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Review: Say Good Bye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

Say-Goodbye to survival mode

Having been a mom for over two decades, I have experienced survival mode intimately several times. Everyone is susceptible to becoming overwhelmed—too busy and too tired to have any hope that things can ever improve—but there’s something about being a mom that seems to invite this condition.

One mom who has overcome survival mode is Crystal Paine.  In Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, she shares 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep more, and Restore your Passion for Life.  Having gone through post-partum depression, financial stress, and burn out herself, Crystal lets us peek into her world as she realized that she was destroying her own life by trying to do it all.  She learned to stop and to focus only on the best. That is truly the key to learning to thrive.

But of course, ‘focus on the best’ is not a very hands-on piece of advice.  So Crystal gives checklists for figuring it out what ‘the best’ is for us right now.  Then she gets practical and talks about goals and the value of cultivating small, daily habits that can change our lives.  Of course, since she is the Money Saving Mom she discusses being intentional with money, too.  She also outlines her struggles and solutions with regards to household management.  Personally, I think that when we’re meeting goals in all these areas, we’ve made our life a whole lot more peaceful already.

But of course, life happens.  Goals do not always get met even if we work at them, and a ‘perfect’ life can fall apart in an instant.  So, what if we feel like a failure?  Many women struggle with negative self-image and can talk themselves into feeling like losers although everyone else admires them.  In fact, Crystal tells the story of reading the blog of a supermom and wishing she could be like her; then she was shocked to discover that the supermom she envied wanted to be like her!

Life lived for oneself is not only wrong but is also very empty. Crystal encourages the barely surviving person that he or she can make a difference to others.  It does not take a lot of money or time or energy to brighten someone’s day, and it can make our own more cheerful too.

All these ideas will help us to say goodbye to survival mode, but there’s one more aspect of life that we moms often have trouble with: taking care of ourselves.  From bitter experience, Crystal points to the importance of finding time for Bible reading and prayer, of focusing on our husbands, of emphasizing friendships, and of physical self-care such as rest, relaxation, healthy eating, reading, and fun.  I would not call some of these ‘self care’, but I agree with Crystal that they are crucial to life.

Did Crystal say anything really new in this book?  Not at all, but she packaged it in her own enthusiastic, transparent style.  If you like the inspirational posts she writes on MoneySavingMom.com, you’ll love this book.

This book has meant a lot to me.  With better health, many new opportunities, and only three children now left in our homeschool, I have been trying to re-evaluate the things I do.  So, although I am not in survival mode, Crystal’s book is becoming a theme of my year as I ponder goals, habits, routines, failures, and how God wants me to serve him.

If you, like me, thrive on the occasional Christian motivational book and want to make sure your daily activities and choices are wise, you will enjoy Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.  And if you are in survival mode, you probably desperately need it.  I highly recommend this book and wish you God’s blessing as you ponder how to live your life wisely to God’s honor rather than just surviving it.

This is yet another book in the in the 2014 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, and is also linked to Saturday ReviewsWorks For Me Wednesday , and Raising Homemakers.

Disclosure I received a free review copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in order to share my honest opinions.

Easter Thoughts for Every Day

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I am reading through Easter week in the Bible and with Ann Voskamp, relearning with my heart and mind why Christ came:  to save us from our sins and from all the misery that sin has brought into the world.

And I want to give thanks for this, and to teach my children to do so, in words of prayer and in actions of gratitude.

So, in the midst of this broken world, full of tearful mysteries, we fill our minds with God’s Word.  That’s where the answers are, the answers to our questions about living, choices, decisions, and disasters.  That’s also where the questions are, for the Psalms give words to our struggles, those we’ve lived with and even those that we have not yet faced.  And they teach us to give thanks.

So, there it is.  The Bible, God’s Word, is a primer on living, on gratitude, and on living gratefully.

But sometimes, when we are overwhelmed and foggy-minded because of inner struggles—just sometimes—we need a summary, something simple enough to remember in the midst of Satan’s onslaughts.

Something Biblical and straightforward, like this quote on our bulletin board:

1.When in doubt, don’t.

2.Be where you are supposed to be,

when you are supposed to be there,

doing what you are supposed to be doing.

