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3 Important Lessons I Learned When I Was 34

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This month, I turned 35. I’ve been reflecting on this year of my life the past week and realizing that so much has happened in the last year.

I wrote a post last year on 3 Important Things I Learned When I Was 33 and I found that post recently and read through it and was inspired to write another post about what I learned when I was 34.

1. I Am Stronger Than I Realized

“You’re not athletic.” I told myself this lie for years. I let it dictate my decisions. I let it stifle me from even trying dozens of things.

This year, I committed to stop letting the voices in my head and the lies I’ve believed about myself limit the choices that I make and be the labels that I wear.

So, I stopped saying, “I’m not athletic” and, at my husband’s crazy encouragement, I started a weight-lifting program.

I told myself I would stick with it for 6 weeks. I was sure I would hate it.

And I did… for the first 3 weeks. I dreaded it. I made up excuses to try to get out of it. I got overwhelmed at trying to learn how to do the exercises.

5 Things I Learned When I Was 34

Some days, I felt like I was going to throw up or pass out. Some days I cried during the workout. Most days, I got frustrated because it was so stinkin’ hard.

But for some reason — probably because I am about as stubborn as they come — I didn’t give up.

I kept showing up. I kept giving it my all — even when it felt like my all was pretty pathetic.

Little bit by little bit, I started actually liking it. I got a little stronger. I pushed myself a little harder. The exercises and proper form got a little easier. And I began to see muscles in places on my body that I’d never seen them before.

It’s now been almost eight months since I began this program and I have fallen madly in love with weight-lifting. For real.

Y’all. I’m here to tell you that I AM athletic and I am a whole lot stronger than I ever knew I was.

I’m also living proof that there’s so much freedom when you stop letting the voices in your head and the lies you believe about yourself limit the choices that you make and be the labels that you wear.

You are stronger than you think. You are braver than you know.

5 Things I Learned When I Was 34

This year, I also challenged myself outside my comfort zone by recording myself on live video on Periscope and Facebook Live, traveling to two new countries by myself, snow-boarding, hand-lettering, and indoor rock-climbing.

Here’s what I’m learning: I’m not going to love everything new I attempt, but challenging myself to get brave and just jump out and try — even when it scares me or I think I won’t like it or be good at it — has stretched me as a person and shown me that I’m stronger than I think I am.

Best of all, I’ve discovered a few things I absolutely love that I never thought I would and would have never known that I would fall in love with them had I not tried them and stuck with them for a few weeks (i.e. weight-lifting and live video).

I’ve missed out on a lot in life by sitting on the sidelines in the safe zone. I don’t want to camp out there anymore! There’s a world of excitement and thrill and color just waiting to be discovered… Right outside my comfort zone!

2. Life Has More Meaning When I’m Not Addicted to Productivity

Last year around this time, I hit business burnout in a bad, bad way. I was beyond tired.

I had lost my joy, my enthusiasm for running a business, and my inspiration for blogging.

In fact, for the first time in 10 years of running a business, I began seriously considering quitting. This idea was so appealing to me that we started a series of in-depth talks with a large company interested in buying MoneySavingMom.com.

I was so ready to walk away from it all. But instead, I decided to do something radical: I declared a Year Of Rest, and I said no to just about everything.

It wasn’t easy. Trust me. It was agonizing. It felt like I was walking away from everything I had worked so hard to build and I worried that I was making a huge mistake.

But I knew I couldn’t keep living like I had been living. It was sucking the life out of me and leaving me drained dry.

5 Things I Learned When I Was 34

I’ve spent the last 10 months untethering myself from being chained to a worth based on productivity, prying my hands off of my tight grip on trying to control so many things in my life, and stepping way back from my usual highly-driven, task-oriented focus.

I’ve shut out a lot of noise (unsubscribing from business email newsletters, unsubscribing from business podcasts and blogs, and cutting way back on the number of how-to and must-do types of books I usually read).

I’ve walked away from great opportunities. I’ve stopped trying to be on the cutting edge of running an online business. I’ve embraced smaller numbers, smaller opportunities, and a smaller team. I’ve walked away from a lot of things that I once held onto very tightly.

Saying no over and over and over again has given me space to figure out what’s really important to me, what really excites me, and what I really love. It’s freed me up to have clarity and focus and inspiration and energy like never before.screenshot-2016-10-18-14-23-43

I’ve slept more. I’ve laughed more. I’ve developed a few new deep friendships. I’ve tried new things (and I’ve surprised myself by loving some of them!) I’ve stopped obsessing so much over things I can’t change.

I’ve started wearing the color purple again. I’ve tried new foods, new styles, new drinks, and new experiences. I’ve gained a few pounds and not freaked out about it.

I’ve started volunteering at church in the children’s ministry. I’ve joined a women’s Discipleship Group at our church.

I’ve even given myself freedom to spend money on things “just because” — like discounted flowers and water balloons. I’ve become a lot more spontaneous. I’ve let myself sleep in without setting an alarm.

I loved deeper. I’ve trusted more wholeheartedly.

I’ve asked myself hard questions about the future. I’ve considered the why behind what I’m doing. I’ve let other people see the under-belly of who I really am without pretending. I’ve welcomed people into my messy.

When I chose “Rest” as my word this year, I had no idea just how much it would impact and transform my life!

5 Things I Learned When I Was 34

3. You Have to Feel the Pain to Heal the Pain

That said, here comes the real and raw stuff (because a beautiful journey also includes some pain and messiness, doesn’t it??)…

I’ve talked about the Year of Rest multiple times on the blog and on social media. So many people have commented with things like, “I’m sure that’s been amazing!” Or, “Are you feeling all rested and refreshed?” Or, “It must be so incredible.”

The truth is: It has been wonderful — but not at all in the way I was expecting. I was expecting a year of rest to be filled with more sleep, more time with my family, more fun, more reading, more time for things I love. And it has been that… and that’s been wonderful.

But what has completely caught me off guard is that it’s also been a year of ugly crying. I’m not a crier, usually. I can be the only one in a group to experience something deeply touching without ever shedding a tear. I’m known to be stoic and non-emotional.

That’s all changed this year, however. I’ve probably cried more tears than I have in all the past 20 years put together.
5 Things I Learned When I Was 34

As I’ve been weaning myself off my addiction to “hustle” and intentionally sought quietness and stillness in my life, I’ve struggled to figure out who I am without all of the noise, the accolades, and the accomplishing.

I’ve realized that the busyness was a bandage I tried to slap on. Instead of addressing deep wounds and aches and longings in my soul; I tried to medicate with productivity.

It felt good in the moment. It numbed the pain. It filled the empty spaces. And as long as I kept up the out-of-breath living, I didn’t have to confront the reality or deal with the broken parts of me I’d rather hide.

I realized that instead of dealing with the pain and hurt and hard situations of life over the past number of years, I’d stuffed them down deep, pretended they didn’t exist, and heaped on more busyness to distract myself.
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As I’ve asked myself, “What does my soul need?” I’ve realized that self-care in this season has been me allowing myself to cry. Allowing myself space to really feel. To acknowledge the pain. To open up with safe friends in safe spaces about how much my heart feels broken by situations in my past.

Self-care has meant letting other people see the under-belly of who I really am. It’s meant welcoming people into the authentic messiness and rawness and not apologizing.

It’s been ugly and real… and oh so healing for me! Allowing myself the space and permission to feel, the permission to acknowledge the pain, and welcoming people in to see that I’m a broken, hot mess some days, has made me so much stronger, happier, and healthier than I’ve been in, well, probably ever.

3 Things I Learned When I Was 34

Would You Do Me a Birthday Favor?

If you’re usually a quiet reader here, I’d LOVE it if you “de-lurked” and left a comment on this post introducing yourself. Hearing from my readers is one of my favorite things, so if you have a moment, I’d love to hear a little about you — where you’re from, how long you’ve been reading here, and anything else about you/your family that you’d like to share. Thanks SO much!

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381 Comments

  • Lydia senn says:

    This is great. I am turning 34 in a couples months and kind of struggling with that. AH! You’ve inspired me this year to stop chasing approval. I am have already been approved.

  • Tania says:

    I have been reading you for 7 years!! I am a homeschooling mama to 4 kids from 18 months to 7 and we just got licensed to start foster care! We are so excited yet so nervous to see where this foster care journey is going to take us!! I love all your helpful money saving tips! Esspecially as we grow our family again!! We are praying about sending our kids to a ambelside school next year 3 days a week. so I have loved watching your kids transition to school after being homeschooled!

  • Julie says:

    Julie here-been reading since 2009 and have only commented a handful of times. Happy birthday! Glad you chose not to walk away!

  • Mary Jo says:

    I’m not exactly a lurker, but I don’t comment often. Happy birthday!

    I’ve been reading your writing since your Biblical Womanhood days. I was 15 when I started following your blog and now I’m 26, I’ve been married for 8 1/2 years, and I have four kids. I kind of feel like I grew up reading your blogs and your writing has definitely shaped my thinking over the years.

    Thank you for all you do! You are an inspiration. <3

  • Kim says:

    I’ve been lurking your blog since either 2008 or 2009. (I think shortly after you started?).
    I was married at the time with no kids then so a lot of your home and routine stuff really helped get me on a fantastic start before the little people started showing up.
    I’m 34, my husband works in ministry full time, I work part time as a Licensed Professional Counselor, and we had 3 boys in just under 4 years (they’re currently 5, 4 (in 2 weeks), and 18 months).
    We live in Colorado Springs.

  • Rachel says:

    Definitely a “silent” reader here! However, I’ve been reading your blog for YEARS! It has been so fun to virtually journey through life with you. We seem to have much in common. My husband and I live in South Central Missouri and have two kids. Our son is 10 and is a soccer fanatic! Our daughter is 18 and just began her freshman year of college. I grew up in Branson (my parents still live there) and have spent many, many days at SDC, too! =)
    Also, it looks like we may be moving to your area next fall, as my husband has been presented with a new opportunity at work.
    Thanks so much for the work you do on MSM, it is an encouragement to me!!

  • Erica says:

    I’ve read your blog since your Biblical Womanhood days too! I comment very infrequently but your words speak to me often.
    I’m a 46 year old (ouch that’s hard to type!) married mother of 4 kids ranging in age from a sophomore in HS to a kindergartener. I work full time outside the home and live in northern CA wine country.
    I have to say how much I have enjoyed “watching” you evolve as a person – your joy in Christ comes through in such authentic ways. I appreciate your blog as a safe space. Thanks for that.
    Happy Birthday!

  • Amber says:

    Happy birthday from Amber in Saginaw, MI! I’ve been reading your blog for the last 5 years or so! Thanks for honestly sharing your journey and how God is molding you! The best is yet to come!

  • gayle says:

    Hello, I started reading you a few years ago when I was going thru bad financial times and seeking help from any source. Even tho I am much better financially now, I enjoy that aspect of your blog the most. I am a 68 yr old Christian woman from Virginia.

  • Mandy says:

    I have been stalking your blog for about 10 years now (or longer – you were just getting started). I think I’ve only commented once. I definitely need to take the time to say (shout) THANK YOU! You have encouraged me, saved me money, stretched me, and made me laugh. I’ll keep watching, even if it’s quietly, thank you for all you do!

  • Bethany M says:

    Bethany here. I’ve followed for 8.5 years. I began when I lived in SC and a friend told me about you. Then we moved to WA to live with my husband’s parents. My husband found a job working for the railroad and after 4.5 years there, he was transferred to SoCal, which was 2 years ago. It’s been a ride and needed to be budget conscience the whole way. Sure have enjoyed your site!

  • Sarah F. says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I’ve known of you since 2001ish when Jesse and my now husband were roommates at my alma mater. At the time I only knew you as “The-girl-Jesse-talks-to-all-the-time-on-the-phone”. 🙂 It wasn’t until maybe 6 or 7 years ago that I started following moneysavingmom and realized you had the same last name as Jesse – did a little research and realized the reason was because you married him! My husband and I work full time outside the home while we are also building a ministry to college students (we board students and have bible studies/discussions, etc.) in Lynchburg, VA. While not a mom, your moneysavingmom tips have definitely inspired me along the way of saving for our ministry and now I’m also helping to teach and mentor students in the wonders of budgeting and shopping at Aldi. May your coming year be one of knowing God even more!

  • Amanda says:

    Been reading for 7? Years. I have been married for 8 and homeschool my kiddos that are 3 and 5. I learned so much in the beginning from your blog. I am 31 and recently went through a period of acknowledging some hurts and working through some wounds. It’s so hard! Glad you had a restful and emotionally productive year!!

  • Franziska says:

    Hi. My name is Fran (I’m originally from Germany) and just moved with my lovely husband and two children to Hendersonville, TN. We are still trying to figure out if we like it here and despite the fact that we moved every year for the past 3 years this move is really rough on me. I’m having a tougher time making friends, my daughter started K this year and I’m not in love with this area yet. I have been following you for the past 3 years and I love this post. I’m turning 35 on Sunday and I struggle for the past two months with what I want to be. I applied to some executive jobs but haven’t been in the workforce for 5 years. Also, I’m not eager to move to DC. I’m just tired and procrastinate lately. It is tough figuring out who you are at that age and I do want to work again but not sure what yet. You inspire me with your quotes and real honest posts. Thanks!

  • Jeanie McDaniel says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I’ve followed your blog these last five years at the suggestion of one of my daughters. I just finished up the adventure of homeschooling nine children.

    I don’t normally spend more than ten minutes a day online, but those ten minutes almost always include looking at what’s new on your blog.

    God bless you!

  • Rachel says:

    Happy Birthday! I’m Rachel and I’ve been following your blog for many years now, and this is my first comment. =) I’m 36 and a homeschooling mom to a 15 and 12 year old. We are originally from Washington state but the military has relocated us over the years and right now we’re in Georgia, getting ready to head somewhere new next year. We were actually stationed up at Fort Campbell in Kentucky a few years back and LOVED going up to Nashville!! It has some of our favorite things; Opryland, the Predators, and many a vegan restaurants. =) Thank you for sharing your heart in this post tonight, it’s been wonderful to read!

  • Rose says:

    Hi, I’ve been ‘mostly’ a silent follower. I may have commented once or twice before. Until I started following you a few years ago, I kind of felt like ‘the only one of my kind’, an INTJ (who doesn’t know if personality test labels are true) who likes how goals, schedules, budgets, menus, routines, and to-dos help me focus on the important areas in my life. I turn 50 next month and there is so, so much more I want to do, see, be… My motto this year has been “Blessings – see one, be one”. I’ve seen lot, hopefully I’ve been one. 🙂

  • Pamela says:

    Hi I’m a mom to a sophomore in high school and I’m recently separated (not by choice). I’m 54 and a school librarian. I’ve been reading for years ! I’ve always been busy-my parents are deceased and my daughter is active in sports. Now with my separation, I’m learning to say no more often to our busy life ; your blog helps me in so many ways-with my spiritual life, my organizational “skills” and saving money. As my life changes, I continually seek out the good and I’m glad to have your blog to read daily for the inspiration and hope I need.

  • Tiffany says:

    Hi Crystal,

    I’ve been a silent reader of yours for six years here in Sunrise, Florida. (I found your blog when I was pregnant with my first son and you posted weekly deals every Monday on AOL.)

    I’ve just had my second son and your posts have made our lives a little better because of all of the deals you’ve posted. (I stockpiled my first son’s diaper solely based on the diaper deals I found on your site!)

    This is a long time coming, but thank you! You’ve made Christmases less stressful (and more frugal) and you’ve helped me provide for my family more responsibly.

  • Heather says:

    I have been following your blog since 2008. I can relate to so many things you say. I have been blessed both by the financial tips and your personal stories. It’s the only blog I read on a regular basis. Thank you for keeping it real. God has used your blog to richly bless me!

  • Joanna says:

    Happy Birthday 🙂 I’ve been reading your blog since few years… I found it when I was googling ways to save money to be able to stay home with the kids once they come to my life :)… I’m now SAHM with 4 and 5 year olds 🙂 Your blog was actually the first blog that I ever read regurarly and how I actually learnt about the “blog” thing 🙂 before that I just read random websites and didn’t know what blogs are 🙂

  • Rachel says:

    Happy birthday to you!

    I have been a lurker for years now, though I am not quite sure exactly how long. Maybe 9 years? I’ve really enjoyed your new season of rest and authenticity. You have inspired me to pursue some rest in my own life after years of success driven busyness. I have also found that rest is more difficult than it sounds, and really does require dealing with and feeling those things we have suppressed. Thanks for having the courage to continue this blog. I hope you know it is encouragement for so many women.

  • Cheryl says:

    Hello Crystal! Birthday blessings to you from an “older” follower. I just turned 45 this past June and my husband and I have been married 24 years. We have a 12 year old boy and a 14 year old girl who attend a Christian school. I’ve been reading your site for at least 5 years. I love to bake, cook, tolerate cleaning, and spending time outdoors in my beautiful state of Michigan. I’m a part-time librarian at a community college. Many times I find myself talking to you as I read your posts, cheering you on, or just pondering what you wrote. Enjoy your day and relax with your family! (I hardly remember 34, my kids were just little then..)

  • Vena Brown says:

    Hi. I have only ever commented once or twice, but I have been reading you for about 9 years I believe. I am from Albuquerque, NM. I found you during the hardest years of our lives, trying to climb out of a huge mountain of debt. We have come so far, and now only have mortgages on our house and the rentals. I leaned heavily on your blog, The Prudent Homemaker, and a few crafting blogs during the first several years for deals and ideas on how to make it each month on budget. I was so glad for your blog. I, honestly am so glad for how you have kind of come back around to those first days a little on your blog this year. I turned 38 this month, so happy birthday to us! I have been married 18.5 years, got married when i was 19 and he was 24. I’m mom to 5 kids, ages 15, 13, 11, 9, and 4. I homeschool 3 of them, my 15 year old goes to high school, and my 11 year old goes to a magnet school.
    I’m glad everything is going well for you and your family and you are starting to breath a little 🙂

  • Donna says:

    Happy, Happy Birthday Crystal! This was a beautiful post, and thank you for sharing it. I may have commented once or twice before, if even that. I am a quiet observer, but I couldn’t deny you your birthday request :-). I am a work-at-home, homeschooling mom to three boys, ages 12, 14 & 16. We’ve been homeschooling since the beginning and it’s been quite the adventure. I’ve been with you since your Biblical Womanhood Days–at least as long as Katherine is old because I vividly remember when you were pregnant with her. So yeah, you’re an old friend! Wishing you many more years of happiness and joy! xoxo

  • stacy says:

    Thank you so much. I really appreciate hearing your blunt honesty about life. It is a real encouragement. Also, you are right about the color purple. It was my favorite as a girl, too, but somehow I had forgotten what joy wearing it and having it around has always brought me. Thank you for that reminder! Birthday blessings to you!

  • Missa says:

    Crystal,
    I have been reading your blog and daily emails for about 5 years. I’ve always admired your entrepreneurial spirit and your work ethic. Your Year of Rest has also inspired me. The number 3 in your list is probably the most important thing you’ll take away from this year. I am so happy for you. And so incredibly grateful to you for sharing your experience. Thank you. Happy birthday.
    Best wishes,
    Missa

  • Chris says:

    Happy birthday! I love your blog! I’ve been reading since Biblical Womanhood.

  • Chris says:

    Happy birthday, Crystal. May God continue to bless you. I hope you are encouraged by reading all of the comments from your readers. I know I am sitting here just so touched by how many ladies have been reading and following along with you for so long, just like I have. I will never forget your kindness to me earlier this year. You are the real deal.

  • Kacy says:

    Happy birthday, my dear! It’s so good to reflect, isn’t it? I’m Kacy and I’m a sporadic commenter and have read your blog since 2007. It has been so good to see your personal journey unfold. And if I may, you’re exactly where you are suppose to be. I’ve been praying for you for a long time and it is so good to see what this year of rest has brought to you and revealed to you.

    I’ve had a very similar experience with rest, although mine was not elective. I battle 14 diseases and conditions and boy has that stripped me down. It has been the ugliest, hardest thing, yet the most beautiful and deeply healing thing that has happened to me.

    I love helping people gain health, wellness and healing through food choices, emotional support and spiritual guidance. I’ve been married for 11 years and have a beautiful 8 year old daughter. Life with illness is hard and at times all consuming, but I’m beyond blessed with my family and how God has shown His presence…always. I’m grateful that my worth is not tied into my do and if hadn’t gone through all that I have, I don’t know if I would’ve truly received that deep into my spirit….you’ve got competition in the stubbornness department!

    Crystal, I value you, your journey, your vulnerability and much more. I hope this birthday is filled with deep peace and love!

  • Kim says:

    Happy Birthday, Crystal. I’ve been reading your blog since 2010 when my business started to go south with the economy. I really enjoy your personal posts like this one. I’m from Chesapeake, Va and do home childcare. We are finally getting Aldi here and I can’t wait! I have learned so much from your blog Dave Ramsey, couponing, cool new things like Yaarlo, goal setting, and I love doing the spring cleaning with you. I love your spirit.

  • Krysti says:

    Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for maybe a year and a half or so. I really enjoy your posts! I’m from NW Ohio. Have a little boy turning 2 tomorrow, and baby on the way due in December! : )

  • Lisa says:

    This year I’m 54 and I’ve learned something similar this year. I also am stronger than I thought. Having debilitating arthritis and fibromyalgia, I felt like I couldn’t exercise or lose weight, but I was wrong. I realized that I was missing life with my young teens and that I needed to lose weight and get healthier. Our family joined a small gym close by our home and I began to walk on the treadmill there and to lift a few small weights at home. I also began eating healthier. As of today, I’ve lost 37 pounds and I walked 1 1/2 miles today. I never imagined either of these this time last year. I’m excited about going to the gym each morning even though the pain is inevitable. I even mentioned to my son today that I might someday like to walk a half-marathon one day. Wow!

