The Apologetics Study Bible Review

I’ve had this Bible for several months. I’ve been using it in my personal devotion time to get a feel for it and see what I think about it. Now, I’m ready to give you my full review.

I have the hardcover version, but it also comes in a hardcover thumb-indexed version, an eBook version, a brown imitation leather version, and a navy imitation leather version.

The Bible translation is the Christian Standard Version, which I really like for personal devotion. If you’re unsure of how you’ll like a translation, you can always go to BibleGateway.com and read some passages in the version of your choice. It can help you get a feel for the version without committing to buying it.

Apologetics is the defense of the faith, answering those big questions we might have. This Bible not only explains the Bible in the footnotes sections, but it gives some answers to big questions through articles peppered throughout by Christian apologists.

There are several articles in the front of this Bible to explain some more general concepts. These are articles that cover more than just one specific area of Scripture.

Each book of the Bible has a rather lengthy introduction. It sets the scenes, explaining the context of the book. It also covers some topics related to that specific book. For example, Genesis covers the reliability of the book of Genesis and the relationship of Genesis to Ancient Myths. Clearly, these are only short articles. If you wanted a full study in those areas, there are plenty of complete books, but these articles are enough to at least touch on the topics before you move into your Bible study.

Throughout, there are full articles on various topics, written by a variety of authors. Again, they won’t cover the topics in depth, and related to each of these articles are entire books written about the topic. But they do give you some TL;DR answers to some hot topic issues— maybe even some issues you’ve never even considered.

My favorite feature of this Bible is the Twisted Scripture blocks. They are just small, quick explanations of how some people misuse Scripture. I found those bits to be extremely helpful in my reading. Again, these quick writings are in no way in-depth discussions on the topics, but they will help you as you read to not get lost in the weeds of heresy.

The footnotes are quite expansive. You’ve got two layers of footnotes. The first is the standard Bible footnotes. The second layer is the bigger layer, and they explain the issues of the Scriptures on a deeper level. In some books, they are quite expansive; in others, they are more minimal, depending on the Scripture.

There is a full and pretty awesome concordance in the back. It is pretty lengthy and includes a lot for a simple Bible concordance.

It also has some pretty awesome full-color maps in the back. (I’m a sucker for a good map.)

Now, this Bible is not for those outside of the Orthodox Christian faith. If you believe something that isn’t in-line with the rest of the church, this is going to step all over your toes. If you don’t believe what is in the Apostle’s Creed, this Bible is not for you. (And you probably need to read it anyway.) It doesn’t take stances that I would say are denominational; however, it doesn’t shy away from tough issues. And it just straight “calls it like it is” and doesn’t “beat around the bush” about it.

It calls out bad theology by name. I found that helpful in knowing exactly who or what they were talking about. Some books try not to call out the groups by name, and it can be confusing who or even what they are talking about.

So, be aware that if you believe something that isn’t in the Canon, you will likely be offended at some point in your reading.

Honestly, that candidness is what makes me like this study Bible so much. It is very clear in what it is telling you. I really appreciate this Bible. I love the CSB version, I have several Bibles in that version, and that is my preferred version for personal Bible study.

I recommend this Bible pretty highly. I know the nature of apologetics doesn’t appeal to everyone. There are some who choose to be inspired rather than challenged. This would make an excellent Bible for a teen, young adult, new Christian, or someone solid in their faith who isn’t quite sure what they believe or who wants to deepen their understanding of their faith. They do make a version for students, but I am unsure how it is different from this version. This Bible is for anyone who really wants to get down to answering the questions they may have. Again, this is a Bible. It is intended to be a help as you read and study your Bible. There are entire books on apologetics that you can read if you want, but I do think this Bible will help as you are studying God’s Word to answer some of those big questions. This Bible can be a help to different people across many life situations. While perhaps not the right choice for everyone, I really like it.

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ESV Family Devotional Bible Review

The last few months, I have been using this Family Devotional Bible from Crossway. I wanted to use it for a little while before I gave my review of it. So, I’ve been pulling it out during family devotion time. I have the hardcover edition, but it is also available in blue or brown imitation leather.

Now, when I think of a family Bible, I think of an heirloom quality Bible. Something pretty and significant. I don’t think of a picture Bible. But this is not necessarily intended to be that stately family Bible. This is far more practical. It is a Bible a younger family can walk through together during family devotion time. I’m not sure if you’ve gathered this or not, but I am a very big advocate for family devotions.

This Bible has plenty of full color pictures. Now, the colored ink on the Bible paper does wrinkle the page a little bit. I’m not sure if you can tell from this picture, but there is a rippled texture throughout the picture pages. While the paper is thicker than standard Bible paper, it still didn’t hold up perfectly with the ink. But the pictures are beautiful.

They aren’t childish cartoons, you have these beautiful illustrations throughout. They do remind me a little of the Bible storybooks in doctor’s office waiting rooms, but I love the illustrations in those, so it works out.

There is a small amount of ghosting on the backs of picture pages, but they don’t interfere with being able to see the pages. It is very light on footnotes.

