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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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What an amazing thing to be able to learn Hebrew online, from the comfort of my home! The Israel Institute of Biblical Studies allows students to learn from passionate and experienced teachers – from Israel – through live video lessons. It also allows you to connect with fellow students from around the globe. When it comes to opportunities like this, I’m so glad to be living in this technological age!

The class that I was a part of was a 9 month class, which met every week via a live webinar.  The best part about it was that if I missed a class, a recording was provided so I could catch up without missing a beat.  The professor also shared extra information regularly, such as articles to help us better understand the concepts we were learning in class. What an amazing experience!

Learn more about the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies HERE or sign up to take a class yourself!

Categories : Jill's Blog
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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→

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→

Dana Susan Beasley, Branding for Success bloggerA Good SloganCreating a buzz. Wouldn’t you like that for your business? Wouldn’t it be great if people were talking about you with excitement? After all, word of mouth advertising is the best kind of marketing you can get!

Creating a slogan is one of the best ways to do so!

Think about slogans we’re all familiar with:

“Just Do It!”

 “Got Milk?”

 “Have It Your Way.”

These slogans are part of our culture! It’s part of our everyday language. Advertisers use them again and again. The “Got Milk?” one especially. I don’t know how many times I have seen it altered to match another product. I’ve done it myself!

A good slogan is catchy and memorable. It’s like a poem—condensed and to the point. It further aids in defining your business.

I think of the slogan that my husband and I created for his architectural business. It helped communicate exactly what his business is about and what makes him different. People get it right away when they see his logo. There is never any question about what he does!

Slogans can also be created using keyword research. This will help you with SEO! It can be based on your elevator pitch, mission statement, or Unique Selling Proposition.

You can, like my husband, include it in your logo. It is a great inspiration for creating headlines for advertisements. Read More→

Ishopping cart was waiting in line at the grocery store minding my own business, which is a full-time job these days. I have worked hard over the years to master this “minding my own business.” I have not been all that successful, but I still try.

As I was standing in line I heard the woman behind me say, “Johnny, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

I did not know the background story because I did not hear the whole conversation. When I heard that my mind took me back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when my parents, both of them addicted to this phrase, said to me, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

I cannot remember the reasons that this phrase kept popping up in my parents’ conversation. But I never could figure out what in the world they were talking about.

Through the years, I have noticed people say things they have no idea what they are saying or what it even means. Sometimes people will say some odd phrase or a quote in order to bring the conversation to a standstill.

My parents were not interested, particularly when we were out in public, for me to carry the conversation. Many times, they would shut me down so that I would not embarrass them.

Also, I never could figure out why somebody on the stage would be encouraged to “break their leg.” It is not a rather mean thing to say to someone who is about to go out on stage and do some kind of performance? What mean person would hope that someone would break their leg in front of an audience?

Someone said to me recently, “May the force be with you.” I knew the movie he was quoting from but I had no idea what he meant for me. What is the force he wanted to be with me? Moreover, what if I didn’t want that force to be with me?

We often say things we do not understand or mean and I am as guilty as anybody else.

When something tragic happens some religious minded person will say, particularly someone on television, “My thoughts and prayers are with you.”

What in the world does that mean? What thoughts do they have, what prayers do they have, and how in the world can they transfer it to me? Usually the person saying this is someone who is not very religious.

I do not know what came over me, but once somebody, I forget the situation, said, “My thoughts and prayers are with you.” For the life of me, I do not know what I was thinking about, but all of a sudden, I heard myself saying to that person, “Thanks but I don’t need your prayers.” Read More→

Categories : Jill's Blog
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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→

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→

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→

Dana Susan Beasley, Branding for Success bloggerA Successful Brand Requires a Target MarketThere’s an old saying I’m sure you’ve heard: “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it. Every time.”

That saying applies to choosing a market. Saying that you will market to everyone will actually diminish your brand and therefore your success.

