Thursday, April 30, 2015

History is Exciting with U.S. History Detective! - A Homeschool Product Review

Most of you know that the Tinkel family used to love reviewing great homeschool curriculum but had to give it up because of some health concerns with my middle son, Joshua. Since he is doing better, we had been talking about reviewing again so imagine our surprise when an email arrived inviting us to review U.S. Detective - Book One - Colonial Era to Reconstruction Era from The Critical Thinking Company. We had reviewed many things before from The Critical Thinking Company and loved them so we jumped at the chance to review this. Especially since it was perfect for Joshua who has Asperger's Syndrome.

Asperger's Syndrome is a disorder that effects the social side of kids and adults. Joshua has a lot of difficulty with how to act in social situations and even has a difficult time with things that effect you socially such as reading body language and understanding idioms and nuances. That makes reading comprehension often difficult for him. However, Asperger's kids are often very gifted in particular areas. Geography and History are the areas in which Joshua is very advanced. Unfortunately, those two things combined - his love for geography/history and his reading comprehension problems - often make finding good homeschool curriculum that will keep his interest difficult.

That is why I think that U.S. Detective - Colonial Era to Reconstruction Era is really perfect for him and any history loving child that has reading difficulties. Let me tell you a little more about this great curriculum and the special ways that I have been using it with Joshua.

1. U.S. History Detective is written in an interesting way. It's not like the boring textbooks that we knew as a child. We have reviewed books from The Critical Thinking Co. before and their writers are top notch. All of the books that we have seen have been well written and interesting. Although the company is not a Christian company and we have not had the time to get terribly far in the book (I'll tell you why in a moment) I have not seen any area where they are trying to "rewrite history" or lean toward any political or social agenda. So far it has just been good, old fashioned, history.

How this effects Joshua - Because Joshua loves history, the subject content and the way it is written are excellent for him. However, because it is written on an 8-12 grade level, some of the sentence structure and idioms/nuances can be difficult for him to understand. Therefore, I usually read the content to him and sometimes have to stop to clarify something for him. A regular 8-12 grade student or even an advanced 6-7 grader should have no difficulty with this reading this.

2. U.S, History Detective is very thorough. It begins with Native Americans and the different scenarios on how they arrived in what we now call North America, it continues with Europeans settling in North America and goes all of the way through to the reconstruction era after the Civil War. Although many things happened in those many years, each of the 65 lessons is short - only two or three pages long with another two or three pages of questions.

How this effects Joshua - Because the lessons are fairly short, he is able to remain focused and interested. I recall regular history textbooks where each section was pages and pages long and I would become bored easily. This doesn't happen with Joshua. This is just the right amount of pages for him and therefore he doesn't lose interest. The fact that the book is thorough assures me that he is getting a very good grasp of U.S, History.

3. U.S. History Detective helps to develop critical thinking skills. After all, the company that publishes this book is called "The Critical Thinking Co." They specialize in challenging the student to think and to Empower the Mind (their tagline). U.S. History Detective is written in a very interesting way. From the start you notice the difference. Each sentence in each lesson is numbered. The reason that they are numbered is because the questions asked at the end of each lesson often ask that you back up your answer by noting which sentence gave you the information that you used to answer that question. It teaches the child how to think and look for answers and therefore they will retain the information and learn more. I really like that approach.

How this effects Joshua - Although we have used books from The Critical Thinking Co. before and Joshua has learned a lot, this type of looking back at the text and pinpointing answers is new for him - especially for an advanced text. I have had to sit down with him and help him do this a lot. He is beginning to learn how to do it on his own, but it has taken some work to teach him to do so. I am not regretting the time I have given explaining things, though, because when he learns this skill it will take him far in his learning.

4. U.S. History Detective has reviews after every two or three lessons. The reviews use other methods of critical thinking such as concept maps and Venn diagrams. This short time between reviews makes sure that the information is, indeed, understood and ingrained in the student. The sixty-five lessons are also divided in to nine sections and there is another review at the end of each section. These reviews can be used as quizzes and/or tests if need be.

How this effects Joshua - Having a review every two or three lessons helps any student to learn, but especially helps children that are distracted and don't retain things easily. This is true of Joshua. Having frequent reviews really helps him. I also like the different approaches to the reviews. If he isn't able to retain or understand something using one type of critical thinking, then perhaps another type will really click with him and help him understand.

