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It’s Freeing to Know Who You Are

This weekend I discovered the freedom of interacting with others when you know who you are.

Taking the StrengthsFinder test back in February opened my eyes to giftings I “kind of” knew were there from the Lord already, but I didn’t know how to name them. It was as if God called them out of me in a new way through that test and the study I did of my strengths in the time that followed.

This past weekend I attended the Declare Conference in Dallas, Texas. The Lord revealed an even greater blessing while there of walking in my strengths in community with other women, women who also know or are learning how God has made them and how He wants to use them for His kingdom.

God has built within me a strong desire and gift to connect with new people, to learn new things, and to communicate them with others. This is who I am.

At Declare, I had a chance to do ALL of these things and my heart leapt at each new opportunity to meet someone new, learn something new, or share what I know. I can see now how this has played out in previous experiences of mine, but this year felt different.  I felt more free, more bold, more connected with what He was bringing my way and why.

There are hundreds of personality tests and assessments out there to discover “who you are,” and it might be so overwhelming that you’re never touched one. But I’m asking you to reconsider.

In conversation after conversation with old friends and new friends this weekend, I heard women celebrating their God-given strengths and walking in wild obedience to do what He has asked them with those strengths.

Declare Heather Crystal

It looked like Crystal wildly obeying God’s call to share her love and gift for cultivating authentic community online to a room full of women.

It looked like Heather embracing her extroverted-awesome to emcee the conference with such humor, such life, such Jesus-love.

Declare Brooke Kate

It looked like Brooke + Stacey each sharing their own gracious, loving words about how to keep going and keep writing when the world seems to crumble around you complete with their own hard stories.Declare Stacey

It looked like Jessi holding on our hands and telling us she’s in the thick of it, too, and that’s ok because Jesus is enough to pull us through.

It looked like Lisa-Jo bravely telling her motherhood stories that made us all feel a little less alone and a lot more ready to fight for the things that matter to us, including our children.

Declare Sally

It looked like Sally and a lot of tears, understanding, prayer, healing between the two of us because she was willing to open her heart.

Declare Workout

It looked like Alisa leading us in a God-centered workout that brought us to throne of Jesus AND made me the good kind of sore for days following :)

It looked like the listening ears and wise words of Denise and Alia into the wee hours of the night, two women with very different strengths than me, but exactly what I needed to connect with at that moment.

It looked like so many other beautiful women saying, “Yes. THIS is who I am. THIS is what God wants me to do.” And every single woman’s wild obedience looked different and beautiful and free.

The first blogging conference I went to, I walked away wanting to be more like this woman or that blog. I hadn’t spent enough time asking God, “Who am I? What are the strengths you want me to use for You?” I spent years online trying to figure out how I “fit in.”

This year, I was so comfortable with me. And I felt so free. I led a session on affiliate marketing and I joked that it was the least “Jesus-y” session of the whole weekend. My session wasn’t about Jesus, but it was about using our strengths for Him. He gifted me in the area of connecting with people + businesses and sharing them with others, so I stepped out into this calling and LOVED it.

Instead of walking away from Declare wanting my blog to look more like this woman’s or my Instagram pictures to look more like that woman’s, I walked away ready to be me to the fullest, to fulfill MY place in His Kingdom.

Do you know how good that feels? I want you to know how good that feels. We all have different gifts but they are ALL important. The woman who listens well is just as gifted as the woman who speaks in front of thousands. But you have to know where your strengths lie if you’re going to embrace them and use them for His glory.

I don’t want to add another thing to anyone’s to-do list, but at least consider taking a personality or strengths-finding test today if you’re wrestling with your place in this world, in His Kingdom. And if you’ve taken these tests, find a way to use what what He has built inside you. Revisit those strengths often.

Because it’s freeing to know who you are and DO something for Him with it.

*****

My favorites for discovering more about your personality and strengths:

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

June Goals

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

June Goals

I love accountability, so here I go, posting my June goals for all to see! There is something about making it public that adds to the motivation and I can always use an extra push!

I also feel like I’m in a place where life is just ready to burst out of me. Remember my word for the year? Vitality. And that bud in the picture above? That’s how I feel – ready to bloom with possibility! I’m putting goals in place to help this forward momentum have some direction. It’s really exciting and fun and just a tad scary…but that’s really the best combination of feelings!

