Home Away from Home

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Just want to share a little insight I got this morning, as I was pondering on the relocated life.

This lifestyle has been a “game-changer” in so many ways. One of which is how it has given me a deeper longing for my true home — heaven.

From not feeling at home in my relocated environment, to being proactive about finding ways to feel at home, to asking God, “How long?” till we moved into a bigger and better apartment (I close to loathed our apartment, haha)…all these things pointed to a deeper desire, and of my deeper need for God.

Yes, living on this earth is my “home away from home” where I can experience and enjoy the fullness of life that God has promised. But those longings, those tugs at the heart, remind me that there is more that awaits.

As a Bible verse reads: “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior” (Philippians 3:20, NLT).

Whatever unfulfilled longings you have, bring them to God. Allow Him to be your true Home.


Have you relocated as well and feel homesick at times? Then check out the Thrive Guide for the Relocated Woman right here: http://citygirlcountryhome.com/thrive-guide-for-the-relocated-woman/

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A Post for Mother’s Day (How’s that for an original title? haha)

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This was written about two and a half years ago, the unedited version of what came out in Good Housekeeping Philippines in April 2012. Hope it blesses, inspires, entertains you…or even makes you laugh! Happy Mother’s Day!

(And oh, no photo at the moment…gotta go to the grocery for now!)

Mommy Journey Thus Far

I never dreamed I’d become a mom. I had seen medical TV shows of women giving birth, and they never gave me this fuzzy feeling of mothering. It scared the wits out of me!

But when I got married, I wanted to start building a family of my own. Prior to getting pregnant, though, I had a valid concern. Since getting married, my lifestyle had drastically changed. My husband and I were trying to find a balance between the city where my work was based, and the countryside where his work was based. We would often take a nine-hour bus ride back and forth — about four to six trips a month. Now how in the world was I supposed to carry a child in my womb with this hectic schedule? But I did. Up until about a couple of weeks before I gave birth!

My due date was in the middle of September. It was August 31. I was so sure I’d give birth mid-September that I was still at work that day, ignoring a mild pain in my tummy. Then in the middle of the night, as the pain became more intense, I started checking the signs of childbirth in a pregnancy book. Then it hit me: I am having contractions! My husband was out of town, and I didn’t want to wake anyone up (I was staying at my parents’ house), so I waited till the sun was up. Come morning, I announced, “I think it’s time,” and they all scrambled to get me to the nearby hospital.

It turned out that I was already dilated by 6 cm. Surprisingly, I wasn’t scared at all. At the delivery room, my doctor and her staff prayed for me. With every intensifying contraction, I would imagine myself on a rollercoaster saying, “Whee!” in my mind. I found it funny that the medical staff would ask me questions and even request for my signature while undergoing this excruciating ordeal. Can that wait till after this contraction?

Two hours into the final stage of labor, and no baby in sight, my doctor advised a C-section, to my relief!

As I was wheeled into the hospital room, my husband and two friends were there to greet me, in all my disheveled hair glory. I finally gave birth. Now what? My doctor’s parting words were, “Enjoy your baby!” I had no idea what that meant. I was honestly trying to fight the feeling of dread. Because I had no idea how to take care of this baby or how the landscape of my lifestyle would now look like.

The first few weeks of motherhood were crazy. I was in the middle of finishing my editing work for a book (way past my deadline!), and dealing with the agonizing wound from my C-section, post-partum blues, breastfeeding frustrations, the absence of my husband (he had to go back to the province for a few days for an important event) and, oh yeah, a baby in tow!

Then came the traveling part. The bus ride was not an option, so air travel it was. Of course, I had my concerns once again. What about ear pressure? Will his ears hurt? At only two months old, our baby had his first plane ride to the province, the first of many. He recently turned four years old, and he’s never had trouble flying.

My son and I now stay, collectively, about half of the year in the city, and half in the countryside. When we’re in the city, it’s my husband who comes every weekend. I have the privilege of being both a working mom (city) and a work-at-home mom (countryside). Sure, I’ve had those monster mom moments. But the Bible is right when it says that children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). God has been so good to give me this gift. I am happy and blessed. And yes, grateful.

