Be You. Do Good. : Having the Guts to Pursue What Makes You Come Alive by Jonathan Golden

Be You Do Good


My copy of Be You. Do Good. by Jonathan Golden is dog-eared and full of underlines, brackets, and notes from the Foreword to the Acknowledgements.  I really enjoyed Jonathan’s adventures that have taken him from studying psychology, to starting a private practice in counseling, consulting as a Life Coach, becoming an ordained priest, planting St. Peter’s Place Anglican Church, and founding “Land of a Thousand Hills” Coffee Company which provides a living wage to more than 2,500 Rwandan farmers and their families.

The Table of Contents gives a good grasp of what you will find in this book: Let’s Find Your True Calling.  Let Go of the Myths.  Be Who You Are.  Use What You Have.  Get What You Can.  Follow the Inkling.  Pursue What Makes You Come Alive.  Find a People to Serve.  Growing Little by Little.  March Through Challenges.  Follow, Don’t Force.  Stand Back Up.  Stay Open to New Possibilities.  Every chapter ends with three questions that encourage readers to reflect on Golden’s words, and consider what their next steps might be.

Jonathan tackles a lot of common misconceptions about calling, jobs, purpose, career, vocations, ministry, work, experience, tools, training, money, relationships, resources, God’s will, play, dreams, time, passions, gifts, community, vision, challenges, opportunities, process, seasons, and earning a living.  He does not believe that there is a single narrow calling for each of our lives, but that as we develop in new ways, God continues to call us to fresh expressions of our calling.

This book is full of inspirational stories, and motivation to live out your unique calling.  After reading this book, I’m sure you’ll be thinking that Jonathan Golden is a pretty cool guy who has made a difference in some pretty unique ways.  But I hope you’ll also find yourself wondering, “What could God have in store for an ordinary person exactly like me?”




Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington



In reading “Breaking Busy,” I had a hard time relating to busy and burned-out Alli Worthington. Alli shares stories of flights, speaking engagements, blogging, founding Blissdom events, consulting, business coaching, writing a book, becoming executive director of Propel Women, raising five sons, and being a full-time working mom with a stay-at-home-husband. The decisions and stresses Alli faced seemed foreign to my life as a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of three. In fact, the very first story in the book (about falling asleep on an airport shuttle and misplacing her cellphone in her bra) and analogies to capacity overload so failed to capture my attention that I was ready to stop reading by page 20. I was also perplexed by Alli’s decision to quit Blissdom on page 79, with no idea what her next job would be, when she was the primary breadwinner in her family. It wasn’t until page 155 that Alli was offered the position at Propel Women, so for most of the book I was left wondering what she would do next. As a result, most of this 218 page book dragged for me.

However, Alli does share many helpful lessons that she learned along the way that anyone can relate to. As she addresses her need for better time management, she talks about relationships, calling, choices, worry, expectations, decision-making, communicating, and finding your worth. “Breaking Busy” progresses almost chronologically through Alli’s life, explaining how she dealt with each of these things along the way. She shares a lot of scripture, prayers, and advice from Christian friends and writers. I enjoyed her practical applications and was able to glean new insights from her use of things like a “Time Diary” (pg. 140) and a “Stop-Doing List” (pg. 146). She also introduced concepts like “Analysis Paralysis” (pg. 158), the “10-10-10 Analysis” (pg. 168), and “Communication Style” (pg. 176) that I thought were very interesting. The story I enjoyed the most was on page 133, when Alli described her desire to join a sewing class and make smocked rompers just to fit in with a new group of friends, even though she hates sewing.

In conclusion, “Breaking Busy” has many good thoughts to offer. As the percentage of full-time working mothers continues to increase, I am sure that many other women will be able to relate to Alli Worthington’s lifestyle in a way that I did not. Even if her “crazy busy” lifestyle is not universal, the lessons she has learned about time management can be successfully applied to a wide range of lifestyles.

Money Making Mom by Crystal Paine


I have been a fan of New York Times bestselling author Crystal Paine since I first discovered her website, Money Saving Mom, in the winter of 2010.  Crystal is an authentic Christian who lavishly shares practical financial advice with her followers.  Thanks in large part to reading her website daily, my family became debt-free in April 2015.

Money Making Mom is the third book I have read by Crystal.  It is an excellent resource for the budding entrepreneur.  Crystal compiles ideas from dozens of sources to inspire moms who hope to begin earning or increasing their family’s income.  My favorite part of the book was near the end (pgs. 206-208) when Crystal poses the question, “What’s your why?”  She reminds the reader, “Whatever your reason(s) for earning money, remember why you’re doing it.  Always keep the vision before your eyes.”

No matter what your financial goals are, Money Making Mom will encourage and challenge you as you make the next steps in your journey!

