Goals and Systems in 2020

So, we’re already over halfway through the first month of 2020. Often times, by now, people have become frustrated with their New Year’s Resolutions and have either given up completely or are ready to. And it’s completely understandable when, usually, we tend to expect too much of ourselves too quickly.

Change—real change—is about tiny steps toward an end. You’ve heard the expression the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time? Very rarely do lifestyle changes happen all at once—at least the ones that last.

Goals and Habits

People don’t go from junk food addicts to Paleo experts overnight. If they try, often they fall off the bandwagon as their bodies start to react to the lack of carbs and sugar, which causes them to feel horrible. Couch potatoes don’t go from the couch to 5Ks overnight. If they did, they’d likely die after the first kilometer. (I know I would!)

I don’t say thesethings to discourage people from making goals or aiming to change their lifestyles. Instead, I want to encourage people to be realistic and be ready for the long haul.

New Year’s Resolutions are for the YEAR. That means we have 365 days to accomplish our goals. Want to run a 5K? Find one held in November/December, then start training for it a bit at a time. Want to ditch the junk food? Start by cutting eating out to 1-2 times a week and adding more water.

Then–as is almost always inevitable–if you slip, don’t chalk it all up to being a failure. Acknowledge the slip, pick yourself up, and start again tomorrow. You have a whole year to develop the habit!

Advice for Goals:

  • Goals are more like guidelines, they are not set in stone. Feel free to tweak them as you need to.
  • Don’t set unrealistic goals. Be honest with yourself—but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself either.
  • Follow up with your goals on a monthly basis to see what is working and what is not.
  • Break goals down into bite-size steps. Focus on the steps!
  • Goals should be PROACTIVE. This means that goals are something you have control over and are an action. “I want to lose weight” is neither something you have control over nor is it a specific action. “I want to run 2 miles a day,” on the other hand, IS something you have control over and is a specific action.

Use Your Systems!

Something I’ve garnered over the last year is an understanding of systems. Systems are the tools and habits you have in place to be successful in your endeavors. And, to me, they seem far less daunting than the actual goals.

Tools are stuff like calendars, apps, to-do lists, routines, etc. For instance, I use ToDoist, a website/app, as my to-do list for the different aspects of my life. It’s digital and it syncs across devices. I can divide my tasks between categories (personal, homeschool, business, Realm Makers…) and types of tasks (email, appointments, phone calls, etc.).

Some tools I use:

  • Google Calendar
  • My Brilliant Writing Planner
  • Habit tracker
  • Weekly box for my medicine
  • Morning Routine
  • Evening Routine
  • Menu Planning (I use Google Calendar)

Habits are actions we take on a regular basis to help get a specific result. I get up every morning at 5:45 a.m. This allows me time for quiet time with God and time to write before I jump into my day with the kids and homeschooling.

Other habits I have or aim to build this year:

  • Exercise 5x/wk after lunch/dinner (depending on the time of the year)
  • Evening Routine (to help me wind down so I’ll sleep better)
  • Reading 30 minutes every night before bed
  • Write 2,000 words/day, 6 days/wk

Our tools should support our habits to create the systems that help us reach our goals.

It is good to have an accountability partner or 2 to help keep you on track. This can be your spouse, if you both can be honest with each other without getting frustrated or offended. But I find it is usually easier to use someone who does not live with you. I have my Ladies of Spec, a mastermind accountability group, to help me out!

While there is a lot to enjoy this time of the year, I hope your goals are not causing you to become frustrated or discouraged. If they are, then maybe it’s time to focus more on systems and habits—the means—instead of the end goal. Build good systems, and those goals will fall in place more naturally.

What are some of your goals for 2020?

Confessions of a Hybrid-Homeschooling Mom

goals-for-2017by Lisa Godfrees


I have two daughters, both of whom have been in public school until recently. Without going into the long story behind why, let me say that public school works very well for most students. In fact, my 7th grader excels in school and when given the option to be homeschooled, she decided to stay with her friends.

But some kids need a little more one-on-one time, or a different approach to learning, than a public school can accommodate. Such is the case with my 5th grader. While she misses recess, she is overall relieved not to be in the classroom, much preferring to be taught by Miss Mummy Pants (her teacher name for me—I have absolutely no idea why).

While I cannot claim to be an expert at homeschooling after less than a semester, I can offer some unique insights even in my short time. Feel free to add to it in the comments below.


Homeschool parents: Public school is not evil.

Some parents who have exclusively homeschooled have the biased view that sending a child to public school is inexplicably evil. And to listen to some of the people who speak at homeschool conferences, it’s no wonder parents hold that view. Homeschool associations that have fought for parental rights and seen the bad side of the system tend to have a jaded view of public education and its administrators.

Thankfully, I live in Texas which is still a conservative part of the Bible belt. In my experience, public school teachers and administrators do their best to offer safe and quality education away from the hot topics of gender and sex education. Many of the teachers/administrators my daughters have had are Christian. And thank God for that! Can you imagine what our school system would look like if no one involved in it were Christian?


Homeschool kids are not necessarily better educated.

I have several friends who homeschool their children. Depending on the child and the parent, their kids may be ahead or behind public school grade levels. What some of these kids learn is truly amazing, and what others don’t learn is concerning.

A child’s performance depends on what they are taught. If their parents don’t select a well-rounded curriculum, if they don’t take schooling seriously, if they don’t push, if they don’t monitor what their students are learning and retaining, then we can end up with high school students that can’t link countries to continents. They might place China in North America, or the Philippines in Greenland. (I’m not joking. I’ve graded tests.) Or students that don’t complete homework, or don’t come prepared for class, or whine when asked to do a more coursework than they are used to… more than can be completed the night before the class.

After teaching high school students at a co-op this fall, I’ve seen that some kids are directionless. Graduating seniors who don’t know what they are going to do next year. College, work, neither? Homeschool children need vision casting for their futures too. It might not be college, but it should be something. We all need a goal to shoot for.


To public school parents: Homeschool kids are socialized just fine.

If you’ve been around homeschoolers, you’ll realize what a laughable misconception it is that children who are homeschooled aren’t well socialized. You probably work or know people who have been homeschooled and don’t even know it. Don’t mistake children with special needs or learning disabilities (at home or in public school) with poor socialization.

Socialization can be a concern. Since it’s just me and my daughter at home, I try to make sure to encourage activities and play dates with other kids, but many homeschool families have a lot of kids, so this is more the exception than a rule.


To public school parents: History makes a lot more sense when the Bible is taken into consideration.

As a product of a public-school education, this one came as a surprise to me. I’m not sure why it should—I mean, I went to seminary. It’s not like I’ve not learned the history. But the thing is, when you start looking at world history from a biblical perspective and consider everything together, it Just. Makes. Sense. In a way that separating church and state from one another is fundamentally flawed. It’s enough to make me wonder what great disservice we’re doing to our kids. How are they going to understand God’s ultimate plan if they don’t learn a comprehensive view of history and the Bible? We can’t expect them to learn it at church/Sunday school once a week. The Bible illiteracy of our culture probably has a lot to do with the Bible being taken out of the school room. It’s a historical document, folks!


Moms on both sides of the equation feel guilt.

My public-school daughter is out in the world, interacting with peers, learning about due dates, tests, competition, and expectations. She has extracurricular activities that my homeschool-child doesn’t have, but she’s missing out on the comprehensive Christian worldview my youngest is learning. She’s spending time doing some ridiculous school bureaucratic things, because – hey, that’s public school, right? There’s a reason we make fun of it.

But I worry for my homeschool daughter, too. Am I teaching her my bad habits? Is she missing out on real-world experiences that she needs to turn into a well-rounded adult? Am I sheltering her too much? Am I ruining my kid?


Whatever the case, we can only live in the moment and make the best decisions we can at the time. And pray, pray, pray – for one another, for our kids, and for our country.


lisa-godfrees-lr-5Author Bio:

LISA GODFREES worked over a decade in a crime lab. Tired of technical writing, she hung up her lab coat to pen speculative fiction. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies and online. Mind Writer (Elk Lake Publishing) co-authored with Mike Lynch, is her first novel. Lisa is a member of ACFW, SCBWI, the Houston Writers Guild, and serves as the Production Manager for Splickety Prime. She currently resides in Houston with one dog, two cats, two girls, and a husband.

Website: www.lisagodfrees.com

Social Media Links:


A Day in the Life . . .

a-day-in-the-lifeI often have people ask me how I fit everything into my schedule. I homeschool, write, work, volunteer, and try to have some sort of life outside my home. One word describes my life: busy. Sometimes even overwhelming. But I love it and wouldn’t change a thing.


The basic truth is that no day during the week is quite like the other. With all of our activities, appointments, and obligations, it’s hard to set any kind of actual daily schedule. But I do follow some general guidelines.

6:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.  Morning Routines

We all have different wake up times, but everyone is supposed to be up by 7. From there, everyone has an hour to really wake up and eat breakfast. The last hour is a combo of getting ready for the day and morning chores. I try not to schedule anything other than the occasional doc appt. before 9:00 as we all have our own speeds in the morning.

For me, I get up at 6:00 and have quiet time/Bible study. Somewhere around 6:40, I’ll start breakfast if I’m making something like scrambled eggs, otherwise breakfast waits til about 7:00. The next two hours, I try to work on my own projects (novels, blogs, etc.) and jumpstart the social media fun.

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The CORE of the Day

This is the general time set aside for homeschool, cleaning, and other activities. Homeschool on a good day takes about 5 hours (for me, less for the kids). Wednesdays, my oldest has 3 hours of therapy, so we do homeschool on the go for the other 2. Thursdays is homeschool co-op. The girls also have gymnastics (Monday) and choir (Wednesdays) that fall into this time block. No TV/games are allowed during this time unless it’s for school or special reason.

I try to limit my online time during this block. My computer is off limits except for about 30 minutes during lunch. I might quick check social media on my phone between subjects or cleaning. If I could wean myself off completely during this time, I might even get more done.

5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  Evening Fun

Depending on the time of year, there are various things that can go on in the evenings: Bible study, American Heritage Girls, church, martial arts . . . Dinnertime and evening routine are determined by those projects. Ideally, we eat between 5:30 and 6:00.

If we’re in an off-season or a day where we have nothing in the evening. The kids are usually welcome to some TV or games after dinner cleanup. After dinner, I will hide away in my office to work (usually until about 10:00). Before 8:00, I’ll work on various jobs like marketing for Realm Makers, volunteer stuff for ACFW, etc. Depending on what time I get those done depends on what time I get to editing for clients.

8:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.  Work, Read, Sleep

The kids start to settle down around 8:00. All are required to start getting ready for bed around 8:15 and in bed by 8:30 when we’re doing school. The older 2 can sometimes stay up and read for a bit, if they’re quiet.

I’m still plugging away at work until 10:00. My goal is to give myself an hour to unwind before I need to go to sleep, and, ideally, at least 30 minutes to read while cuddled in my bed. At 10:00, I generally talk with my husband for awhile, then migrate upstairs to read. Lights out is supposed to be at 11:00, but sometimes I need just one more chapter . . .


Block scheduling is a new concept for me in my daily life. Okay, not new, renewed? I’ve just started applying it in general over the summer. But the summer was so crazy that it wasn’t exactly effective. However, since we are now back to normal, I can see how well it is working for me.

Block scheduling like this allows us to be as flexible as our lives may require. Knowing that “this” part of the day is to be reserved for “these activities,” my Type-A side is able to relax when things don’t go exactly as the schedule says they should.

As you can see, I also work block scheduling in to my work. This way I am always making time for my projects, my jobs, and my editing. Nothing ever gets completely dropped. Now, that’s not to say if I’m under deadline, editing won’t take over for a few days. Or writing. These are just guidelines.

So, that’s a peek at a day in my life. No 2 days are alike, and life keeps us busy. But amid the chaos, there is some organization, and right now it works for us.

What about you? Do you have a schedule that you adhere to? Do you “block out” your day?


Goals: August 2016

PIC1068506062So this post is a few days late, but my recovery from Realm Makers and my crazy week prevented the post from coming out any sooner than, well, today!

I didn’t do a goals post in July, so I don’t really have anything to follow up on. I did manage to get everything I wanted done in July done, except for finishing an edit on my own story. I’m okay with that, though, because I still pitched it at Realm Makers and got a request for a full!

Back to August–and my quest for world domination. Actually, this month, I’ll settle for dominating my to-do list. It’s kicking my rear!

So, here are my goals for August:

  1. I need get a jumpstart on my revision of Dividing Spirits, which is now being aptly retitled, Soul Seer. I need to get the first 3 chapters polished before ACFW.
  2. Which brings me to my 2nd goal: prepare for ACFW. I have to design a new one sheet for Soul Seer and get all the papers printed out. Yay! Plus, I need a newsletter signup/contest sheet for the freebie table. And I need snacks.
  3. Start on my diet. I’ve actually already started on this. Yay! My friends Amy and Michele are jumping in on the quest with me to lose weight and get in shape before Realm Makers next year. Plus, there’s the being healthy part, which is important too. 😛
  4. Get on a homeschool schedule. Yes, I only have 2 weeks to homeschool before I leave for a week, but I think it’s important to get everything together and organized and work the kinks out. That way, AFTER I get back from ACFW, we can jump in to the routine, rather than fumbling about for another few weeks.

And that”s all I’m giving myself this month. I think it’s important to focus on a few things at a time. And this is plenty. Especially since there was only 3 weeks between Realm Makers and ACFW.

What are a couple of your goals for August?

Let’s keep each other accountable. I’ll keep a list of those who respond, and we’ll all check in the beginning of September! Sign up for my blog/newsletter so you can check back in with us!

Fab 5 Friday: Reboot!

DSC_0394_aIt’s been so great to actually get back into blogging. I’ve missed having a workable schedule where I can write to you all on a more regular basis. Now, I’m excited to share all kinds of things with you over the next few months. Don’t miss out, sign up for my newsletter!


For those who are not aware, Fab 5 Friday is an opportunity for me to share with you 5 fabulous things that I’ve found, done, experienced, read, etc. I often share about books I’m reading, homeschooling experiences, quotes, new products, pictures. Whatever I feel is totally fabulous. Instead of trying to do it once a week, though, I’m cutting down to once a month!

Also, new to the blog is Novel News. At the end of each month, I’ll be sharing a slew of new releases for you to ooo and ah over. The majority will be speculative fiction, but as I believe in reading wide, I’ll be sure to throw some potentially interesting ones in from other genres. You can check out May’s Novel News!

Earlier this week, I debuted my summer experimental series, Confessions. Confessions, for now, is an opportunity for authors and other publishing professionals to share a little about themselves, their ups and downs, and their personalities. Desiree Williams shared the daydreaming, scatterbrain side of her in the first post. I’ve already started seeing some posts and ideas from other authors who have committed to the series this summer, and I can’t wait to share them with you.




Right now, I’m reading Acolyte by Keven Newsome. This is the long awaited, final book in his Winter trilogy. I have been bugging him for years, and now I just can’t get enough of the story. So. Good. I’m about 70% done, and hope to finish it up this weekend.



Lately, as the public schools have released for the summer, people have been asking me if we do school year-round or if we take summer breaks as well. I’m proud to say that we do school year-round. Why? There are a few reasons:

  • I believe children retain more if you keep things consistent.
  • We do take breaks throughout the year (about every 6-8 weeks).
  • It allows extra days for me to take off when I’m on deadline or when we want to travel.
  • It gets HOT in the summer. We can cool off and work on our studies at the same time.

Now, our schedule is a little different in the summer. Instead of following our Sonlight curriculum, we focus more on electives. And we still keep up on reading, spelling, and math.


Jurassic Park: In case you didn’t know, the entire original Jurassic Park trilogy is on Netflix this summer! I finally got to share the first move with my kids earlier this week. They LOVED it. I actually worried it might be too scary for them, but with all our usual quips throughout even the scary parts, they were fine. One of my daughters kept making T-Rex jokes, pretending she had short arms.

Gods of Egypt: This recently came out on DVD. Yay! It had an interesting and different take on Egyptian mythology. It was full of action with enough depth of story to engage the softer side of me. Bec was definitely my favorite character–passion and purpose. I thought the CG was well done. If you don’t mind movies/book with non-Christian gods in it, you might like this one.


I found this amazing version of Let It Go on YouTube. The kids and I can watch it over and over again! Enjoy!

What summer blockbusters are you looking forward to? 


Life and Updates

file0001024202589Happy Monday, everyone!

I know it’s been awhile since y’all have heard from me. Life has been, well, crazy around here the last few months. So much that I can’t even get into right now. So, I thought I’d catch you up on some stuff . . .

  1. Yes, Bellanok 3 is coming out soon. Look for more information at the end of the week. I’m going to have y’all help me with something! I’ll just say for now that Bellanok 3 will be out in March and part 4 will be out in April.
  2. I am (finally) open for editing again. If you’re looking for an editor (or getting close to being ready), check out my editing services page and shoot me an e-mail! (E-mail is basically my name at gmail.)
  3. Two of my friends are celebrating some pretty amazing stuff this month.
    1. J.L. Mbewe is celebrating her birthday hobbit style–a birthday bash on her blog with fun prizes!
    2. Zachary Totah is celebrating his one-year blogaversary with some reflection and, of course, some prizes. One of which is ebook copies of both of Bellanok novellas so far.
  4. In April, I’ll be participating in a couple of Facebook parties with other speculative fiction authors. Stay tuned for more information to come! If you haven’t signed up for my blog/newsletter, do so now so you don’t miss out on all the fun.

In other areas, my daughters both have birthdays in March. We’re throwing a joint part–a slumber party. What am I getting myself into? I just can’t believe my oldest will be turning 10! TEN!

Homeschooling is as much a joy as ever–even if we are a little behind. The kids are all loving the books we are reading this year with our Sonlight curriculum. We’re studying the first half of American history and have read books like The Sign of the Beaver, and we’re just finishing up The Witch of Blackbird Pond (one of my fave books in elementary books).

In 6 weeks, we’ll be taking the family (along with my husband’s side of the family) to Disney World! We’re very excited about it–and so are the kids.

So, that’s a little update on me. What about you guys? What’s new with you? What can we celebrate?

Fab 5 Friday: Chaos Edition


I’ve finally made the transition from summer to school, from conference planning to conference prep, from business to writing . . . In other words, it’s been completely crazy around here. And the craziness will continue at least through next week, which is when I will attend ACFW in Dallas.


So, I saw that one of my friends was publishing her 3rd book in a YA speculative trilogy. I had no idea that she had even published the first 2, much less that they were spec in nature. Excited to learn this, I bought the first book–and devoured it in 2 days. I bought the 2nd, and then the 3rd. I finished all 3 in about a week. I won’t tell you much about them, but I will suggest that you check out The Gifting Series by K.E. Ganshert, starting with The Gifting.


There are some exciting things going on in my business world. If you’ve been following my blog or social media, you already know that I have a book coming out next month–you can see the cover and blurb here. I’m super excited to share the first part of this 5-part mini-series with you.


We’re officially into our new school year. The girls have been so excited as we’ve been studying the early Native Americans as we are into the early American History. They’re particularly excited for me to get back from ACFW so we can start our astronomy course and the typing software. So cute!

We decided to try the whole homeschool co-op thing this year, after a year-long break. The girls are taking a sign-language class and one called 50 States. Connor is taking a 2-part class where they study different countries around the world. Yesterday was their first day, and they had a lot of fun!

What did I do during this time? Worked on planning my book launch!


In June, I had KY Christian Writers Conference. In August, it was Realm Makers–a conference for speculative fiction writers who are Christian. And this month, I’m headed to the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. For the first 2, I was on the planning committee and did a lot of working during the conference for both. I’m excited to head to ACFW where I can kick back and hobknob, maybe learn a thing or 2.


What have you been reading lately? Which ones would you recommend to fellow readers?