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Wednesday, 9 November 2011
Come With Me to Ecuador
Mood:  not sure
Topic: Compassion International

Compassion Bloggers: Ecuador 2011

Can you believe that I have only been out of the US once. It was right out of high school. I had auditioned for a concert band called All Student Groups USA (now known as The Sound of America). We spent the month of July touring Europe playing concerts in nine different countries. It was an amazing adventure. One that I will never forget.

I say "can you believe", because I've always dreamed and talked about going overseas again. Sarah and I have often talked of going on a mission trip. Or perhaps visiting one of our Compassion children. We still feel that the Lord will use us overseas somehow, somewhere, someday. Until then, we will have to live vicariously through others. Others like the Compassion Blogger group that is traveling in Ecuador right now.

I've followed other Compassion Blogger trips before. I've even applied to go on them but have not yet been chosen for one. Twice a year I greedily read their stories. I check in several times a day to see if someone has posted something new. My heart breaks with theirs as I read about the children and the conditions that they live in. I cry when I read the stories of the ones who were rescued from poverty. I pray, asking for forgiveness for being selfish with what I have.

We, in the United States, live in such wealth. Even the poorest among us are often richer than a majority of folks around the world. I do believe that there are poor and hungry that live in our great country and I believe that God wants us to care for them. I also believe, though, that we waste enough money in the US to feed many more than we do. And I'm not just talking about our government, I'm talking about us! Do we really need one more t-shirt in our drawer, when there are those that don't even have one t-shirt to wear? Do we really need our weekly (or daily) latte, when the price of one Starbucks drink could feed a Compassion child for a week?

I know that there are some skeptics out there. Some who just don't understand. I was one of them until I began following these Compassion Blogger trips. Traveling along with them and experiencing what they are experiencing has made me realize how blessed I am. It's made the hand that grips my wallet loosen its grip just a little. It's broken my heart for the things that break God's heart.

Another trip is going on as we speak. Travel with me to understand our world a little more. Come with me as we experience the hearts of others being broken. Journey with me as we learn what living for Christ is really all about. Just click on the above button to see and be blessed.

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Posted by tink38570 at 4:24 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, 9 November 2011 4:59 PM CST
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Tuesday, 8 November 2011
The Person I Marry
Mood:  happy
Topic: Homeschool Product Review


The father wasn't expecting this question. The boy and his father had been finishing up the dishes. Father was putting the dishes away as his son dried them.

It was a beautiful fall evening. The colors of the autumn leaves were at there peak but the air was warm and the roses were showing their last blooms. All seventeen rose bushes had bloomed beautifully that year. There were nine that Father had bought for Mother every Mother's day. She would painstakingly search - sometimes for days - for just the right place to plant it. The other eight bushes were bought and planted every Mother's Day by Father after her death.

Perhaps it was the sweet smell of the roses that made the boy ask the question. Perhaps it was the beauty of the autumn leaves. Perhaps it was the chore of washing the dishes that was often shared by a husband and wife. Perhaps it was all of those things. Whatever it was, the always thinking, wondering and exploring boy asked it.

"Father, why did you and Mother marry?"

"Marry?" exclaimed the suddenly bewildered man. "Well, because we loved each other."

"Father," the exasperated boy blurted out. "I knew that. I mean... I figured that you and mother loved each other."

"But," the suddenly pink cheeked boy said as he shyly looked at his father, "Why did you marry Mother? Why her? Why not any other lady?"

"You know," said the boy in usual twelve year old fashion, "I'm getting older now, and I need to know what to look for in a girl."

"Well, this is a new one. Why do boys have to grow up...especially inquisitive ones?" thought the father as he loosened the collar around his neck with his finger. "Oh, Lord, please give me wisdom."

Finally the father hesitantly answered, "Well," he said while clearing his throat, "You need to make sure that she is a Christian. That's first and foremost. And, you don't always marry for beauty. I mean, you will always think that your wife is beautiful, but good looks aren't really why you should marry. Neither is money. You should never marry for money. Love should always be the main thing..."

The boy looked at him intently, sometimes with a furrowed brow. He seemed to be soaking everything in, but the more his father said, the more bewildered he became.

"Why is nothing coming out right?" thought the man. "Why did my son have to ask such a question without giving me some warning."

Finally the father stopped, looked at his son, and suddenly said. "Did you finish the science project I assigned to you today?"

"No sir," replied the boy. "But, I'm almost done."

"Well, go finish it." the relieved man answered. "We'll talk about this more tomorrow."

