Friday, October 28, 2016


With all the news hype in regard to increased insurance rates, I wanted to take a moment to share what we have done with our family.

When we got out of the military, JB started a job as a contract employee as an Emergency room physician. This meant he didn't work for the hospital and was therefore not eligible for insurance through his job.

We quickly got in touch with Blue Cross and picked up the cheapest plan we could.

It was $1,800 a month for our family of six. In addition, we had a $10,000 deductible, and the only thing covered under the plan was one well visit check-up for each of us each year. Isaac had to go to the ER one time while he was out of town and away from JB, and it cost us $1,000. Our insurance covered nothing until we hit $1,800. Even our prescriptions were not covered until we hit $10,000.

We decided after that year to try something different. We are using Medi-Share. I know this may not be an option for everyone, and I know that it is not fool-proof, but it does quality under Obamacare. We are paying around $215 a month for our family. We pay everything out-of-pocket until $10,000, but we figured, even if we paid $10,000 for the year, we'd be well below the $21,600 we paid just in rates last year.

We have a savings account for our medical care, and we put a certain amount in that every month as we work toward making sure we have $10,000 saved. In addition, when you hit $10,000, you have to pay and file for reimbursement. I truly can't say how well I'd recommend Medi-Share until we really needed them which we haven't yet.

Hope this may help someone who, like us, was completely overwhelmed with the cost of insurance!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Holy Ground

Your home is holy ground. The place where your kids see and learn about God.

Your home is holy ground. The place where your actions and words reflect his love.

Your home is holy ground. The place where you are present and available to your kids.

Your home is holy ground. The place where your kids feel treasured and accepted.

Your home is holy ground. The place where the Word of God is honored and valued.

Your home is holy ground. The place where mistakes are forgiven and mercy is shown.

Your home is holy ground. The place where guests are welcomed and cherished.

Your house can be just a house or it can be holy ground. The choice is yours. The effort and commitment come from you. God promises to be by your side, to give you wisdom and help you start over when you make mistakes... Would you do what it takes?

I'd like to introduce you to a beautiful woman of God. A wife and a mom who takes every effort to make her home holy ground. I hope her interview encourages you and challenges you today as it does to me!

Hi! I am Stephanie Beams and Angelica invited me to share a little about our home and family.
My husband and I, along with our 4 children, live on the island of Okinawa, Japan, serving as missionaries to the US military and Japanese locals here. My husband is the Worship Pastor and I am over our pastoral care and counseling ministries at Koza Baptist Church. We have 4 awesome kids from ages 5 to 14. When we watch the Olympics we get to cheer for 3 countries, because our second daughter is adopted from Russia and our youngest son is adopted from here in Japan! Adoption has been a beautiful gift to our family and we can't imagine our family any other way!

1. What makes your house a home?

Since we have moved often and rent while living in Japan, we certainly know that a house doesn't make a home. We have been able to make wherever we are feel like a home because of who lives in our home and the shared experiences and memories that we have together. Of course, I love to decorate and make our home feel cozy with things that we love. We live on an island in Japan, but we are from Texas, and we've also been on mission trips to places all over the world, so we have all of those things represented in our home. I love antiques and unique pieces that still fit into my current style. The main thing that makes our house a home, is that it is a place comfortable for everyone... for our kids to play and have friends over, but also a place that is organized and not cluttered or chaotic. We want it to be a place where we can welcome friends and do ministry. It is not perfect, but it represents who we are as a family. 

2. What are some of your favorite decorative accessories that speak about you and your family in your home? How do you reflect God in your home? 

Some of my favorite accessories for decorating are those things that have deep meaning for us. We have a tea set that we purchased in Russia when we adopted our daughter that we will eventually pass on to her.

We have some great Japanese art from a family trip to Kyoto that is a daily reminder to pray for people we serve in Japan.

I use scriptures all over my house that have a deep meaning to us. When we were moving to Japan, this Texas girl was having a hard time letting go and God spoke Psalm 139:10 to me... assuring me that even on the far side of the sea He would be with me. We have it in vinyl in our entryway as a reminder as we go and come from our home that He is always with us!

