Well, this is new…

Life and Happiness

I wrote in my last post that I was searching for new ways to increase my brand. I had written that post ahead of time (like I do with most posts). On Friday, September 1st I went about my day until about halfway into the morning I realized, “I didn’t see any post notifications for the blog.” Turns out, I had forgotten to write a post for that day!

Keep in mind I’ve been writing and posting at least twice a week (started off as three times) for over five years. I’ve rarely missed a posting day. But I did. And do you know what I realized?

It was okay. No one really cared. It didn’t affect my business or my brand and, frankly, I felt a little relieved.

As I contemplated this issue a bit further, I realized that while I still like to write blogs, the process has dulled a bit for me. I find myself struggling to find things to write about and wondering if any of it is making an impact at all.

So, I thought, what if I stopped writing my blog posts?

Yes, I know, it may be disheartening for some, but most of you simply won’t care. It’s not harsh and I’m not hurt at all. It might simply be a time for me to explore other things.

So. Here is what I’ve decided. I still might post some things on this blog, but mostly, if I have something to say, I’ll send it out to my newsletter followers. (Haven’t signed up for my newsletter? Click here.) The people who have chosen to follow me via my newsletter, I surmise, are the folks who truly want to keep up with what I’m doing. Usually, I just send things about new books, but those are kind of few at this point (although I’m working on another one…two actually). What I intend to do with the newsletter from here on out is use it for book release news, book updates, editing news and tips, as well as, sometimes, a quick devotion.

In short, like this blog, but less.

If you’d like to truly keep up with what I’m doing, or to support me and my business you can do the following: (Pick as many as fits your life.)

  1. Sign up for my newsletter. My newsletter will come less frequently than this blog has been – only when I send it out. (FYI, you’ll receive a few when you first sign up over the course of a few weeks as an introduction to me.) Click here to sign up.
  2. Follow me on social media. I have a Facebook page here. Instagram here. Twitter account here (I’m really lax on Twitter….). And you can follow me on Amazon here (I NEVER post anything there, but you’ll be advised when I publish new books.)
  3. Buy my books (click here). I have two fiction books and one journal currently available. I hope to have another (a short non-fiction) out by the end of this year.
  4. Send me money via PayPal. Ha. Kidding. But if you’re so inclined….

I hope to see many of you sign up for these in the next few days. I covet your prayers as well as I branch out and try this new avenue.

God bless.

 

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But Starting Is Hard

Life and Happiness

Starting something new is way too hard.

Well, okay…it is, but…it isn’t.

When I first decided to quit my office job and work from home, it was the hardest decision of my life. I stressed about it relentlessly (just ask my husband). I knew what lie ahead would be a long, arduous journey and I might fail. Now, almost three years later (where did that time go?), I can look back and see my progress, but back then taking that step of faith was a hard one. I was literally on the fence.

Recently, I’ve been reading this book “Roanoke (Keepers of the Ring 1)” and I realized as I read about the lives of these settlers that a lot of things in my own life are not really worth fretting about so much.

Think about this: The time period is 1587. Let that fact sink in first. There are no telephones, no communication systems other than letters, no steam engines, no electricity, and no construction equipment other than crud shovels and the like. Now imagine setting sail across a vast body of water that had only been traversed a small amount of times (compared to today’s standards) in a wooden vessel.

There was no entertainment on board. There were no live bands, no tequila shots, no pool on the deck or even chairs on the deck. The people had to live in quarters below deck for most of the trip – the venture sometimes taking over several months. No showers. No change of clothes.

IF they made it to land, (depending on how skilled their captain was and if whether or not he much preferred to be a pirate than a true captain) there was no way of knowing what they would find. Would earlier settlers still be there? Or would they have all been killed by the “savages”? If they had sailed off course and ended up somewhere unknown, there wouldn’t be shelters set up. The wilderness could be dense and thick with unfamiliar vegetation. How would they know what was safe to eat? What if they had spent too many months on the ship and supplies had dwindled? How would they make it without food? I’m not sure I would have been able to take this voyage. I’m not sure I’m of strong enough stock.