As the boy left to finish his school work, the father said a silent prayer. "Lord, please give me something. Send me something that will help me explain what to look for in that special one he will marry. And, Lord, if it's your will, send it to me quickly! Amen."

All that evening that thought filled the fathers mind. What am I going to say? How do I describe what to look for in a wife? He searched for lessons from the Bible. He tried to think of historical examples. Nothing seemed to fit.

"This is a job for a mother." mused the man. "Why did mother have to die so suddenly? Why must I be the one left to explain such things to my dear boy?"

Finally, just before turning in for the night, the father checked his email one last time. Glancing through the messages he noticed one that he had missed earlier. It was a message from Brenda. Brenda is the dear lady that is the vendor liaison for the TOS Homeschool Crew. It is her job to match the vendors with just the right homeschool families for them to try out and blog about the vendor's products. There was a new product listed. It was a book called "The Person I Marry", by Gary Bower, illustrated by Jan Bower and it was scheduled to arrive at their home the very next day.

"Thank you, Lord." exclaimed the boy's father as he went to bed that night. "Thank you for sending just what we needed at just the right time."

All morning and early into the afternoon.the father could hardly contain his excitement. Finally the mail man showed up and left the much awaited for package. The father sat it aside until he and his son could sit down to read it together when there were no distractions.

Later that evening after all of the school books were put away and the chores had been done, the father carefully unwrapped the gift from God. In it the beautifully illustrated book, "The Person I Marry" was contained.

"Son, " the father called, "We got something in the mail today that I think will help answer your questions from last night."

"What is it Father," exclaimed the boy as he entered the room.

"It's a book. Come and let's read it together."

The boy sat beside him on the couch and they began to read. The book was written in a poetic fashion that, at first, irritated the young man. He was almost 13 years old he thought to himself. Nevertheless, he persevered, and as his father read, he would stop and they would discuss things that were written in the book.

They discussed how you should choose someone for what they are like inside and not because of what they look like on the outside. They talked about how a mate should be gentle, kind and gracious. They read how your future spouse should be generous, thoughtful and appreciative. With the help of the book, the father explained how life wouldn't always be easy, but a couple should persevere and be courageous. They should look at the bright side of things. The book talked about how a couple should be joyful and enthusiastic when things are going well, but be patient and forgiving when things are not.

As Father read he began thinking of his dear wife. His face softened as he read the part where a future mate should be humane and respectful to humans and all of God's creatures. That fit his wife perfectly. She was always taking a meal to the sick or elderly, or taking in a stray that someone had cruelly abandoned.

Suddenly tears began to fall down the father's cheeks. The book had unexpectedly become harder to read. For they had come to the part where a couple should honor marriage "'til death do us part". As he was reading the words on those pages, his voice began to falter. Soon he was no longer able to finish the sentences. His son gently took the book and began reading for him.

The boy finished reading the book. He read through the pages that said that some disagreements would be small, but some they should measure against what the Bible said. He read about keeping himself pure for his wife, and how he should always be honest and trustworthy. He was glad that his father had taught him to be hardworking but fun loving, because that is what the book said was important as well.

The boy noticed fresh tears upon his father's face as he read that a husband and wife should be encouraging and sympathetic toward one another. The boy knew that those were some of the qualities that his father appreciated so much in his mother.

Finally, the boy read something that he didn't need to be told. He read how a person's future mate would always be number two in their lives. Why? Because Jesus should always be number one. All of his life the boy had been taught that God should always be first in his life. Those words were not unfamiliar to him.

As the book came to a close, the father silently got up to allow the boy some time to reflect on what had been read. He would discuss the book more with his son in the days to come.

That night, as the father tucked his son in and turned off the light. He heard his son call his name.


"Yes Son?"

"Father. Thank you for reading that book to me today." the boy quietly said. "I've been thinking, and I think I know who I want my future wife to be like."

"Who is that, Son?"

"I want her to be just like my mother. I don't remember her much, but I know she had all of the good qualities that we read about. Thank you for marrying her."

Father turned quickly away. He was glad the light had been turned off for tears were once again forming in his eyes.

"Thank you, Lord, for my son. And thank you for this special book that you sent us. Amen."

The story you have just heard is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Oh, Ok, you caught me again. The story is really about Joshua and I and not all of it is true. Thankfully my wonderful wife is still with us. The part about the tears and precious boy's responses were true, however. Happy Homeschooling.

The Person I Marry from Bower Books on Vimeo.