IF: Trading your IF ONLY Regrets for God’s WHAT IF Possibilities


Earlier this month I was asked to join Mark Batterson’s Launch Team for his newest Book Launch, IF.  I received a FREE hard copy of the book in return for my honest review.  My copy of the book arrived on its launch day, October 6, and I finished reading all 282 pages on October 12.  I got most of my reading done over the weekend while Brad and our Young Life friends were serving on Work Crew at Woodleaf Camp.  Without any cell phone or Internet service, I was able to get a lot of reading done!

I read Mark’s book, “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day” last year, and was impressed with Mark’s boundless energy and ability to inspire.  IF is no less enthusiastic and inspirational.  Mark makes you believe that anything is possible.  His newest book breaks down Romans 8, and is divided into 4 sections: If Only; As If; What If?; and No Ifs, Ands, or Buts About It.  I underlined, drew brackets, or starred passages throughout the entire book.  I enjoy Mark’s raw honesty, his daring faith, his upbeat attitude, and his fresh perspective.  I appreciate how he uses stories from history, science, physics, scripture, sports, actors, authors, and other disciplines to support his points.

As an aspiring writer, I was especially inspired by Mark’s rise from an unknown writer at the age of 34 (as I am currently 34), to a New York Times best-selling author 10 years later.  Although he felt called to write at the age of 22, he didn’t self-publish his first book until he was 35.  His story, like so many throughout this book, is a perfect illustration of an “if only” regret turned into a “what if” possibility.  He encourages others to make great predictions, pray bold prayers, and dream God-sized dreams.

I highly recommend this book, and hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!

Earning Money as a Stay-At-Home Mom

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Earning money as a Stay-At-Home Homeschooling Mom of three kids isn’t always easy, but over the last six years I’ve tried lots of different things.  Some worked; some did not.  Many opportunities have come and gone, or only worked well for a season.  But I keep trying, and keep discovering new ways to make money!  Here are a few of the ways I’ve earned money in the past 12 months:

  • I made $162.70 substitute teaching for 2 days last fall.
  • I made $4.84 this week by turning in our plastic bottles, glass bottles, and cans for recycling.
  • I made $152.70 by claiming my “Unclaimed Property” from the State of Maryland Treasurer’s Office.
  • I made $32.83 for cashing out my credit card rewards points.
  • I made $155 babysitting this summer.
  • I made $10 by completing a Rebate Form for paint I bought at Lowe’s.
  • I made $300 pet-sitting a dog this spring.
  • I made $14.96 by cashing out my retirement from substitute-teaching in Minnesota.
  • I made $5 for switching over to paperless statements from our bank.
  • I made $100.91 from Google Adsense for blogging.
  • I earned a $10 Amazon gift card for calling AT&T in response to a mailing I received for being a “small business owner.”
  • I earned $15 worth of Amazon gift cards by cashing in 1500 Swagbucks.

So, even in this incomplete list, I’ve made $963.94 this year as a Stay-At-Home Mom!  If you are looking for some ways to earn money as a Stay-At-Home Mom, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What are my gifts, talents, and skills?
  • What do I like to do?
  • What experience do I have?
  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What do I have that I could sell?
  • What degrees, certifications, or credentials do I have?
  • What am I qualified to do?
  • What forms could I complete to receive money?
  • What do I have the time and space to do?
  • What interests me?
  • What need have I observed that I could meet?

When looking for new ways to earn income, begin with what you have, where you are.  Once you spend some time thinking about the possibilities, choose something and try it!  Give it some time, and if it doesn’t work out, try something else!  You are not bound to your first attempt.  Remember, failure is proof that you’re trying.  Keep at it, and maybe something will work out.  You might find yourself a new way (or ways) to earn money as a Stay-At-Home Mom!

How have you earned money as a Stay-At-Home Mom?


7 Tips for Shopping Smart

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Yesterday I took the kids to Kohl’s in search of underwear for my potty-training 2-1/2-year-old.  I looked all around, but the only packages I could find (7 pairs) were marked $18.00, and when I took one to the cashier for a price-check, it rang up for $13.99 (or $2.00 per pair).  One of my children wasn’t feeling well, so I decided to forget the underwear and try another store another day.

After checking Target and Walmart on-line, I decided to go to Walmart for underwear today.  I found a 7-pair package for $9.47, and a 6-pair package for $4.66, for a total of $14.13.  Although there were several other sets and combinations I could have chosen, I ended up spending about $1.09 per pair.

When we were done shopping at Walmart, I headed over to Dollar General, because I’d read on-line that if you spent $6 on Suave products, you would get $2 back.  I chose 8 family-size bottles of Suave Shampoo and Conditioner for $1.50 each.  When I was checking out, the Suave products rang up at $1.75 each.  I pointed out the error, and the cashier double-checked the shelf, then adjusted the price.  I got $4 back from the sale, and ended up paying $8.60 for 8 bottles, or $1.08 per bottle.

