Resources

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I am a firm believer in learning from our experiences, and if there's one thing that cancer has taught me, it's to slow down and savor life. I am a deeply committed, type-A overachiever. I like to be busy. So it's hard for me to just. stop. doing. When I was forced to do just that last fall and focus entirely on my health and my family, I found a pace that I fell in love with.

I entered 2014 with a resolve to simplify my life. The first thing I noticed is how truly difficult it is to live simply. It soon became clear that if I want my family to eat more simply (and healthy), create wiggle room in our routines, and truly focus on what matters in life, I would need to make some tough choices. It won't just happen; I would have to be intentional about it.

So when I was presented with the opportunity to review Tsh Oxenreider's new book, Notes from a Blue Bike, I planned to decline, proud of myself for drawing some much-needed boundary lines. Then I read the subtitle to the book: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. Well, given my new lofty goal of simplicity, it would just be irresponsible of me to not review the book, wouldn't it?

So I agreed, and I'm so glad I did!

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Tsh's warm and conversational writing style drew me in instantly. It was less like reading a book and more like chatting with a friend over coffee, hearing about her wild, overseas adventures. I flew through the short chapters easily. Who wants to wade through long and cumbersome chapters in a book about living simply? Tsh nailed it here...short and to the point.

I quickly realized Tsh understood my goals, as well as my dilemmas, in achieving a simpler life. After returning from life overseas, Tsh found herself in the midst of the North American chaos to which most of us have grown accustomed. Realizing her new life competed with her longing for simplicity, Tsh created a list of five areas in which her family would live with intention: food, work, education, travel, and entertainment.

To live with intention means to make little daily choices that resonate deeply in our souls.
~Tsh Oxenreider

The principles Tsh shares for pursuing simplicity, and the wisdom with which she applies those principles in her daily life, are easily worth the read. Yes, living intentionally takes time and energy, and Tsh shows you how to make it completely doable.

Here are some of my takeaways from the areas Tsh addresses:

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Food
Tsh introduced me to the term "slow food":  contrasting the fast-food culture by growing (or purchasing locally), cooking, and eating good, clean food. I love it! As a cancer-fighter and mother of a child with multiple food allergies, overhauling our family's diet has become a pet project of mine. Plus, she set my all-or-nothing personality at ease with her 80/20 principle: "If 80 percent of my family's food consumption involves whole, seasonal food made with care, then we're doing all right. The 20 percent is the sprinkles on top of the ice cream. Literally."

Jobs

Work
Tsh shares a story in this section of visiting a friend who introduced her to the concept of a "boundary stone" which was simply a tangible reminder to work with intention. Tsh explains it this way, "To give myself the time and freedom to create my best art, and to confidently turn down those roles and opportunities that aren't the best fit." As a chronic people-pleaser, I sure needed that one...anyone else?

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Entertainment
Tsh's honest struggle with her family in this area was refreshing...to simply know that we are not alone in the battle is comforting. And to know that she has made intentional choices that fit her family reminds me that, with a little work, it is possible. My favorite line from this section: "When we're intentional about what we watch, it's a lot more interesting to watch it."

Tsh explores two other areas of living intentionally, education and travel. She writes beautifully and compellingly about each, but I'll let you read those for yourself. I don't want to give away all her wisdom!

If you find a longing somewhere inside for a quieter, simpler life, it won't be easy. It will take intentionality and perseverance. But you don't have to go it alone, Tsh has bravely paved the way for us. And if simplicity is a quest you're on, you might want to pick up this handy little guide to help you along the way.

We were made to live slower than our fast-paced Western culture deems normal. But it means paddling upstream through strong currents. ~Tsh Oxenreider

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signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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If you're new here, Friends on Friday is where I feature one of my fabulous real-life
friends who is making a difference in her world....

Friends on Friday

I am so excited for you all to meet today's Friends on Friday guest. You may not be familiar with the name, Madi Walker, but in our house she's kind of a rock star.

We first met "Miss Madi" (as she's known around here) a couple of years ago when she was teaching Little Miss's class at church. Little Miss adored Miss Madi, and as a young college student, she seemed to be the perfect choice for a babysitter. Was. She. Ever.

She's the type of person who....

