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A Peek Into Our Week (+ an update on my 2018 goals)

Welcome to my weekly post I share a peek into our lives, talk about things I’m loving, share links to interesting articles or helpful ideas I’ve collected throughout the past week, and just talk about whatever is on my heart! 🙂

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As I mentioned, we spent almost all of last week near Mountain Home, Arkansas at Bull Shoals Lake. It’s a family tradition for us all to get together at least once a year at this lake.

The tradition started before Jesse and I were married over 15 years ago and has continued — and now there are 27 of us total (though my brother couldn’t make it this year because he was serving as a counselor at The Wild Camp.)

Here’s a little peek into our time together…

We played lots of games — including some fun rounds of Spot It.

My dad rented two boats for the week, so we spent a LOT of time on the water.

Some of the days were a little cloudy, but mostly, the weather was beautiful — not too hot and not too cold!

I fell in love with knee-boarding on this vacation and had so much fun attempting different things (I still haven’t mastered backwards knee-boarding, but I’m determined I’m going to get it!)

Most all of us went bowling one evening. They rented out the lanes for just $16 each for an hour, so we got three lanes and a BUNCH of us bowled for every minute of that hour and had a blast — and it only cost about $51 total!!

Close to 7 pm, they turned on the strobe lights for Cosmic Bowling!

Kathrynne planned games for the younger kids every afternoon and they earned tickets which they got to cash in for prizes at the end of the week (see below).

This roll the marble game was a hit! You had to sit or stand behind the line and roll a marble and you got points based upon where the marble landed.

Most of my nieces and nephews were better than me at this game! 🙂

We also played a rousing game of Whoonu — and my 5-year-old niece beat me fair and square!!

Have you ever played this game? It was a lot harder than I expected it to be!

My sister’s daughter, Cadence, planned snacks for the younger kids on two of the afternoons (and my brother’s daughter planned snacks on the other two days).

One of the snacks was these cute apples that all of the kids got to make!

The kids really enjoyed making these!

The best part? They got to eat them after they made them!

There was a lot of double-slaloming that went on during the week. Here, two of my brothers are showing off their skills!

It was so peaceful and beautiful!

We had multiple swimming breaks in the lake.

Another shot of how beautiful this lake is!

The boys climbed up on the rocks one day and would have stayed up there for a long time if I hadn’t told them they had to come down (because I was a little afraid they were going to slip and fall!)

Kathrynne did so well at skiing this year — and even got up on one ski the second time she tried (I didn’t get a picture because I was screaming so loudly about how well she was doing!!)

And then Silas wanted to try skiing on the big skis. He’s gotten up on the kid skis before, but never on these larger skis.

The boy got up on his second try and stayed up for over 2 minutes!!

I was SO proud of him and I think he just might be able to slalom soon, too!

At the end of the week, the kids took all of their tickets and they got to cash them in for prizes that Kathrynne had in her “store” (all of these came from Dollar Tree).

The kids came in one at a time and got to redeem tickets for one item — from youngest child to oldest child.

And then, once the first round of ticket redemptions was finished, they got to do another round and choose another item.

We drove back home on Saturday — and made a stop at this place we found in Jonesboro last year. I love little coffee shops, even if I don’t drink coffee any more! (I got their cinnamon tea and had them make it like a London Fog.)

From My Heart…

This made me laugh and say ouch, because yup, there’s way more truth to it than I’d probably like to admit.

One of the reasons I chose the word SLOW for this year was because I knew I needed to work on being slower to respond. And it’s been so good to make it my goal to actually take time to think before I say something instead of just blurting out the first thing that comes to mind.

It’s still a challenge and I still have had to apologize and stick my foot in my mouth, but I’m thrilled to tell you that by making this one word my mantra, it’s actually been making a big difference.

I’m talking less and listening more — and I’m taking more time to weigh my words before talking. And it’s really making a difference. I’m even not always having to get in the last word in a conversation or discussion… which is no small miracle!

2018 Goals Update

Personal Goals

1. Read 100 non-self-help books that will build me up/encourage me/inspire me/recharge me. (Fiction/story-driven/biographies/inspirational living books/devotionals.) See the list of 44 books I plan to read this year.

**Progress: 42 books read so far this year

2. Read through the entire Bible.

**Progress: I’m using the Robert Murray M’Cheyne plan and am all caught up— yay!

3. Write one handwritten note to someone every week.

**Progress: 31 notes written so far this year

4. Run 500 miles.

**Progress: 290 miles run so far

Marriage Goal

5. Go on an overnight trip with Jesse without the kids.Jesse and I went to NYC together in January.

Family Goals

6. Read 10 books aloud with the kids.

**Progress: I’ve finished two books so far. (I have a plan for how we’re going to incorporate more reading into our schedule once school starts and we’re all driving in the car to school drop-offs every morning. For now, I’m just happy that we’re fitting in a little family reading a few times per week when we’re all in the car together driving to the pool or somewhere else. Something is better than nothing, right??)

7. Take the kids to South Africa. We took this trip in July. What a memorable experience!

8. Go on a family road trip.

**Progress: We’ve been researching some options for this and are hoping to make this happen over Fall Break. Stay tuned!

Financial Goals

9. Save up to pay cash to finish off an office for me and workout room for Jesse and me in the basement in our new house.