As I traverse this still new work-from-home landscape, I’m searching out different ways that I can increase my brand while seeking out God’s purpose for my life. And sometimes I feel pretty alone in these endeavors and it feels like I’m starting from scratch. However, unlike the first settlers to the New World (Let’s not get into the Native American argument. I know they were here first. But stay with me.), there have been a plethora of writers, editors and work-from-home entrepreneurs who have cut back the thorns and weeds of the landscape in order that I might see a clear path before me. I’m grateful for these forerunners that help me to make my way in this wilderness.

Setting out on a new path for us today can often seem as scary as settling uncharted territory, but if we work together, we can each make progress on our goals.

It is for this reason that I want to help authors pursue their dreams of publishing a book. It is this that pushes me forward in what I do – so that others do not have to start from the bottom up, but can learn from my knowledge, and from the knowledge that was given to me by others.

If you’d like more information about how I can help you move forward in your endeavors, I’d love to chat with you. I offer editing and formatting services as well as writing, marketing and publishing consulting/coaching. Contact me today to learn more.

Let Your Light Shine

Life and Happiness, Religion

Recently, I submitted this devotion to two magazines and it was rejected by both. But I feel that God has a message for each of us within this devotion, especially on this day, so I am sharing with you. I hope it will remind those struggling to find joy to greet each day with a joyful heart no matter what the circumstances. Feel free to share it with your friends. God bless.

************************************************************************************

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)

Every morning around four, birds start singing outside my bedroom window. They are ever punctual; I don’t need to look at the clock to know the time. It seems like as soon as they start to see a bit of light touch the sky they are singing their praises for a new day.

I don’t like to be awakened by these birds at four in the morning and I often use earplugs to block them out. Even though their song is sweet, it is interrupting my sleep and irritating to me. But one of my friends told me she loves to hear the birds in the morning. Their song is a bright, beautiful way to start her day. She said it is a blessing to hear their songs.

I realized then that I often plug my ears to what God is trying to say each day too. Even when He is giving me wonderful blessings, I sometimes focus only on the negatives in my life – like birds waking me at 4 a.m.

Instead of praising Him for the blessings of my life, I try to hide away in my warm, comfortable places and avoid the light He is attempting to provide. Instead of singing God’s praises every morning like these birds do, I often hide my own light from the world too.

These birds give us a good example of how we should react when we acknowledge God’s light in our lives. We should sing praises and be glad a new morning is dawning. By doing this we can call on God to shed His light upon us for another day.

Today, I will try to be more like those birds outside my window. I will sing my praises for the light God gives me. I will greet the day with glorious song so all may hear and see the light that shines from within me.

Dear heavenly Father, help me not to shy away from the light, but to be glad for its presence in my life. Thank you for birds that sing and the sun that shines. May I be ever grateful for your many blessings. Amen.

*******

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16 (NASB)

Reading Is What It’s About

Life and Happiness

I’m sure by now you’re aware that I love to read almost as much as I love to write and edit. In fact, probably more. So I was thrilled to find out that today is International Literacy Day.

“Fifty-one years ago, UNESCO officially proclaimed 8 September International Literacy Day to actively mobilize the international community and to promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, communities and societies.”

I can’t be more in tune with this sentiment.

According to Wikipedia: “Some 775 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults are still not literate and two-thirds of them are women;”

I’m astonished by these figures! I am surrounded on a daily basis by writers who are avid readers. I’ll admit that I only know a few people today who cannot read or choose not to. I’m also dumbfounded by people who don’t like to read (who doesn’t like to read??), but I recognize that reading is not a skill or hobby that everyone enjoys. (By the way, as a side note, I have a friend who says she only reads the Bible. Although the Bible is a GREAT book and worthy of being read time and time again, it’s limiting to read that work ONLY. I believe God has endowed certain people with the gift of writing so, therefore, He would want us to read more than just His words.)

However, today is a day to celebrate literacy and to share it with those who have not had access to it or have not had to educational opportunities to learn how to enjoy it.

Ever since our first god daughter was born, we’ve bought her books. And when she was young, we’d visit her and my husband would always have to (by her request) read at least two books to her before we left.

Now that she’s older, we can barely get her nose out of her books! And I love it!! She reminds me of myself – I read everything I could get my hands on when I was young. I even liked to read my dad’s Encyclopedia Britannica collection!

