Wednesday, May 24, 2017

{Review + Giveaway} Out of the Dark by Mandisa

I was recently given the opportunity to review Mandisa's newest album, Out of the Dark. Many may remember her previous hits such as "Overcomer" and "Stronger." She wrote the song "Overcomer" for her friend Lakisha who was in the midst of battling breast cancer. Sadly, Kisha lost her battle. This event sent Mandisa into a tailspin that sent her into a deep depression that lasted for close to three years. 

She shut out her friends and family. Her friends never gave up on her even when she ignored phone calls and visits. 

In "Out of the Dark," Mandisa shares her story of when she was in her depression as well as how she eventually came out of it with help from her friends, but more importantly, God. 

I have the "deluxe edition" album which has a whopping 18 tracks on it. There are a few, however, that aren't actually songs. In fact, track one shares some of the voice mails that Mandisa's friends left for her during her time of depression. 

There are a lot of featured artists on this album as well including TobyMac, Kirk Franklin, Britt Nicole, and Jeremy Camp. 

One of the things I have always loved about Mandisa is her transparency. She shares her heart in this album and it's amazing to see. She holds nothing back about where she was (in a pit of deep despair that almost took her life) and where she is now (a daughter of the one true King). 

One of my favorite songs is track 2, "I'm Still Here." And for anyone who has heard the song "Dear John" should really enjoy track 9 on the new album. 

~Giveaway Information~

Please comment on one thing you like to do to relax. Leave your comment either here on The Berry Patch blog or as a Facebook comment where you see this review. One random winner will be chosen on May 31, 2017. 

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.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

PureFlix and Homeschooling

(Click to see larger.)

Have you heard of Pure Flix? They are a Christian streaming movie company that carries family-friendly and wholesome entertainment. I was recently contacted about sharing about their educational and homeschool friendly titles they carry. Make sure to click on the graphic above to read my three tips for homeschooling!

You can check out all their educational titles HERE and learn more about their homeschooling supplements HERE.

I have used lots of videos in the past to supplement our learning. My boys usually enjoy them. I've used movies to supplement science and history. It helps bring it alive. One of my favorite things to do is to read a book and then watch the movie adaptation and compare them. And that reminds me, I read Sign of the Beaver out loud to my boys not too long ago. I think we need to watch the movie soon.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

{Review} Is Genesis History? (DVD) plus Giveaway!

Oftentimes people dismiss the Bible as an old-fashioned book which no longer applies to our lives today. After all, it was written thousands of years ago. How can it be accurate let alone pertain to anything we have going on today?

Is Genesis History? is a documentary that looks at the first book of the Bible through a scientific lens before a biblical lens. Can what is shared in Genesis be shown to be true through a scientific view of the world? Does what we see in the world today show up in the Bible? 

Over a dozen scholars and scientists were involved in this film to help explain how science and Genesis interact. Host Dr. Del Tackett takes us all across the globe as he looks at this very issue. 

We learn about how rock layers are formed and what they tell us about the formation of our earth and how this impacts our knowledge of fossils and age dating. This is a documentary that packs that plus whole a lot more information into the 118 minute run time. 

If you go to the website Is Genesis History?, you will also find oodles of more information from a six video Bible study to five things to do once you have viewed the film which includes a summary of the film with key takeaways. There are also links to learn not only more about the film and the experts but also the fossils and more. 

There was a one night run of this film at 700 theaters nationwide back in February. It did so well that there were two encore performances in March. You can see links to where you can purchase your own copy of the video by clicking HERE to see a list of retailers or you can enter my giveaway to win your own copy of the DVD. 

My husband watches a lot of videos that discuss creation. While he isn't an expert, he knows quite a bit about it based on his research. I knew he would enjoy this film. While I had already viewed it, we watched it again together. His take was that he knew quite a bit of what was already shared. However, there were some aspects of it that, in his words, "blew his mind." The experts that speak really are at the top of their field. They not only have the head knowledge, but they all have a great way of explaining what they know in such a way that makes it understandable. 

