Prison Fellowship’s New Program Addresses Reentry and Recidivism: The Academy and Jonathan’s Walk

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Are you familiar with Prison Fellowship?  Started by Chuck Colson in 1976, Prison Fellowship serves prisoners behind bars and their families (as well as former prisoners) in the world outside.  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions sent me the first part of Prison Fellowship’s new documentary entitled “The Restoration Series: Jonathan’s Walk,” which shares the story of one man and his experiences as part of Prison Fellowship’s new program, The Academy.  Read on for more!

 

 

About Prison Fellowship and Jonathan’s Walk

So…what does Prison Fellowship do?  Here’s what I found at their website (you can check it out yourself at Prison Fellowship’s Our Beliefs page).  They believe that:

  • All people are created in God’s image
  • No life is beyond God’s reach
  • Those affected by crime can be reconciled to God, their families, and their communities (that’s actually Prison  Fellowship’s vision)
  • Jesus can bring the most broken situations and people to be whole again
  • Those who broke the law can be restored and healed to serve

So what does this ministry and service look like?  Prison Fellowship serves both people convicted of crimes and in prison for those crimes, as well as the families of those people who are separated from those they love.  This can look like:

  • Prison Fellowship Academy, in certain prisons across the country, where inmates can participate in programs designed to help them transform and grow
  • Angel Tree, where donors purchase gifts for children on behalf of parents who are in prison, to give to these kiddos for Christmas
  • Re-entry programs for inmates who are about to be released
  • And more

 

About “The Restoration Series: Jonathan’s Walk”

This inspiring new documentary from Prison Fellowship introduces us to Jonathan, who has been in prison for years because he was literally in the wrong place at the wrong time; and who became involved in a carjacking and was then arrested and incarcerated for that crime.  During the years since that time, he has been separated from his wife and family.  He has missed so many moments that parents treasure with each other and with their kids; the first day of school, his daughter’s serious facial injury from a burn, his wife’s being alone during their daughter’s healing, and the daughter’s needing to transfer schools because of bullying.

However, Prison Fellowship has been there to support him, to aid in his transformation, and to help him to prepare to be released from prison and to be reunited with his wife and daughter, as well and giving him tools to stay away from the devastating cycle of returning to crime (recidivism) and prison.

Did you know that over half of all release prisoners commit crimes and return to living lives of incarceration?  According to Prison Fellowship, the U.S. is home to only 4% of the world’s population.  But at the same time, U.S. prisons contain more than 20% of the world’s prisoners.  So, Prison Fellowship has created a new program for prisoners called The Academy.  It is designed to combat incarceration and recidivism.  And “The Restoration Series: Jonathan’s Walk” introduces us to one man who has participated in this program.  We meet Jonathan and his wife, as well as his daughter, as they prepare to be reunited again.

‍This series is fantastic.  It offers and provides hope not only for incarcerated prisoners, but for their families, for a life after separation and division; and for a life not marred by repeat offenses, crimes, and a return to prison.

 

 

So you can watch…

Prison Fellowship has provided a video so that you can check out the first part of this documentary series yourself!  Simply click on the arrow in the video above to watch the first part of this encouraging and inspiring series.

In addition, if you’d like to see the whole 5-part series you can sign up at Jonathan’s Walk entire.  That is completely free, and you’ll also receive access to exclusive behind-the-scenes content.

Thanks so much for checking out this neat series and ministry to prisoners and their families!

 

–Wren

 

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this video.   I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 

 

 

There’s Still Time to Register for Bridgeway Academy Trimester Courses for Spring 2019

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Hi friends!

Are you a little tired of the homeschool curriculum your family has been using?  Do you need a breath of fresh air for yourself, or your students’ schooling?  Well, Bridgeway Academy might be the answer for you!

I wanted to share some fascinating class info for Bridgeway Academy‘s spring 2019 class list.  You can register for this spring’s Live Online Classes (trimester courses) now…all the way up until February 28, 2019.  These are available for students in elementary grades through middle school, currently.  They provide the opportunity for your kiddos to engage in online classrooms with other homeschool students across the country, with certified teachers who are passionate about their subject matter and great educators as well.  We have loved having these opportunities for my own son!

