Making Your Phone a Servant Instead of Being Its Slave

On my first blog post, one commenter asked me to write about, “Cell phone management-do you have a smart phone?  How to keep texting + social media in check”.

First of all, phones can be excellent tools for life, business, and relationships.

The problem is, sometimes we get all out of whack and become a slave to our phone, instead of the phone being our servant.

When you can’t go without constantly checking your phone, when you think about it OFTEN, when you stay awake at night checking “one more thing”……you just might be in danger of slavery to some DUMB smartphone!

In answer to the particular questions the reader posed:

“Do you have a smart phone?”:

Yes, I do.  I did not have a phone until my late teens, when it became necessary for my job.  I then got a little flip phone, and updated some time after to an older model basic iPhone.  I have my second iPhone now because the first one wore out. The phone I have now was given to me for a fantastic price by a coworker, but if I needed to buy a phone, I would definitely recommend looking for a refurbished, older one online. But that’s just my opinion.:)

“How do you keep texting + social media in check?”

I have used a number of different ideas + disciplines in this area. Here are some favorites:

  • The JESUS FIRST principle.  For me, the single most distracting thing to early morning time with the Lord is a phone. I choose to keep mine on airplane mode most mornings. It isn’t a legalistic rule, and occasionally I need to send a business or personal text immediately when I wake up, but I shoot for not turning my phone on until I have had my time with the Lord.
  • A MEDIA FAST. Basically, the way I do this is enlist a friend (I’ve got a good one who has done this with me several times!) and set a certain time frame for a media fast. (I’ve done it alone, too, but it’s a bonding thing to do with a friend or sibling. We like to practice “replacement” and make a bigger than usual Scripture memory or Bible study goal during our fast.) For me, a media fast usually includes refraining from all non business social media, websites, and email.  It is always so refreshing and I’ve never regretted going a week or more without these things.
  • Keeping PUBLIC TEXTING TO A MINIMUM. This is something my sis and I made a pact about when we got our phones, and we still keep each other accountable in this area. We decided that whenever possible, we would send text messages in private. It really isn’t that hard to step away from a conversation and send a quick response. I do alot of texting with my job, but if I am at a social or family event or hanging out with my siblings, I can easily see if a work text comes in and step out of the room to take care of it before rejoining the group.
  • Having SOCIAL MEDIA FREE DAYS. This is another one that is huge for me. Although I use Instagram for personal and business, I don’t want to be using it every single day!
  • Use VERY FEW NOTIFICATIONS. I really don’t need to know every time I get an email, or someone posts something new. I can check those things when I have time! I choose to have zero notifications other than text and phone calls. For emails and social media, I have to purposely check, and I like it that way.

Do any of ya’ll have tips on how to manage phones? They sure are handy, but we’ve all seen them become monsters, too! I know neither I nor you want that in our lives, so we’ve got to be proactive! 


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Simple + Fast Ab Workout

Hey friends! Today I am sharing one of my current favorite (and fast!) ab workout routines. This workout is great combined with strength training or cardio, or you can do it by itself for a quick morning ab burner.  I am not a certified coach or a workout professional (by ANY stretch of the imagination!), so please look up these exercises online if the descriptions I provide below don’t make sense. 

Do the following Circuit 2 Times:

25 Leg Lifts: Lay flat on your back, placing your hands underneath your lower back.  Bring your upper body off the ground slightly.  Slowly lift your legs 1-2 feet in the air, and lower slowly till they almost touch the ground.

25 Double Leg Toe Touch Crunches: To perform this exercise, lie on your back with your legs straight toward the ceiling. Squeeze your abs to push your lower back down. Then, crunch your head and shoulders off the floor, extend your arms straight and reach for your toes.

