Rise Up: A Call to Make Jesus Famous (Review)

Just Rise Up

I’ve recently  had the pleasure of reading Just RISE UP!: A Call to Make Jesus Famous by Sarah Francis Martin.  As part of the InScribed series of Bible studies for women, Martin’s book is more than just a book to read about Jesus.  It’s a call to study, journaling and action.

Just RISE UP! focuses on David’s words of praise in Psalm 145.  Through these words and other scriptures in the Bible, readers are encouraged to live a life of praise to Jesus and to influence those around them to do the same thing.  Instead of living life for yourself, you are now encouraged to live your whole life in the perspective of Jesus’s kingdom.  Martin begins by asking whether or not Jesus is famous in your life, and if he’s not, what your hindrances are to living a life of praise.

There are five chapters, and each chapter has five sections.  So, you could break this book into a five week Bible study or do it all in big swoop.  The importance is to do it!  Each chapter section has a life experience or teaching commentary by Martin followed by a journal section with prompts, scripture and meditations on portions of Psalm 145.  These journaling sections are rich and meaty, and if you complete them you will truly have a testimony of working through and thinking about Psalm 145.  I loved my experience in this Psalm and in her  commentary and thought it was a perfect way to get more of my thoughts and actions focused on obedience and praise to Christ.

Disclaimer:  I was given a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers program.  My opinions are my own.

Anthem for a Nation Review

I’m always looking for new resources for viewing history and the world through the lens of my Christian worldview, especially as I see so many differences in the history and politics that I see in the media and hear in textbooks and the primary texts that we study.  It’s a difference that I find increasingly disquieting, and I want to be able to present all facts to my children and not just some facts.  So, when I got the chance to review a DVD from New Liberty Videos, I chose to review Anthem For a Nation because I watched a preview of it on You Tube and I knew that I wanted to find out more.

Anthem for a Nation

I received a physical DVD from New Liberty Videos that retails on their website for $19.95.  This video is appropriate for most ages, but because my children are younger, and we haven’t discussed many issues dealt with on the DVD, such as abortion and the place of the Bible in public schools, I watched this DVD with my husband, and I haven’t shared this video with my children yet.

The film begins with patriotic music mixed with different pictures and scenes from American life and history.  This is a pattern that will repeat throughout the movie, and the movie will also end with views of the country and “God Bless the USA.”  I think these are great for showing images of the many different facets of the nation and it’s history.

In between the music montages, the narrator is speaking and sharing images and video related to the narration.  The narrator begins by establishing the Christian background of our nation.  He shares facts about the establishment of our constitution, about the buildings of our government, and about the scriptures that are found in our government buildings in rapid succession.  Many of these facts are new to me and I would love to find out more and share these with my children.

Soon, the narrator turns the movie’s focus to the ways that God, who is a presence and a guiding hand in the establishment of our nation is systematically removed from our nation’s public facilities.  The narrator especially focuses in on public schools and public children’s events, showing how we’ve removed the teaching of the gospel from our nation’s children in many ways.

Of course, the movie isn’t finished there, the narration then reminds us that the assault isn’t even just on allowing our children to hear the gospel message, it’s on the very lives of those children who cannot protect themselves–those children who haven’t been born yet.  It’s a moving, chilling and sobering message.

Once the movie reaches this climax, the narrator urges us to take action by praying for our country.  We are to pray that our country repent from its turn away from God and to restore the connections with God that were so important to those who established our country that they made laws to ensure that we’d always be able to keep that connection.

There are also two additional special features, which I confess to finding as interesting and intriguing as the movie.  In them, there are personal testimonies from those who lived through Nazi Germany and Austria about their nations’ moves away from God and their nations’ moves into fascism.

The final feeling that the viewer is left with is one of horror for the direction of our country but hope that God can change our direction and make our country a great place.

My feelings on this movie are mixed.  I love imagery of comparison of the foundation our country is built on versus the destruction of that very same Christian foundation.  It’s a powerful message, especially for those who are not aware of many of the facts.  In fact, the facts of this movie are relayed off in such great speed and momentum that I found myself wanting to research more about the founding of our country and the building of our national monuments.  That, of course, is the beauty and power of documentaries.

However, as I’m watching the movie, I get the feeling that the narrator is conveying the message that America can be fixed by stopping abortions and adding prayer back into schools.  While these are two very important issues, I would argue that they are truly symptoms of our pride and self-sufficiency.  We have said that we do not need the God who established our nation, and that we alone have built our nation to be the great place it is today.  In the words of the documentary, “God help us.”

