As Time Goes By, we learn to value the gift of each new today.
Inside Mixed Blessings–As Time Goes By, you’ll find one-hundred-and-one perfectly bite-sized stories, articles, devotions, and poems, on these ten time-related topics:
Once in a Blue Moon
There is something for every reader in a Mixed Blessings book, and this volume is no exception. Mixed Blessings–As Time Goes By is filled to the brim with fun, encouragement, food for thought, and inspiration. You may find yourself chuckling one moment and shedding a tear the next. In fact, it is the perfect mix of blessings for your daily reading enjoyment.
Take time out of all the busyness of life to enjoy this variety-packed pick-me-up, but be warned. Reading a Mixed Blessings book is like eating peanuts. You just can’t stop at one.
When we face a chronic illness too often, we rush in and try to accomplish everything in our own power. We manage this. We plan that. We listen to friend A or to family member B. We may hear different recommendations from our healing team, that is the doctors, ministers, and caregivers. We need to seek God and listen for his voice. We do this through prayer, Bible reading, and listening to sermons. Sometimes were are in such a rush to get to a solution or get things under control that we miss hearing from The Great Physician. We need to remember the words of Psalm 46:10 (KJV), “Be still, and know that I am God:” Sometimes we need to be still before we can hear God.
Today’s Bible Verse:
Psalm 143:8 (KJV) “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”
What the verse means:
As we face trials and hardships, we can find ourselves overwhelmed. When we become inundated by fear, grief, depression, and self-pity, it becomes hard to hear God. Today’s verse reminds us to spend time with God, to begin our day with God.As Christians, we can trust God. We can ask him to both guide us and to lift us up.
Praying using the verses:
Heavenly Father, draw us to you in the morning where we can hear thy righteousness.
Lord Jesus, we place our trust in thee. Help us to always put all our trust in Thee.
We ask your Holy Spirit to speak to our spirit to guide us in the way we should walk.
We pray you would lift our her soul unto thee.
Pray for our children and grandchild to be drawn to You, experience You and choose to attend worship services.
Howdy yall. It is Tuesday morning, November 28, 2017. I’m sitting at my favorite table at the Starbucks at 2201 Preston Road in Plano, Texas. Located next to the Barnes and Nobles Bookstore, I’ve been coming here to write in the morning for years.
I wake up every morning just before 5:00 AM. I do the personal hygiene stuff, dress, and drive the ten miles from my cookie-cutter suburban house to my favorite coffee dispensary. I usually arrive between their opening at 6 AM and 6:30 AM. I have a cup of their blonde roast or Pike’s Place coffee most days.
Why This Coffee House?
I know what you are thinking. Why this coffee house?
The bottom line is I like it. It is small, does not have a drive-through, has excellent customer service, and doesn’t get upset if I take up my table for 3 to 5 hours.
When I started stopping at this Starbucks, my motivation was two-fold. First was the location. It is located about halfway between my home and my now retired from the day job. Second, my goal was to write for 60 to 90 minutes before continuing my trek on to the day job. You see, I am a writer.
Give the Best Part of My Day to Writing
Over the years I was able to write a book every 9 to 12 months in this coffee house. I would give the best part of the day to my writing. Because of my regular attendance “the muse” knew when and where to find me. I started this near-daily routine when I was in my late 40s. Now in my mid-sixties and retired from the day job I return each morning to the same table.
I’ve also encountered a half-dozen store managers, over a hundred baristas, and learned there is a core group of regulars. A running club meets here every Tuesday and Friday morning. They arrive about ten minutes until 6 AM. At 6 AM sharp they start their morning run. It is a group of 12 to 15 with ages spanning from the thirties to the early seventies. They run for an hour and then have coffee and fellowship. I can call by name more than 50 regular patrons of this Starbucks. Most days you can set your clock by the time they arrive to get their daily caffeine.
Solving the Problems of the World
I write first drafts of books, blog posts, magazine articles, short stories, and poetry while ingesting my daily two cups of caffeine.
After writing I often solve the problems of the world in discussions with some of the men and women. I have built relationships with people. From time to time some of the people have called, texted, or shared spiritual needs with me. I have prayed with some of the patrons before their surgeries or when they are hurting from family relationship issues.
