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How To Create a Focused New Year

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new year new startA new year is here. We all want to begin with fresh resolve.

When I look at the present and where I want to be I get overwhelmed. It seems like I have so far to go, as if trying to reach a distant destination. There is nothing wrong with my life at present. But I tend to push myself toward growth, being my own toughest task master. When I look at everyday life I say I want to clean better, cook better, tidy better, be more organized, be diligent at putting away my papers and making sure my desk is straight. I want to pursue excellence in my business, in writing, in motherhood and in spiritual growth. I want to have better relationships, to spend more quality time with each child and with my spouse.

As I look at all these things none of them are a destination but all of them are areas of growth.

When I look at my list it would appear that I feel like I’m “just not there yet” in any area.  This could lead to feelings of failure and discouragement (and sometimes does.)

I don’t know whether this blight of wanting to achieve a certain standard is all just built into my personality or if it is something that many of us moms struggle with. We are people with many hats; the business woman, the wife, the cook, dishwasher, dog walker, event planner, disciplinarian, moral instructor, teacher and so much more. And somehow I just want to do them all perfectly. In the back of my mind I have the false hope that if I could just perfect all of my duties I would be satisfied that I have accomplished a goal, or goals.

In thinking back over this past year, I see areas of steady improvement but I don’t see that I have mastered anything I my list.

I pursued some areas with vengeance.

For instance early in the summer I read Read for Your Life by Pat Williams. Williams discusses his method of reading through at least one book per week. He reads at every given opportunity, at stop lights, on airplanes, in the grocery store line. I love to read and have longed to read more but have found it a challenge with children and the many other aspects of life which consume my time. With enthusiasm to put these new found techniques into practice I began to read again.

For the first few weeks I was almost able to keep pace but then my reading dwindled off as I got into the bestselling book The Magic Art of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo.  The picture of such a tidy house seemed a dream come true so with gusto I attempted to carry out all of the things mentioned. I sorted my clothes, organized them and gave away huge bags worth. I was just getting into the groove of learning this art of tidying when the school year started. I was overcome by this new task of homeschooling and the art of tidying in went by the wayside.

I have failed at reading one book per week.

I have failed at the magic art of tidying up.

This looks like a bleak projection of what my goals should be for this coming year.

I had started a list of things I wanted to accomplish in 2016 but stopped.

I asked the Lord to quiet my heart.

Slowly He is teaching me that is doesn’t matter how fast we get to our goals.

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Organizing Your New Year

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jill-new14new year new startThe New Year is here!

I look forward this new beginning each year with a great deal of anticipation. It’s time to shake off the things of last year and look to the days of head and all of the opportunites they hold.

To help you start your year off right, here are a few thoughts for organizing your business and household for the upcoming year.


1. Files – Now is a great time to go through your files and make sure all is in order – labeled and put in a place where they are easily accessible. Take the time to throw out anything that can go and put old tax and business files into storage.

2. Desk –  A clean desk is a great way to kick off the new year. Find a place for everything and put everything in it’s place. It will help motivate you to sit down and get to work – no distractions.

3. Calendar –  Buy yourself a new calendar and/or planner and start filling that baby up. Make sure to mark in the days when there is no school (or early out days), and other items that you’ll need to keep you organized in both business and family tasks.


1. Drawers and Closets – With the cold weather keeping you indoors, this is a great time to clean out those drawers and closets that need your attention. It’s also a great time to donate your gently used items.

2. Books – Just like clothing and other household goods, books can be donated to your local homeless shelter. Our local shelter has a library available to all of it’s residents. So, take time this new year to go through your books and donate those that you can part with.

3. Storage Spots –  Now that it’s time to put the Christmas decorations away, you might as well tidy up those storage areas as well. I’ve found that adding shelving to our small storage room makes it much easier to keep things organized and accessible. Also, nowadays you can buy colored totes to make separating out holiday decorations – or other items – easy.


1. Hello/Goodbye Workbook (by Jo Saxton and Stephanie O’Brien – “The ‘Hello Goodbye’ process is a tool in response to New Year’s resolutions – it is not about fixing yourself, but intentionally, prayerfully turning away from certain things, whether good or bad, and turning towards other things.  Those things might be fun (like working out!) or they may be uncomfortable like embracing grief or forgiveness, but the focus is finding ways to be healthier emotionally, spiritually and physically.”

2. Joanna Weaver’s 2018 Utmost for His Highest Bible Reading Plan  –  Joanna Weaver is the author of several books, most notably Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. Joanna explains a little about her 2018 reading challenge: “Each day, after reading an assigned chapter from the Bible, you’ll be encouraged to also consider that day’s entry from Oswald Chambers’ devotional classic, My Utmost for His Highest .” Joanna will be sharing updates every weekday on her blog (and I’ll be contributing in April!). You can download the free workbook when you sign up (also free) on her website:


I hope you’re as excited about this new year as I am! I’d love to hear your tips for getting organized – post them in the comments below!

