Monday, January 31, 2011

Voguish Diva Tip #2

For baby soft touchable skin, take medium warm showers that won’t dehydrate you.  Add body lotion to your daily routine.  Apply right after your shower to seal in the moisture (my fave is Bath & Body Works Rice Flower and Shea Body Lotion.  If you tend to have really dry skin, use oil instead - try Nutrogena’s light sesame formula ($9.99 at Walgreens).  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Visual Journaling

of or pertaining to seeing or sight: a visual image (adjective) photographs, slides, films, charts, or other visual materials, especially as used for illustration. (noun)

a daily record, as occurrences, experiences, or observations

Visual Journaling: An artsy-craftsy method of exploring thoughts, feelings, emotions, and experiences. This practice is more tactile than traditional journaling, and has the capability of creating a more visceral experience for the journaler.

To begin, get a sketchbook with a medium weight paper. Compile some basic art supplies - Elmer’s glue and/or glue sticks, acrylic paints, color pencils, water color pencils, and the like. I also gather ephemera that catches my eye or is meaningful to me.

Explore different art techniques ( a great book to help with that is Journal Junkies: Visual Ammunition for the Art Addict.) Your journal entries can be whimsical, brooding, happy, confused, whatever. It’s up to you. The point isn’t to create perfect artwork, it’s to look into yourself and help work out whatever you are dealing with at the time.

Check out these awesome links for more information on visual journaling:

Below are some examples from my own visual journal:

My very first page, noting the day I started journaling.

I was feeling chaotic this day, and it's reflected in the work.

Journal entry the day I found out my grandma was near death.

Exploring thoughts about my life.

Dealing with loss.

Scrapbook style entry memorializing Grams.

I enlisted my nieces help to create this page.

Celebrating my anniversary

Ephemera and drawn exploration of my feelings.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Moments in Marriage: Setting the Mood in the Bedroom

Who hasn’t at one point wanted to create a sanctuary in their bedroom specifically tailored to enhance the atmosphere for hubby and wife?  Here are some ideas to spice up your bedroom Diva Style!
~ Smelly-good candles... I’m sure these have a more grown up sounding name, but I’m a diva, not an adult (ok, I am technically “grown up” but I digress).  Be sure to check with your man first - you want scents that are pleasing to both of you! A super plus with candles:  they glow with lovely soft light.  EVERYTHING looks better in candlelight.
~ Incense... In my opinion, there’s nothing quite so Diva-esque as burning incense.  The intoxicating scent fills the room with mystique and magic... who knows what kinds of sensual things may follow?
~ Table top fountains... the sound of water running invites introspective intimate time, and are fabulous to enhance the atmosphere for giving your sweetie a loving rub-down.
~ Music... it’s a must!!  The right music can make or break a romantic night; obviously heavy metal isn’t the right choice here!  Create a playlist on your i-pod, and enjoy the anticipation that builds in you as you think about how much the love of your life will enjoy it!
~ Clean sheets... I know this may sound elementary, but changing your sheets and making the bed before the fantasy evening really adds to the mood, especially if you put on satin or silk sheets!
~ Sensual Photos of yourself... either splurge on boudoir photos (if you live in the San Fernando Valley or Ventura County, CA check out Blendi at Sundance Photography.  He photos are tasteful and beautiful... my session with her left me feeling like a Victoria Secret Model!) or have a trusted girlfriend snap a few shots of you. If there’s a privacy issue for your room (ahem... children!) then only put them out right before you plan on seducing your hubby - trust me, he will LOVE that you did it for him!
Try any of these or one or two of your own ideas for setting the right mood, and have a blast with the man you’ve chosen to spend your life with, and you’ll have the bedroom diva feather in your cap!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Worship Wednesdays: How to Pray, Week 4

