Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Litfuse Publicity: A Sensible Arrangement (Lone Star Brides Book 1) by Tracie Peterson #grow4christ

About the Book:

A Lone Star Brides book.

Marty Dandridge Olson is ready to leave behind the pain of the past.

Answering an advertisement for a “Lone Star bride,” she leaves her Texas ranch and heads to Denver to marry a man she doesn’t know.

Jake Wythe is the man waiting for her.

Burned by love, he marries now simply to satisfy the board of Morgan Bank, which believes a man of his standing in society should be wed. Together Jake and Marty agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience.

When missing money and a collapsing economy threaten his job, Jake’s yearning to return to ranching grows ever stronger, much to Marty’s dismay. But a fondness has grown between them, as well, further complicating matters.

What will happen when their relationship shifts in unexpected ways . . . and dreams and secrets collide?


Find out how to purchase a copy at Tracie Peterson’s website.


About the Author:

Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana, and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana.


Learn more about Tracie at her website.


My Opinion:

I’ve read other novels that had an arranged or a mail order marriage as part of the plot and this one was no different – the woman is widowed and she vows never to fall in love again and only wants to marry to escape.  The difference lies in the fact that the man is forced into finding a bride by his employer and he himself is also a widow and he too does not want to fall in love again.  At first I thought “great, another mail order bride novel” but I was thankful that it turned out to be more than that and it was one in which love and also faith grows and becomes part of the characters life.  I’ve read other of Tracie’s books and they are always delightful reads – and this one is no different – it was a fabulous read and one that I enjoyed using to take a break from the unpacking we’ve been doing – I read it in a very short time frame.


The characters are deep and have very real dilemnas in their lives and that is what I like, the characters didn’t just have fluff but actual substance to their beings.  I could feel Mary’s agony over needing to leave the ranch that her husband worked and then to be put into the role of a society lady where everything is done for her (there are days I would love to have a maid) and then Jake who wants to be the best at his job but still longs to own his own ranch and also give Marty a good life.  I can’t wait to read book 2 and see where Marty and Jake end up and how their lives become even more full – both with their faith, their love and hopefully a few children.  I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to read a Christian historical fiction book that is a fast read but will also stay with you for awhile afterward.


If you’d like to read what other bloggers though please visit the Litfuse Landing Page.



(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws



Welcome to the campaign launch for Tracie Peterson’s 100th book! A Sensible Arrangement launches Tracie’s new Texas-based series, Lone Star Brides, that’s sure to please. As a special treat, devoted fans will be able to catch a glimpse of several popular characters from previous series.

Tracie is celebrating by giving away an iPad Mini and hosting a LIVE webcast event on 4/29.


One winner will receive:

  • An iPad Mini
  • A Sensible Arrangement by Tracie Peterson

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 29th. Winner will be announced at the A Sensible Arrangement Live Webcast Event on April 29th. Connect with Tracie for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Tracie will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books, fun prizes, and gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of A Sensible Arrangement and join Tracie and friends on the evening of April 29th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

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Litfuse Publicity: Mom Seeks God: Practicing Grace in the Chaos by Julia Roller #grow4christ #review

About the Book:

The first months and years of motherhood can be the most challenging and disorienting of your life—and faith. When you’re surrounded by the happy chaos of children, how do you spend quiet time with God if the only quiet time you get is while you sleep? How can you demonstrate a solid spiritual life to your children if you don’t have time to pursue one yourself?

When Julia Roller discovered that her spiritual growth had been stunted by the busyness of life with her toddler, she embarked on a yearlong journey through ten spiritual disciplines: prayer, fellowship, submission, study, simplicity, silence, worship, fasting, service, and celebration. As she focused on each discipline, she discovered practical ways to observe them—even in the chaos of her every day.


You can purchase a copy at Julia’s website.


About the Author:

Julia Roller is an author and editor. Her books include Mom Seeks God (Abingdon Press), A Year with God (with Richard J. Foster), A Year with Aslan, and 25 Books Every Christian Should Read. Working with Renovaré, she has also co-authored four spiritual formation guides. She has written study guides for authors such as Desmond Tutu, Richard J. Foster, Henri Nouwen, Jenna Bush, and Rob Bell. Her articles have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, Street Spirit, Group, Rev.!, and Children’s Ministry. She and her family live in San Diego, California.


You can learn more about her and her books by visiting her website.


My Opinion:


I enjoy reading books by moms for moms who are busy and who need to find God in those spaces of times where the children are being quiet and well behaved.  I tried very hard to enjoy this book and really ‘see’ myself in it but I just didn’t – while I enjoyed the overall premise of the book I just didn’t like some of the reactions of her to her children.  She seemed very much one of those moms who enjoy sending her child away to pre-school or to other babysitting options – while I wouldn’t even join a popular moms group because of their stance on mom time and separating even nursing infants from the mom.  I love being a mom, even on the hard days, and would never wish to send my child away.