  • Kristine says:

    Crystal,

    I enjoyed reading your post! I am a Special Education teacher and typically work a 60 hour week. It has become exhausting and is causing me to burn out. However, I’ve taught for over 18 years. I don’t know what I would do if I left teaching! I love my students but I’m worried I’m not being effective

  • Jackie says:

    Happy Birthday! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time. There probably not a day that goes by that I’m not telling someone about it. You have taught me a lot about myself and life in general. I work full time and have two young kids. It’s a constant battle to balance everything. Sometimes I feel like a 1950’s house wife yet I have a job in the Criminal Justice field. I’ve read case files and looked into the eyes of the truly evil. I’m truly lucky to be able to do what I do without going nuts! I have just signed up to be my oldest son’s Den leader for Cub Scouts. I wasn’t super excited about it, but now I am. What better way to make sure my son is as safe as I can make him than to be right with him.

    Keep rocking your awesome blog/business. You look pretty good for being 35! Must be doing something right:)

  • Rebecca Portteus says:

    I have been reading your blog for some time now, and love your real and practical tips to live the life God gave me. I was particularly touched however, by your comment that we self-medicate the hurt by being ever busier, heaping up accomplishments and accolades. This was something God needed me to hear today. I am a stay at home mom to four amazing kids and I often feel like I fall short. Thanks for this encouragement today!

  • Adrienne says:

    Thanks for being real! Xoxoxo

  • mom2twins says:

    I am a part-time instructional assistant, wife, daughter and mom to 13 year old twins. Your year of rest inspired my family to have a summer of rest. We said no to other peoples’ priorities and yes to our own. This was the BEST summer we’ve ever had!! Thanks for your encouragement.

  • Joely Edwards says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal,
    I have been reading your blog since 2009, when I was 39, and asking myself similar questions: what is important to me, where am I going, what gives me joy? I found solace, gentle guidance and support in many of the posts I read. I continue to follow you today and am so pleased to see how your life has evolved, how your children have grown and how you have continued to put yourself under the microscope to be the best that you can be. I am a wife, mother, pediatrician and hopeful minimalist. Thank you for all that you do and all that you touch. You are truly blessed.

  • Julia says:

    Happy Birthday, Crystal! I’ve been reading your blog for ages but don’t believe I’ve ever commented. I’m a 42 year old stay at home mom to 3 school aged boys. I recently felt like I had lost myself. So because of your encouragement and you hosting the free Etsy webinar I am finally taking the plunge and starting my business selling lotion bars and lip balms on Etsy. I’ve been making products for years and giving them as gifts and it has been very fulfilling but I want to take a bit further and see if I can make a small income from it. I get so excited working on my business products and ideas. I think I’m finally starting to find myself again!

  • Sara says:

    Love reading your posts. I started following several years ago for the deals and I now skip those posts just to read your articles!

    26 year old Mom of 2 under 2 – full time corporate job, part time job, and a small side business. I feel the burnout. I know the busyness.

    Thanks for always sharing great words of advice.

  • Kimber says:

    Happy birthday Crystal!
    Im a pastors wife, stay at home homeschool mom in Illinois – I’ve been a reader for 7 years. A friend told me to check out your blog because I was trying to get into couponing and saving money. I loved your blog instantly. You have such helpful posts. Just the other day I was discouraged and comparing myself to other people and I read on your blog where you said something like if you try to compare and be like
    Someone else you are going to be miserable. So true! Thanks for all you do Crystal!!! Even though I’ve never met you I feel like you are my friend:)

  • Laurie says:

    Birthday greetings from a long time (silent) reader! I am a ‘senior’ in life and find your newsletter most helpful in budgeting our fixed income. And, of course I enjoy reading about your family and travels. I also appreciate the daily links to coupons, freebies, etc……I never skip reading your newsletter, it has been a constant daily joy for a very long time now. Thank you!

  • Donna says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I have been following you since 2005ish, since my daughter was a toddler. I have commented a few times, more in the beginning that lately. You have inspired me in so many ways, to be good stewards with our money, to teach others the things I learn from you and to take risks. I have stage 4 breast cancer and I have this idea to start a resource for woman like me to find the nutrition and wellness information that we need, but I find myself afraid to put myself out there. I think your birthday post is the reminder I needed. It’s ok to be afraid, do it anyway.

  • Debbie says:

    Hi. I’m Debbie, a truly silent reader. I receive your e-mails. I’ve been familiar with your writings for probably a couple of years now. I’m an older-aged individual, but LOVE music/singing, recipes, cooking, and getting great deals! We are a retired military family so I have lived in several places and been exposed to many different types of life/cultures. Life is one giant learning experience, and God works it all together, weaving us into the tapestry of His greater plan.

    When you mentioned “busyness”, it reminded me of a wonderful nugget of advice that I was told years ago. It impacted me tremendously; I even wrote it inside the front pages of my Bible:
    “Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.” Just thought I’d share that with you and your readers.

  • Cindy B says:

    I’ve been following you for 7 years beginning when my boys were toddlers and I was a SAHM. Now I’m 54, back at work as an elementary school teacher, and my babies are double digits! I’ve enjoyed all of your life and money tips. I am so happy that your year of rest has given you the space you needed to grow and thrive. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

  • Amanda says:

    Hey Crystal! Happy birthday! Thank you for your beautiful posts and most of all, for your heart for the Lord. Thanks for your insights–I can relate to some of your old fears and I need to challenge myself. It’s hard and scary.

    Thanks for all you do. We LOVE you!

  • Bree says:

    Crystal, I have loved your blog for years. Thank you!

  • Abbie says:

    Hello! I’ve been a reader for 6 or so years. My husband actually found your blog when we began our frugal living/debt payoff journey. I’ve been hooked ever since. I turned 34 in July and find myself relating to so many things you say. I also have three children and actually started homeschooling them last year after being a teacher for 11 years. Thank you for sharing. I really enjoy the deeper posts and messages of appreciating the life God gave us and the blessings we have. God bless!

  • Lauren says:

    I really appreciate your openness and honesty, Crystal. It was very courageous of you to take time for yourself. I love when people break the norms and following what Jesus is calling them to do (and a lot of times it’s not what the world deems best.) Reading about how you have grown this year is encouraging and refreshing. Way to stretch yourself and break out of your box! I’m feeling inspired to do some of the same. My family of seven does life in a town in Iowa not far from the Mississippi. Homeschooling and life is busy, but beautiful. HAPPY Birthday, Sister!

  • Shannon says:

    Happy Birthday!
    I can completely relate to your comment “I tried to medicate with productivity”. I am a first born, perfectionist, over-achiever and I often wear “busy-ness” as a badge of honor until it becomes a badge of “martyr”. You always challenge and inspire me. I just finished “Say Goodbye to Survival Mode” …you are awesome! I admire you so! Thank you for all the wisdom you share!

  • Carolina says:

    Hi Crystal,
    Happy Birthday!!I’ve been lurking for about 8 years I think. My kids are older, and your site helps my household with tips and recipes.

    One night, my sister called me. She had a tough day. She had been at the bus stop waiting after work, it was raining and she had no rain coat or umbrella. She had no cell phone or change. She tried calling her husband collect, but he wasn’t home. She took the bus to the nearest relative, walked to her husbands aunts house. Luckily her husband was there.
    I went to your site, like I do every night, and there was a link for a coat through Women Within (?) for $3.99! It wasn’t advertised as a rain coat, but I knew the material would repel the rain and it was lined for warmth. It was very purple and I knew she would be seen at bus stop. I bought
    3, one for my sister, me and my mother in law! My sister was thrilled!!
    Thank you for all your hard work and dedication!
    Carolina

  • Kalli says:

    Happy Birthday! I am a silent reader, but I have been reading for a couple years. I started following your blog after you can to Hearts at Home conference in Rochester, MN. I felt a real connection with you after you introduced yourself, I knew I had to follow your blog! I have loved reading your personal journey bedt in your blog, where you share the good and bad parts of your life and when you’re authentic with your readers. I am 31 and just had our 4th child and homeschool our children- I like to read about your life so I know I won’t always be surrounded by young children and know they will grow up! Thank you for sharing your life, and keep on resting and healing!

  • Rebecca says:

    I’ve commented twice and responded to an email once, but mostly I’m just a lurker. 🙂 But I faithfully read my daily email update and have searched the blog for posts on particular topics and have HUGELY benefited from your makeover your mornings/evenings courses and other home management posts/printables/etc. I am so very thankful for you and your blog and the way the Lord has used all of the above in my life and the life of my family. My husband and I have been married a little over eight years and have two girls – five and three. We live in southeastern PA. My sister introduced me to your blog around when my oldest was born and I was trying to figure out the SAHM life. I particularly enjoy your positive yet serious tone. Far too many blogs are a little too ripe with sarcasm and veiled complaints. Thank you for the goodness you bring to the internet!

  • Sandi says:

    Hi, I’m Sandi. Happy Birthday! I just turned 34 myself. Living just outside Charlotte, NC. I’ve been following you for at least four years. We have much in common! I homeschool my 5 and I lift weights in the morning before they wake up! You are inspiring to me. You have encouraged me to rest more and be ok with doing what I do at home every day. I pray that 35 is as great to you as 34 was.

  • Marisol says:

    Happy Birthday! My name is Marisol I am 37, a wife and a mommy of two boys 4 and 11 months from Northern California. I started reading your blog in 2012 with the intention of learning how to coupon. Your website has been such a blessing to our family my husband also reads your website! You touched home with mentioning the voices in your head because I live that everyday. I feel like such failure daily. I appreciate your honesty in your blogs thank you!

  • Anna says:

    Happy Birthday, and thank you for sharing your heart. I appreciate all your money-saving tips and deals on here, but so much more the heart you have for the Lord, and for using your resources for Him and to serve others. My husband is a dentist, and as we were starting out, we had big plans of what a comfortable lifestyle we would have when he started making the big bucks. Well, the Lord had other plans, and while we are very blessed and thankful for what we have, we didn’t become millionaires overnight, and instead the Lord has been working in our hearts to rearrange our priorities. Now we are excited to pay off the last little bit of his student loan and see just what the Lord wants to do with each penny He has entrusted to us. I started reading your blog years 5-6 years ago, but it’s been only recently that we have come to share this vision as a couple, of living more frugally so that we are FREE! to give generously and to stay away out of the rat race of always thinking you need MORE. I follow you on instagram, and you are often in my prayers as I see the things you share about yourself and your family. I’m excited to see what God has in plan for 35!

  • Rachel says:

    Happy birthday!!! I’m a quiet reader from the Chicago suburbs! My sister introduced me to your blog about a year ago when we were both really pinching pennies. We still are, but my favorite posts are always your personal ones, such as above. I’m so glad you’ve found peace-you deserve it!

  • Gina F says:

    Hi Crystal! Thank you so much for sharing your life – the good and the hard. I started reading your blog when my almost 7 year old was just a year old. I followed the couponing stuff but really it has been the mom stuff you have shared that has really helped and blessed me. I have really struggled off and on being a mom and have tried many of the things that you mentioned helped you. This is the reason I still love reading about your life and struggles and successes! I feel that you have really blessed my life and so many others. Thank you for being you and for sharing it!

  • Tracy says:

    Hi Crystal,
    I’ve been reading since the very beginning of MSM and love it. I started reading in desperation trying to see what other corners could possibly be cut. This year my husband got the job that made it so our finances doubled- but because of all I’ve learned here our budget is still the same and we are using the extra to meet some goals and be generous. Thanks for all you do (or really for all you SAY!)

  • Cate says:

    Hi Crystal! Happy Birthday to you! <3
    I am normally pretty silent, but I have been following you for the last..3 years? 🙂 Not exactly sure on that number! My name is Cate, I am 23 years old. I'm a wife to Nate and Mama to two little men. I work from home in the Midwest and I'm slowly cutting back my virtual assistance work to focus solely on my blog!
    Your Year of Rest has inspired me SO much. It actually inspired me to cut back on my freelancing clients and do just what makes my soul happy.

    Blessings to you! You are an encouragement. I honestly see so, so much of myself in you and it blesses my heart to learn these important things with you.

  • Natalie Schroeder says:

    I LOVE your section about heaping the busyness on to cover up the things you don’t want to deal with. I find myself doing this too without realizing it. I’m reading Busy right now by Tony Crabbe & realizing just how little thought I put into my decisions. Choose the ‘which’ (which is best) not the ‘whether or not’ (whether or not it’s a ‘good thing’).

  • Rachel says:

    A semi-lurker here . . . been following you for many, many moons as well. Just wanted to say that this post really resonates with me. Maybe it’s somewhat age related? (Hitting a burn out phase I mean.) At 33, I’ve been working through adrenal/hormonal issues, and cutting way back on outside commitments. It feels so good to heal, to feel life and energy returning, to be able to take care of my own family better . . . thanks for always being an inspiration to me, and here’s to a wonderful year for you! Happy Birthday!

  • Kelly says:

    Happy birthday!
    Hi, I’m Kelly – a Midwestern girl who’s moved all across the US for ministry. We (My husband, myself & our 2 girls) are church planting in Durham, NC. I work part-time doing admin for another church.
    I’ve followed your blog for over 3 years…I found it when we moved to NC. Being task- oriented myself, I too struggle with the productivity = worth. It’s a hard lesson. Thank you for being transparent. Authenticy is important.

  • Reba says:

    Happy Birthday! I’ve never left a comment before- I am a lurker. However, when you asked your readers to write to you and talk about how long we’ve been following you- I realized I’ve been getting to know your for about 3 years now! I never realized that for 3 years, I’ve been following your journey and using bits of wisdom I learn from you in my everyday life. I’m not a mom, I don’t really coupon or meal plan, I don’t attend church- but I like YOU. So I keep coming back to read what YOU are up to. Happy Birthday!

  • Cheryl says:

    Hi Crystal! Birthday Blessings to you! I’ve been following you for 5-6 years and truly appreciate your blog. I’m an older fan at 45 and have 2 kids a girl, age 14, and a boy, age 12. We’ve been married 24 years. I’m a part time librarian. I enjoy baking, cooking and being outdoors. Your blog has helped me in so many ways and I wish you and your family all the best! (I hardly remember 34….my kids were toddlers then..)

  • Melissa in Colorado says:

    I’m Melissa and I’ve been “lurking” on your site for about six months. I learned of your blog in Laura Vanderkam’s book, “I Know How She Does It.” I find the material on the blog thought provoking and I enjoy reading it. I’m at a pivotal moment in my life as my spouse is leaving the workforce and I wonder how we’ll make ends meet. I hope I am able turn this anxiety inducing rollercoaster into something half as positive as what you created. Happy Birthday! Cheers!!

  • Nicole Midgley says:

    Hi! 🙂
    I turned 36 in June. I grew up near Gainesville Florida, and I’ve lived several places after graduating college, like on the Atlantic coast of Georgia and the Pacific coast of Oregon, through environmental education jobs. I met my husband 11 years ago on MySpace, and moved to Michigan (where he grew up). He found a job in Nashville and we moved to Tennessee in 2009, we bought a house in Murfreesboro in 2012. (So we’re pretty close by!) Also that year we had our daughter, who is now four. I’m so lucky to be at home with her, being a mom is my dream come true. I’ve been reading your daily emails (recommended by my own mom) since before I was a “Money Saving Mom” but I’ve always been a fan of great deals! Thanks for doing what you do! 🙂

  • Marty says:

    Hi Crystal, I’ve been enjoying your blog for the past four or five years. I’m 43 and have two girls and a boy, all close in age to your children. I’m a writer as well and worked at Focus on the Family for about eight years before I had children. The times I’ve read about your trips to Colorado Springs have always put a smile on my face. My family now lives about five blocks from the Atlantic Ocean in Florida. We’re loving our beach life! Thank you for sharing yourself with others so well and for all you’re doing for children in Africa.

  • Magda says:

    I enjoyed your post and I agree. You are stronger and braver than you think. Its something I struggle with as live life. There is so much going on and as I try to change the not so good and try to forge new paths in my life. … I find myself wondering if I can. Fearing even when I know there is nothing to fear.

    Thanks for sharing I hope to return often to your blog.

  • Sara says:

    Happy birthday! I’ve been following your blog for the last 3 years or so and have never commented. I have really enjoyed your money-saving and blogging tips. I live in Northwest Arkansas where I homeschool my six children who range from 2nd to 12th grade. We, too, have spent many many days at SDC. I turn 40 next month and this last year I have tried many new things as well, and look forward to many more. Thanks for being an inspiration!

  • Naomi says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal from MN! I started following your blog a couple of years ago after you were on a Focus on the Family broadcast. I have commented twice. I have been married for 5 years and am a SAHM to two little ones. I really appreciate your blog- it has inspired and encouraged me in so many areas of my life. Thank you!

  • amy says:

    Happy Birthday! I’m from Connecticut and I’ve been reading for a while, a few years? I have two great kids, almost 8 & 12, I adore them, but I’m feeling more and more like I’m failing at being a mom. And everything else, really. I was really interested in reading about how you try new things — I’ve become really afraid to do that! I don’t know how to get out of my comfort zone (which really isn’t all that comfortable)… I love your notes though — I’ve been on a big decluttering kick, at home and online, but I always read your emails! 🙂 XOXO

  • Catherine says:

    Hi Crystal,
    Happy Birthday! I’m de-lurking on my first site ever. I have been a faithful daily reader of MSM since 2008. You taught me the drugstore game and how to coupon better. You helped me keep my family fed on $50 a week (including toiletries and pet food). You taught me the best way to budget for groceries was with a cash system. God sent me to your blog during one of the most difficult times for my family. Your blog helped me through countless days when I didn’t think we would have enough money for food, utilities, mortgage, or anything else. I’ve just gone through a year of ugly crying and raw pain to recover from PTSD. I can relate to how hard it is to let others see that hot mess underneath, but how much better and healthier you feel when you do. Thank you for sticking with your blog. Your authenticity has been a true blessing. ?

  • Brenna says:

    Hey lady! Happy birthday! Been reading for probably 6-7 years. So-cal wife & mom of four. I appreciate your openness and I love hearing about the things God is teaching you. Even though He is working in different areas of my life.

  • April says:

    Hi. My name is April. Happy Birthday.
    I am 43 years old and I have been married to my husband for 18 years. We have 2 beautiful children, Luke age 11 and Anna age 8. A commonality with our children is being on the swim team. We live in a rural fairly small town in Henry county Virginia. I have been reading your blog for about a year now.
    I love your authenticity and real ness. Is that a word? Lol.
    I did Make over your mornings and loved it. Still working on it as that is a constant struggle.
    I suppose that’s enough information. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

  • Emily says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I live in Norman, OK and have been reading for 4-5 years I think . Seems like I first saw you on the 700 Club. You are wise beyond your years. I have learned a lot from your blog :). Thanks!

  • Sarah says:

    Happy Birthday! I am turning 35 soon and I feel like this past year has been such a huge year of growth for me. I am also learning embrace quiet, without the need to multitask every hour I am awake. I am a homeschooling mom of 4 kids (ages 7,6,5 & 3). I have read your blog off and on for a few years, but I really enjoyed your more personal posts over the past year and have been more intentional reading.

  • Becky says:

    Happy Birthday! I’ve been reading your blog for 5 years. I’m a wife, mom of 2, and work PT outside the home. I find your blog & insights very inspiring. Thank you!

  • Charlena Townsend says:

    Hi Crystal
    My name is Charlena and I have been reading for about 7 years. I am a full time working mom. I am a teacher of super smart 2nd graders and while it can be hard, it is so rewarding. I am also mom to 2 girls 6 and 8. I am the one who keeps telling you my anxiety stories about our trip to South Africa in December. We are excited to go as a family on our first mission trip but part of me is so anxious about safety and travel. Any words of encouragement would be appreciated! I live in the western mountains of NC and my husband teaches at Appalachian State. Your wisdom is way beyond your years and appreciate all of the knowledge you share with everyone. I just wish I could catch more of your FB live posts. Hard to do that while teaching! Thanks again and Happy birthday!!

  • Lotte Powell says:

    I found your site December 9, 2011, and haven’t stopped reading since. I married for the 2nd time December 12, 1995. The first year we were married we faced insurmountable odds which included having our business stolen from us, facing fraudulent theft charges, facing two false bankruptcies filed against us, having a baby for the first time, gaining a 17 year old son and getting him into college, facing long-term unemployment with my husband, facing 28 creditors with no income, and embarking on 13 years where our family of four lived on $8000 per year. Life can put you through the unimaginable, but God takes you through when you lean on Him and Him alone.
    During the last 21 years God has been there for me every day. He has been my encouragement, my confidant, my provider, my teacher, but most of all He has been there to love me like no person could.
    I guess the greatest testimony is that God has kept me sane during these years. We lost our home, my husbands retirement, learned my husband suffers from a type of schizophrenia, home schooled our daughter with dyslexia, cared for my dad who died at 93, still care for my mom who has Alzheimer’s disease, and now face raising our granddaughter.
    It has been an incredible journey. God has taught me how to trust Him for everything. I am privileged to live in His supernatural everything; economy, favor, protection, health, but most of all His unconditional love.
    This has not been an easy road and my humanness has shown through with screaming colors so often. Yet God has been so patient and gentle in letting me grow. He has taught me His word in spite of me. I learn something new everyday. He has surprised me in how He works through me, just when I feel at my most inadequate.
    Now I’m just rambling. In short I write all this to encourage you that God has a plan and knows just what you need, when you need it. Trust Him always. Let His love fill those places you don’t even know you have. Rest in his arms like a child rest in their father’s lap. He will always be true.