A Christian Worldview
I am a Christian and see things through a Christian worldview that many don’t have. I have been allowed to share my Christian testimony many of these same people.
No, I am not a perfect, in your face Bible thumper. I am far from it. Too often I am a hypocrite and fail in following God’s principles. I just get up each day, confess my sin and try again.
What Do I Write?
What do I write? I write religious nonfiction and religious science fiction. I also write historical/literary fiction under a pen name.
Most mornings after writing I either head to the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve or The Shops at Willow Bend shopping mall and walk for 45 minutes to an hour. Afternoons find me doing the business of writing with marketing, editing, etc.
A normal feeling for one facing a chronic illness is fear. The unknown and uncertainty are scary. The very word cancer often has death or at least its possibility confronting us. If it is rheumatoid arthritis you picture pain and decreased mobility or use of joints.
Today’s Scripture reminds us that God is with us. We do not face today or tomorrow alone.
Today’s Bible Verse:
Isaiah 41:10 (KJV), “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
What the verse means:
The verse’s meaning is best seen when examined in context with two preceding verses. Isaiah 41:8-10 (KJV), “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
The whole passage is one of great tenderness. I am with thee (that is, God is with you). I (God) will strengthen you (now and in the future). I have strengthened you (in times past). There is a reminder that God has chosen you). We see a declaration of past favors as well as prophetic words for future favors since God is unchanging.
Praying using the verses:
Heavenly Father, we fear not because You are here with us as we fight our affliction.
We are not heartbroken or dismayed because we know You are our God.
We rejoice and claim Your promises that You will strengthen us.
We rejoice and claim Your promises that You will help us.
We rejoice and claim Your promises that You will uphold us with the right hand of Your righteousness.
We continue to pray for a hedge of protection for our loved one or even ourself, both in the workplace and during treatments.
Are you part of the coffee house culture? I confess I am.
What Is The Coffeehouse Culture?
The coffeehouse culture describes a friendly environment of associated common practices that depend upon coffee. Coffee is used as a social lubricant much as alcohol is in a bar or pub setting.
Coffeehouse culture also relates to the dispersion and choosing of coffee as a broadly consumed stimulant by society. In the late 20th and early 21st century, particularly in the Western world and urbanized cities around the globe. Espresso has become a more favored form.
Formation of Culture Around a Coffeehouse
I am a historian and religious educator by university and seminary education. With my classical liberal arts education, I developed an inquisitive mind. My curiosity had me research coffeehouses. I found the formation of the culture around coffee and coffeehouses dates back to 14th century Turkey. Coffeehouses in Western Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean were traditionally social hubs, as well as artistic and intellectual centers.
Examples of famous coffee houses include Les Deux Magots in Paris. Now a popular tourist attraction, it was once associated with the intellectuals Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. In the late 17th and 18th centuries, coffeehouses in London became favorite meeting places for artists, writers, and socialites. They were also the center for much political and commercial activity.
In the United States, the New Orleans French Market tourist destination Café du Monde which is as famous for its powdered-sugar-coated beignets as it is for its chickory-flavored coffee., according to the popular social check-in app Foursquare, is the most popular coffeehouse in the Americas.
Elements of today’s coffee houses, the slower paced gourmet service, tastefully decorated environments, or social outlets such as open microphone nights, have their origins in early coffee houses and continue to form part of the concept of coffee house culture.
In the United States, the term is often used to designate the everywhere presence of hundreds of espresso stands and coffee shops in the Seattle metropolitan area and the spread of franchises of businesses such as Starbucks and their clones across the United States.
Other aspects of the coffeehouse culture include the presence of free wireless Internet access for customers, many of these patrons do business in these locations for hours on a regular basis. The patrons of the coffeehouse usually do one of three things. They either are on Wi-Fi surfing the Internet with their smartphone or computer, are meeting with a business client or friends, or are reading. The location is popular for meeting someone for the first time, especially when dating is being considered.
Some countries, like Australia, have a strong existing cafe style coffee culture. The strong cafe style coffee culture explains the poor performance of Starbucks there.
Yes, I am part of the coffeehouse culture? Are you?