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Jesus Is Everywhere

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Many things have happened since my last blog post two weeks ago. Since then, I’ve helped organize two Christmas gatherings, traveled back to the city with my family for the holidays, went to the office, got together with my Bible sharing group for lunch, coffee and the sharing of lives, accompanied my son and his cousins to their Christmas presentation practices for their homeschool group, had dates with my husband, worked from home for a few days since the nanny hadn’t arrived as planned, de-cluttered the room, went shopping…and more!

I’m guessing your life the past few weeks have been similar, maybe even busier. But you know what? In all these things I mentioned, I found Jesus!

Holy Family

Jesus was definitely there when we celebrated Him in our missions community. Our theme was simple: Happy Birthday, Jesus!

He was also there during our homebase community Christmas gathering that we held in solidarity with our brothers and sisters affected by super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last month, the title of which was, “Jesus, Our Hope.”

I found Him in the company of spiritual sisters where we all shared about our birthday gifts for Jesus this year.


I found Him when I was stretched out of my comfort zone to have to attend to something new, in a place unfamiliar, in ways different from my own. After all, who could be more out of His comfort zone than the Son of God, who had to leave glorious heaven for messy earth, who had to lay His tender head on stuff made for animals, who had to settle for a manger instead of a cradle, to send the message that He was the Bread of Life for all of humanity, aptly born in Bethlehem — the House of Bread.

I found Him and His peace in a cramped and cluttered area one morning, with a note of thanks and blessing on a paper bag from a pastry shop to my left, birds chirping outside, the aroma of Spanish cuisine being cooked from the kitchen, the noise and laughter of kids playing makeshift basketball in the garage.

I found Him while de-cluttering our room. While cleaning up the dust bunnies on the floor, what came to me was, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Clean up my heart in repentance to make room for the King.

Gold Christmas tree

I found Him while waiting in a long line at a food court to order my lunch. Advent is all about waiting, about eager expectation, knowing that what I wait for is, well, definitely worth the wait!

I found Him at Mass yesterday, the third Sunday of Advent — Gaudete Sunday — which celebrated joy. During the homily, as the priest was explaining the Gospel, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart about something I had been praying about. What joy that brought me!

There are still other instances left unwritten, and I am thankful for all of these. Sometimes (or maybe many times), these encounters happen in the most unexpected places, but He is there, ready to surprise, ready to bless, ready to make me happy…and to think, He is the Birthday Celebrant! I love You, Jesus!

Thank You, Jesus, that in the midst of this busy season, I find You. Thank You for showing Yourself to me. I still look forward to all the wonderful moments I will spend with You throughout this time. Be born in the stable of my heart once again. Amen.


Have you found Jesus in all the busyness of Christmas? If so, how and where? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments! God bless you!


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Emmanuel Is With Us. Are we WITH HIM?

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Keep Christ in ChristmasI’m participating in the KEEP CHRIST in CHRISTMAS Blog Link-Up 2013, hosted by Monica at www.equippingCatholicfamilies.com Erika at http://raisinglittlesaints.blogspot.ca/ Tina at http://trulyrichmom.com/ Laura at http://daybydayinourworld.com/ Sarah at http://onthewayhome2.com Chris at http://campfiresandcleats.blogspot.ca/ Birgit at http://designsbybirgit.blogspot.ca/

Jesus as the Greatest Gift

Happy December! Christmas greetings from our country home up north (not the North Pole, though, but in the tropics!)

It’s the first Sunday of Advent and I am excited! That’s because this season is all about Jesus! And I don’t mind all the lights, trimmings and decorations — they all just remind me that our Savior, our Hope, our King is worth celebrating, is worth all the fuss, is worth all our love and attention!

