Monthly Archives: February 2016

What I’m Into February 2016: Great Reads, Podcasts, Quest Bars and Woodlawn


Woodlawn Buy now from Amazon

We finally rented Woodlawn and even though I fell asleep in the middle of it, and had to finish it the next day.  Based on a true story, it’s more about revival than football.

Katharine Reay books

DearMr.Knightley Buy now from Amazon

Wholesome, well-crafted fiction is hard to find.  Dear Mr. Knightly is a winner!

Quest bars

Questbar Buy now from Amazon

Protein bars sweetened with stevia.  Recommended by Trim Healthy Mama. Yes, they are pricey, and the flavor takes getting used to (honestly, nothing tastes like sugar) but protein bars with stevia are hard to find.

Round Up of 2015 Best Books Lists15booklistroundup

Loads of great reads in January and February gleaning from “the best of 15 lists”.  My reading just went up a notch or two.  Life is good.

Modern Mrs. Darcy blog and What Should I Read Next podcast


I stumbled across Anne Bogel’s blog at a time when I’d pretty much given up on fiction.  I had an inkling there was some great fiction out there that I would love, but I couldn’t find it.  I can’t remember for sure, but I think it was her summer reading guide that I read first.

Honestly, finding books that I love has been a problem.  Not a problem that you would expect a bookstore manager to have.  I love Modern Mrs Darcy’s book lists.  It has introduced me to scads of books I’d never have heard of any other way.  Not all have been winners for me, personally, but my repertoire has expanded and I have hope now that there are novels out there that I will love.

Her new podcast, What Should I Read Next, is a fun weekly interview all things books and reading.  It’s great to flesh out some book reviews and get to know some avid readers.

Your Move with Andy Stanley


I hate multitasking.  I really do.  But, it’s a necessary evil in my life right now.  My biggest comfort is that it’s only temporary.  (That thought brings me a lot of comfort these days, and I actually stole it from Ben Carson’s life story.  Raised by a single mom, living in poverty used to bother him.  But, as he began reading and expanding his world and looked at the life stories of others, he realized that education was a way out of poverty.  He wouldn’t be there forever. It was temporary.)

Anyway, back to multitasking.  I was doing a Beth Moore Bible Study with all the homework, filling in the workbook, when we hit a busy patch in our schedule–over the top can’t even begin to get everything done–and I decided to listen to podcasts while cleaning the kitchen instead of doing the workbook.  It’s not the same, truly.  But, I’m learning.  It’s filling the vacuum and getting two things done during the same amount of time it took to do one.

I listen to a few podcasts, but the subject matter is books or business.  That doesn’t fill the same void when you’re looking for a Bible Study.  My current favorite is Andy Stanley’s podcast– Your Move.  I’ve listened to a few podcasts that have been good, but the “Starting Over” series is excellent.

Read Aloud Revival


I’ve spent time looking for good fantasy for my kids and my nephew.  It’s hard to find.  I loved this podcast with Carolyn on the Read Aloud Revival.  (Bonus:  She’s a Biola grad.  Go Biola!)

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a small portion of your purchase will go to support this site.)

What are you into?


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What I Learned February 2016: Short-circuiting the Struggle, Flexibility and List Making


About Short-Circuiting the Struggle

This past year I’ve read and listened to scads of advice from people who’ve made it big in blogging or business.  I’ve noticed some variations on the theme, “Here’s how I made it big.  Here’s the shortcuts so you can do it, too.”

Although I firmly believe in standing on the shoulders of others and learning from their mistakes, I doubt that if we take the shortcuts we will have the same success.  I think it’s the struggle that makes us stronger.  It’s the failure and the perseverance and the lessons learned that eventually pays off. It’s the practice that makes us good.

I’ve heard that if you cut a butterfly out of his chrysalis, he will die.  It is the struggle to emerge from the imprisonment that strengthens his wings for survival as a butterfly.

If you short-circuit the struggle, you short-circuit success.  The struggle makes us stronger. There are no short cuts.  Everyone has to put it the work.





About Flexibility

I’ve been so excited this past year to implement some new habits in my life and have more consistency in every day routines.  Reading The Power of Habit inspired me to make some changes in my life to better implement the habits I wanted to establish.  I’ve probably started a new exercise routine dozens of times in the past couple of decades.

The past few weeks have been very inconsistent and very “unroutine”.