Sharing books with the young children in your life is a great way to celebrate this day. But, more importantly, begin to share books with all children, every day of the year.

Do you know a family of lower income that can’t afford to buy books? Introduce them to the local library and help them obtain their library card.

Do you know an adult who can’t read? Offer to teach them and do so without judgment.

Do you know a college student struggling with their work? Maybe they have a learning disability. Perhaps it’s not easy for them to read. Maybe they were never taught how to study a book properly. Offer help or become a tutor.

Literacy is a skill that every person needs. Even with the onset of emoticons and symbols for language, there still needs to be a basic understanding of what those symbols represent. Reading is essential to daily living whether you like to read books or not. A job application requires reading. A desk job requires reading. Even factory work requires reading – you need to know how to stop the machine!

Today, think of ways you could spread literacy in your community. Maybe just go spend time at the library or give away some books. (We all have too many, let’s face it.)

Happy Friday and happy reading!

Labor Day Thoughts

Life and Happiness

Usually I just give you a quick little “Happy Labor Day” blurb on this holiday and I move on to the next post. It’s an easy out for me – I’ll admit it. But, this year, I decided I wanted to discuss this holiday a bit more.

You see, I am proud of the history of our nation. Yes, there have been mistakes, horrible injustices and a lot of wrongdoing. But in the end, our nation was built by men and women who came here seeking to forge their own paths. They fought against dictatorships and royal rulings to travel vast, uncharted distances in search of a better life. There was no GPS then, no maps and no way of knowing if they would survive the journey.

As our country grew, we began expanding and inventing. Labor unions formed in order to keep industry safe and productive. (There is a lot more to it – read here.) The country began to recognize just how important labor and industry was to our nation and in 1894 President Grover Cleveland signed a Labor Day holiday into law.

My dad worked in a factory to put food on our table. He came home every day smelling of sweat and food byproduct (he worked for Chef Boy-ar-dee) and was often too exhausted to do anything else once he got home. (In a food manufacturing plant, at least back then, there was no AC because it could bring in germs to the food products. Conditions in the heat of the summer would raise the temp in the factory to well above 100 degrees.) My mother worked in a garment factory, inhaling fabric particles and a television manufacturer, staining cabinets, both of which eventually ruined her lungs. My grandfather worked in a munitions factory during the war. He was around nuclear waste on a daily basis with no thought to what it might be doing to his body.

I think all too often today we forget about the sacrifices of our ancestors. We forget the struggles they faced to make this nation a great one and to keep food on the table. We forget the blood, sweat and tears that were shed to build up this country. Labor Day has become a day set aside for barbecues and vacations instead of a day of remembrance.

Look at these photos. I was astonished when searching for photos to use representing labor that so many had young children toiling beside their parents’ or other adults.

 

 

 

 

 

We forget how hard it used to be. We forget the sacrifices made. Today, we’re so wrapped up in being offended or wronged by small injustices and, yet, your ancestors worked at VERY young ages right up to the point of death to simply put food on the table for their family. They weren’t offended. They worked. They did what had to be done.

I’m not trying to rain on your Labor Day parade. I simply want us to reflect and remember. Things were not simply handed to our ancestors. They fought, scraped and some died to keep their families going through good and hard times.

So, today, as you kick back with your hamburger and beer, remember how these people worked to give you that luxury. Remember how blessed you are to live in a country that is now afforded with safe labor practices and companies that provide for their employees.

Yes, we have taken a step backward lately, and, yes, we have still more to fight for. And, yes, it’s okay to take a day off and enjoy yourself – I will be, too. But remember, even for a moment today, what this holiday means and be thankful for those who have come before you to provide it.

God bless.

Here’s What I Recommend

Life and Happiness

Tonight I’m moderating my DAR Book Club meeting. It seems like a long time since I’ve met with these women and I am excited about discussing our latest read, Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart. There is never an lack of opinion during these meetings but we always leave as friends looking forward to the next selection.

Because I am a writer and editor, I know a lot of people who talk about books on social media. They use hashtags like #tbr (which means “to be read”) and #bookshelfie which accompanies a picture of their bookshelves. (Some of these bookshelves are unbelievable masterpieces and I wish I could be a guest in their home for even one night simply to peruse the selections! If you get a chance, look up this hashtag and marvel at what you find.)(My #bookshelfie is a little less impressive.)

Don’t judge. Some of these are my husband’s.

I don’t really have a #tbr pile, although I do have some books on my Kindle I’m anxious to get to and I have one “real” book lying on my nightstand that is an upcoming book club read. I’ve been using my Goodreads app this year on my phone to track books I want to read and books I’ve read. I’d like to shoot for 50 books read by the end of the year – I’m up to 21 right now which seems to be on target. (If you’d like to follow/friend me on Goodreads, click here.) I’m always up for recommendations.

Along that vein, here are some books I’ve recently read and want to recommend to you!

  1. Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart. This is the second is a series for Stewart about the Kopp sisters. Based on true events, this books follows Constance Kopp as she becomes America’s first deputy sheriff. It’s full of fun detective work as well as woman empowerment-type goodness.
  2. Florence Nightingale: A Life Inspired by Lynn M. Hamilton. Although this is kind of a dry read, it, too, is filled with a lot of women empowerment-type encouragements. If you don’t know much about Nightingale (as I didn’t when I started reading it), you’ll want to check this one out. She affected much of how our hospitals run today.
  3. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee, Douglas K. Stuart. I’m still working my way through this one. I’ve found it to be a bit rudimentary for me at this stage in my Bible study career, but for those readers who think the Bible is too tough a book to tackle, this is a good way to start the process. These authors also have another book I’m using in my Bible study called, How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour. This one breaks the books of the Bible down in chunks that you can utilize as sort of a commentary while reading the Bible. It’s helped me to understand the time period and what was going on during the time it was written.

What books have you read lately and would recommend to a friend? Perhaps I’ll have to add them to my #TBR pile or suggest them to my book club!

The Ugly Truth of a Work From Home Entrepreneur

Life and Happiness

Friday is finally here!

Except… I work from home and the weekends don’t always mean anything to me. They’re just another day to get work done. Bummer.

You see, as a work-from-home entrepreneur, I don’t have that five-days-a-week work habit built into my body’s internal systems like I used to. I can take any day of the week off without my boss’s reprimand (she’s pretty nice) and I can even take a few hours off anytime I want to simply bask in the sun, go shopping or read.

This work-from-home life sounds pretty awesome, right?

Let me tell you what else comes with this kind of job. Long hours, work on weekends, work when you’re sick and stress. The reason? This is my livelihood. If I don’t work, there is no paycheck. If I slack off and don’t write blog posts, market my business or engage in social media groups, my business could die off and I could be left without a job. And a lot of these social media groups are active in the evenings and on weekends because not everyone is as luck as I am and gets to work from home. A lot still work a 9-5 office job and connect via social media when they’re off the clock.

Yes, not having a “boss” other than myself can be pretty nice, but it also means I’m the boss. I’m the person who determines if this ship sails or sinks.

Just last week I worked a twelve-hour day (it’s not uncommon). Between some editing I had to finish for a client and some marketing I needed to set up in MailChimp, I worked from 8 am to 8 pm. Yes, I took a few breaks. I had lunch and dinner. But as my office started to get dark with the setting sun, I realized, “Oops. It’s well past the working hours of my day!” So I closed my laptop and took up the fight again the next day.

When I first started this business I had many people advise me that finding a work-life balance was the hardest part to owning your own business. They were right. I tried hard to set up “working hours”. My day might start before 8, but I typically don’t let it run past 5. I try never to work on the weekends, but it happens sometimes. If I take a day off during the normal work week, I’ll work some on the weekends. Sometimes it’s simply necessary to stay caught up.

My hubby likes to say he sees me “hustling.” And that’s what a lot of it is – hustling my butt to get more clients, finding new avenues to share my story, and seeking new ways to get my face out in front of the faces of others who could use my services.

When I started this venture in 2014 (yikes! 3 years ago!), I knew it would be hard work. I knew I’d have to set limits on myself and I knew I’d totally disregard them some days. But for the most part, this work from home gig is pretty good.

Tomorrow, I actually get to just enjoy my weekend. I’m going to a friend’s wedding and I can’t wait to dress up, eat good food and celebrate her new life. And Sunday, my hubby and I plan to really take a day of rest (a full day doesn’t happen often).

SO, to that, this week, I do say “YAY! FRIDAY!!”

Hope you have a great one!

He Ain’t No Saint

Life and Happiness, Religion

My husband’s a saint.

Well, okay, not really.

However, he goes out of his way to do things for everyone – not just me. Just the other night he woke me to let me know he’d have to go to his office because an alarm was going off and he needed to check it out. Now, typically, this isn’t really his job, but he did it anyway. And I went along simply because I didn’t want to let him go alone.

In the past, he’s also served as a lunch lady and a crossing guard at his school district. These aren’t his jobs either, but when you’re shorthanded and you’re (kind of) the boss, you do what needs to be done.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,

    but with humility comes wisdom.
The integrity of the upright guides them
Proverbs 11:2-3

When my husband does these things (and so much more), I’m reminded that God has told us to be humble, to be caring, to strive to help our fellow man and to place others before ourselves.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Phil. 2:3-4

So, no, my husband may not be a saint, but God says, we “are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession,” (1 Peter 2:9) and when we live out the commandments of the Bible, when we act as the chosen person God says we are, we affect the lives of others and spread the love of Christ in their world.

It isn’t hard to share the love of God. We can do so each and every day with the little, humble acts we do in our service to others. For some, doing those simple, little things might make us saints in their eyes, but, in the end, we need only seek out His approval in the things we do. And when we act in a humble manner, He will be pleased.

PS – I chose this picture because these people are all in competition with one another. Yet, they also help one another.

Today and all this week, let’s try to recognize those moments when we can share God’s love by being humble, yet holy.

FYI: This week is “Be Kind to Humankind” week so it’s a good time to do so.

Bad Poetry Day

Uncategorized

Today is unofficially Bad Poetry Day and what better way to celebrate than for me to share some poetry. I am not a poet (and I know it), but I feel like this day is meant for me to just let it all hang out there! So here we go! (Maybe they aren’t so bad after all? You let me know!)

Haikus

I breathe when you breathe
connecting two souls, now one
my heart beats with yours

Your eyes, smile, laugh, love
Makes my soul anxious for you
It sings with your kiss

Autumn claims my nose
Golden amber leaves falling
Their scent delights me

 

Sedoka Poems

Day Dawning

The gray sky persists,
And attacks my weary brain.
My mind pushes through the drab.

Sun peaks through the clouds,
And my soul begins to shine.
I can make it through this day.

Bored

The day has no end.
The clock is slowly ticking.
The pendulum has no swing.

Clock numbers taunt me.
Hours pass without a sound.
My mind is over the bend.

 

So what do you think? Not too bad, I guess. Do you have some really bad poetry to share? Feel free to leave them in the comments!

Starting from Scratch

Life and Happiness, Religion

I’m starting from scratch.

Well, okay, not really.

However, I’m working on focusing my writing and my business and it can sometimes feel like I’m starting from the beginning. In the past, I’ve written posts just randomly about random things. (And, yet, you all continue to read it anyway!) Now, I’d like to focus more on the true things of my heart.

Recently, I attended a workshop about social media consistency. It opened my eyes to the fact that I’ve been basically just posting willy-nilly on my social media. Although this has been okay, it doesn’t create a sense of who I really am to my readers.

Our workshop teacher encouraged us to pick “categories” for ourselves. It was difficult because I write a variety of things: devotions, young adult, random blog posts, personal experience, and even an occasional poem. I took a few days to hone in on what I truly want people to know about me – regardless of what I’m writing.

Here are the categories I picked: Faith, Writing/Editing, Finding joy/hope/peace

So what is my specific theme for today? Today I am choosing peace.

On August 14th, 1945 it was announced in the United States and the rest of the Americas and Eastern Pacific Islands that Japan had surrendered (WWII). Although the signing of the official document was not done until September 2, 1945, today is a day to consider peace in our lives.

When Jesus was addressing his disciples, he said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

We need not fret, worry or have anxiety today or any day. God has overcome the world! As we start our week – some of, perhaps, starting anew – let’s keep that thought in our minds and hearts. Peace is ours for the taking – let us be peaceful today and for every day ahead of us.