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.


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.


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?





Avoiding the Comparison Trap in Life and Blogging

By Sarah Westa sea of comparisons

I think I could stay connect 24/7 and never fully reached the mecca of the blogging world. It seems that every time I figure out what is the latest and greatest, it changes. I am left scratching my head, scouring the internet for what is trending and deemed successful for the next millisecond.

By no means am I saying that there is not some tried and true methods to all the blogging madness. I am very fortunate to have some individuals/groups in my corner that have helped me successfully navigate some of the forks in the blogging road. However, what I find to be alarming is that many of us are trying to fit a mold that we were never intended to fit. I see a lot of people beating their heads against the social media wall, walking away defeated and confused. If I am not careful, I can easily fall back down that rabbit hole.

Comparison is a slippery slope and one that we all must be careful to avoid.

And falling into the comparison trap is not just part of the blogging world. Comparisons are part of everyday life as well and we can thank social media for feeding that beast.

At any point of the day, you can log on to your virtual world and see image after image telling you how wonderful everyone else’s life is. It can leave you questioning your choices and yourself.

Why can’t my family look like the [Jones] family?

I wish we could go on a beautiful, exotic vacation like our friends.

I will never look like her in a bathing suit.

My husband never brings me flowers.

What’s wrong with my life?

Why does this Facebook page have more likes than mine?

Why isn’t anyone reading my book or following my blog etc.?

You can fill in your tale of woe as you wish, but the point is comparisons are killing us. Comparisons are putting a pressure on us and our families that are impossible to live up to. In fact, the voids we are demanding filled from our jobs, our families and ourselves were never meant to be fulfilled by us, but God.

Is success wrong? Is the desire for more in our life/career a bad thing?

No! The motives, however, behind our why will greatly determine our fulfillment and drive in both our personal and professional lives.

facebook post

I posted a snapshot my husband took of me over the weekend. I wrote above the picture that the same God that created all of THIS is the same God that created US. I wanted to remind people that the God who created such beautiful masterpieces in this world also created the beautiful masterpiece in each of us.

Comparison will rob of us that truth.

Don’t allow your worth to be taken away because of what you see on the computer screen or the lives of others.

You were not meant to fit that mold. Stop trying.

(If you liked this article, you can read more here on the trap of comparison.


A Sunday Thought On Contempt

sundayGuest Post: Naomi Loomis

My thoughts for the last couple of weeks have been on the word: Contempt. I have actually been studying it and praying about it. It has made me take a step back on my own life and realize that I need to fix myself.

Contempt is an emotion and it is a strong one at that. By definition, contempt means to think a person or thing is beneath consideration, worthless or deserving scorn. Sadly, contempt can be found in all of our relationships.

In order to fight against contempt, we must first understand what it sounds like, what it looks like and how contempt makes us feel.

The sound of contempt 

If you’ve ever said, “Oh, I would never do that!” when referring to the actions of other people, you have expressed contempt toward their actions.

If you’ve ever said, “Oh, I would never be like that!”, then you’ve expressed contempt toward a person.

If you have ever been made fun of or disrespected your spouse/friend, then you have expressed contempt toward those you love.

The look of contempt

Have you ever rolled your eyes? If so, you have shown signs of contempt.

Do you have a lack of empathy? If so, you have shown signs of contempt.

If you are the person who was the recipient of contempt/disgust, you are likely to choose to leave the relationship, to spit it out from your life-space.

Most people react to being treated contemptuously with the thought “If you don’t want me, then I don’t want you!”

And when we lose a relationship, who truly wins anything?

The feeling of contempt

If you have ever felt hopeless, you have felt contempt.

If you have ever had to questions your friendship or marriage, you have felt contempt.

WOW, right!!!

I am guilty, what about you?

Contempt is damaging to all relationships, including parenting. As parents, we give a lot to our children and when they are not appreciative or they are disrespectful, we can hold the view that our children are undeserving of the privileges they have. When we journey down the road to contempt, we put all our relationships at risk for a disaster.

So what can we do about it?

Pray to be humble and not hurtful.

Pray that God will help heal old wounds.

We can use, “I” instead of “You” statements.

“I feel frustrated when.…..” or “My feelings are hurt when……………”

Never assume.  

