Three Changes to Make Today

People talk about change, they even talk about changing. If we are to see change, we must change. To change others we must change ourself. But where do I begin? Step into these three changes to make today.

Change usually begins with me and usually begins with small things rather than large. To begin change I must begin today and I must be clear about the changes I am going to make. Here are three changes to make today.

Give without Return Oftentimes we invest for return but when it comes to giving of money, life, or service when was the last time you freely gave without expecting something in return? The ability to give a ten-dollar bill without payback? To serve someone who can’t repay you? To be there for them knowing they won’t return the favor? Giving without return doesn’t make sense financially but it makes great sense emotionally because the joy of giving is the joy of not expecting a return – you gave a whole-hearted gift – without the expectation of feeling someone owes you now.

Love without Justification Giving a hug to someone who doesn’t deserve it may mean more to you than to them but do it anyway. Love is not always a two-way street – loving someone who doesn’t care for you – is the utmost height of love. Love is unselfish, is not demanding and expects the best. Love doesn’t qualify the other but it gives a hint of worth and builds value. To love the unlovely, to love the undeserving and to love the spiteful is in itself the greatest gift. Love is kind, love is mature and love reaches out.

Pray without Demands Praying with a bitter spirit, “Why don’t you…” or “Why did you…” doesn’t hurt God as much as it hurts us. There are answers but sometimes we aren’t  ready for answers. Let’s approach God with thankfulness and gratitude. Thank Him for what you do have. Thank Him for what He has saved you from. Thank Him for His life changing love. Pray without a list today and keep your list for tomorrow. But today, I will thank God for love, freedom, mercy, and more.

Three simple steps that could change today and tomorrow.

Comment Below:What would you change today?

Copyright by Jim Laudell.  Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author.

Quiet Time

Quiet time is an essential part of my day but I don’t do it like most. This quiet time pattern has helped me to accomplish more in the first two hours of the day so I can be fresh. alert and prepared for the rest of the day. This is how my morning is orchestrated.

Breakfast My wife and I enjoy oatmeal and coffee in the morning, sometimes with a piece of toast and juice. It gives us time to communicate and be together before she scurries off to her job each morning.

Bible My Bible, highlighter, coffee cup and I go to the back porch for a time of reading, reflection and alignment. Readjustment each morning into God’s perfect will is necessary to get the right perspective on the day.

Breathing Prayer is breathing. Prayer is the ability to breathe in the presence of God and exhale my stress, anxieties and concerns. There are things to exhale and there are things to inhale. I inhale His righteousness, His magnificence and His awesome greatness. As a mountain climber on a Highpoint of the mountain takes in the beautiful scenery and breathes in the cool crisp air, so do I.

Bending This is my exercise routine, jogging, walking, doing setups or a mixture of the three. My physical routine is to make the beds, straighten up the house, wash dishes and wash a load of clothes. Getting this down to an hours time has been difficult but I blend each chore in with another making each go simpler and quicker.

Balance  I write. Usually throughout the night and the early morning has already given me an aura of thought for my morning blog.  Usually an outline has been posted in my mind or in a short note to myself. Reaching out to the online community with inspiration and knowledge is a passion of mine so most mornings I am fresh with ideas to post. Most of the time I post a day or two ahead of time. I balance this with checking my Twitter posts @jlaudell and Facebook posts. Writing additional blogs, material or columns may come throughout the day.

Banking Balancing my personal and business accounts isn’t a daily routine but this is the time I would do it. Being an organizer – I need to know where I am financially on a weekly basis. It only takes a few minutes to check my accounts online.

Basics This is essential – scheduling your day makes for a better day. Planning for the day, checking and returning emails, and creating a list of phone calls to be made or to return.

This entire morning quiet time takes me about two hours but saves me many hours throughout the day. I feel fresh and prepared for the rest of the day.

Comment Below:How do you celebrate your mornings?

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Copyright by Jim Laudell.  Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author.

Working with a Publisher

Submitting a book to a publisher, even in the self published realm, can be a daunting journey, unless you understand these simple steps. After you have thoroughly researched various self publishing companies (we may write about that subject in a later blog), and signed the contract, the manuscript should be about 80% finished before you make begin the initial contact with the publishing team.

