Truth Tuesday #1: Keeping Our Goals God-Focused

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Hello my sweet friends, and welcome to the first edition of Truth Tuesday.  I hope you are as excited about New Year’s as I am, but I’m going to be honest.

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In a conversation with my husband the other day, I told him that I was not excited about the new year coming. I think the problem is with me that I set goals for myself and then I don’t follow
 through. That’s the reason I started this blog in the first place. I wanted a spot to hold myself publicly accountable. And I’ll be honest, I think I’m a pretty good writer too. I wanted to force myself to do some writing. However, just like many of my other goals, consistency has fallen by the wayside on my writing. The problem that I have to keep reminding myself is that I am trying to do everything on my own. But newsflash..I don’t have any power. The good news is that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. So it’s really a compliment to myself that I don’t have self will or determination or willpower. That’s God’s job. It is he who works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. With all that being said, though, I do have some goals for myself this year. What are they? Well, let’s start with the silly ones first. Might as well 🙂 So predictable.
Number one: It is official that I am busting out of not only my skinny pants and my fatter pants but even my fattest pants. If you’re counting, that means I’m three sizes up from where I’d like to be. Let me take a minute to say that if weight is an issue for you, we can’t compare ourselves. What I’m happy being and what you’re happy being are two totally different things. So let’s remove that little offense that might have come in when I mentioned my weight. Okay, now we’re ready to be friends again. So, my first goal is to get fit and healthy.
My second goal is to start attacking our debt. We have a serious foundation issue and credit card debt which amounts to… let’s just say lots of thousands of dollars. It would be unrealistic to think that we could get all of that debt down this year even if we saved and sold and ate ramen noodles. However, I would like to at least attack it, like I said.
Third, I would like to work on some family situations. I want Dusty and I to cherish the time we have while we don’t have kids and not let that slip away. However, I also want to make sure I do everything medically that I can to assure that we can have a family. You can pray for us about that, or any of these goals for that matter.
Fourth, I would like consistency. I don’t think I have ADD, although that certainly is a possibility, but I do bounce around from one thing I’m excited about to another. The problem is that if something doesn’t excite me, I’m not going to do it. That’s very childish. Adults should know that not every moment of our lives is going to be exciting. We have to do the faithful things, not just the fun things. So I want consistency in my prayer life, my Bible study Life, my weekly schedule, my eating habits, and oh, lots of things.
Final goal: When I was an English teacher, I taught my students to save their most important points for last, so that they would stick out in the reader’s mind. My overarching and most important pursuit for my life, not just this year, is intimacy with the Lord. I know in my head and my heart that if I will give Him everything, He will give me what I need. After all, it’s no surprise to him that I have debt or no children or that I’m overweight. And he is completely capable of taking care of all of that. In Matthew 6:33, he tells us to seek Him first, and He will add all the other needful things.
I don’t know about you, but I have been like a strong-willed horse. God has to put a bit and a bridle on me and turn my head because I’m constantly pursuing how I can do and accomplish and meet all my goals…queue the Martha post I wrote a while back. I’m trying to think of how to raise money. I’m trying to think of what I have done wrong to prevent me from having kids. The key word here is I. And when I listen to podcasts that tell me how somebody else is accomplishing and making it happen in her world, I start to feel anxiety. We know that anxiety is not from God either. In Philippians 4, Paul tells us to be anxious for nothing. God is capable of everything.
So this year, I reset myself again. I ask God to center me on His will and his pursuits, and I know he will take care of the rest. I’ve seen him do it. But I’m just like the Israelites when I forget that He has done it before and that He will do it again, whatever “it” is.
Here are a couple more scriptures to motivate both of us to make sure that we’re pursuing God’s goals:  In Mark 8:34-37, Jesus talks about the peril of gaining the whole world and losing our souls. Remember that He has an upside down kingdom, and in Mark 9:35, we see that the one who wants to be first needs to be the servant of everybody. So if I align those two together, Jesus is telling me to make sure that my goals are the ones that have His heartbeat at the center. If I will press my ear up against his heart and listen, I will know what I’m supposed to do and what my purpose is. I will stop trying to make everything happen on my own, because it’s not going to work anyway and because it will make me depressed, and because it will make me feel like I don’t measure up to anybody.
The cycle has to stop. I have to make my goals the ones that will put Him in the center and put people first. I want to pause here and say to that doesn’t mean that you exhaust yourself so that you’re no good to anyone else. It’s not a martyr complex, Suzy Lolley. However, if we are just self-focused, that is never going to lead to success. I pray along with you, my friend, that we will pursue the right things this year and that we will pursue them with God’s power. We neither pursue nor achieve anything without His very breath filling up our lungs.
Will you do this for me? Will you pray about some God-centered goals for this year? And will you leave them in the comments below? I want to pray with you and believe with you that God will do what he says he’s going to do and that we are going to arrive at the verge of 2019 empowered and hopeful and thankful that we turned it all over to Him.
Much love,
www.thebeaminmyeye.com
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Truth Tuesday #4: The Myth of Rest

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I have written posts several times referring to the fact that I have such a busy life. It’s really a struggle for me to rest, just as it was for Martha when Jesus came to her house. I’ve been reading the book of Luke along with the First 5 app, and something really caught my attention in chapter five. In that chapter, it says that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places:

15 Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

When I first heard just the part about withdrawing to lonely places, I thought what we all think, which is that we all need to make time for ourselves–even Jesus did. But right after that thought, I noticed that the text says Jesus went to those lonely places for a different reason. He prayed.

I have been to the spa multiple times, and I’ve had massages and vacations and romantic getaways, but I never really come back totally rested in my spirit. I still have overwhelming thoughts and sometimes even depression or frustration. I think it must be that

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I need to follow Christ’s example.  He afforded himself purposeful rest. Yes, He needed to escape from the crowds, which we see many times in the Word. However, He did for himself what he promises to do for us, which is to give us rest for our souls. That kind of rest is never going to come from us coloring in a book or doing a relaxing craft. It’s only going to come from spending time with the Lord.

Learn why rest never feels restful and how to change that. thebeaminmyeye.wordpress.com

I was surprisingly convicted listening to this short little passage of Scripture, but that’s what I love about the Word. The rhema word is a word that comes alive to us in a moment even though we might’ve read it a hundred times before. This word I’m sharing I hope will be a rhema word for you and for me today.

Do you need rest for your soul? Come to Jesus, who says His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Leave a comment below about how I can pray for you to find rest.  I am convinced it’s for all of us.

Want to hear more about this conversation? Check out this video from our weekly Facebook Live session. It happens every week at 8:30 PM EST at my Facebook page. We’d love to have you tune in next week.

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Happy New Year!

www.thebeaminmyeye.com

Get It Done, Son! Five Tools for Meeting Your Goals

For eleven years, I taught children. They might’ve been teenage children, but they were moldable, able to be disciplined, and (even though I’m fun) generally controllable. Now I teach adults. Pause for a moment and let that sink in. What am I going to do to an adult who does not do his or her homework for a computer training class? Put him in the corner? It’s with this dilemma and memories of my own former high school and middle school classrooms that I have discovered gamification.

To gamify something means to make a game out of it. You wouldn’t believe what teachers would do to win banana pudding or two hours of me teaching their worst classes 🙂 In a recent training series, just being on teams with the same color helped teachers to encourage one another to do their best work and to do it on time.

What does this have to do with anything? To me, if there’s anything I can do to engage my willpower a little more, I want to goalsdo it. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that meeting goals is not always my strong suit 🙂 That’s why I’ve written the kind of posts I have, and that’s why my blog is named what it is, The Beam in My Eye. I know I have a lot of weaknesses. I need help addressing them, and I thought that today I would give you some practical tips I’m using to help myself maintain excitement about my goals–in other words, these are the ways I’m gaming my own motivation. I’ve talked about weight loss on here and my struggle to pray, as well as many other goals like organization that I have yet to achieve. With that being said, let’s talk about some tools I’m using to help myself reach my goals and to add that little bit of childhood play that engages my willpower.

Five Tools for Meeting Your Goals

  1.  One the first tools I use is called Commit, and I heard about it from signing up for the Make Over Your Mornings course from Crystal Paine. It’s a three-dollar app that does one thing and does it well. You set goals, and you just simply click yes if you have met the goal for that day. One feature and drawback of it at the same time is that you can only go back and check off goals from the day before. If you miss checking, you’ve lost your opportunity beyond that. I love that limitation, though, because sometimes our memories are flawed, and we are more generous to ourselves in hindsight than we should be. It’s important that not only do we have goals, but that we also check in on them daily. I know I haven’t been on any streaks in a while with the app, but I need to do just that 🙂  Some of my goals are as simple as making my bed, while others challenge me to seriously pray, and this app helps manage all of them.
  2. The second way I’m holding myself accountable is through online book studies. Evin, Janet, and I decided to do weekly blab chats as I was reading the Christian weight-loss book Made to Crave for at least the third time. By forcing ourselves to be on camera, talking about the chapters and talking about our own struggles and successes, I felt like I had accountability even from a distance. These ladies seem to really enjoy what we talked about, and I have continued to report my successes and failures to them as the journey has gone on. I actually feel more motivated about my weight loss and my controlled eating than I ever have.  I am also helping with a book study at Beulah Girl for those who don’t see the point in their struggles.  Just by studying alongside others, not only am I reading more, but I am forced to process my own circumstances through the lens of a talented writer as well.
  3. Because of this challenge, I was prompted to re-download the app My Fitness Pal. It is also simple, in that it tracks calories. You can set a goal of how much you want to lose a week, and the app’s goals will adapt to you. In a funny twist of fate (since I’m struggling to lose weight AND want to get pregnant), a lady rubbed my stomach and said something about me being pregnant recently. I didn’t know her. However, that action motivated me to adjust my calorie level down so that I could start losing two pounds a week instead of my current rate. There’s nothing like embarrassment for motivation, but the friendship motivation has definitely been more rewarding.  This app also builds in the game concept.  It has a feed similar to Facebook’s, where you can see when others have exercised, logged in, or met their calorie goals, and thus give each other a virtual high five.  Any encouragement I can get is very rewarding–how about you?
  4. Another way that I am motivating myself to maintain my goals is really old-fashioned. It involves stickers, which if you’re like me, you love 🙂 I have a simple daily agenda that I bought at Ross, which is my favorite place to buy an agenda because they’re cute and affordable, and I simply put a sticker in there when I have done at least thirty minutes of physical activity in that day. I also write what I did beside the sticker so that I have a nice record visually of how I’m achieving my goals.  I’ve talked about my organizing hero, Alejandra Costello, before, and I like her idea of saving her old agendas to look back on and see an awesome record of accomplishment and really, of life, so I am enjoying stickering mine up in hopes of feeling proud later!
  5. The final way I am holding myself accountable for now is through spending time with my husband. Now if you don’t have a husband, this is not meant to be depressing 🙂 Think of a friend that you would like to spend time with that either needs to meet a goal that you’re doing or just simply wants to spend time with you. Dusty and I have been taking late night walks and even including our doggies. By doing that, not only do we get to bond and talk about the fact that we have no idea what we’re doing in life right now, but I also get to burn a whopping eighty-six calories or more.  Until I can get him to join the gym with me, I’ll have to settle for that.

There are so many ways to reach goals that I haven’t mentioned here.  I’m just discussing a few apps, the use of stickers, and the importance of relationships to achieve permanent change.  What other tools would you like to share?  I’d love to hear them!  Tell you what, if you share the best idea in the comments below AND you have an iPhone, I will buy you the Commit app!  So let’s get this comments party started!

Be blessed!

www.thebeaminmyeye.com

 

Are you a new blogger? Get three rich tips here! --www.thebeaminmyeye.com

Tips for the New Blogger, Part 2

Are you a new blogger?  Get three rich tips here! --www.thebeaminmyeye.com

As of today, my blog is five months old.  From zero views, it’s grown to sixteen hundred.  I had no comments, and now I have over thirty. My highest views in a day were 113 on my adoption post, and half the people who read that one shared it!  To any “more-accomplished” blogger reading those numbers, they might look very small, but I continue to be amazed that my reader base has grown the way it has in just a short time.  If you are one of those readers, (and you are, or you wouldn’t be here, right?) thank you! And if this blog has motivated you to take the next step and start writing, I hope this second round of tips for the new blogger helps you.  If you missed the first part, it’s here.

Without further ado–

Tips for the New Blogger, Part 2

  1. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the way that you prepare posts so that search engines like Google are able to refer readers to your blog more easily.  I don’t want to write a blog so that my main intention is getting traffic.  I want to write from my heart.  However, if no one reads my blog, I might as well be writing in a personal diary.  Thus, SEO is a necessary evil step in my writing process.  Though SEO is a complex process (find more information here), I am just focusing on a few elements right now that I will share with you.  The first is having an optimized title.  As I’ve written, I’ve discovered that some titles draw in more readers; the same is true for drawing in more search engine traffic.  This article was the very first one I wrote.  It got traffic, but only from my facebook friends who were trying to support me (thanks!).  If I were writing the post today, I might change the title to something like “How to Strengthen Your Weaknesses with God’s Help.”  Think about what you click on pinterest.  “Twenty Ways to…” or “How To…” are always good ways to start titles, because they make the reader feel curious and that there will be lots of must-have information in the post.  The second method I use is repeating my title (or parts of it) throughout my post.  Repeating those keywords shows Google that my content is something readers searching for particular terms might find useful.  My third tip for SEO is to connect your posts through embedded hyperlinks.  I just did that in this paragraph.  If I can refer someone to one of my previous posts by allowing them to simply click a link, they will stay on the site longer.  If they like what they read, they may even subscribe or share, driving more readers to the blog.
  2. Prepare your images for SEO, and then pin away!  When you Make your blog images pinterest friendly with these three tips.--www.thebeaminmeye.comfirst upload images into the WordPress media gallery, the titles are nebulous things, like “image26”.  Any pinterest fans in the house?  If so, make sure to read this.  I know that when I’m on pinterest, I often click on images that lead to nowhere.  At some point, a pinner has taken your image, saved it, and pinned it from there.  That means that the link is no longer attached to the image, and that’s why it’s so important to change your image title and your alt text to include at least your blog address, but ideally the URL to the post as well.  When someone finds a lonely image of yours drifting at sea, they will be able to use that information to find your blog again.  Even better than adding just your blog address (which is as far as I’ve gotten so far–summer project!) is to add a descriptive sentence that will trick make people want to click your image when it’s pinned.  See my image for details. Another goal I have to Pinterest-preparedness is to start creating rich pins.  Check that out here, and feel free to give me some feedback below with your experiences in “rich-pinning,” since that will be new to me. 
  3. Use Google Analytics to check the bounce rate of your blog, Lower your blog's bounce rate, and other tips for the new blogger--www.thebeaminmeye.comand then take steps to lower that rate.  Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who only view the first page they land on (landing page) of your blog and then leave.  You can find more details about the term here or about how to get started with Google Analytics here.  Honestly, I am not technical enough to explain them:)  Our goal, obviously, would be to reduce bounce rate and increase reader loyalty.  My bounce rate is better some days than others. Most days look like the graphic shown here, where a few faithful readers stay around to read more, but my goal is to lower that rate.  What are some practical ways to lower the rate?  Number one is writing good content.  Those readers I’ve heard from who keep coming back and sharing what I write (thank you!) are loyal because they like what they read.  In addition to embedding links to old posts in new ones, I also link to outside sources, like I have in this post.  Especially when readers go to an outside link, I have those links open up in a new window.  I don’t want them to leave my content to go elsewhere, thus increasing the likelihood that they will read something else I’ve written.  Finally, I have my posts organized into categories that are easy to find via the buttons on the homepage and the header menu.  If someone wants to read about faith, organization, or finances, I want them to find attractive, enticing articles all in one spot.

My blog is not perfect, and it probably never will be.  But that’s exactly the point.  I wrote this blog to face the weaknesses in my life (or beam in my eye) head-on, with God’s help.  [Tweet “I wrote this blog to face the weaknesses in my life (or beam in my eye) head-on, with God’s help.”]  Everything you will find me writing about is my struggle and God’s triumph simultaneously on display.  I am hoping that this blog is blessing someone, and that these tips help someone else to use blogging as an outlet for creativity and even faith.

Is that new blogger you?  I would love to hear any questions or comments you have about your new blog journey.  Hope the tips get you started!

Blessings!

www.thebeaminmyeye.com

 

Are you struggling to pray? Twenty Ways to Pray--thebeaminmyeye.com

Twenty Ways to Pray

Prayer should not be hard, but I’ve spent much of my life wrestling with it, as I shared in my previous post, “Get Down on It”.

And the struggle must be real, because my friend Jamie just wrote about very same thing.  I was challenged this week to spend an extended amount of time in prayer, longer than I’ve ever spent.  If I’m not anything else, I’m dependable.  As long as I don’t forget what I’m supposed to be faithful to (ha!), if someone’s counting on me, I will be there.  There was an ongoing prayer chain, and when one of us was done, another would be taking over.  As I write this, one sister is taking up her link in the chain, and another will start this evening.  I knew the night of my “assignment” was coming, and yet, I struggled with knowing if I could make the whole time matter.  Jesus’ disciples felt the same way; on the most important night of their friend’s life, they fell asleep repeatedly when he asked them just to pray with him for one hour.

What if all of us stopped looking at prayer as a chore and started looking at it as a date?

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When I am out with my husband or with our best couple friends, Chris and Toshia, hours pass and I don’t even look at the clock.  I enjoy being with them.  And the whole time, I’m talking and listening.  None of that bores me. What are we doing when we pray?  We are talking and we are listening, the same as on a night out.  Better than that, we are spending time with someone who can actually solve our problems, not just hear us discuss them.  That’s amazing and should be spur us to pray to the one who wants the greatest intimacy with us!

The thing about me and prayer is that once I get into it and fight through my flesh, I love it!  However, would I be able to fight the flesh for that long?  That question led me to think of ways I could sustain my energy, focus, and enthusiasm throughout this time I was asked to join the prayer chain. I thought I might share some ideas birthed out of this concern with those of you who struggle to pray as well.  Ready for the list?  Here it is!

Twenty Ways to Pray

  1. Follow one of the Biblical prayer models.  If it worked for Jabez, Solomon, or Jesus, it will work for you.  We don’t want to get stuck in a rut, but having a model to get you started wouldn’t be a bad thing.  Make sure the model you choose applies to your prayer need, since these are powerful prayers, not just words.
  2. Have you ever heard of a Strong’s Concordance?  It references every word in the Bible.  Find a situation you’re facing, and pray over every applicable scripture.  I brought the book home from Dusty’s office to pray through several situations in our lives, and “the Word of God is quick and powerful”!
  3. If you have a slight “shiny paper clip” syndrome like me, write down distractions while praying.  Getting them out of your mind and onto paper will allow you to focus back on what you were praying about.  If you have a lot of your mind, like I do, a notepad is an invaluable tool at any prayer session.
  4. Pray with an outline or list.  On a few occasions, our church has hosted a twenty-four hour prayer chain.  Each of us and a partner chose a one- or two-hour block of time to pray.  Before I went to pray, I made a list…and of course I made copies and shared it.  I help people whether they want it or not, ha!  Just like an outline for a major research paper, a list allows you to elaborate as you go but stay focused at the same time.
  5. Pray in the closet.  Jesus said to find a prayer closet.  In this case, I’m recommending the actual closet!  Put one of those little push-button lights in there and go to town.  If your children usually follow you to the bathroom, maybe they won’t follow you into the dark, scary closet:)
  6. Pray and fast.  Jesus says here that some things are only possible when we pray and fast.  It’s time to read that “Season for Seeking” post, isn’t it?
  7. I save all kinds of jars, and they would be helpful for this one.  Get two jars, one for current prayers and one for answered prayers.  Put marbles in them as you pray, or better yet, use rocks where you can list your prayers with Sharpie and move them to the “answered” jar as needed.
  8. Walk and pray.  Many monasteries use prayer labyrinths to create a place for focused prayer.  I am not Catholic, but I don’t see one thing wrong with walking and praying.  Follow a path, such as walking the hallways of your church, or walk outside, which brings me to the next tip…
  9. Pray in nature.  I don’t know about you, but there is nothing more awe-inspiring or God-focused than a mountain vista or a beautiful waterfall.  (Dusty is in Gatlinburg right now, and I am very jealous of his nature pics, which is not the point of this post.)
  10. Pray the lyrics of a song.  I have three singer-songwriters whose words deeply move me, Chris Rice, Sara Groves, and Rich Mullins.  It’s like they reached into my soul and wrote the words my heart was longing to speak.  (Follow this playlist to get my favorites.)  Praying their words as mine is a powerful tool in spiritual warfare, especially when my heart is in anguish and it’s hard to pray.
  11. I love this one.  My former pastor used to lead an encounter retreat where we did an incredible forgiveness activity.  If we had a person we wanted to forgive, but that person were dead or could not be contacted, we would have a stand-in that we would forgive and who, in return, offered forgiveness or apology to us.  It sounds weird, but it was freeing to so many people.  Watch the scene in the Ragamuffin movie where Brennan takes Rich on a retreat to see what I mean.  In the case of prayer, set in front of you an empty chair.  Talk to that chair just like Jesus is sitting there.  It may feel silly at first, but having “someone” to talk to is sometimes easier than trying to pray to the invisible heavens.
  12. Sit and meditate.  Not all praying has to be us talking.  In fact, it shouldn’t be.  Listening is just as important, so take some time just to listen to Jesus’ “still, small voice”.  I want to caution you that people will try to use yoga mediation or other religious meditation as part of Christianity.  The only kind of meditation that is Christian is the kind that’s Jesus-and-His-Word-focused.
  13. Draw or do a scripture journal.  As I mentioned in another post, I love the idea of marking up our Bibles with art as we study and meditate on the Word.  I am coming up with another technique that doesn’t require a wide-margin Bible soon and will share that in a new post.
  14. Pray over a map.  Dusty and I know that at some point we will relocate to minister (no plans yet, in case you were worried).  We’re not sure where, but we have a map hanging in our office that we can pray over, both to help us make a decision where to relocate and to pray over that place itself.  Maybe it’s time you got a world map, or a map of your town, and started praying God’s power and the release of strongholds there.
  15. Repeat one scripture over and over.  My scripture for a very difficult season of my job was Psalm 27.  I prayed and reread that scripture a lot.  Who knows?  If you pray it a lot, you might memorize it!
  16. Insert your name into scripture.  While you’re praying, maybe even that one scripture, find ways to insert your name and believe it for yourself.
  17. Lay hands on pictures of people and pray for them.  The people who made the Jesus Camp movie made the campers who were praying for a poster of the President look crazy.  (I didn’t watch the movie; I just heard.)  However, I’ve got pictures on a bulletin board in my craft room that I pray over from time-to-time.  Seeing that person’s face makes me even more compassionate and helps me believe my prayers.  Maybe I have a picture of you:)
  18. Go to a sacred space, like a church, when you pray.  There’s something about being in my church’s sanctuary alone that makes me want to pray harder.  If that’s what it takes for you, go there.
  19. Cover your head with a prayer shawl.  This is both a Jewish and Catholic tradition, though I am neither.  I’ve tried it with a scarf.  It just helps you create your own private place to commune with Jesus.
  20. Pray out loud or with a friend at a certain time/together. Praying out loud may seem strange for some of you, but it’s mostly what I’m used to.  We may have someone start the prayer at my church, but most of the rest of us join in the prayer out loud.  It’s like a concert of prayer.  Try it sometime!  Another adaptation is to commit to a certain time where you will be praying.  The added accountability, as I discussed in my introduction, ensures that you are more committed to the prayer.
  21. BONUS TIP!  Follow up on previous prayers.  This action shows that you care but also ensures that you don’t keep petitioning God for something He’s already answered.

This list is great, but may I say something else?  Prayer is not a gimmick.  As I said in my “Season of Seeking” post, God only cares about our prayers if we care about them. There is no substitute for blood, sweat, and tears in our sustained time with the Lord. God knows when I have five minutes to sincerely pray, and He will move in that, but He also wants to see me pray until something happens, and that may take years, not just hours. Want proof?  Just check out these stories of how both Daniel in the Old Testament and the disciples in the New tarried on the answer from God, and in both cases, the answers were worth it!  write down distractions while praying.

So will you join me on this prayer journey?  Comment below with your thoughts AND the numbers from the list that might reinvigorate your prayer life.

Be blessed!

 

www.thebeaminmyeye.com

P.S. Every Tuesday night, I host an exclusive Facebook Live at facebook.com/thebeaminmyeye/, starting at 8:30PM EST. Did you miss this week’s? Tune in below:

Get Down On It: A Thirty-Day Lifestyle Change

As I was reading from my favorite place, Pinterest of course, Get Down On It:  A Thirty Day Lifestyle Change--Read more, pray more, move more, clean more--thebeaminmyeye.comI came across an amazing post and then from that, another blog where I read that there were other people in the world who didn’t like to clean.  What?  I always feel that I’m the only one, that everyone else’s house is perfect.  Or at least if they don’t have kids, their houses are perfect.  Sadly, I’m one of those who has to meet people at the door if I’m not expecting them, to avoid their seeing the dog-hair tumbleweeds or the dishes I haven’t gotten to yet.  As I shared in a previous post, part of the reason I started this blog is to encourage some public accountability, but none of you have come banging down my door yet, so…

It’s time for me to get down on it.  You know, like the disco song?  I find myself quoting it in everyday life, but not just about cleaning.   Cleaning is just what triggered my need to “get [my] back up off the wall.”  Anyone else dancing? Just me?  Okay, well…I have several areas where I need to just take action.  But I know me.  I know how many times I’ve tried EVERYTHING and failed at it.  And I also know I’m a multi-tasker, so I can’t just focus on one thing at a time.  Doesn’t work.

So, this is a four-part challenge.  It’s time for me (and hopefully, you) to pump ourselves up and participate in the

Get Down On It Thirty Day Lifestyle Change

I’ve decided that what makes an outfit cute is rarely the outfit itself but the person wearing it, and the one thing all the cute outfits have in common is that they’re worn by skinny people.  Anybody with me?  My husband is so kind to say that he doesn’t want a girl with a huge thigh-gap (Praise God!), but I wouldn’t mind a little draft blowing between the knees myself:)    So that makes two things, a clean house and physical fitness, that I need to change.

But what else?

I remember being in a revival where I had a vision.  I don’t care if anyone else thinks this is silly, but it was profound for me.  I had struggled for years and years with wanting to pray, and even praying about praying, but faithfulness in that area was not there for me.  I felt God say to me (He tells it like it is to those who do the same), “If I hung on that cross for you, you can get up at ________ in the morning and pray.  Stop being lazy.”  Part of the vision was also that I needed to put a sign over the numbers on my alarm clock that told me (in short form) what He spoke to my spirit.  I told my pastor’s wife, because as you read in my “Good Advice” post, accountability is key to follow through.  That vision carried me for a long time, and even though I have been (mostly) faithful with my morning prayers, they are not like they used to be.  I love Jesus more than anything else in my life, and I need to prove that to myself by acting on that love.  As my sweet friend Jamie and DC Talk remind us, “Love is a verb.”

Along with prayer, reading the Word is paramount.  I really want to get into scripture journaling that I’ve read about here (and and that I’m going to teach my friends about on our cabin weekend coming soon!), because I know that the same Word you’ve read many times really does come alive when, and only when, you couple it with prayer and read with a pen in hand.  A pretty pen nonetheless!

Are there more things I need to change in my life?  Absolutely.  Eating less is one of them that I hope to take with some of my readers using this Made to Crave post.  However, eating less is not something I need to do more of, so it doesn’t fit in this category.

My thirty-day lifestyle change is called a change, because I don’t just want another challenge.  I want to commit to something and do it.  What else is there to do in March anyway?  It’s blustery, as Pooh Bear would remind us, and it’s leading us into Spring, a time when we can start over, even if we didn’t quite get started in the New Year.

[Tweet “My thirty-day lifestyle change is called a change, because I don’t just want another challenge. I want to commit to something and do it.”]

So what is the change?  Are you ready?

It will have four parts and will start March 1:

  1. Read your Bible every day and record it on my printable tracker.  Read for meaning, not just for quantity, and with a pen in hand.  In 2007, I got a One Year Bible, which I finally finished two and a half years later.  I’ve since read it again.  However, this time I want to relish God’s Word and let it speak to me and take out at least some time to make a pretty journal page or two.
  2. Pray every day and record it on my printable tracker.  Don’t just pray to accomplish a checkbox.  That defeats the purpose. If you are worried, tell God.  If you are distracted, write down your distractions and get back to praying (do it all the time!)  God appreciates an honest and sincere prayer.  If you need a guide, here’s one I made for a twenty-four hour prayer meeting we had one time.  You’ll find that you have plenty to pray about once you start.
  3. Move more, and do it every day.  I am starting with ten minutes a day, and as I write this post on a cold February day, that doesn’t sound fun.  However, I have to do it.  My jiggle-belly is calling out to me to please do something!  Check off your exercise on my printable tracker (big enough for fun stickers!)
  4. Clean something every day.  I am asking for a ten-minute commitment, from you and from me.  I don’t care what the thing is.  I am posting a suggested list (you’ll see why I hate cleaning my house!), but you can clean whatever.  Set the microwave timer for ten minutes and then guess what…get down on it!  I bet you won’t want to stop when the timer goes off!  Even I don’t if I get in the groove.  Check off my tracker (linked below) each day to show your accomplishments!

lifestyle change tracker–Change your life by reading your Bible, praying, moving more, and cleaning–thebeaminmyeye.com

What will you get for all this?  Take a picture of your checklist-in-progress and post it to my fanpage for the blog every day.  More pictures (like every day!) equals more chances to win the items below.

  • Satisfaction!  Ha, ha.  Isn’t that what your parents always said you’d get?  You will, though.
  • A certificate of completion
  • A gift certificate to Mary Kay to pamper yourself for all this month’s hard work (two winners for this prize!)

Ready?  Let’s get down on it! Comment below if you are joining me in the lifestyle change.

www.thebeaminmyeye.com

 

 

Cute, Free Wi-Fi Information Display

Hi Friends!  I don’t know about you, but I get tired of going to get that crazy code off the side of my wireless modem.  It has about a million characters, and if I’m trying to get the code for someone else without having to also give them a tour of my messy office (more of my house woes here), I have to yell.  Don’t you know when you yell from room-to-room, it’s never polite, nor can you be properly understood?  So, here’s a quick solution.

https://thebeaminmyeye.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/3.png

Get your cute, free WI-FI Information Display below!

[Tweet “Tired of having to search for the WI-FI code for guests?  Get your cute, free WI-FI Information Display here!”]

I have two frame-worthy displays for your guest bedroom, living room, restroom (eek!), or home office.  Since many of you don’t have color ink, I am showing both the black-and-white and color versions I made.  Feel free to snag one and share it.  Just tell all your friends where you got it.

Color Version

B&W Version

After you print, why not come back here and show me how you displayed it?  I would love it!

Be blessed!

www.thebeaminmyeye.com

 

 

How to Take Your Own Advice

“And I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”  How To Take Your Own Advice--Three Tips--www.thebeaminmyeye.comSuch is the lament of one of my favorite Disney
characters, Alice.  I often feel the same way.  This blog was intended to be a place where I gave myself very PUBLIC good advice, in hopes that I would actually act on it with Jesus’ help.  So how am I faring since I started blogging in the New Year?  I thought it might be time for an update, because I know we all enjoy other people’s confessions:)

How to Take Your Own Advice

Overeating:  I have been pretty good about this for about a week, no thanks to the fact that none of you signed up for Made to Crave with me…sniffle, sniffle.  I was excited to see Tisha win the book–send me your address, girl!  There is still time to sign up.  I don’t want to do the study unless some of you are going to join me, so just leave a comment on my original post “Made to Crave Giveaway” to let me know I can count on you.

Organization:  I have given away so much stuff lately, y’all, to the point that my mom cried and thought I was moving away without telling her.  No, I just needed to get rid of stuff.  However, there is still so much to do to get this house in shape.  I did take a trip to The Container Store (and La Madeleine) with my mom yesterday to buy a teabag organizer.  Does that count? And I also labeled it when I got home.  I can take organization a lot better than cleaning, which is especially miserable, because it is never done.  Anyone else with me?  Read my post about the why of organization here.

Money Management:  Okay, so Dusty tells me he budgets in his head.  I am not entirely, or at all, comfortable with that.  I want to see our debts being paid down and our savings increasing.  Maybe he can take what’s in his head and make me some charts:)  If you follow me on Pinterest, you know I like pretty!  I did download this pattern to make the Dave Ramsey money envelopes.  Perhaps I should read my Pinterest time-management article again to motivate myself to sew that pattern while I’m off this week.  What about today?!  Then I could post a picture here and at least feel accomplished in one area, ha ha.  Not in actual saving, but in the making-a-cute-envelope-intended-for saving way.

Wedding Planning:  First of all, let me say that this part of my blog has nothing to do with the rest of it.  I am hoping to host it elsewhere once I get some more pictures done.  I wanted to apprentice myself (offer my slave labor) to a wedding planner who managed a friend’s event last year.  And I received a rejection email!  What’s up with that?  She apparently didn’t have time to let me follow her around.  I’m sad:(  I am still the special events coordinator for Wildlife Action Center (see pretty pictures here), so if you know of anyone who would like FREE wedding planning services and is willing to take a chance on me, my first three brides are free.  I am also thinking of hosting an open house, so again, send me those contacts.  I guess I can say I’ve done my part in this area, so on one out of four, I have achieved!

So from my updates above, you can see I still have a long way to go, but here are some tips I think will help us both achieve our goals of Jesus-driven change:

1.  “Ask and ye shall receive.”  The first step is to ask Jesus to remind us of our commitments and why they are important to both Him and us.  Then we have to daily depend on Him to carry us through, confessing any missteps and asking Him to show us a better way.

2.  Make the goals public.  I have done that, but maybe you haven’t.  Or maybe you need to publicly discuss your struggles. When people think we’ve taken care of something, they lose the feeling that they still need to hold us accountable, so it’s good if we let them know we are still weak in an area.

3.  Which leads me to step three.  Have an accountability partner.  You need someone who has achieved the goal you are striving for, or someone who will actively work through your process with you.  It also needs to be someone who will actually remember to hold you accountable and who isn’t afraid to tell you to the truth with love.  Now recruiting…

What goals have you made and lost sight of in the New Year?  Which of these tips might help you?  Let me know by taking time to leave a comment below.  

 

Be blessed!

www.thebeaminmyeye.com

YouTube-ing with a Purpose

 

youtube blog

What does that title mean?  How do I waste time on youtube and still do it efficiently? I am going to give you some tips in this short(er) post.

YouTube-ing with a Purpose

1.  Watch with a purpose.  I will confess I have an Alejandra.tv addiction.  If you have never watched “my friend” Alejandra in action, you will love her.  She seems so sweet and unscripted…and so unlike me in the clean and organized department.  I don’t sit around and look up funny animal videos, nor do I click on every video I see posted on facebook.  Where do people find time for that?  Instead, when I do have some time to watch videos, I find myself returning to these subconscious questions:

  • Does the video increase my faith?  I watch a lot of Francis Chan and other preachers for that.
  • Am I in awe of what I’m watching?  Watching a choir beatbox Toto’s “Africa” or listening to a whole group play one guitar certainly qualify.
  • Is it useful?  That’s where Alejandra comes in.  If you are totally disorganized and need inspiration, seriously check her videos out.

2.  Make a list.  If you’ve ever found yourself sucked into the blackhole of YouTube or the Internet in general, you know that you can spend a lot of time looking at nothing. Even if the search starts innocently and with total purpose, it’s easy to get sidetracked by the sheer volume of what is out there.  I started to notice that habit with myself, so I started making a list. For instance, with every Alejandra video I watched, I would start writing down good ideas from the videos.  Here is the link to my good ideas from several of her videos.

3.  Use the ideas.  By definition, useful means that, um, we are able to use something.  If I watch a video and never use the ideas, I am really just wasting time and turning my brain into mush.    What I do to make sure the ideas are used, aka useful, is that I have the Google Sheets and Google Drive apps on my phone.  Both are free, so that I can take my inspiration list everywhere I go.  I feel a trip to The Container Store coming on:)  With that said, like I advised in my Pinterest-related blog post, budget has to be key.  We can’t go hog-wild at a store buying stuff we can’t afford to organize the mountains of stuff we should probably donate anyway.  I want to use the YouTube ideas to both get tasks done and bless others with my financial responsibility.

Let me end with this, a prayer for productivity:

Lord, you know the purpose of this blog is to chronicle my journey of becoming more Jesus-dependent and less independent.  I often feel convicted about wasting time.  Help me, Lord, to “redeem the time, for the days are evil.”  I don’t want to waste a minute that could be used to change the world.  In Jesus’ name, amen!

 

What do you do to become more productive?  Are you inspired by the ideas I’ve shared?  Let’s get the discussion going below.

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thebeaminmyeye.com

Simple Steps to a Clean, Organized Kitchen

thebeaminmyeye.com

If you’ve read any of my posts at all, you know that this blog is not written by a woman who has it all together in any way, much less in the clean-and-organized department.  My grandmother helped raise me, along with my dad.  I am the only girl with two younger brothers.  Can I get a shoutout from a sister who knows where I’m going here?  Of course, I was in charge of cleaning the hard stuff, like the kitchen.  If you’ve ever seen most little brothers (or husbands, for that matter) clean, you know that even the least cleaning-oriented of us do a better job and often have to redo their jobs anyway. Whenever my dad came home yelling about the dirty house, the yell was directed at me.  Weren’t there three of us?  Anyway…I will let that bitterness go for now.  Back to my grandmother.  In two of the houses we lived in, we didn’t have a dishwasher.  Unless you counted me.  My grandmother had already raised herclean dirty dishwasher sign own nine children by the time she came to stay with us, so she said she would cook, but she was not going to clean up the mess.  She had already done that for too many years.  What she would do is put the dishes in the sink with extremely hot water to soak.  When I would go to wash the dishes, my hands would be scalded and I would complain, whine, whatever.  She would tell me to just put some cold water in.  There was no room!  She had filled the sink all the way to the top with hot water!  No matter the difficulty, though, the dishes were most often my job.

What does my childhood hardship (first-world problems) have to do with simple steps to a clean, organized kitchen?  Just this:  when I do clean, I still find myself drawn to doing the kitchen first.  I don’t like it any more than I ever did, but a clean kitchen still gives me the greatest sense of satisfaction.  Because I dislike it, though, I have to have an easy routine.   I even want to change up some steps for the New Year.  This post is not going to tell you how to clean a kitchen.  Hopefully you already know that.  I just want to share a few things to make it less torturous.  So here goes–

Simple Steps to a Clean, Organized Kitchen

 1.  Empty the dishwasher before cooking.  Here’s the deal:  I use up every dish when I cook.  When I’m done cooking, the sink is overflowing.  Mind you, I have a dishwasher.  It’s just that the dishwasher is still full of clean dishes, so there’s nowhere to put the dirty ones, so there’s nowhere to put the ones I am currently dirtying…and so on.  My new goal (and hopefully yours) is to empty the dishwasher at least before I cook and end the madness!  

P.S. to Tip 1–Because I sort of wait to unload the dishwasher, sometimes I forget whether the dishes are clean or dirty.  I have made you a printable clean dirty dishwasher sign to put on the front of your dishwasher.  Here’s how to use it–cut the sign in half, taping the two sides back-to-back and facing up.  Laminate it or use packing tape to fake-laminate it.  Punch a hole in the top.  Attach a command hook to the front of your dishwasher, and hang the sign.  Now you never have to smell your dishes…

2.  Never own a single-purpose appliance.  Though I love homemade bread, both the smell and the taste, I refuse to own even a free, hand-me-down bread machine.  (Thanks anyway, Mom.)  What I will own are two slow cookers.  I can do my famous coffee punch (recipe stolen from Adron Gilley) in one and an awesome soup in another.  My waffle maker can make not only waffles, but those amazing brownies and cinnamon rolls in a waffle iron I’ve been tempted by on Pinterest.  If I find I’m not using an appliance, I give it away.  (Like the Magic Bullet that my husband re-bought…don’t get me started.)  The ones I do keep are  neatly organized above a label in my pantry.

P.S. to Tip 2–Even your cookie jar can be multi-purpose.  I made this taco soup for dinner tonight and had a lot left over to freeze for later.  My cookie jar is great for filling gallon-sized bags.  I simply line the cookie jar with a labeled gallon-size bag, like I would line a trash can, and pour in the soup.  The jar stays clean, and the bag doesn’t flop everywhere when I’m trying to fill it.  Genius!

3.  Make it dummy-proof for those who are helping you clean and organize.  Ha!  Well, in case the other people using up the dishes would ever like to help.  Anyway, I got tired of being asked where things went in the cabinets when my husband would help me unload the dishwasher, so I came up with a system.  I labeled the base of each cabinet with what went there.  I even labeled the silverware organizer.  This is also handy for me if I have accidentally taken NyQuil during the day instead of DayQuil and am in a fog…oops.

 What is your favorite least-hated room to clean?  Any kitchen cleaning or organization tips?  Share them here.

And remember, Jesus cares about it all, even your organization.  Forget why?  Check out this post.

Happy cleaning and organizing!

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