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5 Things I’m Loving This Week

5 Things I'm Loving

We were blessed to get to spend the last 6 days in Michigan at the Life Action Family Camp. Honestly, we came to camp this week knowing we were supposed to be there, but not really sure why.

We were tired and drained and thinking maybe it was a mistake to be headed to camp feeling so exhausted. But oh my goodness! I’m so glad we came!

The best part? All week long we had an amazing family assistant who was assigned solely to helping us/watching our kids/doing anything we need to do this entire week (I had heard that they assigned family assistants, but I had no idea that meant it’d be like a personal assistant/nanny!)

God knew what we needed and He clearly orchestrated us being here this past week. We left today feeling so refreshed, rested, and filled up!

Here are 5 things I’m loving this week:

5 Things I'm Loving

1. A Family Mud Run

We did the Jungle Mud Run at camp and what a blast it was. This picture doesn’t do it justice at all — because we got a lot muddier than we look and Silas really did have a fun time doing it.

(He was beyond DONE at this point. Camp was a little rough for this routine-minded little guy. But he hung in there.)

Kathrynne decided to start a new fashion trend by wearing her work boots with floral shorts. It cracks me up how little that girl cares about what she looks like or what other people think!

{See more pictures from the Mud Run over on my Instagram account.}

5 Things I'm Loving

2. A Date Night With Jesse

Can I just say that we are such nerds?? One night at camp, they have a Date Night where they plan activities for the kids and give the parents a night to do whatever they’d like.

What did we do? We drove to South Bend, IN (about 30 minutes from camp) and hung out at Barnes and Noble and looked at books on fitness and nutrition and reviewed our budget.

{By the way, Jesse is trying to turn me into a YouNeedABudget convert. I’m so not techie and kind of despise anything to do with money that does not come in green cash form, but I’m slowly seeing how this method of tracking our expenditures is a good fit for us.

Of course we still use cash for a lot of our budget categories, but if this makes budgeting more fun for Jesse, I’m all about it. Especially since I do not touch spreadsheets with a ten-foot pole and happily delegate all budgeting details to him to track.

I’m so glad that he finds joy in these types of things. Because if the tracking and spreadsheeting and charting and tallying were left to me, we’d be in a sorry financial mess.}

5 Things I'm Loving This Week

3. Anchored by Kayla Aimee

I loved finally getting to dive into the story of Kayla Aimee’s daughter being born as a micro-preemie and the pain and heartache and struggle that she walked through while fighting for her daughter’s life.

It’s funny AND heart-wrenching at the same time — which is a mark of a talented author, in my opinion. (I always say that I consider a highly talented author to be someone whose writing makes me laugh and tear up in the same page.)

After the first chapter, I found myself thinking, “I hope Kayla Aimee writes many more books because I want to read them all!” I love her down-to-earth funny and honest writing style.

{This book resonates with me at a very personal level because my husband was born at 27 weeks. His mom died when he was young and I never got the chance to meet her — which has always been hard for me because I wish so much that I could ask her all about what Jesse’s birth and long hospital stay was like for her. This book is giving me a glimpse into some of the emotions and heartache and fears Jesse’s mom must have experienced and it feels like such a gift to understand more of what that was like from her perspective.}

5 Things I'm Loving This Week

4. Swinging

One night, I spent some time swinging on the playground swing set at family camp. By myself. Don’t judge. 🙂

I love swinging. Always have, always will. Anyone else?

Just like coloring, there’s something incredibly cathartic about it for me. It makes me stop, breathe, quiet my heart, and just take in fresh air and the scenery from a different angle.

{Also, do you know how hard it is to get a selfie while swinging? Near impossible. I will spare you the multiple dork pictures I took while trying to get one that showed the swing, the sky, and part of my face.

I know I could have asked one of the adults watching their kids on the playground to take a picture of me, but, um, pretty sure they would have wondered about my sanity. I can just hear it now: “there was some grown woman swinging on the playground with abandon and, get this, she ASKED ME TO TAKE HER PICTURE while swinging. Like she’d just learned how to swing or something!”

Yeah. I figured the incognito selfies I shot while I was pretty sure no one was looking were the better option!}



5. The Boomerang App for GMail

So my friend, Erin, told me that I must, must, must check out Boomerang.

Honestly, I figured it wouldn’t work at all for me and almost didn’t bother, but I’m so glad that I did because it is changing my life.

I kid you not.

I get hundreds of emails every day — many that need to be responded to and some that need rather lengthy responses. Some I can delegate to my team, but many are ones that need a direct response from me.

I had been filing emails in my To Answer file that I didn’t have time to get to right away, but it was quickly becoming so stacked with emails needing answers — and long answers, at that — that it would just make me feel defeated and bog me down.

So I decided to just try Boomerang and see if it made any difference. To my surprise, I’m falling madly in love.

In just a few days, I’m back to Inbox Zero again, I’m being so much more productive on emails, and staying so much more caught up.

I love that I’m now able to control when the longer emails come in and have them land in my inbox on days and at times when I’ve got blocks scheduled for working on email. In addition, I can space them out so that there aren’t 25 emails coming into my inbox in one afternoon needing 20-minute responses but that I only get a few of those each day.

I’m really hopeful that this simple solution is going to continue to make such a difference!

What are YOU loving this week? Tell us in the comments!

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  • Sharon Sandahl says:

    The best thing about this week is finding out the job I will be working after next week will allow me to take Sun. off. I have a job that is being sent to the Philippines after the end of next week. I was going to be in training for a job that would require Sun work. I was told to keep telling them I’d like Sun off. I was offered a different position, training will be M-F, and I can have Sun. off after the job begins. I’m SO excited about this.

    I know God cares about all, and is in control. I was praying that God would give me a good attitude, and help me keep a smile on my face. It was when my attitude changed that He provided a different job 🙂

  • Suzi says:

    Hi Crystal,

    This is Suzi, Living with Less Means More guest post-er!

    I enjoyed reading this post. I had to take moment to write a note to you because we relocated to Chicago from South Bend 4 years ago. We were there for graduate school at ND for 3 years and then for work for another 2.5. Love it there and have spent many hours at that B&N! Simple date nights are the best.

    Also, we switched from Quicken to YNAB nearly 2 years ago. We switched after checking off all of our Dave Ramsey “to do’s” and I promise you…it’s LIFE CHANGING! I too am not techie at all, but it really is a great program and I love how we budget for every single dime into specific “buckets,” and that our savings has grown well beyond our initial goals. Consider giving it a go. I think you may end up loving it!

  • Deana says:

    Ha Girlfriend……today I swang, in public, with both my kids, in my swimsuit!!! Totally worth the looks. Hang in there, you rock this mom thing.

  • Love your version of “date night”. Reviewing finances is crucial in a relationship. This was much more valuable than going to a movie.

  • AvonLadyTJ says:

    I’ve always loved swinging on park swing sets too! Until I get motion sick /: I thought I was the only one. Sounds like lots of fun was had!~TJ

  • Victoria says:

    I love the swing selfie!

    5 things I am loving this week.

    1. Free tickets to the local water park from the library summer program that we actually got to use yesterday. (Indiana has had a really rainy summer)
    2. An afternoon with the kids grabbing ice-cream at our favorite local joint.
    3. A “daycation” spent together as a family. The day was suppose to be spent jet skiing but it was too wet however that didn’t get us down and we had the best family day we have had in a long time.
    4. A really good book, that I read almost entirely in one day. Even better, I received it free from Tyndale Rewards. (It is called Flash)
    5. Choices, we have some big choices to make coming up soon and I am happy just to have them.

  • Leanne says:

    I LOVED all your posts from Life Action Family Camp… 2014-2015 was a TIRING year for us…and we were drained… but God is so good and filled our tank up while we were there…. reminding us that He is the only source of true refreshment and rest…. and after a month, we still have Vertical Church’s I’m Going Free (Jailbreak), on repeat… both in our heads and in our cars!

  • Wendy says:

    I really enjoyed your post. Love to hear about good books from others. This one may hit the spot for me since my son was 33 weeks premie and is now 19, but the experiences in the hospital are still very vivid.

    I also loved the idea you went to B & N to check out books and hang out. It just shows that you enjoy spending time with each other which is what it is all about. Quality time alone is so important in a marriage and a good example for your kids to see. God bless you.

  • Becky says:

    You were at my Barnes and Noble!!!!! I had looked at that family camp when you posted it but didn’t realize it was so close to home!!

  • I love swinging! It was one of my favorite activities as a child, and still is now (although I rarely get to do so).

  • I am still enjoying travelling the world with my family and working where ever I am at 🙂 I am truly enjoying this family time and learning something new from different cultures. It is going to be my first time to go to paddling with my family today!

  • alisha says:

    My parents’ house is half a mile from there!!! How fun!

  • Tshanina says:

    I love to swing too! When you were sharing about taking your selfie I couldn’t help but think of times I’ve tried to take a selfie without other people seeing – that definitely brought a smile to my face!

    I’m loving my hibiscus plant and its beautiful flowers!!!

  • Kariane says:

    We’re also visiting Michigan this week, and I’m Loving the Homemade All-Natural Insect Deterrent I whipped up before we left. Instead of being eaten up by bugs, they’re actually leaving me alone. Yay. The recipe is here:

    I’m also loving these Greek Chicken Bites. They’re so simple and delicious, we even made them while on vacation (obviously we are not camping, and have a refrigerator and stove):

  • I love to swing too – I think that’s half the reason I agreed to buy a really fancy swing set for my children (so I can swing on it too!).

    Five things this week:

    1. Visiting MN largest candy store. It was fun to just look even though we probably spent too much there too… I didn’t even know they made some of those candies.

    2. My husband realizing how valuable our national youth convention is for the youth. He had never been as a youth and really wasn’t expecting much so he’s thrilled! And I’m thrilled that he gets it!

    3. Spending some extra time with my children this week – they’re growing up so fast! They are so unique each of them and I am grateful for their wisdom and creativity.

    4. My fabulous Physical Therapist – love this lady! And her help with my crabby body is invaluable. Even after a small amount of work, I’m SO much better!

    5. The flowers in my yard – they’re fabulous this year and I love looking at them.

    Thanks for sharing about your week Crystal. Rest is so important and we don’t allow ourselves what we need as often as we should!


  • Chris Muller says:

    Glad you had fun at camp! And the date night…totally not nerdy. My wife and I do stuff like that all the time. As long as you’re together and doing what YOU want to do that makes you happy, it’s a date! One comment on YNAB… It’s awesome, but has some limitations. One thing I don’t like (but others LOVE) is the inability for it to automatically pull transactions from my account. Mint does that for me – so I don’t have to import transactions all the time. YNAB makes you manually import them, which can get really annoying over time. Their interface and reports are great though – I’d actually prefer them over Mint’s. Depends on how much privacy you want I guess. Thanks for sharing!

  • Joanna says:

    I live about 15 minutes from Buchanan, Michigan and had no idea that camp was there! My husband and I also love the South Bend B&N. Anytime we have a date around there we always make a stop to windowshop. 🙂

  • Chrissy says:

    YouNeedABudget is awesome! Besides your blog it is the most incredible thing that has happened to our family finances 🙂 I actually heard about it on your blog (maybe in the comments of a post?) several years ago and the reviews I read after looking it up were so wonderful that I gave it a try. It is an incredible system for tracking finances. I tell anyone who will listen how fabulous and helpful it is!!

  • Peta says:

    Hi from Australia! I’m excited that my husband is beginning his nursing degree today. Though it means our family of six must live off a student income for a while. I’ve been learning lots of great tips from your blog – keep it up.

  • Charlene E says:

    I also love to swing. I am 58 years in age only and I frequently take my granddaughter (age 6) to our rural, local, fire station where they have the very same swings I played on when I was a child. They have the wide seats made out of wood and the old chains squeak like crazy. They squeak so much I consider taking a ladder over to the hall and climbing up to grease them. The swings also have a trapeze style swing I used to jump onto as a child and swing hanging upside down from my knees on down, imagining I was a circus performer. I was so athletic then. But, I still love it now and the health benefits are excellent. So, go Crystal. Keep on swinging!

  • MW says:

    How does Boomerang work?

  • Georgia says:

    I love YNAB! Granted, between my husband and I, I’m the spreadsheet nerd in our relationship but it reflects so clearly our budget, where we are and where we are headed for. To me, it’s like an envelopes system for our bank account so I don’t look at the balance and think, That looks like a nice fat figure! and become complacent about our finances. YNAB helps me be aware of where (or which “envelopes”) our funds are tied up so I know that even though our account has $x amount in there, $y is reserved for our annual property taxes and $z is reserved for our bi-annual insurance payments, etc.

    I hope you get to learn it and love it too! Maybe it falls under a new kind of post you should start, 5 things I’m TRYING to love this week 😉

  • Ha – date nights at the bookstore are a sign you’re in a good spot in your marriage. Definitely time for restaurants or fancy dates, but the easy evenings of just being together are glue to a good relationship. 😉

  • Cheryl says:

    Welcome to Michigan! SO glad you had a nice time in our state, come back to vacation too its wonderful her, esp. the U.P.
    5 things I’m Loving
    1. Time w/ my sister visiting from Florida
    2. Helping my kids pack for summer camp
    3. Watching my almost 73 year old mom swing on the kids swing set (I love to swing too)
    4. Church today
    5. Watching my kids swim with their cousin from Florida

  • Sarah says:

    Crystal- – first of all, swinging is wonderful! Second, speaking of coloring, I have a friend who started making coloring books for adults with some awesome graphics!

  • Jk Lee says:

    We have used YNAB for a couple of years now. We love it.

  • Desirae says:

    I love to swing too! And color! 🙂

  • Lisa says:


  • Michelle Owings-Christian says:

    I am loving that the routines I put into practice during the Make Over Your Mornings course have managed to survive the ravages of getting ready for a two week camping trip. They have no held up perfectly. However, they have held up enough that I feel really good about it.

    That said — I need to go pack some more!!

    Bright Blessings!

  • Theresa L says:

    First, a date at Barnes & Noble sounds perfect to me! I have a gift card from Christmas that is burning a hole in my pocket. Actually, hubby and I have a sitter lined up for this Friday. And that Anchored book sounds AMAZING! Hmm…… 😉

    This week, I’m loving IHOP. My sis and I took my kids Saturday. The waiter accidentally spilled all our drinks all over our table and my youngest son. IHOP was MORE than accommodating and gave us our meals on the house. They even offered to pay for any cleaning bills for our clothes. Love good customer service!

  • Jennifer says:

    Sounds like your family had a wonderful time! We are also big Dave Ramsey fans and are working through his baby steps! We’ve always had a budget. First, using pencil and paper, then switching to Pear Budget, and finally switching to YNAB in January. We absolutely LOVE it! It is so user friendly that I think you’ll quickly learn to love it as well! I recommend it to everyone!

  • Susan in St. Louis says:

    So glad to hear you loved Family Camp…I wondered about it when I read about the discount, but we didn’t go this year. I hope they offer the discount again next year! I grew up in South Bend (yay!), and my parents still live there, so that’s totally my neck of the woods.

    And YNAB? Love it! I heard about it from your readers in comments years ago and have been on-board since. I think it works so well with Dave Ramsey-style budgeting.

    Currently, I’m loving:

    -our screened-in porch and the lovely view of nature
    -quiet time before the kids are up
    -coffee with a long-time friend
    -spontaneous lunch guests after church
    -gentle rains

  • Beth says:

    We signed up for the Life Action Family Camp after you posted the discount. We went earlier in June and LOVED it!!! We signed up the whole fam – grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins – for next summer!!

    • Leanne says:

      we absolutely loved family camp, too!! what week did you go? we were there week 4!! great teaching… we left so spiritually refreshed (I didn’t quite get all the mud out of our clothes, though!!!)

  • Courtney says:

    I think Kathrynne’s boots/shorts combo is cute. Being an independent thinker who doesn’t waste time worrying about following the crowd is a tremendous asset in life. My kids are the same way!

  • Julie C says:

    Celebrating our 22nd anniversary at Tosi’s in Southwest Michigan on Friday night; we live about 10 minutes from that B&N and I wonder if I almost missed you there one night.

  • Jennifer says:

    Love me some swing time. Now that my son is 12, I’ve gone a couple years without any. Can I stop at a playground by myself or should I borrow a young kid so I blend in?

  • I live in Michigan, too, just outside of Grand Rapids. What a nice week of weather you had here in the mitten (at least where I’m at). This week I loved
    1. SUMMER weather
    2. Watching my girls do well in their final meet of swim season
    3. We went blueberry picking, so, fresh
    4. Health – so many people I know are getting a scary diagnosis of some sort
    5. Networking with people who have greatly helped me this week

    This week is off to a great start, too!

  • I love to swing too!
    This week I loved:
    1. Eating a picnic lunch with my boyfriend near a waterfall in the middle of the forest.
    2. Swimming in my pool.
    3. Watching Minions.
    4. Playing pool with my boyfriend and his parents.
    5. Ice cream 🙂

  • Melanie says:

    We LOVE Life Action Camp!! We were there in June (our 2nd year). Small world–lol!

  • I’m glad I’m not the only adult who absolutely loves to swing 🙂

    This week I am loving….

    Road trips that go wonderfully well! We drove for two days to get to my in-laws’ house in Texas. The kids did beautifully, there were no car issues, and fun was had by all. Phew.

  • Keri says:

    YNAB changed my life! I am now a SAHM after paying off all debt with the help of YNAB. Technology does not excite me, at all. YNAB is so simple. I tell everyone I know about YNAB. It is awesome!!

  • Heather says:

    Awe…my daughter was a 27 weeker too! I completely get the challenges and blessings of a preemie baby! How special to read her book and to look through your late MIL’s eyes. I cherish those 80 days like yesterday all the while watching our now 6 yo bloosom!

  • Vanessa says:

    We switched to YNAB this past January and LOVE it! We still take out about half of our categories in cash and we note which categories are cash by the high tech asterisk* following the category name. We have found it to be so handy with all the sync capabilities as well as super great for budgeting.

  • Chiara Ko says:

    Just want to say, I love YNAB too! It helps us save so much, and not spend mindlessly!

  • Laura says:

    Crystal, I LOVE that you guys got to go to family camp! I’m so looking forward to taking my family to a family camp within the next couple of years.

    Also, after having lived in MI for 26 years of my life, I’m still amazed when I learn of new places there! Hadn’t heard of Life Action Camp, but it looks like it was great for your family. There’s nothing like family time coupled with the great outdoors. Love it.

  • Annemieke says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed Life Action Camp! I live 15 minutes from there. For one week each August I have the opportunity to serve the staff of the camp by providing child care for them while they refresh during their own revival week. Life Action is a blessing to so many families! I am so glad you had the opportunity to come and be blessed by them.

  • Doris says:

    I am so glad your family enjoyed Life Action Family Camp. My family will be there in August. It will be our 19 year going! We took our children to Disney World several years ago, and they said that they had rather go to Family Camp. Every year we are energized as well as exhausted. My sons have both been able to volunteer at the camp in the kitchen. My Daniel was there working during your visit. I hope you are able to go again next year.

  • cindy says:

    Love life action family camp and camped with you that daughter loved hanging with yours all week and still talking about her fun!!

  • SO glad you’ve loving Boomerang!! It is so helpful! I love swinging too!

  • Sherri says:

    Thank you for mentioning YNAB. (Thank Jesse for loving it first.) I’m so happy with it.

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