KJV Foundation Study Bible {A BookLook Bloggers Review}

I love Bibles.  The smell, the flip of the pages, and just seeing the words of God in print never fail to give me a special thrill.  So, when I received an opportunity to review a Foundation Study Bible (KJV) from Thomas Nelson press, I was pleased to have the opportunity to take a look at the Bible and get to spend some time using it.

KJV Foundation Study Bible

First, the features:

  • The text of the King James Version is used.  This is a 400 year old translation, and is the gold standard of translations in accuracy, reliability and universal acceptance.  Although, I use many translations in my study, my church is a KJV only church, and it’s always the translation I come back to for use.
  • There are concise study notes.  There are not a many as there are in a large study Bible, the there are very helpful notes to aid your study without being too intrusive.
  • Theological notes draw attention to important Christian doctrines, and if you’re searching for these notes, you can find them indexed in the back
  • In-text subject headings organize the themes of the Bible as you go through
  • Words are Jesus are printed in red.  That’s not something that I personally prefer, but I know lots of people prefer to have that.
  • Book introductions are very brief, but they provide basic information about the author and the themes of the book.
  • Cross-references are provided on each page.  These are placed in a box at the bottom of the page instead of forming a traditional middle column.  This took a little bit of getting used to on my part, but at least I didn’t have the temptation to write my notes all over them.
  • There’s a nice sized concordance in the back.
  • There are also full color maps in the back.  My favorite is a map that is labelled with areas that are important in Jesus’s ministry so that you can picture where Jesus was during certain portions of his ministry.

I thought this was a really nice little Bible.  It’s the complex study Bible that a serious student of the Bible is probably going to be looking for.  However, if you’re just getting started with Bible study, or if you’re a student or young adult, this is a great starter for Bible study.  There isn’t much room in the margins for writing, but it’s a good Bible to carry and for reading.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

3 Seahs of Flour

This week I’ve been studying out of the new DVD and Discovery Guide Israel’s Mission  (Review coming Thursday), and I’ve been kind of shaken by an imagery that I didn’t even know existed.  I love when a DVD or a book can help me to make a new connection, and since I saw this connection mentioned several places online, I thought I might as well share it with you guys.

Sears of Flour

In Genesis 18, Abraham and Sarah are visited by three strangers.  When they are visited, Abraham comes running out in the heat of the day to meet the visitors and he offers them a very welcome and generous brand of hospitality.

He has a calf killed for dinner, has Sarah take 3 measures of the finest flour to make cakes and pulls out the butter and the milk to treat his visitors with.  This is the essence of hospitality.  We actually studied this in the children’s history program about 3 weeks ago, and one of contrasts they make was the hospitality of Abraham with the lack of hospitality the visitors received in Sodom.

The one thing that I’ve never failed to see is how much flour is involved in the word “3 measures” of flour.  The measure of flour involved is called a seah,  Although there are different interpretations to how a seah should be measured, I found that for the standard interpretation of seah, a seah measures almost 30 cups of flour.  That means that the 3 seahs worth of flour that Sarah made for the three strangers would be 90 cups of flour.  That’s enough bread for 100 people.

The reason why this hospitality actually stood out to me, however, is because I’ve been reading the book of Matthew.  In this book, we read Jesus saying, in Matthew 13:33:

Another parable spake he unto them: The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Did you know that Jesus is referencing Abraham and Sarah’s hospitality?  It’s unmistakably a  reference because this parable (and the parallel passage in Luke) are the only places in the New Testament where this specific measure is mentioned.  The only time three seahs of flour are mentioned in the Jewish scriptures is where Sarah is to use the 3 seahs to make cakes for the strangers.

So, I have to say that I was amazed at learning this because I now understand why that parable is placed next to the mustard seed parable.  A tiny bit of leaven spreads throughout three large measures of flour and leavens it all!

