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All of Grace

by Charles Spurgeon



My Rating: 5 stars out of 5




In All of Grace, C.H. Spurgeon outlines the plan of salvation in such clear, simple language that everyone can understand and be drawn to the Father.  Any attempt to please God based upon our own works brings self-righteousness and coldness of heart.  It is the free grace and mercy of God that makes the heart glow with warmth and thankfulness of God's love.

The heartfelt goal of this dynamic classic is summed up in Spurgeon's final cry to the reader, "Meet me in heaven!"

"Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." -- Revelation 22:17


Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, is one of the greatest preachers of all time.  And this book is proof of that statement.  Written to everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, All of Grace is decidedly evangelistic.  The charge to unbelievers in this book is to repent and believe.  For both the believer and the unbeliever reader, the evidence of the work of God's grace in our lives throughout this book is amazing.  By directly addressing the reader throughout the book, it takes on a very personal tone.  No matter who you are, or what your beliefs, this is a book you need to read.  

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Using 'Clip & Flip' Cards in the Classroom

For the first time today, we used 'Clip & Flip' cards as a way of reviewing context clues.  I use task cards a lot.  All the time!  We use them in groups to review, as SCOOT games, as a walk the room activity to review and for graded assignments, so even though the kids and I all love using task cards, I wanted to find something new and different to add to our daily instruction.


We are currently working on context clues, and it's always such a hard thing for our students to grasp.  So I was in need of additional resources.  I, naturally, gravitated right to Teachers Pay Teachers, and started searching.  I came across these 'Clip & Flip' cards by Games for Gains and figured they'd be a great option.  I bought two different levels (one for 2 & 3 and one for 4 & 5) so I could easily differentiate the cards my students received.


I've seen many different sellers on TPT have versions of these types of cards, and I have even made one myself (for compound words) that I've never even used!  Although, I have a feeling I'll be making more of these types of cards now!


I didn't know how the kids would react or if they'd even work well.  But I really enjoyed this and it seemed like the kids did as well!  All you need are a set of cards, these were laminated and were sturdier than regular paper, and clothespins.  The idea behind the 'Clip & Flip' cards are to be a self-checking assessment for the students.  But since it was our first time using these, I gave each student 8 cards and 8 clothespins.  They were allowed to find a spot, anywhere in the room, to work.  


They laid out all of their cards and clipped the clip over their answer, and then had to call me over before they could check their work.  When I came over, they would flip all the cards over and then, for any cards they got incorrect, we talked about what the correct answer was, and why.  Eventually, though, I hope to build them up to a point where they can simply use this as a self-checking assessment and maybe discuss their reasonings with a partner.  


If you have not tried 'Clip & Flip' cards in your classroom, I recommend you give them a shot!  They are super simple to set up and use!


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The Girl at the Bar

by Nicholas Nash


**This book releases on February 1, 2017** 


My Rating: 4 stars out of 5



Rebecca, a brilliant cancer researcher, disappears after a one-night stand with a neurotic man with a questionable past.  

Her sudden disappearance in the midst of a high-stakes quest to cure cancer between two rival billionaires sets into motion an inexplicable chain of events as the bodies start to pile up.  

No one knows why she disappeared.  The race to find answers ensures everyone around her, one of whom is a deeply disturbed psychopath lurking in the shadows.  

Is Rebecca still alive?  What happened to her?  Who did it?  And why?  Questions about her vex everyone looking for answers.  No one can be trusted and no one is above suspicion.



I was given a pre-release copy of The Girl at the Bar in exchange for my honest review.  This book is one of my favorite books in recent times that I have read.  This book did an excellent job of keeping me on my toes until the very last page!  Nicholas Nash is a wonderful author and a great storyteller.  He was able to develop the characters in such a way that I was never able to figure out who the 'mystery character' was.  Every single time I *thought* I knew who it was, I was quickly proven wrong.  There were so many twists and turns, and I was captivated the entire time I read the story!  Also, there was clearly a lot of research dealing with cancer research that went into the writing of this book.  I learned so much that I never knew and I loved that aspect of the book!  Overall, I would highly recommend this book!

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4 Must Have Teacher Supplies

Every teacher (or...well...most every teacher) I've ever met is pretty much a school/office supply snob.  I'm glad to know that I'm not alone.  Over the past few years of teaching, there are many things that I have come to realize all teachers need in their classrooms and home offices.  And the four items below are, what I consider, the most necessary things.




One thing that I must have are colorful pens.  I don't grade with red pens, so I alternate between using blue, pink, purple, green, orange, etc.  And colorful pens make writing notes to yourself that much more fun.  So do yourself a favor and get you some colorful pens.  More specifically...get you these pens!