I would love you to leave in the comments section the name of and info about your favorite coffeehouse.
Source: Some material adapted from Wikipedia
Photo: Starbucks, 1356 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, California, USA
Most who are free
Never experience true freedom.
The Liberator’s Helper knew freedom
And his knowing liberty was his prison.
For saving them from starvation,
The Pyramid People
Memory and descendants.
And the descendants
Of the one who saved them
From the famine
Lived in the strange land
Before being enslaved.
The sun arose signaling
The beginning as a new day began.
The beauty of the morning was everywhere.
The bird’s song announced the break of day.
Then all turned black
As the news arrived that
Human Ruler had ascended to the throne.
The news brought fear
Into the hearts of all clans
For everyone knew
He was a repressive, powerful leader.
And Human Ruler knew not the one used by
To save the Pyramid People
From the great seven years famine
Or even his honored memory.
Brutality was Human Ruler’s method.
Fear was his motivation.
His method and motivation preceded him
And his grand army.
And he tormented and afflicted
The descendants of the one that had saved
The Pyramid People from starvation.
He did this because they were not of his clan.
Yet the children of the one
That had saved the Pyramid People
Increased in numbers in spite of Human Ruler.
They were many with more being born.
They were physically strong and
Demonstrated unusual wisdom.
Because of Human Ruler’s half-truths,
The Pyramid People’s paranoia filled the land.
Their distrust perverted to a great level.
Human Ruler believed
Of the one who had saved them
From the famine
Were superior to their female children.
For Human Ruler
Did not know male and female descendants
Of the one who had saved them
From the famine were fashioned by The Liberator.
The Liberator made both male and female
In the likeness of The Liberator.
Both were equally advanced creations.
Human Ruler with spite
Afflicted the descendants
Of the one who saved them
From the seven years famine.
He had his many lieutenants
Make a burden of their everyday work.
They required from them
Superior productivity with fewer resources.
And they made them
Do the tasks
The Pyramid People would not do
Because the tasks were beneath them.
Human Ruler’s mind
Also devised premeditated evil.
In his private chamber’s secret room
He feared them very much
And plotted their demise in his heart.
And then he gave a directive
To those who help birth the babies
To be part of his conspiracy of doom.
His order to those who helped
Birth the babies were
To kill the non-female babies
Of the descendants of the ones
Who have become too numerous
And say they were stillborn.
He warned less you do this
They shall become too strong and
Ultimately will rule over us.
And rage consumed Human Ruler.
He required those who help birth the babies
To give a report
Of their obedience to his directive.
The report of Human Ruler’s edict’s fulfillment
Amazed their leader.
And to those
Who helped birth the babies lied not.
The report was the impregnated females
That are descendants of the one they say saved
The Pyramid People from the seven years famine
Deliver their male offspring without travail.
“The male babies are born before we arrive,” they reported.
“The delivery is fast and without effort.”
Those who help birth the babies
Feared The Liberator more than they feared Human Ruler
Who believed not in the Liberator.
They did not obey Human Rulers’ command.
They would not kill the non-female babies
And say they were stillborn
On the day of their birth.
And with what great magic,
The magic that is of the Father-Spirit,
The Liberator provided families to care for,
And protect those
Who help birth the babies.
Now the fury of Human Ruler was great.
Wrath filled his heart.
While he ordered no harm for the female babies
His pronouncement was throwing the non-female babies
Into the great waterway that flowed
From the father mountain far to the south and
Into the endless saltwater lake in the north.
Yet The Liberator
Was the one who really was
In control of all things.
And Human Ruler knew this not.
The Bible does not flatter us with the false hope that goodness will secure us from trouble. Instead, the Bible warns us over and over to expect tribulation while we are in this body. Our afflictions come from all directions and at any time. The challenges are many but with Jesus Christ, we can face each day. There is no promise they will go away in this lifetime. However, the Lord will guide us through or lift us out of them.
Today’s Bible Verse:
Psalm 34:19 (KJV), “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
What the verse means:
The Treasury of David explains it this way. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, etc. Be our troubles many in number, strange in nature, heavy in measure; yet God’s mercies are more numerous, his wisdom more wondrous, his power more miraculous; he will deliver us out of all. Thomas Adams.”
