Summer Book Club for Moms Check-In #1: The Memory Jar

It’s the end of June which means it’s time for the first check-in of our Summer Book Club for Moms! If you haven’t joined us yet, you can still climb on board! Find all the details here and just check in for each book on the appropriate post!

Summer Book Club for Moms

Today we’re talking about the first book in the Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series by Tricia Goyer, The Memory Jar! I enjoyed this book SO much when I read it last year, so I loved revisiting it and can’t wait to hear your thoughts on a few of the discussion questions from the back of the book.

The Memory Jar

Let’s dig in! Whenever you are done reading The Memory Jar {before August 31st}, just leave a comment below with your thoughts on the book and answer one or both of these discussion questions if you’d like! I love honest discussion, but let’s remember to keep it positive and encouraging to one another!

Here are the questions you can consider when leaving your comment…

1. What do you think is the underlying theme of The Memory Jar? How does this theme play out in the lives of the main characters of the novel?

2. Are you like Sarah? Do you have a dream that others are trying to squash? How can you follow God’s dream for your life? What is God asking you to do?

Remember, I’ll be giving away a prize package to one woman who finishes all three books and comments on each check-in post by August 31st! I’ll be back at the end of July with a check-in post for the next book, The Promise Box! Happy discussing and reading!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

50% Off Sandals at Cents of Style!

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!

Looking for a cute pair of summer sandals that won’t bust your budget? Cents of Style has a solution for you!

IMAGE: Fashion Friday- 6/27/14- Sandal Sale- 50% off & FREE SHIPPING with Code SANDALSALE

Today only {6/27/14}, all sandals in the Fashion Friday collection from Cents of Style are 50% off with the code SANDALSALE at checkout! All sandals will be under $20 with some as low as $10! And shipping is FREE!

IMAGE: Fashion Friday- 6/27/14- Sandal Sale- 50% off & FREE SHIPPING with Code SANDALSALE

I’m loving all the fun styles and colors in sandals this year, particularly the mint green and coral colors! I always have a go-to black and brown pair, but a bright color on the feet is a great accent to a basic outfit!

IMAGE: Fashion Friday- 6/27/14- Upsell Scarf- $2.99

When you order sandals today from Cents of Style, you’ll also be offered this lightweight metallic scarf for just $2.99 as an add-on!

Treat your feet today with this 50% off sandal sale from Cents of Style! Get your style and size quick before they’re gone! And don’t forget the code SANDALSALE to get the discount AND free shipping!

What are your favorite pair of sandals right now?

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Five Ingredients for Summer Fun!

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!

Whether your kids just got out of school or they’ve been on break for a month now, summer just officially started this past weekend and it is time to start enjoying it! I’m trying to take this summer slower, have more fun, relax, say yes more to the boys, smile and laugh a whole lot, and ENJOY life.

As the summer kicked off, I made a list of things that make summer more fun for me and I’m incorporating all of them in to our every day. This recipe for summer fun is totally working for me, so I had to share! I would love to hear your ideas for each ingredient in the comments!

Ingredients for Summer Fun

Five Ingredients for Summer Fun

Great music

Yep, we are the family who pulls into Costco in our minivan with Star Wars stickers on the back with the bass thumping to some TobyMac. We are all singing along and dancing in our seats and I just love everything about this time. We are in the car a lot going to play dates and the zoo and the pool, so fun tunes make the ride not just bearable, but totally awesome! And if we’re stuck at home, great music really does make for a happy household! Our favorite tunes this summer include TobyMac’s Eye On It, Newsboys’ Restart, Ellie Holcomb’s As Sure as the Sun, Slugs and Bugs Sing the Bible, and “Happy” by Pharrell.

Summer Oil Smells

Summer smells

Meat cooking on the grill. Sunscreen at the pool and aloe vera afterwards. The smoke from the fire pit in our backyard. Freshly mown grass. Summer rain. Anything and everything citrus. Each season has its own distinct smells and summer is capturing me with them right now. I love adding to the summer smells by diffusing citrus essential oils like Elevation {my very favorite!}, Citrus Bliss, Wild Orange, and more in our home! Not only do they smell great, but they put me in a great mood, as well! To find out where to get high quality oils, just hop on over to my essential oils page!

