Interview With Alyssa Avant, Author of FaithLeaps

Alyssa
FaithLeaps

 

Today I have the great pleasure of being the host on Day 7 of the Virtual Blog Tour for FaithLeaps: The Christian Mom’s Guide to Passion, Purpose and Profits by author Alyssa Avant. On the last stop of the tour, Alyssa visited Rosann Cunningham’s blog at Christian Supermom.

Below is the great interview I did with Alyssa about FaithLeaps.

Why did you write this book? Alyssa

ALYSSA: I was inspired to write this book several years ago, as I was attempting to navigate the overwhelming journey of working from home.  I had taken a “leap of faith” and quit my part time job and really needed to make an income from home.

Through trial and error, I found my way, but wished I would have had a guide or friend to help me along the way. There is also the issue of passion and purpose, which ultimately is what this book is about.  Yes I talk about working from home and ways to do that, but a stronger theme throughout this book is finding one’s passion and purpose and ultimately profiting from it (not necessarily financially).

What are the two or three main ideas you hope readers take away from FaithLeaps

ALYSSA: There are several main ideas that I hope readers will take away from FaithLeaps.  One of those is that we are all created by God with a God-given passion and purpose.  It is important, I believe, for us to identify and explore that passion and purpose.  Secondly,  I hope that readers will take away from this book that God enables us and can work through us to help us to accomplish our dreams and desires.

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Announcing FaithLeaps Launch and Online Book Study

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Bible study | Christian moms | Christian business

FaithLeaps is a brand-new book from Christian mom and entrepreneur Alyssa Avant. I’ve had the pleasure to receive an advance copy of this book for review.

I gleaned many insights from the book, but I think the most beneficial—and one that has the tendency to slip away from mind first—was that God made me who I am. God gifted me in certain ways. He gave me skills and talents. He has ordained my circumstances.

[Read more...]

Just Tearin’ Down My House—as Usual (The Wise Woman Builds Her House)

wise woman scripture Prov 14.1

wise woman scripture Prov 14.1

One of the Bible verses that stays with me through thick and thin and good times and bad is this one:

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

—Proverbs 14:1 (NIV)

I think I like it because it’s appropriately convicting, yet practical as it offers concrete instruction.
What does it assume? It assumes several things:
  • a woman’s sphere of influence is her house (household)
  • a woman can act foolishly or wisely
  • a woman’s work, tone, words, and countenance are important to her home and family
  • a woman’s actions will strengthen or destroy
I’m not trying to make any blanket statements about where or how a woman chooses to work. Whether you are working outside the home full-time or part-time, working a business at home, working full-time as a stay at home mom, or doing any combination of the above, you have a profound and primary influence on your house.

Desperately Seeking Passion

Desperately Seeking Passion

finding passion, purpose, and profits | God's passions, purpose for lifeMy daughter had a school project due. We headed to Michael’s, which is, of course, a requirement for all school project creations.

Something about that day’s trip was different for me. I don’t know. I’ve shopped in Michael’s hundreds—maybe thousands—of times. But that day, I was nostalgic. I longed to trim photo edges with scallop scissors. The glitter paper begged me to take them home. The sticker sets sprang to life and struck me as immediately useful. The beads, chains, hooks, and stones convinced me that I could make gorgeous jewelry. I even had to restrain myself from reaching for the latch hook rug kits.

I’ve always thought of myself as a “crafty” person. At one time, I was a pretty serious scrapbooker. I’ve wanted to learn jewelry making and quilting for years now.

But realistic, hard-working me has stuffed down these passions in favor for the more practical activities of the day: work, laundry, and errand-running.

But it occurred to me that crafting is one of my passions. Yes, that’s right.

My name is Mary and I am passionate about scrapbooking.

And cooking. And healthy/green/organic living. And keeping my family organized. And following a budget. And writing. Of course, writing.

But I’ve stuffed down all these outlets for creativity, talent, and skill. Most of the time, I believe, I’ve told myself that I don’t have time to do X because I need to be working and making money. And truly money has been a concern throughout the last few years, but I wonder how many times I’ve allowed it to become an excuse, even after its legitimacy has long passed? After that, my mind  has played over and over the mantra: “that’s silly; that’s not valuable/profitable/important; go do something to make some money.”

What passions have you pushed to the side? Has it ever occurred to you that since God has gifted you with those passions, he will and can use them to invigorate and deploy you to actually use them for his glory and your family’s good?