Praying using the verses:
Heavenly Father, we know the afflictions of the righteous are many.
Lord Jesus, we find some comfort in knowing hardships and trials are the norms.
We confess we don’t like them but trust in you.
God our Father, we give you thanks for the promise of deliverance.
You’ve completed the work. The book is written, edited, and published. It is available for sale on Amazon, iBooks, and Nook. You’ve told your family, friends, and writer’s group your book is there. How do you let the world know when you have a limited or no budget?
Create a Promotional Video
One great way is to create a promotional video. You do not have to have a computer science degree or be a geek to do create the video.
I use the free version of Animoto. It makes it easy for you to create professional-quality videos with your pictures and video clips within minutes. It is a simple 4-step process.
Go to https://animoto.com/ and sign up for a free trial account. No credit card is required. They ask only for your email address or you can register using one of your social media accounts.
Once you are signed up, click the blue CREATE button in the upper-right-hand corner. This begins the process of building your video.
Animoto has two different video builders, so when you click CREATE, you’ll be asked which you’d like to use. To create a video for free select the one on the left – Slideshow Video Builder.
Slideshow Video Builder lets you create a slideshow video using one of Animoto’s more than 100 video styles. It has all you need for building your video built-in at no cost. You can add use your own or their licensed music, plus add captions, text slides, photos, and video clips to your slideshow video. It’s all up to you
The Marketing Video Builder is a paid upgrade option I will not cover because the scope of the article is how to do a promotional video for free.
When you click CREATE the following screen displays.
Select the theme you want. Next push the CREATE VIDEO button. It allows you to make a 30-second video for free.
The below screen appears.
Upload photos, video clips, music, and add titles (words) to your slides by clicking on the + highlighted in the below screen capture.
The next screen appears. Click the highlighted icon to select the files for music and pictures that you want.
You’ll see this screen for selecting the files.
Click upload pictures and videos and this is the next screen you’ll see
Select the files you want. Click open. You don’t have to worry about the order they are in. You can easily drag or drop them placing them in the order you desire. Don’t select more than two or three as with the free version you only have 30-seconds. You are not making a full-length movie.
The photos selected now show on the next screen.
Now you will add text with title cards.
Click on the + sign in the highlighted box.
Type your text and click SAVE
The title card is added to the presentation. You repeat the process to add additional photos or titles. Remeber you only have 30-seconds in the free version so you will only have 4 to 5 slides maximum to fit into the time slot. You then can click on a photo to highlight it to add text to the slide the photo is on.
TypeType your text caption and click SAVE
You can then edit your photos right within your video. You can repeat for each picture.
You can select the picture, click on it and the above screen appears. Below the picture the second icon from the right allows you to edit the photo.
Once you’ve made changes click SAVE. Now you can arrange the cips in the order you want them. You just highlight slide and drag it to the location or order you want it in your video.
If using a video clip inside your video you can trim it to the length you want. Click on the video and then edit by reducing the length. You do this by dragging the bar at the bottom. You can drag from either or both ends of the bar to get the portion you desire. Selecting your music is next. Click on the highlighted change song and select the free music that is available.
You have the choice of the top songs
Or you can click the button to see the full library.
You select the song you want and click the select song button.
Next, you preview, produce and share your video
Click PREVIEW VIDEO
The video preview appears. You can accept it and click PRODUCE if you like it or you can click CONTINUE EDITING if changes are needed. If you click PRODUCE it creates the video and the following screen appears. It allows you to then share the video on social media or download it.
Below is a promtional video I made in under 10-minutes.
Enjoy making your own. If you need more detail instruction Google making an Animoto video on YouTube and you will find a number of instructional videos.
August 31st I retired from my day job as a full-time information technology professional. Amazing coworkers, an ever-evolving workplace that had more changes in my last three years than I had experienced in the previous forty-five years combined, and me, the baby-boomer, thriving with a Millennial skillset working as a Salesforce admin and data integrity analyst filled my last few years.