The devotions are the real highlight of this Bible. It has these interspersed throughout Scripture. They are with the Scripture you are talking about. I really like the questions they give. They are directed enough to stay on topic, but open ended enough to give real thoughtful discussion. Smaller kids won’t benefit from the questions as much as older kids, tweens, teens, and you will. I think that makes these devotions great for a family with a wide age range. While I wouldn’t say this devotion would be ideal for families with only teens in the house, it becomes ideal for those who may have a teen or two along with a younger kid. With the younger kids, the story and illustrations are going to be where they gain the most. For older kids, tweens, teens, and parents- the discussion is where you gain the most. If you have younger kids, you may want to skip the discussion or go light on it. But if you have kids who are older, definitely make sure you leave time for the discussion questions.

The devotions focus on the hero type stories in the Bible. You won’t find a single devotion in the book of Psalms, for example. They are Biblically based and don’t really veer into any specific theology. They stay focused on the Bible stories.

30 devotions are in the Pentateuch. (None in Leviticus.)

24 devotions through the historical books.

0 devotions through the books of wisdom.

2 devotions in the major prophets.

1 devotion in the minor prophets.

56 devotions are in the Gospels.

14 devotions in the book of Acts.

1 devotion in Philemon.

1 devotion in Revelation.

(For a total of 130 devotions.)

It is reasonable to think you could go through all these devotions in one year. And you can go through them in any order you wish. You could start at the beginning. Or, if you’re starting later in the year, start with the Gospels to get further into the life of Jesus around Advent time. You can go straight through or jump around. They do tell you what page the next devotion can be found at the end of each devotion, but there is also an index in the back where you could pick the devotion that best fits you right now. (Either fits what your preacher talked about this week, fits where you are in the liturgical year, fits what you are studying in school, or just fits where your mind and interests are right now.)

I love the ESV version for kids. It is on a 10th grade reading level, so it still has a poetic, non-childish feel. But when read aloud, it is easy for them to understand in modern language.

There are 8 really nice maps at the end of this Bible. I like how they illustrated them. They are very interesting for kids, but also easy for them to understand.

Overall, I have really enjoyed this Bible. I think the devotions are excellent for a wide range of ages. The illustrations are beautiful. The Scripture is right there with each devotion so you’re not flipping around to find what you’re reading. The ESV version is a great read aloud version of the Bible for kids. I think this is an excellent resource for families. I wouldn’t say this Bible is a good Bible for kids, but rather as a family resource.

**I received this Bible for free in exchange for my honest review. I am in no way obligated to review it favorably. **

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2017-2018 Morning Basket Curriculum Review

You can find the post of my plans here. This was my first year incorporating a morning basket into our homeschool routine. It was something I picked up from Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. And while we generally stick to The Well Trained Mind, morning basket sounded like something I wanted to adapt to our homeschool routine.

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This school year, I had a wide range of ages. And from here until people start graduating, the range will continue to expand. I really wanted something to keep them all together while they are all going their own ways. That makes no sense, but maybe you follow. I ended up not getting as much covered as I expected. I did not account for how much time would be spent either reading with a distracting toddler or while trying to nurse a new baby. I was pretty okay with relaxing my standards a bit. So, some books I planned to read didn’t get touched.

History

We are sticking with The Story of The World for history. Younger kids jump in wherever we happen to be in the history cycle. This year, we were on Year 3. I read a chapter once or twice a week during morning basket. We actually ended up finishing it in term 2, so term 3, we went back and read some supplemental materials we didn’t get around to in the first pass instead of proceeding on to Year 4.

I used The Activity Guide, The Well Trained Mind, and Ambleside to make up our supplemental reading list. I will get into the grade specific supplements in later posts. For this post, I’m just focusing on the ones we used in our Morning Basket.

The Landing of the Pilgrims was a bit dry, but it did give a good picture of what was going on with the pilgrims as they settled North America. Diving into this gave a better picture of how America was built with certain aspects of life in place. It gave a better understanding of what “religious freedom” would have meant to these people. The kids recalled the details of the book really well, despite only listening to me read it. It ended up taking up an entire term to read this because of the whole having a baby thing.

George Vs. George is a picture book with lots of information. We actually spread this out over a week of reading. My older kids were later found rereading it in their own time. Apparently they liked it.

Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? is another info packed picture book. The kids really enjoyed it.

If You Can Keep It is not a book written for children. It is a very interesting read. It pretty much went over the heads of the younger crew, but the older three did seem to understand much of what we read and it lead to some very interesting dinner table discussions about liberty, freedom, and religion. It made a good read aloud supplement to the American Revolution for my logic aged kids. It would make a good independent reading book in the rhetoric stage. It deals with lofty topics, but it written in a very approachable way.

John Wesley: The World and His Parish was an excellent read. Anyone in the Wesleyan tradition should read this to their kids. It is a bit on the dry side, but it is really interesting. It doesn’t sugar coat the situation at all. You’ll better understand Wesley’s ideas and intentions through reading about his life. This probably falls more in line with character development than history, but we ended up having a good bit of cross over with John Wesley’s world our history studies.

Operation World was again a big part of our geography studies. We focused in on the Caribbean islands this year since The Pastor made his first trip down to Haiti to teach at a seminary there. We also read Under The Storyteller’s Spell, which is a collection of Caribbean folk tales. We found them pretty interesting and they sparked discussions of the culture of these people. It ended up overlapping into history as we were talking about the slave trade and the revolutions of South America and the Caribbean islands a bit.

Science

We started the year using the Berean Builder‘s curriculum.  But really, I couldn’t keep up with the experiments with a newborn, so we had to switch gears a little bit.

