Tuesday, May 29, 2012

And Let the Summer Craziness Begin!

Pin It Now! *Started summer break off with an unexpected ant battle. Literally overnight they invaded my kitchen. The ONE time I leave dishes in the sink in honor of the whole "lazy days of summer" thing, I get ants.


Good news: they are gone now. And I DIDN'T even have to use pesticides, Yea! It did take a few days of diligence, though. Baking Soda does work as an ant deterrent if you ever have an issue. I spread a layer of baking soda all around the windowsill above my kitchen sink where they were coming in, and I did rub some essential oils on the walls around the sink every so often. Since those little pests were mostly active in the mornings and evenings, I would stand by and exterminate them one by one with a napkin. I know, death by napkin is a little violent, but really, I didn't want a total infestation taking place! Finally, no more scouts out and about - the rest of the colony got the message, I guess. :)

*Celebrated the end of Shiloh's spring soccer season.

What a difference from watching her in the fall! She is such a tall, fast runner and not afraid to be aggressive. And, WOW, I had no idea as goalie that she could kick the ball outta there up and over all the kids' heads half way down the field! What I love most is that she wears a perpetual smile whether they're winning or losing. :) Great job, baby girl!

*Shiloh decided she was ready to be baptized! Such a blessing. I guess this event doesn't really fit into the "craziness of summer" post - maybe it should be the WONDERFUL event in the midst of craziness or something! 

Anyway, even though she's young and can't begin to understand everything involving salvation (goodness, even I don't comprehend everything), she says she loves Jesus and believes He died to save us from our sins. We believe her confession of faith is pure and is truly an example of having "faith like a child."

How special it was for her Daddy to take part with our pastor in the baptism.

Also special to have the support of all of her AZ grandparents. :)

There were several others who were baptized from our little church as well. So awesome to see the work God is doing in people's lives. One of the others was Shiloh's sweet friend, Jubilee. How neat to share this special day with a friend!

*Last but not least, our summer days are about to get even crazier . . . my house is about to be a sea of boxes and chaos . . . Purging and packing . . . Looking forward to new and mourning what was . . .

I am totally enjoying this day today - lots of sitting outside, taking it easy, sipping lemonade, talking on the phone with an old friend, blogging about life, etc. The calm before the storm. ;)

There will be few lazy days for me this summer!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Another Homeschool Year ~ FINISHED!

Pin It Now! Feels like yesterday when I was teaching my first son his ABC's with gigantic, colorful Abeka flashcards. Really, I can see his little, happy face so eager to learn. (Okay, now I am wiping away tears.) That same boy will be starting his last year of middle school at the end of July.

I no longer need cute cards to teach letters. In fact all my kids can read!!  I never thought the day would come when I didn't have to endure patiently listen to BOB Books.

Well, we always try to celebrate the end of another amazing year, so this year we went peach picking at Schnepf Farms. Oh my stars ~ the smell was syrupy sweet. I could have sat there all day sniffing peach awesomeness!

Of course we sampled a few while picking - the workers said we could. :)

We collected 8 lbs. of yumminess. Not cheap, but it's a one time indulgence.

We also picked some lettuce in the U-Pick garden. Most of the other stuff growing didn't look very appealing at that time. We were kind of in a hurry to get out of the heat, too. By 9 a.m. it is HOT in the desert!

And the celebrating didn't stop there . . . Papa John's (our favorite) pizza for lunch. Plus my kids always build blanket forts and all sleep in the same room after their last day of school. They drank "Crazy beer" (Root beer in a bottle), and ate m&ms. Hubby made homemade ice cream and we all played a new card game, Golf.


Friday, May 18, 2012

TOS Review: Heritage History ~ Young Readers

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Recently, Heritage History gave the TOS Crew the opportunity to review their Heritage Classical Curriculum which includes five titles: Young Readers, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, British Middle Ages, and British Empire. Each title serves as a complete curriculum.

Heritage History offers affordable, old-fashioned (pre-1923), story-based histories that will appeal to families who want to enjoy learning about history without the burden of busywork and memorization. They focus on promoting the enjoyment of history rather than the study of it.