**Progress: The workout room is DONE and the office is getting close to being done!

10. Replenish our Emergency Fund (we dipped into it to replace my car when it got totaled because of the carpet beetle infestation.)

Business Goals

11. Increase our gross income from the business by 8%.

12. Launch 5 new courses.

**Progress: We launched 4 Weeks to a More Productive Life launched in January, Content Creation 101 in February, 4-Week Blog Coaching Program in March, Email List Setup 101 in March, Make Over Your Mornings LIVE in April, the Facebook Live Masterclass in May, and we launched Build Your List 101 in June!

Slow Day: Week 31

Welcome to my weekly Slow Day post, inspired by Monica from The Homespun Heart. My Word for 2018 is Slow and, in the spirit of that word, I’m taking one day each week (Wednesday) off — I’ll be unplugged and offline and plan to move at a slower pace, take time to do things that refresh me, and just really focus on being present and savoring the moment.

Each week, I’ll be sharing a photographic peek into my Slow Day. Enjoy a little peek into our lives!

As I mentioned earlier, we spent all last week near Mountain Home, Arkansas at Bull Shoals Lake with all of my extended family (26 people total, if I counted correctly!)

So enjoy a little peek into our day at the lake…

We all contribute to the meals when we’re together. My youngest sister plans the menu and then put together a sign-up sheet that we all signed up on. Today’s breakfast was Baked Oatmeal, courtesy of my sister-in-law.

We all stay in different cabins, but we eat our meals (and hang out a lot) in the big cabin that my parents stay in.

The girls loved getting to spend time with their baby cousins.

It was an absolutely gorgeous morning!

Silas and I went out on the boat for the afternoon.

We watched Jesse ski.

And then he knee-boarded, too.

(I also knee-boarded,  but since I’m the one who usually takes pictures, we don’t have any pictures of me. 🙂 Silas knee-boarded, too, and you can see the video and read more about that here.)

Atlas and I spent a lot of time together this past week. He’s such a cutie and I love how much he’s learning how to talk and communicate!

The chaos before dinner. 🙂

Dinner was hamburgers, hot dogs, veggies, fruit, corn on the cob, and french fries.

Why We Would Spend Money to Go to South Africa With Our Kids

Welcome to my two-week series all about our recent family trip to South Africa. I’m recounting some of our favorite experiences, lessons we learned, travel tips, and some of the most memorable stories and takeaways. To read all of the posts in this series, click here.

Thinking of traveling abroad with your kids? Read this for encouragement and perspective!

Many people have asked us why we would spend the money to take our whole family to South Africa. It’s a very valid question — especially when I have a blog called 🙂

Well, first off, when you stay with friends and they are kind enough to graciously provide your food and transportation and you get a great deal on plane tickets, it’s not at all as expensive as people would assume.

But, at the same time, it is definitely not cheap, so why would we spend the money on a trip halfway around the world? For starters, I wrote a post on three reasons we take our kids to South Africa here. Those reasons were a big driving force behind why we took our kids to South Africa a second time.

There were three other reasons, too:

1. We’ve chosen to prioritize life-changing experiences in our budget.

In January of 2015, I boarded an 18-hour flight to South Africa with my friends, Lisa-Jo and Joy. The trip itself was SO far outside my comfort zone (I had never been on a plane for more than 5 hours and had never really traveled internationally) and I had no idea what to expect.

On that trip, I fell madly in love with the people of South Africa, I discovered that I love traveling and experiencing new cultures, I found out that I’m a lot more extroverted than I realized I was, I made dear friends, I learned so much from people whose lives are very different than mine, and our family found a calling and passion to come alongside and support the amazing work that Take Action Ministry is doing.

Since that trip, South Africa has become like a second home to me. It’s why I’ve been there four times in the past four years. And it’s why every time I go, it never feels like enough.

Our heartbeat for so much of why we do what we do — why I blog, why we produce products, why we seek to be strategic with the business and wise with our personal funds — is so we can give generously to the needs in South Africa and elsewhere.

I am forever changed. Our family is forever changed. Because of what we’ve learned and experienced in South Africa.

And that’s why we prioritize making this trip as often as we can.

2. We want to be motivated to remember our “why”.

The South Africans have taught us what true giving looks like — even when you have almost nothing to give.

They have taught us what warm hospitality looks like — giving up your time and vacation days and your bedroom and sleep to host us!

They have taught us what contentment and joy looks like — even when you live without power and water in a tiny shack.

They have shown us what faith looks like — when you believe God can do big things despite having almost zero resources.

And they have given us incredible purpose. To live beneath our means so we can give generously. To be strategic and wise stewards of our time and money and opportunities in order to be able to help out as many people as possible.

Being with these people reminds us of what really matters in life. And it gives us fresh perspective and deeper empathy and a greater understanding of how to love others well.

3. We want to do more than just give money.

Our family invests a significant portion of our income every month to help fund Take Action Ministry. And while money is very important, we want the team there to know that we are with them in the work they are doing.

