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Thanks, Serving Joyfully!
“I’m no Ann Voskamp.”
The words spilled off my tongue last week as I was trying to explain my writing style to a company who wanted to possibly have me do some projects with them.
After I got off the phone, I realized what a big deal it was that I said those words. And, more importantly, that I said them with courage and confidence.
You see, for years, I wanted to be able to write poetically, beautifully, and poignantly. I wanted to be a wordsmith and an artist as a writer.
I’d read books by these writers. I’d study their writing style. I’d convince myself that I could write like that. And then I’d try… and the final result would come up short.
But I kept trying, because I thought that a writer had to write in beautiful phrases and word pictures. Otherwise, you weren’t a writer; you were a wannabe.
Slowly, ever so slowly, these past few years, I’ve stopped trying to be who I thought I was “supposed” to be and started embracing who God has made me to be. I stopped wishing I had her gifts or her talents, and started owning the gifts and talents God had given me.
And you know what? There’s been immense freedom and fulfillment in that.
I won’t ever be as poetic as Ann or as picturesque as Angie or as deep as Brene, and that’s 100% okay. My gift is to take big-picture concepts and break them down into bite-sized pieces. My writing style is practical and actionable. My voice is conversational.
That’s who God has created me to be as a writer… and I’m completely content with it.
Yes, I want to grow as a writer. Yes, I want to improve. Yes, I hope that I continue to stretch and challenge myself so I don’t stay in the safe zone as a writer.
But I’ve stopped wishing I were someone else and started owning my own voice. Because it’s the one I’ve been given.
I’m no longer a wannabe. I’m a writer.
Will you join me in this journey of seeking to embrace who God has called us to be? You are the best version of YOU. Believe it, own it, and live it!
It’s Day 11 of the 21 Days to a Simple Christmas Challenge!
I gathered together some of our Christmas and winter-themed books today to read to the children. Here’s what I came up with:
We also requested all of these books that were available from our library.
And here are the two Christmas-related books I’m reading this December: A Winter Dream by Richard Paul Evans and The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp.
What Christmas/Winter-themed books are you planning to read/reading this December? If so, I’d love to have you share your list or a link to your blog post (if you posted about it).
Looking for more? Click here to read other posts about 21 Days to a Simple Christmas
by Crystal on December 12, 2013
I didn’t have time to go to Aldi this week so I bought everything at Dillons. Note: The beef jerky in the picture above was NOT purchased at Dillons (it was purchased at a different store as a Christmas gift/stocking stuffer for my husband). I didn’t realize it was in the picture until several hours later…I’m guessing my toddler stuck it up on the table when I wasn’t looking.
1 Kroger Cocoa Puffs Cereal – $2.99
1 Dillons Eggs – $1.67
1 Romaine Lettuce – $1.49
1 gallon Dillons Milk – $2.98
1 Kroger Flour – $1.47
1.03 lbs Broccoli @ $1.49/lb – $1.53
1 Cucumber – $0.75
1 Carefree Liners – $1
1 Green Pepper – $0.75
0.46/lb Green Beans @ $1.69/lb – $0.78
1 Kroger Sliced Turkey Breast – $2.50
1 Dannon Vanilla Yogurt – $2.79
1 Kroger Mild Cheddar Cheese – $2.99
1 Kroger Mayo – $2.35
1 Comforts Baby Wash – $2.99
1 Organic Sugar – Marked down to $1.39
1 Kroger Sandwich Slim Buns – $1.99
2 Duracell Batteries (4 pk) – $1.99, used 2 $1/1 printable - $0.99 each after coupons
1 Tyson Frozen Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (48 oz) – $7.99
1 Clear Care – $10.99
1 Flour Tortillas – $2.49 (These were marked as $1.50 each and I realized when I got home that I was overcharged.)
1 SoftSoap Pump – $0.89
1 Garlic Salt – $1
2 Ramen Noodles – $0.20 each
1 Izze Sparkling Juice – $1, used Free e-coupon (no longer available) – Free after coupon
Total with tax ($4.30): $62.45
Cereal x 2, Eggs, Toast, Applesauce (I canned this several months ago)
Leftovers, Cheese & Crackers, Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Cheese Quesadillas, Fruit, Veggies & Crackers
Turkey Sandwiches, Chips, Steamed Broccoli
Chicken Tetrazzini, Peas
Deer Roast, Potatoes, Carrots, Biscuits
Chicken & Rice Casserole, Steamed Broccoli, Banana Muffins
Venison Stew, 30-Minute Rolls, Steamed Cauliflower
by Crystal on December 12, 2013
In case you missed this post yesterday, be sure to read it and enter to win a $500 Target gift card!