How to Pray, by R.A. Torrey
Chapter 3: Obeying and Praying
One of the most significant verses in the Bible on prayer is 1 John 3;22.  John says, “And whatsoever we ask, we shall receive of Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”
What an astounding statement!  John says, in so many words, that he received everything he asked for.  How many of us can say this:  “Whatsoever I ask I receive?”  But John explains why this is so, “Because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”  In other words, the one who expects God to do as he asks Him must do whatever God bids him.  If we give a listening ear to all God’s commands to us, He will give a listening ear to all our petitions of him.  If, on the other hand, we turn a deaf ear to His precepts, He will likely turn a deaf ear to our prayers.  Herein we find the secret of much unanswered prayer.  We are not listening to God’s Word, and therefore, He is not listening to our petitions.
I was once speaking to a woman who had been a professed Christian but had given it all up.  I asked her why she was not a Christian any longer.  She replied, because she did not believe the bible.  I asked her why she did not believe the Bible.
“Because I have tried its promises and found them untrue.”
“Which promises?” I asked
“The promises about prayer.”
“Which promises about prayer?”
“Does it not say in the Bible, ‘Whatsoever ye ask believing ye shall receive?’”
“It says something nearly like that.”
“Well, I asked fully expecting to get and did not receive, so the promise failed.”
“Was the promise made to you?”
“Why, certainly, it is made to all Christians is it not?”
“No, God carefully defines who the ye’s are whose believing prayers he agrees to answer.”
I then turned her to 1 John 3:22, and read the description of those whose prayers had power with God.
“Now,” I said, “were you keeping His commandments and doing those things which are right and pleasing in His sight?”
She frankly confessed that she was not, and she soon came to see that the real difficulty was not with God’s promises but with herself.  That is the reason for many unanswered prayers today:  the one who offers them is not obedient.
Knowing and Doing God’s Will
If we want power in prayer, we must be earnest students of His Word to find out what His will regarding us is.  Then, having found it we must do it.  One unconfessed act of disobedience on our part will shut the ear of God against many petitions.
But this verse goes beyond the mere keeping of God’s commandments.  John tells us that we must do those things that are pleasing in His sight.  
There are many things which would please God, but which He has not specifically commanded.  A true child is not content with merely doing those things which his father specifically commands him to do.  He tries to know his father’s will, and if he thinks that there is anything he can do that would please his father, he does it gladly.  He does so even if his father has never given him any specific order to do it.  So it is with the true child of God.  He does not merely ask whether certain things are commanded or certain things are forbidden.  He tries to know his Father’s will in all things.
There are many Christians today who are doing things that are not pleasing to God.  There are also many who neglect to do things that would be pleasing to God.  When you speak to them about these things, they will confront you at once with this question, “Is there any command in the Bible not to do this thing?”  If you cannot show them the verse in which their action is plainly forbidden, they think they are under no obligation whatever to give it up.  But, a true child of God does not demand specific command.  If we make it our desire to find out and do the things which are pleasing to God, He will make it His desire to do the things which are pleasing to us.  Here again, we find the explanation of much unanswered prayer.  We are not making it our desire to know what pleases our Father.  Thus, our prayers remain unanswered.
Praying In Truth
Psalm 145:18 throws a great deal of light on the question of how to pray:  “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth.”
That little expression in truth is worthy of further study.  If you take your concordance and go through the Bible, you will find that this expression means, “In reality,” or “in sincerity.”  The prayer that God answers is the prayer that is real, the prayer that asks for something that is sincerely desired.
Much of our prayer is insincere.  People ask for things which they do not wish.  Many women pray for the conversion of their husbands, but do not really wish their husband to be converted.  They think they do, but if they knew what would be involved in the conversion of their husband, they would think again.  It would necessitate an entire revolution in his manner of doing business and may consequently reduce their income, making it necessary to change their entire way of living.  If they were sincere with God, the real prayer of their heart would be:  “Oh God, do not convert my husband.”  Women do not wish their husbands conversion at so great a cost.
May churches are praying for a revival but not really desire a revival.  They think they do, for in their minds a revival means an increase of membership, o income, and of reputation among the churches.  But, if they knew what a real revival meant, they would be not so eager.   Revival brings the searching of hearts on the part of professed Christians, a radical transformation of individual, domestic, and social life, when the Spirit of God is poured out in reality and power.  If all this were known, the real cry of the church would be:  “Oh God, keep us from having a revival.”
Many a minister is praying for the filling with the Holy Spirit, yet he does not really desire it.  He thinks he does, for the filling with the Spirit means new joy and power in preaching the word, a wider reputation among men, and a larger prominence in the Church of Christ.  But, if he understood what a filling with the HOly Spirit really involved, he would think about its rewards.  He would think more of how it would necessarily bring him into antagonism with the world, with unspiritual Christians, how it cause his name to be “cast out as evil,” and how it might necessitate his leaving a good comfortable living and going down to work in the slums, or even in some foreign land.  If he understood all this, his prayer most likely would be - if he were to express the real wish of his heart - “Oh God, save me from being filled with the Holy Spirit.”
When we do come to the place where we really desire the conversion of friends at any cost, really desire the outpouring of the Holy Spirit whatever it may involve, really desire anything “in truth”, and then call upon God for it “in truth,” God is going to hear.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Introduction to the Diabetic Exchange