While we aren’t called to live in South Africa right now, traveling there regularly to be with our friends there, to celebrate their progress, hear of their struggles, see the work first-hand, and just hang out with them and spend time together is so valuable.

More than anything, people who are sacrificing so much need to know that they aren’t alone. That there are people who care deeply about the work they are doing. That they have friends who are praying and celebrating — even if they live thousands of miles away.

I think it’s easy to forget this. To think that people just need financial support. But as our friends in South Africa have taught us: relationships are so much more valuable than financial support ever could be.

Let me tell you, going to South Africa for the second time with our kids was really incredible!

Our first trip to South Africa as a family was good but still pretty overwhelming for the kids. They struggled with the time change, the jet lag, the new foods, the different schedules, the language barriers… everything was so foreign to them and it was rough on many days of the trip.

This time around, there were still the unknowns and variables and challenges that come along with international travel, but all three kids handled it like champs. Every day, we went to new places and they got to meet and hang out with new people from a variety of backgrounds.

I saw them walk into these situations with confidence and grace. Instead of sitting on the sidelines and playing it safe, they jumped in and played full out.

And it was so beautiful to witness. Once again, they demonstrated that you don’t have to speak the same language fluently to communicate love.

One of our heart’s desires is to raise kids who realize there is a big, big world out there and there is so much we can learn from everyone in it — no matter what language they speak or background they come from. Traveling outside our “American bubble” is one way we’re seeking to begin nurturing this understanding in them.

(By the way, the kids are begging that we not only go back to South Africa next year, but can we please visit another continent next year, too? Even my child who is very scared to fly commented and said, “Well, now that I got that 18-hour flight over with, I think I can fly just about anywhere. So please can we travel more??” As you can imagine, that put a great big smile on my face! 😉)

I don’t know what the future holds for our kids. I don’t know if we’ll be able to reach our family’s crazy goal of traveling to all 7 continents by the time Kathrynne is 18. But I do know that the money we invested to take this trip to South Africa was every bit worth it.

In fact, I’d say that the return on our investment has been pretty near priceless!

Why We Cancelled Our MoviePass Subscription

Should you keep MoviePass with all the recent changes? Read this for an honest explanation of why one MoviePass lover finally decided to cancel...

Well, the day has finally come. I’m sad to tell you that we cancelled our MoviePass subscriptions earlier this week.

I held on to hope that maybe things were going to turn around, but it just kept getting worse. And we made the decision this week to cancel both of our accounts.

Since I strongly promoted MoviePass in January, I felt that it was only right for me to share why we decided to cancel our accounts. The reasons weren’t isolated to just one concern. It was a series of issues over the past two months that brought us to this decision.

First off, MoviePass changed their policy a few months ago to say you can only watch the same movie once per account.

As I told you all earlier:

This is kind of a big deal as this means that you can’t actually see one movie every day… because most theaters don’t show 30 different movies in one month! Of course, there’s no way I could go to a movie every day, but I still am bothered that they are claiming that they are still offering “unlimited movies” for $10 per month. To me, that’s deceptive marketing.

Then, their customer service had all sorts of issues. I heard from many of you that you had issues with your card and contacted them and hadn’t gotten a response. We contacted them about switching our card to another device and didn’t hear back from them for weeks.

Next, they introduced Peak Pricing — which meant that you had to pay extra for movies that were popular and/or showing at popular times. Again, if the whole reason that we signed up for MoviePass was so that we could see up to one movie per day for just $10, then this defeated the purpose. Because we could only choose movies that weren’t popular or weren’t showing at popular times. Otherwise, we had to pay a few dollars extra per

movie on top of the $10 per month subscription.

We realized that we were beginning to only use the card a max of two times per month due to all of the changes — which meant that movies were costing us about $5 each. That’s not a bad deal, but it wasn’t at all as great of a deal as it had been when we first signed up and could go to ANY m


ovie at ANY time — up to one movie per day.

The final straw for us was when they announced this week that they wouldn’t be allowing you to see big new releases and some show times wouldn’t be available at all for some movies.

Here’s what they said in the email they sent out:

In order to continue growing our service and maintaining a high level of financial discipline, we need to make some modifications:

We must reduce availability for big new-release titles, such as Mission: Impossible – Fallout and other popular new releases, at least for a while as we adjust the business model. We are working on making this more clear in the app so you know which titles are available.

Showtimes that are offered through our service will vary from day to day, and every showtime may not be available. We encourage you to check the MoviePass app for showtimes before you leave for the theater.

It just no longer makes sense for us to pay $10 per month per card (we have two cards) to only be able to see select movies at select times — and that you’ll never know until the day of whether a movie and showing will be available. Plus, you may have to pay extra to see it if it ends up being at a popular time.

Considering the fact that our AMC theater offers $5 Tuesdays (where tickets are just $5 each), it’s a better deal for us to just go on Tuesdays once or twice a month and be able to see the movie we want to see at the time we want to see it — and pay just $5.

So yes, we cancelled our MoviePass subscription and I no longer endorse or support them. If they ever decide to go back to the truly unlimited movies for $10 per month model, I’ll definitely consider signing up again. But for now, I’m out.