"How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden Your Word in my heart
that I might not sin against You.
Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees."

Psalm 119:9-12
Music is a major part of our family. My daughter plays the piano and guitar (and any other instrument she gets her hands on), my son is learning drums and likes to play the guitar and piano, too. I used to sing throughout grade school and college. We just love music. We like almost every genre, too. Classical, Christian, country, classical rock, some pop, jazz, swing. . .and so on. Music is a part of our very core.

I tend to believe that part of my love for music comes from my family. Both my mom & dad's families have been involved in music for many years, some just at home, school, or church, and others actually have been in bands over the years. For this reason, I have always been exposed to various forms of music and I have always wanted my children to be able to have that joy of music.

However, I do not have the ability to teach music on any instrument because I just do not have that skill set. Because my instrument was my voice, I could teach some voice lessons, but I did not learn how to educate in this area. I know what I have to do to sing and can relay that to my children, but I am not a voice teacher.

Homeschooling is a wonderful blessing to many families. But there are those few areas where we need help from experienced instructors. Voice and/or music lessons are often some of these. So what's a homeschool mom to do? A solution to this dilemma may be closer than you think : ^ )

Vocal Coach is a company created by vocal coaches, Chris & Carole Beatty. They have designed products for beginning singers to accomplished, award-winning, touring artists (Vocal Coach). With over 40 years of vocal coaching experience, Chris & Carole have built Vocal Coach "on their passion for training the singers of today and tomorrow".

Vocal Coach offers products you can use in the privacy of your own home as well as private vocal lessons in their Brentwood, TN studio. Whether your goal is to teach your child basic vocal skills or to become an accomplished singer, Vocal Coach can help you in the pursuit of that goal. 

As members of the SRC, we were given Vocal Coach's product Vocal Coach Singer to review. 
Vocal Coach Singer is a set of 7 professionally produced CD's and a complete  instructional guidebook that "teaches and builds upon the fundamentals essential to an accomplished singing voice". 

Chris & Carole have taken their proven techniques and teaching styles and methods and created this course that will teach everything from correct posture and breathing to performance. It is the most comprehensive course I have seen. It's like taking all of my in school voice lessons through grade school, high school, & college and putting them in a course and then adding flair and vibrance from an exceptional instructor. There's so much in this course, many things I knew and had forgotten, or had never learned.

My daughter enjoyed the course. One of the first things she said to me was "why didn't you reinforce my posture, see what a difference it makes?" I said, "yes, I do see, and that's what I'd been saying to you". It's funny how your children can hear the same thing from you over and over again and not get it, but then hear it once from someone else and the lightbulb finally comes on. LOL. But either way, it made an impression on her right at the start. She has taken voice lessons before, too, and many of skills Mr. Beatty teaches on these CD's were not given to her. He really has put so much into this course.

Vocal Coach Singer includes:

7 Training CDs:
Getting Started
Complete Breathing
Complete Warm-Up
Complete Tone
Complete Expanding Your Range
Complete Diction
Complete Performance

4 Workout CDs:
Daily Workout High Voice 1 & 2
Daily Workout Medium/Low Voice 1 & 2

Plus these great educational tools:
Guidebook – Full-size Instructional Guidebook to Ensure Success
Printable Lead Sheets – each exercise in our course, plus track lists
Personal Singer's Journal (Getting Started Journal & Workout Journal)
Vocal Coach Song Evaluation –  to enable you to make more intelligent song selections
Vocal Coach Singer can be purchased as an MP3 download that is easily transportable for $99.99 or on CD's for $119.99. You will not be disappointed in this curriculum. You and your children will learn a great deal and have fun, too.

"Vocal Coach Singer is the most complete instructional singing system available with the equivalent of over $2,000 worth of personal coaching time." (Vocal Coach). I'm adding this statement here because the value is incredible. I know the cost of voice lessons from my daughter taking them, and for $99.99 or $119.99, you will be getting a wonderful value!