You might think that with all of this praise for U.S. History Detective, that I really like this book and I really do. There is one thing in the book, however, that I haven't used much with Joshua. At the end of each lesson, there is a "Written Response Question". These are College Level Analytical Essay questions and are very good, but are a little above Joshua's head right now and, with his small motor problems, are also difficult for him to write down. I plan on gradually leading in to using them more because I think they are excellent. We just aren't to that point yet.

Overall, we really like U.S. History Detective and we highly recommend it to anyone as a supplemental history book, or as the main U.S. History Curriculum. As I mentioned before, it is written for grades 8-12, but an advanced sixth or seventh grader should have no problem with it. Each lesson is short but well written and will keep a student's attention while getting a firm grasp of our nation's history. To find out more about U.S. History Detective or to find out more about The Critical Thinking Co. just click here or on any of the above highlighted links.

I received a free copy of U.S. History Detective in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any other way nor was I required to write a positive review. Everything written above is my own opinion or the opinion of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

John Allen's Almost Top 10 Favorite Books Ever!


My oldest, John Allen, is an avid reader. I have mentioned this before, but I'll mention it again - I really thank his second grade teacher for instilling a love of reading in him. She was an older teacher that had taught for years and saved almost every series of reading books that she had used since she began teaching. Her kids read all of the time! When they weren't reading a story from their normal reading books, they were reading a story from one of the older reading series. John Allen has loved to read ever since then. That is one of the reasons I chose literature based homeschool curriculum when we began homeschooling him in fourth grade.

He has read dozens and dozens of great books in all of those years. I used to play a game with him and ask if the latest book he read would be one of his top ten favorite books. Usually he couldn't actually give me a top ten list, it always ended up being a top fifteen or twenty list because he could never narrow it down to just ten!

Well, a couple of weeks ago I asked again for a top ten list because I wanted to write this post. As usual he couldn't narrow it down. It ended up being the top eleven, but even that isn't true because some of the "books" are actually a series of several books.

I'm not going to describe every book (or series of books) in this post, but if you click on its picture it will take you to Amazon where you can read a description. In the interest of full disclosure the links are affiliate links to Amazon and if you choose to purchase anything after clicking one of the links I will receive a commission. If you do choose to purchase using one of my affiliate links, thank you so much for supporting a struggling homeschool missionary family. If you don't choose to purchase, that's okay as well, thank you for clicking over and reading this post.

So, without further ado, here is John Allen's list of his favorite books ever (in no particular order).

The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Isle of Swords -  Bk 1 (In the series) & The Isle of Fire -  Bk 2
by Wayne Thomas Batson

The Bronze Bow
by Elizabeth George Speare
The Sign of the Beaver
by Elizabeth George Speare
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
by Elizabeth George Speare
The Cat of Bubastus
by G.A. Henty
Johnny Tremain
by Esther Forbes
Moccasin Trail
by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Around the World in Eighty Days
by Jules Verne
The Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I Saw Jesus on a Garbage Heap! - Throwback Thursday


I don't know why I even try. I began my Throwback Thursday posts to, obviously, be posted on Thursday. However, for the past few weeks it seems that, for one reason or another, I am constantly posting them a couple of days early. Well, it looks as if this week is going to be no different. Once again I am posting Throwback Thursday early.
I enjoy being creative sometimes and writing creative posts or delving into creative writing. This was one of those times in 2011 when I felt compelled to write this short story. It had an impact on me when I wrote it and still has an impact on me when I read it today. I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 16 January 2011
I Saw Jesus on a Garbage Heap!
Mood:  happy
Topic: The Purple Files
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 
I went for a walk the other day through a neighborhood that I wasn't familiar with. You would think that after all of these years I would know every part of my small town, but there was one section that I always avoided. That day, however, something compelled me to walk that way. I didn't know what it was at the time. Only that there was a reason why I had to go. So I did.

It was the kind of street that your mother always warns you about. An area where you really shouldn't walk alone. However, as I walked, I felt peace. As if it was where I should be at that moment. It was an inner peace. It had to be, because there was nothing on the outside that would convey peace at all. The houses were shabby and rundown. The lawns unkempt. It didn't get any better as I walked. The houses, if that's what you could call them, became mere shacks, and the shacks became mere boxes, hardly even livable. Junk filled the yards. Graffiti filled the walls. Still, I felt comfort. There was a voice within that said I should be there.