  • Emily says:

    Happy birthday! Been a loyal follower since 2009. You words and inspiration has changed and shaped mine and my family’s lives. Thank you!!

  • Anna says:

    Happy belated birthday from around the world.

    Have a great 35th year of life!

    Hugs!

  • Gretchen says:

    Happy Birthday! My name is Gretchen, 45 years old. My husband and I have been married for 26 years and have 2 boys. One is a junior in college and one is a senior in high school. I have worked full time while raising my kids so I can relate to your comments regarding thriving on productivity. Balance has been an elusive unicorn over the years. You have given me a lot to think about with a year of rest. Next year when we are empty nesters we may spend our first year in a year of rest. We are going to need it!
    Also, I am an avid reader so I’ve especially enjoyed your book recommendations. Keep those coming!

  • I started reading your blog about 8 years ago. I remember it was before you were expecting Silas. I had a 6 year old, twin 11 year olds, and a 16 year old. We were going through the groceries and my budget needed help to keep up with it! We were going through a gallon of milk a day and learning how to do the drugstore deals was a budget saver. Fast forward to today. One is married and finishing law school this year — another attraction I had to your blog, the twins started college this year, and the youngest started high school. When I buy milk, I freeze half the gallon so it doesn’t go bad. I’ve also had my own photo organizing business since the oldest was two and along with the seasons of motherhood, that has changed, too. I’m thankful for the flexibility that it has given me. I’ve enjoyed following you through your seasons of motherhood, too and hope you enjoy the next season of growing children. It’s a busy one!

  • Heather says:

    Happy Birthday, Crystal!! I LOVE birthdays because they are for CELEBRATING life…. and life is very much worth celebrating. YOU are worth CELEBRATING!! I’m excited for you to be embracing a life of JOY! A life you are passionate about living, not just accomplishing.

    My Name is Heather, I am a 40 year old Christian wife and mother to 4 (including a leukemia survivor). I am from Indiana and have been following you since early Biblical Womanhood days. I used to read several blogs a day, but for the past few years yours is one of the very few I continue to read. While your blog has changed a lot over the years I continue to glean information I can apply to my life.

    The early day blog you had really resonated with me deeply because we were on a mission to pay off debt. I cheered along with you as you accomplished financial goals that I could only dream of. YOU are the ONLY person I know of that actually paid cash for a house. I was SO THRILLED to see you guys living out this dream! I seriously celebrated for you!

    Now you are in a financial position that is very, very far from my reality, but you stay humble about it. While your goals are very different now than they used to be I’m glad that you continue to be real with us.

    Life can be HARD! (I’ve lived some major hard) Allowing yourself to take the time to DEAL with the hurt is so key….. way to be brave and face things!! Keep it up!!!

  • Tina says:

    I turned 35 today! Learning these same lessons and you truly encourage me. I’ve been following for several years! Learning to rest, be flexible and slow down! My husband is a church planter and we have a crazy schedule but loving working together in this adventure of life with our 5 children!

  • Kate says:

    Happy Birthday!!!!

    I found your blog when I was researching couponing in college a few years ago. I’ve been reading here (quietly lurking) since I was about 19 and I have to say you inspire me so much to live life with an adventurous spirit and a grateful heart. You have truly taught me how to find joy in even the worst circumstances, and you make me so excited to have my own children and raise them to give and love with their whole hearts. I can’t express how happy it makes me to read here and see the beautiful, absolutely real life you lead – you deserve all the wonderful opportunities that come your way.
    Thank you for passing on your everything you’ve learned, because it has made such a difference for me.

  • Melissa says:

    I am one of those lurkers, been reading for years! I’m 38 and I started reading your blog in 2006 when we lived in KC and I had a 1 year old, a 9 month old baby, and was pregnant with our third boy! Your blog was a lifeline for me at the time! You taught me about couponing and being a good steward and it was invaluable early in our marriage. You also were so gracious in acknowledging that as a mama of littles, I needed to give myself grace. Now we’ve moved to Iowa, my boys are older, and I am more sporadic in my reading but still appreciate your authenticity and honestly. So much of what you say rings true in my heart and is so challenging. I am now in a season of my youngest going to preschool three mornings a week and I am a bit caught off guard trying to “rediscover” myself in a sense- not even sure what my goals, aspirations, etc., are, as I’ve never had time to stop and think about it since the whirlwind of babies and moving started 8 years ago. This post really rang true for me, especially the productivity aspect….sometimes i feel as though it’s my idol at times. Anyway, thanks for being true and authentic all these years and so gracious in handling so many difficult topics. 🙂

  • Kimberly says:

    Hello from Illinois. I’ve been reading your blog for years (since way back when you had the other blog). It’s been so nice to hear more from you personally this last year. It’s felt more like it used to be. I’m a wife and mom to 3 teenagers. I’ve learned from and been encouraged by you and your words. Thank you! I hope you have an amazing birthday and that this next year is full of blessings for you and your family.

  • Happy belated birthday! I’m so happy for you to be finding yourself. I feel like the 30s are that way in general – in our 20s, we worry so much about how we’re doing and if we’re “grown-up” enough.

    30s is really seeking to figure out who God created us to be & being okay with our imperfect-ness!

    I’ve been a reader since around 2007, when you were still blogging at Biblical Womanhood.

    My husband & I have been married over 12 years, have owned a computer service company together for over 11 years, and are in our 8th year of homeschooling our 6th & 2nd grade girls 🙂

    We live in Northeastern Kentucky and my favorite color is purple, too!

    I always enjoy your heart-felt posts & book recommendations. I snag a few of the deals you share, especially on Black Friday weekend, but I keep coming back to see what you’ve been reading & thinking about.

  • Becky says:

    Hi Crystal,

    I have been reading your blog for 6 years I think…maybe longer. We share a birthday month..mine is today in fact. I am 34. I love the idea of looking back over the past year and thinking about things you have learned. I haven’t said much on your blog except for a few here and there. I love that you love South Africa. I love it too! My husband is from there originally and we hope to return soon as missionaries. Thanks for your encouragement over the years and showing your real self. That is a struggle for me which I am learning to do more with friends. Sometimes I think I’m afraid they won’t get me or I’m somehow weak. But it’s so true that we all are broken and hot messes at different times in life and we need to lean on each
    other at times and especially on the Lord. Enjoy your 35th year! God bless.

  • Kristi T says:

    Hello! I am from Michigan and I’m a 37 year old wife and stay at home mom to four amazing kids. Our family was made through korean adoptions.. I met my husband in high school and we were married 3 years later and just celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary in September. I follow you on your fb live shows. I love starting off my day watching you!

  • Kathy Linklater says:

    Hi Crystal! I’m one of your many lurkers. I live in Southern California and am 55 and I retired at 53 thanks to fugal living (but not to an extreme) and my dad’s wonderful investment help. I got married at 21 to the man I met when we were 18 and seniors in high school. My husband got sick at 33 (mainly respiratory) and passed away at 50 years and 2 weeks. Our sons are 23 and 27 and still live with me. I think that I started to read your blog in 2009 after I was laid off. I believe that I started following you after reading an article in some woman’s magazine and have been hooked on your blog ever since. I love how you are able to get real (something that I would have a hard time doing). I have used coupons for as long as I can remember, but I love getting additional deals through your blog. You’re doing a fantastic job and have a wonderful birthday!

  • Melissa says:

    Hi! I have been reading since I moved to Tallahassee from Nashville and became a stay at home mom in 2010. I love your honesty and helpful tips. Thank you for another great entry. I just turned 34 and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up 😉 but you make me feel better about just being where/who I am. Thank you for all your investment and vulnerability!

  • Krystal McFalls says:

    Hi! I have been “lurking” ( btw LOVE that you said that lol ) I am from Lancaster PA, smack dab in the middle of Amish Country ( a town over from the blogger Sarah Mae) Married with 4 kiddos and Homeschool.

  • Amy says:

    Crystal,

    Happy Birthday!! I can sooo relate to you and find myself feeling much the same way you did a year ago. Thanks so much for being so authentic and sharing your journey. It is such an encouragement to me and many others!!

    Amy

  • Sarah says:

    Hi Crystal, and happy birthday! My name is Sarah, from Pittsburgh, PA, and I’ve been quietly reading for about 5 years. At first I read mostly for the deals you posted, but now I am just a fan of YOU! You have greatly encouraged me in my walk with Jesus, my marriage, and my mothering. I so appreciate you sharing your journey with the world so that we can benefit from your wisdom. Blessings to you!

  • Tara Burress says:

    Hi! I’m Tara. I’m married to my high school sweetheart and we have 3 rowdy boys (7,6, and 2.5). I found your site when our oldest was about 2 months old back in 2009. I was able to hear you speak in Lebanon earlier this year. Your presentation was inspiring! I still have the notes on my phone from it. Happy Birthday!

  • Christina says:

    Happy birthday!! I am 39 years old and I have been reading for 5-6 years. I live in Michigan and have a beautiful 2 year old daughter. I started following you on periscope a few months ago and really love everything you share there. I appreciate your honesty in everything you do.

  • Tina says:

    Happy birthday! I turned 35 today and have been learning these same lessons. You truly encourage me. I have been following your blog for several years. My husband is a church planter and we homeschool our five children. Being flexible. Taking it slow and resting doesn’t come easily but we are so thankful the Lord has us together in this adventure!

  • Jessica says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I’ve been reading for years, and I so deeply appreciate your personal writing. I’m turning 35 soon, and am just coming up for air from having 3 babies in 4 years and moving multiple times across the world for my husband’s job. I identify with your year of rest, as I’ve worked so hard lately to be intentional about what feeds me, what’s best for my family in our situation right now, etc
    We are also planning to make a career change for our family’s sake, and I remember when you wrote about moving to TN. It’s always encouraging to see others who take risks like that.
    Bless you and your family!

  • Jennifer says:

    Happy Birthday! So I’m one of those “quiet readers” and since you asked, I am taking a minute to leave a comment. I am 36 years old and live in NY (an hour from NYC, so not in the city craziness). I have been reading your blog for about 4 years or so. I first subscribed to see your shopping deals but quickly realized I wasn’t reading your blog for all these “deals”. I enjoyed reading about your family, your home, your marriage and your business. I LOVE your simple and structured ways. I admire that. It’s usually the days where I look around and wish I had more, was when I read your blog and realized how blessed I am. Thank you!

  • Tessa says:

    Happy birthday! I love your site, I get on here just about every single day. My sister in law introduced me to your site 4 years ago when I was trying to learn how to coupon. I’ve found so many helpful things that let me survive staying home with babies while my husband finished dental school. We have 2 girls (3 and 1.5). I feel like I know you and your family. I love how real and honest you are. Thanks for being wonderful!

  • Emily says:

    Happy Birthday! Thank you for being so transparent on your blog. It is the only blog so far that has a permanent place on my blog feed. I found ProofreadAnywhere from your site and am now able to help support my family while my husband is in grad school.

    • WOOHOO! This makes me SO happy!!!

      • Lea Ann Lund says:

        Happy birthday! Just celebrated my 40th recently and when I was 37 I had an eye opening season very similar to yours. I’m a totally type A, driven, busy, stoic, non-athletic physician with 3 elementary kids, formerly addicted to productivity. I had a midlife crisis? Of sorts and realized I was wrapped up in worry and missing out on so much of my family that I had to make a change. I spent a year in counseling and consider myself in “recovery ” from anxiety and my inner slave driver. I recently started a daily weight program as well. So much stronger than I thought!
        I have followed your blog for 10 years, since we lived in Wichita and moved to Hendersonville TN. ( another similarity)
        And I’ve been wondering if you were task and approval addicted like me.
        So glad you made a change to slow down and notice–God will use these moments for His great purposes and your family will thank you !
        Fight the good fight.
        Lea Ann

  • Michele Phillips says:

    Happy birthday! I have been following your blog for over 9 years. You have gotten me though my husband’s job losses and career change, 7 weeks of bedrest with my son and countless other ups and downs. I love your real life accounts and advice as well as how you always remind me to be thankful and remember that I am not superwoman! Know that you are such a blessing to so many of us and I am so glad you didn’t sell your blog. Thank you for being the woman who gives me that much needed push to be the best me I can be. Sending you blessings for another great year.

  • Kathleen says:

    Happy Birthday! I have been reading your blog for about 7 years. I live in Massachusetts. I am 45, married and have 3 kids. My oldest son is 20, my daughter is 12 and my youngest son is 9. I remember reading your blog and learning how to shop with coupons at CVS and getting so many great deals. I was so excited to be able to get things our family needed. It was the perfect time because my husbands hours got cut in half and my youngest was just a baby and we were struggling. You inspired me so much to learn how to live within our means and keep going when times were really tough. I hope you have a wonderful birthday.

  • Erin says:

    I’m 33 and live in AL. I’ve read on and off for about 5 years. This post jumped out of me because of your age and 3 lessons learned. I cried while reading this because this year has been an ugly-crying, soul-searching, sanctifying year for me too. Everything from the weightlifting with my husband, realizing my addiction to the hustle, task oriented madness and my joy vanishing. I’ve dialed down so much since August and it’s been so refreshing. My husband and my three kiddos have noticed the difference. And plan to do even more resting as soon as we finished up our diy home remodel. Thank you for sharing and so thankful for your season a rest…does a soul good…marriage…mama…etc.

  • Abbey says:

    I’m a Mama of three. A caregiver to my oldest, who was born with cystic fibrosis. I’m a wall-flower. I homeschool. I married my college sweetheart. I started crossfit this past spring. I was terrified because I’m not in shape, like, at all. But it’s been good and I, surprisingly, love the lifting (just like you!). My favorite place to visit is Mackinac Island, MI. I knit. I like to bake, usually can stay on top of my laundry and hate washing dishes (I’ve never had a dishwasher in our 11 years of marriage). I have been reading you for the past five years and I don’t believe I’ve ever commented before.

  • Lori L. says:

    Happy birthday Crystal! I’m not sure how long I’ve been reading your blog, quite awhile though! I’m a wife, Mom and grandmother. I really love your blog and I also enjoy your Facebook live. Thank you for all that you do! I have both of my daughter’s reading your blog too.

  • Brooke says:

    I have followed your blog for years and really love and appreciate you! Hope you have an amazing new year! Happy birthday!

  • Lindsey S. says:

    Happy birthday Crystal! You look beautiful and peaceful in the photos, I love your hair in the big bun, and the color rose is quite becoming on you. I’ve greatly enjoyed “growing up” along with you over the last decade since I began reading your blog. I’ve always admired you and marveled at how much you have accomplished, but in the past few years as you’ve been more vulnerable and open about your struggles and mistakes, it has blessed me more than ever, and countless other women to be sure. Watching you grow, change, and learn new things has inspired me to do the same. Something amazing God has done recently in my life that I want to share with you is this: I was struggling with homeschooling my oldest child this year. I didn’t feel it was the best place for her to be, but other options didn’t seem right for her, and Christian school is very expensive and out of our budget where we live. Feeling at the end of my rope with teaching her, I begged God for wisdom and help, and to open a door if she was to go to Christian school. A week later I got an email from my friend, who is principal of the tiny, local Christian school. He said that someone (whom I don’t even know) offered to pay for my oldest to attend the school starting immediately! No one knew I was praying for that but God! She has started school and I now have more time and emotional energy for my other young children. He is always soooo faithful! I hope your “year of rest” turns into a “lifetime of living in His rest.” Blessings to you this year!

  • Tara says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I am 44 years young, married to the love of my life, and have two energetic boys 8 & 12. I have read your blog for years. I like the deals, and freebies, but love the thought provoking articles most. I find I am not so different from yourself. I am in re-evaluation of my life. My kids are at school,husband at work and I have am content with my abilities as a homemaker. I need something more. I feel restless. I wonder if I should volunteer? I am open to anyones suggestions. Thank you for sharing and being vulnerable. It opens the door for these conversations.

  • StephaniePH says:

    Happy Birthday, Crystal! I have read your blog for the past six years. I originally came to your site to save money, but have stayed through the years for so much more. I am married, no children, work full-time, go to school part-time, and I live in eastern North Carolina. Thanks for all you do!

  • Jodi says:

    Happy Birthday Month! I have been reading your blog for several years (I’ve lost count). I very much enjoy it! I am originally from Nashville, but have moved all over with my military (now retired) husband. We currently reside in the Huntsville AL area.

  • Nicole says:

    I started reading one of your first blogs…I can’t even remember the name of it, more of the ‘mom blog’…when in my very early teens. That makes me laugh, because so much has changed – both in my life and in your blog. 🙂 I rediscovered your blog maybe three years ago, and the last two years I’ve been an ‘every-day-er’. It’s been such a blessing as my husband finished nursing school and I’ve utilized so many of your ideas and suggestions. Thank you – so much! – for sharing so much of your life with us all. May God richly bless you and your family! <3 And happy belated birthday!

  • I’m SO proud of you and SO thrilled for you!!!

  • AT2 says:

    Happy birthday, Crystal. I feel like we “know” you, those of us who have been stopping by here for years. I’ve posted a comment or two, but for the most part have been a lurker. I’m a homeschool mom who lives in the midwest. I have no close friends (social anxiety?). Sigh.
    I could very much relate to you sharing that you’re very stoic. I am, too. But it has always made me wonder about myself. Why? Why can’t I respond on the outside in a way that reflects what I feel on the inside? 🙁
    I wonder if you might consider sharing a bit more with us about the things of the past that you’ve struggled with. I realize that’s not the focus of “money saving”, here, and that it’s a very private self-dialogue and journey. At the same time, I believe so many struggle silently, and it was encouraging to me to know that others, someone “like” you, might actually struggle, too. I would love to glean a better sense of how to move toward healing. Much peace to you, Crystal. Great lessons you’ve learned this past year.

  • Michelle fritsch says:

    Hello! I’ve been reading your blog for 5years and I love how real and honest you are:) thank you for always being you

  • Casey says:

    Hi and happy belated birthday. I started reading your blog 6 years ago shortly after the birth of my daughter and embarking on the staying at home Mom adventure. Fast forward and we’ve now added a son, 3, to our family. I honestly like all of your posts and would like to thank you for your inspiration to me: to be a better wife, Mom, housekeeper and introducing the concept of freezer cooking. I find it so hard to believe we are the same age (I turn 35 next week) because you seem to have it all together. Then you post something that tells me I’m not alone my feelings of inadequacy. Thanks for all you do!

  • Jennifer says:

    Hi! I am a reader from Kansas. My older sister told me about your blog, and I have never looked back. That was probably a year ago. I am sure I have a little ocd over checking your app on my phone….haha. I love your deals and the honesty of your posts. This might be a weird analogy, but finding this blog was like when you finally find a good car mechanic. It is hard to find such authenticity online these days. Thanks for all you do!

  • Hope says:

    Happy birthday. I’m a 36 year old mother of three. My husband is a pastor and I’ve had the privilege of staying home with my kids for the last five years. Prior to that I was a teacher. I love reading your blog and finding the best deals. I can relate to you in so many ways. Today’s post truly hit home as you discussed the tendency to bury our hurt and pain with productivity. Thanks for helping me recognize some areas I need to deal with in my own life. I’m dealing with some extremely tough family issues that I’ve neglected for many years because I covered them up with busy and accomplishing my priorities rather than taking care of those heart issues.

  • Nancy says:

    Happy birthday! I’m 51 and have been reading your blog for 6 or 7 years. I work full-time as a scientist and am married and mom to two teens, which has its challenges but in many ways and despite all the jokes and shudders to the contrary, is a really fun stage of parenting. I especially enjoy your slice-of-life and thoughtful perspective posts, and am always happy for book suggestions. Kudos to your decision to avoid productivity and how-to books. Fiction and some types of nonfiction are an escape for me, but if I’m in the mood for something dry as sawdust, there are plenty of opportunities for that kind of reading in my work 🙂

  • Heather says:

    Hi Crystal! I’ve Been enjoying your blog for many years! I have never commented before, so Happy Birthday! 🙂 I’m a 36 year old homeschooling mom of 10! I love running and lifting weights, it’s my sanity saver! I told myself for years that I was unathletic and too busy to exercise ( I’d hate it anyway). After my last two babies were born, I realized that I am worth the time and I need it to be my best for my family! I also eat on the thm food plan and I love your blog posts that relate to that!
    May God bless you in all that you do!

  • :-) says:

    Happy Birthday! I am 34 about to be 35, a wife, and a homeschool mom and all the other things those jobs entail 🙂 About 7 years ago I started trying to learn to save money. I had several blogs I followed….I now only have two…this one is my favorite! 🙂 The other one I follow mostly for the savings this one I follow because I just enjoy the whole blog. It has helped me and encouraged me in many area’s of my life…I love your down to earthness and your encouragement and just being a part of moneysavingmom as a silent reader! Thank you for putting yourself out there and your openness and honesty…I am sure there are MANY people out there that you have had an influence for good things in their life but they are like me and aren’t big commenters…so thank you from all of us silent ones! 🙂 and once again Happy Birthday! 🙂

  • Holly says:

    Happy birthday to you! I am new to your blog, about three weeks ago. I randomly came across your audio book at the library about moms on a budget. Everything you said spoke straight to my heart and I couldn’t stop listening. It truly has changed the way I think about finances and has already saved us so much money. So thank you for sharing your ideas and spirit with us all! Your blog is awesome too!

