Books I Read in 2015

I have a knack for starting books but not finishing them. Looking over my 2015 reads, I will proudly say I am a recovering book-start-aholic!

Nine books finished. That has to be a personal record! In the past I haven't kept track.

This year I felt really convicted. If I could replace the time spent on social media with book reading, think of how many books I could have gone through in my lifetime! There are so many fantastic books out there I want to read.

Here are the books I read this year, starting off with the amazing Corrie Ten Boom.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. This book was absolutely amazing, life-changing, and perspective shaking. Corrie Ten Boom shares her experience in the Dutch Underground and a Nazi concentration camp with her family. I hope to read this book with my children when they are mature enough to handle the content. It is a must read!

Tramp For The Lord by Corrie Ten Boom. This was actually the first Corrie Ten Boom book I read. It tells of Corrie's life after The Hiding Place and her release from the Nazi concentration camp. Reading the amazing stories of her ministry spurred me to read any of her books I cam get my hands on.

Amazing Love by Corrie Ten Boom. Stories of the power of forgiveness and God using Corrie to minister into the lives of many. "We meet on these pages not Corrie, but Corrie's Christ"

In My Father's House by Corrie Ten Boom. The prequel to the Hiding Place. Corrie shares many stories of God preparing her the work she would carry out later during the war.

Growing Up Social by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane. Great advice for parenting in this age where children are more time interacting with a screen and less time playing outside, reading a book or with their parents. This book had great tips and guidelines for bonding with our children and promoting their emotional and social development.

Balance That Works When Life Doesn't by Susie Larson. This was by far one of my favorite books of the year! Susie writes about adjusting to the ebb and flow of life and finding a sense of balance in each season of life. With our second baby arriving this year, Balance That Works When Life Doesn't was the perfect book for me to read.

Mom, You're Incredible by Linda Weber. An amazing, encouraging book for moms. In a world that de-values motherhood, this book was a great encouragement and reminder of how very important the call of motherhood really is to our children, our husbands and especially to God.

Treasure Principles by Randy Alcorn. A bold and convicting read that encourages radical generosity and godly stewardship of our assets.

Everybody Matters by Gary Thomas. This book explores the connection between physical and spiritual health and how we can be our best to serve and love others.

My Reads for 2016

Alone in Marriage by Susie Larson. Another great one by Susie Larson! I am currently half way through this and it has been a great guide for godly marriage and unpacking the "baggage" of the past.

You (Only Faster) by Greg McMillan. The only running book on my list?! Greg McMillan is one of my favorite running coaches and I look forward to studying his book. Hopefully this will help me out for the Fargo Marathon in May!

Educating the Wholehearted Child by Sally Clarkson and Clay Clarkson. Our oldest is getting closer and closer to school-age and I am doing my research. This book is a solid homeschool resource with a commonsense, disciple-based biblical approach. Another one I can't wait to read.

The Uncommon Woman by Susie Larson. More Susie Larson, of course :)

Shepherding A Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. This is one of those books that I started... and still need to finish. It offers such valuable insight for godly parenting and I know I need all of the wisdom I can get.

That's it for me!

What are you reading currently?
What's on your "To-Read" list?

Linking up with the Special Edition Five-Minute Friday and Mommy Moments.

2015 Running Year Review

At the end of another year it's beneficial to look back and fun to reminisce of your favorite memories. To see what went well, what didn't, and what to look forward to. 

Runner and blogger, RunEatSnap, had a great idea to share a review of her 2015 running and I am going to follow in suit.

SO much has happened in our 2015, with the biggest event of all being the arrival of our second baby boy in May! I didn't run a ton of races - only 2 half marathons and 1 5k - or pack on a bunch of mileage this year but I do have some great running memories and "new mom of 2" experiences to share with you.

Best Race Experience

The Wild Hog Half Marathon in September was definitely my best race experience. That race was my main training focus for the last half of the year (after Baby W was born) and the run itself went really well. A PR wasn't realistic and I set my mind on running sub-1:40. I sprinted the homestretch of the race and made my goal time with only 2 seconds to spare!

But, what makes that the BEST race experience of the year was that my family was there to watch - including my husband! This was his first time watching me race and it meant a lot to me.

Best Run

My best run of the year was on the Wild Hog race day, for sure! I felt totally exhausted on the starting line after a night with two cranky kids and I wasn't sure if I could even cover 13.1 miles. Somehow my legs kept plugging away and I was able to maintain a sub-8:00/mile pace. At 4 months postpartum, that was a "best" for me.

Best New Piece of Running Gear

Part of my "early Christmas present" was my favorite running gear for the year. I found these Scott T2 Palani's on Amazon for $52.00. Can't beat that!

Most Inspirational Runner

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to interview some very inspirational runners in the Runner Spotlight and Professional Fit Mom Series! People who keep their priorities in line and don't make excuses inspire me.

Favorite Picture from a 2015 Run or Race

My favorite race picture was taken with my boys after running a last-minute local half marathon. E ran his own little race on the sidewalk afterwards.

Race Experience I Would Love to Repeat

I don't have a ton of races to choose from this year, so again I will go for the Wild Hog. The experience of having my husband, our kids and my mom all cheering me on was awesome.

If I were to do it all again, I would hang around the post-race environment for a while longer. Cheering on the other runners and watching them is something I really enjoy. As long as the kids are content, I want to stick around and cheer more at my next race.

This Year in Three Words

DOUBLE - STROLLER - STRENGTH. The running stroller is a mom's best friend. Getting both of the kids happily loaded into the stroller - books, goldfish, pacifier, blankies, sippy cup and all - takes a lot of strength! Running with a double isn't as physically hard as I thought it would be :) Getting the boys in there... that's another story. It's all in the timing.

Best 2015 Running Advice Received

"Take it one day at a time". That advice was given in regard to adjusting to life as a mom of two and it also applies to running. God has equipped me with exactly what I need for where I'm at right now. Planning ahead is wise but living too far in the future brings on a ton of stress.

My kids are almost 3 years old and 7 months old. I don't need to be stressing about their highschool graduation right now. Just as in the first few weeks of marathon training, I don't need to freak out about running a 20-miler! Plan for the future, fully enjoy where I'm at now, and trust that the Lord will strengthen me for whatever lies ahead. 

Looking Forward To Most in 2016

The last time I ran the Fargo (full) Marathon was in 2011. It was my second official marathon and ended up being my first Boston Qualifying time! Five years, a wedding day, and two kids later, I am really excited to return to the Fargo full marathon in 2016.

What is one of your highlights of 2016? (Running-related or not)

Linking up with Jill Conyers' Fitness and Mommy Moments.

Professional Fit Mom Series: Elizabeth

Merry Christmas to you!

Christmas baking is in progress, handmade presents and art supplies are spread all over the kitchen table, cards are arriving in the mail, and our snow (and cold weather) has finally made it here. Basically, our house looks like Christmas-y chaos but it also means my favorite time of the year is here!

This week, I am introducing you to one awesome mama for the Professional Fit Mom series. She is such an encouragement to me and I know you will be encouraged by her, too!

Meet Elizabeth. 

She is a busy mom of two, personal trainer, TRX intructor and blogger at Fit Life with E. Let's jump into her interview...


Who or what inspired you to be a coach/trainer?

That's a good question! I've always been interested in fitness since I started playing competitive volleyball in high school. In college and I started my first professional work position, I started to get into running and other fitness classes like kickboxing, TRX, Zumba, spinning and yoga. After having my first daughter, I really wanted to be home more so I looked into transitioning into the health and wellness field. Personal training and instructing seemed like a natural fit because I really enjoyed working out, but also seeing people feel better about themselves. I also really love learning more about sustainable food and how to fuel your body so adding in discussions of nutrition seemed like a natural add-on for my clients.

How long have you been a coach/trainer?

18 months

What type of coaching/training do you do?

Personal training and TRX instructor

What certification did it require to coach/train?

Months and months of studying to take the ACSM Certified Personal Trainer exam to become a personal trainer. One day TRX certification to be a TRX instructor.

How many clients do you work with?

It varies. Sometimes I'm only working with a few, but other times I'm interfacing with 30 different people each month. It depends on which programs I'm immersed in during that time.

How do you balance motherhood and coaching/training?

Some days I don't! Ha. Lately, I've tried to remove the word balance from my every day usage (even though it's in my blog tagline). Now, I try to think of my balance in regard to this season in my life. With two little girls (2 years old and 4 months old) that I stay home with, I know that I had to scale back the amount of time that I was training. I could put them both in childcare, but I didn't want to so I scaled back how much I was committed to. In 3 months, I might find that I have more time to train clients online or in-person. For now, I strategically commit to new things or kindly say no. I don't feel bad about saying no anymore because I know that that means that I'm saying yes to my family.

What is your main goal when working with clients?

When working with clients, whether in-person or online, I truly want them to feel and look better. Everyone has different goals, but weight loss is typically a goal of most of my clients. When they think of looking better, they would like to see it happen as fast as possible. If you train the healthy way, you will typically see a slow and steady change if you're committed to sticking to strategic goals that we create together. I love seeing the lightbulb moment when one of my clients truly feels like they not only control their nutrition but their motivation is directly linked to internal happiness which in turn helps them stay on track with their external vision of themselves.

Where do you train clients?

1-on-1 personal trainer and TRX instructor (in-person at a studio), 1-on-1 personal training and 6 week bootcamps (online)

Where would you like to see your practice in the future?

I'm not sure! I love helping people find their sweet spot when it comes to their weight and well-being. At this time, I'm enjoying the younger years with my girls and I'll see where it takes me in a few years.

Balancing Family Life:

How many kids do you have?

2 girls :)

What is your favorite workout?

I have TOO many favorites! I really enjoy playing volleyball, doing TRX or a quick and sweaty HIIT session at-home.

When do you fit in your time to exercise?

Usually in the morning before my kids wake up is my best bet because it can't be pushed out by something else.

What advice do you have for other moms who are considering becoming a coach/trainer? (like me!)

Do what you love but be wary of doing what you love as a job. I love fitness, but sometimes I feel less focused on my own wellness journey because I'm focusing on all of my clients' goals and aspirations. Helping them achieve a better mind and body is such a joy for me, but I do have to remember that I need to take care of myself too. So my best suggestion is to try it out for yourself. Shadow someone, but also ask people in the profession you're choosing what their favorite and least favorite things of their occupation are.

Elizabeth Burns
ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
TRX Group Instructor

*New LIFESTYLE Bootcamp coming January 2016!*


Thank you, Elizabeth, for taking the time to interview and for sharing your passion for your family and fitness with us! 

Linking up with Jill Conyers and the #fitfam.

Having It All Together| Five-Minute Friday

This week we get to choose our own free-write word for Five-Minute Friday. I know. Mind. Blown.

My word of choice is: "Together"

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!

00:00 START the timer!

"They sure have it all together."

Isn't that one of the biggest lies of our lives?

Pictures on social media, the people we see at the grocery store and even those lovely Christmas cards sometimes send me the message that everyone has "it" all together. Except me.

That is one thing I am concerned about when it comes to writing on the blog, posting on social media or even small-talk after church.

Am I portraying the lie that I have it all together? The pictures of our kids on Facebook are all smiles. Little did you know, a meltdown may have occurred 5 minutes before. Sometimes even this 5-minute post takes me... 10 minutes!

And our Christmas card? Of course, I only include the fun things that happened this year. Not the family squabbles or any of our worries.

The truth is, NO ONE has it all together! As long as we are here on earth, we will have troubles. Jesus said so (John 16:33)

It makes me feel less alone when I remember that I'm not the only one who feels like a failure somedays and then can go to the other extreme of being prideful the next.

Ah, what a battle this life is but we aren't fighting it alone.

Thanks be to God who delivers me from the mess I am. He is my hope and my help. With God and the body of believers, we are never struggling alone.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! ROMANS 7:24-25

05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verse added after the timer***

My Instagrammin' Favorites

Hey there! So I'm a bit late to join up with Jill and the #fitfam crew this week but, as the saying goes, better late than never.

The little ones and I went out this morning to enjoy the fresh snow brought in by today's winter storm warning. I guess 4-6" of snow is on the way.

As long as our power stays on, bring on the snow!

Today we're talking Instagram. Even earlier in 2015, I will admit I was skeptical of Instagram. Who needs a never-ending stream of pictures when you have Facebook?

I'm not a huge social media junkie because, well, I have a "dumb phone" (read: not a smartphone). GASP! People still have those weird flip phone things? Yes, I do. It has been a blessing but possibly a curse for my husband. I borrow his smartphone when I share photos on Instagram.

Anywhooo. Instagram has grown on me and I will say it is easily my favorite form of social media. Social media can be annoying and distracting but it has been a great tool for growing my blog and connecting with others in the blogosphere.

Here are a few of my favorite encouraging Instagrammers:





You can find me on Instagram as @creativeaim87! Feel free to "follow" me if you can handle numerous pictures of running, outdoorsy things and cute kiddos :)

A photo posted by Amy Will (@creativeaim87) on

Are you a fan of Instagram?
Who are your favorite Instagrammers?

Linking up with Jill Conyers and the #fitfam and Fitness Friday.

The Best is Yet to Come | Five-Minute Friday

We woke up to beautiful light blanket of snow this morning!

E prayed for snow last night (because we have had hardly any this year!) and here it is. He was so excited when he first looked out the window!

Today's Five-Minute Friday free-write word is "Reflect".

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!

00:00 START the timer!

Writing out the address over and over again can be a monotonous job but it gives me time to reflect on the year.

I look at our family and all of the changes God has brought our way. As cards come in the mail, I see how our family and friends are all growing and changing so much. How do kids grow so fast?!

Here's a little secret: I'm one of "those" people who leave their Christmas cards up year 'round!

Taking time to reflect allows us to see all of God's blessing and provision. 

Hindsight really is 20/20. So much time is wasted on worrying and yet God always comes through - just not always in the way we think He will.

As we reflect on our past year and give praise to the God who keeps this earth spinning, let me leave you with 1 Corinthians 13:12.

There will come a day when we will see our Lord face to face.

As He knows and fully understands us, we will fully and understand the Lord our God.

The best is yet to come.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 CORINTHIANS 13:12

05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verse added after the timer***

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals for 2016

2015, where have you gone?! This wild, exciting year is coming to an end.... and that means it's time to set some goals for the new year!

Our Christmas tree and the Christmas music on the radio are my reminders that, yes, it is in fact December. Yet the weather outside is far from frightful and our Christmas is definitely not white. Even in the northern parts of the States, we have hardly any snow.

Today it's a bright and sunny 40°F! It's crazy. We have had very few days in the single digit temps! I'm not complaining one bit.

My S.M.A.R.T. Goals for 2016

So, goals. I like goals! The key to setting yourself up for goal-reaching success is to make them "SMART":  Specific - Measurable - Achievable - Results-focused - Time-bound.

I don't think all of our goals need to be SMART goals necessarily, but following the SMART guideline is helpful in making my goals better defined and more focused.

Here are my focus points for this new year:

1. Ask God More Questions

And spend more time listening for His answers! I have gotten better about praying before acting but at times I still lack the patience to wait on God's answer.

I have been praying about pursuing the RRCA coaching certification program but God has closed the door on that twice now but has opened new, unexpected doors. Whether it's life commitments, schooling our kids or even making our weekend plans, He cares about every single detail of our lives! As God closes one door, I know that He will guide me down a path that is better fitted for me.

GOAL: Keep a "prayer log" of questions I am asking God and write down what He reveals to me in His time.

2. Successfully Train for the Marathon... And Like It

Training for the Fargo Marathon starts along with the start of the new year! I want to train well and push myself yet keep it fun. Most importantly, I want to stay healthy and injury free. Being sick or hobbling around would make wrangling my boys much more difficult!

GOAL: Run 4 to 5 days a week with 2 strength training sessions. Be flexible with the plan and take extra rest days as needed. 

3. Regular Date Nights

Seriously this time!. This was a resolution for 2015 and it just didn't happen... We did get away for one overnight together before Baby W was born but since then we have been terrible about date nights. Having a little-little one did complicate things but W is much easier to leave with a sitter now that he is 6 months old.

GOAL: Plan a date night at least twice a month. The date can be an at-home date when kids are sleeping, though actually getting out of the house is bonus points. 

4. Say "Yes" Only to God's Best

This is another goal returning from 2015! Our goal as a family is to set clear boundaries to protect our time together. Busyness is so easy to get sucked in to and it can steal valuable family time as well as distract from your main priorities. I want to say "Yes!" to what God is calling me to and "No." to even the "good things" that serve as a distraction to my purpose.

GOAL: Pray about decisions and talk with my husband before giving my "Yes" to anything. Allow for evening commitments (away from family) two nights a week at the max. 

5. Further Develop My Freelance Design Business

This was one of the doors God led me to this year. I ended up doing more freelance graphic design (Creative Aim Design) work than usual and it was great! I wasn't sure how balancing home duties and the boys would work with it all but the time worked out, I gave them my best work and deadlines were met.

GOAL: Start/finish my freelance design page on the blog! Take on new jobs as time allows.

6. Keep Up the Piano

Playing with the worship team over the past year has been good for me. Though my practice time seems to happen in 5-minute bouts here and there throughout the day, forcing myself to play in front of others regularly has helped me to get over some of my "performance anxiety".

GOAL: Learn 5 songs from my solo book over the course of 2016.

A video posted by Amy Will (@creativeaim87) on

Do goals motivate or frustrate you? 
What is one goal you have for 2016?

Linking up with Jessica and Jill at the Fit Dish. #thefitdish

What a Season | Five-Minute Friday

Thanksgiving flew by and now we're back to "normal" life. I hope you had a blessed time with family and/or friends. We had a great time with our families and, wow, does the time fly when you're having fun!

For today's Five-Minute Friday, our free-write word is "Season".

What's a "free write"? No editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write!

00:00 START the timer!

Last night toddler was in the bathtub, baby in his walker, and I was sitting on the toddler stool in our bathroom, just staring off into the sink faucet. My mind felt blurry and all I could think was...

What a season.

Today I found E coloring at the kitchen table. That was fine. Problem was he was pants-less. I made a new impromptu rule in the house: "To sit at the kitchen table you must at least have underwear on."

What a season.

On our morning walk, we had a major melt down. For the last stretch up to our house, I carried a diaper bag in one arm and a trike in the other while "wearing" the baby in the Moby wrap. Toddler trailed behind in tears having a meltdown because he wants his daddy... and chicken nuggets... and milk... and he definitely doesn't want his bike... but he doesn't want to walk either.

Ah yes, what a season!

This season of littles is beautiful. It's like a beautiful tornado. The house is usually a wreck. I look like a wreck. If our socks match, we're lucky. I'm exhausted by 8:00 pm yet I wonder what on earth I accomplished during the day.

This season.

It's a messy one but my heart is so full. These kids are already growing up too fast.

Some day in the far off future, my babies will leave the house and I'm going to miss this messy, exhausted season.
Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from Him. PSALM 127:3 NLT

05:00 STOP the timer!

***Bible verse added after the timer***