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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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Jul
09

How to Successfully Work from Home

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Working from home can be either a blissful or a frustrating experience. Depending on the type of job you have — or if you’re unaccustomed to making your home your office — working from home comes with its fair share of challenges. 

Below we outline a few ways you can successfully work from home without losing your sanity.

Design a Space Just for Work

Despite how obvious it may sound, some people overlook this point entirely. If you’re someone who has suddenly been forced to work remotely rather than head to the office, working from home might simply mean taking your laptop and stationing yourself on the bed or sofa. The problem with this is that the environment is likely not conducive to boosting productivity. Whether it’s distractions from other members of your household or a poor seating arrangement, a bad environment will not help your creativity. 

If you have space to do it, carve out an area of your home that is designated just for work. Do whatever you can to set up a comfortable desk situation and surround yourself with objects that increase your contentment. If you don’t have a table or desk to sit at, consider investing in one, as well as a comfortable chair. You can find relatively cheap desks available at department stores such as Kohls. Complete the look by investing in some Kohls coupons to furnish your workspace even more with lighting, essentials for work, stationery, or other objects.

Create Boundaries

If you live with pets, children, or multiple people, creating boundaries is a must. The last thing you need when you’re working from home is for people to be coming and going, creating an unwelcome distraction. Where possible, try to set limits with your kids in terms of your workspace and find ways to ensure that you aren’t disrupted by noise, movement, or people talking at you. Read More→

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Jun
15

Earth Manager

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerI’m writing this during the Corona Virus Pandemic, also known as the Global Covid-19 Crisis or other great names that combine those terms.  I’m sure future generations will read this blog and race to their holographic encyclopedias and see recreated images of people stuck in their homes using social media on handheld phones.

Oh, yeah, and view holographic images of people reading this blog. — How meta.

I’m not sure how much the prevalence of memes will make it into the future holographic history curriculum.  If you get on social media much during this quarantine, then you are aware that people have nothing better to do than to make funny pandemic memes, and to eat snacks.

Many of the memes I’ve seen reference one of the pleasant repercussions of a majority of the populace being confined to their homes:  Nature is flourishing.

If I can believe what I see on social media (note to future generations, you actually can’t believe MOST of what you see on social media), then dolphins have been seen swimming in the canals of Venice, Italy – an area with water pollution so bad that hardly any marine life would visit the area.  I saw a picture today of a swan also in Venice.  Someone posted a picture of deer in a different city, and baby ducks crossing the road in another metropolis.  Nature is abounding everywhere in the absence of people and pollution.

The pictures might be fake, but I hope they aren’t.  Because . . .  and here is the tie-in to Dads . . . it’s our job to take care of the planet.

You probably think I’m talking about that one time that your daughter found a baby bird that fell out of the nest and you spent all night making a wooden nesting box for it and helping her feed it with an eye dropper.

Or the time that your son came to you with a moth crawling on his arm and wanted you to help find a box to keep it in.

But actually I’m talking about the Bible.  Yes, again.

Genesis 1:28 — God blessed humans and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

This verse is a command from God at the very beginning.  “increase in number” – that part is pretty easy and humans have done that well.  We’ve ‘filled the Earth.’  Check.

The other part of this directive is a little more subtle.  “Subdue it.”

I live in West Virginia currently and like to poke fun at the general populous.  I’m not worried about teasing West Virginians in this blog.  You know why?  Most of them can’t read.

See what I mean?

There are probably a group of ‘good ol’ boys’ that populate the hills that would read the Bible verse above and think that “subdue” means to dominate, kill, trap, pen up, and subjugate.  No, scratch that; they wouldn’t know what subjugate means. . .  (yes, I did it again).

The word subdue in this verse actually translates better to “manage.”  As dads we are managers of the kids.  My blog talks about that a lot.  We manage their activities and resources.  We wisely guide them into success.

No good manager wastes resources, abuses their employees, and purposefully demoralizes them.

The command to ‘rule’ over the animals is in the same spirit.  God wants us to be a benevolent king over the animals.  We should be the kind of ruler that we wish we were if we were ruling over us.  –How very very meta.

Any time is a good time to emphasize this with your kids.  If it’s a moth or a baby bird, it’s our job to be a good manager or kind ruler to the environment God gave us.

Let me emphasize this with an analogy:

Zucchini.  You mulch and till and fertilize some soil, then you plant zucchini.  If you then plant zucchini in your garden it grows, and fruits, and pretty soon you are swamped with zucchini.  After you’ve eaten it, and frozen it, . . . and given it away to your neighbors . . . and secretly put baskets on your neighbors doorsteps . . .  then, it’s time to throw some out in the garden and let it become nutrients for the wild animals and till it into the soil next year.

Yes this is an analogy about being a ruler.   West Virginians would probably miss it, but you didn’t.