Members of the SRC also reviewed Teaching Kids to Sing from Vocal Coach. You can read reviews on either product by clicking the link below. 
Disclaimer: I received this product free as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew with the sole purpose of providing an honest review after reading it. For more information on this, please see my disclaimer.
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."
Psalm 19:14
Most of us live in a comfortable home with many of today's luxuries. These luxuries have made our lives easier, or so it seems. We may have a smartphone, tablet, Wii, XBox, large screen T.V., 3D T.V., computers, DVD players, DVR, surround sound. . . everything we need to make life easy. . . or so it seems. Having these things doesn't make life easier, necessarily. There's the cost of owning them, the responsibilities that come with them, and the addiction to them that make them become not so great. 

So often I hear my husband say, "we made it before without [add in your own item]". It is true. Usually he's referring to cell phones. Do you ever get frustrated trying to reach someone and they're not picking up or get annoyed when you're doing something and someone keeps  calling you and you don't want to be bothered? The cellphone has made life easier in many ways. But it's really just one more "instant gratification" toy that has made us dependent on technology.

Imagine a world that's much simpler, without most of the extras, and enjoying what God created and the beauty that is all around. A world where you could tell others about The Lord and His creation. 

Growing Up Wild offers a video series that brings an insight into a simpler way of living, that doesn't have all of the creature comforts we may be accustomed to, but that is much better on many levels. The Growing Up Wild series is a "collection of educational DVDs that takes you into the remote jungles of Indonesia and shows you the day to day life of the four Wild brothers." (The Wild Brothers).
The Wild family are missionaries to Papua New Guinea, Indonesia. After much prayer and 4 years of training, Mike, Elizabeth, & their family went to Wano Land, to teach the Wano people about God. Their goals were to learn the language and culture, provide medical assistance, and because the Wano's language was not in print, the Wild's wanted to create an alphabet for the Wano people so that they could learn to read and write. Once the language was learned, more and more people could learn it and then Bible lessons could be taught to help the Wano people develop a "solid rock" foundation to learn the entire Bible. (Wild Introductions Video). 

They have worked with the Wano people for some time and have now created the Growing Up Wild series to, not only tell about the life and tales of the Wild boys in the field, but to encourage children to learn more about Missionary work and create a generation of new missionaries.

"The "Growing Up Wild" DVD series was developed for the purpose of introducing children to the work going on in foreign mission field.
Our hope is that "Growing Up Wild" will educate and challenge your children,
and be used by the Lord to play a part in raising up the next generation of missionaries!" (Purpose & Vision)
Growing Up Wild DVD series is set of 5 DVD Volumes with 3 episodes per DVD. Each episode is about 15 minutes long. Each volume also comes with a CD that includes teacher's activity guides for each of the episodes. These activities are designed to help you and your child explore their own environment while connecting with the Wild's. You can view a sample of the activity guides to see all that's included for yourself.

As members of the SRC, we received the Growing Up Wild volumes 1 & 4.

Each volume gives an introduction, if you will, to "growing up in the jungles of Papua". The Wild brothers take you through their various days and events and you will see the beauty and amazement of that incredible part of the world.

"You may be surprised
to hear a calling of your own!"
The episodes on Volume 1 are:

Home Sweet Hut: See a glimpse of the brothers' house and life. "Learn how a house in the jungle is built and see the creatures that emerge in the night"

Supply Trip: "How do the Wild brothers buy and bring in supplies for months while living in the jungle?" You will see how they take a bush airplane and are able to gather their many supplies.

Sun & Water: Learn how "the mighty sun's power and a rushing mountain stream can be harnessed" and be used by the Wild family. You'll learn about electricity and water power.

The episodes on Volume 4 are:

Amazing World Around Us: "Colorful pythons, tropical birds, a giant stick bug and a huge hairy spider are the stars of this exciting episode". Explore Papua with the Wild brothers and you will see amazing creations of God.

Adventures In Culture: You will learn about the cultures of different groups of people as you "follow the Wild brothers adventures in culture as they learn about war, hunting, red fruit and nose piercing."

Tribal Calling: "In one of our favorite episodes yet, discover how the Wilds knew that their calling was a tribal calling. Find out how icebergs, missionaries and the body of Christ are alike."
I liked this whole description so I included it : ^ )
Each Volume is 18.99 + s&h. The whole 5 DVD/CD set is available for $80.99, a 15% savings. The value of learning about the wonderful missionary life of the Wild's is well worth it. 

