Wherever the River Runs Review

Wherever the River Runs Giveaway

I love to read Kelly Minter’s work.  I also love her Bible studies.  I’ve participated in both her Ruth and Nehemiah Bible studies, and I’ve read her book The Fitting Room.  So, when I received an opportunity to review Minter’s newest work, Wherever the River Runs, I was excited to see where the Lord was taking her and what Minter would be writing about.

This book is not a Bible study but a narrative of a personal nature.  As the publisher says:

In Wherever the River Runs, Kelly Minter invites us on a journey down a river teeming with piranhas and caimans, as well as machete-wielding mothers, heroic jungle pastors, faith-filled children, and miracles too seldom experienced in our part of the world. Kelly’s honest and engaging narrative pulls back the curtain on one of the most captivating places on earth as well as on parts of the gospel we may be able to recite but have never fully believed.

On this beautiful adventure through the jungles of Brazil and the tangles of the soul, Kelly rediscovers Jesus among a forgotten people living well beyond the corners of her previously defined faith–a people who draw her back to their country, their pain, and their hope in Him, again and again.

In this book, Kelly Minter shares a personal and life-changing adventure of her first trip down the Amazon to work with the Brazilian people and what drew her to come back to the Amazon time and time again.  It’s a tale of chance encounters turned divine appointments, spiritual mentorship, the building of connections and what it means to live out the gospel as Minter finds herself becoming more and more personally involved in the ministry in the Amazon and in the lives of the jungle pastors and villagers.

I found this account to be beautiful.  Minter never saw herself as a person who would fall in love in the ministry to be done in the jungle.  In fact, we find Minter at the beginning of  the story as a woman who commits to go to the Amazon because of respect for a spiritual mentor and a man she was hoping to record music for.  She’s semi-relieved when she has to back out of the first trip she schedules to go to the Amazon.

It makes it all the more powerful to know that this wasn’t the path she had chosen for herself when the reader gets to see her fall in love with the Brazilian people along the Amazon river.  We get to see that she grows to care for these people as she experiences them.  She gets to worry over these people and pray for them.  She gets to minister to them in a real and life-changing way that not only changes their lives but the course of her life as well.

As someone who has enjoyed Kelly Minter’s Nehemiah Bible study (twice!!), where her love of these jungle people shines through, I found myself lingering over the pages of this account, enjoying the descriptions of the people who she meets and those who she works with as ministry partners.   I found it profound to realize that sometimes it’s easier to go share the gospel and take care of people half a world away than those in your own neighborhood and how Kelly Minter had to travel to the Amazon to realize that these people existed, not only in the jungle, but in the world she lived in back home.

This is a book that I would recommend heartily.  Minter occasionally writes ironically in a way that is quite humorous as she recounts events that happen and then turns around in an earnest tone and shares such gospel truth that you’ll be blown away by her spiritual insight.  I’m still processing some of the gems that I read in this book, and I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to travel through it.

You can see the moving and beautiful trailer to the book here, and you can connect with Kelly Minter through her website.

The publisher is also generously allowing me to give away a copy of Wherever the River Runs:  How a Forgotten People Renewed my Hope in the Gospel.  This giveaway will run from July 31 – August 10th, and all you have to do to enter is to leave a comment.  Tell me whether or not you’ve ever read anything from Kelly Minter, and if you have, what your favorite of her books is.  This giveaway is open for the United States and Canada, and the winner will be drawn through Random.org. :-)

<Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

This Week

This week felt productive.  I don’t know that it was more productive than usual, but we were home three whole days, and so I felt like we spent a lot of time learning.  I will probably look back on this week and think of it as a “back-to-school” type week for us.  We’re only a week away from training for Community Bible Study starting back, so soon we’ll be back on our regular fall schedule.  We’re not doing too much outside the house this year though because I’ve realized that if we don’t stay home, we just don’t have time to learn and create in the way that we would like.

We read a little this week.  I’ve read That’s Not My Pirate a ton this week.  Owlet loves to look at it and tell me why “It’s not her pirate!”  This book is also falling apart since I’ve had it through all four of the children’s toddler years!

We also read Angry Birds: Seasons.  It takes each month of the year and finds five holiday celebrations to discuss with the youngsters reading the book.  It’s not my favorite of the series, but I can totally see how much it ties into the game Angry Birds: Seasons.


