Overcoming Obstacles in Life and Business

Recently two of my kids and I went on a road trip to The Paper House in Pigeon Cove, Massachusetts.

I had visited the paper house with my mom when I was a child, but I had not been back till the other day. It was nice to see it looking just as I remembered.

The Paper House was built by Mr. Elis F. Stenman with the help of his family. Work on it began in 1922. It was lived in during the summer months in the 1920’s.

My visit to the paper house got me thinking about all the obstacles he had to overcome in order to complete such a project. It also got me thinking about the obstacles which we have to overcome in life, entrepreneurship, business and blogging.

I have no idea what gave Mr. Stenman the idea or the desire to build a house made of paper but I am fairly certain he had no guide to follow.

Just like so many things in our own lives, I’m sure Mr. Stenman used the process of trial and error, along with some yankee ingenuity to figure out how to make walls of newspaper (215 layers thick). I’m sure he used trial and error and had to overcome many obstacles to figure out how to make furniture from newspaper which could actually be sat on and used and figure out which coating would stand the test of time. 

The walls are made of paper

All of the furniture is made of rolled newspaper

When I entered the words “overcoming obstacles in life” into a google search this list of four points was the first result which appeared (it comes from inc.com).

  1. Embrace Self-Awareness
  2. Use Time to Your Advantage
  3. Commit to Focused Discipline
  4. Engage Your Own Creativity

While I do not disagree with these points, I believe there is more to it… much more.

Let’s look at each point from a Christian perspective.

1. Embrace Self-Awareness:

To me this phrase screams of new-age and humanism. If I were to rephrase this from a Christian perspective I would say “Embrace Who You Are in Christ”.  God created us each unique and amazing. He put incredible abilities in each of us to give us the ability to overcome obstacles when the need arises. That is what we should be embracing; who we are in Him! 

2. Use Time To Your Advantage:

Time is a funny thing. Time can either be a positive or a negative and it all really depends upon our heart and if we have truly given our desire over to the Lord.

Sometimes we start out to undertake a particular project. We push and push the project forward only to be met with roadblock after roadblock, obstacle after obstacle. If we are not in tune with the Lord, we have a tendency to keep pushing, often with an overwhelming, obsessive drive almost as if racing against time. We can even convince ourselves it is of the Lord when in all actuality, it is really of ourselves. Obstacles are often a sign to slow down or even to completely change course. The sad reality is that often when someone is in this situation, they can’t see it for themselves but many around them can.

On the other hand time can also be a positive and can be used to push us on to completion. For example, when we are in tune with the Lord’s plan for our lives and following his plan, a time deadline for a project is often beneficial to bring the project to completion. A deadline can be a great incentive to overcome obstacles.

Don't race time. Be willing to wait on the Lord. Be willing to put your project on the back burner for awhile. Anything pushed forward before the Lord's time will more than likely face much difficulty.

3. Commit to Focused Discipline.

If I were to rewrite this phrase I would say “Commit to Focused, Disciplined Prayer, and then Commit to Focused, Disciplined Work”….I know, it’s wordy. We could also use a phrase which is on a sign in my office which reads “Work as though it depends on you, pray as though it depends on God”.

If you are undertaking any project concentrated time of prayer will not only help you avoid some of the pitfalls but will give you clarity and help you in overcoming obstacles.

4. Engage Your Own Creativity

How about we use “Engage The Creativity God Put In You”. I think that is a good 4th point for our Christian list of ways to overcome obstacles. God has given you incredible gifts and talents which were given to you to be used for His glory. If you are walking with the Lord, are in tune with His plan for your life and your projects, then you probably have the ability within you to overcome the obstacles you will face. Tap into that creativity.

Sometimes tapping into that God given creativity means getting right in the midst of things and figuring out how to do something, maybe learning something new. Sometimes it means that God has given you the ability to tap into the talents of others around you. Either way, He has either equipped you to accomplish what He is leading you towards or He will send the people your way to bring it to pass.

The clock has newspapers from every state capital

Some questions to consider as you move forward in your entrepreneurial/blogging journey:

  • What are the obstacles in your path?
  • Are you ignoring any of the signs which may be meant to help you change course? 
  • What creativity did God put in you and how can you use it to overcome your current obstacles?
  • Have Christians in your life who care about you said anything to you which can either confirm your plans or be warning signs?

What obstacles are your working on overcoming today?

How to Write Your Testimony - and a Giveaway

WOO HOO!!! We have a new resource available which we think you are going to LOVE!!!

And it's FREE!  We all love free right? It can be found in the members area.  To access the members area fill out the form below. 