These DVD's are designed for ages 5-12 but could be viewed by everyone. You could use them as a supplement to Homeschool curriculum, as Sunday school lessons, summer programs, or anywhere that you would like your children and students to learn more about missionary work. Maybe one day you and/or your children will enter into the Lord's mission fields to spread His word. 

Below is a trailer of the videos I think you will enjoy. You will see the gorgeous land of Papua and the beautiful Wild family. The joy that lights the brothers eyes with each experience is awesome to watch. My family sat and watched all 3 episodes in Volume 1 straight through. There was much discussion and learning. I loved it. I love when the kids actually enjoy what they're learning about and yearn for more. We found ourselves looking up different creatures that we learned about and imagining what it would be like to live in a round hut, without our modern day luxuries. It's almost like "the good ole days": to be outside all day long until dinner time, enjoying the outdoors. . . .
I know that you will enjoy these videos as we have. Throughout each of the episodes, you will hear scripture discussed and know that The Lord is truly working in the lives of the Wano people. We have been very blessed to review these videos and to learn about the Wild brothers (& family) and their experiences. I know that each of us talked about being on the mission field and The Lord may have been speaking to us a little. We do not know what tomorrow brings, but I do know that He is in control, and when we follow His guidance, we will not be led astray. 

For more reviews from the SRC, click below.
Disclaimer: I received this product free as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew with the sole purpose of providing an honest review after reading it. For more information on this, please see my disclaimer.
"Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ"
John 1:17
Grace & Truth Books was started by Dennis & Naomi Gundersen and their family. Their dream of owning a Christian Book company existed throughout their marriage and was finally realized in 1994 (Grace & Truth). Today, Grace & Truth Books is not only a Christian Book distributor, it is also a Christian book publisher of almost 80 books (G&T). But it's not just an average bookstore that sells books for Christians that are trendy and have "fancy packaging". Grace & Truth Books "is built on a different approach: what will glorify God, strengthen His people in their walk, and call all peoples to find joy in knowing His gospel and following Him" (G&T). Stepping away from the secular traditions of many stores, Grace & Truth Books offers Godly, wholesome, products that glorify Him instead of themselves.

So why am I telling you about them? Because I have been privileged to review one of the books offered by them, Of Knights and Fair Maidens. This book was written by Jeff & Danielle Myers, and was out-of-print for a time but has been re-published in a hardcover edition by Grace & Truth Books.
Of Knights and Fair Maidens is not a book that many of us our familiar with. It's not a book that tells you how great you are and how you need to find that certain someone that will make all of your dreams come true

It's a book that does give "A Radical New Approach to a Very Old Way of Developing Relationships" (title page of book).

"How's that?", you ask. Well Jeff & Danielle Myers weren't always Mr. & Mrs. Myers, and before they said "I do", they chose to learn the "three keys to a successful courtship" (back cover). They wanted to have a relationship that was founded not on physical attractions, but on Godly principles. Their goal: "to figure out how Christians can develop relationships with members of the opposite sex in a way that glorifies God and reflects the character of Jesus Christ" (pg. 5). And they wrote Of Knights and Fair Maidens to help others discover the "keys to a successful courtship."

So before we delve completely into the book, I want to go over the definition of courtship according to Merriam-Webster online:

Courtship: "the act, process, or period of courting". Ok. So let's look up courting.
Courting: "to seek the affections of; especially : to seek to win a pledge of marriage". This was the best definition of those given. I was disappointed to read some of the definitions. They weren't very . . .nice. And the synonyms given really surprised me. It's no wonder today's teens think of courting as just another word for dating, going out or hooking up.

I like the explanation that Jeff & Danielle gave: "Courtship, to us, is a guy/girl relationship that leads to marriage. It focuses on three primary things: accountability to parents...building each other's character rather than focusing on physical attraction, and waiting to develop serious relationships until you are really ready to get married" (pg. 8). That's so well said. In today's society, the primary attributes sought by teens and adults in a partner are appearance, then money, then character (maybe). This leads to heartache, despair, abuse, and ultimately, the destruction of the family unit. If we would go back to the days of Knights and Maiden, not in armor and long gowns, but in attitude and tenderness, love would be so much more than it is today. It would be pure, unadulterated, and Godly.

