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The Mentoring We Need + The Mentor We Need to Be

Practical, encouraging, and full of grace, Sue Donaldson’s Table Mentoring is the nudge I needed to more fully comprehend and embrace my role as a mentor to others, and take more seriously the influence of mentors in my own life. Reading table mentoring is like sitting at Sue’s own table—receiving her wisdom, but also her sense of lightness, and humor. If you’re feeling like you could use practical guidance on the subject (as either a mentor or mentee—but most likely both), this book is the perfect companion to begin equipping yourself, and aligning your heart for the roles you’re stepping into. Also, it’s brief! There’s no wasted pages here. As a mom of two littles (and a tendency to feel overwhelmed), this was just the right length!

I’ve excerpted a bit of it below (with Sue’s permission, of course), to offer you a taste. Click through to pick it up for the cost of a fancy coffee and a croissant, but without the sugar or refined carbs. 

***
Who should mentor? You?
Who should be mentored? You?

Yes and yes.

Why the first “yes?” You are uniquely qualified to mentor another because your life experience, lessons, growth, family and education are uniquely yours.

One of life’s basic needs is “significance” and God made it so from the very beginning. Here’s why we are significant:

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13,14

Others may know more than I do on a given subject, but only I know what I know. And God may want me to give that slice of knowledge to someone in need. Granted, it may only be a slice, but He brings fruit from the smaller endeavor, and I’m grateful.

Only this morning I read an excellent article on hospitality. I might know a bit about that topic, but I’m not the only one who does! (Just ask Martha Stewart!) I could say, “I’m not the expert, so I can’t teach someone else what I know.” Comparisons trap us inside our insecurities and keep us from mentoring when we get the opportunity.

So besides your uniqueness among millions, your confidence in God, and your humility before God, what does it take to be a great mentor?

A growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

That’s it. That’s the main thing.

I didn’t say a perfect relationship or sinless existence. Perfection and sinlessness is for later on when none of us will need to mentor or be mentored.

But qualified mentoring does take a pressing on mentality. Pressing on to know and love Christ better and deeper. As Paul, again the model mentor, cried out passionately to the Philippians:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Philippians 3:f1f2-16 ESV

Paul put himself in the mature camp, but he knew he needed to keep pressing. And he did. “I press on to make it my own.” To mentor well means we keep on pressing to make it our own. We share our own stories, our own walk with Christ, our own victories and losses and pressings to know and love Him more. That’s all. A going-on-with God til He comes or we go.

Yesterday a conference director called about the possibility of my speaking and she asked me: “Tell me when you first fell in love with Jesus. When did He grip your heart?” She went on: “Tell me how He is entering your world right now and making a difference in your life?”

Both great questions and I loved answering them. I know I love Jesus more today than fifty years ago, but that’s when it started. I can tell you right now how He’s leading and training and teaching and loving me. Today. Right now. He keeps after me, and–by His mercy and grace, I’m keeping after Him. Not perfectly. I’m not finished loving Him. He still has mounds of work to do in me. But He doesn’t want me to wait til Glory to share my walk with Him with someone else.

Same with you.

If you feel God leading you to mentor, ask yourself:

  1. Do I love Jesus more today than ten years ago? One year ago?
  2. Do I trust Him for the unknowns in my future?
  3. Do I know some of His promises in His Word?
  4. Do I live like I trust in those promises?

If you answered: “Sort of. I’m working on it.” You are ready to mentor. Paul wasn’t perfect, just pressing.

If you think you know everything, think again.

If you know one promise in God’s Word, you are ready to mentor that one promise. Ask God for someone to share it with today.

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We’re Talking About Sex All Wrong

We’re way too casual about sex, and that’s created a “demand” for abortion that will not abate until we confront the truth about sex. Sexual intercourse is an inherently risky activity, regardless of how “safe” you are. Our disregard of this biological fact, coupled with the casual nature of sex in today’s culture has crippled young people and adults alike. We need to return to talking about sex as inherently risky, and an act that implies a sincere commitment to the human and emotional outcomes. Click through for the whole video.

So you want to change the world? Can you make this one sacrifice?

Most people’s desire to do good comes from a place of pure intentions, but—please take this gently—our intentions don’t matter. Outcomes matter. This post below was written for would-be Christian missionaries, but everyone who considers themselves an advocate or activist should read it. Excerpt:

“But what if our determination to DO stuff, actually undermines the efforts of local people to serve and transform their own communities?

What if using your nursing training to bandage up the wounds of sick people in a cross-cultural setting is hurting more than helping – because you’re doing work a local nurse should be trained up to do?

What if solving people’s problems as a social worker in a cross-cultural setting is hurting more than helping – because you’re doing work a local social worker could be trained up to do?”

