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!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

About This Blog Silence…

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’m still here! And if you’re connected with me on social media, you know I’m still alive, but busy! Every time I think I have a few moments to sit down and write here, life happens and I’ve learned to just go with that flow. But I do miss writing here.

So what have I been up to during this busy season?

Family Stuff

IMG_5303.JPG IMG_5298.JPG
IMG_5314.JPG

IMG_5262

Big J had his first basketball game. We’ve been watching football and mourning the end of our team’s season. Puzzles and playing outside and cookies and mommy-son dates and homeschool…lots of good family stuff.

Date Night

IMG_5297.JPG

Our much needed first date night of 2015 was to see Into the Woods. I loved it. So much. And after having watched it, I would not let my own kids see it until they are quite a bit older. It is a wonderful musical, but the themes are quite mature and I’m not sure they even get most of the movie. But I will probably be buying the movie and watching it on repeat, singing along with every word. Of course, the best part of  seeing the movie was with whom I saw it – he’s my favorite.

Training

IMG_5197.JPG

I still can’t believe how much I love running, but I do. This month, I’ve been training to get a new 10K personal record. The Hubby and I are doing a unique 10K race out of town next weekend, so we’ll see then how the training pays off! I love using my Believe Training Journal to plan my workouts and then record how they went. Would you be interested in knowing more about my weekly exercise plan?

Reading

I’m devouring some great books this month and rediscovering just how much reading fills me up. I finished Lisa T. Bergren’s River of Time series – five books, Christian young adult fiction, set in 14th century Italy, exciting and lots of fun. I cried when it was over. Yes, I get a little invested in fiction books.

I’m reading three other fabulous books right now, too – Bossypants by Tina Fey, The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner, and Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson. I’m really enjoying all of them and have a long list to choose from when these are done!

This is life, people. And instead of being upset or anxious when I don’t have time to write, I’m taking it as a hint that I need to breathe, to live NOW and write later. This post from Shauna Niequist has me thinking deeply about how much of life I have missed and how much more I want to notice everything.

I have a bunch of fun things to share with you this week, including two great exclusive discounts for you on some of my FAVORITE things, so don’t go away! I’m still here and I’m thankful you are, too!

What have YOU been up to this first month of 2015?

 

 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Prayer + Motherhood

I’ve been on my knees a lot to start this new year. It seems that when one declares a word for the year, that very thing may be the thing you for which you have to fight the hardest.

I believe that also goes for anything to which we are truly dedicated. Our marriage, our children, our ministry. The enemy doesn’t want us focused on these good things. And so the most important things in our lives are also often the most challenging.

JJ puzzle blog

Motherhood is one of those for me – something I’ve always wanted, something I treasure, something I want to do well. And yet it is also more difficult than I could have ever imagined.

As I’ve tried to proceed in 2015 with JOY, I’ve grasped new glimpses where I didn’t see it before, but I’ve also been met with much discouragement in the form of distraction and arguing and disobedience. I often feel beat down by the end of the day.

I’m not saying this is all my children’s fault. I’ve made plenty of negative choices, particularly in my role as mom, that have left me worn, losing my focus on joy. But I haven’t given up. I can’t ever give up because I’m mothering with an eye on eternity.

j homeschool writing blog

Through it all, prayer has been my saving grace. Early morning prayers for wisdom and love. Midday prayers for a peaceful afternoon. Evening prayers asking for forgiveness and new mercies for the next day. Prayers all day long to find the joy in all of it.

Boys Reading BW blog

I don’t tend to write out my prayers, but the focus on the Tommy Nelson blog this month is on prayer and God just spilled these words out of me as I wrote my heart for moms of boys – and for me. I’m not writing + praying as a mom who has figured out this boy-raising thing, but as a mom who desperately wants God to show me what these boys – MY BOYS – need from their mother. I need His wisdom. I need His strength. I need His grace. And so do my boys.

J Knex Seagull blog

I used to think God was calling me to be a mother because I would be good at it. {insert my laughter here} Now I know motherhood is my calling because it is always refining me and keeping me dependent on my God. Motherhood draws me close to Him + prayer is our best form of communication.

Moms – join me in prayer this week, this month, this year? Whether you are a mom of boys, a single parent {or sometimes single}, a woman who longs to be a mom, or any mother – someone is praying the same prayer you are. And there are more motherhood prayers yet to come on Tommy Nelson this month, so stay tuned!