Her’s my check-in from last month…

May Goals

1. Run another half marathon – check! And with a PR, too!

2. Read 4 books – check! Follow my Pinterest board to see what I’ve been reading this year! SO many good ones!

3. 2 date nights with The Hubby - 1 for 2…unless…Does race weekend without the kids count?! We had a fabulous date last weekend with a really yummy dinner, Captain America: Winter Soldier, and lots of yummy popcorn!

4. Paperwork purge – Um, not as much as I would have liked. Can’t check this off in good conscience.

5. 6am wakeup – nope. Double J has been waking up several times in the night {what is with that?!} and this mama will take every ounce of sleep she can get! And this is not on my June goals because I’m not sure what I want my goal wakeup time to be anymore!

6. Pray daily for my guys – check! I keep going back through Praying for Boys over and over again for my sons. For The Hubby, I love Kathi Lipp’s Praying God’s Word for Your Husband!

 

June Goals

1. Read 3 books – I’m going for two fiction and one non-fiction this month! I have several on my list, so I hope to read more, but this is my goal!

2. Learn more about podcasting – I am super giddy about learning this new skill and using it for ministry! Watch for details early this fall!

3. Clean out the school room – You guys, I can’t even tell you how bad it is. It’s not functional AT ALL. It needs major decluttering and and rethinking so we can all use it, even if just as proper storage for all our school books and supplies.

4. Plan and host Little J’s 6th birthday party – We’re alternating years for big parties, so this is his year! Tossing around a few ideas in my head, but I need to just settle on one and get to planning!

5. Don’t freak about Big J going to camp – Breathe, Erin. He is SUPER excited and it will all be ok…

6. Take a risk in home decoratingThe Nester is doing her best to make me brave in this area. I want to spruce things up, make it more creative, more inspiring, more welcoming, more US. I also picked Young House Love for some extra inspiration.

7. Keep up the good eating habits I’ve established with the 21 Day Fix…with grace – The eating plan during during the 21 Day Fix is not meant to be kept up for longer than three weeks, but the focus on more real foods and portion control as been GREAT for me. I’m hoping to keep a good eating plan on a regular basis with room for fun indulgences here and there!

8. Make a big decision with The Hubby about our future -Prayers, please, people. All good things, but I’d finding myself praying the words of “Oceans” a LOT lately as we pray and seek God’s will. I’ll share when I can!

9. Spend 60 minutes outside every day with the kids – We started this at the end of May and it might be my favorite goal of the month! I’ve got a whole bunch of activities planned and lots of free time for them to just be boys!

Honestly, I have several other goals in my head, but I think I need to keep the list at this for now so I don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged! Nine goals is still a lot, but some of them aren’t new, so that helps it seem more manageable!

The Tiny Twig

I’m joining Hayley’s Goals with Grace link-up – why don’t you, too?!

What are your goals for June?

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

When My StrengthsFinder Results Made Me Cry

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

I’ve been on a journey these last few months to really embrace and step out into the life of adventure God has for me. I’ve become more of a goal-setter, but always seeking His will when making these goals. His glory and a life of vitality are my constant pursuits.

Some fabulous resources have come my way in this journey, many of which I will be sharing with you soon because they are too good to keep to myself. One such resource was mentioned by person after person, in several books and blog posts I read, and I finally had to break down and get it for myself.

That book was StrengthsFinder 2.0.

I like to take free personality tests and such online, so I balked a little at paying for a book and test that would probably tell me more of what I already knew about myself, but I finally caved. You have to buy the book to get your special code to take the test – I have to admit that is kind of top-secret and fun.

I read the intro of the book and was quickly inspired by the words I was reading. Tom Rath points out that so many of the learning and development programs we encounter are based on pinpointing our weaknesses and trying to improve in those areas. When you think about this, there is SO much truth there. And I’ve generally seen that as a good thing – trying to get better at the things I’m not so good at – but not after reading this book.

When we’re able to put most of our energy into developing our natural talents, extraordinary room for growth exists.

Putting most of our energy into what we’re already good at? I’ve had a basic understanding of what I’m “good at” for a while, but this understanding was just surface level. In this culture, we want to fix our weaknesses more than we want to make our strengths stronger. And those strengths end up being under-utilized.

Our natural talents and passions – the things we truly love to do – last for a lifetime. But all too often, our talents go untapped.