  • Shows up to babysit with bags full of craft and gingerbread-house-making supplies.
  • Always stops to hug your kids at church no matter how busy she is
  • Sings to a frightened little girl at camp until the girl finally falls asleep (then writes a song about it)
  • Sponsors a girl through Compassion International , even as a struggling college student herself
  • Writes and records not one, but two albums before she's 22.

Did I mention she has a fantastic voice and a passion for singing about all God has done for her and others? So when Little Miss declares she wants to "sing like Miss Madi" someday, I think to myself, "Yes! Go for it!"

My kids love Miss Madi because her smile is contagious and she's just so much fun to be around. I love Madi because she is exactly the type of person (on stage and off) I want my kids to look up to.  I know you'll love Madi because she is incredibly gifted as a person and a musician.

Ladies and gentlemen, Madi Walker....

madi-walker
Little Miss and her hero, "Miss Madi"

I'm Madi. I am 21 years old- soon to be 22! My birthday is six days away, so if anyone has an all expense paid trip to the beach laying around, you know... 🙂 Speaking of the beach, I LOVE THE BEACH! It's my favorite place in the world.

Other facts about me: I work in the Elementary Department at my church. I have an identical twin sister, and I love chai lattes with extra foam. My favorite color is blue-any shade. Also- I'm madly in love with Jesus...and single. 😉

Madi's Latest Project: Names (released August 1, 2013)

Names
Madi's second album, Names, just released yesterday.

Names was inspired by everyday life. I am a pretty laid back person, and I was just thinking one day about why I want to sing. Really, it's the small (or big) every day moments that inspire me. My friends and family have so many stories and I wanted to write songs that would speak to them, but also relate to the rest of the world.

It's crazy how much humanity has in common- grief, hope, love, fun, life... So Names is a collection of story songs. The name of each person who inspired a song is printed beside the song title. It's been a super fun project, and I love seeing the way the Lord is using it in people's lives.

Order it now at www.madiwalker.com OR on iTunes!!

{The song "His Grace" makes me cry...every. time. That song along is worth the price of the entire album! ~Nancy}

Madi's Heart for Compassion (and a Girl named Edna)

Edna is a girl I've been able to sponsor over the last three years through Compassion, International. Recently, I got to go to Tanzania and meet her and her infant daughter. It was seriously the coolest thing I've ever done! It was so awesome to see her and her home and her baby- all these things she had written me about.

As amazing as it was, it was a heartbreaking experience because I had to leave her there. I know Edna has hopes and dreams for her life, but it is sad to know that she is still fighting poverty every day. Life for a single mom is not easy anywhere, but it's especially hard, and even dangerous, in Africa.

When Edna graduates the Compassion program (within the year), I am allowed to give her a gift of up to $2000, which would help her finish her education and get a good job. Her dream is to be a radio broadcaster; if she can get her degree, she already has a job offer in that field!

So I am selling T-shirts to raise money for her graduation present. Check them out on  my website!

Madi's Music
My ultimate hope is that through my music and my life people will find Christ. He is my purpose and my passion!! I also want people to be encouraged- to know they are loved and beautiful and worth it. Also I love to make people laugh and remember the simple joy of life! {Love that! See why she's a rock star? ~Nancy}

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A Few of Her Favorite Things
1) Family! I have four sisters and wonderful parents. I love being around them, talking about them, and...well, being around them! I can't get enough!!

2) The ocean. I love pictures of it, songs about it- I love the way it smells and tastes and looks. I can just get lost watching waves come and go. I am a huge surf documentary fan, too 🙂

3) Music! Really- almost any kind (not a huge fan of scream-o haha). I like concerts that are just acoustics and not too loud. I love finding and listening to new music.

4) Traveling!! I would go across the country or the world- doesn't matter where! My favorite places I've been are Ethiopia and Nicaragua. I absolutely feel at home there.

5) Kids-all ages and sizes. Kids are honest and to the point. I love their compliments and criticisms. And I love that they call me Miss Madi 🙂

Want to learn more about Madi, or contact her? Here's how...

Visit her web site: www.madiwalker.com (Buy her album...and a couple T-shirts..and join the mailing list while you're there!)

Follow her on Facebook , Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube.

Or go "old school" and send her an e-mail at info@madiwalker.com.

Just in case you can't wait to click over and hear Madi's music, here's a little treat for you... (If you're reading this in e-mail, click here to view the video.)

Don't miss the other fabulous women we'll be meeting through Friends on Friday! Enter your e-mail address in the box to the right, and you’ll get new posts delivered straight to your inbox!