50 Cross Body Crunch (25 each side): Lie flat on your back and bend your knees about 60 degrees. Keep your feet flat on the floor and place your hands loosely behind your head. This will be your starting position. Now curl up and bring your right elbow and shoulder across your body while bring your left knee in toward your left shoulder at the same time. Reach with your elbow and try to touch your knee. Exhale as you perform this movement. (Tip: Try to bring your shoulder up towards your knee rather than just your elbow and remember that the key is to contract the abs as you perform the movement; not just to move the elbow.)
Now go back down to the starting position as you inhale and repeat.

After completing the above 2x (for a total of 200 repetitions), do the following:

2 Minute Plank:  Lie facedown with legs extended and elbows bent and directly under shoulders; clasp your hands. Feet should be hip-width apart, and elbows should be shoulder-width apart. Contract your abs, then tuck your toes to lift your body (forearms remain on the ground); you should be in a straight line from head to heels. Hold for 2 minutes.

50 Plank Jacks: Begin in a plank position, with your shoulders over your wrists, your core braced and your feet together. Jump your feet out wide and then back again while upper body remains in place.

I would be happy to post more on fitness/working out, but I need your help! Which (or more than one) of the following are you most interested in hearing about:

A. diet

B. specific workouts

C. how to fit fitness into a full schedule (try sayin’ that 10 times!:)

D. running

E. other (do tell!)

Have a fantastic day, friends!


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How to Deal with Being Overwhelmed

Hey friends!  So, today I am going to share a few candid thoughts on a topic that I am guessing most, if not every single one of you, can identify with- BEING OVERWHELMED. Sound familiar?

I remember talking to my brother Mitch about this a few years ago, and just telling him what a major problem it was with me. I would get big-time stressed-out over things like a full schedule, big decisions, last minute tasks, leadership, and the list goes on and on.

Maybe later I’ll write more about my journey with anxiety (do any of you struggle with that?), but for now I’m specifically talking about that overwhelmed feeling.  You know, when you feel like you can’t possibly do everything you need to do, or that life is general is just too much?

Can I encourage you with something?  Please don’t stay in that place of overwhelm!

I think that when it comes to this thing of being overwhelmed, we have it all wrong.  It is easy to feel that “I am so overwhelmed” and stay helplessly there. But remember:

Overwhelmed is a FEELING, not a REALITY.

What we need to do is identify how we got to this place and what to do about it. Living in a state of being overwhelmed is not the fullness of life God intended for us.

Here are a few things I’ve found to make a HUGE difference for me when I am getting overwhelmed.

  • Spending sufficient quiet time with Jesus every morning.  Really, this is such a big, big deal.  If I rush through my time with the Lord, or am not really truly seeking to know His heart more on a regular basis, I begin to have major problems.  I have found that I get overwhelmed so much more easily when my relationship with Him is suffering.
  • Speaking the truth to my heart.  The Bible says that David “encouraged his heart in the Lord”. Sometimes we don’t even realize the lies we are being fed or even saying to ourselves.  When getting overwhelmed, I need to tell myself things like, “You CAN do all things thru Christ Who strengthens you”.  Or, “If Christ is for you, who can be against you?”  There are so many verses and truths that apply here.  On the flip side, it is too easy to go down the detrimental road of telling ourselves lies like “No one cares.” or “I can’t please anyone.” or “I am such a failure!”
  • Evaluating my schedule + priorities.  Sometimes when I am getting overwhelmed, it is because I have not prioritized correctly.  There are times when it is helpful to step back and ask, “what all is on my schedule right now?  Are these the priorities Christ wants me to have or are there some good things I need to cut to make room for the best things?”
  • Getting sufficient rest.  Again, this is HUGE for me!!! For some very silly reason, when I have extra much to do I tend to cut back on sleep. Those are the very times when sufficient rest is most crucial!  We are not super-humans- God created night-time for REST and trying to make it on insufficient sleep on a regular basis is not healthy or wise.  Obviously, there are seasons when we cannot control this, but the majority of us have the ability to choose to sleep.:)
  • Seeking Godly counsel.  Sometimes when I am starting to feel overwhelmed, or trying to figure out whether or not to say yes to a particular activity, I call  my dad and ask his opinion.  For me, this has been a super helpful way to get another perspective (from someone I trust and admire greatly) on the situation. I highly recommend finding that person in your life that knows you- personality, priorities, and schedule- well and will tell you their honest opinion/counsel about whatever decision or struggle you are having.