If you are interested in purchasing The Person I Marry just click here or on any one of the links above. This 36 page hardcover book is available for $11.99 on the website of the author and illustrator, husband and wife team, Gary and Jan Bower. To find out what the other TOS Homeschool Crew members thought of this book, just click here.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent a download copy of "The Person I Marry" in order to try out with my family and give my honest review on this blog.

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Posted by tink38570 at 8:29 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, 9 November 2011 1:20 AM CST
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Monday, 7 November 2011
Gratitude Challenge - Thanking God for My Oldest Being Cancer Free!
Mood:  happy
Topic: Blog Carnivals!

Today is a great anniversary!


No, not my wedding anniversary.


No, I'm not talking about a birthday either.


I'm talking about a real anniversary milestone.


What is it?


Today we mark 14 years of John Allen, our oldest, being cancer free!


It was 14 years ago on Halloween that John Allen was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma. Retinoblastoma is a rare eye cancer that almost always occurs in children under the age of two.


I remember when he was diagnosed. We, of course, were devastated. The only thing the doctor said was that it was a fast growing cancer that needed to be taken care of right away. The office made an appointment with the specialist at Vanderbilt, but we couldn't get in until the next Wednesday - five days away.




If this was a fast growing cancer we wanted to get in their right away! We didn't want to wait five days. We decided to travel to Sarah's grandparent's house to get away for the weekend to gather our thoughts. We found some old medical journals and looked up Retinoblastoma. They said that John Allen had a 25% chance that he might die! That made us even more frantic.


We began making calls to see if we could get into St. Jude's. Yes, it was further away, but what was a six hour trip compared to our baby's life?


Finally a good friend contacted us. She remembered she had a friend in college with an artificial eye. She called him up and found out that he had Retinoblastoma as a child as well. And, his parents had just moved to Nashville six weeks before. His parents wanted us to call them so we did.


Patsy was so kind. She told us to keep the appointment at Vanderbilt and she would meet us there.


The day of the appointment came. The doctor examined John Allen's eye and, we could tell, was trying to prepare us for something. We were thinking the worst. Finally she hesitantly said that she thought that it would be best if they enucleated John Allen's eye. She then waited for us to break down. Instead she got the shock of her life. We were overjoyed. Our baby wasn't going to die! She didn't know that we had read Medical Journals that were hopelessly outdated.


She must have thought we were crazy. I'm sure she doesn't get too many parents who are happy that their child is going to lose an eye. What was an eye compared to our son's life?


Patsy and her husband Lynn allowed us to stay at their house for the next four nights. Patsy came with us the next day, Thursday, for MRI's and CAT Scans and visits with the oncologist and visits with another eye specialist who would be doing the surgery. She patiently explained things that we didn't understand. After all, she had been through it all with her son. We are, to this day, so very thankful for Patsy and Lynn and their graciousness and love toward us.


Finally, John Allen's eye was removed on Friday, November 7, 1997. Fourteen years ago today. After spending the night in the hospital we were able to come home the next day. We found out later that the cancer had covered almost 90% of John Allen's eye and had started on the optic nerve. If it would have gone up the optic nerve to the brain there is nothing they could have done.



John Allen is 15 years old now. He's almost as tall as I am and has been cancer free for 14 years!


So, today for the Gratitude Challenge I want to thank God for sparing our son and healing him from cancer.


Thank you Lord, for being the great physician.

Thank you for being a loving God.

Thank you for being a God that heals.

Thank you for our son, John Allen. Amen

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Posted by tink38570 at 10:34 PM CST
Updated: Monday, 7 November 2011 10:40 PM CST
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I've Been Nomintated for a Homeschool Blog Award!
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: General

Actually I've been nominated in two categories! I'm shocked. I was hoping to be nominated again in the Best Homeschool Dad Blog category, but I found out that I'm also nominated in the Best Crafts, Plans and Projects blog category! That is one category that I did not expect to be nominated in at all. I don't consider myself a crafty person. My wife, Sarah, did say that she thought I had a lot of good ideas on my blog and she thought the category was perfect.


I am thankful and honored by both nominations. Thank you all so much. Now to see who the actual winners will be. I would love to have your vote in one or both of the categories. I am up against some great blogs and I'm sure voting is going to be tight. To vote, just click on either the blog button above or on any one of the hi-lighted links. The button will get you to the general voting page, but the links will get you to the specific voting pages for the two categories that I am in. You have until November 18th, 2011 at midnight to vote and the rules allow every member in your household to vote once (up to five per household). If you have more than five in your household you can go to another network/IP to vote. Someplace like the library should work great. Don't forget, the name of my blog is "Families Again". Thank you ahead of time for your vote.