The first person you will meet will be the Submission Consultant. He/she will guide you on the style, font, format and submission of the manuscript. Remember to save your manuscript frequently, (save by date – so you can go back to a particular time period if needed), you may have as many as 25 revisions along the way. The font is usually Garamond with a 12 font size for the text, 16 for Chapters and 14 for Title.  Don’t worry about blocking the text, page alignment or  particular style at this time.

Final manuscript You will want to check all footnotes, personal editing by correcting as much as you possibly can, reading and re-reading the manuscript so you “say what you mean.” Save as “final Manuscript” then submit the manuscript in the manner described by the submission consultant.

Editing This may be an additional cost according to the mistakes or corrections needed throughout the manuscript. Editing is a crucial step and should not be overlooked or neglected because of cost. Spell check is not enough, you may save some money by choosing a local, professional editor in your vicinity but this does not negate your responsibility to read the manuscript carefully checking for errors along the way. Don’t let a friend look it over – you may be disappointed in the end. This may take a process of three to four weeks depending on the amount of editing and revisions needed.

Interior design At this point your manuscript may be turned over to a Design Consultant. This step will include the blocking of text, page numbering, margins, fonts, and everything interior to the look and style for the book. You should have an opportunity to approve the text and resubmit if necessary. Pay attention to detail, readers will spend the most time inside the book, make sure the design is readable, clear and presented in an attractive manner. The ISBN number, Copyright and Library of Congress registration may be accomplished during this step. This may take three to four weeks depending on the response time of each revision, if needed.

Exterior Design You will have one of the more exciting steps to the final outcome – designing and the layout of the cover. I let the professionals handle this. I now what I like but I am not an artist – however, I may reject the first cover design or two. I want to project the theme, mood and idea of the book by the cover design. The cover page will have a bar code placed on the lower right corner of the back page for sales. The price of your book may be determined at this stage. this can take three to four weeks and depends on whether you approve the designs and layout of the cover and back page.

Printing and Publishing This stage seems to be the longest while you are waiting to seeing the first book and hold it in your hand but actually may take three to six weeks depending on publishing schedules or backlog. Marketing is the task of the author more than the publisher and steps to market your book should already be in place but this is where you begin the mail out preparation, email advertisement and list is prepared, press releases, and more. You may want to hire a publicist or a marketing consultant to handle the immensity of the project.

Wish you well and hope you begin the process of publishing your book today.

Comment Below: Do you have any additions or advise to give to promising authors?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. This blog post should not be considered as counseling or mental advice. Please, seek the help of a professional. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author.

Stepping Towards Your Dream

Yesterday two people expressed their dream and both were frustrated as to how to get to their dream. Both had strong passion for their dream and had even taken baby steps towards it but both felt they weren’t making much progress towards fulfilling their dream.

There are several types of dreams, the first being what I call, a term dream, I would like to buy a house to fix up, I would like to begin college classes for nursing, I would like to start jogging. Each of these have term limits, they can begin and end today without much preparation.

The second type of dream is the passion dream. The passion dream rises and falls with events, people and places. It can only be accomplished within a certain dynamic, it is confined to where I am, who I am with and the event of circumstances around me. I want to be a foster parent, I want to direct the Annual Kids Day Event, or I want to be the Assistant Pastor at this church.

Thirdly, is the life dream. The life dream is best described as “I was created for this.” This is your life purpose. It may come now or later, it may be huge or small but it is definitely filled with contentment, peace and inner joy in finding the perfect place in God’s will for your life. It may be a mission endeavor, a project or a ministry but when you find it – there is no question that you found it.

Here are a few steps in reaching for your dream.

Pray about the dream. If the dream really burns in your heart then the dream should burn in your prayers. Talk to God about it and bring Him on board with the accomplishment of it.He may refine the dream, redo the dream or revive the dream but God is necessary to bringing your dream to pass.

