Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Link Love: May 31, 2011

Hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! I had a great time catching up on my reading and spent an entire afternoon by the pool.

Got a lot of link love for you today!


Meet Sara Hill by Soul Surfer Wave
Sarah has helped create youth groups on the North Shore of Kauai (Hawaii) and ministers to more than 150 kids a week. Now that I am involved in high school ministry, she is my hero. In the movie Soul Surfer, she is portrayed by Carrie Underwood.



To Love Your Neighbor, You Must Know Your Neighbor by The Gospel Coalition
I personally find it painful to live in a culture where "seclusion" and "boundaries" are often used as a way to not create emotional ties with neighbors. I love Jesus and I strongly believe we have to open our lives to others and serve them no matter how uncomfortable it is. Ben Stevens talks about this matter beautifully.

31 Days to Clean -- Having a Martha House the Mary Way
I bought the Kindle version of this fantastic ebook! 31 Days to Clean is about the “why” and the vision and the heart for taking care of our domains. A must for every homemaker.

The Great Photo Book Round-Up Review: Who Makes The Best Photo Books? by Digital Home Thoughts
Do you love making digital photo books and ordering them online? The best review of photo book services out there!

Three Big Reasons Why We Procrastinate (And What To Do About Them) by Lateral Action
A productivity must-read for all of us!

Zen in My New 2010 Clutter-free Home Office by Michael "Nozbe" Sliwinski
I am starting to look for clever ways to set-up a home work space.  Michael Sliwinski's home office is an inspiration!

The Drawing Nature Journal by Jill Bliss
A hard-cover take-along journal infused with art and tips throughout, offering basic techniques for drawing natural objects. I want this for the summer!

The Top 3 Makeup Items Every Woman Needs, Regardless of Age by Bellasugar
Veteran beauty editor Lois Joy Johnson, the co-author of The Makeup Wakeup: Revitalizing Your Look at Any Age ($13), says that there are three beauty essentials every woman should own — regardless of age.

Yard Sale Treasure Map
A great online tool that helps you locate garage sales in your area.

How to Clean a House by Household Management 101
Thinking of how to clean your home when there is very little time? This blog post is a life saver!

Free Customizable Stock-up Price List by Money Saving Mom
For all couponing ladies out there! A price list that tells you rock-bottom prices of grocery staples.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Why does God take us to the mountain?

I really enjoyed the message in Bethel Franklin last Sunday, May 22nd. It was the first part of a three-week series called 'Double Calls.'



'Double Calls' are about stories in the Bible where God called the names of specific people twice. Last Sunday was about how the Lord called Abraham twice as accounted in the book of Genesis 22.

Genesis 22 tells the story of when God called Abraham to the mountain. To be honest with you, when I first read and studied this chapter, the words of the Lord was very unsettling.

"Take your son, your only son -- yes, Isaac, whom you love so much -- and go the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will point out to you." (Genesis 22:2)

Reading this passage brought me to another Bible verse -- Galatians 3:6-7 -- saying that we are also descendants of Abraham. Suddenly, the story of Genesis 22 became more profoundly personal to me. It made me realize that as Abraham's children, we all had to go through our own personal climbs to a mountain.

Why does God take us to the mountain?

I started looking at Hebrews 11:17-19 and it says,

"By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[a] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death."



Why does God take me to the mountain? 
Because He wants me to know certain things.  

Things that I believe to be true but only through a climb I will know to be true.

I believe His love for me is far deeper than I have ever imagined. 
Through a climb, I know that this is true.

I believe His grace is far wider that I can ever comprehend. 
Through a climb, I know that this is true.

I believe His power is the only source in overcoming any obstacles.
Through a climb, I know that this is true.


He calls me to the mountain so I will know what I would not know otherwise.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Performance-Driven or Grace-Motivated?

The world we live in today presents a culture that success is based on performance. If we work hard enough, we will get results that we deserve.



I believe in working hard. I love finding ways to be better in the way that I do my job.

What deeply concerns me is that how this mentality can easily translate into how I relate with my Father. This concern has made me vigilant on how my relationship with God is shaped every day.

Performance-Driven Morality Police

versus

Grace-Motivated Christ Follower


1) Are you a slave to what you feel others expect of you?

2) Do you feel the need to make yourself available to every social/work demand that goes your way?

3) Do you compare your spiritual walk with others?

4) Do you exhaust yourself trying to keep up with every church-related activity that is presented to you? 

5) When you do keep up, does it make you proud of yourself and actually believe that God is more pleased with you?

6) Do you judge others who don't measure up to your standards?

7) Are you disappointed with people who approach life much differently than yours?

8) Is your identity defined on how much you are accomplishing for God?


I wholeheartedly believe in God's Word when He says that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. However, I understand the reality that we are not immune to getting caught up in focusing on our external spiritual appearance.

My daily prayer is that I will never believe the lie that God’s blessing depended on how well I do certain spiritual disciplines, such as having a daily quiet time and not knowingly committing any sin.

I want my heart to remain pure, that when I do things that honor Him, it is motivated out of deep love for Christ and what He has done for me.


Let's discuss:
Do you find yourself identifying with the questions raised?
Do you catch yourself stepping out of a grace-based relationship with God?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sleeping Longer and Better

Sleep.



It is good for you. 

Get seven to nine hours of it daily.

We have heard this health advice over and over again throughout the years.

I am a total believer of getting enough sleep.

This is the one thing I intentionally do for my health every single day without missing a beat.


I wasn't always like that.

I knew I had to do something about my sleeping pattern when I finally admitted to myself that:

I was often tired.
I was heavily dependent on caffeine to get through the day.
I woke up in the middle of the night and chose to indulge in some form of media.
I woke up with very little energy.
I got drowsy during the day.


Today, I regularly sleep at 10pm and wake up at 6am.

It took me a while to get there. I had to enforce changes with the way I approached sleep.

These changes are so worth it!


Here are some of the things I did (and continue to do) to sleep longer and better.

Develop the discipline of a sleeping at the same hour every night. I knew that my body was desperate for consistency and I had to nurture that need.

Minimize the intake of caffeine. I used to drink at least three cups of bold coffee everyday. I am now down to only 1 cup a day, in the morning.

Give importance to hydration. Water is the only liquid our body truly needs. I have vowed to take better care of myself by drinking at least eight glasses of water every day. I promise that you will feel more well-rested if you follow this one rule.

Exercise daily. I totally swear by exercise as the best way to relieve muscle tension. I also make sure I include a good amount of stretching. One thing you must keep in mind: it's best to exercise in the day time instead of in the evenings. Late physical activity makes me stay up later than usual.

Carefully schedule "social time-outs." I love being in touch with people I care about. I love opportunities of spending time with them.

However, there is a bit of a dilemma. I have A LOT of people that I care about. I am also married to a wonderful man who loves people just as much as I do (if not more).

This results in a jam-packed schedule. I consider time with people a blessing. But I am going to admit to you today, a hectic calendar sometimes physically and mentally wears me out.

I get less sleep. I become more cranky.

Because of this, I periodically enforce "social time-outs" in order to allow my body and mind to catch up. When I get a few days of disconnection time, I feel like I connect better with people when I am available. Thankfully, my friends completely understand that I am this way. Which makes me love them more!

Invest in a comfortable bed. There is no question about it -- a good mattress matters when it comes to getting a good night's sleep.  It is important to look for a mattress that allows you to relax but that also supports the normal S curve of your back.

There is no one perfect mattress for everyone. You will need to take some time to try as many models as possible and see what best fits you.

Understand why God wants all of us to rest.  I strongly believe in sleep as an act of giving God the time to do a work in us. Sleep is when God can reach our spiritual being and provide instruction and insight.

Resting every day also reminds me that I do not need to perform for my Father in order for Him to be pleased with me. He loves me regardless of what I do during my waking hours.


Matthew 11:28
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Monday, May 23, 2011

ProBlogger’s Guide to your First Week of Blogging

Are you eager to start your very own blog but not quite sure where to start? I don't blame you because there are so many things to consider:



How do I get on the web and create one?
What blog name should I come up with?
What is it going to be about?
How do I start strong with my content?
What do I write on that awkward first post?
How do I get over the reluctance of exposing of my thoughts?
How can I shake off this nagging intimidation of what people think of me?
Colors, designs, layouts! Where do I even begin?


Darren Rowse of PROBLOGGER (my blogging mentor from afar) says that "making great early choices is vital to the long-term success of your blog. He just released a brand-new ebook entitled:





The ebook presents the lessons he has learned, and the insights he has gained, over eight years and more than 30 new blogs. I believe in what he has taught me; which is the reason I am an affiliate of his e-books!



(Note: I never promote anything that I do not believe in. This I promise you.)




It explains a step-by-step methodology to the tasks that he believes are crucial in the first week of a blog’s life. Here are some of the lessons you will learn:



Learn foundational brainstorming techniques.
Create a content plan—and content, of course!
Build a social media presence.
Create practical quality assurance tools.
Set up a publishing process.
Master the components of a blog post.
Develop your blog’s ongoing strategy.


The good news is -- if you buy ProBlogger’s Guide to your First Week of Blogging before 17 May you’ll get it for just $9.99 – that’s 50% off! And if you live in Nashville and surrounding areas, I would love to sit down with you and help you get started!



Easy to Understand, Simple to Follow — All you need is 90 minutes per Day!


No reason to get intimidated. Get a head-start on your new blog. Download your copy of Your First Week of Blogging now for just $9.99 – that’s 50% off the normal price if you buy it before 17 May.





And if you have any questions on how to start a blog, you are free to leave a comment here and I will happily respond!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Who Was Your Childhood Celebrity Crush?

When I was 9 years old, it was Robby Rosa of the Puerto Rican pop group Menudo. 
He was with a very young Ricky Martin in this photo.


When I got to 12th grade, I became fascinated with the television show 21 Jump Street. 
The highlight of that drama series was, of course, Johnny Depp.


In my high school years it was all about New Kids On The Block and I really wanted to marry Joey McIntyre.


Then the grunge era took over. My crushes rotated among Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Evan Dando of The Lemonheads, River Phoenix (whose death I dramatically grieved over) and Ethan Hawke who personified Generation X-cool in the movie Reality Bites.







Let's talk about it today:
Who was your biggest childhood celebrity crush?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Working From Home: Minimizing Interruptions

I consider it a blessing that I have a job that allows me to work anywhere I want to. I do not take this for granted.


My preferred place of work is my very own home. This is where I feel most comfortable, undisturbed, and it saves me the most money.

However, I have established several disciplines in order to do my job efficiently. Working in a home office demands a different kind of work ethic and commitment because of the available distractions a household demands.

Here are five things that I intentionally do.

1. Create a clean, clutter-free workspace. I make sure that my desk is clear. I take out any objects, office supplies, reading materials that have nothing to do with my tasks for the day.  I also set the temperature of my room that makes me most comfortable.

2. Carefully schedule times of communication. This applies to e-mails, home phone, mobile phone, social networks, and instant messaging. I look through my e-mail inbox twice a day. I turn on my phones during breaks and in the evening. I appear 'visible' on my instant messaging only to important work contacts during the week day. I log in to Facebook only during my lunch break and after 5pm. I know this sounds extreme to some, but being intentional about this helps me stay focused on my tasks.

(Note: I have a private way of being reached by my husband any time of the day.)

3. Set specific times of being available to others. I love spending time with people I care about. I also appreciate moments that I get the chance to know new people better. However, I like going on about this with undivided attention. Therefore, I carefully manage my schedule  of being available for people outside of work hours. I like to be strict about this. When I receive an invitation to leave my home office when I know I have important work deadlines, I usually offer an alternate time.

4. Snack on food that keeps me energized throughout the day. My favorite energy-boosting snacks are yogurt, almonds, and walnuts. I used to eat a lot of starchy foods during my work hours and I always ended up feeling really lethargic.

5. Give importance to hydration. I always keep a glass of water beside me at all times. When water runs out, I immediately stand up and refill the glass -- a great excuse to stretch throughout the day. I have discovered that dehydration results in a headache, which is one of the biggest work interruptions out there.


I also feel that it is important to add that when interruptions do occur, it is best to handle the situation with a spirit of joy.  We can always aim to do our best in handling our time and that is great. However, if something comes up that is beyond our control, this is an opportunity to display an extraordinary amount of grace.

Never Heard of Her Until Today

ADORABLE. 

Can I adopt you Maddi Jane?



Monday, May 9, 2011

Saving Money with Daily Deal Websites

Last Update: October 27, 2011

If you have ever signed up for Groupon and Living Social, you know exactly what I am talking about.


No clue on how daily deal websites work? Let me explain it to you in the easiest way possible.

A website features an extraordinary deal (as much as 50-75% off) on a store, boutique, tourist spot, creative service, or restaurant in your city. The promotional offer usually lasts 24 hours which entices consumers to snag the deal immediately.

How do you find out about daily deals? Go to the website, search for your city, and sign-up using your e-mail address. You will get an e-mail daily explaining the day's current deal.

How does this happen? The website negotiates a deal with a merchant to give a steep discount that is not found anywhere else. A sale like this promises a good volume of new customers to the seller.

In summary, here is how it works:
1. The website emails you an incredible local, online deal everyday.
2. Deals are only offered for a limited time, usually 24 hours.
3. Interested in in deal? Buy it before time runs out.
4. You will get a voucher through e-mail once you are done with payment
4. Print your voucher and it is used like cash. If the sale is online, you get a coupon code.
5. Enjoy your savings!

Robert and I have enjoyed new places here in Nashville because of these websites. We have toured a plantation, gone wine/chocolate tasting, watched a movie on its day of release, and ate at upscale places we never usually go to at full price.

Are you interested in signing up for these websites? Here is a summary of my sources of daily deals.
















Yes, believe it -- I subscribe to all these savings sites and I love getting a good deal when I stumble upon something we really need. Please remember that I live in Nashville, which is a fairly popular city. You might not see your city on some of the sites, depending on where you live, but you might get deals that are available nationwide or online.

*Note: Some of these sites have a referral codes embedded in links. If you do decide to sign up, I will be grateful that you acknowledge that I led you to them!