I walked on until there were no structures at all. Only junk. And then I saw it. The mound - no, the hill - no, the mountain of garbage. Stinking, filthy, trash everywhere. But there was something different about this trash. Something I couldn't quite put my finger on at first until it finally dawned on me what it was. It was the trash itself. This wasn't ordinary refuse that you would see on a regular garbage heap. This was different. There were no soup cans or soda bottles or cereal boxes. Instead I saw a can of discouragement, a bottle of depression, and a box of rejection. To my right there was a package of worry and a bag of fear. On my left there were scraps of disobedience.

As far as my eye could see there were large pieces and small pieces but each had the same type of label. Some labels were disgusting to my eyes - murder, pornography, abuse. Others weren't as repulsive - gossip, lies, hurtful words. All, however, were pieces of garbage. Worthless piles of waste.

I stood wondering what it all meant. Why was I there? Why was I so driven within that I had to walk that way and see that horrible site? I didn't belong there. I wasn't any of those things.
Then, something caught my eye. Was something moving? What was it? There was no wind - not even a breeze. It wasn't something moved by the air. At first I thought it was my imagination, but then I saw it again. Something, indeed, was moving slowly through the pile of trash. My curiosity got the best of me and I walked closer to see what it was. It was a person. In fact, as I came nearer to him, I recognized who it was immediately. It was Jesus!

Jesus was on the top of that garbage heap! Why was he there? Why would Jesus be in the middle of a dump? And what was he doing? At first I couldn't tell but then, finally, I saw. He reached down to pick up a piece of trash. I saw clearly what it was, it was a jar of guilt. Then, the most amazing thing happened. As he grabbed that filthy jar it became a hand. And as he picked it up, it ceased to become a piece of trash, but became a young women. And then, as she stood, she was no longer filthy, but  beautiful. Not with an outward beauty, however. It was an inward beauty. A beauty that I had never seen before. A radiant beauty that could only be given by Jesus himself. Next, he reached down for a box that said anger. Soon, there was a young father standing before Jesus, just as radiant and shining as the young women.

I watched in awe as one by one Jesus reached for garbage but instead pulled up beautiful human beings. A bottle of rejection became a young boy. A package of addiction became a teenage girl. An elderly woman came from chunks of fear and a middle aged man came from pieces of uselessness. All were as shining and beautiful as the young women and young father were.
Then they began to run. I watched until they disappeared but there was no more wonder in my mind. I knew what had happened. I knew why they ran. They were free. Free from the bondage of sin to which they had been shackled. Free from being trash in a garbage heap.

I watched with joy. I cheered them on. It was a glorious site. Until my happiness turned to tears. You see, I was still standing there. I was not running with them. Then I realized why I was there. I belonged there. I belonged in that pile of trash. As I looked at myself I was no longer me. I was a piece of filth. I could see myself and I didn't have just one label, I had many. Dishonesty, unfaithfulness, and worry were there. Guilt, selfishness and rejection were included. My list went on and on. Indeed I was nothing but garbage. Filthy, stinking garbage. There was no hope for me. I would never run. I would never be free. I felt so small. So all alone. So unworthy.

Then, it happened. He walked my way. He saw me. He saw me with all of my sins. With all of my labels. With all of my baggage. And...he looked beyond it all and he touched me. He grabbed my hand. He pulled me up. And he looked at me. He took my face and he looked at me. There was that force. The force that I had been feeling this whole time. The force that drew me to this place. It was Jesus. Jesus had called me here. Jesus had called me to himself, and, then, Jesus had picked me up and set me free. I now had the joy. I now had the hope. I now had the radiance that I had seen and so longed for in the others. I began to run. I began to run like they had. Because, now I was free. The Son had set me free, and I was free indeed.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Typical Day in the Tinkel Homeschool. . . NOT!!!


Requirement Number One - To understand this post, you must watch the above hilarious short video.
So, what DID we do in homeschool today? Well we. . .

