Fight Back With Joy

I received this book to review from Worthy Publishing. All opinions are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Sometimes a book just falls into your lap at just the right time and speaks right to what you are going through at that moment. That’s exactly what happened with Fight Back With Joy by Margaret Feinberg.

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As you might recall, I chose the word JOY as my word of the year for 2015. I chose it reluctantly, but can see countless reasons in these first five months of the year why God led me to that word. When I heard about Fight Back With Joy, I knew I needed to read this perspective on joy – and I was overwhelmed by what God taught me through Margaret’s words.

I should tell you first that we’ve had a somewhat turbulent first half of 2015. Plans were made and then turned upside down and we were just along for the bumpy ride. I believe this is why God chose JOY as my word of the year. And it’s also why He had me pick up Margaret’s book.

From the very first words, as Margaret also describes reluctantly choosing the word joy, I knew I would relate and learn from this book. I wrote about what joy really is in my post earlier this year, but I stand by her assertion in the intro:

“Many people live joyless lives because they don’t understand what joy is, what joy does, how to discover joy, and what to do with it once they find it.”

Margaret’s experience with joy was so relatable to me, but our battles have been very different. Fight Back With Joy walks us as readers through her battle with cancer and how she used joy as a weapon to fight off everything negative that came her way. It is extremely poignant, vulnerable, raw…all pointing back to God, the source of all joy.

“Joy emanates from the abiding sense of God’s fierce love for us.”

I think I have half the book underlined because Margaret’s words spoke to me SO much, but there was one chapter in particular that jumped out and grabbed hold of my heart.

Earlier this year, I shared our Bible verse of the year and why I thought God had spoken this verse to me. I was so wrong, not about the verse, but about the meaning. Our change in plans this spring means we won’t be moving to the small town by the river. I couldn’t understand what God meant for that verse in our life, hanging in our living room, until I read Chapter 8 in Fight Back With Joy.

If you weren’t with us at the beginning of the year, our verse of the year as a family was:

“They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.” -Isaiah 49:10

In Chapter 8, Margaret shares a story from the Bible I didn’t know very well about Caleb’s daughter, Achsah. There comes a point where she is newly married and living in a desert – an actual, physical desert. Instead of wallowing about her dry, awful living conditions, she boldly approaches her father and asks that he give them springs of water. And he grants her request.

When I read those three words – “springs of water” – a chill went through my body and I perked up to see where God was leading this train of thought. Turns out the train was going right where I needed it to go, to this statement…

“In the desert of despair, springs of water unlock reservoirs of joy.”

Our springs of water are usually not physical water. They weren’t for Margaret and they weren’t for me. The springs of water she experienced and the ones I have found are so much more life-giving.

“Achsah’s story serves as a reminder that we can petition God for sweet water when circumstances make us feel like we’re sucking sand. In those moments, we can ask for special favor and expect God to work in powerful ways.”

This chapter prompted me to ask and I fully received new blessings from God in the midst of our desert. Springs of water – and joy – were found in new opportunities, deepening friendships, moments celebrated together.

“A prayer for springs in the desert is a request to discover the fullness of life even when facing trouble and difficulty.”

That fullness of life, when found in Christ, is what joy is all about. God used this book in powerful way to lead me to those springs of water, and they have been filling me with joy ever since.

No matter where life has you right now – in a season of drought or abundance – you will find inspiration in Margaret’s words.

I really want to give every single one of you a copy of Fight Back With Joy. I can’t quite afford that, but I am giving away three copies thanks to Worthy Publishing!

To enter, tell me something that has brought you joy in the past week! For an extra entry, tweet about this giveaway and come back to tell me you did in a separate comment! This giveaway is open until Monday, June 1st at 9PM CDT!

[Tweet “I entered to win 1 of 3 copies of Fight Back with Joy by @mafeinberg from @WorthyPub!”]

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My Beautiful One Word Reminder {Giveaway}

I’m needing constant reminders to choose and cling to joy this year. I’ve added the word in various parts of our home decor. I left out a JOY pillow we usually only have out at Christmas time. And my friend Kashoan sent me this beautiful reminder to carry with me everywhere I go…

One Word 2015 Necklace

There really is a difference for me when that word is right there, all the time, reminding what God spoke into my heart when He gave me this word for 2015.

The necklace itself isn’t heavy, but it’s presence is. This necklace has a presence that reminds me of where my joy comes from – my ever-present God who never changes, never leaves me, never stops loving me, and never stops offering His joy for me to choose.

One Word 2015 Necklace 2

My joy necklace is even more special because I know it was made with love by a friend. Every piece I have ever received from KraftyKash has been perfection. I love this family business and their dedication to making unique pieces to bless people.

