Friday, April 28, 2017

Exploring the Extraordinary Life of Jesus of Nazareth with Drive Thru History® - The Gospels {A TOS Review}

Reading and understanding God's Word is so very important for us as Christians. There is no denying that. I wonder though, if there are those who are like me, and have a hard time visualizing what life would have been like during Bible times. At times, this makes it a bit tricky to really connect with what is being shared. Well, in the new volume of Drive Thru History®, Dave Stotts takes us on a virtual journey through the Bible Lands, helping us to see what kind of world it was that Jesus lived in. Thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew, we received a copy of  Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels" to watch and learn from. 

I discovered that Dave Stotts has been taking these on-location history adventures for a while now. He's been to the the Ancient worlds of Greece, Rome, and Turkey, the Holy Lands of the Bible, plus delved into American history, from the time of Christopher Columbus to the time of the Constitution and our new country. I had never heard of Drive Thru History® before, but I am now quite intrigued. In fact, I just learned that a homeschooling friend from church has several of the past DVD's that I might be able to borrow. And I have to say, after viewing this new release that focuses on the Gospels, I am excited to get my hands on some other volumes. Yes, it is that good!

We received the Special Edition, Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” DVD set which also comes with a Study Guide. In fact, the Study Guide is a part of the casing, which I thought was very cool. And it folds closed just like a book, fitting securely into the sleeve.

There are three DVDs, two of which are stored inside the front cover, while the third DVD can be found inside the back cover. If you look closely, you will see that there is a map of Bible lands underneath the DVDs. 

The Study Guide itself is just over 100 pages, and is a real bound book between two covers.

The DVDs contain 18 episodes, six on each disc. Here is the list of included episodes:
  • The Historical Landscape
  • The Announcements
  • Jesus is Born 
  • Jesus Grows UP 
  • Jesus Starts His Ministry
  • Jesus Returns to Galilee
  • Jesus Begins His Miracles
  • Jesus Teaches with Authority
  • The Sermon on the Mount
  • Jesus Travels the Sea of Galilee
  • Jesus Travels North with His Apostles
  • A Final Trip to Jerusalem
  • Jesus Arrives in Jerusalem
  • The Last Supper
  • The Trial of Jesus 
  • The Crucifixion of Jesus
  • The Resurrection of Jesus
  • Who is Jesus?
Each episode is about 30 minutes long, for a total of nine hours of Bible adventuring.

David Stotts takes us to the different sites in Israel that are mentioned in the four Gospels. That is over 50 locations when they all get added up! He drives around in a 1976 Land Rover (which he loves to talk about, sort of making it a character taking part in the adventure). Throughout the program we are treated to amazing views of the Bible lands, from breathtaking landscapes, to modern cities and towns, and to glimpses of the awesome architecture. 

The videos are chock full of information. When Mr. Stotts arrives at a destination, he will walk around, bringing us up close to the places he is telling us about. As he talks, we are also shown images to help illustrate what he is referring to. Lots of different pictures, maps, and paintings are shared, while text appears on the screen. Sometimes there is big bold text announcing the name of the location he is visiting, other times Bible verses will scroll across the screen as he recites them, and yet other times we will see a word and its definition. At times there are also live action scenes depicting life as it would have been during Bible times. We also see modern people going about their daily tasks. 

He begins the series with a thought-provoking question:

"Who would you say is the most significant person who has ever lived?"

Obviously, the answer he is looking for is Jesus. But it is through this program that he helps us delve into just why Jesus is the most significant person who has ever lived. 

First Mr. Stotts helps us to set the stage by looking at what the world was like when Jesus was born. He travels to Nazareth, allowing us to see what it looks like now, while telling and showing us what it would have looked like 2000 years ago. He explains a little about the four Gospels, explaining that Matthew, Mark, and Luke are the synoptic Gospels, while John, written after the others, is unique. He notes that "no other ancient documents have been as thoroughly scrutinized" and the importance of the fact that we have original manuscripts that date quite close to when the events actually took place. He explains the significance of the genealogy found in Matthew, helping us to understand how important this would have been to the Hebrew audience. Though as a modern reader, I admit to struggling through or skimming over all the genealogies found throughout the Bible, they would have been essential  to the people at the time. In fact, lineage was the key to where a person's place was in society. This specific genealogy demonstrated that Jesus "held the right credentials" and could trace his lineage back to that of King David. 