Why? Because if you don’t have a particular person in mind as you develop and promote your products or services, you will be widely missing the mark.

How do you know, for instance, your audience likes a certain color? Or a particular font? How do you even know what they are looking for if you don’t know who they are?

Let’s take clothing stores. Going into a Guess outlet store is vastly different from going into a Dress Barn, wouldn’t you say?

Choosing a target market takes extensive research. But it’s worth the time!

You need to know what pain your audience is experiencing. What is it they fear losing? Most people want to stay in their comfort zones and will not make a decision, a change, until they recognize that if they don’t seek a solution, what they most value will be lost.

So How Do You Choose One?

The first question is, who do you have an affinity for? Who do you hang around with most of the time? For me, after I became a homeschooling mother, I realized that I had found my market. I have further refined it to include Christian homeschooling families, because I see the need for all family members to learn how to start and run a home business.

How Do You Do Research?

It really is all at your fingertips! It’s as simple as spending time on Google. Just Google your chosen audience. See how many results you get. Find out how many are in your chosen target, what their average salary is, education, age, etc. Do keyword research on your target market. A great tool for this is Keyword Spy. You can get an idea of how hot your market is by researching the keywords for that market. Read More→

mom and daughterMothers are the greatest dispensers of advice since God said, “Let there be light.” Some, not me, refer to it as maternal instinct.

My own mother gave me some splendid advice when I was growing up. Unfortunately, much of Mom’s advice shed light on nothing. Absolutely nothing at all.

Let me outline some advice my mother gave me that, to this day, I have no idea what she was talking about.

I distinctly remember my mother standing before me, with hands on her hips, scolding me for something and then saying, “Who do you think you are?”

This always disturbed me and caused me to wonder about my nativity. As a young person, I often pondered this question myself.

As with most teens, I had long moments of identity crisis. (When you are young most of your energy goes into producing hormones, and so the brain functions on low voltage.) It greatly confused me that the person who should know who I was, asked me the question I had been asking myself. If she does not know who I am, what hope do I have?

Then there was the time I asked my mother for money. She whirled around and replied, “Do you think money grows on trees?”

Up to that point, I have never given the matter much thought. I simply assumed money came from my father going to work and being paid. However, here was something new to ponder. Where does money come from, really? What added to my confusion was the name of our bank ‑ The Elm Tree Branch of First National Bank of Harrisburg. Now I was totally confused.

When I was quite young, I remember asking my mother for something in the store. I think it was some small toy that I took a fancy to and asked my mother to buy it for me. She flatly refused. I complained and demanded to know why. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Because I am the mother, that’s why.”

To this day, I still do not know what in the world that statement meant. What did her being a mother have to do with buying me that toy?

When she saw my confusion, she told me, “When you have children of your own, you will understand.” I have children of my own as well as grandchildren, and I still do not know what she meant. It must be a mother thing, which is all I know.

Then there was the time I wanted to do something with some friends and my mother would not let me. “But everyone else is going,” I protested in vain. That’s when my mother gave me her spin on the situation at hand.

“What if EVERYONE jumped off a cliff? Would you do it, too?”

The thing that confused me was, nobody was going to jump off any cliff. In fact, nobody in his or her right mind would ever think of such a stupid thing. Nobody, that is, but my mother. I figured she must have gotten her sadistic side from her mother. It must be something mothers pass on to their daughters, because as a man, I don’t get it.

Most memorable of her nuggets of wisdom to me is that piece of advice I still abide by. Before I would leave the house, my mother would say, “Make sure you have clean underwear on in case you get in a car accident and have to go to the hospital.”

I have never figured out what clean underwear has to do with going to the hospital, but that piece of advice made for the worst day of my high school years. Just as I drove into the school parking lot one day it dawned on me that I had forgotten to put on clean underwear. Panic raced through my teenage heart like never before. I was certain some disaster awaited me around the next corridor. Read More→