My family received the Young Readers Classical Curriculum CD, which is the introductory unit of this series and follows a different format than the rest of the titles. From the website, "The Young Readers library includes easy-to-read, engaging selections from many of the other libraries in the Heritage History curriculum series. Most of the books in the Young Readers collection are anecdotal rather than comprehensive histories—that is, they provide short stories selected to appeal to children rather than a complete overview of a civilization."

The CD format is very user friendly. The browser software organizes all of the information in a way that is familiar to most of us - like a website page. Also, classy illustrations give you the feeling of being in a real library! You can navigate this curriculum by clicking links under various headings on the left hand side of the page. Headings and links as listed on the CD are as follows:

Getting Started
By Subject
By Genre

Teacher's Guide

User Guide

Copyright Terms

In all, the Young Readers compact library contains 86 illustrated, classical history stories written for young students. Most stories can be easily read by a fourth grader, but older students can enjoy them as well. Parents can also choose to read the stories aloud to younger children. As you can see from the headings above, this curriculum contains so much more than just stories - in-depth introduction; helpful teacher's guide; timelines for ancient Greece, ancient Rome, Europe, and Early America; many historical images; and more.

Browsing through the 86 titles is very easy. You can browse books by subject or genre. Following is a sampling of books that are included in this curriculum. I will list books by genre since I prefer to search that way.

American History Stories - Volume I  by Mara L. Pratt
Viking Tales by Jennie Hall  - My seventh grade son chose to read this one.
Stories from French History by Lena Dalkeith
Stories from Greek History by Ethelwyn Lemon
Stories from Roman History by Lena Dalkeith

American Life and Adventure by Edward Eggleston
Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts by Frank Stockton
In God's Garden by Amy Steedman

The Story of Abraham Lincoln by M. A. Hamilton
The Story of Joan of Arc by Andrew Lang
The Story of Lord Clive by John Lang
Stories of William Tell by H. E. Marshall
The Story of Columbus by Gladys Imlach

The Nursery Book of Bible Stories by Amy Steedman
Stories from the Old Testament by Louey Chisholm

Stories of Robin Hood by H. E. Marshall
Stories of Roland by H. E. Marshall
Stories of Beowulf by H. E. Marshall
Jataka Tales by E. C. Babbitt

Stories of Gulliver's Travels by John Lang
Stories from Uncle Tom's Cabin by H. E. Marshall
Stories from the Odyssey by Jeanie Lang
The Aesop for Children by Milo Winter - I've been reading these stories aloud to my first grade daughter, although she's been asking to read on her own, too!

The Eskimo Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins
The Scotch Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins
The French Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins
The Spartan Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins - My fourth grade son chose to read this one.
Our Little Roman Cousin of Long Ago by Julia D. Cowles
Our Little Saxon Cousin of Long Ago by Julia D. Cowles
Ruth of Boston by James Otis
Seth of Colorado by James Otis

Again, this is just a sampling. You can view a complete list here.

Books can be read on the computer with Adobe Reader, printed out on paper, or downloaded to electronic readers such as Kindle and iPad. I am hoping to be able to purchase a Kindle this summer for homeschool use, which I think will make it easier to read these books. For now, we are just reading them on the computer.


You can purchase the Young Readers Classical Curriculum for just $24.99. That's a great deal if you ask me - just under $.30 per book! Whether you choose to use this as your sole
 history curriculum or as an enhancement to the one you have (as we are), I think it's a pretty good investment. It will be nice to have this library on hand as we move along in our chronological study of history.


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

DIY Army Base - Great Summer Project for Boys

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When I'm trimming trees, pulling weeds, or watering my garden, I always smile when I find a half-buried, faded, beat-up army man.

Remains of days gone by. (Cue tears)

In that moment, that breath of nostalgia, I can almost hear my boys' little voices mimicking war cries, tank explosions, and the fire of gunshots.

It might not be music to every mother's ears, but I have boys. And I have learned that boys play differently than girls!

Even though my boys are a little bit older now (10 & 12), there's been a resurgence of army man action lately, and they came up with a great idea - Make Your Own Army Base.

