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Crew Review: Because You are Strong by Doorposts

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Doorposts is a company who provides Bible based parenting and character training materials with the goal of making your job easier. I heard of this wonderful company when I first began homeschooling years ago, and have looked over many of their materials at homeschool conventions, online, and at my sister-in-law’s house,  but have never had the privilege to use any of the materials with my own family until now.

When I first saw that the Crew was to review two different Bible studies from Doorposts, one for boys and one for girls, I was really excited to try out Because You Are Strong  with Levi. I’ve done tons of studies with my girls, but have not really dug into anything too major with Levi since he is only 7.

When I began to look into the study and all that was involved, it sounded so amazing. All except for the fact that it is targeted to boys ages 10-12 and up. With Levi being a little young for it, I voiced my concerns and decided to go ahead and use it with him.

Because You Are Strong, A Study of Godly Strength for Young Men can be purchased for $14.00 for the softcover workbook or $10.00 for the pdf downloadable ebook.

The first really cool thing about it?

The picture on the cover!!

It really gives you the feeling that you are about to embark on a noble and valiant journey, doesn’t it?!

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When I received my glossy covered jewel, I was excited to begin working through ten in-depth studies focusing on heroes like David, Samson, and the “mighty men of valor” I had read about on the website.

This study was designed to help young men accomplish two goals:

1.  to gain a biblical understanding of strength

2.  to learn and practice Bible study skills

I love one of the opening sentences from the Introduction to the book:

“Young men have abundant strength and energy, but we don’t usually have an over-abundance of wisdom.”

Also in the introduction:

“It is important that we study what God actually says not what we think God says. We need to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit. In addition, we need to follow sound study practices and use proven resources as we study.”

I usually don’t quote many things verbatim, but I just thing these two lines really sum up what this study is all about.

The book is divided into ten studies, which are each broken down into five daily assignments.

It is recommended to have Nave’s Topical Bible and Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance on hand to use with the study, and many online resources are discussed as helpful to use while learning how to use the large variety of tools available for Bible study.

Some of the things taught by this study are:

how to use a concordance

how to study the original Greek and Hebrew words used in a passage

how to perform a character study

how to study a specific topic in the Bible

understanding and using marginal notes in your Bible

studying a verse, passage, chapter or entire book of the Bible

using free Bible study tools on computers and mobile devices

At the end there is even a section with alternate questions for young ladies so you can use it with your whole family!

While I know you can see the table on contents for yourself on the product page (along with sample pages!), I just can’t help but list them here, because they sound as exciting as the cool picture looks on the cover! Look here at the ten studies:

  1. Strength for the Race: Meditating on Hebrews 11-12
  2. Strength with no Limits A Topical Study on the Omnipotence of God
  3. Strength and Wisdom: A Topical Study in Proverbs
  4. Strength and Temptation: A Character Study of Samson
  5. Strength to be Valiant: A Word Study on “Valor”
  6. Strength in Our Weakness: A Verse Study on 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
  7. Strength in the Battle: A Chapter Study of 1 Samuel 17
  8. Strength Serving Others: A Study of Jesus’ Actions in the Gospel of Mark
  9. Strength and Gray Heads: A Verse Study of Proverbs 20:29
  10. Strength in the Faith: A Book Study of 1 John

Pretty cool, huh?

Because You are Strong at Gunn Ranch Academy

I already mentioned I was pretty excited by the picture on the cover of the book and the table of contents!

I just love the subject of Strength, and I also really LOVE Bible studies.

Levi has sat in on a few family studies with us, but none really geared for his level. I have gone through many “concept” and “topic” discussions with him, and we have been through books of the Bible together like Proverbs, but this study just looked like something I really wanted to talk about with him.

When I first opened the book to the work pages, I saw many lines and lots of room to write answers and make notes. It is definitely designed as a “work” book, to physically work through and make lots of notes in.

The organization and format of the book is very nice, and would be super-easy for young (distract-able) teenage boys to be able to use.  The directions are very easy to understand and follow.