Read Craig Greenfield’s full post here: So you want to change the world? Can you make this one sacrifice? —

Welcome to the Family | Supporting, Equipping and Celebrating New Believers

Welcome to the Family

This is part II in a series on supporting and equipping new believers, and strengthening the church family. For part I—which makes the case for the inadequacy of the “salvation prayer,” and for our need to be more intentional with new believers—click here.


In part I of this series, I argued how the way many well-meaning churches across the country promote salvation (i.e. “just say this quick prayer and receive salvation, no life-change required!”) is contributing to a hypocritical Christian culture that—generally speaking—is indiscernible from the rest of the world who are living apart from Christ. Basically, “when we reduce the life-changing power of the gospel to “saying the prayer of salvation,” and don’t shepherd/guide new believers, we end up with millions of “Christians” like me, who for years would have said I was a Christian, but wasn’t noticeably different from my non-Christian peers, bearing out none of the fruits of the spirit.”

Though there are many reasons why people are reluctant to turn from sin and embrace a lifestyle of righteous obedience to our Creator (insofar as we can strive for a lifestyle of righteous obedience), from the get-go, I see two main hurdles, which I’ll expand on below:

  1. New believers don’t understand what they’re being saved from, or called to.
  2. Those who do grasp their need for salvation aren’t supported during what is often a confusing and isolating time of transition.

They Don’t “Get It”/They’re Not Ready

The fact is many people (younger-me included) are simply not ready to turn from their sin and choose obedience instead. If we don’t view sin as God does, we can’t accept salvation in the first place. Scripture is clear: sin separates us from God, and our sin is why we need the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, his son. If we are not ready to turn over our sin and live a life of obedience fueled by gratitude, then we don’t truly understand why we need salvation. Our “prayer of salvation” rings hollow. It’s a false allegiance. And it’s the primary reason why “evangelicals” aren’t discernible from the rest of the world. A “new life in Christ” can’t truly begin until we acknowledge our sin, and willingly offer it over (AKA “repentance”).

Had the reality of life-change been presented to me in my seeking process, I don’t think I would have had so many false-starts (i.e. times I said the “salvation prayer,” yet remain unchanged). I don’t mean this to discourage anyone who is in the seeking process. Not everyone is ready to acknowledge their sin and turn from it, and that’s okay. Lord willing, we’ll all get there in His timing. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict hearts of their sin, not ours (our job is to love and demonstrate love), but when we rush the process, churning out hollow believers—people who have “said the prayer” but aren’t truly repentant—we disfigure the image of our Savior as a church family. It’s not worth it.

If we trust the Father and his timing, we have assurance that we don’t need to rush the process. If He is calling a new brother or sister to Himself, it’s only a matter of time. (Think of fruit, ripening on the tree. Hold your horses, and wait patiently, expectantly for it to ripen.) In the meantime, as soon-to-be brothers and sisters, we can love and encourage those seekers along in their journey. (Back to the fruit tree: maybe we fertilize, water, and protect that tree. But what power do we have to hurry its ripening?)

Celebrating, Supporting and Equipping New Brothers and Sisters

Once a seeker is ready to turn from their sin and truly receive the offer of salvation, how do we equip them for their new life in Christ? How do we support these young believers in their most tender time of growth and transition? Conversion can be a confusing and isolating experience (especially for those who come to faith later in age, or people whose family are not also believers). What are we doing as “older” brothers and sisters to welcome them to our family? “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10)—how do we celebrate their adoption? Have we prepared for them a seat at the table?

Welcome To The Office

We could take a clue from the world of corporate human resources, and the practice of “onboarding” new employees. Businesses and non-profits around the world have standards and practices for new employee onboarding, as the benefits are undeniable:

  • Engages new team members from day one, and integrates them into the culture
  • Builds trust, alignment and relationships immediately
  • Cultivates a connection between new team members and their coworkers
  • Encourages open, honest and transparent communication
  • Decreases turnover, encourages greater committment to the organization
  • Facilitates compliance with company policies and procedures

When the benefits of this type of structure have been proven to be effective at all types of organizations, what’s preventing us from applying the same care and attention within our churches?

If through providing this kind of loving attention, we could improve the spiritual health of our congregations, and our family as a whole, isn’t it worth it?

Welcome To The Family

So what would a more formalized onboarding look like for a seeker, or someone who might be ready to commit their life to Christ? I have a few ideas, but I’m sure you all have way more (and many of you probably attend churches who do some form of these things already).