So, what kinds of classes might you find for this upcoming semester?  You could register your child for:

  • Tales of Survival: Geography & Literature (11 spaces left)
  • Practical Skills for Tweens & Teens (4 spaces left)
  • Music Appreciation (10 spaces left)
  • Magic Tree House: Ice Age (11 spaces left)

There are also some fantastic courses in the literature category.  Elementary students can learn more about digital storytelling or engage with classics such as the always-beloved Charlotte’s Web.  In addition to the “Tales of Survival” course listed above, middle schoolers can delve into fantasy literature, a favorite genre for many teens.

And really, that’s not all!  Just click on Our Courses to see the other cool offerings Bridgeway Academy is offering this spring!  You might just find the perfect thing for your own child and his or her education…and a way to extend the joy of learning in untold and unusual ways!

 

 

Head over to Bridgeway Academy to learn more.  Remember, registration for these spring trimester  closes February 28, 2019.  So don’t delay!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

Happy Valentine’s Day Giveaway 2019 from FINCHNWREN! (Ends 2/25/19)

Hi there!

So….it’s almost Valentine’s Day!  And I have some goodies to give away to one FINCHNWREN reader to celebrate.

 

 

I am giving away, to one FINCHNWREN reader, a prize package valued at $43!  One winner will receive:

  • Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Color Splash Shade Shifting Lipstick in Ocean Floor
  • Large-Knitted infinity scarf from Old Navy
  • Hand-thrown mini clay heart bowl

I love these goodies.  Tarte is one of my most favorite beauty brands ever.  They tend to be low-chemical and high environmentally-friendly…plus they just work amazingly and look fab.

 

 

The Old Navy scarf (I have one myself in another color!) is soft, comfortable, and super-warm.  And beautiful.

 

 

 

The little heart-shaped bowl is just the cutest, and will brighten your smile when you see it on your shelf or table!

 

How to enter:

Simply click on the pink “Enter here!” link below.  That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways.  Giveaway closes on 2/25/19.  One winner will be selected from all entries, and will win all the items pictured.  (Prizes will be shipped after Valentine’s Day.)

Enter here!

 

Best wishes, and happy Valentine’s Day!  –Wren

FINCHNWREN’s Word for 2019

I’m a little late to the “Word of 2019” game, for sure…since today is January 28!

I have been mulling over a number of words.  Words that inspire, words of movement and accomplishment…but I just didn’t feel that any of them exactly described what I wanted for 2019.  Then finally, in the last few days!

 

 

 

Yes, it’s “hope.”

Here’s the dictionary.com definition of hope, when used as a verb:

  • to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.
  • to believe, desire, or trust
  • to feel that something desired may happen
  • to place trust; rely

I want “hope” to be my manner of living this year.  I would say I used to be a very hopeful person; hopeful for God’s good, for good events, for positive living.  Unfortunately, that hopefulness has taken a beating!  We’ve had a challenging number of years; surgeries, employment challenges, surgeries (again), fighting and beating cancer.  Of course that last one is cause for rejoicing, for sure; and really, God has brought us through all of those events and more.  And we have definitely had happy and joyful moments and seasons, to be sure.

I noticed recently though, that my first thoughts, and generally my habits of thinking, often aren’t hopeful.  So I began to think on that, and to ask God for help and for change.  Here are some quotes and verses that inspire me:

  • “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  –Jeremiah 29:11
  • “Where there’s hope, there’s life.  It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”  –Anne Frank
  • “…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will walk and not grow weary; they will run and not be faint.”  –Isaiah 40:31
  • “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  –Romans 5:5
  • “There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”  –J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers (implied there, but part of my hopes for sure)
  • “Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.”” –Alexandre Dumas

I could keep going (I love books, reading and quotes!) but here is the bottom line:  I want to become again, to work on being a woman of hope.  A woman who’s willing to fight for the good in my own life, in and for my family, in the gifts and callings that I’ve been given.  I want to become again the girl I was, whose first thought each day was to look forward to the wonderfulness ahead.  Want to do that with me?  🙂

My best wishes and hopes for each of you this year—for an amazing calling and good words!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

The Best Study Bible I’ve Seen in Years! A Review of Thomas Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible

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Hi friends!

I have the privilege of telling you today about a fantastic study Bible that has become my new favorite!  The BlogAbout Blogger Network generously sent me the most gorgeous (inside and out) copy of Thomas Nelson’s new NKJV Study Bible to use and review.  I love it and it has made my devotional and Bible reading times so rich and rewarding!

