Amy Lanham

finding beauty in the middle of the mess

Category: Book Reviews (page 2 of 2)

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode ~ Book Review


So, I signed up for for BookLook Bloggers sponsored by HarperCollins. I can choose complimentary books that are interesting to me in exchange for an honest review. The librarian in me just had to give it a try.

I chose Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine as my first book. I guess you could say I was simply curious. I’ve heard of her site, and thought I might learn a few things from her. I don’t feel like I’m currently in survival mode, so I think I may have felt more favorably about the book if I was in the midst of crisis.

The book explores practical ideas to help you be intentional. Crystal is a wife, mom, and runs a very successful blog about saving money and living frugally. She speaks from her own experienced of taking on more than she could handle and strategies she used to make her life more manageable. Crystal talks about how to say no, how to set goals, how to discover your passions, and how to make better use of your resources. She also addresses the comparison trap and feelings of inadequacy. Helpful tips are given for managing your home in a more effective way.

Sadly, I was disappointed. Granted, there are some very practical suggestions. However, reading this book actually gave me anxiety. There is no wonder why she felt the need to write this book. Her schedule is crazy busy. I have no idea how she manages to accomplish all she does in a day. Even her life tamed would be beyond my capabilities of managing.

If you are an extremely Type A personality with tons of energy, then this book is definitely for you. If you love making lists and creating spreadsheets, then Crystal is your lady. I love her suggestions for having a plan through setting goals. She specifically outlines how to do this. I appreciate the fact that she shares her failures and how she worked to overcome them. She is a great example of how success doesn’t usually come overnight. Additionally, she clearly knows what she is talking about since she has lived it. Nothing can beat firsthand experience.

Read this book if your commitments exceed your ability to keep up and you tend to be an organized person anyway. It would also be good for someone who is normally a driven person, but feels a bit stuck. If you are someone already overwhelmed with the thought of too much on your plate, don’t read this. You’ll only question your abilities. I think it is important to remember we’re all created to handle different levels of chaos. My tolerance is low, therefore I didn’t find this book helpful for me.


Hands Free Mama


Meet a woman who began a revolution. This is Rachel Macy Stafford, otherwise known as the Hands Free Mama.

Never in my life had I attended a book signing. As a voracious reader, there are many authors I am quite fond of, but none I’ve had the opportunity to meet. This of course does not include one author that is a good friend of mine. I was able to just walk into her office and she handed me a book, along with an abundance of her knowledge since then.

I learned that although Rachel currently lives in Birmingham, she used to live in Muncie and went to Hanover College. Like me, she used to be a teacher. Her book signing was going to be in Indianapolis and I thought this might be a good opportunity to meet someone I’d only talked with virtually. I’m hoping to learn a thing or two from her experience.

My lovely sister-in-law, who had read some of her posts recently and been deeply affected, agreed to make the little journey with me. I was not disappointed. How fun to put a real face to her online picture. We saw some of her daughters’ artwork and heard about her road to publication. I stood in line behind a gentleman that she tutored in college. I also picked up a new follower for my blog while waiting in line. How does an introvert do that? Clearly, I am not the same person I was a few years ago.

Hands Free Mama encourages readers to let go of distraction and perfection. Rachel shares her own journey of recovery from having a schedule too crowded and an unhealthy relationship with technology. The book is broken down into 12 chapters, so the reader can focus on one each month of the year. Rachel offers practical suggestions for connecting more deeply with your family members, as well as lyrical passages that offer encouragement and focus. She helps you determine some of the moments that truly matter.

Personally, I’m not someone who always has her phone out or her head buried in a computer screen, but I’ve gleaned some wonderful tips for making moments more meaningful with my boys. One of my favorites is allowing your children to do a mini show and tell with you with the papers in their homework folders after school each day. You can learn a lot about their day by hearing their explanations of their work, and they see that you really care about the hard work they’ve completed.

Seeing Rachel’s emotions in person as she described the transformation that happened in her family sealed my love for this book. Her publisher was so excited about her message they decided to fast track the process. She wrote nine chapters in one month. With deadlines looming, her mother came to help. She was tucking one of Rachel’s daughters in and told her that her mommy may not be able to have their regular “talk time” because she was very busy. Her daughter emphatically replied, “No, Mommy always comes.” That was something her daughter would not have believed a few years ago.

This book resonates with my passion to encourage parents to be fully engaged and present with their children. Time slips by unnoticed so easily.

This is a mom who is truly changing the world. The power of her words has impacted so many parents deeply. What a joy to see a person who with God’s help can make a true transformation, and as a result watch her dream of writing a book come true among so many other benefits.

You may recognize these popular posts from that have been featured on the Huffington Post:

“The Day I Stopped Saying ‘Hurry Up'”

“The Bully Too Close to Home”

Buy the book. Checking it out from the library just isn’t enough. You need this one on your shelf to refer to time and time again. Begin a revolution within your own family!

What do you struggle with the most…distraction, perfection, or hurry?

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