After reading quotes like this…

Across the board, having the opportunity to develop our strengths is more important to our success than our role, our title, or even our pay.

…my desire to know more about my strengths, or natural talents, grew quickly, so I tucked myself away at a coffee shop on my “writing night” and took the test. And as I read the results thirty minutes later, I cried.

StrengthsFinder

No, I wasn’t disappointed with what I was reading. I was overwhelmed. These test results – extremely accurate results – felt in that moment like a little note from God saying, “I created you exactly as I wanted, with these beautiful gifts with which to love me and love others. Stop focusing on what you lack and use these talents to change the world around you.”

Yep, I was welling up, dabbing tears at the little coffee shop table, realizing how little we love the good things about ourselves. I’m not talking about anything we can see, but about who we are. I think so much about how I wish I wasn’t so absent-minded or selfish or messy. I don’t like it when I’m reminded of my tendency toward laziness or my inability to finish projects on time. Our culture of “self-improvement” has probably made us dislike ourselves more than anything else.

I had a similar emotional reaction last week when, as part of an “assignment” from one of the great resources I mentioned before, I had to ask several people close to me what I do well. As they texted me back, I almost wanted to stop reading because I found myself not believing what they had to say. “They have to say nice things because they are my friends and family,” I told myself. But when two or more people start pointing out the same things they see as strengths in you, it’s hard to push that away. And I cried on my bed in that moment as well…lots of good tears.

Romans 12:3-8 lays out so well what God intends for the gifts He places inside of us:

Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

This whole process of discovering of my strengths is not about puffing up my ego, but an honest evaluation must include good with the bad. If I were to continue to only focus on my deficits, I would never get to what He lays out next – using my gifts, natural talents, strengths for the body of Christ.

Strengths

And as Rath points out in StrengthsFinder 2.0

We’ve discovered that the most successful people start with dominant talent – and then add skills, knowledge, and practice to the mix.

Success looks different for everyone, but for me it is a life that points to Christ and exudes love. And I’m going to start focusing on and using my dominant talents with that success in mind.

*****

I’m not going to go into detail with my StrengthsFinder 2.0 results because I just got them and I’m a newbie to all of this, but I will tell you what my Top 5 strengths were:

  1. Woo
  2. Positivity
  3. Learner
  4. Communication
  5. Input

I’m sure this is not the last you’ll hear from me on this topic! And if you’ve taken it, I would love to hear what your Top 5 are as well!

So let’s talk about this… when was the last time you really thought about or focused on your strengths? Is it easier for you to focus on your talents or your weaknesses? If you can’t think of any natural talents, ask some friends and/or family to help you get started!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

VITALITY in Self-Care + Personal Growth

As I was exploring vitality as the my word for 2014, the areas for goal-setting were clear to me: faith, marriage, motherhood, ministry…

…and wasn’t there something else?

What about exercise? nutrition? rest? reading?

There were all these little but important leftover areas I wanted to see changes in for 2014, but they didn’t fit in anywhere.

Except…wait…they all had to do with ME. My personal growth, taking care of myself, my health and well-being, both physical and mental.

I’m at a place in my life where I’ve finally realized how much better I am all around – Christian, wife, mother, friend, writer – when I take care of myself. DUH!

So that’s where I’m wrapping up my vitality goals for 2014 today: self-care and personal growth…

Vitality in Personal Growth

food as fuel

I really like eating. I am not a dieter and I never will be because I LOVE food and I don’t like being told I can’t enjoy the yummy stuff. But I HAVE to take a different approach with food this year. Since becoming more active, I am much more aware of the effects food has on my body, both positive and negative. On a regular basis, each and every day, I need to think of food as fuel for my body. For me, this means more real food, more protein, vegetables, and fruits, more of what my body NEEDS not WANTS. You bet I will still thoroughly enjoy some of my favorite indulgences, but only in the context of a much healthier diet overall.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

~1 Corinthians 10:31

challenge myself

Last year, I tried several new things in the area of fitness, but I also had a few periods of time lacking motivation and gusto. Not this year. I’ve got a plan to attack my physical fitness and strength, and if I ever feel myself dying off, I’m coming back to this goal. As of now, I’m not planning on any new distances for races, but I would like to set a new PR for a 10K. A half PR? Maybe! I broke 2:00 last year and that was my ultimate goal! We’ll see about getting faster!