What you will need:

  • cardboard drink holders from Starbucks, fast food joint, etc.
  • paint - they used leftover ceramic paint from their sister's art supplies (I would recommend a non-washable type of paint.)
  • army man toys - love that they are so cheap!

What you will do: turn drink holder upside down and paint as you wish. Let dry. Play!

My oldest went with a traditional camouflage look, while my youngest decided on an arctic scene. Went nicely with his newly painted blue desk. :)

My boys had fun, and maybe yours will, too!

Check out other great tips at We are THAT Family. Mommy Monday Blog Hop

Monday, May 14, 2012

Spoiled Silly!

Pin It Now! Let me tell you, Monday morning was rough after being spoiled senseless the past few days with my 15th anniversary and Mother's Day back to back. Still in a euphoric daze, I wasn't prepared for the sound of alarm at 7-something this morning, "Mommy, mommy! The toilet is overflowing!" Should I even mention that it was overflowing in the bathroom that I scrubbed to an immaculate shine yesterday? *Sigh*

As I mopped up the spreading sea with every single beach towel in my hall closet, I tried to reflect on all the wonderful memories of the past few days. It was hard. I was mad and kind of throwing a bit of a tantrum. Of course our Bible passage that we read after I finally got everything cleaned up was about forgiveness, wouldn't you know it? Boy did I need some!! I apologized for overreacting, and my kids forgave me. Beautiful example of God's gift of reconciliation. :)

 I totally didn't deserve what my kids did for me on Mother's Day, but I am so grateful for children who love me and want to bless me! I am always so touched when my kids show their love by saving and spending their hard-earned money on me.

Shiloh surprised me with pink teacup roses. My heart felt as if it would burst! I loved seeing the excitement in her eyes in giving the gift. A perfect way to start Mother's Day!!

While I was shut in my room finishing a review, I heard a little knock on the door, and Lincoln surprised me with my favorite Starbucks treat - Green Tea Frappuchino! Such a sweet boy. :)

After dinner, my oldest, Mullin, surprised me with a beautiful card and another one of my favorite treats - m&ms! How thoughtful! 

Flowers, Frapps, and m&ms - do my kids know me or what?

I also consider myself blessed because I have a husband who makes Mother's Day special for me as well. He brought me freshly juiced juice as I was getting ready for church, he prepared a delicious pork roast meal, and he even made dessert from scratch - Hot Fudge Cake. Yum!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart Mark, Mullin, Lincoln, and Shiloh for making this a Mother's Day I will cherish forever!

TOS Review: CapJaxMathFax

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I think it is safe to say that math is one of my daughter's least favorite subjects. She goes through spurts actually, and right now it isn't on her list of favorites.

I bring out flashcards every once in a while when I think she needs a refresher, but I admit it's a tedious task. I can get a wee bit impatient waiting for her to come up with answers to facts she should already know. Thus, I think it is also safe to say that I am a complete failure in the flashcard department!

Sometimes I turn her over to our current Math curriculum's online drill sheet page, which is helpful and takes the pressure off of me, but it doesn't keep up with my daughter's progress.

CapJaxMathFax™ drills facts, tracks progress, and more!

CapJaxMathFax™ is a systematic program developed by Jack Fretwell that takes the student from beginning to mastery for all four math operations. (+, -, x, ÷) Unique features include:

  • Detailed, positive, immediate feedback
  • Progress graphs
  • Numerical rating score
  • Mastery buttons and stickers
  • Monitor student progress
  • Automatically generates exercises and problems without repetition
  • Facts are timed individually, not as a whole set
  • Builds fluency with all four tables

There's so much more to this program - for more details visit the website's site map which will direct you to important links, CapJax™ information, and more.

The program is super easy to install, and after reading a few instructions, your child is good to go!

Before beginning the "play for rating" mode, you may want to have your child, especially if she is younger, choose the "keyboard practice" option. Here, your child will not be solving math facts but will only enter numbers shown on the screen. Example: the screen might show 6 = ____. Your child will need to find the 6 on the keyboard and enter it in.

