"I am the true vine and my father is the gardener... No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."
Remember Abraham, a man filled with God's amazing promises and chosen to be the father of a great nation... except he had no children. After years of waiting, and only getting pushed further away from the promise land, he decided to try to help God out with his plan and had a child with his wife's servant. This decision only led to more pain, heartbreak and created a counterfeit compared to what God truly wanted for his children.
When we abide in Jesus, the true vine, we put his calling above our desires, his truth above our feelings and his thoughts above our imaginations. Then, we can bear the most incredible fruit that will bless the nations of the world!
How do you know if you’re abiding in Jesus? Well, look around in your life to see if the fruit of the spirit is growing on your vine: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)
If you’re lacking in a certain area, then spend some time asking God about how you can abide more deeply in Him and find out what area needs to be pruned. If you need more love, ask God to help you see others through his love and truth. If you need more joy, cast your worries on the Lord and allow him to carry them for you, you need more peace, guard your spirit with the truth from the word of God. When we lack wisdom, God is faithful to provide the wisdom we ask for so that we can glorify the Father more and bear good fruit.
One thing I love about life is that when you think you've mastered something, you're usually proven wrong. I've dealt with a handful of serious health issues over the last few years, and managed through faith to see some incredible healings and miracles (Read some testimonies here and here).
Recently I received news that some blood tests weren't normal, my thyroid is under functioning and protein and calcium levels suggest a tumor. I took the news well, for the first 7 days, but while I waited for further testing, my faith began to flail around like the arms of a person about to drown. To make matters worse, I had a terrible dream which confirmed all of my deepest fears and made me certain that death was a few months away. That dream did more damage than any WebMD article could and I was shaken.
It's difficult to conform bad situations to the goodness of God. When decaying life hands us more dirt, it's easy to feel like a victim with an absent Father. But our circumstances won't ever change heaven's truth. God is good and there's no darkness in Him.
Today, I head to the Dr. for more testing, and my heart is resting firmly on the notion that as I wake, God is good. And when I sleep, He'll be just as good. There's no path I could ever walk where my savior won't accompany me, and he was more mercy and grace than I could comprehend- no test results have the power to change that!
These last few days have surely been a reminder of James 1:2-4,
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Though this isn’t a path I’d chose, I can chose to glorify God at each step of the way and I’m trusting that He will “Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. (Isaiah 40:4).
We appreciate you adding your faith to ours during this time!
Oh, and this song has so blessed me recently! Check it out if you need some encouragement!
I still have flashbacks of choking back tears in a classroom, spelling “l-i-g-h-t-i-n-g” for the 10x time after failing a second-grade spelling test. Comprehending spelling did not come easily for me, and to be honest, I still rely heavily on Grammarly and spellcheck. When I saw my son struggling in the same way that I had, I wanted to find a comprehensive way to instill confidence and comprehension in his spelling studies before any tears could be shed, so I was thrilled to discover that Memoria Press offered a program that focused on spelling: Simply Classical Spelling Book One: Step-by-Step Words and Simply Classical Spelling Book Two: Step-by-Step Words.
We started our spelling studies by using Simply Classical Spelling Book One: Step-by-Step Words. Book One introduces 7 to 8 spelling words per week. The first 5 the words follow a letter pattern such as CVC, silent e, plurals, consonant blends, consonant digraphs, and possessives. Additionally, there are 2-3 “words to know” which are featured. Many of the “words to know” are sight words that beginner readers might be familiar with such as “done” or “again,” but they may not know how to spell them independently. Each week, students work on memorizing their spelling words through different, multi-sensory, activities (I’ll break it down day by day below).
The next level, Simply Classical Spelling Book Two: Step-by-Step Words is designed for more advanced grade school spellers. Student’s working in this book should be familiar with (‘s), consonant blends, and vowel teams. They’ll work on their spelling words 4 days per week (potentially 5 days if you choose to review missed words), and they’ll play some fun and simple games that help with word familiarity and memorization.
Students begin the program based on their current ability. I found that my son was able to correctly spell the first ten lessons, so we began with Book One, lesson eleven. We used Simply Spelling four days a week and typically spent 15-20 minutes on each lesson. On Monday, we’d look over the words that we’d be studying that week and I’d have my son search for any letter patterns that he might see. Then, he would practice writing the words in the space provided in the workbook.
Tuesday, we’d review the words we’d learned the previous day and then practice writing them in a multisensory way with chalk, letter tiles, sand, and cards.
Wednesday, or “Write-High Wednesday” as the program calls it, we’d spell the words verbally and rhythmically (sometimes clapping), and then write them high up in the air with our fingers. Thursday was the official spelling bee day (my son liked pretending to be Charlie Brown, must have been from a movie I missed?) and he’d stand by the chalkboard and say each word and then spell it.
When we first began the program, I didn’t even know how I’d remember our weekly spelling words, I seldom remember why I went into the kitchen, but I was pleasantly surprised that just a bit of diligence and consistency sharpened my brain. My son caught on more quickly than I did, and he’d remember the words without looking at the book, and soon had an “aha” moment when he realized that he could spell the words more easily when he pictured them in his mind.
Simply Classical Spelling really helped us to be intentional and thorough in our spelling practice. Learning a few new words each week helped instill confidence in my son and his ability and allowed us to avoid any frustration and tears. The program was also simple to jump into and required no prep for book one, and simple prep with note cards for book two. No additional materials were required. I’d highly recommend this for kids 6-9 who would like to gain a solid grasp on spelling, increase phonetic awareness, and auditory comprehension!