That’s what been running through my brain lately: all of these passions that I have used to describe myself over the years—scrapbooker, chef, family manager, green, writer, reader, teacher—were put there by the Creator himself. How might he use me through my passions to bring him glory and bless my family and others?

What about you? Would you like to wake up your passions? I’ve decided to lead a small group study for a new book, Faith Leaps,  that I just finished by my friend and Christian mom entrepreneur Alyssa Avant. The details of the study are still being ironed out, but I believe we will all read through the same chapter(s) and then discuss those online, probably on a weekly basis.

Will you join me? Will you invite your friends? Leave a comment so that I can gauge interest, and I’ll be in touch soon with more details.

Together let’s take leaps of faith to discover how God will profit our passions and purposes.

I’ve Looked in My House and It’s a Mess

This is not anything new, really. My house is always a mess.

By “house” I mean both my physical dwelling, as well as my mental/emotional/spiritual “house.”

And I straddle sanity between enjoying the permission to be unstructured with the overwhelming desire to “get it together” and get it cleaned up.

The first few weeks of school have been hard for us.  We’ve been dealing with all sorts of broken household appliances and behavior and sleeping issues with the kids while just managing the daily stuff, too.

Trying to juggle it all brings me to wallow in the low-grade guilt that I haven’t kept up with my blog or other online projects. But then of course, I begin to wonder, Why do I feel guilty? Is it awful or earth-shattering that I haven’t blogged on schedule?

I’m pooped.

And I’ve made a really hard decision. I’m turning everything off for a while. I love writing and I love dreaming about having a successful blog/online business. But something is wrong with this picture. When I start hating The Pioneer Woman because she has her own TV SHOW coming out on The Food Network, something is wrong.

I’m hoping that “pulling back” can reveal the truly important stuff.

See, I am not structured. I am not. I am not predictable nor routine. I live by a loose rhythm, I guess you’d say. Which is OK. I think it would be more OK if I just embraced it and sought the positives instead of always beating myself up that I’m “not doing so-and-so.”

And that’s what happens when I see The Pioneer Woman’s TV show promo or read posts from my blogger friends who homeschool their 15 children AND maintain three blogs AND have a book deal in the works. I just start the inner pummeling: If you really want to be successful, write books, have an online business, you’ve got to get with it, young lady. Nothing’s getting done while you’re sitting here playing Words with Friends on your iPhone.

And as true as that may be, I also realize that somewhere in a crucial and important way, it’s NOT true. Because it’s really dishonoring who I am. (And, oh, I’m a dang good Words with Friends player.) The problem is that I don’t know who I am. I know that I don’t thrive in this structured, you-must-Tweet-every-10-minutes-to-stay-viable-in-online-media world, but beyond that? Really—who am I? And what gifts do I bring? And really? What makes me happy?

What makes me happy?

Well, what doesn’t make me happy is jealousy, self-loathing, self-criticism, and constant regrets.

So, I’m off to discover how I can capitalize on how God made me. Why he gave me the gifts, talents, and preferences that he gave me. You know what? I think I’m facing the fact that I don’t think he wants me to be Blogger Extraordinaire OR homeschool my 15 children (kidding! I only have 3, but I don’t think he wants me to homeschool them, either—at least not right now). But I also know that I can’t hear from God when I have so many competing voices and pictures of “success” constantly bombarding me.

So, here’s my plan:

  • I will post here when I feel like it. Not sure what that looks like. I hope you’ll stick around but I totally understand if you ARE a structured person and like to hear from your bloggers on a regular basis. That’s just not me.
  • I’m going to unsubscribe/stop reading the “Blogger Barbies”—those “perfectly coifed” ones to whom I’ll just never measure up. It’s just not healthy for me. To the “Blogger Barbies”: I don’t fault you. I just think that I have an incredibly difficult time looking at you and your accomplishments from afar without comparing myself and obviously, we are differently gifted. But I can’t see that right now, so I must go away for awhile. I just can’t take any more posts in my news feed about how you made an entire clothing line from your discarded newspapers, traveled half-way around the world to minister to starving children, or stocked your freezer with (healthy! organic! made-from-veggies-you-grew-yourself!) meals for the next six months.
  • I do have a few ideas of upcoming projects that I hope to complete. I have at least one eBook in the works, but I’m not sure when/if it will be finished. I’m working on it and have a loose time frame for it. That’s exactly where I want to be with that. :)
  • I need more glitter in my life. Much to the chagrin of my children, I’m setting out to fill my life with glitter. Because? Glitter makes me happy.

