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Will you take the BOLD 30 days without complaining challenge?

Going without complaining has been my annual November challenge the past few years. Nothing sets my heart on thankfulness more than going without complaining.


30 Days Without Complaining???

Going without complaining is hard enough to do for five minutes much less 30 days, but I’ve learned that the secret to thankfulness is changing my heart from the inside out.

Between October 30 and November 1, already the thankfulness and gratitude challenges have begun popping up in my newsfeed.

While there’s nothing wrong with having gratitude or doing thankfulness, I’ve found that people post about being grateful in one post a day, but spend the rest of their day complaining.

Posting one #Grateful #Blessed #Thankful post a day wasn't changing anyone's heart. Click To Tweet

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Posting one #Grateful #Blessed #Thankful post a day wasn’t changing anyone’s heart.

I wanted to do more than spend five minutes considering what I’m thankful for.

Being thankful comes out of a true sense of humility regarding the gifts that God has given us, which sometimes, include suffering because it is preparing us for eternal glory in Heaven.

2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

In recent years, I’ve learned a lot about different kinds of suffering: financial struggles, physical challenges, marital difficulties. And I’ve learned that being thankful in the midst of all my challenges changes how I face them. People around me see what’s happening in my heart and my life and are encouraged.

Just today, my friend Rebekah shared my episode of her delightful podcast about Trusting God in Adversity.

020: Trusting God in Adversity with Jennifer Defrates

The past few years I’ve been doing this 30 days without complaining challenge I started it in 2014. It has become my annual November tradition.

Will you take the bold 30 days without complaining challenge?

Pledge to go 30 days November 1-November 30 without complaining. Ask your spouse and besties to hold you accountable. Ask your kids to hold you accountable. My seven year old is on it!

WHY take this challenge? 

When I cannot complain, I find ways to choose joyfulness that I might not if I weren’t taking the challenge.

Going without complaining helps me be more intentional with every word I speak. Intentionality really changes the tone of my home. In fact, doing this challenge for the last couple of years has been a tremendously helped in changing the way I speak, think, and feel in general.

God has used this challenge to convict and restore me to a gentle spirit. And, it’s been a very powerful in my family as we celebrate the harvest season and prepare our home to celebrate Christ’s birth.



So what does it look like to go without complaining?

I take it to a really extreme level. For example, I do not say things like I am hungry but that I would like to eat. By making positive statements instead of negative, I am being proactive rather than reactive.

Going without complaining makes me aware of how often complaining is the first attitude I have. This morning, half awake, I stumbled out of my bedroom door. Looking around the disarray leftover from a busy couple of days I said, “This house is a mess.”

I quickly clamped my hand over my mouth. My husband asked me what I had said. Chagrined, I replied, “I need to straighten up today.” Shoot, I didn’t even make it to the coffeepot.

But being willing to take this challenge does not mean that you will be perfect. It means that you will strive to reduce your complaining. Changing your vocabulary is only the beginning.

Spending time in praise and reading God’s word will change the overflow of my heart so that my default emotional position becomes one of praise and thanksgiving in a powerful way.

Can you think of a better way to begin the holiday season this year than celebrating a true heart of thankfulness, recognizing that life is difficult and challenging and yet it beautiful and wondrous gift?

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Are you looking for cute Thanksgiving Decorations?

Looking for cute Thanksgiving Decorations, but not finding much left on the shelves? Don't Stress - Here are some of my favorite ideas & where to find them! 

Looking for cute Thanksgiving Decorations, but not finding much left on the shelves? Don’t Stress – Here are some of my favorite ideas!

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

Today, I went shopping for Thanksgiving decorations. I had a coupon for the local home decor store, and I was so excited. All week, I’d been looking forward to this shopping trip.

Walking in, I was prepared to spend a decent amount of money I’ve been saving since my birthday. But wasn’t prepared for the explosion of snow, holly, and evergreen.