So, why is this important?  (To begin with, every word of the scriptures is important)  However, here are two reasons:

  1.  The leaven itself spreading through the 3 seahs of flour reminds us of the inevitable spread of God’s coming reign.  Just like the yeast, it starts very small, and we can’t see how it works, but we know it does work and that it spreads and effects the entire batch of flour.
  2. The reference to Abraham and Sarah gives us an idea of the nature of this kingdom.  Just as Abraham and Sarah’s actions toward the three strangers is compassionate and concerned, when God’s will is done, either here on earth or in the life to come, we are compassionate and concerned about others.  We act out of a generous desire to fulfill the needs and to welcome others into our lives.

So, what’s a detail that stands out to you about Abraham and Sarah?  Or about the parable of the leaven?

When My Child Hates A School Subject

I’ve felt like an education failure recently.

My eight year old daughter, who still isn’t reading fluently, said she “hates reading” and “hates words.”

It all stems from frustration at not being able to read as I fearfully push her more and more because I worry about my levels of embarrassment at her late entry into reading (after all, my background is in writing and English).  I also worry about her being embarrassed or made fun of by her friends who started reading a year or two earlier.

We’ve tried phonics.  We’ve tried whole language.  We’ve tried pushing hard.  We’ve tried backing off.  (She carries a few markers for dyslexia, so I was so sure the phonics approach would work.)  We’ve tried a little bit of everything, and now she hates phonics and reading.

So, I thought I’d write a post with a few thoughts about what to do when your child hates a school subject.

Hating a School Subject

The first thing to know is that no child hates a school subject unless it’s been taught badly.  Children are born with a natural desire to learn and grow.  If you don’t believe me, watch your child interact with something that they haven’t been taught to think of as school.  (Also, if you don’t believe me about the taught badly thing, listen to this Andrew Pudewa lecture on teaching grammar.  He goes on at length as to why grammar is such a difficult subject to teach and why so many people hate it.)

So, here are the list of steps I’m taking to try and help my daughter rediscover her love of learning.

1.  Acknowledge My Mistakes

The first thing I have to do is to acknowledge that I’ve made some mistakes in teaching grammar.  My fears and my embarrassment have stood in the way of me actually helping her navigate reading as I’ve pushed her too quickly and too far beyond the performance she is capable of giving.

I have to acknowledge that I’ve messed up with some of the strategies I have tried because I’ve thrown a little bit of everything at her, hoping that something would catch.

2.  Put Away What Didn’t Work

In my example of reading, I’ve tried several programs that have just failed her.  Some of them include Horizons, Logic of English, Essential Skills Advantage, The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, Starfall, Progressive Phonics, and Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool.  There’s no need to keep trying them because they’re just causing frustration for Rose.  None of them have done anything but cause my little girl severe frustration in learning to read.

3.  Acknowledge What’s Working

Despite the fact that none of the programs above worked, as Rose has grown and matured, she has learned many new words.  She can read lots of words that are familiar to her, especially one syllable short vowel words.

Also, so far, we’ve found exactly one program that she’s making progress with in English.  She’s somehow able to learn and grow very well using Spelling You See.  Who knew? I certainly didn’t when I spent $65 to take a stab in the dark with their program.

I’ve also found that a she doesn’t mind a little mini worksheet targeting one of her weak areas (like digraphs).  I’ve found Super Teacher Worksheets to be a great source for these phonics practice sheets.

4. Back Way Off

My child has reached a point with reading and phonics that she doesn’t even like “suggesting” something with reading.  She’ll do her Spelling You See and her practice worksheet because they’re quick and pretty easy.  She’ll even occasionally sit with me and practice reading too me, as long as I don’t make a big deal over it and as long as I don’t go into “lecture mode.”

I don’t know if I’m ever going to reach a point with this child where she loves reading.  I may have messed up too badly for that.  However, I’m going to try and invest some time in trying to reverse some of the hatred that she’s feeling towards reading.  I’ll keep you guys updated on how it goes.