We also walked through a very long and difficult adoption with our son and the promise that we prayed and clung to was James 1:17 " Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." Such a beautiful promise as we were waiting for our son in the midst of so much struggle. We could trust that God was the one giving us our son and we were not dependent on man to make it happen. We keep that spiritual marker up right outside the door of our kids bathroom as a reminder!

3. In what specific ways do you teach your kids about God at home?

Our goal for teaching our kids about God is first and foremost to live out our faith at home, in an authentic way so that it becomes natural for our kids to do the same. We want them to see us loving people, serving in the church and giving generously, though many days we fail in this! We strive to admit when we are wrong, that we are all sinners in need of Jesus everyday. We want to teach them the disciples of a relationship with Christ by modeling those disciplines in front of them, very imperfectly I might add. We do have some very intentional things that we do with the kids to develop those habits. We strive to have morning devotionals before we leave for school each day and pray as a family each night before we go to bed. We trade off girls night and boys night on who prays each night.  We also have a memory verse board in our house that we keep up for about a month (or more when I forget to change it!) and we focus on memorizing it and applying it to everyday situations. Some other great resources that we have utilized have been Passport to Purity from Family Life and It Starts at for family night activities. We know that one day our kids will leave our home and that it's so important for their faith to become personal to them. We work hard to make it as personal as possible by having open conversations about individual struggles and successes. God speaks to us all in different ways and has different purposes for us. Our heart for our home is to grow our children to know Christ, have a personal relationship with Him and walk in His purposes for them as they are in our home and long after they grow up and move away. We want to, as our family motto says," Live Fully, Praise Loudly, Love Generously" all of our days!!

Thanks so much for letting me share a little about us! We pray the same for you as you each endeavor to make God the center of your home.



Homeschooling .... keepin' it real!

In an effort to keep thing totally real, I present, what one minute in our homeschooling adventures looked like today. I was feeling so exasperated, so I decided to just film for one minute in an effort to show a friend I was texting with what was going on. If I sound a little exasperated, it was because I was. Absolutely. Without question. I just wanted to eat my carrots and hummus in peace. And even that was taken over!


I never want anyone to think our home is something that it isn't. Keepin' it real folks,

We Bought a Farm: Breaking Even on the Turkeys

It feels SO wonderful to say that we have officially broken even on our turkey sales. This is a great accomplishment on a farm. This means that we can now eat the rest of the turkey meat in our freezer for free.

Very exciting!!!

We had 48 turkeys. We sold about 25 of them to reach our $3,000 amount. This is how much it cost to purchase the turkeys and to feed them for 18 weeks. We have now been making lots of ground turkey and will celebrate throughout the rest of the year eating our meat for free.

FREE of course is an overblown word. We are counting the countless hours we put into taking care of these turkeys. Our WWOOFer Mary Ann was by far the most involved with the turkeys!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Review: CrossTimber

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews
All righty. It's October. Almost November. Which means the scramble is on to find some cool gifts for some cool people in your life without buying uncool things that they don't want or don't need. I have some special people in my life that I want to leave with memorable gifts. And I want to share with you a company that is doing just that. Let me introduce you to CrossTimber and specifically, I want to emphasize their Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse. 

In exchange for my review, I was given the ability to pick out a FREE personalized framed plaque. Here is the one I ended up with. I am showing you a picture of it and not my Elijah "Sidge" holding it because I am going to surprise him with it at Christmas:

My Elijah (aka "Sidge") absolutely LOVES Eagles which is one of the reasons I finally ended up picking him to make this frame for. Here is the ordering screen which just briefly shows some of the other options for your purchase:
Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

Here are just a few of the other things you can get over at CrossTimber! They even have music boxes.
Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

I wanted to really take the time to emphasize the individual attention and customer service that John and his family provide. This is a home and family-run business. They are passionate about names and what they are doing. They responded nearly immediately to requests and emails and would take the time to give you the meaning of any name you asked for.

In addition, I made an error when placing my order. The mistake was obviously mine, but the company took the time to correct it for me without consequence to me. These are Christians and a family, and I LOVE to support places like that. 