My daughter loves old books and searches for them everywhere. We found one at an antique store that was published in 1902. It was entirely about the proper way to court. It talked about the different ways to hold a fan to convey what the lady is thinking, or how to tip your hat. And where and how to put postage on a letter to show interest, or disinterest. The ideas & etiquette that were characteristic of this era were fascinating. She found them inspiring and wished "that's the way it still was".

Jeff & Danielle's book Of Knights and Fair Maidens opens the possibilities and reality that it still can be that way. Courtship is not difficult, unless you see it that way. If you allow God to guide you through your relationship, it will come naturally, like taking a breath, or smiling when you hold a puppy.

My husband and I had a somewhat "fairy tale" beginning in our relationship. It was wonderful, and was so natural. Though there wasn't the exact courting that Jeff & Danielle talk about, God's hand was definitely involved in every step we took. They discuss getting to know the true character of each other. We were able to do this. We "met" through a letter. I sent a care package and card to soldiers in Somalia, and he happened to be one of them. I didn't know any of them, was just doing it because of a suggestion from a friend, just to be nice. The day I received his first letter, I knew. I didn't know who he was in person, but I knew that I was going to marry him. I told my sister-in-law that very day. We wrote back and forth for 3 months, as much as we could in the 90's since military mail overseas seemed to take forever. We talked twice while he was there. Once he arrived back in the states, we met on Jan. 8th, were engaged on the 13th, spent one more weekend together (in the company of his family), and were married on Feb 5th. We've been married for nearly 19 years! And though we didn't know Christ as our Savior (have a personal relationship with Him) at the time we were married, within months of our marriage we had both accepted Him. The Lord guided our steps toward each other and to Him. And though our courtship was short, writing the letters to each other and talking on the phone allowed us to see each other for who we were and not what we looked like or anything physical at all. It was wonderful. And that's what I want for my children. Of Knights and Fair Maidens brings the possibility of "true romance" even today.

So What Is The Book About? Jeff & Danielle interviewed married couples and learned certain principles that made a successful relationship. This was done prior to their own marriage. They used this wisdom in their relationship and then, wrote it down in this book. The book is written like an interview, and Jeff & Danielle are interviewed by a "mystery interviewer" that asks witty & thought provoking questions. The book is a fun and "heartwarming" tale of Jeff & Danielle's courtship that is filled with lessons of love, and "straighforward counsel" for those beginning their journey into the relationship created for them by God. It is for the old and young to enjoy, and a touching guide for all that desire  more than just a date. 

The book is broken into 3 sections, as follows:

Rethinking Relationships
So You Want to Go Back to Medieval Times?
Rethinking a Very Old, But Very Cook Idea
How We Met and Committed to Marriage Before We Fell in Love

Important Steps to Great Relationships
Breaking the "Lone Ranger" Habit
No Masks
Waiting in the Wings
How to Fall in Love, Courtship Style

How to "Do" Courtship
Okay, Smart Guy!
Involving Others in Your Relationship
Just for Guys
Beyond Pizza and a Movie
Getting Ready, Part One
Getting Ready, Part Two
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Question Is
Happily Ever After
There are 114 pages in this wonderful little book. And though that doesn't sound like many, there is more wisdom on those pages that you might find in a 500 page book. 

Of Knights and Fair Maidens is recommended for teens 14-19 but can be a valuable book for young adults or anyone seeking guidance on courting. It is available for $9.75 through Grace and Truth Books. I am certain you will appreciate this book as much as we have. 

Grace and Truth Books offers many other wonderful books. Members of the SRC were able to review a few of them. By clicking the button below, you will be able to read more reviews on these great books.
Disclaimer: I received this product free as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew with the sole purpose of providing an honest review after reading it. For more information on this, please see my disclaimer.
Throughout my time reviewing homeschool products, Apologia has remained a favorite company of mine. Their mission "is to provide products, resources, and services that help homeschool students and families learn, live, and defend the Christian faith." Apologia's dedication to serving The Lord emanates through all of their products.