Looking for cute Thanksgiving Decorations, but not finding much left on the shelves? Don't Stress - Here are some of my favorite ideas & where to find them! 

Apparently I missed the memo that even though Halloween hasn’t happened yet, it’s already Christmas.

I was so frustrated. 

My family is coming to visit for Thanksgiving. I’ve never hosted the family for Thanksgiving, and I just wanted to add a few touches of warmth to my home.

I picked up a couple of items at Kirkland’s.

Are you looking for cute Thanksgiving decorations last minute? Here are some really cute ones I found!

But I really wanted bright vibrate foliage and flowers. No such luck! I’m going to have to turn to Amazon and Hobby Lobby!

Being Sunday, Hobby Lobby will have to wait until tomorrow, but Amazon . . . my sweet Amazon is always open!

Here are some adorable shelf sitters or table decor. I love the bowls that would be great for leftover Halloween candy (if yours survives the weekend!)

We don’t get a lot of fall color where we live, so adding some in touches at the doorway brings the sense of fall, even if I can’t count on the weather to feel like fall.

I love the light up trees and pretty leaf garland for the entry way.

I’m trying to decide if we’re going to go formal with my china for the main meal or use fancier paper plates. I might get some decorative paper plates for hors d’oeuvres and leftovers for the days following Thanksgiving.

Using my nice china and glassware is fun and fancy, but when my family is visiting, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour at the sink instead of spending time with them.

Growing up I always felt like my mom missed the best parts of the after-meal story telling around the living room. Cheeks flushed with the warmth of too much sugar and turkey, we would laugh and tell story after story.

While we would help her clear the table and load the dishwasher, she still spent so much time cleaning up. I don’t want to miss the stories. My husband always pulls out a new story for company, and I hate to miss them. He is just the best storyteller!

Using disposable plates is one way to keep the clean up a little simpler! Especially if you’re going to be having family staying with you for the days surrounding the holiday. I usually use some cheap foil pans for baking and cooking as well. They can go from freezer to fridge to oven to trash.


Let Earth Be Filled with His Glory – Throw Pillow

from: DaySpring Cards Inc

Since, we’ll be using our spare bedrooms for family, I’m also trying to decide if I should add a few pops of color to the guest room. Maybe some harvest or fall themed throw pillows for the guest beds.

Of course, the harvest theme is HUGE right now thanks to Fixer Upper.

I love the farm theme especially for Thanksgiving decorations!

Celebrating the harvest season reminds me to be thankful for God’s wonderful provision in my life. When I only wanted to be a mother, God answered that prayer. When we needed food on our table, God answered.

Can I just say that it’s totally unfair that my two favorite holidays are so close together! I would totally decorate for Thanksgiving and leave it up way longer if Christmas season didn’t start so soon afterward!

Well, my birthday money won’t quite stretch far enough for all these things, but I certainly found some adorable deals. And I’ll start baking any minute . . .

Can you smell the pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls yet? I hope you love these cute Thanksgiving decorations as much as I do! And find that they warm your home this Thanksgiving season!

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Creative Ways to Have Extra Christmas Money

Wouldn't a little extra Christmas money make Christmas a little more magical and a lot less stressful this year? And focus our hearts on Christ in Christmas

Wouldn’t a little extra Christmas money make Christmas a little more magical and a lot less stressful this year? While giving gifts isn’t the main message of CHRISTmas, we do want to show people how loved they are! But we don’t always have the funds for what is in our hearts.

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

Every year, I promise myself I’ll actually enjoy Christmas with all the delicious baking and warm family times.

But the stress of the holidays often gets in the way. One way to take that stress down a notch is to remove the worries over money.

Wouldn't a little extra Christmas money make Christmas a little more magical & a lot less stressful this year? And focus our hearts on Christ in Christmas

Are you guilty of treating Christmas like a surprise?

Christmas is the same time every year, but often we start scrambling to afford gifts come October or November, which is really too late. Then we plunge into credit card shopping only to dive deeply into debt. No one wants to start a new year paying off the last one.

Don't treat Christmas like a surprise! Plan ahead to have extra Christmas money now! Click To Tweet
  • DOES this seem like a strange post for me? It might, but going from two good salaries to one has made me realize how much stewardship is involved in properly handling our money. God has been gracious to provide for our family in many ways, but these are a few ways I’ve been thrifty and stretched every dollar!

We’ve been able to have Christmas paid for before the gifts were wrapped and under the tree for several years. Want to know how?

Tip #1 – Take $50 off the top.

Call your bank and have $50 a paycheck/$100 a month directly transferred to a savings account each month. This builds your savings without thinking about it. And gives you $1200 for extra Christmas money if you need to dip into it.

If you think I can’t afford $100 a month for savings, see if there are luxuries you can do without. Living beneath what you can afford makes money stretch.

Tip #2 – Find creative ways to EARN money!

Taking surveys, opening emails, watching advertisements isn’t going to make you rich, but it is a way to make spending money while watching television. I use several sites and redeem my points/cash expressly for extra Christmas money.

My Points is awesome! It’s a website that sends marketing emails. Each email you open is worth five points, some are worth more if you make a purchase or sign up for a service. Also, you can earn points for donations to the Red Cross and animal welfare sites.

Why I love it!

This year, I’ve earned points for up to $100 in gift cards. I can redeem my points for gift cards to many national chains including Amazon, The Children’s Place, Bass Pro Shops, Home Depot, Sears, Kohl’s, Old Navy, even Papa John’s!

Another similar site is Inbox Dollars.

I earn a few cents a day just opening emails. They pay in cash and offer surveys too. I have earned $35 in just a few months. That’s a Christmas gift or movie date night!



SAVE Money on Groceries!

One of my favorite ways to earn extra Christmas money is through the Ibotta app!

Ibotta is like reverse couponing. I scroll through the app after making my grocery list. After shopping, I scan the items I purchased into the app with a copy of my receipt. I’ve earned $182.65 using the Ibotta app so far.

Walmart Savings Catcher is another easy app. Every time you shop at Walmart, scan your receipt into the Walmart App in the Savings Catcher section. I’ve saved $190 using the app. It literally takes seconds as I walk to my car! I deliberately don’t use those dollars until Christmas and can transfer my credit to the Walmart Pay section of the app to pay for gifts.

Wouldn't a little extra Christmas money make Christmas a little more magical & a lot less stressful this year? And focus our hearts on Christ in Christmas

Do you shop online?

I shop online through Ebates – I can shop for Christmas while earning extra Christmas money! This year, I’ve earned $120 buying things I was purchasing already!

I just go to their site or app and shop, earning money back on homeschool products, website subscription services, Amazon, Wayfair, Overstock!

They even have a browser extension that pops up and reminds me to activate their service if I’m shopping a site that works with Ebates.

Last Tip – Shop smart & start EARLY

Shopping smart won’t earn you extra Christmas money, but it can save you enough to be worth doing.

I’ve already begun stock piling gifts.  I usually start in September. If you are saavy, watch for great sales now. A lot of catalogs count on Christmas to make their year, prices right now are often lower than they will be later.

Shopping early lets you have plenty of time to shop around for the best price and take advantage of early sales.

I make a list of everyone I need gifts for and begin keeping an eye out for just the thing that will make them laugh or smile or be really useful. Especially for my husband!

If nothing else, I can earmark all my planned gifts for Cyber Monday and be ready to snag the deals, having my budget set and Ebates locked and loaded.

Plan ahead, budget wisely, use some creative ways to earn extra Christmas money and this might be the most stress-free holiday season yet!

Bonus Tip

Plan ahead to be generous. Set aside some of your Christmas money to give to charities that matter to you.

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How to know if you’re really Called to Homeschool

Do you feel called to homeschool? Maybe you think you might be or feel like you wish you could, but are questioning if God has called you to homeschool.

Do you feel called to homeschool? Maybe you think you might be or feel like you wish you could but are questioning if God really has called you to homeschool.

Maybe you’re picturing your sweet baby sitting all day in a hard desk instead of exploring the wonders of creation at the beach or reading together curled up on the couch, but you’re wondering if you missed this call?

Some homeschool moms talk about feeling called to homeschool.

But I always wondered what that call is supposed to sound like? Was I supposed to get some sort of message from God that homeschool is what I’m supposed to be doing?

Some homeschool moms talk about feeling called to homeschool. But I always wondered what that call is supposed to sound like?

I didn’t have a moment I heard God say, ‘and now, you shall homeschool.’ It was more of a gradual walking towards making this decision over time. 

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

But hands down, It is one of the best decisions we have made.

At first, I felt it grew out of selfishness. I have this one baby, this one little girl that I waited to parent for SO LONG. Honestly, I didn’t want to send her away to school as soon as I got a chance to stay home with her.

Does the idea of sending your child to school give you a sense of unease?

It really did for me.

Other than just wanting to make up for the first few years when I worked and really enjoy raising my child, the only local preschool was full days. No way was my three-five year old going to spend 8 hours a day away from home.

God has given us this child to raise. By the time we would get home from work or school, we would only get a few precious hours before bedtime. Those hours would be full of homework and dinner. If she wants to play sports or spend time with friends, it would be even less.  

Can I really raise a child in two hours a day? Am I supposed to? Or am I called to homeschool?

Can I really raise a child in two hours a day? Am I supposed to??

No judging parents who’ve made different choices, but my daughter needed more of us those early years in her education. She was struggling with ADHD and intense emotions. Helping her walk through some of those things was crucial in her development, as was having lots of free time between lessons.

Homeschooling can usually be accomplished in few clock hours during the day. She sleeps until 8 or 9. We eat a leisurely breakfast and read together from the Bible or a history textbook.

School was 3-5 educational hours with lots of time to explore her interests. She had many hours for silent reading and many breaks for play and creativity. I had the flexibility assess her comprehension with a quiz or by asking her to draw a picture of life in ancient Egypt, or learn through travel & field trips.

Homeschool let her be little a little longer.

A recent Stanford study agrees that we’re sending kids to school way too early, missing time for play. A lot of cognitive development happens during play. Unstructured play even provides for the type of physical development which must occur before kids can sit still at desks all day.

Feeling like you might be called to homeschool? How can you know for certain? Click To Tweet

In the early 70s, my preschool was 2 or 3 half days a week at three and four years old. Kindergarten was half days. My elementary school days were 6.5 hours. We started at 9 and ended at 3:30. We also had 75 minutes for lunch and two recesses. I ate lunch at home with my mom and sisters.

School isn’t the same anymore.

Today, she would leave for the bus stop at 7:15 and get home by 3:30, having a thirty minute at-school lunch and one recess at the end of the school day. Having such a long day seemed to be unnecessarily structured for a kid who started teaching herself to read at 2 1/2 from Super Why!

Are you feeling like you can't send your child to spend 8 hours in a desk? Maybe you're being called to homeschool.

I also had unease about the quality of our local schools. All schools are imperfect, but our district zoned elementary school was very much struggling to provide recess, music, and art. I doubted the curriculum would be rigorous enough to challenge her even if the teachers were the most caring professionals.

And, I started examining the entire idea of sending her to school.

Shop DaySpring’s A Reason For Collection for fun, Scripture-based activity books for the kiddos.

What is your goal for your child’s education?

I want my daughter to grow up to be a productive member of society, learn to work well with others, but mostly, be a powerful woman of God. Was school really going to offer her the best chance of becoming those things, more than I could?

No teacher would care about her and her development more than I did. School teachers might have more resources and more training for the special needs of elementary students, but I knew God would guide me if this is what He wanted for us.

One of our biggest concerns was socialization, but what is socialization?

On one hand, it means learning to behave socially with others. Between co-op, play dates, an organized bible study homeschool class, church, and actually being in the world, my daughter got LOTS of chances to be social with all sorts of people. She visits the nursing home and is the hit with the ladies there. She makes friends in the waiting room at my doctor’s office. Being social isn’t an issue for her.

Socialization is one of the biggest concerns of being called to homeschool, but do we want our kids to learn manners or worldly values?

However, socialization doesn’t just mean socializing. It means the deliberate transfer of values and morals from adults to children. When I thought about it that way, whose values did I want her to have? God’s values are my highest priority. While I don’t do it perfectly, I know that she is seeing me learn and grow in Christ daily. Even through learning to teach her math . . . and my journey is teaching her to love Jesus and seek Him.

So, I prayed. I didn’t want to spend all day apart. Actually, I enjoy spending the days with her. So, Should we homeschool?

I didn’t have a clue how my husband would feel about it. We had agreed that I would go back to work when she started school.

I took it to God in prayer.

Have you taken the question to homeschool to God in prayer?

And my husband said, “I think we need to homeschool.”

WHAT?!?! I was expecting this to be a serious conversation, maybe even heated discussion. I was floored when he agreed with me.

If there was any moment I felt called to homeschool, it was this one. 

Are you willing to learn and grow as much as your child will?

If so, you’ll do just fine.

You love your child and will strive to provide the best education you can. Find mentors, talk to neighbors, join a co-op. From field trips to the beach or local museums, you’ll find so many amazing programs and supplemental materials available. It’s difficult to do poor job homeschooling if you feel strongly you’re being called to homeschool.

And if you answered these questions differently, that’s okay. God has a different calling for each of us. What’s important is that you’re listening to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and paying attention when He opens doors for you.

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Kite Girls – a letter to my pre-Tween Daughter

Kite Girls - a letter to my pre-Tween daughter about watching her grow up.

Pre-tween girls are kind of magical. This year I’ve embraced my daughter joining this daring phase of contradictions. She is both brave and timid, equal parts fierce and tender.

Each year I write her a birthday letter. It was spawned by the once a year letter to her birth mother that was always so emotional to write. I email these letters to a secret account she can access as an adult.

My sweet girl,

I’m sorry this is so late. Writing your birthday letter has been really hard for me this year, which is odd because for the first time, your birthday wasn’t quite so bittersweet. Watching you turn seven has been joyful.

Of course, I still wish I could slow down time, go back and do it all over, but . . .

Something changed during this year of your being six. We both began to let go.

I could feel my heart stepping back from the intense grasp of young motherhood as you began to need me less.

I’m slowly being relegated from leading lady to supporting character in your life. And I’m glad to be in the audience. You’re a show stopper, my love.

You are a show stopper, my Kite Girl, in your pre-tween glory!

But I relish the precious moments you come racing back to me, begging to sit on my lap, asking for story time, or just needing me to hold you.

Still, something about sitting under your weight, brings me back to center. Your sweet baby heaviness makes me feel lighter. Your sweaty cheek and damp hair rest against my face, begging me to press safety and love into you as deeply as you press into me.

For a moment, I catch a memory of the hours we spent like this stumbling through your infancy, but then you’re gone, butterfly flitting back to your friends, chalk drawings, summer games. And I close my eyes savoring the fading memories, like trying to hold a cloud.

I hadn’t written your letter because I just couldn’t find the words to describe the magic of watching six flow into seven. Then the perfect picture came to me – in a text message from your dad.

Kite girls – precious pre-tween girls, bravely stretching to reach the sky, but still embracing being tied to home.

Kite Girls - a letter to my pre-Tween daughter about watching her grow up. These girls 6-8 are kites, testing the sky while reaching back for our hands to hold.

And I love this picture, your brown hair blowing in the wind. This year, you became my kite girl, daring to soar on your own but happily within the safety of my reach.

I watched your creativity skyrocket. You began writing an autobiography, dedicating it to your cousin because he will still be alive when it’s finished. 😉 Thanks, kid.

Everyday you had some interesting, wonderfully silly perspective on life. Sometimes your wisdom is beyond your years.

Kite girls – precious pre-tween ladies, bravely reaching into the sky, but still tied to home. Click To Tweet

This year, you grew up, literally. It was only a few inches, but ALL legs, powerful and purposeful.

Your stepstool gradually moved away from the vanity as you no longer needed it to reach the sink. You moved out of your toddler bed into a loft that should carry you to college.

You tossed your floaties out of the pool and grabbed goggles instead.

My little Kite Girl - you tossed your floaties, grabbing goggles instead. A letter to my pre-Tween.

Six was a magical line between being baby and little girl, but at seven, you’re also becoming a young lady. You warm my heart when you befriend lonely people at the store, stopping to compliment their fashion jewelry or colorful blouse.

I’ve seen you embrace your inner tomboy and glamour girl at the same time. It’s awesome. I celebrate that you are making your own way, not letting the world’s gender expectations define you.

These Kite Girl years are the epitome of contradictions.

You go fishing with daddy and catch more fish than he does every time. You’re not afraid to touch the fish, but a bee sends you into hysterics. You’ll watch daddy gut a deer and identify every organ, but won’t eat a piece of meat with a scrap of squishy fat on it because . . . ewww.

Kite Girls are a story of contradictions, fierce & tender, brave & shy. Click To Tweet

I love watching you dressed in rainbows and sparkles play rough and tumble sheriff with the boys from the block and bravely relocate worms from the driveway to the plant beds “to improve soil quality” for our apple tree saplings.

Pre-tween questions get harder and the answers more complicated.

Questions got harder this year. How do fractions work? How do babies get into the mommy’s tummy? Why was that boy mean to me? Why doesn’t everyone love Jesus the way we do? What did God make me to do?

And I try to give you the best answers I can for where you are. I hope you’ll have some grace for me when I get it wrong and offer too little information or too much.

I’m still not ready to give you the full details on #2. For now, the daddy puts it in there is going to have to do. Sorry, not sorry.

This year, I spent too much time crying over school with you. We both struggle some days to balance this mother/daughter vs. teacher/student relationship. But I pray at the end it’s as worth it for you as it has been for me.

I’ve learned so much about teaching from you that I couldn’t learn in a classroom. Mostly, I’ve learned how to really be patient instead of pretending until I lose my temper.

I’ve learned to see you where you are and sit there with you.

I’ve learned the fear of being wrong is paralyzing, even when you’re six and there is no penalty for an incorrect answer. Pride is a killer at any age.

So we’ve both had to step back and learn to have a teachable spirit towards our mistakes instead of frustrated pride.

Letting you make mistakes is hard.  I’m teaching you to take a deep breath, regroup, and try again. It’s kind of amazing to watch you beam with pride after you persevere to learn something new.

Our new chant has become-“Making mistakes is how we grow, learning things we did not know.”

I’ve had to think more about your body image (and work on mine). I want your identity to be imperishable. I think you’re beautiful, but it was always about how much I love you, not your appearance.

And, I need to make sure you know that. Any identity in temporary beauty is building your house on shifting sand.

Matthew 7: 25 The rain fell, the torrents raged, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because its foundation was on the rock.

These pre-tween years are already filled with more awareness of peers and societal pressures. I want you to have a solid identity in Christ to withstand the coming torrential storms of adolescence.

I know that I have to put God at the center of my parenting and leading if I want the identity you’re building to be one that will last forever.

Psalm 127:1 ESV /Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain…

I’ve begun to see the woman you’ll become and glimpses of the friendship I pray we’ll always have.

Love always, Mom, your biggest cheerleader even from the sidelines.

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