To launch this exciting new resource we have a giveaway going on. Details on how to enter are down below

HOW TO WRITE YOUR TESTIMONY is our latest resource to help you share your God story.

HOW TO WRITE YOUR TESTIMONY will walk you step by step through the process of writing your testimony.

It comes with worksheets and ideas for what to do with your testimony once you have it written. 

We're so excited to hear about your testimony getting written and your plans for sharing it with the world. 

If you just want to access this resource and are not interested in joining the giveaway, simply fill out the form in the sidebar, you will be emailed the current password to our member area where you can access HOW TO WRITE YOUR TESTIMONY as well as other resources.

Now for the giveaway:  

Watch this video to see the giveaway items: 

This giveaway includes a box of beautiful cards to color One is Psalms to color, the Other is Proverbs to color. Two winners will be chosen, each will get one box plus a variety of items perfect for art or mixed media journaling. 

Giveaway
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UPDATE:  This giveaway has ended. Congratulations to our winners. Dianna and Elaine...enjoy your goodies.

To Enter the Giveaway: 

  • giveaway closed. 

Thanks to everyone who helps us get the word out about our new resource HOW TO WRITE YOUR TESTIMONY. We are very excited about it being used to help people tell their God story. 

50 Devotion Topics and Ideas

As bloggers and writers we all face it eventually, the blank computer screen or paper.

Devotion topics can sometime be difficult to come up with when we're in a dry spell and the words just won't flow. 

We have heard from many of our readers that having some resources to help with overcoming writing block would be helpful. 

As part of our ongoing quest to encourage bloggers, writers, and anyone else who is passionate about sharing their Christian message, we have a brand new resource available, and it's FREE!

50 Devotion Topics and Ideas

This resource will help you brainstorm devotion topics in those times when you just seem to be coming up dry. We hope you enjoy it and it is a blessing to you. Please let us know in the comments what you think and if you would like more resources like this. 

For the next four days this resource will be available here for download. After that time, the first page will be available in our "freebies" area and the entire resource will be available for free (along with other free resources) in our members area which you can access by signing up using the form below. Once you submit the form you will receive a password. 

How to Write a Devotion: Be Prayerful

Writing on a regular basis isn’t always easy. Coming up with the words you want to use to convey your message isn’t always easy. Sharing God’s Word and His message of salvation and love isn’t always easy. When you put writing and sharing God’s message together through devotions, it isn’t always easy.

How to Write a Devotion- Be Prayerful
How to Write a Devotion- Be Prayerful

Writing devotions is a very precious and important task. Anyone who reads your devotional should be able to find the love of Christ of in it and reading your devotional might be the only time they see an example of that kind of love. That is why we must be prayerful when writing devotions!

Before you put pen to paper, or rather, start typing, pray. Ask God to tell you what He would have you to write about. What message does He want you to impart? Be mindful of what comes to mind as you are praying. Does a particular person come to mind with a specific issue? Does a specific verse pop into your head?

Listen. He will tell you what to write.

Praying before you start writing a devotion will make it so much easier to actual write the devotion. But that is not where you stop praying.

You need to be prayerful throughout the entire process – before you write, while your write, during the editing and proofreading stage, throughout marketing, etc…

Remember that once you publish your devotion, whether it is on your blog, as an ebook on Kindle or in PDF format, or as a physical book, your job isn’t done.

Be prayerful for your readers. Pray that your readers will receive the comfort, love, and encourage that you intended when you wrote the devotion. Be prayerful that your devotion will touch at least one life for the glory of God.

Being prayerful is something so simple that is it often the one step that is forgotten. Next time you decide write a devotion, don’t forget!

Seven Tips on How To Write a Devotion

7TipsonHowToWriteaDevotion

Writing a devotion can offer hope to your readers and inspire them in a way that lectures or plain articles, may not. A devotional is a very well thought out piece about one very minute topic usually focusing on a particular spiritual lesson.

Writing devotionals does not have to be difficult, there are many steps you can take to calm yourself down, get centered and write what God wants you to write.

Yes!  There is something already inside you that God wants you to say. You just have to open your heart to the Holy Spirit, and listen.

