Life Is Not a 3 Step Formula… (Let’s stop all the lying)

clown stop lying

Man, I must be on the truth train this week but I continue to see a whole lot of things being posted about 3 steps to better lives, blogs, finances, etc. and I am ready to call out the flat-out lies being told…..

I wrote a post around the concern of all this expert advice being dished out and yet I continue to read a bunch of junk about life and blogging.

Excuse me for a moment while I go grab a hanky and start my preachin’….

There is no quick and easy way to a better anything in life or passion. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

I will be the first to admit that I want to believe that I can improve and excel in specific areas by following some mystic formula. I know there are people who hit the big time and appear to be overnight successes, but that is a rare case.

Reality is, hard work cannot be replaced with 3 steps and those promising that are full of themselves and something else….you can figure it out can’t you?

I read a blog post the other day that made my blood boil. I had the hardest time not responding because it involves something in my specific craft. I am author and blogger. I have fought for every inch I have on my social platforms. I have been writing for years and just recently have reached some type of author status (minimal as it might be).

I was published through a traditional publishing agency that just recently closed its doors. I am now in relaunch mode, better equipped, better trained and totally prepared for the work involved in the next few months (and maybe even years).

I understand the value, more than ever, of community and sweat equity.

Anyone that tells you these two things are not important is not being truthful.

Can you write a book? Sure, go for it, but make sure it’s  quality material. Those three steps that blogger shared may be the start to the process but not the end. Get an editor. Learn about formatting or pay someone who has the knowledge to do it properly.

Produce quality work because when the market is saturated with crap work, you are hurting those who actually want to do it right and provide quality reading material….

Was that harsh? Maybe so, but I am tired of seeing these bloggers tell you that if you follow these 3, 4, 5 steps, you will be able to quit your job,become a world famous author and make bank in a month.

And before you think I am “bullying” the bloggers, please understand it easily creeps into the faith community as well.

Nowhere in scripture does it tell you that your relationship with God will bring an easy life. In fact, it tells you that you will be hated and despised and yet, people stand dumbfounded when life gets hard and they are chastised for their belief in God.

Did we read different Books? I am pretty sure I was told that the road was narrow?

If it were wide, everybody and their mom would be walking it. And beyond what we have been told, just because God gives us a heart for ministry or a passion for writing does not mean it will be easy or handed to us. In fact, often times, we cannot even understand how God will work it out…that’s the faith part.

So stop believing that being a Christian means that the road will be easy or prosperous.

Was that harsh? Maybe so, but I am tired of people being fed this prosperity gospel and being swallowed by unsound doctrine.

Absolute truth does not waver based on feelings or opinions or newest trends. If it does, then you might want to check your route.

I am sure this won’t be the last time I share my thoughts on experts or unsound 3 step programs. I am not knocking those trying to advance, but I am encouraging all of us to make sure that we are bettering the blogging world by what we produce. I want to encourage believers to live out a life that is God honoring and not just world pleasing.

There are people watching us. Leaning in to every word we write. Let us lead truthfully.

Life is not a formula….

 

Author Bio:

Sarah West is a homeschool mom, freelance writer and first-time author of Walking the Talk: A Parent’s Guide to Intimacy and Healthy Relationships. Sarah often writes on matters of faith and family, and believes in bringing back the conversation around the dinner table. You can connect with Sarah and keep up to date with her writing through her blog at A Life Inspired, Facebook and Twitter.

Dear Son, Make Your Own Sandwich….. (Love, Mom)

Dear Son go make your own sandwich

 

The other day I hit my limit. I was already stressed due to work deadlines, soccer games and all the many other “priorities” pulling me in a billion different directions.

And the funny thing is, what pushed me over the proverbial mom edge was a sandwich.

It probably did not help that I was running off 12 hours of sleep in the last 24 hours. Again, certain “priorities” demanded my attention more than my bed. So let me paint my moment of total psychosis for you.

My son asked for a sandwich for lunch. We were in the last days of our meal plan for the week. You know the one where you literally have a jar of mayonnaise and empty carton of milk left in your refrigerator?

I made the requested lunch and set it on the table for him. My son entered the kitchen, took one look at the sandwich and freaked out because I had put the mustard on the wrong side. Apparently, there is a method to sandwich making that I did not get in Mom 101.