Have you picked your “one word” for 2015? Would you love to wear it around your neck? KraftyKash is having a sale on One Word dictionary necklaces through the end of January – they are just $22! And you can add a charm like the heart on mine for just $3!

Just for fun, let’s give away TWO One Word necklaces today! Just tell me in the comments what your word is to be entered! I will choose two random winners Sunday night, January 25th, at 9PM CST and notify them by email!

Thank you to KraftyKash for this wonderful giveaway and my gorgeous necklace! You are a gift!

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My “Joy” Book List for 2015

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!

In an effort to fully embrace my word of the year for 2015, I’ve been thinking of ways to keep my mind focused on joy. Smiling more, laughing more, singing + dancing more, praising more, and reading more.

Yes, reading brings me joy, but I wanted to be even more intentional about reading books that make me smile. Coincidentally, I received a couple of memoirs written by funny ladies for Christmas and that was the start of my “joy” book list for 2015! And since joy comes in all shapes and sizes, this list will be very eclectic!

These books aren’t the only books I’m reading this year, but I’ll always have one of these books going throughout the year. And if you have books that would fit well on this list for me to add, please tell me in the comments!

JOY

My “Joy” Book List for 2015

Bossypants by Tina Fey – I’ve already started on this one and laughed until I cried several times. It is Tina Fey humor in print and I’m greatly enjoying it. {just a warning: if language bothers you, you might want to pass on this one}

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler – As soon as I’m done with Bossypants, I’m going to devour this. I’ve heard great things, and, well, Amy Poehler is just awesome.

In This House, We Will Giggle by Courtney DeFeo – This “joy” word is not just for me this year. I want joy to be what our whole family is about and I think Courtney’s book is just the inspiration I need! Also, I love the word giggle.

The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle – Melanie’s first book, Sparkly Green Earrings, had me laughing out loud while pondering motherhood’s joys and struggles. This one is about marriage and I can’t wait to dive in!

Moment Maker by Carlos Whittaker – Carlos is a riot on social media and I love this idea of really living your life. Joy comes in those moments where we really live, doesn’t it? This book is waiting patiently on my Kindle and I hope to get to it very soon.

Love, Skip, Jump by Shelene Bryan – That title just screams JOY! I started this book with the Influence Network last year but got sidetracked with the holidays, so I’ll be picking it back up this year.

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones {with the kids} – Sally Lloyd-Jones is just my favorite. We adore the Jesus Storybook Bible and How to Get a Job…by Me, the Boss has us in tears of laughter every time. I know this book won’t disappoint!

And that is not the end because I’ll keep adding your suggestions and other joyful books I discover throughout the year! So share away…

What books have made your smile and laugh recently?

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My Word of the Year for 2015!

Vitality. Celebrate. Simplify. Follow-Through. Priorities.

These were my last five choices for “word of the year” and I’m still loving each one of them. Focusing on one word per year really lets it sink in, you know?

The funny thing about my choice for this year is that this word has come up in my mind every other year but has ultimately been replaced by another word. It’s something that used to come a lot more naturally to me. I shouldn’t have to work for it, but it had lost its place of importance in my life over the last few years. And I really missed it.

My word of the year for 2015 is…

ErinMWordImageLarge

Thank you to Traci for this awesome graphic!

Joy. I’ve always loved the word, but it didn’t really mean anything until I knew what it meant through the eyes of faith.

Joy and happiness are not the same thing. The world may define them in a similar way, but joy is set apart in the Bible as completely different. Happiness is dependent on circumstances and feelings. Joy comes only from the Lord. And since the Lord is constant, our joy can be as well.

I want to be so consistently in the presence of my Savior in 2015 that I can’t help but feel joy no matter what comes my way. I want His joy to fill me up and spill out in to my home, on to my family, in my words and actions, in everything.

Living in constant joy doesn’t come easily, especially when you’ve become accustomed to wallowing and complaining. The first day of 2015 found me slipping back in to my old ways when kids were complaining and there was more cleaning than I would have preferred. But my word came back to me and, over the whining of one small child, I started singing at the top of my lungs…

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart…

My husband joined in with an echo and we both laughed and the moment became lighter. Joy was there. It has always been there. It was just waiting for me to find it again.

In 2015, I will sing and laugh and praise and do whatever it takes to remain in the joy of the Lord that is always there! I waited to choose this word and God waited patiently for me to choose joy again. My heart is bursting as I think about living this year in joy!

Tell me about your word of the year! I would love to pray for you + what God will do with that word for you this year!