I’m the type who loves to relish everything about the Advent & Christmas seasons. For me, it is a time of heightened sensitivity to Jesus’ presence, of trying to find Him everywhere, of not wanting to miss out on all His surprises. So, in search of a deeper and more meaningful Christmas this year, I came across a grace-filled video from Ann Voskamp that talked about slowing down so as not to miss Him. Perfect. Check it out here.

Then I began to reflect and pray. Lord, I don’t want to miss You this season. How do I slow down with all that needs to be done? I am a busy wife, mom, servant of the Lord… And so went my enumeration of my responsibilities, what I needed to do in the coming days, this and that and everything else in between. (Most of these have to do with Christmas preparations. Which brought me to remember this.)

As I brought all these before Him, I was at peace actually, not at all frazzled.

Then He spoke to my heart. I don’t call you to be busy; I call you to be holy. The Holy Spirit then reminded me of the story of sisters Martha and Mary from the Bible. Martha was so into the details of hospitality (not a bad thing), but she missed what was most important: being with Jesus. Meanwhile, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus — gazing at Him, listening to Him, giving Him her undivided attention. She was 100% focused on Him.

I can’t conjure up holiness. Only God can make me holy. And that comes through immersion in His presence. I then sensed the Lord telling me to find Jesus in all that comprised my life right now, and offer them as gifts to Him. For Jesus is there. He is Emmanuel, God with Us. But more than all these offerings, He asks me to be WITH HIM. To receive Him as the Greatest Gift. To keep Christ in Christmas.

Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room.

How do you plan on keeping Christ at the center of your Christmas? Share in the comments below!

And please do check out these other entries of this Blog Link-up. Thanks and God bless!

Equipping Catholic Families: Keep Christ in Christmas

Simply Homeschool  Living Advent Series 12/1 – 12/25

Fifth of Five                     Keeping Christ in Christmas – Blog Link-up 2013

Coffee Moments with Sam           The Light of Hope

Hand-Maid With Love: CHRISTmas Presence: Keep Christ in Christmas 2013 Edition

Open Window               Making hay while the Advent wreath shines

Faith Filled Freebies: Keep Christ in Christmas

Written by the Finger of God: Not Christmas as Usual

On the Way Home:  Keep Christ in Christmas

Sue Elvis Writes: Bring Christ to Others

Mommy Bares All        Why Celebrate Christmas Even After #YolandaPH

Canadian Catholic Mom                Keeping The Little Ones Focused: An Advent Link-Up

Mountain of Grace Homeschooling               Keep Christ in Christmas

Em’s Estuary: Keeping Christ in Christmas

Happy Little Homemaker: December Devotion: Immaculate Conception 

Adoro Ergo Sum:  How We Keep Christ in Christmas

JoyAlive.net: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Home to 4 Kiddos      Keep Christ in Christmas

Embedded Faith          Boldly Be the Christ in Christmas

City Girl, Country Home                Emmanuel Is With Us. Are we WITH HIM?

Journey to Wisdom: Trusting in your Awkward Fiats

Joy of Nine9                   Waiting in Joyful Expectation Like a Child

Splendor in the Home                    Ideas For Keeping Advent and Christmas Holy

Training Happy Hearts                     10 Ways to Celebrate the New Liturgical Year

A Catholic Life               Advent: The Beginning of the Liturgical Year & Source of Rich Meditations