If you’ve never heard of the diabetic exchange, get ready for a food plan that will literally change your life!  It certainly did mine.  Even if you aren’t diabetic (I’m not) this healthy way of eating can and will benefit you.  It was originally created to prevent diabetics from having massive fluctuations in blood sugar levels; and has actually been proved to prevent pre-diabetics from developing the disease.  What I love about it:  there’s a place for every thing you want to eat.  You heard me:  EVERYTHING.  Once you learn the “exchanges” you have full control over your meal plan without the tediousness of counting calories, fat grams, etc.  You also don’t have to cut out those foods you love - so come on, carb lovers, hop on board with me!
Here are the basics:  Every food is an exchange.  For example, one english muffin is equal to 2 starches.  1 1/2 tablespoons of honey is equal to 1 starch.  So if you only want to consume 2 starches but you want honey on your english muffin, only eat 1/2 of it, and use 1 1/2 tablespoons of honey and your golden - 2 starches.  I’ve listed below the caloric information for each exchange, and I’ve included a link so that you can view exchange lists for further info...
Starches:  These should equal roughly 30% of your daily caloric intake.  One exchange of starch has 80 calories and 15 carbohydrates.  Since most grains also have a little protein, starches can contain up to 5 grams of protein, and usually have between 1 - 3 grams of fat.  
Protein:  Around 21% of your daily caloric intake, proteins are power packed foods like lean chicken, steak, etc.  Each serving (roughly equal to 1 oz) should have about 50 calories, at least 7 grams of protein, 0 carbs, and you should aim to keep fat grams to around 3 grams or less.
Dairy:  Weighing in at 25% of your daily intake, dairy includes yogurts, cheeses, milk, etc.  While low-fat choices are best, you can choose to go with skim or fat free options if your goal is to lose weight.  Dairy exchanges need between 120 - 140 calories, and should contain at least 15 carbs, 8 grams of protein, and between 0 - 3 grams of fat.
Fruits:  Dried, fresh, or frozen work for this category that accounts for about 10% of your daily caloric intake.  Each serving should be 60 calories, have 5 grams of carbohydrates, and contain little or no protein and fat.
Veggies:  Making up only 5% of your daily intake, even non-veggie lovers can make this happen.  Each serving of veggies is only 25 calories and should contain little or no protein and fat.
Fats:  Shockingly, 14% of your daily food intake should come from healthy fat sources, including nuts, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.  Each serving of fat contains about 45 calories and 5 grams of fat.  
In a 1700 calorie diet, which is sufficient for maintaining weight in those who are in their healthy weight range, you should consume 6 starches, 7 proteins, 3 dairies, 3 fruits, 3 veggies, and 5 fats.  For those who need more calories - nursing mothers, athletes, children and teenagers, for example - simply up the  number based on your doctor’s recommendation and figure out the percentages accordingly.   You should never go below 1500 calories, no matter what your weight.  If you are overweight and looking to lose, I would recommend starting at 1700 calories and meeting those exchanges before making adjustments.
For more information on the exchange list, try these links:
Happy Healthy Eating, everyone!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Deep Cleaning Bathrooms, Diva Style

Making your bathroom beyond clean is perfectly voguish and rather easy to do.  Use these simple tips and ordinary household items to achieve a pristine Diva-worthy powder room:
Hard Water Deposits on the Bathroom Faucet:  Try soaking a few paper towels in vinegar and wrapping them around your faucet.  Let sit over night.  The next day, remove the towels, and fill the basin with warm water and some dishwashing liquid.  Dip an old toothbrush in the basin and scrub the faucet to erase mineral build up.    When you’ve finished, drain the basin and use a sponge to clean the sink with the left over dishwashing liquid.  Done and done!
Clean the Mirrors after the Sink:  Most people begin with the mirrors and, because of splashing water, inevitably end up spot cleaning them a second time after cleaning the sinks and countertops.  I always clean the mirrors after I’ve cleaned the sink.  You can use a window cleaning product, or to save-save-save - use vinegar (again!) and a soft cloth.  
Ring Around the Toilet:  Turn the water supply to your toilet off and flush once.  After the water goes down the drain, spray with Lime Away (my second favorite bathroom cleaning toy!)  Let it sit for just a few minutes, and using a sponge, scrub the “ring” away.  Flush and repeat if necessary.  Don’t forget to turn the water back on when you are finished!
Filmy Glass Shower Doors:  Spray your shower doors with vinegar  - have I mentioned how versatile vinegar is as a leaning product? - and let it sit for a few minutes.  Then, mix equal parts baking soda and salt together and with a damp sponge, rub this mixture on the shower doors.  Rinse well.  Voila!  Perfection!
Mildew on the Shower Liner:  Throw it in the washing machine on gentle cycle.  Wash with warm water and a 1/2 cup of vinegar (Vinegar!  The wonder cleaner!)
Mildew in Grout:  As I’m sure you’ve guessed, you’re using vinegar once again!  The acid in this power cleaner will kill the mildew.  Spray and let it sit for a few minutes before you scrub with a brush.  This will remove the dead mildew and leave your grout grunge-free.  If you have stains in your grout, try spraying them with a 1:10 bleach solution (1 part bleach, 10 parts water) and letting it soak for a moment before wiping with a clean sponge.  (Diva note:  You can use the same solution between showers as a cheap “Shower to Shower” product to maintain cleanliness in the damp environment.)
Deep Clean the Bathtub:  For maintenance cleaning, I use a powder product like Comet.  But when I get my Diva baths on and use an effervescent bath bomb and there’s a crazy oil residue left on the tub, I use powdered dishwasher detergent instead.  These are formulated to break up oils on your dishes - and a dish isn’t so much different from a porcelain tub.  Works like a charm!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dinner on a Dime... or a Dollar

Feeding your family on a tight budget can be tough; but thrifty divas enjoy finding yummy, crowd pleasing recipes is greatly rewarding.  Here’s an easy recipe I found at that only costs $1.50 per serving.
Almost Lasagna
Hands On Time:  20 minutes
Ready In:  40 minutes
Yields:  6 servings at $1.50 a pop
1 pound elbow macaroni or small pasta shells
1 pound ground beef, turkey, chicken, or sausage
2 eggs
1 pound ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1 jar spaghetti sauce (24-26 ounces)
2 cups shredded mozarella cheese
2 cups chopped veggies (zucchini, carrots, brocolli, etc)
-Brown meat, drain if necessary
-While meat is cooking, stir together eggs, ricotta, grated Parmesan and salt and pepper.
-Mix cooked meat, macaroni, sauce and veggies.  Add ricotta mixture and blend well.
-Coat a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray or olive oil and spread 1/2 the macaroni mixture on the bottom, topping with a cup of mozzarella and a healthy sprinkle of grated Parmesan.  Add the remaining macaroni mixture and top with another cup of mozzarella  and another sprinkle of Parmesan.  Cover with foil.
-At this point, the whole thing can go in the fridge to be cooked when you’re ready (diva note:  LOVE THIS! Prepare it in the morning so that all you have to do at dinner time is pop it in the oven.  Time saving skills!  Woo-hoo!)
-Heat your oven to 350 degrees F and bake the casserole for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake for another 10 - 20 minutes, until cheese on top is lightly browned and bubbly.
Add a bagged salad, serve, enjoy, and bask in the knowledge that you are one penny-wise diva!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Worship Wednesdays: How to Pray, Week 3

How to Pray, by R.A. Torrey
Chapter 2:  Praying to God
After having seen some of the tremendous importance and resistless power of prayer, we now come directly to the lesson - how to pray with power.
In the twelfth chapter of Acts, we have the record of a prayer that prevailed with God and also brought about great results.  In the fifth verse of this chapter, the manner and method of this prayer is described in a few words:  “Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him” (Acts 12:5).
The first thing to notice in this verse is the brief expression “unto God.”  The prayer that has power is the prayer that is offered unto God.
But some will say, “Is not all prayer offered unto God?”
No.  Very much of so-called prayer, both public and private, is not unto God.  In order for a prayer to really be unto God, there must be a definite and conscious approach to God when we pray.  We must have a definite and vivid realization that God is bending over us and listening as we pray.  In very much of our prayer, there is really only little thought of God.  Our mind is taken up with the thought of what we need and is not occupied with the need nor with the One to whom we are praying.  Instead, our mind is wandering here and there and throughout the world.  There is no power in that sort of prayer.  But, when we really come into God’s presence, really meet Him face to face in the place of prayer, really seek the things that we desire from Him, then there is power.
Coming into God’s Presence
If we want to pray correctly, the first thing we should do is make sure that we really seek an audience with God - that we really get into His very presence.  Before a word of petition is offered, we should have the definite and vivid consciousness that we are talking to God.  Also, we should believe that He is listening to our petition and is going to grant the thing that we ask of Him.  This is only possible by the Holy Spirit’s power, so we should look to the Holy Spirit to really lead us into the presence of God.  And, we should not be hasty in words until He has actually brought us there.
One night, a very active Christian man dropped into a little prayer meeting that I was leading.  Before we knelt to pray, I said something like the above, telling all the friends to be sure, before they prayed, that they were really in God’s presence.  I also explained that while they were praying especially, they must have the thought of Him definitely in mind and be more taken up with Him than with their petition.  A few days after I met this same gentleman, he said that this simple thought was entirely new to him.  It had made prayer an entirely new experience to him.
If we want to pray correctly, these two little words must sink deep into our heart:  unto God.
Pray without Ceasing
The second secret of effective prayer is found in the same verse, in the words, without ceasing.  
In the Revised Standard Version, “without ceasing” is rendered "earnest.”  Neither rendering gives the full force of the original Greek.  The word literally means “stretched-out-ed-ly.”  It is a pictorial word and wonderfully expressive.  It represents the soul on a stretch of earnest and intense desire.  “Intensely” would perhaps be as close a translation as any English word.  It is the same word used to speak of our Lord in Luke 22:44, where it is said, “He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
We read in Hebrews 5:7 that “in the days of His flesh,” Christ “offered up prayers and supplication with strong crying and tears.”  In Romans 15:30, Paul begs the saints in Rome to strive together with him in their prayers.  The word translated strive means primarily to contend as in athletic games or in a fight.  In other words, the prayer which prevails with God is the prayer into which we put our whole soul, stretching out toward God in intense and agonizing desire.  Much of our modern prayer lacks power because it lacks heart.  We rush into God’s presence, run through a string of petitions, jump up, and go out.  If someone asks us an hour later what we prayed for, often we cannot remember.  If we put so little heart into our prayers, we cannot expect God to put much heart into answering them.  
We hear much in our day about the rest of faith, but there is no such thing as the fight of faith in prayer as there is in effort.  Those who want us to think that they have attained to some great height of faith and trust because they have never known any agony of conflict or of prayer, have surely gotten beyond their Lord.  They have even gone beyond the mightiest victors for God, both in effort and prayer, that the ages of Christian history have known.  When we learn to come to God with an intensity of desire that wrings the soul, then we will know a power in prayer that most of us do not know now. 
Prayer and Fasting
How will we achieve this earnestness in prayer?  
Not by trying to work ourselves up into it.  The true method is explained in Romans 8:26:  “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”  The earnestness that we work up in the energy of the flesh is a repulsive thing.  The earnestness created in us by the Holy Spirit is pleasing to God.  Here again, if we desire to pray correctly, we must look to the Spirit of God to teach us how to pray.
It is in this connection that fasting enters in.  In Daniel 9:3, we read that Daniel set his face “unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.”  There are those who think that fasting belongs to the old dispensation.  But when we look at Acts 14:23 and Acts 13:2-3, we find that it was practiced by the earnest men of the apostolic day.
If we want to pray with power, we should pray with fasting.  This of course does not mean that we should fast every time we pray.  But, there are times of emergency or special crisis, when men of earnestness will withdraw themselves even from the gratification of natural appetites that would be perfectly proper under other circumstances, that they may give themselves up solely to prayer.  There is a mysterious power in such prayer.  Every great crisis in life and work should be met in this way.  There is nothing pleasing to God in our giving up things which are pleasant in a purely Pharisaic and legal way.  But there is power in that downright earnestness and determination to obtain, in prayer, the things of which we strongly feel our need.  This feeling of urgency leads us to put away everything, even things that are normal and necessary, that we may set our faces to find God and obtain blessings from Him.
Unity in Prayer
Another secret of proper praying is also found in this same verse, Acts 12:5.  It appears in the three words, of the church.
There is power in united prayer.  Of course, there is power in the prayer of an individual, but there is much more power in united prayer.  God delights in the unity of His people and seeks to emphasize it in every way.  Thus, He pronounces a special blessing upon united prayer.  We read in Matthew 18:19, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven.”  This unity, however, must be real.  The passage just quoted does not say that if two shall agree in asking, but if two shall agree as touching anything they shall ask.  Two persons might agree to ask for the same thing, and yet there may be no real agreement as touching the thing they asked.  One might ask because he really desired it, the other might simply ask to please his friend.  But where there is real agreement, where the Spirit of God brings believers into perfect harmony concerning that which they ask of God, where the Spirit lays the same burden on two or more hearts, there is absolutely irresistible power in prayer.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Crayons as Art

These 3-dimensional wall art projects were perfectly voguish for 3 reasons:
1.  Super cheap - I spent $3 on crayons and $15 on the frames; the rest of the items I had in my ephemera collection (ahem... for those that don’t know ephemera is an euphemism for other folk’s trash that you like a lot.)  
2.  Super easy & fun - each one took me about 30 minutes to complete.
3.  Super cute - If I had a kid, I’d make one to hang on it’s wall.  As is, these are for my sister’s little ones.  I think crayons as art will amuse a 3 year old; or at least appeal to her!
Here are the step-by-step instructions & photos demonstrating the steps:
~ Cut crayons to appropriate sizes.

~ Using Elmer’s glue, adhere them one at a time to patterned paper of your choice, creating the letter of the alphabet you want to make.

~ Choose coordinating papers to make a stripe across the bottom of the page.

~ Choose embellishments for the letters - I decided to cut out butterflies from the same type of paper I made the bottom stripe from.. tip: drawing on the back of the paper allowed me to have a clean edge when the butterfly was turned over. 
I also folded the wings of the butterflies so that they would appear 3-D.

~Adhere the embellishments to the “crayon letter” and to any other spot on the page you’d like.

~Using a word processing program, choose the words you want for the badge at the bottom of the page... print on cardstock or heavy weight paper, then cut it out and adhere it to the paper.

~Lastly, take the glass out of the front of the frame and put your 3-D crayon letter art work into the frame.   Here's a photo of both the ones I made:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Procrastination Blastin'

Psychologist professor Clarry Lay calls procrastination a “temporal gap between intended behavior and enacted behavior.”  In other words, there’s a (l-o-n-g) time gap between you realizing what a diva’s gotta do and the actual doing. We are all familiar with the concept, putting off until tomorrow what we can do today and all that jazz.  Maybe you get “distracted” as I often do by way more fun unimportant tasks.  Everyone procrastinates sometimes, however if you consistently procrastinate, how do you break the habit?
Try these simple steps for more effective time management:
Call a spade a spade.  Be honest - most of you know  when you’re doing it.  If you truly are a clueless diva, here are some ways you can tell...
-Completing low priority tasks first.
-Waiting for the “right mood” to hit before you begin (case in point:  I’m never in 
the “mood to sweep the floor, nor will I EVER BE!  I constantly “wait til I feel like it with this... meanwhile, the floor gets worse and worse!)
-Beginning the task at hand, and then immediately getting up to go do something 
else. (Coffee, anyone?)
-Leaving an important task on your list even though you know it’s important.
-Saying yes to other things (I’d love to go to that movie with you!) instead of concentrating on what you need to do (organizing your tax receipts for your accountant).  
The all important question:  Why?  Figure out your reasons!  Is the task seemingly insurmountable?  Is it boring and tedious?  Are you exhausted?  Does your life feel chaotic?  Do you feel unorganized?  Are you afraid you won’t be able to do it right?  Are there decisions to be made before you can complete your task?
I bid you, fight!  Each of the above excuses reasons (and all other ones we think we can come with, divas!) have an antidote, I promise!  So before you go into tizzy and think you’ll never break free, try these things!!
-Tackling an insurmountable task:  break it down into smaller goals.  Utilize a goal setting sheet to help with this...ask me to email you one if you don't have one readily available.  Ask for help, if you’ve got some friends (or a hubby! :-) who may be willing.
-Approaching a boring/tedious chore:  Put on some energizing music and be like Nike:  just do it!  Give yourself a 5 minute break every 30 minutes or so to do something “fun.”  Use a timer, though, so you really only take 5!
-Handling exhaustion:  This one is tricky with the pace of modern day lives.  So, it’s best to give yourself one - only one - out for exhaustion.  Take a nap if you must, or if it’s late, take the whole night, and come back to the task first thing the next day.  This time, though, you’ve got to put on your School Marm voice and sternly tell yourself to get it done and over with.   
-Facing the music amidst chaos/disorganization:  deliberately plan a space of time in your day to do the deed.  Write it in pen in your calender, and guard that time against encroaching social engagements or anything else that may pop up.  When the golden hour comes, concentrate fully on the task, spending the first five to ten minutes planning how you will achieve the goal.  Then work it like it’s worth it until your allotted time is up!  If you don’t get a chance to finish, do the same thing either later that day or the next day until you get’er done.
-Cleverly finding “something else that needs done first”:  Allow 15 minutes to complete the minutiae before you begin your task.  Go potty, get your coffee, 
water, tea, take the dog out, plug your phone in, etc.  so that when you sit down to work, you can!  If your inner child rebels and thinks of something else that’s yet to be done, write it down and come back to it after you’ve concluded the job.
-The perfect is the enemy of the good!  We are all humans.  Sadly, humans all make mistakes.  Give yourself permission to be a human, and if you make a mistake it’s ok!  It can be fixed.  Don’t let this stop you from achieving your goals!
-Decision Making:  If you’re having a hard time with this, sit down with a pen and paper and list all possible choices you have.  Then, think of pros and cons to each one.  Pick the best choice and move on to doing the task at hand.
Keep in mind that procrastination is often a deeply ingrained habit and isn’t likely to resolve in a day.  But put in the time and effort to change this way of life, and you’ll reap the rewards!  I’m going to get started - right after I finish my coffee!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Voguish Diva Tip #1

Wear an apron when cooking and cleaning.  Why?  It’s fun, feminine, diva-esque, AND it protects your clothing.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Worship Wednesdays: How to Pray, Week 2

autographed portrait of R.A. Torrey

How to Pray, by R.A. Torrey
Chapter 1:  The Importance of Prayer, continued
Freedom from Anxiety
Prayer with thanksgiving, in every care and anxiety and need of life, is the means that God has appointed for our obtaining freedom from all anxiety and the peace of God which passes all understanding.
“Be careful for nothing,” says Paul, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understand, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phillippians 4:6-7)  To many, this initially seems like the picture of a life that is beautiful but beyond the reach of ordinary mortals.  This is not so at all.  The verse tells us how this life of peace is attainable by every child of God:  “Be careful for nothing,” or as the Revised Standard Version reads, “Have no anxiety about anything.”  The remainder of the verse tells us how to do this.  It is very simple:  “But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”  What could be plainer or more simple than that?  Just keep in constant touch with God.  When trouble or vexation, great or small, occur, speak to Him about it, never forgetting to return thanks for what He has already done.  What will the result be?  “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, will keep your hears and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (R.S.V.)  
That is glorious, and it is as simple as it is glorious!  Thank God, many are trying it.  Don’t you know anyone who is always serene?  Perhaps he is a very stormy man by nature.  Troubles and conflicts and opposition and sorrow may sweep around him, and the peace of god which passes all understanding will guard his heart and his thoughts in Christ Jesus. 
We all know such persons.  How do they do it?  Just by prayer, that is all.  Those persons who know the deep peace of God, the unfathomable peace which passes all understanding, are always men and women of much prayer.
Some of us let the hurry of our lives crowd prayer out and what a waste of time and energy and emotion there is in this constant worry!  One night of prayer will save us from many nights of insomnia.  Time spent in prayer is not wasted, but time invested at big interest.
Vehicle for the Holy Spirit
Prayer is the method that God Himself has appointed for our obtaining the Holy Spirit.  
The  Bible is very plain on this point.  Jesus says, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?”  (Luke 11:13).
I know this as definitely as I know that my thirst is quenched when I drink water.  Early one morning in Chicago Avenue Church’s prayer room, where several hundred people had been assembled a number of hours in prayer, the Holy Spirit fell so manifestly that no one could speak or pray.  The whole room was filled with His presence so that sobs of joy filled the place.  Men left that room and went to different parts of the country, taking trains that very morning, and the effects of the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit in answer to prayer were soon reported.  Others went out into the city with the blessing of God upon them.  This is only one instance among many that might be cited from personal experience.  
If we would only spend more time in prayer, there would be more fullness of the Spirit’s power in our work.  Many men who once worked unmistakably in the power of the Holy Spirit now fill the air with empty shouting, beat it with meaningless gestures, because they have neglected prayer.  We must spend much time on our knees before God if we are to continue in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Be Ready for His Return
Prayer is the means that Christ has appointed so that our hearts will not be overcome with indulgence and drunkenness and the cares of this life, For the day of Christ’s return will come upon us suddenly as a snare.
One of the most interested and solemn passages on prayer in the Bible is along this line (Luke 21:34 - 36).  “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.  For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.  Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”  According to this passage, there is only one way in which we can be prepared for the coming of the Lord when He appears:  through much prayer.
The second coming of Jesus Christ is a subject that is awakening much interest and discussion in our day.  It is one thing to be interested in the Lord’s return, and to talk about it, but it is quite another thing to be prepared for it.  We live in an atmosphere that has a constant tendency to make us unsuitable for Christ’s coming.  The world tends to draw us down by its gratifications and cares.  There is only one way by which we can triumphantly rise above these things - by constant watching in prayer, that is, by sleeplessness in prayer.  Watch in this passage is the same strong word used in Ephesians 6:18, and always is the same strong phrase as pray at all times.  The man who spends little time in prayer, who is not steadfast and constant in prayer, will not be ready for the Lord when He comes.  But, we may be ready.  How?  Pray!  Pray!  Pray!  
We Need to Pray
Because of what prayer accomplishes.
Much has been said about that already, but there is also much that should be added.
Prayer promotes our spiritual growth as almost nothing else, indeed, as nothing else except Bible study.  True prayer and true Bible Study go hand in hand.