Here are 7 things you can learn from my shopping adventures:

  1. Have a written budget.  In our family budget, we have envelopes for clothing and groceries.
  2. Don’t be afraid to walk away if the price isn’t right.
  3. Do a little research on-line to find the best price, and save yourself time.
  4. Follow a deal blog (like Money Saving Mom) for the most up-to-date sales, coupons, giveaways, and freebies.
  5. Shop with a list.  Don’t buy extra stuff you don’t need.
  6. Pay attention at the check-out.  Cashiers and stores occasionally make mistakes.
  7. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  I know I could have saved more money by purchasing different underwear at Walmart, but I chose the ones I liked the best and were easiest to distinguish from my older daughters’ clothing when we’re sorting the laundry.

What tips would you give someone hoping to become a smarter shopper?

Easy Homemade Lemonade

Photo Credit

Naomi has been after me to make some Homemade Lemonade, so this morning I did a Google search and found this recipe on  It received 5 stars, and was indeed a winner.  Try it, it’s delicious!

“Best Lemonade Ever”



  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  2. Remove seeds from lemon juice, but leave pulp. In pitcher, stir together chilled syrup, lemon juice and remaining 7 cups water.

I actually cut the recipe in half, because we only had 3/4 cup lemon juice in our freezer.  Although the recipe recommends 4 1/2 hours of preparation, I don’t think it took me nearly that long.  I just boiled the water and sugar mixture, and then took the kids shopping while it chilled.  When I got back, I added the lemon juice and the rest of the water.


Q & A Wednesday: How Do I Get My Husband On Board With Debt Freedom?

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park, February 2015

One of the questions that frequently comes up when I talk to wives about debt freedom, is “How do I get my husband on board?”  I am not a marriage counselor by any means, but I have been married for almost 10 years.  From the time Brad and I became aware of what “Debt Freedom” was, until we paid off every debt but our mortgage, took roughly 5 years.  So we have spent half of our marriage working toward debt freedom.  Here are a few things I have learned along the way:

1. As a matter of principle, I would advise anyone to put their marriage before debt-freedom. You may have to go slower in paying off your debt than you like, but having your husband’s cooperation will be better for your long-term future. I have run every major financial decision I have made by Brad first, before going through with it.  Remember, your marriage and your finances will be better if you work with each other, rather than against each other!

2. In the meantime, you can do lots of things to convince him what a good idea it is! 

Each time you “show and tell” your husband how much money you are saving or making, you will be teaching him about debt-freedom.

3. If you haven’t started yet, begin meal-planning and grocery shopping for your family once a week.  Sit down with your calendar or planner, and think about what your family likes to eat.  We usually do oatmeal or cereal for breakfast, and pb&j sandwiches with fruit and veggies and cheese on the side for lunch.  Once you find some foods your family likes to eat regularly, meal planning becomes more predictable from week to week. I know some people even cook the same dinner meals on certain days, like Spaghetti Mondays or Taco Tuesdays.  If you’re not great at cooking from scratch, you can start by just keeping your house stocked with good food that’s easy to prepare so you’re less likely to eat out in a pinch. You could learn how to make a few simple things in your crock pot (like a roast beef with carrots, potatoes, and onions) or keep fixings on hand for simple salads (spinach, craisins, apples, walnuts, and salad dressing).  Remember, the less you go shopping and eat out, the more you save!

4. You can make saving money a fun pastime for your whole family!  Take advantage of free promotions, on-line giveaways, free community activities, and inexpensive entertainment.  If you make saving money fun, it will not seem as burdensome. 

5. Another idea is that you and your husband can each have a “fun money” allowance each month to spend on whatever you want.  Agree on a fair amount together, and then budget for it.  Then your husband can buy what he wants without it impacting your overall family budget.

It may take a long time, but gradually your husband will become aware that you are making smart financial decisions and begin to trust your good judgement.  I’ve heard that in every marriage there is a saver and a spender.  Your husband may never think exactly like you, so be careful not to make him resent you in your campaign for “Debt Freedom.”  Together you can make a great team!  Opposites attract, so I’m betting your husband balances you out in more ways than one.  If you are the saver and he is the spender, then you will make sure the bills get paid, and he will make sure you remember to have fun along the way.  Finally, remember not to resent him for being who he is, and look for ways to appreciate him as you work together toward debt freedom!

What advice would you give wives who want to get their husbands on board with debt freedom?


My Funny Kids

"Cow Appreciation Day" at Chick-Fil-A

“Cow Appreciation Day” at Chick-Fil-A

My kids make me laugh out loud!  It’s not unusual to find me sitting down at the keyboard or searching for a piece of paper to jot down their latest hilarity.  Now without further ado, here is some of their humor to brighten your Monday!