I have been given another opportunity to tell you about a wonderful resource offered by Apologia. Journeys of Faithfulness is a book written by Sarah Clarkson. You may remember me talking about another book she wrote Read For The Heart, which is also available through Apologia. Sarah was raised to love The Lord. Her parents served in full-time ministry as overseas missionaries and raised her and her siblings to follow their hearts on a journey with The Lord. Sarah's passions are writing, hiking, reading, and travelling the world (Journeys of Faithfulness back cover). Her writings are, to me, inspirational and 
In Journeys of Faithfulness, Sarah offers readers stories of 5 biblical women, Mary & Martha, Mary - mother of Jesus, Esther, and Ruth. She uses their stories to show "how God can reach into the life of an ordinary girl who loves Him and bring His beauty and grace to bear in the world through her obedience" (Apologia). 

Each story is based on the Biblical account of the individual woman's life and experiences. Sarah has written such eloquent representations of what each of these women may have experienced, felt, and yearned for in their lives. The heartache and joy, the fears, and the love of The Lord they had are all demonstrated through Sarah's words. 

In Sarah's story of Mary, Jesus' mother, she writes, "God was to be the father of her child, and that child was Messiah. Joy and terror tore at her soul, for she was unworthy, yet chosen. Frightened, yet filled with awe. Tears came then in shocked elation that, for a moment, stole words from Mary's mouth..." (Journeys of Faithfulness, pg. 72). I could just feel the anguish, and joy, that Mary must have felt.

It's incredible, to me, how Sarah was able to create such real, believable fictional accounts of these women's lives based on the details in the Bible. Her creativity is truly a blessing. 

Journeys of Faithfulness is not just simply stories of great women, though. It is also a devotional & Bible study, that includes journal pages entitled "Journeys Journal". Sarah has added to each of the chapters a separate devotional that the reader will be encouraged and inspired by. Sarah offers personal insight and experiences that will guide you through your journey with The Lord.

The following is an excerpt from one of the devotionals that is so touching. As I read through the story she gave, I could put myself right into her words. It was as if it was me she was writing about, and not herself...

"We didn't say it, but both of us felt shaky in our faith,
bewildered as to where God was in the midst of our hectic lives..."
She continues with more of the story and at the end writes,
"Through the gift of the day, crammed with loveliness, surrounded by the tangible goodness of God's creation, we once again felt His presence in our lives to be real. The evidence of beauty was so great, we felt strengthened to trust God to help and lead us through all the niggling troubles of our lives." (Journeys of Faithfulness, p. 96-97)
You will find many more of these inspiring words throughout Journeys of Faithfulness. There are 232 pages in this wonderful book and there are 4 parts, as follows:
Part One: Mary & Martha 
 Chapter One: Learning to See 
 Chapter Two: A Circle of Glory
 Chapter Three: The Hush of Love 
Part Two:  Mary, Mother of Jesus
 Chapter Four: Story-Formed Soul 
 Chapter Five: Swords and Starlight 
 Chapter Six: The Great Adventure 
Part Three:  Esther
 Chapter Seven: Heart Alive 
 Chapter Eight: For Such a Time 
 Chapter Nine: Courageous Beauty 
Part Four:  Ruth 
 Chapter Ten: Claiming the Light 
 Chapter Eleven: To Walk in Darkness 
 Chapter Twelve: Desire of My Heart 
I am confident you will enjoy Journeys of Faithfulness. To gain more of an idea about the stories, you can read chapter one today, through Apologia. 

You can purchase Journeys of Faithfulness for just $13.00 through Apologia. The recommended age is 12 yo and up. This book could be an excellent devotional for you and your daughter to work through together. Both my daughter, 16, and I have enjoyed reading through Sarah's book and have found the devotionals both, compelling and convicting. The Lord has worked through Sarah and Journeys of Faithfulness is a testimony to that. 
Disclaimer: I received this product free as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew with the sole purpose of providing an honest review after reading it. For more information on this, please see my disclaimer.