Mayan Mysteries {A TOS Review Crew Review}

I don’t know about you, but my children like video games.  When they were in the preschool and early elementary school age, it was relatively easy to find high-quality fun games that also provided educational benefits.  However, as they start to outgrow games focusing on ABCs and 123s, I’m beginning to realize that it’s harder to find high-quality, family friendly educational games for middle grades that are also fun to play.  That’s why I was so excited to get a chance to do a review for Dig-It! Games.

mayan title

We received, for review, the Mayan Mysteries (Online Game).  This game is designed specifically for 5th-9th graders and allows your child the opportunity to to solve over 25 puzzles and explore seven different Mayan cities as he or she chases after the mysterious Ladrone, a thief who is searching Mayan sites, looking for a very specific artifact.  As your child explores these Mayan sites, he will learn specifics about the Mayan culture, archeological techniques, about the Mayan calendar and how to use the Mayan math system.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Maya, they were a huge culture of native Central Americans who developed their own culture, accomplishments and achievements in mathematics, writing and astronomy.  They also built fascinating pyramid structures had cities that were very precisely built.  There are still over 7 million decedents of the Maya living in central America today.

In this game, you read about Mayan history and culture bit by bit as you complete challenges by answering multiple choice questions, excavating architects, solving math and calendar problems, reading glyphs and searching for missing artifacts in very busy picture scenes.

How We Used This Product

Dig-It! Games has created a game with around nine hours of unique gameplay, and we decided to use the game in the place of our normal history time.  This was easily done for Firecracker because he chose to work on one site per day.  There are seven sites, but in the game, once you’ve worked through the present-day challenges, you are allowed to go into the past of the site and work through a second set of challenges.  By working through one set of challenges and characters each day, we divided this game up into about  three weeks of history study for Firecracker, and I think that’s a perfect amount of time to spend on a unit study of this nature.

Mayan Mysteries has questions to test learning

If you’re looking for some more formalized learning opportunities for your child, Dig-It! Games also has formulated lesson plans to go along with the Mayan Mysteries game, and you can always you use them to help your child bring the learning into the real-world.

My Opinion on This Product

I really liked the format and the setup of this game.  Firecracker considered it fun and looked forward to spending time with it each day.  However, there was so much content coming at him that we proceeded through it more slowly than he might have liked to so that he had more time to absorb the lessons he was learning each day.

As a homeschooling parent, if I were going to use this program for history, I would have liked to see parent reports or get an email explaining to me what concepts he had covered and his scores on the different sections.  Because we were reviewing the product, I would often watch Firecracker play, and so I got to see the impressive way that the calendar and mathematics (as well as archaeology) were incorporated throughout the program.  It was a truly educational and fun experience.

Translating Glyphs

I also hope that Dig-It! Games develops more of their games for online usage because Firecracker was looking for more of their games to play and realized that all the rest of the games were just iOS, so he’ll only be able to play them on his grandmother’s iPad.  When I realized that he was looking for more of the games to play, I knew that this program passed, not just the educational test, but also the fun test.

So, if you’re looking for a fun and educational game for your middle school student, go check Dig-It! Games out.  You might find them playing and learning a lot.

Dig-It! Games ReviewCrew Disclaimer

It Doesn’t Always Grow the Way I Expect

This year the Community Bible Study group that I’m involved with is studying the gospel of Matthew this year. ( I consider it fair warning to let you know that I’ll probably be posting about Matthew frequently on the blog over the next few months.) This week we had our first day of training, and as a children’s teacher, I sat in and listened to my children’s director give a devotional on our children using Matthew 13.

She talked about how the children in our classes were the soil and that we were planting and cultivating the seed in their lives.  Then, she said the most amazing thing that blew me away.

First, she gave an example.  She said that she and her husband had had tomato plants and that they learned how to take care of them and had done exactly what they were supposed to.  She described their excitement when the tomato plants began to bear fruit.

Then, she gave another example.  She had gotten some pots of flowers and had cared for them exactly the way she was supposed to.  To her shock and horror, however, the plants had shriveled up and wilted.  She thought they were dead and gave up, walking by her pots of dead plants each day.  Then, one day she noticed that a stalk was growing up in the plant that she thought had died.  It wasn’t the life she had expected when she had been cultivating the plants.  It wasn’t the results she had looked for.  However, something was growing in the soil that she had written off.