We have been studying the Alamo for history, and we’ve decided we wanted to make an Alamo model.  We started out with trying to make a chocolate chip cookie model, and despite making delicious cookies, we couldn’t even pull the walls out of the pan well enough to make the Alamo.  We’re moving on to the idea of making a wooden model.

However, I’m glad we tried the chocolate chip model because it was my first time letting Owlet help me with the cookies.  She was so serious gathering chocolate chips into the measuring cups with her little hands, and she kept saying, “I love cooking.  I love making this.”  This Momma’s heart felt so blessed to be able to spend some special time with her.

cookie making

The children also continued working on Essential Skills Advantage this week.  It’s going over pretty well in our house.  We also worked on UberSmart Math Facts again this week which made Rose cry.  I told her not to worry.  If she can’t master her addition facts, she can always use a calculator!


We also spent some time using our handheld game toys and watching cartoons.  I try not to let the kids have too much video game time, but  I admit that Monkey and Owlet always look so cute when they have their games pushed close together to play.


One of the shows we haven’t watched before that the kids discovered this week was Ultimate Spiderman.  It’s inspired lots of drawings!!  They’ve also been watching the old Super Mario Bros. cartoon, and playing with some new Mario cars they’ve been getting at McDonald’s.  They’re actually so into the Mario cars that my Mom and Dad have been stopping at different McDonald’s and buying just the cars for the kids to help them build the whole collection.

ultimate spiderman

The preschoolers have also been coloring, playing Beauty and the Beast, playing on Owlet’s princess piano and Monkey has even fashioned his own knight costume.  I’m going to have to get him a better helmet than a Spiderman trash can!!


We’ve also restarted learning about the letter A with the preschoolers.  This time we’re trying “A is for Alligator.”  With the exception of Owlet going around and calling the alligator a crocodile, the little kids really seem to be getting the idea of A and of how it says, “Aaaaahhh!”

The crocodile/alligator confusing has also inspired some science questions on the part of Firecracker, so I’m imagining that we’re going to have a little bit of science related to this.  I love when we find something that sparks the interest of all four children. :-)

letter a

We’ve also been engaging in some sewing.  Rose finished her first cross-stitch project this week with a cross-stitch robot, and both Rose and Firecracker sewed little plush teddy bears.  Rose is looking through some of my patterns for a new project to start this weekend, and I think our next plush sewing project is going to be an alligator.


That about does it for this week.  We have a lot of ideas being sparked here and a long to-do list of things that we’d like to learn about and make.  This bodes well going into the end of summer :-)

Do-It-Yourself Sandpaper Letters

Monkey has been driving me crazy in a good way.  He draws beautiful drawings of superheroes.  They’re detailed and wonderful to the best of his four year old abilities.  However, he sees his brother’s comic book style drawings with labels all over them, and he wants to label his drawings.

012 So he asks me questions like, “Mom, how do you spell Spiderman?”

I answer, “S-P-I….”

His reply?  “Mom, how do you draw an S?”

Sometimes I tell him and we trace it in the air.  Sometimes I draw the letters lightly on the paper for him to trace, but often he doesn’t want me messing with his drawings.

We’ve tried learning the alphabet twice, and we’re starting to try again (Hoping he’s ready this time!!).  However, I was looking for a solution for the current problem of how to help him draw the letters he wants to draw without taking over and drawing them for him.

Then, I remembered reading online about Montessori sandpaper letters a while back.  I thought, this could be the perfect way to bring the sensory aspect of tracing a letter onto sandpaper to get the curves of the letter down before allowing him to attempt to draw the letters on paper.  There are a million other sandpaper letter tutorials online, but I just wanted to share my experiences in case someone finds it helpful.

The first thing I did was to go to Hobby Lobby and buy red and blue cardstock.  It seems that in most tutorials one color is used for vowels and the other for consonants, but in my case, I decided to use red for lowercase letters and blue for uppercase letters.

I bought two pieces of each color cardstock and a package of sandpaper, so I probably spent about $6-7, but only used a page and a half of the five piece package of sandpaper, so I’d estimate the cost of these letters to be in the $3-4 realm.

You can find several free letter templates online.  I used the print one from Montessori Materials.

I began by cutting the cardstock into 4″ x 3″ rectangles.


Next, I cut out the letters and traced them onto sandpaper.  Don’t forget to turn the letters over and trace the back of the letter onto the back of the sandpaper.