 

Summer Tennis Drink

Fresh air

I will freely admit that I prefer the cool air of fall to the hot weather of summer, but fresh air and sunshine make any day better. The kids and I have been intentionally planning at least 60 minutes of outside time every day and it really changes things. I have to put down my to-do list. We notice the big and little things God has given us in His creation. We try new things, get exercise, fill up on vitamin D, and we are all the better for it! Some days, our 60 minutes is met with our time at tennis lessons, but other days we run through the sprinklers or go to the zoo or paint with water on the hot driveway. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing – it just matters that we are breathing in fresh air! And anything involving swimming or water makes it even better!

Summer Camp

Bucket lists

Summer bucket lists are SO much fun for the whole family. Mine looks totally different from the ones the boys made, but we all enjoy reading what each person wants to do over the summer. And it is great fun to help someone get an item checked off his or her list! The boys and I have both checked off riding the skyfari at our local zoo. Big J can now check off church camp. I just checked off writing another magazine article. Goals are good, and while bucket lists aren’t “goal” lists in particular, they do function as a motivator in the same way – just for really fun things! A tennis date with The Hubby, making homemade ice cream, and driving a jet-ski are high on my list next!

Summer Fresh Air

Loosely-held expectations

I ended with this because this is hardest, yet most important, one for me. I have grand ideas for our family and our summer. They aren’t all going to happen. And I need to be okay with that. Even in the day-to-day, I can see God asking me to let go of my plans for the day and leave room for Him to move. My high expectations and the frustration that comes when they aren’t met are usually projected onto my husband and children  - and they never did anything wrong. God spoke to me at the beginning of the summer about going with His flow and embracing grace for myself and my family. Low expectations doesn’t mean I don’t still have lots of fun plans for the summer. I’m just holding on to them more loosely and looking to Him for a better way when things don’t go my way.

The kids are doing tennis and swim lessons and we have a few vacations planned, but overall, this right here is what summer is all about for us: fun and family and grace!

What ingredients would you add to this list for summer fun?

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

All the Feelings

Our sweet, squishy, super-energetic and super-loving Little J turns six today.

All the Feelings 005

All the Feelings 003 All the Feelings 004

Our confident, independent, way-too-old-already Big J left for three nights at church camp yesterday.

All the Feelings 007

All the Feelings 008

All the Feelings 001

All the Feelings 006

All the Feelings 002

And Double J…well, he’s two, so…you know…

All the Feelings 009

All the Feelings 011

All the Feelings 010

Excuse me while I have all the feelings today.

*****

I’ve been floating around to different places on the web lately! You can check them out here:

The Making of an Affiliate Marketer – My podcast debut over at the Declare Conference!

Deep Breaths – one way I embrace motherhood in the middle of chaos at Thrive Moms

 

 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

The New Awana: Story, Pillars, Website!

Awana logoI was so honored to be a part of Awana’s internal launch back in April and I gave you a few insights into all the “secret” info we were learning, but I’ve been dying to let you in on all the details…and today is that day!

While at Awana Headquarters, I was blown away by the heart behind Awana. In the past, I may have never heard that passion and vision had I not visited their offices, but Awana is changing all that by sharing more stories, launching a new website, and centering everything around three central pillars.

Awana prayer

The three pillars are Awana are what have had me all fired up {in a good way} – I passionately believe in each of these pillars and love how Awana is moving forward with these as the focus…

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 7.04.58 AM

Reach Kids | Equip Leaders | Change the World

  • Awana reaches kids for Christ through fun, relational Scripture-rich experiences that lead them to know, love, and serve Him.
  • Awana equips church leaders and parents to reach and disciple kids who impact their generation with the gospel.
  • God is at work changing the world through the evangelism and long-term discipleship ministry of Awana.

When I heard this quote at the internal launch, I knew Awana was serious about making an impact for Jesus, not just for their own organization:

“It’s not about planting more clubs, it’s about reaching more kids.” -Kevin White

To share more stories and to keep everything aligned around these three pillars, Awana has launched a brand new website today! It is not just a store to buy resources for clubs, but a place to find out how lives are changing for Jesus, to find training for leaders and inspiration for parents, and a valuable resource for all involved in Awana!

A few highlights I’m excited about…

  • The “Reach Kids” page includes a parents and families section with a blog and free ebook downloads!
  • The mission of Awana is to read every child, everywhere, so I love the Global Outreach page, where you can learn about sponsoring a child or engaging your church to help the global reach of Awana.
  • The stories featured on the “Change the World” page make me all weepy. Story is powerful and I’m so glad Awana is telling more stories about the impact God has made through their program!