You can eliminate some zucchini and it helps the rest of the zucchini grow.  You can share zucchini and use zucchini.   You can appreciate, grow, and cultivate zucchini.  – all of these things are part of being a king or ruler of the zucchini garden of our Earth.

How can you, as a dad, help your kids be benevolent dictators to our environment?

Kid:  Hey dad, I’m roasting ants with a magnifying glass.  Isn’t it cool?

Dad:  Actually, if I was an ant, I’d hate to be roasted.  Maybe we could see if the magnifying glass will start a fire with this dead wood?

___

Kid:  Hey dad, look I caught a whole jar of fireflies!  I’m going to keep it by my bed tonight as a nightlight.

Dad:  That’s cool, but I bet those lightening bugs won’t be able to breathe in that jar and will miss their families.  Let’s show everyone your light jar for a moment and then let them go out in the woods.

___

Wife:  There is a spider the size of a small dog in the bathroom.  Go kill it.

Dad:  Are you kidding, I’m not going in there with a scary spider.

___

As much as I like to make fun of people in West Virginia, there are a lot of great people here.  One guy that came into my office and was talking about hunting, fishing, and trapping.  He expressed how much he loved being in God’s creation.  On his outings, he took his kids to have the experience with him.  Sometimes he shared that hunting and fishing were helping new baby animals survive and have enough food to eat.  He emphasized that you had to be responsible and maintain your traps every day, and was very stern about his role of being an outdoorsman that cared about the environment.

You may not agree with hunting, fishing, or trapping, but I definitely agree with the way he emphasized sharing the importance of managing the environment with his kids.

This command God gives us to ‘fill the earth and manage it’ is the first instruction he gave to humans on our planet.  It’s our job as dads to pass on this first instruction to our kids:  be a kind king to the biology and environment of our planet.

That way, we won’t need a global virus to remind us to manage nature well.

After you’re done reading this article, brainstorm with your kids on how to manage your personal environment well.  You might live with acres and acres of yard, or you might be in an apartment limited to a potted plant on a shelf.  We all have ways in which we rule over earth, and parents have the responsibility to model being a good earth manager.

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Jun
10

How to Choose a Business to Run From Home

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Working from home is ideal for a lot of people, with managing a successful home business becoming more and more achievable every day. There are multiple business opportunities that you can choose from to kickstart a new career for yourself with just a few simple ideas. Whether you start up a business offering something you are already passionate about or put a brand new idea you have to work, choosing a business to run from home is easily done with some brainstorming and planning. 

Find Your Passion

Creating, selling, or offering a service that you genuinely love will benefit your whole lifestyle in the long run. Determine what you are passionate about, maybe you have a hobby like photography or maybe you have a fantastic eye for clothing design and textiles. The advantages of offering services for something you truly enjoy are many, as making sales and advertising is more likely to come naturally and easily. Don’t be afraid of exploring new ideas and topics if you can’t think of something you have a strong interest in right away. 

Choose a Business Idea that will Sell

Coming up with a business idea is the step that should require a decent amount of thinking and planning. Picking something that is highly sought after will make it easier for your business to grow and develop a target market. This could be something like a childminding business, tutoring in one of your skills, or caring for people’s pets. 

Develop a Plan

Having a business plan is a crucial part of setting up your own business. Take into consideration your finances, how much it will cost to start the brand, what equipment you will need to get started, how you will create and manage your website, the best advertising platforms to use, and your overall goals for the business. You may need to think about how you will fit running a business from home into your daily life, for example, if you are a stay at home mom (or dad) it is still absolutely possible with a structured plan in place.

Buy an Existing Business

Buying an existing business rather than starting up an entirely new one all by yourself has a lot of benefits and can overall make the whole process of starting and running your business much more straightforward. An established brand usually comes with a website, loyal customers, suppliers, networking contacts, and all the resources that are needed already in place. You can find a number of businesses to purchase right away, making it much less complicated to pick your brand. Using a website like Exchange Marketplace will create a very limited amount of work when it comes to setting up, advertising, and growing the company, which will save you a great deal of time. 

Overall, choosing a business to run from home is easily done even if you do not have a specific skill or idea to start with. All it takes is efficient organizing, planning, and outlining what your goals are, what you will need, and what kind of market you want to attract.

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May
27

3 Ways In Which You Can Boost Your Childs College Application

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College application season can be nerve-wracking for parents. You want your kid to get into the best school, but you may be wondering “Did I do everything I could?” That’s why you may want to consider talking to your child early on about how to boost their college application and find ways in which to maximize their chances of getting into a good school. Here are some ways that you can help your child get ready to apply to college. 

