20 Things You Might Not Know About Me Blog Tag

Thanks to one of my BFF’s Jenn Jackson for tagging me for this-I love doing fun things like this and switching up my typical blogging routine. :)

Question 1: How tall are you?

I think I’m 5’7″. Haha-you can tell how important (or not) that is to me in this stage of life. ;-)

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?

I have an incredible sense of direction, and it has helped me navigate all around the world. I was amazed at how I found my way around in Germany, Poland, Italy, and more when I had never even been there before. Crazy, but I think I’m just in tune with my surroundings pretty well.

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?

I can’t really think of one right now. I keep my blogging pretty simple, minimal, transparent, and fun, so I like to just keep it all low-key.

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?

Well, right now I have a hate-hate relationship with our cat. I can’t stand her scratching everything up, scattering her litter, and jumping up on my kitchen counter to try to get in the kitchen window. DRIVES.ME.CRAZY! Any tips?

Question 5: What’s your favorite song?

This is the most difficult question…happy song? sad song? ballad? Christmas song? kid’s song? Seriously-there’s not one single favorite, and you’ll have to come back to me with a specific genre and then I’ll answer that question.

Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?

I have SO many favorites on Etsy. I could spend $$$$ on all the beautiful and crafty things there, but I’ll tell you what shop I have been frequenting recently: Give With Joy not only appeals to my pursuit of constant joy, but also my addiction to stationary, and fuels my love of all things snail-mail. I am becoming a gold star customer over here. HAha!

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?

I love to read! Now that I’m not in school (where I was required to read), and I’m a busy Wife/Mom, Coach, Counselor (where my reading time is limited), my love of quiet space with a good book has been reignited.

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?

Hmmmm…I have several combinations and then it just depends on the mood.

  • Homemade cookies (yes, homemade-I CAN tell the difference in the flavor, so don’t go trying to convince me that they taste like homemade).
  • Haribo Gummy Bears and Black Raspberry Ice cream. Thank you, TCBY for introducing me to the wonderful combo of frozen treats and gummy bears at the age of 7.
  • Chips and Guac. Even better, plantain chips or sweet potato “tortilla” style chips. nom nom nom!

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?

October 2013-Mushu claims Maddy

October 2013-Mushu claims Maddy

We have a cat named Mushu. She claimed our daughter about a year ago and has made herself a part of our home. I like her enough, but I’m just not a cat person (see Q4).

Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?

Nonfiction-I’ll go with my latest read: Lean On Me by Anne Marie Miller. Life. Changed. Read it.

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?

I’m not sure this is my favorite, but it’s the one I have used consistently the longest. Mary Kay’s Acne Treatment Gel. I used to be on medication to manage my acne/skin issues, so this cheap little tube of ointment keeps my complexion in check!

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?

Last time I was embarrassed was a time my husband said something less than kind in front of some of our friends. It made me super self-conscious and want to go hide.

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Shakeology! Seriously, I could go without my tea, milk, etc. However, Shakeology has changed my health and therefore my life. It would literally affect any decision to move overseas…it’s essential to my daily life.

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?

I’ll give a couple here, because it depends on the mood or season. Sweet Home Alabama is always a hit, but I also adore While You Were Sleeping. I can’t go without mentioning my favorite holiday movies, (because let’s be honest, Christmas is around the corner!) White Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Life are a must for me!

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?

Let’s see…we didn’t have a prom, so definitely not the prom queen. I was most definitely a nerd and proud of it-graduated with a 4.0 and Valedictorian. I was also an athlete, played volleyball, soccer, and managed our guy’s basketball and soccer teams. Interestingly enough, I was also a bit of a loner. I had friends, but did my own thing too.

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

This is the hardest question for me, because I have been many places, and have a few favorites of course. I don’t think any one will ever have all of my favorites, so I haven’t discovered this place yet. :)

Question 17: PC or Mac?

I have never owned a Mac, but I’m intrigued. I’m less than thrilled with the PC’s I have had.

Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?

My husband just told me he would take care of the dishes and that I didn’t need to worry about them at all. Yep, we’re super sappy over here. ;-)

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?

I really don’t have one. I am so over celebrities.

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?

Jennie Allen-when I was blessed with the chance to hear her share her heart in person, I felt like I had found a kindred spirit. Jennie delivered truth the way I have in the past, with raw intensity and passion birthed from the calling God has whispered to her. I told my husband I really didn’t mean to be a stalker, but I felt like I was looking in the mirror, and I was inspired to step up into whatever position God has for me.

* This blog post is a part of the ’20 Things You Might Not Know About Me’ Blog Tag started by April from Blacksburg Belle. She began this blog tag experiment to build community among creatives, help us bloggers to connect more and get to know each other better. This month’s topic is all about sharing just a little too much information about yourself. If you’d like to participate or want more info, check out the beginning post right here. 

Booklook Review: Lean On Me by Anne Marie Miller

I have been eyeing this book for months, and had really built up some high expectations when it arrived. First of all, let me tell you what Lean On Me is NOT:

-a how-to book

-a step by step guide to relationships

-a Biblical exposition on God’s approach to community

Instead, Anne Marie Miller shares her story, her own life experience full of reality, guts and darkness, with God’s redemptive thread woven through each moment What is outlined within the pages are the principles or checkpoints of what it looks like to find “Intentional, Vulnerable, and Consistent Community.” Anne calls us to focus on the tension between belonging and leaning on others for support while equally pursuing independence.

God allowed for me to read this book (I believe) in the exact time frame when I was not only ready to read it, but needed it most. I was challenged to evaluate my own relationships. Anne Marie Miller inspired me as she shared the reality of the road she walked and how courageously she kept moving forward, seeking to rebuild and establish healthy community again. The stories and truth within these pages were captivating for me-I didn’t want to put the book down! Each chapter flowed into the next, with principles of healthy community revealing themselves along the way. Everything just made sense as Anne Marie speaks from a BIblical perspective, but applies her own unique insight to the way Jesus calls us to “truth-speaking relationships.”

I have already been posting about and sharing quotes from this book for the last 2 weeks, but I’ll say it again and again: I HIGHLY recommend this read to anyone who wants to just have quality relationships in their life. After reading this book, I truly do have an altered perspective on the relationships God has blessed me with. The people in my life are a gift, and I want to love and serve them well. In order to do that, I have to heal from the hurts and brokenness of my past relationships. I hope that you will step out in faith towards becoming the person He made you to be, and having the relationships that He designed you to have!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Shop Review: KatieMade

So I have this friend named Katie, who is so stinkin’ talented: she’s artistic, stylish, musical and can sing with incredible power and conviction. For real, she’s awesome.

It was only a couple months ago when I had seen several pieces of her artwork. This was before she ever officially opened a shop, and I just loved what I was seeing. As soon as I saw that she was open for business, I contacted her about starting on a piece for me!


2014-08-13 05.56.39bdaymonth edit

It was such a HAPPY day when it arrived because I was not even thinking about getting a fun package, and then this gem showed up on our porch! Not only was this by far the largest package I personally received, but I LOVED Katie’s creative touches to the packaging-that takes time and it was great personal flair. I felt like Katie was there in person for a split second delivering my order. It would have been EVEN better if she had been there!!! ;-)

2014-08-13 08.10.24



Y’all, I thought the fun ended on the outside, but then I opened up the box and found this beauty. Katie did such a great job of packaging a SOLID WOOD sign (yeah, it’s heavy). As you can see, again she put a personal touch that added joy to the unveiling of this piece!

2014-08-13 08.12.25

I specifically requested this Scripture because my husband has always talked about this statement from Joshua 24:15. For him, as the leader of our home, it stands as a declaration of the direction of our household, our family, our legacy moving forward.  I had no idea what to expect when I opened this sign, but I knew I would love it because Katie is so talented and now I have a little piece of her work in our home.

A Little About Katiemade

Katie’s shop, “Katiemade” specializes in “handmade wooden signs & things.” All of the lettering, artwork, and distressing is done by hand. I hope that you will check out her work and maybe even support her new shop with a purchase or referral!

Thanks, Katie for the beautiful piece!

FAVE: I Know You Will [Lyrical Video]

“You don’t need to let the rainclouds underneath your skin…”

I can’t tell you how much I have needed to hear those words recently! There is a reason I chose “Finding Joy” to be my tagline-I need to be reminded to focus on JOY every day. How do you find joy?

Booklook Review: Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door by Denette Fretz & Gene Barretta

In this follow up to Denette Fretz & Gene Barretta’s first duo children’s book, Pirates on the Farm, they have collaborated once more on Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door! As part of The Next Door Series, this book is ideal for children 4-8 years of age.

Conrad is spending some time at his Uncle Clint’s ranch learning to be a cowboy, but he quickly admits, “I don’t know the rules.” He is in for a rocky introduction to life as a cowboy. Thankfully, he packed his Mega Ultimate Extreme First Aid Kit, because he will be needing it from Day 1! Conrad learns many lessons throughout this story, including “don’t squat with spurs on”, and that cayenne pepper is HOT! Meanwhile, Imogene (the Cowgirl Next Door) is quickly making herself an enemy to Conrad with her less than kind remarks! What is Conrad to do?

The message Denette Fretz portrays is that of a “love your neighbor” parable. All children can relate to this as they learn what it means to have friends and enemies, those who can be difficult and those you just can’t stand at times. This message was presented in a truly engaging and funny manner, with a clear moral at the end. As well, Fretz has included a letter to parents in her book with scripture, questions for discussion, and a brief telling of her own experience and motivation for writing this story. I was very impressed with the spiritual and Biblical basis for this book!

Gene Barretta’s illustrations are colorful and clever, and assist in telling the story, particularly for younger children. My two-year-old daughter loved this book, and was really taken by the pictures as we read it (and then read it again)!

I would highly recommend this book to other parents and children, particularly those who are looking for ways to teach kids about loving your enemies. I would agree that this is more geared to older preschoolers/young elementary aged children; however, as in our case, there will be some younger 2’s and 3’s who will enjoy the story and grow into its message! I look forward to other titles by Fretz!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

FAVE: How to Get Motivated!

Motivation is something we all need, and I found Tony Horton’s 6 Tips SO incredibly inspiring!

  1. Find your “WHY”
  2. Find your INSPIRATION
  3. You are the COMPANY you keep
  4. Say YES!
  5. Set reasonable GOALS
  6. REWARD your progress

I hope that these help you as well, and if you are looking for a Coach to help keep you motivated, get in touch with me.

This is truly my JOY to encourage and assist YOU as you grow and change.

Email me: marlastanley at beachbodycoach dot com

The Struggle to Love

Having spent most of my life in a Christian environment, I have heard statements like this a million times:

“I love the Lord with all my heart.” 

And sometimes, I believe it.

Other times, I have to fight the confused look that I’m sure is overtaking my expression.

What I think of is, I see your love for “X” person or “X” thing (money, some possession or value in the person’s life), but I don’t see the love for God.

“As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.”

-Proverbs 27:18, ESV

It’s really a simple thing to observe. Each of our individual lives reflect what we are invested in. That which you love, you place as the highest priority. It (be it a person, place, or thing) receives the best of you!

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

-Matthew 6:21, ESV

So what do you really love?

Do you love God?

Do you love yourself?

Do you love _____________?

Be honest with yourself for a minute and think about it…can you truly say that you love the LORD with ALL YOUR HEART?

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

-2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV

I love that last passage in 2 Corinthians, because it is a reminder of my reality…

I am transparent before the Lord (He knows every part of me, inside and out, true motives, fears and brokenness)

I am being transformed into Christ’s image, and that is GLORIOUS! (insert tears here…wow, what a privilege to be on that path!)

ALL of that comes directly from the Holy Spirit, my seal and promise of the hope and love God has placed in my heart.

I do love God, and I love my family, and most days I struggle to quit loving ME first and foremost.

I hope that you, like me, are praying and striving and working DAILY to truly love God with all of your heart!

Booklook Review: Love Letters from God by Glenys Nellist, Illustrated by Sophie Allsopp

We have been so blessed to experience a few new children’s books this summer via Booklook Bloggers Review program. Little Girl is always so excited to open packages, and finding a colorful new book inside just lights her up!

Our growing library has several Bible Story books already, but this title looked a little different, so I was eager to get it and review, so here’s my take!

Glenys Nellist has authored this new book, Love Letters from God-Bible Stories. This engaging book not only tells key Bible stories, but included with each account is a “letter from God” which can be personalized for your child. These letters are encouraging and connected to the truths in the Scripture stories. Nellist wrote this book with children ages 4-8 in mind and covers eighteen Bible stories: half from the Old Testament and half from the New Testament. A correlating Bible verse is also present. Lastly, the book closes with a special invitation and letter for children to write their RSVP response to God.

My initial reaction to this book was how incredible the illustrations are! Sophie Allsopp has done a phenomenal job with detailed, colorful pictures to really tell the narratives as Nellist recounted them. I could rave for days on the beautiful work here-I would purchase this book just for the illustrations!

As far as the Scriptural accounts and re-telling of Bible Stories, I am fairly opinionated and nit-picky. There were several points in Glenys Nellist’s writing where I didn’t care for the expansion or storytelling flair she used. With my background and even college degree in Biblical Studies, I hold highly the value of accurate Biblical truth being taught even at a Children’s reading level. I understand someone taking creative liberty, but again, it’s an area I struggle with. I noticed this mostly in areas that were non-issues, but particularly in some of “letters from God”, I will be adapting the wording as I read to reflect what I believe to be more accurate to the Bible. There was one in particular that I felt muddied the steps to salvation, which for me are a closed-handed issue.

I would recommend this book for the illustrations mostly. Like I stated above, I would not *highly* recommend it for Biblical accuracy, but most of the Bible Stories are great and creatively on a child’s level.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

FAVE: How Bad Do You Want It? by Clayton Jennings

I couldn’t agree more!

I choose success every day.

I choose to be the best Wife, Mom, Counselor, Coach, and Homemaker that I can be each and every day.

How bad do you want it?

Are you ready to sell out?

Booklook Review: Goodnight, Ark

Laura Sassi and Jane Chapman have crafted a brilliant bedtime book based on the narrative of Noah and the Ark in The Bible. Laura, the author, captured the chaos that may have ensued as a storm engulfs the ark floating on the open waters. The unique animals that they chose: boars, skunks, and quail to name a few, offer a delightful change from the typical Children’s book. Jane Chapman’s illustrations are bright and detailed, with textures that bring the story to life! The most fun and engaging aspect of Sassi’s story-telling is the use of onomatopoeia’s. While this children’s book is geared for those 4-8, younger children may enjoy it as well!

The message of Goodnight, Ark is simply meant to help the reader understand what it may have been like to live on the ark with the animals, and there isn’t really a strong spiritual message portrayed here. If you are looking for a narrative of Noah and the Ark, this isn’t the book for you. However, if your young reader enjoys animals and fun noises, they will likely love this bedtime tale. 

I found the illustrations to be exquisite, colorful, and entertaining. Even the boars and sheep have expression! The textures bring the animals to life and one could even begin to feel like they are a fly on the wall of the ark, watching the entire escapade unfold.

I would recommend this book as a gift book. Ideally, I am sure older preschoolers and young elementary children would enjoy it, but I found that my 2-year-old also loves it! This would make an excellent birthday gift or present for a baby shower. I will look forward to seeing more of Laura Sassi’s work!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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