Be Present in 2018


A new year
Falling like a blanket of snow,
Untouched by life.

The possibilities of January are endless. New beginnings spurred on by hope. We make New Year’s Resolutions, resolutions that are all too soon lost in the hustle and bustle of life. Studies show that by February 80% of our New Year’s resolutions have failed.

Two years ago, I was feeling stuck and tired of not moving forward, so I decided to try something new. Instead of lists of endless goals, I choose a phrase for my year. And it worked. By taking all my big plans narrowing them down to a single focus, I had clarity. At the end of the year, I had built habits that are still in place today.  Each year since then I have chosen a phrase and allowed life to unfold organically adding layers to the foundations I began in 2016.

Small changes over time = Success

Self Control in 2016

I knew I needed to make changes in many areas of my life. I wasn’t eating healthily, exercising regularly, and I was spending too much time on Facebook and not enough time in the Bible.  I had tried many times and failed in the past.

Self-control encompassed all the areas of my life. If I made any small change in the right direction, I could count it as a success. That was motivational because I knew I had the rest of the year to tackle all the other areas. I didn’t have to get everything right, I just needed to focus one thing.  Since it takes 66 days to form a habit, I started with exercising three times a week and downloaded this 66-day calendar and hung it on the wall in my bathroom.

After the chart was filled with checkmarks, I felt confident and ready to add another habit. About eight months in, I kicked my hand weight that I had left sitting in the middle of the floor and fractured my right foot. I worried about losing my exercising habit,  so I started swimming–something I fell in love with and still do today.

Be Still in 2017

In 2017,  I was happy with the new habits I had, but I was struggling with anxiety, insomnia, low energy, joint, and muscle pain.  I realized I needed to reduce my stress. and chose the phrase, “Be still and know that I am God.”  That meant stepping back from teaching and leading and learned to not fill every moment of my life.And, it’s ok to say no and it’s ok if everyone doesn’t like me. I became more reflective and focused on what filled me and let go of what didn’t.

It was a great year of being still, and I was surprised when I looked back over 2017 and found I was more productive than I thought.  I went to the rec center 108 times, spent time daily in the Word, began journaling three hand-written pages each day, joined Toastmasters, joined North Ridgeville Writer’s group, and submitted and got my first acceptance letter for devotional I wrote.

Be Present in 2018

As I thought about 2018, I realized I tend to live life evaluating the past or planning for the future. This year, I chose to live in the moment and allow life to unfold at the pace it was meant to. To me, this means not over-thinking and over-planning. It means I’m willing to show up and be seen. To be authentic, and honest with myself and those around me. I chose to embrace done—not perfect. To let go—I am not responsible for anyone else but myself. To let God be God. I look forward to next January and seeing how being present shapes my year.

How about you? In 365 days, when you reflect back over 2018, what one thing would you be happy if you accomplished? Chose a word or a phrase and let that shape your year. Blessings to you and Happy New Year.


2017 Going Crazy


Since the kids were babies, our family has Christmas tradition. Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, after the children were snuggled in their beds, James and I would sneak upstairs and whisper, “We’re going crazy.” They would scream in delight as we picked them up, carried them down to the warm car. They would drink hot chocolate and eat popcorn while we drove around town singing Christmas songs and looking at the lights.

They got older, and the cheers turned to groans each year when James and I succeeded in surprising them. They would try and come up with all kinds of ways to remember for next year. James and I would wait for the perfect night to catch them by surprise.

In 2015 and 2016 the kids flipped the tables and surprised James and me. You can read about that here. This year, I wondered how we could surprise the kids since they are living away from home.

Going Crazy 2017

On December 4th, James and I picked Catie up from the airport after her three-month internship in Germany. Jon was planning to stop by the house and see Catie when we got home. From the backseat of the car her phone rang.

“Mom, Jon can’t make it tonight. Are we free for him to come over tomorrow?” Catie asked.

“Sure,” She hung up, and I peppered her with questions. How was her flight? Was she tired? Was she hungry? We have leftover pizza at home.

As we pulled into the driveway, Jon’s car was there. I smiled as Catie ran and hugged her brother.  My family was back together. We stood around the foyer making small talk. Catie sat on the bench by me, Jon leaned back with one foot on the wall and James sat on the stairs.

“I’m tired. But it’s going to be a while until I get some sleep.” Jon said.

“Why is that?” I wondered if he had to go to work this late at night.

“Because we are going crazy.”

I sat silently as the words hit my forehead and sunk into my brain. Then Jon was on the other side of me on the bench, and I was rubbing both my kid’s backs at the same time and trying to hide my ugly-face tears.

They send James and me upstairs to on put our pajamas. Jon opened the door to the backseat of his car and James, and I piled in.  The had popcorn, hot cocoa for James and mint tea for me.  Jon started the playlist of contemporary Christmas music, and Catie brought up the route list on her phone.

“How did you guys plan all of this with Catie in Germany?” I asked.

“We were trying to figure out how to surprise you and knew you would think Catie would be exhausted after traveling all day,” Jon said.

“Why did you say Jon couldn’t make it?” I asked Catie.

“Jon called to ask me what kind of popcorn and drinks to get. He didn’t realize I was already in the car with you. He caught on and asked me yes and no questions. I pretended to be rescheduling.”

“You guys got me good. Aren’t you tired?” I knew she had woke almost 24 hours ago to begin her trip home.

“I’m fine, Mama.” A typical Catie response. We came to the first house and Jon, Catie and James chatted about what kind of lights they liked. The weather was unseasonably warm at 61 degrees, so we rolled down the windows as we watched the lights dance in sync with the music on the radio.

As everyone chatted, I sat trying to absorb the night. The blur of houses, laughter, cool breezes, warm tea and my babies. Both in one car. I could reach out and touch them at the same time.

Thank you, Jon and Catie, for the best Christmas gift ever. I love you guys to the moon and back.








How to Thrive–and not just Survive–This Holiday Season

The holidays should be a time of fun, memories, and celebrations. But, all too often we scroll through  Facebook, finding our friends snuggled by the fire with glittery lights and hot cocoa.

While our day consists of kids arguing, the third batch of burnt cookies wafting through the air and the realization the gifts we haven’t ordered my not be here by Christmas.  Check out the video below to watch my second Toastmasters speech.


The Wellness Revelation (Book Review)

The Wellness Revelation Book Cover The Wellness Revelation
Alisa Keeton
Health & Fitness
Tyndale Momentum
August 8, 2017

What would it take for you to make a change? Weight loss can sometimes be a very self-focused endeavor. Maybe you have struggled with your weight your entire life, riding a constant roller coaster of numbers that go up and down. Or maybe you are finding yourself more stressed out by the world and all its demands. Perhaps you just don't feel as well in your body as you do in your spirit. In The Wellness Revelation, certified fitness professional Alisa Keeton will challenge you to get fit with God so that He can free you to complete your purpose. She teaches that when we get fit physically as well as spiritually, we will be better equipped to love and serve others. The Wellness Revelation will change the way you perceive yourself and the way that you live your life. Each week in this eight-week journey includes a teaching from Alisa, weekly assignments, Bible study, small-group questions, and more. Alisa will encourage you to love God, get healthy, and serve others; and she will provide you with the tools to spread the gospel with courage, confidence, kindness, and freedom. It's time to make a change from the inside out.

My Thoughts – There is a lot more to this book than meets the eye.  It is full of ideas, inspiration, and encouragement.  Alisa keeps us focused on God’s perspective on our bodies and health throughout the course. The eight-week program includes exercise and nutrition training and Bible study. Each chapter is broken up into five sections.

Read – Each chapter is brimming with information on how to develop fitness and nutrition plans that work for your life.

Respond – Assignments to help you improve your health, including an online calendar with workout videos.

Renew – A Bible study section

Relate – Questions to apply to your own life

Reciprocate – inspirational story

What I liked – Alisa has an encouraging tone.  I enjoyed the extras. She has an online eight-week calendar with clickable links to workout videos for each day. The program is much more than just the book, and it’s well done.

What I didn’t like – I started this months ago and had a hard time staying on track when I was doing it on my own. She recommends going through the book with a group of friends. I can see why–I want to do it again with friends.


“You will not move your body to pay off yesterday’s calorie intake or to pinch and prod your body into taking on someone else’s idealized image for you.”

“Show up, do the work, and be completely you. Don’t try and fake it for anyone else’s sake.”

I would recommend this book for a group of women in a Bible Study.

Summarize the book in one sentence. Be the best version of yourself inside and out.


I have received a copy of this book from Tyndale House for an honest review of the product.

Jesus, I Need You (Book Review)

Jesus, I Need You Book Cover Jesus, I Need You
August 29, 2017

When daily life threaten to overwhelm you, Jesus offers peace and rest. With prayers as well as journaling space, Jesus, I Need You grounds your faith in a Savior who can be trusted in all circumstances. This is an encouraging gift or a heartfelt starting place to deepen your prayer life. Jesus, I Need You is a prayer book for ordinary people seeking an extraordinary God.

My Thoughts – This book has 213 pages, each two-page spread includes a prayer, a Bible verse, a little devotional and space to write your thoughts or prayers.  It’s broken up into nine sections. (Guidance, Overwhelmed, Heartache, Comfort, Grace, Disappointment, Faith and Hope and Wisdom)

What I liked – The cover is beautiful and it feels nice in the hand. The book is about the size of a half-sheet of paper.

What I didn’t like – I have a journaling Bible and like to write out my prayers. While I love the concept of this book, the prewritten prayers didn’t resonate with me. I think it might just a preference in wording.  For instance, it says, “Dear Jesus, I’m frustrated…You mean so much to me….I pray you would renew my hope.”

I personally would have liked to see it focus on who God is–not on me. “Dear Jesus, Thank you for your power. Thank you for you renew my hope when my foot is slipping.”

I would recommend it as a gift. It’s a beautifully designed book.

Summarize the book in one sentence. A devotional book that gives you space and guidance to write your prayers.


BookLook Bloggers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.