 

  • Consider private tutoring to improve their grades

 

Grades are important if your child wants to get into the best colleges. While it’s true that college admissions teams don’t just look at GPA, they will usually have a particular range that they are looking for, so if your child’s application is amazing but they fall short, then they have little chance of getting in. Even for schools with a high acceptance rate, a 3.0 GPA will be expected.

Most kids have subjects in which they struggle, so consider getting them some tutoring. The earlier you can do this, the better their chances of bringing up their average grade.

 

  • See if they are talented enough for a scholarship

 

If your child has a particular talent, such as being an amazing musician or athlete, then they may be able to get into a good college based mostly on their skill level. While they will still have to meet certain requirements, such as a decent GPA, colleges are often more flexible when it comes to talented individuals such as student athletes, and as a bonus, you don’t have to worry about the cost of your child’s education. Visit asmscholarships.com and you’ll see that there are a huge range of potential scholarships for student athletes, from basketball, to baseball, to lesser-known sports.

 

  • Ensure they have some good extracurricular skills

 

Extracurricular activities can turn an average application into an amazing one, but there are some points to bear in mind:

  • Try to encourage your child to choose at least one of the extracurricular activities that colleges like. This includes any sort of academic team, student government, debate and the arts
  • Get them started early—many seniors try to cram in extracurriculars at the last minute. This leaves them stressed and it doesn’t look good on their application
  • Encourage them to take on a position of responsibility—if they can become treasurer, secretary, president or captain of a team, this can impress admissions teams

Ideally, kids should do activities that they are interested in, otherwise they may not stick with them. However, they should also think about the kind of major they are interested in and also try to choose some relevant activities if possible, in order to make the most of their extracurriculars.

College applications are tough, and it’s important that your child is well-rounded and can show they have a lot to offer to an admissions team. While grades are important, what they do in their spare time is too, and if they can show they have a genuine love of the subject, then they have a better chance of impressing the top colleges.

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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May
11

Science Fair Push-Back

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerTeaching our kids to be assertive is one of the most challenging tasks of being a dad.

 Having an assertive adult as an end result is great!  Raising an assertive kid . . . is not so great.

 First I probably need to clarify this word “assertive.”  I’ll do it, using the 3 Little Bears analogy (which is, one of the great analogies of all time):

 . . . And Goldilocks tried being Aggressive, means being hostile, exploitive, and coercive to get what you want – but that was too much and she drove people away.

Then Goldilocks tried being Passive, which means deferring to other people, even when you have strong opinions or desires, but that made her have low self-worth and low self-esteem.

She even tried being Passive/Aggressive, a technique that involves deferring to people (giving in) . . . but then finding some other way to get what you want. — usually through means that include being quietly hostile and exploitive.

But then she tried being Assertive.  It’s speaking directly and honestly about what you want and trying to get it by collaborating with people and communicating clearly.

And it was juuuust right.

 After that, the three bears came home and wondered why this blond girl was in their house debating active ego communicative strategies . . .

The point is that we’d obviously all love to have our kids grow up and be assertive.  We want them to strive to achieve without achievement being their identity, and to tell the truth they believe boldly, and to work toward solutions that include others.  Learning that process throughout childhood is rough on parents for several reasons:

Kids go to each extreme while they are trying to find the sweet spot of ‘assertive’

How do kids achieve the ‘balance’ of assertive?  They try out being aggressive.  Then they evaluate the effectiveness.  Then, they try being passive and evaluate the effectiveness.  Each one of their ‘tries’ results in a swing of both mood and communication.

Kids want to practice with you . . . at home

As a dad, you’re safe.  So, kids want to use your relationship as a ‘sandbox’ to try out different kinds of communication strategies.  If they work on you, then they try them on their friends.

Parents are not assertive themselves

Some parents never really adapted the ‘just right’ of being assertive.  So, knowing how to respond to a kid that is being aggressive, forthright, or passive creates an internal struggle.  Many parents that grew up in an abusive household react with anger or let their kids become the dominant force in the home.

Parents get offended by kid assertiveness

Some people, and I’m calling out ‘Boomers definitely,’ were raised with the idea that anything less than quiet docile obedience was wrong.  “Why in my day, I’d be slapped across the room if I said that I didn’t like castor oil.”

There are positive strategies to help your kids develop positive self-esteem and self-worth through practicing and learning assertiveness:

Reward their assertiveness

When your son/daughter hits that ‘just right’ area of assertiveness, point it out and praise them.   “Hey, I noticed that you told your friend that you didn’t like gummy worms even though all your other friends were saying they were good.  That’s good to speak up directly for what you like and don’t like.”

Model assertiveness

As a parent, do a self-check on how you interact with others, especially when they are demanding.  Practice being assertive with others and your kids will see you.

Have them practice assertiveness at school

This point is where the title of this article has been generated.  It involves a story . . .