If you have a specific prayer request related to motherhood, share it in the comments or feel free to email it to me. It would be my joy to pray for you today!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Stitch Fix #3

This post includes referral links. 

I gave myself a little early Christmas present with some Stitch Fix referral credits and had my next fix shipped right before the holidays. I’ve had good and not-so-good experiences with Stitch Fix in the past, but I love how committed they are to getting a fix right for you! And I did have credits, so I gave it another shot!

I’m so glad I did! I only kept one item, but I could tell they were trying to give me what I requested with the other items as well.

If you don’t know about Stitch Fix, it’s a styling service that comes right to your house! You fill out an extensive online survey that includes your sizes, style preferences, budget and more. You are also able to leave notes for your stylist to further explain what you’re hoping to get in your fix – or you can let them completely surprise you! Stitch Fix also asks for a link to a Pinterest board that you’ve compiled with styles you love. They DO actually look at the board for inspiration!

Then you schedule your fix and a box shows up at your house with five items selected by a stylist, along with cards featuring styling ideas for each piece! You are charged a $20 styling fee when the box ships, but that $20 is also applied to your bill should you choose to keep any items. If you decide to buy all five items in your box, you get 25% off the entire purchase! If you don’t keep anything, they keep the $20 styling fee. It’s a gamble, but it is kind of fun AND from the experience of many others, each fix usually gets better as your stylist learns what you like and don’t like.

This time around I was looking for two things: fun, bright colored tops and a great pair of skinny jeans. And this is what I got…

Stitch Fix 3 Collage

Yeah, the lighting isn’t great, but all I can say is TOO COLD for outside and I had a young photographer ;)

Let’s start with the tops: fun patterns, bright colors for the most part, but just not quite right for me. I liked the cut of the first shirt, the pattern on the second, and the colors of the third. If I could have combined what I liked about all three shirts into one shirt, it would have been a winner, but alas, I didn’t keep any of them. The price was actually not too bad either {less than $40}, but I’m learning to only buy things I REALLY love so I don’t end up with a closet full of rarely-worn clothes. Verdict on the shirts: all sent back.

About the skinny jeans: How in the world is it that I can go to a store and try on a billion pairs of jeans, never finding the ones that fit “just right,” but Stitch Fix can send me a pair in a box that fits magically and is exactly what I want?! Yep, I love the jeans. I’ve been wearing them for a month and I still love them. They are skinny, but not restricting. I love the dark wash. I love where the waistline hits me. Yes, they were $78. I’ve never paid that much for a pair of pants before, but the referral credits softened the blow a little and they are totally worth the money. Verdict on the jeans: BIG FAT KEEP.

Stitch Fix 3 Necklace

I also received a gold + silver bauble necklace in my fix, but I was not in need of any jewelry, so I sent that back with the shirts. Verdict on the necklace: sent back.

I only kept one item, but I consider this box a huge success for two reasons:

  1. THE JEANS
  2. My stylist tried to stretch me a bit with the shirts, and while I didn’t keep any, it was fun to try them!

Stitch Fix is great for those who hate shopping, those who can’t shop because of kids/work schedule/etc., and those who enjoy having someone else pick out clothes for them! I still love to shop, so I consider Stitch Fix to a be a once or twice a year treat for me and I will definitely be back!

Have you tried Stitch Fix yet? Have any questions before you give it a try?

 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

My Focus + Goals for 2015

You already know about my #1 goal for 2015: to live life with more joy.

I know that is very general, but I work well with general goals. They give me direction and don’t feel like an expectation I can’t meet. Specific goals only motivate me when there is grace involved, which is why I love my friend Hayley’s monthly series, “Goals with Grace.”

I, like Hayley, need goals to keep me from get distracted and running off in a million different directions. My yearly goals are all somewhat broad, with the exception of the ones involving running. These goals, however, are easy for me to focus on and that is just what I need. I want goals that push me, but also encourage me at the same time.

I’ve also adopted a new philosophy when it comes to attacking my goals. I saw this quote on Instagram from my friends at Cross Training Couture and I am ALL ABOUT IT:

Instead of saying,-Lord, I don't know

“Lord, I can’t wait to see how YOU do this!” That phrase fills me with so much hope because it reminds me that none of this is accomplished in my own strength. It is only by His power and grace that I live and breathe and do anything, including reaching goals.