And I’m not just challenging myself with events, but with a few tougher or new workouts a week. It might sound crazy, but my Tuesday evening speed work runs at the gym are super hard but make me feel AWESOME. I want more of that this year.

Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. ~Isaiah 40:31

water, water, water

There isn’t much to say here: I just need to drink more water. The winter months have me reaching for coffee much more often, but I’m trying to down a whole Camelbak of water in betweens cups of coffee. I also grab a glass of water FIRST when I feel hungry to see if that satisfies me. Lots and lots of water this year, people. Bring it on.

motivate others

I have seen firsthand what taking better care of myself has done for every aspect of my life and I want to tell the world. Well, really I just want to come alongside other women, especially other moms, to say, “If I can do this, you can do this.” I was not an athlete growing up. I only started running less than two years ago. We have three kids, my husband is a resident, I homeschool and write and… I still find time to workout and my body thanks me for it!

I want to dedicate time this year to cheering on women who want to get started on this path or want to reach a new goal or need to get back on the treadmill or bike or whatever they were doing to improve their health before they stopped. {If you’re one of these women, please email me at homewiththeboys at gmail dot com and you will have yourself a health + fitness cheerleader!} This may not seem like a goal about personal growth, but I feel more alive and inspired myself when I’m connecting with and encouraging others, so there you go!

Then, by the will of God, I will be able to come to you with a joyful heart, and we will be an encouragement to each other. ~Romans 15:32

finish more books

I made this big long list of books I wanted to read last year, and I read many books, but not the whole list. I also started a lot of books that I never finished. I’ve started this month with finishing off a few books I didn’t quite finish in 2013. I’m fitting more reading in here and there, keeping books all over the place to grab for five minutes of reading here and there as suggested by Crystal Paine in her book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. And my appetite for reading has definitely regained vitality. And I’m not putting a reading list out this year because new books keep popping up all the time and I don’t want to be tied down!

rest

Sleep. Analog weekends. Family cuddles. Feet up, deep breaths, stillness. I need more rest in 2014. Earlier bedtimes are in order. I take a “quiet time” in the afternoon while the boys do as well and all of me breathes easier for the rest of the day. I’m finding at least one day a week, usually the whole weekend to unplug and just be. Taking time to rest used to seem to me a hindrance to getting all the things done. Life has shown me differently.

And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. ~Romans 12:1

*****

Hmmm…turns out I had a lot to say about taking care of myself!

On the topic of self-care, can I share a few of my favorite reads for moms? Jessi from Naptime Diaries and Hayley from The Tiny Twig have been writing many encouraging things lately in this area. Please take some time to read and be inspired by these ladies.

How are you doing with taking care of YOU? What do you want to focus on for your personal growth this year?

 

Read more about my goals for vitality…

The VITALITY Series

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Hello, My Name Is…

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

Hello, my name is regret
I’m pretty sure we have met

Our family has loved the song “Hello, My Name Is” from Matthew West since it was released. Dancing to it in the kitchen, adding it to our running playlists, and singing loudly along with the chorus every time it comes on the radio. It is a fun song!

It is also a really important message and one God has been trying to cement in my spirit in several ways recently.

As I’ve mentioned, the past few years have involved many life changes for our family that left me tired, overwhelmed, unorganized, and uninspired. I lost my spark, but I also let these words become me.

Hello, my name is tired.

Hello, my name is overwhelmed.

Hello, my name is defeat
I know you recognize me
Just when you think you can win
I’ll drag you right back down again
‘Til you’ve lost all belief

These have been my labels for myself.

I just started a wonderful new book by my friend Holley Gerth called You’re Going to Be Okay. In the first chapter, she asks us to write down three words to describe who we are based on where we are in life right now. My words were the ones I wrote above, not because I am currently feeling that way, but because those are the words I have used to describe myself the most in the past year. She followed up this exercise with these important words…

Whatever you wrote is where you’re at, not who you are.

BAM. Nail hit on the head, Holley.

But what do we do with those labels, those things that have become who we think we are? Sometimes the labels are too sticky because they have been stuck on us {usually by our own selves} for so long. Pulling it off is so hard because we’re holding on to it as our excuse or we think moving past it might be painful.

In may case, I’ve been ready to move forward in life and joy and vitality, but I kind of forgot about removing those labels first. It’s hard to show who you really are wearing a name tag that defines you based on your circumstances.