It wasn’t quite what I expected, but not in a negative way.

I expected more discussion, more teaching material. I realized that the workbook is really more geared for independent Bible study by the student. It’s a great little tool to lead a boy through the Bible by teaching him how to utilize many different types of tools. As the study teaches the boy how to study his Bible and use these tools, its uses the subject of “strength” to do so.

I loved the idea of covering this topic with Levi, but the nature of the study being more of an independent tool to teach a boy how to study his Bible and use Bible tools made it a little difficult to share it with him.  Since he isn’t a strong reader yet, he really can’t use many of the tools being discussed in this study. I really didn’t find myself able to use much of the discussion with him at his age because it was more about teaching him to look things up, and as I looked things up myself, I was mostly answering the questions myself.

One thing I wasn’t too sure about was the fact that there are no answers to help guide the student in the right direction. There wasn’t much elaboration on the answers. I realize the study is meant to show the student to rely on scripture for the answers instead of what we “think” it should say, but I do think it might be a bit hard at times to rely on interpretation without some help.

All in all, I really like this book and its study method to teach young men how to read and study their Bible and introduce them to (as well as teach them how to use) the many Bible study tools out there.

We own many Bible study tools such as Naves and Strong’s and a few more my older girls have learned to use through other studies and I feel it is really important for kids to realize they exist and how much they can help them study their Bibles.

If you are looking for a great way to teach your boys how to study their Bibles, and would like them to learn how to study independently using various Bible tools, this is a great study for you!!

To read about my Crew Mates’ adventures with this study and a similar type study for girls from Doorposts called Beauty in the Heart, click on the banner!


Enjoy Your Journey!


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Crew Review: Understanding Child Brain Development


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The Family Hope Center is an international organization with a team of experts dedicated to helping families of children with developmental delays and special needs. But they are so much more than that!

For review I was sent a dvd called Understanding Child Brain Development that introduced me to the Family Hope Center and some of the ideas behind the programs they offer.

By focusing first on helping parents and families understand brain function, the team can individualize a treatment program for each unique situation that a child (or adult) may be living with. From simple reading delays to full blown severe brain injuries, each unique situation is met with the hope and expertise of a caring team of professionals. Families can attend an Interactive Training conference, and set up personal appointments for their special needs and severely affected children to begin their journey which will ultimately result in an in-home treatment program.

But for the majority of children who aren’t severely affected but may exhibit difficulties in cognitive, behavioral or emotional functioning, the Family Hope Center has put together a complete at-home program to help families bring out the best in their children called The Thriving Child.

Despite the level of treatment a child might need, the principles of the program are the same, and target the brain rather than the symptoms or labels a child may have been given.  The dvd that I received, which contains the recording of a seminar given by Matthew and Carol Newell, the director and vice-director of the Family Hope Center, was designed to help parents understand how the brain develops, the critical role they play in it, and how to maximize development and bring out the very best in their child.


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To order the DVD, please call 610-397-1737 or you can order Understanding Child Brain Development from Institute for Excellence in Writing for $19.00.  This dvd is targeted for an adult audience.

The interactive seminar is an informative presentation with slides, and plenty of question/answer discussion.  While it really focuses on the Family Hope Center’s three day seminar and personalized treatment program that they offer, you can definitely begin to understand how and why their program works and gives hope to so many.

The sections include:

-Introduction by Andrew Pudewa

-Matthew and Carol Newell,The Family Hope Center

-Child Brain Development – Who’s Really Driving?

-Why do Brain Dysfunctions Still Exist?

– The Family Hope Center

– The Magnificent Brain

– The Sense of Smell

– The Sense of Smells in Newborns

– The Pons

– The Mid-Brain: Creeping

– The Cortex

– Diagnosis/Treatment at The Family Hope Center

– Physiology vs. Pathology

– Integrated Therapy

– Water and Its Effect on the Human Body

With the help of slides and charts, Mr. Newell takes a comprehensive look at how the brain develops, linking the physical and developmental properties. He then covers developmental delays, pinpointing parts of the brain that are “injured” or not developed in certain situations.  By finding the source of the delay, the actual problem can be treated vs. treating a collection of symptoms. He covers how the center diagnosis and treats  brain injuries by putting parents in the driver’s seat and teaching the family how to rehabilitate their family member. He introduces ideas of some of the therapies that families are taught to do at home such as creeping and crawling.