 

I’ve also chosen a Bible verse for 2015, but it has nothing to do with this word. I’ll be posting about it separately, but you can get a sneak peek of it over at Naptime Diaries because it is part of her Verse of the Year collection! Can you guess which one? Oh, and use code NEWYEAR2015 to get 20% off your order right now!

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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?

 

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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…

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VITALITY in Ministry

I’m using the word “ministry” very loosely here, but it was the only word I could think to describe my writing/speaking/online world!

This is not a life I ever envisioned for myself, but slowly, surely, I’m embracing the small voice that says, “This is what I made you to do. Right here. Right now.”

My education and experience are as an elementary music teacher, a job I adored completely. But when one little boy, then another joined our family, the call on my life was to come home. And I started a little old blog to keep our family and friends up-to-date.

I had no clue I would fall in love with writing, and very reluctantly, today call myself a writer. Sure, I wrote “chapter books” with my girlfriends all night at sleepovers in fifth grade. And yes, I wrote for my high school newspaper. But still… I was unaware I would enjoy so much encouraging women through writing and speaking. I didn’t know God would use writing as a processing and learning and growing tool for MYSELF.

This is the first full year I’m really embracing these roles of writer and speaker He has placed in my life. And to be a good steward of these roles, I’ve set a few goals for this year step out of timidity and into vitality…

Vitality in Ministry

write unashamed

There are so many posts I haven’t published – or never even wrote – because I wasn’t sure they would be “good enough.” That ends this year. The words God speaks are always good enough and even if they are just for me, they need to be written.

spread joy and encouragement

I was never an actual cheerleader, but I was always one of the most enthusiastic fans in the stands. Yes, I was even awarded “Fan of the Game” once, complete with a crown, sash, and a couch to sit on during the game. I want to be that person again for you. I want to be your biggest fan and encourager. I want this rediscovered joy and vitality to be evident in every word I write and speak, even when sharing about the tough stuff. That picture above? That’s what I’m talking about 🙂

serve + love others well

I have been so inspired by the women at {in}courage and The Influence Network to use my words and this blog and the social media world to love others well. You don’t have to live next door to someone to serve them or love them. Words have a lot of power and I’ll be asking a lot more this year how I can bless you and others through this space. And you can always email me at homewiththeboys at gmail dot com if you have questions or prayer requests – I won’t always respond right away because three children and homeschool and ALL THE THINGS, but I will always read your words and pray for you!

glorify Him

Not everything I write is about God, but I want every part of me to glorify Him, including writing and speaking. I’m letting go of the burden that comes with keeping track of pageviews and retweets and asking God that with each post or speaking engagement, His name is glorified. My prayer is that those who need to hear that message or read that post are the ones reached, whether it is one person or one thousand. All for Him. Not for me. There is so much life to be found in doing all things through Him and for Him!

Wow. It felt really good to write all of that out. And in this first month of 2014, it’s felt really good to writing with these things in mind. I look forward to a year full of rich, joyful experiences on this unexpected path from God!

What unexpected places has God taken you in ministry? What does vitality look like for you there?

 

Read more about my goals for vitality…

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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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Say Goodbye to Survival Mode!

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My focus this year is on vitality. In all areas of life. No longer just surviving, but rather living a full, energetic, passionate life. Choosing a word for the year is not just about having it there to motivate you – you have to do something. And while I was wanting to leave survival mode behind, I needed a plan to jump start my year of vitality.

That’s when Crystal Paine’s newest book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, came into my life.

CrystalPaine-3D-LeftFacing

I often love the concepts presented in non-fiction books like this one, but I have a hard time finishing them. I get overwhelmed by all of the things I should be doing and put the book away before applying any of the concepts.

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode is a totally different story. I felt like Crystal was telling my tale of being overwhelmed, easily distracted, and just plain tired. As a fellow mom of three little ones, reading about Crystal’s path out of survival mode provided me with a lot of hope!

And along with hope, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode serves up nine strategies for moving forward with intention and life! My favorite strategies are along the lines of time management because that is where I struggle most. A few of my favorite tips:

Record what you do every half hour for 2-3 days.

I actually did this and WOW. So much wasted time here are there! But even just the act of recording what I was doing with my time made me be more intentional. I wanted to make better use of each chunk of time and I stopped doing a few unnecessary things that were showing up too often on the list!

Use those five minutes here and there.

Crystal includes a great starter list of things you could get done in that extra five minutes you have here and there instead of mindlessly surfing Facebook. I’ve started my own list to hang on the fridge to remind me that I own my time and can make it work better for me if I don’t waste it!

Set focused work time.

As an easily-distracted person, I have a hard time using time wisely. I have too many open windows in my browser. Multi-tasking is often my enemy and the thief of some of my vitality. I’ve been scheduling my days better since reading this book, and my writing time has been a lot more productive. Focused work time also means my time with my family is more focused as well.