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Top 3 Ways to Strengthen Your Business’s Online Presence

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social media iconsDigital marketing will be an even bigger part of businesses in 2018. Sure, you still need conventional marketing and promotional campaigns to reach local customers, but must never forget to invest in developing your online presence either.

More than 80% of today’s customers find the products and services they need online; not having a strong online presence would mean missing out on thousands of new opportunities. It is time to invest more in online marketing. There are a lot you can do to strengthen your business’s online presence and we are going to discuss the top three ways to help you get started.

Tell Stories

According to the New Jersey Institute of Technology and its MBA in online masters in business administration department, storytelling is the most powerful tool you have online. Your digital marketing instruments, from your social media posts to the articles and video content you share, need to tell compelling stories to keep the audience engaged.

More importantly, there are a lot of interesting stories about your business that the audience will love. The process of developing a product idea and turning it into an actual product that customers can buy, for example, is always fascinating to follow.

The way you tell those stories matters. Take a more personal point of view, speak to the audience as a business owner – instead of as a company or in a more formal way – and see for yourself how much higher the user engagement is when you share compelling stories the right way. it will not be long before you have a strong audience base that truly supports you and your business.

Beyond Social Media

Social media is the perfect platform for connecting with potential customers – and existing ones – directly. You can share information about new products and promotional offers in an effective way. Advertising through social media platforms is also considered more effective; have you used Facebook Ads or AdWords on YouTube lately?

That said, you need to start fine-tuning your social media efforts to cover more than just sharing things. After all, it is called social media because it’s a platform for getting social. Connect with industry experts, influencers that are relevant to your business, and fellow business owners (who are not your direct competitors, of course).

Connecting with these stakeholders allows you to expand your reach like never before. You can run joint campaigns or support the activities of influencers to get more people engaged with your social media profiles. Read More→

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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How Your Brand Can Effortlessly Draw Your Audience

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Dana Susan Beasley, Branding for Success bloggerdana-attractionClient attraction. It’s a buzz word these days that if you’re like me, you see everywhere.

And we see it everywhere because it is, indeed, a very important strategy. And that is where branding comes in.

A good brand distinguishes you from the crowd. On the Internet especially, it is so easy to get lost. It’s kind of like cookie cutter homes. Every time I drive through one of these neighborhoods, I get disoriented because every house looks alike!

Think about a custom house, though. Doesn’t that stand out in your mind? Aren’t you unconsciously drawn to it? Isn’t it more memorable in your mind?

This is just an analogy but a very effective one. Your brand needs to be customized to your business, to your Unique Selling Proposition. A one-size-all logo that looks like everyone else’s logo is not going to help you distinguish yourself from your competition. You will be lost in the crowd!

So when you have a customized brand, tailored to your mission, vision, and values, then you will attract customers to you.

This is because you will understand your target market and you will create a brand image that appeals to them. But a brand is more than a logo. It is the message that you are communicating. When you have clarity in your message to your audience, then what you have to say creates a resonance. You become attractive and they want to find out more.

It’s the difference between pushing and pulling, between a rubber band and a magnet. A good branding program will serve as that magnet that will attract prospects to you rather than you having to pull them in.

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Why read the Bible?

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Learning timeAs women who long for Christ to be glorified in our lives Bible reading is probably part of our daily and weekly lives. It is one of those things deeply impressed on every believer soon after they come to Christ.

For me a daily quiet time has been a part of each morning since I was about 10. My mom used to get me a yearly kid’s devotional put out by Word of Life Bible Institute. This helped me begin a life-long habit of journaling and time with the Lord.

However, I also approached my Bible reading with a quest to find something new, to learn a something. This sounds good but instead of growing a deeper relationship with God it mostly fed my mind knowledge. I knew the Bible stories. I had read the Bible through many times but yet felt like the Bible was not real to me.

I didn’t know why this was and spent a great deal of time praying about it. God answered my prayer and revealed to me how I treated the Bible more like a textbook than the living Word.

The Bible is a book. I have always loved books. From them I learn about people from centuries past, enjoy a good story or learn spiritual lessons from great Christian leaders. All books can have an impact on my life and thinking. Reading the Bible can help me to be more aware of how to become morally upright and it will give me a solid understanding of the creation of the world and God’s plan for humanity.

But is that it?

Is the Bible simply another book that will fill my mind with knowledge, or is it a book whose message of who God is, will birth within our hearts a hopeful expectancy of what He longs to do in my life? Is it merely to read about what God has done, confining Him to what He did for people in the past or through reading it do we see a God who works on behalf of those who wait for Him (Isaiah 64:4)?

