Wednesday, April 26, 2017

REVIEW: Drive-Thru History® –“The Gospels” by Drive-Thru History®

I looked forward to reviewing Drive-Thru History® – “The Gospels” by Drive-Thru History®


Drive-Thru History® –“The Gospels” is an 18-episode, 9-hour series that pairs the physical places and historical findings with the scripture in the gospels.

Host Dave Stotts takes you through the truly “extraordinary life of Jesus of Nazareth” in this eye-opening series.  In addition to the narrated video content geared for all ages, there is also a full-color book included in the DVD box set that summarizes each episode, adds side notes, and provides a handful of discussion questions and corresponding scripture references that can be used for family bible study.

You can purchase the complete box set for just $89.95.  You can watch the first episode for free and see if this compelling series is right for you and your family.



I actually got this series for myself to watch.  I’m a big fan of historical documentaries, and I’m always up for learning more about how archaeological discoveries and known historical data tie in with God’s word to us in the bible.  I don’t personally have any doubts about the truth in the scriptures, but it always helps to have historical knowledge to support my beliefs when engaging in religious discussions with others who aren’t quite as convinced as I am.

I have really, really enjoyed this series.  I found it easy to binge watch several episodes at a time because it was just so interesting!  I watched several episodes in our mountain cabin on vacation with my whole family (there was only one television), and my children of varying ages from 9-17 and even my husband found that this series was actually pretty cool to watch!  My husband said it was better than he expected (he’s not a documentary-lover like myself).  It was truly so well done, and it’s really easy to listen to the host, Dave Stotts.  He has a voice and manner of speaking that gets your attention and isn’t monotone at all.

The content was thorough.  Each episode began with a quick summary of the previous episode and a quick introduction to what this episode would cover.  Then it dove right into the topic of discussion, driving to over 50 ancient sites in Israel over the course of the 18 episodes.  Dave read right from the scripture of the gospels and then discussed the cultural, archaeological, and geographical circumstances that applied to the events discussed in scripture.  He takes you through the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. 

To accompany the videos, the 118-page book with full-color illustrations provides an overview of each episode along with some basic discussion questions you can use with your children or bible study class.  I would say the questions are good for basic comprehension of the material covered in the episodes, and the book provides scripture references you can use for further study on the topics.  I did not use the questions since I was mostly just viewing the videos for myself, but I can see how they would work for even younger children who might be using the set for family bible study.

I learned a lot about artifacts and historical findings that do indeed support the scriptures, and I also got to hear cultural tidbits that I found interesting, like the fact that mangers at that time were actually made of stone and not wood the way most modern children’s books would depict them.  So the baby Jesus would have been laid in a stone manger in a room that would normally house animals at night.  One of the episodes showed what a typical building of this nature looked like, and as Dave trekked the countryside in Israel, I found myself better able to picture what it must have been like for Jesus to live there and grow his ministry among the people.

In fact, I found myself contributing some of the things I learned at our adult bible study at church, and I made a case for how I thought they’d all enjoy watching this series, as well.

I still have about 4 episodes left to watch, but I can pretty much guarantee that I will be sitting down with this set again in the future so I can repeat the whole series and glean even more understanding from it.  It’s definitely worth my time to watch it through again, and I look forward to sharing it with my family and friends!

Check out what other Crew members had to say about this compelling series by clicking the banner below.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Freebies and Deals This Week

Wednesday, April 26th is the magic date this week.  There are two great offers for you on that day:


Auntie Anne's Rolls in National Pretzel Day

National Pretzel Day:  Enjoy a FREE original or cinnamon sugar pretzel at participating Auntie Anne’s locations between April 26th and 30th, but you must download the My Pretzel Perks app by midnight on April 26th in order to redeem the offer.  I’m totally in love with the cinnamon sugar pretzels…the bites are my favorite.  They have the right balance of buttery sweetness.  Who can resist that?


$1 Chili Cheese Coney!


Sonic:  All day on April 26th, you can get a small ice cream slush for just 79 cents!  What a deal!  I don’t know about you, but I’m totally hooked on the real strawberry cream slush, and the rest of my family loves the orange flavor, which tastes like the orange creamsicles from my childhood.


Enjoy the goodies!