So … I transitioned to a rocking chair with a warm plaid blanket and shuffleboard at the senior center. Hold it; I did no such thing. Instead, I took off Friday, September 1 through Labor Day Monday, September 4, and then started a new job on Tuesday, September 5 as a full-time writer.
No, writing isn’t my “retirement job.” It is my job.
Writing isn’t something I always wanted to do. To the contrary, I have been writing the 1970s. I had been selling my work and publishing regularly since my first professional writing sale in September 1981.
Since the first fall of the Reagan Revolution, I dreamed of someday transitioning to writing full-time. Through the 1980s 1990s, and 2000s I wrote and sold dozens of magazine and trade journal articles to Christian publications with names like Deacon Magazine, Church Leadership Magazine, Discipleship Training Magazine, Baptist Program, Baptist Standard, and Sunday School Leader Magazine. Weekly newsletter and newspaper columns, as well as secular publications like Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination, Poetry & Prose Magazine, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and scholarly journals with limited circulations, also house my thoughts and essays.
I started writing and publishing books in the last ten years. I am the author of the books Thy Will Be Done: 60 Prayers for the Chronically Ill, The Rebuilder, Miss Sarah’s Secret: A Story of Betrayal and Redemption in Texas, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, Charlie’s Bells: A Short Story Anthology, The Cup, The Paintings, and Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection. Google the title and my name and you will find out more about them as well as where you can buy the books.
So now I write. Monday through Thursday morning I get up and go to my favorite coffee house before sunrise. While there I usually write about three hours. Next, I walk for forty-five minutes to an hour before returning home. I have lunch around eleven thirty. I’ll do household chores like dishes and laundry.
Next, I will either read or study. I sometimes attend webinars in the afternoon as well. I do the business of writing tasks and some marketing in the midafternoon. By three-thirty, I am back to walking to complete getting my 10,000 steps for the day.
Tuesdays this fall I attended a grief workshop. My father passed away last summer. The grief counseling workshop has helped me. Some Wednesday evenings I attend church. On other Wednesday’s I visit my writer’s group at night.
Several Wednesday’s a month I have lunch with my best guy friend. Friday morning I start with attending Men’s Bible Study at my church at six thirty in the morning and then write.
On Saturday mornings I attend a Men’s Bible Fellowship coffee where we solve all the world’s problems. On Sunday’s I go the church and Bible Fellowship Class with my wife. Sunday afternoons are blocked off for lunch with her and anything she wants to do.
How is the writing going? I am glad you asked. Since the first of September, I finished writing “Thy Will Be Done: 60 Prayers for the Chronically Ill.” I came out in print and Kindle versions November 1. I am working on a large print version of the book as well as a sequel “In Jesus Name: 60 More Prayers for the Chronically Ill.” February 1, 2018, will be its release date. I also am writing another fiction book under a pen name. It will be out in early 2018.
You won’t find a rocking chair with a warm plaid blanket and shuffleboard at the senior center in my future. I have too many stories to tell. Besides, I am finally living my dream as a full-time writer.
You’ve just completed a complex project at work. You nailed the presentation that briefed the company’s executive group. Executive leadership’s praises are echoing in your ears. Your coworkers and team members are dazzled by the fantastic job you did. You learn a significant financial bonus will be on your next paycheck to reward your efforts. By everyone’s standards you are at peak performing and a success yet you wonder if what you did was just a fluke or worse, you don’t even see how marvelous your execution of the project was. You wonder if you could ever pull off anything like this again. You have secret fears that your just a phony.
If most of us are honest we sometimes or almost always feel this way. Andrea Sims brings together a realistic look at the fears most of us face. She pulls back the current curtain on the doubt in our lives. She helped me realize that sometimes I feel like an unworthy or marginally capable and fear others will see how I struggle to accomplish tasks that they somehow seem to think come too easy for me.
To help us understand and deal with these terrible life challenges Andrea Sims leads us through the published research in the field using a case study approach. She opens up to the reader showing vulnerability by using examples of her own experiences and life. This method makes application of the principles studied to life and business.
The Impostor Affect by Andrea Sims is for people who need to know more about this phenomenon for themselves or for assisting others dealing with it. I believe it will also be helpful for high-achievers who doubt their ability consistently to perform at an above average level.