Thursday, July 24, 2014

Flourish- TOS Crew Review

I love my job as a reviewer.  Really, I do!  My kids have been so blessed to be exposed to amazing curriculum and other great products out there that we may have otherwise never even heard about.  But, occasionally an even more fun "perk" happens - a product just for mom.

Flourish Book Review

Yes, this time I was blessed by Apologia Education Ministries with the book Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms.  The name intrigued me immediately.  Balance is something I have been struggling with in this season of my life and instead of flourishing, I would describe myself as wilting.  Seriously.

But God, in His perfect timing, allowed this book to come into my life and I feel like I am on the road back...with the goal of flourishing in sight!

First a word about the name of this book.  I am a little troubled by the "Balance for Homeschool Moms" part.  Yes, author Mary Jo Tate is a homeschooling mom, but this book is truly for every woman out there, in my opinion.  Please do not let the title turn you away.  If I had all the money in the world, I would gift every woman I know, plus the ones I don't, with a copy of this book.  It is like salve to the soul.   From practical advice, to forms to use to streamline your life, to scripture to inspire and words to encourage, you will feel that Mary Jo is talking just to YOU!

  Whether you are married or single, have 10 children or none, homeschool or not, own a business or stay at home, this book has something to offer you.  

Grab a cup of tea, pull up a comfy chair and let me tell you why I love it!

Chapter one introduces you to Mary Jo and her book, why she wrote it, and what she hopes it will do for you - an invitation to flourish.  Say hi to your new friend!

Flourish means to grow vigorously, luxuriate, be revived or abound. 

Chapter two is titled Change Your Mind to Change Your Time.  It is all about determining your ideal and your reality and then coming to peace with the space in between.  As Mary Jo says, it is about "life management, not time management."  This chapter really got me thinking about changing my attitude from "not enough time" to "how can I make the time?"

Chapter three uses the FREEDOM toolbox to help you change your behavior. By Focusing, Reflecting, Educating, Eliminating, Disciplining, Organizing, and Multitasking, you can meet life's challenges.  OK, honesty time here - eliminating is the biggest challenge for me.  But guess what Mary Jo says?  Are you ready?

"...not everything that needs to be done is something you need to do."

Ouch!  Does that speak to anyone else but me?

Chapter four is Where Did My Time Go?  Now, that is a good question! ;)  And one you can answer using Mary Jo's time log chart.  This was the hardest TAKE ACTION exercise I did.  She recommends you log your time spent in 30 minute increments for at least a week.  I lasted two days.  Yep, pitiful.  Want to know why?  One, I KNEW what it was going to show.  And two, I didn't want it to show that.  And so, friends, this is one area that I am currently working on.  Big time!  I am ashamed to admit how much time I spend  waste on things that are not really important.

Chapter five is about setting goals.  Family and individual.  Mary Jo encourages you to think big, so I did!

Chapter six  uses 7 essential planning tools to help you get more organized.  If you are a charts and lists kind of gal, you are going to love this chapter.

Chapter seven is about interruptions and how we handle them.  A popular misconception of  homeschool moms seems to be that we are available at the drop of a hat.

"It's important to show God's love by serving people, but you can't be available on demand for everyone all of the time without neglecting your own family."

This, too, I am working on.  Things like not answering the phone during school hours and not dropping my kids' needs to meet others' first.  As my husband often says, "your crisis is not my emergency." (he doesn't say this to me!)

Chapter eight  focuses on our attitudes.  As Elisabeth Elliot says, "Feelings, like thoughts, must be brought into captivity."  Yes, and Amen!  This may be a chapter we should read and re-read, friends. I don't know about you, but I know my attitude needs to be adjusted in several areas in my life.  How about yours?

Chapter nine is titled Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days.  After reading about nutrition, hydration, exercise, and sleep, you will see why.

Chapter ten is about training your children.  Why, oh why, is this chapter highlighted and dog-eared in my book so often?  Mary Jo talks about not just chores and such, but training them in taking initiative and  serving others.  Hmmmm, maybe we all need a lesson in those things.  She also has some great examples of chore charts in this chapter.            

Chapter eleven concentrates on making memories.  I loved this chapter as well.  We have a regular Friday Family Night at our house so this is not a new concept to me.  It is always fun to read about what others do though and get some new ideas.  For just the cost of your time, you can make memories that your kids will cherish for years.

Chapter twelve is Managing Your Home! If you already know me, you know that this chapter was one of my favorites.  From housekeeping to organization and meals, Mary Jo has some great tips - including the reminder to make hospitality a habit.

Chapter thirteen is for you homeschooling moms.  It is a good reminder that no two homeschools look or operate the same, and that's ok.  Find what works for you and go for it.

Chapter fourteen is for you single moms.  Even if you are not single, please take the time to read this chapter.  Though Mary Jo would have never thought she would be a single mom, she found herself in that position.  Because of her personal experience she not only can minister to those who are also in that season of life, but also help those of us who are not to bless those ladies.  Having often spent many times alone when my military husband was deployed, I can attest to what the help of a friend can mean and was grateful for the reminder to help and support others in a similar situation.

Chapter fifteen strengthened and inspired me.  It is about home businesses.  Though blogging is not a business for me, it takes up much of my time and therefore I treat it like a business often.  Questions like, "what is working" and "what is not working" and "how can I include my children in this" are important factors to consider.  This is one of the first chapters I want my soon-to-graduate from college daughter to read.

Chapter sixteen is Moving Ahead.  Think of it as one big Take Action chapter.  As Mary Jo says-

Tools and strategies are only as good as the actions you take on them.

We need to celebrate what is working our lives.  We also need to seek out the things that are not working in our lives and make changes!  With all of the practical steps Mary Jo shares throughout her book, I am confident you can do it.  Me too!

Additional thoughts - Each chapter is followed by a TAKE ACTION checksheet full of ideas and action steps.  Use it!  Let's face it, we can read all kinds of great things and even shake our heads in agreement, but until we actually DO something, take action, apply it to our life, nothing is ever going to change.  Some of these actions will be easy for you.  Others you will find, like I did, are painfully hard.  But they are required for change.  You will find in the appendix recommended resources as well as the forms Mary Jo references.  You will also be able to log into her website to print those forms out.  Try them!  If they don't fit your needs, find ones that do.  And don't forget the pre-book self evaluation and post-book progress check.  They will be eye opening, I assure you.

Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms can be purchased from Apologia for $15.00

Flourish Book Review Mary Jo Tate is an author, book coach, international editor, and single mom of four boys.  Other books she has written include How Do You Do It All?Get Started as a Freelance Editor, and Critical Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald. As host of the Flourish At Home show on the Homeschool Radio Network, Mary Jo can also be found on Facebook:  and Twitter:

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