  • Lay the wheat bread on the plate (I get bonus points for the healthy bread, right?)
  • Place cheese on the bread
  • Spread condiments (aka mustard)
  • Add meat of choice (turkey)
  • Place the other piece of bread on top
  • Cut in halves if preferred

I might as well have spit on his sandwich. He refused to eat it and proceeded to grumble about how he hated the mustard touching the bread. And yes, I am aware there are deeper rooted issue there but I digress.

I highly considered, for longer than I care to admit, opening the back door and throwing the sandwich into the yard. I am sure the birds and squirrels won’t mind the sequence of bread, mustard, cheese, turkey.

Here is my point (if I even have one). There are some things we do for our children and there are some things they need to do for themselves, especially if they are at an age where they can help. My son is nine years old and is fully capable of making his own sandwich. In fact, he is fully capable of a lot of things but I continue to do it for him.

Many moms are just like I am. We do and do and do and before we know it we are off our hinges over a sandwich.

Maybe it is time to step back and let our children step up. It is time we actually teach them life skills instead of making them totally dependent on us. I think we would all be better in the long run.

I struggled for a while with the thought I was being a bad mom when I required them to do certain chores and cooking. The sandwich meltdown actually showed me I was not making them do enough. I want children that can function well in their adult life. I don’t want to raise a man-child. I don’t want to raise a damsel that is incapable of figuring out what to do. Our job as parents is to teach them how to function and to function well. Way too often do we see the opposite in society.

I guess some poor, overworked mom never stopped making their sandwiches.

Author Bio:

Sarah West is a homeschool mom, freelance writer and first-time author of Walking the Talk: A Parent’s Guide to Intimacy and Healthy Relationships. Sarah often writes on matters of faith and family, and believes in bringing back the conversation around the dinner table. You can connect with Sarah and keep up to date with her writing through her blog at A Life Inspired, Facebook and Twitter.

 

Now What? Book Relaunch Team #teamparent

Walking the Talk relaunch teamThe Relaunch Team for Walking the Talk includes parents and other individuals that want to change the conversation around intimacy and healthy relationships. We are a group of people who want to see the future generations thrive spiritually, emotionally and physically! The Relaunch Team is a group of individuals that will help connect communities of parents and churches that want to turn the table on the conversation.

How can you help? There will be several ways! All our giftings are different and when you are operating in your gifting, you bring your talents and passions with you! Here are a few ways you can plug-in!


Social Media
You will be asked to share and tagged your followers on various social media accounts, using hashtags etc. to get the conversation going! There will also be a chance to put up a badge/image on your blog to help connect as well. (If you do not like social media, this may not be the best team to join. The “ideal” team member LOVES social media and is very connected.)


Book Reviewers
If you love to read and want to get a free e-copy of the book after relaunch, this is your chance. In requesting a book, you are acknowledging you will review the book and put the review on Amazon. Reviews are imperative to reaching the digital world. Please remember this is very important and should be taken as such!


Street Team
These are the individuals that will be the hands and feet in the churches/schools and community organizations. You will be the ones that help set up speaking events by sharing information with those in your sphere of influence. MOPS, ladies bible studies, book stores….you are the connectors! Media kits will be given to you to give any potential hosts! I will handle any marketing material. You help me get it out! 


Regardless of which position best suits you, please know you are very needed. The success fo one is often because of the greatness supporting them. That is YOU!

Ready to join? Click here!

Publisher and Book Announcement: Another Door Closes

Walking the Talk relaunch team

 

It is an announcement I had to make. I have prayed and meditated on the exact words I wanted to share with you to explain all of the changes  but everything I thought to say fell short. The writing was on the wall. I probably did not want to acknowledge that there were issues in-house. I went against my gut and tried to do it outside of God’s original plan for me. I am exactly where I was supposed to be in the first place. I have learned many lessons, one being to walk in God’s timing. I have also learned that HE makes everything new and even when we fall short, HE can still use us. I am thankful.

So here it is….

May 31st my Publishing House Booktrope/Vox Dei is closing its doors.