We’re officially kicking off the Say Goodbye to Survival Mode Book Launch Party today! Over the next six weeks, we’ll be giving away one BIG giveaway every single week. And trust me, you’ll want to enter to win each and every one of them!
I’m so excited about releasing this book — writing it was hard but oh-so-good! And I believe the message of the book is going to change lives in powerful ways.
The book shares my story of pulling out of the pit of survival mode and the practical steps I’ve taken to be living a life filled with meaning and purpose. It’s raw, vulnerable, and authentic — and it delves much deeper into my story and personal journey than I’ve had the space to do here on the blog.
I poured hours, days, weeks, and months into this project. And I’m truly thrilled with the final product — and I believe wholeheartedly that you will be blessed and encouraged by reading it.
Here’s more on it from the book description:
Calling the super busy, the stressed out, the overtired.
You know you’re made for a more fulfilling life. With this book, you’ll know where to start.
You wake up tired. Your to-do list is too long. The commitments—and the laundry—are piling up, but your energy keeps dwindling. You feel like you’re simply making it through the days, not living or enjoying any part of them.
In Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, you’ll find both practical ideas and big-picture perspective that will inspire you to live life on purpose. As a wife, mother of three, and founder of the wildly successful blog MoneySavingMom.com, Crystal Paine has walked the road from barely surviving to living with intention. With the warmth and candor of a dear friend, she shares what she’s learned along the way, helping you:
- feel healthier and more energetic by setting priorities and boundaries
- eliminate stress with savvy management of your time, money, and home
- get more done by setting realistic goals and embracing discipline
- rediscover your passions—and the confidence to pursue them
Packed with straightforward solutions you’ll use today and inspirational stories you’ll remember for years, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode is a must for any woman who’s ever longed for the freedom to enjoy life, not just survive it.
You all have been my cheerleaders on this journey. Your comments and emails have been the catalyst for so much personal growth in my life. And you all have inspired me to become something I never believed I could be — a writer.
You all show up here every day. You listen, you share, you comment, you inspire… and you keep showing up, even when I don’t always get posts up in a timely manner and even when it takes me longer than I hope to finish series. You keep showing up. And you tell your friends. And you leave beautiful comments. And you send me emails of encouragement.
This book deal never would have happened without you. So months ago when we started dreaming up ideas about a book launch, my heart’s desire was to bless you all and knock your socks off with giveaways and other fun things — as a small way for me to express how grateful I am for each of you.
We’re kicking things off by giving away a $500 Target gift card. You don’t have to do anything to enter other than leave your name and email address — just like all our other giveaways.
If you wanted to do something to help us launch this book, we’d love that. But know that it’s not required.
Three Things We’d Love to Have You Do:
1. Pre-order a copy of Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. If you pre-order, be sure to download your Freebies & Discounts Package worth $125! And if you want to order a copy of the book for a friend, you can gift them a Freebies & Discounts Package, too!
2. Sign up for the FREE 7-Day Say Goodbye to Survival Mode Course (see the orange banner at the top of the page here or click the check box in the giveaway form below). This course is packed with encouragement and practical tips to help you live with more purpose and joy.
3. Tell your friends about Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. We have buttons, tweets, banners, and more here to make it very easy to spread the word!
Again, if you don’t have time to do any of these three things, just skip straight to signing up for the $500 Target gift card below. One winner will be chosen and posted next Wednesday. I hope you win!
by Crystal on December 12, 2013
The following is a guest post from a reader who asked to remain anonymous
Growing up, my family vacationed in 5-star hotels and spent more at a single meal in a gourmet restaurant than my husband and I currently spend on groceries for an entire month!
Needless to say, the disparity between my financial situation and that of others in my family has led to some pretty awkward situations. While my own struggle with contentment is something I need to put in perspective, I’m pretty sure my family would do some things differently if they understood.
If someone you love has far less income than you, or is simply in a financial slump, they’d probably like for you to understand these concepts, too.
What seems like no biggie to you may be huge to me.
Let me give you an example: One year, my parents, siblings, and our families were together for a rare long weekend. Someone suggested that every family unit could pay for a couple meals throughout our visit. Sounds fair, right?
The problem was that my family rarely eats out on our own, especially at sit-down restaurants. And even when we do, we plan ahead, have coupons in tow, and usually drink water. We simply could not afford to foot the bill for 8 adults, plus children.
The situation was awkward, to say the least! Others footed the bills, and we felt like absolute heels. However, we simply couldn’t justify dipping into our meager savings or going into debt over a family get-together.