  1. Be prayerful -- Before you put pen to paper, or rather, start typing, pray. Ask God to tell you what He would have you to write about. What message does He want you to impart? Be mindful of what comes to mind as you are praying. Does a particular person come to mind with a specific issue? Does a specific verse pop into your head? Listen. He will tell you what to write.
  2. Pick one topic -- After intensely praying about what to write, pick one topic that comes to mind and be very focused on that one topic. It is easy to get carried away writing with all the ideas that will come to you!
  3. Keep it short -- Your devotional should be no more than one page, or 500 words. But it is even better if it's less than 500 words, shoot for 250 words to keep yourself focused on one small laser targeted topic.  This will also help to keep your reader interested and with you.
  4. Know your audience -- When you have your topic, write it to a specific audience, this is known as your "target market" in business, but here, this is your audience. Ask yourself the question:  Who is going to read this devotional? If it helps, write your devotional as if you're writing it to a dear friend.
  5. Check your facts -- Make sure, if you are quoting biblical scripture that you not only check the scriptures to make sure you are not taking something out of context, and that you are quoting it correctly, but make sure you are using a relevant verse to support your devotional.
  6. Inspire action -- Ask the readers to do something at the end of your message in your closing paragraph. That action will depend on what your message was about. You can end with a very short prayer if you wish, but keep it related to the message.
  7. Be yourself -- Remember to be yourself. You're not perfect -- no human is -- and that is perfectly okay. Grammar isn't as important as your message. Do check your spelling with the spell checker, and have someone else read it if you wish, but the message is the most important thing here.

Ready To Learn How To Shape & Share Your Message?

God’s Word + Your Experience & Creativity = Amazing Personal Impact!

Check out Creating Powerful Devotions to learn a simple formula for penning devotions that make an impact in just five steps!

When you think about a devotional, you probably visualize a small, pocket sized book. That’s still a popular format of course – but oh the options we have today!

  • You can publish your devotional on Amazon’s Kindle.
  • You can offer your devotions as an email subscription.
  • You can publish your messages as blog posts.
  • You can record your devotions as a podcast via iTunes.
  • You can deliver your messages on video and publish to YouTube.
  • You can design your message as a graphic to be shared on social media channels.
  • You can mesh your written devotions with blank pages and publish as a Prayer Journal though a service like CreateSpace.
  • You can even blend your devotions with coloring pages – that’s a hot trend!

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CREATING POWERFUL DEVOTIONS!

Also:   Check out our guide "How to Write Your Testimony". It is available for free in the members area. Simply fill out the form below and you will be emailed the current password to the members area. Let us know if you get your testimony written, we'd love to read it. 

Looking for more ideas for writing devotions? Check out this other post:

Introducing Kelly - A Faithful Bloggers Intern

My name is Kelly Mapes and I am a new intern for Faith Bloggers. I am very thankful to be taught by Courtney and to be able to use my gift of writing to bring others closer to the Lord and encourage people of all faiths. I am a happily married, 40 something, with three (almost) grown children. My youngest just left for college and I am faced with a new challenge in my life.... redefining myself. The Lord has been SOOO generous to me and is providing me with work and opportunities, (such as this one) to reach out and share some of the love that Jesus has POURED liberally into my life. I currently blog for the Times-Union in Albany NY but my heart is really about being able to lift people up and give them the courage to REST in their faith and then WATCH what God can do! I will treasure each and every one of your comments (even the negative ones!) I anticipate sharing a piece of myself with you and I pray that it inspires you to possess great faith and walk BOLDLY.

Yours Truly, Kelly Mapes Precious Daughter of the King of Kings :O)

God Knows

Do you notice that when you are having spiritual problems with the Lord, you have problems in other aspects of your life, including your blog?  I do.  If my heart is not right with God, nothing else in my life is right either.  My kids seem to be more argumentative and problematic.  I become unmotivated in my blog and online business.  Everything suffers.

I have found in my online business that I am not making money or living to my full potential unless I am doing God's will.  When I first started out blogging and started MomGiveaways.com, I was doing what I wanted to do and was making a decent monthly income from it.  But it wasn't God's will for me.  I became bored with it.  I never wanted to see another blog giveaway again.  So I sold the site.  The relief and goodness I felt was immediate.  I knew selling the site was God's way of getting me into His will.  I found a buyer immediately and got my asking price.  God was present through the entire process.

So what was God's will for my online business?  A faith based online business.  Almost every site I know own and operate is faith based.  My personal blog, Courtney Speaks, is about incorporating your faith in your business and blog.  Christian Mom PLR sells faith based private label rights content.  My mommy blog, A Mom Speaks, is about my life as a Christian mom.  And you know what?  I'm making more money now then I was with MomGiveaways.com.  I am more satisfied with my online business.

God knows what is best for us, including our blogs.  We just have to listen to what He is telling us and then do it.

Is Your Blog "Established?"

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"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands." -Psalm 90:17

Recently this verse especially spoke to me while I was reading God's word. You see, I have a problem called tryingtodoitonmyownitis. Perhaps you can relate? I see something that looks interesting and I start making plans and lists and goals. I set my sights on achieving my goal and away I go. As I am going on my merry way I usually stumble and fall. Picking my bruised self up I attempt to try again. As always I fall again and soon I am complaining about why everything is going wrong.