Practiced Working Together as a Team
Took Drivers Ed.
Studied Weightlessness in Science Class
Went Horseback Riding in PE Class
Learned How to Maneuver a Boat
Played Blind Man's Bluff
 And Just Had an All Around Swinging Time!
Really, we had a wonderful day at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN and, lest you think that we did nothing educational, Dollywood is very much an educational park as well as a theme park with rides.
They have artisans demonstrating their crafts such as this pottery maker:
And they have a wonderful aviary program where they take in injured birds and educate folks about them.
And those are just two of the many educational programs that you will find there.
All in all it was a fantastic day at Dollywood. Thank you again Mom Adcox for the season tickets!


Sunday, April 26, 2015

All Things WILL Work Together For Good! - Scripture Sunday


And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (KJV)

I wonder if the above verse applies to the internet being down. That is why there has been a shortage of blog posts this past week. Prayerfully everything is now okay and there shouldn't be any more long pauses between posts.

One thing I don't have to wonder about, however, is if this verse applies to life in general. I know that it does. I think that, if you have been reading between the lines of my Scripture Sunday posts and even some of my other posts, that I have been going through a tough time recently. Thankfully, even though a lot of things are still very difficult, I am at least beginning to handle my frustrations a bit better. As I was thinking about things today, this verse came to mind. Although it is not a verse that I would necessarily call a life verse, it has definitely been there for me down through the years when things have gotten hard. I pray that reading and meditating on the verse may help you as well.

God WILL get you through this difficult time. Remember, if you are a Christian, you are called according to His purpose, therefore e1verything you are going through will work together for good.


Thank you for calling us for your purpose, and thank you for this reminder telling us that you are here and you are in control. As we go through these difficult times, help us to know that you are working everything together for good. We love you God!



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Musical Musings - A Throw Back Thursday Post

I am warn out today! I've been on my feet from morning until this evening and I am just plum tuckered out. I am in the middle of a blog post on my series "What the Tinkel's are Reading" but I just don't have the energy to finish it tonight. So I reached back into the depth of time to give you a Throwback Thursday post early. It is about my musical career. It doesn't quite tell it all, though. You'll have to wait for part two later. This was written a couple of years before I turned 50. Well, I am now pushing 55 so you know it's been quite a few years ago. Enjoy my memories from the past.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Musical Musings
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: General

Knocking on the door of 50 (not quite my next birthday, so don't get any ideas) has gotten me thinking about middle age lately. I guess the many deaths (brother, brother-in-law, and father) and the changing dynamics of my family over the last few years have also made me meditate. One of the things that I have reflected on is the middle age crisis. I often wondered if and when I would have one. I haven't had it yet. At least not the "dress and act like you did when you were a teen" type. Maybe having young children takes your mind off of it. Maybe it will happen to me when all of my kids are grown. There is however one thing that I often reflect on and has always effected my emotions since I was very young. That thing is music.
I remember when I was very young, my brother, as a joke, would set me on his lap and sing this sad song that would always make me cry. It went something like this - "Sit upon my knee little Timmy". I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous now, but when I was two it was dramatic.
My entire family has always been into music. My parents both had beautiful voices and often sang duets in church. My mom played the piano and my dad played trumpet. My sister has a beautiful voice as well, and my brother also played trumpet in the band. Is it any wonder why I was in the band, orchestra and chorus growing up, and even majored in music for one year in college?
Still, today, music can bring me to tears or to laughter and certain songs can bring back long forgotten memories. Some of my earliest church memories are of singing "Climb, Climb Up Sunshine Mountain" and "This Little Light of Mine" in Sunday School, or of my mother, in tears, as the congregation sang "In the Garden" during a church service.
I still remember Miss Owens coming to our elementary school to go from class to class teaching music or teaching us how to play the "Tonette" (pictured to the left) - similar to a small recorder.

Middle and high school were where I really flourished musically. I was never very athletic. Music was always my thing. I played trumpet, piano, and organ as well as sang in school and church choirs. We had an excellent music program in the schools that gave great training.

I still recall sitting in Miss Bloom's middle school music class and singing along with some of the hit songs of the day. That still amazes me, because Miss Bloom was very religious and wouldn't even allow her students to use the word "gee" because she said it was a slang word for taking the Lord's name in vain (I still tend to agree, and shy away from using that word myself). The hit songs of that day were mild in comparison to the songs of today, but were still controversial for the time.