Tim from Families Again

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Posted by tink38570 at 5:06 PM CST
Updated: Monday, 7 November 2011 5:37 PM CST
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Sunday, 6 November 2011
Hey Mikey! He Likes It!
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Product Review


Some of you smiled when you read the title of this post. Others of you have no idea what in the world I'm talking about. Here's a little help to you unknowledgeable ones.

I don't know that we have a "Mikey that hates everything" in our house, but whenever a product comes along that my children really like, it makes me stand up and take notice. Ooka Island is one of those products.

With all of the review items that John Allen and Joshua have been getting lately, poor Jacob has been left out. Well, this game was made just for him. Since Jacob is five years old now, we decided to begin doing more formal school work with him. We found a curriculum that we thought would fit him to a "T" at the homeschool convention last spring. Sarah looked it over carefully and liked it better than what we had used with Joshua, so at the beginning of the school year she was excited about teaching him. Unfortunately, he was just not ready for it yet. Maybe we'll try again in January. However, when Ooka Island came around he took to it right away.


He loves that it's a computer "game" that he can play just like his big brothers do. After an easy sign-in process, where the child is given a special picture that is his "password" for the game, you are ready to play. The characters, from things that look like pigs...to robots...to elves...to real people...all are really appealing to him. And, the way the game is set up, you can see the different areas of the island on your 3-D map. It's very tempting to jump around and try something new, but the program won't let you. It's set to only allow a child to move ahead whenever he is ready. Since Ooka Island was developed for children that are emergent readers to second grade, the game automatically adjusts to where the child is. It's really a very controlled but fun game. Watch this clip and I think you'll see why he likes it so much.

It's really hard to tell you what all Jacob has accomplished because he likes this game so much that the little bugger has snuck the laptop to go play when I haven't been around. So, I can only give you a brief synopsis of what I have seen him play, and what he has told me he's played.

Jacob began by traveling through a mine tunnel to listen for a sound. Every time he came to a stop, he heard a sound. If it was the special sound that he heard at the beginning, then he could click the mouse and it would allow him through that gate. If he clicked when the wrong sound was heard, then the game patiently repeated the sound until he heard correctly. All this was done with just the sound. No letter was connected to the sound yet. This was excellent for him because he has a speech problem and this is teaching him to hear the sounds correctly.

Next, they put a letter to the sound. And there are several games that he played to make sure he knew what letter goes with that sound. I've seen him play the magnifying glass game that you saw on the video plus a matching game that he loves.

He has gone through a series of those same games with different sounds and letters. Now, after he completes so many tasks, he gets to unlock a book. The books start out simple - right on the level that he is at - and, as he learns, they become more difficult. The book is read to him or he could (if he were able) to read it himself.

Finally, after he's done reading his unlocked book, he gets to have some free play around the island and have some fun!

When we talked about all of the games that he had played, he mentioned two games that I haven't seen him attempt - the skateboarding game, which he said was a lot of fun, and the cake decorating game. When talking about the cake decorating game he sadly hung his head and said "Dad, I didn't do too well with that one."

Jacob absolutely loves Ooka Island. This is a keeper for us, and I'm sure it will be a keeper for you as well. The only downfall that I found was that it does take a long time to download. But, after downloading we had no problem whatsoever. Although, you download the game onto your computer, in order for the game to know how your child is progressing, you need internet connection. Our DSL connection has worked fine.


Pricing for Ooka Island is also a plus. If you choose to purchase one month at a time, the cost is only $12.95 for one child or $19.95 for up to four children. Six month pricing is $59.95 for one child and $99.95 for up to four children and twelve month pricing is $99.95 for one child or $129.95 for four children. BUT WAIT...if you use the PROMO CODE: LAUNCHSPECIAL30, you will save 30% on a monthly subscription! To find out more about Ooka Island, just click here or on any of the hi-lighted links above. And to find out what other members of the TOS Homeshool Crew has to say just click here. Since this game is wonderful for homeschoolers - it can be used as a complete curriculum - or for non-homeschoolers who just need a little extra help in reading, then I'll close by saying "Happy Home Educating"!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was given a free limited time membership to Ooka Island in order to try out and give my honest review on this blog.

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Posted by tink38570 at 10:39 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, 7 November 2011 8:31 PM CST
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