If a friend or husband does something that annoys you or hurts you, don’t assume he/she is doing it on purpose.  Talk to them and tell them your feelings, but don’t blame them for purposelessly being hurtful.

We all have faults, right? We need to pay attention to our own faults and practice compassion.

Listen to understand.

When talking to another person, appreciate what they are saying. Be positive. Being a positive person enhances our relationships. Appreciation, gratitude, affections, agreements, interest and smiles go a long way.

Be respectful.

Don’t let your aggravations and thoughts fester. Talk about your feelings. Talk about your stress. Don’t attack. Don’t assume.

None of us are perfect. We all fall short of other’s expectations and desires. When contempt is removed from the equation, we can begin to get past our broken and distorted expectations of those in our life. More importantly, we can remember that grace and compassion was given to us freely. When we see that God responded in love and not hatred to His people, it can be much easier to see past the faults in other’s lives.

“Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.”

Psalms 119:22

“Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt.”

Psalms 123:3

Meet the Author:

loomis family

Naomi Loomis is a ranch wife, ranch mom and a blogger. Her and her cowboy are raising their family on their Nebraska cattle ranch.

“We all have a story to tell and this is mine.” You can follow Naomi on her blog.

What Becoming a Parent has Taught Me About Grace


Guest Post: Kamsin Kaneko

I’m still new to this parenting thing. It’s a pretty steep learning curve. Some days I think I’m doing OK, some days not so much. But even at 3am, a little boy saying “Mommy hug” can make it all worthwhile.

I treated becoming a parent the same way I treat everything else, by hitting the books. I’ve spent the last 22 months consuming books and blog posts looking for the answers I need. This is totally normal, right?

There is a lot of advice out there. Some of it is judgmental. Some of it makes it all sound so easy if I can just crack the perfect parent code. Some of it is downright damaging to parents and their small people.

There is no one size fits all method to raising good children and being a good parent. Our children are not machines which will function correctly as long as we’ve input the right data. Who knew?

But as I kept reading through all the opinions and judgment, I found advice which was based on current knowledge of how a child’s brain functions.

Various adjectives are used to describe this alternative way of parenting. Positive, mindful, gentle, peaceful. The more I read the more it started to sound like grace.

The science shows that traditional methods of punishment based on punitive discipline don’t work. What our children need is relationship, connection and positive guidance. They need our unconditional love.

Time outs and arbitrary consequences harm your relationship with your child rather than build it. If your child obeys you because they’re afraid of the consequences, what are they actually learning? You only love them and will only provide support when they do the things you want?

You may in fact push the child further away, making them less likely to want to do what you ask.

A small child has no control over all the big emotions and impulses that toddlers are well-known for having. The idea that they are manipulating or faking their tantrums to get what they want is not founded in the science. And think for a moment about what you are feeling when life overwhelms you and all you want to do is shout and throw things on the floor.

Are we not all sometimes a disobedient two-year old? Crossing our arms, stomping our feet and yelling “no, no, no”. Do we need to be punished and sent to bed without any supper or do we just need a hug and someone to listen to our problems?

As a parent we need to help our children learn how to deal with the big emotions that overwhelm them. We need to set clear and consistent boundaries so they know how the world works. And then love the socks off them.

God’s Grace is the ultimate example of a perfect parent

And what does God do when we mess up? Does he withdraw from us and make us stay on the punishment step until we’ve learned our lesson? No, he draws us close. He loves us and keeps on giving us good things anyway.

God wants us to obey Him and follow His guidance because we love Him, not out of blind fear.

His love and favor is based on our being His children, not on whether or not we behave the correct way.

God’s role is not to give us everything that we want. Just like a mother cannot give her child everything he or she wants. There are always lessons that need to be learned and rules that need to be enforced for everyone’s well-being.

Sometimes we have to learn to wait and sometimes we have to learn we can’t have what we want. But God will be there while we have a tantrum about that fact. He will wait while we calm down. Comfort us. And guide us while we find the solution to whatever problem we are facing.

There may be times when God will step in and make the impossible happen. We call that a miracle. But mostly He wants us to grow to maturity and use the gifts He’s given us to find the answers we need.

God has it all under control. He knows whatever situation we’re in will not overcome us. To a toddler it may well feel like the world will end if he doesn’t get everything he wants right now.

