not burdensome because of the fellowship and community involved.

When we first got there, the children all ran out to the apple tree to gather apples.

Apple Cider Picking Apples

Pretty soon, there were buckets and buckets, overflowing with apples, just like this one

Apple Cider Apples

After gathering the apples, children sorted out the ones with bad spots, while some of us ladies cut out those bad spots–there I am, woefully unprepared for having my picture taken–proof that I am keeping it real around here! lol. :)

apple cider making

Once the apples were ready, they all got placed in the machine that would grind them up. Below, you can see my husband adding apples and helping while my oldest son was cranking–it was hard. 

This boy has the temperament that will take him far. He is very diligent and determined when it comes to pushing through the hard things. He kept working and working, long after most of the children had lost interest and ran off to play.

Apple Cider Cranking 2

After the apples were all smashed and squeezed, they were pressed, and the cider squeezed out and poured down.

Apple Cider Press

Finally, it was poured through cheesecloth to strain it, and then we all got to sample the fruit of our labor. It was delicious. It was a very hot day, so the cider was naturally warm, and very fresh.

Apple Cider Fresh Cider

What are some of your favorite fall traditions?

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