Your story is not over; there are still chapters unwritten. You may not be able to change the past, but you can change your future.
Your story is not over; there are still chapters unwritten. You may not be able to change the past, but you can change your future.
At the start of a new year, we all want to be better. Some people will want to go on a diet and get in shape, others will want to work on their careers. But then there are the kinds of goals that kind of fit in anyway - like your hobbies. And this can certainly apply to your blog. Maybe you do blog for work or you want to turn it into a career? Then this could definitely be the year that you take things to the next level. When you want to do that, you need to make sure that you’re being as professional as you possibly can be. And when it comes to blogging on a more serious level, you do need to work a little harder to make your efforts more polished. Let’s look at a few ways you can do this.
Refine Your Web Design
First of all, if you don’t have a clear and professional looking blog, then this is where you’re going to start. Take a look online for a template you can use that will look the part. Or, you could even hire a web design to create something custom for you.
Create A Content Calendar
Next, if you want to feel more professional, then you need to plan. Planning your content in advance is a great way to make sure that you are on top of your game. And this is where having a content calendar comes in. If you’re not sure what that is, take a look at https://blog.hootsuite.com/ on how to create one. By doing so, you are going to be able to plan in relevant content and get it scheduled so that you never run out of ideas.
Stick To Branding
Then, the next thing that you’re going to want to do is make sure that you are branding everything you do. If you are changing fonts and colors on everything, then it’s not going to be branded, it will just look messy. It’s the same for any documents you create. You should make sure that you have templates, like https://www.templafy.com/ provides, to make this easier. The more consistent your branding is, the more professional you will look.
It’s also a good idea to start networking. Because this is a great way to get your name out there. Also, you may find that you meet people that can open doors for you and your blog in the future. And what could be better than that?
Be More Consistent
And then finally, if you want to feel more professional with your blog, then you need to have a schedule for yourself. This means that you’re going to want to come up with working hours. If you treat your blog like a job, and you put in the work, it will start to pay off. So make sure that you allocate consistent time each day to work on your blog. After all, the more work you put in over a shorter space of time, the quicker it is going to pay off.
“That’s not how we’ve done it in the past,” a church member retorted when asked to participate in a new ministry program. “We can just do it like we’ve always done it.” This is an all too familiar response when it comes to church ministry. Change can be downright scary. I myself am a type-A, high- strung personality and like to have everything planned out when it comes to something new. However, I also know that any ministry needs to embrace change in order to adapt to the changing needs of the people they strive to serve.
Change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same forever. As cultures change, churches change, too. Instead of fearing it, churches would benefit from creating strategies to deal with the change effectively so ministries don’t just survive, but also thrive.
In the book Who Moved My Cheese? Author Spencer Johnson lists four different types of ways of dealing with change. The cheese, their source of food, has been moved to a different location. The four mice: Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw, have to deal with how they choose to find this new location. Each mouse deals with the change differently. Sniff detects change early and adjusts his life around the impending change. Scurry, upon discovering change, plans and prepares for it. He may not know change is coming, but when he does, he embraces it and tries to find alternative ways to find the cheese. As he waits, he wastes away, missing out on the place of solace change might have brought him. Haw at first stays with Hem and also complains about the cheese being moved to another location. Once he begins to feel the ill effects of not having cheese (his rumbling stomach and weakening frame) he decides to go looking for the cheese. Once he successfully finds it, he basks in the realization that change is not as bad as he once thought. 1
How do you deal with change? Do you embrace it, or do you fear it, dragging your heels at the very thought of it? Change can benefit all involved if leaders embrace it and plan for it instead of running from it.
The idea of change makes me shudder. If it is not broken, don’t fix it, right? Yet change is necessary. It prevents a ministry’s direction from becoming stagnant. It allows growth and freedom. When you look at your ministry as a whole, change can be a great benefit. Churches have to learn to deal with change if they want to move forward with their vision. Some churches may fear change, yet if the dynamics of ministry don’t change to suit members’ needs and new members don’t get connected, a once growing ministry will die.
If you have someone in your church on the cusp of change, here are five ways you can deal with it effectively:
Create a clear vision- it is not enough to know how a ministry will function now, but what does the leader want the ministry to accomplish in one year? Five years? Help members see where the ministry is headed, so they can decide if it is still a viable ministry for them. The biggest companies today all have vision and mission statements. If a church is poised for numeric growth, it has an overall vision and specific steps as to how to get there. If you don’t know what that vision and mission is, ask the pastor or a member of the staff. Equipped with that information, reframe your ministry as to how it fits under the umbrella of your church ‘s mission and vision. This will achieve unity and give it a unique purpose within the church as a whole rather than a side ministry irrelevant to the church’s function.