Take a look at this video to get your very own website tour and then go look around at the website for yourself!

To keep up with Awana as they move in this awesome direction, make sure you subscribe to their blog here. You can also connect with Awana on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!

Which of the three new Awana pillars is most exciting to you?

 

P.S. My friend Tricia is traveling with Awana to Kenya this weekend to see their international clubs and global outreach in action! Please pray for her and the whole group as they travel and bring back more stories! Thank you!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

What’s New From fashionABLE!

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!

fashionABLE is one of my favorites. I love everything I own from them and the mission behind it all makes each product that much more special. My freakin’ awesome friend Scarlett captured this photo of me in my Anchinalu scarf

erin-2

Scarlett Crews Photography: click on the photo to go to her website!

If you don’t know much about fashionABLE yet, this is their heart…

Your purchase of a fashionABLE product creates sustainable business in Africa.  We are committed to long-term solutions to fighting poverty, and our main focus is creating opportunities for vulnerable women.  That means that your purchase creates jobs, so that the women are not dependent upon charity, but instead are a vital part of a developing economy.

So our strategy is two-fold.  We work with women to help them start small business cooperatives, and we partner with and require manufacturers to also employ women with fair wages & fair hiring practices.

The scarves, the leather products…every piece is beautifully made and has a story behind it. And fashionABLE has some beautiful new pieces just being launched!

First up is the gorgeous Mehari blanket!

Mehari-Beach-Blanket_Natural-Strawberry_floor

This lightweight blanket is beautiful as a throw, comfy for a morning snuggle on the couch, and perfect for your picnic in the park! I’m selfishly keeping this one to myself right now because I love it so much.

Mehari Collage

The Alem scarf is now available in this amazing strawberry color…

strawberryscarf-250x365

Isn’t that just swoon-worthy?! Handwoven in Ethiopia, this lightweight 100% cotton scarf is perfect for any season. I need this color in my life.

Finally, it’s time for a fashionABLE arm party…


The Teshome leather wrap bracelet is fashionABLE’s first jewelry accessory! These 100% Ethiopian leather bracelets come in five different colors with contrasting thread detail and a metal closure. I can’t even decide which one is my favorite! And if you can’t decide either, there’s a great deal for you right now!

Each Teshome bracelet is $24, but if you buy two, you save $8 total! OR you can purchase four bracelets and save $20 total! PLUS, enter the code ARMPARTY in the shopping bag BEFORE you check out and get free shipping! This deal lasts through July 1st!

Shopping with fashionABLE is just one way you can make a difference with the way you spend your money. I always know I am getting high quality, handmade items AND creating opportunities for vulnerable women when I buy a fashionABLE scarf or blanket or bracelet. You really can’t beat that!

What is your favorite fashionABLE product from the new releases?

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

CoSchedule: My New Blogging Best Friend

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I receive a discount on my membership to CoSchedule! Thanks for supporting this site!

I don’t talk about the specifics or business of blogging much on here, but I couldn’t keep this one to myself.

If you are a blogger, you know the writing part is usually the “fun” part, but the sharing of your content is tedious and time-consuming and, well, not fun. After pouring your heart out into a post, you don’t want to spend hours trying to make sure it gets mentioned on every social media channel. And once you leave the post, you might not ever share it again yourself.

A friend mentioned a solution for this on Twitter one day and I was skeptical, but when I saw there was a free trial period, I decided to give it a shot. It didn’t even take the full 12 day trial to convince me I needed this tool in my blogging life.

So what is my new blogging best friend?!

CoSchedule.

CoSchedule

CoSchedule is a social media editorial calendar for WordPress that integrates with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, and Buffer, and it has absolutely streamlined the process for sharing my content on all social media channels. Watch this video quick to learn more:

In the past, I would get my post written and scheduled one day. Then I would come back the day it published and grab a few quotes to share with links and schedule those in Buffer. Buffer covered my Twitter and Facebook accounts, but Facebook didn’t always connect correctly. And I had no way of scheduling posts to go up throughout the day on Pinterest. It was a haphazard effort to be kind.