Once your child has practiced and can manage to type answers in 3 seconds or less, she is ready to move on to play for rating. Now she can build her ratings and total T-Score. The T-Score is the cumulative rating for all math types

Be sure to sign in (your child's name), so CapJax™ can create your progress file. Ratings start at 0 for each math type. (+, -, x, ÷) Your ratings climb as you work through each level.

You can choose to work on skills in any order. Once you reach the last level in a skill, you will have a chance to review all the facts in all levels of that particular skill.

For addition and subtraction, a single level is a set of 10 facts. For multiplication and division, a single level is a set of 11 facts.

You should aim for SUPER answers, which are answers you get on the first try in 3 seconds or less.

You are ready to move on to the next level when you finish a level with a score of 100% SUPER.


Once your child has gained a level, she will be returned to the main screen pictured below. Here, she can choose to continue on with the next set of facts, choose a different operation, or exit out of the program.


My daughter will be 7 in June, and she did need some practice at typing answers in 3 seconds or less. You do have the option of changing SUPER answers to more than three seconds, but all progress will be lost from the previous setting. I like sticking with the suggested three seconds since it offers a real challenge.

She's only been working on addition and subtraction facts so far since she hasn't learned to multiply or divide yet. Overall, she's enjoyed this program and likes to report when she's gained another level, however, it's not something she wants to do everyday. It is my hope that she will want to work on her facts a little throughout the summer. Maybe a candy jar incentive will inspire her?

If your child needs extra practice with math facts, you can access a free evaluation which will explain how this program works. If you like what you see, you can purchase and download the CapJaxMathFax™ license (Mac or Windows) for $29.95. The license is good for one year, and you can have up to ten users.


See what other Crew Members are saying about CapJaxMathFax.


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In Honor of My 15th Wedding Anniversary

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To celebrate my 15th wedding anniversary, I thought I'd try on the dress again. Haven't slipped it on since May 10, 1997.

Well, quite a few things were a little different from that beautiful, perfect May day. ;)

* My dress actually fit 15 years ago. Some women complain of their hips spreading after giving birth, um, for me it was my rib cage. I would have LOVED to have acquired some hips. Basically what I am saying is that I couldn't get my dress zipped up all the way. Fun memories, though, of Shiloh and Lincoln trying with all their might to get me all zipped up!

* This time around I wore earrings Lincoln picked out for me when he was just a chubby, little guy.

* My bouquet was handpicked by my sweet daughter. Yellow Lantana and fuchsia Bougainvillea.

* I scrambled to get ready in just minutes before it was time to start homeschooling at 8:00 sharp.

* Didn't have a professional photographer - Lincoln happily complied, though. Even added encouraging words like, "Nice one!" "That looks good."  Such a good son!

* These pics were taken in my AZ backyard instead of at Bellevue Baptist Church in TN.

*Nobody was there to tell me to "hold my flowers down." I remember 15 years ago the photographers kept telling me that!

Had to do some work on these photos since the backyard lighting wasn't that great and I don't think Lincoln's hand remained steady throughout the shots! Bless his heart.

Sweet Shiloh tried to fix my train and fan it out in front - almost is good enough, though. :)


15 years ago, we sat in the Bronco all married and ready to go to Jerry's Sno Cone and then on to the quaint little spec on the map - Georgetown, Colorado.

Happy Anniversary, Babe!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Judah Bible Curriculum

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The Judah Bible Curriculum focuses on the Bible as the centerpiece for Christian education. Its main focus is on what God is doing through the people, not just on the people. It's a Principle Approach curriculum that can be used in Christian schools and Christian homes in order to teach children how to study and research the Bible and be able to understand and apply its living principles in their own lives.

Having spent the past few weeks looking over and learning how this curriculum works, I have come to the conclusion that it's really more of an approach or guide to teaching the Bible as a wholeHonestly, it has been a little overwhelming, and I've had a difficult time jumping right in with this one! It is very teacher intensive, and to do it justice, I feel as if I need the whole summer to prepare in order to effectively implement this program. Not that this is a negative thing - sometimes really great things take time.