Giveaway: Leave a comment either here on my blog or on any of the Facebook links and tell me one thing you enjoy about nature. I will pick a random winner on April 24, 2017. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Boldness in the Midst of Fear

One emotion I have always struggled with is fear. It was always driving me and my reactions and emotions. 

I can remember being in kindergarten and being so afraid I would miss the bus to go home. I never did. Transitioning from the small elementary school to the multi-level floor middle school caused much anxiety and fear in me. It was a new situation. New situations were always cause for worry, anxiety, and fear. 

As I've aged, and hopefully grown in wisdom, things have grown somewhat easier. Has my fear disappeared? No, new situations still cause me some level of fear and anxiousness. However, I married a man who views life as an adventure to discover. 

He helps me to see the wonder of new things. And how there really is nothing that can't be overcome when its encountered. One doesn't have to know everything that is going to happen before it happens. This is coming from an Eagle Scout who lives by the motto "always be prepared." 

A few years ago we went on a week long trip to Canada for our 20th wedding anniversary. I busily began to plan it all out. His one request was to not plan every single minute of every single day. I wanted to...badly! However, I agreed to his request. We went into our adventure with hotel reservations for the nights we needed them (one thing I insisted on) but only a general idea of what we would do each day. It allowed for adventuring to happen. 

I have a small desk in our bedroom where I do my quiet time. When a verse I'm reading strikes me, I often write it on a post it note so I can see it. I had a verse from Isaiah 41 written down as well as a quote about fear I had read in a book. 

Just recently I noticed my husband had added some more encouragement for me. This is one of many reasons why I adore him. 

Fear doesn't rule my life any longer like it once did. I still do like to know what's happening. I like to have a plan for my day, week, month, life, well, you get the picture. But I'm constantly brought back to the verse I have posted at the top of this post..."For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT). 

Monday, March 20, 2017

I Caved...

I've been hearing chatter on some of my Facebook groups about using a "bullet journal." And recently an "in real life" friend showed me hers. I decided to cave and jump on the bandwagon.

Bullet journaling appeals to me for various reasons. I'm a list maker. I typically have post its and papers everywhere with notes and reminders on them. I liked the idea of having everything in one central location. I wished I was more artistic. One can really get bogged down in looking at others ideas and pages and quickly begin to feel inadequate as well.

However, if you embrace that it is yours and should be your creation and there are no rules to follow - it can be anything - then it releases some of that guilt. At least it did for me.

I did indulge in the journal of choice for a lot of journalers - a Leuchtturm 1917. I mistakenly bought the lined one. I had actually wanted the dotted one, but that's a minor detail. The journal comes with numbered pages and a table of contents area for you to create at the beginning.

I started planning my journal the end of February and began using it on March 1st. So far I am absolutely loving it!

I use it for my daily to-do lists.

I also have monthly calendars created. I do these as I need them, but I really do need to sit down and create more. I have March and April only done. I still do use my Google calendar to manage long-term planning. 

This the bulk of what I use my journal for - daily and monthly planning. I also created a "future log" with small monthly calendars with the big events in each month written out beside the month. I also added family and friend birthdays to this area. For that reason, I'm not going to post it but it's based on an idea I found on Pinterest. My future log takes up the first four pages in my journal and has three months per page.

Then there are things I've learned that are called "collections." These are planning pages for various things. You can see that I have some fancy ones (for me) and some not so fancy ones.

This is my workout schedule for the next two months. It includes the classes I teach (Zumba and Vive) plus the other classes I take. This photo was taken mid-week last week. There are a lot more "x"s on there. 

I'm reading through the book of John during Lent so I created this checklist in my journal. The schedule was posted online and I actually am in an accountability group for this as well. The heart is there because I messed pen, but it works.

This is my tracker for inches lost plus some "fit testing." 