  • What does that mean for my book? June 1, 2016 I get my publishing rights back.
  • What do I plan to do? A set back is often times a set up for much greater things. I have learned a TON of lessons in this journey, some very hard, but ultimately, my prayers were answered by this closure and I plan to do exactly what I should have done the first time- I will self-publish under my own press name (Wiseman Publishing) mid-June 2016.
  • I am a store owner and purchase several copies of you book? What do I do with them? Keep them. If you purchased the book for resale purposes (organizations/bookstores) I was informed you can still sell them under “right of first sale.”
  • What happens now? I have a RELAUNCH TEAM for my book on Facebook. I am asking you all to CONSIDER joining the team. The one thing I ask is that you look and see where you would enjoy helping. One lesson learned the first time around was this: If someone does not like social media, they probably are not the best person to use for social media marketing!!!You can find the team descriptions under the description tab on our TEAM PAGE. If you are interested in joining the team, please click the link and request to join. I will be posting in the group (lightly) over the next few days with ideas etc. but I am trying to finish up the bigger things right now and need to focus on those.I am in the middle of formatting my book and finishing the new cover. I am excited, nervous and terrified all at once!PRAY on this first please. If you know of someone who would be great to join, tell them about it! I will have an image you can save to “recruit.”

Please be praying. A lot of people were displaced and disheartened by this. But this to shall pass….

 

Sarah West

Expert Opinions…..Life and Blogging

opinions mean nothing

I have felt this absolute heaviness in my chest the past few weeks. It is my body’s way of telling me I need to relax, to let go of something that is causing me to feel unsettled. Seriously, my mind feels like a billion different tabs opened all at once.

I feel like my head is going to explode with my never-ending to-do list.

Often when I get like this, I seek out counsel from my friends. But as I have grown older, those that I ask for opinions have drastically changed.

There was one time in my life that all I wanted to do was find people who would tell me what I wanted to hear. I sought out superficial opinions that brought me comfort or approval for what I was seeking. But all too often, I found myself wishing I had sought better counsel. I got what I wanted to hear, but not what I needed.

I have learned in my mid 30’s that opinions come a dime a dozen and one shoe does not fit all. The advice I need is not always easy to hear but always necessary and the person that I allow to speak life into my situation should be someone “qualified” to do so.

Yet, here we are, in an age where everyone has an expert opinion. You cannot get on social media without someone telling you they can change your life, your situation or your finances with one click of a button.

They promise that you will be a changed person in four weeks (or less).

-A better mom

-A better writer

-A better person

-A better Christian

And we trust them because they say to without ever really asking them why we should.

People are very trusting and I am fearful that it is bringing them down a road where they have all these opinions thrown at them yet no real solutions offered. It is just something else on your to-do list.

Am I saying I would never take a course or follow the advice of some? No. There are people who I hold to very high esteem but they have a track record to back up that respect.

….But we are not supposed to question anyone are we? It’s rude, right?

If someone feels they are an expert, even if they only a few months under their belt, who are we to question them?

Just as in blogging, we need to be careful about who we allow to speak over our lives, our families, our passions. I think we need to look at a few things that would make them qualified to weigh in on the areas we hold so dear.

Here are a few key factors to consider before taking to heart the opinions/advice of well-meaning people:

1. Do they have your best interest in mind?

I am not talking lip service. There are many that tell you they care and yet do nothing to back it up. I see it in blogging and life. Where are these people in your daily life? Is the only time they “drop by” when they need something from you? Do you always feel like you are getting a sales pitch? If so, why would you value anything they say?

remember your tribe

2. Do they live by the opinions they give?

Do you see them practicing what they preach ? I have always found it ironic when a doctor will tell his/her patient they need to lose weight and be healthy, yet they smoke a pack a day and are overweight themselves.

Opinions can mean nothing….A life lived out by example speaks so much louder.

3.  What qualifies them to have said opinion?

You might be thinking, “I have to ask my friend what qualifies them to be friends with me?” No, but a friend is going to have your best interest in mind, even when the truth they give to you is hard to give. Second, your friend, though not perfect, will be trying to live out the advice they give to you. A friend that encourages you to be respectful to your husband yet is completely disrespectful to theirs is not an opinion you should hold in high regards.

And this goes with our passions as well. The qualifications might be different in the blogging world but they should be looked into before you buy their line. I do not want to be rude so I will be very vague….. six months in the blogging world does not constitute experience and a title behind a name does not make an expert.

