Total Christmas Makeover

The following is a review of the book Total Christmas Makeover.

Does your family have meaningful Christmas rituals? This 31 day devotional is specifically designed to help readers intentionally connect more deeply with Christ during the holiday season. The author shares questions for reflection as well as practical suggestions.

"Are you tired of just letting Christmas happen at your home-and praying merely to survive? No more! Now you and I can be absolutely intentional about embracing

all the fun, faith, family, and friendships of this amazing holy season. Melissa Spoelstra's Total Christmas Makeover gently guides us through everything seasonal around
music, food, scripture reading, extended family gatherings, serving, and especially how to rest in the midst of it all."
---Lucinda Secrest McDowell, author of Ordinary Graces and Dwelling Places

"Jesus picked a busy time of year to have a birthday! Although I am saying this in
jest, there is nothing funny about how the frantic nature of this season can rob one
of joy that Christmas represents. In her latest project, Melissa Spoelstra gives candid
and practical tools to help the overcommitted and overwhelmed put the merry back
into 'Merry Christmas.' "
---Amberly Neese, speaker, author, humorist

Do you find that you too have been caught up in the Chistmas have to's instead of the God-centered love to's? Give your Christmas a makeover with this practical approach to help your family learn what it means to truly celebrate their Savior.

In Total Christmas Makeover, author and Bible teacher Melissa Spoelstra provides ways for you and your family to turn your attention toward God's grace day-by-day as you prepare for Christmas. This 31-day devotional presents key scriptures, ideas to implement with each reading, and questions for reflection to guide you in rediscovering the meaning behind traditions we often lose sight of in the chaos. Melissa divides the book into 3 sections, focusing on the following three common elements of biblical celebrations:

  • Ritual: Special activities out of the ordinary routine were planned to help remember what God has done.
  • Relationships: People spent time together preparing special foods, eating, gathering in holy assembly, and explaining their traditions to children.
  • Rest: Regular work was to be set aside for planned times of celebration and rest from activity in order to reflect on God.
Mindfully take time to listen to how God continues to speak through the Christmas story as the Gospel narratives centered around the birth of Jesus provide encouragement and revelation concerning the love of God and his wisdom for us today.

Give your Christmas a makeover with this practical approach to help your family learn what it means to truly celebrate their Savior.
In the bustle of the Christmas season, it can be easy to get swept up in all of the things to do. But it's important to pause and remember that our priority should be to spend time celebrating Christ's birth and not forget to invite Jesus to his own party. 
Christmas is far more than a celebration of an event from long ago or a modern holiday centered around shopping. Mindfully take time to listen to how God continues to speak through the Christmas story as the Gospel narratives centered around the birth of Jesus provide encouragement and revelation concerning the love of God and his wisdom for us today.
This 31-day devotional presents key scriptures, ideas to implement with each reading, and questions for reflection to guide you in rediscovering rituals, relationship, and rest to connect you more deeply with Christ this holiday season.

About the author:

Melissa Spoelstra is a popular women's conference speaker, Bible teacher, and writer who is madly in love with Jesus and passionate about helping women of all ages to seek Christ and know Him more intimately through serious Bible study. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible Theology and enjoys teaching God's Word to diverse groups and churches within the body of Christ. She is the author of the "First Corinthians: Living Love When We Disagree," "Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness," and "Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World Bible" studies and "Total Family Makeover: 8 Steps to Making Disciples at Home" book. She lives in Dublin, Ohio, with her pastor husband and four kids.
Find out more about Melissa at http://melissaspoelstra.com.
Disclaimer: Litfuse provided me with a copy of this book for the purpose of this blog review. All opinions shared are my own.

Adaptive Scissors and Pencil Grips

The following is a review of products from The Pencil Grip, Inc with the TOS Homeschool Review Crew.  

The Pencil Grip, Inc. shared their Ultra Safe Safety Scissors and The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit for this review. There are so many helpful tools from The Pencil Grip, Inc. for improving fine motor function. We have also reviewed their Kwik Stix and Thin Stix. 