Monday, April 24, 2017

REVIEW: Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316

I was super excited to get to review the Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316, because this was a game that was right up my alley!


The Daily Bible Jigsaw is a free game platform available for Apple in the AppStore, Android from Google Play, or the Facebook App played in your browser. 

Each day, you can solve that day’s jigsaw puzzle featuring a beautiful photo.  When you’ve solved the puzzle, the puzzle is overlayed with an inspiring bible verse, which can be shared instantly on Facebook.

In addition to the free puzzle of the day, you have the option to purchase puzzle coins to play additional archived puzzles from past days on the calendar.  You can also use puzzle coins to make use of helpful tools to assist you in solving the puzzles faster.

For the review, I was given a pack of 500 puzzle coins in my account, which allowed me to play tons of extra puzzles!



This game is really fun and relaxing!  I enjoyed doing it most either first thing in the morning after I took my son to school, or in the evening as I was relaxing before bed.  Either way, I loved being able to share the inspiring bible verses with friends and family on Facebook.

You can earn extra puzzle coins for awards you receive, like solving so many puzzles for a certain day of the week, solving a puzzle in under 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, etc., for solving a bulk total number of puzzles, or for successfully connecting the “power piece” in each puzzle…a random piece that sparkles for a few seconds while you try to connect it to another piece.  In this way, you can earn coins to play additional puzzles, even if you never buy any coin packs.  But I can tell you that if you enjoy solving jigsaw puzzles, then you will definitely want to buy some extra coins!

During the review period, I ended up solving over all the puzzles for December through the current date in April!  And I still had a LOT of coins left.  In addition, there are some bonus puzzles that you can play for free that contain a lot more puzzle pieces and therefore take longer to solve.  Those are definitely more challenging.  The daily puzzles all have 30 pieces in them.

You can view your ranking in the weekly tournament, and your time to complete each puzzle is saved so you can also repeat a puzzle (with coins) and try to get a better time than you had before.  Even with the many months’ worth of puzzles I completed, I only saw a few images repeat.  Mostly, they were different each day.  And you can challenge a Facebook friend to play, as well, and see who gets the best time.

There are a number of tools you can use to assist you if you need help or want to improve your completion time.  Here’s a summary of them and what they do:

  • Rotate:  Automatically rotates all puzzle pieces to the correct orientation.
  • Guide:  Shows you what the completed image will look like so you can better picture how the pieces fit together.
  • Sweep:  This sweeps all the unconnected pieces to the perimeter of the screen.
  • Magnet:  Randomly attached 2 pieces together to help you when you’re stuck.
  • Edges:  Separates all the edge pieces from the middle ones so you can easily put the frame together first.

Each of these tools costs you coins to use them.  Occasionally, a tool might be free for a limited time.  I am pretty good at solving puzzles, and I didn’t feel the need to use the helps, and I would much rather save my coins for more puzzles to solve!

Initially, my goal was to solve puzzles in under 5 minutes.  As I got better, then my goal was 4 minutes, and today, I solved one in under 3 minutes for the first time, which earned me the reward of a few extra coins.  The program keeps track of your rewards, and you can look back at all of the bible verses you’ve completed at any time.

The bottom line is that this game is addicting, fun, and a great way to relax for me.  I find myself looking forward to it.  And when my 12-year old daughter saw me doing the puzzles, she opened her own account on her Android tablet, and she does the daily puzzles, too.  We even sat side by side and competed with each other many times to see which one of us would solve it first!  Sometimes, that competitive nature just rears its head, LOL. 

I personally played it using the Facebook app on my computer, and I had only one issue…my computer completely crashed (shut down suddenly) at least half a dozen times while I had the game open, and it was always after I’d completed the puzzle and got up to do something so it sat for a minute or two without any activity, or when I was looking through my rewards.  It never did it while a puzzle was in play.  I’m not sure what the cause was, but I’m pretty sure it was related to the Facebook app since it never happened to me any other time.  As with all apps, there are occasionally bugs that have to be fixed, and I’m assuming that is one of them.  I have no idea if others experienced it, as well, or if it is specific to my computer or version of Windows 10.  But it wasn’t enough to deter me from playing the game!  I have really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

Take a look at what other Crew members had to say about this entertaining and uplifting game by clicking the banner below.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Our Final Mountain Vacation

I am so happy to have spent the past week at Cliffside Cabin in Front Royal, VA.  It’s truly our home away from home…our respite from the stresses of life in the city.  I can’t express how much I will miss our annual vacation up there.  We have been coming since 2007 when I was pregnant with Holden.  Time flies!


