A Mama’s Heart on Easter

by Dawn Oaks on April 20, 2014

 Easter Family Pic

This morning as I lay in bed, I knew in my head that today was the day to rejoice a Risen Savior, but my heart just wasn’t honestly feeling it. Sadness felt like it was wrapping itself around me rather than overwhelming joy. I missed my Dad, stepmom, and my brothers as we are scattered in different states this Easter. I longed to be with them and to be a part of their lives in the day to day. I missed my mom and a dear friend who have gone to Heaven and are in the very presence of our Savior.

I tried to get my head and heart to start focusing on the day ahead, but all I could see were dirty dishes, more meals to prepare, clothes to iron for church, and kids to wake up that were enjoying their beds oh so much to get chores done before leaving the house. Again, rather than drawing me closer to a heart of worship, I was honestly getting more overwhelmed and weary and my feet had not hit the floor.

Then I remembered a wise saying from a friend -

Sometimes in life, we have to act our way into feeling differently rather than waiting to feel like acting differently.

So I pulled myself out of bed and got busy. When we pulled out of the driveway, I was teary-eyed with sadness, but the spit and polish was on and we were headed to church. My thoughts traveled back to the Easters of my childhood with Easter lilies lining the front of the church in memory of loved ones that had gone before, pictures of me and my cousin in our Easter dresses, my mom’s joy in her Risen Savior, Aunt Marie’s Easter cake in the shape of a bunny, and Uncle John’s antics when we all ran and played outside. I began to realize the sadness that I had in my children not having the fortune of sharing their Easter with extended family in the same manner as I had.

Before I knew it we were pulling into the church parking lot and I felt far from prepared to worship.  God felt so far away, but what I soon realized was that He was just inside the door.  He actually was outside in the parking lot and He had been in our car, but I did not see Him.  My eyes were searching for Him in the past and He is the Great I Am.  He is ever present with us.  As the worship service unfolded and my eyes started focusing once again, I was overjoyed to find my Risen Savior right in our presence.  How I yearned to be right in His presence.  Like the Psalm states, my soul was thirsting for Him as the deer pants by the water.

God then gave me a nudge and I looked down the pew and my eyes became transfixed on my husband and children.  He reminded me that while I was wanting to be near my mama, my children were creating their own Easter memories right there singing praises to God with their mama!  I started counting my blessings and realized the many gifts we can sometimes lose sight of when we let the stresses of the world bury the joy of our salvation.  He wanted my praise in the here and now and not the nostalgic memories of yesterday as cherished as they may be.

In tribute to so many of my mama friends out there, find the blessings in the lyrics to one of my favorite mama songs.  Each time I hear it, the reminders come that the true joy of our salvation can come in little people and dirty dishes.

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Curiosity Quest DVDs ~ Product Review

by Dawn Oaks on April 16, 2014

It is so easy, especially as you are nearing the end of the school year, to find yourself in a good Old Fashioned Homeschool Rut. Our family tries to combat this by adding in some fun extras to curriculum that is starting to feel old and stale. Documentaries related to our science studies is always a big win. As we reviewed both the DVD Combo Pack – Produce and the DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea, it helped us to remember exactly why mixing things up a little bit was good. Both of these DVDs are produced by Curiosity Quest.

Curiosity Quest Review

What We Received:

Our family was blessed to receive both the Produce and Swimmers of the Sea DVD Combo Packs. The Produce Combo Pack contained segments on the growing and harvesting of oranges, cranberries, and mushrooms. Each of these three segments was about 30 minutes in length. The Swimmers of the Sea Combo Pack also had three 30 minute segments. These segments highlighted Salmon, Penguins, and Sea Turtles.


The Curiosity Quest video presentations are produced with viewers between the ages of 7 and 14 in mind. However, once they begin playing, the whole family may be found to be lured right in. The combo pack DVDs retail from the Curiosity Quest website for $24.95.

How We Used Them:

When the DVDs from Curiosity Quest first arrived, our family sat down together and watched the three episodes on the Swimmers of the Sea Combo Pack. There were interesting facts learned by all, but those that loved these videos the most were our sons who are 9 and 13. They were especially intrigued by the information on this first DVD as we have been studying the ocean and its creatures this year. These segments were a perfect tie-in to our studies. The boys were especially excited to hear facts and terminology that were presented in their science curriculum. The DVD was both great encouragement of all that we have in fact learned this year and also a terrific review.

Our family also watched the three episodes on the Produce Combo Pack. As farmers, we are always fascinated by how things are grown in this world. There are always lots of questions by our family on the techniques used and how they compare to the way things originally grew.

Whether watching the Swimmers of the Sea pack or the Produce pack, a huge added value of these videos was the fact that they are made on location. These are certainly not dry documentaries taken out of the archives from 50 years ago.

Our Thoughts:

The Combo Pack DVD sets from Curiosity Quest are very professionally put together. The on-location filming adds such a different dimension and thickness to the episodes that simply didn’t exist in most documentaries even 15 years ago. Joel Greene, who takes us on our journeys, is very personable and keeps the viewer’s attention. Some of the other features of these episodes that increase the overall quality are:

  • The solid scientific knowledge base and terminology that is presented.
  • Constant review of the material already presented to help with retention of the key elements of the segment.
  • Fun facts that provide the viewer with interesting tidbits of trivia related to the main topic of the episode.
  • Key questions that are presented and then children that responds with their own answers.  Some are right on target and others had a bit of comic relief.
  • A viewer rating of G, which is difficult to find in this day and age.

All in all, our 9 year definitely had the most interest in watching each episode. This falls right in line with the producer’s recommended age range of 7 to 14 year old children. However, my husband and I discovered new and interesting things by joining in this video experience. Our teens were a bit too cool to admit that they too were learning and enjoying these video resources when no one was making a big deal about it.

Curiosity Quest has many, many more video segments produced in like manner available for purchase. There are also some monthly subscriptions that will provide your family with exposure to new episodes each month.

Click on the banner below and see what our fellow crewmates from the TOS Review Crew have to say after watching these same videos with their own families.


Click to read Crew Reviews

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