You can read more about their passion on our website:

"Names can have such rich and insightful meanings that encourage, motivate and inspire.  My name, John, is a continual reminder that I am here for the blessing of others, whether it be to a stranger through a smile, to my children with a guiding hand, or to you, right here and right now through these unique name meaning gifts. Click the chat box on the lower right to ask me the meaning of your name!  It would be a joy to meet you and tell you what your name means! And in doing that, I’d be living up to the meaning of my name, John: Gift of God: Messenger with Good News. I hope the name meaning gifts you find on this website will encourage and inspire you and those you're buying them for.   And don't worry about unusual names; we're experts at researching name meanings!  Choose any design for Framed Name Meaning Prints,Coffee MugsKeepsake Name Music Boxes, or our one-of-a-kind, Multi-Name Plaques! Each Name Gift includes the origin, cultural meaning, Life meaning, and a hand-picked Bible verse that connects with the meaning."

While the website can be a little challenging to work through because there is so much content, you will not regret taking the time to support this company as Christmas comes upon us. These are GOOD FOLKS and you will feel good about giving your money to people like this. Please take a moment and give them a try.

And if you aren't convinced by my post, please check out some of these cool coupons and give-aways!

The folks over at CrossTimber are doing a fantastic giveaway post! 
Click here to see all the ways you can enter for free stuff!

CrossTimber 2016 giveaway

And here are some coupon options for you:
Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

Please take the time to check them out CrossTimber on Facebook and Pinterest
Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Wee-wind Wednesday

Let's jump back to this date ... 2010. Our house got "Booed" and Isaac thought it would be great fun to put the bucket the surprise came in on everyone's head -- include Elijah AND Scrubs.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Because of Isaac welcomes new little one!

I LOVE when I get the opportunity to share this news. One of our Because of Isaac couples -- Kevin and Tessa -- have met their forever son this evening. Please join me in celebrating the SIXTH child to find their forever family through our organization!!!!

Carson Allen Yawn

Tribe Life Tuesday: Don't Quit Your Daydream

Welcome to the tribe of daydreamers!
We’re all daydreamers, mind wanderers, and reality escapers, some are just more identifiable than others. These days there seems to be a lot of negativity around daydreaming, some even equate it to laziness. But for the next few moments, let’s go on an adventure.

Take a minute and picture the biggest dream your currently have…

Dream big.
The sky’s the limit!
Do you have it?
That, my friend, is an amazing dream!

Here are 2 of my dreams:
            1. Own a luxury plane
            2. Adopt children from various countries and have a beautifully diverse family.

*If you feel comfortable sharing some of your dreams, please comment below, I would love to hear all about them! (You can comment anonymously too) *

Now that you have your dream in mind, let’s go after it. Let’s pretend for a moment that there is nothing holding you back. Imagine that you have endless resource, how would your dream change? Would it get larger?

It may seem far-fetched, even impossible, but I believe we can make these dreams happen! Two of my favorite words are “why” and “not”, so I have to ask you: Why not? Honestly, why not go for it? It may take a while and it will probably have some painful moments, but the dream is worth it, and more than that, the process is worth it!

The amazing Walt Disney once said, All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” and boy, does it take courage to follow a dream. It seems as though dreams are free in the mind and costly in our actions. Our dreams rarely take reality into account and it can be hard to balance the two. I find it particularly difficult to dream when I have a lot going on in my life or when I have experienced disappointment. During those times it feels like that precious, dreaming, mental space can be easily ransacked by the normal things of life like the job, my family, money, etc.

Dream space has to be fought for. I have to fight to get it back and fight to protect it from invasion. As adults, more accurately,responsible” adults, the notion of daydreaming is too lofty and practicality is most important. But boy, oh boy, is that FALSE. The practical details of life are essential and they will ALWAYS be there but it is the splendor of dreaming that fills us with hope to keep going. My advice to you is: allow yourself to dream. Allow yourself to see what doesn’t exist, to believe in a bigger life, a life where anything is possible. Let’s break open the bottle of imaginative thinking and drink up!

Think that daydreaming is just for kids or anyone other than you? Think again! Even science backs up the practice of dreaming. Science says:

You daydream less as you get older.
Peter Delaney, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, has done extensive study on this and notes how daydreaming is the imagining of the potential future. But as we grow older and into adulthood, daydreaming slows, as if the future before us is shrinking.