We usually venture out a couple of times and find new historic sites and museums or caverns to visit, but not this time.  We really just wanted to enjoy the view of the Shenandoah River and the mountains from our front porch.  I slept with our bedroom window open at night just so I could listen to the sound of the rapids and wake up to the sound of birds singing in the trees.


We stayed up so late most nights…too late to get up early and watch the sun rise like I normally do, so I made sure to go to bed a bit earlier on Friday night so I could at least get up and do it on Saturday morning…our final leisurely day at the cabin.  I rushed out in my pj’s with a lap blanket wrapped around me and a cup of tea in hand.  My favorite way to spend vacation!


Mostly, I just sat on the porch and read a book or napped on the double rocker on the porch.  I even lay on the picnic table and just felt the sun on my face.  It was unseasonably warm on this trip, so we never got to make a fire in the indoor fireplace, but we did make one in the outdoor brick grill one night, and we all sat around the picnic table beside it and listened to music and looked at the stars.  The weather was so beautiful!


I just can’t put into words how much we will miss it!  Farewell to my beloved Front Royal!  I hope we meet again someday…


Monday, April 10, 2017

Best Laid Plans…

My husband and I have almost identical personality types…only I’m an extrovert and he’s an introvert.  But basically, we are can-do types who are very organized and like to plan and control things.  Our attempt at taking a northern VA job and moving to Front Royal was no different.  As a result, God likes to remind us every so often that we are not the ones in control…He is.  Apparently, this is one of those times.

Steve got an incredible job offer in TX early last week which he had to respond to by the end of the day on Friday.  We never really intended to take it…I mentioned last week that it was just a backup plan to the northern VA job.  But it seems God had a different path for us!  Steve did finally receive a verbal offer on Friday after they stalled all week long, but they wouldn’t put it in writing until the following week, and they had no details other than a salary.  They only came up with that much information after serious pressure by the recruiter.  It was the same base salary as the TX job, but no allowance for a vehicle (which was $800/mo. at the TX company), and zero information on any other benefits.  Not only would they not take the time to put it in writing, even in an email, but they made the mistake of saying they had reservations even about that amount.  That was the last straw for Steve.  He started to have reservations about the job itself and the lack of support he might expect from a company that’s based out of town and is too busy to wrap up a job offer for which he’s been interviewing for the last 6 weeks.  He realized he’d been trying to push it along the whole time, and their offer did not show him that they really wanted him there.  Since the position/location was new ground for this Tampa-based company, he decided the TX offer was a safer bet for stability and a better offer, even though it was a lateral position to his current job.

So much to my shock and dismay, Steve officially accepted the TX job on Friday, and we will be moving to the Fort Worth area, hopefully at the end of June after Hayden’s graduation!  What’s more, he starts on May 1st, so he’ll be leaving in less than 3 weeks, and he won’t be back at all!  No vacation the first year, so he won’t even be able to come back for Hayden’s high school graduation, which is probably one of the saddest parts.  The ceremony is mid-week for whatever reason, so there’s no chance of flying home on the weekend for it, either.

Sigh.  So here we are!  We’re embarking on what will surely be a trying and difficult period of change, but I know that once we get settled, we’ll be fine.  The upside is that there will be plenty to do there, and homeschooling is completely unrestricted and popular there, so there are lots of support groups, sports and activities for the kids.  We’ll also be very close to Six Flags over Texas and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor amusement parks, so we might actually get to go regularly.

I have to admit that as I made the drive to Front Royal for our annual vacation yesterday, I did cry big tears when I came up over the hill and got my first glimpse of the mountains.  Inside, I’m so devastated that not only will we not be moving here any time soon, but we’re also not likely to vacation here again.  That’s probably the hardest part.  We all feel such a letdown when we leave the cabin every year, and the only thing that makes it bearable is the knowledge that we’ll be returning the following year.  So while we’re so happy to be here right now, it’s also bittersweet, being the last time.  We’ve been fortunate to be able to come here for the last 10 years.  It’s been such a blessing, and I’m very thankful!  It is truly the place I go in my mind’s eye whenever life stresses me out.  It’s our little piece of Heaven on earth.