When this happens it is usually because I have forgotten something: my attempts and goals and dreams must be established by God. Going at it on my own will never be a successful venture. He created my life, and He ordains it and sustains it. Everything is guided through His hands and I can either willingly follow or muddle up my journey with human attempts.

Now since this is a web site dedicated to blogging I will speak specifically about that. However this is a godly concept that needs to be applied to all of life so keep that in mind. And just for a little background we'll go ahead and look up in Noah Webster's handy-dandy 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language just what "establish" means.

"Set; fixed firmly; founded; ordained; enacted; ratified; confirmed."

Do you remember the podcast with Sarah Mae? She touched upon in an eloquent way how our blogs need to be given over to Him. And what she said was plain truth. If you have not dedicated your blog, your words, your posts and pictures to Him what are you truly trying to accomplish?

We must give our everything, including our blogs, over to Him. He will direct you where to go with your blog. Read His word daily and make sure you are writing according to how He would have you write. Pray about it. Pray about it some more.  Ask our heavenly Father if your blog is accomplishing what He wants it to accomplish. Talk to Him. Give your blog over and say "Here it is, Father! You can have it! Show me what to do."

I would go so far as to say that each and every time you write a post you need to pray that God will give order and foundation to what you are about to write. (And yes, I am doing that with this post. Promise!)

In the end, this is all for His glory.

Photo credits: djweitzner

Using Your Blog for Good

Reasons for blogging are varied depending on who you ask. Some blog to help build their businesses, some for monetary gain, while still others blog just because they like to write. As Christians we are called to do good in all things – “Trust in the LORD and do good. . .” –Psalm 37:3a -  however I will specifically be talking about how we can benefit others through blogging. I will be covering for areas however there are many more ideas that are included in this scope. Do not limit yourselves but be creative on how your blog could be used to shine for Him. I encourage you to seek out His guidance through prayer and to discuss with your husband before you jump into anything. I bring this up because some avenues of serving through our blogs may be very involved. Do not over commit.

Speak out on a certain subject

Whether it be on food allergies, addictions, personal struggles, share with your readers and guests what you have learned. There are times when I have personally benefited from those who have taken the time to research and share on their blogs on certain topics. Two of my children have issues with food allergies. I do not personally have the time to weed through every bit of information out there yet I am able to pick up knowledge from those who have “been there, done that.”

This extends beyond health issues. If you are great at recovering a couch or chair why not make up a blog post tutorial replete with photos? Do you homeschool a child who has problems learning to read? Share in a blog series what has worked and has not worked for that child. What about cooking? Share recipes!

Other ideas might be:

Crafts (with fall and Christmas coming up, now is a good time to share those “how to” tutorials!) Baking Gardening Blogging tips For older women I cannot stress enough how much being a Titus 2 woman and sharing your wisdom with younger wives and mothers is a must. Blogging is a perfect avenue for this.

Get involved!

There are many lovely ministries set up today. One way you could help them out is by writing about them. You could become a Compassion blogger, or write a post about ministries that seek to serve. This must be done with careful and prayerful consideration. Search out the ministry fully before you advocate it on your blog.

Feature Others

Many of us remember what it was like to start up our blogs. There are many new bloggers out there who just do not know how to start. Showcasing them in a blog post would be a way to bless them and introduce them to new friends.

If you see a blog post that has touched your life be sure and share it in a link. I often see links to posts by “popular” bloggers but it would be wise to search out those who may not be considered “A-list” but still have words of wisdom that are just as beneficial. Cliques are rampant in blogland just as they are in real life. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by what you find if you take the time to look outside the box.

Speak in Love

Lastly, always write in love. I know I seem to write this often on my posts for Faithful Bloggers but I feel it needs to be stressed. There are rampant instances of petty quarreling and hateful words thrown about by women bloggers. Remember who you are and to Whom you belong! We are called to shine, to be different. Doing good to others may be as simple as just being quiet and meek when others are yelling and shouting. People will notice and it will bring glory to Him.

Have any ideas on other ways to use your blog for His glory? Please share!

Photo credit: sraburton

What Makes A Blogger A Christian Blogger?

What makes a blogger a Christian blogger?

Is it the the topic of their blog?  Do they have to blog specifically about religion or faith?  What about mom bloggers? Craft blogger?  Or even political bloggers?  Are bloggers only considered Christian bloggers if they tell their readers of their faith?

Here is my definition:

A Christian blogger is a blogger that puts God first in their blog.

