Handmade Valentine’s Day Cards

Handmade Valentine's Day Cards

Valentine’s Day is second to Christmas with the amount of money spent on gifts. I would never pick on anyone for spending their own money on a gift, any gift for someone. However, too many people feel pressured to spend money they don’t have on gifts for holidays like this. I honestly DO believe it is the thought that counts. Rather than spending too much on a gift this year, you can make cards for those near & dear. BHG offers a selection of cards you can make alone or with others.

Here’s a suggestion for you: Gather your friends & their children. Make a variety of cards for Valentine’s Day. I mean LOTS! Then deliver them to a local nursing home. Call the home first to let them know you are coming. Explain the cards are for the residents that never receive cards or gifts on holidays. What a fantastic way to show your love to someone you may never meet! You will make their day & teach your children a lesson that money can’t & never will buy! Enjoy!

Valentine Cards

8 Steps to More Effectively Share a Message Step 3: Develop a Blog Series

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Is the Subject Expandable?

Once I create an infographic, I like to create individual blog posts for each step. This enables those that want to get more information on the topic. It also enables ME to determine if I have enough material to write a book. If I can’t do a decent blog series, then I’ll never be able to come up with enough info to write a book.

A Path to Podcasts & Videos

The blog series also helps you begin the process of creating podcast & video material. I simply take the info from a blog post or series, add to it where necessary & go into production. Depending on the length of each post, I might do either one long program or break it down into smaller pieces just like the blog series. I learned early on to keep audio & video short to give my busy audience the opportunity to listen & watch. I can always put the segments together & make one long program. More on this later!

Design Graphics for Blog & Social Media

At this time, I also create the graphics I need for the blog series. You can see an example at the top of the page. In Canva, I design the first piece & then make copies for each additional post. This is also when I design graphics for social media. I want to share the blog posts in as many places as possible. Designing graphics for Twitter, Facebook & more gives my series a consistent look across the board. Canva offers templates for various platforms so this is easy to do.

Determine the Best Time to Post

I prefer to share the posts from a series M-F. This gives readers time to catch up on the weekend if necessary. I have also found that I have the most readers during the week for this type of post.
Developing a blog series from the steps on an infographic is a great way to expand on a good topic & discover other ways you can use the information across platforms & formats.

14 Crafty Valentine’s Day Wreaths

14 Crafty Valentine's Day Wreaths

All your Christmas decorations are down & put away, or soon will be. Boy does your house look bare! After a month, give or take, of decorations & lights, your home suddenly looks dull. Not a problem! Valentine’s Day is not too far away. All the decorations of red, pink & white add just enough color to your home to chase away the winter drabs. Let’s face it! When all of outdoors is done up in gray, white & muddy, it’s nice to come home to those happy Valentine colors.

I tend to decorate primarily with $ store items. This year, however, I plan to add a few touches I make myself, including a wreath or two. Good Housekeeping is ready to help you create your own Valentine wreath (or two) with this selection of 14 DIY wreaths. Now you can add color to your entire home! That should chase the winter blues away! Enjoy!

Valentine Wreaths

25 Cozy Ideas for Fireplace Mantels

25 Cozy Ideas for Fireplace Mantels

Our house doesn’t have a fireplace so we don’t have a mantel. However, I do have 2 sideboards in our dining/living room that I decorate throughout the year. Autumn, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas have now all passed. It was easy decorating for those seasons. Valentines Day is approaching but you may not want to put those decorations up yet. You may want something simple. You may even want something that you can maintain throughout the year, simply adding a few seasonal touches when needed. Southern Living agrees! They have created 25 cozy mantels for your home. These ideas can be used on a mantel, sideboard or any flat surface in your living room. Create a beautiful focal point for your home with one of these ideas. Or combine 2-3 to create a look that is unique to your home & you! Enjoy!

Cozy Mantels

8 Steps to Effectively Share a Message: Step 1 Create an Outline

 I could hear you groan, you know! Outlines seem tedious. Perhaps you never had to learn about outlines in English class. They were a pain! Breaking things down into smaller & smaller pieces with very specific tags to identify their place in the outline. It was painful & confusing.
 
Not Your English Class Outline
 This is not that type of outline. When I began as a speaker & author, I studied under Florence Littauer. We were taught that outlines help us formulate the message in a logical order. How many times have you listened to a speaker that motivated & inspired you yet later, you were unable to share anything they said in their presentation? The speech might have been very well written but if it wasn’t created in a systematic format, your brain is unable to retain the information.
 
Is There Enough for a Series?
When I come up with a great topic, like this one, the first thing I do is create an outline. This enables me to see if I am able to develop a message from the idea. If I can’t flesh it out into a simple outline, then I know I only have an informational graphic to share on Instagram.
 