In high school, the head of the music department, Mr. Cugini, Mr "C", introduced us to all sorts of musical styles. We sang and played all types of music, and still today there are not very many musical styles that I don't enjoy listening too (or can at least tolerate).

More recently, since the boys got ipods for Christmas, I have been introduced to many of the internet sites where you can download any song or recording artist that you can think of. As well as songs for the boys, I have found some artists that take me back to my younger days.

Lately I've been listening to the likes of "The Carpenters" and "The Captain and Tennille". I still remember listening to "Love Will Keep us Together" on a vacation to Mackinac Island in Michigan. "Simon and Garfunkle", "Neil Sedaka" and "Carole King" remind me of the time when I had the measles and my brother, David, would put on a stack of his records for me to listen to while I was laid up in bed. "The Fifth Dimension" and "Jim Croce" take me back to the first albums that I ever bought.

I learned to love the "Beatles" and "Neil Diamond" while singing and playing their songs in high school band, orchestra and chorus. "Barry Manilow" and "Barbaral Streisand" also bring back high school memories.

Later, in my college days, was when Christian music really hit its stride. Some songs from "Amy Grant", "Michael W. Smith" and "Russ Taff" can still reduce me to tears. I branched out with Christian music. I even listened to "Petra" - considered very rocky in those days and "DC Talk" - originally a Christian rap group.

I praise God for all of the musical talents that He has given me, and all of the ways that he has used music to effect my life. It makes me more conscience of what I listen to and allow my children to listen to today. Music can effect your life for good and bad and shouldn't be taken trivially.

Ah, well, all of this remembering has me wanting to find my high school yearbooks and put on some of the music that I found on the internet. Maybe I'll even pull out my beaten up trumpet or look up some of my old piano music. I wonder where my band jacket is - does it still fit?
WAIT A MINUTE! Is this what a midlife crisis is? HMMMMMMM.....

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The LORD your God is in your midst! - Scripture Sunday


Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV) The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Thank you Lord for being in our midst.
Thank you, oh so much, for saving us.
Thank you for loving us enough to rejoice over us with gladness.
Thank you for quieting us with your love.
Thank you for exulting over us with loud singing.

We want to praise you God for your love and kindness. Praise you for caring for our every need - not just our physical needs, but our emotional and spiritual needs. We want to praise you for just being the great, wonderful and perfect God that you are even when we absolutely don't deserve it.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Gossip Hurts! God Heals!

Everyone makes mistakes. I know I do. I have made plenty of mistakes. We all fail at things and I think it's safe to say that one of the things that we've all fallen into the trap of is gossip. Prayerfully, as Christians, once we've fallen into that trap of gossip, God convicts us and we realize our mistake. Unfortunately, it's been my observation that if you don't ask God's forgiveness and ask His help in defeating this sin then it becomes habitual and you become desensitized. It becomes one of those cases where someone can hear a rare sermon on this hurtful sin, nod their head and say "Preach it brother!", and then turn to their neighbor and start talking about the folks they know that are gossipers and slanderers. They don't realize that at that very moment they are the ones gossiping. As I am writing this I am praying that God reveals the sin of gossip in my life and convicts me if I have become desensitized.

Why do people gossip? A lot of times, people gossip because they don't understand something. They don't understand someone's motives. They don't understand what is going on in the background. They see what they want to see but don't care to look further. They hear what they want to hear but don't bother to listen intently. They think they know what is going on, but really don't know.

Then they gossip.
And the gossip spreads.
And it gets bigger.
And it gets distorted.

And before you know it the thing that happened (or maybe didn't happen) turns into something that it never was. In fact, it turns into a lie.

So, what does the Bible say about gossip?

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Titus 3:2 (ESV) To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

Psalm 34:13 (ESV) Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits these occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

I think it's safe to say that God doesn't want us to gossip. He wants us to say things that will build one another up. Yes there are verses in the Bible that talk about confronting a fellow Christian if they are doing wrong. However, none of those verses say we are to go around and tell everyone else about the wrongdoing. You are to go to the brother and discuss it with him not go and discuss it with others.