  • Kris says:

    Crystal,
    I have been following your blog for many years and I feel privileged to have been able to follow along on this journey of yours! One of my first interactions on your blog was sending in an email and getting an immediate response from you – I was so impressed as I really didn’t expect a response at all (I had sent in a suggestion and you responded that you agreed). I have loved watching you evolve as time passes and your inner confidence shines through. I have followed along as you spread your wings and attempted to soar, and enjoyed watching you succeed. I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about the “year of rest” because you always had set such high goals for yourself and accomplished so much. But once again, you have set out to do something and succeeded!! You should enjoy this time and use it to prepare for the next step in this amazing journey you are on!!

  • Laura Anne says:

    Happy Birthday, Crystal! I’m glad you didn’t stop blogging! I don’t really comment on your blog, but have recently started watching and commenting a bit on your live Facebook feeds. Your freezer-cooking live video inspired me to have my own this week and it was great! : Thanks for sharing your lessons from this year! 🙂

  • Ann says:

    Happy Birthday!! Many thanks for a video in which you mentioned Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. I’ve listened/read a number of her books and found great help. I’m a recovering perfectionist and married to a man in ministry who’s never felt worthy/loved/enough. We’ve had many good conversations as a result of Brene’s research based conclusions. Thank you for courageously choosing vulnerability and a life based on Christ. You are an inspiration!

  • Mylynda Levine-Smith says:

    First, on a selfish note, I am so glad that you stuck it out with Money Saving Mom. I honestly don’t know what I would do without you, Crystal. You are a very encouraging part of my day. Maybe a little creepy but….I feel like we are friends that have never met before. I cannot count the number of times that I have felt like I had completely blown it. Whether it was being harsh or unfair with one of our six children(ages 4-22) or failing to get a task or twenty accomplished, I can come to this website and know that I am not alone. Also, I leave feeling like I just took some deep breaths, pulled my boot straps up and that it’s time to get on with it. I encourage people to read your blog and books very often.

    Most importantly, I am so very happy that you have given yourself some time to rest and heal. My spiritual gift is that of encouragement and mercy. It makes my soul sing when I see people come through trials and overcome. I praise God for all that has taken place. You are an awesome person and God works through you, Crystal. Thank you for being who you are in Christ. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Sherri says:

    Happy birthday to you!
    I’ve been following since my oldest was born 8 years ago — back when you had multiple sites! Former stay at home/homeschooling mom — now blessed to be teaching in the same Classical Christian school that my three littles attend. Started following for the deals and wisdom (as we lived on one income) and stayed for inspiration! Thanks for all the work you’ve done over the years!

  • Priscilla says:

    Happy Birthday!!!!!Your post is beautiful. The journey of self awareness is always the most frightening and exciting time in life..leaves you breathless

  • Kimberly in SoCal says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal!!!

    I’ll admit it, I’m mostly a lurker. I’m not even sure that I’ve stopped by MSM in the past month or so. But since I stopped by today and it’s your birthday, I’ll delurk at your request.

    I hope you’ve had a lovely day and that you have the happiest of happy year!

  • Jen says:

    Happy birthday! I will also be turning 35 this year (well, in four months)! I’ve been following your blog for eightish years and typically “lurk” and don’t comment (but I promise I’m not sketchy). In that time I’ve gone from living in NH to SC to VA!

    I initially started reading your blog to learn how to save money, but over the last few years I feel like I’ve gotten to know you and your family and now those are my favorite entries. I’ve become known as the deal gurun among my friends thanks to you and your blog. When I’m not on a mission to save money, I can be found exploring my new home with my husband, volunteering at my local hospital, or substitute teaching. Thanks for being a friendly blog and happy birthday again!

  • Corey says:

    Hello,
    I’ve commented once or twice over the last 5 years. I’m Corey from Cleveland. And I must say your blog was one of the things that got me through my first year of motherhood which was
    When I found your blog. I was 23, living in a tiny apartment with my husband and son. It was a beautiful time but one I of having to find out who I was and adjust to the whole other good piece. Thank you for being a rock and encouragement.

  • Leslie Schebler says:

    Hi Crystal,

    I have been reading your blog since 2008, long before I was a mom!I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Thank you so much for sharing a glimpse of your life and your heart. I really enjoy reading all of your posts! Reading Money Saving Mom has helped shaped who I am as a Christian, Wife, and Mother. Thank You and Happy Birthday!

  • Elissa says:

    Happy birthday Crystal! I love the idea of pausing at these milestones to reflect on the past year. I’ve been lurking for about 18 months and have learned so much about blogging – I really appreciate how generous you are with your information. I do think that reading your blog and book has given me more confidence about the changes we’ve made in our lives over the past year, including going into business ourselves from home in July.
    Also, I think it’s easy for us to slip into a mindset that we are “too old” to start something new, like a particular sport or fitness activity, but you have proved that wrong. I’m more than 10 years older than you, but why shouldn’t I start a fitness program too? Why not?
    All the best for many more positive lessons in the year ahead.

  • Lora says:

    Hi Crystal! Thank you so much for this post! This spoke to me very deeply, I am in the middle of deciding what I want to do with my toxic job environment. I am a type A personality and I derive a lot of my identity from my job (although I know I shouldn’t). My family is suffering from it and I am seriously considering a year of rest as well. It is hard for me because I don’t know who I’ll be without the busy. Thank you for your perspective and for letting me know that it is okay to take time off. Happy birthday!

  • Mary says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal!
    I’m mostly a silent and older reader. I found you around the time we were launching into Dave Ramsey so that we could pay off our house in order to prepare for our children to transition from our homeschool to college or trade school. You helped me polish my coupon skills, seek value and save to eventually pay off our home. As a result of the skills learned from you, Dave Ramsey and other blogs my husband is going to take early retirement and transition to something new. My young adult children are debt free and look for bargains too. Thanks much!!

  • Julie Moore says:

    Happy Birthday! I am brand new to Money Saving Mom and am loving what I am learning! It’s really having a huge impact on me! I am a newly single mom and really trying to tackle some debt. Although I’ve known the principles of the debt snowball payments, my main need has been to gain control overy my unnecessary spending!! So thank you, I hope you’ll keep it up! However, I hear your heart on the importance of rest and not being a slave to ceaseless striving! Wishing you God’s great blessing in the year ahead!

  • Cassie says:

    Happy birthday, Crystal! I’m a 35 year old mom of 3, who started reading your blog about 6 years ago, after the birth of my oldest. While I used some coupons, you have helped me learn so much more about saving & frugality. Since following your blog, my husband & I learned about Dave Ramsey & are now debt free except our mortgage! Your posts on spirituality have also helped me grow in faith. Thank you so much for everything.

  • Lee Anne says:

    I’ve been following your blog for over 7 years when I was brand new to this stay at home mom gig! I’ve loved watching your business grow and seeing you live out your faith in such a public way. I live in Nashville, TN and even though I don’t comment, I met you at an event once. I was totally star struck and you were so gracious and kind. I love seeing MSM emails in my inbox and I am so encouraged as you share your life! Thank you for being so open!

  • Jenn says:

    Hi Crystal. I am a silent reader, but have followed your blog since Silas wasa baby. I’m 10 years older than you, but loving my age and stage in life. I have loved the great deals you have posted. I also have appreciated your openness and honesty as you have opened your heart many times and discussed challenges you have faced. Those posts have caused me to do some soul searching, which is a good thing.
    Recently, I took a leap of faith and studied for my personal trainer certification. It was difficult to learn to learn again, but rewarding when I accomplished my goal. Your blog is inspiring and played a part in my decision to go forward with that endeavor.
    I also appreciate your good Christian values. Sadly, those are difficult to find today. Thanks for standing up for what you know to be true. Keep up the good work.
    Happy birthday!

  • Faith says:

    Happy Birthday, Crystal!! My hubby and I live in Colorado with our 4 kiddos. I started following your blog about 7 yrs ago and it’s stayed my favorite! Love the real life that flows through the pages and the topics you cover are very so inspiring! Thank-you!!

  • Sara K. says:

    Happy birthday, Crystal! I introduced myself to you last Christmas when you asked readers to email you with a prayer request. I asked you to pray for me after I revealed a hidden battle with depression to my husband and family. I have made some changes for the better, yet I still struggle big from time to time. Thank you for your prayer at the end of last year.

  • Theres says:

    Happy Birthday to you, Crystal!
    Theres here. I live in NYC and I run a Christian ministry- a pregnancy resource center. We minister to women in crisis and come along side them for as long as they need support. I’ve used your site as a resource to help them save money and get organized. I started some hard-core working out this year and am really loving it, too! Keep up the good work! Blessings to you and your family! =)

  • Holly says:

    I have been reading your blog for 6-7 years. I have only commented once. I just enjoy reading. 🙂 My family of 5 lives near St. Louis, MO. Your blog has been a great source of encouragement to me. I check in daily. Happy Birthday!!

  • Varsha says:

    Happy birthday Crystal!! May God bless you and have a great year ahead!!..

    I turned 35 last month .. I am a cancer survivor .. I was diagnosed with cancer a day before my birthday..5years have passed .. I am grateful for being alive today to be with my family and enjoy..

    I started reading your blog 7 years ago. I learnt how to use coupons to save money and get good deals. I am grateful to have found your blog . I come here mainly to read all your encouraging posts . Whenever I am low I just read all your previous encouraging posts to make myself feel better. keep posting them . thanks for all that you do.

  • Melissa K says:

    Your blog is my favorite! I look forward to reading it so much. It has been an encouragement to me so many times. I admire your strength and your openness. Thank you for being real. Thank you for sharing. God bless!!

  • Laura says:

    I have no idea how long I’ve been a reader, at least several years, but I’m fairly certain I’ve never commented. I’m 39 and in the midst of a transition myself, having quit my job a year and a half ago to stay home full-time. My daughters are in preschool and 1st grade. But even though being home is busy to the point where I’m baffled how I ever got anything done when I worked outside the home, it also allows more time for reflection, and I’ve had the nagging sense that I, too, have some suppressed emotions that now have the space to try bubbling up. It’s new and a bit scary, but I can relate to what you were saying!

  • Vicki says:

    I have been reading your blog for more years than I can remember. I just happened to be talking to my daughter about your blog today. There are so many offers that I’ve taken advantage of through the years and the articles are always something I can relate to. Thank you for doing all that you do!!! <3

  • Megan says:

    Hello and Happy Birthday! ? I’ve enjoyed your blog for several years now. I’m a single mom of one amazing 6-year-old boy. While I deeply appreciate your money saving tips, I most enjoy your deep thoughts on parenting and life. I’ve loved your musings on Brene Brown’s books (I noticed several of her catchphrases in this post!!) as I am also a huge fan of hers. I will be turning 34 this month. This post touched me deeply and I am inspired to write out for myself the lessons I’ve learned this year. Thanks for your insights! ❤️ Megan

  • Erika Bloyer says:

    Well, I don’t think I need to introduce myself, but I will “de-lurk” and leave a comment anyways 😉

    Hi, My name is Erika. I have loved hearing about this journey you’ve been on towards health and whole-ness. It has resonated with me, as some of these very lessons have been things I’ve been learning this past year, too -particularly about processing emotion. I have learned the hard lesson that not dealing with emotion doesn’t make it go away; it resurfaces later in a way that looks and feels crazy. My stuffed emotion came tumbling out one day in a perfect storm of crazy that left me questioning my sanity. It took a lot of deep thought, prayer, and heart-to-heart talks with those close to me to trace it back to it’s source. I have learned I would much rather process my feelings as they come than stuff them, allowing them to fester and blacken. I will never forget how scared I felt when I felt like I was going crazy, like I was literally losing it. I felt like I didn’t know myself anymore…..and it frightened me.

    I did not grow up valuing feelings, or giving them a place of importance in my life. Instead, I mostly saw them as weakness. I read a book as a teen called “Feeling like God” that helped change my view on that. In short, it talked about how the answer should never be to block out our feelings, but rather strive to bring them into line with God’s feelings.

    I don’t always like it, because allowing myself to feel and be vulnerable can be messy, like you say. It means dealing with the mess, and I don’t like that. I want everything to be orderly, calm, and have a semblance of perfection. I have been learning that I must zero out my expectations for myself, for the people around me, for this world we live in, and place all my expectations on Christ. It thrills me to know that no part of Christ’s character is ugly, disorderly, crazy, or imperfect. That knowledge has helped me, and given me immeasurable peace and extreme gratitude.

    I do not mean to be long-winded. There is just much that you shared that I loved, and that hit close to home. I am grateful for God’s working in your life and mine. Grace and peace to you, my friend.

    …….Also??! Happy birthday!! 😉 <3

  • Melanie Brake says:

    Hi, Crystal. Happy Birthday! I’ve been reading your blog for, oh goodness, about seven years, maybe? You are one of three I keep bookmarked and check in with regularly. My favorites have always been your personal posts, the ones about your family life and personal insights. I’m not a couponer, but I’ve always loved the posts about saving money…though sometimes I end up spending money when I click on your site (hard to pass up the great deals!). And you taught me how to freezer cook! Thanks for sharing so much of yourself and your family over the years.

  • Lauren says:

    Happy birthday!

  • Becky says:

    Happy birthday! I have been a reader for about 5 years on and off. I appreciate your wisdom and enjoy your stories. They allow me to reminese about my children when they were younger. I enjoy being present in my children’s lives, and I love watching them grow as kind and caring people. I loved your post about three things you have learned this year. Thank you for always being real. I feel inspired to try some new things this year and stick to an exercise routine! Thanks for being willing to share yourself with us! You are a gift!! Happy Birthday!!

  • Adri says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! You’ve helped me this year as I moved from Troy, Ohio to Ohio this year for hubby’s job, leaving G behind d a great part time job myself. My youngest (of 4) left for kindergarten and I’ve been left to soul search and cry some tears as well. You’re move to TN is encouraging to me as I know I’m not alone in trying new things. Thank you for your honesty…and simplicity…and sharing YOU! 🙂

  • Becky says:

    Hi, my name is Becky. My upcoming birthday I’ll be 40. You’re journey this year has been very inspiring for me personally! It’s encouraged me in a way to say, it’s ok for me to try new things & stop living so fear based. I’ve always told myself I’m not outdoorsy or I’m not athletic. That’s stuff for my sister. I won’t be good at that, nor will I like that stuff. But, I’ve tried kayaking this year (loved it!) and hiking with my husband and not only could I do both of those things, but I LIKED doing them! 40 seems like a such a scary number, I mean it’s nearly 1/2 our life, but your zest for life & really figuring out WHO you are, is encouraging me to really think who do I want to be at the end of the day. And, I’ve decided I don’t want to have any regrets or wish that I’d tried something at the end of my life! THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU! I’ve been a reader for nearly 10 years, I think and I’ll be here for 10 more, as long as you’re still here!????❤️❤️??

  • Lex says:

    Happy Birthday! This was SO good and convicting. Your blog was the first in my adult life I started following and now, 6 years later I still love it and read faithfully because you are so transparent and genuine. I needed to read this tonight more than you know! Blessings in the year ahead, I can’t wait to read about what you’ll learn at 36 😉

  • Sarah Wagner says:

    Hi! I am Sarah and I have been reading here for about seven years. I currently live in Yangon, Myanmar with my husband and five children. I want to say thank you for transparently sharing with all of us your struggles and joys in addition to the practical life stuff, so that the beauty of the Lord can be seen in you! This blog has been a great challenge and encouragement to me SO many times! Happy Birthday! God bless!

  • Mary Ellen says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I am a mostly silent (but very faithful!) reader from Tucson, Arizona. I have been reading for many years–I remember when Silas was born! I am old enough to be your mom but have learned so much from you! I am a full-time attorney with two grown kids. Thank you for encouraging me daily through your blog and instagram! Best wishes for a wonderful year ahead!

  • Autumn says:

    Happy (belated) birthday! I am 37 year old wife & mom of four kids under 5 years old. I’m from Michigan and have been enjoying your site for the past 3-4 years. In the past year, I dropped down to working part-time (mostly from home) and it has been the toughest and yet one of the most awesome answers to prayer I’ve ever received. I have been learning that I cannot be everything to everyone (husband, kids, work, extended family) so the importance of priority has become a reoccurring theme. As a result, your year of rest has been a huge encouragement to me!

  • Corinna says:

    Crystal, I am so proud of you and the “hard” things you have done in the past year! None of us make change easily but you make me want to change some things that I have had on my “want to do” list and move them on to my “done” list! Bravo for your courage!!

  • Sarah says:

    Happy birthday! I’ve been a follower for 3 years and I am so inspired by all of your posts! You are much more than a “Money Saving Mom,” because you teach us all how to reach our goals and be our best selves! Thank you for bringing me closer to God, myself, and my family through your amazing reflections and honesty!

  • Stephanie says:

    Hi, my name is Stephanie, I just turned 31. Ive been reading MSM since 2008. I live in Western Oregon with my husband and 3 children. I homeschool. We are country style people. Hunt, fish, camp…
    3 years ago I took up running, to get myself back in shape after kids. I’ve loved it mostly 🙂 lately I struggle to get myself out the door, once out it feels great.
    You have inspired me over the years and have been teaching me to be frugal. Thank you. Happy birthday.

  • Nicole says:

    Happy birthday! My husband and I (plus 3 children) are missionaries in Papua New Guinea right now, and I will turn 34 in a couple of months. I have been reading your blog for… actually, I don’t know how long. But it has been a while:-) Thank you for the ways that you use this blog to push people to Christ. Your heart for the Lord and for people is clearly evident, and I am so encouraged by that! Thank you!

  • Debbie B. says:

    Hi! I’ve only been reading for maybe a year and a half, but I am truly inspired and encouraged by the things I read here. I am a married mother of 2 trying to make a difference in the world (however small) which for me looks like a lot of volunteering and being brave to serve on boards of non-profit organizations! Your third point hit home; I have been talking to a Christian counselor for the first time in a decade and allowing myself to really feel the pain after years of trying to make it all ok. I am not the type to cry much either so when I am breaking down in church during worship I know that I’m turning a corner on letting myself actually feel the pain – with the hope of entering deeper healing. Thank you for your vulnerability and willingness to share – and happiest of birthdays to you!

  • Tessa says:

    First of all, Happy Birthday! I love that you are learning more about yourself along the way and are able to recognize the changes. I feel the same way each year as my Birthday rolls around. Last month I turned 30. For me it has been the single hardest age to comes to term with. Being a teen mom I didn’t do a lot of the same things my friends got to do. I didn’t have those “milestones”. I wouldn’t change it for the world though. I now have three kids and love being a mom to all of them. My teenage daughter has taught me so much more than I could ever imagine. I am so glad you shared this post with all of us, as a reminder that we all learn more about ourselves as the years go on and that is a great thing! Thanks <3

  • Laney says:

    I turned 36 today and have also had quite the life changing year for reasons different than yours. I am also happy to say that I have learned a lot and have ultimately come out the other side a stronger, more fulfilled person. I have been reading your blog for many years and live in Wichita. It has been very fun and interesting to see the changes in your life and business during that time. Thank you for always letting us be a part of your world!

  • Trizer says:

    Happy Birthday!!! I am one of the quiet readers, My name is Trizer from Kenya,Africa. I’ve been reading your blog for about 3 years now and it helped me go through a tough period as I was expecting my daughter a year ago. I love how real you are in your blogs and look forward to reading from you.

    Ps. Now that you have been to South Africa, Kenya should be next on your list. I promise you you will love it.

  • shalome says:

    What a year of growth for you! The deceptive cloak of busyness. How profound to see thru that and realize it was a form of medication for you.

    Long time satisfied reader and welcomer of change 🙂

  • Bobbie says:

    I love this! Do you still homeschool your children?

  • Becky says:

    Hi I’m Becky, and have been following your blog since 2008. I am 36 now, and I too, have grown a lot since i first started reading your blog. It’s fun to think over the past years and see that. I was a single gal in 2008, and now I’m married with a 15 month old baby! God is good. Thanks for sharing your struggles, because your readers struggle too!

  • Lisa says:

    Happy birthday! I am a quiet reader from Italy, I’m italian. So excuse me for my English, but I try my best without Google Translate.
    I don’t remember how I met your blog, but I really love to read your emails and follow your experiences.
    I think you are awesome.
    Actually I don’t have nothing to write, but you asked this little present…
    So, my name is Lisa, I am 43. I live in a small country not too far from Rome, where I work. I love read and my hobby (well, is more a way of life. I mean a way to live) is to produce cosmetics home made. That requires a lot of study.
    Buon compleanno! Un forte abbraccio.

  • Maria says:

    Happy Birthday, dear Crystal! I’ve been reading your blog since 2014 (the year I had my second baby). You are a real inspiration for me. Thanks to you I’ve learned that I can choose the right attitude not circumstances. I can choose joy. I can challenge myself to know what I am capable of. I do not have to be afraid of being the real me (Introvert!!!) That helped me to reconcider my way of living. Thank you, Crystal. I am honored to get to know you.
    P.S Let me introduce myself. I’m Maria (27) from Belarus. Married to my sweetheart for 8 years. I have two sons : Max (turned 4 this month) and Timothy (2).

  • Kasia says:

    Hi, my name is Kasia. I’m from Poland. 38 years old, married, 2 girls. I have been reading your blog for 3 years. My pregnancy was in danger and I needed to do something when I was in my bed. I found your blog 🙂 Thanks for it. I start set up Christian school in my city. Happy birthday!