I hope I haven’t come across as too gripey. I’m just tired of being a slave to my own emotions and suffocating behaviors. Enough. I’m ready to enjoy my positive attributes and really seek earnestly the ways that God has planned for me to live, work, and play.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you have traveled this road and discovered something new about yourself.

Thanks for reading.

I’m off to buy glitter now.

Easy Back to School Breakfast Ideas

Breakfast at our house can be a challenge, for a variety of reasons:

  • The kids wake up starving.
  • They could eat a country farmer meal in one sitting.
  • I don’t wake up until I’ve had two cups of coffee or it’s 10 a.m. or whichever comes first.

It’s important, then, I have some plans in place to make the breakfast routine go smoothly. One of the most important strategies for a smooth morning is to think about what I’ll be making for breakfast and the types of pans I’ll need. Key to efficiency is having the saucepans, skillets, or cookie sheets clean and utensils handy. I also want the kids to have full tummies with lots of protein, so they’ll be ready to learn.

Some of our go-to breakfast staples:

  • My Fruit Smoothie All of my kids love this. It’s filling and packed with awesome nutrients. I also make it as an after-school snack, which tides them over until dinnertime.

Smoothie Recipe (amounts are approximate)

  • 1/2 cup Good Belly probiotic juice
    (we like mango flavor) (or your favorite fruit/veggie juice)
  • 1/2 cup Strawberry Kefir (or your favorite flavor)
  • large handful each of frozen blueberries, frozen whole strawberries, and frozen sliced peaches
  • 1 large scoop of Melaleuca’s FiberWise powder (citrus flavored)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla flavored organic yogurt

Blend until desired consistency. Add more juice or Kefir to make it thinner; add more fruit to make it thicker. Makes about 6 cups.

I have also been known to throw in a grated carrot or sliced cucumber (and the taste was not affected at all). I’m going to try fresh spinach and beets next. I’ll let you know.

  • Egg Sandwich This one is easy: buttered whole wheat toast with a scrambled egg inside. Other variations include biscuits, bagels, or English muffins with sliced hard-boiled egg.
  • Grits Scramble I have one child who loves grits. She also likes a scrambled egg mixed in.
  • Sausage or Bacon & Biscuits I can buy a super-large bag of frozen (cooked) sausage patties at Aldi. They heat in minutes.
  • Fruit, yogurt, and cereal I always have fresh fruit (melon, banana, grapes, apples) on hand. My kids don’t typically like their cold cereal with milk on top. But they will eat it dry with a cup of yogurt.
  • Peanut butter sandwich Peanut butter is great to have on hand for a quick sandwich. Full of protein.
  • Frozen waffles or pancakes The boys like to eat these with a little Nutella. It’s better than straight chocolate, since it’s got some protein.

What’s your morning routine like?
What are some of your favorite breakfast recipes?
Share in the comments below.

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Ideas for Back to School Routines

Back to school routines: chore chart

Wow. We’re almost back to school, and I’m overjoyed with ecstasy I hate to see the summer end. We’ve gotten into some really bad habits this summer, though, which bears a direct correlation to my Type 1-ness  and my P-ness (on the Myers-Briggs profile), I’m afraid. We’re going to bed too late and waking too late. We’re eating breakfast at 8:30 or 9:00 and staying in our PJs until noon.

So, it’s time to turn this ship around. I’m working this week to put some plans in place and communicate our expectations to the kids. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Back to school routines: chore chart

A chart of what’s required before school in the mornings:

  1. make beds
  2. get dressed
  3. eat breakfast/put dishes in sink
  4. brush teeth
  5. put on shoes
  6. brush hair

Weekly chore routines are going to be consistently enforced (pray for me!), with everyone doing his or her part. Here’s my chore chart; it’s five-columns (one for each member of the family, including Mom and Dad) with these chores listed:

  1. dust living room, dining room, and laundry helper
  2. vacuum living room, dining room, hall (high traffic areas)
  3. clean bathroom sinks, vanities, mirrors, toilets, gather trash/recycling
  4. grocery shopping, food prep, kitchen clean-up
  5. laundry

I use a clothespin with each family member’s name on it. Each clothespin will rotate weekly among numbers 1-3 (those are for the kids), while I’ll take 4 and Chris will have 5.

We will just require these chores to be completed by Saturday at noon. Sunday is a day of rest, and the clothespins move on Monday.