I like the way she planned to do a different way of connecting with God each month (although life got in the way and she only did 10 instead of 12) even though I don’t agree with contemplative prayer which is what she started out with and she quotes a lot from Richard Foster of whom I know nothing about his beliefs or his theology – even though most of the quotes seemed quite Biblical.  In a way I saw this as more of a book geared towards working moms whose children are in daycare or a school setting and not so much for a mom who is a homemaker and who homeschools her children and wants them to be with her.


If you’d like to read what other bloggers thought please visit the Litfuse Landing Page.



(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

Mom Seeks God by Julia Roller offers a highly relatable story and useful advice to help new moms grow in their faith as they address life changes with grace, patience, and prayer. As readers discover ten essential faith practices, they’ll learn that motherhood itself is a spiritual discipline and can be God’s most effective technique for forming a more Christ-like life.

Julia is celebrating the book’s release with a fun giveaway and connecting with moms during a live Facebook author chat.


One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle HDX
  • Mom Seeks God by Julia Roller

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 1st. Winner will be announced at “Moms’ May Day” Facebook Party on May 1st. Connect with Julia for an encouraging discussion on spiritual discipline and finding joy in the middle of motherhood. Win prizes, connect with other moms, and be inspired.

So grab your copy of Mom Seeks God and join Julia on the evening of May 1st for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 1st!

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FIRST Tour: Jenny’s Choice (Apple Creek Dreams Book 3) by Patrick E. Craig #grow4christ

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is: Patrick E. Craig


Patrick E. Craig


and the book:


Jenny’s Choice
Harvest House (2014)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***



Patrick E. Craig is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful songwriting and performance career in the music industry to follow Christ in 1984. He spent the next 26 years as a worship leader, seminar speaker, and pastor in churches, and at retreats, seminars and conferences all across the western United States. After ministering for a number of years in music and worship to a circuit of small churches, he is now concentrating on writing and publishing both fiction and non-fiction books. Patrick and his wife Judy make their home in northern California and are the parents of two adult children and have five grandchildren.

Visit the author’s website.

In the concluding novel to the Apple Creek Dreams series, Jonathan and Jenny Hershberger are settled on the farm Jenny inherited from her grandfather. But when an accident takes Jonathan’s life, Jenny and her daughter, Rachel, return to Apple Creek to live with her adoptive parents, Reuben and Jerusha Springer.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: $13.99