Daydreaming turns off other parts of the brain.
Empathy and analytics are two key systems in our brains that keep us functioning well. When a tricky numbers problem comes up at work, the analytic side of your brain effectively shuts the empathetic side off to maximize your ability to solve the problem. There’s no room for empathy when you’re deep in analytics. But, when you’re daydreaming, your brain cycles beautifully through these systems seamlessly as they turn each other off.

Daydreaming makes you more creative.
Creativity is really just the association of things in a new or unique way. Oftentimes our daydreaming mind will be able to make connections that, if we were thinking about it, we would never come to.

If you want to learn more about what science has to say about day dreaming, check out this National Geographic article.

While daydreaming is wonderful and hold many benefits, I do know there should be a balance in everything. Dr. Kaufman, an NYU psychology professor and author, has advocated for each person to “balance your focused mind with your wandering mind. … The latest research on imagination and creativity shows that if we’re always in the moment, we’re going to miss out on important connections between our own inner mind-wandering thoughts and the outside world. Creativity lies in that intersection between our outer world and our inner world.” To learn more about Dr. Kaufman’s thoughts, check out this article.

I want to leave you with this: to dream is to explore untapped realities, to lend your soul to ideas and concepts that have yet to hit the real world. I encourage you to reflect on the world around you, visualize your big, bold, bright future, and let that passion fuel you to take a step. You have great dreams inside you that are just waiting for you to be courageous. I believe in you! You can do it!

Thank you for dreaming with the Tribe today!

See you next Tuesday.


Review: Middlebury Interactive Languages

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
Middlebury Interactive Languages makes learning a new language so much fun! We jumped at the chance to review Elementary Spanish 1 (Grades K-2) here in our home. Making sure our children learn a language amidst our homeschool curriculum is very important to us. We've decided that while JB loves German and I love Turkish, Spanish is probably the best choice for our family and where we live in our country.

The program is intended for one student. Since my boys are both in second grade, I decided to let them take turns doing lessons. When I review a product, I really like to get the opinions of all the kids that are participating in that particular lesson as they have very different personalities and likes/dislikes.

From the mouth of babes
Anytime even one of my boys says they like a schoolwork assignment, I sit up and take notice. They are both very opinionated about schoolwork and do not hesitate to tell me when an assignment or program is not up to their expectations.

So when we hit upon a program that they both find interesting, I especially take notice, and it definitely gets a good review from me.

When it came to Elementary Spanish 1 (Grades K-2) from Middlebury Interactive Languages this program received rave reviews in our house from both of my second grade boys. Here was what the boys had to say:

Isaac: "It is one of the best school work assignments we do. Listening to the music is the most fun for me."
Sidge: "I think it is pretty good. I like to watch the videos."

When it comes to the videos, this is what Sidge is referring to:

See for yourself
When you log in to the program, you come to a screen that looks like a calendar. I've taken a screen shot below so you can see it:

Each day has a short activity for the child to complete. These activities are very manageable in length and effort needed. Here is a screen shot of what my boys would see when they began a lesson.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}
Each item that they needed to work through is on the left. As they completed an item, they'd click on the next one to move on. Types of activities that they might have the opportunity to complete include:
  • Watching a video about the culture of a region (as I showed above)
  • Printing out a sheet to color
  • Clicking on pictures to hear the Spanish word
  • Taking a short test
  • And much more!

Usually my boys could complete each lesson in well under fifteen minutes. This is a very manageable amount of time for them. And since every lesson is so varied and different, they never complained of boredom or frustration.

What Middlebury offers
We received a six month subscription for Elementary Spanish 1 (Grades K-2). However, our Spanish program is only one of many offered by Middlebury Interactive Languages. Other programs include:

  • Elementary Spanish 1 (grades 3-5)
  • Elementary Spanish 2 (grades 3-5)
  • Middle School Spanish 1 (grades 6-8)
  • Middle School Spanish 2 (grades 6-8)
  • High School Spanish 1 (grades 9-12)
  • High School Spanish 1 Fluency (grades 9-12)
  • High School Spanish 2 (grades 9-12)
  • High School Spanish 2 Fluency (grades 9-12)
  • High School Spanish 3 (grades 9-12)
  • AP Spanish Language and Culture (grades 11-12)

There are also classes offered in other languages like French, German, and Chinese!