Create a plan together- Instead of leaving your church member with no direction help her mark out a clear plan of what the future of the new ministry will look like. Get important ministry heads together, and brainstorm ways to change that will preserve the goals of the old ministry but run it in a way that will reach the most people at one time. Get out a whiteboard and first identify the purpose and goal of the ministry. Then talk about ways that ministry seeks to meet the needs of its participants. Sometimes it means the format (or how that ministry operates) needs to change. In other cases, it may need to be scrapped altogether. This will take courage to scrap unnecessary ministries, but in the end, like a gardener prunes dead branches, this will leave room for the live branches to flourish. This will help her know how to move the ministry forwards, not backwards.
Help them process loss- Behind a member’s fear of change is fear that they will have nothing to offer the new ministry. Furthermore, a ministry head may fear not having a place to be needed even more. This fear, if not held accountable, may cause grumbling and gossip that when sown into listening ears, leads to dissension. Nip fear in the bud as soon as you can. Have a frank conversation with ministry heads whose ministries are no longer effective. Help them process their grief. Encourage them to redefine their role as a leader and help her discover how their unique gifts will enhance the ministry as a whole. Encourage them by letting them know that you appreciate their work up until this point. Help them redirect their focus in a positive way, not criticizing the ministry’s ineffectiveness, but use it as an opportunity to reach a new generation of church members. Remind them that their work helps to bring forth God’s kingdom here on earth.
Reproduce new leaders- Jesus began his ministry training leaders. He pinpointed the twelve disciples as those whom he could train and show them how to accomplish his Father’s work, hoping they would eventually replicate other leaders themselves. Help him/her to identify someone within the ministry as a potential new leader. Encourage her to mentor the other person and train them into helping them lead the ministry in the event of illness or unexpected absence. Mentorship may take on several forms, based on schedules and the amount of free time available. Encourage mentors and mentees to remain consistent, meeting regularly. Purchase a book that will help equip mentees to lead ministries. Have each person work how the frequency and duration of mentorship. Help him/her utilize his/her gift of leadership to create more leaders. It will not only benefit the other ministries, but the church as a whole.
Celebrate the unveiling- Communication is imperative at this point. Church members who fear change may be wondering what is happening. To help them ease into a new transition, have elders or other established leaders communicate changes at vital points throughout the transition. Encourage them to communicate it in a positive way so people are not conditioned to fear change. Help them to be an advocate for change, rather than someone who rallies members to buck against change. Once a new vision and mission are established, celebrate it. Put in on bulletins and other banners as a way for people to memorize the new vision and mission. Challenge them to pass out business cards and other advertisements to people in their community so everyone can be on board with it. This will create an overall sentiment of excitement and possibility of people coming to faith because everyone is in agreement about the church, where it is headed and where it is going.
Change is inevitable. We can choose to have a wrong perspective and ignore or fear it. But with the right perspective, change can enhance your relationship with God and allow your ministry to flourish.
1 Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese? (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1998).
Two Publishers. five attempts and many tears later, my new book This is Really Us: What the Hit TV Show Teaches Us about Faith, Hope and Life is available! This book highlights the Christian parallels between the themes and character of the hit TV show This is Us teaches Christians how to view and interact with the bible and pop culture. I have ten copies coming to my home. If you would like to purchase a copy, please let me know and I will reserve a copy for you. I should have them the week of October 22.
This book, among many things recently, have been a lesson in perseverance. No matter what I did to get this book to upload, I was blocked. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to quit! But perhaps I am to share this to encourage someone today to not give up on something the Lord is calling you to do. Through this experience, I learned two important lessons:
1) Anything worth doing will be painful- It's not always easy to see at the time, but looking back I know I will have done the right thing by not giving up when times got tough. And the joy of knowing the lives I may touch through this work-- that makes it all worth it.
2) Where God is, Satan is not far behind- Recently I watched a movie called The Finger of God. In it, a group of Christians set out to demonstrate the Holy Spirit around the world by healing the sick, driving out demons, etc. In one scene, the group felt the impression to go into the streets of California to find a man named Mike. Once they found him, they learned Mike was a recovering drug addict who was having severe back pain and had recently lost a loved one. After praying for healing, another man emerged from the group. Clearly tormented by a demon, they prayed for that demon to leave. However, the man asked them to stop because the physical and emotional pain he experienced was too cumbersome for him. As we do God's work, Satan will be lurking, waiting to steal, kill and destroy. We are called to do God's work, but Satan will do whatever he can to thwart God's plan.