Publisher: Harvest House

Language: English

ISBN-13:  978-0-7369-5109-8


The Departure
Jenny Hershberger walked slowly into the room and surveyed the piles of boxes waiting to be moved out to the wagon. Her eyes turned to a heap of clothing spread across the bed. With a weary sigh she brushed back an errant curl that had escaped from her kappe. Each item she looked at seemed to have a mouth clamoring for her attention, each with a story to tell or a memory to unveil.
This will be the hard part.
She went to the pine dresser—the first big project Jonathan had undertaken after Grandfather Borntraeger began to teach him woodworking. The detailing was coarse and the lines of the piece a bit awkward, but she had loved it from the moment Jonathan moved it into their room. She remembered him standing proudly beside it as she ran her hands over the top and opened each drawer as though it were a treasure trove. She loved the smell of the linseed oil he had rubbed into the wood, and when she had spread a lace piece over the top and placed her things there, it had become a symbol of all that Jonathan had left behind from his old life and all that he had become to be with her.
Now she picked up one of the objects on the top of the dresser, a small box. A sharp, almost physical pain touched her heart as she opened the lid. Inside were several folded pieces of paper. She took one out, slowly spread it open on the dresser, and began to read.
My precious Jenny,
It’s the end of another long day here in Paradise. I’ve been in the fields since daybreak with Grandfather Borntraeger. As soon as the thaw came and the soil started to warm, we began preparing the ground for spring planting. This is the hardest work I’ve ever done, yet at the same time it is the most fulfilling. Your grandfather is a kind man, but he’s very strict and doesn’t put up with any complaining or questioning of his methods.
Since I’m so new to this, he must teach me as we work. I feel like a little boy all over again, but he’s very patient with me even when I make mistakes.
I’m beginning to comprehend so many things, especially about God and His Son, Jesus. The Bible is a wonderful book. Did you know that God made the first man out of dirt? I wonder if that’s why I feel so at home on the land. When I’m out in the fields with Grandfather Borntraeger, walking behind the plow, I feel as though my life finally means something, as if this is the most natural and real way I could ever be. As I work, I remember the words of a song I heard the Amish men singing when I first came to Apple Creek.
Let him who has laid his hand on the plow not look back! Press on to the goal! Press on to Jesus Christ! The one who gains Christ will rise with Him from the dead on the youngest day.
That’s who I want to be—the one who lays his hand to the plow and doesn’t look back!
Jenny didn’t finish reading, but folded the letter and placed it back in the box. Tears formed in her eyes as she stood alone in the room, lost in her sorrow.
A quiet little voice spoke from the doorway. Jenny turned to the young girl who stood there. She was small, with dark hair and deep, sea-blue eyes.
She has his eyes—she’s so much like him.
Jenny went to the girl and stooped down as she took the little one in her arms and lifted her into a hug. The girl softly touched Jenny’s face.
“Why are you crying, Mama?” she asked.
“It’s nothing, my Rachel,” Jenny answered. “I was only reading your papa’s letters, the ones he wrote to me before we were courting, when he lived here with your great-grandfather and learned the Amish ways. He wrote to me every day of the two years we were apart. I kept the most special letters in this box so I could read them now and again and let du lieber Gott remind me how much He blessed me by sending me your papa.”
“Is Papa happy in heaven?” Rachel asked.
“Oh, yes, my dearest; Papa is very, very happy with Jesus and all the angels.”
“Why do we have to move to another house, Mama? I like our house. What if Papa decides to come back from heaven and he can’t find us? Won’t he be sad?”
Jenny sat on the bed and set Rachel down beside her. “Papa won’t come back from heaven, darling. Heaven is so wunderbar that once you’ve gone there, you don’t ever want to come back. And we wouldn’t want to call him back to this world once he’s been with Jesus. He will wait for us there, and one day we will join him and be with him again.
“In the meantime, we’re sad that he’s gone…very sad. We must move because it’s very hard for your mama to live here without Papa. There are so many things that make me remember him, and my heart breaks again each time I see them. I need to go back to my old home and be with my mama and papa so they can help me not to feel this way. And they will help you to be happy again. Your grossdaadi can’t wait for you to come, and Mama, my mama, has prepared a special room just for you. You will love being with them. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here soon, and it will be comforting to be in Apple Creek with our family and friends for the holidays.”
“Oh, yes, Mama, I love Grossmudder and Grossdaadi. It will be nice to see them. But won’t we ever come back to Paradise?”
“Only der vollkluge Gott knows the answer to that question, my darling. Now, do you have all your things packed up like I asked you?”
“Mostly, Mama. Can you help me with the rest?” Rachel asked.
“Yes, dearest. I’ll be there in a bit, when I finish here. Run ahead.”
Rachel bounced off the bed and ran from the room. Jenny smiled as she watched her go.
She has her papa’s eyes and my bounce!
Jenny sighed again as Jonathan crowded back into her thoughts. She stood up, grabbed an empty box, and quickly put the letter box and the rest of the items from the dresser top into it. Then she folded up the lace piece, placed it on top of her other belongings, and closed the box. She set it with the others, piled the clothing on a chair by the door, and then pulled the quilt and the linens from the bed. She folded them and put them into the last remaining empty box. She surveyed the stack of boxes and then went to the closet and took out her suitcase. Carefully she packed her clothing in it and snapped the latches shut. The click of the latches echoed in the room like tiny gunshots. Finished.
She took a deep breath.
There, I’m done. That wasn’t so bad. Cousin Borntraeger can carry all this out for me and take it to the storage place. Mama said to just bring our clothes for now.
She heard boots on the front porch, and her heart leapt. Then just as quickly, reality dashed her hopes. Another deep sigh. How many times had she heard Jonathan coming up the front stoop and walking across the porch to the door? It was always such a comforting sound at the end of the day. But now…
There was a knock and then a voice calling. “Jenny? Are you ready, then?”
“I’m here, Cousin, in the bedroom. Can you help me with these boxes?”
Lem Borntraeger walked down the hall and into the room. He glanced around at the emptiness and pulled his black hat from his head.
“Jenny, are you sure this is what you want? We all want you to stay. I know it won’t be the same without Jonathan, but you have family here.”
Jenny looked at her tall cousin. He had been one of the blessings God bestowed on Jenny and Jonathan when they had come to Paradise ten years before. He had taken her into his heart from the first day they met, and after she and Jonathan married, he became their good friend and helper. She reached over and patted his arm.
“I have to go home, Lem. I need to be with my mama and papa. You will run the farm, and it will prosper in your care. For me, there are too many memories. Sometimes my remembrances of Jonathan and our days here feel like cobwebs that stick to me and hold me fast. They keep me from going on with my life. And I need to go on now or I’ll die inside.”
“Will you ever come back?” Lem asked.
“Right now I would say no,” Jenny answered. “But who knows the road ahead? We may come back someday when I can be in this house without weeping every time I turn around.” Jenny managed a weak smile.“I need to go, Lem.”
“All right then,” Lem said. “I understand.”
He stood for a moment with his hat in his hands. “Jonathan was a good man, and he was my friend. I will miss him deeply.” Then Lem put his hat back on and smiled. “It’s enough. Now let me load these boxes.”
Jenny watched him as he picked up two boxes and went out. She took one last look at the room and then turned to go.
She stopped and turned, thinking she had heard Jonathan’s voice. But it was only the echoes of unspoken longings that filled her aching heart. She went one last time to the bed and touched it softly.
“Jonathan, oh, Jonathan. You are my true love. There will never be anyone like you for me. Thank you, my dearest, for loving me so deeply. Thank you for being a good man, a wonderful husband, and a loving father to Rachel. May Gott be with you on your journey.”
Jenny stood silent for a moment and then picked up her suitcase, turned, and left the room. She went into Rachel’s room, gathered up the few remaining things that were still unpacked, and laid them in her daughter’s suitcase. Then she took Rachel’s hand, and together they walked down the hall, through the empty front room, and out onto the porch. A buggy waited for them in the driveway. She boosted Rachel up as Lem put the suitcases in the back, and then she climbed in. She nodded to the driver, who clicked his tongue and set the horse in motion.
The buggy rolled slowly down the driveway. Jenny looked straight ahead. She would not look back. But then just as the horse turned onto the main road, her resolve crumbled, and she turned. The blue two-story house stood in the middle of the harvested fields. As she looked she could see Jonathan behind the plow, waving to her as the rich soil turned and broke beneath the sharp blade. She could see his smile and his blue eyes. She could feel his strong arms around her as they stood together on the porch, looking out over the land—their land—in awe of the blessings of God. She put her face into her hands and silently began to weep. The clopping hooves beat out a slow and mournful cadence—“He’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone.”