It Couldn’t Just Happen ended up taking most of the year to get through. It wasn’t the length or difficulty so much as I didn’t want to throw too much out at once. I felt like taking it slower gave them more time to process the information. This book is essentially answering the question, “Did the universe and all that is in it just happen or is their a Creator?” The book is not dogmatic about creationist issues (literal 7 days, young earth/old earth, etc.) It simply points out the evidence that supports that there is an intelligent design to our world. It is an argument against Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. It does allow for natural evolution, but not the Theory of Evolution. It is a very interesting look into the scientific process and about how we “know” something to be scientifically true, only to find out later it isn’t as true as we thought. Science exists in theories, so we have to have some flexible system of working through the evidence as it arises. My 10 year old said this was his favorite part of the school day.

We also read excerpts from The Handbook of Nature Study. We also grabbed up library books to explore topics as they came up. When talking about the gold rush in history, the topic of gold and geology arose, so we investigated it through library books.

Prayer

I had this plan of the prayers we would learn as a family. I picked too many. I picked 3 prayers per term, meaning we’d learn one prayer each month. At the end of the month, they were just getting to the place of memorization of the prayer. I felt like I was pulling the rug out from under them when we switched. So, for term 2 and 3, we went with one prayer per term. Getting much more familiar and comfortable with the prayer before moving to the next. That worked much better, even though we weren’t memorizing as much.

Truth

For Bible memorization, we simply chose a verse each week. The older kids would look it up and read it each morning. The little kids would repeat after me. By Friday every week, they had all memorized the verse. It was a very simple process. I did have the kids who could write keep a list in their binder of all there verses. So, the older kids did write the verse out once a week.

For Bible study, we started with Herein Is Love: Genesis. I really love this series. It does go through Genesis at a snail’s pace. For the younger kids, I would read whatever story we were on in one of our storybook Bibles. (Jesus, Jesus Calling, Character, Adventure, Friends)

Once we finished that, we moved into doing The Talk once a week. I’m not entirely sure what I think about that particular book. First, it is very small. 7 lessons total. They recommend them once a week, so that is what we did. They are very scientifically accurate, which I liked. Very straightforward, which I liked. I’m just not entirely sure about the order of the lessons and I am not entirely sure about the skimpiness of the lessons. There are recommended videos, which are free. I used my iPad to screen share through our Xbox Air Play app to show the videos. My kids had questions way beyond what were in the lessons. The first three lessons are learning the differences between male and female, sex, and fetal development. It then gets into the moral issues around sex and bodies. I think the order I would have liked to have seen would have been differences between male and female and then respecting other people’s bodies, good touch/bad touch sort of thing. Then move on to sex and the moral issues around adultery and sex outside marriage. Then fetal development and birth. That would have made more sense in how the conversations took my crew. I also have to note that my oldest daughter was very uncomfortable with the questions her younger brothers were asking. I think if I were to do this again, I would split up my boys and girl since they had entirely different questions and ways of looking at it.

We also read Indescribable during the days we weren’t reading The Talk. My kids really enjoyed it, but I think it is more devotional reading than a Bible study. I think it would be awesome for Family Devotion time. Just for a homeschool Bible class, there isn’t nearly enough meat. Though all my kids absolutely love it. It is really quick, under five minutes.

I included our character study in with Truth. First, we read 7 Men. This is not a kid’s book. This is a biography of seven different men written for adult readers. However, for a read aloud, it was quite appropriate for children. Now, there were some issues with Jackie Robinson, as there are some very harsh words to be reading aloud to kids. There were also issues in reading about Pope John Paul II in terms of sex. These items are easily glossed over or skipped if you choose, or you can have a conversation about them, which is what we chose to do. The kids really enjoyed 7 Men. They immediately asked me to read 7 Women.

We also really enjoyed Manners class once a week with Modern Manners. I did skip around a little bit, because my 8 year old has no interest in email etiquette at this point. But the kids really enjoyed it.

Beauty

This was a mixed bag. Turns out that my kids are not the biggest fans of poetry. I ended up only doing poetry for one term. I’ll introduce some more next year and see how it goes.

Art appreciation, they loved. 50 Artists You Should Know was a little on the dry side. It was also not conducive to be looking at tiny versions of the art in one book when you have 6 or 7 people gathered around. What I ended up doing was picking one artist. I’d read from the book and throw the art onto our TV from my iPad via the AirPlay app on our Xbox. This way the kids could all see the pictures we were talking about. Some weeks, I gave them the opportunity to recreate some of the art. They particularly enjoyed making a Chinese Bridge in watercolors and painting with scissors like Matisse.

We ended up stopping the hymns after one term. My kids were just too jacked up to do it. If I did the music at the beginning, it took me forever to calm them back down. If I did it at the end, it took forever to calm them down to move onto their independent work. They just lost their ever-loving minds with the simple move from around the coffee table to around the piano. I don’t know what happened, but for sanity, we removed it. It was a lovely idea. It just didn’t work out for us.

Goodness

I had planned to read so much. We didn’t make it beyond 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. I ended up reading one chapter a week, spreading each chapter over two or three smaller readings. Which meant the book took the entire school year to read. The kids really enjoyed it. I didn’t think they were into it, but then they told me they loved it and wanted to reread it. So, I guess it went well. It just wasn’t the pace I had originally planned. But this is definitely a read aloud kind of book. Though brush up on your latin or you’ll be stumbling all over the Latin names for every sea animal and plant mentioned in the book. I’m kind of wishing we had done an audio book instead. But my kids listen to me reading aloud so much better than they listen to audio books. It is the weirdest thing. But I would have enjoyed the audio book more.

the crew

Overall, morning basket went really well for us this year and I definitely plan to incorporate it next year. I’m glad I had planned a lot, even if I didn’t get to use it all. It gave me something to choose from when we were finishing up in one area and moving to the next.