Be careful who you allow to speak direction and life into your passion and your families.

 

 

 

The Differences in Raising Kids Dutch vs Spanish Style

child playing

Guest Post by Tineke Franssen

(original post featured on her blog)

Like many new parents I have to say that the first months with a baby I did not have a clue of what I was doing.

Everything was new. You are getting to know each other and getting used to this new rhythm (or actually, complete lack of rhythm). Of course there are a lot of how-to books out there but I did not belong to the category of pregnant ladies who fanatically start reading everything there is to read about how to pass your days with a newborn.

Apart from the fact that I did not have time for it, when people started recommending me books I also realised that even if I would have the time to do some hardcore baby-studying, I would first have to decide which side I was on…

Opinions on how to raise kids are a world apart between the Netherlands and Spain.

I guess every culture has some kind of one-liner on what is important when educating your offspring and in these you can already see the immense difference between both countries.

In the Netherlands it´s all about the 3 R´s:

  • Rust (peace&quiet),
  • Regelmaat (regularity / consistency)
  • Reinheid (cleanness).

Tight schedules, consistency and strict routines are enforced in the Netherlands.

On the contrary, in Spain, they have the 3 C´s:

  • Cariño (affection)
  •  Calor (warmth)
  • Colastro (food, lots of food) or a lot of clothes

Even if it´s really warm outside and you walk around in a T-shirt, babies are always overdressed; sweating away with a hat and packed in a winter sleeping bag.

 In summary, it´s basically choosing between cold/distant and efficient and warm/close and spoiled.

You have the choice of choosing between no schedule at all and not being able to plan your own day, versus a strict daily planning with consistent eating and napping times (It is completely stressful when something or someone comes and screws up your schedule. E.g. no more spontaneous trips, visits etc.).

You have the choice of choosing between letting your baby cry in her own bed until she falls asleep “so she learns how to sleep on her own” versus having your “baby” sleep on your chest or at least in your bed until she´s 18 (ugh, I don’t like either of them).

You have the choice between a strict visiting limit in the first weeks of 1 visitor a day or having a party in the hospital just hours after giving birth with all the friends of your parents showing up and loads of other people you did not invite.

As I mentioned above, the first months we just did something and went with the flow. However, after a few months of no rhythm I decided it was time for some Northern-European influence, or at least some sort of schedule for eating / sleeping. We also wanted to have a little bit of our life back.

This decision was not always well received here in Spain. For example, someone told us “Babies are not robots, this is not science.” But the most extreme input we got was from the nurse during one of the monthly check-ups: “Pregnancy is 18 months, 9 months inside and then 9 months outside. You should see yourself as a kangaroo who walks around with her newborn in her pouch”.

A kangaroo, really?!

If a pregnancy is supposed to be 18 months, can someone please tell the government that a maternity leave of 16 weeks might be a bit short… Or should I just take him to work in my “pouch”?

I have to say I also got a reaction from the other extreme. One of the directors at work claimed that “Kids are like dogs, you can teach them anything.

Ok….

At that point, I started reading a few books and the famous Gina Ford was recommended by friends as the go-to for baby books. After just a few chapters it was clear that this was not my thing: Gina sounds like some sort of arrogant baby-Taliban  with her super strict routines and schedules (actually very much in line with the dog comment, it´s like training animals).

-feeding / sleeping can´t be 5 minutes off

-no travelling or spontaneous outings are allowed (or only if you can schedule them in nap time)

-and everything that might seem off with your baby is due to the fact that you don´t follow her routines to the letter.

Yeah right!

And even after 7 months, we´re still just doing something. So for fellow newbies out there, don´t despair. Not fitting to one routine is normal!

We did find some sort of rhythm / flexible routine that works for us. As for RRR vs CCC, I am still in an identity crisis and can´t relate completely with either of them. Many “experts” claim that you need to be 100% consistent with whatever route you choose; however, I think we´re doing quite fine with our mix of cold/warm-Dutch/Spanish style parenting!

Meet the Author:

Tineke image

I am Tineke, a Dutchie living in Spain, happily not-married to César and mommy of Lucas. Before becoming a mom I always thought I was busy, however, since we have Lucas the term “busy” got a whole new definition!  And all of that in a country which is not my home country and therefore causes quite some cultural clashes in this whole motherhood thingy.