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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Recently, I was thinking of the many fantastic women I am privileged to know. I began wishing everyone knew them and had a chance to hear what they are doing. So, I had this idea for Friends on Friday. Once or twice a month, I will feature a friend who is doing something incredible to impact her little corner of the world (and sometimes far beyond her little corner).

These are women I admire who make me want to be a better woman, wife, mother, sister, neighbor, and friend. They give of themselves, their time, and their money to invest in others and do amazing things.

Today I'd like you to meet my friend Rosann at ChristianSupermom. I met Rosann a few months ago through an online writing group. I have to admit, I wasn't sure we'd be friends at first. I mean, being friends with a "Supermom" seemed like a lot of pressure.

But the more I watched Rosann encourage the other women (myself included), my respect and admiration for her grew. You can't encounter Rosann and not be encouraged by her warm, sweet spirit. Once I learned her story, I realized if anyone had a reason to be discouraged, it was probably Rosann. And here she was spreading sunshine everywhere to encourage the rest of us.

I realized she's just like the rest of us, striving to be the best she can in all areas of life...her faith, her family, and her ministry. Well, why don't I just let her tell you all about it.

Friends on Friday

Thanks for having me, Nancy!

Author Photo 200 x 200My name is Rosann Cunningham. My husband and I have been married for 11 years. We have three daughters - Lauren (my step-daughter) is 24, living in CA. Faith is 8, and Abby is 4.

Our home life is centered on our love for God and each other, but we are definitely not a perfect family. In our estrogen-dominant house, it’s a rare day when my husband doesn’t have to talk one of us drama-filled girls down off the ledge. In fact, I’m certain he could have been a hostage negotiator! He’s so mellow-tempered with a calm voice of reason. God definitely equipped him for life with us!

When the drama’s at rest, we are easily found snuggled up together watching movies, going for walks around the neighborhood, having dance parties and giggle fests, or (funny) all sitting in the same room with iPads or iPod Touches in our hands.

Christian Supermom
Don’t let the name of my blog scare you off. I’m a Christian mom and wife, yes. And I'm on a journey to become SuperMom for God’s glory. I truly want to be a great mom and wife! I know many people think SuperMom ideals are unrealistic. I disagree.

In Proverbs 31, there’s a description of The Wife of Noble Character. I refer to her as a biblical SuperMom, because she does it all, and with so much heart! I believe God made this passage a part of His word for a reason. Not to discourage us by pointing out our failures, but to inspire each of us to reflect the wholesome, hard-working, God-fearing characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman in our own journey of womanhood.

At ChristianSuperMom.com I share about motherhood, marriage, life and faith in hopes of building community and friendships, where together we can each discover our own inner SuperMom and be the women God created us to be. I pray we’ll be better today than we were yesterday, and that we’re always hope-filled and inspired to do God’s kingdom work with joy and for His glory.

Rosann's new project, Refuel Your Inner Supermom
In September 2012, my father-in-law passed away suddenly. Added to a decade of major trials and hardships for our family, it left me in an emotionally paralyzed state. I felt burned out and lacked focus. I let my homemaking responsibilities slide and lost passion for pretty much everything, including writing and my online ministry.

After hearing about a 31-day writing challenge in the blogosphere I decided to force myself into the challenge knowing how therapeutic and healing writing has always been for me. It worked! The idea behind this book was born. For 31 days I showed up at my computer and wrote on a different motherhood, marriage or homemaking topic, and God used those words to minister to me in the process.

What I hope women get from this book is that life is messy and hard. We have seasons that are absolutely awesome and we have seasons that are take-your-breath-away debilitating.

God doesn’t want us to wallow in misery during those tough times. He wants us to seek Him and grow!

He wants to help us bring good from the bad, but to do that we have to be willing to lift our heads, get out of bed, take a shower, hug our children and our husbands, and engage in life. One day at a time. One step at a time.

Refuel Your Inner SuperMom 3D eBook cover 250x250Refuel Your Inner SuperMom takes moms on a journey to getting their SuperMom groove back by getting organized, focused, and smiling again. Loving their children and husband well. Glorifying God. And building their legacy.

Not Just Supermom: Unemployed Faith
I have a huge heart for families facing unemployment. I stumbled unknowingly into leading a ministry when my husband had an unexpected season of unemployment. But I’m confident it was a part of God’s plan for me all along.