The link to the book is here:
However, if you can buy it directly from me, please do so. Amazon's new deals with third party sellers means much less royalties for the author.
Thank you for your support!
I am about one week away from releasing my book This Is Really Us: What the Hit TV Show Teaches Us About Faith, Hope and Life. In this book, I compare the themes and characters of the show to that of biblical people and themes. Because of this, I want people to see the Bible in a new way and be able to apply it to their lives-- including their TV sets. It will be released on Amazon in print form, but you can also put it in an order in the store section of this website. Wish me luck!
On March 27th, ABC changed television again with its premiere of the Roseanne reboot. Filled with laughs and touching upon relevant cultural topics, the show opened to 18 million viewers, knocking the Big Bang theory and Young Sheldon out of their respective two spots as number one show and comedy. Fans of the show (myself included) watched not only to laugh their cares away but also to see exactly what the Connor clan has been up to over the past twenty- five years. The Connors were the epitome of the working class family of the eighties and nineties and this reboot is no exception. Roseanne, now working as an Uber driver and Dan still taking contracts for drywall jobs still struggle to make ends meet, as Darlene tells David in one episode that they made “a decorating choice called poverty” after he comments her room is exactly the same way it was after all these years.
But their decorating choice isn’t the only thing that makes Roseanne both a comedy and tragedy. As I have tuned into my nostalgic side and re-watched the original Roseanne episodes, one of the pervasive themes of the show was that Dan and Roseanne wanted better for their children than they had. Married at eighteen, Dan and Roseanne struggled to put food on the table and the electricity going (although in one episode in an earlier season, they couldn’t quite make that happen.) The original Becky (played by Lecy Goranson) is depicted as a struggling widow waiting tables at an Italian restaurant (that looks eerily similar to the same place Roseanne and Jackie owned their restaurant the Lanford Lunch Box for several seasons.) In the first episode, Becky meets a woman (played by second Becky Sarah Chalke) who wants Becky to have her baby in exchange for $50,000, of which she eagerly accepts. When Dan and Roseanne refuse, Becky retorts that she doesn’t want to have to worry about money anymore and if she has this baby she can be worry free for quite some time. She has never moved on from Mark’s death (real life actor Glenn Quinn died in 2002) and she struggles to pay her rent and move on with her life, which was the same way we left her in 1998. Married at sixteen, Becky soon regrets that decision as she learns Darlene is going to college and has turned down a copywriting job making $30,000 a year, more than any Connor has ever made in his/her life. When Becky lies about her age in the reboot, she quickly learns she has a slim to no chance of ever having a child, something she at one point put on hold to go to school. No children to speak of, a dead end job and barely making ends meet seems reminiscent of the same life she mocked her parents for in earlier seasons.
Similarly, Darlene has come home to take care of ailing Roseanne and Dan, which we quickly find out is a lie. Roseanne reveals that Darlene has lost her job, has no money and has moved back home from Chicago because she has no place to live and has a pending divorce from David looming over her head. Roseanne replies that Darlene is “her little loser” as she cries from embarrassment (a characteristic un common for Darlene’s previously quick witted, resilient character.) Darlene, who had shown promise despite being married to David after getting pregnant with Harris at nineteen, now proves yet again the struggle gene is genetic.
The only bright spot is previously weird kid DJ (played Michael Freshman). He, and his wife have both served in the military and have one daughter together (who ironically has little screen time in the first five episodes.) The same brother whom Becky and Darlene mocked for years as being someone who wouldn’t amount to anything because of his quirks has become the bright spot in the Connor family.
As much as I have laughed at the poignant and humorous jokes Roseanne provides, I can’t help but shed a tear or two. In a similar vein as the Gilmore girls reboot where the last four words Rory utters to her mom (“Mom, I’m pregnant!”) reveals in an instant all the fears Lorelai had that her daughter would turn out like her has come true, turning Rory into yet another statistic. The Connors are not different, its children living out the same concerns Dan and Roseanne voiced over all those years.
As Dan said, “The classics really do hold up.” While this is true, it is also true that
history has indeed repeated itself for the Connor clan.
MICHELLE S. LAZUREK is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year, the Enduring Light Silver Medal and the Maxwell Award, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She is also an associate literary agent with Wordwise Media Services. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.