Friends, God is for you!  He smiles on you.  He wants to help you with whatever you are struggling with.



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3 Days’ Hairstyles in Less than 10 Minutes

Day #1: Side Braid

Directions: Start with freshly washed hair.  Scrunch in some gel or conditioner and make a quick roll away from your part on both sides.  Finish in a side braid and secure near the end with a small elastic.

Time: Approximately 3 minutes.

Day #2: Braided Side Bun

Directions: Grab some bobby pins.  Roll your braid into a bun.  Secure with bobby pins.  You’re good to go for the day!  In the evening, take down the bun and leave in a braid for the night.

Times: 2ish Minutes

Day #3: Loose Curls

Directions: Remove hair tie from braid.  Unravel braid carefully, not combing through hair.  You should have loose waves.  Pull a bit of hair on each side away from your face with a bobby pin or two.  Voila!

Time: This one takes me less than 2 minutes- YAY!

Wondering what the big deal is with doing three days’ hairstyle in less than 10 minutes?  Well, girls I am a BIG fan of simplifying daily things that need to be done!  Hair is one of these things for me.  I don’t want to spend hours in front of the mirror.

Leo Babauta said:

“Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.”

Ok, so we know it’s essential to do our hair.  I’m guessing the majority of us ladies don’t wake up in the morning with hair that looks neat and feminine. (If you do, please tell me your secret!)  So, we’ve just identified an essential in life- doing our hair.  However, I think that tons of hair products, and hours every week in front of the mirror weekly arranging our hair………now that seems like “the rest” of this whole equation that can be eliminated!

If you spend 15 minutes a day (as does the average woman) fixing your hair (this does not include washing or blow drying), you will spend 91.25 hours on your hair in a year, or ALMOST 4 DAYS.  Yikes!  In contrast, if you can whittle that time down to 5 minutes per day, you will be spending 30.41 hrs per year, or a little more than 1 day. Now that’s what I’m talkin about!

I suggest the following formula:

  • Find a handful of hairstyles that take only a few minutes.  Try different ones until you find what you like, as you may find some particular styles to work best for your type of hair.
  • Practice doing these hairstyles, even finding what ones work best in sequence in between washing.
  • Rotate these hairstyles on a regular basis, and mix in some more complicated ones when you actually have/want to take the time.

May your hairstyling today be simple + efficient…….you can do it!


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The Gathering Place

Today for some reason I am thinking of the beauty and blessing of the Dinner Table.  Maybe it’s because several days lately I ate a cold salad by myself in my vehicle in between running errands and arriving at work.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind eating alone.  In fact, being alone, and even eating alone, is something I enjoy.  But the older I get, the more I value coming together with family, community, friends, at the table.

The Table is a gathering place.  A place to connect, feel accepted, be nourished.

The nourishing of a good table goes beyond delicious food, and extends to the nourishments of soul and spirit along with food.  And it is priceless.

So what can we do to create a good Gathering Place…..a place where family and friends feel loved, accepted, nourished?  There seem to be a variety of factors that contribute to a truly nourishing gathering around the dinner table, a place where hearts are blessed, bodies refreshed, and spirits rested.  A few things I’ve observed as I’ve been blessed to be part of hundreds of excellent, joyous meal times all around the US, Canada, and Mexico:

  • The atmosphere is warm.  There is acceptance + love.  It is a place to relax, to be yourself, to feel “at home”.

  • The food can be simple or lavish, served on paper or china, but it is thoughtful, and served with love.

  • Enriching words, healing laughter, and (sometimes heated:) discussion flows.  It’s not always all peace and calm, at least not at my family’s table. But it is sharing.  It is community.

And now I would love to hear from you!  What special touches do you enjoy adding to the Table?  In your mind, what makes a mealtime special and refreshing?

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