As an Occupational Therapist, I've recommended the original Pencil Grip more often than any other type of pencil grip. It is helpful for most who just need a little help to position fingers properly in a tripod grasp. But not everyone has identical needs. The Pencil Grip also offers other designs of adaptive grip tools, and they shared three of them for this review.
The Crossover Grip (pictured in green) is the first step of the 3 Step Grip Development Training Kit. The "superhero cape" design  of the finger guard (visible in the three grip picture) stops fingers from crossing over each other. 

The Pinch Grip (pictured in red) is the mid range between the two other grips shown. 
The Original Grip (pictured in blue) can be comfortably used by children and adults to facilitate a proper handwriting grip. 

Our package even included a handy chart of some frequent incorrect handwriting positions and three correct positions. You can download it for free at their website. 

All of their grips are latex free and phthalate free. 

The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors have features to help make cutting safer and easier for little hands. The sharp blades stay sharp and stay covered with the fixed safety shield. Paper has to be fed into the slot but fingers can not fit there, so they stay safe! The curved tips are yet another safety feature. The yellow training lever automatically opens after being squeezed closed. That is such a help when strength is limited. And as they get stronger and coordination improves, the spring can simply be folded in. So much thought has been put into the design of these safety scissors. 

Maybe just what your child needs to help improve their cutting and printing skills are The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors and The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit from The Pencil Grip, Inc.

The Pencil Grip, Inc. has many useful products including their Kwik Stix line. I have recommended their unique pencil grip for years as one of the most comfortable options to facilitate     a proper pencil grip. They also have weighted therapeutic toys and a weighted pen which includes a built in pencil grip on its barrel. Check out all of their therapeutic tools. 

Find them online on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  

Crew Disclaimer

Ultra Safe Safety Scissors & Pencil Grip Training Kit {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}


Scripture and a Snapshot

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. II Timothy 4:2 

     Fall here means sorting through clothes for colder weather further north as we prepare to visit my in-laws. It still feels like summer here. We don't have the bold changes of color I our leaves like we experience in the Ozarks, but we are still surrounded by beauty. 

     Thank you for joining Scripture & A Snapshot. Leave a comment with a verse that God has placed on your heart this week, or leave a link to your own post sharing a Scripture and a snapshot. Take time to visit some of the other links here and on Pinterest, too. 

Scripture and Snapshot

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Brinkman Adventures Season Four

The following is a review of Brinkman Adventures Season 4 from Brinkman Adventures with the TOS Homeschool Review Crew. 

Have you heard of Brinkman Adventures?  We were introduced to their missionary stories in season one and we were all excited when we received Brinkman Adventures Season 4 to review. There are twelve episodes in this season totaling nearly six hours. We received a digital download. It is also available as a boxed set of CDs. 

The episodes continue chronologically from the previous seasons and are numbered accordingly:

37 A Paradise Lost
38 Remember Nhu
39 Aisha’s Fear
40 Heart Song
41 The Crashed Kitchen
42 Crisis In The Congo
43 The Mysterious Palm Feller
44 War of the Raccoons
45 The Five Guys
46 Toughest Man
47 Cambodian Quest
48 What Brings Us Together

The Brinkman family is a missionary family who share about the exciting things that happen to them and other missionaries as they share the love of Jesus around the world. Brinkman isn't their real name, and everything shared isn't always just like it happened. The real situations require some secrecy at times. But true events inspire their stories. 

One of my daughters shared "Sometimes the stories are about the Brinkmans. They include funny events such as the little brother drawing all over himself with markers, or "helping" make eggs for breakfast. Sometimes the focus isn't on the Brinkman family, but on friends or missionaries that they know. I like that the adventures are recorded by the real members of the family."

These audio dramas include sound effects (crickets just like outside our windows) and different voices for different characters which add another layer of realism to the stories. 

In the first story, the Brinkman family planned to host their first Missionary Adventure Camp. The circumstances affecting that camp were over the top emergency after scare after tragedy. The dam broke, devastating enough, but through every situation, Jesus love was shared. They taught the other missionaries at the camp about being flexible when unexpected events happen. 