In conclusion, the Newell’s give some practical advice that families can work on to lead their families to better health that they learn first and foremost in the 3-day seminar:

  1. Understand the child and work together
  2. Nutrition – food, water, eliminate EMFs, sunshine
  3. Structure work
  4. Basic sensory simulation
  5. Neurologically based mobility programs
  6. Consistency – schedule, emotional/social support

For a more detailed look at the dvd and the Family Hope Center, you can take a look at the companion e-book (pdf) which contains slides from the video seminar and more thorough explanation of the seminar and programs offered.

Along with the dvd, I received a second dvd called Stories of Family Hope which contains interviews with families who have been through the program with children who have ADD/ADHD, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and Autism.  It also shows the Family Hope Center and 3-day seminar.

My thoughts on the dvd:

I was interested in viewing this dvd because I have always been intrigued by brain and neurological development. I grew up with a brother with Tourette Syndrome, and our family suffered a difficult journey in diagnosis and treatment at a time when the disease was little known. This sparked my interest early on of brain development.

As I began thinking of raising children of my own, I began studying even more on neurodevelopment. I happily watched my own children meet and/or exceed benchmarks, and worked to nurture those neuronal connections to the best of my ability.

I have relatives that dealt with some developmental delays and used many of the ideas and principles introduced in this video with their own children, so I was more intrigued than ever when I read the description of it.

I enjoyed the video and reviewing many of the ideas and principles of brain development. The video is really easy to understand and the discussion with the audience is helpful in summing up many of the ideas. I love the chronological order of covering the brain and the basic ideas related to each section.

I do feel that they could have more clearly covered and  linked the therapy ideas that were introduced in the video. Even though the video gave a lot of specific teaching on the anatomy and physiology of the brain, I do feel it seemed a bit like an advertisement for the 3-day seminar they hold at their center than teaching some things you can do at home yourself. It showed many examples of families and children that were helped and treated by their program, but didn’t leave as much hope for things that I could use with my own children to help them through some of the areas I identified that might be problems with them. For those who have children who might only have some minor areas that need a little help, I feel it could have done a better job clearly laying out some specific things to do. I think these ideas were in there, but some I already knew from the program my relatives used with their kids, so I’m not sure someone unfamiliar with this approach would understand the how, how long, and how much of the therapy.

I feel for children and families that have severely affected children and are searching for hope, that this might just be the answer if they are financially able. For those families who are financially unable to set up an appointment with the Family Hope Center and travel, it might be a good place to start. For those with children who might have some minor areas of development that need some work, this video might offer a deeper understanding of what’s going on and a good place to begin looking for help!

To see what my crew mates thought of this dvd, click the box!






Enjoy Your Journey!


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Texas 4-H Equine Amabassador Program

Last year I started spending some time on the computer digging up more opportunities for the girls in leadership and training in their areas of interest.

I found a cool program that was in it’s very first year, but it was too late to register for the current training. So I waited for it to come up again during the schoolyear and in March it was time to register.

Our county extension agent is wonderful about finding great stuff for the kids who desire more, and just as I printed out the info to take her she had emailed me the link. Great minds think alike.

So when it was time to apply, Morgan worked on the application and got Barbie to send her letter of recommendation, and then we waited.

We didn’t hear back during the period of time they had said we would, so we thought maybe Morgan hadn’t been accepted until one night very, very late Morgan came running and screaming into my room after receiving the email accepting her into the program.

I texted Barbie (our extension agent) very late, and she was happy to hear. She said she had received a list the middle of the month with the applicants and it was a very long list!

We soon found out that another JWC 4-Her and friend, Shelby, had been accepted as well!