He goes back to Genesis to explain the importance of the Messiah, or the anointed one. From the very beginning of creation, God has promised someone who would restore unity between Himself and mankind. However, Mr. Stotts then explains the political landscape of the time of Jesus, and how the coming of the Messiah had transformed into thinking he would be someone who was going to throw off the oppression they were facing due to the rule of Rome. 

As we move through the following episodes, Mr. Stotts continues to explain details that help us understand why specific events would have been significant to the people who lived during Jesus's day. For example, we explore how special it was for Zacharias to have been chosen to go into the Holy of Holies. 

We discover the two possible sites for the annunciation. The annunciation is when Mary was told by Gabriel that she was going to have a baby. I didn't realize there were two trains of thought here. There are those who believe Mary was visited in her home, and there is a church called the Basilica of the Annunciation that has been built on this spot, where you will also find a shrine known as the "Grotto of the Annunciation." 

However, Greek Orthodox tradition believes that Mary was visited at a well, so in this location you will find the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation  

I had mentioned the importance of the genealogies above. In the video we learn about the recurrence of the 14 generations that pass between important people in the Old Testament. There is a 14-point star that represents this at the believed place of Jesus birth, where the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem now stands.

Some of the details he explains, show how our understanding of Bible stories has been influenced by our modern western culture, and so isn't quite accurate. Such as the fact that Jesus most probably wasn't born in a stable or a cave, but in the bottom level of a relative's home where the animals would have been kept to keep them safe at night, because there was no room in the kataluma. Mr. Stotts explains that the word kataluma is mistranslated as "inn" in the Bible. Kataluma is actually in the upper part of the house. 

Oh, and that manger, was possibly made of stone. 

We'd watch one or two episodes several nights of the week. Sometimes we would re-watch an episode because my husband had missed it, as he works nights. The pace in which we watched these episodes, put us right around Resurrection Sunday when we watched the episodes of Jesus's death and resurrection, which I thought was really cool timing.

Something else that made this perfect timing, was that the children had been learning about Jesus ministry leading up to the crucifixion in their Sunday School classes. So when Mr. Stotts began talking about the woman at the well, or when Jesus brought Lazarus back to life, they knew what he was talking about, and learned significant new details. What stuck in their minds the most though, was the detail of the cruelty that Jesus bore when he was scourged and crucified. Fortunately they didn't seem distressed about it, as I was afraid they might be. They just couldn't believe how cruel people could be to other people.  

David Stotts is an captivating and humorous tour guide. He really does help us enjoy our journey, while teaching us so much. In fact, he's always throwing in humor, or little tidbits of information, such as the history of the term "Hail Mary" and how it connects to football. (Yes, that might have been quite important in our household.) 

Now, I wanted to take a quick look at the Study Guide. After a short introduction, the Study Guide lists the episodes. It then moves straight into each episode. Each episode has four pages of information and pictures. 

The first page of each episode has a painting relative to the information that will be found in the episode with a famous quote overlaid on top. The second page gives a summary of the episode, and the third gives several questions for discussion along with suggested Bible readings. The last page of each episode shares a couple more images, either painting or photographs, with a section called "Side Road" that gives additional tidbits of information and/or quotes. Between each episode there is a double page spread of lovely photographs. 

While I did not use the Study Guide with the children, I have started re-watching the episodes from the beginning by myself, and I am reading the Bible passages and thinking about the answers to the questions. 

Drive Thru History® – “The Gospels” is a wonderful supplement to our homeschool curriculum. It is an engaging way to look into the Bible and really dig into it for greater understanding. This would be a great resource for any Christian, not just homeschoolers. I'm thinking it would be a great Bible study for one of our groups at church. It would also be an important addition to any church library. I love that Mr. Stotts references other sources in addition to the Biblical text, such as Josephus. 

If you would like to take a peek, you can check out this free episode.

You can find Drive Thru History® on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

Don't forget to check out what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Drive Thru History®. Just click on the banner below:

The Gospels {Drive Thru History® Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Throwback Thursday Blog-Style #149: April 27, 2017

Welcome back to... 