 

 

The NKJV Study Bible is beautifully printed and bound in cranberry-colored softcover faux leather.  Its full-colored pages have gorgeous photos of art and geographical regions of Bible lands, as well as golden page edges.  There are two ribbons to mark the spots you’re reading in.  Each Bible book has an interesting introduction that describes the events, purposes, and timelines of the books, as well as chapter outlines.  It’s a hefty Bible with a good weight; after all, there are 2201 pages!  There is just SO much to this Bible; check out what’s included!

  • Verse-by-verse study notes, on more than 15,000 verses
  • Notes on Bible times and culture
  • Word studies with Strong’s numbers (one of my favorite ways to study, by delving into the original Greek and Hebrew!  The Strong’s numbers help you to discover more without being an ancient languages scholar yourself.)
  • Extensive cross-reference system
  • Maps and charts explaining more about what’s going on in the text
  • Full-length articles by evangelical Bible scholars, a concordance, and color maps
  • Clear and readable Thomas Nelson NKJV Comfort Print®

 

What I encountered with the NKJV Study Bible

Each spring, our church offers a cool optional prayer and Bible reading activity for the first 21 days of the new year.  That gave me the perfect opportunity to put this study Bible to the test.  And oh, was it a rich and fulfilling time!  The Bible reading was divided into a New Testament (a daily chapter from the Gospel of John) and an additional chapter or chapter portion (sometimes in the Old Testament, sometimes in the New).  So, each day I was reading the book of John chapter-by-chapter, and then reading verses of Isaiah, Psalms, 1 Corinthians, etc.  That would have been an amazing three weeks in and of itself.  But this Bible added so much depth to that!

The book of John starts with a gripping introduction (as do all the other 65 books of the Bible) and reminds us that this gospel includes the reason it was written: to show us how to find eternal life (John 20:31).  It tells us about its author, “the disciple Jesus loved,” widely understood to be the apostle John.  It includes a timeline of the years covered in the book, and the time scholars believe it was written.  The gospel’s theology is shared (that Jesus, the Word, is God) as well as the acts of Jesus that serve as His deity’s proof.  The intro closes with an outline of the book.

 

 

As the book of John progresses, the NKJV Bible includes verse-by-verse footnoted teaching, Greek word studies (for example, “The Word,” “The Only Begotten Son,” “born again,” “fountain,” and more).  There are also maps of Jesus’ journeys and photos of the lands He walked through, like Tiberias, a Capernaum synagogue, and Nazareth.  There are infographics (charts) on everything from Jesus’ trials, to the Old Testament predictions (and consequent fulfillment) of the Messiah’s death, to Peter’s restoration.  And more!  There are just so many amazing additions that both bring the Bible to life for the reader and deepen his or her understanding of it.

I have to mention one last thing I really appreciated, and that’s this Bible’s translation.  There are quite a few Bible translations out there, which are produced by people who read and study the original Hebrew and Greek, then translate it into modern language.  I’ve used, over the years, the NASB, the NIV, and the Message for my Bible study and devotional reading.  This study Bible, as you might have noticed from the title, is in the New King James Version, which (other than knowing it existed) I was mostly unfamiliar with.  Well, I love it!  It seems both very personal and very faithful to the Scriptures I’m familiar with.  In fact, it wouldn’t be exaggeration for me to say it has brought my Bible reading to life.  And all the qualities and aspects of this Bible that I loved in the Gospel of John book occur in all the other books of the Bible as well!

 

 

All in all, this Bible has been a wonderful experience for me.  And I think it would be the same for anyone who’s looking for a great study Bible in a fresh and vivid translation, with all the extras that bring the Old and New Testaments into greater focus.  Whether you’re considering it for a gift for someone else or for you, yourself, it will be a fantastic faith experience.  Definitely, check this Bible out!

 

 

 

More on the NKJV Study Bible:

You can see even more about this amazing study Bible, and why it might be right for you, by watching this YouTube video about it!  Just follow the link in the preceding sentence to see this gorgeous Bible.

 

 

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

DISCLOSURE:  From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

 

 

30 Days to Understanding the Bible Review and Giveaway (closed)

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CONGRATULATIONS TO WINNER JULIE D!
Are you someone who’s interested in the Bible but confused about what exactly is in it?  Are you unsure of where in history all the Biblical events occur?  Do you know what doctrines are part of Christianity?  If you can answer “yes” to any of those questions, then Max Anders’ bestselling 30 Days to Understanding the Bible is a book you’ll definitely want to check out!  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions sent me a free copy of this exceptional book to read and review, as well as an additional copy to give away to one reader!

What is 30 Days to Understanding the Bible?