My Opinion:


I apologize both to the author, Patrick E. Craig and the publisher, Harvest House, as I was supposed to post this tour on February 13 and the book got put at the bottom of my to-be-read pile and forgotten – I finally read it recently and am now making sure to publish the tour and my thoughts.  I’ve read the first two books, A Quilt for Jenna and The Road Home, in the series and if you look at those you’ll know I enjoyed them – a lot!  Oh how my heart ached to learn of the death of Jenny’s beloved husband and father of her daughter – she had had many heart aches in her life and this one only added to it, but thankfully she was surrounded by community and family to be loved and supported.  Jenny struggles even more as she realizes that God has given her a gift of writing, especially when a visiting bishop declares her writing too worldly and especially since the publisher is a man who has been placed under the bann in another district.


A fast read, which was great for my short time frame of reading most days – however when I was needed it was hard to put down – I read it in less than a day, quite a feat!  This isn’t a typical feel good Amish fiction book, but I enjoy that, sometimes you need a book that deals with real life – and this is it.  There is some romance involved but it doesn’t turn out at all what one would expect and I so appreciate that aspect as well.  The only draw back is that this is the 3rd book and it’s the conclusion of the series, which makes me sad as I would so love to read about Jenny’s daughter Rachel – as the book finishes she is a teenager and dealing with being Amish or being English – and I would love to see Mr. Craig delve into that a bit more and maybe create a series on Rachel’s life.  I will say that you should read this series from the beginning so you know what is going on – as there are issues from book 1 that are brought back up and to make reading it easier reading the series in order is a good way to go.



(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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History Comes Alive #fieldtrip #grow4christ

One of my favorite areas to teach my children is history – I love history – some periods more than others but I love it especially when I can make it come alive for them.  We can read about it in our books, watch movies about a time period, and do all sorts of things but unless you immerse yourself and get your hands into it then you really can’t experience it.  When a local park (that we visit quite often) held their homeschool day today I jumped on it.  We were transported back into 1896 for some real hands on history learning:

  • candle dipping – yes they really got to dip candles and even took one home.  It takes almost 70 dips to make one candle that will only burn for 30 minutes!
  • a one room school house visit – complete with McGuffey readers and pen and ink writing
  • musket firing demonstrations (I so wanted to try it but knew that would be a no-no)
  • hearth cooking demonstrations
  • there was also balloon demonstrations but we didn’t get to see that as we were wiped out after the other going ons
  • and there was supposed to be a canal presentation but we couldn’t figure out where that was but it may have been cancelled due to the snow and freezing temps.

My son helping to churn butter.


My 9 year old daughter taking her turn at churning butter.


Demonstrating a musket rifle. My son was quite taken with this and would have stayed here all day.


My son using a pen and ink to write on his book – which is printed in the print shop on various printing presses.


My 9 year old having completed her pen and ink writing.


The only picture I was able to get of my photo-phobic oldest daughter.


I have some pictures of them dipping candles but there are too many other children who I don’t know and don’t want to publish their pictures and cropping it is out of the question – so those will have to do.  The woman in my header pic is holding a huge chunk of beeswax which is what they melt to make candles – taper candles cannot be made in molds or they’ll stick.  The molds were expensive as is the elderberry wax used to make the tapered, molded candles so most used dipped beeswax candles.  We all agreed it was a fun day – and of course I got my fill of history for this week.