It is through prayer that my sin is brought to light, my most hidden sin.  As I kneel before God and pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Try me, and know my thoughts:  and see if there be any wicked way in me.”  (Psalm 139:23-24), God shoots the penetrating rays of His light into the innermost recesses of my heart.  The sins that I never suspected to be present are brought to light.  In answer to prayer, God washes me from my iniquity and cleanses me from my sin (Psalm 51:2).  In answer to prayer, my eyes are opened to behold wondrous things out of God’s word.  (Psalm 119:8).  In answer to prayer, I receive wisdom to know God’s way (James 1:5) and strength to walk in it.  As I meet God in prayer and gaze into His face, I am changed into His image from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18)  Each day of true prayer life finds me more like my glorious Lord.
John Welch, the son-in-law of John Knox, was one of the most faithful men of prayer this world has ever seen.  He counted any day in which seven or eight hours were not devoted solely to God in prayer and the study of His Word as wasted time.  An old man speaking of him after his death said, “He was a type of Christ.”  How did he become so like his Master?  His prayer life explains the mystery.
Prayer also brings power into our work.  If we wish power for any work to which God calls us, be it in preaching, teaching, personal work, or the raising of our children, we can receive it by earnest prayer.
A woman, with a little boy who was perfectly incorrigible, once came to me in desperation and said:  “What shall I do with him?
I asked, “Have you ever tried prayer?”
She said that she had prayed for him, she thought.  I asked if she had made his conversion and character a matter of definite, expectant prayer.  She replied that she had not been definite in the matter.  She began that day, and at once there was a marked change in the child.   As a result, he grew up into Christian manhood.
How many Sunday school teachers have taught for months and years and seen no real fruit from their labors?  Then they learn the secret of intercession, and by earnest pleading with God, see their students, one by one, brought to Christ!  How many poor teachers have become mighty men of God by casting away their confidence in their own ability and gifts and giving themselves up to God to wait upon Him for the power that comes from on high!  Evangelist John Livingstone spent a night, along with some believers, in prayer to God.  When he preached the next day, five hundred people were either converted or marked some definite uplift in their spiritual life.  Prayer and power are inseparable.  
Prayer avails for the conversion of others.  There are few converted in this world in any other way than in connection with someone’s prayers.  I previously thought that no human being had anything to do with my own conversion, for I was not converted in church or Sunday school or in a personal conversation with anyone.  I was awakened in the middle of the night and converted.  As far as I can remember, I did not the slightest thought of being converted, or of anything of that character when I went to bed and fell asleep.  But, I was awakened in the middle of the night and converted probably within five minutes.  A few minutes before, I was about as near eternal damnation as one gets.  I had one foot over the brink and was trying to get the other one over.  As I said, I thought no human being had anything to do with it, but I had forgotten my mother’s prayers.  Later I learned that one of my college classmates had decided to pray for me until I was saved.
prayer often avails where everything else fails.  How utterly all of Monica’s efforts and entreaties failed with her son!  But, her prayers prevailed with God, and the immoral youth became St. Augustine, the mighty man of God.  By prayer, the bitterest enemies of the gospel have become its most valiant defenders, the most wicked the truest sons of God, and the most contemptible women the purest of saints.  Oh, the power of prayer to reach down, where hope itself seems vain, and lift men and women up into fellowship with and likeness to God!  It is simply wonderful!  How little we appreciate this marvelous weapon!  
Prayer brings blessings to the Church. 
The history of the Church has always been full of grave difficulties to overcome.  The devil hates the Church and seeks in every way to block its progress; by false doctrine, by division, and by inward corruption of life.  But, by prayer, a clear way can be made through everything.  Prayer will root out heresy, smooth out misunderstanding, sweep away jealousies and animosities, obliterate immoralities, and bring in the full tide of God’s reviving grace.  history abundantly proves this.  In the darkest hour, when the state of the Church has seemed beyond hope, believing men and women have met together and cried to God and the answer has come.
It was so in the days of Knox.  It was so in the days of Wesley and Whitefield.  It was so in the days of Edwards and Brainerd.  It was so in the days of Finney.  It was so in the days of the great revival of 1857 in this country and of 1859 in Ireland.  And, it will be so again in your day and mine!  Satan has organized his forces.  Some people, claiming great apostolic methods, are merely covering for the rankest dishonesty and hypocrisy with their loud and false assurance.  Christians equally loyal to the great fundamental truths of the gospel are scowling at one another with a devil-sent suspicion.  The world, the flesh, and the devil are holding a merry carnival.  It is now a dark day, but now “it is time for Thee, Lord, to work:  for they have made void Thy law.”  (Psalm 119:126).  He is getting ready to work, and now He is listening for the voice of prayer.  Will He hear it?  Will He hear it from you?  Will He hear it from the Church as a body?  I believe He will.