There is some value in flexing to the need of the moment.  Somehow, I have to figure out how to be consistent and flexible.

listsAbout list-making

When I get stressed, I make lists.

In the super stressful month of December, I made lists.  January was less stressful.  I made fewer.  Now, as we’re getting ready to leave for a two week trip to Peru, I’m making them like crazy.  I had three lists going at the same time last week.

Lists do help me stay focused.  I’m more productive.  I stay on task better.

Somehow I need to incorporated them better into my non-stressful days.  I also need to build a better bridge from my goals to my lists.  I’ve been so happy with the tweaks I made to my goal setting in 2016.  Now to tweak the implementation of the goals.

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a small percentage of any purchase you make goes to support this site.)

What have you learned this month?

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Blogging Saved My Life. Twice.


My first blog was therapy.

I’m not the first person to admit that they don’t know what they’re thinking until they write. I also don’t know what I’m feeling until I write.  I have to write to process my thoughts and make sense of my life.  That’s what my first blog did for me.  I found a measure of peace by processing through the keyboard.  I needed to go back to some chapters of my life that tripped me up.  I needed to commit them to black and white and then re-write them.  Because, there’s always a different angle to every story.  You can focus on the black spot on the white page or you can celebrate the white page.

Even though I published my first blog, it wasn’t promoted.  Because, without that anonymity, I wouldn’t have had the freedom to pursue some of those dark corners.  Not that I pursued all of them.  But some of them.

Imagine the twinge of jealousy I felt when I realized some uber successful bloggers started their blogs the same year as mine.  But, they promoted theirs and monetized them and became rich and famous solely by finding the courage to let people read their work.

It’s true.

I’m gutless.

On the other hand, (and here’s a perfect example of re-writing the story) I wouldn’t have reached that measure of peace without the assurance that I was publishing into obscurity.

My second blog was hope.

My second blog (this one) saved my life by giving me hope that I could one day have a profitable career doing something I loved and was passionate about, something that energized me, something that would impact others.

Words and pictures, concepts and ideas, color and beauty and shadow.  These are things I love.  This was a form of self-expression I could get into.

Thankfully, there’s a wealth of free information online for new bloggers.

When I first looked into a monetized blog, Darren Rowse and Ruth Soukup’s advice was the most helpful. I bought both of their books.

Darren’s website, Problogger, has tons of helpful advice for getting started.


Darren Rowse blogs at

Probloggerbook Buy it now from Amazon



Ruth Soukup blogs at

BlogforProfit Buy it now from Amazon


Michael Hyatt’s blog has a tutorial for setting up your own blog, that I followed.


Michael Hyatt blogs at

His book, Platform, gives practical advice for gaining a following through blogging and social media.

Platform Buy it now from Amazon

It is possible to get a blog up and running without a lot of initial investment and there’s a ton of good advice for little or no money.  There’s a lot of “good guys” out there.

Pat Flynn calls himself “the crash dummy for online business”.


Pat Flynn blogs at

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a small percentage of your purchase supports this site.)

What resources have you found helpful for new bloggers?


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What I’m Reading February 2016


Reading top picks from “the Best of 2015” lists made for some fantastic reads this month.

Dear Mr. Knightly

DearMr.Knightley Buy it now from Amazon

Five stars for Dear Mr. Knightly!  I struggle to find wholesome, well-written fiction.  This one’s a winner.  I’m a huge fan of Webster’s Daddy Long Legs, and this modern re-telling knocked it out of the park. I like it better than the original.  The Austen references were fun, but the story itself was poignant.

Even though it’s technically Inspirational fiction, the Christian message was subtle, not overwhelming.  Kudos to Reay for a wholesome, engaging work. Very satisfying to a fiction snob like myself.

Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom tipped me off to this book in her best of 2015 book list. Great fun reading through the “Best of 2015” Reading Lists.  Here’s a round up of ones I loved.

Lizzy and Jane

LizzyandJane Buy it now from Amazon

I was so inspired by Dear Mr. Knightly, I read Reay’s second novel, Lizzy and Jane.

I didn’t find this one to be as compelling.  But, she touched on some great themes– food, strained family relationships and finding your life’s work.  Like Dear Mr. Knighly, the inspirational message was subtle.  But, I would buy either one for my nieces without reservation.


essentialism Buy it now from Amazon

Highly recommended by bloggers I follow, Essentialism advocates an uncluttered life.  Instead of weeding out physical clutter, it tackles weeding out the clutter of wasted time, energy and effort.  Full of profound common sense, which is anything but common.

Will it Fly?

Willitfly Buy it now from Amazon

Pat Flynn from owns several businesses, calling himself “the crash test dummy of online business”.  When you read his blog and listen to his podcast you learn that he’s passionately committed to delivering value.  If you’re going to shell out money for one of his products, you can bet the farm that it will be worth every penny and more.  

Will it Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea so You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money is practical, hands on, interactive.  Pat analyzes his business successes and failures and identifies the root causes of both.  He emphasizes the forgotten element in business: the integration of your life, well-being and happiness with the meaningful work in your life.  You can’t go after money and ignore these elements. He shows, step by step how to gage consumer responsiveness to your business ideas, so you can make adjustments, revisions or go back to the drawing board.

Just released on February 1st, Will it Fly? has already hit the Wall Street Journal best seller list.

Boys in the Boat

BoysintheBoat Buy it now from Amazon

I was hoping that Boys in the Boat would live up to the tradition of Unbroken, one of our family favorites.  Aside from the inspiring story of Unbroken, the writing is a work of art.  Boys in the Boat is equally inspiring, but not as well written.  However, the pathos of the story draws you in.  Joe Rantz is an almost Dickensonian hero.

I love the real life lessons of leadership and teamwork, and wonder how to transfer these lessons to other teams.

The up close and behind the scenes glimpses of history are instructive and sobering.  So much to glean from this book.  This will be our next family read aloud.

Looking for your next great read?  Check out the top rated books of 2015 from top readers.

(Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a small percentage of any purchase you make helps to support this site.)

Catch up on all the What I’m Reading posts.

What was your favorite read from 2015?



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New Releases that are Getting Noticed

War Room DVD

WarRoomsmall Buy it now from Amazon

Pete and I were able to see a pre-screening of War Room before it was released in theaters.  It portrays a powerful message about prayer and has garnered a ground swell of grass roots support.   The DVD released three days before Christmas, and pre-orders and sales spiked that week, but have continued on at a slower rate through February.

Read what reviewers said about the movie here.

Find out about related books here.

Woodlawn DVD

Woodlawn Buy it now from Amazon

I have not seen Woodlawn yet.  (Our regular family night has been pre-empted the past three weeks.)  So, hopefully, it will still be in Redbox next week– or maybe we’ll have some time this weekend, now that football’s over and March Madness hasn’t started yet.

The screen play was based on a true story and centers around a football team and racial tensions in 1973.

Battle Plan for Prayer

BattlePlan Buy it now from Amazon

I can’t keep this one in stock.  I haven’t read it, but people buying it keep raving about it and coming back for more.  I sense a desperation that some are feeling with what’s happening in our country and in our world.  A strategic plan for prayer is a way to “do something” when you’re feeling helpless.

It is written by Alex and Stephan Kendrick and it’s a spin-off book of the War Room movie.

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a small percentage of your purchase goes to support this site. )

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Round Up of Best of 15 Reading Lists



Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy has THE BEST reading lists. I think I first stumbled onto her blog by way of her summer reading guide.  She actually posted two “best of” lists for 2015.

I haven’t read any of her nonfiction picks (except for Gretchen Rubin’s new book, which I haven’t finished), but A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and These is My Words win my vote on the fiction list.  Most of what I haven’t read will end up on my To Be Read list.


My favorite nonfiction of 2015

My favorite fiction of 2015

Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom posted her list.  She tipped me off to Katharine Reay’s novel, Dear Mr. Knightly.  I’m so glad I read that. I’m challenged to be more intentional with my reading and also do a better job of reporting and reviewing.


My Top 10 Reads From 2015

Next, the list from Erin Odom of the Humbled Homemaker.  Finding Spiritual Whitespace and Bird by Bird are 5 star reads.  Have you wondered about the buzz surrounding The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up ?  It is a good book.  I’m just not ready for it right now.  Maybe in a year or two.


10 Best Books Read in 2015

Emily P. Freeman from Chatting at the Sky posted her list.  Lots of good ones on this list too, though I was disappointed with Kate Morton’s The Lake House.  Read why here.  If you’re looking for a good memoir, check out Wild in the Hollows.


The 10 Best Books I Read in 2015

Sarah Wright  from The Orthodox Mama read an impressive 121 books in 2015.  So, her list of top books had some stiff competition.  So many people have raved about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, it’s getting bumped to the top of my TBR list.


My Favorite Books of 2015

Leigh Kramer posted her list. I’ve read a few on Leigh’s list.  I’m currently in the middle of Boys in the Boat.  Spinster looks intriguing.  A few others from this list I’ll be looking into.


What I Read in 2015: Review

I love the story behind 800CEOREAD and I love their book lists.  Here’s their short list for 2015.  I have not read a single title on this list, and, frankly, this year’s titles don’t look compelling.  But, I have confidence in their picks, so I will be checking them out.  The top award for the year went to How to Fly a Horse by Kevin Ashton.  I just checked it out of the library so I’m about to see what all the fuss is about.


The 2015 800CEOREAD Business Books of the Year Shortlist

There you go.  As if your TBR list wasn’t already too long, here’s some more great reads to keep you going.

What were your favorite reads of 2015?


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THM Challenge Week 4 Update: Lessons from Failure


One month later, the scale says the same as when I started.

This is not the result I was hoping for.

A few thoughts on room for improvement:

First of all, I was trying to make changes in too many different areas of my life.  Something was bound to suffer.

Secondly, even though I was trying to focus on the process, not results, I didn’t break it down into manageable steps, such as:  1) planning menus 2) keeping a food diary 3) staying on plan each day.

Thirdly, I do believe there are some health issues going on that have affected my ability to lose weight.

Finally, others on this journey have recommended that you take measurements as well as before and after pictures, and not rely solely on the scale.

 Here’s the truth that’s so hard to accept:  Numbers DO NOT define me.


There’s a human tendency to look at numbers and become prideful and self-reliant.  Or, to become discouraged and despondent.  Or to compare with others, favorably or unfavorably.

It’s so easy to be on a emotional roller coaster based on what the numbers say: Good numbers make you happy.  Bad numbers depress you.  It’s amazing how many numbers we look at– on the scale, at the bank, medical test results, achievements of all kinds.

I see this problem in our business.  When the numbers are good, I feel good.  I feel good about my efforts, my abilities, who I am as a person.  When the numbers aren’t good, my self-worth suffers.

But basing our emotions, and even worse, our self-worth on numbers is a trap.

As difficult as can be, or worth must be based on our identity in Christ.

I will try again to be consistent with THM.  Probably in April.

Until then, I’m focusing on others areas of my life, where the numbers are good–so I can feel good about myself.  Right?

What areas of your life do you struggle with the numbers? 

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What’s Saving My Life Right Now: Vitamin D, Walk at Home, Jesus Calling and Book Lists


Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy for mid-winter life-savers.

Vitamin D

VitaminD Buy it now from Amazon

I got the idea to start taking vitamin D from an off-hand comment by my GYN’s nurse.  I started doing some online research and came to the conclusion that it might help my migraines.  I’m convinced that it’s helping, coupled with managing the symptoms.


Leslie Sansone’s Walking Video

walkawayyourwaistline  Buy it now from Amazon

Since I started working more (and started blogging) and sent our resident chauffeur to college, going to the gym became impossible.

Since there’s no travel time and no packing a gym bag, my whole workout time is 15 minutes a day.  That’s a big time savings for me.

I bought the package that has the stretchy bands.  Some days I use them, some days I don’t.


Jesus Calling

JesusCallingLgPr    Buy it now from Amazon

Stress is a way of life:  too many irons in the fire– spinning too many plates–juggling too many balls.  Deadlines, physical limitations, expectations and setbacks can get me down.  It’s easy to get discouraged.

I’ve only recently become aware of how my spiritual disciplines affect me physically:  my mind stops racing, my breathing slows, my heart rate slows.  Among other disciplines, reading Jesus Calling has this effect.

Sarah Young wrote her daily devotional as if Jesus were speaking to her, addressing her directly.   So, it’s read almost like a personal letter from Jesus Himself.

One of the common themes in Jesus Calling is, “Trust Me”.  Relax, don’t stress.  I’m in control.  I have a plan.  You don’t have to worry about your resources or your plans to make things work.  Peace is a gift I offer to you.

These are words I need to hear.  They are saving my life right now.


Best of 2015 Book Lists


I love books lists anyway.

Suddenly, this month, gleaning from the “best of” lists, the books I’ve picked up are fantastic.  So much fun after years of slim pickings when searching for books I love.

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links. Without any extra cost to you, a small percentage of any purchase you make will go to support this site. )

What’s saving your life?


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