(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Kregel Tour: Canyon of Danger AND River of Peril (Goldtown Adventures 3 & 4) by Susan K. Marlow #grow4christ #bookreview

About the Book:

Jem Coulter’s pa, the sheriff of Goldtown, is away on a trip to deliver a prisoner to Sacramento, and he has left Jem in charge of the ranch-along with Aunt Rose, that is.

No sooner is the sheriff gone then trouble starts-a dead calf, a mysterious stranger, and then Pa’s horse, Copper, and his prize rifle are stolen. And Pa’s deputies seem unconcerned. Jem and his cousin Nathan find Copper’s tracks end at a dark canyon up in the hills.

Jem remembers an old Indian legend Strike-it-rich Sam is fond of retelling about people disappearing and no one ever seeing them again. What is the real story of the canyon of danger? Have thieves found the perfect hideout?

Readers ages 8 to 12 will be entertained by the adventurous spirit and historical lure in this fast-moving series that teaches about life in the post-Gold Rush days of 1860s California. Quick-paced plots and unforgettable characters make these books fun for the whole family.


About the Book:

Jem Coulter thinks his family is just on a sightseeing trip to the big city of Sacramento. Then armed bandits hold up the stagecoach for the secret stash they’re carrying: gold for the Union Army fighting the distant Civil War! Suddenly war isn’t nso far away; it’s right there on the road to Sacramento, with Jem’s father, the sheriff of Goldtown, fighting against the rebel army’s Knights of the Golden Circle.

When the family finally reaches the city, they think they’re safe at last. Setting out to see the sights, Jem, his sister Ellie, and their cousin Nathan make a new friend. But is Henry the pal they think he is? With a father who is a die-hard Confederate, could Henry be in cahoots with the thieves?

River of Peril gives readers ages 8 to 12 the fast-moving, exciting adventure they’ve come to expect in this series, as well as a glimpse into the history of post–Gold Rush and Civil War life in 1860s California, with stagecoaches, steamboats, stowaways–and lots of gold!


Canyon of Danger and River of Peril can be purchased at Kregel (follow the links) they are $7.99 for physical copies.


My Opinion:

To say that we are Susan K. Marlow fans in the house would probably be an understatement – I reviewed book 1 in the Goldtown Adventure series last year on the Schoolhouse Review Crew and I’ve read others like the Circle C Beginnings.  In order to get this review up I didn’t have the chance to read these out loud to my three children,  I know my son is going to enjoy these next books (that reminds me, I need to buy #2!) because of the adventures of Jem.  Geared for boys, girls would also enjoy them as Jem has a sister, Ellie, who likes to join in on all the adventures.  I read each book in just about an hour – so they make a quick read, although when reading out loud it takes me longer as I become very relaxed while reading and get sleepy and even as an adult I was on the edge of chair while reading.


While there is suspense it’s not enough that it would make a child fearful and of course Jem is surrounded by a loving father and a doting aunt that helps explain rough situations and also helps them get found when lost.  There isn’t a lot of faith involved, while Jem does say a few prayers, the books are not chock full of the Gospel or being an evangelistic tool – although unbelievers may see Christ through reading the books.  Jem’s dad and his aunt’s faith are evident and do shine through – only one issue bothered me about the book and that is when Jem and his cousin skipped Sunday School to go try to find Jem’s missing horse and there was little consequences involved.  Given the time of the book this would not have been something that his aunt, his father or the Sunday School teacher would have let slide without even a word given.


Again, we are Susan K. Marlow fans and these books will be on my bookshelf for a long while as all three children, even the one who is too old, will enjoy reading them.  Short and fast paced these books are awesome for the boy in your life who needs a good, Christian boy – albeit a fictional one – to look up to and your girl will enjoy Ellie’s sense of adventure while also recognizing her brother as a protector.  If you’re a homeschooler like me you’ll like the added fact that you can download a free study guide for each of the books on Susan’s website – or if you don’t want to download and print they can also be purchased if you’d like to take the books a step further than just reading.



(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws



Crew Review: Curiosity Quest DVD #hsreviews #grow4christ


One item in our homeschool is the use of DVDs and they come in handy when we need a break from our textbooks or because a child is sick or because I may be feeling under the weather – DVDs truly come to the rescue.  So when Curiosity Quest agreed to send two of their DVD combo packs I know my children would enjoy them, especially if it would get them out of school for a day.  These DVDs are shows that have aired or do air on PBS, check your local listings, however we had not heard of the show before so we were in for quite an experience with the DVD Combo Pack – Produce and the DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea.  What is great about these DVDs is they are for ages 7 through 14 and they really do keep the attention of both the younger child and the older ones – all three of my children found something to engage them while watching, quite a feat with all the different viewing tastes in the house.