There are many ways that a blogger can put God first in their blog.  And just because you may not see any faith related posts does not necessarily mean they are not a Christian blogger.  Of course if they are not writing about their faith it may not always be easy to tell.

What do you think makes a blogger a Christian blogger?

5 Ways to Share Your Faith

Have you ever sat down to your desk, pulled up the screen to write a blog post, and wondered “How can I share my faith through my blog?” Many of us have a sincere desire to write about the love our Father has for us and to inspire others towards seeking Him. How can we effectively do that?

Here are a few ways that may help you share your faith.

Holy Bible
  • Your Testimony – This is sure to kickoff lots of emotion. Your retelling of your personal testimony will produce a passionate post that will touch the hearts of your readers. Real stories always make for the best blog posts and how much better when those stories are all about how God came into your life.
  • Changes God has made in you – Similar to sharing your testimony, giving your readers a look at how you have changed in your Christian walk will show them that you are more than a person behind a computer screen. I have often been able to relate to other blog owners when they open up and are transparent. People like to know that others have the same struggles. They desire to see that they can be changed as well.
  • Devotion ideas - Have any ideas on how to use wisely that quiet time with God? Do you have that personal time at night, in the morning, or while the children are napping? What changes have you made to your time of Bible study and prayer that have allowed for more consistency? We all can learn from our Christian brothers and sisters and for those who have a hard time making devotional time a priority, this may give them the extra boost they need!
  • Favorite Bible verses – What is your favorite Bible verse? Which particular Scripture has given you comfort when you need it? Perhaps a verse that you and your family are memorizing at the moment would be timely for someone else.
  • Where you are stumbling? – Are you struggling and falling in any area? Share it! One of my most popular posts was about where I fall short as a mother. My readers could relate in my shortcomings and I got lots of comments about the fact that they had the same problems. At the same time, my visitors shared ways in which to overcome particular things and I was able to use those ideas. Being transparent, when used wisely, is uncomfortable but may yield eternal benefits.

How have you shared your faith on your blog?

Photo courtesy: ba1969

I Won't Water Down My Faith

I love watching Christian music videos on YouTube.  I find myself doing it on my iphone when the kids are playing at the park or we are stuck in traffic.  Watching the videos help to keep my mind focused and not lingering on ungodly things.  I personally am a big fan of southern gospel music.  I guess that comes from growing up in Texas in a Baptist church. :) So the other day when I was watching videos on YouTube I stumbled upon the song For Future Generations by 4Him.  I haven't heard this song in a long time!  I think the last time was at a concert I went to in Maryland where 4Him was performing about 3 years ago.

So you might be asking, What does this have to do with blogging? Well, I'm getting there. If you pay attention to the lyrics there is a line that goes like this:

So I wont bend and I wont break I wont water down my faith I wont compromise in a world of desperation What has been I cannot change But for tomorrow and today I must be a light for future generations

It can be so easy to "water down" our faith on our blogs.  We might not want to offend anyone or to turn away readers.  But by watering down our faith are we truly giving God the glory He deserves?  Psalms 115:1 tells us, "Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, [and] for thy truth's sake." (King James Version)  It is God we are to give glory to, not ourselves, and we do this for mercy and truth.  Don't our readers deserve the truth?

Do you "water down" your faith on your blog?  I would love to hear your comments and suggestions on how not to "water down" your faith.

I Won't Water Down My Faith

I love watching Christian music videos on YouTube.  I find myself doing it on my iphone when the kids are playing at the park or we are stuck in traffic.  Watching the videos help to keep my mind focused and not lingering on ungodly things.  I personally am a big fan of southern gospel music.  I guess that comes from growing up in Texas in a Baptist church. :) So the other day when I was watching videos on YouTube I stumbled upon the song For Future Generations by 4Him.  I haven't heard this song in a long time!  I think the last time was at a concert I went to in Maryland where 4Him was performing about 3 years ago.

So you might be asking, What does this have to do with blogging? Well, I'm getting there. If you pay attention to the lyrics there is a line that goes like this:

So I wont bend and I wont break I wont water down my faith I wont compromise in a world of desperation What has been I cannot change But for tomorrow and today I must be a light for future generations

It can be so easy to "water down" our faith on our blogs.  We might not want to offend anyone or to turn away readers.  But by watering down our faith are we truly giving God the glory He deserves?  Psalms 115:1 tells us, "Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, [and] for thy truth's sake." (King James Version)  It is God we are to give glory to, not ourselves, and we do this for mercy and truth.  Don't our readers deserve the truth?

Do you "water down" your faith on your blog?  I would love to hear your comments and suggestions on how not to "water down" your faith.