Designs by Birgit: Elf on a Shelf and Santa Claus

Catholic Inspired: Faith-Centered Family Christmas

A Slice of Smith Life: How we keep Christ in Christmas

Catholic All Year: Three Reasons I love Advent

Mary the Defender: Christmas The Battle Begins

Truly Rich Mom: Keep Christ in Christmas

Day By Day in Our World: 40 Days Seeking Him and Keeping Christ in Christmas

Diapers and Drivel: Keeping Christ in Christmas

Raising Soldiers 4 Christ: Keeping Christ in Christmas

Rosary Mom                    Keep Christ In Christmas With A Teenager

Tercets:     Keeping Christ in Christmas: Join Church Ministries

Campfires and Cleats                        How We Keep Christ in Christmas

Life Unabridged: Celebrating the Fullness of the Advent and Christmas Season

Homeschooling With Joy              Keeping Christ in Christmas

Mrs Domestic Bliss     Gingerbread Nativity

The Chic Traveller      Keeping Christ in Christmas

California to Korea     Keeping Christ in Christmas

Dominique’s Desk       Keeping Christ in Christmas

Our ABC Life: An Advent Update

Journey Living: Anno Domini

The Road to Rome: Advent Prayer and Reflection Resources

Life of Fortunate Chances: Keeping Christ in Christmas

Quidquid Est, Est!: Reblog: Advent Posts

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Posting This Just for My Reference, Actually…

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Warning: This post might bore you, as I’m just working on some major backlog with the 30-day blog challenge. I mentioned in my last post that I don’t plan on quitting, so even if it took some time to continue this, I’m still here. I may be behind “schedule,” but what’s important is finishing. So there. (Oh goodness, now I just remembered how it took me an UBER.LONG.TIME to finish my college thesis. But even if it took way longer than it should have, I still finished.)

Day 17
What three steps can you take to build trust and credibility online for you, your brand and your business?
2. Post CONSISTENTLY on social media.
3. Did I already mention — blog and post CONSISTENTLY?
Seriously, I need some planning and focus. Goodness, I think I started off this blog challenge somewhere with this…and here I am, delayed, yes, but still wanting to somehow finish this entire thing! My goal now is just to answer the questions for each day. At least I’ll have something to look back to as some kind of guide, right?

Day 18
What does your dream sales team look like and how will you ensure they help you build your business?
I’d love to have a sales team that’s on the same energy level as I am, who are of the same heart and mind, who are all passionate about the stuff I’m passionate about as well. To ensure they help me build my biz, I’d say I’d first have to help them, to sincerely be there for them, to build relationships based on trust.

Day 19
Which methods do you want to use to build your platform and increase your influence?
No fuss answer: The most logical method for me is to simply share what I already know.

Day 20
State your top three tools that you will use (or already use) to save time and money and make your online world more seamless.
I already have a domain and website, so the next three tools to try would be:
1. MailChimp
2. Hootsuite
3. And one of these: LeadPages, e-junkie or Gumroad

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On Not Quitting, Hard Work & Delegation

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He who began

Howdy, friends! I’ve had a fun, full and fulfilling weekend, quite busy with the following:

1. Details, details, details regarding a spiritual renewal seminar that we conducted last Saturday (which turned out really well, by God’s grace!)

2. Hosting guests for the weekend

3. The usual stuff (family, home, work, missions…)

Which is why…tada! Clumping, yet again, several days of the 30-day blog challenge! Backlog’s a’swelling, but I.WILL.FINISH. Determined, I am! That just brings to mind this verse:

I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6, NLT)

God is not a quitter; therefore, I shall not quit! 😀

DAY 14

Day 14 of the blog challenge was this podcast with Jaime Tardy who has interviewed over 80 millionaires, and shared her discoveries about them. The picture she painted was a very practical one. These are not the types who were born into opulence, or the spoiled-brat types who can have anything they want at the click of a finger. They are the seemingly ordinary types, but what sets them apart are certain attitudes and disciplines that have brought them to where they are now.

Some of the things that resonated with me were:

1. Hard work. Nothing beats that, indeed. God’s Word also confirms this.

Do you see those who are skillful in their work? They will serve kings; they will not serve common people. (Proverbs 22:29, NRSV)

She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. (Proverbs 31:13, NRSV)

2. Continuous forward motion. In other words, perseverance. Just keep at it.

And just to put this in, I saw this post online: “When God blesses you financially, don’t raise your standard of living. Raise your standard of giving.” (Mark Batterson) Beautiful!

DAY 15

Day 15 asks: “How are you building your email list?”

Answer: “Email list? Let me check.” Haha.