I’m going to go over the Swimmers of the Sea DVD pack first – as that seemed to be my children’s favorite – they are huge animal lovers.  My 9 year old daughter was especially excited to watch the episode dealing with penguins – she has been fascinated by these non-flying birds since she was a young child.  These also went along great with a science curricula we finished about swimming creatures, so if you’re looking for a supplement with your current science dealing with ocean animals or swimming animals this would be a great place to start.  During this pack you’ll ‘visit’ a salmon hatchery, an aquarium, and the Sea Turtle hospital in Florida.  Joel Greene, the host in the episodes is very upbeat and engaging through out the entire episode, which helps in keeping the children’s attention, including those with short attention spans.  My only issue with this one was during the turtle visit it was mentioned that turtles have been around since the dinosaurs and are over 100 million years old.  Even with that this is a DVD we will watch again and again, and it opened up discussion as to why we don’t believe in evolution or a million of year old earth.



I’m surprised at times by how little we know regarding how our food makes it to our tables, now my children have seen me garden, but at the grocery store there is quite a bit of disconnect from purchasing the food to how it got there.  Having a son who enjoys mushrooms fresh from the pack (after having washed them) I knew he’d be intrigued by seeing how a company, Monterey Mushrooms, grows, prepares and ships mushrooms for sale.  All my children enjoy oranges so seeing how oranges are picked, packaged and shipped so that we can enjoy them was another bit hit for this pack – and gives a new meaning as to what actually has to happen and those who make it happen, before it gets to our home.  Then we watched about cranberries – we aren’t much into them in our house, although I do enjoy the bitter juice from time to time.  Again host, Joel Greene, kept my children and I attention with his wit and enthusiasm for the education he gives in these episodes.



Each episode runs for approximately 30 minutes so each is about 1 1/2 hours total and provides a lot of great educational benefit not only to the children, but also the adults – I learned that mushroom businesses aren’t our hunting in the forests for mushrooms!  The DVDs sell for $24.95 and given that they can be enjoyed by many ages and viewed over and over it’s definitely a good bang for your buck – it seems we picked up something different each time we watched an episode.  Through out the episode there are children and adults who are asked questions like “how long do turtles live?” and they give their thoughts and then the expert is asked to give the real answer.  Also are fun facts which are some little known facts that are intriguing about the subject being discussed – although my children ran around saying fun facts in the little tune that was on the DVD.  Since these DVDs are educational and kept my children’s attention the entire time these get a huge thumbs up from me.


If you’d like to see what other homeschool parents thought about Curiosity Quest please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog.



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Litfuse Publicity: Maybelle in Stitches (Quilts of Love series) by Joyce Magnin #grow4christ

About the Quilts of Love series:

Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women’s fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.



About the Book:

Maybelle Kazinzki can’t sew. She was after all, the only girl in the seventh grade Home Economics class to sew the zipper in the neck hole of the A-Line dress they were supposed to make. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother’s house she gets the crazy idea to finish it—somehow, come heck or high water. She thinks it will help fill the lonely nights while her husband, Holden, is serving overseas during World War II.

Her recently departed mother’s quilt is made from scraps of material Maybelle traces back to her mother’s childhood, her grandmother’s childhood and her own childhood. She tries to add one of Holden’s stripes to it but the sewing is not going well and neither is her life. After receiving some harsh news, Maybelle’s faith falters and she puts the quilt away and stops trusting God. But God is faithful—no matter what. And it’ll take a group of neighborhood women armed with quilting needles to help Maybelle believe that.


Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

About the Author:

Joyce Magnin is the author of the Bright’s Pond novels, including the award-winning The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow. A member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship, Joyce is a frequent workshop leader and the organizer of the StoryCrafters fiction group. She lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

You can learn more about Joyce Magnin and her books by visiting her website.


My Opinion:

I can sympathize with Maybelle, she can’t sew and she’s afraid of that evil machine sitting in the room, I still remember the day my son bumped my sewing table which moved my hand just enough that my thumb became part of my sewing project, then came the squad, the slightly ruined project (thankfully no blood!), and pain.  Sewing instills a lot of fear and trepidation into women, not as much as long ago and more so now – but Maybelle was mortified by her teacher in front of the class and well that is just as bad as sewing your thumb to your project.  Set during World War 2, Maybelle and her friend Doris, whose husbands are fighting overseas are helping out the war effort by working in the local ship making factory as welders.  I didn’t know a lot about the home front during WW2, and some of it was sad like the women who had to leave their children in the care of others so they can earn an income to feed them.  Others were slightly comical like the word bumbershoot, which my children learned awhile ago means umbrella but we rarely or at all hear it used today.

I got pulled into Maybelle’s story right away the book sweeps you up into and it’s a fast read, a great way to unwind after a long day of unpacking, or maybe just a rainy spring day.  The conflict in the book comes from many different angles and I don’t want to give away too many spoilers – but suffice to say Doris receives bad news, Maybelle learns how to move one and live life and well new love blossoms between two unlikely characters.  I found myself laughing, getting mad (like the jealous woman who corners Maybelle after she’s chosen to sponsor a ship) and rejoicing at the the outcomes in the story.  Maybelle struggles with her faith in very realistic ways, questioning why bad things happen to good people and she also experiences anger towards the “war effort” because she just wants her husband home.

I’ve never read Joyce Magnin’s books before and I know after reading Maybelle in Stitches I will be trying to find her other books (she has written seven, two of which are middle grade readers) for both myself and my children because her writing is really good and she pulls you in.  I think the only real thing I found annoying is the constant use of “gee” or “golly” but I assume that these words are commonly used back in that time period sort of like “LOL” or “I know right?” are used today – but maybe it was slightly more annoying since I was reading it versus speaking or typing them.  Regardless, I really enjoyed this story of a time gone by and I even got a little bit of education while reading it – in my book that makes it a winner!


To see what other bloggers thought about this book visit the Litfuse Landing Page.



Don’t miss the newest Quilts of Love book, Maybelle in Stitches, by Joyce Magnin. Maybelle can’t sew. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother’s house, she gets the crazy idea to complete it.

Joyce is celebrating the release with a $200 Modcloth giveaway. Enter today for a chance to spruce up your spring wardrobe!


One winner will receive:

  • A $200 gift card
  • Scraps of Evidence by Barbara Cameron
  • A Sky Without Stars by Linda S. Clare
  • Maybelle in Stitches by Joyce Magnin

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 19th. Winner will be announced on April 21st on the Quilts of Love blog!


Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER.

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Crew Review: Supercharged Science – e-Science Learning Program #grow4christ #hsreviews

We’ve been using a science curricula that we’ve enjoyed but as my children have gotten older we’ve been looking for something less like a textbook and with more hands-on learning and I think we found that during our review period with Supercharged Science.  I was given the e-Science Premium Membership  to use with my children, although I used it mainly with my oldest daughter who is 12 and is working at a middle school grade level – however this program is for all grades, K-12, so I did have my other two use it and I’ll explain that in a bit.  There are two different ‘levels’ of programs the one is for lower elementary children K-8th and that is $37 a month but if you want all grades K-12 it is $57 a month – I was given the Premium and so was able to look at all the levels/grades available.


As I said above I was mainly gearing our use towards my oldest daughter who wanted a more hands-on approach and less textbook science curricula, yes it came along at the right time, and I let her basically run with it – choosing which subject areas she wanted to pursue.  Aurora Lipper, the creator of Supercharged Science used to work for NASA and teaches at a university, created this e-science program so that children could work with science the way real scientists and engineers do – hands-on.  Worried that you don’t ‘know’ how to teach science?  Concerned that you don’t have science brain?  No worries, Aurora has taken the worry out of science – you can chose to work along side your child or just let them work on their own as I did with my oldest.   Here is some of what you’ll get in this homeschool science program:

  • classroom style lessons and demonstrations
  • experiments, projects and activities (a lot of them, 800+)
  • textbook readings (all online so no text to buy) for the older students
  • exercises and quizzes
  • and more – if you’d like to learn more you can take a look at a longer explanation here.


So what happens after you sign  up and sign in?  Well Aurora has everything divided by both grade and subject area – so if you’re like other homeschool families, as I am, and your child really doesn’t have a grade then take a look at the subjects listed.  In the topics you’ll find everything from matter, alternative energy to thermodynamics and more chose the one or have your child chose the one they want to begin with.  My daughter chose unit 18, Biology 1 to start with and worked her way through – I told her she could chose how long each time to use the program.  It is encouraged that the students take notes as they read, watch and do through out the lessons so make sure to give them access to a notebook or something that they can use to journal their learning experiences.  My son especially liked to watch the videos with his sister and I and found the bug aspirator and the predator-prey column to be especially interesting and now that it’s warming up we’ll actually be able to do these activities and experiments.


If you’re still not sure how to fully used Supercharged Science be sure to work your way through, or if you have an older student have them begin with the getting started section which will explain more about how to get the full intended learning experience out of the program.  There are some fun and simple activities to get you started like bouncy balls and flying contraptions to give you and introduction into the whole program without being overwhelming.  Under topics there are several items of note such as new to e-science, unit 0: overview of e-science, and the scientific method which are good to watch if you’re new to Supercharged Science or need a bit of a refresher on scientific methods.