Then, all I did was to cut the letters out and glue them onto the cardstock with a glue stick.  I’ve thought about sealing with mod podge, both as a way to ensure that the letters stay one the card stock and as a way to make the cardstock letters sturdier, but I haven’t done that at this time.

If you’re wanting to make sturdy long-term letters, I’d also recommend that you use tagboard or matte board instead of cardstock.

Sandpaper letters

For the most part, I plan on using these for Monkey to trace with his finger when he has a question of how a letter is made so that he can have a tactile way to get the letter into his head.

Rose has already noticed that the letters also make great rubbings too!  I told her that if she wanted to make rubbings of words she was learning to spell that would also be a great use of these letters.  So far, she’s mostly been interested in rubbing the alphabet though :-)  Given the difficulty she’s had writing her letters without them being backwards, I think this might end up being a valuable addition to her writing arsenal as well.


Vikings Are Pirates Too!!

Welcome to this month’s Poppins Book Nook post.  This month’s theme is Ye Old Pirates!  It was so hard for me to choose a book for this month’s theme because I love pirate-themed stories and we have several, so I put several books from our bookshelves into our book basket and let the children choose.  They chose How to Train Your Dragon: How to Be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell.

how to be a pirate

I knew they’d picked the right book for a learning adventure when, after the first day’s reading, Rose exclaimed, “Why are they training to be pirates?  Vikings aren’t pirates!!”

So, of course, my first course of action was to prove to her that Vikings were too pirates!!  If you have a child who, like Rose, doubts a book that casts Vikings in the role of pirates, here are some links for learning more about Vikings:

After reading and watching a couple of these, Rose was ready to tell everyone she encountered about how Vikings were pirates.

Much of the book How to Be a Pirate is about finding the treasure of Grimbeard the Ghastly, who is an ancestor of the protagonist, Hiccup.  There are booby traps, adventure, near-death and almost certain death along the way, making this the perfect book for children in the 8-12 year old range.  (I enjoyed it too, so definitely use my age range as a loose guideline.)  This is the second book in the How to Train Your Dragon series.  We plan on reading the rest of the books very soon.

Vikings, dragons, and piracy is a theme that we seem to be coming at from multiple angles in our homeschool, and I have several follow-up posts planned.  However, for today, I wanted to share with you a couple of simple Viking crafts and activities that we have done.

Viking Poppins Image

The first Viking activity is to make your own Viking mask!  We started by printing out this template from Hello Kids, backing it with construction paper and using it to make our own masks for play.  (If you’re looking for a pirate mask, they also have one of those as well!)

viking masks

I know you’re probably feeling a little terrified right now.  I would too.  These children look about ready to go out on a raid!  In fact, after making the masks, they pretended to be Vikings for the whole rest of the afternoon!

We also found a sweet Viking printable craft  on DLTK’s website.  We made it too.  Monkey was especially proud of his mighty Thor paper doll.

viking paper doll

They also all spent some time on the School of Dragons website downloading coloring sheets.  Rose and Monkey also made some drawings of Toothless (movie version not the book), as you can see in the collage below.

Firecracker was ready for more of a challenge, so we spent some time looking up You Tube Videos and drawing various dragons mentioned in the book.  His favorite dragon was the Whispering Death, and you can see several examples of it below.

dragon drawings

We also, of course, watched How to Train Your Dragon several times and watched the three or four short cartoons from How to Train Your Dragon that are available on Netflix.  The children even had the opportunity to go see the new How to Train Your Dragon movie with my parents during their Florida vacation last month.

Of course, since this post is just one of the Poppins Book Nook posts on the theme of pirates, you might want to go check out the other co-hosts, especially if you’re looking for something with a different kind of pirate :-)

Poppins Book Nook main image 2014 - 2015

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God’s Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy’s Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy’s Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A “Peace” of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids ~ Simple Living Mama

Also, don’t forget to enter our giveaway!!

Poppins Book Nook Pirate Plunder Giveaway! Every month the Poppins Book Nook group will be offering readers a chance to win a brand new storybook or product that ties in with our theme for the month. This month weare partnering with Jennifer Altman an Usborne consultant to bring one lucky entrant a chance to win a copy of either the Pirate’s Handbook (recommended for 8 years old and up) or Pirate Stories for Little Children (recommended for ages under 8 years old)books. One of these books is sure to add to your pirate fun!