Save towards the dream. Let’s face it – most dreams take money. Begin to set aside an amount of money that you need to see the dream accomplished. It may be a small amount but miracles happen – don’t be surprised at the multiplication of your savings. Once while saving for a mission trip a lady matched my initial deposit. God doubled my effort in one day.

Step toward the dream. What are the baby steps you need to take to begin your dream. Going to college? ask for an application, talk to the registrar, ask about available grants, etc. Writing a book? write down a synopsis of your book, collect your information, write an outline, today. Make a few calls, write a few letters, go to the right places, step toward your dream.

Research your dream. Don’t come to the end and end up being surprised. Study, read, Google and collect information about your project, book, trip, or mission. Everything you need to know about your dream – you need to know about your dream, research it.

Do the dream. Don’t be afraid to stair step to your dream. If the dream can be further developed by being in a certain position – stair step towards the dream. Take little steps towards your dream and the big steps.

Develop your dream. Begin taking the necessary steps to make it happen. Be careful who you tell your dream to – some are dream stealers, some are dream duplicators, and others are dream destroyers. Stand behind your dream, no matter how many people tell you they may never come into your life. Share it with someone you trust exclusively. Seek counsel from those who have done it or something like it.

Visualize your dream. See yourself doing your dream. Put up a picture of your dream. Write it down so you can see your dream everyday. “I would like to lead a __________________.”  Putting before your eyes causing the dream to become foremost in your thoughts.

Comment Below: What are you doing today that will move you towards your dream?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. This blog post should not be considered as counseling or mental advice. Please, seek the help of a professional. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author.

Action or Reaction

My wife always says, “You are not responsible for other people’s action but you are responsible for your reactions.” There have been times when the “spirit of slap” comes upon you and you cautiously and, might I add, wisely refrained. In your mind you are questioning, “What were they thinking?”

But what drives these moments of uprising within us. Could we have misunderstood their motive, misapplied their reasoning or miscomprehended their actions? No, I saw it with my own eyes but assumption is not always truth. The man driving recklessly through traffic may have been rushing his sick baby to the hospital. The man you saw with a woman who wasn’t his wife may have been with his sister you have never met. A crying girl may not have been sad but was overwhelmed with the news that her boyfriend soldier was coming home. The angry woman may have just found out her son had been placed in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

What we harshly judge others with – we ask for compassion in our own instances.

Here are a few “improved” reactionary steps:

Turn the other cheek I know – this is really tough; especially when you feel you have been wronged so many times. Learn to take the hit without twitching. Remember what Jesus said, “They do not know what they are doing.”

Grin and bear it This is similar to “turn the other cheek” but different. In this instance, you are merely smiling – showing your best side. Not fighting sword with sword but fighting with a smile. This will do more than a reactionary “bring it on, man!”

Turn it in If the insult, slander, libel or threat was severe enough you may need to turn in it to the proper authorities. If this is what is going on in public then what is being done in private. Go to the proper authorities and let them deal with it.

Let it go Nothing will eat your lunch like mulling over an angry person who told you off. Brush it off, let it go, and enjoy the freedom of not hanging on to it for the rest of the day. Someone has said that bitterness is the poison you drink meant for the enemy. Revenge will not make you happy. Let it go!

Pray about it Absolutely nothing will dissolve anger and bitterness greater than the avenue of prayer. Seek God’s advice. Ask Him for counsel. Forgive the other person. Pray God will bring the offender to a place of repentance and change. God is able to do great things through prayer.

Comment Below: Have you “turned the other cheek” recently??

Copyright by Jim Laudell. This blog post should not be considered as counseling or mental advice. Please, seek the help of a professional. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author.

Discouragement is the Vision Breaker

What breaks the vision in two? What destroys dreams? What makes the future look bleak? Nothing like discouragement. The haunting past can creep upon you when you are least aware, take you down and keep you down. Discouragement tries to steal the hope of a person and endeavors to bankrupt his gift and shortcut his abilities.

Here are a few tips on removing discouragement from your life.