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2017-2018 Preschool- First Grade Curriculum Review

Since we are winding down with the school year, I figured it was time to update you on my thoughts on the curriculum we used this school year. Now, we technically school year round, so we aren’t really done with the year, but we are winding down and I’m planning next year already.

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You can find my post about our plans here. As usual, some aspects of the plan changed, but for the most part, this is what we stuck with.

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Turns out my Preschool/First Grade kids were the most problematic in terms of finding and sticking to a curriculum. My first grader started the year unable to read. He is currently barely reading CVC words. He is just struggling with reading. It isn’t clicking just yet. In my experience, kids who struggle with reading seem to struggle for ages, then something clicks and they speed through and “catch up” extremely quickly. I am waiting for the “clicking” moment for my first grader. I decided halfway through the year that while I would keep putting phonics in front of them, we weren’t going to stop our world because they couldn’t read or remember all their letters.

Life of Fred

Turns out my little kids did not care for Life of Fred. They thought it was funny, but they weren’t really learning much from it. I had it from a pervious child who did really well with it, so I was a little surprised that it wasn’t working for these kids. We read it anyway, but it was pretty clear they weren’t learning much from it, simply being entertained. We may pull it out again when they are a little older and see how they like it, but for now, we’re setting it aside.

Math Games

I made a box of math games at the beginning of the semester. (I promise I will get around to making a post about it!) It worked out really well for the most part. Each game had several “levels” of play. They really enjoyed it and it was easy for me to take out while the toddler napped and let them have some hands on math fun.

Fairy Tales

For our first term, we went through Fairy Tales. We pulled from several books, including Time Lord Fairy Tales. I expected that to be their favorite, but it had no pictures, so it was a little difficult for the little kids to imagine. The love Doctor Who, but the books were a little difficult for their level. I appreciated them. Their favorite Fairy Tale book ended up being Mary Engelbreit’s Nursery and Fairy Tales Collection.  We read Hans Christian Anderson, Grimm’s, and a few more. I added activities in to go along with the stories. I just looked them up on Pinterest. They liked the snack activities best. The bog kids were constantly asking to sit in.

Peter Rabbit

During our second term, we read through all the Peter Rabbit books. The boys were very into it. Add in a squirrel and rabbit hand puppet to use as a narrator, and we had a hit on our hands. I also bought them each a Peter Rabbit Coloring book that we colored throughout the term. The coloring book was a picture by picture version of Peter Rabbit. It is just that story. I expected it to have more characters in the Peter Rabbit world, but it did not. However, the boys did enjoy the coloring books.

Winnie the Pooh

For the third term, we read through Winnie the Pooh. For this, they bring their own bears to story time. I contemplated buying them each a classic Pooh bear, but ultimately, since they eat have a bear given to them at birth, we used their own bears. I had a lot pf ideas for this unit, but ended up deciding to stick with the simplicity of story time with bear. The boys are loving it. The big kids are jealous.

Phonics

We did use Alpha Tales and Phonics Tales. We really like Alpha Tales. Phonics Tales, not so much. I think Bob Books are better. We used Alphabetimals Coloring books. The boys loved them. I ended up having to buy the toddler one, too. When they finished those, I bought them each The Garden Fairy Alphabet Coloring Book. These are pretty detailed for younger kids. My boys liked them, but they did not love them. My oldest daughter would have loved them at that age. But the boys weren’t as excited about the fairies and the flowers. After they finished those up, I bought them each a Little ABC Coloring Book. These are much smaller coloring books, but the boys LOVED them. They loved the small size and the simpler pictures. They really enjoyed the alphabet coloring books, so I will probably keep that up next year. The Letter Factory DVD was also in high rotation. I didn’t have the Fridge Phonics set with it this time, just a set of magnetic letters. I really think the combination of the Letter Factory and the Fridge Phonics makes learning letter sounds so easy and simple.  My ABC Bible Verses was a surprising hit, as well. I think it was a stretch to consider it an alphabet book, but we liked the wholesome stories about a brother and sister and how they learned certain Bible verses. It was a good start to our “class time” but it didn’t really reinforce letters so much as it did Bible verses and character building. We will likely try out My ABC Verses from the Psalms next school year because the boys did really like it.

We tried numerous apps and games on the tablets that I just didn’t think worked. They loved them. I didn’t think they were learning anything. Some of them were just too repetitive and didn’t get on to the next thing for them to learn more than the A sound in a month. Some of them just had too many bells and whistles. ABC Mouse was one the boys liked, but they didn’t learn anything with. Veritas Press Phonics Museum was good, but the boys didn’t enjoy it as much. Homer I loved the books and music, but the program itself was far too slow moving. (I still have my Homer subscription because of the books. I screen share from my iPad to our home TV through an app on the Xbox called AirPlay. I also do this with Kindle books for kids. I throw them on the screen so they can see the pictures easily while I read.)