So more waiting, and finally the time has come to drive the girls 8 hours to the training. Thankfully there are two going so I will be taking them up and Shelby’s grandma will be picking them up. 🙂

So what is this exciting time all about?

Well, you can see a great video explaining it on the Texas 4-H tamu website.

Also from the website:

The mission of Texas 4-H Equine Ambassador program is to provide 4-H members the opportunity to develop and practice advanced leadership skills related to mentoring other youth, and to become advocates for the equine industry in Texas.

The program is open to all Texas 4-H members ages 14-17 with at least one full year of 4-H eligibility remaining.  Selection will be based on application and recommendation letters.  Recommendation by an adviser is required with application.  Ownership of a horse is NOT a requirement or a part of the selection criteria.

The Texas 4-H Equine Ambassador Program is designed as an in-depth learning experience for selected youth to represent the equine industry in Texas.  Training includes a short course experience in the most heavily populated horse industry area of Texas.  During this four-day training, more than 30 hours of rigorous instruction by university faculty, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Specialists, and County Extension Agents cover topics such as leadership, career development, horse care and training philosophies and Horse Industry advocacy.  Youth also learn the value of giving back to the community.  Below are objectives of the Texas 4-H Equine Ambassador program:

  • Prepare youth to serve in leadership capacities in horse projects and programs across Texas.
  • Prepare youth for the experience of the university setting, through intensive science based instruction and experiences.
  • Prepare and provide opportunities for youth to serve in advocacy roles for the Equine Industry, 4-H, and the horse programs.
  • Develop a heightened awareness of career opportunities in the equine industry and advocacy.

Texas 4-H members selected to serve as a Texas 4-H Equine Ambassador are required to commit at least thirty (30) hours of service annually helping educate other 4-H’ers about their horse project as well as interpreting the positive aspects of horses in our society. The program is designed for motivated youth desiring to enhance their knowledge and skills of the equine industry and agriculture, develop leadership as well as to share their knowledge with others. Equine Ambassadors will be expected to use the knowledge and skills learned from the training to help others in their local 4-H clubs and beyond.  An accountability system will be in place for equine ambassadors to record their service hours and acts.

Just thought I’d explain what we are so excited about!

The girls will check in this Sunday at noon, and be spending some amazing time learning this week!

Stay tuned for updates on how it all went once Morgan returns, and for updates throughout our 4-H year old her service an a Texas 4-H Equine Ambassador!

Enjoy Your Journey!




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Jim Wells County 4-H Awards

Saturday, August 3, 2013 was a time to recognize all the hard work the wonderful kids of Jim Wells County 4-H have done over the 2012-2013 4-H year, and also welcome the new officers for the 2013-14 year.

The first picture is of the individual awards given to 4-Hers at each age level- Junior, Intermediates, and Seniors. The 4-Hers are considered for these awards by completing a record book and being invited to an interview, among other things.

Here are the recipients of our Outstanding Junior, Intermediate and Senior awards, Bronze Star, Silver Star, Gold Star, I Dare You Award, Hall of Fame, and Helping Hands award, with some of our 4-H recipients not present.  Morgan won the Gold Star award and Taylor won the I Dare You Award.

The 4-Hers also receive awards for the amount of points they earned during the year being involved in various activities, called Incentive Awards. The first level of points is awarded a t-shirt, the next level is a portfolio, then a briefcase, then a duffle bag and the highest level of points is a jacket or hoodie. The prizes have beautiful Jim Wells County 4-H embroidery on them, and the jackets have “High Point” and their name as well.

Morgan and Taylor received jackets and had the 3rd and fourth highest amount of points earned, only coming in below the outstandingly competitive Gehbert brothers! This is an outstanding group of young people!!

The 4-Hers who completed record books receive pins for the main project their record book focused on.

Morgan and Taylor both received Horse project pins and their two year pins (this is only the second year we have done record book.) I must also mention that both Taylor and Morgan’s record books won 1st at county level, advanced to District where Taylors received a blue ribbon award and Morgan’s won 1st at District, then advancing to State level, Morgan’s record book won 4th place! Outstanding! Another of our seniors, Brianna, also advanced to State and won 9th place! Great job JWC!

