Thursday, February 16, 2017

Hearing His Voice

You know what's hard? Following the Lord.

How do you know what you are hearing is HIS voice? Well first we need to be careful to do ALL His commandments as we are told in Deuteronomy 28:1. We also need to be sure to be practicing wisdom ( Ps. 111:10) so that we have a good understanding of Him. But certainly, we need to remember, that we have a perfect example in Christ. We have all been called and His example is there, in the Word, for us to follow in His footsteps (I Pet. 2:21).

In order for us to hear Him we need to know Him.  An important step to help knowing Him include being in His Word -- daily. So each day we are to get to know a little bit more about Him, His character, His desires, His rules. Each word in the Scriptures are made for us to know just one more tidbit about Him to help us become like Him. One way to read the Scriptures and study them is by using what is called S.O.A.P. (Scripture, Observation, Application, and then Prayer).  We have just started this journey at our church as a whole. We have started our study in I Timothy and soon our sermon series will be on the same book of Scripture.

So each day as we take time reading the Word and then trying to apply it to our every day life we are learning more and more about Him and HIS ways. This is how you know HIS voice - by spending time with Him, learning about Him, and even doing what He says -- feeding the poor, taking care of the widow, teaching those around you who you work with and live near about Him by what you DO - not what you say.

Be sure to take some time today ... read with Him, be in His Word so you can HEAR Him speak to you with His voice.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Times Tables the Fun Way - A Review

Do you have children who have trouble with their multiplication tables? Yeah, I think we all do. Well my younger children LOVE Times Alive online lessons with animated songs and stories that help them learn times tables the fun way. I also had my eldest working on it, but she mostly knows her multiplication tables already. So I had her looking at it from the point of view of whether it would have helped her a while ago when she was struggling to remember them.
Times Tables the Fun Way {Review}

My two younger children have loved every minute of this review so far and continually ask to do their multiplication fun stuff daily!  This program uses a picture and story method to help with the learning and committing to memory of their multiplication facts. Each story links a math fact to a graphic picture helping you "see" the math fact in your mind. The program is focused on the facts up to 9 x 9.

I have noticed that my son (who is only in 2nd grade) is remembering the facts he's been learning more then his older sisters had in the past. When we began with this program he really only knew a few of the tables ... like 2 x 2 = 4, but that's because he knows that 2 doubled is 4. He knew a few others, but not many. Now after these lessons he knows 0's, 1's, some of his 2's and 3's. That's quite impressive for just 15 or so minutes a day for about 2 days a week.

My daughter who is 11 has been struggling with multiplication is also using this program and she absolutely loves it. She's been trying to do multiple lessons per day so I've been having to stop her a little. This program can certainly be completed in a month if you do 4 to 5 lessons per week at 15 to 20 minutes a day. The cool thing about that is that you can purchase this in monthly increments so you only have to pay for what you need, which is a fantastic draw for this type of program. The monthly subscription is just $9.95 per month (with an additional $6.95 set up fee.)

Another great thing about Times Alive is that it is completely online and you do not have to download anything to your computer. It's easy to log on from any computer pretty much from any place and the subscription can be used with by all your children. However, if you clear cookies all progress will be lost.   And although it can be used on an iPad, but you'll need the flash app. Please check that out for yourself here if that interests you since I did not try it myself on the iPad.

Oh and the progress reports ... that is how I can keep up with all of their progress and know what they've scored on the tests by telling you their percentage, the number they answered correctly, as well as how long it took them to complete the test.
Something that I find unique to this program is that you can do the lessons over and over again (except the tests), but it only keeps the last time your child did the activity not ALL the times. My kids (as you can see in the above pictures) were able to do their lesson with the use of headphones. This allowed them to work and not bother my other children and allows me to work one on one with someone else at the same time since the program is pretty easy to use on your own ... even for my 7.5 year old.

Another positive about this program is that you can print out the tests instead of having them do them online. This helps if you have a student who isn't very familiar with the keyboard on the computer you are using or if they have test anxiety. I did not have to use this feature, but I think it's a good idea to have it available.

I did notice that on the progress reports that if they got less then 100% I couldn't tell why or which problems were the issue.  That would be something I think could be an 'upgrade' with the program so as the teacher you could click on the test itself and see how your student answered the questions. Then you'd know which lessons needed more review. Check out this sample of Times Alive!

All in all I think the Times Alive program is really helping my kiddos learn times tables the fun way!  You can check out other reviews from families who have also used this program by clicking the graphic below!
Times Tables the Fun Way {Review}

Am I Under-Performing or Living a Life of Radical Sacrifice?

This past Sunday we were continuing our sermon series on Divine Mentor. There were some interesting thoughts that I have been pondering for the last few days.