Science

The little boys sat in on our morning basket time, so they did get some science there. Other than that, we read selections from The Handbook of Nature Study and took nature walks. They loved doing this. Though, in the suburbs, there is only so much nature you’re really going to encounter. But we talked about weather, trees, seasons, dirt, rocks, and wind. We also read through the Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia. Whatever our letter of the day would be, we’d pick an animal with that letter. While they enjoyed it that way, I think an animal encyclopedia goes best with weekly zoo trips, which we did not do this year. I’m looking to do that next year, though Topher is trying to convince me that the natural history museum will be more fun. (Because it has dinosaurs.)

Critical Thinking

We got Critical and Creative Level One for these little guys. I honestly did not like this level as much as I like the higher levels. There was a lot of content that was assumed a young child would know that my young children did not know. They don’t know much about Hanukah. They don’t know much about commercialized Christmas. They don’t know about a traditional school setting. We ended up having to skip a lot of the beginning content because it was just stuff they didn’t know. And since this was about logic skills, I didn’t see why it would be necessary to teach them about the topic just for them to complete the thinking skills work. I also liked skipping around in the book because you want to do the Halloween section around Halloween (if you want to do it at all). You want to cover Fall at the beginning of Fall. I’m not sure if we’ll continue the Critical and Creative books next year. I liked them, but I didn’t like them. They were good in terms of teaching logic, but I didn’t actually like the content and the books. If that makes any sense at all.

Ransom

Overall, we didn’t make as much progress this year with this age as I thought we would. They had a lot of fun. We read a lot of books. So, the exposure was certainly there. I wouldn’t consider it a failed year, because they really were engaged and exposed to a whole host of new ideas. But as far as their skills in reading and math, they’ll need another year to work that out. So, Ransom will stay in the “little kid class” next year and not move up into the “Upper Grammar” stage. Again, there is nothing wrong with this at all. This is just my assessment of where they are and then using that to plan for next year. My kids usually work from “Lower Grammar” where I do more Kindergarten and “little kid” stuff with them. Once they are reading proficiently and have a grasp on basic math concepts and numbers, they move into “Upper Grammar”. They get more independent in this phase and have to read a lot more books and have a much more in depth math program. After “Upper Grammar”, they move into the “Logic Stage”, which is their middle school years. They read a lot. They write a lot more. They are much, much more independent. After that, they’ll move into the “Rhetoric Stage”, also known as high school. We don’t have any that far yet, so I’m not sure what that will entail, but I am currently thinking dual enrollment will be in their future. We’ll see.

Topher & Pip

But the boys are right where they are. And where they are is where they are “supposed” to be. That is part of the beauty of homeschooling. Their education is hand made for them, so their progress is the right progress. No matter how fast or slow. No matter how lopsided it may seem. They are where they are “supposed” to be.

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The Complete Jewish Study Bible Review

I have been very into various Bibles lately. There are just so many different study Bibles that capture my attention. Some capture my attention in a negative way. “Why would anyone make that study Bible?!” But most capture my attention in a positive way. So, I’ve been picking up a few here and there to read through, use in my own personal devotion time, and see what my thoughts are on these various study Bibles.

The Complete Jewish Study Bible caught my attention. I grabbed a copy of the hardcover edition, but there are fancierleatherversions. This hardcover is a shiny, glossy cover, but it is really good quality. Just for aesthetics, I like the color and the intricate stained glass patterns they use throughout.

And guys- two sewn in bookmarks! That makes me really happy. I’m still waiting for a Bible to come with three. One for the Old Testament reading, one for the Psalms, and one for the New Testament reading. The Pastor wants 4- Old Testament, Psalms, Gospel, and Letters. The font is easy to read and in single column format. The margins are very narrow and not really suitable for writing in.

This Study Bible is packed full of useful study tools and information. I’m not the intended audience for this Bible. However, I have really liked this Bible. It has helped me see God’s Word in a new light. It has given more life and deeper meaning to things I’ve been reading my entire life. It has been a challenge to use, but it has made me slow down and really study the Word and not just breeze right through it. This won’t be the Bible for everyone, and I will get to that later, but it is an excellent study Bible.

The first issue to note is that this Bible is not in our typical English order. It still begins with Genesis and ends with Revelation, but it is not in the same order in between. You have the Torah first (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). Then you have all the prophets together (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel [1st and 2nd], Kings [1st and 2nd], Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi). Followed by the Writings (Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, Chronicles [1st and 2nd]). In the New Testament, you have the Gospel first (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), followed by Acts, then you have the letters broken into three categories; Letters to Communities (Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians), Pastoral Letters (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon), and Messianic Letters (Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude). And then you end with Revelation. If you’re not used to this, you’ll have to just use the table of contents as you acclimate to the order of the books.

Next, you’ll likely notice that you don’t recognize the names of the Bible. The aim of this particular translation was to restore the Jewishness of the Bible. So the names of the books have been taken back to their Hebrew names. No worries, though. The English names appear on the right hand pages with the Jewish names on the left.

I also found I didn’t know any of the people or places in the Bible! Those got put in Hebrew, as well. I actually really appreciated this. It made me read it a little outside of my language. It also had me noticing who was doing what a little bit more. And fortunately, they included a handy Glossary of Hebrew (with pronunciations!) to English. So, I could look them up as much as I needed to.

Each book of the Bible has a great introduction to bring you into the book, including an outline. It also goes ahead and tells you the main names and places in English so you don’t have to look them all up straight out of the gate.