I must say this year's season finale was definitely better than last years' show. Last year we found Jack and Rebecca embroiled in one of their biggest fights yet. This is where we, as the audience understand Rebecca wants more out of life and Jack wants her to acknowledge that he and the kids are enough. This leads to a temporary separation where Jack lives at Miguel's house for a while. This year, however, Rebecca is the first person we see in the beginning scene, walking down the aisle to her vow renewal with Jack for their forty year wedding anniversary. It's like it was meant to be. However, there is one person missing throughout all of it-- Toby! The groom for Kate's wedding is missing in all of her dreams of her parent's ceremony. Kate figures out she needs to "make room for Toby" in her life and let go of her dad's influence.
Personally, I found it a bit disturbing that Toby does not appear in any of her dreams. If she is getting married and the man she is supposed to marry isn't in any of the dreams about wedding, then what does that say about their relationship?
I love that we finally got a chance to learn a bit more about Toby's background with two divorced parents fighting over alimony payments and concerned about his health. Their concern does not go unfounded even with Toby's protests because in the final scene where Toby is struggling with depression again. The last sequence also reveals Kevin with new lady Zoe (Beth's cousin) on a plane visiting what we think is Vietnam, as well as Randall, aged about ten years, visiting Tess and asking her "You ready to see her?" with an uneasy Tess replying "I'm not ready yet."
So Fogleman and gang have presented us with three new questions to ask ourselves as we wait with great anticipation for next fall: Why is Kevin going to Vietnam? Who is the "she" Randall and Tess are going to see? and, why is Toby struggling with depression? Feel free to comment below with your thoughts. I'd love to hear what you have to say. Here are my thoughts:
1) Tess is going to see Beth who has recently split from Randall due to the tension of having Deja around.
2) Toby is struggling with depression because either their dog Audio died or they lost another baby.
3) Kevin is going with his new wife (yes, I said it) Zoe and they are going to Vietnam to visit a child his uncle had while he was at war, or visiting his uncle's tombstone.
It's questions like these where we come to love This Is Us more and more.
And in classic, "worst case scenario" fashion for season three: "Fogleman never answers our questions and it becomes another show like Lost. Go!"
As I mentioned in my last post, I, in partnership with biblestudyexpo.com, are featuring two Christian authors on my blog. Yesterday I featured Michelle Cushatt. Today, meet Carey Scott, author of the book Uncommon. For more info, please visit her website at www.careyscott.org. Below are her interview questions:
Do you travel much?
I'm such a homebody, so I don't travel a ton. When I do speak in different cities though, I have a great time meeting new women! They can be crazy-fun and they love me well! But I'm always ready to get back to my home and family because they love me even better... most of the time.
How do you spend your time when you're not writing?
Gosh, when am I not writing? LOL. I've had 3 books published in 4 years, including Uncommon which released in July of 2017 and Unafraid releasing July of this year. Writing keeps my crazy tucked in, so it's actually something I really enjoy doing. When I do step away, I love watching my daughter crush the volleyball, listening my son wow me with his scientific knowledge and watch movies with my husband.
If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
I would be a dive master. I love the ocean and everything in it. I've been scuba diving since I was in high school, and that was a long time ago.
Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
I love the big hair bands of the 80's. Like a lot. When I'm having a bad day, I turn up the stereo and sing at the top of my lungs. It changes my mood almost immediately. I love it. Also, I have a sword -- a real sword -- that I pray with sometimes. Maybe it's the weight of it in my hands or holding something to symbolize the battle... but it helps me feel like God is with me and I can overcome anything.
Were you good at English?
I was! I've always been good at writing, but not all writing is the same. I had to learn how to write non-fiction and express myself succinctly. Finding the shortest, most powerful way to say something took practice and patience.
What do your friends and family think of your writing?
My husband is very proud of me. He's my biggest fan and brags on me all the time. My mom worries because when I write I bleed onto my keyboard and she knows it's hard to be so vulnerable. My friends always wonder if the stories I tell are about them. I feel very supported by my tribe. They make what I do... doable.
What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you?
Too many to mention, actually. But I'll tell you what my family finds the most amusing about me -- ordering food at a drive thru. For some reason, it stresses me out. I feel pressure. And it makes me nervous. I forget what everyone wants, I order the wrong items and I can't make up my mind. I cannot explain why fast food ordering unravels me. LOL. And while it hasn't always been this way, it is now. And my family laughs every time.
What is your favorite movie and why?
I love The Help. Seriously. I watch it all the time. I think I appreciate the boldness it took for the characters to write the hard stuff. I love the courage it took to be real in a world that glorifies the fake. And the shift in confidence in each of them encourages me to be brave.
What process did you go through to get your book published?