That’s where we need God. And a little push from a good friend. For me, that good friend were Holley’s words as I read this weekend…

I love how Hebrews reassures us, “It is impossible for God to lie” {6:18}. Your circumstances will lie to you. Your emotions will lie to you. Even other people will lie to you. But not God. And because of this, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” {6:19}. Your identity is secure. Nothing going on in your life can change it.

I may feel tired, but that is not who I am. I may have let my to-dos pile up, but that overwhelming list is not who I am.

I am claiming myself as who God made me. How He sees me.

Hello My Name Is

So we’re going to do a little exercise together today because I’m feeling like we need to start this week throwing out the lies and garbage and bringing in the Truth.

Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, and I have been set free
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true King

Copy the sentence below and fill in the blanks with what you need to remember about how God sees you, sharing in the comments if you want to join in… {Please share – I want to pray for you and rejoice together in God’s names for us!}

I have been calling myself __________ , but that is not who I am. Hello, my name is _________.

Here is mine:

I have been calling myself tired and overwhelmed, but that is not who I am. Hello, my name is delight to the Lord my God. {Zephaniah 3:17}

Don’t cling to your circumstances and feelings. Don’t be ashamed to claim the wonderful things God sees in you. His Word is true for you and for me. And you are who HE says you are.

*****

You’re Going to Be Okay by Holley Gerth releases February 4, 2014. It needs to be on your reading list. I received a copy as a gift from Holley and Revell Books, but I was not asked to write a review. I just couldn’t keep her words to myself :)

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

My Word for 2014!

God wanted to grow me in many ways in 2013 and I fought Him most of the way.

Fighting God’s plans for us usually ends well, doesn’t it?

As 2014 begins, I’m thankful for His patience and grace, and for a new perspective on where He wants to take me. I’m grateful for another chance to embrace the ways He wants to stretch and guide and use me, no matter how uncomfortable it may make me in the moment.

This year is not a year to survive. It is not a year to feel safe. It will not be a year marked with laziness or frustration or exhaustion.

2014 will be full of my word of the year…

Word for 2014

When God spoke this word to me several weeks ago, I had to look it up to fully understand, but the more I read, the more I loved the word. LOVED. And the more I wanted to embrace its meaning in every single part of my life.

Vitality has many definitions and each one strikes a chord with me:

  • the state of being strong and active; energy
  • the power giving continuance of life, present in all living things
  • the capacity to live, grow, or develop
  • a lively or energetic quality
  • exuberant physical strength, mental vigor

And the synonyms are fabulous…

Vitality

Becoming strong and active physically has been a new passion for me in the last year and a half. In 2014, I want this vitality to spread to my faith, my marriage, my mothering, my ministry. I’ll be fleshing out what I envision vitality to look like in each of these areas over the next week, more as a vision than specific goals. And that feels really amazing to say!

Have you chosen a word for the year?

I could think of no better way to commemorate this word and keep it with me all year long than the necklace pictured above from KraftyKash.

Krafty Kash

I adore all of her work, but her Word of the Year necklace is special because it also displays some of the word’s definition, reminding me of where God has asked me to put my focus – force, exuberant, drawing on His powers!

My sweet friend Kashoan has put these Word of the Year necklaces on sale for just $18 right now and use the code ONEWORD to get free shipping! And when you order yours or receive it, make sure you tweet a picture to @kraftykash with the hashtag #oneword or post it on her Facebook page!

Thank you to Kashoan for making this special piece for me in to kick off 2014 with vitality! It is a treasure to me!

Time to share your word for 2014!

Read more about my goals for vitality…

The VITALITY Series

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Noonday Collection {Giveaway!}

The winner of the Blue Nile giveaway is Dianne Hall! Congrats! You can still use the discount at Blue Nile through the end of the month!

This whole fair trade/ethical fashion kick is going to get me in trouble financially…

But it’s hard to feel guilty about buying fabulous clothes and accessories when you know your purchases are providing sustainable income for men and women all over the world.

Noonday has been a leader in this movement and I am so excited to be sharing with you about them today!

Noonday uses fashion and design to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable.

