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Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Jun
05

The Power of Words in Business

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I love email. I know it’s silly, but I truly love receiving emails – especially from women who are a part of my ministry, Christian Work at Home Moms. I love hearing what God is doing in their lives and how He is creating businesses out of the very fabric of who they are and the things that they love to do.

I received an email not long ago, however, that wasn’t nearly so encouraging. The woman was upset. She had been hurt by people during her work-at-home journey, she felt used and abused. She took that anger out on me. I was heartbroken as I read that email and felt this woman’s pain. My heart ached not just for the anger that she expressed, but at seeing the pain behind her words.

Words give us power. They allow us to communicate what God is teaching us. They give us the ability to share the joys and triumphs of life.

And yet, words can be used to wield another sort of power as well – the power to injure. We can so easily hurt others with the words that write and speak. I can think of countless times that I have spoken something without thinking – with no intention of hurting someone – and injured the person on the receiving end.

James 3:3 -6 tells us:

“Take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.
Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

What a powerful statement that last line is. Read it again: “It [the tongue] corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” The words we speak can corrupt us if we choose to speak words that belittle others, hurt others or tear others down.

On the flip side, in Proverbs 31:26 we find out how a godly woman uses her words:
She speaks wise words and teaches others to be kind.” Read More→

va-seriesOffering social media management and consulting services to clients is one of those things I sort of fell into. When I started working online as a virtual assistant social networks were in their infancy. MySpace was dying with Facebook and Twitter quickly gaining traction. Facebook spoke to the extrovert in me; couple that with working from home and social media soon became close to an obsession for me. It was a client’s prompting that had me looking at my near obsession through a different lens and started making money offering my social media knowledge and experience to clients as a service.

As an entrepreneur and freelance virtual assistant it is important to keep up to date not only on the latest programs, software and, in some cases, social networking sites. It’s important to also be up to date on the latest trends and advances within one’s industry. The following is how continue my education regularly.

Online Groups – There are a few virtual assistant groups that I have connected with and regularly follow. Interaction with other virtual assistants is a great way of picking up other tips, tricks, and even skills. Facebook and Google+ both have excellent virtual assistant groups to join. One that I am a part of is Virtual Assistant Community. (Google+ calls their groups ‘communities.’) Read More→

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May
29

Don’t Hide From What You’re Passionate About

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WOvercoming Fearhen I was in college one of the requirements to graduate was to take a speech class. I was a fairly quiet girl who tried to blend in the crowd as much as possible. So, the thought of getting up in front of the crowd was terrifying to me.  Every time I thought about having to speak in front of my friends and classmates my heart would start racing, my palms would sweat and I would quickly distract myself by doing something else.

Eventually, though, I had to find a way to conquer speech class. So, one semester I had the brilliant idea to take speech class during the summer term at the local community college. This way, I could make a fool out of myself in front of strangers instead of my friends. So, that summer I hid out at the community college and suffered through speech class.

But, the joke was on me. I wouldn’t have believed you had you told me in college, but God would eventually give me opportunities to speak before audiences…and I would learn to enjoy it. I might possibly even say I developed a passion for speaking (and writing). I now take the opportunities God provides to share about working from home and how we can incorporate our faith into our business lives.

The Bible gives us a great example of someone else who – literally – tried to hide from his calling. In 1 Samuel chapter 10 we meet Saul. Saul has just been informed by the prophet Samuel he is to be Israel’s first king.

Samuel gathers the people of Israel together to announce God’s decision, but when he calls for Saul to step forward, guess what? Saul is nowhere to be found.

Samuel had them pass by in family groups, and Matri’s family was picked. Then he had each man of Matri’s family pass by, and Saul son of Kish was picked. But when they looked for Saul, they could not find him. (1 Samuel 10:21, NCV)

And where do you think Saul was? Read More→

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May
25

My Advice: Twice Is Just As Nice

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NWhat is your marriage modelingothing is more important to a blissful marriage than finding a point of agreement. Every veteran husband knows if he wants to change his wife’s mind about anything, just agree with her. It is amazing how this works. The technical name for this is “re-wife psychology.”