I appreciate the heart and passion behind Judah Bible Curriculum. The author, Bill Burtness, desires for us to have a practical knowledge of God's Word and His ways. He wants us to build Godly character into our students and children and be able to equip the next generation with the ability to extract understanding from the Scriptures. He sums it up this way, "As America has veered away from God and increased in dependence on the state while becoming more chaotic, the critical need is to educate a next generation of Christians who are intelligent based in Truth, self-taught not media taught, and self-governed under God not dependent on state control."

Overall Theme

The overall theme woven into the very heart of this curriculum is that of government. This idea (for those of us living in the U.S.) may conjure up images of the American Flag, the White House, and the president of the United States, but this isn't exactly what the author is talking about. It's government from God's perspective written throughout all the pages of Scripture. The author says, "The study of the Bible is the study of God's purpose and God's government, of man's response or lack of response to His rule, and the ensuing consequences both to God and to man. To study the Bible, then, is to study government and how God's government applies to men both personally in their own lives and affairs, and corporately at every level."

Also at the heart of this message is the principle of Christians being self-governed under God's headship. "God's purpose in history," as stated on the website in the Teacher Walkthrough under Creation through Babel, "is liberty to the individual, internal and external."  In essence, growing Christians should choose to do the right things because they love and want to please God (internally governed), not because they are afraid of getting caught and punished (externally governed).

For a more detailed description of internal and external government, you can read this article - Character and Freedom.

I love the way this curriculum is divided into five themes that fit under the overall theme of government. From the website under Teacher Walkthrough Step 1 is an explanation that I am including here: (Highlights are mine.)

The Bible has been divided into FIVE THEMES for our study. These themes are chronological and describe what is happening governmentally in the Bible as God governs and man responds to His government:
THEME 1. CREATION God creates man to bless.
Creation, fall, flood
Genesis 1-11
THEME 2. THE PLAN OF REDEMPTION BEGINS God prepares a people for Godly self-government and liberty.
Abraham, Moses, Joshua
Genesis 12-Ruth
THEME 3. THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL The people want an earthly king and slavery.
Saul, David, Solomon
I Samuel – Malachi
THEME 4. THE KINGDOM OF GOD God’s New Covenant, an internal kingdom.
Jesus, 12 Disciples
Matthew – John
THEME 5. THE EARLY CHURCH The increase of His government and peace will have no end. (Is. 9:6)
Pentecost, Apostles, Paul
Acts – Revelation

I think the above overview and overall theme best sums up the core of this curriculum. To read more about the Judah Bible philosophy of education and the Biblical philosophy of government click this link.

What You Get

For just $44 you can download the complete Judah Bible Curriculum K-12 manual (100 pages), Elementary Notebook Ideas booklet (60 pages), and the Eight-lecture Teacher Training Seminar (Over 8 hours). For those who prefer the curriculum as a hard copy, you can purchase online for $74. (Includes shipping) Personally, for this curriculum I'd actually prefer the hard copy for better manageability.

The K-12 manual is your guide that you will use over the course of your child's entire education. Here, you will find everything you need to know in order to implement this program. However, please be aware that this curriculum does NOT have a script - it's more of a framework. For the most part, YOU will be your child's teacher.

Each of the main themes (listed above) is broken down into weekly themes, so each week there will be a different Weekly Theme Focus. A suggested reading schedule, topics to cover, and verses to memorize are included for your study K-6, repeating in grades 7-12. Note: grade level guide is mostly for teachers to use in Christian schools; homeschoolers can adapt it to fit their needs so all children can study the same theme at the same time. I, for instance, will skim through Creation pretty quickly because we have already read and studied it so much, and then go ahead and move on to the second theme.

The Notebook Ideas booklet contains the work of actual students grades K-6. Children are encouraged to make their own Bible notebooks (3-ring binders) to record and keep track of what they are learning with the use of Key Sheets. There are Key Sheets for key individuals, key documents, key institutions, and key events. The purpose is for students to learn how to extract important information from the text not just rewrite it. Blank, reproducible Key Sheets are provided in the manual or they can be accessed online once you've purchased the curriculum.

Younger children can color Bible pictures, draw their own pictures, and color maps, etc. These are not provided, yet there are examples of what younger kids can do in the Notebook Ideas booklet. The important thing is that children are truly learning to glean truths from the Bible, not just getting another assignment done. I like that there's no pressure to do assignments a certain way. It should be about creating something to be cherished for a lifetime of learning about God's Word.