Author Max Anders has years of experience of teaching others to understand what’s in the Bible.  A veteran pastor, he’s taught on the seminary level and has written over 25 books.  He also was one of the first team members of the Walk Thru The Bible organization, which creatively teaches people to learn and remember the Bible and its contents.  You can find him at  MaxAnders.com.

 

 

All this experience has been distilled to create 30 Days to Understanding the Bible.  Perfect for both teachers and students, it is everything a person needs to (yes) understand what the Bible is all about.  It covers:

  • Bible land geography
  • Christian doctrine
  • the Gospels and what’s in them
  • How the Bible is organized and why
  • The major arcs of the Bible
  • Its historical eras
  • The types of books it contains
  • and more!

Even better, just as the title says, you can learn all of this in only 30 days!

How this book works

It’s organized in 30 chapters (so, a chapter per day for 30 days) which run about 8-12 pages apiece.  Each chapter is filled with interesting anecdotes, great maps and charts (with illustrations to help organize the information), clear presentation of information, and quizzes on chapter info so that the reader can learn and build on what’s currently taught, and reviewing what’s been taught before.  It’s fun, interesting, clear…and in addition to teaching well, it’s also a great read!

 

The book is divided into the following 7 sections:

  • The Story of the Old Testament, which covers the Bible’s structure and overview, its geography, the historical books (divided into eras of Creation, Patriarch, Exodus, Conquest, Judges, Kingdom, Exile, Return, and Silence), the poetical books, and the prophetical books
  • The Story of the New Testament, which covers the New Testament’s structure and geography and its eras (Gospel, Church, Missions, Epistles)
  • The Great Doctrines of the Bible (the Bible, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, angels, man, sin, salvation, the Church, and Future Things)
  • Nanosummary of the Bible (the Bible in 3000 words!)
  • How to Master the Bible So Well that the Bible Masters You
  • Teaching Plan (for small groups, classes, families, etc.)
  • Bonus Chapters (comparing the 4 Gospels, Jesus’ parables, the Bible’s miracles, Jesus’ resurrection, and more)

How we used 30 Days to Understanding the Bible

I started out just reading this on my own.  I have studied the Bible (inductively, via Bible studies, chapter by chapter, or simply reading it) since I began seriously following Jesus in my early 20s.  However, I don’t think I have ever done an overview of the Bible, learning how everything fit together chronologically, geographically, doctrinally, and historically.  So I thought I’d just enjoy this by myself.

However, once I started the book I realized that it would be an incredible tool to use in our homeschool.   I have a teen son who’s read the Bible for years but who could also appreciate and use this context for the Bible.  So I ordered a second copy of 30 Days to Understanding the Bible for Jackson.  Because the book has fill-in-the-blank sections, it really does make sense for each person studying it to have his or her own copy.  And because we just homeschool 5 days per week, it’ll take us closer to a month and a half to finish the book, if we cover one chapter per day.  We’re both committed to it though, and interested.  I am excited for my son, though.  He’ll be learning at 16 what it took me decades to get to!

 

My favorite things about the book include…

  • The great maps, quizzes, and review info that ensures you’re actually learning and retaining everything
  • The historical overview of the Old Testament
  • The explanation of Christian doctrine
  • And the Bonus Chapters, which had some of the most fascinating portions of the book
  • Anders’ friendly and interesting way of writing
  • and most of all, the great grace and love with which all this information is presented

I think that anyone who’d like to grow in his or her understanding of the Bible and all it contains would love this book.  It’s suitable for small group study, for classrooms, for personal study, and (as we’re doing) for homeschool study.  It’s equally as good for seasoned believers, brand-new ones, or even those who wouldn’t describe themselves as believers but are interested in what comprises the Bible.  I recommend it!

Where to find it:

Promo video link:  https://youtu.be/6J8xqfbsGBM
Official website:  http://www.biblein30days.com

And, how to enter to win your own copy!

FlyBy/Propeller Promotions has generously provided a copy of 30 Days to Understanding the Bible for me to give away to one FINCHNWREN reader!  Simply click on the pink “Enter here!” link below.  That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways.  The giveaway will close on 1/28/19.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Holiday Craft with Kwik Stix Solid Tempera Paint Sticks–and a Giveaway/Review! (CLOSED)

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CONGRATULATIONS TO WINNER SHIRLEY E!

Hello, friends!