The winner will be randomly picked by Rafflecopter and will be notified by Enchanted Homeschooling Mom via email and posted here. Entrants must be 18 years or older and reside within the United States. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest or any other entity unless otherwise specified. Prizes will be issued by Jennifer Altman who is an Usborne consultant. By entering this giveaway you are also acknowledging that you have read and agree to all of the Rafflecopter terms & conditions as well as Enchanted Homeschooling Mom’s disclosures found here.  Just enter the Rafflecopter below to win:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, it’s your turn to link up your pirate fun!  If you have a post on pirates or pirate books, feel free to come and link up using the link below!


Next month’s theme is “What Will I Be When I Grow Up?”  That’s going to require serious thought on both my and the kids part, so I’m seriously trying to figure that one out right now!!

Thomas Nast and Santa Claus: A mini unit study

Last year around Christmas,  I was finishing up a semester-long class at the co-op I was teaching at on the Civil War.  Because it was the week of Christmas, and we had pretty much finished talking about the war, I decided that I wanted to teach something to do with Christmas and the Civil War.

I stumbled across a subject that was so rich that I wished I had had time to develop it further.  I developed it as much as I could, taught the lesson, and I’ve finally made time to compile a resource list to share with you guys.  (Of course, since I’m going to spend part of this post talking about Santa Claus, you might want to pin this one for Christmas :-) )

Thomas Nast & Santa Claus

One of my first and favorite exposures to art as a little girl was opening my Mom and Dad’s paper each day to look for the comic strips, and as I got older for the political cartoons.  Now, political cartoons are a dime a dozen, but the well written ones are still priceless.  When you begin thinking about caricatures and political cartoons as an art form, however, the person we have to thank is Thomas Nast.  He’s the father of the American political cartoon.

You can learn more about Thomas Nast at these Websites:

Political cartoons always have a point to make, either because they’re trying to sway the general public or because they’re a picture of what public opinion is on a certain topic.  As such, these political cartoons can be important historical artifacts to examine political issues as people of the time saw them.

You might want to begin by giving your students some of Nast’s cartoons about the Civil War to analyze.  If you’ve been studying the Civil War for long, your student will be able to easily pick out some motifs and ideas from the cartoons to begin to see what Nast’s position on the war was.  The Son of the South website above has a few great images to get you started.

However, for most children, the most exciting part of studying Nast will be the realization that he created the modern image of how we think of Santa Claus.  Here are some resources to get you started learning about this:

As many people know, later on Coca-Cola took the images that had been drawn by Nast and drew upon his ideas when their artists created their own more jolly, less stern version of Santa Claus, and that is still in many respects our modern, American version of Santa Claus.

I told the story of Santa Claus to my students.  We analyzed some of the different Civil War Christmas drawings by Nast that I had pulled off of Son of the South.  (My favorite is the first one of Santa where he’s in red, white and blue that is so deeply political.)  Then, we looked specifically at a sweet picture of Santa called, “Caught.”   I kept the activity simple.  We used colored pictures, markers, etc. to colorize the drawing.  We also added embellishments as we decided it was necessary.  Sometimes the most successful projects are the simplest.

One of the tangents I would have like to have veered off onto was to draw our own caricatures, but we didn’t have class time for that, and Firecracker wasn’t very interested in that.  However, there are many You Tube Videos, websites and books to help you if you decide to take that path.  Good Luck!!

I hope you enjoyed this post on Thomas Nast.  This is actually part of a series of posts I wasn’t aware I was writing until I stepped back and looked at all my Civil War posts together, so I made a place for Civil War resources on the drop down menu for unit study resources at the top.   You can access my Civil War series here. :-)

Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions (A Bethany House Review)

As a parent, I’m committed to giving an honest, Biblical response when my children ask me questions.  However, it’s often hard to balance the need to be Biblical with the need to provide answers on their level.  It’s also sometimes tricky to figure out what a Biblical response is on some topics, so when I received the opportunity to review Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson, I was excited to be able to read and learn more about how to talk to my children through some of these issues.