What should you do if we hear gossip? Well, if you don't fan the flame then the flame will eventually go out. So, don't continue the rumor. If it is something that you feel you really have to know is true or not, go to the person that the rumor is about and ask. Don't believe something that you hear from someone else. Find out yourself from the actual person.

What should you do if you are the victim of gossip? You could always go and talk to the person that is spreading the rumors but they probably heard it from someone else and you would just have to keep backtracking. Just remember. God knows what is going on. He is the one who counts. Remember these verses:

1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV) People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

Jeremiah 1:5a (NIV) Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.

Zephaniah 3:17  (ESV) The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)
But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

I'm going to be brutally honest here. Tonight I had meltdown.  That's what led me to finish this post that I had started a few weeks ago. Tonight I had a frustrating conversation with my wife. A conversation about some things that my family and our ministry is going through. I'm afraid that I didn't do a good job of explaining my frustrations. However, the whole thing stems from gossip about us.

We aren't perfect by any means. We make mistakes like everyone else. Gossip and rumors get back to a person, don't ever think that they don't, and some of the things that have gotten back to us are terribly distorted and some are just out and out lies. It exasperates me to even imagine what some people are talking about and how these rumors ever got started. The problem is, no one ever came and talked to us. No one ever came to see if these rumors were true. They didn't bother to look further and see if there was something more to the story. They saw what they wanted and they heard what they wanted. Now, the damage is done.

So, what am I going to do about it? Well, I really don't know who began the rumors so trying to track the person down would be futile. I can, however, hold my head high, even during these difficult circumstances, and remember the verses above. I can remember that God loves me more than I can ever imagine. He is in control. I need to remember the following verse. That is all that really counts. After all, what God thinks of me is what is really important. If I am doing what God wants me to do then I shouldn't worry about anything else.

Gossip hurts but God heals. God is beginning to heal me. It is taking longer than intended I'm sure because I can be a stubborn self-centered person sometimes. For now, though, I am going to allow God to heal and I am just going to keep on doing what God wants me to do. Loving Him, loving my family, and loving others. I'm going to keep on ministering to the people God gives me to minister to. I'm not going to stop. I can't stop until God commands me to. God will deliver us. I know He will. Just keep on praying for us and we deeply thank you for all of your prayers.

If you have been a victim of gossip and have a comment or need prayer. Please leave a comment below or private message me. Remember, all of my social media buttons are at the top of this blog.

Psalm 18:2 (NIV)

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and deliver; My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Adding Social Media Like Buttons On A Blog - A Five Step Tutorial


A few days ago in my post I Did It! I Really Did It! Now, Please Like Me! I talked about how a friend of mine, Marcy, had posted a tutorial on how to place social media icons at the top of a blog in order to make it easier for people to like you or your blog in the different social media platforms.  After I wrote the post it was suggested that I link to her blog so that others could do the same.What I failed to mention, though, was that Marcy had posted it in a private forum so I couldn't link to it. I contacted Marcy and found that she had never written an actual blog post tutorial and graciously gave me permission to do so.

It really does make sense to create an easy way for your readers to like your page. It helps build your readership. The reason that many folks don't take the time to like your different pages on the different social media sites is because it is too difficult to figure out how to like them. My blog used to be a prime example of that. I would have one social media "like" banner here on my blog and another one there. That is if I were lucky! There were a couple of social media sites where I couldn't figure out how to place a "like" button on my blog so there never was one. If it isn't easy for someone to like your blog (or if it's not even there) then people aren't going to take the time to search out how. Marcy made it super easy for me to do it and if I can do it I know that you can as well.

So, without further ado, here, in five easy steps, is how to create the same row of social media icons for your blog that I have at the top of my blog.