(from  Courageous Living)

Or something all-encompassing, like the Heidelberg Catechism, which pours God’s comfort and healing and truth into our lives.

Yes, occasionally we need something else, not to replace the Bible, but to show us how to hold onto it.

Because God is good.  No matter what happens. This is what Good Friday and Easter tell us: God is good, incredibly good, to us.

This post is linked to  Works For Me Wednesday , Raising Homemakers.

Review: Cartier Finder of the St. Lawrence by Ronald Syme

Cartier Finder of the St. Lawrence

Young Jacques Cartier, fishing the Grand Banks of Newfoundland with his father, was curious about the land he saw westward, but no one else was interested.  They just wanted to catch cod and go home.

When Cartier grew up and became captain on his own ship, he no longer wanted to fish in the cold North Atlantic.  Instead, he headed to Brazil to make his fortune.  He made very little money, but word of his excellent seamanship reached the ears of Count Brion-Chabot, High Admiral of France.

Brion-Chabot was looking for someone to explore the new world for France, and Cartier seemed an excellent choice. So, in 1534, Jacques Cartier dusted off his old dream and sailed across the ocean, past the old fishing grounds, with two sixty-ton schooners.  His goal was to find a waterway across the new world and to report on the land he explored.

In three separate voyages, Cartier mapped the St. Lawrence, got to know the Indians, and learned how to survive harsh winters.  He made great discoveries and enormous mistakes, claimed the land that became Canada for France, and was eventually rewarded with a pension by King Francis I.

Cartier's Voyages

This well-written, appealingly-illustrated book is best for grades 4-8.  I read it aloud to my girls (11 and 13) as part of our Canadian History studies and it was as well-received as a novel.  We have enjoyed every Ronald Syme history book we’ve read; if you find one at a second hand sale, it is probably worth getting.

This is one of the books we use in our multi-year, literature-based Canadian History course.

Other resources about this time, with links to my blog posts:

Disclosure:  We found this book at a used book sale and I am not compensated for writing this review.

This post is linked to Finishing Strong and Trivium Tuesdays as well as the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Weekly Wrap Up: School, Spring, and Spring Jobs


Spring Flood

Spring Flood

In our life this week

Spring has arrived, my tough kids are wearing shorts and sandals, and I sometimes take off my cozy sweater. With the sunny, warm weather, we are all getting up earlier and playing outside more.   My husband, who was away for a week, left when our world was white, and came home to a snow-free world full of water.

We took an afternoon off to visit our favorite thrift shop, dropping off one bag of clothing and buying another one for $20. We do this a few times a year, and it is always an adventure.

We’re working on spring jobs:  planning the garden, selling old homeschool resources, washing windows, organizing homeschool marks, and decluttering.

Oh, and the older kids went out to watch Captain America.  I’m conflicted about that, but my husband isn’t.

In our homeschool

Due to her results in the CEMC math competition, Miss 16 has been invited to participate in a week long math workshop!  We’re very excited.  In her schoolwork this week she has focused on math, chemistry, art, Bible. She has also discovered that she does not enjoy Chaucer, and I don’t blame her.

Miss 13 has done a lot of French, math, and science, and it’s time she gets back to her Grammar of Poetry, Canadian history, and writing.  She has discovered all sorts of neat patterns in the sums of the digits of the numbers in various series.  She has concluded that there are probably always such patterns….

Miss 11 is continuing to make steady progress in all her work, but with the warm weather it is so difficult for her to concentrate!  If only she could understand that by working diligently in the mornings she would be able to play most of each afternoon!

And Mr. 18 is home most days, studying for his university exams.

In our gluten free kitchen… Corn pancakes.  Asparagus bisque.    Stampot with sauerkraut.  Scalloped potatoes.  Porridge.  Curried ham and bean soup.  Oatmeal cookies.  Sausage scrambled eggs.  Lots of vegetables.   Spaghetti.  Apple crisp.  Sausages, barbequed pork chops. Grapefruits.

Some of my favorite things were

  • My husband’s return after almost a week away.
  • Skype and email.
  • Warm sunshine and sparkling blue water.
  • Walking.
  • Measuring the speed of light with a chocolate bar (I’ll write about that soon).

Questions/thoughts I have…  Always check flight information carefully.  We all thought my husband would come home tonight rather than last night!