The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I have been married since 1971 and have not had a serious argument or disagreement. (She does not allow me to talk back.) We have had rough times, but not with each other.

We have survived nine congregations, 19 homes, three children with nine grandchildren and all without compromising our relationship. My sanity is another issue.

Throughout our marriage, we have always held to the advice not to go to bed angry. Of course, there have been a few sleepless nights. I have a simple rule: do not close your eyes if there is an angry woman in the vicinity.

I honestly can say our marital relationship through the years has been most amicable. Since our marriage, my wife and I spend a lot of time working together and we never seem to get bored with one another.

We are a great team. She puts up with me and I let her. It works wonderfully and we have been able to accomplish a good deal together.

Only one area where we disagree and there may not be much of a remedy for this departure in company.

Never fear. Our marital dissolution is not near.

We have just learned to live with this dissent and, I might add, have survived quite happily.

I suppose no relationship is absolutely perfect this side of the Pearly Gates. Not to boast, but I have my wife beat in this one area. I do not often get the upper hand with her; in fact, I cannot remember any other occasion where this has occurred.

Nevertheless, we have come to a meeting of the minds on this subject. Really, if you don’t mind, the meeting doesn’t matter. Read More→

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May
24

The Top Four Do’s of Successful Virtual Assistants

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lightbulbIn building my company from the ground up my skills and services went through tons of refining. From my experiences and education I have a lot to share which may help with your own virtual assistant business. These top “do’s” are a must in my book and should be in yours, too, especially as you push and plan for virtual assistant success!

Do Communicate With Your Clients: Communication ensures you and your client are on the same page, tracking with the same line of thinking. This goes a long way in building a rapport with clients which will have them coming back for more. Repeat clients are additional revenue that all too often is overlooked. In communicating with my clients the door was opened several times to other services I offer. In communicating with your clients you will learn of upcoming direction changes and opportunities.

Do the Social Media Marketing and Networking Dance:  Social media marketing, in the words of Diana Ennen, “is here to stay.” For the most part social media marketing is a free method of marketing and getting the word out about your virtual assistant services. When done correctly it also is a way of establishing your expertise in your field. Be sure to stay up to date on the social media platforms to get the most interaction from your efforts.

Do Schedule Your Time: Believe it or not, scheduling your time in regards to clients and tasks will not only reveals hidden pockets of time, but also help you stay on target. This will serve you well as the more on target you stay, the more productive and the more money you can make. Don’t forget to schedule time to complete administrative tasks in daily and weekly intervals to keep things from piling up in your office.

Do Continue Your Education: This can be in the form of classes, whether locally or online, webinars, online courses and more. Personally, there are a number of small business and virtual assistant blogs I visit regularly and keep my eye out for articles in which I might further my knowledge. Every little bit counts. Read More→

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May
23

How to Minister to Others with Your Blog

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Blogging is so popular nowadays that you may already be contemplating using this platform to spread the gospel or simply help other people. Can you use the tool for outreach? Perhaps we need to review the reasons people blog.  For some people, blogging is a full time job, while others do it for fun.  For Christian, the motivation should be the urge to say something.

There is a lot to say on the blogosphere. Many ills are happening in the world and taking the fight online is the best strategy. Assuming you have a blog ready, we have some ideas on how to use it for ministry.  If you do not have an idea what a Christian blog is, here is an example of one. Now let us look at the ideas.

Build a Niche

There are millions of blogs already, so you must occupy a distinctive niche to garner significant readership. Unless your skills match those of Garrison Keillor or Peter Ustinov, you must avoid a broad view of issues. Have you determined who your target readers are?  You could be targeting the youth, unbelievers, or young believers and so on. Have their mental picture and probably do an assessment before doing your first post.

Be Transparent

It is very difficult to minister to others when you are not transparent. When it comes to blogging, it should not be lost to you that humans thrive on connection with others. Write posts that demonstrate how one can overcome tests, adversity and so on. Share your struggles, outlining how you won the battles. I once shared to readers how I used to focus entirely on how to amass wealth and overlooked God. I explained how God did not place too much value on my worldly successes. He valued me with or without money, cars and apartments. From the feedback I got, it is apparent this is something many people encounter. Share your testimony on your blog; you never know how many people you will touch.

Be Diverse In Your Posts

It is very surprising that some people think Christians live abnormal lives. In your blog posts, do not strive to promote this misconception by writing about bible verses 24/7. Let people see you are also a human being so that they can be ready to connect. When people visit your blog, they should see that you love football, pets, road trips, and you are a firm believer of the Word. Let your topics elicit a sense of reality even as you give your audience a regular dose of the Gospel.

Use Blogging Tools Maximally

As enthusiastic as you are about blogging, you will agree or eventually find out that updating your blog regularly is a tough call. Your ministry can suffer if bad habits set in, but we do not want to go into that topic for now. It does not have to get to that point where blogging for ministry is no longer fun. You need tools to make blogging easier and more fun. An added advantage is that you are guaranteed of good results. Read More→

May
22

Summer Sanity Tips For Work-at-Home Moms

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As we’re moving from spring into summer, we all have a moment or two where we look forward to summer because of its slower pace.  When summer arrives, in all its glory, we then recognize the lie that we had been telling ourselves. Summer is crazy busy.

Between pool parties, summer sports and sleepovers, how will we ever fit working in to our schedule? Here are a few tips on how to make it work.

Plan Your Work Times

I know it seems impossible, but planning work times into your schedule is something we must learn to do. Each day holds something different during the summer it seems, so we may have to do things like get up early and work, plan out work during naptimes or stay up late and burn the midnight oil.

Know Your Priorities

Knowing when you’re going to work is only half the battle. It can be easy to say to ourselves that we’ll work during naptime, but then we sit down to get to work and don’t know where to start. So, one simple technique is to keep a running list of projects and tasks, ordered by priority. If I know exactly what I need to work on when I sit down, I’m much more likely to get it accomplished.

Be Flexible

It’s easy to say we’ll follow a schedule in the summer, but it’s a much harder task to actually stick to it. Kids throw a lot of variables into the mix, so we must keep ourselves in the attitude of adjusting as necessary. We’ll also have those days when we sense God calling us to rest or to visit someone specific or whatever it might be. We need to be sensitive to His leading and flexible with our schedules. Read More→

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May
17

Running the Race

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Pam Bass, When Marriage Matters bloggerRunning the Race by Pam BassI was out riding my bike this morning.  The trail was particularly busy for a Saturday.  After going a little ways I saw a water station.  That’s when I noticed a bunch of runners with numbers on them.  Ah, a race is going on.  Then I saw the yellow mile markers (whoa, I was already on mile 6, not really!).  Then the seven mile marker came up.  And I remembered my running days: 2 blocks, 3 blocks, ½ mile, 1 mile, 5k, 6k, 10k, and finally made it to my goal of 10 miles before I turned 40 years old.  As I looked at their sweaty, wet, tired-looking faces, I had a number of thoughts run through my mind: What race are they in? Are they running for a special cause? What could I say, if anything, to encourage them?  So, I was at my turning-around spot (of 5 miles, in case you’re wondering) and I stopped and asked one of the monitors some questions.

She informed me that it was the 10-mile Peak to Peak race. She was there to make sure “the kids didn’t change the direction of the signs.”  So, as I rode on I decided that it would probably be nice and kind to give a thumbs up signal to the runners. So I did. Then I added a few words like: “good job!” “keep going!” “almost there!” “way to go!” I tried to smile too, though sometimes I don’t think I did. Some ignored me. Someone said thanks. Most seemed to be listening to their iPods. I thought, “they probably wonder who this crazy lady in a green shirt is and why is she doing this?” I did it for a couple of reasons: Read More→

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May
16

Tutu Much Money

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teen girlsMy daughters, Bri and Alex, have been in dance classes for a few years of their lives. Bri was in both ballet and Irish dance before requesting no more dance. She said she couldn’t keep her arms straight; when in ballet she was supposed to use her arms, and in Irish, she was not. She asked to stop, and I reluctantly agreed. Who does not want to see their little girl with a bun, tutu, and ballet shoes? Some moms don’t, but this mom did. Then baby number three took dance for three years, and I have decided ballet for number three is not cost effect.

Alex loves to be the center of attention and in a beautiful costume or dress. Dancing is not her passion. How do I know dancing is not her passion? She does not dance around the house, she never practiced her dance routine at home or anywhere else, and she doesn’t talk about dance. Oh, and she needs constant reminders to get ready for class on Saturday mornings. I am not suggesting my child live and breathe dance. I am saying she should care enough about dance to put forth enough effort for the class to be cost effective.

I warned little miss that if at her recital she had shown no effort on her part to learn her routine (I do my part of telling her to practice, up to her to do the work), I would not pay for another year of class. Here’s the math:

$70 a month for nine months for class
$25 leotard and tights
$150 recital and costume
$48 tickets to recital
$30 one dance picture
$20 program for recital
Total – $903 a year for dance

The cost would be completely worth the price if my daughter were gaining useful skills such as practicing skills, or patience, or anything beyond looking cute in a costume and occasionally moving her feet. At the recital, Alex had to spend the entire two minutes on stage looking over her shoulder to watch the teacher show her what steps she was supposed to do next. She did not in nine months time learn anything except where she was supposed to stand when the dance started. Children younger than her knew all their steps. Actions speak loudly.

My little miss does not care about dancing; she cares about dressing up and being on stage in front of an audience. Not worth the cost for dance class. In the car on the way home from the recital, my attention seeking third child ask how she did at her recital, and I was truthful, because who am I helping if I give her undeserved accolades? I was tactful but honest. “Alex, you did ok, but you did not try very hard, and you did not practice, which showed because you had to keep looking at your teacher or classmates to know what steps to do.” I told her I wanted her to be proud of herself and did she think she had put enough effort forth to be proud of herself. She said she guessed not. Then she changed the subject and moved on. She only cared about being in a costume. I am not just going to praise her because she wants me too, because in the real world you have to earn praise. Read More→

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May
15

Avoiding Distractions

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emailDo you find yourself checking your email every five minutes? Or chatting on the phone when you are supposed to be working? Distractions are a part of life, but that doesn’t mean they have to control your days. Here are a few ideas to help you keep on task.

Close your email and get off social media

This may seem simple, but, at least for me, it can be hard not only to close my email, but also to STAY out of my email program. When a task needs to be done, the best way to focus is to shut your email program, turn your phone off (or mute it) and distance yourself from any other distracting technology items. You’ll be amazed at how much more you will accomplish – and how much more efficiently you work.

Find Time Alone

As a work-at-home mom, this is by far the hardest distraction-buster to accomplish. As my kids have gotten older, I’ve found that I can get most of my work done while my kids are at school. However, when they were still small and home with me all day, I tended to work in small chunks. Twenty minutes here while they watched a little T.V. or half and hour here while they played outside (and many times I sat outside with my laptop so I could keep an eye on them.

Another tactic I used was to trade babysitting time with a friend who also needed some “alone time” or to ask family members for help. Be creative!

Make a List

This is my go-to tip when people ask me how to become more productive. I couldn’t get nearly as much done without my lists. If plan out tasks with lists of steps that need to be accomplished. I make an outline out of an idea to see if it is feasible. And when I’m writing I outline what I want to say. I find that if I have an outline, I’m much more likely to take on the task and actually complete it. Read More→

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