Living not striving…

Random thoughts and daily adventures in my life

Here We Are Again… March 27, 2010

Filed under: Deep thoughts — erikaivory @ 12:05 am
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Have you ever had to learn the same lesson twice?  Sigh… A few years ago the Lord led me through a season of simplifying and clearing things off my plate.  I am a champion plate spinner.  Not this kind…

Although I would love to look that elegant while spinning the plates that make up my life.  My husband, Mark, likes to say that I fit

THIS (                                                                                                    )

much stuff into

THIS ( )

much time.  Bad habit.  Most of the time I can keep it together and pull it off but a lot of the time I end up looking like some version of this:

(That is me on the phone saying yes to one more “good” thing that I don’t really have time for:)

Well, here I am again:)  I may have mentioned this before on my blog but my junior year in college I was REALLY struggling mentally, physically and emotionally, so my campus minister suggested that I go and see our on-campus counselor.  I did and after going over my schedule and my extra-curricular activities she helped me recognize that the with taking 21 hrs and more activities than I could count I was suffering from self-induced overcommitment, resulting in major burnout.

You would think I would catch on to this pattern I have, but apparently I am a slow learner.  Kerri Wyatt Kent wrote a book titled “breathe:Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life” that I am currently rereading.  I learned so much reading this the first time and this morning this paragraph hit home with me: “Despite the fact that a doctor is telling us that hurry will cause us to feel fatigued or depressed, gain weight, and lose interest in sex, we still find it hard to slow down.  Why?  I think it is in part because we believe the lie that ‘if I am busy, I must be important.'”

Um, yeah…okay as sad as that sounds, that is what goes on in my brain I think.  Subliminally, somehow busy means important, necessary, worthy.  The Truth is that what I accomplish does not determine my worth.  My identity and worth is based on the Savior that loves me.  I KNOW this but I don’t always internalize it and truly live it.  The title to this blog, “Living not striving…” was born from this same aha moment the first time I read this book.

So the result is that often I sacrifice what is best for what is simply good.  It may be good to volunteer as the room mom but perhaps what would be best would be for me to truly have intimate time with the Lord each day.  It may be good for me to make a new mom a homemade dinner but it may be truly best for me to have a calm afternoon at home with the boys and end the day with a relaxing night for my husband after a busy, busy week.  It may be good for me to facilitate the spring women’s Bible study but it may be best for me to have an hour each day to exercise, read or just have space to think.

It is good to serve and love other people, but it is BEST to serve and love my family who should be my first priority.  It is BEST to obey and follow His plan for my time instead of simply living the way everybody else is because, well, that is what is expected and acceptable.  Other people’s choices are BEST for them, but I need to ask the Lord what is BEST for me.  It does sound a bit backward because there are definitely times where God asks us to sacrifice our time, comfort and resources to bless and serve other people.  I guess I am again realizing that sometimes I say “yes” and “do” just because I think people expect me to and it is the right thing to do instead of really taking the moment to ask the Lord if this opportunity is indeed where I am supposed to invest my resources.

Much of this may not make sense and I apologize for that.  But it is making sense to me and resonating within.  Peeking into my heart and examining my motives is necessary when making decisions about my priorities, resources and time.

So the thing is, here I am again sensing the Lord is asking me to evaluate my priorities, the way I spend my time and where my focus should be.  I have improved this time around but apparently there is still a lot more room for refinement:)  Shifting my priorities and creating margin in my life is NOT easy.  It is requiring me to sacrifice some activities that I really value, but in this season are not a priority.  It also means leaning in and listening to the Lord answer my question,”What do You want?”.  That takes quieting my soul long enough to actually listen.  And quite honestly some of His answers have not been very popular with me or the people that love me.

Balance, simplify, listen, lean in, create margin.  So that is where I am …Here again.


Day Late & a Dollar Short March 23, 2010

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 1:35 am
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I was supposed to post this book review two days ago.  Major whoops!  I try to stay on top of these things but I didn’t get to finish the book.  Partly because McCall and I started the Percy Jackson series and he is way ahead of me…and partly because it is a great book but would be super for high school or college aged audience.

It is written by twin brothers Alex & Brett Harris.  Start Here is actually their 2nd book.  their first book was, Do Hard Things.  I reviewed a book a while back that their brother Josh wrote.  In this book they help their readers tackle HOW to do the hard things and also to look for ways to be used by the Lord right where they are.  They give practical tips and very hands on ways to get started, stay focused on God and handle the consequences of doing hard things.  The book is short, easy to read and full of real life stories.  Check out the more complete summary and bio info below.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.


At the age of eighteen, Alex and Brett Harris wrote Do Hard Things—and launched a movement that would change a generation. Young people around the world were ready to be inspired, ready to move beyond complacency, ready to rebel against society’s low expectations.

Now the highly anticipated companion book, Start Here, answers the questions Alex and Brett have received from thousands of teens on their worldwide conference tour and popular online community: How do I get started? What hard things does God want me to do? How do I keep from getting discouraged or burned out? What is the best way to inspire others?

Filled with stories and insights from Alex, Brett, and other real-life rebelutionaries, Start Here is a powerful and practical guide for young people who are ready to take the next step and blast past apathy. Let the rebelution continue.

Cover art:

Author Bio:

Alex and Brett Harris are the coauthors of the best-selling book Do Hard Things, which they wrote at age eighteen. Today the twins speak regularly to audiences of thousands on The Rebelution Tour, maintain a hugely popular online presence through their blog,, and have been featured on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and in the New York Times. Raised in Portland, Oregon, the brothers currently attend Patrick Henry College in Virginia.

You can purchase the book here:


Good reads March 6, 2010

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 3:42 am
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Last year I read the book The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson.  It was like a shot in the arm for me as a mother.  It helped me put all the hard, long days into perspective.  It took me from a tunnel vision mommyhood to a panoramic vision of motherhood.  I am a vision kind of gal.  I need to feel inspired, like I am seeing the bigger picture.  I drown in the minute details of crumbs under the booster chair, vitamins on the placemat, dentist appointments missed and empty band-aid boxes.

So when my blog fairies sent me a new Sally Clarkson book to review I was SO excited!  It is called Dancing with My Father: How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy.  I am about halfway through it.  It is taking me a while, not because it is not interesting but because you can’t rush through a Sally Clarkson book.  She has lots of humorous stories and it is not a difficult read, but if you skim through there is so much depth that can be missed.  So I am working my way through it.

Clarkson does a great job of being very transparent.  She is a woman in ministry.  She homeschooled her children and writes books on how to be a great mom.  I love how she is truthful about how it doesn’t always feel good and sometimes we will feel down We can struggle and still be a true Christ follower.  Yet she also walks through how to make safe passage through those times and seasons.  The chapters are set up with questions at the end which are great for journaling but would also work wonderfully for an accountability group or ladies Bible study as well.  I highly recommend it and honestly all things Clarkson:)

I have not started the Mother Daughter Duet yet by Cheri Fuller.  It too looks wonderful.  Although, obviously, I don’t have a daughter (at least not yet) who can’t benefit from some refinement in their relationship with their own mom?  Also so much of life and how we view ourselves as women can be traced back to interactions with our own mom.  So I look forward to gaining insight into how we as women can help each other move through some of those hangups.  So check out the summaries and author bios below.  You might find a good read for spring break!

Here are some links where you can purchase the books online or pick them up at your local bookstore:

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Book: Mother Daughter Duet

Author: Cheri Fuller


When a daughter is born, her mother has a thousand hopes and dreams for her, especially that they will be best friends one day.

Unfortunately, even the best of intentions can go awry. There are so many challenges on the journey to adult friendship that the reality is fraught with friction and frustration. But a harmonious relationship is possible.

Award-winning author Cheri Fuller and her daughter, Ali Plum, have been there and have discovered the keys to a healthy relationship. In Mother-Daughter Duet they share their story—each from her own perspective—in which they have experienced distance and tension, growth and challenge, and, ultimately, acceptance and harmony. Filled with personal anecdotes and based on several basic principles (letting go; listening; respect; setting boundaries; and more), Mother-Daughter Duet helps moms repair the breach so that daughters want to draw close.

The mother-daughter dynamic is intense, personal, complex, and unique. But mothers and daughters can achieve mutual respect and learn to celebrate their differences when they learn the two-part harmony of the mother-daughter duet.

Cover art:

Author Bio:

Cheri Fuller is a best-selling, award-winning author whose books have sold more than one million copies. She speaks to a wide range of women at women’s conferences and is a frequent guest on national radio and television programs.

Ali Plum is Cheri’s daughter, a writer and songwriter, a wife, and a mother to Noah and Luke. She and her mom have weathered the ups and downs of their relationship to find one of the most treasured, honest relationships of their lives. Ali has recorded background vocals for popular musicians, and Mother-Daughter Duet marks her debut into book publishing.

Book: Dancing With My Father

Author: Sally Clarkson


The reality of living in a broken, fallen world can leave women feeling overcome by fear, guilt, and weariness. Many develop “sawdust souls,” numb to any sense of joy.

In this warm and wise book, author Sally Clarkson invites readers to take God’s hand and let Him lead them into a life of anticipation, passion, and purpose. With the voice of a trusted mentor, she reveals how, by getting in tune with the rhythm of God’s presence, women can nurture an inner attitude of anticipation and celebration even in the stressful seasons of life.

Through rich biblical insights woven with real-life stories, women will be inspired to recapture a spirit of joy as they follow God’s lead on the dance floor of life.

Cover art:

Author Bio:

Sally Clarkson is a popular speaker, known across the nation and internationally for her work with women. She is the author of several books, including The Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of Motherhood, and Seasons of a Mother’s Heart. She has worked in various ministries, including Campus Crusade for Christ. With her husband, Clay, she is cofounder of Whole Heart Ministries, which encourages and equips Christian parents. The Clarksons, parents of four, live near Colorado Springs, Colorado.