This is how Noonday began…

Noonday Collection’s first trunk show was hosted by founder, Jessica Honegger, in her home as a means to raise money to adopt her son and third child from Rwanda. The style and purpose of the products drew an overwhelming response, and the business quickly grew beyond a fundraiser {and her head is still spinning}. Thanks to Noonday sales, Jessica and her hubby brought home their son Jack in October of 2011. Orphan care and prevention remain a core value. At Noonday Collection, we believe every child belongs in a family.

Noonday is now a network of lovely ambassadors hosting trunk shows and changing lives across the globe. To see more of the impact of Noonday, you have to visit this page on their site! What an amazing thing!

And, seriously, all of the products are just gorgeous. Noonday sent me these earrings…

Noonday Earrings

I am a BIG fan of mixed metals, so these Crescent Moon earrings could not be more perfect.

Noonday Earrings Close

I love the size. I love the shape. I love that I know the person who made them in India has a job because of Noonday.

To celebrate the work of Noonday and the holiday season, we’re giving away this fabulous Golden Trio Necklace

Noonday Golden Trio

The 24″ long Golden Trio Necklace was made with love in Uganda from hammered metal and handcrafted paper beads. Isn’t it just beautiful?! Just enter below for your chance to win!

And please shop Noonday this Christmas – it will be a gift to a loved one AND the artisans that make up Noonday! {Order by December 17th to get your items in time for Christmas!}

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received these earrings from Noonday Style to review. I was not compensated in any other way for this post and all opinions are 100% my own!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Bonza Draw: Inspiring Kids to Get Creative!

My boys love to color and paint and draw, but sometimes they get stuck in a rut. For days in a row, I’ll see pictures of the same animal over and over again. Or they’ll ask me, “What should I draw now?” To be honest, I don’t usually have the most creative ideas or they’ll shoot down the ones I do have!

But a new app is getting rid of that creative rut and getting us all excited about drawing new things every day!

Bonza DrawBonza Draw is the brainchild of the Unit Study queen, Amanda Bennett, and her youngest son. The concept is so simple, but when made into app form, it will have your kids {and maybe even you!} expanding their creativity in fun new ways!

With Bonza Draw, each day a new drawing prompt, such as hermit crab or flashlight, will be waiting for your child in the app. When he or she is done drawing, they can snap a picture of their masterpiece and save it in their own Bonza Draw Gallery! You can also share their work of art on Twitter and Facebook as well!

Bonza Draw KidMy kids love anything app-related. Seriously. I think if there was an app that had to do with making their bed, they would even think that was fun! Can somebody get to work on that please?! Combining an app and something they already love to do – drawing – is obviously a HUGE hit in our house!

Bonza Draw promptThe prompts are super creative – much more than my mom brain can think of at a moment’s notice! And I love the ability to save their work right in the app!

Bonza Draw is brand new to iTunes TODAY and is just 99 cents! And Amanda has a $50 iTunes gift card giveaway going on right now to celebrate the Bonza Draw launch!

I’m linking up with Works for Me Wednesday over at We Are That Family today!



I received this app to review. I was not compensated in any way for this post, and all opinions are 100% my own!

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Jump: Living the Dream

I can’t even believe some of the things I actually did this weekend.

I am a raging extrovert, but being an extrovert and being courageous are not the same thing. I wasn’t quite sure how God would show up for me this weekend at the Jumping Tandem Retreat, maybe instilling bits of courage here and there. I thought He may nudge me towards one dream or whisper to me about another.

Instead, I found Him painting boldly on my heart with strokes of passion and clarity and, yes, the courage to jump, both literally and figuratively.

He took His dream for me, the one I had only mentioned in passing, nervous and scared that someone might hold me to it, and He made me SPEAK that dream OUT LOUD to others.

Amazing

He took my biggest dream obstacles – the ones in my head – and He spoke through Jennifer to help me lay them down – no, even better, throw them out and bury them for good.

He surrounded me with other dreamers…

Erin and Lisa-Jo

Lisa-Jo, the greatest (in)courager and cheerleader for moms there ever was…

Jessica, Erin, and Vickie

My new Pacific Northwest heart sisters, Jessica and Vickie, pursuing and encouraging love in community over at Walk Agape

Sarah and Erin

My fabulous roomie for the weekend, Sarah, who entranced me with her energy and stories of life in musical theatre!