The Complete Jewish Bible also contains a great amount of introductory material. It tells why they translated it the way they did. It goes into translation issues. It brings up the vision and potential audience of the translation. They go into detail on why the Bible is God’s Word to humanity. It explains poetry, law, legalism, and more. It fully outlines the prophesy of the Messiah and how Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophesy. The introduction is almost a full book of great information to help as you study God’s word.

Now, this Bible is not going to be for everyone. There are plenty of people who are about calf-deep in their walk into the river of God’s Word and this will just make them almost drown. If you were just stepping in and knew nothing of the Bible, this would be a fine place to start. No worries there at all. But there are people who are not yet fluent in the Bible but are getting there. This is going to overwhelm those people. People completely non-fluent in Scripture and people very fluent in Scripture will find something amazing here. But those middle people may need to get a little more comfortable with The Word before diving into something like this. I’d hate for anything meant for good to be a stumbling block. This Bible is very much of the scholarly side of things. This is not about life application or practical application of doctrine. This Bible helps you understand the world into which Jesus came into and the world the Jewish people came from. It brings you back into those Hebrew roots so you are better able to read the stories and the words more in their context. It is an extremely eye opening experience.

This Bible is packed full of even more features than I’ve listed. Articles from Jewish scholars. Information of Jewish customs. There is just so much here. It also has footnotes that describe the culture of what is going on within the Scriptures.

I will definitely be hanging onto this Bible. It makes the Scripture new and fresh. It brings to life deeper meanings. It brings more understanding of Jewish faith and culture. And all along the way, you can see Jesus woven throughout. It just highlights those threads of grace so we see the shadow of the cross stretching across the entire span of man’s history.

** This post contains affiliate links. Using my links will not cost you more, but it does benefit me. I make a small portion of the sales I refer using affiliate links. Using affiliate links is a great way to support your favorite bloggers on items you are already planning to buy.**

The Search for Natural Carpet Cleaning

My OxiClean method of carpet cleaning is great for getting carpets clean. However, with a little one rolling around in the floor these days, I wanted something that was more natural. Cleaning with Young Living Thieves cleaner worked well, but that stuff is expensive and it isn’t the easiest to get your hands on. I got to thinking there had to be something cheap, natural, and easy to purchase that I could clean my carpets with.

Let me start by telling you that I should come with a warning sign that says, “Warning! I void warranties!” If you use anything other than the branded cleaning solution for your carpet cleaner you will void the warranty on the carpet cleaner. I’m just not down with that life. I cannot be limited to only products that say “Hoover” or “Bissel”. It seems like such a scam. Anyway. You’ve been very warned that you can void your warranty if you do anything I do.

My carpets are super dirty. I haven’t cleaned them in a year! Actually, more like 14 months. I have super cheap and very old carpet. We rent, so there isn’t anything I can do about the carpet. It was old and dingy when we moved in 9 years ago and SURPRISE! That doesn’t get better with time.

Also, I am well aware that professional cleaning is probably better. However, I cannot afford quarterly professional carpet cleaning for these old, cheap carpets in our house we rent. If you can afford someone, awesome. If you can’t, keep reading, because you are who this is for.

I started with my dining room. There was slime in the floor from a recent kid experiment. There was some paint, some turmeric, and several spilled drink spots. You start by emptying your room as much as possible and vacuuming the floor.

First I decided to try vinegar. It is super cheap. And I figured it might smell weird, but it might be the magic carpets need. I did two passes over the area with a half a cup of vinegar mixed into my clean water. It cleaned really well but did nothing for the stains. And it didn’t get up the slime, which is weird since it is water soluble.

Next, I grabbed a bowl and filled it with hot water and about a teaspoon of Castile soap. I usually have the hemp almond scent, but the rose was on sale, so we have rose right now. I use Castile soap for all manner of cleaning around my house and can get it right down the road. With a scrub brush, I scrubbed the stains and the gunk (slime) that didn’t come up with the vinegar alone.

This is after vinegar but before scrubbing.

After spot scrubbing, I decided it was time for the rinse portion of cleaning. When I “rinse” my carpet after cleaning and scrubbing, I just put hot water in the clean water portion of my carpet cleaner. No cleaning solution. You can add a few drops of essential oil, but mine was already smelling pretty strongly like rose, so I skipped that step. If you are using essential oil in the rinsing portion, you should be aware of a few things. The first is that you should always add the oil after you fill the water reservoir. If you add the oil first it can mess up the carpet cleaner by getting oil in little spots it probably shouldn’t be settling in. Next, do not use citrus oils, they can break down plastic, which is pretty much the entire carpet cleaner- so skip that one. If you want to use oil, but want to be a bit safer on your machine, grab a spray bottle and fill it with water and a few drops of oil, spray that over the carpet and then rinse the carpet. You’ll still be sucking the oil up, but not in concentrated amounts.

After the rinse, you can go back over the carpet again and not use water at all to suck up the excess water. I usually do this so it doesn’t take forever to dry.

So, the vinegar wasn’t the best at carpet cleaning. It really did clean my carpet. I can tell you, it is very clean. But you can see that there are still a lot of stains. However, I feel comfortable letting the baby wallow around on this. But I wasn’t entirely pleased with the results. So, on to the living room and a different method.