UnEmployed Faith started as a book, written out of pure obedience to God, after I had been contacted by blog readers experiencing unemployment in their homes. These women all had the same question for me: How do you cope with your husband being out of work for so long? They felt alone, weary, judged, conflicted, angry, resentful and bitter. I completely understood the emotions of being married to an unemployed man, because I felt them in my own situation. I was heartbroken thinking of all the marriages struggling because of our failing economy.

So what started as a book has grown into an encouragement blog and a private community group in Facebook where women with out-of-work husbands can come together in online prayer and fellowship. It’s not a place for husband bashing. It’s a safe place to release the emotion, so they can then continue to encourage their husbands, lift them up, cheer them on in their job search and build a stronger marriage through their hardship.

A Few of Her Favorite Things:
Outside of family and God, I would have to say (not necessarily in this order):

1. Dark chocolate or Peanut Butter. Even better - the two combined!

2. Running. Give me a pair of Asics and an iPod with Christian worship music and I’m loving life! The further the distance, the better.

3. My Nikon D60. It used to be my husband’s camera, but the moment I learned how to use it, I developed a major passion for photography, and I always have the camera with me now.

4. All things Apple. My iPhone, iPad Mini, Mac Mini and my iPod.

5. Gardening. I love getting my hands in the dirt and watching seeds grow and turn into food. God’s creation just keeps me in awe!

Want to know more about Rosann?
Visit her at ChristianSupermom.com or UnemployedFaith.com and connect with her on Facebook.

Refuel Your Inner SuperMom and UnEmployed Faith are both available for sale on Amazon Kindle.

Don't miss the other fabulous women we'll be meeting through Friends on Friday! Enter your e-mail address in the box to the right, and you’ll get new posts e-mailed to you as soon as they’re published.

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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It's the second day of Spring, and we're hunkering down for a possible 6+ inches of snow later today. This has my kids a little confused. Last night Little Miss kept repeating, "So today is the first day of Spring, and we might have a snow day tomorrow?"

Bless her heart, it's a little hard to comprehend. This is Missouri, not Massachusetts! By mid-March we're usually gearing up for capris, flip-flops, and Easter dresses.

Oh yeah...Easter. That's next week. YIKES!

In case you're not feeling all that Easter-y just yet, you're in luck. My friend Fawn at Instead of the Dishes has asked me to stop in and talk about how we celebrate Easter at our house. So today I'm sharing some of our traditions as well as some new ideas I've found to try this year.

kids-ears

Won't you "hop" on over (sorry, I couldn't resist) to see how we celebrate Easter with these two crazy kids? 🙂  Click here to continue.

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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Have you ever attended a marriage conference and found yourself thinking any of the following?

  1. I paid how much for this?!
  2. What exactly are they eluding to?
  3. When are they going to get to the stuff I can relate to?

I have, too. Then I attended Mark Driscoll's Real Marriage Tour. This is not your Mama's marriage conference! This is REAL...real issues, real conversations, real struggles, real solutions.

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If you aren't familiar with Mark Driscoll, he is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington and has written many books on Christianity, doctrine, and theology.

If you are familiar with Driscoll, then you're also aware of his signature style of humor and sarcasm and his in-your-face, brutal honesty. The Real Marriage Tour is no different.

RMarriage
My best friend, Hubby, and me...excited to have a sitter      and be out on our own!

We laughed...gut-splitting, belly-jiggling laughter...from the moment Mark took the stage and described his late-night trip to Waffle House when he arrived. (Welcome to Missouri, West Coast Boy!) We were instantly entertained and engaged. Driscoll isn't all about the laughs, however. And he isn't afraid to tackle some really tough issues.

...continue reading

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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Last Friday night was a big night for our family. We saw a movie...together...in a theater!

We don't take our kids to the movies that often. (Who am I kidding...we don't go to the theater without our kids that often!) Forget the outrageous ticket price or the "highway-robbery" cost of the snacks (it's popcorn and oil, folks, not liquid gold!). It really comes down to the fact that there's very little in the mainstream media that we want etched into the minds of our children.

So when we heard about The Lost Medallion, we were intrigued.

When Daniel Anderson (Alex Kendrick, Courageous, Fireproof and Facing the Giants) visits a foster home to drop off some donations he is quickly roped into telling the kids a story.

