Living not striving…

Random thoughts and daily adventures in my life

Stay at Home/Work at Home Moms May 26, 2009

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 1:46 am
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I have many friends that are stay at home moms but they do part-time work from their homes.  Whether it is selling Pampered Chef, Thirty-One, Mary Kay, Kelly’s Kids, free-lance writing, baking cakes, etc.  There is a fine but sticky line involved in that kind of business because you are viewed as a full-time, stay-at-home mom however you still have responsibilities and obligations to meet for your clients.  Somehow a crazy balancing act takes place and of course the mom guilt sets in regarding time management, finishing tasks, having a successful business and bringing in money but not “taking away” from time with your family.

I really admire these moms because I sold Discovery Toys for a while and I remember that struggle.  I loved having the parties and I loved the products and I loved using a different part of my brain…however the balancing act was a challenge that I didn’t really prepare for well.

Over the past week or so I have enjoyed reading a book by a successful “work-at-home” mom, Mary M. Byers.  I wish I read Making Work at Home Work back when I was selling Discovery Toys.  Byers does a great job at prioritizing simple questions women should ask themselves as they embark on the adventure of working at home for a profit.  They are truly simple questions and concepts but they establish priorities and boundaries to protect your sanity, your marriage, your role as a mother, your time management and your ability to actually succeed and make a profit.

The first half of the book is titled Saving Your Sanity.  It focuses on helping you process through your own reasons for working at-home, communicating with your spouse for a successful partnership and team approach, giving ideas and strategies for child care options and even simple practical solutions for dinner time dilemmas.

The second half of the book helps you work on Preserving Your Profit.  Byers digs in to some real business how-tos like record keeping and deductions, subcontracting, planning ahead, retirement planning and even accepting the fact that you don’t have to know it all to be a success.

The chapters are short and simple and scattered throughout the book are mini-profile/interviews with 13 successful work-at-home moms.  They represent all different kinds of businesses, strategic ideas and lengths of time that they have been “at it.”

Byers succeeds at being down-to-earth, witty, realistic and entertaining.  The book is a quick read and I came away with many practical ideas.  I wish I would have had this earlier in the game because I could relate with the struggles she describes.  Byers succeeds in helping moms ask the hard questions that can lead to some real freedom in setting healthy boundaries which will lead to greater productivity, peace in the home and self-confidence.

So if you are a work-at-home mom, are thinking of becoming one or know someone that could use some encouragement in their pursuit, I highly recommend this book!  Pick it up and you can read it in a few days and gain a lot of insight.  You should be able to find it at your local bookstore or even pick it up online:)


Can’t help myself May 25, 2009

Filed under: Deep thoughts — erikaivory @ 2:37 am
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No, this is not a post about chocolate chip cookies, however I could write a post on how I just can’t help myself when it comes to making batches of warm cookies late at night so I can indulge in some midnight sweetness.

Again I digress.  I went from my last post to make sure that I linked correctly to Mark Batterson’s blog and oh my goodness I found this nugget and I just had to share it.  This guy keeps them coming!  He is talking about “finding your voice”.

Another part of finding your voice is getting out of your comfort zone and getting into your confidence zone where you have the courage to say some things that you know might step on some toes. If you want to see people dance, you’ve got to shoot bullets at their feet every now and then! Finding your voice is having the courage to offend. It is saying some things that you know will cause people to say, “You didn’t just say that.” To which we respond, “Oh yes I did.”

Please go read his whole post b/c it is so good, but this snippet just resonated with me.  I love that image of shooting bullets at people’s feet to see them dance.  Gets me fired up:)  I love it!  Anybody else?


Are you a Hero? May 23, 2009

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 2:45 am
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Just finished an AMAZING book!  I love doing blog reviews but this book way exceeded my expectations.  Fred Stoeker and his son Jasen challenge men, young and old, in this book Hero: Becoming the Man She Desires. Fred also wrote Every Man’s Battle and Tactic.  All of these books challenge men to live lives of sexual purity but in Hero the Stoekers work as a team to issue a call for men to rise to God’s challenge to be the leaders and heroes that God created them to be.

Instead of focusing on all the things men should avoid to stays sexually pure they encourage men to leave the women in their lives better for having known them.  They issue the challenge for men to finally stop falling “prey” to their manhood and instead to be in control of their manhood and fulfill the call that the Creator of the universe has on their lives as a man.

This book is simple, inspiring, motivational, down-to-earth and full of Truth.  I am giving it to my youngest brother to read and asked Mark to read it.  I want us to go through it with each of our boys before they start dating.  It is SO GOOD!!!

How exciting would it be if, as parents, we read it and used it as a rite of passage to teach our young men what the REAL TRUTH is about manhood, dating and purity.  And if we made sure the young men that date our daughters also read this and knew the TRUTH that is required of them to truly treat our daughters as a gift and the treasure that they are.  Think about how our pasts would possibly look different if the men in our lives had treated their relationships with women the way Stoeker challenges, to leave us better for having known them.  What heartache and embarrassment and loss we may have avoided.  Or possibly our relationships would have simply been richer and a little less complicated?

I highly, highly recommend this book if you are a parent, have an influence with young people or are a young person.  Can’t say enough good about this book!  I am a bit of a self-help bookaholic, as I have mentioned before, so I have read a LOT of relationship/dating books and this is one of the very best so far!

Below you will find some info on the book itself and the Stoekers.  I so wish I had a book to give away, but I don’t so please, please go check out your local bookstore and pick one up or go to and buy one online!

Book: HERO

Author: Fred Stoeker & Jason Stoeker with contributions by Mike Yorkey


You already know it’s not easy being a single man in this culture today. But it is easy to be overwhelmed, to feel helpless and hopeless about living by God’s high standards for singles. It’s easy to cave in to the pressures of this sex-soaked world and accept defeat—blaming the media, the culture, even girlfriends who don’t know how tough it can be.

But many men have read books like Every Young Man’s Battle and Tactics and have committed themselves to stand strong and pure in the power of God, and to go on the offensive against the onslaught of negative stereotypes. Some have suffered. Some have fallen. But many have experienced victory—and you can be among them.

What makes those committed men so desirable to women? Be Her Hero is their motto. From best-selling author Fred Stoeker, along with his son Jasen, come the straightforward insight and real-life examples you’re looking for to help you take personal purity to its logical conclusion. Here’s straight truth with irrefutable evidence of what makes an ultimate hero to women who long for men of faith—men who stand by their convictions and make their world a safer and better place.

Are you ready to accept the challenge?

Cover art:


Author Bios:

Fred Stoeker is a best-selling author of several books, including Every Young Man’s Battle and Tactics, the president of Living True Ministries, and a popular conference speaker who challenges men to become sexually pure, to reconnect in true intimate relationship with their wives, and to train their sons to become godly men. A graduate of Stanford University, Fred lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his wife, Brenda, and their children.

Mike Yorkey, a writer living in Encinitas, California, has collaborated with Fred Stoeker in all his books for the Every Man’s series.

Jasen Stoeker is a popular conference speaker who challenges young men to be heroic in their relationships with women and to be a Christian, rather than just seem like one. Jasen is a graduate of Iowa State University with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science and now lives in Minneapolis, MN, with his wife Rose.


Makes me go, hmmm…. May 21, 2009

Filed under: Deep thoughts — erikaivory @ 4:46 am
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My brain has been sludge recently and I haven’t felt caught up enough to warrant time on the computer.  I am up way too late, but I did take a few moments to check out Mark Batterson’s blog.  So glad I did.  Actually I honestly am always glad I did and if you don’t subscribe to his blog, do yourself a favor and do it.

I would love to have lunch with this guy someday because he is so down to earth but like a sponge.  Anyways, I digress.  He quoted this fella Dave Gibbons. Dave is the pastor of New Song Church in Irvine, CA, author of The Monkey and the Fish.

Dave says, “Scarcity brings Clarity. When resources are super-abundant you can proceed with flawed assumptions for a long, long time. In more pinched circumstances, you have to examine your true values.”

Have to say I love that.  Dave was talking about, I am assuming, in relation to church resources.  However, I have certainly found this true in my own life.  I love living with padding.  It allows me the freedom to make poor decisions, live with sloppy stewardship.  But when times are tight…I realize what really matters and what I really care about.  Do I really care about making sure I eat healthy or that I have like 500 television stations?  Do I really care about getting out of debt or is it more convenient for me to eat out and shop at the grocery store closest to my home?  Do I care about exercising enough to actually run outside or do I have to have the comfort of the air conditioned gym to justify sweating?

Makes me think and take a look at what my choices reveal about my true values.  Hmmm, makes me think.  I love it when something wakes my brain up and moves it from being mush:)


Fun recent randomness May 18, 2009

Filed under: Random stuff — erikaivory @ 1:37 am
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Not a lot of thought time to put together a post that makes a lot of sense, but since I also hope this blog is a way for me to record life and some of my thoughts during this busy season….I wanted to record some things that I don’t want to forget.

The other day Eli came to us in the kitchen and asked, “Does Cedar (my parent’s dog) have a wise man in his belly like we do?”  I thought, what?  After some questioning and a bit of explaining by Eli I finally realized that he was asking, “Does the dog have a spirit man like we do?”

Wow!  He does listen when we talk to him and teach the boys about things semi-spiritual!  He has heard us explain how our spirit man grows when we read the Bible and pray.  And we have talked about our spirit man is what goes to heaven when we die, because that is where Grandpa’s spirit man is.  Such a sweet question:)  His teachers at church have said the past two weeks that he really seems to be connecting the dots when it comes to the Bible lessons.  That does my heart good:)

Eli has worn his t-ball outfit for at least the last week straight.  I did get him to wear something else to church once I promised him once he was home again he could put the outfit back on.  I need to post a picture soon but it consists of his White Sox jersey (which is black, go figure), his white baseball pants, his long black socks and his cleats.  He recently added a too small white ball cap, a black too long for him belt and thanks to a comment from a friend at the park, he now wants to have a batting glove hanging from his back pocket.  Oh and his baseball pants have to have a back pocket.  He really does look too cute though!

Haig is into all things Star Wars.  Our conversations always go back to something regarding Star Wars, which of course I have no clue about ANYTHING Star Wars.  Questions like, “Mom if you could use the force on Obi Won or Darth Vader which would you choose?  Mom why does Luke say NOOOO when he is fighting Darth Vader?”  I can’t even quote most of them b/c somehow he speaks another language using words like, Darth Moth, Anakin, Death Star, Padame and on and on.  I’m pretty sure he is officially addicted to the Star Wars Lego Playstation 2 video game.  We didn’t do video games growing up so this is unchartered territory for me.  The game really does make him use some amazing problem solving skills and he does jump up and down the entire time he is playing so he gets exercise and his brain is being stimulated.  Yes I am justifying letting him play in the afternoon while Eli is napping.

However the other day from the back seat of the car, while Eli was napping and we were on our way to car line…he expounded on how he sees Darth Vader as the evil and Luke is the good like Jesus and how Luke was fighting the evil but how Darth Vader ended up sacrificing himself so he could stop the Emporer.  So in a way Darth Vader died to save Luke like Jesus died to save us.

Pretty deep thinking about old Star Wars.  It became a little confusing though when he tried to figure out how that works with Luke really being Vader’s son and all.  However the other night as I was tucking Haig into bed we were talking about the recent baptism at Newspring and he asked when he could get baptized which led to why you get baptized, etc.  He finally said why can’t I pray now to ask Jesus into my heart.  So we did and he has talked about it each day since then.  He seems to understand at least as much as a 5 year old can.  We are celebrating and praying that he daily grows to understand more deeply what that decision means and how to grow in intimacy with his Saviour.  But what a treat that I had the chance to pray with him, for that I am supremely thankful!

We are super busy with t-ball and baseball.  The boys seem to love it and I love that they are playing a team sport and sticking with it even when they are hot and tired.  McCall’s team is doing super well, which is fun.  He is improving and learning a lot.  We are out at ball games 3-4 evenings a week.  Our family nights for April and May have consisted of parking at the ball field and putting out our lawn chairs and playing with buckets and shovels and wagons while we watch.

So there you have my randomness.  No rhyme or reason:)  Perhaps I will make more sense next post!


Mother’s Day Books May 9, 2009

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 3:49 am
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Things have been kinda busy around these parts and I am sorry to say that once again I am behind on my reading.  I was a bit overzealous when I accepted this blog tour invitation b/c it included three books but I just COULD NOT pass it up b/c they sounded so, so good!  They also were kind enough to send me an extra copy of each book that I am going to give to our Florence MOPS group to use as door prizes!  These are books that a mom like me will really enjoy!

So below you will find a description and summary of each book.  I am truly looking forward to summer (just a few weeks away) b/c I have LOTS  of great summer reading to enjoy:)

Book: Dear Mom

Author: Melody Carlson

Every mom knows how communicating with a teenage girl can be difficult, even impossible at times. One-word answers. Defensive conversations. Daily arguments. How typical for teens to put up such barriers. All the while, moms truly long to know what their daughters really think.

Best-selling author Melody Carlson, whose books for women, teens, and children have sold more than three million copies, bridges this chasm with trusted insight. She speaks frankly in the voice of the teen daughters she’s written for and she tells it like it is: struggles with identity, guys, friendship, and even parents—it’s all here. The straight-talk to moms covers such things as “I need you, but you can’t make me admit it,” “I’m not as confident as I appear,” and “I have friends. I need a mother.”

Instead of focusing on outward behaviors, Dear Mom looks at a young woman’s heart and reveals to moms:

· how to talk to teens so they hear,

· how to connect despite the differences of perspective or years and experiences,

· and how strengthen the bond every mom and daughter ultimately wants.

The lively chapters in Dear Mom can be dipped into topically or used as a read-through tool by moms and daughters alike to understand what motivates or deflates, troubles or inspires—and just in time for Mother’s Day and all the Mother’s Days ahead.

Author Bio:

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than one hundred books for adults, children, and teens, with sales totaling more than three million copies. Beloved for her Diary of a Teenage Girl and Notes from a Spinning Planet series, she’s also the author of the women’s novels Finding Alice (in production now for a Lifetime-TV movie), Crystal Lies, On This Day, These Boots Weren’t Made for Walking, and A Mile in My Flip-Flops. A mother of two grown sons, Melody lives in central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. She’s a full-time writer and an avid gardener, biker, skier, and hiker.

Dear Mom:

Book: Mama’s Got A Fake I.D.

Author: Caryn Dahlstrand Rivedeneira

Formula for identity loss:

1. Take one multifaceted, intriguing human being.

2. Bless her with a child.

3. Mix with today’s cultural assumptions.

4. Add the demands of motherhood.

5. Presto! All identity except Mom disappears.

For every woman wondering what happened to the unique combination of gifts and abilities she was known for before kids came along, Caryn Dahlstrand Rivedeneira has good news: in Mama’s Got a Fake I.D., Rivedeneira helps moms reclaim their full identity as creative beings, gifted professionals and volunteers, loving friends, children of God—and mothers.

This inspiring and practical guide shows women how to break free from false guilt, learn a new language to express who they really are, and follow God’s lead in sharing their true self with others. After all, motherhood doesn’t have to mean losing one’s identity. Instead, being a mom makes it possible for a woman to discover a more complete identity as the person God made her to be.

Author Bio:

The former managing editor of Marriage Partnership and Christian Parenting Today, Caryn Dahlstrand Rivedeneira has been a trusted voice writing and speaking to women for more than a decade. Today she is the managing editor of, an online community for Christian women in leadership. Rivadeneira works from home in the Chicago suburbs, where she lives with her husband and their three children.

Mama’s Got a Fake I.D.:

Book: Enduring Justice

Author: Amy Wallace

In Enduring Justice, Hanna Kessler’s childhood secret has remained buried for over two decades. But when the dark shadows of her past threaten to destroy those she loves, Hanna must face the summer that changed her life and the man who still haunts her thoughts.

Crimes Against Children FBI Agent, Michael Parker knows what it means to get knocked down. And when the system fails and a white supremacist is set free, Michael’s drive for retribution eclipses all else.

A racist’s well-planned assault forces Hanna and Michael to decide between executing vengeance and pursuing justice. When the attack turns personal, is healing still possible?

This thought-provoking novel deals with healing from sexual abuse, the balance of justice and mercy, and maintaining mixed-race friendships in the midst of racial tension. Readers who enjoy investigative thrillers by Dee Henderson, Colleen Coble, and Catherine Coulter, and who watch crime dramas like Law & Order: SVU, Criminal Minds, and Without a Trace will love this book—and the entire series.

Author Bio:

Amy Wallace is the author of Ransomed Dreams and Healing Promises, a homeschool mom, and self-confessed chocoholic. She is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and a contributing author of several books including God Answers Moms’ Prayers and Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.

Enduring Justice:

And if you would enjoy being part of a book blog tour, then check out this site:


Busy Days May 8, 2009

Filed under: Family Life — erikaivory @ 10:08 pm
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A lot has been going on in our little household:)  My mom and dad and my little brother Ben have moved in with us for a time.  We are very excited to have this time with family that is usually so far away.  And I am loving having 3 extra pairs of hands to help love on, wrestle and wrangle our 3 little boys.

This week has been spent helping them get settled in and enjoying lots of baseball games.  Last week was spent cleaning out the apartment/mother-in-law suite that is attached to our house.  So next week will hopefully be the week we begin to settle into our new “normal.”  We are so blessed to have a house that house built-in extra room for family.  And what greater blessing than to share this season in our boys lives with extended family.

All that to say that I have not had a lot of time to share on my blog over the past two weeks but hopefully this week I will make more time to fill all you friends in on what is going on in our daily lives:)

Oh and a P.S. is that my mom is looking for a job so any leads and definitely prayers are much appreciated:)