Same story. Remove as much of the furniture as you can. Vacuum the room. This time, I decided to give baking soda a shot. I put 1/3 cup of baking soda into some hot water to dissolve it, then poured that into the clean water.

You can see the little fuzz balls that accumulate. Just pick them up after each pass. This always happens to me, despite vacuuming well before starting. The baking soda wasn’t great. It feels like OxiClean on the floor. A little film going on. But it just wasn’t cleaning all that well. So, I switched tracks again.

This time, I decided to just use Castile soap. I put a capful in the clean water tank and set out to clean again. This time, it did much better.

I still had to spot clean some spots. And not all of them came out. Turmeric stains something awful. But I spot cleaned the same as before with Castile soap and a scrub brush. Then I rinsed the carpet with clean water. Then I went over it “dry” to suck up as much extra water as I could, so it wouldn’t be too very wet.

I am much happier with these results. I feel like the Castile soap got the slime and stuff up much better. The carpet got much cleaner looking. And it didn’t feel weird after. Castile soap is the clear winner. I was a little concerned that it would bubble up too much and affect the suction on the carpet cleaner, but using just a capful in the water seemed to be enough to clean but not enough to make a bubbly mess. (Like that time I put Dawn dish soap into the carpet cleaner.)

If you’re wanting your carpet to look new, use the OxiClean. If you want it clean, but are more concerned about having a kid or pet safe product, use the Castile soap. The Castile soap works just as well as the Thieves Cleaner did. My carpets aren’t perfect. I still wish I could pull them up and put something else down. But they are clean and they look a lot better. And the baby can wallow on them and I won’t worry about the residual cleaning product getting on her.

And to answer the common questions. I do not recommend any one carpet cleaner over another. I’ve used Hoover and Bissel. I have reviewed carpet cleaners for both companies. I’m not affiliated with one or the other. The cleaner in these pictures is the Hoover Powerdash Pet because that is the carpet cleaner I am currently reviewing. But I haven’t ever had one home carpet cleaner that was just stand out better than the others. They are all pretty much the same to me.

I purchase Castile soap at my local natural grocery store. I have purchased from Whole Foods in the past. And I have purchased it from Amazon. I have only used Dr. Bronner’s. It is what I like, so I keep buying it.

I am not a Young Living consultant, but I’m sure you know one if you want to try the Thieves Cleaner method. I was a consultant, but selling stuff isn’t for me, so I stopped. In fact, I need to update y’all about my oil purchasing. Because I still very much use and love essential oils. Need a consultant? Post on Facebook and I’m sure a dozen of your friends will be happy to sell it to you.

**This post contains an affiliate link (for the Castile soap). Using this link to purchase the item does not cost you more, but I do make a small amount from the purchase. Thank you, in advance, for supporting me by using my affiliate links. Support your favorite bloggers by using their links when you want to make a purchase. **

Advice to Large Family Parents

Being a large family can be very lonely. People stop inviting you over. You try to understand. You are an entire party in and of yourself now. It feels like you’re only invited to a party last minute when someone realizes they don’t have great guest numbers. Or maybe you have stopped accepting invitations. You feel like you are just too much and so you stop showing up. Either way, the result is feeling lonely. Here are a few tips for that:

– Stop waiting for invitations and start inviting people over. Maybe it can’t be weekly, but it could be monthly. Your house may not be spotless or quiet, but I bet it is fun and lively. Perfect for a party! Invite friends to eat at your place. Host holiday celebrations on your own. Rebuild your community network by being the host.

– Stop saying no to the invitations that are offered. If someone invites your whole family over, they’re accepting the crazy that comes with a large family. They probably really do want you there. You don’t have to feel bad about it being a little hectic. By all means, try to make sure your kids are completely squirrelly, but accept the invite if you can.

– Start asking family to visit you. It really can be a lot to take 8-12 people into someone else’s home. It can be a lot to take one toddler into the home of someone without kids. But instead of just skipping out on family stuff, ask them to come to you. It is easier to fold a few extra people into a big table than a lot of people into a small one.

– Reach out to other parents you might know and work out moms and dads nights out. Let all the dads hang with the kids at one person’s house while all the moms crash another. Then next time, repay the favor.

– Meet up with friends in public places to eat. Take the pressure off anyone feeling the need to host a large crowd. It can be expensive to take a large family out to eat. It can be stressful, especially if you never do it. But kids typically learn good eating out manners by having the opportunity to develop them by eating out. Consider hitting up a pizza place where you can buy a few large pizzas instead of somewhere where you order a meal per person. Or meet in a park one afternoon with some coolers of ice cream.

You may have to get a little more creative about gatherings and you may have to put aside some hurt feelings over why people don’t want you to come over anymore. But you can still create an awesome community and you don’t have to be lonely.

Another issue a lot of large families face is feeling weird. You perpetually feel like you don’t fit and like you don’t belong. Here are some tips:

– Your family is large. Intentionally, unintentionally on your part, God gave you this family. There is no changing it, only accepting it. You need top accept your family and not feel embarrassed about who you are. I know a lot of large family parents who are perpetually embarrassed about being a large family for one reason or another. This just makes you feel so much worse when the random stranger makes a heartless comment or when a family member passive aggressively slights your family.

– Be proud of your family. Go beyond just accepting it. Rework your inner narrative and be proud of the family God gave you. Embrace and celebrate what makes you different.