I know, I know, Throwback Thursday seems to be all about sharing pictures from the past, great memories that mean something to you, that you would like to share with others. At least that is how it appears to me. Throwback Thursday wasn't something I was participating in, and then I came up with an idea.

I thought it would be great fun and a help to my blog to share old content, but not just any old content. Each week I will share an old blog post from a previous year, any year, BUT it has to be from the current week (for example, something I've posted around April 27th, from any previous year)  I will go in, edit the post if needed, add a pinnable image if I don't already have one, and share it on Facebook.

Last year I focused solely on review posts for the posts I wanted to share. It was fun remembering some of the review products I had forgotten about. This year I will be focusing on recipes I have shared in the past.

Would you like to join in? You do not need to edit your past post in any way, you don't need to create a pinnable image, though it couldn't hurt, in fact it will help your blog traffic to add quality pinnable images to your posts.

Just go into your archives, choose a favorite post from this current week from any previous year, and link it up below. (If you don't have anything from this current week, it is still okay to link up with a post from a previous year around this time. And if you haven't been blogging for a full year, feel free to share any earlier post.)

Please make sure to share from the past as instructed above if you would like your post to qualify for the Featured Post. Most weeks I find that there is a wonderful post, but I can't feature it because it is a current post, not from the past. I love reading the current posts, if you want to share them. However, I am not able to feature them, because the spirit of Throwback Thursday Blog-Style is to share posts from the past.
Thank you

I will be pinning posts to my appropriate Pinterest boards and will be randomly selecting a Featured Throwback Thursday post to share next week. Just a note, I will be sharing a picture from your post if you are selected as the featured post, but I will link back to your post. I will ALWAYS give credit and link back. By linking up you are giving me permission to use your picture in the post. 

Here is my Throwback Thursday post:

Here is this week's randomly selected
Featured Throwback Thursday:

Dr. Michelle Bengtson shared 7 Tips for Coping With the Sting of Betrayal.

To participate, link up below. It would be great if you could visit several of the other posts that have linked up. Stop by, comment, and pin images so we can help each other.

If you would like to help spread the news:

Tots and Me
Happy Throwback Thursday!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Daily Inspiration Through Daily Bible Jigsaw {A TOS Review}

I love playing games on my phone. When I need to have some time to myself to relax, this is one of the things I enjoy doing the most. I also enjoy completing jigsaw puzzles. Though, I haven't had the time to do so in ages. When I learned of the Daily Bible Jigsaw app from Planet 316, I was quite intrigued. Not only could I sit down for some "me-time" and solve a puzzle, I would also be able to be inspired by a daily Bible verse. 

Daily Bible Jigsaw is actually a free app that is available from the Apple App Store for iOS, Google Play for Android, and on Facebook on your Browser. I had no trouble downloading it from Google Play for my LG phone. As reviewers, we received the 500 pack of coins, which normally sells for $39.99, to give us a chance to use the different features in the game.

Each day there is a different 30-piece puzzle to solve. If you don't use any of the helps, and only play one time a day, no coins are used. On the phone, the puzzle pieces are manipulated by a simple touch and swipe. In order to rotate a piece to make it fit, you just tap it. Each tap rotates it one quarter turn. I love that you know for sure that a piece fits with another piece because it attaches. If it doesn't attach, you know it doesn't fit. I don't know about you, but when doing a physical puzzle, it can get confusing at times when it appears a piece is supposed to fit, and later on you discover it doesn't. While playing the game, one piece will "sparkle" for several seconds. If you get it attached to another piece before it stops sparkling, you will win one coin.

Once the puzzle is complete, streamers appear to celebrate, the lines from the puzzle pieces fade away making an unlined image that is overlaid with an inspiring Bible verse. After tapping anywhere on the picture, another screen appears and you are given the opportunity to see where you rank compared to any Facebook friends who also play, and share the image on Facebook. Then you go to your calendar and a new piece of a puzzle fills in an image. This image will be complete once the month's worth of puzzles are solved.

Okay, so now you have some idea what the Daily Bible Jigsaw is all about. Everything I described above can be done without using any coins. However, we now want to look at the different features that are available if you choose to use coins. Some coins are provided when you first download the game, and some can be earned, though to use coins on a regular basis, you would probably need to purchase coins.