I just went to New York for my sister-in-law's baby shower. I spent six plus hours in the car with my five year old niece on the drive out and the same amount on the drive back. Since my mother-in-law and my niece's mom (my other sister-in-law) get carsick, I was in the backseat with Grace. While we were waiting at one point I taught her how to play the "dot" game (which is when I really regretted not getting the dotted journal!). She enjoyed it a lot and wanted to play over and over. Now I have this page in my journal as a reminder. She even signed it for me. 

And of course...a list of the books I have completed reading so far this year.

I've been using my journal now for almost a month and I love it. I have more pages and collections completed as you can see by my table of contents. It will continue to grow as I use it throughout the year and will end up being a journal of my year.

Some, as I mentioned, get very fancy with their journals. I don't have the ability or time to do that. This is my take on a "minimalist" style and it's definitely working for me.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

{Review} Laura Story: Open Hands CD

I was given the wonderful opportunity to listen and review Laura Story's newest album, Open Hands. This is her fourth regular album to be released along with a Christmas album that she put out in 2015.

If anyone has every heard the story behind Laura's song, "Blessings," you know that she has suffered hardships in her life. This shows in her music. "Blessings" came from her husband, Martin's, bout with a brain tumor.

Laura is a gifted musician and singer/songwriter. Not only has she written many of her own songs, but she has also written for other artists including Chris Tomlin ("Indescribable").

There are 10 tracks on this CD including the title song. I've had this playing in my vehicle now for at least the last week. I'm absolutely loving all of the songs. In fact, I tried to turn it off and just play the radio as I figured my boys were getting tired of it after a few days. They turned it back on. It's that good.

The first three tracks are my ultimate favorites, but really, that's like decided if I like chocolate chip ice-cream or cherry vanilla ice-cream better. It's all good.

The very first time I listened to the CD was while I was on my way to church. I didn't even know the lyrics enough to sign along. And yet, they still hit me hard. I was crying and worshiping on the way there and eager to get back to listening again. I now wake up with the songs playing in my head each morning.

The title track - "Open Hands" - paints a wonderful picture of letting go of all the things we hold on to so tightly and allowing God to take it all.

Laura shares the inspiration for the song in the video you can find HERE.

My other favorites off the album are "Death Was Arrested" and "You Came Running."

It was interesting the other day as we were driving. My 15 year-old son mentioned that he has two favorites as well. His are track 5 and 10, "For the Love of My King" and "Extraordinary." He has good taste.

If you enjoy great worship music that has lyrics that will speak to your soul as you listen to them over and over, then you'll want to pick up a copy of this CD. You can purchase it HERE (iTunes) or HERE (Amazon) or other retail outlets.

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.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

{Review} Control Girl by Shannon Popkin

This is an issue I've struggled with most of my life. I'm not going to get all "psychology" as to why, but I'm sure my hubby can attest to the fact that this is probably my number one issue - control. When I saw that Kregel Publications was offering Control Girl by Shannon Popkin up for a blog tour, I didn't even think twice, but immediately responded with my interest. 

Shannon Popkin is a blogger turn author. Control Girl is her first book. She shares honestly about her own issues regarding control and how it has impacted her relationships with her family as well as others. I enjoyed her honesty and it helped me to take a hard look at my own life. 

Popkin then goes on to share the stories of seven well-known women from the Bible such as Eve, Sarah, and even Hagar, and how we can learn from their mistakes regarding control. 

Each chapter is short. It includes anywhere from three to five lessons in each. Each lesson begins with a scripture reference to read and reflect on. Then it has a short devotional that helps to understand the truth being shared and how it can be applied to your own life. It then ends with some thoughtful questions to help you apply and think about the lesson learned. Each lesson also has a meditation listed which lists a scripture reference to reflect on as well as a thought related to that scripture. 

The book could be used alone or in a group setting. It's not long - 207 pages minus the bibliography. There are nine chapters with 38 total lessons. 

Overall I loved this book. It's helped to give me some much needed insight into my actions and, more importantly, how to relinquish the control I feel I need to have and totally surrender to God. It's not always easy but it is always worth it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.