When we face difficulties we can feel like we’ll be consumed. God’s role is to sit quietly and let us know we will not be overcome.

So I keep asking myself how I can become a better parent. Perhaps I just need to remember that I am a child too. I am God’s child and I need to spend more time learning from my heavenly Father. He is the source of unconditional love, the model of amazing grace.

Meet the Author:

Kamsin is an Englishwoman living in Yokohama, Japan with her one year old son, her Japanese husband and an American Shorthair cat. She writes about parenting, travel and living a purpose-filled life. You can follow Kamsin on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Go check out her blog, Life In the Key of E!

Kamsin also shared another post on Heartskeeper. You can read it here.

Faith Is More…..

Guest Post: Harriet Wilsonmiracles quote in the mountains

Faith is more than knowing God can…faith is believing God will.

Do you believe in Jesus? It’s a question you have heard countless times in your life. It sounds like a simple question. Do you believe in God? Of course you do. So maybe the real question needs to be what do you believe in when you believe in God?

When many people hear this question, they think of it in its simplest form. Most think that believing in Jesus means believing that He died for our sins on the cross for our salvation. But what more do you believe when you believe in our Lord?

Believing in Jesus is more than merely knowing His history through Bible scriptures and teachings from our great leaders. Yes, we do get a lot of our learning of faith through these great traditions, but believing in Him is more than interpreting verses in a book or listening to someone preach at the Sunday daybreak service. Believing in Jesus is knowing that no matter what you are going through, He will be there with you.

Between the stress of personal and business finances, children and spouses, and the insecurity and regret within ourselves; we tend to quickly forget what faith is. ‘Faith’ simply put means to trust and believe with assurance and confidence.

Do you trust God? Do you believe that He will do all that He promised in your life? Do you have the assurance to believe in Him when the naysayers of life knock you down? Are you confident that no matter what your situation is right now, that He will bring you through your tough times?

I’m not talking about trusting Him when things are going great in your life. Do you trust him when things are out of control and you have nowhere to turn? When the light bill comes and it’s more than what you have, do you still trust him? When you learn your spouse has been unfaithful to you, do you still trust in His word? Or do you take matters into your own hands just for things to be worse than they already were.

Do you believe He will do what’s promised in your life? Many times, we ask God for so much, yet we never do our part in the partnership of prayer. We have dreams and ambitions that we ask God to grant, but never move an inch to help fulfill those dreams. How will that catering company start if you haven’t taken the time to figure out the business costs? How will dreams of owning your own home work if you’re not trying to renew your credit score?

Miracles don’t just fall from the sky because we ask for them. God will always do His part for you. Now, it’s time to do a little for yourself.

How is your assurance plan with God? What is on your contract of demands when it comes to Him? What are His demands when it comes to you? Do you do what God asks of you? Do you follow His word as best of your ability? Or do you believe that He is Santa Claus who gives you your every wish without getting nothing in return. When times get hard, do we still stand in agreement with Him? Can God trust us with trouble?

God will give us the world if we are willing to give ours to Him. How much of your life do you dedicate to God?

Do you serve God with confidence? When God has blessed you, how do you use it? Do you use that to help others or do you use it to tear them down. For some, there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Being confident in God means doing good work in other’s lives instead of looking down on others beneath you. God has a purpose for everyone. And no matter where you feel your life is on the totem pole, He blesses and loves us equally. Use God’s love for good and good will come back to you.

Believing in God is more than knowing He died for our sins. It’s knowing that He loves you. He believes in you. He would do nothing to ever hurt you. God wants the best for his people. He wants the best for us. He wants the best for you.




I’m a freelance writer with a passion for words. My first published article, “Even the perfect blend needs a little separation” was published in October by Play Pen: The Irrelevant Parents’ Guide and has had great success. I am a wife and mother of 3 amazing children who see through me that it’s never too late to pursue your passion.

March Open Submission: Reflect

a season of preparingSubmissions for February are closed but Heartskeeper is now accepting March submissions. The theme for March is Reflect: A Season to Prepare.

Do you find yourself in a season of reflection?  Is God preparing you for the next leg of your journey? How does this season look for you and your family?

If you are interested in submitting an article, please check out Write for Heartskeeper for details!