  • Mentorship. This could easily be a friendly partnership between the new believer and whoever it was who invited them to church/introduced them to the gospel.
  • “Gospel Basics.” Through reading passages of the Old and New Testaments, lay out the case for our need for Christ, God’s provision of Jesus, and the changed life we live in response.
  • “Prayer Basics.” Through selected scripture, highlight why we pray, how we pray, and the crucial importance of regular (constant) prayer.
  • Integration within the congregation. Joining a “small group” (whatever your church calls them), connecting with brothers and sisters in similar and more advanced stages of life. Also, finding a place to serve within the church.
  • Providing a clear path to baptism. Where the “salvation prayer” isn’t biblically prescribed, the scripture does call us to be baptized. You might be surprised how many long-time believers have not celebrated their commitment to Christ with baptism!

Like I said, I know I’m not inventing the wheel here, but you get the idea. No doubt these paths exist in some form already at your church, but how intentional is your congregation about encouraging new believers through these processes early and often? And how active are “older” brothers and sisters in the ongoing celebration of new members to the family? It happens naturally that families who have attended the same church for many years tend to group together, creating the perception of exclusion to new attendees, and preventing their influence and experience from benefiting new brothers and sisters.

So how intentional are you and your church about supporting new believers? Do you remember what it was like for you, transitioning to a life of faith? What behaviors and practices did you experience or observe that were helpful (or unhelpful)?


This is part II of a series on supporting and equipping new believers, and strengthening the church family. Part III will look at the applying the same principles to long-time believers whose lives—for whatever reason—remain unchanged.

I’d love to hear what you have to say. Feel free to comment, tweet, or send me a note onFacebook.

The Problem with the “Salvation Prayer”

Problem with the salvation prayer

As someone who only really became a Christian in my early-mid 20s (after many failed attempts, which I’ll get to later), I can tell you that witnessing the (at best) unchanged lives of believers, and (at worst) the outright hypocrisy of believers was a major deterrent in my own journey towards truth. To this day, when talking with non-believers, I sometimes hesitate to refer to myself as a Christian because—from the perspective of a non-believer—I’m all too familiar with the image that conjures: a person who lives just like the rest of the world, but claims eternal salvation on the back of someone whose life, death and resurrection was marked by utter purity from the sin of the world.

And I know I’m not the only one with this perspective. In his book “The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience” (subtitle: “Why are Christians living like the rest of the world?”), Ronald J. Sider says

Whether the issue is divorce, materialism, sexual promiscuity, racism, physical abuse in marriage, or neglect of a biblical worldview, the polling data point to widespread, blatant disobedience of clear biblical moral demands on the part of people who allegedly are evangelical, born-again Christians.

Sider goes on to share some statistics that should grip us, and propel us into deep inquiry, if not immediate action. Just for example, on the issue of divorce, Evangelicals are reported to divorce at rates slightly higher or on par with the rest of the population. (Click through to read all the stats online, or order a full copy of the book for yourself here.)

So why are so many Christians living like the rest of the world? While the reasons behind people’s choices are many, as I reflected on my own journey, a particular oversight kept coming to mind. And as I informally polled friends and acquaintances on the internet, I found that I was onto something. A tiny piece of something, but it’s a start.

I believe one of the reasons there are so many people who would call themselves Christians, but live entirely unchanged lives is that we haven’t clearly communicated what it means to repent, and put your faith in Christ. I don’t think we’re educating people about what they’re signing up for, exactly. Across denominations and regions—but particularly in non-denominational West Coast Christianity—we’ve disfigured the message of authentic repentance, and traded it for the quick, one-time “salvation prayer.” No life change required. Just “say the prayer,” and you’re in the club.

Now, before anyone misunderstands me, I’m not suggesting we preach a works-based, or legalistic plan of salvation. What I am suggesting is that as we encourage people towards reconciliation with God, we present the truth of a changed life as part of the deal. The Bible does not shy away from this, but we sure seem to. Just a few verses off the top of my head regarding our renewal in the gospel, and the evident change in our lives as a result:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. – James 1:21-22
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. – James 2:17-18

When we reduce the life-changing power of the gospel to “saying the prayer of salvation,” and don’t shepherd/guide new believers, we end up with millions of “Christians” like me, who for years would have said I was a Christian, but wasn’t noticeably different from my non-Christian peers, bearing out none of the fruits of the spirit.

I can’t tell you how many times I “said the prayer” (seven? eight?), yet it never “stuck.” Nothing changed. I started to feel guilty, like something was wrong with me. Why is my life the same? What am I supposed to do now? Is this really it?

In the spirit of leading more people under God’s will for their life, what if we were more intentional  with “on-boarding” new believers? What if, instead of leaving them feeling unchanged and resourceless, we came alongside new believers and actually ushered them into the family? What if a radically changed life was positioned early and often in the process?

The gospel, when it penetrates, radically changes lives. It opens up the gates for the holy spirit to come in and convict hearts that were previously hardened to its calling. I believe if we were more intentional with new believers, we could begin to reignite a church that truly represents the savior we love.


This is part I of a series on “on-boarding” new believers. Part II will focus on the actual components of what that might look like, and part III will look at the applying the same principles to long-time believers whose lives remain unchanged.