The story he tells is about Billy Stone and Allie, two teen-age-friends, who uncover a long- lost-medallion and then accidentally wish themselves back in time. Will the experience give them a new understanding of who they are and what their lives really mean? Daniel finishes his story to the foster children with the Truth about their tremendous value to God, who loves them and created them. The story not only changes the children, but is bound to change all who see the movie.

(Synopsis taken from www.thelostmedallion.com) ...continue reading

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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As parents, our job is never done. From the time the little bundle comes home from the hospital, there's the feeding and the cleaning and the washing and the wiping.

Baby Liv
A very tired, new mama in 2005 with my Little Miss.

Then there's the ABCs, the 123s, the colors, the shapes, and the identifying every...single...object. As they get a little older there's the tantrums and the meltdowns, the discipline and the attitude adjustments, the refereeing and the supervising, and still the feeding, the cleaning, and the washing. And the list goes on...

And on.

And on.

That's why I'm always excited when I find a resource that makes my job a little easier and helps me do it a little better. And when it's something I know my kids will love, it suddenly has my attention.

So when I first discovered We Choose Virtues through a friend's homeschool blog, I was all ears.

My oldest was already learning about "character education" at her public school. They were doing a fantastic job of it, but I felt they were missing a key component: I want my kids to not only have good character; I want them to have biblical character. What exactly does that mean? For me, ...continue reading

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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I cannot believe Valentine's Day is in two days! Each year I have grand goals of creating memories in the days leading up to February 14 by making crafts, homemade cards, and fresh-from-the-oven yumminess, and of course doing it all while talking to my kids about love and giving to others.

Then before I know it, it's February 13, and I'm running to the store for boxed Valentines then staying up way too late to label them and attach ridiculously-small stickers so they are ready to be delivered the next day. When will I learn?!

In case you're a last-minute mom like me, here are some fun ideas I've found around the blogosphere. If there's no time left this year...well, that's what Pinterest is for, isn't it?

For the Kids Share-The-Love20 Acts of Kindness Printable (love this idea...fun and character-building!
Definitely Pinning this one!)

55-page coloring page packet (free download)

 Super Easy Valentine's Rose craft

From the Kids
Melted-Crayon-ValentineMelted Crayon Valentine (I so wanted to do these this year,
but never got around to actually doing them...maybe next year)

25+ Candy-Free Valentine's (such great ideas!)

Fingerprint Photo Frame (so cute, and so easy....great idea for a grandparents' gift!)

 For Your Valentine

Soda Pop Valentine from herecomesthesunblog7Soda Pop Valentine

Duty-Free Coupon Book

French Fry Cookie Valentine (so creative!)

Yumminess
valentines-dat-treat1 Valentine's Treat: Milk & Cookies (so simple!)

42 Valentine's Day Desserts (yummm!)

 Marshmallow Pops (these are adorable!)

How about you...are you a Valentine-crafting guru or a last-minute mom like me?

Whether you're cutting and pasting tiny, homemade hearts or making a midnight run for pre-printed cards, be sure to treasure those you love in the coming days!

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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So, here we are a little more than a week into the new year. How are you doing on those resolutions?

Yeah, me too.

Actually, I don't do resolutions. "Resolution" seems so absolute, so do-or-die. I prefer the term "goals." That's much more doable...something I'm working toward, rather than a "pass or fail." If I don't quite reach the goal, but I'm closer to it at the end of the year then I was successful.

So, here are some of my GOALS for 2013: ...continue reading

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

Guess who's on Twitter now...yep, li'l ol' me!

twitter-bird-white-on-blueSome of you are probably thinking, it's about time! While others may be thinking, What in the world for?!

Let me just say, until recently I fell into the latter category. I mean, I understood the concept of "tweeting," I just wasn't really sure why I should do it (which is exactly how I felt about Facebook and blogging at one point, and now look where we are!) Then I came across a couple of articles that inspired me.

For those of you familiar with Michael Hyatt you know what fantastic business and leadership resources he makes available on his blog. I came upon two of his posts about his Twitter experience. In one, he explained the benefits of Twitter, and in the other was a simple step-by-step guide to getting started. That was enough to convince me to dip my toes in the water.

So if you're on Twitter, I'd love to "tweet" with you. You can follow me through the link in my sidebar.

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It's not too late to join the Thirty for 30 Challenge. Click here for more details.

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.