…other dreamers all feeling the nerves and excitement and fear and indigestion that come along with the BIG things He has planned to draw us closer to Him. We dreamed together. We worshipped together {Oh, did we worship}. We believed together. And from my dear friends Holley and Lisa-Jo, we rediscovered the meaning of success in relation to our dreams…

Success is obedience to God.

Unlike any other conference or gathering I had ever attended, I did not walk away overwhelmed with a million things to try or be or do. I walked away from this weekend ready to jump. And to take that jump with joy, knowing that just getting started on His dream for me was success.

In a rare moment of bravery, when I registered for this retreat, I signed up for the additional “Be Brave” activity as well. I later learned that activity would involve net-climbing, tall towers, and a zip line, and my bravery turned to knocking knees and chattering teeth {from the nerves AND the cold, windy weather!}.

Raw Emotion

I climbed up that two-story net, worked my way up another tangled mess to the second platform, and within seconds of scooting myself off that 54-foot high platform and flying across the air, I knew exactly why God had me up there.

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The guide told me the steps I would take leading up to my jump: they involved me sitting on the platform, her unclipping me, and me moving myself forward whenever I was ready. She did the unclipping, I yelled to let the ground crew know I was on my way, and I JUST WENT.

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I knew that if I sat there for even a second longer, I might not jump at all. I didn’t think. I left no time for doubt or worry or fear. I just jumped.

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And God said, “Now do EXACTLY THAT with the dream I’ve given you.”

I’ve spent way too much time sitting on the edge of His dream for me, looking down, afraid and doubting and feeling inadequate. It’s time for obedience. I am living the dream.

Deidra's smile

Thank you, lovely, wonderful Deidra, for being obedient to His dream for YOU which has now inspired each of us who were in attendance. It was all blessing.

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P.S. The zip line was AMAZING, as was experiencing it with this bunch of awesome women. If you ever get the chance, DO. IT.

*THANK YOU to the most lovely Laura for the zip line pictures. You captured each moment so perfectly!

**Later this week, or whenever I have some more time to process the sessions, I will post more of the words of inspiration shared by the fabulous speakers! Good, good stuff.

I’m linking up with Holley and the God-sized dreamers this week about how we PLAY in the middle of our dreams. Zip-lining counts, right?! 

 

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Realistic Refreshment

I just adore that two lovely blog friends have been focusing on refreshment lately. Jessi and Hayley are doing such a wonderful job encouraging us as women to step back and fill up our own tanks before we burnout. Last week they focused on refreshing yourself with some new fun and easy hair, makeup, and wardrobe tips, as well as sharing some things they find refreshing in their own lives.

I’ve latched on quite tightly to one of their “movements” the last few weekends and it has been my biggest source of realistic refreshment: analog weekends.

From Friday evening to Sunday evening, I stay off of social media. I focus on home and family and reading and writing and interacting right here, right now.

This was my third weekend of social media blackout. I can’t even tell you how freeing it has been. I say “yes” a lot more to my family. When there’s some downtime and I’m tempted to reach for my phone and check Facebook, I grab a book instead. More projects are getting done.

My head is clearer and my thoughts are more my own. It’s funny how clearing the social media voices out of the mind can do that!

I didn’t go to a spa. I didn’t go away for the weekend. I didn’t take a bath or get a massage. I was with my family all weekend {except for my running & working out time}, but I still feel refreshed and ready to take on this next week. Between managing homeschool and little ones and a doctor’s schedule and managing a few websites and… {I’ll just stop there} weekends like these are what I call realistic refreshment.

And this is what realistic refreshment looked like this weekend…

French Dip

French dip for Friday supper, leftovers all weekend.

JJ Bread Lover

Our little bread lover!

Monkey Bread

Monkey bread. Enough said.

WWII Puzzle

1000 piece puzzle picked out by Big J at Costco Friday. Started Saturday. This much done by Sunday night, mostly by The Hubby, some by me, a little by Big J.

I want to issue a challenge to you this week. First of all, read the Refresh posts from Hayley and Jessi. Pick one of their refresh ideas and run with it this week – try a new hairstyle, change up your make-up, put together a new outfit from clothes in your closet. And then take the week to think about this…

What is ONE way you could find refreshment this upcoming weekend?

The challenge part is that the ONE thing cannot involve leaving your house, hiring a babysitter, or spending any money. How is that for realistic? Pick something now and then make plans this week to make sure it actually happens!

I can’t wait to hear your answers! Let’s inspire one another!

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