This book covers the following topics:

  • What is Sin?
  • Why Do People Die? (including a section on suicide)
  • What is Satan? What is Hell?
  • Why Do People Get Divorced?
  • Why Does the Bible Say That? (Difficult Bible Stories)
  • Why and How Do Some People Sin Sexually?
  • Why Does God Let Natural Disasters Happen?
  • Why Do People Fight and Kill?
  • The Good News That Should Always Be Shared

As you can see, this is a wide ranging list of topics that will help you get started talking to your children about these sensitive issues in a way that is Biblical.  They also share various ideas for the information you will share for different age ranges of children, making this a book that will also help you figure out what is age appropriate for your child.

This is a really awesome book.  The authors have a gentle and relaxed tone and the advice is going to help you to instill a Biblical worldview in your children as you discuss the ideas with them that are in the book.  I can already tell that some of my conversations with my children have been modified as I try to follow these wise women’s advice in how to talk to my children.

My favorite chapter right now is the one on sexual sin.  This chapter covers homosexuality, sexual abuse and pornography.  I read this chapter right after we received some training on preventing situations in church classrooms where sexual abuse can occur.  Sexual abuse was also something that I knew that I wanted to talk to my children more about while still preserving their innocence.  Because of this book, instead of blundering through these conversations, I’ve been able to tell them how their bodies are the way that that God designed them, and they are special.  I’ve also been able to tell them that there are places that no one but them should touch before they get married.  I’ve also been able to tell them that if anyone touches them in those places or in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, they should flee and come and find me and tell me.

There’s much more advice that’s valuable in this book and I look forward to sharing it with my children as it’s appropriate.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a review.  My opinions are my own, and I have not received any compensation for this review.




Enough: 10 Things We Should Be Telling Our Teenage Girls (Review)

Enough: 10 Things We Should Be Telling Our Teenage Girls by Kate Conner is a book of advice that expands upon a blog post the author has that went viral.  Although I have no teenagers in my house yet (and I hate the idea of how quickly those years are going to come to our house), I was intrigued by the concept of the book and I am always looking for parenting advice.

The publisher describes the book this way:

We all have teenage girls in our lives that we love, whether its a sister, friend or daughter.  Conner offers herself as a translator, helping you to speak that teenager girl’s language and equipping you with a fresh perspective from which to engage her.  Kate has identified 10 things these girls need to hear daily from someone who loves them.  Peppered with wit and laced with grace, Kate’s list tackles relevant issues like Facebook, emotions, drama, tanning beds, modesty, and flirtation.  Woven into each chapter is a powerful message of worth that transcends age, and will touch the souls of women, young and old alike.  You are beautiful.  You are valuable.  You are enough.

In this book, Conner tackles ten issues that teens and many grown women will find valuable.  Some of it is really good advice like when she discusses Facebook etiquette or explains how people who say they “hate drama” tend to be the same people who are causing most of the drama that you can so often observe in a group (or on Facebook).

My absolute favorite advice in the whole book, however, was in the chapter on how “following your heart is the worst advice ever.”  There are a lot of people who need to be told to stop following their heart and to start following their talents, the interests, and their brain when making decisions.

If you’re interested in a preview, the ten pieces advice that Conner is elaborating on in this book are:

  1. If you choose to wear shirts that show off your breasts, you will attract boys.
  2. Don’t go to the tanning bed.
  3. When you talk about your friends “anonymously” on Facebook, we know exactly who you’re talking about.
  4. Newsflash:  The number of times you say “I hate drama” is a pretty good indicator of how much you love drama.
  5. “Follow your heart” is probably the worst advice ever
  6. Never let a man make you feel weak or inferior because you are an emotional being.
  7. Smoking is not cool.
  8. Stop saying things like, “I don’t care what anyone thinks of me.”
  9. Don’t play coy or stupid or helpless to get attention.
  10. You are beautiful.  You are enough.

If you’re like me, you can think of some adults on your list who need to read this book and heed its fresh yet meaningful advice.  She says her advice is for teenage girls, and she has done ministry with teenagers and is still young enough to remember what it was like to be a teenager for herself.  I think you’ll find this advice to be meaningful and that it will help you chart a course in raising a teenager in a world full of drama and hard decisions.

You can go to the publisher’s website and see a trailer of the book here.

The publisher is also graciously allowing me to give one copy of the book away.  So, if you’re interested in being entered in a giveaway for a copy of this book, please just leave a comment.  It can be a “Hi!” or telling me about your daughters, or even the advice that you would give teenage girls. :-)  The giveaway will end at midnight on August 3, 2014.

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing the prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.