Want to read more about my adventures as a working mommy abroad?

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Unexpected Beauty

sarah daughter

Guest Post by Sarah Clouser

(original posts featured on her blog)

I love when my daughter notices something that is beautiful. She admires the falling snow, princess dresses, a sunset, nail polish color, or her collection of dolls with an equal amount of unguarded enthusiasm. She squeals, “It’s soooo beautiful!” and then demands that everyone within hearing distance appreciate that beauty. Immediately.

Besides the obvious, she often notices things that most would not stop to admire or appreciate. She does this often, but it still catches me off guard.

 ***

In early winter, we had series of rainy, chilly days that coincided with my husband traveling for work. After the second day, I had reached my limit of the messy commotion of kids trapped in a house all day and had no desire to make a bigger mess in my kitchen, so I decided to venture out for some takeout food.  It was definitely not the ideal conditions to tackle an outing with two young kids on my own. Finding the shoes, zipping the coats, yelling at them to stop jumping in puddles, and then waiting for them to climb into the car left me dripping with rain and annoyance.

Needless to say, by the time they were safely buckled in their car seats, I was regretting my Chinese takeout decision and wishing I had just poured bowls of cereal instead.

The wipers furiously swiped the rain from my windshield as I attempted to tune out the backseat clamor and concentrate on the road. My son was still adamantly insisting that we should have brought an umbrella with us (yeah, that probably would have been a good idea, buddy!), and my daughter kept saying over and over, “This is not such a great day out,” as she looked at the rain pour down on the car.

Now, my daughter has never been much for car rides. She often fills them with complaints and comments such as, “This is taking forever.” My husband and I once counted the numbers of times she said that on a trip home from Ocean City; we stopped after fifty!

As an infant, she would cry when we put the car in reverse. She would cry when we braked at a stop light. She would cry when we turned left.  And, of course, she NEVER napped in cars.  In general, she has always been somewhat grumpy about being in the car, so I have become rather adept at tuning her out.

As we exited our wooded development and then drove through town, we stopped at a red light in front of the local shopping center. The car was silent for one brief, rare moment.  As I tried to strategize the easiest way to get both of them out of their car seats without me getting drenched, my daughter suddenly broke the silence with a small, delighted gasp, “It’s soooooo beautiful.”

I turned around and saw her small hand pressed to the window. “Mom, look at all of the sparkling lights,” she said in awe as she gestured to the drops of rain on the window. Each drop reflected a colored light from the cars and shopping center signs surrounding us.

It was something beautiful. Purple, yellow, green, and pink gems of water shimmering in a gloomy, cold night.

In amazement, she looked from side to side at all of the windows in the car. “It’s ALL so beautiful!” she exclaimed.  She opened her arms wide as if she could take those sparkly drops of water, pull the evanescent colors close, and embrace them forever.

 ***

I hope she holds on to this … this ability to see magic in the mundane. I know she will continue to see beauty in the “cotton-candy” clouds at sunset and the reflection of sun on water, but for how long will she notice the quiet beauty of the everyday “inconveniences” of life?  She recently saw me spill a bag of flour all over the kitchen floor. As I sighed and reached for the broom, she turned to me and smiled, “Look, Mama!  It looks like snow!”

So often I am too busy or too annoyed or too tired to notice the beauty in the day-to-day scenery, mishaps, or encounters of life. Where I saw a cold, rainy night, she saw sparkling gemstones. Where I saw a mess to be cleaned, she saw snow.

As her fourth birthday approaches, this is my wish for her:

My dearest daughter, I wish you a million drops of rain to sparkle and shine around you. I wish for you a lifetime of seeing beauty in the small moments. I hope, no matter how busy, annoyed, or tired you are, you always remain open to the wonder of the world and still declare in your loud, clear voice, “It’s soooo beautiful!” 

 I hope others listen.

 Meet the Author:

sarah bio image

Sarah is a current stay-at-home mom. After years of teaching high school English, she is enjoying focusing on her two children while learning to slow down and look at the world through their eyes. She has learned more about dinosaurs and princesses in the past few years than she ever thought possible. She recently started writing about parenting on her blog, One Mile Smile.