I figure this is the bare minimum we need to maintain order, we’ll all thrive in the structure, and maybe the kids will learn some responsibility skills. The rest? I’ll “catch as catch can” and not worry about it. Really. I can’t. I’m going to be working more this school year and will do well to just keep the wheels turning. Or maybe my dreams will come true, and we’ll get to hire a housekeeper.

We’re also cutting way back on TV and video games this school year. Again, pray for me to be a consistent enforcer, because my kids love their screen time. But I know there are so many more worthwhile and edifying things they could be doing instead.

Isn’t it amazing that at the beginning of the summer I had dreams of our family sitting in circles singing Kumbaya, reading stacks of library books, and doing flash card drills until everyone had leaped an entire grade level in reading and math? And here we are, drowning in our Super Mario Brothers video game addiction and sassy attitudes.

Are you anything like that, too? (Please tell me I’m not alone.)

How are you getting ready for back to school at your house?
How do you handle chores and screen time limits? Share with others in the comments below.

 

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God’s Pruning Me—And It’s Not Fun

Growth (126/365)
Creative Commons License photo credit: LifeSupercharger

I heard a sermon a few months back about the idea of pruning.

At the Bernard house, we’ve learned the hard way that when plants, trees, and shrubs aren’t probably trimmed at certain stages of growth, they become unwieldy messes. Their limbs climb high and awkwardly or stick every which way.

During the last five years, we’ve lost three trees (or substantial sections of three trees) in storms because of our lack of pruning.

Yep. We’re pretty lousy at landscaping, but I digress. (Ahem.)

God, however, is a pruner and a refiner. He knows the right time to clip and crop. He knows how to shave away the awkward stubs.

He knows that dead limbs are hollow nutrient sucks, robbing life from our root systems and preventing real fruit-bearing.

He knows when and where to cut in order to maximize growth.

Ugh. This pruning is hard work. And painful. It’s just easier to let the landscape of our hearts go unattended, isn’t it? (It is in the Bernard yard, that’s for sure.)

For those of us in Christ, we know how our stories end.

But the stuff in the middle? That’s the hard part, right?

I’ll be honest. I’m having a tough summer. Maybe it’s the heat mixed with my kids’ boredom that parches my soul. But I feel particularly thirsty now. I’m counting on my “wild vines” to reach every which way, hoping to find water. When I’m parched, I don’t take cheerfully to pruning.

Yet I submit to the process. Sometimes willingly. Sometimes reluctantly. But I submit nonetheless.

So, what’s God doing?

God is cutting away the superfluous so that I must rely on the slating flow from my roots—his roots—the Living Water.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. —Romans 5:1-4 (ESV)

Oh, and it’s hard. That whole chain of suffering—endurance—character—hope stuff? Couldn’t I just skip that? Because I’d rather get a leaf or two damp than depend on God for sustenance during radical surgery.

But I pray:

God, you show me. You prune me. When I try to medicate with mindless entertainment, show me. When I medicate by stuffing my emotions and emptiness with food, show me. When I medicate by trying to rustle up my own self-worth by engaging in some behavior that’s self-serving and self-congratulatory, show me. Prune me. I want to endure the hardness of the pruning so that I may eventually possess hope.

God, may Jesus be my everything. Take away all my crutches so that Jesus can be my sole support.

Prune those stray branches that are nothing more than death wrapped in empty promises.

Amen.