On to my list…

YEARLY FOCUS for 2015

  1. Live with joy
  2. Fun + romance in marriage
  3. Time management + stewardship
  4. Whole body health
  5. Preparing the boys for move + transition
  6. Clean up + clean out
  7. Embrace ministry
  8. Love well

I changed the word “goals” to “focus” up there because that is a more accurate description of my list. This is what I’m focusing on and all of my monthly goals will come from the inspiration on this list.

My January goals look more specific than my yearly focus and that is intentional. I struggle with big, huge long-term goals and finishing them well, so I’ll stick to goals that I can tackle for a month. Short-term goals within a long-term focus – that’s my operating mode!

JANUARY GOALS

  • Read 1 book from my Joy Book List
  • 2 date nights with my man
  • Run 70+ miles, including a 10K PR
  • Drink 64oz+ of water each day
  • Set office hours for online work
  • 1 family game night a week

My trusty Day Designer is helping me stay on track with my schedule + to-do lists. It has been the best planner to help me break big goals in to manageable pieces and real daily action. I don’t know how I would function without it. And I’m working on establishing my healthy habits by tracking them with my Fitbit, particularly water intake.

So, this is what I’m thinking as we start the new year! I would love to know what goals you have for this year and/or this month! Share a few in the comments so we can encourage one another! 

And check out more amazing goal-setters on Hayley’s link-up!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

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?

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

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!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

2014 In Review!

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 just can’t wait for 2015 to get going, but 2014 was full of goodness as well and I just have to revisit the highlights before we move on! I know these recap posts are all over the internet and I’m joining the crowd! Here is my “2014 In Review!”

Family Standing 2014 blog

Family Highlights

Fargo017

Running Highlights

TN Group Jump

Blogging/Writing/Speaking Highlights

Surprised by Motherhood

Favorite Books

TS 1989

Favorite Music

 

Bible Study Approach

Most Popular Posts

Declare Brooke Kate

Favorite Communities

Revelation Wellness

Favorite Finds

 

I feel like I could go on and on! 2014 was so full of blessings and I am celebrating them all! I’ll be sharing my goals, word, and verse of the year for 2015 over the next week, but for now…

I would love to have you share YOUR highlights of 2014 int he comments! Let’s dwell on the goodness + faithfulness of the Lord in 2014!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Great Gift Books for Your Guys!

I received some of these books to review. I was not compensated in any way for writing about them, and all opinions are 100% my own. I have also 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!

As you know, I’m surrounded by guys. Add in grandpas and uncles and nephews…the number just keeps growing! I’m always looking for unique gifts to fit the interests and personalities of these guys and every year, books are a great option that don’t disappoint!

Gift Books

There are plenty of new great gift books for your guys this year and I wanted to share a few of my favorite with you! If you have Amazon Prime, you can order them today and still get them in time for Christmas with free two-day shipping! If you don’t have Amazon Prime, grab the free 30-day trial now and use it for your last-minute holiday shopping!  {Have I mentioned how much I adore Amazon Prime? So many reasons…}

And now for the books…

For the little guys

Diggit

Diggit Saves the Day and Tipper Tells a Lie are part of the brand new Building God’s Kingdom board book series by Andy Holmes. The stories center around a crew of construction vehicles who learn lessons about character and godliness. My little guy loves the trucks and I love what he is learning! I can’t wait for more book sin this series to share with him.

For the school-age boys

Action Bible

The Action Bible is a favorite in our home because it tells the stories of the Bible in comic-book style and my boys are totally enthralled by it. I’ve seen it capture their attention and, after reading it, they want to look up more about each story in their own Bibles. This is a definite winner with visual learners and comic book lovers alike!

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide is a brand new book about this new series on Disney XD. Our boys love the show, but they love reading about the characters and settings just as much as they do watching the show! They checked this book out at the library and were so sad when they had to return it, so I think they’ll be thrilled to find it under the tree this year!

Star Wars 100 Scenes

Star Wars in 100 Scenes is one of my favorite finds because it covers the whole Star Wars saga in one book. I’m a big fan of the original three movies and my guys like the new ones, so this is a book we can all enjoy!

For the comic book fan

Marvel

Marvel Comics: 75 Years of Cover Art could be enjoyed by Marvel fans of any age thanks to the movies introducing a new generation to characters such as Captain America and Thor. I love that my guys can see the characters as they were originally imagined in this fabulous collection of cover art!

