Work-in-Progress Mom Part 3

I guess there is a part 3 to my Work-in-Progress Mom post, too! :p Y’all are champs to stay until the end…or is it? I am not even sure myself.

What I’ve learned…and what I’m still learning:

What haven’t I learned should be the question. :p If you know me, I am a life-long learner. There’s always something to learn about…sometimes they are trivial things like a celebrity’s birthday (did you know I share one with Bruce Willis?) and sometimes they are big life lessons like how need to stop drifting through the days without intention, without listening to the still, small (or sometimes loud and booming) voice of our Lord, and without putting to use the time, talent, and treasure He has given to us. That’s a big one for sure!


Where I’m at…and where I’m going:

And finally, like the ebook, assessment, and webinar I shared about earlier, no course, training, or group will automatically propel you forward to be a better fill-in-the-blank (disciple, wife, mother, friend, neighbor, etc.), unless YOU intentionally put yourself out there to achieve your next step. I should repeat this to myself…unless I intentionally put myself out there to achieve my next step. (So glad we are working on pronouns in CC this year. :p hehe)

“The most important step is always the next step.” —

So, there it is…what I have been missing for the past few years. I was trying to dig into all the things, and getting lost in all of it…but all I need to do was take the next step in whatever goal, project, or task was right before me. This resource below is definitely NOT FREE, but another thing I have learned is that when you have a bit of skin in the game (someone please tell me where that phrase came from), you are more likely to have follow-through. (This is an affiliate link so I do get a percentage when you purchase through the link.) –> Registration ends in a few hours (December 15, 2016, at 11:59 pm Pacific), so make your decision, and let me know if you are in. OR if there is another program/course you are going through, or websites that offer free content that is helping you through all the overwhelming things of life, I’d also love to know about those too!


An Invitation to Community

I have a lot to work on, but I am okay with being okay, which is a lot better than being tired of being tired. Moms, we don’t need to do this alone…we aren’t alone!, so if you are interested in a project I am working on or you are in need of a mom community, please fill out the form at this link –> and share it with friends who may need encouragement in their mothering journey. (As my online friend Heather says, “Don’t mom alone.”)

I’m still trying to put all the pieces together in my head and moving that data onto the screen (and hoping to move it to real-life one day), but here are some more details of what it will look like…over the course of the year, each month we will work through one “life area”. You will have the option of just reading along with any blog posts on my blog, signing up to receive weekly email notes from me with exclusive ideas/tips/hacks (if you will) or resources, possibly live chats (replays will hopefully be available) with people who are more expert than I in the “life area” topic, or joining a VIP accountability group (for a small fee…it will be low to begin with since this first groups will be my guinea pigs, so this will be the year to join in!, although I will make options available to join for free). Again, this is all in my head right now, so please fill out the form for more updates –> And as another friend Kat says, “Go be awesome.”…well, both Heather and Kat both say some pretty amazing stuff (go listen to their podcasts), but you get the point.

Posts in this series
– Work-in-Progress Mom Part 1
– Work-in-Progress Mom Part 2

Gift Guide: Dayspring

I don’t want you to miss out on the good deals ending today! So check these items out before you read this post…below are the items I think are the must-haves from the current sale! (Yes, there’s more to come!) FYI, all these are affiliate links, which mean I received a percentage if you make a purchase with no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Gift Sets Sale
Buy 2, Get 1 Free Calendars and Planners
– And lots more that you will have to check out for yourself
– $20 off any $60 purchase plus free shipping coupon for my readers! Use code SHINEHISLIGHT at checkout. Offer will expire December 31st.

My Favorite Dayspring Items!

My favorite sales of the year are from Dayspring! They are the best places to get quality gifts that have a whole lot of meaning. I love the little touches of Bible verses on mugs or plates, and they also have plenty of fair trade items to purchase.

I am STILL shocked when I opened my last order…I think it was from the Black Friday sale, and I bought a bunch of journals and mugs as gifts. Ignore this if you think you will be receiving a journal or mug from me sometime soon. :p

These are bigger than regular sized journals, and I want to keep each one for myself.


And I am mad at myself for not ordering more of the jewelry to give as gifts. I’m not a good gift-giver…it’s way down there as a love language. I don’t care to receive gifts, except if you are the rare person who knows exactly what to get me, and there’s only like 2 or 3 of those people in the world, and I’m not fond of giving gifts…I would seriously give you practical stuff like wrapping paper or blank thank you cards…which I think Dayspring has! 🙂


There are many other items I have purchased over the years that we just love having in our home. I can’t find pics right now, but trust me on this.

Here’s a basket of goodies I gave out as an inRL meetup gift…I really like those pocket notebooks:


This is what our house looks like for Christmas time:

This is another item we love in our home:

And this is some great stuff too:

Work-in-Progress Mom Part 2

I guess there is a part 2 to my Work-in-Progress Mom post. :p Thanks for hanging in there with me. I’m wordy.

What I’ve learned…and what I’m still learning:

Whether you want to just read one Bible verse each morning, or you want to launch a new business, I really believe having low-goals is better than having no goals. (Sometimes, it is even more practical “goals” like remembering a meal for everyone in the family or brushing your teeth…) I know some people do not like calling them “goals,” or don’t think “goals” is the correct term to use, but whatever you call them, I think it is worth it to know YOU have a purpose, and there is always something worth aiming for.

These are hard lessons I have learned, and are still learning. I may have missed the target for many goals, projects, or tasks, but I *think* I am a step closer to becoming…being…who God has called me to be, as I look with intention in my days. Now, don’t get me wrong, God knows how to mess up a good plan that WE have for OUR lives with HIS a-whole-lot-better-than-my-human-plans for my life, because really it’s not our own. This past year, I have learned that leaving (or at least, trying to!) the “overwhelm” and having a “plan” (I’m not sure if that is the right word to use because it was quite loose and flexible) allowed me for some whitespace for listening to His voice and some margin to spend time with those who support me, encourage me, and help me grow.


Where I’m at…and where I’m going:

Recent nuggets I have come across that are hitting me on the head!

From Crystal Paine‘s email newsletter:
No one wins when we go through life trying to prove that we can handle it all.

From Kathi and Cheri’s Overwhelmed book:
Overwhelmed feels far more survivable with a friend.

From the Bible:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

No test will help you find your calling, reach your goals, achieve success, etc. But what I have found is that they help me find out a little more about myself, or at least to be thinking about what it is I am currently doing and where I am heading. This is a FREE Lifescore Assessment to help discover where you are in 10 life areas. –> My own score is between 71 and 76 (I took it twice…once when they were still fixing the quirks of the system and once after), which helps me see that one of the domains in my Transformation Zone is Intellectual (I’m not taking this to mean I am a genius…probably just nerdy) and one of the domains in my Frustration Zone is Vocational.

No webinar or training will help you directly get to the next level from wherever you are, but I think these nuggets I got from this FREE 7 Steps for Taking Control of 2017 webinar speaks volume to how we can hold ourselves back from doing big things to help others because of fear. –>

“The fastest way to lose the game is to get discouraged by what you can’t control.” —

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” —

Realize your potential. It’s crucial. God has given us a purpose. –

“People lose their way when they lose their why.” —  (Michael’s wife of 38 years)

“You only achieve what you intentionally pursue.” –

So, where are you at? Are you in the fog of overwhelm and feeling stuck, or are you gaining clarity? I would love to hear from you.

An Invitation

(If you read my first post, this is the same as the end on that one. But read on if you need a refresher.)
If you have felt “stuck” or are feeling “stuck,” I invite you to join me, in my journey as a work-in-progress mom…a work-in-progress human, really, in this upcoming year. I’m not sure what it will look like, or what my plan is, but ideas are swirling in my head, and I know that the peace I have felt from putting into practice some of the things I have been learning through my discipleship group, through mentors (virtual, through books, and IRL), and His Word has been amazing.


Without realizing it, I had a “theme” for each year, these past 3 years or so – Discipline, Still, Reflect. (There seems to be a trend in my post with the quotation marks, huh? :p I didn’t intend to do that…the thoughts are just flowing from my mind through my fingertips.) And I don’t know what this upcoming year holds, and I don’t even know that I am ready for it, but I would really appreciate a buddy, a community, a village of work-in-progress humans to go through it together.

And in this journey, I will probably have some resources, and books OF COURSE!, and people, I would love to learn from…I may share them on this blog, or I may share them in something new I would love to start, so hang tight with me while I figure all of this out.

There are SO MANY things to share, but one thing I was glad for this past year was some thoughts from Michael Hyatt, who was the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, best-selling author, and speaker…and it all started with this free PDF download that I believe I hesitated to download at first…because free things aren’t always what they seem, but as I am learning, sometimes it all depends on what we want to take away from any lesson in life.

Thanks for getting through all those words (and quotation marks and ellipsis)…I haven’t blogged much this past year and the words are many. If you are interested in hearing more of what I will be up to, email me at joyce319 at gmail.

Whatever I will be up to will most likely include a mix of encouraging and inspiring content, as well as practical (monthly) “challenges” (i.e. to help with emergency preparedness, becoming clutter free (a la Kathi Lipp), managing your calendar, digital organization, getting to Inbox Zero (or close to it!), and more!)

Examples of topics:
– spiritual and personal development
– family and home
– health and wellness
– career and ministry
– fun and community

Thanks for reading all the way through to the end!

Posts in this series
Work-in-Progress Mom Part 1

Christmas Lights in the East Bay

These are a few places we like to visit to see lights. You will have check their social media pages or website for more updated information, like the days and times the lights are on. Christmas Light Finder is one site to find info as well. (Thanks for the tip, Anita!) You can also use California Christmas Light too. Maybe I’ll add some pics in the future, but I thought this would be useful for anyone who doesn’t want to drive aimlessly around looking for just one or two houses with lights (or one string of lights :p ). I am sure there are more I am unaware of…for now. 🙂 Share you favorite spots below! P.S. I know there are some great places in San Francisco and the Peninsula as well…another post for another day perhaps. 😉

Livermore Lights (season 3 winner of The Great Christmas Light Fight) – *NOTE: MOVED TO MICHIGAN…but looks like there may be a Bay Area display sometime?

Deacon Dave’s House of the Dove is also in Livermore –

Widmer World in Pleasanton (was featured in The Great Christmas Light Fight) –

Christmas Tree Lane (a block of houses on Thompson Ave) in Alameda – and

Crippsmas Place (50+ homes) in Fremont –

The “Star Wars” and “Frozen” theme lights
 that was in Newark on the corner of Ruschin Drive and Lafayette Avenue (also featured on The Great Christmas Light Fight) is no longer there anymore…okay, the house is there, but the owner has moved. He is now in Tracy. If you don’t want to drive out to Tracy, just show this on the big screen and turn the AC on, maybe just a spray bottle to have some mist…or more if El Nino decides to show up.
Light show from 2014 (Newark): Star Wars – and Let It Go – :::
Light show from 2015 (Tracy):

Other old related posts:

American Girl Books: Felicity & Kit

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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Melody has read lots of the American Girl books lots of times already, but Emily got really interested in them after she played with the Felicity doll while we were in Australia. So we started with reading the Felicity books (there are six of them) and then the Kit books (there are also six of them, and we also checked out the mystery book and the “Beforever” book). They also have the DVDs of the movies at the library, so we watched those too.

Emily started really reading with fluency and expression right before she turned five, and there has only been a small number of times when she really showed interest in a book, especially chapter books. She does love to read, but it’s not her first choice if she could be playing or drawing or eating. 😜 I think part of her sudden interest is due to the fact that she is able to figure out what was happening during a specific period of time because of all the memory work she learned for the history sentences with Classical Conversations, and also where they are happening because of our recent travels and geography in CC as well.

Both girls are super excited to finish reading the Felicity series, and then get started on reading about Samantha!

I never read this collection of books growing up, so most of the stories are new to me. If these books are new to you too, I will say that there are many topics of discussion if you decide to go through them as read-alouds or if your kiddo is reading them on their own. Just in these two series, you can find yourself discussing war, apprenticeship, slavery, Boston Tea Party, Declaration of Independence, ownership, the Great Depression, friendships, the economy, technology of the past and present, fashion, history, family dynamics, home management, the Underground Railroad, being resource, the law, right and wrong, careers, and lots more!

Have you or your kids read any of the American Girl books? Which ones? Any favorites?

Mini-Adventures in Everyday Moments

I believe that there is always an adventure to be had wherever you are, whether you are in the middle of the rainforest or coral reef in Australia, or at the elementary school where you grew up. Since we did the rainforest in Australia last month, it was on to something different!

We were headed home from hanging out with my mom and my nephew. It was actually pouring rain the night before, earlier that morning, and it was also forecasted to rain again, so I’m not sure what prompted to me, but I asked the girls if they wanted to go by my old elementary school. It is not on the way home, but we do pass by the street that goes into the neighborhood where the school is located. Anyhow, we were just going to drive by, but decided since either school was out or it was spring break, and there were no kids there, we could go check out where my old classrooms were.

Here’s the field where many miles were ran, tagged was played, Wacky Olympics happened, and so much more. It doesn’t show the whole field, but it’s pretty big.

This is one of two or three play structures in the community park portion of the field. Every school in town has a community park that is on the side of the school next to the school field.

So many memories! I think this is the second time they have changed the play area since I’ve been gone. Basketball courts and tetherball poles with their clanking chains are exactly the same. The old drinking fountain and the “time out” bench are exactly the same. Four Square area is now colorfully painted, and there are lots of new additions!!

We only had a white paint outline of the country when I was in school. The girls didn’t mind doing school work during spring break. 😉 Too bad I didn’t know during the school year that all this stuff had been added. It would have been perfect for our Cycle 3 memory work. hahaha!
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This hopscotch is a little bigger than usual.

Skip counting by 4s on the giant multiplication chart!

If you know me, you know I love that recycled tires were used for this playground. But this is definitely NOT the playground I knew…where are all my monkey bars and the bars where I do flips and the jungle gym…? 😝
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Food pyramid –> My Pyramid –> My Plate….and she said all the food groups were her favorite.

I can’t remember exactly which tree it is, but I helped plant one of these trees on Arbor Day when I was in 2nd grade. I tried to get a selfie, but by this time it got really cold and it looked like it was going to rain…okay, it got “California” cold and it did start raining after we got onto the freeway. (I think it was around 52*F, which is pretty much freezing for me.)

Okay, and the photo from the beginning… I was actually taking it to show where I do my hikes with friends during the summer. It’s somewhere close to where the arrow is pointing (I think). Uphill hike for one mile…great view of the Bay…great view of the Lake…do watch out for dogs, there are lots!..but you can catch a great sunrise/set from here. Who wants to join in this summer? 😊

What kinds of adventures have you had lately?

Traveling with Kids

???????????????????????????????Before we tell you some of our recent travel stories with all of you, I wanted to share some tips from our friends. (We’ll share our tips later on.) Norm has traveled internationally with his family, with high school choir, and with the San Francisco Boys Chorus, but this was my first time, as well as the girls’ first time, leaving the country. And we had only ever traveled short distances from home – two-hour plane ride to Seattle and nine-hour road trip to Southern California. Not only were we headed out of the country, but we were headed toward a whole different hemisphere, season, and day! While it is winter for us in California, it is summer in Australia, and they are 19 whole hours ahead of us. Luckily, we were having a layover in Hawaii, which also saved us hundreds of dollars. We only have to deal with a five-hour flight to Honolulu, and then a ten-hour flight to Sydney.

Have you traveled internationally with kids before? What are some of your top tips for traveling with kids? My friend Kat has a great podcast episode about travel.

I will tell you more later, but here’s the tips!

  • I haven’t done international, but lots of cross-country flights: pack an outfit for everyone in your carry-on. I was puked on at the beginning of a long flight and could change the kid, but not me. – AB
  • What airline are you flying? Qantas treats you well and will provide you with food and a little “comfort kit” while flying – an eye mask, a little pouch to put things in, socks I think, plenty of water. Just bring any small lap activity or book that the girls will like. You and they will be bored, but it is worth it! Definitely pack a change of clothes for everyone, and wear layers so you’ll be comfy no matter the temperature on the plane. Australia is very casual – so whatever you wear in the summer here will work. Be sure to bring your togs! Sunscreen can easily be bought there. I have no advice for jetlag except to power through it and don’t plan too much the first few days. – CM
  • I haven’t done international but plenty of cross-country. Send one parent first with as much carry-ons as possible so he/she can everything situated and the other parent can board last with the kids. Get special kid headphones for the kids. They are perfectly sized and have volume control. Pack a special carry-on for each kid with activities, special snacks, books, extra clothes, and any loveys or blankets for sleeping. Load new apps and videos onto your smartphone or tablet. Bring kids pain reliever on the plane just in case. Have fun! Sounds like it will be quite a fun adventure. Not sure if you will need this since your kids are older but I make P wear a Pull-up even though she is potty trained because once we were stuck in turbulence for almost 2 hours and the poor thing couldn’t hold it. – WF
  • If you plan on traveling separately, make sure that you have document stating that your spouse is aware of it and make sure it’s notarized. You also need to have copies of your spouse travel itinerary and hotel information. So when they ask, you will be well prepared and won’t be ask into another room for questioning. – CL
  • We’ve been traveling a lot with Nathan, then later with Kaitlyn. All I can tell you right now is to always bring all kinds of medicine with you (well, we usually traveled in countries like Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan and such). It’s important to have it with you in your carry-on. Bring extra presents for your relatives just in case. I don’t think you will have a hard time traveling with your daughters (they are older and wiser). As for jetlag, just try to sleep as much as you can while flying, sleep even if you know it’s daytime where you came from. Open all windows to your hotel room and let the sunshine in. The sun usually forces your body to wake up. But if the kids are too tired, let them get as much rest as they can, just do little at first until they are sort of adjusted to the time difference. Oh, force yourselves to eat according to your destination’s time frame. Say, eat dinner even if it’s breakfast time here in the US.  – HJ
  • Get a headphone splitter so everyone can watch the same DVD. You can borrow the one we took to Europe. Big battery gizmo to recharge your iDevices without a plug. Anker is a good brand. – JW
  • Bring snacks that the kids like – nothing fresh that will be confiscated. – BD
  • Pack outfits in Ziploc bags. If you can find 2 gallon size they’re ideal. Pants, shirt, panties, whatever you need. Easy to grab and keep track of. – CK

More to come later!! 🙂

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