Here, the new officers for the upcoming year get their pins:

Thomas-President, David– 1st Vice President, Taylor– 2nd Vice President, Sara– District Delegate, Kyleigh– Secretary, and Morgan– Treasurer

Also recognized were businesses, parents, volunteers, and other friends of 4-H.

During the potluck meal, our hardworking extension agent Barbie played a slideshow of all the pictures of kids and events throughout the year. And lastly, Barbie gave a heartfelt farewell to our graduating seniors, along with a tearful slideshow.

Afterwards was a dance and time to socialize with our friends.

It was a lovely evening!

Congratulations to all of our ambitious 4-H kids, y’all are what being a teenager is all about.

Keep on making the best better!

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Crew Review: Brainfood- The Fascinating World of Insects

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BrainFood Learning is a little company founded by a mom and dad who decided to take it upon themselves to create the educational and entertaining videos they were searching for for their young children and couldn’t find.
“The Fascinating World of…” videos were born, and so far three titles are available. These videos are suitable for all ages as they are bright and colorful enough for toddlers, yet informative and challenging enough to capture the attention of a 13 year old.

For review we were blessed with The Fascinating World of Insects DVD which can be purchased for $14.99.

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Once the menu is brought up, you can choose to watch it straight through or click on individual insects for viewing. There is also a review section with flash cards, and quizzes that plays after the complete section of insects, or you can click on it individually, which makes it nice to go back and review anytime, or skip initially to go back and complete later on if you are working it as a unit study or with the lesson plans. Oh yes, you read that right. There are free  lesson plans developed for each video that can be used along with them!

The insects included in this video are the grasshopper, ladybug, rhino beetle, firefly, mosquito, honey bee, water strider, ant, praying mantis, dragonfly, and butterfly.

The beautiful close up photography is absolutely amazing. Nothing is left to the imagination here, you can visualize everything right down to the antennae!! The live action video of each insect in its natural habitat, from metamorphosis to bees making their honey is really amazing. The sound quality is outstanding as well, with clear voices and wonderful background music.

The quizzes are engaging and a perfect complement to the videos for older children, and the flash cards are equally as engaging for younger kids. Kids of all ages will come away from this video knowing the parts of the insect, and many new vocabulary terms without even trying.  There are so many different educational facets to this video, yet it is beautiful and fun to watch! The viewers won’t even know they are learning!

Gunn Ranch Academy BrainFood

I usually save my Thumbs Up for the end of this section, but I just gotta start out with two thumbs up from everyone at our house for this video! All three kiddos asked if we could get the others!

Yep, it’s that good. Between the beautiful photography and the live footage, this is one of the best quality videos we own.

Each insect is discussed in detail and the review is even a fun way to put it all together.

I was surprised at the information my 7 year old retained. The very first time we watched the video all the way through the end of the review questions, and he sat with me and answered them all right to the end and only missed a few! I even learned some new terminology myself!

Of course, like all videos, this one has been played over and over and over since we got it.

Levi’s favorite parts are hard to list because he really loves the whole video, but he says he really liked seeing the honey bees (because he wants to start beekeeping for his 4-H project) and seeing the water strider on the water.

Last year we started a study of insects, and Levi has said he wants to be an entomologist for a few years now, so this was really up his alley. I love that this video appealed to him at 7, yet he was able to take away some amazing facts and vocabulary that he can use for many years to come, whether he becomes an entomologist, or just keeps it as a hobby.

These videos would make wonderful unit studies on their own, or would be a perfect  addition to science programs. They would be wonderful in daycares, and very entertaining if you are babysitting or have young nieces and nephews over for a visit!

Of course I always love products that span several age groups. These certainly do that, and won’t bore Mom and Dad when they are played over and over (at least the first several times, LOL).

These would also make great gifts for birthdays, new families on the block, teachers, homeschool families (of course), co-ops, day-cares, the list could go on and on.