Actually, I did sign up for a free Mailchimp account sometime ago…now to install it on the blog! But yes, I would love to reach out and connect further with other women (as I mentioned some entries ago). God’s been so good to me that I need to share all this goodness with others, too!

DAY 16

Day 16 asks: How will you build a team around your vision and work smart instead of hard?

I’m so thankful for such things as outsourcing and delegation. What freedom to know that I don’t have to do everything! (Because truth is, I can’t!) God distributed all these wonderful gifts, talents and skills to different people, and maybe one of His reasons for doing so was so that we could learn to appreciate one another’s differences and learn to work together!

And did you know that yes, the Bible also has something to say about outsourcing and delegation? (Just check out Exodus 18:13-26 and Acts 6:1-6.) These verses are rather long, so I won’t post them all them all here. But I just wanted to highlight a few:

When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, “What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?” (Exodus 18:14, NLT)

“This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself.” (Exodus 18:17-18, NLT)

So how do I plan to build a team? With an online biz, it does make sense to have an online team as well, to bring like-minded people on-board, most especially busy mommas like myself. :)

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I’m an Original God-Blend!

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Day 12 of the blog challenge is all about USP (Unique Special Proposition). The question for today is: What is your USP Unique Special Proposition that sets you apart from the crowd?

First, let me just say that I am thankful to God for making me, me! He has made me like no one else, has given me various gifts and talents, has blessed me with a personality that I fully embrace and call my own. And all these I desire to put at His service, where I can give Him glory and where He can use me to bless others.

What I’ve discovered about myself is that I enjoy connecting with people, most especially busy moms like myself, and I love encouraging those who may feel a little weary on their journey. I love praying for them and sharing God’s Word to them, and seeing how I can help them. I realize I sincerely want to help lighten their burdens and help lift them up from where they are because I have and still experience such things, but because of how God has seen me through my experiences, and how other people have helped me, I want to pay and pray it forward.

Aside from that, I enjoy making people laugh. Seriously. (Get it? Haha.) I’m the type who can suddenly find something funny (not negative-funny, but wholesome-funny) and say it, and people laugh. I so enjoy laughing heartily myself! People even ask me to write funny stuff!

I know the power of joy. As the Bible says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Check out Nehemiah 8:10). And I treasure this joy so much more, because I went through a period in my life when I nearly lost my joy, crying day-in and day-out, feeling and falling victim to my circumstances. That made me miserable, and it seemed like this heavy cloud just followed me around. I’ve had more than enough of those days, so now I’d rather laugh and have others join me as well!

Now that I’ve written that, those of us in this blog challenge are asked to do this:

Now write your USP statement. Take action. You can look to this as the reminder of what makes you distinctive and unique by following this format:

I am unique and different because I provide [USP] which no one else in my field provides. No one else can or will provide this because [insert reason].

Here goes:

I am unique and different because I provide encouragement and inspiration through sincere connection, prayer and God’s Word, along with a dose of humor, which no one else in my field provides. No one else can or will provide this because…I got here first…KIDDING! OK, let me try that again: No one else can or will provide this because…because…because…I’m an original God-blend, serving up a distinct flavor, a combination of strong with the sweet. (Incidentally, this is exactly how I like my coffee — black with some sugar. :D)


Day 13: What three things would you most like your website to have and how will you go about getting them? (http://suitcaseentrepreneur.com/blogchallenge/blog-challenge-day13/)

I’ll make my answers short. The three things I would most like my website to have are:

1. Customized design; title with tagline

2. A description of what I do

3. Call to action via subscription or newsletter


Honestly, this blog challenge is really clearing up things for me, things that I have been praying about for months now. Thank You, Lord!

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Online Biz? Say What?

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Days 10 & 11 clumped together. Turns out I like combining the days. 😀

Day 10 question: What are the key ways in which you want to make money online in your chosen business?

Day 11 question: Which business model is best for you and what one revenue stream is most feasible?

Truth be told, I’ve been praying about having an online business for quite sometime now. There’s been this certain nudge in my spirit, a go-signal from God if you will. I even have this special message from the Bible that I go back to, which gives me direction. I sense the Lord calling me to reach out to and serve more people somehow.

