Say Goodbye to Survival Mode ~ Book Review


So, I signed up for for BookLook Bloggers sponsored by HarperCollins. I can choose complimentary books that are interesting to me in exchange for an honest review. The librarian in me just had to give it a try.

I chose Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine as my first book. I guess you could say I was simply curious. I’ve heard of her site, and thought I might learn a few things from her. I don’t feel like I’m currently in survival mode, so I think I may have felt more favorably about the book if I was in the midst of crisis.

The book explores practical ideas to help you be intentional. Crystal is a wife, mom, and runs a very successful blog about saving money and living frugally. She speaks from her own experienced of taking on more than she could handle and strategies she used to make her life more manageable. Crystal talks about how to say no, how to set goals, how to discover your passions, and how to make better use of your resources. She also addresses the comparison trap and feelings of inadequacy. Helpful tips are given for managing your home in a more effective way.

Sadly, I was disappointed. Granted, there are some very practical suggestions. However, reading this book actually gave me anxiety. There is no wonder why she felt the need to write this book. Her schedule is crazy busy. I have no idea how she manages to accomplish all she does in a day. Even her life tamed would be beyond my capabilities of managing.

If you are an extremely Type A personality with tons of energy, then this book is definitely for you. If you love making lists and creating spreadsheets, then Crystal is your lady. I love her suggestions for having a plan through setting goals. She specifically outlines how to do this. I appreciate the fact that she shares her failures and how she worked to overcome them. She is a great example of how success doesn’t usually come overnight. Additionally, she clearly knows what she is talking about since she has lived it. Nothing can beat firsthand experience.

Read this book if your commitments exceed your ability to keep up and you tend to be an organized person anyway. It would also be good for someone who is normally a driven person, but feels a bit stuck. If you are someone already overwhelmed with the thought of too much on your plate, don’t read this. You’ll only question your abilities. I think it is important to remember we’re all created to handle different levels of chaos. My tolerance is low, therefore I didn’t find this book helpful for me.


Claw Marks of the Eternal Kind ~ My Messy Beautiful

Mended heart

My mess is bigger than your mess.

Who wants to say that? 

I guess the truth is, there are some people in this life who like drama. They invite it into their lives like an old friend. I, however, am not one of those people. The less messy my life is, the more I enjoy it.

Do you sometimes feel like some people have it easier than others? I used to think so, but the older I get and the more messes I see, the more I realize everyone has their “stuff” to deal with. Yours just may look a little different from mine.

The past four years of our lives in my family could easily qualify for a sequel to Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events children’s books.

A little over four years ago, my grandmother passed away from a brain aneurysm. Little did my sons and I know the day we went to visit her that we would be the last to talk with her, aside from my aunt, while she was completely coherent.

At the time of her death, my dad had started to deteriorate rapidly from his Parkinson’s disease. The next year was spent with him in and out of rehabilitation facilities. Eventually he succumbed to aspiration pneumonia.

While helping my mom with my dad we discovered my cousin’s husband has liver cancer. He is still valiantly fighting, but life is a struggle. Our little family began to feel pressed from all sides.

In the midst of all of this, we learned two things about my husband, a little of which I have mentioned on my blog. First of all, we found out he has a genetic condition in both ears that is rapidly causing him to lose his hearing. That is a story in itself. And just a couple of months later we learned he has a form of leukemia known as CLL. You can read more about that in this old post. The “C” word was not something we were in any way prepared for, especially in light of everything else.

The story doesn’t really end there. We have experienced other difficulties as a family in the last year. The saga continues. Loss of other dear loved ones. A couple of near death experiences for others. Hearts can get a little weary.

I share my story with you not to complain or to make my life seem more tragic than others. I want you to read this and possibly feel comforted that you are not alone in the difficulties you face.

Some messes come from bad choices we make, and others are purely circumstantial having little to do with our decisions. Either way, we can find ourselves feeling fearful and out of control. Every day becomes a choice to seize joy in the midst of the pain.

If I’m truly honest with you, there are moments when I think too much about the future and my chest starts to press in like a vise. My fears begin to take over my brain. I could drown in the what-ifs.

We can hide under the covers, succumb to the misery, feel sorry for ourselves, and let our messes control us.


Or we can fight. Bravely. With great determination. We can claw for the joy and discover ways to use our difficulties for good. Our confidence in the eternal can allow us to become true world changers.

Let’s refuse to waste the heartache. Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

What are you struggling with right now? Will you suit up for battle with me?

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2Co 4:8-9, 16-18 NIV)

This post is part of the Messy Beautiful Warrior Project. To learn more about this project, click HERE.  To learn more about Glennon Doyle Melton’s bestselling memoir, Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, click HEREmessy-beautiful-700bHeart graphic from Stock Exchange.


One Word That Can Save Your Life


What cell holds you captive?

Sometimes you read a story and it is forever etched on your memory.

I shared the following story with some friends not long ago, and I thought my readers might appreciate it, too.

Once upon a time there was a king whose brother tried to assassinate him. The attempt was unsuccessful and the king’s brother was captured. His punishment was to spend the rest of his days in a cell by the sea.

This cell possessed an unusual quality, though. The cell had an opening, but no door to close it off.

You see, the king’s brother was a very large man, quite fond of food. He was told if he could lose enough weight to fit through the door, then he would be free.

However, every day the king’s servants would bring the brother platters of delectable food.

He could eat to his heart’s content.

And that’s just what he did.

And he died in that cell looking out over the sea with the fresh breeze blowing in his face… just like the king knew he would.

I ask again, what is your cell? Because it may not be food that holds you captive, but we all have habits or hang-ups in our lives that prevent us from enjoying life the way we were created to enjoy it.

Could it be desire for success, alcohol, perfectionism, past mistakes, image management, pride, pornography, fear of failure? The list here could be quite long.

I read a blog post once written by a woman confined to her home due to a chronic health condition. She wanted to remind herself to be joyful by writing something on her bedroom wall. She thought about writing the word joy, but instead she wrote the word “choose.” Because the thing is, joy is available to all of us regardless of our circumstances. What separates us from one another is our ability to CHOOSE joy.

At the end of Joshua’s life (the man who led the Israelites in their battles to make the promised land their home) he called them all together and challenged them to choose that very day whom they would serve. Would it be the God that led them out of Egypt, or the gods surrounding them in their new land? The people insisted they would follow God.

Just a couple of chapters later in the book of Judges we discover the people had already fallen away from following the one true God. Wow, that didn’t take long.

Yet, when I look at my own life, I can see similar patterns: great determination in the beginning to make the right choices, and then a few chapters in things begin to fall apart.

That’s why mercy is so important. Because we strive, and we fail, then hopefully we pick ourselves up again and choose to do better.

What choice will you make for your life today? Don’t just watch the waves from a distance. Make the choice to jump into the water with both feet. With reckless abandon enjoy the sun on your skin, the wind in your hair, and the salt water stinging your eyes. It won’t all be comfortable, but living life engaged sure beats the alternative. Seize the joy.







Note: I originally read about the king’s brother in Steven James’ book Story.

Picture without words found on Stock Exchange.