You can also check Middlebury Interactive Languages out on Facebook, Twitter (@Middinteractive), Pinterest.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday Truth

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tips from "grown up" moms

I recently asked a few of my mom friends that I really respect and who have children who are a bit older then mine what they wish they'd known or wish they would have done when they had kids my kids' ages. Here were their tips!

Are you a veteran mom? Have something I should add? Please leave a comment!

  • Stand firm without showing anger. 
  • Hold them accountable but give plenty of grace. 
  • Don't say it if you can't enforce it. 
  • Apologize often, forgive freely, be humble, speak softly, look them in the eye, make them look you in the eye. 
  • Have them get in the habit of confirming everything you say with 'yes Ma'm'. That way they can never give the excuse that they didn't hear you. 
  • Things will never be fair. They may as well understand this early. When my kids say something is not fair, I agree and say we don't want fair because it wasn't fair that Jesus paid the price for my sin. 
  • Don't let them complain about being bored. Don't get angry. Just calmly say: "That's great because I need help with such and such." They learn quickly not to be bored, haha! 
  • Their world should revolve around yours and yours should revolve around God
  • Be intentional about praising them on heart issues. If you want them to believe that it's what's inside that counts then praise them for their tender heart or unselfishness or hard work. They will get praised plenty from others about being beautiful or having a cute dress.
  • Put them to work and make them feel like you rely on them. Like they contribute to the family and are irreplaceable. Say things like "What would I do without you?" Watch their faces when you say these words. They beam with pride!
  • Don't comprise on TV and movies. Don't allow your children laugh or be entertained by sin that God hates. 
  • Pray pray pray. Thank God for allowing you to raise his children and beg him to step in with his strengths where we are weak. 
  • Don't be in a rush all the time. Slow down. Listen to them. Laugh with them. Cry with them. Hold them.  
  • Pick your battles and then win them only if it's important. 
  • When you discipline be firm not angry, consistent not unreasonable, disappointed not hateful. Give them every opportunity to succeed. Try not to put them in situations that you know they will fail in. 
  • When they make a mistake, don't say they are bad or shame them. Assume they are good. Say something like, "what's up Abigail? That's just not like you to hurt your sisters feeling?" If we tell them they are good often, it becomes who they are and they will live up to it. 
  • Remember, consequences are not supposed to be pleasant. If they are unpleasant, you will find that they will not get in trouble as often. Then everyone is happier all the time. For example, if speeding tickets were just $10, who would slow down?
  • Here's a little piece of advice that is common sense but someone had to tell me. When feeding kids meals, don't fill up your kids plates with huge servings of their favorite foods and then put a dab of their less than favorite on the side. They will just fill up on the favorite (i.e. Mac-n-cheese) and then you will have to beg them to eat the green beans. Start with a small serving of each on their plate then when they finish all, give them as much of their favorite as they want. It took me 3 kids to learn this! 
  • Let each of your kids know often that you choose them. Something like, "Hannah, I am so blessed. If God lined up all the three-year-olds in the world and let me choose one, I would choose you. Wonder how he knew that?" It never fails to bring a smile.
  • Let the kids see you love on their Dad and vice versa. As they get older, they will give you the respect that john gives you and John the respect that they see you give him. It's all about actions not words. 
  • Do as much together as a family as is possible: family dinners, vacations, day trips, game nights, etc. It gets harder as they get older but still make the time because it goes by so quickly and you want to establish that family unity which will, hopefully, make them want come home after they leave.
  • In the difficult times, remember that this isn't the end of the story. God is and will continue to work in the lives of our kids, just as He does in ours. Ultimately, He is the one who shapes their hearts. So don't give up, remain steadfast, and be encouraged!
  • Be willing to apologize when you've said and done something wrong or hurtful. My father did this and it made a huge impact on me. Be real--own up to your imperfections (they'll see them anyway.
  • I wish I had been more quick to pray with our kids over specific concerns and just regarding all of life in general.

Sunday Sermon