So, let's take a closer look at the game.

When you first open the app this is the screen you will see:

After clicking play and seeing a hint, the day's puzzle pieces appear on the screen in a random fashion. Just like you dumped a puzzle on the table, except none of them are upside down (with the bottom of the puzzle showing, instead of the image).

Let's take a closer look at top bar for a minute.

From left to right we find:
  • The number of coins available. In order to purchase coins you would click the green plus sign.
  • Rotate button: This rotates all the pieces into the correct orientation and they can not be accidentally re-rotated during the game.
  • Guide button: This will give you a quick glimpse of the finished puzzle, though the timer continues to count down while you look at it. 
  • Sweep button: This sweeps all unattached pieces to the sides of the screen.
  • Magnet button: This attaches one random piece to another. 
  • Edges button: This removes all the inside pieces and leaves you with just the edge pieces.
  • Timer: Shows how much time has elapsed since you began. You can pause the game by clicking the blue pause button.

When I am doing a puzzle I always like to start with the edge pieces. This is how I was taught to do physical puzzles. It costs two coins to remove the inside pieces. They just disappear from the screen until the outer border is complete, then they reappear. This is so much easier than having to pick out the edge pieces yourself, as you would have to do with a physical puzzle. It also helps as it keeps the screen from feeling too cluttered.

I also opt to use two coins to rotate the pieces into the correct orientation. That is, if I am in "competitive mode," which I most likely am. A puzzle can be completed a lot faster when all the pieces are facing the right way. It's just a matter of finding the piece it attaches to.

Once the border is complete, the inside pieces appear randomly on the screen, so I choose to use one coin to sweep them to the sides. It really does make it easier to complete the puzzle, especially because otherwise most of the pieces will be hiding underneath the puzzle, as you can see below.

I usually don't use the Guide or Magnet tools, unless I am really stumped about what a puzzle is supposed to look like. Granted, I would be more likely to use the Guide, to catch a glimpse, if I hadn't rotated the pieces. Sometimes, when they are all turned around, it is hard to figure out which piece should fit with another without knowing what the puzzle is supposed to look like. I admit, when I do a physical puzzle, I always have the puzzle box right in front of me to know what the completed image looks like, so it is a little weird going about it blind. The Guide tool uses two coins. 

The Magnet tool is the one I use the least. I would rather complete the puzzle myself. That said, once again, if I didn't rotate them, I might find the Magnet of more use, if I was particularly stumped. The Magnet tool only takes one coin to attach one piece though.

All in all, I usually use five coins per game. Unless I decide to replay the game to get a lower time (competitive...remember).

Once the puzzle is complete, we celebrate for a couple of seconds.

The following screen appears, showing the time it took to complete, how many stars were earned, and where I rank. There is the option to replay or click "Next."

There are times I will replay one or two times, trying to beat the scores. Other times, I decide, nah, second (or third) place is good enough. The thing is, at first I thought I could replay as many times as I wanted without using up my coins, as long as I haven't clicked "Next." The reason I thought this, is because if I have already closed out of the app for the day, but then choose to redo the puzzle, it will say that you need to pay three coins. However, on the screen above, where it says replay, there is no icon that indicates coins will be needed. If I had been paying better attention to my coins, I would have noticed this sooner, but I was just under the assumption that it wouldn't because of the lack of coin icon. Lesson learned. 

Next, we are given the option to share to Facebook, which I always do. I love being able to share a little bit of encouragement and inspiration (and cuteness).

Then, I click on "Calendar" which takes me to the calendar for the month. 

At the beginning of the month, only the pieces of the image that don't fit under calendar dates are shown. As we complete puzzles throughout the month a new part of the picture is revealed. See the cute little green puzzle character? He is coming onto the puzzle to fill in April 25th. 

Another aspect of the calendar page, is that you can see how many stars you have earned each day, plus your time, by clicking on the little calendar on the bottom left of the calendar.

Here is my completed March 2017 Calendar Puzzle Image:

It is fun revealing more and more of the image every day.