These pens are amazing.  They are relatively new to stores, and they won't be leaving my desk anytime soon!  The colors are super vibrant, the ink dries super fast, and they don't smudge.  Or smear.  At all!  They have a comfortable, rubberized grip, and they come in two different pen point widths.  I had been using the 0.7 and recently bought a pack of the 0.5 pens in black.  And those are my new favorites!  Other than maybe new, additional color schemes, I don't know of anything else I need from a pen!



I know that most schools/districts have the ability to have items laminated in house.  And that's nice, super convenient, and cost effective for the teacher.  However, even though I have this option, and it's an option I often take advantage of, I still prefer to use my own laminating machine from time to time.  This is mainly for two reasons: one being that I can laminate when I want and I don't need to wait (you know, that instant gratification kind of thing, haha).  The second reason is that the quality of the laminating with these machines is usually a little better.  I have found that the laminating sheets you can purchase for these personal machines is typically thicker than the laminating film that is available for the larger school owned machines.  And when I'm getting task cards and other resources laminated that will get a lot of use and will be in the hands of all my children, I prefer the thicker, more durable lamination!  


Some of you may have the older model of the Scotch Laminator that was pretty popular, and used to be sold at stores like Target and Walmart.  It was an okay machine, but it had its issues.  I owned the older model and it finally got to the point where it stopped working...maybe that was because I used it too much?!  When I went to buy a replacement, I was so excited to see that Scotch had a new model out that was smaller, more streamlined, and all the 'issues' I had with the machine were fixed!  And at around $30, it's a steal!  Seriously!  I love this machine!  

I think we can probably all agree on one thing.  Those pencil sharpeners that are attached to the classroom walls?  Yeah, they don't work.  When the kids use them, they take the cover off to dump the shavings, and then there's a mess all over the floor!  Sometimes, they are too close to the wall, and you hit your hand on the wall every single time you turn the handle.  I just totally despise those pencil sharpeners.  But this electric sharpener is one of my favorites!  I've had it for three years, and it's still going strong.  


If you are still using those school provided, hand powered pencil sharpeners that is attached to your wall, do yourself a favor and upgrade to one of these bad boys.  It will seriously save you a lot of headaches.  I promise!  The only pencils that I've seen it not work well with are those really bad pencils with the thick, plastic coatings.  You know the ones...the pencils that never work with ANY sharpeners.  Ever!  Yeah, there is absolutely no hope for those sorry things. 



Every teacher needs herself (or himself) a good teacher planner.  You can pick up small, cheap planners at target, walmart, etc.  However, I prefer to invest in a good quality planner that will last me all year and will be my lifesaver when I need it.


Personally, I prefer the Erin Condren planners to any other planners out there.  Yes, they are not the cheapest.  But this thing is amazing!  In this one book, I have my calendar, my lesson plans, my grade book, notes pages, and even a plastic sleeve to keep pages safe throughout the year.  This planner truly is one of my must-have items for teachers!  Trust me, it's worth the investment!  And, if you decide you want to try out Erin Condren for yourself, click this link and create an account on her website.  When you do this, you'll receive a $10 coupon for your first purchase, and I'll receive a $10 coupon on my next purchase!  It's definitely a win, win! 


These are the four "must have" items that I would tell any teacher they need to have in their classroom!  I don't know how I would survive without any of these items!  What are some of your "must have" items?  Do you use any of these supplies?  

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2017 Reading Challenge | #vtReadingChallenge


Tim Challies, one of my favorite Christian bloggers, is hosting a reading challenge for the second year in a row.  In an effort to challenge myself with what I read this year, I've decided to participate in the 2017 Reading Challenge that Visual Theology and Tim Challies have developed.  You can read more about the challenge on his blog.  Click here for that post. 

You begin by setting a goal at the beginning of the year, and then progress through the levels as you finish each one.  However, I'm not going to set a 'goal' for myself.  Obviously, I want to get as far along in this challenge as I can, so I'm just going to start working on the "Light" level and then see how far I can progress throughout the year.  The image below shows the different levels and categories that are to be read for this year's challenge.  You can also download the image in full size on Tim's blog, which is linked above.


The following list is what I'm thinking I might read for the "Light" section of the challenge.  These titles may change, based on new books I discover, or topics I'm feeling compelled to read at a certain time of the year.  However, these books are the ones I'm thinking I'll read to start off the challenge.  As I finish the "Light" section and move onto the next section, I'll post another update on the blog with the titles I hope to read.