  • Amy says:

    Happy birthday, Crystal!!!
    I am a 40 year old homeschooling mom of 5 and love your blog and your sweet heart. Four years ago I changed from being a ‘working mom’ to a sahm and I needed ways to save money. Between your posts on coupon clipping and frugal living, I found your Christian living most influential. I was impressed by the way you lived life and how it was different from my life without Christ as the center. I was going to a couple of Bible studies as well and have recommitted my life to Christ. Praise God! I wanted you to know since I think you don’t always hear or realize how you may impact lives. Also, when we were deciding about homeschooling our kids, I looked at many people who I knew that were homeschoolers and homeschooling. You were one of my glimpses into the homeschool world and your bond with your children impressed me and your work ethic (though I am glad you are getting some rest! ) did too!
    Anyways, what you are doing matters and I really think God is using you to reach hearts and encourage moms. ?

  • Haven says:

    I’ve been following your blog since 2008. Two years ago my husband made a career change and we moved to Europe. Although I wasn’t doing my weekly CVS shopping and going places to get bargains anymore (which I really missed, BTW) I continued to follow your blog because it is like a piece of home for me.

    A month ago we moved to Mozambique, close to South Africa. I never wanted to move to Africa. This was my husband’s dream, not mine. When I found out we were moving here I cried for two days straight. When we got here I cried even more. It’s dirty, it’s dangerous, and there’s trash everywhere. I have bars on my windows and doors, a cement wall with razor wire and an electric fence on top, an alarm, a “safe room”, and 24 hour guards in my yard. To say it’s restrictive is an understatement.

    My two older daughters were getting ready to go to away to boarding school as well, and I kept crying and crying because I knew I would miss them so badly. I kept trying to look at all the poverty around me and remind myself how blessed I was, but somehow that made me feel even worse. I felt like a bad person because I am considered to be very rich to the majority of these people in this poor country, and I was still miserable. I have so much respect for the locals who eek out a living in the red dirt that is everywhere. I don’t know how they do it. My heart breaks for them and what they go through to survive day to day.

    One day when I was particularly sad and upset I started reading your post about your trip to South Africa and your experience with the children there. A voice in my head softly said “You’re supposed to be here.” I started crying all over again with this realization.

    I don’t know what my purpose is here yet, but I know that I have one. It is not a fluke that we moved here. I feel strongly that I will discover why God put me in this place. Now when I get overwhelmed looking around at all the people and trash and dirt I say to myself, “You’re supposed to be here.”

  • Maria says:

    Happy Birthday, dear Crystal! I’ve been reading your blog since 2014 (the year I had my second baby). You are a real inspiration for me. Thanks to you I’ve learned that I can choose the right attitude not circumstances. I can choose joy. I can challenge myself to know what I am capable of. I do not have to be afraid of being the real me (Introvert!!!) That helped me to reconsider my way of living. Thank you, Crystal. I am honored to get to know you.
    P.S Let me introduce myself. I’m Maria (27) from Belarus. Married to my sweetheart for 8 years. I have two sons : Max (turned 4 this month) and Timothy (2).

  • Ali F says:

    De-lurking is scary, but here goes: We are Americans living overseas. On your way to South Africa, your layover is in the country where I stay. I have thought that if your flight ever got cancelled, I could meet you. Weird, I know, and I’d never wish a cancelled flight on anyone. Especially traveling that distance and with children! I’ve been reading for at least 4 years and maybe longer. I started when we were in the US on furlough so that I would know about all of the deals and such, and just never stopped. I always appreciated the no-strings-attached giveaways that you had in contrast to so many others where you had to register and jump through hoops. I even won some Argan oil a couple of years ago. I like your genuiness and how open you are. Thanks for sharing yourself here. I know I didn’t get very personal but I’m careful about what I share publicly because of our location and our work.

  • Bethany says:

    I’ve totally been a lurker! I’m a 26 year old mom of one, and very slowly working on starting a blog of my own. Your blog has been such an encouragement to me, and I love seeing all that God is doing in you and through you. Thanks for being brave enough to share!

  • Kelly @ New Leaf Wellness says:

    I’m not a new reader, but I had to say “Happy Birthday, Crystal!”. Can’t wait to see what 35 brings. 🙂

  • Lisa says:

    Crystal – thank you so much for writing this it was exactly what I needed to hear right now. What you said completely resonates with me. I have an engineering degree from a top 20 school, a high profile, well paid corporate career, accolades and a great network but at the end of the day I feel empty. I want more time with my husband, kids and friends. I want time to do what I enjoy and like you, try some things that push my limits. What seemed important years ago – how I measured success has changed so much. I am getting ready to turn 39 in a few months and I am going to take a page out of your book and evaluate my life and give myself permission to say – that was great but something different is okay too. Thanks again -Lisa

  • Lisanne says:

    Hi Crystal!! Happy Birthday! Thanks for all you have shared on this blog. I know when I look back on my years as a mom of young ones, I will fondly recall how this growing blog changed my thinking and allowed us to reach goals I never thought possible. I’m so much better at meal planning thanks to all the creative posts and meal ideas. Continue to take care of you and your family in this exciting new year!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Happy Birthday! I began reading your blog about 7 years ago, when we were facing sudden financial troubles, and you taught me how to coupon. It was such an eye-opener for me! I continue to read because I find your honesty refreshing. I am a 39 year old homeschooling mom of four girls, ages 12, 9, 7 and 3. We live on a homestead in beautiful west central Florida, and raise as much of our own livestock and grow as much of our own food as we can. It can be challenging, but God continues to pour out His abundant blessings as we, like you, continue on His uniquely chosen path for us. God bless you and your sweet family!

  • Andrea G says:

    Hi Crystal
    I’ve been reading a long time. I’m a 48 year old from Ontario, Canada and find such inspiration from you. Especially your year of rest – which I am also trying to seek this year. I have a disabled son that I homeschool and our days are busy but I am trying to let go a little bit and spend a bit of our time reading, walking and laughing. Please keep on keeping it real and transparent. We can all relate no matter our circumstances. Oh, and happy birthday!

  • Lindsay says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal!! I have been reading for over 5 years. I am a Kansas girl, living in Topeka! I am a working Mom with three daughters 7, 4, and almost 2. My husband is a Topeka Firefighter and we are die hard Dave Ramsey followers and have been for over 10 years. That doesn’t mean we always make the best financial decisions but we have never made any MAJOR mistakes because of the advice Dave and bloggers like you have given us. No car payments (ever), no student loans (ever), we don’t use credit cards except for once in a blue moon on a flight and we pay it right off. We just purchased a new home for our growing family and we are working like mad to pay it off early.

    I have actually been “featured” on your blog before, in 2013 when we took our family to Disney World debt free. I’m sad to say that’s the last family vacation we have taken but we’re truly living like no one else right now so that someday we can give and live like no one else. That was a memory making trip and some day we’ll do it again. I am so envious of (and thankful for) your year of rest. It has actually challenged me to look at my own schedule and make adjustments as needed for the health and well being of not only myself but our family. I am not home with our babies during the day so I cherish our time at night. I don’t have time or the desire to serve on the endless boards that seek me out because it takes away from my family. I believe it was in Lisa Terkeurst’s book “The Best Yes” that she said something to the effect of– when you say yes to something you are actually saying no to something else. Make sure your yes is worth it. That has stuck with me this year and I am living my life 100% with that thought constantly in my head. I have already decided my focus for 2017 is “contentment” because that is where I am really struggling. I know better than to keep up with the Joneses but I am really battling it. In fact, I’ve already started work on this– forget waiting until 2017! Thanks for sticking with it and not giving up. There are a lot of us who admire you and appreciate all that you are doing! Cheers to the future!

  • Felicia says:

    Happy birthday! May god bless you and your family.

    I am a 26 year old mother of four, and homeschool my children. I have been reading and following your blog for 5 years. I love all your posts an you have inspired me to be a better mom and contributor to my household.

    I started a small business “Bounce Your Heart Out” a kids bounce house company.

  • Julie says:

    Hi crystal. Have lurked MSM for a few years now and love your posts, and have used a few of the deals you have offered. I’m a busy working Mom of 3 teens but have recently found my “no” feature in the last few years. Didn’t always know it was there or able to be activated! Lol I am trying to slow down and relish these years with the kiddos because before I know it they’all be out of the house. Thanks for your transparency and encouragement for so many years!

  • Amy says:

    Hi Crystal, I’m Amy, and I have been following your blog for a little over a year now. I am a working mom with a five year old son and two year old daughter. I like reading your posts for the money saving tips, but more for the encouraging, honest posts about parenting, and tips/reminders that as moms we need to also remember to take care of ourselves!

  • Sara says:

    I came back to your blog recently. I had quit reading it well over a year ago. Honestly, I felt like you had taken it from a supportive blog to more of a self-centered blog, always talking about your team and how they were working for you and pushing your products. I saw that as only encouraging people to spend more money to support you, not the other way around.

    I have seen your blog come back to a supportive and encouraging environment. I’m much older than you, do not have all of the same values that you do, and made many different choices than you have. However, I like to read your personal blog entries and am back to checking in several times a week to see what you’ve written.

    Congratulations!

  • Mireille says:

    Happy birthday! I’m Mireille, mom of three boys, one of which is still at home with me. Been reading your blog for about 3 years, and have enjoyed the return of your more personal posts. Our family loves to travel so for the next two years we are going to be more thrifty so as to afford a couple trips we want to take.

  • Jodi says:

    Happy birthday, Crystal! I am a SAHM who has been following your blog for many years. You have changed my life. I learned about how to shop at the drugstores for free from your posts. I have saved so much money and donated so many items, thanks to you.

  • Ann says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal. I’ve been a lurker for over 7 years. I love your blog. I have been thinking of jumping in and starting a blog, but have been scared to do so. I’ve kind of decided here lately, what do I have to lose. So I am currently working on blog post ideas before I jump in. I have 3 teenagers and we decided for me to cut my work hours from full time to part time, because, well… Teenagers need guidance too! And their childhood is flying by. Keep doing what your doing. And I’m so glad you are posting your grocery trips and meal plans again. Somehow it challenges me to be more intentional with my meal planning. Thank you!

  • susan in st louis says:

    Happy Birthday!! 🙂

    I can’t say I’m a lurker, but I haven’t commented much lately. Life has gotten busier as the 4 little ones have gotten older and homeschooling needs more of my time and attention.

    I’ve been reading here for 7+ years…so hard to believe!

    Blessings on you. Thanks for sharing what God is teaching you!

  • Renee says:

    I’ve been a reader for about 2 1/2 years. We are a homeschooling, family of 4, in Middle TN. I am a homemaker, and have learned a lot of money saving tips from your blog, and have enjoyed learning how to earn gift cards from swagbucks, Ibotta, etc., from your blog. Happy 35th birthday. Hope you have a blessed year.

  • Kelly Cox says:

    Happy Birthday! I’ve been reading your blog for years. I’ve been blessed to guest post several times too. I’ve just “retired” officially from my career and am staying home full time waiting on the adoption of our first child to happen! Also, I’m hoping to really get my blog up and running with more time…until the baby comes that is! 😉

  • Kris says:

    Good morning! I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this blog post. I can identify SO much with everything you wrote. EspeciaIly “feeling the pain to heal the pain.” I, too, just turned 35 and have been striving for more simplicity and order in my life over the past year. And, as I have begun simplifying, eliminating the noise of social media and tv when possible, and saying “no” more, it’s allowed me space in my brain about the bigger picture, and my purpose. Refreshing and scary, all at great same time! Our world today moves way too fast. Its been nice to go against the grain a bit, hard as it may be! Thanks again for your very honest and real post.

  • Krissi L says:

    Happy 35!! I’m past that number and a lot changed for me during my 35th year, can’t wait to hear your stories!! I’m a single mama and your blog has given me lots of encouragement!! My favorite thing that I’ve taken from your blog was your morning routine. I love lighting a yummy candle & writing in a blessings journal. Helps set the pace for a blessful day 🙂

  • K says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I love reading your blog. Now I don’t even pay attention to the deals, but just read the original content you right because it inspires me!

  • Alison says:

    I have been reading your blog since South Carolina. That would be 2009. I think I found your blog through southernsavers website. I am a military wife so I remember the chapters of my life based on where we lived. Since South Carolina we have lived in Florida and now Japan. I have bee married to my wonderful husband for 13 years and we are blessed with a daughter and a son. I have been a scientist and a teacher. We are adjusting to our new life in a completely different country. I enjoy your blog because you are honest. Also it is something that is familiar as I struggle for us to build a new life every time we move but I love the military wife’s prayer that takes from the book of Ruth in that it states I go where you go and your people shall be my people. It also states to plant flowers even though you won’t see them bloom because another military wife will enjoy them. This is how I am trying to live my life based on God’s word. Hang in there and God Bless.

  • Angela Perkins says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I am a 50 yr old housewife who is the mother of 7. Most of my children are out of the house either married, working or in college. I have 2 teens at home. I have been reading your post occasionally for a few years now and used it to learn more about organizing, meal ideas, and couponing which I have since stopped, too. I have shared things with other moms and used information about free events or days to enjoy with our family. I have also seen how busy you have been and seen your growth. (I was wondering when you were going to really slow down because I could see that you were doing too much. 🙂 I’m glad that you are seeing how much God loves you and wants you to live an abundant life as you and your family live in His Peace. God bless you with many more birthdays and much wisdom.

  • Cassie says:

    Happy birthday! Thanks for sharing your reflections on your last year with us here. By the way, I started blogging last year and your blog was a huge inspiration for me to get started! Thank you. 🙂

  • Jeni Budinger says:

    Happy Birthday! I have been a quiet follower for years. I love your authenticity and the fact that you keep it “real.” I am so over comparing myself to others and I can totally relate to your posts. Thanks for being an inspiration, while also helping our family save money and time.

  • Christine says:

    Happy Birthday and I have been reading this blog for what seems like forever but definitely before I chose to become a single mom and that was five years ago. I am a mother of four, three of which are grown (two of those three are in college one of the two working on his Phd) and then I have the baby who is in high school. My life is full of soccer. I have one daughter who is playing Division II soccer in college and the one in high school is playing competitive (and that team is an hour drive for us two-four times a week) and she is playing in High School and then to help pay for some of the driving I became a soccer referee and am looking to get my next upgrade so that I can make more money doing that on the weekends. I live in Oklahoma and hope to move somewhere else soon me and my girls are looking for more diversity on our lives!

  • Dee Wolters says:

    Hi Crystal! Happy Birthday! I have been a reader for a long time, actually my (then) college age daughter sent me a link to a post. She has now graduated and has been overseas with a missions organization for 3 years.

    I am 51, mother to 4 college kids! Last year was a big change, as my last child graduated from our home school and moved away to college, so not only did we have an empty nest, but as a home school mom for 20 years, I was now unemployed! Last fall was tough, I was lonely. But slowly, I have became more comfortable in my new place.
    A year later, I have found a part time job that I like and works with my schedule- leaving me free (most of the time) for my family when they need me. I have made lots of quilts and enjoyed giving them as gifts near and far. My kids are thriving! Our farm is doing well- this has been another challenge to do without the kids.

    While I am definitely in a different place than many of your readers, the memories are still fresh- when I had 4 kids ages 6 and under- when just getting everyone in the van to go to the store was a chore. Now, I have go to the store alone.

    Thanks for your blog.

  • Kristin says:

    Hi Crystal! I’m one of those lurkers on your blog that almost never comments. I’ve been reading your blog for 9-10 years now (Wow, I didn’t realize it’d been that long!). We’re right about the same age, I turn 35 in 9 days. My life has changed a lot since I started reading your blog. I was working full time, worked 4 days a week, then felt led to be at home more. Now I’m mostly a stay at home wife/mom, but also a part time church secretary and full time pastor’s wife. I used to read primarily for coupon and money saving posts but over time (though we still need to save money, for sure!) I’ve come to be drawn more to your personal posts. That probably just shows how my priorities and focus has changed over the years. I enjoyed this reflection post of yours, God has shown me some of these same things recently in different ways. ?

  • Amanda says:

    I’m a long-time reader. I’ve been following you for so long and just wanted to say I love reading all of your posts. You are such an inspiration and amazing. It’s good to hear that a year of rest has done all of these things for you. I can so relate to you when you talk about being busy and filling your life with things just to push away the pain of the past. I’m guilty of this as well. I’m also learning to say no, to stop and let myself rest, and figuring out a better way of dealing with pain than putting so much stuff between myself and it. Thanks for being so genuine, down-to-earth, and real!

  • Mindy says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal!! I am a 37 year old homeschooling mama of two from the Western New York area (Go Bills!) ? I have been reading through your blog for just a few months now and have been very inspired by your posts in several areas: simplifying, trying my hand at blogging myself, frugality and your personal posts. Thank you for being obedient to all that God has put on your heart to share! ?

  • Tracy says:

    I turned 30 this year! Thanks to reading your blog for over 6 years I was able to look at turning 30 with Joy not sadness like many of my friends. I have an 11 year old son. This past year has been very crazy busy, my Grandma had heart surgery in December which she is still recovering from. Then in June I had to fly last minute to St. Louis as my Dad was put in ICU for what we thought was a stroke but praise God it was Heat Stroke and his Kidneys shut down on him. So I spent 10 days with him and I had to leave all of my family at home it was a very hard time for me as I had not been away that long from my son before. However I was truly blessed to have a great support system back home. Also thankfully his Kidneys are now back to normal and he is doing a lot better.

    Next came some deaths in the family which were a shock to many of us. And just recently learned that next week my son needs to have surgery to remove his tonsils since he is not getting enough oxygen.

    To top it all off the same time my Dad went into ICU I was starting my MBA. Even with all of the craziness I have managed to have a 4.0 GPA. There were days I wanted to give up and just scream that I was given more than I could handle, then Crystal I would read your blog (part of my self-care) and you wrote about something that really resonated with me and I would find the strength to carry on.

  • Janice says:

    Hi there! I’ve been reading your blog for a few years and have been encouraged by it many times. I’m 40, a mother of four and work full time while going to school. My husband is a pastor. I love your faith, courage, heart and commitment to your family. Happy birthday and keep up the good work!

  • Lisa says:

    Hello, I’m Lisa from Texas and I just turned 56. I have been reading for a couple of years and have received help and information many times. I love to read about your family and your adventures and I share the Africa stories with my husband. I am a follower of Christ and appreciate the fact that I can believe the information you provide and love the heads up about sales. Keep it up and know that you are valued and appreciated very much.

  • Ledys says:

    Hi, Crystal! Happy Birthday! I also turned 35 this year, have two daughters and a son, live in TN, and your encouragement these past few years through your blog has helped me so much! Thank you for everything you do!

  • Tracy says:

    Hello, I’m Tracy and I’m 39. I’ve been reading since about 2006? Way back then I came for the couponing info, but now I’m just in it for the more personal stuff like this post. Happy birthday!

  • Jennifer says:

    My husbnd, son and I live in Philadelphia. Our life has had a ton of transition with medical issues and several moves overseas and domestically. I have also been learning to try new things as my health improves, and to learn what I love and who I really am, not just doing what I think others will approve of. It’s been so freeing. We just completed another move transition and I realize how easy it is to become addicted to chaos. The Lord gave me the same word- REST. I read a quote last night talking about how sheep just follow the shepherd quietly, not trying to choose a path or hurry ahead, they just take the next step. That is my prayer right now as I’m not sure what my purpose is outside of being a wife and a mom. I have a passion to reach others with truth. I feel the Lord has big plans for me and I am praying He reveals them and that I rest in knowing I can’t mess it up!

  • Michelle says:

    Hi! I’m Michelle and have been reading your blog for over a year. I am 34 years old and about a year hit burn out from doing too much as well. I have been following your year of rest as I have been having my own year of rest. It is har still for me to not just jump back to the busyness to avoid feeling and dealing with hurt. I appreciate your inspiration.

  • c says:

    Very timely – today is MY birthday! Thank you for your honesty – here’s to an awesome year ahead!

  • Laura says:

    I’ve been lurking on your blog for 4 or 5 years now, and I continue to be impressed by your honesty and willingness to share. I really appreciate that you keep it real and share part of your life with your readers. As for me, I’m probably a little outside your target demographic – I’m a single 26-year-old, not really into coupon clipping or hunting down the best deals – but posts like this have kept me reading over the years. Thank you!

  • kendra says:

    Hi! I’m Kendra. im a quiet lurker.. for quite a while now. 🙂 This was just the perfect post to read, as i have turned 35 last month. My 34 was full of ups (birth of my 3rd boy) and downs (betrayed by those who i thought were really good friends) and i wanted something great and magical for my 35th year. I am hoping to try some new things, take better care of myself physically and especially emotionally, and we are looking forward to welcoming a FOURTH (and final!) little one this spring. I want to enjoy everyday and not just exist and do the motions. I’m planning to join some new groups (huge for this introvert) and hopefully find some good strong friendships. thanks for this little kick-in-the-pants. I need to make some changes to make this 35th year one to remember.

  • Amy says:

    Love this post and seeing your journey the past year! I am from Wichita too and an INTJ so I relate to almost everything you post and love all your ideas as they work well for me too 🙂 I have been following you closely the last several years as I began my life as a stay at home mom. Thanks for all your inspiration and honesty. My husband often hears “I have this new idea from Money Saving Mom”!

  • Addy says:

    Happy Birthday! I am a grandma, nearing retirement. I’ve been reading your blog for a couple years. Initially I started reading because of the deals you posted, but enjoy all the personal stuff as well. I especially enjoy your posts regarding your international travels and ministry. God bless you as you continue your ministry of love and encouragement both on the blog and in person.

  • Rachel says:

    Happy Birthday, Crystal! I have been reading your blog almost everyday since 2008, when I was a junior in high school in rural Michigan. I’m 25 now. Since then, I graduated from high school and college, taught high school Spanish & math in San Francisco for three years, and now I’m back in Michigan teaching elementary Spanish. This year, my husband and I got married after eight years together, bought a house, and this week we paid off the last of our student loans! Thank you for almost a decade of sharing your passion! I truly admire you. My mother died when I was a child and you have definitely been a role model and inspiration for me, both as a teacher/nanny and as a woman.

  • Amy says:

    Hi Crystal! I hope that you have a wonderful birthday! We share this wonderful month…although I have you by just a few of years…38 for me this year! I am so glad that I sat and took the time to read this post. Thank you for being so transparent! I too struggle with the out-of-breath living. I am a teacher, mother of two (10 and 13…I have an extremely easy new teen, so no complaining there), wife to a Christian School administrator and assistant pastor of our church (same man! no worries!), and much more. We are a go-go-go kind of family. Our kids have sports, we have many job and ministry responsibilities. You know how it goes. I have given much thought to the “be still” that must be present in my life. I want to choose this year to work on that. I have been reading your posts for years now, and look forward to taking some of your advice on resting. My soul gets overwhelmed and quite crazy…resting would be wonderful.

  • Missy says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Crystal!!! I turned 40 this year and though I wasn’t really looking forward to it…. I truly have learned…. age is just a number! I am from Albia, Iowa. A little town of about 4,000 people located in Southern Iowa. I have been following your blog since 2009. God has used your blog to help me make some wonderful and needed changes in my life…all the way from finances to personal goals! Not realizing it at the time I began following you, I was going to need all of these skills down the road. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 16 years. God used us to birth a church that started in our family room! My husband was the lead pastor until addiction over took him. Six years ago he had a major back injury that lead to a six year battle with prescription drug/ alcohol addiction. He eventually step down from this position at the church and it was devastating to our church, our family and marriage. God is a God of restoration! He has us on the path of healing, but as you mentioned, allowing yourself to feel the pain, is part of the healing. It has been humbling to go from church leadership to having to step down from the church and fight to save our marriage. However, God has shown me there is no place for shame in God’s kingdom and He uses EVERYTHING for His glory!!! The things I learned from your blog helped me journey through this difficult time as I was able to help us stay afloat financially and I was able to continue setting goals for myself and my family, even in the midst of the storm. God does not measure us by our productivity…. but by the heart that drives it. When He is my purpose…. I will always have power!!! I started my blog many years ago, but took a long hiatus until God called me back I am now writing for ….www.awomanredeemed.com and my husband has joined me in doing a marriage devotion. We have shared our story…. openly…. as there is no condemnation… in Christ Jesus!!! Blessings to you … always!!!!

  • Tracie H says:

    Happy Birthday!! And congratulations to you for taking care of yourself this year!! Be proud of it and stick to your guns. I love your blog and have been following you for years, but usually I am a “lurker”. Sounds creepy, but I enjoy everything on here so much and you are such a blessing to me!
    Thank you!!

  • Michele says:

    Happy Birthday!! My name is Michele, I’m from a small town in Missouri and I’ve been following your blog for about 5-6 years now. Your blog has been such a blessing to me and my family. Hope that you enjoy your special day! : )

  • Stacey says:

    Hi!! I read every day, but have only commented one other time. I’m a 35 year old mom of 3 boys, 8, 6, and 4. We live in Ontario, Canada.
    The boys play hockey, so I spend a lot of my time at the rink, or driving to the rink. And I drink a lot of tea to keep warm.
    I’m just now starting to get back into running and writing, having taken some time off.

  • Sandra says:

    Reading from Tunisia though I’m originally Dutch. Been reading for at least five years I think. I have commented in the past but not recently. Absolutely love your honesty: You are a true rolemodel!

  • Sara says:

    Happy Birthday! I’ve been a lurker on your blog for about 3 years or so now. I just turned 34 this month and have a 4 year old and a 2 year old. I was originally drawn here because of the money saving posts (especially grocery and menu posts). I’ve stayed, not just because of those, but also because of the personal posts that you have. I struggle with anxiety and other issues and so many of your posts have really hit home with me. Thank you for putting yourself out there. You are helping more people than you realize.

  • Andrea says:

    Hi Crystal and Happy Birthday!

    I’m a 25 year old from Wichita who is now living in Texas. I actually am unmarried and don’t have any kids, but I still feel like your blog speaks to me in so many ways. I have been reading for around 3 years now. Your positivity and honesty are such an inspiration to me. Just like you I tend to thrive on busy and this post, as well as many others from your year of rest, have helped me to take a step back and reevaluate where I want my life to go. Thanks for sharing your heart and story with all of us!

  • Erin says:

    Thank you for posting about your year of reflection. You are inspirational with your honesty and insight. Thank you for sharing.

    Happy Birthday! Enjoy 35. I turned 36 a few months ago. And am starting to own the climb to 40.

  • Amanda says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal!

    I’m Amanda, 25, living outside of Nashville, married, no kids yet. I found your blog looking for money saving tips about a year ago, and stayed for your real life posts! I love your honesty and openness about your life. I started a craft business a little over a year ago and am trying to add a blog onto the brand as well. Taking baby steps and feeling like I’m getting nowhere, but you have to start somewhere right? I too thrive on busy, between work, trying to build a business, home renovation projects, and more – but I am young and able and have a lot I want to accomplish! I admire you for going after what you want but also knowing when you need to take care of you. Thanks for all the realness, positivity, and encouragement! You are a bright spot in my day every day! Hope you had a great birthday!

  • Rose says:

    Hi, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I am a 58 year old married woman with 3 sons [all grown] and 3 grandsons [10,9, and 3]. I have suffered many illnesses and injuries over the past few years and am now on disability. Always wanted to be “at home” to do all the things I enjoy, however, this is not how I pictured it!! {God has his own plans}. Though home now, Im not able to do much at the moment, mostly due to shoulder issues which were to be operated on in Sept and then due to an insurance glitch, got cancelled and sent to a new surgeon who seems to think that more physical therapy in a different area would help more. Who knows? had 5 MRIs, many Xrays and PT at least 4 x over the past 2 years. Dont know how it will all turn out, but …
    Your blog has been an encouragement to me over the past few years. I totally enjoy your honesty and love seeing your children grow up.
    Oh, and I am from WAY northern NH : )

  • Sharon says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Crystal! 😀 Love love this post… I’ve been reading your blogs for years and years now (since the early BW days!), and it’s amazing what you can “pick up on” from just normal blog posts. I’m so glad you’re learning to rest, and that’s so inspiring to me too! Thank you for being real with us. <3

  • Denise says:

    Happy Birthday! I am a 49 year old mother of 2. My 16 yr old daughter and I both have anxiety issues. Your year of rest has been an inspiration. I found your blog in 2009 after I was laid off and and started over in a new career at 1/3 my former salary. Your coupon tips and recipes were a huge help. It worked out for the best and things are better now but I follow you because you encourage me to take care of myself , take risks and do the best I can. Thank you!

  • Brenna says:

    I’ve had a very similar experience this past year, and am continuing to grow in this way. I’m such a “yes” person, and I’m learning that I am still a person with worth without having to “do” but only need to “be.” It’s tough work, but so important!

  • Emily says:

    Happy Birthday! I have lurked on your blog for 7 years. I’m from Andover, KS. I’m a working mom with 2 kids, a 7 year old son and 3 year girl. My family loves SDC and I really enjoyed your post!

    • Holley says:

      Crystal…Happy Birthday. I am a working mom to three practically grown children. I live in North Carolina (we are practically neighbors). I stumbled across your blog about 6 years ago after my husband was laid off and I was looking for ways to cut our budget, bring in additional money and feeling extremely panicked about how to continue feeding three teenage boys. I can’t express enough what a life-line your blog was during a very difficult period in our family. The budgeting advice, grocery tips etc., have made such a huge difference. We have found many creative ways to find money in our budget as well as creating small income streams through Swagbucks and the like. Thank you for your passion and creativity and for giving us a glimpse in to the life of your family. I hope this next year is filled with all of the things that give you joy.

  • Kelley says:

    Happy Birthday! I turned 35 on Sunday, and I feel like we are on the same “discovery” paths. Maybe it’s the age. LOL. I’m from Evansville, IN and have 3 kids, 8, 7 & 4. Last year, I turned my life around by hiring a coach. It was the best thing I ever did. I was terrified of the cost, but I am not the same person I was a year ago, and I’ve learned so much about myself, and what I can do. The possibilities are endless. Several of your blog posts, I could have written about rest, slowing down, and reflection. I love it! Congrats on your year and new found peace.

  • Karla says:

    I’ve been following your blog since 2009 when I realized I needed help in managing my family’s money. This authentic, courageous post is probably my favorite. And a reminder there is always beauty from ashes. Thank you for bravely sharing your life journey with your readers.

  • Serena says:

    Happy Birthday! I’m a stay at home mom in Texas. I have one 2 year old boy and a husband that works in the tech industry. My husband and I moved to Texas 3 years ago from Western KY. I’ve been following your blog for at least 5 years, before I was a mom or a Texan! We are hoping to take a leap of faith soon and become a foster family. We are so excited (and honestly, slightly terrified) to see where God will take us on that journey, and I continue to enjoy following your life and your story.

  • Daniele Baker says:

    I don’t know when it started, but by the time I applied for Grad school in 2008, I’d built a life around keeping busy, deriving my worth by meeting outside expectations, and believing that I had the ability to get myself out of anything if I tried hard enough. They all seemed like such good mantras, until things outside my control starting going wrong. My grad advisor constantly delayed my research, and I slowly cut-back on everything in hopes of spurring things on. Suddenly I was no longer busy or achieving any goals (the only goal I had was finishing grad school and that was always delayed), and since I believed in complete self-responsibility, it meant it was all my fault. That failure, became my true reflection and I imploded. It took years to dig myself out of depression and it’s still an ongoing process to decide how to derive my self-worth when I can’t use busy as a metric.

    I’ve always looked up to your drive, your level-headedness, your compassion, and your focus on living purposefully. The world is full of bloggers that seem to believe that if we want to use our life wisely we should all aspire to be perfectly productive people (whether they’re motivating you to work-out, start a new business, or retire early). Your blog is a breath of fresh air and watching you deal with a similar transition, especially in this last year, has given me the motivation I needed to stay on this path… to build a life of balance and contentment, where I’m motivated by excitement not guilt and shame.

  • Amy says:

    Happy birthday, Crystal! And congratulations on having a year of so much self-discovery! You obviously work very hard, and deserve your year of rest and all that you’ve gained from it.

    My name is Amy, and I’ve been reading since 2014. I was originally attracted to the personal finance focus here, and even started my own blog about paying down our family’s debt. However, I’ve really come to appreciate your larger focus, especially posts such as these, which are more about self-love and improvement. Similarly, I dropped my debt repayment blog, because it felt so narrow, and like I was only sharing a sliver of my life, and started a new blog that allows me to share all aspects of who I am and what I care about. (For example, today’s post is about Dwarfism Awareness Month, and my sweet nephew, Charlie.) I live in upstate New York (the Capital Region), with my husband, our daughter who is about to turn 7, our geriatric cat, and my daughter’s age-less betta fish. 🙂

  • Happy 35 years! Thanks for sharing your heart. I know it’s so difficult at times to be vulnerable and share. But I appreciate you, your blog and the ‘inside’ stories.

    Yay! to a year of rest and many new adventures and moments.

    I’ve done some pretty great things too this year and I probably should share more often on the blog.

    XO

  • Winter says:

    Hey there! I’m Winter, and I’m in Iowa. I’ve been reading here for a couple of years. I work full-time and and have a fur kiddo- an 18 month old Yorkie girl named Georgie. 🙂

  • Jenny says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I’m a mom of two (26 and 21) and share your articles with my daughter who is just starting out in life. I’ve been frugal my whole life but stumbled across your website a couple of years ago and started lurking. My favorite part of your website is reading about the shopping trips and the menus for the week as well as the weekly deals at CVS, Walgreens, etc. I think you are incredibly brave to share about the difficult parts of life and, believe me, there are so many people who can relate and sympathize. Your articles on South Africa have been wonderful! Thank you for sharing with all of us!

  • Kimberly in NC says:

    I’ve commented a little before, but not too often. I’m from southwest Virginia, but I’ve lived in western North Carolina for almost 10 years. I’m still 37, at least I am until October 31st. My husband is a mechanic out of our garage and I stay home with our youngest son who is 4. Our older two sons are in school and are 6 and 13. I’ve read your blog for probably almost 10 years as the money saving posts have always been an interest to me. Happy birthday to you and God bless your family.

  • Lindsey says:

    Hello from Iowa! I have been following you for a couple years now and am always so inspired by you!! We have a three year old and twins who are almost two years old. All of them are adopted and we still do foster care. Sometimes my days are so crazy and stressful, so reading your blog or watching your Periscope talks are things that fill my cup so I can continue to give to my busy little family. I thank God for you! Thank you for your honesty, your challenges, your information and advice, your encouragement, and your support, whether you knew you were giving it to me or not! Happy birthday! 🙂

  • Karen says:

    I am Karen, 34 with three kids from Springfield, MO ! I love that we are the same age and you just seem so real and helpful to your readers! You are one of my favorite blogs! I love that you keep us updated on all the things you are trying as well. How’s the no coffee going ? 😉 Hope 35 is awesome! I will soon be there!

  • KIm says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I’ve been a “lurker” for a few years now and honestly, I’m a little nervous about posting this comment! I live in Ohio with my husband and 4 kids, and “busy” doesn’t even begin to describe my life. I love reading your posts because it feels like you are sitting in my living room with me while we chat about the day. I began reading your blog for money saving tips, but I’ve kept reading for the honest reality of life in an active family. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one who struggles with people pleasing, and that it’s a long road of recovery. I’m an avid believer in the fact that recipes are only guidelines to be explored, and I love creating new things for my family to enjoy. Thank you for stepping outside your comfort zone to be an inspiration to so many people, and God bless you for being obedient to His call on your life! I pray for God’s blessings to flow on you and your family! Have a wonderful day!

  • Lisa V says:

    Hi, I’m Lisa – normally a casual lurker, casual commenter 😉 Thank you for all you do, it cannot be easy and the hard work is so appreciated. I know you’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs over the years, I typically relate to you when you share your stories and it helps so much. Keep up the faith and the great blog you have built here. xoxo God is good, all the time!

  • Kimberley says:

    I want to say thank you for your authenticity, I have been encouraged by you countless times. I have been a quiet reader for probably four years. I live in Oregon with my husband and two homeschooled children. I really enjoy reading about your year of rest, and the joy you find in your family, reading and freezer cooking. I am glad you are finding peace in your life through the healing of rest and your focus on Jesus. You are shining well for him!

  • Crystal,

    I am so very proud of you and I admire your courage. Thank you for being so open and vulnerable in such a public space and for allowing your readers to see that you struggle too. You inspire me to do the same.

    And, by the way, you look great in these colors! Keep wearing them and purple too.

    Bless you!
    LeAnne Martin

  • Karen says:

    Happy Birthday, Crystal. I’ve been reading your blog on a nearly daily basis for 7 or 8 years. I live in Georgia. I’m not a mother, but I work with children. I began reading your blog because I was underemployed and needed to learn more ways to save money. In the meantime, I have built my tutoring business. You and the other readers have been so encouraging in my journey. I’ve learned creative ways to save money and develop other income streams.

  • Amy says:

    I’ve been reading your blog since 2010 when I was newly married and have loved following your journey and saving money in the process! I’ve bought and read your books and listened to you on periscope which has been such a blessing to me. Thanks for keeping it real! I’ve started weightlifting with the TLS plan that i found out about through you and am loving it so far. I would love it if you would scope or write about how to know when to push yourself to certain goals during certain seasons and how to know when to rest. I want to sacrifice to change careers without hurting my current commitments, especially to my husband.

  • Katie N says:

    Happy Birthday! I am Katie from NC and my 35th birthday is just days away. I also have three kiddos (9,6, and 1). I am in awe of Jesus. I homeschool and have a work from home husband. So we are all here all the time! I am so thankful for you openness and honesty. I am encouraged by how God is shaping you. He is so good to us, isn’t He? I hope you have a great 35th year!

  • Darcy says:

    I’ve been a long-time lurker, reading your blog for years. 🙂 I usually just read a post, but often share your deals to Facebook, too. I don’t comment very frequently.

    My name is Darcy. I’m a 30 year old first time mom, and your blog is my most favorite EVER! You are such an inspiration, and I love that you are so open and honest with your life and your experiences. You rock!!

  • Julie says:

    Hi Crystal! I am a 35 year-old mom of 3 little blessings (ages 6, 3, and 1) and am married to my college sweetheart. I found your blog after my first daughter was born and my husband was in grad school earning his MBA. I am a first generation believer in my family so your real, authentic, faith-based outlook on life is so encouraging for me! My husband travels every week and we have no family in town to help, so I greatly appreciate the “realness” of your posts and feel like I can relate to you in so many ways. I have found so many useful strategies, books, etc through your posts. I used THM plan to shed my last baby pounds. Since I’m totally type A and loved your Make Over Your Mornings, Evenings, and Year courses! I have also been convicted lately about my tendency for tasks to trump people in my need for productivity. Thank you for all you do! It’s great to see you use the gifts the Lord has given you to help others!!

  • Sheryl says:

    Happy belated birthday! I’ve been a “lurker” on your blog for…gosh I don’t know 3 or 4 years. I’m a stay at home mom to 3 kids six and under in a semi-rural town in MN. I came for the deals and have stayed for the insightful and heartfelt content. I have to thank you for your straightforwardness (I think I made that word up just now) about life, marriage, being a real flawed human, and motherhood. Have a wonderful year, it only gets better after 35!

  • Thanh Shanahan says:

    Happy Birthday, Crystal! I believe I’ve been reading for the last 3 years – that’s how long I’ve been a mom! 🙂 I love how transparent you are in your writing! Thanks for being real with us!

    I am a mother of a 3.5 year old daughter and a 2 year old son! I’m enjoying my time with them, taking a break from teaching! 🙂 We live right outside of Chicago!

  • April says:

    Happy Birthday and greeting from North Carolina! I have been a avid reader of your blog for years (so many I can’t remember). I found your blog after reading an article in AllYou magazine and I was hooked. I am a married mother of one, full-time professional who enjoys your down to earth personality and gentleness of your words. I was frugal before it was a thing and love knowing I’m not the only one who likes being smart with their finances. I started freezer cooking because of reading your blog and I love fixing a big pot of black bean soup (using your recipe of course).

  • Margaret says:

    I have left a comment or two over the years I have been reading your blog–don’t remember exactly how long but at least 4-5 years. I live in Texas and have three kids who I homeschool. We have been married 16.5 years and have also dealt with infertility. I have heard God using your lessons in my own life so many times. Most recently to quiet my own life and have a year of rest. We were forced to quiet down a bit when our house flooded in April. And then again about a month ago– I found something I really loved doing in reviewing on Amazon. I knew it took a lot of time to do well, but I felt like I was keeping up a good balance. God knew better. He removed that from me in a strange turn of events. Hard but what freedom!
    I have appreciated over and over your willingness to be different in the world. To be “set apart” and to unashamedly talk about the lessons that God has been teaching you. I often think of you as my virtual friend and then realize that we have never even met and you have no clue who I am ! 🙂 Too bad we moved from N. Al 11 years ago…
    Meanwhile, I will continue to be encouraged by your very real walk with the Lord and glimpses into a blogger’s world (an idea I have toyed with but not prepared for just now).

  • Keelie says:

    Happy birthday friend! I love the list of things you learned when you were 34. I suspect i need to make that list on my coming birthday as well.

    Love your realness friend. 🙂

  • Cambria says:

    Happy Birthday!!

    I’ve been reading your blog for many years now (probably since about 2009 I think). Thank you for all you do for your readers and it’s been a joy to see your business boom and your family grow over the years!

    Many, many continued blessings!!

  • Ellie says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I’ve been following your blog since December 2014 and it has helped me so much to save money and use my time wisely. It even inspired me to start my own blog which I will be launching soon. I am a pastor’s wife uprooted from Guatemala 15 years ago to live in Texas with my two daughters, now adults. I love debt free living and your blog inspires me to keep on living like that. Keep up the good work! You are a refreshing inspiration in my life.

  • Kathy says:

    Happy Birthday, Crystal! I’m way, way older than you, but the lessons you’ve learned and are sharing are still truly relevant to an “age old” follower of yours… Many thanks for always sharing honest posts, chock-full of wisdom and sensitivity. I am an adrenal exhaustion survivor – what you are sharing with our suffering sisters is wonderful! Here’s to living life “Uncorked”! : )

  • Christy says:

    Hi Crystal!

    My name is Christy and I have been quietly reading your blog for about 4 years now. I look forward to getting your emails everyday. Money Saving Mom is the only blog I have time to read. I really enjoy it and I can relate to a lot of your posts. Especially the one about anxiety and not listening to the false truths we often tell ourselves. I have been battling anxiety for about 7 years now and I am finally winning. (Thanks to regular exercise and self care) Thank you for all that you do!!

    Love,

    Christy

    • Christy says:

      PS. I LOVE all of the recipes you post. Especially the banana bread. We have made that bread many many times over the years. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! 🙂

  • Hi Crystal!

    Fall is my favorite season and October is the best month for birthdays. 🙂 (Mine is in October too.)

    Ok, I’m a lurker. 🙂 (I rarely ever comment on anyone’s blog and have never commented on yours.)

    I’m not even in your target market. I’m single, with no kids.

    Not sure how I even found this blog. I don’t care about “stuff” or deals/couponing per se at all. I hate shopping and would rather pay a bit more than spend an inordinate amount of time chasing down a pennies-off “deal.” (However, I DO care a lot about personal finance and wise stewardship of what God has gifted us.)

