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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

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

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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My Father’s Day Gift Guide for Budget Minded Mamas

Sharing my Father's Day Gift Guide! I want him to know I see the hard work he does without fanfare or thanks & budget minded mamas, these are $25 or less!

I’m sharing my Father’s day gift guide. Really, I was just shopping but found some great things, so I wanted to share!

My husband has been so great to me during this difficult year. I really want him to know I see him: the hours, the hard work, the little things he does without fanfare or expecting thanks. Yet, I need to be frugal while showing my husband I appreciate him. So, all these gifts are $25 or less!

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

One way I show my appreciation is by paying attention to little things he needs. On a regular basis, I replace his socks, toothpaste, and favorite hot sauce. But for a Father’s Day gift, I want him to know how much we appreciate him by making his day to day life easier.

Sharing my Father's Day Gift Guide! I want him to know I see the hard work he does without fanfare or thanks & budget minded mamas, these are $25 or less!

Just this week, he was scrounging through the garage looking for the right size drill bit for some project. I could hear his grumbling from the garage. I can’t always be physically helpful, but this universal drill and screw tool might save him so much frustration.

My husband LOVES to grill and BBQ. You know you live in the South when these are two entirely separate activities!  He has a gas grill, a charcoal grill that he uses for slow barbecuing, and a smoker.

Sharing my Father's Day Gift Guide for Budget Minded Mamas! All gifts under $25 - 5 FREE ideas! Click To Tweet

Grill accessories are always a great Father’s Day gift!

Maintaining the proper temperature is important when you invest 12-24 hours into dinner! This one has a timer for up to 24 hours and free lifetime replacement of the probes. I’m already looking forward to our next hog roast!

And having the right tools for the job is paramount – plus it keeps him from using my good kitchen utensils at the grill! 😉 This set has the tools he needs without taking up too much storage space, & is on SALE!

My husband is a talented amateur chef. In fact, he could be a professional, so we’ve bought some high quality chef knives. However, they are TOUGH to keep sharp because the blades are such hard steel.

Is your husband or father a talented chef?

He is always complaining that his sharpeners aren’t enough to keep the edges on the blades crisp.  Just Friday night at our fish fry, he was complaining about using our cheap knives because they sharpen more easily.  He was especially frustrated by the filet knife that he wishes he could use. But getting to a professional sharpener isn’t always possible, so I looked for one that would be harder than his knives.

This knife sharpener has a diamond coated sharpening wheel that should keep even our serrated knives sharp. With a 100% no questions asked, money back guarantee, for under $20, this is an easy Father’s Day gift. I really want him to enjoy those quality knives.

Gifts aren't the most important ways to say I love you, but just the right thing is fun. Click To Tweet

Of course, REALLY sharp knives have led to a few trips to the ER in our house. He uses sharp knives to filet fish and butcher deer. He needs them to be extra sharp, but also needs all his fingers. I got him a pair of these for his birthday earlier this year.

He LOVES them. He hasn’t cut himself once wearing them. And can use them while working with other sharp objects as well. These have saved his fingers several times already.

Maybe your husband needs some new t-shirts and likes to wear his faith! Christian Strong has some great styles (and cute things for you, too).

Or he might be an intellectual and enjoy books that deepen his faith. There are many to choose from, but one that I really would suggest to any husband or father is The End Of Me by Kyle Idleman. You can read my entire review, but I LOVED this book. I really had to decide what kind of Christ follower I am and be willing to see past me.

We don’t usually spend a lot of money on gifts. We prefer to save for things together. And sometimes living on one salary means we make sacrifices.

When nothing store bought will do . . . .

5 FREE Father’s Day Gift ideas for your father or husband:

  • Cook his favorite meal and dessert for Father’s Day.
  • Ask him for his to-do list and surprise him by doing it so he gets a weekend off!
  • Write him a letter or several notes telling him what you appreciate about him extra points if you hide them where he will be surprised by notes all day.
  • Spend the day actively doing his favorite things. Go fishing. Watch golf. Etc.
  • DEAL with him. That means Drop Everything And Listen. Give him your best attention as often as humanly possible.

Loving each other everyday is more important than things we buy, but small, thoughtful gifts can also be treasures.

I hope you have a husband or father in your life you can celebrate this Father’s Day. While not everyone does, if you are blessed enough to have a father, step-father, or husband in your life, take a few minutes to celebrate them however will honor them the most.

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The Bizarre thing I’m giving up for lent that will make me a better mom

Growing up, only Catholics celebrated Lent, but I've grown to embrace the season. This year I'm giving up something bizarre to be a better mom and closer to God

God Above All Else Christian Strong Ladies Summer Tee Shirt Click To Shop


Growing up, Lent was something only the Catholics I knew celebrated. I didn’t know any Protestants celebrating it until recently. I thought it strange, until I understood Lent’s purpose for believers.

Lent is a season of repentance, fasting or sacrifice, and reflection that precedes Easter. Lent honors Jesus’s season of preparation, fasting, and temptation in the wilderness before he began his public ministry which would eventually lead to His crucifixion.

The closer I’ve drawn to God, the more I realize Christ has called all His children to live sacrificially, no matter our denomination. It’s not about church tradition. Lent is about preparing our hearts to accept Christ’s sacrifice at Easter.

Mark 8:34 ESV  “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
A lot of Christians focus on the taking up of a cross (bearing a difficult burden) but skim right over denying ourselves. And I really want to understand what it means for me to deny myself this year in a way that honors whom God has called me to be.

In recent years, I’ve given something up quietly, not wanting my sacrifice to be for the eyes of men, but between God and I alone. We sometimes need accountability partners to support us in a season of growth, but I sometimes worry about putting my deeds before men in order to be praised by them.

Growing up, only Catholics celebrated Lent, but I've grown to embrace the Lenten season. This year I'm giving up something bizarre to draw nearer to Christ.

It’s hard to find a healthy balance of keeping things private so that my honor and glory is God’s, not my own, but also being transparent so that I might be a witness. I’m choosing to share what I’m giving up this year because it’s kind of ugly, and I know my brokenness keeps me real and transparent and lets God’s power shine.

This year, when I couldn’t think of something to give up, as I’m already sitting on the couch 24/7 in my health crisis, I asked God what he wanted me to give up, feeling that I as I write and share I need to hold myself to a higher standard daily.

1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

I prayed, “Lord, what can I give up that will be most pleasing to you, what will draw me closest to you and make this a season of deep reflection?”

God Above All Else Christian Strong Ladies Summer Tee Shirt Click To Shop

Yelling – immediately sprang to mind. And I sadly reflected on how much I’ve fallen back on yelling recently, how angry and hurt the voices in our home sound when we yell.

So this year, I’m giving up yelling for Lent.

This may seem like a bizarre fast. I mean, shouldn’t we strive to give up yelling anyway? Of course, we should, but stay with me . . .

This might seem like a bizarre way to fast for Lent, but what better way to sacrifice. Click To Tweet

Yelling at my daughter is something I’ve worked really hard to eliminate, but being in pain since December, I’ve allowed myself to have a shorter fuse, using my physical discomfort and emotional stress to justify my reactions.

In His Lenten season, Christ learned that suffering and persecution would be his cup to drink, that He would ultimately allow terrible accusations to be hurled at Him while he sat silently . . . silently.

How is giving up YELLING for Lent a sacrifice?

First, I am giving up my selfish right to be upset. I am giving up the earthly perspective that I get to behave angrily because my child has disobeyed or refused to listen. If Christ could be accused, slapped, spat on, whipped, tortured, crucified for me, I can learn gentleness.

Yelling is quick. I get her attention immediately, and I get the instant gratification of indulging my selfish frustrations. Choosing not to yell asks me to give undeserved grace at the moment it’s most difficult.

And it’s going to be hard!

This morning, I had barely started homeschool when my daughter started getting off task. Adorable only goes so far. I was explaining the directions again, and she was deliberately not listening, talking about her dream and her pencil and her new magic trick and . . .

. . .stop talking so I can explain. She didn’t even pause. Honey, I’m trying to get your attention. She rattles on, and I yelled, “STOP!” She froze, her eyes turned to saucers and her mouth stopped moving (momentarily).

Quickly, I clamped my hand over my mouth. I barely made it two hours.

Thankfully, forgiveness and grace redeem our failed attempts at sanctification. I quickly apologized and softened my tone.

But I realized that getting her attention, helping her focus, and disciplining misbehavior are all going to take a lot more effort.

Yelling is easy, but destructive.

Refusing to yell will mean intentionally using close physical proximity and a firm voice. Additionally, I’ll have to follow through on real consequences when she disobeys.

Punishing my daughter often gives me such a heart for God. Imagine how His heart must break when we need discipline. When I have to follow through with consequences, her tears disappointment break my heart every time. Disciplining His sinful children must grieve our Lord so deeply, but I know He disciplines those he loves.

The purpose of Lent is to help us understand Christ’s sacrifice, take some small part in His struggle.

While giving up yelling is something I strive to do anyway, making my house a zero yelling zone for the next 40+ days will be a tremendous way for me to understand Christ’s gentleness and grace.

Because I will be striving to be a daily demonstration of undeserved favor, the quiet spirit God has been growing in me.

I could give up coffee and chocolate or pizza, but while those might be beneficial for my waist line, learning to deny my sinful nature will be more meaningful this year. It will build relationships, improve the atmosphere in our home, and be a witness to my family.

Follow me on Facebook to hear how it’s going.

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