I would have loved to see a little more done with the narrations and stories in the special features.  In fact, I wouldn’t mind buying a whole documentary based on more of those WWII era stories from here and overseas.  They add a powerful collective feel and testimonial evidence to the thesis of the documentary that I don’t believe the whole movie is the same without.  All in all though, this was a powerful and interesting introduction to how our country has drifted away from the founding principles that it was built on.

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Why Do Bears Sleep All Winter?

I was looking through my idea notebook for my blog and realized I had several posts I had been meaning to write at the first part of this year and haven’t yet.  So, I figured I would start blogging about them before I turned around and realized that I’ve been holding on to these pictures for years and haven’t written about them.  Funny how that happens :-)  At any rate, I’ll be slowly bringing some of these posts out for you guys.

Why do bears sleep

We were studying hibernation in January.  In so doing, I wanted to find a couple of science experiments that weren’t too pre-schoolish for the older two children, and I stumbled across this experiment on A Teacher to the Core.  You should really go to her site and download her labels and notebooking page freebie to go along with this experiment.  That’s what I did.  She even has a hibernation unit study for sale in her Teacher Pay Teachers store (TPT is one of my favorite resources for unit studies and other resources that won’t break the bank!)

Anyway, we all know that many animals hibernate in the winter.  They eat a bunch or store a bunch of food and hide underground, find a den, etc. to rest in until spring comes again.  This is obviously because food is much more scarce in the winter than during the plentiful summer months.

However, that begs the question of why does the bear hibernate in the winter?  What would happen if a bear didn’t hibernate?  The experiment we performed tries to help us find the answers to that question out.

We got out two small glass mason jars and filled them with water.   Then I sliced off a couple of pats of butter and put one pat in each jar.


We sealed the jars and labeled one “hibernating” and one “awake.”  Then, I let the children carry the awake one around while pretending to be bears.  They ran and played.  The growled and chased each other.  Sometimes, they just stood and shook the jar.  Then, we put the two jars side by side and compared them.  As you can see from the picture below, there’s quite a difference in the “fat stores” between the two bear jars.

butter dispersal

We followed up this activity by writing a notebook page about the experience, and by reading What Do Animals Do in Winter?: How Animals Survive the Cold (Discovery Readers).


This experiment and book would get us ready to create our own hibernation books with pictures of where different animals hibernate.


This Week

Some weeks have an obvious theme.  Some weeks, like this one, don’t.  It really depends on how much we’re into a certain book or theme and how much planning we do and ideas we have.  This week obviously didn’t have enough for Rose to do because at some point she started opening up her AWANA book and copying verses out of it!!  She also made some great drawings in her CBS book.


She also had the perler beads out, and she made herself a penguin that is very similar to Pablo from the Backyardigans.  Another project Rose worked on this week was to make some more cone girl dolls because her old ones had gotten squished.

Rose's projects

Firecracker also found himself doing his own projects this week.  He made pipe cleaner ninjas.  He also did some great ghosts from Pac-Man with perler beads.  I found him a pattern online, and he didn’t make his little figures quite as tiny as he is in the habit of creating them.

firecracker's craftsThat’s not to say that we didn’t do a great deal of stuff together.   I read three Never Girls novels to the children and a Christmas book that I’ll be reviewing in a couple of weeks.  I also read more Halloween books than I can count.  My Monkey is especially dependent on hearing his Halloween stories every evening.


We did some acting out literature with Little Red Riding Hood this week.  I kept it little kid focused, but in retrospect, I kind of wish I had included the older kids a little more in the play because there are so many elements I could have brought out with them.  The little kids and I had lots of fun with our puppets and story telling though!

Red Riding Hood

We worked on name recognition and writing as well as trying to artfully camouflage our names.

camoflaged names

We introduced the letter D and how it stands for dog along with coloring a dog and making a large masking tape letter to play on.

d is for dog

We colored our letter D coloring sheets.


We hunted kind of aimlessly for the letter “d”.  Let’s just say that they don’t know their letter D yet!!

hunting for d

We even worked on Philippians 2:14 a little bit because I hear a lot of whining and complaining at our house.  We searched for the Ds in this version of the verse as well.


The little kids did some little kid math as well.  They drew and counted ladders from the Jacob’s ladder Bible story that we read one day this week.  Rose used the time to practice skip counting by 2s.


We also worked on our number four and made a number four page with women on it.

number 4

We didn’t leave the math to just the little kids this week.  We also had a jumping contest that involved quite a bit of measuring, averaging and graphing.

jumping contest

We’re also definitely starting to get ready for Halloween.  We had some foam ghosts and pumpkins that we decorated to make a new garland for our fireplace.


We colored some Halloween coloring pages while watching Hotel Transylvania.

halloween coloring

We made strawberry ghosts for snack and Rose made a construction paper bat face.