I’d love to hear what you have to say. Feel free to comment, tweet, or send me a note on Facebook.

So You Want a “Political Revolution?”

So you want a political revolution melissa jenna

A political revolution doesn’t start from the top. Look back at comparable history, and see that it just doesn’t. In fact, our democracy is structured exactly to prevent that kind of thing. A “political revolution” (and I’m hesitant to even refer to it that way, due to the very radical connotation of the word “revolution”) can only occur through sustained, consistent, diligent advocacy, starting at the local level (which hardly sounds revolutionary at all, does it?). For “revolution” to happen, you (and many others like you) have to have a little skin in the game, and you have to keep it there day in and day out, in perpetuity. (“Committed citizen advocacy” is the least sexy campaign platform ever, which might be one reason why you never hear about it.)

Any candidate who is telling you otherwise—that your best effort at inciting a political revolution is electing them as President—is taking advantage of your naiveté (at best), and straight up lying to you (at worst). It’s manipulation, regardless of the intentions of the candidate’s heart.

Before I go further: yes, I’m obviously thinking of Bernie Sanders as I write this, but he’s not the first, and certainly won’t be the last. The peddlers of this “revolution from the top” fantasy come from all backgrounds and affiliations (I’ve voted for them!), and I truly believe that in their hearts, they have positive intentions. But I’m not here to talk about intentions. I’m here to talk about reality, and what it takes from normal people day-to-day to incite the “revolution” we appear to so desperately desire.

It’s partially our fault that Sanders (and others before him/after him) have/will peddle this fantasy. I’m speaking in general here, but we’re a people who believe in quick fixes. We believe the results earned from a truncated process can be just as good (if not better!) than results achieved through committed, continual effort. We dishonor process, and venerate outcome. We (again, generally speaking) are lazy in our political efforts, and would really love it if we could just vote for a surrogate to do the hard work for us. But like I’ve mentioned, our democracy is structured to prevent any one person from having too much power. The strength of our democracy—and your ability to be pleased with its outcomes—is directly tied to your own effort, which then becomes the cumulative effort of our people.

Wealthy people have understood this for literally ages. Our current political landscape is the result of years and years (generations, really) of focused, organized advocacy from people, families and organizations. Unhappy with the outcomes? Look to the people and organizations who are doing/funding this advocacy. They are harvesting the fruit of their effort, and the effort of their great-great grandparents. You cannot simply elect a President to untie this knot for you. The President, without thoughtful partners in the Senate and the House, is totally powerless to administer their own agenda. (Which is why, if you feel the need to participate at the bare-minimum level, I’d suggest getting really into your state elections. Stacking the House and Senate with your people is a better bang-for-your-buck.)

So what if you’re not wealthy? (That would be most of us.) Without the advantages that often come with wealth (time, money, education, “influence,” etc.), how does one assert themselves in this process? The first step is to stay informed. Personally, I’d start locally, since you have way better chances of making meaningful change on a local level. (Sometimes it can even come quickly!)

So if your primary concern is your local schools (just for example), start there. Learn when/where meetings are held, read the agendas in advance, do your best to understand their current circumstances, and apply pressure where you need to. This can be as easy as making phone calls and sending emails, which you can do regardless of your work schedule. Tell other parents at your children’s school about your concerns. See where they stand. Get their support when you can. You can even draft suggested correspondence and share it with other parents, to better enable them to get engaged.

Sometimes phone calls and emails aren’t enough. Sometimes you need to band together with other likeminded people to better make your voice heard. That’s where local advocacy groups can be very effective. So if your concern is small business growth in your town, join your local Chamber of Commerce, and make sure you get to know their governmental affairs representative. Learn what issues concern them and their membership, and speak up when you have time to do so. Bring others like you into their fold.

Sometimes there isn’t an advocacy group for your particular interest, so you have to start one. This requires more effort, but is totally within your grasp. (I ran across this paper called Community Organizing: People Power from the Grassroots, and I really like the “10 rules of community organizing” outlined in it.) Look at neighboring towns for examples, and if you can’t find any semi-local examples, look statewide, and nationally. I can guarantee you there is a model out there for you to emulate/be inspired by. Contact the leaders of those organizations and get their advice on first steps.

You get the idea. It takes effort. Bernie Sanders isn’t going to drive to your town to make sure your children get adequate outdoor recess time, or make sure there’s affordable housing for young families in your community, or well-maintained bike trails, etc. But if you engage locally on issues that matter to you, and support the candidates who align with your interest, eventually, you’ll see change. The reason you’re not happy with the current outcomes is because the current outcomes haven’t been influenced by your voice, and the countless other voices like yours.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can take a pass on engagement, and the President of the United States of America will do the hard work for you. They would if they could, but they literally can’t. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the ultimate expression of your power is your single, solitary vote for President every four years. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking you can upend the political establishment—built on generations of committed citizen advocacy—as easily as casting a ballot. There are no shortcuts. Your “I Voted” sticker does not get you off the hook. You will only get as much out of a “political revolution” as you personally put in.