The narrator now shares which parts of the drama are true. At the missionary camp, the missing guest speaker shared one of those true stories. He quoted Galatians 2:20 which my daughter chose a few years ago as her senior verse and etched it on her Bible cover.

He shared of missions started to help prevent girls from being sold into slavery in Cambodia. 

There is a brand new Brinkman-- baby Micah! 

Another adventure took us to a middle eastern country where faith in Jesus is shared with circumstances almost unimaginable in our country. 

Season four covers so many different countries and situations. My son liked the story of the ride to the Congo. 

Have you ever felt the Holy Spirit prompt you to stop what you were doing and pray for someone? Have you ever been in a hard situation and later find out someone was praying for you right at the same time that you were crying out to Jesus? Prayer is powerful and effective! These missionary stories show that clearly. 

There is so much in these adventure stories that we can relate to. One of the places that The Brinkman family visited in the Congo has a portable sawmill like my husband has been dreaming about. Visiting tradesmen use the trees that they cut and mill to make desks and other furniture to be used there. They also discussed conservation efforts and how they plant more trees for the future. 

I especially enjoyed when they sang together. 
"There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain." 
We enjoy the truths shared in these stories, the missionary testimonies, and the family adventures. "Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world." These stories show how God can control circumstances and how He is absolutely greater than the power of the witch doctor. I think any family would enjoy learning about modern missionaries and the constant power of God as shared in these audio dramas. 

Find them on Facebook, and be sure to tell them hi from Jennifer at A Glimpse of Our Life. 

Crew Disclaimer

Brinkman Adventures Season 4


Scripture and a Snapshot

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that make it an atonement for the soul. Leviticus 17:11 
     Scroll back one post to enter my latest giveaway and also read just a little more about this picture. 

     Thank you for joining Scripture & A Snapshot. Leave a comment with a verse that God has placed on your heart this week, or leave a link to your own post sharing a Scripture and a snapshot. Take time to visit  some of the other links, too, as well as our group Pinterest board for Scripture & A Snapshot. 

Scripture and Snapshot

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The Answer CD by Jeremy Camp

The following is a promotional review and giveaway of The Answer CD by Jeremy Camp and FlyBy Promotions.

Jeremy Camp's latest CD is filled with Words of life, truth, and hope.

"Jesus, You are the answer." Yes! 

The words in these songs speak to my heart. 

  1. Word of Life
  2. My Defender
  3. The Answer
  4. Storm
  5. My Father's Arms
  6. Never Stopped Loving
  7. Tell the Whole World
  8. Heaven's Shore (Forevermore)
  9. Carriers
  10. Love So Great
  11. Awake O Sleeper

My daughter and I listened to these powerful songs together as we drove to a doctor's appointment. I loved hearing the verses about healing, both physically and spiritually. 

I ended up getting a blood transfusion after that appointment last week. I covered most of the picture above for those of you who are as squeamish about needles and such things as I am. As someone else's blood started flowing through my veins, color returned to my skin and energy to my body. I didn't completely realize how much I needed it until after I got it. I am so much stronger now! How much more life altering is the precious blood of Jesus! 

The song My Defender is just one of my favorites: 
"I will trust you when is seems that there's no hope, and I hold tight to the promise you have given... and I am confident... I'm saved by the blood of Jesus. I know You will not fail. The weapons formed against me cannot prevail."

The only song we had heard before listening to the cd was the first one (Word of Life) which has been on the radio. The entire CD is fabulous! 

"I wanna tell the whole world about Jesus."

Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a copy of this CD for yourself!

“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 a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification. 



The following is a promotional review and giveaway post for the inspirational movie SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME.

“Nobody can help everybody, but everybody can help somebody.” Words of wisdom from a homeless drifter; words that never would be shared with the world if not for a wayward husband, a forgiving wife, and an unforgettable true story that brought the three of them together.
With more money than they could ever possibly need, Ron and Debbie Hall have everything they could ever want … except for a loving marriage. When Ron’s unfaithfulness is brought to light, Debbie invites him to stay—as long as he remains truthful and does what she asks of him. But when her request includes serving the homeless at an inner-city rescue mission, Ron would prefer to write a large check instead.  Guided by her faith and spurred on by the dream of a homeless man she senses will change their city, Debbie befriends a disenfranchised man named Denver. More surprisingly, so does Ron. Despite vast differences, their lives begin to intersect and they all are changed … forever. 
Theatrical Release
Friday, 10/20/17, nationwide.
Ticket info here.