We started working on some paper plate witches.  Hopefully, we’ll get them finished this week :-D

paper plate witch

We even found a self-inflating balloon ghost experiment on Pinterest and tried it out.  The only other time we’ve tried a self-inflating balloon before was when we were using yeast.  This experiment uses baking soda and vinegar and the inflation is instant!!

self-inflating balloon

I guess that’s about it for this week.  When I write it out, it feels like this week was a hodgepodge of Halloween and letter D stuff.  I guess that about sums it up.  There’s been lots of Disney Fairies reading too though!!

Ten Angry Ghosts

It’s been a while since I’ve shared one of the children’s stories with you guys.  So, I thought I’d show you one that Firecracker wrote this week.  I gave him Ten Timid Ghosts and asked him to create his own “Ten” story after reading through that.  So, this is what he gave me in return.  It’s a rip off combination of Ten Timid Ghosts and his own love for Angry Birds, but it is so Firecracker.


Ten mad ghosts in house.  A pig moved in and getting them out (He probably meant to make it “was getting them out.”)  One saw a mummy.  He slinged to the wood and there are…

9 mad ghosts in a house.  One saw a cat.  She slinged to the woods and there are…


8 mad ghosts in a house.  One saw a bat.  He bombed to the woods and there are….


7 mad ghosts in a house.  One saw a rat.  He ran to the woods and then there are….


6 mad ghosts in a house.  One saw a grim-reaper.  He flew to the woods and there are…


5 mad ghosts in a house.  One hears bad music. She flew to the woods and there there are…


4 mad ghosts in a house.  One saw an owl.  He ran to the woods and there are…


3 ghosts in a house.  One saw a zombie.  There there are…


2 Mad ghosts in a house.  One saw a monster and there are…


1 raging ghost explodes

155That is Firecracker’s story.  Not bad at all!  As you can tell, he used invented spelling throughout.  I prefer for the children to use invented spelling unless they ask me for a spelling word or unless it’s a word we’ve chosen to focus on, so I’m getting a real picture of what the words sound like in his head and the logic he’s using in making his spelling decisions.  Sometimes, with his hearing difficulties, he doesn’t hear those diagraphs and blends, and you can really tell it when he’s working on a writing project like this one!


Unwrapping the Greatest Gift Review

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas is a day-by-day family devotional that goes through each day of December leading up until Christmas.  If you’re familiar with the concept of the Jesse Tree, Ann Voskamp’s approach will not surprise you.  Throughout each day, she traces person-by-person, line by line through the important people in Jesus’ geneology leading up to our celebration of a birth of a savior.

Each day has scripture readings to do with your family, a beautiful story and explanation to go along with that day, thoughts to discuss as family devotional time, activities to do as a family, and as you go you’ll be hanging up ornaments as a reminder on your own Jesse tree.  The ornaments themselves are not included, but Voskamp’s book gives you instructions for downloading free paper ornaments off her blog for adding the ornaments to your tree.

As always, Voskamp’s writing is a pleasure to read.  The book is an oversized hardcover and is illustrated with beautiful full color scenes from the Bible.  This book has the feel of a of an heirloom.  It’s a book that children are going to want to touch and feel and listen to the stories, and because of the ornaments and activity suggestions it’s also a book that the children can enter into and find themselves changed by the family celebration of Christmas.

This is the devotional we’ll be using as a family this year, and I can’t wait to get started!  I know that we’re going to love it, and enjoy it for many years to come.

Disclaimer:  Tyndale House Provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Making a Teepee

Every time we watch a Native American movie or read a Native American book, my children want to make teepees.  Never mind that many Indians didn’t even live in teepees.  Because of movies and our own general impressions, we tend to always associate Native Americans with teepees.  Luckily, paper teepees are easy to make.

making a teepee

First, you need construction paper.  It doesn’t really matter what the size or color is.  We usually use 8.5″ x 11″ or 12″ x 18″ sheets of paper.  The bigger the paper, the bigger the teepee.  First, you find something to trace for a circle shape.  For our purposes, we chose a child’s size dinner plate…You know the circle  shaped sectioned ones that you can find in Target or Wal-Mart.


Then, you will cut each circle in half.  One semi circle will fold into each teepee.

041This is a great time to let your kids decorate them.  They’re much easier to decorate before they are folded up! (These pictures were some I took when we made teepees last winter, and it’s so sweet to see my smaller Owlet sucking on her passy :-) )


All you have to do is bring the two edges of the semi circle up to meet each other and tape into place.  Don’t forget to bend up the fold at the bottom to give it that teepee look.  Once you’ve folded one or two, your kids will probably go crazy and make themselves whole villages of teepees.


Also, on the flip side, if you don’t fold up the edges, you can use this very same easy pattern to make party hats for all your children’s dolls!!