It’s time for another Kwik Stix project, and giveaway!  Earlier in the semester, The Pencil Grip, Inc. sent us a fabulous 12-pack of Kwik Stix Solid Tempera Paint in Metalix to review at FINCHNWREN.  We loved them so much, and enjoyed our art projects with them so much, that we and The Pencil Grip, Inc. decided to do another art project and review!  The Pencil Grip, Inc. is providing a 12-pack of Kwik Stix Thin Stix Solid Tempera Paint in Classic Colors for one FINCHNWREN reader to win.  Read on to find out more about Kwik Stix, a fun holiday art project you can create at your house, and the giveaway!

 

 

 

What are Kwik Stix?

Kwik Stix are the coolest art medium ever, and they are perfect for creating no-mess art projects!  Kwik Stix are solid tempera paint sticks.  They are non-toxic, designed for ages 3 and up, and are also nut-, egg-, and gluten-free.

If you’ve ever used a glue stick, you’ll immediately recognize and be able to use the Kwik Stix containers.  Housed in plastic with a cap and roller so that the child can roll the tempera stick up and down, they completely remove the usual supplies for painting.  You’ll never need water, cups, paint, or paintbrushes to use Kwik Stix.  Everything you need to paint is contained in the plastic Kwik Stix container!

 

However, while they remove the messy aspects of painting, the Kwik Stix keep all the beauty and vividness of paint.  The colors are rich and gorgeous, and they can be used on a wide variety of art surfaces, including; paper, wood, canvas, cardboard, plastic, rocks, and sometimes even ceramic!  The paint dries where it’s applied almost immediately.  The Kwik Stix also come in two styles:  the regular sticks, which are 3 1/2″ long and 3/4″ wide; and the Thin Stix, which are 5 1/2″ long and 1/2″ wide.  The regular-sized Kwik Stix are perfect for preschoolers’ hands, but both can be used by students of any age, as long as they’re at least 3 years old!

We also love Kwik Stix because you can easily transport them anywhere, and use them to make art anywhere as well!  You can take them in the car (and use them there), to the park, or to any other place your kids would like to make art.

 

Our Holiday Art Project with Kwik Stix

We had fun recently making some faux “stained glass” pictures with our Kwik Stix that looked just like a snowy December.  I’ve taught art to coop groups for years, and I love using transparency sheets (remember those from your overhead projector days in school?) to create art.  You can use Sharpies or many kinds of paint—including the amazing Kwik Stix—to  make cool art!  Here’s how we did it…and you can too!

Ingredients:

Kwik Stix Solid Tempera Paint sticks (any color pack)
A black Sharpie
White printer paper (one sheet per child)Pencil
Clear transparency sheets (we used 3M Transparency Sheets, available at office supply stores or Amazon) Clear Scotch tape (or other brand)

Instructions:

  1. Draw a simple wintery scene on a piece of printer paper using a pencil.  You could draw trees, a Christmas tree, gifts, a manger, angels, a Hanukkah menorah…whatever catches your fancy!  (If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas just head over to Pinterest and browse there.  They have tons of fun holiday ideas, and I bet you could get some ideas!)
  2. Once you have your line drawing, lay your transparency over the printer paper.  Use two small pieces of tape (1″ to 1 1/2″ or so) to secure your transparency to the line drawing.  (You want to do this because otherwise, your transparency may slide around while you’re working on it.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  3. Now, get your Sharpie and trace over the line drawing.  You’ll end up with an outline (not unlike the lead portions of a real stained glass window) that will tell you where to put the colors.
  4. Using your Kwik Stix, color in your drawing!  Depending on which colors you’re working with, you may find that you need to color several layers if you’re wanting a deeper final color.  However, the transparencies really do take the Kwik Stix well and they dry pretty quickly.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
  5. Last, take your picture and tape it up on one of your windows!  You’ll love seeing the art and the light  shining through the drawing.

 

Where can you find Kwik Stix?

Kwik Stix are available to buy:

-in-store at Walgreens

-in-store and online at Michaels: http://www.michaels.com/search?q=kwik%20stix

-online at Target: https://www.target.com/s?searchTerm=kwik+stix+paint

-online at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=kwik+stix

 

You can enter to win a set of Kwik Stix Thin Stix!

The Pencil Grip, Inc. has provided a generous gift for a giveaway!  One winner will be selected to win a Kwik Stix 12-PK Thin Stix set.  To enter, simply click on the pink “Enter here!” link below.  That will take you to a Giveaway Tools page where you can enter to win in a variety of ways.  Giveaway closes 12/25/18.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

DISCLOSURE:  From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.