After you or your child has chosen the unit to start with – then it’s time to begin.  You can download the unit which will tell you how much time is involved depending on how many activities are completed, which lesson segments are for which grades, as well as items needed for the experiments, vocabulary and more – so it’s a good idea to download it even if you don’t plan on printing it out.  There are some lessons that have been recorded so that you can download them and listen to them if you can’t be at your computer at some point – they are in mp3 format so you can put them on a compatible device and listen on the go!  What I appreciated is I didn’t have to stand over my daughter and tell her what to do next – if your child is an independent worker this will be great, the next steps are all hyper-linked and will guide the child to the next part of the unit.  If there is something that needs to be done first they’ll be guided to do that – such as in Unit 5 there is an experiment to make a mystery toy but first they should complete the pendulum experiment – and that is noted and linked so it can be easily found and completed.


There will be other areas where the student will download activity sheets and exercises which will open in a PDF document – I found it easier to right click and open in a new window so that the Supercharge Science site was still open as well as the downloaded document – some will need to be printed while others your child could answer the questions in the journal or on a piece of notebook paper.  Another interesting feature of this program is the way you can leave comments on the experiments and Aurora will answer them for you, which also aids other parents and students who may have the same question or you can call and speak to a live person during their office hours.  The whole homeschool science curriculum is well done and very professional, my personal like about it is that the experiments are clearly explained in the videos and it’s not rushed, like I often felt when I was in a classroom, Aurora takes her time and her love of science and teaching shines through.


I’d also like to mention that Supercharged Science can be found on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ and they also have a blog.  Be sure to follow along for updates and even ways to interact with other users and comments.  Supercharged Science has also graciously given my readers (and those of other Schoolhouse Review bloggers) a chance to try out the full access to Supercharged Science for only $1 for 30 days (after which you can cancel or have your credit card billed) by using this special link or you can have access to sample experiments by following this link.


If you’d like to read what other homeschool parents though about Supercharged Science please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog.



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AHG art show check presentation #grow4christ


After several delays due to weather and the other issues that cropped up my daughter was finally able to present the check from the Art Show and Benefit that she organized and held in February.  If you’d like to read what it all entailed please visit my blog post about the Art Show and Benefit that I wrote in February.  I’m so glad that she wants to expand on it next year and chose another charity to receive the donations raised.  I was so happy to finally meet the person she’d been communicating with via email and also to see her present the check for the funds raised.



(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Book #review: Treasuring Christ: When Your Hands are Full by Gloria Furman #grow4christ

About the Book:

Grocery shopping. Soccer practice. Dirty dishes.

Motherhood is tough, and it often feels like the to-do list just gets longer and longer every day—making it hard to experience true joy in God, our children, and the gospel.

In this encouraging book for frazzled moms, Gloria Furman helps us reorient our vision of motherhood around what the Bible teaches. Showing how to pursue a vibrant relationship with God—even when discouragement sets in and the laundry still needs to be washed—this book will help you treasure Christ more deeply no matter how busy you are.


You can purchase a copy at Crossway.


About the Author:

Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four young children, doula, and blogger. In 2008 her family moved to the Middle East to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor. She is the author of Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, and blogs regularly at The Gospel Coalition and




My Opinion:


As I write this review my children are fighting, at least two of them are, and so I try to remain patient and know that at some point I will yell.  I also sit surrounded by unpacked boxes from our recent move, thinking of a long doctor appointment tomorrow to prepare for a medical procedure for my husband and a myriad of other ‘things’ that must be done in the course of my day as a homemaker, wife, homeschool mom.  I can relate to Gloria’s frustration of having a husband who has medical issues and cannot help out a lot around the house or with the children – my husband’s recent medical condition leaves me feeling some days mad, angry and frustrated – and I know it’s not his fault, or mine or the children.  I’m so glad that I took the time to read Treasuring Christ because of it’s short chapters it made it easy to read in times when I didn’t have time and to glean a bit of wisdom from her writing.

Divided into 2 parts and 11 chapters the book gives moms a way to treasure what Christ has done for us, for our children, for our husband and revel in that and relish His love for us – even when we see ourselves as failures (like when they are fighting and I yell).  As a mom of three, I don’t have as many children as some of my friends, but I still receive the “your hands are full” comment from strangers and even from family – reading the chapter about “hands full of blessings” will hopefully have me seeing the comment less for the offensive nature and for seeing what I do – my hands are full of blessings -  my son who still likes to sit next to me while I read aloud to him, my oldest who is wise beyond her years and my middle daughter who can regale me with her beautiful voice (even if that means I hear “Let It Go” for the thousandth time!).

I thoroughly enjoyed my reading of this little book, only 160 pages but big on inspiration and Scripture – which is what all moms need to focus on.  Whether it’s a half an hour at one time or 5 minutes there or 5 minutes here, we need to treasure Christ and only in Him can we be the mom’s that we need to be to our children, and even wives to our husbands.  I will be re-reading this again as well as implementing the free study guide available for the book because we all need to treasure Christ in our daily lives and know that He is there in our failures and in our success.



(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws


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