Fitness… I managed to walk a lot this week, both outside and on the treadmill, and it felt so good!  The physio exercises are wonderful as well, as long as I take every second day off.  My husband tells me that is what weight lifters do, and that makes me smile.

We did an experiment with chocolate…and then the chocolate needed eating of course.  I over-indulged and it was not a good idea!

Some of the things I’ve been working on

  • Homeschooling.
  • Finishing our enormous vegetable garden seed order.  Yes, both the garden and the seed order are enormous.
  • Preparing for the homeschool used book and curriculum sale.
  • Little bits of spring cleaning: washing a few windows, dejunking a bit.
  • Trying to organize the huge number of reviews coming up as well as the many article ideas I’ve scribbled out in the dark middle of the night.
  • Figuring out how to organize–and reset–my passwords.

I’m reading… Matthew. I finished Guiltless Living, The Miting, and The Unfinished Clue, one of Miss 16’s books. Currently I’m reading A House for My Name, The 40 Most Influential Christians, and Pure Love:  Solomon’s Song of Songs.

Reading Aloud… We’re still reading Jeremiah, and I feel so sad for him.  Unfortunately, believers throughout the world share his experience of telling God’s Word and suffering for it.  (The Miting shows a chilling example of this in an Amish community; review coming in mid-May.)  We’re also still working on Volume 5 of In de Zoete Suikerbol, the Kids Can Press French and English Word Book, and Young People’s History of the Church. 

I’m grateful for …. Spring.

Quote or link to share….   From Courageous Living:  “When in doubt, don’t.”

This post is linked to Kris’s Weekly Wrap Up .


Review: Guiltless Living by Ginger Hubbard


Ginger Hubbard is a sinner.  She is also a saint.  In fact, she is a sinning saint, just like all Christians are—redeemed by God, giving in to temptation over and over, and finding forgiveness and grace over and over, too.  Because of who Jesus is and what he has done, she and we are guiltless—forgiven—before God.

In her book, Guiltless Living, Ginger constantly confesses her own sins, and though they are not really ‘big’ sins, they are nasty.  In this way she wants us, too, to learn to confess our sins because…

We cannot fully appreciate the depths of God’s holiness until we fully acknowledge the depths of our sinfulness. It is for this reason that God calls Christians to be real. The sooner we face the reality of our depravity, the sooner we accept God’s atonement for that depravity and enter into the freedom of guiltless living.

In order to lead us to confessing our sins, Ginger writes about being critical, proud, controlling, impatient, miserly, selfish, and outwardly religious.  In each area she discusses the Bible and how Christians should live…and then she points to God’s grace, because we all sin.  She also includes a Bible study so that individuals and groups can really think through all this and apply it to themselves.

Guiltless Living sounds like a good book, right?  Why then do I dislike it?  Is it because of the author’s breezy style when writing about sin?  Is it because of her occasionally foolish statements, like saying that when Peter walked on the water, the other disciples were missing out on a great spiritual adventure because of their lack of initiative in hopping out of the boat too?  Is it because she seems so full of herself?

Or could it perhaps be because I recognize myself in her and don’t like what I see?  Miss 16 and I discussed this book, and we could not come up with the reason why this book rubs me the wrong way.  Except, perhaps, its often flippant tone.  In any case, Guiltless Living has caused me to think about what I do and why I do it.  And that, I think, was Ginger’s intention, for she says,

Please know that my aim is for us all to grow closer to Jesus. I humbly challenge you to consider your reaction to the shocking truths of my heart. As you do, ask yourself two questions: Am I willing to acknowledge my own sinful capabilities? Do I extend God’s grace to sinners through my attitudes and actions toward them?

Should you read this book?  If you think you are a pretty good person, yes, study it to have your conscience reactivated.  If you are overwhelmed in your struggle with sin, read it to be reminded of God’s grace and goodness.   But if you don’t read your Bible regularly, I encourage you to do that first, because that is far more important than any human book, especially one like this.

For more information, see the trailer.

This is yet another book in the in the 2014 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, and is also linked to Saturday Reviews

Disclosure: I received a free ebook from Cross Focused Reviews for the purpose of this review and have presented my honest opinion.