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

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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 🙂

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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!

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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!

 

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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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Stopping & Staying

I’m sharing a broccoli “recipe” our whole family loves over at Raising Hearty Boys today! The boys would not touch broccoli before we tried it this way! Enjoy!

*****

My life has consisted of more reading than writing lately, so I don’t have a lot of original thoughts to share. But I have LOTS of words of inspiration and growth and challenge swirling around in my head, like these…

Stopping and Staying

I’m trying to savor as much stillness as I can in the midst of our busy schedule, and even creating more stillness whenever possible. In the midst of birthdays and and upcoming retreat and our normal hustle-and-bustle, I crave time to just stop, stay, and feel His presence. 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life has been really challenging me, not only in my Sabbath-keeping, but also in finding rest and renewal in everyday life. The “stops” are becoming more frequent and my soul can feel the difference.

How are you doing with stopping these days?

 

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Dreaming for Another Year

Birthdays are cause for celebration!

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You didn’t have to tell Little J that twice – he made me feel like the most important, special person in the whole world on my birthday. I felt totally celebrated by all of my guys!

I’m also finding my birthday to be a great time of reflection and dreaming! Instead of lamenting turning another year older, I did some birthday praying and dreaming about all God has in store for the next year!

It almost feels a little like New Year’s to me, but I’m not making resolutions to lose weight or get more organized. I’m taking my God-sized dreams and laying out a few areas that I want to see grow in the next year. God spoke three things very clearly into my life as we celebrated my birthday yesterday. Seriously, there was no mistaking what He wants to work in me as I move towards 33…

1. I want to understand grace more fully and practice it more regularly, especially within our family.

Grace is not a new word to me, but after having read Connecting Church & Home by Tim Kimmel {review coming soon}, author of Grace-Based Parenting {which is on my t0-read list}, I’m realizing I don’t really know much about living a life full of grace, especially in relation to my children. I just know I want to know more about grace and how to live it out.

2. I want to experience greater intimacy with God and with The Hubby.

Our busy lives don’t allow much time for depth of relationship. I’m not ok with that. I want a closer, deeper relationship with my Savior, not just cramming in Bible study before the kids wake up. I want spend more time talking and connecting with The Hubby, particularly when his schedule only allows for us to see each a couple hours a day.

3. I want to discover what a true Sabbath looks and feels like for our family.

I took last weekend “off” from social media. It was the most restful two days I’ve had in as long as I remember. But that’s just a piece of figuring out how our family is best refreshed on the weekends, or another Sabbath day when The Hubby’s work hours don’t allow for Sunday rest. My sister gave me 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life for my birthday and I’m really looking forward to soaking up those insights on a Sabbath day.

I feel like this is the real-life living out of my God-sized dream – the nuts and bolts of being able to grow closer to God, bless my family, and write to encourage other families with integrity and without burning out!

What areas do you hope to grow in as you approach another birthday, whether it is next week or next year?

Read more stories of God-sized dreams lived out in real-life over at Holley’s place today!

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God-Sized Dream Stories: Those Who Inspire Me

God-Sized Dreams TeamAs I’m pursuing the dreams God has placed on my heart, I have many days where I think…

“What am I doing? I’m not qualified to do this? I just need to stop and let someone else pursue this dream…”

Most of the time I am able to stop myself mid-thought and realize these are not words my loving, wonderful God would put in my head. They are lies.

Other days, I need some extra inspiration to help me press on, and the stories of other God-sized dreamers are just what I need. The most inspiration has come from moms like me, living mom lives, putting God and family first, and saying yes to the gifts and dreams He has given them.

Dreamers like these…

Heather – Fellow boy mama, although she’s one up on me. Going about her life being an encouragement to many in real life and through her blog and BOOM! She gets an email from an agent asking if she’s ever thought of publishing a book! That is a WOW GOD type of thing to me. And Heather has stayed humble, seeking God and taking the process slow. I. Love. This. Story.

Brooke – She wrote Warrior Prayers because she just knew it needed to be written. Not for fame, not for money – just to pass on her heart for praying for her boys. God has done so much more than she ever dreamed with her obedience in writing that book, in her own life and the lives of thousands of boy mamas. And there’s more to come… 🙂

Jen – She has FOUR boys who are all SIX, so that automatically makes her a hero to me. The way Jen and her family honestly share their lives, from stories of pregnancy with multiples to unemployment to taking on adventures with their boys, is so real and so God-honoring. I’m not sure Brad and Jen would have ever said this is where they dreamed they would be one day, but they let God write their story and move forward with joy and faith.

Amanda -As a former teacher, I love that Amanda’s previous career in children’s ministry has become a part of how she parents and how she encourages other parents in her writing. And the stuff she writes about she actually DOES with her kids, impressing God’s Word upon their hearts in creative, meaningful ways. Motherhood is not mundane for her – it is fun and God-inspired and full of life. I love when my music teacher training and motherhood collide, and Amanda inspires me to use what I’ve been given, even though I’m not a music teacher at a school anymore! I don’t believe that teaching and being a parent and becoming a writer are all separate dreams – God is weaving one big dream through all of them!

I don’t know that my words can do justice to the God-sized dreams of these women, but I know their dreaming keeps me going on days I’m not sure I have what it takes to follow the path He has shown me to take.

And we all need those stories, don’t we?

Tell me a God-sized dream story that inspires YOU!

Read more inspiring God-sized dream stories over at Holley’s place today!

*****


If God-sized dreaming is your thing or you think God is gently nudging you to step out in faith on something new, you MUST read Holley’s newest book, You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream: Opening the Door to All God Has for You, launching THIS FRIDAY! Pre-order your copy now and come back later this week to read all that I have to say about it!

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