DC Comics

DC Comics: A Visual History is another great find along the same lines as the Marvel Comics book. Whether it’s a dad or uncle who has always loved Superman or your kids who are currently obsessed, this visual history is fascinating and a great gift!

For the athlete

Running & Being

Running & Being is known as the book that really got people running again. George Sheehan’s thoughts on running are applicable to newbies and veterans alike. The Hubby was so excited to receive this from his parents this year for Christmas!

For the traveler

Great Maps

Great Maps will captivate those who love to travel and those who have always dreamed of it. This book from the Smithsonian is not along informative, but also a fine work of art and a great conversation piece. The well-traveled man in your life would appreciate this handsome book.

What books do the guys in your life love? Are you gifting any books to the guys in your life this Christmas?

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

A Healthy Work-in-Progress

Tracking Pixel
This is a sponsored post for the Sara Lee® Delightful Bread Campaign with SITS Girls.

Health and fitness have become two of the top priorities in my life over the last two and a half years, but the changes in my life weren’t instant or easy.

It all started with the inspiration of my husband who, at the time, was a fourth year medical student determined to not only TELL his patients about making healthy choices but also SHOW them by example. I was eight months pregnant with our third son when he joined a gym, started running, and lost 40+ pounds in less than six months. I was inspired and I wanted this new found healthy lifestyle for myself.

Irishman Finish Strong

Six weeks after #3 was born, I started running and never looked back. It was a challenge to get going with three children six  years old and under + a husband in medical school, but we both made it a priority for each other to get a workout in and eventually the habit stuck.

M2M 2013i

I don’t have any huge weight loss stories to share with you. I’m not a fitness professional here to tell you how I have arrived at being fit and that you can arrive just like me. I’m a healthy work-in-progress and that’s exactly how I want proceed in life.

I’m not the skinniest I’ve ever been, but I am the strongest. I make time for exercise at least six times a week and it boosts both my mood + energy. I still have workouts I want to quit or skip or that leave me sore for days, but the past two and half years of my healthy living journey have taught me this is NORMAL. And in that time, I’ve also accomplished things I never dreamed: running six half-marathons, doing a 14-mile training run, completing the Insanity program, and more.

Fargo009

Since I’ve stretched myself in these new ways, I find myself always up for trying new workouts and never want to settle in to a routine that leaves me bored. If something seems too hard, I’m even more intrigued by the challenge because I know it will make me better in the process!

I don’t always make the healthiest food choices and I’m totally “anti-diet,” but our meals +snacks + the food we keep in the house on a regular basis have undergone a real transformation. We love food, so treating food as fuel + finding healthier options of our favorite foods + learning to love moderation have become our go-to methods for making better eating choices.

A healthy work-in-progress in all areas. It’s a good place to be.

15795837800_030bddd34a_z

Sara Lee® Delightful Bread is one of those healthier options of a food I already love: BREAD. I just can’t get rid of the carbs, people. I love them too much. With Sara Lee® Delightful Bread, I know each delicious slice is just 45 calories with no artificial colors or flavors, and no high fructose corn syrup. And the flavors are just as delightful as the nutrition facts: Oatmeal, 100% Whole Wheat (made with real honey), Healthy Multi-Grain, and Wheat!

15363492993_4a641433aa_o

This time of year, there are so many ways to use Sara Lee® Delightful Bread! French toast made with Delightful Bread makes a lovely Christmas morning breakfast. And leftover turkey or ham sandwiches are a staple for us around the holidays. Delightful Bread is the perfect sandwich bread that doesn’t add too many extra calories to your meal!

Sara Lee® is all about providing healthy choices AND celebrating them! The Sara Lee® 45 Delightful People Program is looking for your healthy transformation story. Every person who enters receives a free t-shirt! The 45 finalists will receive free bread for a year, an iPod shuffle, workout gear, and more! And the winner (as voted by the Sara Lee® Facebook page fans) will win $4,500!

What is your healthy transformation story? Where are you as a healthy work-in-progress? Tell me you story here and don’t forget to enter it in the Sara Lee® 45 Delightful People Program for your chance to win!

This is a sponsored post with the SITS Girls campaign for the Sara Lee® 45 Delightful People Program!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook