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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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Feb
06

Now, Do You Feel like a Big Boy?

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerbeach vacationVacations mean different things to different people. For me, the vacation means I am vacating one place and going to another place to do nothing.

Recently, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and me vacated the parsonage to go to some place where we could major on doing nothing. We have mastered this over the years.

My definition of “nothing” is quite different from my wife’s definition.

My definition is simply that I spend the day doing nothing.

My wife’s definition is simply that she will spend the day doing nothing but thrift store shopping.

At this point, I am not quite sure who has mastered their “nothing.” We might be equal at this point. As long as each of our “nothing” activity does not collide with each other.

One of the aspects of getting to that “nothing” point is travel. The older I get, the less fond I am of traveling especially long distances. But if we are going to get to our destination, travel is part of the activity.

A long time ago, I made the decision, that on our vacations would use my wife’s van. Henceforth, she does all the driving.

How I got to this point was simply that if she is going to go thrift shopping she will need space to put the stuff that she buys. Hence, she needs to take her van, and consequently, she needs to do all the driving.

I have long ago come to my point of manhood that I do not have to do all the driving. My father was quite different. He felt that because he was the man in the house, he should do all the driving. I am not my father’s son. At least, in that respect.

If my wife is going to go thrift store shopping, she will need her van and so this problem has been worked out quite nicely, if you ask me.

On our travel I can either do some reading or log sawing, at which I am pretty good.

She’s a very good driver; after all, I trained her. I remember the time training her to drive a car, I would not say anything now, but there were some very anxious moments. So, there is nothing she could do now that would in any way cause me to be anxious.

This past vacation time I did see something that startled me to no end. We were driving down the main street in St. Augustine when we passed an old man riding his bicycle. That in itself is not an unusual sight, after all a lot of people ride bicycles. As we passed him, I noticed his trousers were down to his knees and I saw something that I am not supposed to see under any circumstance. My eyes burned for the next two days.

Then, the next day as we were driving and I saw this large Cadillac coming in our direction and there was nobody in the driver’s seat. Believe me, I was a little excited about that for sure. When we passed this car, I looked over and behind the steering wheel, barely able to see through the steering wheel, was a little old lady sitting.

Where do people get their driver’s license? Who gives them their driver’s license?

The next day we were driving home and I had just about fallen asleep. The Sandman had just started his activity and I was fast approaching dreamland. Then I heard a noise…“Bah room boom boom boom boom boom. Bah room boom boom boom boom boom.”

I jumped out of my sleep and looked over at my wife and she was looking at me. At first, I thought we were entering the apocalypse and was tempted to get down and start praying. Read More→

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Feb
04

Absolutes, Absolutely

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerIf I haven’t mentioned before that I’m a geek, this article will surely prove it.

I’d like to start out by mentioning one of my great Star Wars quotes from the Bible.

“From the Bible,” you ask?  Yes.  And it has a great implication for Dads – especially as your kids enter middle and high school.

Some of you still aren’t convinced that Star Wars quotes the Bible.  If you’d like to stop reading right now and leave a comment as your guess what it is; then do it.  It’s the only way people will believe you if you’re geeky enough to get it right.

That was your chance.

Here’s what Jesus said (in Matthew 12:30):

30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, andwhoever does not gather with me scatters.

It’s a pretty plain, direct statement.  Some might even consider it a statement of absolute.  There is no grey area.  You’re either for Jesus, or you are against him . . .  and if you’re against him then you’re going to lose.

Here’s the quote from Star Wars Revenge of the Sith:

Anakin Skywalker: If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Only a Sith deals in absolutes. I will do what I must.

Anakin Skywalker: You will try.

So, obviously the director was trying to make some sort of statement . . . probably against God.  But that’s Hollywood.

My concern as a Dad is that there are many venues for our kids where absolutes are shunned.  If I went to the local high school and said, “There are only two genders.” There would be drama.  Same thing if I made the statement, “3rd trimester abortion is murder.”  Or “You have to believe in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for your sins in order to go to heaven.”  Or “Homosexuality is a sin.”

Any one of those statements at a public school would get my kids disciplined or ostracized.  Same thing if they were said in a social setting – there would be an immediate issue with some people.  Unfortunately, even at many churches there would be the same level of drama if any of the above statements were said; especially from the pulpit.

The good thing is, very few people need to go around publically stating absolutes.  But, as Dads, we really need to make sure that our kids know the truth and know that there isn’t a grey area with most things God says in the Bible.

Much of our society has become a dichotomy (two parts) of people groups; the loud, and the quietly virtuous.  It pretty clear that there is a lot of stigma against absolute virtue from the media these days.  So I wouldn’t ever post on Facebook:  “Sex outside of marriage is wrong.” because my feed would immediately erupt in drama.  So, like most people, I share truth with people that aren’t going to turn into a Darth Vader when they hear an absolute.

Your kids are those people.  We’re not raising Dark Lords of the Sith (for you non-geeks, that means ‘villains’).  We want to make sure that our kids know right from wrong; they need to know the absolutes.  And of course we’ll temper the knowledge with how to live according to the truth . . . and how to avoid drama along the way. Read More→

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Feb
01

3 Ways to Streamline Customer Support on Your Website

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As a work-at-home-mom or dad, you’re excited about the launch of your new company and website. You have done your homework and know you’re offering great products and/or services at reasonable prices. Now, you need the customers and orders to start rolling in.

In order to assist as many potential customers as possible, it’s important to find ways to streamline customer support to your new website and company. While some of your clients may want to call you directly, others might prefer live chat, and others may love reaching out via social media.

With these important ideas in mind, consider the following tips:

1. Consider Using a Cloud Call Center

As you’re likely already well aware, juggling a new company with your family out of a home office can be both exciting and challenging. After all, while you’ll want to devote as much energy as possible to your new venture, it can be difficult to focus at times when the phone rings every few minutes.

To help deal with this challenge, you may want to consider using a cloud call center to handle customer service calls for people who prefer to use the phone.

For instance, the marketplace is saturated with a number of stellar of cloud center solutions that will allow you to optimize workflows, avoid fragmentation and allow you put your energies toward other company-related tasks, all while providing a superior customer service experience with less hassle.

2. Harness the Power of Social Media

In order to reach and connect with as many customers as possible, it’s important to create and be active on social media. Make it as easy as possible for customers to connect with you by including your company’s phone number and website on your social media platforms, and also link to your social pages on your website. Read More→

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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Jan
30

The end of all nonsense and other practical jokes

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerWhen it comes to practical jokes, Yours Truly is always on the ready. Throughout my earthly passage, I have perpetuated my share of practical jokes. I will not enumerate them here, the simple reason being, I might want to bring one out of retirement.

I must say that most practical jokes are neither practical nor funny. However, I operate on the biblical premise, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). With the high cost of medicine these days, I will take a merry heart every time. Just call me Dr. Merry Heart, and I will dispense some good medicine to everybody who needs it.

Now, the practical joke I am thinking of has to do with New Year’s Resolutions. I always look forward to the last week in January for this very reason. For the first several weeks of January, I am nervous and sweating over those lousy New Year’s Resolutions I am forced to make. Pardon my French.

Somewhere there is someone laughing at all of those stupid enough to make New Year’s Resolutions. It is probably the quintessential practical joke played on all humanity. Is there a culture anywhere in our world today that does not fall for this practical joke? If there is, I want to move there.

The first week in January is probably the worst week when it comes to these New Year’s Resolutions. They are fresh in our mind not to mention fresh on our lips. A New Year’s Resolution would not be so bad if nobody knew that we made one. The problem comes when somebody knows what our resolution is and constantly reminds us, “How’re your New Year’s Resolutions coming along?” Read More→

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Jan
28

Juggling Work & Family When Working at Home

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jill-new14HiResMany a mom longs to work at home so she can spend more time with her kids. But there’s a catch: actually getting that work done requires time away from your kids. Here’s advice on how you can work more efficiently and reduce frustration when have young kids and work at home.

QuestionI have been having my home based business for three years now and I still am struggling with how to juggle business and being a mom, wife and housekeeper. How do you juggle these? I want to make this a success, but so far it’s only been frustration.

My children are four and two years old and they are more challenging than most (not as in spoiled, but as in needing more time than the average kid). Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

Answer: GREAT question! My kids are now seven and four, so I now have a little bit of help in my seven-year-old. But, I found something that I had written a few years ago. In it, I listed my kids’ ages as four and one. I could tell when reading it that I had been very frazzled. I think I lived in a state of frazzled during those years when they were both so small.

My main advice would be to cut yourself some slack. Things will get easier and more manageable as your kids get older.

My practical advice is this:

1. Plan out menus each week.

I literally spend about two minutes on this. I have a small magnetic dry-erase board that I keep on my refrigerator. Each Sunday, I write out the days of the week and what we’ll have for supper that day. (Lunches almost always consist of sandwiches or something easy like that since it’s just me and the kids.)

This makes grocery shopping a breeze because I know just what ingredients I need. It also alleviates the nagging thoughts of “what are we going to eat tonight?” If possible, have one or both of your kids help you decide what to put. You’ll be surprised at how much they like having a say in what goes on that board!

2. Set a day for everything.

My days look something like this:

Mondays – Housework and laundry (and business tasks as time allows)

Tuesdays – Grocery shopping and business tasks (this used to be during naptime, but is now during preschool time)

Read More→

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Jan
23

Why childhood is better the second time around

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerThis week the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly had the privilege of attending our youngest granddaughter’s second birthday party. I wanted to go to her third birthday party but she was not old enough yet. So, I will have to wait another year.

On the way home we sat in silence thinking about the party we had just attended. It just does not seem possible that we have eight grandchildren. I broke the silence with a little comment along this line. “I’m just not old enough to be a grandfather of eight grandchildren. I don’t feel old enough to be a grandfather”

From the other passenger in the car came a rather sarcastic snicker, if I say so myself.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I retorted.

“Well,” she said rather slowly as if she was trying to collect her thoughts and use the right words, “believe me, putting all feelings aside, you’re old enough.”

I did not quite know what she meant by that, and I was afraid if I ask she would tell me. I quickly changed the subject and said, “Didn’t Jordin look cute with birthday cake all over her face?”

She laughed.

Then, I thought I was talking to myself but apparently, I said it aloud, a least loud enough for my wife to hear. “I wonder what it’s like to be two years old?”

“Get ready,” my wife said with a laugh in her voice, “you’re about ready to enter into your second childhood.”

At the time, I rather resented the comment, but upon further reflection, I do not see anything wrong with that. After all, what is wrong with enjoying childhood the second time around?

I really do not think it is possible to enjoy childhood the first time. There are so many things to interfere.

First off, are parents constantly telling you what to do or not to do. Telling you when to go to bed. Telling you when to get up in the morning. Telling you when to eat. Telling you what to eat. Telling… telling… telling…

How in the world can anybody enjoy life when people are always telling them what to do? The problem is, when a person is two years old they have absolutely no leverage against overbearing parents. The only thing the two-year-old can do to get the upper hand with his parents is to wait until they are in the supermarket with lots of people around and then throw a temper tantrum.

Here is the advantage of entering a second time into your childhood. Nobody is around to tell you what to do or what not to do. You are on your own, at least in this area. Of course, in your second childhood it is not possible to throw a temper tantrum in a public supermarket and get away with it.

The advantage of having a second childhood is that you have all that experience behind you to use to your advantage that a two year old could not possibly have. This in itself covers a multitude of sins.

“What’s wrong with your husband?” Somebody may ask my wife.

“Oh,” she responds quite mechanically, “he’s into his second childhood.”

“I understand, my husband’s there too.”

And all is right with the world.

In a person’s first childhood, he is quite limited in his outlook. He does not know what he is missing. But during the second childhood, he has the benefit of knowing this and using it for his own personal profit.

For example, when the parents of a two-year-old take him out to a restaurant he is completely at the mercy of the parents.

“Eat your vegetables,” the parents demand, “then you can have dessert.”

There is nothing the two-year-old can do at this point. After all, the one who pays the bill gets to say who does what.

Now, as I enter my second childhood I have the advantage of knowing that all that malarkey about eating your vegetables first is just that… malarkey. And, since I am paying the bill, I will eat the desert whenever I want to eat it. In fact, I will start with dessert and end with dessert. And while I am on the subject, if I do not want to order vegetables, I will order no vegetable.

Many has been the time when my wife and I are out to a restaurant and she will order a properly balanced meal, while I order dessert.

“You do know vegetables are good for you?” my wife will insist.

“I know no such thing,” I reply. Read More→

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Jan
18

Why a Brand Audit is Necessary and How to Do One

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3 business womenVisual and brand audits. It’s one of those fancy words graphic designers use. Why do you need one and how do you do it?

A brand audit is a careful analysis of every marketing material you have, from signage to business cards to your Website.

I like to call it an Identity Hunt. That’s what I call it in my branding courses and curriculum. This is a quest and you are trying to find what’s missing, what’s confusing, and what’s inconsistent so you can refine and define your identity.

Why is this important? Because the key to successful branding is perception meeting reality. Because perception IS reality. If there is a disconnect between what you think you are offering and what you’re prospect thinks you’re offering, than you are most likely losing clients. And that costs you money.

So here is how to conduct a visual audit:

Imagine you are a prospect that never heard of your company. What do they see when they go to your Website? If you have an office or a brick and mortar store, is your signage recognizable to them? When you give them a business card, is it consistent with your signage, Website, brochures, etc.

And here’s an often overlooked point-of-contact—when your customer calls your phone, what voice mail greets them? Have you clearly identified your name and business?

You want to notice inconsistencies. Are you confusing your audience? Are you telling them one thing but providing another?

You might use Facebook to get some objective opinions. Ask in a Facebook group what a certain logo or marketing piece is communicating.

Is it the same as what you intend on communicating? Read More→

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Jan
16

It Was An Apple Fritter Kind Of Week

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Have you ever had a week where everything went exactly as planned? Neither have I. Every week I start out believing this week is going to be different from all the other weeks of my life. If this has ever occurred, I cannot recall it.

Take last week, please! I start every week about the same. I meticulously prepare my weekly to-do-list. This is not to be confused with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage’s honey-do-list. Her list, and I learned this by experience, takes precedence over every other list in the world.

My weekly to-do-list is a very important part of my week. I chronicle everything needing accomplished during the week along with appointments with people that I need to see. With the religious ferocity of the Pharisee, I follow this list throughout the week and dutifully check off each item as it is completed. Then, Saturday evening I can look back with a great deal of satisfaction and see what I have accomplished.

Unfortunately, I can also look back on my list and see what I have not accomplished this week. With a deep sigh, I carry these items over to next week’s to-do-list. Just between you and me, some items I have carried over for 36 consecutive weeks. By this time, I usually drop the whole notion and get on with my life.

My philosophy is, if you aim at nothing; you will hit it every time. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but what I take away from it is simply that if I do not aim to do something I probably never will do it.

I live day by day by this weekly to-do-list. If it were not for this marvelous tool, I would never get anything done during the week. It is my great joy late Saturday night to work out the following week’s to-do-list.

Sometimes my wife will look at me, sigh and say, “You’re not working on your to-do-list, are you?” Then she says something that actually irritates me. Not everything she says irritates me, but this one does. “You know, if you would spend as much time actually doing those things as you spend planning to do them you might actually get something done during the week.”

I developed this to-do-list so I would not have to keep trying to remember what I was supposed to do during the week. They keep me free to think more creatively about things that need that kind of attention. All I had to do was consult my to-do-list and find out what needed to be done. After all, I don’t want to tax my brain too much. Who do you think I am? The government?

Then last week it happened. Something I had feared for many a year. Read More→

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Jan
14

How to be the Favorite

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I was the favorite once.  Then I wasn’t. Then I was!  But then . . .

There is some, of what I will affectionately call ‘loose,’ science on birth order and affinity toward a certain parent.  In general, firstborn kids are more ‘like’ (have personality affinity toward) the Mom.  Second-born share a preponderance of personality traits with Dad.  Generally they even resemble (have more physical characteristics in common) these respective parents; first-born will get a lot of, “you look just like your mother,” etc.

Subsequent kids are a crap-shoot on looks and personality.

But this is all lumped into “loose” science.  Which means that it happens a lot, but, there is not a lot of empirical data to birth order ‘psychology.’

Here’s a fact though that you can count on: kids go through stages of closeness and affinity with either parent as they grow up.

I was the ‘cat’s meow’ for a while

My wife stepped in as ‘the bomb’ at some point.

Then I was the ‘wizard’

My wife took over as the ‘awesome-blossom’ . . . 

Many times I had flexibility to be home with the kids when they were little.  We did some fun things, and I was also ‘the disciplinarian.’  So you’d think that I’d be at the top of their favorites.  But, the truth is – don’t get offended until you read further – kids were created to have both parents.  So my boys missed their ‘mom time’ and were super-excited to have interaction with her when she was home.

If you’re a single parent though, this concept on how to be their favorite is especially important.   It’s not loose science that kids need parents.  In fact, kids will subconsciously seek out what they ‘need’ from parenting.  I’ll explain:

Society is built around children growing up to be successful members of the populace, so there are objectives that kids need to learn.  If they aren’t getting a skill, then they have to find it someplace.  So kids will gravitate subconsciously toward ‘parents’ modeling or offering the skills they need.

Example:  You might be a total introvert with no viable social skills (commenting on the Do the Dad Thing Blog might be the pinnacle of your social interaction).  But kids need to learn how to interact socially, so they might parrot the used car salesman they see on TV, or mimic the next door neighbor talking with their hand motions to the mailperson, etc.

So don’t worry if your kids have a favorite outside of you, or model someone else they see, or idolize an attribute in someone that is not exactly idol-worthy.  They are following the natural desire to grab the skills they need from the surrounding world.  This becomes more and more pronounced as your kids grow up and our accumulated set of skills gets more and more limited for their growth.  I.e.  I used to be the favorite to help my boys with math, but as they entered high school, suddenly my skills were sorely lacking. . .

–Warning– most sexual abuse is committed by family members or extended family; especially, for some reason, by uncles and aunts. So make sure there is adequate supervision and safety protocols for kids spending time with other adults.

The good news is, no matter the outside influence and modeled skills, your children always have the desire and need to find their ‘home’ favorite in a parent (yes, even if you are secondary care giver adoptive parent or foster parent).  The concept of ‘home’ and ‘family’ is core to people, and  children will always treasure the link they have with you as their safe place for understanding and acceptance. Read More→

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Jan
11

How To Get Started With Outsourcing In Your Business

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Every business owner knows that the only way to really grow and scale a business and for them to be able to focus on the things they’re best at is to outsource and get help with running the business.

However, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s an easy thing to do – when you first start your business, you go in full of passion and drive, and because you have so much passion for your business, it almost becomes your baby and this can make it extremely hard to let go – even though you know it’s actually the best thing.

The best way to go about outsourcing is to not try and do everything at once. You’re the owner of the business and you can do what feels right to you, so start slowly and build things up once you start seeing how great it actually is to outsource things.

If you’ve been struggling to outsource things until now, then in this post we’re going to share with you some tips on how to get started with outsourcing in your business.

 

Make a list:

The first step to outsourcing successfully is knowing what you need to be outsourcing and what you can be doing on your own, so at this stage you should make a list. This can be done on paper or it can be done on a Google doc. Simply get your document in whichever format and give it a title that’s meaningful to you, then write down every single task that gets done in your business.

Now you’re going to add a new page and split it into two categories. One is the side for the things you want to do/have to do/enjoy doing. The other side is for those tasks that you really don’t like or where you feel like your time and energy isn’t best spent.

For example, maybe you really enjoy writing your own blog posts, but you hate editing them, so this is something you feel would be better outsourced.

 

Do your research:

Now that you know what tasks you need to outsource, it’s time to do some research on the best people to perform those tasks. You may prefer to go with a company like Spectrumwise who can manage multiple things for you, or maybe you only want to hire a Virtual Assistant for a few hours per week who can just do one or two things.

 

Do a trial run:

Once you’ve done some research on the people who you could potentially hire to do the tasks you need, then you should have a trial one with one or two people for a week or so to see how they actually work and if you’re both a good fit for each other. If you’ve determined that you are, then you can continue working together or you can move on and find someone else who may be more suited to your needs.

Evaluate and expand:

 

As with everything in your business, you need to keep evaluating the progress you can see what’s working and what’s not. Then, once you feel comfortable with outsourcing and start building that trust, you can start to expand on the hours you’re hiring someone for.

 

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