Book Review: Money Making Mom

I’ve been a long-time follower of Crystal Paine’s blog, Money Saving Mom. I love her approach to living frugally and that she encourages saving money in order to give generously, something that we strive to do as a couple since getting married almost two and a half years ago. I’m excited about this book because I think it is a great resource for any wife/mom/woman who wants to “think outside the box” in order to earn money from home (or even something additional to a “regular” job) to support her family.

Since I was a kid, my parents taught me how to handle money and instilled in me the priorities of saving and giving parts of what I earned. My first “real” job was washing dishes two afternoons a week in a small restaurant in an Amish market in town when I was twelve. When I was sixteen, I began working at the county library for several hours a week shelving books and helping out in the children’s room. And I babysat all the time for families in my church, something I absolutely loved (sometimes I still miss those days, especially watching all “my” kids growing up)! After I graduated high-school I worked for a senior-care organization called Comfort Keepers during the summers. When I came home from college with a newfound love for photography and a few classes under my belt, I began taking pictures for friends and family and sometimes they paid me for it. Six months before our wedding I started working about 15 hours a week at a local consignment shop, where I am still working currently. I dabbled in direct sales for a little while with Jamberry nails. And then I began teaching piano lessons, something I’m pursuing further training in so that I can eventually  teach full time from home.

So I’m no stranger to side jobs and taking whatever chance I could to earn an income, but one thing I appreciated from Crystal’s book was her encouragement to try anything and everything. Sometimes I felt guilty or ashamed for not having ONE thing, one job/skill/passion that I excelled in and could call my “career”. But Crystal encourages women to take every opportunity they can to try something new, even if it ends up not being “your thing” or a good long-term fit. That experience is never wasted. I not only have a variety of different jobs in my repertoire, but each one of those jobs gave me broadened experience, perspective, and skill in many different areas. I’m thankful for that.

Crystal starts her book by helping you define what financial freedom looks like for you (being debt-free, having a certain amount in an emergency fund, savings fund, etc.). I loved that she emphasized having a specific reason WHY you are setting those financial goals (giving generously, sponsoring a charity, helping family members, etc.) so that you have an established purpose behind your goals. She also gives a thorough, detailed resource for starting one’s own business if you feel led to do so. She helps you find your own unique skills and talents and how to use them to earn an income. It makes a huge difference when you can make your passion and your work one and the same!

I loved the stories she included from other women from a range of backgrounds and financial ventures, as well as Crystal’s balanced approach that money is not the only resource we need to use wisely. We can apply the same principles to how we use our time, our relationships, any of the resources God gives us to use for His glory.

But we weren’t created to be consumers. We were made for more. We are destined to be stewards, wise managers of not just our money but also our time, our values, and our priorities. –Crystal Paine, Money Making Mom

I’d recommend this book to any woman who wants to contribute to her family’s finances whether it’s through a home business or simply broadening her perspective through her career, using her resources purposefully to make an impact.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

In the Stacks: August/September 2015

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling Finished the second read-through of this series, and I think it got even better the second time through. 

Garlic and Sapphires, by Ruth Reichl A fun read that I brought with me on family vacation. Not spectacular, but not horrible, a lightweight read with an interesting plot. 

Radical: Taking Your Faith Back from the American Dream, by David Platt My hubby and I finally finished reading through this book out loud together (mostly in the car when we remembered to bring it along). This book is a great challenge to our comfort zone of American Christianity. I’d highly recommend this book and any of his writings or his sermons on the Radical podcast to anyone and everyone possible! 

Sacred Marriage, by Gary Thomas See my review here

Simply Tuesday, by Emily Freeman One of my favorite authors and this is her newest book. I’m currently in my second read-through because it was just that good. I can’t begin to describe it, you’ll just have to read it for yourself! 

GoodReads update: 84 out of 100

Book Review: Sacred Marriage

It took me a while to get to this book in my stack, partially due to moving and everything going on with the beginning of the school year. But I’m so glad I did, and I already plan to go back and read through it again, more slowly this time, to digest it a second time.

This is a second edition of the first publication of Sacred Marriage, and though I hadn’t read the first, I could tell that this edition was expanded and even more full of wisdom than the first. The author writes with candid personal experience and honesty, and I appreciated his anecdotes (appropriate, not overdone) and the wealth of application that he never failed to first apply to himself. It felt like he was saying, “Here’s what I’ve learned through marriage, let me share it with you.” Though focused on the spiritual aspect of marriage, this book was by no means less practical because of it. His extensive use of Scripture and illustrations from current and historical writers was strong and thorough.

I especially appreciated his emphasis on serving your spouse and communication, and the description of one’s spouse as a “God-mirror” was intriguing and convicting (in the sense of confronting our sin, showing Christ to each other, etc.) but mostly it is the overarching concept of looking at marriage as a tool God uses to point us to Him and make us holy that sets this book apart from other books on marriage.

I would highly recommend this book for any couple, no matter what stage of marriage they’re in, and have put it on my list of “books to give as wedding or anniversary gifts”. I would also not hesitate to give this book to a mature young adult who might be preparing for marriage (or the possibility of it).

*I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.



Sometimes God leads by nudging you gently in a direction, instead of by lightning bolt revelations or sudden big events.

That’s what He’s been doing for us lately. After two years of marriage, we’ve settled into life together and what it looks like for us right now. But we’ve also been discussing where we’re going as a couple, what we dream of for the future, what our family and home might look like in the next decade(s). We’ve noticed things happening, little things that might not have any significance if our eyes weren’t open to how God is leading us. It started as just a possibility, but then it seemed as if God was putting the pieces together to fit just right to make it a reality.

I’ve been searching for what God wants me to do as a wife and, hopefully someday, a mother, to help support our family and pursue the passions and gifts He’s given me. I’ve discovered in the past year or so how much I love teaching piano, and when I started thinking about how I could pursue this further as a way to earn an income from home after we start a family, all of a sudden my number of students potentially doubled and I found a two-year piano pedagogy program at a local university that is both doable with my schedule and affordable with a little tweaking of our budget. I’ve also struggled with dry spells in my photography here and there, but then He gave me a wedding to shoot (by myself!) and graciously gave me unexpected money from it to start a new camera fund. More opportunities to keep up this hobby keep popping up and that makes me happy.

J found, through a recommendation from a friend, a different online seminary that is less expensive and has a better class format for the way he learns and studies. He should also be able to finish in two years, at the same time as I’d be finishing the pedagogy program. The Lord also gave him a small raise in his salary this next year which came at the perfect time as a reminder that He is providing for all our needs.

Our friends across the street are moving (to also pursue online seminary), and we are going to move into their apartment, which will allow us a yard, first floor living, inside access to the basement, and the opportunity to get a real piano for me to teach from. And then, as if it couldn’t get any better, my boss at the consignment shop, whose family is also moving, said that we could borrow their piano since they won’t have room for it in their next place.

All these things would seem like happy coincidences if we weren’t so aware of God’s hand in all of these “little” changes. We’ve been praying for Him to make His direction clear to us and He has. And the way He keeps leading us now is just another confirmation that He will make His direction clear to us for whatever our future–near and not-so-near–holds.