NEWS! (I’m the worst at sharing news.)

I’m the worst at sharing news that actually matters. I don’t know how to do it without coming off as flippant or cheesily over-sincere, so when I have big news to share it’s just awful.

Like two weeks ago, I walked up to my friend Rachel in the courtyard of our church, thinking “yay! I’m going to tell Rachel!” but when I reached her, I just, like, stared into her eyes for a while. Without saying anything at all. And so she’s looking at me, waiting for me to say something, because I had marched all the way across the courtyard obviously for a reason. But I just keep on staring at her. Why? I DON’T KNOW, YOU GUYS. (Because I’m the literal worst at sharing news.)

So after WAY too long of my staring at Rachel, my eyes get all shifty, and I blurt out “So…WE’RE HAVING ANOTHER BABY!” And of course she smiles and hugs me and is super excited, but really all I can think of is how gracious she is with my awkwardness.

So that’s how I’m telling you all.

The literal worst, am I right? You should see me when I have bad news to share. It’s a di-sas-ter.

So that’s the big news. I’ll be 13 weeks on Tuesday, with an estimated due date of June 21, 2016. (I think it’s June 18, based on my calculation, but I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.) We couldn’t be happier, but unfortunately that doesn’t make me any better at sharing the news. Awkward is as awkward does.

More details to come later! Mama’s gotta go put dinner in the oven.

How To: Rotating TPT Header

How to make a rotating tpt teacherspayteachers header by melissa jenna godsey

Background

This time last year my husband and I opened up shop on Teachers Pay Teachers (a marketplace for teacher-created educational resources). I’ll spare you the big long story; in a nutshell: our shop has been more successful than we ever would have dared to dream, and as a result we have some financial flexibility that we didn’t have before. In less than 9 months our shop is ranked in the top 100 secondary sellers (that’s high school, for you non-education folks), and we’ve gotten tons of great press about our (extremely niche) product.

It’s a crazy blessing. Like, one of those things where I imagine what’s possible, and God goes and blows my pathetic little vision up, like he’s showing off or something. Like “oh, you think you know abundance? HA. Watch what Imma ’bout to do.” I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. Anyway, that’s not why we’re here. We’re here so I can save you some time, and hopefully support you in your growing TPT effort. Let’s get to it.

First: What’s a “Rotating TPT Header?”

Okay, so at the top of your TPT store, you have the option of including a quote, but using some easy HTML, and a tiny bit of design, you can swap the quote for an image, or if you’re feeling fancy, a series of images that will automatically cycle, like a slideshow. Click over to our shop if you want to see it in action.

Second: Why do I want one of those?

Lots of good reasons! First, it differentiates your storefront, and gives it a more thoughtful, profesional appearance. It’s evident that you care. Secondly, it’s prime real estate, perfect for a strong call-to-action, which could be lots of things. Here are a few examples:

  • Promoting a specific product
  • Announcing a sale
  • Building an email distribution list

Since you’re able to link this rotating banner to one specific thing, I suggest picking one CTA for all your images. Right now ours is set to drive people to join our email list. Later I might swap it out to promote a specific product. It’s really up to you how you use it. Think of it like your virtual boutique window.

Third: How do I make one?

Before we get started, here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  1. An app like Keynote, or Powerpoint, or my personal favorite Canva.com which free, and glorious. Tons of free design templates, which is beyond helpful if you are not design-minded.
  2. A free Photobucket account
  3. Maybe an open doc to paste in some of the URLs you’ll be creating in the following steps. I have a cool plugin installed that remembers the last 10 things I copied to my clipboard. Here’s a link to it if you want. (It’s for Mac; sorry PC friends.)

Okay, let’s get started. It’s going to look complicated, but it’s really not. Baby steps, okay?

Designing your header

  1. First things first: decide on your call-to-action. Do this before you start designing, because your CTA will inform your design.
  2. Launch Keynote/Powerpoint/Canva. Set your slide/image size to 450 x 150 (pixels). If you don’t know how to do this, Google it real fast.
  3. If you want your background color to match TPT’s greyish background, set your background color to F1F1F1. Again, if you don’t know how to do this, a quick Google will set you right.
  4. Add your text, and any images. I’m not going to suggest designs because that’s a whole ‘nother how-to. If you’re not feeling designy, Canva will seriously take care of you.
  5. Okay, so if you only want ONE single graphic, you’re done! Skip to step 1 in the “Uploading to Photobucket” section below. If you’re the fancy type and want a rotating header, continue on, brave one.
  6. Once you’re happy with your design, duplicate the slide/image, and change the text/images for the next slide. This enables you to swap out text without having to reformat everything. Keep doing this for as many slides as you want (I tend to do 3).
  7. Once you have all the slides you want, save/export them as high quality JPGs or PNGs. Don’t let those file extentions scare you: this is easy. As usual, a quick Google will help you if you’re stuck. (“How to save as JPG in Powerpoint.“)

Converting your header to a GIF

This couldn’t be easier. Head to GifMaker, upload your images, and set the animation speed to something like 3000 milliseconds (= 3 seconds). Click “Create GIF Animation,” download the GIF, and you’re done with this step. And guess what? You are so close to the end!

Uploading your GIF to Photobucket

You can upload your GIF wherever you have web space; I suggest Photobucket becasue it’s free and simple.

  1. Log in to Photobucket, click upload, locate and upload your GIF that you just downloaded.photobucket direct link
  2. Once it’s uploaded, click on it in Photobucket, and copy the “direct” link. Boom. Done. You’re almost done.

Shorten that Photobucket link

TPT has a character limit in the quote section of your profile, so you’ll have to shorten this link. Fortunatly, this is easy. Head to Bit.ly (or your favorite link shortener, and shorten your Photobucket link. Copy your new shortlink. Give yourself a high-five.

The moment of truth: Update your TPT profile!

You’ve made it! Let’s get that fancy new GIF playing on your shop page.

  1. Log into TPT and navigate to your store profile. Click “edit” down on the bottom.
  2. In the “Personal Quote” field, paste in the following HTML code: <a href=”LINK“><img src=”SHORTENED GIF” /></a>Tpt personal quote
  3. Replace the LINK with the URL of whatever it is you’re linking to: the product you’re promoting, your email sign-up form, your blog, whatever.
  4. Replace the SHORTENED GIF with the shortened GIF link you made above.
  5. Click “Save” down below.
  6. Head to your store page, and admire your effort. You did it! You’re an Internet Champion!

Final thoughts

As with anything, this first time you do this, it might take a while. But that’s okay! That’s part of learning, right? The next time you update your banner it’ll be so much faster, and before you know it, you’ll be teaching others the same. Want more TPT Tips and Tricks delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for free! You won’t get more than one email a month, promise.

Shortcuts

Here’s a Keynote template I made that’s already sized to 450 x 150, and colored F1F1F1, so you can just jump right in. If you have Keynote ’09, here’s that version. Enjoy!

The Lesson I Keep on Learning

all of the things melissajenna

You can’t do all of the things, all of the time. It’s simple, but it’s so so hard for me to remember.

Typically, I’m a fast learner, but with this lesson, it’s like I’m stuck in a repetitive loop. The majority of it has to do with the fact that I have not yet made peace with my newish reality. I’ve been living this life of working parenthood for about a year and a half now,  and I just can’t get down with the idea that I’m going to have to let some things go. I still feel like there’s a trick I’m not aware of. As if someday I’ll read a post about “5 things working parents can do optimize their efficiency,” and BOOM. The problem will be solved.

But my brain knows it doesn’t work like that. My brain has a firm understanding of timelines, and workloads, and resource availability…but my heart? My heart has not let go, and I’m not sure that it will.

I was wondering to myself how the writers I admire do it. How do they work full-time(+), remain engaged with their spouse and children, give to their community, maintain their spiritual and physical health, AND maintain their awesome blog and social presence? It was a mystery to me. Until I realized that they don’t.

Of all the writers I read and admire, none of them do what I just described. Some of them are stay-at-home parents, but for many of them, their writing is their job. Many of them even have assistants! People to answer their emails, manage their social, and do their design. There isn’t a single prominent blogger in my world whose full-time job isn’t related to their blog. In a way, that’s comforting. But also, it’s another reminder that you can’t do all of the things, all of the time.

Somehow, that’s a relief.

So that’s where I’m at, and where I’ve been since I went back to work full-time. What I long for is alignment between my brain and my heart. That I can have peace in the circumstance, and enough grace for myself to take me from day to day.

And it would be pretty tone-deaf of me to not openly acknowledge and celebrate that I live an amazing life, full of love, and inspiring people, and beautiful experiences. I’m endlessly grateful. I have more than I deserve, or would ever have dreamed to ask for. My angst has nothing to do with my beautiful life, but everything to do with my heaven-high expectations for myself (which, strangely, I never asked for).

 

Young Men, Sex, and Urge Ownership (And Why It’s Not The Girl’s Problem)

Loved this quote “Sometimes, doing what’s right toward someone, even needs to transcend their attitude about themselves. If a girl you know shows too much, advertises too much, and offers too much, it doesn’t mean you can take too much, because it’s about the value you assign to her, and to yourself.”

john pavlovitz

GuysWatchingGirls
Young men, I need to tell you something; something that maybe your fathers, or your coaches, or your uncles, or your buddies never told you, but something that you really need to hear.

Your sex drive? It’s your problem.

I know you’ve been led to believe that it’s the girl’s fault; the way she dresses, the shape of her body, her flirtatious nature, her mixed messages.

I know you’ve grown-up reading and hearing that since guys are really “visual”, that the ladies need to manage all of that by covering-up and keeping it hidden; that they need to drive this whole physical relationship deal, because we’re not capable.

That’s a load of crap.

You and me, we are visual.
We do love the shape of women’s bodies.
We are tempted and aroused by their physicality.

And all of that, is on us, not on them.

You see, we actually live…

View original post 468 more words

Dove Recognizes that Fathers are Not Inept, Mouth-Breathing, Man-Children

Join me in having a cleansing, happy-cry at your desk, won’t you?

This is such a beautiful advertisement. I don’t know about you, but as a wife, and mother, and human being, I am sick to death of seeing dads (and men in general) portrayed as inept, mouth-breathing, man-children in media. The ad above? That’s more like it. And it’s sad that it should stand out so much, don’t you think?

Is it possible that maybe (just maybe) our culture is ready to acknowledge fathers as true partners in parenthood, and not inept babysitters of their own children? Gosh, I hope so. It’s about time. Round of applause to Dove for once again pushing advertising in a more positive, healthy direction!

Don’t Call it a Comeback

No, seriously. Don’t.

I’m out of practice, and who knows what kind of garbage I’ll write before this gets any good again. But that’s the thing about consistency, isn’t it? Getting the ball rolling? HARD. Keeping the ball rolling? A little less hard. (You’ll know this is true if you’ve ever fallen out of your workout routine, and then tried starting up again. It’s not pretty, folks, let me tell you.)

But guess what? Somehow between a very demanding job (lots of travel), being a wife, mother, and keeper of a home, going to board and committee meetings, and recently moving into a new apartment, I’ve managed to make time for spin class, and barre class on a regular basis. And if feels so good. So why not write some more?

The honest answer to that question: I don’t want to do this if I can’t absolutely crush it. I love this; this is my thing. And there’s this somewhat pathetic, petulant part of me that wants to pick up my ball and go home because I can’t do this my way, on my timeline. Because the present season of my life doesn’t have room for this.

Some things (cooking, gardening, sewing) I’m okay dabbling in. The skill I’ve developed in those areas, though I’m a dilettante, brings me pleasure, and enhances my life. But not this. It hurts to dabble in writing. Literally, deep in my chest, there’s a pain when I consider how much I miss being in practice. It’s similar to the pain I felt the one time I was truly heartbroken, and gosh, does that make me a crazy person?

The reality is that I won’t be able to practice here as much as I used to, or with as much dedication, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. Even though it hurts to do this halfway, I can’t not do it, because I’ve tried that, and that feels worse. This is where I need to be, even if it hurts.

So, no. This is not a comeback. I will not be bringing the fierceness. But I will keep at it, even though (in this present season) I can’t reallocate the time I would need to really crush this thing.

So please bear with me as I do my best to remain in practice, and I hope you still feel comfortable enough around me that you’ll tell me what you think, good or bad.

Thanks for hanging in there, and motivating me to get the ball rolling again. Tip of the hat to Toni Hammer for saying some kind (but challenging) words to me that really got me thinking. It was the nudge I needed to swallow my pride, and get back to work.

On Rock Hunting, and People-Tumbling

Rocks I collected south of San Simeon

Rocks I collected south of San Simeon

Lately, I really suck at having hobbies. Gardening has been reduced to sometimes remembering to water my succulents; writing has been reduced to tweeting on an (almost) daily basis, and cooking? Well. I made some instant oatmeal this morning. Let me say this, in no uncertain terms: having a full time job, and a family, is hard. (Duh.) So, that’s basically what’s kept me away from here lately. (There’s more I’d like to say about that, but it’ll have to wait for another time.)

The one hobby that I can stick to, with my demanding schedule, is rock hunting. (Bonafide dork status, right there.) I’ve been into rocks since I was a kid, and last year, for my 29th birthday, my husband bought me my very first rock tumbler (because he is a dear). So I’ve been collecting rocks, and tumbling them, for the past few months, and every time I’m doing something rock-related, I think of you guys. Rock hunting (and tumbling) takes time, and I’ve come to realize there’s a few reasons I enjoy it as much as I do, and I’ve been wanting to share them with you all for a while.

Here are the real basic-basics about rock hunting.