It’s Easier than It Sounds
You want an outline that makes it easy for your readers or listeners to remember your material & easy for you to share it across multiple formats. An outline makes it easy for me to first create an infographic & then break it down into a blog series.Your outline is easy to create. Pick a word that represents your message & make an acrostic. For example, TALK: Teach, Act, Listen,Keep. Or you might you words that rhyme: Make, Take, Wake. You can use an analogy. To share my Simple Joy message, I created a message using a tree through the seasons. It takes some effort at first but it becomes very easy, very quickly.
 
Well Worth the Effort
Take the time to develop an outline & you have the foundation for a message that can go from infographic to book!

8 Steps to Effectively Share a Message: Introduction 

You come up with a great idea for a topic. You believe it can help many people. The question is, how do you make certain the people that can benefit from your topic have an opportunity to see it? I believe the most effective way is to share your topic across a variety of media. Sure, you say, that sounds great but WHO HAS THE TIME?Sharing your great idea through a variety of formats doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. By following a systematic process, you are able to easily adapt your topic over time without spend much money or even any money at all.
In this series, I show you how to take a simple idea & over time, evolve & adapt it for your audience. The great part about this process is, you can have a message on one step while working on another message on a different step. This allows you to have more than one project going at once without losing your mind!Now more than ever, people are looking for practical guidance & hope. Rather than wasting time thinking about it or struggling to perfect it, you need to follow Nike’s advice & JUST DO IT! You may be amazed how much your can accomplish in very little time.

God’s Goals for 2018: Training the Next Generation

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I want to create a scenario for you. I know it’s far fetched but be patient & play along with me for the sake of the point I want to make.

Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist then immediately goes into the wilderness for 40 days. During this time, He is tempted by Satan following which, He is tended by angels & given instructions on His ministry, including how to proceed. Once the 40 days are over, Jesus heads back to civilization & begins His ministry.

Scripture tells us that Jesus called His inner circle of disciples during the early days of His ministry but, in this story, Jesus would instead decide to go it alone. After all, He would know what to do & how to do. He would just ask for volunteers when He needed help.

And He does need help from time to time. Whenever the need arose, Jesus would just announce the need for volunteers to a handy crowd of followers then wait for people to approach Him, offering their services. Jesus would give them brief instructions on what He needed them to do, then send them on their way.

Jesus found He rarely got people to volunteer more than once, sometime hearing quiet comments about the lack of training or instruction before the last group was sent out to do their work. Jesus would just shrug & wonder if the volunteers had problems because of their lack of faith.

Time would go on until Jesus was crucified & then resurrected. Jesus would do the things Scripture tells us He did until it was time for Him to ascend into Heaven. Jesus would issue the Great Commission to the crowd gathered for this event, telling them to “teach others everything I have shown you!” And then He would be gone!

Unfortunately, the people witnessing the ascension would look at one another, wondering exactly WHAT He had shown them! None of them would have spent enough time with Jesus to piece all the parts together. Even worse, who would continue the ministry Jesus began? Who would lead the church? No one would have been with Jesus throughout His ministry, enabling them to continue the work! And we won’t even talk about the Gospels! I can’t help but feel the church would have slowly, bit by bit, died.

Fortunately, this is NOT what happened. Jesus called a diverse group of men to work with Him closely throughout His ministry. He taught them, He trained them, He mentored them. He left them with tools, including the Holy Spirit, to enable them to continue His work, growing the church in the years following His ascension & way, way beyond.

It might have been easier for Jesus to just do things Himself. But the work of the Kingdom was  too important not to ensure it continued when He was no long here on Earth. And it is STILL too important for us not to ensure that the work of the church continues even after the current leaders are no longer able or willing to do it themselves.

And yet, we get lazy & fail to train the next generation of leaders to carry-on the work we began or was begun years earlier. Many small churches, & even some large churches, are struggling these days because they find it easier to do the work themselves than take the time & suffer the pain training a new generation of leaders.

The Gospels & the Book of Acts are an instruction manual for the church, showing us exactly what we must do to, among other things, ensure the work of Christ continues in our churches for the next generation.

This year, one area of focus for me is leadership development. I plan to share thoughts, tips, training & more to help potential leaders recognize their call to leadership within the church & community & help the church identify, train, mentor & equip the next generation of leaders for their church.

I will say this again & again, the harvest is great but the laborers are few! There is a multitude of laborers out there, waiting to be called to do the work the Lord wants them to do. Let’s never lose a laborer for the Lord’s harvest!

Like what you see here? Then be sure to subscribe to my blog! For 2018, I am PASSIONATE about helping you understand God’s Call for your life, teaching you the importance of service in the church & community AND developing the next generation of leaders. Be sure to contact me with questions about any of these topics.

God’s Goals for 2018: Answer Your Call

I have a confession to make. If my phone rings & I don’t recognize the number, I don’t answer. I listen to the message right away if one is left & I return calls quickly. And I do answer the phone if I know the person calling. I don’t feel compelled to answer the phone when I don’t know the caller.

Let me tell you though. If caller ID told me God was calling, I would answer right away! Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you be curious to know why God was calling, what He wanted? Wouldn’t you answer right away?

Now I know how silly this sounds! God doesn’t use cell phones to call us. I just want you to consider for a moment how quickly you would respond if there was a chance,even a slim one, that God might use a cell phone to contact you. I think most people would quickly answer even just to satisfy their curiosity.

Yet many of us hit “Decline” button when God calls us. And believe me, He does call each & every one of us that believes!

The quote on the graphic above is taken from the story of Samuel being called by God. Samuel lived with Eli, the high priest. Samuel’s mother, Hannah gave her son to Eli to be trained in service to the Lord. Hannah had promised her son to the Lord if the Lord would only bless the childless woman with a son. When the Lord blessed her with a son, Hannah kept her end of the bargain, taking Samuel to Eli to stay once Samuel was old enough.

Eli had 2 sons that were also priests. Scripture tells us the sons were “scoundrels.” The Lord was not willing to let scoundrels take over the ministry of Eli. Plus, the Lord was very upset with Eli because he did not correct his sons. So, the Lord called Samuel.

One night, Samuel heard a voice call his name. Naturally, he assumed Eli was calling him. Yet when he went to Eli, the old man said he had not called. This happened a few more times. Finally, Eli told Samuel it must be the Lord calling his name. When it happens again,say, “Here I am,Lord!” And that’s just what Samuel did! What a difference that made in the life of Samuel! And in the lives of Eli & his sons!

How do you respond when God calls you? I know,you’re looking at the screen & telling me, “God never called or calls me! Why would He call ME?”

If you go to the passage in 1 Samuel, you’ll notice Samuel did not stand in Eli’s room arguing aboutwhether or to the Lord would call HIM! He simply accepted what Eli said & went back to his room to await the Lord’s next call. Samuel didn’t even doubt the fact the Lord would contact him again. What faith!

We all need to be open to God’s call on our lives. As Jesus said, the harvest is great & the laborers are few. Time to get to work!

I Know the Plans I Have for You

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When we last spoke, I was sitting in a dark closet, waiting to hear the answer to my prayer. I knew I had lost direction. I also knew I had a lot to offer women. My experience, my education, my concern for the welfare of women & their families in our nation gave me a good starting point. But WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH IT?! I know a lot of football fans that are very passionate but they are NEVER going to play in the NFL.

My biggest concern was that it was too late for me. Had I waited too long? Had God given up on me? (No on both counts!) However, I did need to get busy. I also felt I needed a new direction, a new message since so many people were now sharing my original message in their own way. And doing it quite well!

So as I said, there I was sitting in the closet quietly, listening. And I heard His answer.

“What can you do that no one else can do in exactly the same way?” In other words, what do you bring to the table?

Well, I had to think about that for awhile. Not a long while. After all, it gets lonely sitting the closet. But I am able to think. And I am able to talk to God. So that’s what I did.

I had to consider what I could do in my own unique way. While many women were now talking about simplifying life, I am able to do ministry. After all, I have my M.Div. I’ve been in ministry for years but I had only been “playing” at it for the last few years. I knew I needed to get serious.

I know I am passionate about helping women improve the quality of their lives &, through them, the quality of life for their families. While other women are sharing ways to improve the lives of women by simplifying life, I can teach them how to improve their lives through ministry.

I am very good at showing how the lessons in Scripture are applicable today. I can offer practical ways to incorporate Christianity into your life & share your faith with others through your actions, not your words.

I sensed God telling me that I needed to begin teaching women ways to determine & utilize their Call in life, why service is such an important part of our faith & help organizations develop the new leaders in their midst & help women discover ways to develop their own leadership skills & ways to use them. Wow, Jean Ann, you might say, this seems like a really big goal. How do you ever hope to carry it out?

For many years, God has been burdening my heart with a need for a national network of small group ministries for women. Groups where women are able to grow spiritually, identify their call, fellowship with other women, pray for their families and communities and… well, I won’t share everything right now. Back to my story.

I’m still feeling my way along in the dark but I have a better vision of God’s plan for me. He has made it very clear that my focus must be on ministry. There are so many ways for me to serve Him by serving women across the country. I now understand how God wants to use, wants me to use the experience and education and talents He has given me.

This year is about discovering your call & understanding why it is so important for women to network with one another in small in-home groups.

So enough of this. During January, I plan to share more about small groups before we launch our small group ministry in February! Orr launch may not begin with a bang but with a small pop but I have tremendous faith that God is with us in our ministry & I am following His lead.

I am very excited & I promise to be patient. I know it will take time for the message to take hold & spread. But I know God has a plan for my life in 2018 & I am dedicating myself to fulfilling that plan to its end!

Let’s go!