The Homeschool Review Crew checked out different material from Memoria Press, so be sure to read their thoughts on many more amazing products!
One of my favorite ways to save money on every day grocery purchases is by using Ibotta. Ibotta is a rebate program that rewards you for buying things you probably are already buying. You simply register, add the offers to your account, and upload a receipt after you buy the item. In the last two weeks, I’ve gotten $40 back from grocery shopping. One of the best parts is that you can still use coupons, and get a store discount, PLUS the Ibotta rebate.
Here’s a score from last week that I found at our local Shoprite:
StonyField Yo Baby Yogurt- on sale 2 for $7
Then, I used a $2 manufacturer’s coupon
Then, topped it off with a $0.75 Ibotta rebate for each package.
Total spent after coupon and rebate: $3.50 for TWO packs
Another awesome deal I found at Shoprite was Udi’s Gluten Free Bread on sale buy 5 for $14.44- then I used an Ibotta rebate and saved $1.30 PER bread so I got back $6.50. Total spent was $7.94 for FIVE loaves of Udi’s Bread. Normally, each one is over $5 so my freezer is stocked.
If you sign up for Ibotta: tell them I sent you with my referral code rojqsja and we both win!
Another coupon app I love is Fetch Rewards. Fetch rewards you with points for uploading your receipt (which is essentially something I’d trash 5 minutes after it printed). Every time you upload, you get points, and then you get bonus points it you purchase any of their specific brands. Sometimes, the bonuses will even equal the full value of the item purchased, so you essentially can try new products for free. The points can be redeemed for cash through various gift cards. My game plan: upload all my receipts throughout the year, and then cash out for an Amazon Gift card when it’s time to start Christmas shopping. In two weeks, I’ve earned $5 without going out of my way at all, so I’m optimistic that I might be earn $60 by Christmas. Talk about turning receipt trash into treasure!
Tell them I sent you and get referral bonus points just for signing up! W6JWR
The next app I use is Checkout 51
Checkout51 is like Ibotta, but has fewer offers. One of the biggest bonuses is that it’s super simple to link all of your rewards cards to your Checkout 51 account, so you don’t have to take pictures of your receipts. Simply add the offers you’ll likely buy, purchase them, and stack rewards. After hitting the $20 in saving threshold, you can redeem your cash. In two weeks, I’ve earned back $1.50, BUT a penny saved is a penny earned!
The final app that you MUST have if you shop at Target is the Target Cartwheel App. The app allows you to load coupons (a max of 50) and special deals, then you simply show them your smart phone at checkout. My FAVORITE ways to score are to take advantage of their deals that offer a $5 reward card after your purchase. Last week, they had a deal where if you spent $20 on meat, you get a $5 reward card. Then, they had a coupon to save additionally on ground meat and chicken. We walked away with an amazing deal on something that we constantly are buying, plus a reward card to use on the next trip. The Krazy Coupon Lady can keep you up to date on all the ways to score big at Target if you’re worried about missing a deal!
How do you like to save money on groceries? Am I missing out on any other ways to save?? Tell me in the comment section!
Southbury, Connecticut is a quintessential New England town with historic churches built before the American Revolution, scenic nature preserves, and fun thrift shops. Southbury was founded in 1673 by religious dissidents from Stratford who purchased the region from the Native Americans. Today, it offers charming historic sites, modern conveniences, and scenic outdoor adventures. My family's favorite way to spend the day in Southbury involves a little shopping, exploring, and of course, eating!
Though Southbury is home to many well-known chain stores, we prefer to take a ride to Southbury Training School Thrift Store. The thrift store is large, occupying 4 separate sections: clothing, antiques, miscellaneous toys and housewares, and electronics. The clothing store frequently has amazing sales, like 4 pieces of kids clothing for $1. The antique section and electronic sections sell used products at marked prices, but our favorite part is always the toys and miscellaneous section. There, you bundle up anything that looks appealing and asks an associate for a price. Based on the items, we normally score a bag full of goodies for $5 or less.
After our thrift shop fun, we head down the street to the Audubon Center at the Bent of the River. The Audubon is a 700 acre nature sanctuary, filled with trails, bird sanctuaries and scenic views of the Housatonic River. There is a main barn equipped with a bird look-out deck, information, and restrooms. If we're feeling energetic, we continue on to the rocky beach and splash in the Housatonic River.
We always pack snacks and extra clothes for the kids and take precaution against ticks. Our last visit was in May, and we spent 4 hours and left with 3 ticks. I'm always far more concerned with the ticks you don't see and remove, so be sure to use tick spray and dress appropriately when exploring the Audubon!
All that shopping and exploring makes for a hungry crew so we drive a few miles to a family owned sandwich shop, Nardelli's. Nardelli's is one of my favorite stops because they serve up unique in house sandwich creations right alongside the traditional deli favorites AND they offer gluten-free buns and cookies. My favorite sandwich is the original turkey club on a gluten-free bun and my picky eaters love it just as much as I do!
Some other fun Southbury stops that we enjoy include the playground at Ballantine Park, the library's children section, which houses a small play area for small kids, and Denmo's for an Ice cream treat!
Have you been to Southbury? What do you enjoy?
is an author, blogger, and homeschooling mom of four, giving her excellent credentials to run her own circus one day!