  1. Copy the pictures of my icons in the top right corner and save them onto your computer. If you have a windows based computer then all you should have to do is place your cursor over the picture and right click. One of the options should say "save picture as". Click on that and then name it what you would like to name it. Do that for each of the icons that you want to use.
  2. Upload them to Photobucket or another online photo storage site. I uploaded mine to Photobucket. Photobucket is very easy and it is free - at least for what I want to do with it. I'm not going to go into detail about how to upload something on a storage site because each may be a little different. After you've chosen one, upload the icons for the social media that you use.
  3. In the following code, replace the information in red with your own information. I copied the sample code that Marcy provided and pasted it into a Word document so that it would be easier to change the information for each icon and then copy and paste it into my blog. The information at the top after the "href=" is where you would put the address to your main page of each of  the social media platforms. The information after the letters "alt" isn't a code from anywhere, it is just something for your own information that tells you what social media icon you are working on. The information after the "src=" is the html code from photobucket (or whatever storage site you are using) for the picture that you are using. You'll need to do this once for each icon. Here's the sample.
    <a href="" target="_blank"><img border="0" alt="FamiliesAgainFacebook" src="" width="40" height="40" />
  4. Decide where you are going to place the icons. Toward the top is better. Place them one by one and make sure you put a space in between each. For my blogger blog I went to "layout" on my dashboard, then clicked on "add a gadget" toward the top of my blog, and then chose the option "html/javascript". Then I pasted the above code with my information in it. I did it once for each social media icon that I wanted to add and added a space in between each code. Otherwise they will be all squished together.
  5. Look to see if they are arranged the way you want them and then test them to make sure they direct people to the page that you want them directed to.
That's it folks! That's how I did it. It is a bit time consuming because you have to keep copying and pasting the new code for each social media platform and icon picture but it really was fairly easy.

I know that some of you will understand each of those steps easier because you have done those things before. For some of you, though, the above might look like gibberish or like a daunting task. Just take it step by step and if you come to a spot where you can't figure it out, leave a comment here or Facebook message me and I will try to help.

How do you become friends with me on Facebook? Just click on the Facebook icon at the top of my blog of course!

Have fun! I'm praying that each of you who try this has great success!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Letter From Our Regional Director About our Ministry

This isn't something that I would normally put on my blog, but, since a lot of my readers follow our ministry through our blog, I am making an exception today,
Most of you read our latest news letter discussing our financial goals for this summer and beyond. If you haven't but would like to, click here. Our "boss" and BCM South Eastern Regional Director, Ken Grubb, recently wrote the following letter that goes along with what we said in our newsletter. Here it is. Thank you so much for taking the time to read it.


                                                       Rev. E. Kenneth Grubb, S.E. Regional Director for
                                                       Bible Centered Ministries, International

Dear Friend,

This letter is being sent out in behalf of the ministry of Tim and Sarah Tinkel.  They have been engaged in serving the Lord in the Livingston, Tennessee area, for 17 years.   Both of them display a real passion to reach children and adults for Jesus Christ.

As their supervisor, for the last 13 years, I’ve been able to observe them, in various situations.  Tim and Sarah, as well as their three sons, have felt led to care about those in the project area.  They clearly demonstrate the love of Jesus, through all kinds of outreach ministries.

Therefore, I am recommending for you to prayerfully consider providing two things.  First and foremost, daily prayer support of their ongoing work.  But secondly, to seriously think about giving financially towards their labor of love.

Let me thank-you in advance for taking the time to read this letter.  As well as ponder over the possibility of joining with the Tinkels’ in building for His kingdom.

Heavenly Related,


Rev. E. Kenneth Grubb


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Throwback Thursday - An Old, Old, Lesson Planet Review