My first book, Untangled, took over a year of my agent shopping it around to different publishing houses before it was picked up. During that time, it changed titles and direction. And it was brutal to continue getting a "no" from one house to the next. When I finally received a "yes" ... I kinda freaked out. I had a crisis of confidence, afraid I couldn't actually write this book. But I did. God continued to show up. That's when I discovered how close I feel to Him when I write.
Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Hopefully working on another book, continuing to speak to women around the world, visiting my kids at college, enjoying my husband more than ever... and finding God in every bit of it.
Welcome to the christian Women Speakers blog expo! In partnership with biblestudyexpo.com, I am featuring two Christian authors and speakers who have blessed my heart tremendously with their teaching. The first is Michelle Cushatt, bestselling author, podcast host with Michael Hyatt and a woman with a powerful testimony. Below are some interview questions regarding her new book I Am (found at www.iambook.net) so you can get to know her and her work better:
Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
I usually write on a topic I’m neck-deep in the middle of wrestling. That means, I write in spurts. As God is teaching me a certain truth, I might write and write and write over the span of a few days. Then, I let it ferment for a while. I do additional research, prayer, study. As God opens my eyes, ears, and heart to understand more, I’ll return to the book and edit, revise, or add accordingly. Writing isn’t a black-and-white process for me, as it really takes places in the trenches of my real and raw life.
How do you find or make time to write?
Good question! Some days, I have no idea. :) As of right now, I still have three of my six children living at home, which means my day-to-day parenting responsibilities are significant. In addition, I lead a mastermind for Christian women in leadership, record a podcast, coach numerous leaders and communications, and travel and speak around the world. I’ve discovered that for me the best way to tackle big writing projects is to schedule one weekend a month to hunker down in a hotel or AirB&B away from home and write like a mad woman. I can get more accomplished in those three to four days away than I can get done in a whole month at home while juggling work, marriage and kids. My other secret writing window? 5:00 in the morning, before anyone else in my family is awake.
What book are you reading right now?
Only one?! I’m actually reading about 6 or 7 books right now! A couple of my favorites include The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning, Making Sense of God by Timothy Keller, and The Question That Never Goes Away by Philip Yancey.
What do you to relax on a weekend?
I read as much as possible, work in the yard, or go for a walk, hike or run in the mountains. Oh, and NAP. A perfect weekend always includes a good long nap.
What is something you want to accomplish before you die?
Such a great question, and one I contemplate often as someone who's survived cancer three times and has no guarantee of a long life. In truth, I feel quite grateful with what God has already allowed me to experience and accomplish. My forty-six years of life have been quite extraordinary, and I savor the gift. However, I would still like to see my children’s children someday and be a “Mimi.” I’d also like to hike a few more Colorado 14er mountains and travel to Israel. Israel has long been a dream trip of mine, and it just hasn’t happened. YET.
What is your favorite childhood book?
I loved, loved, loved the Little House on the Prairie series. In fact, I’m pretty sure I read through every volume at least three or four times.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I sat down to write my first articles, stories and books because I needed some way to make sense of the complexity, confusion and suffering of my life and faith. I had so many questions, things I didn’t understand or know how to reconcile with the God I grew up believing. Writing was therapy, a means of unraveling all the knotted emotions and doubts, and helping me to see Truth. In short, writing helped me find the presence of God in the middle of the mess.
When did you decide to become a writer?
It wasn’t so much a decision as an accidental stumbling. Well over a decade ago, I was leading a women’s Bible study at my church that grew from a handful of women to over 80 in a very short amount of time. As a result, I needed to find a way to stay connected with each woman. It was impossible to touch each one at our Tuesday night Bible studies! Thus, I began writing weekly devotional emails to the group. This became my way of personally investing these women that I loved. Over time, those emails became blog posts, then articles and eventually books.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
Oh, I have so many favorite authors, so many who have deeply impacted my spiritual life and writing life! Corrie ten Boom was, perhaps, my first female writing hero. Her story, ruthless honesty, and absolute faith in God in spite of the unanswered questions were fuel to my teenage faith. Since then, writers like A. W. Tozer, Brother Lawrence, Charles Spurgeon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C. S. Lewis, Philip Yancey, Henri Nouwen, Jill Briscoe and Dallas Willard have continued to fuel that fire and have helped me navigate the deeper waters of faith and life. These authors wrote (write) with a humble and courageous honesty about their humanity. I'd like to think I’ve borrowed a bit of their bravery as I strive to write with that same authenticity.
Tell us something about yourself not many people know.
I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and hold an active nursing license. I haven’t practiced in two decades, but I keep my license “just in case.”
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