If you miss a day (or days), you can go back and play the puzzle; however it will cost three coins. You can even go into the archives and choose from as far back as September 2016. Personally, I would rather use my coins to use those few helps I use each day. Once I am out of coins, I will only be able to get more through the awards that are available and the daily bonus piece (if I happen to join it in time). We make it a policy in our home that we do not pay money in game apps.

By pressing the "Awards" button found at the top of the Calendar screen, you will see the awards you have already received and the ones still available. Here were some of the first ones I received. The first three are earned quite quickly and you get some coins for each (I admit, I don't remember how many I received for these beginning awards, I don't believe it was more than 5). 

You get awards and coins by completing puzzles (total puzzles and a certain amount of each of the days of the week), and by completing them in under certain amounts of time (15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute). It doesn't appear that you get more than 10 coins for most of these except for the two shown below. You get 25 coins for completing 500 puzzles, and 50 coins for completing 1000 puzzles. Even for solving a puzzle in under 1 minute you only get 10 coins.

As much as I love this app, I really, really wish there were more ways to earn coins. This is once again due to my competitiveness. Those who wish to solve a relaxing puzzle, should have no issues. Once I have exhausted my coin supply, I am not going to be able to earn coins until I have solved 100 puzzles (which would mean using coins to do archived puzzles or waiting 19 more days), and the next level after that is 250 puzzles! I can also earn coins by solving 25 puzzles for each day of the week. Granted, when I hit week 25, I will earn 35 coins that week, 5 each day. But, after that, the next level won't be until the 100th week, that is more than 2 years! I am not sure if it counts if you do the puzzles multiple times a day, but then you are using coins to replay in order to earn coins. 

I have already received my awards for solving in under 15, 10, 5, 3, and 2 minutes. If I ever finish one under 1 minute I will earn those 10 coins. But there is never a chance to earn those awards or coins again. 

I really wish there was some way to earn coins daily, by completing some sort of challenge perhaps. I think it would be great if the awards earned for solving puzzles under a certain amount of time would not be a one-time award. Maybe even an award for solving without using any of the helps and finishing under a certain amount of time. I don't look forward to the day when I will be all out of coins, because it will be quite a while before I will receive more. And I do so love being able to use those few tools I mentioned. 

Most of the time, I am the only one who plays the app. My older girls do like to play, but I usually play while they are in bed. Besides, in order for each of the girls to play (Harold would still be a little young), I would be using 9 coins a day, plus more because they would want to use the help tools as well. 

I mean, they really do enjoy playing:

Daily Bible Jigsaw is a fun app. As I mentioned, I love to be able to have that bit of me-time, and I love doing puzzles. The images have all been lovely, and the verses are inspirational and encouraging, plus they complement the picture quite well. Just be aware, that if you would like to have more than one person play it per day, it will end up costing you money eventually.

As you can see, the lowest amount you would pay would be $1.99, and that would get you 20 coins. We received 500 coins, which would normally be $39.99. And 780 coins would cost $59.99. I got excited when I saw the "Earn Free" button, but was disappointed to realize it meant I would have to download another game. So, I remain content with the coins I have, and will try to use them more sparingly as I go forward.

If you enjoy playing on your phone, and enjoy puzzles, this may just be the app for you. If you aren't one who has time for games on your phone, it could still be beneficial for your children. As I mentioned, it is a bit tricky for my youngest, Harold, who is only 5 years old. But all of his sisters are able to complete the puzzles, and they are 7, 8 1/2, and 10. Solving puzzles is definitely a beneficial skill for children to have, and with this app, there are no pieces to lose. Once the verse has appeared, they can have some reading practice. You might even choose to have your child memorize the verse, or write it out. Daily Bible Jigsaw is definitely one of the apps that gets used daily in our house. Check it out, and don't forget, when using just the basics, it is free! And if you are one that doesn't mind paying money for apps, the bonuses of the help tools are very neat.

You can find Planet 316 on Facebook and Twitter.

Don't forget to see what my fellow Crew Mates thought of Daily Bible Jigsaw! Just click the banner below:

Daily Bible Jigsaw {Planet 316 Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wordless Wednesday: April 26, 2017 (w/linky) : Exercising With Daddy

Looking forward to seeing your Wordless (or not so wordless) Wednesday posts this week.

Tots and Me

Related Posts with Thumbnails