Last night we were at the home of a friend for our small group Bible Study. Naomi, holding up a bowl of oyster crackers, asks, “Mommy, can I have some more manna?”

Oliver climbed into bed and gave me a kiss this morning.
Oliver: Mommy, you stink.
Me: My breath stinks?
Oliver: No. Your body stinks.

Naomi (5): What do you call an acorn with a house in its mouth?
Oliver (3): I don’t know.
Naomi: A tractor!
Oliver: Hahaha!
Naomi: What do you call a banana with a fence in its mouth?
Oliver: I don’t know.
Naomi: Coffee!
Oliver: Hahaha!

Naomi: I couldn’t drink all my hot chocolate because I had a smurf.
Me: A smurf?
Naomi: Yeah, you know, those things we were eating.
Me: OH! A s’more!

Naomi: Mommy, would you like some toast?
Me (suspiciously): What’s on it?
Naomi: Peanut butter, cinnamon, and syrup.

Me: Oliver, you know how to dress yourself. Why do you always bring me your clothes?
Oliver: Because I love you, and you are beautiful, and I want to marry you.
Me: Well…I guess that’s a good enough reason.

(Overheard after bedtime) Naomi: “Oliver, you can marry Mommy, but she is older than you, so when you get older she will die. So you have two choices; You can marry me or marry someone else. You can tell me your decision in the morning.”

Brad: If you want me to read more, you need to get ready for bed on time.
Naomi: Well, sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t.
Brad: Thank you, Captain Obvious.
Naomi: Daddy, I’m not a Captain. A Captain is a Pirate, and I’m not a Pirate. I’m a LADY.

Your husband may be playing too much Taylor Swift around the house, if you find yourself absentmindedly singing, “The players gonna play, play, play, and the haters gonna hate, hate, hate.” And your 2-year-old finishes the lyric, “Shake it off! Shake it off!”

I guess I have Oliver to thank for the fact that Evelyn calls a butter knife, a “sword.”

Naomi expressed deep concern today for those poor folks who must work all day and all night at the 24-hour grocery store, and never get to go home.

Naomi: Mommy, I found my two baby teeth in your jewelry box! I’m going to put them under my pillow again so I can get more money from the Tooth Fairy!
Me (annoyed that she found them): No, the Tooth Fairy already gave you money for your teeth. She won’t give you any more money until you lose more teeth.
Naomi (gasping): What if I lost FOUR teeth and I didn’t even know it?!

Naomi: Oliver, that’s not a monkey. It’s a chihuahua.
Me: No, that’s not a chihuahua. It’s a lemur.

Naomi: When we get to heaven, do you think God and Jesus will have a lot to show us and tell us?
Me: Yes, I do. What do you want to see?
Naomi: I want to see all the beds.

Oliver: Daddy, I love you.
Brad: I love you, too.
Oliver: If you love me, you will let me marry Mommy.
Brad: I don’t love you that much.

Naomi (5) and Oliver (4) are having a marital dispute as they prepare for a “road trip” in our living room. Oliver is filling the “RV” with more balloons than the old man in “UP.” Naomi is shouting, “Hon, if you put one more balloon in this RV, then I won’t let you come on this trip!” It might be time for professional counseling.  😉

Oliver: Some people like to eat fruit on their cereal.
Me: I know, but we don’t have any fruit right now.
Oliver: But we have fruit SNACKS!

What funny things have your kids said recently?

Our Financial Goals: Paying Off Debt (July 2015)

Our Financial Goals: Paying Off DebtPhoto Credit

When Brad and I got married in December 2005, we had $70,000 in student loan debt between us.  Then we bought a house with two mortgages for $150,000 and a used truck for $18,000, for a grand total of $238,000 in debt.  We learned about Dave Ramsey‘s methods in early 2010, and began snowballing our debts.  On March 29, 2015 we paid off our last student loan!!!  We are now DEBT FREE with the exception of one mortgage (only $103,000 to go).  In 9 1/2 years of marriage, we have paid off more than $135,000 in debt!  We have learned so much, and been inspired and helped by so many wonderful people.  We weathered a job loss, moved 6 times in 6 years, and added 3 kids.  God has been so gracious in providing for our every need along the way.  If this stay-at-home-mom and her husband in full-time youth ministry can achieve debt freedom, then you can too!

I just want to take a moment to say THANK YOU so much for being a part of my debt freedom community.  We became debt free almost exactly 4 years from the date I started this blog.  Thank you for all of your kind words, encouragement, and accountability through all the ups and downs along the way.  You have been a bright spot for me in a long and (at times) difficult journey, and that has meant so much to me!

Bumpass Hell at Lassen Volcanic National Park, July 2015

Bumpass Hell at Lassen Volcanic National Park, July 2015

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