With that, I’ve been signing up for all these webinars and taking these online courses to learn more about how it’s done. And well, this blog challenge is also helping me think through stuff. (Thanks, Natalie, for the push!)

Now, to answer the questions…

I’d like to offer my own products and services, with both active and residual streams, as I’ve gone through so many experiences and learned so many lessons that I believe can help women just like me.

Experiences such as relocating after getting married and having to deal with various adjustments such culture shock, loneliness, near-insanity (haha), commuting back and forth on nine-hour bus rides every two weeks, packing, unpacking, packing again, feeling unsettled, feeling lost, feeling confused, crying like forever, getting pregnant, commuting while pregnant (till my eighth month!), fear of childbirth, having a baby, having to be away from my husband, being away from my baby, riding airplanes with the baby every so often, not enjoying airplane rides, dealing with household helpers and numerous nannies, having to miss important events, moving into a new house, and throughout all this, working full-time as an editor and writer, distance-managing our department, conceptualizing events, handling a missions community with my husband…and oh yeah, taking care of my son…and managing a home.

Lessons such as faith, trust, peace, joy, hope, love, acceptance, surrender, contentment, gratitude and more!

I took a songwriting course a few months ago (I’m also a songwriter, by the way), and my final project was a song which sums up where I am now. I’ll probably share that song on this blog sometime. (Now let me review that ditty.) It’s entitled, “Settled in the Motion.”

So now, as to what product or service? Still stumped, haha. Any suggestions? Maybe God will speak to me through any of you. Lord, lead me.

Speaking of God’s guidance, I typed the word “guide” in an online Bible site (bible.oremus.org), and out came some insightful verses:

Psalm 31.3:

You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me.

Psalm 73.24:

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me with honor.

Psalm 78.52:

Then he led out his people like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.

Isaiah 42.16:

I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them.

Isaiah 58.11:

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

John 16.13:

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

Galatians 5.25:

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”

That’s it for now. Feel free to post your comments or let me in on your online business. God bless you!

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Catching Up with the Blog Challenge!

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apple green w verse

I’m running late for the blog challenges, but that’s not going to stop me from continuing with this blog challenge. After all, the main reason I wanted to join this was to somehow get my writing and blogging groove back. So there.

I got stumped with Day 7, actually, because it asked what tools I would use regularly to help keep my mindset and how I would use them effectively. I really need all the help I can get when it comes to being organized. Some people have an easier time with all this organization stuff, like they’ve been organized since birth…and I am not one of them.

But what perfect timing, I saw a link from christianmommyblogger.com on how to use Trello, an online organizing tool. Here’s the link to their review: http://christianmommyblogger.com/how-to-use-trello-as-a-blogger/

I liked what I saw and decided to check it out for myself. Still on the learning curve, but I’ve started some categories and lists. Just being on that site and doing a little at a time makes me feel a little more organized already. 😀

As of mindset, the best resource that keeps me on track is God’s Word, most especially God’s personal word to me. What I mean is there are certain passages in the Bible that have “leapt out of the page,” so to speak, which I know were meant for me either at that moment or for a period of time.

OK, so Day 8 was like a day off from blogging…but now the Day 9 challenge is here: Whose online business do you admire most and why?

If you take a peek at one of my email inboxes, you’ll see some similar subject lines coming up: many of them are online businesses; most of them are by women entrepreneurs; and some of them are by moms like myself.

I don’t think there is one that I admire most, but there are several things that I like about each one that keep their newsletters in my inbox.

For one, I might like her style and candor; for the other, I might like her authenticity and Catholic or Christian ministry. For one, I might like her practicality and simplicity; for the other, I might like her honesty with regard to the realities of being a busy mom.

I’m thankful for all of their examples that continue to inspire me on this online journey. And I’m excited on where this journey will lead! I believe that God has the best in store for me!

He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. (Psalm 23:3, NLT)

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