With CoSchedule, I can schedule ALL of my social media shares in one place – right from the actual post before it even goes live. I can pull quotes easily, choose dates and times, make photo posts or link posts, pin to several different Pinterest boards spaced out in the day or even the next week, and SO much more.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 9.17.42 PM

A few people tried to explain why they loved CoSchedule, but it really took me trying it myself to see that it was just what I needed as a busy wife, mom, writer, etc. I can see what I have sent and scheduled in the post or I can see all of the planned shares for all posts on the editorial calendar. And if I don’t like how things look in the calendar – too many posts close together or too far apart – I can drag and drop the scheduled shares to a new date and time!

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 9.04.00 PM

This post could go on and on about how CoSchedule has helped me, but the bottom line is this: CoSchedule is well worth the $10/month because it is saving me TIME and my SANITY and it is getting my content out there more effectively than I ever could before. And I haven’t even tapped into the potential this app has for collaborative sites. YES. Your whole writing/editing/marketing team can use it!

If you just saw the price and thought, “I don’t want to pay another monthly fee for something,” please just give the CoSchedule free trial a chance and then cancel if you’re not convinced. I won’t be offended if you don’t love it, but I will feel bad if CoSchedule could have helped you and I never told you to try it!

Have you tried CoSchedule yet? How do you think it could help you as a blogger, editor, marketer, or social media manager?

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Spiritual Mothers + Messengers

I knew there was a reason I wasn’t able to write about the #SheSharesTruth topic of spiritual mothering yet. It’s because what He had on my heart for it was just perfectly in line with the Five Minute Friday word: messenger. So I’m combining the two…

It’s Five Minute Friday with lovely Lisa-Jo!

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

For me? An exercise in letting go and letting words flow. Five minutes only. {yes, I do set a timer and it quacks like a duck at 5 minutes, which totally makes me smile}

Today’s prompt: Messenger

And the #SheSharesTruth topic…

How is spiritual mothering already taking place in your community? Has a godly woman influenced you in your growth in the Gospel, or has mentoring a young believer impacted your life? How would you like to see Titus 2 shape your relationships moving forward?

*****

And go…

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. ~Titus 2:4-5

The call in Titus 2 to us as women is very clear. Older women are to teach the younger women, and not just older as in years, but further along the path, if even just by a little bit.

I have seen so many women floundering with no one leading or encouraging them in the ways of Christian womanhood. And I’ve heard lots of excuses from women why they aren’t being these mentors to younger women: work, too busy, not “good enough,” nobody wants to hear from me. Yes, they do, and knowing and experiencing all this makes me want to be a spiritual mother even more when the time is right.

Spiritual Mothers

We need messengers, ladies. Women who aren’t there just to say, “Cherish this time.” We need honest messengers of hope and Truth, women who have raised families well in the name of the Lord, not perfectly, but with His grace. Women who know the struggles of the daily motherhood grind and looked to the Lord to sustain them.

My heart is burdened to tell the next generation of women and moms that it is all worth it, but it is NOT easy and that is all the more reason we need Jesus. I love all the things Titus mentions – marriage and home and family – but I could not do a single one without the Spirit guiding me and giving me fresh strength when I’m all out.

I’m grateful for the honest spiritual mothers that have brought these messages to me – not sugarcoated with “You can do it!”, but rather messages full of understanding and the reminder to always look to Jesus to guide me and get me through one day at a time.

Wherever you are in your journey, FIND those messengers and BE those messengers, sisters. Spiritual mothering is a holy call.

Stop.

*****

Read the beautiful words of my fellow writers over at Five Minute Friday and She Reads Truth today!

How has spiritual mothering been important to you? If you don’t have a spiritual mother, what would you hope to gain from one?

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

Free Sunglasses from Cents of Style!

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!

It’s time to grab some new shades and you can get FREE sunglasses today from Cents of Style!

IMAGE: Fashion Friday- 6/13/14- FREE Sunglasses with Any $15.00 Purchase & FREE SHIPPING

Get a free pair of sunglasses with any order over $15 today only! AND use the code SHADES at checkout to get 10% off your order and free shipping!

IMAGE: Fashion Friday- 6/13/14- FREE Sunglasses with Any $15.00 Purchase & FREE SHIPPING

Here’s how it all works:

1-Add $15.00 or more worth of product to your cart.
2- Proceed to checkout
3-Pop-up window will offer the free sunglasses
4-Add the free sunglasses to your cart.
5-Add the additional 10% off discount code (SHADES) at checkout. (Make sure final purchase amount is over $15.00 to receive sunglasses)
6-Place the order.