She used this example to remind us not to give up on watering and cultivating our students with God’s word, even when we didn’t feel like we were getting the results that we’d like to have.  After all, God might be doing a work in our students that we just didn’t see yet.  After all, Galatians 6:9 says:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

At the same time, as I was sitting there, I began thinking about all the situations I’d become discouraged with at seeing what I felt like was no spiritual growth in the children I was teaching or the ladies I was working with.  Sometimes, I’ve even found myself in the situation where I’ve wondered if teaching was worth the effort.  (Ministry can be just as wearying to the soul as any other job/task.)  God also, as I was sitting there, gave me I Corinthians 3: 5-9.

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

I was deeply reminded that the increase in a person’s spiritual growth is not my burden, and I had been taking it on as such.  I was also reminded that the growth may not be anything like what I was expecting or may not look like what I was hoping.  After all, each person’s faith is vibrantly their own.  So, instead, I should be reminded to just do my part and pray to the lord to give the increase.  In his own way.  In his own time. And for his own glory.

It Doesn't Always Grow the Way I Expect

If you’re interested in learning more about the Parable of the Soils, I’ve written more about it here:

This Week

Last week was a very fun week for our family.  We started out at Kid’s Club.  Kid’s Club is a very informal, once a month co-op.  There’s fun and games, a little lesson and an art project.  It’s exactly the kind of club that I want the children to participate in. This month’s theme was “Bubbles.”  We saw some liquid nitrogen fun and we played a couple of games.  Then, we made wonderful pictures with bubbles that had been dyed with food coloring.  The end result was just beautiful.

Kids club

On Saturday, Hubby and I just had a strong desire to take the kids out and go “do something.”  So, we ended up going to monster mini golf.  It was a really cool place where you played putt-putt in the dark, with loud retro 80s and 90s music, and it was decorated in a very macabre Halloweenish vibe.  The girls didn’t want to pose because all the stuff was “too creepy,” but the boys posed for me.  Everyone really enjoyed the game and we had a great family outing.

Monster Mini golf

We read a bunch this week.  Most of what we read were picture books, but we also read two Roald Dahl books, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and Esio Trot.  I wasn’t crazy about either one, but the children seemed to really like them.


We continued to use our subscription to Super Teacher Worksheets.  I’ve been mostly using the Alphabet worksheets for Monkey and Owlet because they can use a good, solid going over of their alphabet in preparation to get more serious with their phonics book soon.

I’ve also been using some phonics worksheets with Rose.  This week we started working on /ch/.  I’m thinking I need to seriously go back and break her phonics work into baby steps to help her with her reading.

Super Teacher Worksheets

I pulled out WriteShop A out this week.  (I reviewed it last year when I used it with Rose and Firecracker for a little while.)  This is one that I decided that I’m gently going to guide the little kids to work through once or twice a week in a very informal kind of way.  Of course, the older kids thought my “strange pets” writing with the little kids sounded fun enough that they’ve wanted to participate this week too.

Write Shop

Firecracker is still reviewing Stinky Kid Math.  We worked more on coordinate graphing, and we started working a little on addition towards the end of the week.

Stinky Kid Math

The other three kids worked on CTC Math this week.  (You can read my review here.)  They’re enjoying it so much that the kids are doing math almost every day.  The lessons are short and painless, and they love earning the rewards.  I’ve been printing them out and making each child a book of math rewards for my records, but Monkey loves flipping through his book of rewards.

CTC Math

Hubby has been continuing to read through the Bible to us every night.  We’re now in Ezekiel, and my collage has two pictures from that.  The first is one of Firecracker’s cartoons from the end of Jeremiah.  I also have a picture of Owlet sitting beside her Dad with her picture book opened up “reading” beside him.

Owlet has had a little bit of a head cold this week, so she’s taken a couple of short naps.  She’s still so little and sweet looking when she naps. :-)

The little kids also worked on some La La Logic. (You can read my review here.)  They worked on a sequencing worksheets and did some online sets of logic problems.

Firecracker’s still taking his Fascinating Chemistry.  Since it’s geared toward high school students, I honestly couldn’t say how much I thought he was retaining.  However, he is awfully excited about chemistry, elements, atoms and molecules and it’s all been spurred by listening to Dr. Marulies’s lectures.

We started working through a book and a study guide on Lottie Moon this week.  I took a snapshot of the timeline we’re keeping on the important things that happens in Lottie’s life.

We also continued working through our Veritas Press Old Testament and Ancient Egypt this week.  We learned about Isaac’s birth and sacrifice.  One of our cool things this week was that we got to print out this map of all the hills around Jerusalem.  It was a good reality check for me on how the land looks around the city.


I think that about does it for this week.  There’s been a little bit of Mayan Mysteries and we had our first training day of the year for Community Bible Study.  We didn’t get half the things done that were on our list of things to do, but I’m happy with all that we accomplished.  All four kids are fully engaged in our days and that’s been a goal of mine for a couple of years.

You may notice that my blog has been a little less active over the past week.  Now that I’ve gotten busier with all four of the children, I’m finding that I have less time to write.  I have some great products that I’ll be reviewing in September, but I had a space right here at the end of August with fewer reviews and deadlines, so I’ve been taking the opportunity to spend a little less time in front of the computer.  I doubt that my blog will be very quiet for very long :-D

Caring for My Brother

As a parent, I’ve found that some of the most problematic relationships for my children to work with are those with their own siblings.  After all, the kids are together all day, playing (and arguing) and trying to live together.  Your close relationships can be bumpy and filled with times where it’s a struggle.  Still, I want to encourage them to love each other, so I found a story to share with them about putting their siblings’ needs before their own.

Caring for my Brother

It’s an older story, so I’m probably going to tell it badly, but here’s my best go at telling you the story.  I originally found it in The Children’s Book of Home and Family, so if you’re looking for a nice illustrated version, this is my source.  Here goes the story:

There were two brothers who worked a common field and mill.  Each night, as they finished work, they would divide their grain up evenly so that each could carry his share home.  One brother was single, but the other brother had a wife and a large family.  Each brother started to think about the other.

The single brother realized that the brother who had a large family might need more grain to be able to support and care for his family.  So, he devised a plan to help make sure that all the mouths were fed.  He started creeping across to his brother’s grain stores at night and depositing some extra grain into his brother’s share so that his brother’s family would not go hungry.

Around the same time, the older brother began to be concerned about his younger brother.  He realized that, without a wife and children, his brother had no one to care for him in his old age.  He decided that he needed to start taking some of his grain and putting into his brother’s stores so that his brother could have extra wealth put away to take care of himself in his old age.

So, both brothers were sneaking around in the middle of the night to each other’s houses to secretly give each other grain.  Surprisingly, when they got back to their own grain storage each night, they would find that their grain stores were just as full as they had left them.  Although they had no explanation for this, they continued to sneak across to each other’s storage to give them grain each night.

One night, as they were on their nightly visits, they accidentally met up with each other between the two granaries and realized what each other was doing.  They embraced each other, and as the legend goes, God was watching on and said, “This is the spot–the holy place–the place of love where my temple shall be built.”

I told this story to my children with the intention that is was for them.  They should learn to consider their brother’s needs before their own.  Then, I encountered it again in the book Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? and realized that God might have drawn me to the story for myself.  I thought of my own selfishness, my own need for my needs to be met, and I could have cried.  After all, the love of God dwells in you when you love your brothers, and I felt as if I had failed.

So, I’m practicing loving my brothers–starting with the ones in my home and working my way outward.  After all, loving your brothers should begin with the ones you’re closest too, just like my children should start with their earthly brothers and sisters (and me and their Dad) and work their way out into the greater world.