Think of the well known accounts recorded in the book and what it tells you about the character of God.

  • God’s servant Daniel was thrown into a den of lions and God shut their mouths. God saved Daniel’s life in a miraculous way. He can do the same for me.
  • King David, a man after God’s own heart, was an adulterer and murderer. God forgave him. And so He longs to forgive me.
  • God led the Israelites out of Egypt to the promised land with a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night (Exodus 13:21). He longs to lead me into the plans He has for me and has given us the Holy Spirit as a counselor and guide.
  • While Jesus was on earth He fed 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish because He had compassion on them (Mark 6:30-44). In the same way He has compassion on me and longs to supply all of my needs according to His glorious riches. Read More→
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The Year Slipped into the Silence of the Night

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerNo time in the year is busier than the Christmas holiday season. Under normal circumstances, it would not be too bad, except for the fact that the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is in charge.

Not complaining, mind you, but she is in charge 365 days out of the year. Her battery never runs down and never needs charging.

I am glad she is like that because it gives me less to do during such busy holiday times. She knows exactly what she is going to do and how she is going to do it and when she is going to do it. My job during the holiday season is to Stay Out Of Her Way.

However, the hustle and the bustle of the holiday season is over and for a minute or two, we can relax.

I never know when that time comes. Like I got up early the other morning and heard from the other side of the bed, “What are you getting up for? Don’t you know Christmas is over?”

When we did get up, she fixed our morning coffee and we sat around the Christmas tree just enjoying the quietness. A few days ago, the whole room was alive with chatter and laughter. You might recognize that as “grandchildren.” Of course, this was the first year we had our great grandson with us. It was a hilarious time of noise and activity.

What would Christmas be without that kind of celebration?

Now it is over and we were sitting around staring at the Christmas tree drinking our After-Christmas-Morning-Joe.

Not paying attention to anything that was going on, just enjoying the silence I did not hear my wife sighing. It was a gentle sigh, so I did not hear it right away.

That is the difference between husbands and wives. My wife can hear what I am thinking seven days before I even start thinking. A man, on the other hand, takes seven days just to hear something.

It finally came to me what she was doing and so I asked, “What are you in such deep thought about?”

That brought another deep sigh and a moment of silence and then she said, “I can’t believe another year is gone.”

At first, I did not know what she was talking about so I asked her to repeat and explain what she was talking about.

“I can’t believe,” she repeated with a deep sigh, “that another year has gone by so quickly.”

After a few thoughtful seconds, I begin to understand what she was saying. Another year has slipped by into the silence of the night to be seen no more.

At first, it was a little disconcerting. I was having fun, or so I thought, during the year. To see that go was a little bit disturbing and so I began sighing deep sighs. We formed a wonderful duet singing the “Silent-Night-Sighing-Duo.”

With only a few more hours left of the old year I really did not know how to spend it. It goes by so fast that it is hard for me to keep up. What could I do for a couple of hours that would make this year a remarkable year?

Then my wife challenged me with a very sophisticated question. She certainly knows how to interrogate a person and should be on the FBI’s payroll.

“What was,” she said rather thoughtfully, “the one most important part of this year for you?”

What a question. How can you boil a whole year down to one thing? After all, you have 365 days, 52 weeks and 12 months, how in the world can you boil all that down to one thing?

“I’m not sure,” I said rather hesitatingly. “What was your one important aspect of the year?” Read More→

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Living as a Light

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“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16 NIV candlelight

How are you a light to those you work with? Do friends, colleagues and clients know that you’re a Christian? Can they tell simply by the way you live your life; the way you treat them?

I love this quote from the book (Work Matters) from sociologist James Hunter regarding the fact that Christ is faithfully present to us. “Faithful presence in the world means that Christians are fully present and committed in their spheres of influence, whatever they may be: their families, neighborhoods, voluntary activities and places of work.”

The question we must ask ourselves then is, “Am I fully present?” Am I engaged in my community, my church, my life? Or am I simply letting life pass me by as I muddle through each day with an attitude of defeat?

As my wonderful assistant, Pebbles Jacobo would say, “Be where you are.”

Such a simple statement, but when we live it out it has a massive impact.

Be fully present when you’re with your kids. Be fully present when you’re working. I know that switching between the two is incredibly difficult when you work from home, but it is a skill that can be learned. Or maybe a better way to phrase that would be it is an attitude that can be chosen.

When my kids were small I struggled to shut off work mode to listen to their excessive enthusiasm over things like Elmo. There were many days (and still are) when I had to force myself to close my laptop, look my kids in the eye and listen. Truly listen.

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How to Start a Business After Leaving the Military

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Whether you are retired after a long career in the military or serving your first tour of duty, it’s time to move on to civilian life and all that entails. You have a great skill set that made you invaluable in service to our country and now you’d like to put those skills to work in a business of your own.

Putting Your Skills to Work as a Civilian

It doesn’t really matter what you did in the service; there are skills that you acquired along the way and those are the skills that will make you a great entrepreneur. Some of what you’ll need as a business owner will be the skills that drove you up the ranks. These skills include being:

  • Highly organized
  • An effective leader
  • Detail oriented
  • A self-starter
  • Respectful of authority
  • Focused on winning
  • Astute at recognizing potentially dangerous outcomes

And those are just some of the skills you learned in the military that will help you achieve success in whatever line of work you wish to pursue. However, some skills may yet need developing. Read More→

Categories : Articles, Just for Her
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How to Keep Your Home-Based Business Going Strong

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You worked really hard to get your home-based business off the ground. And congratulations on a job well done, by the way! But, just because you have established your company and you have some clients certainly does not mean that the work is over. On the contrary, when you run your own show, you need to constantly work on keeping it going strong. But how can you go about ensuring your long-term success in whatever field you have chosen to work in? Check out the tips below for some helpful insight.

Always Keep Learning

One way to keep your business going strong, and to keep it ahead of your competition, is by constantly learning new things. Look into online courses that you could take to further your skill set, or listen to podcasts and read inspiring interviews with people who are leading the pack in your industry – or in the world of entrepreneurship in general. You might even decide to go back to school for a degree.

For example, if you work from home as a bookkeeper, you could increase your skills by getting your University of South Dakota accounting degree online. You could keep working while studying because you could go to school from home by taking your classes online, and by the time you are done, you will be able to offer more advanced accounting services in addition to basic bookkeeping services. So, no matter what industry you work in, consider the education that will set you apart and allow you to offer new products or services.

Keep Setting New Goals

Sitting down and setting goals for your business is always a good idea, and it isn’t something that only happens when you first launch your brand and write your business plan. So, whether you revisit your goals once a year or every few months, make it a point to determine what you want to achieve. Then figure out what milestones you can set up so that you can track your progress on your way towards that ultimate goal.

If you want to increase the number of clients that you work with, for example, you might decide that you will attend more networking events in the coming year, or you might decide to become more active on social media, or you might even revamp your website by adding optimized content to it. The key is to always set new goals, so don’t just stop once you have achieved the goals that you set in the past.

Collaborate with Others

Finally, think about bringing on a team of people who could help you achieve your goals. After all, you can’t always do it all on your own. And as your business continues to grow, you might need some help keeping track of everything and getting everything done. Searching online for freelancers from around the globe will give you access to fellow professionals with the talents you need.

With the tips above, you could take your home-based business to a new level, so definitely consider giving these strategies a try very soon!

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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The Essential Steps In Growing Any Business

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When you are looking into how to grow your business, you can often find yourself surprised by just how much there is to do. No matter what it is that your business actually does, there are always things which you need to focus on in particular ifBoost your traffic you want to make sure it grows at the right kind of rate. As it happens, these can often be both obvious and yet regularly overlooked, and it is worth looking into what they are so that you can be sure you are doing everything you should be doing in your business to allow it to grow. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most important aspects of growing your business.

Branching Out

Chances are, when you started with your business you specialised in one or two things. This is exactly what you should do, what any entrepreneur in the world does, but it is often true that you need to change things up after a while if you want to expand as a business. One of the most essential steps in growing any business is to make sure you branch out at some point. This can be in the form of a new kind of product, in which case you will need to make sure that you keep within the refines of what your target demographic will like. Or it might mean that you offer a little something extra in your service, which is arguably one of the better ways of approaching this difficulty. However you do it, make sure to branch out in such a way that you do not hinder the existing parts of your business, but rather only make them stronger.

Upping The Marketing

Marketing will always be an essential part of any business, and if you want to grow and expand then you need to ensure that the marketing follows suit. Done well, it is often all you really need in order to ensure that the growth itself actually lands; as long as people understand the growth and are on your side, after all, you can be sure of that growth working out much more successfully. So this is the value of marketing during such a time, and it is something you will want to put a lot of time and energy into in order to get it right. Let’s therefore look in a little more detail at what your marketing should look like as your business goes through its process and period of growth.

One of the biggest parts of your marketing at any time is the website, and this will be especially true at this point in time too. If you are not entirely convinced that your website is currently doing everything it can for your business, then this period of growth will be the ideal time to look into that. No two websites are the same or serve quite the same purpose, but as long as you are using it and approaching it as a marketing tool you should be able to use it as fully as possible for that very purpose. A well-built website is a beautiful thing, and there are particular characteristics which it should almost certainly have. For instance, it should be easily navigable by anyone, and it should also be designed in such a way that it lends itself well towards the branding of the business as a whole. Now is a perfect time to look into whether or not your website is doing what it should – for more information and advice on that, check here. Read More→

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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