Recognize the “button.” If you are to defeat discouragement you must ask yourself, “When did it start?” and “Why does this affect me?” There may be a button pushed beginning the process of discouragement. Did you lose a position? Are circumstances loaded upon your shoulders? Do you fee you have failed? These questions and more will help identify the pushed button that causes a cascade of guilt, fear or anxiety. Finding the beginning of discouragement can help identify it and minimize its effect on your life.

Turn to the positive. Everyone has positives in their life. Sometimes a walk by the lake, a change of scenery, a book and a cup of coffee, or a conversation with a friend can turn the discouragement into relief. Don’t spend a lot of time around negative people – seek positive friends who will build you up. Yes, you need to face the facts and not ignore your difficulties but a positive attitude can be the encouragement you need to see the better side of the situation.

Praise God. Turn your eyes upward and praise God for the good, His handiwork and His work in your life. Realize God can bring the discouragement to pass away quickly. Lift up your head and acknowledge your blessings. Count all the good things God has done in your life.

Tell a friend. We alluded to this previously but exposing your weaknesses to a friend is difficult to say the least but doing so can release a flood tide of built up emotions. Don’t overwhelm them with every detail but ask them to listen and to pray with you.

Comment Below: What would you do to destroy discouragement in your life?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author.

I have been thinking about writing a book

Usually someone will stop me and say, “I have been thinking about writing a book – what do I do first?” and then, a lengthy conversation begins about the nature of the beast. A blooming author is miles apart of a blooming idiot but discernment is needed.

Publishing is not what it used to be and the first question you must ask is not “what am I writing about” but “who am I writing to?”

To start with an idea is foremost but to continue without an audience is simply becoming a hobbyist. A platform is needed for the manuscript to transfer from yours to theirs. Readers must take possession of the idea or the manuscript simply becomes white space.

Writing and publishing in days gone by was a matter of writing quality, printing artfully and distribution in mass. But now we are overwhelmed with information overload from digital feeds, printed material and voices screaming for attention on the internet.

For a beginner, getting attention is most important. Sorry, I don’t want to hurt your feelings. You have a great story but you must answer the question, “why would anyone pay $19.99 to read it?”

My suggestion is begin a blog, sharing bits and pieces of your story until you reach your audience. With Word press you can set it up easily and share to your Twitter and Face book accounts gaining additional exposure.

Print off quality cards with your blog advertised boldly and ask people to check it out. Practice writing two or three blogs a week – building your audience with each story. It may take several months to a year to establish your following but once you have an audience then you have a market.

Remember – we all began somewhere.

Comment Below: What do you think is most important in writing?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author.

Ten Commandments for Writers

Be yourself – another writer’s style is not your style

Read much and write much and read some more

Write from your experiences – people want to know your story

Collect data profusely – one day you will need it

Keep your eyes open – ideas are all around you

Proofread – your credibility rests on it

Excercise – sitting makes you dull

Write clean – garbage may sell but it doesn’t keep your mind and spirit pure

Don’t forget the little stuff; footnotes matter

Give credit where credit is due

Comment Below: Can you add one more?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author.

Ten Commandments for Facebook

If you wouldn’t want it shared about you then don’t share about them

Expressions of curses words and sexual connotations are not acceptable

A discussion is not a debate

If you forgive others misspellings – they will forgive you

Logout or be hacked

Share and LIKE and you will be shared and LIKED

Vent only if you don’t regret it in the morning

Facebook is for friends – the unfriendly will be deleted

Some friends need a phone call or a sit down visit rather than a comment

Don’t check up on your friends without a prayer for them

Comment Below: Can you add one more?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author.

Ten Commandents for Teenagers

Don’t expect your parents to answer you with the answer you want

Honor and respect those in authority

Realize life is hard for you but also for your parents, teachers and leaders.

Know you are loved even when others don’t tell you often enough

Be willing to forgive those who hurt you

Be careful of friends who drag you down instead of take you up

Work and save – the biggest rewards will come later

Keep yourself mentally, sexually and spiritually pure

Learn well and study hard – it will pay off in the end

Pray often for a sensitive and tender heart Guard your heart for out of it are the issues of life Proverbs 4:23

Comment Below: Can you add one more?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author.