I can honestly say if you have read this far in my review, you will probably just wanna go ahead and order all three videos when you make your order. My kids can’t wait for the other two to arrive!

For more BrainFood Learning DVD reviews, click on over to our Crew Blog!


Enjoy Your Journey!

Dr. Chris

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I Dare You Award

Last Saturday night was our JWC 4-H Awards banquet.

Taylor was awarded a very special award that definitely fits all she has done, accomplished and strives for.

She was the recipient of the I Dare You Award!

Here is what it’s all about:

(from the Texas 4-H/ Texas A&M Agrilife Extension website:

William H. Danforth’s book, I Dare You, was first published in 1931. It is still considered one of the most influential books in the area of personal motivation. The book is published and distributed by the American Youth Foundation through its I Dare You committee. The I Dare You Leadership Award is not a contest or competition. High school principals and county agents are asked to select (or have a staff or committee select) nominees. The award consists of a copy of I Dare You, a certificate, and an invitation to apply for a scholarship to attend a 7-day International Leadership Conference (ILC) at one of A.Y.F.’s three sites ( Michigan, New Hampshire and California). The award recognizes excellence in character, well-balanced personal development, and potential for leadership.

Congratulations Taylor!

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4-H Gold Star Award

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This has been an exciting and thrilling 4-H year.

We’ve done so much, made so many friends, and the accomplishments have been overflowing.

At the awards banquet last Saturday night, Morgan was blessed yet again by receiving the highest award that a 4-Her can receive at county level.

She was the recipient of the Gold Star award!

Congratulations Morgan!

Here’s what it’s all about:

From the Texas 4-H/ Texas A&M Agrilife Extension website:

The Gold Star Award is the highest county achievement award and will be awarded only once in a member’s 4-H career. Counties have award quotas based on the number of senior 4-H members. The award is presented to the most deserving young people without regard to sex. The following are minimum requirements that must be met.
The member must be at least 15 at the time of application and must have completed at least 3 years in 4-H, including the current year.
The 4-H member must submit an awards program recordbook in the year he or she is to be considered for the award.
The 4-H member must have completed projects in three different project areas, have submitted appropriate record forms, and have participated in one or more activities in at least three of the following areas: Educational PresentationsCitizenship activities, Projects, Project exhibits, Camps, Leadership labs, Public relations (speeches, poster displays, radio, TV, newspapers), Other (includes exchange programs, fundraising, State and National Congress, etc.)
Note: The requirements for projects and activities do not all have to be completed in the current year. They may have been accomplished over the entire period of time the person has been in the program.
The member must have exhibited leadership skills by serving as a 4-H officer or committee chairman (club county, district or state), and/or as a junior or teen leader in an activity or project with or under the supervision of an adult volunteer leader. The 4-H member must have participated in one or more community service activities. Examples are working with or counseling junior 4-H members; participating in community service projects (individual, group or club); and motivating other 4-H members through participation in demonstrations, projects and/or exhibits.
History of the Gold Star
The following information was prepared by Mr. Lynch in a memorandum to Director Gibson on December 9, 1952.
“The presentation of the Gold Star Pin was begun in 1933, the first year Mr. E.C. Martin was Boys 4-H Club Specialist. Mr. Martin tells us the pin was prompted by an effort to recognize the people who did the work rather than the agents.
Previous to this time, the agents submitting the largest number of 4-H records
received the recognition.
Records in the Fiscal office the first Gold Star Pins were purchased in 1933.
For the first several years the Gold Star Pins were presented at a dinner during Short Course at College Station.
In the beginning each county made a nomination of their outstanding 4-H member and 100 members were selected to receive the award. After several years, the awards were presented to the outstanding 4-H boy and 4-H girl in each county.” (Cox, et. al)
In 1985, the Gold Star begin to be awarded to the top 4-H members in a county, regardless of gender. The number of Gold Stars are determined based on the membership of the total county 4-H enrollment.

Way to go Morgan, we are so proud of you!