The next time a family gathering was planned, I suggested (plenty of time ahead) that each of our families take care of two meals, however we wanted to do it.
For our part, my husband and I cooked up a pretty impressive breakfast — if I do say so myself! I was able to make room in our budget and pair coupons and store deals to purchase the needed groceries ahead of time. I also used some Crystal’s freezer cooking strategies to reduce my time in the kitchen that week!
Everyone was impressed, and I was glad to be able to do my part. Some of the others did take everyone out to a favorite restaurant, and that was okay, too.
Even if I realize that I make one tenth of what some others make, giving them a $10 gift when they give me a $100 one feels crummy. Seeing my kids receive more gifts from extended family than they do from me is difficult, too.
My one sister was out-giving me with my kids at Christmas — in a big way. I told her how I felt, and that I wanted my kids to receive more from their parents than extended family. She completely understood but didn’t want to spend less on my kids than she did her other nieces and nephews.
She now gets my kids each a gift (usually after asking me for ideas, first), and then buys them savings bonds with the remainder of what she wants to spend.
I’ll try to be excited for you when you tell me about your home renovation or trip to Bermuda, but I just won’t have much to contribute to the conversation. I don’t want you to feel like you can’t share your exciting news with me, but please realize that if everyone else is spending a lot of time talking about things I don’t have or can’t do, I’m going to feel left out.
I’m not trying to be antisocial, but I’m pretty sure that saying “My husband glued down the part of the Formica countertop that keeps popping up,” wouldn’t quite fit in.
And then there’s Christmas.
In our own home, we try not to make Christmas about the gifts or money, but when you tell me what you gave your kids and ask me what I got mine, it’s hard for me not to feel like a bad mom. It’s also a little embarrassing when people ask my kids what they “got for Christmas.”
I do try to make our celebrations enjoyable, though, so I’d much prefer that we be asked what our favorite part of Christmas was, or something like that.
At the end of the day, I don’t want to be seen as “the poor one” or pitied for my (current) lot in life. I just want to be loved and appreciated and included in the festivities.
The author is a freezer-cooking , baby-wearing, stay-at-home mama who does some freelance writing while her 3 young kiddos nap. She’s married to a wonderful man who’s the pastor of a small country church and prefers to remain anonymous due to the content of this post.
by MSM Team on December 12, 2013
Please note that the price of these ebooks is currently $0.00, but that could change at any time. Be sure to verify before checking out that it is still free.
Unless otherwise noted, these ebooks are specifically for Kindles, but you can go here to download a free application that enables you to read Kindle ebooks on your PC.
Download a free copy of Gluten-Free Slow Cooker: Easy Recipes for a Gluten Free Diet. (Thanks, Vickie!)
Download a free copy of Christmas Poems and Short Stories. (Thanks, Patricia!)
Download a free copy of Hello My Name is Rose and this is My Christmas Story. (Thanks again, Patricia!)
Download a free copy of Sammie Snail Does Not Want a Shell.
Download a free copy of How to Start a Home-Based Jewelry Making Business.
Download a free copy of How to Clean Your House: Clean Your House Better and Faster in Just 30 Minutes.
Download a free copy of 20 Best Ever Christmas Treat Recipes.
Download a free copy of Little Owl’s Big Wait.
It’s Day 11 of the 21 Days to a Simple Christmas Challenge! Christmas wouldn’t be complete without reading some wonderful Christmas stories and books!
Personally, I’m reading through Ann Voskamp’s book, The Greatest Gift, this season. It’s beautiful, inspiring, and convicting.
And then we always check out a lot of Christmas books from the library. Here are a few of our favorites (most of these should be available at your local library):
If you have younger children, it’s fun to gather a basket-full of Christmas read-alouds and plan a daily time to read for 10-15 minutes. Let your children choose from the basket to make it more engaging for them.
Want to make it even more exciting? wrap up the books and let them unwrap a few each day.
What are some of your family’s favorite read-aloud Christmas books? I’d love to find new ones to add to our list of favorites!
Day 11 Project
1. Read chapter 7 from Celebrating & Savoring a Simple Christmas if you didn’t get a chance to read it yet. (Did you sign up for your free copy yet? If not, click here and fill out the form to be emailed a copy.)
2. Pick 1-2 Christmas-related books to read this year personally. If you have children, pick at least a few books to read together as a family this Christmas season.
4. Come back around 8 p.m. tonight where I’ll share a few of the Christmas books we’ll be reading over the next two weeks.
Looking for more? Click here to read other posts about 21 Days to a Simple Christmas