One summer in Florida a turtle crawled out of the swamp and laid eggs in our front yard.  Right place/right time – we filmed it.  Then, to our horror, when we were taking the dog out in the evening, we caught a raccoon in the process of digging all the eggs up and eating them.  We chased the ‘coon’ off and rescued 4 eggs.

I came up with the idea, “Why don’t you incubate these eggs, two inside and two outside, and document it for this next year’s science fair?”

So that started the process of carefully incubating, measuring, and checking two sets of turtle eggs . . . for months.  Seriously, turtle eggs take 3 ½ months to hatch.  When fall came, my youngest son had an incredible biology-focused science fair project.

. . . . then, someone complained to someone, and someone went to the bureaucracy, then . . . someone from the School District called me.  The concern was that, in the future, kids might try to do experiments with animals and accidently hurt them.  So, my son would have to do a whole new Science Fair project because turtle hatch was not allowed.

My feelings were not assertive at that point.  Nor were they ‘passive.’  I immediately defaulted internally to Incredible Hulk mode.  However, I needed to model how to maintain composure, and thank God (thank you God) that He gave me the strength to clearly outline how punishing my son currently for a policy they were making for the future was inappropriate.  I had to ask to speak to the District Superintendent, and went through the whole thing again.  The Superintendent deferred to the local elementary school for how they would ‘enact this new policy.”

That’s when my son was suddenly on the front lines with having to be clear and forthright to his teacher.  He had to stick to the work that he did.  He had to clearly say that he wasn’t doing a ‘whole new’ experiment, and he had to boldly, but kindly, defer any teachers to talk to me.

Then we both had to go and meet with the Principal.

Two points to this:  Never do a science fair with turtles!  And the other point:  I’m SO GLAD that he practiced being firm and forthright with someone else rather than me.  I was with my kid almost every day telling me “I don’t want” and trying to negotiate a change in my decisions, and giving up on speaking up with kids and his brother.  I was elated that he was doing all this practicing with someone else for a change.

I’d rather the school personnel, that I pay, deal with my kids learning assertiveness – that way I can

  • Back my kids up
  • Advise them from the sidelines

Advising from the sidelines could be another whole topic in itself.  This is going to need at least a follow-up article.  I can see many of the dads that read this column plunging into the realm of Assertiveness totally unprepared.  Which, is actually the main idea with ‘practicing’ assertiveness.   Once again, let me know how it goes with your kids.  The comments are open; assertiveness is a project just like a science fair.

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Apr
27

Opposite Logic

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerToday’s article is up for you, the reading audience, to ratify.  It’s all based on logic I learned from the 90’s sitcom, Seinfeld.

Jerry Seinfeld : If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

George Costanza : Yes, I will do the opposite. I used to sit here and do nothing, and regret it for the rest of the day, so now I will do the opposite, and I will do something!

 

I thought of this when I was switching roles with one of my counseling clients.  Dads do certain things.  Moms do certain things.  If a mom comes in and has a hard time getting a grasp on the dad perspective, I ask us to pretend and switch roles.

It’s a helpful technique if a mom is singly raising kids, because she has to routinely act in the role as both dad AND mom.

. . . I even have a ladies’ wig I put on during session to do the play acting.  — Yes, I’m a riot.

Anyway, I hear a lot of women say that their instinct and role is to be “the caregiver” — the one that keeps the kids safe and protects them.

So, using the Seinfeld logic, the Dad role would most likely be the opposite of the caregiver:  letting kids be independent and having them experience dangerous and unsafe situations.

It’s just a working theory at this point.  I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments or e-mail me.  But let’s look at how such logic would flesh out for Dads (or dad-figures) . . .

 

Kid:  Wants to learn to skateboard

Motherly instinct:  Protect child at all cost!  Skateboards = death.  Child should instead pursue quilting.

Dad:  Do it!  Bones heal and chicks dig scars.

___

Kid:  gets a role in the school play

Motherly instinct:  Help them rehearse their lines and help them make a costume

Dad:  “Break a leg.”   I will come to the play and film the whole thing.

____

 

Kid:  another kid is teasing them on the bus.

Motherly instinct:  Let’s call the school and arrange a meeting to work on a strategy to keep you safe.  Better yet, I’ll drive you to school the rest of the year.

Dad:  Stand up to them!  If you fight and get suspended, I’ll let you play Xbox all week . . .

 

. . .  I’m so far noticing that this might be a workable theory.  I’m also thinking that good Dad role responses probably fall into three categories:

 

  • Give a sense of autonomy (which will help build self-esteem)
  • Figure things out

One thing that combines both of the roles of Dad and Mom is to share the emotions.  Guys sometimes instinctively do this different than ladies, but the idea is still good.  If you look at kids like a cup filled with emotion, many kids have emotion running over and spilling out everywhere.  If Dads or Moms . . . or moms/dads acting as both mom and dad, can prompt kids to share their emotional experience, then the cup doesn’t spill everywhere; instead it ‘pours’ where you want it.

Kid:  Wants to learn how to skateboard

Mother:  Oh, tell me about that, how does skateboarding make you feel?

Dad:  Let’s go look at skateboarding videos and you can tell me all about it.

 

Dads and Moms have different methods, and that’s ok.  When it comes to opposite logic, both protectful caregivers and dangerous risk takers can agree on hearing and understanding the emotions of our kids.

What we do after we hear those emotions? . . .  Well, that might be a topic for another day with a better sitcom analogy.  Hmmm, were there any words of wisdom in The Office . . .?

 

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Mar
23

Please Don’t Mess with My Peanut Butter

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerNormally, I’m a rather calm, cool and collected person. Actually, my creditors trying to collect things from me, mostly money, are responsible for this and I have been officially collected. If I could only collect my thoughts, but the pieces are too small and too few.

Anybody who knows me knows I am not easily rattled by anything. I let the chips fall where they may because I know from whence they came. I am not susceptible to the various rumors making their way around on a regular basis.

All the debate about global warming, for example, has not in the least disturbed my personal serenity. Some say the earth is getting warmer while others insist it is getting cooler. Who in the world are you to believe? One scientist frantically reported that if we do not do something quickly in 1500 years, the earth is going to get 10° warmer than it is right now. One can only hope he was not a Rhodes Scholar.

Then there was the hullabaloo about how harmful chocolate was to a person only to be discovered later that it has marvelous health benefits. Pass me another bonbon.

Others took potshots at coffee. Again, it was found that a morning cup of Joe is just the thing to get a person on the go.

I took all of these things in the good-natured way that is typical of Yours Truly. I try not to let anything get my dander up. In fact, I am quite proud of the humble way in which I respond to all of these negativities, usually, with a cup of coffee in one hand and a bonbon in the other.

All was going well until one morning, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage rattled my cage. She takes great pleasure in doing something like this.

“Have you seen the trouble they are having with peanut butter?”

This caught me by surprise because I had not heard any such thing. My wife went on to explain that, in some cases, they were recalling certain peanut products. Personally, I know a few nuts that need to be recalled.

I do not mind if they fool around with global warming, and recall every car on the planet. I care not what they say about chocolate and coffee, but I go by one simple rule; do not mess with my peanut butter.

My underlying philosophy is, man shall not live by bread alone, he needs a little bit of peanut butter to hold it all together.

I am not sure who invented peanut butter, it might have been God himself; all I know it is the food of the gods. According to Wikipedia, there has never been a time in history when there was not some form of peanut butter.

It is one of the few essential items in this world that nobody can get along without. I can hardly imagine a world without this marvelous concoction, either creamy or crunchy.

There are many things I can get along without, but I cannot get along without my daily ration of peanut butter.

Some people have chocolate as comfort food. Some people’s comfort food of choice is a bag of salty potato chips. Others pamper their comfort with ice cream. And I say, to each one his own. My comfort food is simply peanut butter, preferably crunchy.

The thing about peanut butter that is so amazing is it can be used in a variety of ways. I would guess that the list is all but limitless. Hardly a month goes by that I do not discover a new way to enjoy peanut butter.

There, of course, is the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Every thoughtful and loving mother starts her young brood off on nutritious and delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwichs. If your mother was quite like my mother, she affectionately trimmed the edges, which made the peanut butter all the more delightful.

Need I mention Peanut Butter Cookies, Peanut Butter Fudge, Southern Peanut Butter Soup with Pepper Jelly, Peanut Butter Cheesecake, Peanut Butter Candy, and a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sundae?

I’m not alone in this appreciation. “To me, peanut butter is the breakfast of champions!” opined Greg Louganis, Olympic Diver. And if anybody should know what a champion eats for breakfast, he should.

Peanut butter can be used for breakfast, lunch and supper. And for all those snacks in between.

Those who know the history of our country will remember that two Presidents of the United States were peanut farmers [Jefferson and Carter]. I am not sure of this, but I think it helped them deal with the nuts at Washington.

Of all the ways to enjoy peanut butter, there is one I prefer above all else. That is simply a nice tablespoon of peanut butter right out of the jar. If a tablespoon is not handy, several fingers will do the trick admirably.

Really, there is no wrong way to enjoy the marvelous taste of peanut butter.

Speaking of comfort food, the Bible has the perfect recipe. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalms 23:4).

God has a marvelous way of taking our attention away from the trials of this world and focus our thoughts on Him.

Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail jamessnyder2@att.net. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.

SHORT VERSION = 550 WORDS

Please Don’t Mess with My Peanut Butter
Dr. James L. Snyder

Normally, I’m a rather calm, cool and collected person. Actually, my creditors trying to collect things from me, mostly money, are responsible for this and I have been officially collected. If I could only collect my thoughts, but the pieces are too small and too few.

All was going well until one morning the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage rattled my cage. She takes great pleasure in doing something like this.

“Have you seen the trouble they are having with peanut butter?”

This caught me by surprise because I had not heard any such thing. My wife went on to explain that, in some cases, they were recalling certain peanut products. Personally, I know a few nuts that need to be recalled.

My underlying philosophy is, man shall not live by bread alone, he needs a little bit of peanut butter to hold it all together.

It is one of the few essential items in this world that nobody can get along without. I can hardly imagine a world without this marvelous concoction, either creamy or crunchy.

There are many things I can get along without, but I cannot get along without my daily ration of peanut butter.

Some people have chocolate as comfort food. Some people’s comfort food of choice is a bag of salty potato chips. Others pamper their comfort with ice cream. And I say, to each one his own. My comfort food is simply peanut butter, preferably crunchy.

The thing about peanut butter that is so amazing is it can be used in a variety of ways. I would guess that the list is all but limitless. Hardly a month goes by that I do not discover a new way to enjoy peanut butter.

There, of course, is the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Every thoughtful and loving mother starts her young brood off on nutritious and delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If your mother was quite like my mother, she affectionately trimmed the edges, which made the peanut butter all the more delightful.

Need I mention Peanut Butter Cookies, Peanut Butter Fudge, Southern Peanut Butter Soup with Pepper Jelly, Peanut Butter Cheesecake, Peanut Butter Candy, and a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sundae?

Peanut butter can be used for breakfast, lunch and supper. And for all those snacks in between.

Those who know the history of our country will remember that two Presidents of the United States were peanut farmers [Jefferson and Carter]. I am not sure of this, but I think it helped them deal with the nuts at Washington.

Of all the ways to enjoy peanut butter, there is one I prefer above all else. That is simply a nice tablespoon of peanut butter right out of the jar. If a tablespoon is not handy, several fingers will do the trick admirably.

Really, there is no wrong way to enjoy the marvelous taste of peanut butter.

Speaking of comfort food, the Bible has the perfect recipe. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalms 23:4).

God has a marvelous way of taking our attention away from the trials of this world and focus our thoughts on Him.

Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. Contact him at jamessnyder2@att.net. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.

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As more and more look to work from home given the present state of things, it’s important to know some ways to implement it.  If you haven’t done it previously it can seem challenging, but it doesn’t have to be.  These tips should help.

10 Tips for Working Virtually:

  1. Set up a dedicated area. If you can convert a room or a part of a room to an office that is the best scenario.  Find a place where the interruptions are less frequent and also away from barking dogs and other distractions.  Being able to shut the door too is a godsend.  However, work with what you have.
  2. Internet is crucial. Repeat the internet is crucial.  Get it set up and know what to do if it happens to go down.  If your company provides tech support utilize it. However, don’t wait until the last minute.  If major companies send everyone home to work, your favorite tech support guy is going to be extremely busy.  So get prepared.
  3. Test your equipment and work out any bugs. I’d love to say this is going to be a flawless operation, but that’s not necessarily the case. Those who have worked from home for years (I’m at 35 years) know that things happen and how you deal with it is what can save you.  A quick Google search or a YouTube video might be just the answer you need.  If not, talk with someone with experience and get their recommendations.
  4. Back up all work. Your company more than likely had back-ups already in place. But now that you are home it’s imperative that you set this up immediately.  A flash drive, cloud storage such as Dropbox, and also Carbonite are good recommendations.  I have them all.
  5. Skype and Zoom will be your best friends. These allow you to have audio and video conferences. Before you have a conference, learn the basics and test that you can be heard and seen.  Nothing is more frustrating than someone attending a meeting and you can’t hear or see the person who is there.  Valuable time can be wasted here.
  6. Set up your webcam. Invest in a good one too. More importantly though check it out and see how you look.  When it’s too close all you can see is your face and close up that can be not the most flattering.  Also review your background.  Anything that is in view should be cleaned up. Now is not the time to see your 20 bottles of old Diet Cokes you haven’t thrown away. I mean who does that? (Guilty as charged!)
  7. Discuss your needs with your family and any friends. Be firm on the fact that you’re working and just because you are home, you can’t talk for hours or go for coffee.  If you have children let them know you need to work as well.  They might love the fact that mom or dad is at home now and that’s awesome, but it can add additional stress you don’t need especially as you are trying to figure out your work arrangement.
  8. With small children prepare now and have a goodie basket of things such as crayons, coloring books, books, etc. that you can give them to help keep them busy allowing you to take calls and work. The Dollar Store can make this less expensive or make some of your own by printing out coloring pages.  Of course, prepare depending on your child’s age.  And no too many cartoons or Netflix right now is not bad!  They have probably heard the news too and this can be relaxing for them.
  9. When on important calls or conferences, be sure to turn off any distractions. If you are on Skype, turn your phone off so you can’t hear voice mails. Log out of email programs such as Outlook so all your notifications don’t appear if you have it set up that way.  If you have a dog that barks every time someone knocks on the door put a note on the door not to knock.  UPS has hurt many a conference call for me so I do this every time now.  What else?  Review what your needs might be and plan accordingly.
  10. Write down all your passwords. I’ll leave it at that.  You’ll thank me later for that one!

Remain calm. This is a situation that in and of itself is extremely stressful.  Then you top that with having to figure out how to work virtually.  Try and relax and take it a step at a time.  Take frequent breaks and reach out to friends when too stressed.  We will all get through this, but hopefully some of these tips helped.  If you have additional tips please do leave them in the comments below or if you have questions, let me know.

 

About the Author

Diana Ennen, Virtual Marketing bloggerDiana Ennen is the President of Virtual Word Publishing, www.virtualwordpublishing.com, where she offers PR and Marketing, book marketing, PR and Virtual Assistant Coaching, VA services, writing and editing, ghost writing, and so much more.   She has been featured in all major media including Forbes, Fox, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc. Radio, Woman’s World Magazine, and too many to mention and gets her clients in these publications as well. Email her for more information at moc.gnihsilbupdrowlautriv@anaid. Posting is free to be reprinted as long as this bio remains.

Mar
09

The Long Game

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerSometimes as a parent you have to play the long game.

I like expressions, but I realize that I use many of them and don’t actually know what they mean.  Take the idiom, “Easy as Pie.”  Does that mean baking a pie is easy?  Or eating pie is easy?  In this 21st Century I can microwave a frozen pie — that’s easy.  I’m not sure that baking pies from scratch ‘the ol’ fashioned way’ was easy.  Maybe stealing pies from windowsills is easy . . .

Luckily there is Google.  I am currently looking up the expression ‘the long game:’

The Urban Dictionary says the long game is having a long term plan, long term goals, or doing things now that set you up for the future.

That’s what I hoped it meant.  Still don’t know where it originated, but that will be a Google for another time.

I’m using the expression ‘the long game’ with parenting because sometimes we don’t get immediate results from our parenting interventions.  When kids are little there is more of an immediate turnaround on parenting instruction.

 

Me:  Eat your spaghetti-o’s

Kid:  [munch munch]

Easy.

As they get older there is more of a delay in what your kids experience as the payoff of parent instruction.

  • You’re the worst Dad ever!
  • I’m going to do it my way.
  • Dad, let me make my own decisions!
  • I’m going to rent a house and move in with three friends that have no morals.

All the above statements are versions of the same thing.  It’s natural for your kids to want to be independent and find out things for themselves.  This is especially true as they get older.

As a Dad, I can tell my kid not to play in the road.  The immediate consequences are extreme.

As kids get older, I can tell my kids not to try drugs . . .  the mid-term consequences are extreme.

As my teenage kids contemplate moving out into ‘real life’ I can advise them to make a budget, manage their time, to not use credit cards, to not be alone for copious amounts of time with people of the opposite sex (until they’re married) . .

The consequences from these actions might not be immediate or even mid-term . . . but they can have some extreme long-term effects.

A budget is a great example.  Right now, my 18year old son is working at Dairy Queen.  We, mostly my wife, have been stressing to him to build a budget and put money toward the things that are important; like education.

However, he gets paid a pittance at Dairy Queen and doesn’t want to save money.  According to him, he barely has enough money to cover his necessities.

Which, but the way, there is some disagreement regarding the definition of the late-teenage version of ‘necessities.’  Both my wife and I have to frequently restrain ourselves from reminding him about REAL LIFE and bills and mortgage and health insurance.  Right now his necessity is gas for his car and money to frequently go to McDonalds.

So, doing a budget isn’t a high priority to him now.  We stress it for the Long Game; we want him to have a budget in the future when he has real necessities.

 

Future Daughter in Law:  I’m really glad that you learned how to budget from your parents, or else we’d never have money to pay our insurance deductible.

My Son:  Yeah, my Dairy Queen salary really is stretched to the limit.

Ok, that was supposed to be funny.  Dairy Queen.  Salary.  If you’ve ever worked fast-food you might be laughing.

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you plan to Dad the Long Game:

Start as early as you can:  How early is too early?

“Look Emily, I got you a cute little budget-shaped pacifier . . . “

Seriously, the things that you want them to know when they are in their 20’s you should start mentioning now.

Here’s a verse from the Bible (Proverbs 22:6) that is comforting to many parents parenting for the Long Game:

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Reinforce Reinforce Reinforce:  I’m sure ‘training up a child’ in the above verse is more than just mentioning it once.  If you want your kids to wait to have sex until marriage, start repeating ‘when you get married’ any opportunity regarding the opposite sex.   Keep repeating the important long-term wisdom you want them to absorb.

The Bible talks about some extreme measures for doing this with the truths in the Bible

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 New International Version (NIV)

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Be patient: – it’s a “Long Game” remember?  This, and the next point are probably the hardest things to do as your kids get older.  You may notice that they are making unwise or even unrighteous decisions as they are becoming independent.  Sure, you can advise them to get back on track, but after that, you have only to wait and . . .

Trust God and your actions.  Every boy and girl can get heady and throw out ALL of our instruction, wisdom and righteousness.  But, through God’s mercy there are times where our training kicks in, or our conscience reminds us of things our Dads taught us, and it keeps kids from screwing up . . . or screwing up so badly.

We just need to do our part for the long game, then, when it’s out of our control, we watch the game play out.  Come to think of it now, clearly this analogy of the Long Game is related to the game of Monopoly.  Have you ever really finished a game of Monopoly? – Especially before EVERYONE got in a fight.  So much like raising kids . . . .

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Feb
27

Top Ways to Be More Creative While Working from Home

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pc: pixabay

Whether you’re a freelancer or a remote employee, working from home certainly beats the drudgery of having to commute to work, attend pointless meetings, and all the other things that annoy you at your workplace. Of course, as I have learned, there’s a downside to everything no matter how good it may seem. Working from home day in and day out can leave you feeling creatively drained and increasingly stressed as there’s no leaving work behind at the end of the day. While this may seem like a catch 22 situation, there is a way out. Here are a few tricks and strategies that usually help me when I hit a creative slump. 

Simple Strategies to Keep the Creativity Flowing when You Work from Home

Step Out and Smell the Roses

Granted, the odors that greet you could sometimes be offensive, depending on where you live, but that’s not the point. Staying cooped up in your house will take a toll on your creativity and it’s important to get a change of scenery from time to time. Whether it’s your backyard, front porch, the neighborhood coffee shop, or a public park, spending a few hours outdoors can be invigorating for your creativity. You can use this time either as break from work or to work outdoors, depending on what suits you.

Collaborate

We’re all wired differently and some of us thrive with solitude, while others will find their creativity withering away. Working from home can be pretty lonely and even a solitary creature like me eventually starts to miss the friendly office banter, the helpful feedback, and the unhelpful disruptions. There are times when all you need is a second opinion or someone to bounce ideas off to give you that much needed creative spark. Connect with a friend or a trusted colleague, or collaborate with other freelancers if you can. 

Find Your Inner Peace

It’s easy to lose focus and burnout quickly because creative minds also tend to be incredibly chaotic. That lack of quiet time for your mind translates into stress and anxiety. When levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, are elevated most of the time, cognitive function starts to suffer and creativity becomes challenging. The best thing you could do would be to start each day with a few minutes of meditation. Mindfulness-based meditation techniques are so effective at restoring calm, lowering stress, and helping you focus that they are also used in clinical programs to treat anxiety disorders and depression. 

Get Physical

Stress can impair creativity not just because of the rise in cortisol levels, but also because of the reduction in serotonin and dopamine levels. These neurotransmitters don’t just influence your mood, but also play a role in cognitive functions like creative thinking, learning, and retention. Evidence shows that regular exercise can improve this neurochemical balance to give you a cognitive boost. From personal experience, I’ve found that morning exercise is one of the most effective strategies to keep my creativity levels high throughout the day. It’s also worth noting that these benefits are linked not just too high intensity exercise, but also to mild and moderate activities like walking, swimming, jogging, and cycling. 

Take Routine Breaks

It’s easy to get carried away when you feel like you’re on the cusp of a breakthrough, pushing on relentlessly despite the fact that your brain needs a break. To avoid a burnout, you need to take short and period breaks to let off some steam. Watching funny animal videos and spending time with my fur babies works wonders for me, but you can even do household chores, watch some standup comedy, or play a quick game. Just make sure to do something that takes your mind off work for at least 5 to 20 minutes. When you get back to work, you’ll find that your creativity is back too.

Don’t Skip Meals or Overeat

It can be tempting to skip breakfast, snack at any time, or have heavy meals when you’re working from home. This might not seem like a big deal, but your food intake actually has a significant impact on energy levels and creativity. Irregular meal timings and overeating can increase indigestion, causing a wide range of gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, tummy aches, and worse, which can interfere with your creative output. Additionally, some nutrients like omega-3 fats are particularly important for healthy brain function. 

While all of these methods will help you be more creative when working from home, they won’t do you much good if you can’t maintain a healthy work-life balance. Working from home gives you the opportunity to have the best of both worlds, so give it all you’ve got and make it work. The teething phase can be tough, but it’s worth it in the end. 

 

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