    However, I am a Christian woman who’s also starting a new biz. Though the “deals” and kids parts of your site don’t apply to me at all, I love reading your take on the Christian life and building a biz. Though I have no kids myself, I come from a large family. I was homeschooled and my parents were (and still are) self-employed. So your faith/family values/entrepreneurship lifestyle is very familiar to me and really resonates with me.

    I love how you share your heart in posts like this. 🙂 However, in this case, I find myself in a different place than you. As Ecclesiastes says, “For everything there is a season…” Since I’m in startup, I’m very much in the “hustle” phase. Technically, your rest message in this post is out of sync with where I’m at in my life right now. (Another reason why I normally wouldn’t comment here.)

    But I’ve been there in my day job career (which I’ve done for over a dozen years) and know from experience how important rest and a time out is. I’ve experienced the unfortunate effects of deep burnout before which cost me my job at the time. 🙁

    Right now though, I find this message a bit hard to swallow. I’ve been dealing with a significant health issue and I have a very low-paying job. So I’ve been dealing with a very low income — and recently, no income as I recover from a major surgery (my third hip replacement).

    It’s difficult to see a very successful businesswoman talk about slowing down and not focusing so much on hustle and productivity. (I read the profile of your 7 figure biz in a Tennessee biz journal.)

    However, I know you’re right and that we’re just at different points in our lives. Right now, I NEED to hustle! (As soon as I recover from this third hip replacement, that is.)

    I love what you’re doing and though I’m not a mom, I love your tips and comments on your faith and family while running a biz. 🙂 I am so encouraged by how you combine your faith and biz. Thanks for going through the hard things to share with us and encourage those of us who are a bit behind you in this journey.

    I am continually in awe of all the help and support that is out there to help us build the lives we want and of the caliber of people that are willing to share their gifts and knowledge.

    Thank you for putting yourself out there and for doing what you do. It’s been so encouraging. 🙂

    Sincerely,
    Michelle Nightengale

  • Lorrie Alessi says:

    My name is Lorrie and I’ve been following you since before Silas was born. Maybe even a year or two before.

    I live on the central coast of California. Been married to my honey, Jim for 31 years. So very blessed.

    I homeschooled our two kiddos. Christian through high school and Gianna through 8th grade. Then she went to public school

    Your adventures of mothering and homeschooling bring back so many wonderful memories. And some very painful and hard memories also.

    You see Christian is now 24 and has been serving in the army the last three plus years. He gets out in three weeks and will finish his college education. I’m so proud of him.

    Gianna is 20 and a junior at Boise state. So proud of her.

    I love following your blog for your deals but more so for your transparency and heartfelt sharing. Over the years I’ve laughed and cried along with you and been so inspired to be better and more of who God wants me to be. Thank you for that.

    Happy birthday Crystal. Enjoy it to the fullest. I know God has many blessings in store for you and your family.

  • Michelle says:

    My name is Michelle. I have been reading off and on for about 3 months. Happy Birthday!! I to turned 34 this year. I have been married for 3 years. There has been a lot of “feeling the pain to heal the pain” these last 3 years. But in doing that the healing that has taken place in both of us. We are now in a place to embark on becoming parents. 🙂 Thank you for your openness and your guidance. I am learning a lot from your blog posts. We are looking to get out of debt and so I am needing to decrease spending in other areas.

  • Gerry says:

    Hi and happy birthday! I’m Gerry from MD. I’ve been a loyal and grateful reader since 2011. Using the tips in your blog changed our lives, because living a frugal life allows us to live much more smoothly – and happier and more hopeful! – on a low income. Thank you for all you do! <3

  • Heather says:

    I’m Heather, Mom to 6 and pastor’s wife living in NY. I’ve been reading since before there was a blog LOL and learned from you all about saving money on groceries way back! I’ve appreciated your great deals and I only really read your blog and none others for money saving ideas. This year I’m following what you are saying about rest and tears. Your story gave me courage to say “I’m tired and I need some help” Just last night I went to see a Christian counselor for the first time ever. I’m used to being the one doing the counseling but praise God I can say I’m broken and in need of God’s healing to move forward. I’ve been pushing past the pain with projects and made up deadlines and I reached a place I could no longer do that. Thank you for sharing. It makes a huge difference..beyond saving money, you might be saving more than that in your transparency 🙂

  • Cheryl says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal

    I too just had a birthday last week and am feeling all of my 51 years. I have commented a few times, but mostly read your blog. Been following you for about 4 years or so and feel like I have gotten to know you. I too am burnt out trying to do everything but not as good as I should. I don’t know how to say no sometimes also. I work full time as an auto parts driver and I started a cupcake business a couple of years ago. I sell them at art shows and I never thought it would go this far. I really love doing it but it can take every bit of my time and energy, while trying to leave time for my husband. I have so many people telling me that my cupcakes are the best they have ever had and I have been getting more private orders. I never realized how much time this would take. I am always trying to manage my time better, but still learning every day. I am so glad you took some time to heal your soul and still want to keep your blog, I know a lot of people really love it. I live in Mid Michigan and my husband and I are celebrating our 12th anniversary this weekend.

  • Cassue says:

    I’m one of the quiet ones! I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts about growth in the last year and have been giving serious thought about who I want to be because of it. Thank you and happy birthday!!

  • Lisa says:

    Happy Birthday, Crystal. I am one of those quiet readers. I have been following you for the last year or so, and I am so pleased to “get to know” you. I enjoy how genuine and honest you have been about your life (as well, of course, as all the wonderful info and deals that I find). I have been out of work for two years and uncertain of my future. I wonder why God has allowed this situation, and you have been such an encouragement to me. It has helped immensely to know that someone who is such a success has problems too. Thank you for being open with all of us.

    Also, I appreciate knowing that you are a Christian, that you would never intentionally mislead your readers, and therefore I can trust your recommendations. Such a nice bonus. 🙂

    Happy Birthday from Oregon!

  • Wendy says:

    Thank you so much for your wonderful posts, recipes, attitude…everything, really. I have never commented before, just read, enjoy, and incorporate what I think will be helpful. Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing your outlook on the world, your feelings, and your plans. I hope you have a wonderful birthday month!!

  • Nicholle says:

    Hello, I am following from Kissimmee, FL. Been following you since 2010. I enjoyed reading this article. It reminded me of why I started and remained reading. Keep up the great work!

  • Mallory says:

    Happy Birthday from a quiet lurker! I’ve been following for…geez…5 or so years now. I found you when I started couponing, which I started doing just a a few months before a huge (figurative) bomb was thrown on my family. Couponing/saving money was one way we survived the following years. Your site has been a huge encouragement in so many ways. Your love for the Lord is clear and beautiful. Thank you for all your advice and inspiration!

  • Jamie J says:

    Happy Birthday! I have been a follower since around 2010. I am a wife of 15 years and a mother to 3 amazing kiddos. I turned 34 this year and feel like I am finally finding myself. My family is so great full for your blog. Thank you

  • Melody says:

    Happy birthday
    I really enjoy reading your personal posts
    I am a mom of one and we run our own business
    We actually run two businesses so my husband is very busy
    I try to balance my life and emotions and without God and these honest blogs I would fail miserably
    I love the raw feeling that you and others share
    I pray God blesses you and your family with balance and joy
    I’m learning joy is our strength but joy is a choice not a circumstancial based emotion
    Thank you so much for being who you are?

  • Karen says:

    Crystal, you are a breath of fresh air! You are an inspiration to mothers, including myself! I have always been “type A” and measured my success by what tasks I’ve accomplished & how perfect I could keep my living space. You’ve helped me realize what truly matters in life & how to appreciate all of the small, wonderful moments with my kids & family. As a Christian woman, I love that you are open & proud of your faith! God is good & needs to be the center of our universe! I hope you have a lovely birthday! ???

  • Krisha says:

    Hi. I found you this last Spring through the makeover your morning gig. I was on maternity leave with my third and fixing to go back to teaching and trying to figure out how I was going to manage my mornings trying to get everyone out the door and remember all the lunches I packed, milk I had pumped, and still have it together! I got some really good ideas that helped me a lot and I started following your facebook page. This year I am staying home on a sabbatical and homeschooling my kids so I’ve felt a little more connected to you. Tonight after reading this, I feel like we have more in common than I realized. This year since I have been off, I have been minimalizing my life as well. Minimalizing my commitments and activities has given me time to do some self-examining as well. I have been doing a book study with another homeschool mom on Conscious Discipline. It is a program ultimately used to help guide your children but it starts with identifying your own emotions which sounds like exactly what you have been doing. You should check it out. There’s a great website and the further we get in the book, the more we want to read! Congratulations on taking on this challenging journey to grow. I dubbed this year as my happiness project with my family. I have learned that happiness is growth but growth doesn’t always feel happy. Sounds like you are really growing which must mean you are really happy…despite the extra tears!?

  • Susan says:

    Happy Birthday! I am glad that your year of rest has been so helpful. I am outside what I imagine is your target demographic. I have followed your posts for years for your very useful insights into minimalism and decluttering.

  • Melissa says:

    Hi, yours is one of three blogs I read regularly. I’ve been reading here for about 4 years. I found this site shortly after my husband went through a layoff from his job in our third year of marriage and I was looking for ways to cook more frugally. I found that plus a whole lot of encouragement here. I can’t thank you enough for that. Happy birthday. I’m two years older than you and I’m definitely still discovering aspects of myself and how to live happier too.

  • Kate says:

    Happy Birthday, Crystal! I don’t think I’ve ever commented on here before. I started reading your blog about 7 years ago when our family was undergoing a really difficult financial situation. Because of your blog, I found out about Dave Ramsey, and my husband found out about him from someone at work. That was a HUGE blessing for us, such that when our financial situation improved, we were able to implement Dave Ramsey’s tools and have come a LOOONG way! (Paying cash for a minivan, paying off loads of debt and overall becoming much better stewards over what the Lord has entrusted to us) I was inspired by your family’s decision to purchase a home with cash and to live simply and get rid of things that were only cluttering and taking away from life. Well a few years ago, I had to stop reading your blog. All the constant goals and such were giving me anxiety. Even though I loved the money saving tips, the goals and constant busyness were stress inducing for me. Just a few months back, I for some reason decided to check out your blog again and I am oh so happy to see the changes you have made. I am loving the year of rest and the quiet. It seems that you are really finding yourself and dropping the cultural expectations. I love it. I have also found my way and have gotten to learn the hard way as well that the Lord’s view of “productive” and my view of productive are not the same, and I needed to match my view with His instead of the world’s. I’m so happy to see how much more content you have become. I hope you have had a wonderful birthday.

  • Kelly says:

    Hi Crystal. I’ve been reading your blog for 3 years or so but never commenting 🙂 I found your blog when looking for diaper deals and have been inspired by your journey and have learned some new things, too. I appreciate your insights and willingness to be open with complete strangers. God bless 🙂

  • Lisa says:

    Hi Crystal. Happy Birthday! I’ve been reading your blog for a few years. I have homeschooled for years, and I’m almost finished. I appreciate you sharing all the things you learn about life, that make my life better. I wish I’d learned them while I was younger like you are. Thanks for all you do.

  • Janna says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I am a 33 year old mom of a 5 year old boy from Iowa. I found your blog soon after my son was born. My situation is similar to Kate’s above. I used to read your blog regularly, but had to cut back on all the ‘noise’ (following blogs and disconnecting from social media) because they turned to stress-inducing. I do pull up your blog occasionally and find encouragement from your posts on how God is working in your life. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  • Alyssa says:

    I found your blog about a year ago, so I’m fairly new. I’ve left a couple comments on things. I’m from Canada, I have four kids with another on the way. My oldest just turned 6, my baby just turned 1. We started homeschooling this year! I started reading because I needed some creative ideas for stretching our budget. Things like couponing, and earning points through various outlets. I haven’t had a lot of success in the coupon dept up here, because it is so time consuming and I don’t think Canadian coupons are quite as lucrative as in the US. But I’ve found creative ways to stretch our grocery budget (and felt ok with finally admitting maybe I just really needed to increase it.) We live in northern Alberta, and food is expensive up here. $4 for 2 lbs of strawberries is a crazy good deal up here. lol! My husband hunts, I try to make everything from scratch (except chicken nuggets and tortillas, ain’t nobody got time for that! 😉 ) I’ve discovered a couple gems, and now collect points at our local *affordable* grocery store that earn me credit and I love it; and your writing inspired me to look. You also got me interested in YNAB, and I actually won a free year-long membership, that I never even would have entered if I hadn’t read your writing. I’ve budgeted for a couple of years, but YNAB is helping my husband and I stay on track and keep the lines of communication much more open. I’m so thankful!

    I’ve also so appreciated your openness on burnout, mothering, serving the Lord, and your enthusiasm for missions and being generous with what I have. I wanted to wish you a very happy birthday, and to let you know your writing has encouraged and strengthened me!

  • Rachel says:

    Happy birthday! I turned 35 this week too. I have 4 children and have been a regular reader since 2010 when my first daughter was born. I’m a stay at home mom. I have been inspired by your courage to share your journey with us. You matter and have helped so many with so much!

  • Kristen says:

    Happy birthday, Crystal! I have been a quiet reader here for about six or seven years. I am a pastor’s wife and mother of three. Your blog has helped me save my family money over the years and I am grateful! May God continue to bless you and your sweet family as you are faithful to Him and His calling on your life (whatever that may be- rest included!)

  • Becky says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I started reading your blog four years ago when I was looking for coupons and deals. I’m so glad a found more than savings – I found inspiration and connection to a real sister in Christ!

  • Teresa says:

    My name is Teresa, and I live in northern California. I think I found you through “Cheap Healthy Good,” and I’ve been following your blog for several years now. I’m 35 and married but no kids (yet), and you inspire me. I love your deal posts and also your honesty in your personal posts (like this one!). Keep up the good work!

  • Amanda s says:

    I love this post! I am a new mom to a 4 month old and work full time at a church that is going through some tough stuff! I’m trying to find a balance between the two or decide if I want to keep working at all. I feel like I have lost my passion for my job and have to figure out who I am and what I want for me and my baby. I am also learning to take time away from the busyness and figure things out at the point in my life! Good to know you had success in evaluating your life and breaking out of your internal barriers!

  • Elisabeth says:

    Happy Birthday, Crystal! You’ve caught me. I’m a quiet reader. But I love your personal posts even more than all the money-saving stuff, and, believe me, I’m all about saving money. Thank you for what you do. You’ve encouraged me to think it’s possible to start my own blog..and yes, it sure is hard.
    But thank you thank you thank you for being real and messy. You are by far my favorite blogger and my biggest inspiration.
    I’d be honored if you’d read just one of my posts on thefrugalnursemama.com. I’m just praying it’s one of my better ones. 🙂
    Your quiet reader,
    Elisabeth

  • Amy says:

    Happy birthday! I have been a quiet reader since before the kudzugrows gal designed your first header and while you still had your other website (which I actually found first). Not sure when that was . . .

    Inspired by you, I ran a local deals website for several years. I was homeschooled and my oldest was apparently born within a few days of your Kathrynne. I have loved “watching” your journey in to freedom in Christ. Thank you for your honesty and courage!

  • Lyndsay says:

    Hi Crystal!

    Happy Birthday! I’m Lyndsay from CO. I honestly don’t remember how I came across your blog but at some point I signed up for your email list and I am SO glad I did! I’ve been receiving your emails for longer than I have been actively following them but one day, one of them really caught my eye and I have been quietly appreciating them more and more, ever since. Thank you for all of the info about saving and/or earning money, that you pass along! I signed up for some of the smartphone earning options you’ve shared, about two months ago and have been plesantly surprised by how easily and quickly I’ve accumulated so much! Even my husband (ever the cynic, the skeptical “realist” ;)) has been so impressed that he has now started bringing in gift cards through Swagbucks too!

    Even greater than my appreciation for all the money saving tips, though, is my appreciation for all you share about your life. Your blogs have inspired me to grow as a mother, a wife and as a child of God while also helping me financially contribute more to my family than I had previously been able as a stay home mom. Thank you for your vulnerability – the humility and authenticity in all you share is refreshing and inspiring!

    I hope 35 is amazing for you – with your outlook, I’m sure it will be 🙂

  • Kathleen says:

    Happy (late) birthday! I’ve been reading your blog since 2008 and can’t even tell you how you have impacted my life for good. I mostly follow only on Instagram now, but have always loved how real and honest you are. Hope your birthday was great! You are awesome! 🙂

  • Laura says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I so appreciate your blog and your honest. As a new SAHM it has been a truly great connection for me.

  • Jen says:

    I’ve been lurking for 3 to 4 years. I am a homeschooling mother of 4 we live in a small town of 240 and feel very isolated. the closest walmart is 3 1/2 hours away the closest shopping is at least a 1/2 hour and that is just the basics to survive. We attend church in our town, but we struggle with discrimination in town and in our church for homeschooling. My Husbands parents are in Heaven and mine were abusive so we have no family for help or encouragement. I’m not sharing this for sympathy, I am shared to show the isolation and what Joy God has Brought and used in my life with your website, Sally Clarkson, and Sarah Mae. All three of you have inspired and encouraged me soooo much I wouldn’t be the person I am without lurking on all three of you!! And as I have lurked, I have been excited to see all of you together in a webinar as friends!! God is wonderful and I can’t ever thank you enough for all the encouragement you have been to me. thank you!

  • Heather says:

    Happy Birthday! I’ve been reading your blog for about 2 years. At that time our family moved for my husband’s job and I went from a full-time, crazy schedule working mom to a full-time stay at home mom. I found much comfort in your words and inspiration. I recently started working part-time again because I was really missing balance in my life. I love your practical advice, your money saving tips, and your book recommendations!!! I wear my “Choose Joy” shirt to remind me of the joy we have in our lives that we sometimes forget to appreciate. I know for me that’s been difficult to embrace the last 2 years, but THANK YOU for your honest words that reminds us that we all struggle and are not alone in our journey of life!

  • Happy birthday Crystal! You are such an inspiration to me, in so many ways. But I think your authenticity is what is most attractive. Thank you for leading by example and reminding us to be real and embrace the hard things as well as the best parts of who we are. I want to be so much more than I am right now, and honestly, I feel a little stuck in those old negative patterns. But your posts encourage me to keep making decisions to believe the truth, and they are probably my favorite part of your blog! God bless you in the next year of your life, with all that you need for all that you are called to do! Hugs, friend!

  • Jeanette Troyer says:

    Dear Crystal,
    I heard you speak on Focus on the Family about a year ago. I LOVED what you shared, and looked you up after that broadcast. Now, I check your site nearly every day and feel like I know you! 🙂 However, I am a “lurker.” As a mom of four littles, ages 4 months, 2, 4, and 6, I don’t take time to comment much, but I took your birthday challenge to let you know that this mommy in Ohio, considers you a real inspiration! Thank’s for being a blessing!
    Love ,
    Jenny

  • Need A Nap2 says:

    Happy Birthday! I’ve been reading since you had your old blog. 🙂

  • Allyson Henley says:

    Happy Birthday! I have been reading your blog since before you were pregnant with Silas. I live in Georgia and have 4 kids age 13, 12, 10, and 3.

  • Ally Marshall says:

    Happiest of birthdays, Crystal!

    I ran across you a couple of years ago because (ironically) I was amazed and wanted to be more productive like you! How you got so much done in 24 hours amazed me! I have notes and schedules and inspirational pick me ups in my most traveled spots of the house. I learned to value productivity, healthiness, and sleep to a new level all while working to save and budget for my family.

    At that time, I had just had my now 3 year old and her sister who is 6 now. For 3 years I was following you and living a life where everyone commented to me “how do you do it all?!” “You are super mom!” I thrived on those comments. I worked full time for a corporation from home, still picked my kids up half day from heir schools like a SAHM, cooked meals daily, never missed an activity at the school, planned killer parties, exercised daily and trained for a half marathon, as well as starting my business with a MLM that I was doing great with (they even featured me on their national call!). I had bought the rights to a website to start a blog based on a hashtag I was becoming known for in social media too. All of that success made me feel as if I was doing “what I was supposed to” as a woman of today. I gained my value from that and was on an all time high in my life as I rolled into my 30s.

    Then I got pregnant with number 3 right about the time you announced your “Year of Rest”. This pregnancy sent me to bed with 30 weeks of sickness. I stopped exercising. I gained weight insanely fast. I let my team and clients in my MLM down. I slept or was in bed constantly. My self worth was nearly destroyed. My daughter added me to their prayer list at school daily because she thought mommy was extremely sick because life no longer was the same. I had lost my superhero cape in a big way and it plagued be for 9 months of pregnancy and a little while once little girl #3 arrived in May. I mean I didn’t even take maternity leave after my c-section because I knew I could pick life right back up!

    All of sudden this summer, I realized while holding my precious #3 that I too needed a year of rest. I am still in the midst of even figuring out what I might like to try. I pulled my schedule down. I cancelled the half marathon I had already paid to run less than 6 months after birth. I said no to extra commitments at school. I told my MLM team that I was taking a year off. I have given more responsibility of my house and its chores to my kids and outside help. I started reading books for fun rather than just self-help ones. I had a heart to heart with my husband confessing how I felt and what I needed from him.

    It is still tough and I am not fully at a state of rest but I am working towards it. I am self exploring determining what it is that I want in my long term life. Where are their gaps in my soul that I would like fulfilled?

    I hope you will share a how to makeover your year of rest like you did for your other courses. I would love your guidance on how to explore me more in depth and how to break out of my comfort to find what I could be good at but am too afraid to try. I feel trapped in a bubble and I longer remember how to just jump and try something new.