With themes of faith, marriage, reconciliation, serving, unity, friendship, and purpose, you can't help but be inspired by SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME. 

Giveaway: Enter below for a chance to win 2 Fandango movie tickets to see SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME. 

Disclosure: This blogger was offered an extended sneak peek to review and share. LEV3L 
is providing fandango movie tickets after the movie is released to the blogger and giveaway winner. No other compensation has been received. All opinions shared are my own or that of my family. 


August and September Glimpses

Emily and Joseph are selling RADA Cutlery for a 4H fundraiser. If you order through this link, it supports our entire Amite County 4H: https://www.helpourfundraiser.com our login is 507334, and our password is amite4h , and it will be shipped directly to you. Please message me if you do order direct ship so we can send you a thank you note. 

We received a thank you from a vendor--- an exciting box from Rush Revere!!! 

Heather came up with a creative way to involve little girls in dresses she makes for them:

Happy birthday!! You'll always be my baby! 

Did you look for crescent shaped light between leaf shadows during the eclipse? That was a fun an educational day, a nice change of pace.  

In the Cuts By Laser shop we are making some new embroidered ornaments. Lightning hit the laser when it hit our modem, by my birthday girl and her Pappy have been working hard to get it running again. 

Homemade ravioli

Her first college tour! 

The girls and I went to a ladies retreat, and Em got to meet Laura Story who led us in worship. Allison Allen was the encouraging speaker. 

Grease Money, more sweetly dubbed Lizzy instead of Greasy, died. No matter how old they get, my kids' tears make me cry. 

Circumstances aren't always what we want, what we plan...I remind myself of the verse about God providing our needs, that it specifically says needs and not wants. 

And sometimes, my husband completely surprises me. These beautiful roses remind me of our wedding. 

We got to see the movie All Saints at the theatre. I shared previews about it on my blog, but seeing it-- wow! The true story behind this church that becomes a community is amazing. It is the story of races and generations, of people coming together as a church beyond the building.

The girls enjoyed another day of the annual PlayDat practice then performance with the combined community and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra concert. A friend joined them for the first time this year, and we picnicked and visited with the her family during the practice. Of course, the trip to New Orleans required a stop at Cafe Du Monde. 

On the way home from Beta Club induction, we planned a typical meal, something easy to throw together when we got home. Three packages of frozen pre-made ravioli boiled in about 6 quarts of homemade chicken broth already made in the IP and topped with generous sprinkles of my favorite "Everyday Seasoning" from Trader Joe's made a huge pot full. Everybody liked it. (Yay! Happy family! Insert balloons and confetti.) Late at night the kids and my husband usually take turns putting up leftovers. The next day, more road-running was left to my husband who came home from work early to take two of our kids to shooting sports practice. At nearly 3:30, my oldest daughter and I had still not stopped for lunch, and I suggested leftover noodles. She giggled and told me there were none left. None! I was shocked! I cook big, and there are certainly times we don't have leftovers, but that was a huge pot of food. Let me brag on my kiddos with the next picture of them with their new Beta pins but point out their difference so visible here. There are over five years of difference in the ages of these two, and the oldest one is not the tallest one. So, moms of growing boys, please tell me how you keep their ever growing stomachs full. 

I used to write down quotes that I liked from books I read. Now my reading is on my kindle, more often than not, so I highlight and take screenshots to remember them.

My daughter made lipgloss! The first container she gave me (not pictured) was colored with hibiscus. These have a light lavender scent. They both feel amazing and stay on my lips! 

Reviews in August included this delicious Everyday Cooking cookbook, two family friendly movies, our family's favorite algebra book, other TOS Homeschool Review Crew reviews, and these two New Leaf Press reviews. In September I shared a Dayspring Christmas Preview and our favorite review was Captain Bayley's Heir

As always, join the weekly Scripture and a Snapshot link up here.