I have learned controversy is what life is really all about. Controversy means there is two sides, one side has no idea what the other side is thinking. Of course, there are those controversies when neither side is actually doing any thinking. That is what is called politics.
I had an illustration of this recently. The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I spent a wonderful week’s vacation in Ohio visiting our son and his family. It is always great to spend time with family.
Early in the morning, I would go to the front porch, sit down with a book and casually enjoy the quietness. One particular morning as I was marinating in the silence, I heard what sounded like an explosion in the tree.
I looked and saw a squirrel racing down the tree followed by two screaming birds. I watched as the squirrel disappeared into some bushes in front of the fence that bordered the property. I could see him standing and staring at the birds who were screaming at him.
He stood like a frozen monument, they finally gave up and flew back up the tree and I saw them go to their nest.
I looked over and saw the squirrel standing there staring up at the tree in the area where the nest was.
I almost went back to my book when I saw out of the corner my eye the squirrel leaping off the fence and racing back up the tree towards the nest.
Almost immediately, the birds that were guarding the nest exploded in anger and chase the squirrel back down the tree and he jumped into the bushes and hid from them. They squawked and screamed for a few moments, threatening some very bad business to the squirrel.
Again, he stood there just staring.
This went on about six times before I finally realized what was going on.
The birds were up there protecting their eggs, which would soon hatch into little birdies. They were protecting their family and their future.
The squirrel, on the other hand, saw in that nest up the tree a fresh scrambled egg delicacy. The controversy was between a now pleasure and a future family. If only the squirrel and the birds could come together and talk out their controversy, maybe they could have come to some reasonable resolution.
Of course, it would be rather difficult to talk the squirrel out of enjoying a scrumptious little meal.
That reminded me of some controversies we have had in the parsonage through the years. It all boils down to the squirrel and the birds’ controversy. I want something now, just like a squirrel, and my wife, like those two birds, is one of those people that know how to plan for the future. For me, I am not sure how long I am going to live, so I want something right now!
I am a little squirrelly along this line. Read More→
I think it is a guy’s job to name things of importance.
Good thing that this blog column is for Dads and females aren’t reading it . . . right? Right?
Oh man, I think I’m in dangerous waters.
First, let me start with the Bible. In the Beginning account in Genesis, Adam’s job was to name the animals. In the Old Testament, men were responsible to name places, and put names to events where God did something amazing.
As you continue throughout Scripture, guys put names to things of importance. Read about Zechariah in Luke 1; even when he was mute, he wrote down on a slip of paper that his newborn son was to be named John (the Baptist).
I can hear legions of women picking up pitchforks and heating up cauldrons of tar. Let me expound on this a little more before the mob arrives.
In the history of culture described in the Bible, guys had a significant role as leaders and God-followers. So, much of the “important” details of naming things fell to them. There are, of course, very clear accounts of women also naming things. For instance, the plethora of kids named in the ‘son making war’ in Genesis 30.
There are other examples of women in the Bible naming things, but I’m risking provoking a
feminist mob to say this: Dads, we need to take the responsibility to name things.
I’m not talking about kids or pets. Although, as a side note, most of my awesome name suggestions for our kids were somehow relegated to our pets. Our turtle got the name Quinn. Our Dog, the PH.D. in Phrenology, got the name (Dr.) Bohdi. We had a snake once named Martok, and in each of these cases I think you will agree that these are EXCELLENT names.
I think my wife was agreeing to me using some of my best name suggestions for the pets, so that I wouldn’t try to use them for our kids. She’s devious. And, she’s obviously never seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade . . .
Anyway, sometimes Dads need to be the one to name, or label, what is really happening.
For instance, let’s say that it’s the week before school starts. The family has been doing all the usual roles of a family preparing for this event. Parents are quietly rejoicing and shopping for school supplies. Kids are trying to ignore the fact that schools starting. Many families try to squeeze in a vacation. Schedules begin to be disrupted. . . . and suddenly there is the presence of a high amount of stress.
This is where a Dad steps in and names the situation. “We are all stressed because school is going to start.”
It seems like a miniscule thing, but naming a situation like this helps everyone understand how they are feeling and gives them insight on how to cope. Once such back-to-school stress is named, then everyone can take measures to deal with it. Read More→
So what does it mean, what can it do for you, and how do you get it?
Social proof just means that you are getting testimonials from raving fans about your brand. These come in the form of testimonials or positive mentions in social media.
Why is it important? Because it gives your brand credibility and trust. People don’t do business with businesses. They do business with people they like, know, and trust.
And seeing social proof helps your prospect trust your brand so that they will be attracted to what you offer and feel comfortable purchasing from you.
So how can you get it? Well, of course, ask for it! When you conduct business with a customer, ask them for their feedback and use it in your online and offline marketing materials, your landing pages, and in your social media.
A bookkeeping service like Freshbooks will automatically do this for you when invoices are sent. If it is not automatic, however, you need to have a system in place for follow up, whether that’s sending out a survey or emailing your request for a testimonial.
Sometimes this feedback comes as a surprise. Just today I got a letter in the mail from my sister-in-law thanking me for giving her my new devotional book. With her permission (which I’m sure she’ll give), it will be a great tool to show potential buyers that my book is worth the investment!
Take a snapshot of your positive feedback! If it is on social media, use a tool like Grab (on the Mac) to take a screen shot. Of course, if you need to black out the name, do so.
But non-anonymous testimonials are best. This shows credibility.
If it is a letter or postcard, take a picture and post it on your social media, your email marketing, and your Web pages.
Make this fun! Ask your customers to send you testimonial videos in exchange for being entered in a drawing! Create a buzz and you will get more response! Read More→
She is… alone. World turned upside down, securities shaken, questions unanswered. Somehow, each day, she must survive. Breathe again. Scrimp and save and make a way. Somewhere, in the midst of it all, she must find something … or Someone … to be her Rock.
The nameless widows of Scripture – don’t overlook them. The Lord included their stories for our benefit, and He knows each of these women intimately. He didn’t see anonymity or ambiguity. He saw hearts, lives, faces. He heard their groans and cries and saw in each one the potential to reach us today. While each account holds multiple truths, let’s glean a single nugget that we can cling to from a few examples of extraordinary widows of faith.
Widow #1: The Zarephath Widow (I Kings 17:8-24) – When God Makes A Promise
She is asked to feed the prophet Elijah when she could barely scrape together enough to make a last meal for her and her son. But God speaks to her through Elijah, and something in those words moves her to obey without reservation. She makes a withdrawal from her last reserves of flour and oil and prepares food for the prophet and then for herself and her son. When God makes a promise, you can afford to give your all. And her supplies never run out. When God makes a promise, you can bank on it. He supplies her physical needs and her spiritual needs. And when life is snatched from her son, God hears her heart’s cry and returns the son to her. When God makes a promise, He doesn’t leave your side. Your famine may not be physical but spiritual. Revisit the promises of God. Find life and hope and every need met. Read More→
It is unavoidable. Feelings of discouragement will be experienced as an entrepreneur but learning how to handle them is vital to the future success of your business. Discouragement if allowed to linger too long, can take you off your path. It can make it easier to throw in the towel on your business dreams. Discouragement can also shake your confidence to its’ core and make you second guess yourself.
So what does it mean to be discouraged?
Inside the word discouragement is the word courage. Courage is the ability to be fearless; to face anything that is dangerous, painful or difficult. Discouragement then is to be without courage. The courage that you once had has now gone away. You no longer approach your business from a place of strength and faith, but instead from a place of fear and hesitation.
But… it can come back. Discouragement can turn to Courage again.
In business your courage will at times wane. There will be moments and situations where feelings of discouragement are so overwhelmingly strong that you may not know what to do.
But God always know what to do. He can deliver us from the discouragement we sometimes feel. We can also do some things to help ourselves through these moments of uncertainty.
So what do you do when you feel discouraged? How do you handle it and not get stuck in a pit of potential despair?
Here are five ways to handle feeling discouraged: Exodus 6:6-9
Let go of what has happened. Perhaps you made a major decision for your business and it did not turn out as you had expected. Or maybe you have experienced multiple setbacks that have left doubting your abilities, questioning if being an entrepreneur is the right thing for you.
What you may not recognize is that the feeling of discouragement is an opening for God to bless you in a new way; a way you may not even have imagined. That decision that now seems like it was the wrong one, perhaps is God’s way of creating room for what is to come. Read More→
When you run a small business, you’ve got a lot on your plate. From marketing and product development to finances and HR, there’s very little time to stress about the small stuff like sending out emails. However, it’s often the small stuff that can give you the edge over your other small business competitors. So to help give your small home business a leg up, here are three ways you can make your email correspondence more professional by understanding some basic principles in email etiquette.
Use A Dedicated Business Email
While small business owners want to work hard to keep costs low, always choosing the free options can be detrimental to your business, especially where communication is concerned. This is why, according to John Hebron, a contributor to BigCommerce.com, setting up a dedicated work email using your domain name is a great way to show your clients or customers that you’re a serious business. By choosing to use your domain name as the address for your work email, you also have more consistent branding and name recognition.
A Simple Signature
For business communications, it’s important to give the recipient of your correspondence as much information as possible with regards to your contact information. While email may be your preferred form of contact, that may not be the case for all your clients or customers. For this reason, Lily Herman, a contributor to TheMuse.com, recommends having a simple yet effective email signature at the end of each email you send that consists of a few alternate ways to contact you. This could include an alternative email address, phone number, or even a Twitter handle. By including this information, you appear more professional as well as giving yourself a greater chance of having your outreach reciprocated. Read More→
There are many nights that I lay awake long after my husband begins snoring lightly beside me. My mind whirls as I think of all the ways I’ve failed that day. Phone calls and emails that didn’t get returned; laundry that didn’t make it from the basket to the drawers; and worse yet time I could have spent with the kids that I whittled away working or collapsed in a chair trying to catch my breath.
How do we find the time to be a great parent amidst the chaos? The answer: we must realize we can’t do it all. As work-at-home moms, we need to relax and strive not for perfection, but for doing our best despite the circumstances. We need to strive to be parents who are:
Playful – Motherhood is a job that most of us take very seriously. However, the day-to-day life of a mom can be full of joy, laughter and fun as well. As moms, we set the tone for our household. When we have a positive attitude anything can be fun, even teaching times such as helping with homework.
My daughter began kindergarten recently. She now has homework to complete a few evenings each week. She is learning to read and becomes frustrated when she can’t figure out a word. I’m learning that by being patient with her, allowing her to express her frustration (in a calm manner) and encouraging her when she succeeds, even homework can be enjoyable time spent with her. Whenever possible, we turn homework into a game and have fun learning together.
Prayerful – The greatest part of a healthy prayer life is seeing God answer your prayers and sharing these experiences with your children. Answered prayer is a powerful spiritual teacher in the life of a child.
Jane Evans, author of Raising Children Without Going Insane, explains it well. “When you are lost and can’t find your way, stop and pray and ask God to help you. Teach your children the power of prayer in everyday situations…even you may be surprised, as I have many times, at the way God answers when you call!” Read More→