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Category: LITE Feed (non-deal) Posts

A Peek Into Last Week (+ 10 goals for this week)

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Welcome to my weekly update post where I share my weekly goals each week. These goals are based (somewhat) on my yearly goals for 2021, with some extras thrown in depending upon the week and what other short-term goals I have.

But first, a little peek into last week…

We’ve been working on decluttering the kitchen this past week. We had a sweet helper while we were working! 🙂

Caring for two babies means we have lots of different types of bottles and bottle paraphernalia! We went through everything and got rid of a few things and then put away a lot of the bottles/stuff to save for when we have another baby foster care placement.

We also went through all of the mugs/tumblers. How do we have so many of them??

Ah! The mug cupboard can breathe again. (By the way, if you need a laugh, this picture created quite a stir on Instagram. You can read all about it here.)

And this cupboard looks so much better, too!

This girl brings so much joy into our home. She just loves life and has the sweetest personality. I just can’t even describe what a gift she is to our home. It humbles and moves me almost every time I look at her to think what a completely unexpected miracle she is.

I also went through the pantry, too.

From My Heart…

“This was the worst garbage. I picked this up as an audiobook to listen to. Her voice is exceptionally annoying.”

This was one of many similar reviews of my second book. While there were lots of kind reviews, all I could hear was that I should not ever narrate an audiobook again because my nasally voice irritated people. I was embarrassed that I had ever considered doing it myself.

So guess what I did? I told my publishers that I didn’t want to narrate my third book and they hired a professional voice artist to record it.

Over the past 5+ years since my third book came out, God has done a lot of life-altering work in my heart. He’s helped me to stop living my life to please, appease, and perform for others. He’s taught me that I don’t need to chase after the approval or affirmation of others. That I don’t need 5-star reviews or glowing accolades to be enough.

I am enough in Him. He loves me for exactly who I am because of Whose I am. And I can stand confident in Christ and live as loved, because I am already pre-approved by Him.

And that’s why I stopped letting negative reviews stifle me in insecurity. Maybe my voice isn’t professional voice actor level, but I’m not going to let that hold me back from sharing the message God has laid on my heart through live video, Instagram story, and podcasts.

I want to improve and grow and work on honing my craft, but I’m not going to sit around and wait until I can please everyone to show up on video and podcasts. Because if I wait until I can please everyone, I’ll be waiting the rest of my life.

Last week, I had the privilege of recording the audiobook for my soon-to-be-released book, Love-Centered Parenting. As I spent hours behind this mic, I felt such quiet confidence, passion, and excitement for this message… and such gratitude that I no longer have to live in fear of what others will think. I am loved by my Heavenly Father and that is enough. Period.

And now onto the goals update…

Last Week’s Goals

Personal Goals

1. Log 8,000 steps/day = 56,000 steps for the week.

2. Finish 3 books: The Water KeeperThe Things We Cannot Say, and Made Like Martha.

3. Fill out my habit tracker every day.

Home/Family Goals

4. Read 10 pages of A Boy’s War as a family. Read 5 chapters of The Trumpet of the Swan to Kierstyn.

5. Whole House Clean Out spaces to go through/organize/declutter: Pantry, under kitchen sink area, drawers in kitchen.

Work/Blog Goals

6. Run the live coaching event for the 10 Days to Be a Happier Mom group.

7. Write a post on the books I’ve read so far in January.

8. Record 8 hours of the audiobook narration for my new book.

Fun Goals

9. Have a family game night.

10. Do a craft project.

This Week’s Goals

Personal Goals

1. Log 8,000 steps/day = 56,000 steps for the week.

2. Finish 3 books: Mama Bear Apologetics, Secrets of a Charmed Life, and Keep the Doors Open.

3. Fill out my habit tracker every day.

Home/Family Goals

4. Read 10 pages of A Boy’s War as a family. Read 5 chapters of The Trumpet of the Swan to Kierstyn.

5. Whole House Clean Out spaces to go through/organize/declutter: Storage room in basement.

Work/Blog Goals

6. Finish a Q&A article I was asked to do for a magazine feature.

7. Get download page set up for the appendix of the book.

8. Work on outline/details for Yell Less, Love More Challenge for February.

Fun Goals

9. At home date night with Jesse.

10. Do a craft project.

Did you accomplish any of your goals last week? Let us know in the comments so we can celebrate with you!

My Not-So-Great Experience With ALDI Instacart Delivery

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

As you all know, I love ALDI. If I didn’t have multiple Kroger stores nearby that offered such great markdowns and digital coupon deals, I’d likely be shopping at ALDI every week.

Last week, I took you along on my grocery shopping trip — and so many people said they found it really helpful for me to do so but asked if I could showcase different methods of shopping. So this week, I decided to try a different method: ALDI Instacart Delivery Service.

I challenged myself to see if I could get everything we needed for our menu plan this week and spend less than $70 while using ALDI Instacart Delivery. Well, I definitely learned some lessons in the process…

1) Instacart Charges You More Per Item

I noticed right away that each of the items cost just a little bit more on Instacart than they do by shopping in-store at Aldi. It was just about $0.10-$0.50 per item, but that adds up quickly! I estimate I paid about $4-5 more than I would have spent in-store because of this.

2) Instacart Does Not Offer the Weekly Sale Prices

Also of note: I wasn’t able to get any of the weekly produce specials. Usually, I mostly just buy the produce specials at ALDI. Instead, I went with the more inexpensive regularly priced produce options, but I still would have saved probably $6-7 by purchasing only the sale priced fruits/veggies.

3) The Tip/Service Fee/Delivery Charge Add Up Quickly

Because I don’t have an Instacart membership, I paid $14 for the tip (15%) + service fee + delivery fee. You won’t pay as much each time if you have the membership, but you have to pay the membership fee — which is pretty hefty.

So, all total, I estimate I spent about $25 more by using Instacart than by shopping in-store. And there’s no way we could sustain a $70 weekly grocery budget if we were to exclusively shop ALDI with Instacart delivery.

In fact, the only way I was able to stick with our $70 budget this week was because I relied heavily on what we already had in our pantry and freezer that we have gotten marked down in previous weeks with different sales and coupons.

My ALDI Instacart Shopping Trip

  • Broccoli Crowns — $2.28
  • Tortilla Chips — $0.89
  • 10-lb bag of Potatoes — $4.39
  • 3-lb bag of Onions — $1.35
  • 1 pint blueberries — $2.09
  • 3-lb bag of Gala apples — $3.65
  • 2 cans Refried Beans — $0.89 each
  • Tater Tots — $1.65
  • 2 cans Green Beans — $0.55 each
  • Oats — $2.65
  • Oyster Crackers — $0.89
  • Crispy Oats — $1.25
  • Milk – -$2.59
  • Eggs — $0.95
  • 16-inch Pizza — $5.49
  • Salsa — $1.35
  • 3-lb. bag of Jazz apples — $4.22
  • 3-count Romaine hearts — $3.04
  • Carrots — $1.55
  • Cottage Cheese — $1.87
  • 16-oz Mozzarella Cheese — $3.22
  • 16-oz. Cheddar Cheese — $3.22
  • Powdered Sugar — $1.55
  • Tax: $3.50
  • Delivery charge: $3.99
  • Service fee: $2.60
  • Tip (15%): $7.78
  • Total: $70.12

4) You Might Not Get What You Ordered

While I felt like the price — with the extra fees — were more than I’d want to pay on a weekly basis, the overall experience was pretty easy and I was kind of excited to have the groceries delivered to our door… which felt like this crazy luxury!

The only thing was, when they were delivered, 7 items were completely missing! The shopper had just left everything on our porch and then we got an email that it was delivered. When we went out there, we discovered that probably what amounted to an entire bag of groceries was missing.

I’m guessing that somehow the groceries were delivered to a different house or left in her vehicle. It was probably a fluke thing, but it was definitely a disappointment.

The good news? I contacted Instacart and they quickly contacted me back and processed a refund for what I didn’t get…

I shared about my Instacart shopping trip on Instagram stories and heard from a few hundred of you about your experiences. Here were just a few of the responses:

I heard from so many people that they’ve had a good experience with Instacart Customer Service, so that was encouraging to me!

I thought maybe the person who got my bag of groceries may have needed the groceries or maybe it was a special blessing for them in some way.

This made me laugh! 🙂

I just had to share this one above. I love it so much!

Have you ever tried Instacart? I’d love to hear about your experiences/thoughts about it.

7 Books I Finished Recently

Welcome to my book update post where I share what books I finished recently + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them.

My Reading Goals for 2021

For 2021, I set a goal of reading 3 books per week —  1 fiction book, 1 non-fiction book, and 1 audiobook each week. I know this is an audacious goal, but reading is something I love and it’s a way I learn, challenge my mind, improve as a writer and communicator, and am refreshed and encouraged through inspiring stories.

I have a few shelves full of books (mostly that I’ve gotten free), so I decided to choose 52 books from off my shelf to read this year (see my list of 52 books I plan to read in 2021 here). I’ll also read other books that I find/am sent that pique my interest. Plus, I plan to go through a lot of audiobooks (I get mine free from the Libby app).

Each week, I plan to give an update on what I read/listened to + my honest reviews. We’ll see how I do with my reading goals. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to hit them, but it will be fun to try!

A Word on My Star Ratings

The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books.

Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page.

In the last few weeks, I finished three books and here are my reviews…

Called Out: Why I Traded Two Dream Jobs for a Life of True Calling

This is the story of ABC New reporter and The View co-host’s journey to finding her calling. She shares her personal struggles with finding her worth in her work and her affirmation through accolades… and how neither of those really satisfied.

As a fellow Type A personality who has battled workaholism during more than a few seasons of my life, I related to her tendency to push harder, sleep less, and try to white knuckle her way to success. I appreciated her candor in recounting how holding some of the most-coveted journalism positions don’t bring happiness and joy.

I only gave this book three stars because I felt like the writing/story-telling could have improved a lot. While some of the content and examples were inspiring, it felt like the book, in general, jumped around in many places and left me kind of confused because of things being so out of order chronologically. If she had been writing a non-fiction book that was topically based, it would have been okay to have stories from many different times in her life throughout the book. But because the book was supposed to be more memior-esque (did I just make up a word?), it felt disjointed for it to jump around in the storyline so much!

Verdict: 3 stars

Code Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy

Jesse and I started listening to this book on our trip to Kansas for Christmas. We didn’t finish it on that trip, but we each individually listened to it because we wanted to know how the story ended!

Code Name: Lise is the true story of a fairly ordinary mom of three young girls who ended up landing herself a job (very unexpectedly!) as a spy. While I thought the book was a little dry and detail-heavy at times, parts of the story were very interesting.

I gave it a 3-star verdict because I didn’t love the narrator of the audiobook and thought that the emphasis on details (many that I found unnecessary and boring) would make the book more of a slog to read. In fact, I’m guessing I wouldn’t have finished it had I read a physical copy — so I’m glad that I listened to the audiobook.

I also was surprised that a lot of story was all the details of her life in captivity. I expected a lot more details on her time as a spy. That said, I found her resilient spirit, creativity, and care for others while she was imprisoned and interrogated to be quite inspirational.

Verdict: 3 stars

In a Boat in the Middle of a Lake: Trusting the God Who Meets Us in Our Storm

Ruth Schwenk sent me a copy of their book soon after we said goodbye to Champ. It meant the world to me that she would send it with a personal note to let me know she was praying and thinking of us — and the book really blessed me!

This is the story of Patrick’s cancer diagnosis and what it was like to walk through that as a family. While Patrick is a pastor, I appreciated how honest he was with his doubts and wrestling with the goodness of God in the middle of a really difficult season. I also found their insights into standing firm in faith in the midst of heartache and hurt and unknown to be so encouraging and a blessing to me as I grieved the loss of Champ.

My one complaint with this book is that I would have loved more details on what they experienced and walked through in their cancer journey. That said, it’s their story and I completely understand if they just didn’t feel comfortable sharing more details.

(I’m cracking up that I said the book before was detail-heavy and I’m saying I wanted more details with this one! I think it’s that I  felt like they gave little snippets in each chapter, but didn’t dive into the story at the depth I would have loved. What was it really like? What was it like for your marriage? What was it like for your kids? I wanted to sit with them and hear the details of the treatments and recovery so I can understand more what it was like to walk in their shoes… so that I can have more empathy and understanding for others who are on a similar journey.)

Verdict: 4 stars

We Were the Lucky Ones

Yes, folks, we have our first 5-star read of the season! Actually, it wasn’t completely a “read” for me because I started reading it and then discovered that the audiobook was available for free on Libby so I ended up listening to a lot of it.

This is based on the true story of a Jewish family during World War II who were separated all over the world and how they ended up surviving and eventually being reunited. It is deeply moving, gripping, and heartbreaking. But at the same time, it is the story of love, family, and perseverance against all odds.

One thing I noticed was how creative and determined each of the family members was to beating the odds, coming up with outside the box ideas, and not giving up. When all around it felt like everything was crumbling and hopeless, they chose to keep pressing on and keep holding on to the will to live.

Of all the parts of the book, I think the sections that most impacted me were thinking of what it would be like to have young children during the Holocaust and how deeply difficult it would be to try to care for and protect a baby or child in the midst of so fear, uncertainty, and straight up disregard for human life. I can’t even begin to imagine and this book helped me to have a glimpse into just how horrific that would have been.

Note: There is a little bit of language and, as you can imagine, some intense and graphic topics are touched on. However, I felt like the book did a good job of not going into unnecessarily graphic details and stayed true to the story and experiences.

Verdict: 5 stars

Something Needs to Change: A Call to Make Your Life Count in a World of Urgent Need

And we have another 5-star review!! I just couldn’t give this book any less than five stars! It chronicles in beautiful and brutal detail David Platt’s week-long trek in the Himalayas. He takes you on the journey with him to experience the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and bone-chilling cold he witnessed. But the cold wasn’t the most chilling part of his week, not by any stretch of the imagination. He pens so vulnerably his encounters with great poverty, trafficking of little girls, and human suffering, the likes of which he didn’t even believe existed.

This book is his honest account of questioning his long-held beliefs about God, suffering, and what it truly means to give your life to follow in Jesus’ steps. He doesn’t give a lot of answers in the book; he mostly just shares stories, asks questions, and challenges you to stop living a life of complacency.

It’s a well-written book that draws you in with the engaging story line and leaves you taking a really deep look at your heart, your choices, and your perspective. I highly recommend it — and can’t stop talking about how it has made me examine life with fresh eyes and ears to the need around me — and around the world.

Verdict: 5 stars

The Water Keeper

When I asked on Instagram for clean fiction author recommendations, a number of you strongly encouraged me to check out Charles Martin. I had never even heard of him before, but I looked on Libby and found that this book was available.

It’s hard to really describe the storyline and I’ll admit it was a little far-fetched in places. However, it drew me in, it moved me, and it made me want to keep listening even when I needed to turn it off and move onto something else in my day. To me, those are all marks of a good book and I will definitely plan to listen to more of Charles’ books in the not-too-distant future. In fact, I already have a few added to my holds list on Libby.

Note: This book deals with trafficking and some abuse and does have a few graphic details in it. I felt like it was tastefully done and clean overall. However, the subject manner could be triggering for some.

Verdict: 4 stars

Charlotte’s Web

I finished reading this book to Kierstyn last week. It’s been a long time since I’ve read Charlotte’s web and we really enjoyed reading it together (or at least I enjoyed the story and she seemed to at least grasp a tiny little bit of it from the pictures in the book!).

The one thing I had forgotten was that the book could be very sad (Charlotte dies) and possibly scary to sensitive kids (Before Charlotte saves his life, Wilbur is going to be butchered and the book alludes to this multiple times). I also felt like there was definitely some bullying from the animals and some shaming. I know, I know, I probably am over-analyzing these things, but I think it’s important that we call these things out to our kids and have conversations about it.

That said, I’m giving it four stars because I really enjoy the story overall and think it’s a worthwhile classic book to read aloud as a family — especially if your kids aren’t highly sensitive, enjoy animals, and are between the ages of (maybe) 6-10?

Verdict: 4 stars

What books have you read or listened to recently? I’d love to hear your thoughts on them — and if you have any recommendations for me!

Brigette’s $79 Grocery Shopping Trip and Weekly Menu Plan for 6

My older sister, Brigette, shares her shopping trips and menu plans every week! You can go HERE to see all of her weekly menu plans and you can go HERE to read all about her family!


2 gallons Whole Milk – $2.90

1 32-oz carton Half and Half – $1.39

1 32-oz carton Plain Greek Yogurt – $2.39

2 5-lb bags Flour – $2.30

5 bags frozen Broccoli Florets – $4.25

1 bag frozen Blueberries – $1.79

1 bag Mini Sweet Peppers – $2.65

1 5-lb bag Golden Potatoes – $2.89

2 cans Green Beans – $0.76

1 carton Grape Tomatoes – $1.49

1 Cauliflower – $1.99

1 bag Limes – $1.59

1 large tub Organic Spring Mix – $3.49

1 pkg Romaine Hearts – $2.19

1 16-oz bag Mini Cucumbers – $2.09

1 bag fresh Cilantro – $0.79

2 bags fresh Green Beans – $3.18

1 pkg fresh Broccoli Crowns – $1.90

1 10-lb Russet Potatoes – $3.99

4 cans Nothern Beans – $1.56

1 16-oz pkg Deli Meat – $2.49

1-lb Sausage – $1.89

2 16-oz bags Shredded Cheddar Cheese – $5.10

2 8-oz pkgs Sliced Cheese – $2.50

6 individual cartons Greek Yogurt – $3.54

1 can Whipped Dairy Topping – $2.89

3 dozen Eggs – $2.40

1 jar Salsa – $0.89

1 pkg Taco Mix – $0.29

1 jar Garlic Powder – $0.59

1 jar Onion Powder – $0.59

1 pkg Rice Cakes – $1.75

1 bag Hint of Lime Chips – $1.69

1 pkg Hamburger Buns – $0.59

Total: $72.78

Harris Teeter

1 pkg Tortillas – $0.64

2 64-oz cartons Orange Juice – $1.78

2 boxes Quaker Chewy Granola Bars – $3.34, used $1.00/2 printable, plus receive $1.00 rebate – $1.34/2 boxes

1 Peanut Butter – $0.99

1 Life Cereal – $2.74, used $0.75/1 printable (doubled), plus receive $0.75 rebate – $0.49 after coupon and rebate

2 boxes Kelloggs Frosted Mini Wheats – $3.98, used $1.00/2 printable, plus receive $0.90/2 rebate and $1.00/2 rebate – $1.08/2 boxes after coupon and rebates

2 boxes Annie’s Mac and Cheese – $2.00, used $1.00/2 printable – $1.00/2 after coupon

Plus receive $0.25 off any receipt from Ibotta

Total after Coupons and Rebates $7.07

Grocery Total for the Week: $79.85

Weekly Menu Plan


Everyone is responsible for making/cleaning up their own breakfasts. Choices include:

Cereal, Toast, Scrambled/Fried/Boiled Eggs, Yogurt, Fruit, Smoothies, Veggie Omelets, Oatmeal


Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Cheese, Cucumbers, Oranges x 2

Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter, Apples, Mini Peppers x 2

Leftovers x 3


Ham and Bean Soup, World’s Best Honey Cornbread, Broccoli

Date Night (kids eat Mac and Cheese)

Venison Roast in the Crockpot, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Easy Whole Wheat Bread

Hamburgers (half ground beef and half ground venison), Baked Potato Fries, Tossed Salad, Grilled Cauliflower

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy, Tossed Salad, Green Beans

Build-Your-Own-Burrito (Seasoned Ground Venison, Shredded Romaine, Rice, Shredded Cheese, Chopped Cilantro, Limes, Salsa), Chips and Salsa, Broccoli

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham, Green Beans, Biscuits

ButcherBox Discount Code: FREE Game Day Bundle (Ribs, Pork, & Bacon!!)

Have you been wanting to give ButcherBox a try? If so, don’t miss this ButcherBox discount code to get a FREE Game Day Bundle in your first box!!

{This post is sponsored by ButcherBox and contains affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.}

After doing my ButcherBox review last year, SO many of you were excited about trying ButcherBox and asked me if there’d be more discount codes in the future.

And I have GREAT news!! They’re offering a new deal to get 3 FREE cuts of meat right now!

ButcherBox Discount Code: FREE Game Day Bundle

ButcherBox is running a special deal through February 7, 2021. When you sign up to try ButcherBox, you’ll get a FREE Game Day Bundle of Meat — which includes three FREE cuts of meat! You’ll receive a rack of St. Louis ribs, a pack of pulled pork, and a pack of bacon — all for FREE in your first box.

Just go HERE, enter your email address, and click on the “claim offer” button to get the ButcherBox discount code automatically added to your order. (For more detailed instructions on how to go through the checkout process, see below!)

ButcherBox discount code with different box choices

How to Sign Up for ButcherBox

If you’d like to sign up and take advantage of this deal, just follow these instructions!

After claiming your FREE Game Day Bundle offer, you’ll be taken to the sign-up page, where you can choose between five different types of boxes:

I recommend doing a custom box because it allows you to customize the meat that they send and you are able to get exactly what you know you will use.

ButcherBox pricing options

Once you choose which box you’d like, then you pick your monthly box size. You can choose between a Classic Box ($128-$149/month) or a Big Box ($238-270/month). The price varies depending upon which type of meat box you chose.

meat choices

After you’ve chosen your box size, then you can customize what they will send you. I like that you can see exactly what your options are and you can figure out how to get the best bang for your buck!

Then, just input your payment information and you’re done.

If you’re still hesitant about signing up with ButcherBox, be sure to read my honest ButcherBox review! It goes into more details, plus you’ll get my honest thoughts on the quality of meat and our overall experience.

Go here to get started with ButcherBox and take advantage of this deal.

Free LEGO® Life Magazine Subscription! {Great Valentine’s Day or Easter Gift Idea}

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

If you have kids who love all things LEGO®, did you know you can sign them up for a completely free LEGO® magazine subscription?! This makes our list of the top magazine subscriptions for kids!

{Don’t forget to check out our LEGO Gift Guide and all the recent LEGO Deals!}

Free LEGO Life Magazine Subscription for Kids!

Free LEGO® Magazine Subscription

If you have kids who loves LEGOS, I just wanted to remind you about this great FREEBIE!

Did you know you can sign up for a completely free LEGO® magazine subscription?! There are no strings attached and it’s 100% free!

(Well, other than the fact that there’s definitely some marketing and advertising built into each issue about the newest kits coming out…so your kids might get really excited about new LEGO® sets that are on the horizon! ;))

Your first issue will arrive within 6-16 weeks. While the first issue won’t arrive in time for Valentine’s Day, you can always print a photo of the magazine cover and attach a little love note for your child! Or order it for an Easter basket stuffer!

building LEGOS

What is LEGO® Life Magazine?

This magazine used to be called LEGO® Club Magazine but in recent years has rebranded to LEGO® Life Magazine.

It’s designed for kids between the ages of 5 and 9 years old. And after providing your child’s birth date, they will receive this FREE magazines 4 times per year until they are no longer within the age limit window. (And after that, they can download the free LEGO® Life app to use!)

Each issue is filled with stories, activities, posters, comics, contests, creative building ideas, and more!

Kids can even submit their own creations to possibly appear in the magazine!

Kid Holding LEGO Magazine

Our Kids Loved LEGO® Magazine

When they were younger, our kids absolutely loved this magazine.

It was always one of their very favorite magazines to get in the mail, and it was SO fun for them to get some of their own snail mail!

I have fond memories of our three older kids pouring over the latest LEGO® issue and reading it from cover to cover — especially Kathrynne!

This magazine provided hours of entertainment for all of our kids without spending a dime!

free LEGO® magazine subscription

Go here to sign your kid up for a FREE subscription!