One is whether as a Christian I am just under-performing ... am I just doing the minimum? If EVERYTHING we are to do is for HIS glory that includes the way I study, live, clean my house, do the dishes and laundry.

The other idea I've been pondering was that if we are in a relationship with Jesus it will require RADICAL Sacrifice. In Mark 14:5 we see that a woman (in another Gospel she is recognized as Mary) who pours out oil onto Jesus which would be equal to a year's salary in our day. Do you ... do I ... offer that type of sacrifice to the one I call Lord? He deserves lavish adoration, love and devotion.

So then why do we struggle to give Him what He deserves ... a simple daily devotion (of just 20 minutes), 10% of our income or time, being the hands and feet of Him to those we work with, our neighbors, our family?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Crockpot PIZZA??!!

Yes, you read that correctly! We are having pizza from the CROCKPOT! Did you even know that was possible? I didn't. But thankfully to Pinterest my husband found this awesome recipe and we tried it out.  It was WONDERFUL!  However, my only complaints would be that there wasn't more AND that my crockpot is round and not oblong.

So tonight after he gets home from work we get to have it again ... but I planned better.  Tonight it's just the 2 of us for dinner SOOOOO there's more to eat! LOL!

Now I'm sure you are wondering ... pizza ... in the crockpot ... no way?! But I assure you it works.  And it's even better then just pizza. It's DEEP dish pizza. With a CRUNCHY crust!

So tonight's dinner is Deep Dish sausage, sauteed mushrooms, and meatballs pizza. Doesn't that sound delicious? I can't wait!  Here's a picture of it after I got it all situated in the crockpot to do it's cooking.

Now you want to make one, right? Because you don't believe me. So here's all you really need to know. First you need pizza crust. You can use already  prepared OR make homemade OR gluten free - whatever you would like.  I used prepared because ... I had it on hand. Then you need your ingredients (cheese, toppings, sauce - which I'll explain in a bit) and voila!

So you take your dough and get it rising, proofing, thawing. Meanwhile assemble your toppings.  For the sauce we used crushed tomatoes the first time, but this time I used whole peeled tomatoes.  When I got home from the store with that can I opened and dumped it into my pot then added in some garlic powder, fresh diced garlic, and basil to taste.  I also heated it on low so that we could "wake up" the spices. After a few minutes on the heat I then used my spoon to break up the tomatoes (some I had to pull apart with my fingers) and then moved it off the heat.

Next you need a piece of wax paper and place it in the bottom of your crockpot. Then you want to take your dough and gently knead it outward and up the sides.  The BIG thing to remember is with each layer to pull up the sides of the dough (to get it to be deep dish) otherwise your toppings and such will all fall out. Then you put a healthy layer of cheese. Today we used an Italian cheese blend, but you can use whatever you'd like ... even cheddar.

Following the cheese is your toppings. I had 3 today so I put down my sliced sausage (which was leftover from last night and already cooked) and made a ring to help hold the sides out and continued around and around until it was pretty full. I wish I had taken a picture, but my hands were SO greasy from oil on the dough I couldn't. And I was the only one home at the time. :(  Then I went around the entire dough and pulled the sides up. I also added some more cheese. Because cheese makes everything better, right?

Then I placed my veggies, which were also precooked. And afterward I pulled the sides of the dough up again. Next I placed chunks of some leftover meatballs from my homemade Parmesan meatballs and pasta the other night (which was also delicious.) After the meatballs were placed I ... yes you read my mind ... pulled the sides up again!

Now comes the sauce! This was the messiest part because my dough kept trying to shrink back down. So with one hand I was holding up part of the dough while the other one was scooping some of the sauce to place on top. Now remember this is not just spaghetti sauce but chunky clumps of flavored and doctored up tomatoes. If you just dump sauce on it might get TOO wet and then cause a different outcome. So I'd stick with whole or crushed tomatoes. Meanwhile, I am pulling up the side while dumping another spoonful of my sauce. Around and around I go until I meet up with my initial spot. Then I went around a second time to make sure the dough wouldn't slide back down.

We are near to the end. The last (and most important step) is a little more of the shredded cheese AND grated Parmesean cheese on top! I covered it so my red sauce could not really be seen.  Then I sort of pulled the dough in on top of the sauce to put a cover around the edge to help prevent leakage over the top.  I then placed the lid on my crockpot and turned it on. So if you want it quickly you can put it on high for 2 to 2.5 hours or on low for 4 to 5 hours.

Then it's time to dig in! We pulled out the pizza on the parchment and placed it on a flat cooking sheet (in this case my favorite Pampered Chef bar pan) to cut it up into yummy delicious slices! Don't you just want to jump in the screen and grab this slice?

I'd love to hear if you try it and what flavor combinations you come up with!!
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