– Make new friends. I actually give this advice pretty often. When you feel bad about your life because of the people around you, it usually isn’t time to change your life, but change your friends. Make friends with other large families or at least people who respect your family. When you have six kids, you won’t feel weird at all if you hang with moms who have eight.

– Accept that your family is different in the best way and stop trying to fit the 1.5 kid mold of our culture. There are restaurants I won’t visit, not because I don’t like the food, but because the environment isn’t conducive for a party of 9. There are things large families cannot do and it is easier and happier to just accept those things than continually try to make a square peg fit into a round hole. Family memberships that only include 4 children are never going to be for us. Baseball teams that schedule something every single night of the week are never going to work when we’re balancing schedules for 9 people. Large families come with our own benefits. You can have an entire ball team with just your family. You don’t need anyone to come over to have the best game of hide and seek ever. You can get a group discount without begging another single person to join you. Embrace the benefits. Shake off the small family mold.

– Surround yourself with things that encourage you. Listen to podcasts that help you embrace your role as a parent of many. Read blogs and books that encourage you in your role. Follow other large family moms on Instagram. Link up with others like you around the country on Facebook. Use social media to help encourage you. Make it a point to surround yourself with encouragement for your journey, not someone else’s.

– Our God does not put any shame on your family. Any shame or guilt you feel about your family is not of God. Reject it. Stomp it under your feet in Jesus’ name! Our God says children are a blessing. Our God says you are blessed. Our God says be fruitful and multiply and you have obeyed. The shame and guilt of this world is not from our God. Put that mess behind you. “Get behind me Satan!” Know who you are in Him and know how blessed your family is to Him.

– Don’t get a chip on your shoulder about your family. Be proud in who you are without turning that around as judgement on others. Some families are smaller and that doesn’t make them less that you, just different. Take from that well of grace you’ve been given and show the same. Too often our security in our own life turns and judges others for not being like us. We cloth diaper, so everyone should. We grind our own wheat for bread, so everyone should. We have ten kids, so everyone should. Be as accepting of other families as you hope they are of you. Judgy people are miserable. Don’t be miserable. Be confident in yourself. And love others.

Then there are the practical considerations. The idea that your house must run in a certain way because you are a large family. You read large family books and the main portions are about organization and you feel, well, completely unorganized.

– Know that the authors of all the large family books are not trying to shame you for being a hot mess mama with a lot of kids. There is this perception that all large family moms are these super organized women who run the house like a well oiled machine. Then we feel guilt and shame because we don’t measure up. These women had no intention of shaming you. I mean, I don’t know them personally, but I’m thinking the best of them here. They are sharing their systems to try to help a mama out. They found what works for them and they just want to share it in case it helps you out, too. If it doesn’t help you, don’t do it!

– The best system is the one that works. We all know large families do require a little more thought about the average family because that is just the way life works when you’re adding more little cogs to the works. You’ve got more plates to keep spinning, so you’ve got to figure out how they spin. I don’t think this applies specifically to large families. I remember the first few times I had to venture out in public on my own with two babies. Even something as simple as how to get out of the car and into the car had to be a well thought out process. Who goes in first? Can I leave that one in the car while I walk around to the other side? If I take him out and put him in the stroller, then I’ll have to turn my back on the stroller to get her out but if I take her out first, I’ll have the same problem in reverse. I think parenting just takes a little more thought and the more kids you add to the mix, the more complex things tend to get. You do you, though.

– Be willing to adjust. You find the perfect laundry system and it works beautifully for about 7 months and then suddenly, it just isn’t working. And I know you bought 16 color coded laundry baskets. But if adjustments need to be made, adjust. You don’t have to rework the entire system (preaching to myself here), but you can make changes to make it work. And know, you’ve got about 7 months of bliss while it works and then you’ll be back here again.

– Your version of organized may not look like someone else’s. It is fine. You do you.

– You can’t change your family or the personal dynamic of your family, so when setting up systems for the flow of the household, keep in mind you can’t change the people in the household. If your toddler keeps reaching for the same vase over and over again, it can be tempting to try and change the toddler instead of just moving the vase. You know what is important to you in terms of character building and boundaries with your kids, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about trying to change my kids into someone they are not to make a system work. My kids do not wash clothes. I am super anal about how certain items are washed and on what settings. I’m really picky about the order of importance of things washed. So, I don’t have them wash clothes because they can’t be me in washing them. Instead of trying to change them into little versions of myself about washing clothes, I choose to set up the system so I do all the washing. (They put them away and I choose not to look at how they end up in the drawers.) That is what works for us for now. Just keep in mind that you can change your systems, but not your people.

– Know your priorities. Your priorities might look a lot different than mine. But know what they are so you can live as intentionally as possible. The more people you put in a family, the more opportunities there are for things to take your resources. There is only so much time in a day. There is only so much money in your bank account. Knowing your priorities will help you say “yes” to the things that matter to you enthusiastically and “no” to all the rest without guilt.

– Embrace Costco. Or Sam’s. Or BJ’s. Or whatever buy in bulk place you have near you. I did not want to go that route for so long, thinking, “Who needs a flat of toilet paper?” The answer, of course, is that I do. I need a flat of toilet paper. Now, some things are not cheaper in bulk, but many things are. I don’t know what I would do without bulk string cheese now. Embrace it. These places are made for you. When you start noticing how few Pop Tarts come in a box, time to start thinking about that Costco membership.

What advice do you have for large families? Leave it in the comments!