I know it's not Thursday yet, but the post that I was writing for today had some technical glitches so I am switching around a little bit. Enjoy this blast from the past. I know that it is an old review but it was just a really fun review to write. Also, the Lesson Planet people liked my review so much that they featured it on their website. I still get traffic sent my way from them, so the least I can do is reciprocate. Have fun reading this old review from my Angelfire blog platform days.
Families Again
Wednesday, 28 April 2010
Lesson Planet - This is a Poor Sad Story
Mood:  blue
Topic: Homeschool Product Review
Let me tell you a story...a poor sad story. 
There was once a poor homeschool parent whose son was studying United States History. This son loved to read. He read almost everything that he could get his hands on...when he wasn't playing his video games of course. This wise parent thought that, since his son liked to read, he should try to use curriculum that involved interesting books. He found a fantastic history curriculum that did involve reading good novels and doing some unit studies. But...alas...this parent couldn't buy all of the materials for the poor pitiful son that so needed them.
"Not to worry," the father said to himself. "I can make my own unit studies to fill in the gaps. They can't be that hard to put together."
But oh how mistaken he was. Try as he did, he could not find anything but bits and pieces of unit studies to use with his knowledge yearning child. He found what he could and presented it to the boy. The poor child dove in to what his father gave him, but, like a hungry urchin that is only given a few tasty morsels to eat, he longed for more. Alas, the father could find no more, nor could he afford to buy the expensive food for thought that was recommended. The child would just have to wait and make do with what he had.
Then one day, along came a stranger. This stranger was no ordinary stranger. Her name was Brenda. It was her job to assign new and exciting homeschool items to homeschool product reviewers. She reminded this poor father and his son that they indeed were homeschool reviewers and should cheer up for help was on its way. She then proceeded to hand them a package. It looked just like an ordinary package on the outside, but to this poor homeschool father and his son, it was like holding a package of gold. For inside the wrapper was a piece of paper. On this paper were two words, both of six letters. The two words were "Lesson Planet". With a quizzical look on his face, the father looked up to ask Brenda what these peculiar words meant. But, she was gone. Gone like the wind to help another struggling homeschool family. 
But what was the father to do with these words? How could they help in his dilemma? After much thinking his highly intelligent son suggested Googling the words on their computer. Soon he typed in the twelve letters and clicked on the first entry that came up. When he did, the most amazing thing happened. It was as if this poor man and his lad had lived their life in black and white and everything was transfigured into a colorful new world.
It wasn't their physical world that had been transformed, however, it was their homeschool world. You see, Lesson Planet is a lesson plan site, that had lesson plans for everything! Quickly the father typed in Canada. Canada was one of those pitiful unit studies that the diligent father tried but failed to put together for his son. Immediately after typing the words, 5976 lesson plans came into view, along with 425 worksheets and 90 websites about Canada. And the lesson plans were diverse! They had studies for all grades and all levels. They had lesson plans for Canada in general or for specific things regarding Canada. There were plans for Canadian geography, history and social studies. There were worksheets for famous people or national parks of Canada. They even had things that talked about the agriculture, forestry or farming in that great country that is to our north. The man was amazed, and soon his son became excited as well. Next they looked up World War One and World War Two and got similar results. A search of South America was just as fruitful. And it was all organized so nicely.
They searched and they looked and they dreamed all day. His father had never seen such joy and excitement in his son. Until, suddenly, the father noted that his boy was silent. As he glanced around he noticed tears trickling down the lads face. "But Father," the poor boy said softly "how much does all of this cost? We surely could not sell nearly enough eggs at the market to afford such luxury." Sadly the father nodded his head, clicked off the computer and they slowly went off to bed. They never expected to see the wonders of Lesson Planet again.
That night, however, the father had a dream. He tossed and turned in bed and kept hearing voices. They were the soft voices of Brenda and her kind boss Heidi. They kept saying "Check the price! Check the price!" Finally the father could stand it no longer. He quietly got up, went to the computer and clicked it on. He typed in the name of the wondrous Lesson Planet website and fearfully clicked on the pricing information. For a moment he couldn't fathom what was staring him in the face. He adjusted his bifocals to make sure that he was seeing it correctly. But, no, he wasn't incorrect! It was true! The price was only $39.95 a year! "Why," the father thought "that is well within our meager homeschool budget!"
Suddenly the father heard a sound behind him. It was his son. "Father?" the boy asked with a concerned look. Quickly the father got up and embraced his son. There were again tears, but this time they were tears of joy. And they were streaming down both of their faces. Finally, a miracle has come. A miracle that could now enable the son to have the education that he so richly deserved. An education that would allow the son to go on to college and bring his poor family out of the impoverished state that they were presently in.
Later, the father went back to bed. This time he slept peacefully and had wonderful dreams. Again they were of our heroes Brenda and Heidi. They were giving the father a command. "Tell them!" they said. "Tell the world! Tell them that they, too, can be blessed by Lesson Planet. All they have to do is click here or on one of the hi-lighted links above. And so the father did. He spread the news far and near. Over hill and over dale. And he and his son lived happily ever after.
The End
The story you have just read is true; the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Oh, all right, the story is about me and John Allen. There were no dreams, there were no tears and we don't sell eggs at the market Frown. The rest is true, however. At least almost Wink. Happy Homeschooling!
I was given a free limited time membership to Lesson Planet in order to try out and review on my blog.