How does God prune you? 

~~~

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Feeling Overwhelmed? and How to Make $1000 a Month Online

I wanted to pass along two really interesting links for you, especially as we continue to explore issues of time management here.

Overcoming Overwhelm

Michael Hyatt posted a helpful list about how he has overcome feeling overwhelmed. I liked his list and I believe he has some positive things to say.

His major take-away, though?

Delegate and out-source those tasks that are not productive for you.

I get that. I really do. I can see the wisdom in hiring a part-time maid/nanny/cook to take care of my kids, dust and vacuum, keep the laundry moving, grocery shop, and prepare meals (think I could get all that accomplished with ONLY a part-timer? Ha!) while I write and blog on an almost full-time basis.

My biggie question, though, is how do you outsource when you have no way to pay for it? It doesn’t seem wise to go into debt to pursue this business model.

What do you think? How helpful is Michael’s advice for the struggling new business owner who is doing it all because there’s no other option at the moment?

Read the entire post here.

(Thanks, Jennifer Cortez, for calling this post to my attention.)

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How to Make $1000 a Month Online

If you’d like to make at least $1000 per month with your blog online, you should check out this upcoming webinar from Authority Blogger. These types of webinars are every where, but the pitch for this one impressed me, and I signed up. Why? Because the organizers tell you up front that not everyone will become a millionaire online:

Contrary to popular belief, not everybody can make millions of dollars per year while working in their underwear on the computer. It’s just not realistic.

BUT, they say they do believe that everyone is capable of making a nice supplemental income (at least $1000 per month) with their blogs. They say this webinar will give 5 different ways to do just that.

I like that honesty. That’s really my approach, too. I DO believe that most anyone can make at least a nice part-time income online.

So, I want to learn more.

You may want to, as well.

Register here.

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What Is Robbing Your Time?

Last week, I wrote about the commodity of time in our lives. Mainly, I’m interested to explore this further because I live in the middle of a great paradox.

Most of the time, I’m running around, doing a million things and getting crazy amounts of things accomplished: running a home, working a part-time job, shopping, cooking meals, washing laundry, keeping gas in the car, getting to doctor appointments, haircuts, soccer practice, Girl Scout events, and church every week.

Yea. The family runs. Sometimes smoothly. Sometimes bumpy. But we—for the most part—stay on track.

But then I’m confronted with all the things that are not done: bulging closets that need to be organized, creative writing projects, unfinished baby scrapbooks, date nights, cleaning (ahem!) the house. Blogging and my online business.

Some of this quandary comes because I’m a Type 1 woman. I’m full of ideas and plans and see the myriad possibilities in everything. I really don’t think linearly very much; I’m a much more global person, which can be exhilarating and immobilizing at the same time.

Another thing that comes into play is my creative bent and my introvertedness. I really need the benefit of quiet and solitude. I need to disengage from structure often to keep my sanity. I have to be alone with my thoughts—stay inside my head for awhile—until I can reemerge energized and ready to tackle another project or do that routine chore (that has the tendency to bore me to tears).

So, to some, I know I look like I am “wasting time” or misusing the time I’ve been given. I struggle with this judgement on myself, as well.

One of my favorite websites is Grace Gems that features writings from the Puritans. I love to read these nuggets from hundreds of years ago. There’s something about the way they use language that sharpens me and always causes me to think of life and faith in a new light.

What do you think of this one, in light of modern-day time management? If you are juggling a million things and can’t seem to get your time to dovetail properly with your priorities, what can you learn here?

12 Time-wasting Thieves!


by Richard Baxter

… making the best use of the time. (Colossians 4:5, ESV)

… so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:10, ESV)

Thief 1. One of the greatest time-wasting sins, consists of idleness or sloth.

Thief 2. The next thief or time-waster, is excess of sleep.

Thief 3. Another time-waster, is an inordinate adorning of the body.

Thief 4. Another time-wasting thief, is unnecessary pomp and extravagance in household furniture and domestic entertainments.

Thief 5. Another time-wasting sin, is needless feastings, gluttony, and drinking.

Thief 6. Another time-waster, is idle talk.

Thief 7. Another thief which would steal your time, is vain and sinful company.

Thief 8. Another notorious time-wasting thief, is needless, inordinate sports and games–which are masked with the deceitful title of recreations.

Thief 9. Another time-wasting thief, is excess of worldly cares and business.

Thief 10. Another time-waster, is vain, ungoverned and sinful thoughts.

Thief 11. Another dangerous time-wasting sin, is the reading of worthless books, plays, romances, and novels. And also unprofitable studies, undertaken but for pride and vain-glory, or the pleasing of a carnal or curious mind.

Thief 12. But the master-thief that robs men of their time, is an unsanctified, ungodly heart; for this loses time, whatever men are doing–because they never intend to do anything for the glory of God.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV)

As I read through Baxter’s list, I’m smacked with the truth that these “time stealers” are those pursuits we do for selfish motive and selfish gain. When we engage in behaviors or thoughts that we use to make us feel better, look better, or numb our pain, we are, in effect, stealing our time. Why? Because we are trying to control our situations apart from God. We are longing to solve our problems. We want to depend on anything except God.

Yes. I will do anything to wiggle out of my dependence on God. And in doing so, I create more hurt, more heartache, and more—wasted time.

Think about this: God created time. God offers time. When we use that which he made for us and gives to us for HIS good purposes and pleasure, won’t it be more abundant, more useful, and more effective?

Yet when we fill God’s time with our sin, it’s no wonder our schedules, priorities, events, and goals become a mangled mess, while our health and sanity dissolve into casualties of our obstinance.

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