The Eight-lecture Teacher Training Seminar is mostly beneficial for the adults who will be teaching the Bible following the Judah Bible format, although older children can certainly listen in as well. It would be nice to be able to watch the lectures and not just listen - I am easily distracted, I guess, when it comes to listening only. I haven't quite made it through all of them but am looking forward to summer in just a couple of weeks when I can finish listening without feeling rushed!

Diagrams for the lectures are provided in the teacher's manual, which are very helpful to see when the speaker is referring to them. Make sure to have them handy when you are listening to the lectures as they really help to explain the concept of government.

The lectures aren't exactly exciting and entertaining, but they are rich with instruction and guidance. They really do help you, the teacher, understand your role in teaching your children or students and how to do so.

How We Are Using It

Right now, I am still in the "teacher prep" phase. This curriculum, in my opinion, requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a thorough understanding of its structure and how to implement it before the actual teaching begins.

I really like what I know so far, but I want to get a tad more familiar with everything before I begin sharing this method with my children. Because we already read and discuss the Bible everyday, I don't foresee any problems implementing this program. Keeping up with a notebook other than a memory verse notebook will be new, but I will constantly remind myself that it isn't about getting another assignment done! I will give myself and my children much flexibility in the notebook department.

My plan for the summer is as follows:
  • Read through the teacher's manual once again.
  • Finish listening to the last few lectures.
  • Go through the Teacher Walkthrough on the website one more time.
  • Purchase and prepare (as suggested in the Teacher's Manual) nice 3-ring binders for each of my children.

After a relaxing summer break, we will be ready to start fresh with Judah Bible at the end of July! I am excited as I am always looking for fresh ways to teach and share God's Word.

Final Notes

I wanted to end the review by pointing out a few of the things I really like about Judah Bible. First, I already emphasised the fact that I like the overall theme of government and how it applies to our everyday lives. Second, I like the author's passion behind the message and his desire for the next generation to truly fall in love with God learning to obey Him from their hearts, to educate themselves, and to govern themselves. Last, I like the three main concepts that are stressed throughout the curriculum: (1) the hand of God in history, (2) the hand of God in the life of the individual, and (3) the importance of Godly, Christian character. The focus is about getting back to the principles, concepts, and ideas - God's perspective of His overall purpose in history - and not letting all of the details (though important) distract us from seeing the Bible as a whole.

In a homeschool setting, I highly recommend Judah Bible Curriculum to parents who want structure for Bible study but who also want to remain their children's primary Bible teachers. This curriculum is suitable for parents who want to dig deeper in their own study as well and don't want to be dependent on a script. Truly, this is a curriculum that focuses on the Bible as the cornerstone of Christian education!


See what other Crew Members are saying about Judah Bible Curriculum.


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine. 

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Naomi House

Pin It Now! So, I was finally able to go on my first real mission trip. Originally, the plan was to go in December of last year, but my kids were sick. As far as mission trips go, this was easy peasy.

Picked, shoveled rather, weeds with needle sharp thorns, provided dinner and lunch, cleaned, hosted and egg hunt, and played with all the sweet, little orphans. Wish I could post pics of some of their sweet faces, but I can't. If you want, you can read more about Naomi House here, though.

Most of our mission team from Calvary East Valley.

The kids were such troopers helping to get rid of those nasty, deep-rooted weeds. :)

Shiloh wasn't so sure about going to Winslow, AZ for a mission trip, but she had SO much fun. Lots of playground equipment and lots of kids with whom to play!!

Shiloh and her sweet friend did a great job cleaning highchairs.

So glad we were all healthy and able to go this time. (Shiloh was nice enough to wait and get sick the day after we got home - the sickness is still going through the family. Ugh.)

Thankful for the Lord's grace and mercy toward me - someone who typically loves her comfort zone. :) Excited about going back to the Naomi House hopefully in August.

A huge thanks to our friends Jim and Kim for setting everything up, going with the flow, and most importantly being led by the Spirit! We love you guys!


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