The best place to find rocks, in my area of California, is at the beach. Specifically, just south of San Simeon, where the creek dumps into the ocean. You want to go there after a good storm (which we don’t get often), and at low-tide, for the best pickings. So step number one in rock hunting, for me, is head to the beach. Once you get there, you survey the landscape for the most promising-looking piles, then set yourself down, and…well…just start looking for the good stuff. With all the sights and smells of the ocean, and the warm sun on your back, you could easily spend a few hours, looking for the best specimens.

If you’re new to rock hunting, here’s how you tell which rocks will polish-up nicely: get them wet. If you don’t have a bucket of water handy, you can just use your own spit. Don’t worry about how silly you look, because, hello, you’re sitting on the ground, playing in rocks. You already look pretty silly.

Once you’re satisfied with the amount of rocks you’ve collected (hint: you’ll never be satisfied with the amount of rocks you’ve collected), it’s time to go home and get them into the tumbler, along with the coarsest grit you have. Over the next few weeks, you’ll continue changing out the grit, until eventually your rocks are polished up to a glossy shine. What you do with them after that, I’m not so sure. I mean, that’s not really the point. Not for me, anyway.

Now let me tell you why I actually enjoy rock hunting.

There’s something exciting about looking at a shore covered in dusty (some would say ugly) beach rocks, and knowing that buried amongst them are agates, and jaspers, and moonstones, and quartz. Precious stones that, after a little TLC, will shine with an effortless beauty reserved for nature’s pure creations. But what moves me even more is that even the plain rocks are beautiful, once they’ve had their dust and rough edges worn away.

It’s hard to collect rocks, and tumble them, and not think of the people who’ve “tumbled” me over the years. And not think of the people I’m “tumbling”/will “tumble.”

It feels good to be chosen, doesn’t it? For someone to see the value in you, underneath the grime and the rough edges, and think to themselves “this one. This one could really shine, with a little help.” And it feels good to be the one doing the choosing. To have the vision to see the beauty and opportunity and potential in someone, and to continue to invest in them with no alternative motive, other than to leave that person better off than they were when you first met them.

Now let me tell you what we’re going to do about this.

I’m asking you to do a few things. First, take a moment to identify someone (or a few people) who have “tumbled” you over the years. Do your best to remember some specifics about that experience. Then reflect on how grateful you are to have had their influence in your life. Next, if you’re able, reach out to that person, and say thank you, in whatever way you can muster up. Sometimes this can be hard, but it’ll mean a whole lot to them, so take the time and do it right. Lastly, take a moment to identify someone in your life that you could use your influence, and commit to doing something to act on that. Could be just taking them out for coffee and asking them how they’ve been. That’s always a good start.

I would be nowhere if people in my past hadn’t taken the time to see something inside me worth surfacing, and gently assert themselves in bringing that change about. It’s my hope that by reflecting on the people who have influenced your life, you walk away with a renewed sense of gratitude, and perhaps a new desire to invest in others, the way you have been invested in.

Whaddaya think? Is it a worthy exercise?

xoxo, mj

3 Secrets to Squashing Vacation-Envy

Image Credit: Melissa Godsey

Image Credit: Melissa Godsey

(I’m delighted to be guest-posting over on ShareSLO.com today! This is just an excerpt, so make sure you click over and get my 3 Secrets to Squashing Vacation-Envy.)

I can tell it’s really summer when celebrity vacation photos are splashed all over the covers of magazines at the grocery store. While waiting in the checkout line, you see pictures of Rachel Bilson skipping along a beach in Barbados, Heidi Klum in Hawaii, and Jessica Alba in St. Barts, each of them tan, smiling, and glowing with a radiance that only comes from a jaunt to a far-flung locale. But before you’re overcome with vacation-envy, I have a trick that just might put some glow back in those office-weary cheeks of yours. I call it “Vacation Living,” and it’s my number one weapon in combating the 9-to-5 blues.

The idea behind Vacation Living is pretty simple: put your tourist glasses on, and rediscover your hometown. Approach your free time with the same gusto you have when you’re on vacation.

For most of us, the simple act of being on vacation brings out our adventurous side. With some distance between yourself and your routine, you’re suddenly tasting new foods, seeking out new experiences, and sometimes even trying your hand at a new language. There’s something about being away from home that gives us fresh eyes for the world around us. How would your quality of life improve if you had the same adventurous spirit at home that you do when you’re away?

Routine is the enemy of Vacation Living, so to help you expand your horizons, I’ll share a few challenges I’ve given myself, to help push you out of your bubble, and into your new Vacation Life. Click on over to read the remainder!

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Let’s be friends!

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Melissa Jenna’s Ford Fiesta Movement Application, Version 2.0


This is my application to be selected as a Fiesta Movement agent (again). Only this time, we’ll be driving the 2014 Fiesta, and I couldn’t be more excited! Check out fiestamovement.com if you want to enter yourself!

mj

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