Restrictions:
-limit one FREE pair of sunglasses per customer/per order.
-please make sure the total spent is $15.00 or more at final checkout, after all discounts. The FREE sunglasses will ONLY be sent with order who fulfill the $15.00 requirement on the final purchase price. 
-offer valid 6/13/14 or while supplies last

The clearance section is a great place to snag major deals while putting together a $15+ order! Check out a few of my favorites: the branch necklace, the bicycle print tank, the multi-metal bangles, and the wrap watch!

IMAGE: Fashion Friday- 6/13/14- FREE Sunglasses with Any $15.00 Purchase & FREE SHIPPING

 

The Kass scarf is a metallic highlighted oblong scarf and comes in 4 colors. It is only $7.95 & FREE SHIPPING today! Buy two for $15.90 and get the FREE sunglasses, too. 3 items- $15.90, $5.30 per item & FREE SHIPPING!

IMAGE: Fashion Friday- 6/13/14- FREE Sunglasses with Any $15.00 Purchase & FREE SHIPPING

Or get a fun pair of wellies for $19.95, add the free sunglasses, and the rain boots and sunglasses will under $10 each!

The options are endless, but make your choice today and follow the steps above to get your free sunglasses! And don’t forget the code SHADES for 10% off and free shipping!

Happy weekend, friends!

 

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook

21 Day Fix: Final Results + Thoughts

21 Day Fix done, baby!

Can I just say that it is totally awesome to finish a whole fitness program in just 21 days?!

You can read about how I felt about halfway through the program here, but now that I’m done, I wanted to share some final results and thoughts!

Everyone has been asking about results, so let’s start there…

21 Day Fix Before After Front

I still get a little self-conscious posting pictures like this, but I also want you to see my actual, real-life, non-photoshopped, mama body progress! The pictures don’t look drastically different, but everything feels WAY different! I lost 5.2 pounds and 7.5 inches overall in 21 days!

21 Day Fix Before After Side

I’m still working on that abdomen area – thank you very much to my precious boys – but I did lose three inches off my waist and I am THRILLED with that progress. I know that sticking pretty close to the eating plan was the most helpful for that loss of inches.

This might be my favorite part of the transformation…

21 Day Fix After Back View
And I wouldn’t have realized I was getting that definition back there if The Hubby hadn’t mentioned a few days before I completed the 21 Day Fix. Strength training has become something I love, and the 21 Day Fix has just the right amount for me, even throwing in dumbbells for  some cardio moves. Like I’ve said before: I don’t work out to be skinny. I work out to be healthy, lean, and STRONG. I love that the 21 Day Fix improved my muscle strength and tone!

A few final thoughts and answers about the 21 Day Fix…

The workout variety and length {30 minutes} and the eating plan were the most crucial to my success with this program. And let’s be honest: only being 21 days long helped as well! Autumn says a lot, “You can do anything for 21 days!” And I really believe that!

Since I’ve also done Insanity and T25, I may do a whole post comparing the three programs, but someone asked about how the 21 Day Fix compared to T25 specifically. T25 is 60 days, so much longer. T25 includes some recipes and suggestions for eating, but not as detailed as the 21 Day Fix. Both have great short workouts and include a modifier in case a move is too hard or you’re needing to take things down a notch. After doing two programs with Shaun T, I liked having someone new leading the workouts, but I think they are both motivating! I also liked that the 21 Day Fix included yoga and Pilates. And the 21 Day Fix is much less expensive!

The 21 Day Fix did a GREAT job of resetting my eating habits. I officially ended on Sunday, but I’m still planning out my food for the day and I like being strategic about how I fuel my body. The 21 Day Fix does a calorie deficit for 21 days and after 21 days you need to bump your calorie intake back up, so I’m enjoying eating a little more now, but also eating a lot BETTER.

I’m a big fan of the 21 Day Fix. And everyone has time for it! If you’re considering it at all, just GO FOR IT! I’ll cheer you on the whole way!

If you have any other questions about my experience with the 21 Day Fix, I’d love to answer them! Just leave a comment or email me!

Looking for a Beachbody coach to order through and encourage you along the way? My friend Natalie would LOVE to help you out! Email me at homewiththeboys at gmail dot com if you’d like to get connected!

The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook