Truth Tuesday #20: Making Time for Small Ministry

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As an English teacher, one of the core concepts I learned to teach was theme. It’s the author’s underlying message. It’s what he wants us to take away from a piece of literature. And one of those most common themes is that things are not always as they appear. They’re not as insignificant or even as accidental as they might first seem to be.

One such non-coincidental encounter started as many weekend days of my life do, at the thrift store. I am always drawn to a beautiful book cover (English teacher, remember?), and on this particular day, it was the cover of an anthology on Southernness from the editors of Garden and Gun Magazine. As I opened the book to a “random” page, I landed on an article that purported that Knoxville’s Chintzy Rose tea room and junk shop served tea that surpassed any other in the South. That’s saying something.

Well, how “concidental” then that I just happened to be planning a trip to my hometown in Virginia, and that Knoxville is the halfway point. How “strange,” too, that anyone I had asked to take the trip with me was unavailable. I was a little depressed about going by myself, but when I saw that article about the tea room, I determined to make an adventure out of my trip after all. When the day arrived, I put on an extended episode of my favorite podcast and set my sights on the halfway mark, where my personal roadside attraction was waiting…

Want to read more OR listen to the accompanying podcast episode? Visit to read the rest of the article or listen in.

Be blessed,


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!


YouTube-ing with a Purpose


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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 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.