    Thank you it for being raw and sharing your journey! You are a daily inspiration that I share with others regularly (I even led your course “Make Over Your Mornings” to large groups as we went through it and discussed with one another!)

    I look forward to watching you grow into the wife, mother, and lady your soul desires.

    -ally

    • Thank you so much for your sweet encouragement! Your comment really blessed me!

      Also, we’re working on a project related to my Year of Rest that I’m super excited about! Look for details in 2017!!

  • Shealyn says:

    I am an avid silent follower. I appreciate your openness and honesty. You have inspired me to be more, try harder, take chances and have faith. We moved to a new state about the same time you moved to TN. I was initially jealous of how blessed and easy your transition seemed to appear as we faced difficult times. However, your posts reminded me that you too, and your family, still had trials to overcome. It helped me to preserver through mine. We have since moved again and now live in Charlotte, NC. I LOVE THE SOUTH! There have been abundant blessings, and I have become stronger. I thank you for being YOU. The blessing you have been in my life is more than words could ever express. I may be a lurker 🙂 and seldom if ever comment, but you are a true inspiration and bless more than you could ever know. Thank you.

  • Sarah DeGroot says:

    Hi Crystal,
    I’ve been reading since close to the very begin of your first blog. I enjoyed knowing you for a little bit growing up. Thank you for all your encouragement and inspiration. You have helped me so much over the years. I own a business that I’m working on selling and I’m homeschooling two of my three kids.

  • Denise says:

    Happy Birthday, Crystal! I’m an October birthday, too, and I live in Nashville, where I’m enjoying the finally-seasonal weather. I can’t remember how I first came upon your blog, but I’ve been reading your emails and appreciating your insights for over a year now. As a mom to two teenagers, I find your content interesting, relevant, and easy to digest. Thanks for being you and doing what you do!

  • Kim says:

    Hi Crystal! I heard you at a Momlife conference in Pinecove camps in Texas several years ago. I was to scared to come meet you but began reading your blog daily. I am a pastor’s wife of 4 kids. You have helped me a lot in saving money, finding fun deals, lots of recipes, and organizational skills. Thanks for all you have taught me!

  • Jennifer says:

    Oh wow, I completely connected to everything you shared here. Love how you took time to detach from everything, even the blog, and the Lord seems to have blessed you in so many other ways. I just began blogging this year and I’m reading and listening to so many fascinating people. I think the next big thing God wants me to deal with is in the area of money, so I’m about to be super vulnerable (so scary!) on my blog and face the huge things I’ve never wanted to face. I totally feel you on the weightlifting thing, too – I’ve been doing Crossfit for over a year now and it worked my body like no other, but I love it. So glad you had a similar experience. My friend’s mother directed me to your blog this weekend and I will be regularly following. Love and hugs, Jenn

  • Stephanie Harmon says:

    Hi Crystal,

    My name is Stephanie and I am from SC. I have one daughter that is 13 and in the 8th grader. I am a stay at home mom and homeschooler. I have been reading your blog on and off since I saw you at a homeschool conference in 2014 (I think). I also watch you on Periscope. I have definitely been a lurker but want you to know that I will love your scopes and blog. My husband and I do missions in Africa (Zimbabwe and Zambia) so I have especially enjoyed see ing the work you all have done in South Africa. I hope that you have a wonderful birthday.

  • Maren says:

    Hi, Crystal. My name is Maren and I am a stay-at-home mom to 3 kids, living in Caldwell, Idaho. I have been following your blog for about six years now, and I have never commented. But I have loved your site so much! Your insights, practical ideas, and encouragement have influenced my life for good in so many ways!!! I feel like you are a good friend to me, even though we have never met. One of the most important things I have learned from you is to say “no” to some things in order to say “yes” to the things that are most important. Thank you for sharing of yourself and making a difference in my life.

  • Bonny says:

    Hi, I was reading this and it hit home for me. I feel so stressed in this season of my life. But, reasons why are I have to read this book, watch this series, listen to this podcast. So, for the rest of this year I am taking time off from tv, books, and podcast. I need at this time to live in the present with my family because life with three littles is hard. I also have been having health problems and gained like 30 pounds in a year. One thing I have let go is exercising and caring about putting meals together. SO, today things are changing. Thanks, Crystal. 🙂

  • Summer says:

    Hi Crystal, My name is Summer and I am a home schooling mom to four boys ages 10,9,6, and 4! We live in Gainesville, TX. I have been following your blogs for probably about 8 years now. I love Moneysavingmom.com but also followed your other blog (I think it was something like “mom of littles?”). We also just got back from Branson and LOVE Silver Dollar City! We were there last Thursday! I guess you snagged the $20 kids tickets too!? 🙂 Thanks for all you do and share!

  • Rene Miller says:

    I have been “lurking” for many years. I have enjoyed watching your children grow. I began reading your website to help me stretch our family income and have enjoyed the ideas presented. I like your honesty about the ups and downs of life. While many things do not or have not applied to my life (kids ages, work, area of the country, etc) I have always found something to learn. I thank you for this and wish you a wonderful upcoming year.

  • TC says:

    Belated Happy Birthday Crystal!!!

    I may have commented once before, I can’t remember but I felt that I needed to reply for sure. My name is TC and I’m 57 and living in a heap of clutter. I am a hoarder to an extent, but without the filth you see on TV and you can get through most rooms fairly safely. But every flat surface in the house is covered and its not inviting. Our finacnces are a mess as well and I am also nearly 100 pound overweight. I am working on overcoming my shortcomings, character weaknesses and self will.

    My strongest character traits are I believe in God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, my Savior and the Atoning Sacrifice that he made for me. I also believe anything is possible through them and that I AM NOT DEAD YET & I REFUSE TO GIVE UP!

    I’ve been winning about my clutter for years and know I need to take action. I’m easily sidetracked and next thing I know my day is gone. I have a very patient husband who tends to cut me too much slack. I think the last time I had surgery and the doctors thought I would die that he made a deal with God that if He let me stay he wouldn’t fuss about the clutter. I knew I wasn’t going anywhere but my husband didn’t.

    It’s usually just me and my husband and at the moment our oldest grand-daughter and her husband (who contracted mono a month after they got married).

    Anyway, I have been living in a cluttered mess for many years and began reading your blog a couple of years ago, trying to get inspiration to declutter. I don’t have the excuse of having children at home (really) or working, I’ve just become overwhelmed and having the worst time motivating myself to be productive.

    Today it’s rainy and gloomy and I don’t usually function well on days like today although I have gotten 2 loads of laundry done and put away and on to more but I have moments of greatness followed by days of accomplishing little.

    I didn’t write this in the order it appears here, but I think that is a good thing, because I started out feeling very down on myself and now I don’t, for that I am so very grateful. So, now I am going to end this and rotate my laundry and spend 15 minutes on 4 areas of my home and see if I don’t feel better about this gloomy, rainy day.

    • I’m SO proud of you for what you’ve gotten done today! And thank you for taking the time to introduce yourself!! I’m cheering for you!

      • TC says:

        Thanks Crystal,
        I wasn’t sure my message went through my computer went weird on me, its October, LOL. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I only got to 2 places but I did spend at least 30 minutes or so each. I found my entire bathroom counter.
        I also got the 3ft high pile in front of my dresser cleaned up (somethings just move, but I’m trying). That pile had been there for over a year. My husband had been gone and the next day he said “Hey, where did that piece of carpet come from?” That’s his way of saying he noticed, its kind of a game we’ve played for years, like when he can tell I made some real progress cleaning and he says “What did you do all day” and I reply “I sat on the sofa eating bonbons and watching soap operas” He really is patient with me.
        Both areas are still clean as of today. Wow that’s 5 days.

  • BethC. says:

    I just turned 60 this year, so I am (ahem!) a few years ahead of you. I have been a reader of your blog since very early on. I found you while my 2 kids were in college and I was looking for a way to stretch our family budget. I have always worked outside the home, and wish that I’d had some of your time management tips available when my kids were younger. I share Jesse’s former profession, and I can attest (as you have) that it can take a lot out of you. Like you, I often find myself taking on too much. I am planning to incorporate a “Winter of Rest” after a very busy season in my professional and personal life. Finding that balance is always such a struggle. In the past 3 days, I spoke at a professional conference, went to New York for a special event with a good friend, returned home to attend that same friend’s surprise birthday party with my husband, went out to breakfast with 2 other dear friends, packed for an upcoming anniversary trip with my husband, made dinner, and ran out with my husband to buy a replacement washing machine. I enjoyed each one of these activities (yes, even the washer shopping), yet realized that I cannot and should not pack so much into my schedule on an ongoing basis. Books are my slowing down refuge, and I suspect that this is true of your life as well. Happy, happy birthday, and thank you for your insightful and well written words. I continue to learn from you. You show a great deal of wisdom beyond your years. Think of how wise you will be when you are as old as me 🙂

  • Lizzy says:

    So often we have to say no to the busy to be quiet long enough to feel and deal with what is festering, and learn who we are. We’ve been doing this too this year, and instead of just pushing feelings under the carpet, asking why they are there and asking God to show us truth. So glad you are healing, God truly loves you just because you are you.

  • Elizabeth M says:

    Crystal, even though I’m not a business owner, I am a blogger, and there was so much here that echoes my heart and the lessons you’ve learned here parallel many that I’m learning too. Thanks for sharing your heart. God bless you.

  • Julie says:

    Happy late birthday, Crystal!❤️ So glad this year has been full of soul filling growth for you! My birthday was this month too, and I said goodbye to my 20’s. ?

    ~Julie

  • Brooke says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal! I have been with you for the long haul…since late 2008/early 2009. I stumbled across your site while reading various couponing blogs. Your blog jumped out at me because you were just preparing to have Silas. Myself, I was an at home mom and had just had my 3rd child also, so much of what you wrote spoke to me. As I kept following you, I discovered our 3 kids are about identical in age, we have both been married for the same amount of time, and we are about the same age too (ok, ok I’ve got a few months on you…but close enough!). Anyway, I guess it has been fun reading and following your struggles and honesty about family and work, as your timeline is so similar to my own. You have been a great inspiration. Thank you for all you do!

  • Candace says:

    I’m 34 and will be 35 in February! I started following you because of money saving, but stayed because of your content!

    This year I have been trying to improve myself. We had some really bad years in there and a really bittersweet year when our daughter was born, but shortly both our remaining grandfathers passed.

    I have a really big problem trying to do all things the way people think, and I need to and to keep everyone happy!

    I have tried to improve myself this year, in a great deal through self-care. I realized I can’t fill others up through an empty cup!

  • Richelle says:

    I don’t often comment but have been reading your blog forever! Thanks for all you do! Happy birthday!

  • Susan says:

    I am feeling led to have a year of rest this year, 2017. It’s been quite a doozy this year, with my father passing away suddenly and my husband losing his grandmother. I was the health care advocate for his grandmother, and that took a lot of time and energy away from my home and family. I am looking forward to defining what rest means to me from God’s point of view and having more time and energy to give to those closest to me. 🙂

  • Adrienne says:

    Happy birthday! I love when you are open to share your vulnerability with us. Recently my maternal grandmother passed away, just prior to her 92nd birthday. I felt like time stopped, well for me, but everyone else is keeping pace. The holidays came so quickly and I am so overwhelmed and over stressed.

  • I don’t comment often, but I’ve been reading for a very long time… about 9 years, I think. I’m 36, turning 37 soon, and you helped to inspire me to start my own blog. My favorite posts here are the ones where you share your true self, and I’m trying to allow myself to do the same, but it’s so hard!

    My youngest is about the same age as your youngest and I feel like I’ve done a lot of self-discovery in the last year or so too. For me, my kids getting more self-sufficient has forced me to think about who I am aside from being a mother. Being a mother is wonderful, but there much more to me!

    Anyway, happy belated birthday! I hope your next year bring you joy!

  • Courtney says:

    I have been reading your blog for atleast 5 years or so. Your blog is really the only one I follow. I have learned so much from it and have admired your journey. I’m truly happy for you and your accomplishments.

  • Casey says:

    Hi Crystal!

    What a much needed read! Congrats on your personal successes!! I have pushed aside so many things I’ve wanted to try due to ‘head voices’. Given too much of myself in order to hide from the ‘ugly’ present in my days.

    While you may not have known it…you wrote this post just for ME! THANK YOU!!

  • Ginna says:

    Hi, Crystal! I’m a mom of four boys and a teacher. I live in Iowa and I’ve been reading your blog for about a year and a half. I’d like to say thanks for all of your tips and I love swagbucks which I heard about from you!! Also you inpire me to think about things in different ways, which is what this world needs! God bless you!

  • Kristen says:

    Hi Crystal! I am Kristen and I live on the central coast of California. I’ve been following you for 8 years (!!!) when I became a stay at home mom. Our son was turning 3 yrs and we were moving to a new town 3 1/2 hours from our family and friends. Up until that point, I had been workIng 2-3 days a week. Our son was born with a heart problem and I knew I couldn’t bear to put him in daycare where his problem could go unnoticed, so we decided I would stay home with him. I made it my mission to pare down and find ways to save our family money. Your blog has been refreshing and has given me many ideas. I have shared it many times over the years with family and friends.

    Over the last year (and longer), I have so appreciated your honesty. Your transparency has been particularly encouraging. God is faithful to use all our hot messes to bring Him glory. Thank you for allowing us to see your mess and know that our journeys of brokenness and restoration aren’t unique. We are all ona path to

    Merry Christmas!

  • Kelsey says:

    I never comment on any blogs!!!! But I will for you today ;). I have LOVED watching you through your year of rest!!!! I loved your blog before, and I read your Money Making Mom book with giddy excitement. And now? I feel like you are even more motivating and mostly that you are REAL. I feel like your connection with us as readers is so much stronger and even more genuine. Don’t worry- I never felt you weren’t before, it just is the first thing I think now when I read it ;). I love your shining smile and confidence. Thanks for facing your demons this year- you are amazing and such an inspiration!!!

  • Archie Davis jr says:

    Great insight. Sometimes we need to examine why we do what we do. Sometimes we value work more than family and lose focus. I appreciate all you do.

  • Irina says:

    Happy birthday! Love your blog, your thoughts and your courage to take a step back and look at your life without “pink” glasses. I’m from Kazakhstan and have been a silent reader for almost 2 years. And hope to continue doing that 🙂

  • Dottie says:

    I used to read your website for discounts at Walgreens and Target but in the business of my own life I’ve not been as frugal and stopped looking for such discounts and not reading your site. However, I saw your site in Facebook and started following. I surf Facebook way too often and will read your articles occasionally.

    It’s thrilling to see where God has led you in self discovery and branching out in what you thought you could do. Your shirt in one of the pictures screamed out to me – “I choose Joy”. It truly is a choice and it’s hard in these busy times to not loose sight of our purpose. It’s hard to show God’s love when we don’t have Joy and it’s hard to have joy when we busy ourselves to the point of exhaustion!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Crystal,

    I am one of the lurkers!!! I am not a mom (unless you count my furry friend, I do!!), and so at times feel a little silly following an “artist” that caters to moms. I used the term artist, because I honestly and truly believe words is the most beautiful, eclectic, diverse, wholesome, valuable way to express yourself. Words brought me through some of the hardest times, from adolescence into adulthood. I honestly believe that had it not been for writing, and how it released so much of the toxic in me that I would be a whole different person. I work with young people (it’s a bit ironic because I am 25, so I’m still pretty young myself). These young people have been through every form of unimaginable trauma, and most have not even begun to cope. My time with them is emotional, and draining, and life changing really. So I’ve taken writing with me into my adult life as an emotional release. My point is, I love your words. They encourage me to continue using writing as a tool, coping mechanism, release. I also wholy enjoy the things you write about. My childhood was a messy, chaotic, hostile environment, and I see two beautiful things in your life that I value so much, even if one doesn’t apply to me just yet, your simple and clean lifestyle and the way you choose to bring up your beautiful children. I sometimes selfishly wished that I would have grown up with a mom like you, and I say selfishly because if it hadn’t been for that upbringing I wouldn’t be who I am today. Your kids are just so extremely blessed to be loved by you, and are going to take that love into the rest of their lives. The simplicity resignates because since I’ve started making my own decisions, it’s what I’ve strived for my entire adult life. I think it’s ok to be boring (not that you are, but that I am). I appreciate the clean lines of your house and your family, and when I eventually have little babies it’s something I would love for myself. I definitely didn’t click the link to this blog with the intention of coming out of my lurky corner, but as a gift from me to you, your words touch so many and more than just the mommas out their appreciate your “art”.

  • Eva says:

    Happy birthday, Crystal! I’d like to introduce myself. I live in Europe (The Netherlands) with my husband and two daughters of 7 and 9 years old. Our youngest has Cerebral Palsy. I follow your blog for about a year. You are really an inspiration to me. Your view on life, your tips on family life. I look forward to your new blog on blogging. I also like your YouTube video’s and FB Live. I have one book from you and am waiting on the mailman for a second book I ordered. Thanks for all!!

  • Mckayla says:

    Hi Crystal. My name is McKayla and I’ve been reading maybe the last 3 or 4 years. A friend recommended your blog to me. I live in NC and have never commented on a post although I do check your blog several times a week. I am a (recently started back) working mom (working in the foster care field) of 4 little ones: ages 6 to 6 months. Life feels overwhelming and exhausting most days and I love your positive outlook (and realistic encouragement) I find here on the blog. Thanks for creating this space for us to enjoy!

  • Judy says:

    Crystal:

    Happy Birthday I have been a fan of your site for two years now and rarely post I am divorced mama of three boys 11-19 we live in northwest and were a military family.

  • Kristi says:

    Happy Birthday Crystal ! Wishing you a fabulous year ahead.I loved reading the post and loved all the pictures.They radiate so much happiness and positivity. I too am turning 34 next week and can relate to you in so many ways. Cheers to 34.Bring it on !

  • Lindsey says:

    Hi! I’m one of your quiet readers. 🙂 I’m a 34-year-old stay-at-home wife and mom who lives not far from you now in Murfreesboro, TN, with my husband, son, and daughter. I don’t have a lot of time to keep up with blogs, but yours has been a constant over the last 10 years. I first started following you as a newlywed trying to learn how to coupon and save money. And as I began having my children and had less time to coupon, I began checking in for easy recipes, sales alerts, and mom encouragement. Now, I have young children who I’m starting to homeschool, and I find myself needing more and more of that mom encouragement, parenting/household running advice, and personal growth tips, and even more–your honest example and encouragement to be okay with being who you are and just doing what you can do in your season. I also took part in your “15 days to a healthier you” group this past January, and realized I needed that so much more than I realized when I signed up. Happy Birthday!!! And thank you for all that you do and the encouragement you give to so many on a daily basis!!

    • Lindsey says:

      Hi! I’m one of your quiet readers. 🙂 I’m a 34-year-old stay-at-home wife and mom who lives not far from you now in Murfreesboro, TN, with my husband, son, and daughter. I don’t have a lot of time to keep up with blogs, but yours has been a constant over the last 10 years. I first started following you as a newlywed trying to learn how to coupon and save money. And as I began having my children and had less time to coupon, I began checking in for easy recipes, sales alerts, and mom encouragement. Now, I have young children who I’m starting to homeschool, and I find myself needing more and more of that mom encouragement, parenting/household running advice, and personal growth tips, and even more–your honest example and encouragement to be okay with being who you are and just doing what you can do in your season. I also took part in your “15 days to a healthier you” group this past January, and realized I needed that so much more than I realized when I signed up. Happy Birthday!!! And thank you for all that you do and all the God-focused encouragement you give to so many on a daily basis!!

  • Priscilla says:

    Thank you so much! I am a quiet reader but this touched me deeply. I’ve also loved reading your books. I took over my father’s business a few years ago and definitely can relate to the hustle! Thanks for the perspective!

  • Natalie says:

    Love this. Even if I’m nearly a year late. Love embracing rest and finding peace in the chaos. Love choosing grace and not apologizing for authenticity. My 30’s are teaching me this lesson too. More grace, more joy, more Jesus, less judgment. (I’ve been reading since 08!)

  • Lisa says:

    I’m a quiet reader. Just turned 54 and am still soul searching. It’s a life long process …the yearning for rest, peace, joy…the need for which ebbs and flows with the seasons of life. My youngest just graduated. I’m sad that because of busyness with sports in HS I did not get to be as close to her as I would like. This summer I am frantically seeking out face time with her before she goes to college. My need for lists and “must dos” often get in the way. But I pray for golden nuggets of time that we can both benefit from and carry with us into the future. Thanks for the reminder that we all have things to work on and that’s ok. Bless you on your journey!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I have hit 34 this year, too, and have had similar things happen in my life. I’ve been more challenged, I am planning to try to run a 5k in September (I used to hate running!). I am trying to grow closer to Christ and be myself. It is interesting, it is hard, and yet it is all so good. I really appreciated your post! I am still working on a word for the year idea. It usually takes me two years from the original thought to implement, but then I realize God’s timing seems to be perfect. If this year was a word, I really feel like it is the word Transition, with all that entails. Thanks again for the post!

  • Rachel says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever left a comment. I’ve been reading your blog for many years. 12? 10? How long have you been at it? You’ve intimidated me (seemed to have it all together), but the veil has been stripped from my eyes over the years (by God) and I don’t compare myself with others anymore. I love that you’re raw and real now. Because that’s how we all need to be.

    I have 8 children. 16 down to 5. This is my first year not homeschooling at least one of them. All are in public school. We moved across country (west to east) about 6 weeks ago. To say I’m in survival mode is an understatement. Lol. But God is good and I’m learning new routines. No friends yet, but I’m thankful for the Bible Study I joined and the kind people I’ve met. Blessings to you and yours!!

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