These were my biggest “aha” moments, but Say Goodbye to Survival Mode is so much more than this. You’ll also find Crystal’s help to:

  • feel healthier and more energetic by setting priorities and boundaries
  • eliminate stress with savvy management of your time, money, and home
  • get more done by setting realistic goals and embracing discipline
  • rediscover your passions—and the confidence to pursue them

I don’t know many women who WOULDN’T benefit from reading this book, trying Crystal’s strategies, and finding life beyond just surviving! I am grateful to Crystal for sharing her life in such an honest and inspiring way and I am thrilled about the direction Say Goodbye to Survival Mode has me moving in for 2014!

SPECIAL, LIMITED TIME OFFER:

To celebrate the release of her book this week, Crystal is offering a collection of amazing prizes for those who buy the book. Simply go to www.GoodbyeSurvivalModeBook.com now for details. And there are lots of special giveaways every day this week as well! You can also pick up the book anywhere books are sold, including Amazon.

Are you in survival mode? What area of your life could use a new strategy?

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

VITALITY in Motherhood

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Wouldn’t it just figure that as I prepared to write this post about living out motherhood in a more lively and energized matter that my kids would kick into a mode that leaves me absolutely weary to the bone?!

Vitality in Motherhood

This concept of vitality in motherhood is something I so badly want to experience. Kids are tiring. It doesn’t matter whether they are boys or girls, young or old, whether there is one or ten. When we invest ourselves in the lives of another human being, our emotions will go on a roller coaster and our schedules will not be entirely our own.

Mother + Middle

I don’t want to just barely survive motherhood this year. I want to feel alive as a mother. I want my boys to know that I find joy in being their mother, not because every day goes exactly as I planned, but because they are a gift from the Lord and being their mother is my sacred calling.

Mom + Little Guys

I honestly don’t feel this vitality right now. I’ve seen glimpses of it. And I’ve captured those moments in my mental picture book because they give me hope on rough days. I also try to capture them as an actual picture whenever possible – with my phone or camera – because I see more clearly who they are and who I want to be in those life-filled, photographed moments.

Mother + Firstborn

I’ve also set a few goals to keep my focus on a more life-filled and life-giving season of motherhood…

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be present

I wrote about this in my marriage post and the concept is the same here: when we’re together, I need to be all there. This doesn’t mean they all get my undivided attention all the time. That’s just crazy. But when they want to talk, when we’re playing a game, during school time, and so on, I need to stop trying to multitask away my time with the kids! Yes, I need to put away the phone more. Jessica from The Mom Creative just recommended the book Hands-Free Mama on Twitter yesterday and it immediately went on my must-read list this year!

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laugh

The days I laugh with my kids are exponentially greater than the days I don’t. Laughter doesn’t always just happen on its own, and it definitely doesn’t happen when I’m not fully present {see above}. Already this year, I’ve started more tickle fights, laughed at even the most ridiculous jokes Little J has told me, and made the craziest silly faces with Big J. And it feels glorious to laugh this much. The boys already have silly in their bones, but I’m trying to bring it out and join in more! And have I mentioned Double J seems to be the silliest of all three boys? We’re in for a wild ride with that one!

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really listen

My children are talkers. It almost never stops. Even when they are asleep. And, yes, they got the talkative gene from me. And because they talk and talk and talk and often repeat things an obscene amount times…I often tune them out. Guilty as charged. I’m afraid that my deaf ears now are going to teach these boys I don’t care about what they have to say, and when something more personal, life-changing, important comes up, they won’t come to me. I will gladly listen to every word they have to say now to show them I value them, their thoughts, their words, especially if it means they will talk openly about all the questions and problems and decisions they will have as they grow up. But please remind me of this when Little J wants to tell me the same joke for the billionth time…

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inspire, encourage, teach, model

I know that heading is actually four headings, but for some reason, they went together as I was praying over this year. I let my life as a mother switch into a mundane, survival mode. And things like projects and hands-on lessons and encouraging notes from mom had completely fallen away. Things like this take extra time and effort, but they add so much vitality to the parent-child relationship! There is life in the words inspire, encourage, teach, model. I want to embrace each of them, asking God to show me which is needed in what measure each day.

Although I started this post as a tired mama, I do not feel defeated. Even as I’ve taken a few days to write this post, I’ve seen the things I’m focusing on this year make small, but wonderful changes in the way I feel about my role as a mother! I feel so much more aligned with God’s will for me as a mom, and I will pray each day He keeps me humble and in tune with His will.

What does vitality in motherhood look like for you?

 

Read more about my goals for vitality…

The VITALITY Series

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook