2019 Bible & Spiritual Resources Gift Guide

I recently had a friend ask me for some Bible recommendations, and let me just say… I LOVE when people ask me for ideas for things. It’s so fun for me to let you know about all my favorites or do some digging and researching to help you find what you’re looking for.

So I thought I would put those recommendations into a post for her to have as a reference point if she needed it but also I thought I would expand it to include several age groups and other resources that I think are really helpful as well.

So, here we go! I’ve sorted it by age group for the Bibles, and then I’ve added a few more categories at the bottom as well.


**This post does contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using any of these links, I will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support! 

Toddlers

This is probably the first age where you would actually attempt to read the Bible to your kids. You need something super simple and easy to understand like this one. This is the very one we’ve used and loved.

Preschool

We love this Rhyme Bible because it’s so fun to read and tells the stories in a fun way, kind of feels like you’re reading a Dr. Seuss book, but it’s the Bible. The Jesus Storybook Bible is great for taking bible-reading to that next level of application but it a really simple way for little ones. 365 Great Bible Stories is the one we are currently using for our homeschool group Bible curriculum. They are short and sweet and to the point.
   

Lower Elementary

When your children are learning to read, having them help you read the Bible is a great thing you can do with them! After all, that’s our main reason for wanting our kids to learn to read anyway, isn’t it? We want them that to learn to read and study God’s word for themselves as they get older. These are great starter Bibles for that. We have the ESV Children’s Bible.

Older Elementary / Pre-Teens

These are still very much “Real Bibles” but they add in a lot of fun resources, visuals, and things that older kids would find interesting as they are reading and studying.

Older Teens / Adults

This Filament Bible is a new one that I just heard about recently and thought it was worth mentioning. It’s an actual “paper Bible” but it also has an app that goes along with it. Think of it as the Bible that comes with Bible study resources like commentaries and other study books that would be awesome to have in your Biblical library. This Bible has all of that in one!

And I can’t mention Bibles without mentioning my Bible. I invested in a really good Bible for myself after my Papaw L.J.’s funeral a few years ago. We enjoyed looking through his keepsake of a Bible filled with so many special things like flowers from each of our weddings, cards, and notes he’d written all in there. I think a really good Bible is a great thing to invest in for your spiritual life, especially if you know you’re going to use it and one day pass it along to your children!

This one has gone up in price since I got mine several years ago, but there’s also a smaller, thinline version that’s cheaper. Plus, there are several imitation leather and hardcover versions that are fairly affordable as well. I LOVE my journaling Bible though! I’m not the most artistic, but it has great margins for my thoughts, sermon-notes, and occasional doodles. I’ve had a lot of fun studying with it using the Journal and Doodle Bible studies from Kari Denker, adding washi tape to the edges for color and decoration, and color-coding different things from the scriptures as I study. I’m not a fan of the extremely artistic Bible entries where you can’t even read the page through it, but I love to use it for actual study and doing it in a way that seems fun is definitely not a bad thing!
 

 

Kids’ Resources

These are some Bible resources that we currently own and really enjoy. The Bible Infographics book is just one I picked up because it looked interesting. It reminded me of an Usborne book because it’s just filled with interesting facts. My oldest has really enjoyed looking at it. The Bible Animals storybook was given to my kids as a gift, and they really enjoy learning about the animals of the Bible and facts that go along with each one. 66 Books One Story is another one we use with our Bible Roadtrip homeschool curriculum as we introduce each new book to study. It lets my kids know what we can expect to learn about in that book of the Bible, lessons we will learn from it, and how we can apply it to our own lives.

   

My Favorite Spiritual Books

These are books that I’ve personally read and have made a huge difference in my spiritual life. I reference the Fervent book on a pretty regular basis when things get difficult in different areas for me or those close to me. It helps me to discern why and what strategy the enemy is trying to be crafty with. Together is a book that has really inspired me in reading the Bible with my kids. Treasuring Christ is full of so many mind-blowing nuggets as well.

   

 

My Favorite Bible Studies

Again, these are Bible Studies I’ve personally done, mostly with groups at church, but some of them on my own as well. Seamless is the one that helped me to understand how the stories of the Bible from the old and new testament are all connected. I’ve heard Bible stories all my life but seeing the big picture is something I learned from this study.

The Armor of God study taught me so much about how to focus on the real enemy. I specifically remember that during that study was the height of my struggles and challenges as a mom, and I learned how to appropriately fight that battle by putting on my armor each and every day.

Discerning the Voice of God taught me how to obey God before He even asks anything of me. I also learned some important “Checks and Balances” for how to know if it’s really God speaking about something, or it’s just something I came up with on my own. Pretty vital stuff.

I can’t mention bible studies without mentioning Freedom. I’m now going through this study for the second time, and I can tell you specific things that God is working on me with each time I’ve gone through it. Before I did this study the first time, I remember thinking…. “I’m good. I haven’t really been through a lot of hardship in my life, but I’m just doing this as my next step.” And then God rocked my world by touching on some things in me that really needed healing. It’s the most life-changing study I’ve ever done!

     

My Favorite Spiritual Resources

I wanted to share with you some fantastic resources, but they are not all available on Amazon, so I’m going to post here for you the direct links instead.

The Yearly Prayer Journal from Val Marie Paper Co.
I personally have the Compose 6-month edition, and I love that it fits perfectly in my Bible or Traveler’s Notebook. I love that I can use each month to strategically pray for whatever’s going on in my life at that time. It’s SO GOOD!

Quiet Time Journals:

You guys I’ve recently found these amazing journals, and I’m having such a hard time deciding which one I want to get for 2020. They are both so amazing in different ways!

Give Me Jesus Journal  and The Quiet Time Companion

I’d love to know… what are YOUR favorite Bibles, Bible Studies, or Bible Resources? Let me know in the comments so I can check them out too!

[Ep. 007] – Goals, Goal- Setting, & Check-in with Yearly Goals

Listen to “My Purposeful Planning” on Spreaker.

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Show Notes –

In this week’s episode of My Purposeful Planning, Laney shares about goals and goal-setting. She shares her favorite method of goal-setting. Then, she takes a look back at her list of new year’s resolutions to do a mid-year check-in to give you and example for goal-setting and process.

In This Episode:

  • Would you consider sharing these episodes on social media with your followers? To thank you for doing this, if you’ll send me a screenshot of your rating, review, or let me know that you’ve shared – I’ll enter you in the giveaway fro Kim Brenneman’s new book Home Management: Plain and Simple. This is the updated version of the book that inspired this season on the podcast, Large Family Logistics.
  • Giveaway: Kim Brenneman’s Newest Book Home Management: Plain and Simple
    Email me your screenshots of your rating and review or let me know that you’ve shared the episodes…
    laney@mypurposefulplanning.com 
  • Yet it at any stage of life you feel you are flying by the seat of your pants taking each day as it comes without having anticipated it, planned for it, shaped it, and prayed over it… then take time off and get back to pouring over your goals. Then you will control your days instead of letting them control you. – Anne Ortlund
  • Goal-setting is being a good steward of the time that we have. Careful planning helps us make the most of our opportunities as wives and mothers.
  • When we prepare our way and reach specific goals, we move toward victorious living. Our effectiveness in life substantially increases.
  • Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish. He that keeps the law, happy is he.”
  • As Christians our ultimate goal should be to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and love our neighbor as our self. All of our goals should stem from those two core commitments.
  • Make goals with your husband.
  • Set goals in the areas of personal, family, spiritual, home, community outreach, educational goals, physical, recreational, and financial.
  • Our goals reflect our vision for the future, and as Christians our goals must be aligned with scripture.
  • Make long-term goals, short-term goals, and immediate goals.
  • Write your goals down. (Prioritize them, organize them, and take action on them.)
    *I have a goal-setting worksheet for this if you’re interested.
  • Think about your goals backwards to make a plan of action. (Visualize the future and think about what you need to be working on now to reach those goals.) (ex. raising children, homeschooling, running a 5K, or hosting guests)
  • S.M.A.R.T. Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound)
  • W.H.O.O.P.I.E. Goals
  • Podcast: Chasing Excellence with Ben Bergeron
  • W & H – Wishing and Hoping (writing down your goal, sharing it with others)
  • O – Outcome (looking at the big picture to what your end result will be if you reach your goal)
  • O – Obstacles (thinking about the issues ahead of time in order to reach your goals)
  • “Do not use your obstacles as excuses to NOT reach your goals.” (Laney’s personal example with this)
  • P – Planning and Process (Plan for how you will accomplish your goal and overcome your obstacles. What will be a part of your process for making it happen?)
  • I – Identity (Attach your identity to your goal.)
  • Finish this sentence –  “I am someone who…”
  • E – Execute (Make it happen)
  • New Year’s Resolutions or Yearly Goals
  • Blog Post: 19 Things in 2019
  • August – My Mid-year Check-in
  • #1 – Read through the Bible with my kids using the Bible Road Trip Curriculum. (In Progress with Homeschool)
  • Curriculum: Bible Road Trip
  • Book: Together by Carrie Ward – Growing Appetites for God
  • #2 – Explore Verse-mapping  (Planning to do this with the book of Ephesians as our church studies it together.)
  • DEFINITION: Verse-Mapping is a method of studying the historical context, transliteration, translation, connotation, and theological framework of a verse in the Bible. Plain and simple? Verse mapping is getting real about studying the Bible. All of it. It’s not just reading. It’s researching everything you can in a verse to learn more about Who God is, and how He wants to speak to you through His Word. In short? It’s serious study.
  • #3 Worship Daily with my Kids. (Always in the car; Much more often at home)
  • #4 – Journal Daily and do Writing Sprints (Not yet a habit for me, but I have done it more often; I’m going to begin tracking it this month in my planner.)
  • #5 Gradually replace our cleaning products with all-natural versions. (in progress)
  • All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe : Glass Bottles, Lemon Essential Oil, Castile Soap, & Hot Water
  • Norwex
  • E-cloth
  • #6 – Begin to replace my beauty products with all-natural versions. (done! not completely done but since I said “begin”, yes, I have done that)
  • Public Goods: I’m using their shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothbrushes, razors, ayate washcloth for exfoliating and I actually really love these products! They are very simple in their formulas and their packaging which I feel is very pleasing to the eye. For $20 off your first order, click this link.
  • Aluminum- Free Deodorant
  • Apple Cider Vinegar & Bentonite Clay Powder Mask
  • Toothpaste
  • Skincare Little Kit, Virgin Marula Oil, Make-Up Melting Butter Cleanser
  • #7 – Read 6 or more books this year with one of them being a fiction book. (very close to being done!)
  • Book: Mom’s Night Out by Tricia Goyer (in progress)
  • Book: Together by Carrie Ward: Growing Appeities for God
  • Book: Treasuring Christ when your Hands are Full by Gloria Furman
  • Book: Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman
  • Book: Essentialism by Greg McKeown (in progress)
  • #8 Get back to my healthy self. (My exercise routine has been on pause. I’m signed up for classes again starting today.)
  • #9 Continue with my daily skincare routine. (I’m now tracking this in my planner, and it’s in my morning and evening routines.)
  • #10 Plan & Participate in regular Phone Detoxes (I’ve added some of these dates to the calendar.)
  • #11 Cultivate a thriving home school. (Ongoing)
  • Curriculum: Math U See (We use this curriculum, the blocks, the DVD, and hopefully the digital kit.)
  • Curriculum: All About Reading Learning Kit
  • Handwriting App: Wet Dry Try
  • Curriculum: Apologia’s Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day (Zoology 1 for Science)
  • Curriculum: Mystery of History
  • #12 Budget for , plan, and do one household project per month. (This was before we moved, but I have made a list of projects to work on in this new house as well.)
  • #13 Upgrade our dining table to fit our large-family. (Done!)
  • #14 Stick to my Flylady Cleaning Routines. I use the FlyLady app for this. (in progress; it’s in my planner)
  • Weekly Home Blessing Hour
  • #15  Repeat the Kon Mari Process– I’ll be using this printable to help me through the month of August with the Monthly Minimalism Challenge.
  • #16 Pay off 1-2 student loans this year. (not yet)
  • #17 Establish basic Sinking Funds. (not yet)
  • #18 Study the Enneagram. (done)
  • Book: Reading People by Anne Bogel
  • Enneagram Institute (my favorite free Enneagram resource… I recommend reading the nine descriptions and going from there to discover your type. The tests are not always accurate.)
  • Book: The Road Back to You by
  • #19 Learn to do a Handstand Push-up. (probably pushing this one back till next year if we’re being realistic)
  • What were your New Year’s Resolutions this year? It’s never too late to set a goal!
  • Join us on Patreon to discuss this episode even further!
  • Don’t forget to Share, Subscribe, Rate, and Review… thank you so much for taking the time to do this!

Additional Links and Resources Mentioned:

   

   

Find Laney:

Instagram
Facebook
My Purposeful Planning Facebook Group
My Purposeful Planning Community on Patreon
Email: laney@mypurposefulplanning.com

Listen to the My Purposeful Planning Podcast –

Listen to “My Purposeful Planning” on Spreaker.

The Multiplication Process

The Multiplication Process

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In the Bible study I’m working through right now, Jen Schmidt shares something one of her professors taught her in college… “He demonstrated the multiplication process that would occur if each one of us purposefully invested in the life of one other person that year and then continued with a new person the following year, and so forth. He issued us a challenge to form one friendship, and then encourage our new friend to do the same with another person the following year. Multiplying ourselves starts out slow, so after the first year, there would only be two disciples, and by the end of the second year, only four would have been reached. By the fourth year, sixteen people reached. Then the numbers snowball. By year twenty-five, together our multiplied efforts could reach MILLIONS of people.”

Maybe that seems a little extravagant, so I want to make this more attainable so that we can apply it and do it too.
Instead of taking a full year, let’s break it down by months. Each month, can it be our goal to impact just ONE person in some way? Let’s start with one person and point them to a life of abundance in Him.

You are that someone God wants to use now to impact this generation and the next. 

“Your unique gifts, your untold story, your broken and mended heart, your fierce love, your brave authenticity – all those intricate threads woven together create the very tapestry He wants to use to unveil His love to someone who needs to experience it. Small offerings, given with great love, matter.” -Jen Schmidt

Commit to pray for one person this month. Ask them how you can be praying for them, and maybe send them a scripture that ties in with what they are going through that you be praying with them. Encourage them. Maybe you can have them over for coffee and let them share whatever is on their heart.

We sometimes don’t realize what an impact these small gestures have. It may feel insignificant. But if each of us who are reading this can impact just one person this month and then by the end of this year alone, we could potentially impact 384,000 people. Did you read that number?! That’s this year alone! And I don’t know about you, but that feels pretty darn significant to me! And that’s not something I’m taking lightly… I’m praying for the 384,000 today.

“Though your beginning was insignificant, Yet, your end will increase greatly.” Job 8:7

My Purposeful Planning, The Podcast

I’m so excited to finally share this with you!

It’s the My Purposeful Planning Podcast,
and it launches this next week!

This is something that has been in the works for several months actually. I did lots of the planning for it before our move, but then for obvious reasons, had to put a little pause in all of that progress. Now that things have settled, I’m back to work on it again. My goal has been to plan, prepare, record, and edit the first 10 episodes before releasing or launching the podcast. The last thing I want to do is pop-fade (or fizzle out before I gain a good momentum).

How did this come about?

Well, actually I had a pretty difficult season earlier this year. Honestly, it was just a normal season of motherhood when I brought another newborn into the world. It’s just a hard season for mamas, and it seemed to be even more difficult this time around because I also had three other little ones to care for.

But good things come from our seasons of struggle and overwhelm.

For me, it came in the form of ideas.
I just had an overflow of thoughts, inspiration, and creative energy flowing through me despite being in this difficult season… Creative energy with no outlet. I told my husband, Justin, that I needed to find some way to get these things out, but it didn’t feel like there were supposed to be blog posts. Writing was my is usual outlet for all my creative energy, but this felt more like conversations and me sharing my heart and ideas on things that were coming to me.

I struggled with this for a while… I wondered if I was supposed to make videos to share, but this just felt way too far outside my comfort zone. Yes, I know that God does sometimes call us to do things that are out of our comfort zones. I tried to do a few simple stories in Instagram, but honestly I hated doing it every time.

Would God really call me to do something that I didn’t enjoy doing?

Like I said… I struggled with this whole idea internally for a while, and then things began to just come together.

I listened to several great message sermons that seemed to clarify things for me. It’s funny because I wasn’t even really looking for these messages, but they found me at the perfect time – just when I needed them.

There were a few great quotes that really jumped out at me from these messages:

“Your Calling is the customized life purpose God has ordained for you to accomplish designed in order to give Him the greatest glory and the maximized expansion of His kingdom.” – Dr. Tony Evans

1. You were called in advance.
2. It’s customized for YOU and nobody else.
3. It’s the PURPOSE for which you were CREATED.
4. Your CREATOR tells you why you were made.
5. Your Purpose and your Calling will give HIM the greatest glory… not yourself.
6. There will be maximized expansion of His kingdom by you doing what you are called to do. It’s something bigger than yourself.

He also said, “Too many of us are functioning outside of our God-ordained called purpose. We are just existing. We just make stuff up.”

And I didn’t want that to be me. As with anything else, I didn’t want to let life just happen to me. I want to live
a live of purpose.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

“One of the key ways to know what God calls you to do is the fire that He builds inside of you to do it. We call that fire passion.” -Dr. Tony Evans

This is something that honestly has been kindled in me so much in recent months. There have been times when I really didn’t know HOW to do different things or didn’t feel that I had the right resources… well, I just kept giving it all back to God and doing my part… committing my time to working and researching, and He has brought it all together for me.

During one of my talks with Justin about everything going on, he asked me “Why don’t you just do a podcast?”I’m thinking… well because I don’t even know where to begin with that. I don’t have audio equipment and a myriad of other excuses I could come up with on the fly… (Sure, I’d thought it would be fun to do a podcast before, but I had no idea where to begin with how to do it, and it was a big, scary idea so I never even considered it or put much thought towards it.)

But now things were different now… How could I NOT do what God has called me to do?

Justin continued, “I think you can just do it from your phone.” So I started my research with that. An excitement in me was birthed, and I couldn’t wait to figure this thing out and get going with it. There was just so much in me that I wanted to get out, and I was so ready to push that big red “Record” button!

“Your calling will match your passion. You won’t be called to do what you despise. You will be called to do what you love.” -Dr. Tony Evans

I love love love this! When I was trying to “figure it all out”, I had it all wrong. The things I thought were for me, weren’t. But what WAS for me was the thing I was already passionate about… sharing how I plan to be more purposeful! And yall – podcasting has been SUCH A FUN EXPERIENCE FOR ME! I enjoy this whole process SO MUCH, and I’m just getting started!

And so that’s what I’ve been doing… researching, learning, and working hard at this thing. But I’ve also been praying and dreaming and just imagining what God could have in store with all this. It’s going to be really cool to see how it all unfolds. Go back and read my post about my Word of the Year for 2019. I wrote it months ago, but it is so amazing to watch how God brings all things together, things I never would’ve even considered that He would do. He is a master creator! His big picture puzzle is beautiful, and I love how he has intricately designed my special piece to play a vital role within that big picture. It’s amazing how we all have a divine purpose and we work together for His plan.

Pray with me, would you? Pray that this thing is exactly what God wants it to be… that it would accomplish all that He has for it to accomplish. I’m just doing my thing here… my purposeful planning. It’s a lot of practical with spiritual things interwoven in. I want the outreach to be big, only because I want to see His kingdom expanded, and I want to play my part in that. I’m excited about it, but I’m also really scared and nervous. I know that there will be some who don’t like the way I do things or it just won’t be their cup of tea. I know that I can expect some criticism or even critiques, which if I’m honest, I don’t always handle the best. Pray that I can be the “living sacrifice” that I am to be in order to fulfill this greater purpose for my life.

It’s definitely not PERFECT. I’m my own worst critic. I hear the times where my voice cracks or I say something weird. I hear the noises in the background, the ums, the likes, etc. all of it. I’m fully aware. But I’m also trying to embrace the “realness” of it and not stress about it. Easier said than done!

Also, my kids are ALWAYS here with me, so I researched and found the best microphone for that within our budget, but it’s not perfect either. So I’m giving myself grace for the little imperfections that I have now and the things that will only get better with more time and practice, I think. And maybe one day, if the budget allows, I can invest in a better mic or hire a sitter and do my recording in a completely quiet place. But for now… it is what it is. I’m choosing to be okay with it and just going for it, and I pray that my listeners will too.

And most of all, thank you guys for being here. I couldn’t do any of this without you. I’m excited to share it with you!

“Super Mom”

I’m not sure how I ever got that title of “Super Mom” or why people want to use it loosely with me…

it could be because I have a bunch of kids whom I’ve managed to keep alive,
because I stay at home with them 24/7,
because we home school,
because I have a strong-willed child whose challenges I now speak openly about, or
maybe just to encourage me in all of these things.

I’m not sure, but it’s definitely not a term I would’ve ever given myself.


*This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you. 

I do always try to stay positive, especially when it comes to social media and dealing with the challenges I face as a mother. However, I sometimes ONLY post the positive or the really funny things that are just so bad that I have no choice but to just laugh through them. (Laugh to keep from crying, right?) So because I’m only posting my “highlight reel” of positivity, maybe people think that I’m that way all around.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I’m not. If you’ve ever played the comparison game with me, I’m about to burst your bubble. While I don’t want to ever portray motherhood in a “negative” sense… I do want to be real with you here. It IS hard. It IS real. And sometimes it’s raw and emotional – even for me.

There have been times where I feel like I’m “killing it”… but for the most part I actually get really overwhelmed, stressed out, and anxious fairly easily as a mom – especially when we aren’t in a good routine and I don’t feel like I’m managing things well (which is not unusual for this season we’re in). I’m working really hard to “give myself grace” in all the areas, but it doesn’t keep me from feeling these things and feeling out of control.

This is something that I never really noticed about myself until I was a mom, but as I read the chapter about “Highly Sensitive People” in Anne Bogel’s book “Reading People“, it was like a light bulb went off. It was me.. to a T. I don’t say this to use it as an excuse – certainly not. But I do find it ironic that this motherhood gig brings about many of the triggers that tend to affect me as a highly sensitive person. It’s the only thing that has pushed me so far out of my comfort zone and made me realize these things about myself. I truly and firmly believe that while we think our children are put here for US to raise and teach and grow, they actually in turn, do the exact same thing for us as parents. God has used my children to teach me so many things in life – things I would’ve never faced or dealt with otherwise.

“Being highly sensitive means that you have a highly tuned nervous system, and it affects 1 in 5 people. High sensitivity describes people whose nervous systems are more receptive to stimuli than those of the general population. This means they are more attuned to subtleties in their surroundings and are more easily overwhelmed by highly stimulating environments.” -Anne Bogel

Common Triggers for Highly Sensitive People:

1. Noise… Sometimes it’s loud noises, but for me it comes when there is “non-stop noise of any sort” (aka kids).

2. Clutter… Messy spaces are draining because of all of the visual input (aka kids).

3. Texture… This one affects some people, but doesn’t affect me too much personally.

4. People… People can definitely be overwhelming (aka kids… yall noticing a trend here?).

5. Consecutive errands/meetings/appointments… This one comes from having constant, varied input with no time in between to recover. I deal with this on shopping days because I have to go to multiple stores since we are out of town. I’m no good for anything productive the rest of the day when we get home.

6. Big Feelings… Emotions are overwhelming to me, so I avoid them usually. There’s no such thing as a little bit sad or a little bit happy or a little bit tired…. We feel things very deeply.

7. Information Overload… While I LOVE learning new things, there are times that I have to just turn it all off.

8. Media… I notice this one affecting me when something major gets a ton of attention in media, especially when it’s something that would cause me to have those “big feelings” I try to avoid.

9. Decisions… Decisions are a major source of energy drain. Decision fatigue kicks in sooner with HSPs and lasts way longer. I make a bazillion decisions in a day with my kids, and my personality type makes it even worse.

Anne Bogel says, “Armed with a little knowledge, you can be more prepared to deal with your highly sensitive responses to the world. Sometimes simply understanding brings instant relief. You understand that you’re not alone, and you’re not crazy. And in addition to bringing relief, knowing you are an HSP can bring a new appreciation for not only the hardships of bearing the trait but also the benefits.”

Here’s a free assessment if you’d like to see if you or maybe your child might be highly sensitive.

Giving an HSP What They Need:

  1. Quiet… Whether working in an office or staying home with ten kids, HSPs need some noise-free zones in their day. (This used to be why I would wake up at 4:30am, but that’s proving to be harder and harder when I’m also waking up with a newborn during the night. However, I might have to strive a little harder to accomplish this one – just for my own sanity.) Another way to get a little more “quiet” is to have some automated systems and routines so that I don’t have people asking me things that they can answer for themselves, “Taco Tuesday” for example. If we always have tacos on Tuesdays, that’s one day they wouldn’t have to ask me, “What’s for dinner?”.
  2. Peaceful, Clutter-free Environments… Not always, obviously, but especially when it’s time for an HSP to recharge.
  3. Privacy… When HSPs need to focus, they often prefer to work (or read or walk or think) alone. They notice all of the little things that others wouldn’t like sighing, laughing, keyboard clatter… things that seem miniscule to others, can put HSPs on high alert.
  4. Downtime… HSPs have to be deliberate about this and do something that actually fills their tank instead of draining them more.
  5. Minimal Information Intake… Smartphones make this especially hard because it’s tempting to listen to a podcast during downtime or check emails, social media, etc. but all of these are just additional stimulation that I need to take breaks from.
  6. Routine… Smooth routines makes for fewer decisions. Since HSPs are more prone to decision-fatigue, consistent routines help. They also give the bonus of “less talking” which can zap energy from an HSP.
  7. Boundaries… This should be the goal of HSPs so that they don’t intuitively take on the negative energy of other people and places.

“HSPs can be intense. They are passionate by nature, and can make others feel their passion too. They have laser-like focus and dedicate boatloads of attention to the things they care about. They’re able to explore issues in depth, seeing the nuances that others miss or choose to ignore. They’re extremely perceptive, picking upon all sorts of things nonsensitive types miss. They are creative and able to turn their hyper-awareness within to generate new ideas. When we think of high sensitivity in that light, it sounds like a super power.” -Anne Bogel

In addition to knowing what I need as a highly sensitive person, something else I’m working on is portraying motherhood in a positive light instead of a negative one. This is something I’ve been convicted about lately… there was a series of posts made on Instagram by my friend (I’m claiming her as my friend), Phylicia that really hit home with me. There are so many memes out there that portray motherhood in a negative sense and just focus on how hard it is. Yes – motherhood IS hard. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but as I said earlier… I believe that God uses the hard things in our lives to teach us and to grow us. Even the hard things, like motherhood, that we choose and desire for ourselves.  Here are the things Phylicia encouraged me in… maybe it will be an encouragement to you too.

“What if we as moms united around our SUCCESS instead of around our FAILURE? We might love our motherhood more.

When we trash talk motherhood in front of the world, we’re telling them Jesus isn’t good for what He promised.

It’s not ‘Take heart, for I have overcome… unless you’re a SAHM’. It’s ‘Take heart, I have overcome’ everyday you disciple your children.

Christian moms, we have a responsibility for how we portray motherhood to the world. Do we portray it in the lens of our worldview, which is that Christ has overcome the world, or do we focus on the negative and the hard?

There’s no denying that there are hard days. And Not all motherhood memes are bad. And yes, there are some situations (foster /adoption /special needs) that do demand more from a parent. But we need to be a voice for positive motherhood and emphasize the GOOD much MORE than the hard, and let that be our uniting factor.

In those hard days and seasons, learn to ask yourself…

What part of this can I control?
What part of this do I need to release to God?
How can I live out my identity as an overcomer here?
We are capable of more.” -Phylicia Masonheimer

No matter what situation or season of motherhood you are in… It doesn’t matter if you are highly sensitive, have a child who is, or are dealing with newborns, fostering, adoption, or special needs… No matter what – Christ has overcome, and so can you. You may not be or feel like a “Super Mom”… that’s okay, because we serve a “Super God”, and he is the strength in our weakness. We can go to Him in the chaos of our lives and find His supernatural power to keep going and overcome. My prayer is for you today, mama. Go get it!

My January 2019 “Ta Da!” List

The idea of a “Ta Da” List is that we focus on the things that we accomplish, the ways we are successful…. maybe even things that weren’t even on our original “To Do” or “Goals” lists. It’s a way of celebrating the wins – the big and the small, instead of focusing on the negative and feeling guilty for not getting things done. I loved this idea so much that I decided to use it to title and formulate my monthly recap posts as well! This is a monthly blog post I will publish that will hold me accountable to the goals and New Year’s Resolutions that I set for myself for the year.

**This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you.

  • Took Lyndon to his 2-week check-up, and learned that he made it into the 8 lb. weight class
  • Supported Justin and Lawson in his first ever CrossFit competition, where he took 2nd place in his division
  • Went out for a Girls’ Night / Post-Christmas Get Together Dinner with friends
  • Started meal-prepping and eating healthy again
  • Hosted a Play date with two different friends of mine and their kids this month
  • Signed Lawson up for the next season of T-ball
  • Showed our house to some potential buyers
  • Purchased a gift for an upcoming couple’s wedding shower
  • Planned our second semester of Homeschooling
  • Wrote a flexible, daily, routine for us at home… it’s changed a little now that we have a newborn in the house
  • Kon-Mari’d the kids’ clothes
  • Kon-Mari’d my clothes (including the maternity clothes I never want to wear again)
  • Shopped for new clothes that I feel good in postpartum
  • Finished reading the book Together by Carrie Ward
  • Made a Home school Reading Log for the Books we currently own
  • Laminated Tot School Vocabulary Development Cards
  • Repainted our Lockers (This was my household project for the month.)
  • Rearranged the living room and playroom
  • Kon-Mari’d the Kids’ Books
  • Cleaned out our spice drawer, Relocated them, and Re-organized the drawer
  • Kon-Mari’d some Kitchen items & re-organized some cabinets and spaces
  • Worked out twice at home… It’s a start. 😉 The first time, I got a terrible muscle cramp. I must get back to this slowly.
  • Sent a friend some educational gift ideas for her preschooler
  • Wore my Fitbit watch and started tracking my steps again
  • Started our second semester of home school
  • Organized our Files
  • Organized the hall closets
  • Straightened the bathroom cabinets
  • Enjoyed my frothy coffee at home this month (after an aversion to coffee during my pregnancy)
  • Began reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown
  • Finished the Book of Numbers with the kids in Bible Roadtrip
  • Began the Book of Deuteronomy with the kids in Bible Roadtrip
  • Had a Cleaning Lady come to help me get our house in order for our house showing
  • Posted some video stories on Instagram (so scary for me, lol)
  • Combined my personal and business Instagram accounts and started being more active on there since it’s more easy for me to do during the day
  • Eased back into writing and published a couple blog posts this month
  • Ordered clay bentonite powder and apple cider vinegar to detox and new, all natural, good-for-me deodorant to try (as part of my goal to switch over to more healthy beauty and body products)
  • Journalled and logged my daily food intake
  • Kept up with my daily skincare routine (most days)
  • Began paying back my student loans this month (We’ve been paying Justin’s, but now we will be paying mine back monthly as well.)
  • Paid all our bills for the month (We may not be ahead on anything, but we aren’t behind on anything either. It’s worth celebrating too – even if it’s just the way we always do things.)
  • Fed all my kids and kept them all alive this month (This one just makes me smile every time… especially with having a newborn in the house and three other littles.)I no longer make long to-do lists for myself… at least not in this season. I may give myself like one goal for the day (that may or may not get done), but mostly I just do what I see that needs to be done when I have a moment. And this Ta Da list makes me feel like it was a very successful month – even though the days were quite a bit more stressful and demanding than I’m used to.

    Whatever you do, let’s make a Plan to be more Purposeful!

19 Things in 2019

I saw the idea of “19 things in 2019”, and I fell in love. Yall know I love lists. While 19 does seem like quite a large number, I’m giving myself the entire year to complete the list. I will break it down into bite-sized pieces, as always, and give myself grace for what I don’t get accomplished. But it sure is a fun way to begin… am I right?


*This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

So here’s my 19 things for 2019…

1. Read through the Bible with my kids using the Bible Roadtrip curriculum.

Instead of trying to do my quiet time totally separate, I’m going to focus on our Bible Roadtrip Curriculum with my kids, and kill two birds with one stone so to speak. This idea was inspired by the book I just finished, Together by Carrie Ward, and by an instagram friend, Phylicia (She doesn’t know me, but I am claiming that we are totally bffs.) This is one way that I’m giving myself grace as a mama, but I am hoping that I’ll be able to go more in depth with it and that we can focus on some scripture memory as well.

2. Explore verse-mapping.

I’m going to try to include this idea with our studies as well, but it’s new to me so I’ll have to learn all about it first.

3. Worship daily with my kids.

My kids and I all love music. Singing together in the car is one of our favorite things. I want to try to incorporate this more when we are home as well. Music calms me when I’m anxious, and I think it will work well for my kids as well. It’s just not currently one of my go-to things that I think about.

4. Journal daily and do “writing sprints”.

This one comes from an idea that came to me a while back. I can’t tell you how many times our kids ask us questions about spiritual things that I feel are just well beyond their years. They already know so much at their young ages than I did at their age for sure. Even the one that I don’t think is listening to me can recall and relate different biblical concepts, and I’m so amazed. I really don’t think it’s because of anything we’ve done – maybe just the prayers we’ve prayed for them… but I want to explore it more. I want to somehow capture these little conversations we have as a means of memory-keeping for them, but also maybe even to publish in some way as well.

The concept of “writing sprints” is just to write… no editing, no formatting, just writing whatever is on my heart. I need to get in the practice of doing this and just see what comes from it.

5. Gradually replace our cleaning products with all-natural versions.

I’ve already done this with our All-Purpose cleaner since I use it the most. I purchased glass bottles, essential oils, castile soap and made my own disinfectant/all-purpose cleaning spray. I wanted a healthier version because this is what I clean my counter tops and tabletop with several times a day. I wanted a chemical-free version so that I can feel good about kneading my bread-dough right on my counter tops and be confident than I’m not adding in any harmful chemicals to my dough by doing so. I already love this spray, and I even made up a few to give as Christmas gifts.

I’m not sure if I’ll continue to make up my own cleaners with essential oil recipes or if I’ll use Branch Basics, which I’ve also looked into. I will do a little research before I make my final decision, and I might just do a mixture of both.

6. Begin to replace my beauty products with all-natural versions.

This one, I’ll admit, is a little scarier for me to commit to. I have products that I already love that I use on a daily basis when it comes to skincare, make-up, and even bath products. I think the easiest way to do this, though, is to just do one thing at a time, as I run out of them. Just like I did with my all-purpose cleaner first for cleaning products… in this category I’m starting with deodorant. I’ve ordered Bentonite Clay Powder that I will use with Apple Cider Vinegar to detox my skin, and then I will try out ClayDry Deodorant from Zion Health. I’ve heard good things. I’ve also seen that you can use the Clay Powder for other purposes as well, such as for shaving so I’m going to probably try that out as well since I have it.

7. Read 6+ books this year, one of them being a fiction book.

My goal for the past few years has been to read 12 books, but I don’t think I’ve actually ever met THAT goal, even though I’ve come close some years. I do believe that it is good to read and be learning constantly so I won’t give it up completely, but I’ve lowered my standards to make them more attainable for me. I have absolutely no shame in doing that. I’m going to try to read 6 books this year, with one of them being a fiction book. I can’t tell you the last time I read a fiction book, other than a children’s book. I’m not sure if I will even like it, but I’m hoping it can be a good “me time” or leisure activity if I can learn to enjoy it.

8. Get back to my healthy self.

There are lots of mini goals wrapped up in this one. I’m so excited to work out again and get back to CrossFit! I’m ready to lose weight, eat healthy, and feel good about myself again. However, this goal comes second to feeding and nourishing my little one through breastfeeding… so instead of focusing on “losing weight” which is sometimes hard to do while breastfeeding, I’m focusing on eating nutritious well-balanced meals instead. I’ll be fueling my body for breastfeeding and workouts. In the past, doing this proved to be great for my milk-supply, and I did end up losing weight as well as an added bonus.

I’m going to start wearing my FitBit watch again. I’ll track my healthy journey’s progress in my planner using the Happy Planner Fitness Extension pack that was gifted to me – I’ll keep a food journal, workout log, and track my progress with pics, weigh-ins, and measurements. I really like to celebrate ALL the wins!

9.  Continue with my daily skincare routine.

A few months ago, I splurged on a new skincare line for myself. I bought the Littles Kit from the Drunk Elephant line so that I could sample all of the products. Some of them, I have fallen in love with, and so now I know which ones to buy the bigger sizes of, and which ones I can probably do without.

10. Plan and participate in regular phone detoxes.

I’d really like to get to a point where I intentionally take regular breaks from my phone… one hour a day, one day a month, and one week of the year will be my goal for this.

11. Cultivate a thriving home school.

This is one of those ongoing goals, but I’m constantly evaluating what is working or not working for us… how my children learn best, and what we can do differently to create a healthy love for learning in our home.

12. Plan, budget for, and complete one household project/month.

I’m making a list for this. It’s something that I often just put on the back-burner, but I want my home to be a place that I love, that sparks joy, and that I’m proud of. I want to be more hospitable and loving our home is going to help me to want to do that even more.

13. Upgrade our dining table to fit our “large family”.

I’ve always dreamed about having large family that could gather around a big ole table. Well I’ve got the family, but we’ve outgrown our table. We are currently squeezing in extra chairs from another dining set we had so we can all have a place to sit, and to be honest – it annoys me when we aren’t sitting at the table because I can’t push all the chairs in at the same time. It’s a minor thing because we do make it work, but I’d like to go ahead and upgrade it this year to a larger table if we can make it happen.

14. Stick to my Flylady cleaning routines.

This is an app on my phone that has different daily routines that I can use for morning, afternoon, and evening. It also has a “Weekly Home Blessing Hour”, and different zones that I clean weekly and can rotate through the house so that it never gets too out of control. It’s a really good system, and I love that it can be edited as well to fit my specific needs.

15. Repeat the KonMari process.

I went through this process for the first time probably about three years ago. Funny that it’s now becoming a trending-hot topic because of the show that just aired this month on Netflix. I’d like to go back through this process because I know I’ve grown since that time, and I’m embracing minimalism more and more as time passes.

16. Pay off 1-2 Student Loans this year.

This one is pretty much self-explanatory. Our student loans are our only debt right now, besides our mortgage. We’ve had them in deferment for several years because our income hasn’t been enough for us to cover them. This past year we were able to start paying on Justin’s, and now we have to pay mine monthly as well. I recently did a debt calculation that said we would have them paid off in seven years if we keep up with paying them monthly. (So basically if we had been able to afford them, they could already be paid off by now.)  Oh well. Anyway, we’d like to be able to continue with the monthly minimum payments all year, but also use our tax refund to pay off one of the smaller portions or two entirely if we can.

17. Establish basic Sinking Funds.

This is something I learned about last year but haven’t been able to carry out just yet. Hopefully we’ll get to a point where we are able to plan more for our future purchases and be in control a bit more, but if not – we’ll be okay with that too I guess. We’re just trying to do the best we can with what we have, and I can confidently say we are doing that.

18. Study the Enneagram.

Originally this one on my list was to “learn about and try new wines” this year, but my husband wasn’t too fond of that being one of my goals so I changed it to this one. I’ll just stick to ordering the one or two wines I know I like when we go out to dinner. Lol.

The Enneagram is something that’s becoming increasingly more popular now. I read about it in the book Reading People by Anne Bogel last year, but I didn’t spend much time on that chapter because I wasn’t as familiar with it. I’d like to learn more about my own type and what it means this year as well as the types of those in my family and those closest to me.

19. Learn to do a Hand-Stand Push-Up.

This was the same goal I set for last year in CrossFit, but I didn’t know I’d be pregnant most of last year so it wasn’t a goal that actually got met. Since I wasn’t already confident with being upside down (it’s actually a big fear of mine still), I REALLY didn’t feel confident in continuing to work on it while being “with child”. So… here it is again. A fear for me to overcome, and a goal for me to hopefully achieve and just a fun item to complete my list for the year.

I hope to be able to share with you monthly how it’s going with this list, and what I’m specifically doing to accomplish the goals I have set here. I’d love to have you as my accountability, and I’d love to know what your goals are for the new year.

Do you set New Year’s Resolutions? In what ways are you Planning to be more Purposeful in 2019?


My Word for 2019

I love the idea of having a focus word for the year. I started this back in 2016 with the word “Intentional”. That was the year I really began to use planning as a way to be more purposeful or “intentional” in my life. I didn’t choose a word at the beginning of 2017, but it was a hard year for me, and I learned a lot about my “identity” that year so I summed up the year at the end with that word. My word for 2018 was “Increase”, and I saw many aspects of that word throughout the year.

Just like I didn’t fully understand what God had planned for us in relation to my Word of the Year for 2018 until the end of the year, I’m sure it will be the same for this year’s word as well. While I already have my word for 2019, I don’t really know what it means for me yet.

I always like to tie a scripture in with my word of the year to focus on. This year, because I don’t know yet what is to come – I have three. So as the year progresses, we’ll see if we can narrow it down, or if God somehow just uses all three.

Last year, my word was Increase. God used that word in so many different ways – not just one. We saw increase in our faith, increase in our finances, and increase in our family as well with the blessing of a new baby. I’m sure it will be the same with this year’s word as well.

My Word of the Year for 2019 is IMAGINE.

Now to the one who can do infinitely more than we can ask or IMAGINE according to the power that is working among us. Ephesians 3:20

In this sense, I am going to IMAGINE the things that God is going to do. I think this is God giving me permission to dream. I’m going to imagine and dream big. Then, I will be praying those dreams back to God and see what He has planned. His plans and desires are always greater than our own. The bigger we dream and imagine, I believe the bigger things He will do.

Brethren, I do not IMAGINE that I have yet laid hold of it. But this one thing I do – forgetting everything which is past and stretching forward to what lies ahead of me. Philippians 3:13

This, I think, is in relation to the purpose that God has for us. We will not look to what we have done in the past or maybe even what we’re doing right now, but we will stretch ourselves (maybe even out of our comfort zones) to the bigger, eternal purpose that He has for us.

Then God’s peace which goes far beyond anything we could IMAGINE will guard your hearts and minds in union with the Messiah Jesus. Philippians 4:7

No matter what… we will have peace. It’s the unshakable peace that we cannot even fathom or understand, but it’s the one only God can give. No matter what fails or goes wrong or breaks or comes to an end, we will trust that God has it all under control.

The word Imagine is not a word I would’ve ever probably chosen on my own, but I’m excited to see what God has in store for us this year in relation to this word.

Do you have a Word of the Year? I’d love to know what your word is and how you use it to be more purposeful in your year.

Our Minimal Christmas

We decided last year to take a minimalistic approach to Christmas, all in the efforts to make Christmas more of an enjoyable season and less of a financial burden for us. It was probably our best Christmas ever in that sense! It was a tough call we had to make to stay within our means, and it didn’t come easily. We had many tough conversations in our house wondering if there was any other way, but we believe it was the right decision for us. I’m really glad we did it, even though it meant that we weren’t able to give gifts to everyone on our list.

Our family and friends were very understanding of our situation and our desire to stay within our budget. Many also let us know that they felt the same way about the burdens of Christmas. Since we prioritized giving gifts to our children and the children in our families, we weren’t able to give well-thought out gifts to the other adults in our lives that are important to us. However, they still desired to give gifts to us… This has been the hardest part. It’s hard to receive a gift well and not feel guilty at the same time for not being able to reciprocate by having a gift for them also. We have some pretty awesome people in our lives that bless us in so many ways… I’d be lying if I said that it doesn’t hurt my heart to not be able to give them a well-thought-out gift. We have just had to somewhat get over this though and realize that we couldn’t spoil someone else’s joy of giving just because we aren’t able to right now. Whenever it fits into our budget, you better believe that we will be purchasing nice gifts for them again. We can’t wait for that day. But for now… this is where we are, and this is what we do.

*This post contains affiliate links. I will earn a small commission if you make purchases through these links, at no extra cost to you, but I thank you for helping to support my family in that way. 


Here is how we navigate Our Minimal Christmas: 

 

We set a Christmas Budget.

To be honest, I had every intention of setting up a Christmas Sinking Fund so that we had actual money to pull from for this… but alas, that didn’t happen. Sometimes plans just don’t work out like we hope, and that’s okay. It’s a part of life sometimes. So basically, we just do the best we can and cash flow our Christmas to make it work for us, and it does help when we find great deals and start early so that it’s spread out over several months instead of just two. The Christmas Budget we set is more of a means of helping us keep track and keep it to a minimum. Going into debt for Christmas is simply not an option for us.

Here’s our Minimal Christmas Budget for 2018:
$50+/- per member in our family (We will have 4 children by Christmas, plus the two of us, so this equals $300.)
$50+/- for other children in our immediate family, collectively (We used to spend $30/each on them, but then I realized that we were spending almost as much for them as we were our own children so it may have been a bit excessive. We can still find them great gifts that stay within our set budget.)
$50 +/- for stocking stuffers for our family (This is one of my favorite traditions, but those things can add up quickly.)
$100 +/- for all the extras (This includes gift wrap, decorations, supplies for handmade gifts, gifts needed for gift swaps, ingredients for holiday meals, traditions, etc.)

Our minimal Christmas Budget for this year is $500. I realize this number may seem extravagantly low to some, but for others it may also seem ridiculously high. We are all in different economic and financial seasons, and that’s okay. I would actually love to have a bit more to spend on Christmas so that we could give gifts to more people that we love. Heck, I would even love to be able to pay for another family’s entire Christmas someday! But for now, this is where  we are, and we are making the decision to live within our means… even at Christmastime. If you’re unsure where to begin with setting a Christmas Budget, I recommend this series from Jordan at FunCheaporFree.com. She also offers some great tips in this video where she shows exactly what they bought for each of their kids last year.

We decorate minimally and use what we have.

There was a time when I used to have a themed tree where I would buy new ornaments and decor every year, but then I realized that I’d rather spend that money on gifts for my children or things they would enjoy instead. So now we decorate our tree with rolls of burlap that were given to us and the handmade ornaments and crafts from the kids instead. It’s definitely nothing fancy, but I still love it so much! We do enjoy still picking out a special ornament or two each year when we see ones that we really like. I really love how different ornaments are made unique and can tell a story on a Christmas tree. And as you can see from my picture, my tree usually gets “undecorated” by my children on a daily basis anyway. I usually keep a box or basket near the tree to collect the ornaments, and I re-decorate it several times throughout the season. Memories, right?

We make Christmas Wish Lists.

We ask our kids what they would like for Christmas, and I make a Christmas list in my planner or in the notes section of my phone. We don’t have a TV service with commercial advertisements so my kids do not really know what’s out there, unless they see it in a store. This one comes in handy for us though. We have always let our kids look at the toy section, and they are always quick to tell us what they like. Sometimes, I’ll snap a pic of the item with its price so I can remember it for later. One thing that’s great about this, is that I also always have a list handy for family members who ask what to get them for Christmas. We decide which of the gifts will be special gifts that we can purchase for them to give them on Christmas morning and which ones we can delegate to other family members to purchase for them.

We research, watch for sales, and keep our eye out for good deals.

I subscribe to MoneySavingMom.com as well as a few others, and I always check my email for special deals of things I might be looking for, and I buy things when they go on sale. I’ve been checking these daily for months so that I’ve been able to purchase several gifts early when I found things on a great sale.

We let our kids do their own Christmas shopping for each other, us, and other family members they’d like to give gifts to.

To do this, we take them to the Dollar Tree. We help them, of course, but we let them choose gifts to give to everyone on their list, which takes a few different trips so they can buy for extended family and also for each other without them knowing. Then, we let them wrap these gifts up to give away at our Christmas gatherings and on Christmas morning. Even though it’s a super, inexpensive idea – I love that it lets them focus on the aspect of giving instead of receiving. They get really excited to pick out, wrap, and then give their gifts. This also gives us more presents under our tree to unwrap. Most of the smaller boxes in the picture above are their Dollar Tree gifts wrapped up.

We celebrate Advent.

Contrary to popular belief, Advent is not actually about opening a little present or piece of candy every day until Christmas. 😉 Advent is the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event… hello, Jesus?? Yes, the actual reason for the season. I loved the Advent Bible study from Kari Denker at Stone Soup for Five that focuses on the Old Testament Prophecies and how they are fulfilled in the New Testament. It even has a coloring book and “Countdown” page for your children to color so they can do it alongside you. This past year, I also printed a set of Advent Countdown cards where we listened to a different Christmas song everyday that helped our family to focus on the real meaning of Christmas.

 

We give handmade “happies”.

Last year I embroidered hand towels. I used fabric and thread that I already had on hand. Of course, I also already had an embroidery machine too so this helped. I purchased hand towels for about $30 total and made many of them. Yes, it required a great deal of time on my part, but time is a resource that’s easier for me to find than money.

We get creative with how we wrap gifts.

Since there aren’t quite as many gifts to wrap, I don’t need to purchase much for this. Last year, I used Christmas-colored fabric, clear treat bags, and ribbon I already had on hand to wrap the hand towel happy gifts. I think they turned out great!

I don’t always do this, but I’ll also let you in on another secret for my gift wrapping… I love to buy a simple roll of brown paper. The brown paper can be used year-round for birthdays as well as Christmas gifts. My other secret is to buy gift bags from Dollar Tree. I’ve always been able to find simple, brown paper neutral gift bags there 3/$1.00 or 2/$1.00, depending on the size you choose, and they work perfectly! You can easily dress up the brown paper wrapped gifts and bags with colored tissue paper, colored ribbons, or other art supplies you have on hand.

We focus on Christmas traditions.

Some of our favorite Christmas traditions include making Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve, finishing our Advent countdown on Christmas morning, opening our stockings, and then taking turns opening presents to make it last longer. We also have a special Christmas morning breakfast… something easy that I can make ahead and put in the oven while we open presents.

Stockings were one of my favorite things I remember from Christmases growing up so I tend to go a little overboard here collecting things throughout the year. The kids usually get things that they “need” in their stockings like new toothbrushes and bath soaps as well as some fun items I’ve found for them too. I love to include things like snacks and special treats that we don’t have on a regular basis…. like a box of fruit snacks that I’ll open and disperse among their stockings or fun candies that we’ll add to our candy box later to give as treats and rewards. This past year, I even bought a box of Froot Loops with marshmallows and wrapped it up like a regular present, and they were thrilled!

2017 Stockings & The Chalkboard We Gave the Kids as one of their Shared Big Gifts

Would you like to see what each of our kids are getting for Christmas this year?!

I’ll share with you… only if you promise not to tell them. Can you help me keep it a surprise for them please? 😉

Linkin (Age 4)

The Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescuer is Linkin’s big gift that he requested. I saw it at Wal-Mart for around $55, but then I found it on Target.com for $44. I’m sure this one will still be on sale or at least go on sale again before Christmas as it’s a popular, newer item. He also requested the Guess Who game that he played with Daddy on one of their father/son outings to the ice cream shop in town.

 

Lawson (Age 6)

Lawson asked for a remote control airplane or drone this year, and I found this one at Sam’s Club for $30. (I wasn’t able to find an online link for you guys anywhere there. This style must’ve been a last-in-stock item. But I did see them in store again when I was there last week.)  He also asked for the Checkers game.

 

 

Layten Bradleigh (Age 2)

We decided to get Layten a kitchen because she’s always very interested in what I’m cooking and making in the kitchen. She also brings me foods she’s made for me all the time from the playroom and the kitchen-type toys she has now. It was important to me that I find one that would look nice and not “like a toy” because I want it to go in out kitchen/dining area so she can cook alongside me. This was a more affordable option ($79.99 from IKEA), and since the boys will probably play with it too, I justified spending a little extra on it. (I was way under budget on her birthday gift in October, and I also spent less on Lawson’s gifts so it rounds out to be about the same.)

I knew that we would probably assemble this one on Christmas Eve after they go to bed and set it out for her to find, but since she’s still so little, she’ll probably love unwrapping presents as well so I didn’t want her to miss out on that experience either. Luckily, I’ve saved some of the well-made kitchen toys we’ve had in previous years from the boys, and they’ve been in storage. She’s never seen them, so we’ll wrap those up for her to open and use with her new kitchen. I call that winning, and we didn’t pay a thing for them this year!

 

Baby #4 (Due just before Christmas)

Since we are literally going to have a newborn this Christmas… and one that’s probably going to just sleep right through our Christmas celebration…. we’re getting this baby something practical. I found a really good deal on a product I’ve been eyeing for a while. We’ve had a baby play gym with all three of my littles… a little mat that they can lay on with some dangly things over them for them to look at and focus on. It’s probably one of my favorite baby items, but unfortunately we don’t still have the one my other kids used anymore. I fell in love with this one when another mom on Instagram shared it. It’s so neat, yall! It was designed by child development experts and has Montessori, wooden, and organic accessories that all detach for greater learning experience. It’s meant to be used for the entire first year and even comes with a play cover that makes it kind of like a tent for more imaginative play. I’m sure my older kids will love it too!

**I contacted the LovEveryBaby company, and they’ve agreed to give my readers $10 off the purchase of this play mat or their play kits which are also really neat and would make fantastic Christmas gifts for the babies in your life. I will earn a small commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you, so I’d like to thank you for doing that!

 

Family Gifts

Sometimes we will give a gift to all of the kids together, to share, but not always. We have no real rules here. Last year we did give them a chalkboard/dry erase easel from Ikea ($14.99), and that was a great (and inexpensive!) big gift for them.

Our family has been really into games lately, and I happened to find this Scrabble Junior game while I was in Dirt Cheap one day so I grabbed it for the kids to open together. I love that it has different levels. I can use it with Layten for letter-recognition, Linkin can match the letters on the printed side, and Lawson can begin to spell his own words with it so…Three different ways to play! I also bought a set of magnetic building blocks and a set of Play-doh tubs for them a few months ago when great deals were posted! I love taking advantage of deals like this throughout the year so it makes the burden of Christmas spending a little lighter.

So here’s an estimate of what we ended up spending on actual kids’ gifts this year…

$44 Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue (after sales & discounts)
$10 Guess Who Game
$30 Video Camera Drone
$8 Checkers Game
$10 Scrabble Junior Game (purchased from Dirt Cheap)
$80 Ikea Kitchen
$16 Play-doh Set  (after sales & discounts)
$40 Magnetic Building Set (after sales & discounts)
$70 Baby Play Gym (after sales & discounts)

$308 Total
So yes, I spent a little more on the younger two and with the family gifts, so I ended up spending a little more than I thought I would. When I did my Christmas Budget planning, I had forgotten that I had already purchased and put away the two family gifts of Play-doh and Magnetic Set, so those were technically paid for a long time ago, but I wanted to include them in our total cost, of course.

However, I’m not upset by this technically “going over budget” at all. We didn’t go into debt to do it, and It’s all already paid for. We spent about $300 to provide Christmas for 4 children, and I don’t look at that as a bad number.

Just remember not to compare your Christmas to others. Every family is different, has different financial situations, different methods of saving up and affording Christmas, and different values. If you need help setting up an appropriate Christmas Budget for your family, here’s the post I recommend from Jordan Page at Fun Cheap or Free.

Our kids are going to have a great Christmas this year. Especially remembering our past Christmases and how they open one gift and want to immediately play with it… then they usually don’t even care about the others, and we have to remind them that they have more to open. I think Christmas is definitely more fun for us as parents than it is for them anyway. 😉

In case you missed it, here’s another post of how our family takes a minimalistic approach to Christmas… how we decided to make our Christmas more enjoyable, less of a burden, and how you can too! 

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!
Best holiday wishes to you!

Vision Series

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Vision… why it’s important, how to write it out, and how having a big vision can help us to be more purposeful in life.

Vision – the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom; a mental image of what the future will or could be like; a vivid mental image, especially a fanciful one of the future

Do you think it’s important to have a Big Life Vision, or is it something you’d rather not even think about? If i’m being honest, which I always try my best to do here, I would tell you that although I consider myself a big dreamer and LOVE to think about the future and what I want to accomplish in life… other times – those big, lofty things are just daunting to me… they sometimes seem impossible, and I begin to ask “What is the point?”

Well, I’ll tell you the point. The point is that if you have NO vision, you are living a very purposeless life. That’s something I definitely don’t want to do.

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

If I were to stop there, I could easily read into scripture and think what I wanted that “the vision” is all about me and whatever hopes, goals, and desires I have for myself in life. It would be all good, all positive, and there would be absolutely no hardships or effort involved. I would just wake up one day, and life would be grand.

However, as I study this verse a little deeper and read it in different versions, I can gain more clarity from it. I did that, and I’m going to just share a summary of the different versions I read for you here…

When we have no vision…
When we have no revelation of God and His word…
When we don’t have guidance from God…
When we have no word from God, no prophecy…
When we can’t see what God is doing…
When there is no message from God…
Where there is no understanding of the Word of the Lord…

…then…

….we perish.
…we are unrestrained.
…we get out of control.
…we have no law and order.
…we stumble all over ourselves.
…we do whatever we want to.

And those things are no good. So you see, we NEED vision. But not just any vision. We need to ask God to reveal HIS vision to us, and pray that our desires and our hearts would line up with that vision.

I’d like to explore this idea of having a Big Life Vision more with you, but I want to also make sure that I do it in the right order. We can’t just write out the vision without God’s help. We can’t do this in our own efforts, or it just won’t work. (Ask me how I know that.) I’m going to break this down into a Vision Series where we explore each of the steps. I’d like to share at least some of the vision that God has placed on my heart, and I’d LOVE to share with you all of the aspects and ways that He brings those things into fruition. That part might be ongoing, but I’m okay with that as long as it’s all in His plan.

So, let’s put things back in order…
1. Delight yourself in the Lord.
2. Truly seek to obey Him in whatever you do.
3. See that your heart’s desires line up with His plans and purposes for you.
4. Watch him bless you abundantly, even more than you could think or imagine.

This will also be the order in which I’ll share my thoughts on this topic of Vision….
Monday, October 15th – First, we’ll talk about what it means to delight ourselves in the Lord. We’re going to get back to the basics here, and I’m going to give you a challenge for the week on how we can do that.

Monday, October 22nd – We’ll discuss Obedience… why our plans fail sometimes, how it sometimes falls on us, and what we can do to change that so that we’re ready and obedient to God, no matter what.

Monday, October 29th – We’ll talk about how we can actually write out our Big Life Visions… visions that line up with God’s plans for us. I’ll share with you some steps for doing this, and I hope to share with you some of the vision that God has placed on my heart as well.

We’ll wrap up there, but I hope to also be able to share with you, ongoing, how God is blessing me and my family abundantly… and I would LOVE to hear how he’s blessing you abundantly too. This is going to lead nicely into the month of November where we can easily focus on Gratitude and Thank God for all He’s done! See you on Monday for the first post of this three-week series!

Sign up for this 3-Week Vision Series! 

Join us as we refocus our hearts, seek God’s plan for our lives, and watch Him begin to reveal it to us so we can be more purposeful and join Him in that incredible plan! 

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