I went out on the porch overlooking the Shenandoah River and the mountains to read a book and sip some tea this afternoon.  It was such a beautiful, truly perfect day.  I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night and was exhausted from the drive up, so I decided to stretch out in the double rocker with a pillow and blanket, and in no time at all, I was blissfully asleep, enjoying the peaceful nature sounds and the sound of the rapids below.  It was the best nap ever!

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this move.  I can hardly fathom that we are going halfway across the country to an even hotter climate!  I was quite looking forward to the average annual snowfall of 24 inches in Front Royal.  But there was certainly a hard and valuable life lesson in this…God managed to remind me to follow His leading while blessing us with an incredible job offer at the same time.  I’m so thankful for His provision!

On to the next adventure…

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Update…Our New Beginning!

So my husband, Steve, spent Thursday and Friday traveling for final job interviews with two out-of-town companies. 

On Thursday, he drove 4 hours to Herndon, VA to have a 45-minute conversation and then drove 4 hours back home again!  It went really well, though, and they let him know that they would be offering him the job.  Yay!  This is the position he wanted as a Senior General Construction Project Manager.  They said they would put their offer together and get it to him early this week.  The only thing that would keep him from taking it is if the salary is not satisfactory, but I expect it will be fine.

Then on Friday morning, I drove him to the airport for a 9:30 AM flight to Fort Worth, TX.  It was not a direct flight…he went through Charlotte, NC…so it as already a longer-than-necessary trip.  But then someone on board had a medical emergency, and they had to divert the plane to Alabama!  That delayed his arrival another 1 hr. 40 minutes, so he was very late for his interview.  Everyone was waiting in a conference room for him to arrive.  That company was really big with a state-of-the-art office facility.  He was a little overwhelmed at the size of it, and they had to make it a quick interview so he could catch his return flight back to Norfolk.  At least that was a direct flight so he landed at 10:30 PM.  Two very long days!  But they also confirmed that they would be offering him the job and would get an offer letter to him early this week.

In the meantime, I took the kids out to dinner Friday night in the middle of a horrendous storm, and everyone’s phones were going off about every 1/2 hour with emergency alerts.  There was a tornado just up the road from my house, and it did a huge amount of damage nearby.  I was so afraid Steve’s flight would get delayed again due to weather, but the storm stopped about an hour before he landed.  Crisis averted!  And I was so thankful that we weren’t affected by the storm.  There was total devastation to a lot of homes, and I feel so bad for everyone affected.  Tornados don’t happen too often around here.

We had so much rain that our baseball practices were canceled on Saturday morning.  We were all out of whack with everything that had been going on, and I totally forgot we had tickets to the Barnum and Bailey circus in Hampton last night!  My teenager walked through and mentioned it while I was thawing meat for dinner, so I threw it in the fridge, and we all ran out to the van to get there as fast as we could!  We were about 30 minutes late, but we made it!  I didn’t want to miss the final performance of Ringling Brothers EVER!  It was fun, and I’m glad we made it.

So now we’re looking at houses in Front Royal in earnest!  Our vacation next week is going to turn into a house-hunting trip!  I’m incredibly excited about it.  I found my new favorite house…this is IT!

276 Deerhaven Rd, Front Royal, VA 22630

It has an amazing kitchen with a 6-burner gas stove with double oven and griddle top!

276 Deerhaven Rd, Front Royal, VA 22630

And the winter view is incredible!  What a winter wonderland!

276 Deerhaven Rd, Front Royal, VA 22630

This is definitely going to be the FIRST house I go see next week!  I’ve been getting all of my ducks in a row in preparation.  I got in touch with my loan officer to get pre-qualified so we’d be all set to know what we can look at while we’re in town.

So now we’re just awaiting those offers to come in…and the Herndon offer most importantly.  I’m anxious to see if the salary will be what we’re expecting or not.  I really don’t think it will be a problem, though.  My dream house is 54 minutes from what will be Steve’s new office, 15 minutes from the church we attend there, and only 10 minutes from town where I can grocery shop and run errands.  *Perfect!*

So stay tuned…Red heart