The Light Reader

A book about history - The Reformation by Stephen Nichols
A book targeted at your gender - The Gospel Centered Woman by Wendy Alsup
A book with at least 400 pages - Foundations of Grace by Steven Lawson
A book your pastor recommends - Tactics by Gregory Koukl
A book about christian living - Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
A book more than 100 years old - All of Grace by Charles Spurgeon
A book of your choice - None Like Him by Jen Wilkin
A book about a current issue - Abortion by R.C. Sproul

Have you read any of these books?  What are your thoughts on my current selection of books, and on the reading challenge in general?  Will you be participating in this, or any other reading challenge this year?  I'd love to hear your thoughts and plans!  Have a you tried reading plans in the past?  How have they worked for you?

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What I Read in 2016

When a new year begins, I love to look back at the year before and remember all the memories and experiences that the year brought.  Among the things I love to look back on from the prior year is the books that I read.  In 2016, I read a total of 51 books.  For 2017, I've set my goal at reading 55 books.  Below, I have the sorted by type (Christian, fiction, and nonfiction) and the ratings that I gave each book.  There are some really great reads here...if you are looking for something to read!  Each book is linked to its page on Goodreads - which is one of my favorite websites!  I use Goodreads to track the books I read, find new books I want to read, and link to authors and other readers who enjoy similar genres.  It's worth checking out if you love to read!


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As you can see, there is a wide variety of books listed here.  And if you are looking for some recommendations, here is what I would suggest from what I read in 2016.  If you are looking for a Christian title, Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin would be my top pick, and The Envy of Eve by Melissa Kruger and AHA by Kyle Idleman would be close seconds.  In the fiction category, I would highly recommend The Girl at the Bar by Nicholas Nash.  This book does not release until February 1 (I had the opportunity to read a prerelease copy of the book), so I would definitely put this on your reading wishlist.  Besides that book, Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult and The Woman in Cabin 10 were some of my absolute favorites as well.


One of the things that I love about using Goodreads is the ability to track the books I read, and keep on pace with goal I've set for myself for the year.  This year, my goal is 55 books, which is slightly over what I read in 2016, but if I stay intentional about my reading, completing 55 books this year shouldn't be too hard to accomplish.  You can read more on being intentional about my reading in my post from yesterday.  

How many books did you read in 2016?  What was your favorite book of the year?  Have you set a reading goal for the new year?

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One Little Word 2017 // Intentional

One little word.

Have you ever chosen 'one little word' for your year?  I've often contemplated doing this fun little challenge where you choose a word for the year and live by that word throughout the year.  But I have never been able to actually decide on a word.

simplify
focus
celebrate
productive
adventure
challenge
inspire
positivity

The above list are words I've considered...but have never challenged myself to live by throughout the year.  This year, it's my goal to participate in the One Little Word for 2017.  I thought long and hard on what my word of the year would be.  I looked at my life and noticed which areas needed improvement and adjusting.  I realized where I needed to place my focuses for the year.  I know where I fall short and the goal is to address those issues.

My One Little Word for 2017 is...


One thing has become extremely clear.  I WASTE TIME.  Sometimes I realize when I'm doing this, sometimes I don't.  But I probably wasted more time in 2016 by doing trivial things that didn't help me to grow in any areas of my life.  Therefore, for 2017 I am aiming to me more INTENTIONAL with my life.

I'm going to be more intentional about how I spend my time throughout the day.  Being intentional about my day should lead me to be more focused, productive, and inspired (you know...some of those words I thought about doing in the past)!  

And how am I going to accomplish this?  

--> When I wake up in the mornings, I'm not going to lay in bed for 30 minutes and waste time on social media.  I'm going to be more INTENTIONAL about my mornings.  As soon as I wake up each morning, I'm going to go straight to the Word and begin my bible studies for the day.

--> Speaking of social media, I'm going to spend less time on there throughout the day.  I'll survive if I miss a post from someone on Facebook about what they are eating for dinner.  I'll live if I miss the picture that someone posted about their dog on Instagram.  I'm going to be more INTENTIONAL about how I spend my time online.

--> I'm going to be more INTENTIONAL about the books I read this year.  I'm participating in a Reading Challenge this year (more on that soon) and I'm hoping that it helps me to choose better books to read.  Overall, the books I read are always great.  I'm pretty good about picking a new book to read.  However, I spent a lot of time this year reading books that weren't good - and I realized that these were random books I threw into the mix.  For example, when I wanted to read a new book, and wanted to finish it in just a few days, I would browse through Amazon for a cheap, short book.  This way of choosing books isn't the way to go.  Just saying.

--> Financially, I've failed.  2017 is going to be my year.  I'm going to be more INTENTIONAL on where my money goes.  I'm going to do a better job at tracking my spend, increasing my savings, reducing my debts, and not spending wasteful money on silly things that will give me buyer's remorse a few days later.  

There are so many other areas of my life where I plan to be more intentional this year.  But these are the big areas where I need to prioritize my life.  Have you ever participated in the #onelittleword challenge?  What is your #onelittleword for 2017?

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