Focus On One Thing

Multi-tasking can be great if your focus is on one primary activity.  One example of this is working on a website or creating a graphic while listening to podcasts.

The primary task (website or graphics) can get most of your attention while the secondary task (listening to podcasts) only requires that you listen.

In other instances, though, it's nearly impossible to do two tasks successfully at the same time.  

lens

If you're writing a book, but you keep checking in on social media, you'll likely be distracted.

One thing that I have heard from many successful people is to work in time blocks or chunks.  These time blocks may be 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or even an hour.

However much time you choose, set a timer and focus on one task for the alloted time.  

When I have worked this way, I have gotten so much more done.  

Instead of focusing on writing a book, updating websites, answering emails, checking in on social media, my attention is devoted to one task that I can do well.  

Writing every day is an important goal to me, but whenever I get bogged down into so many other tasks, it doesn't get done.  

Today is the day that I get back to focusing on one thing — one thing per time chunk, one major project per day, one larger project per week.

I can do it and you can too.

Questions:  What are some of the projects that you are working on?  Do you find it difficult to stay focused on just one thing? 

A Love Worth Talking About

In the United States and other countries around the world, today is the day we recognize as Valentine's Day.  It is a day to celebrate love and to share romantic times with your special someone.

Wikipedia ties the first traces of romantic association of the holiday to the High Middle Ages when "courtly love flourished".  During that time, "lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards.." 

My wife and I usually don't plan much for the day since our anniversary is only a couple weeks before. 

While today I could share about our relationship or the love that husbands and wives can share for each other, I figured that I would share a few notes from a sermon that I shared a few years ago. 

The sermon, entitled "A Love Worth Talking About", broke down the significance of John 3:16.

1. God – The greatest lover of all mankind since His creation. Only the Lord has the capacity to love every one because He created us and knows us intimately. When we truly know what His love feels like, we don’t have to look to any other source to satisfy our souls. 

2. So Loved – The Lord loves us in the highest way possible. There is no love that is deeper than his love, wider than his love, higher than his love, or can exceed His magnificent love. When you think no one can love you, He can and He will love you.

3. The World – No one on the face of this Earth, except our Lord can say that He knows everyone who has ever existed.  He knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5).  He knows what everyone in the world likes and dislikes.  He knows how many hairs are on your head (Luke 12:7).  It doesn’t matter your race, your height, your weight, your intelligence or how much money you have, He loves you so much.

4. That He gave – God was not forced to offer his son.  He loved us so much that he gave him as a sacrifice for the sins of every single person who has lived and ever will live.

5. His only begotten Son – I have three sons and if I had to give up one of them to save someone else, I could not fathom it.  God gave his precious son to experience terrible things on this earth.  Even though the gift of a new baby is wonderful and I’ve been blessed to experience it, this does not come close to the indescrible gift of Christ dying on the cross and resurrecting from the grave so that all who believe in name can have eternal life.

6. That whoever – This is our opportunity and our invitation.  We recently reached a population of 8 billion people.  It is estimated that only 2 billion people have come to know Jesus as their Lord and saviour.  That means so many have failed to take advantage of the opportunity to be born again by saving faith in Jesus Christ.  It is available to anyone! Let's share that good news.

7. Believes – We have to believe in him to gain eternal life and forgiveness and deliverance from the penalty of our sins.  Only believe. The things that are impossible with men are possible for those who believe. Let your belief be a saving faith that acknowledges your sins, repents and turns toward God as your only hope for forgiveness, regeneration and a new birth through the entrance of the Holy Spirit of God in your life.

8. In Him – Believing in anyone else won’t do much good.  You can believe in your mom and dad.  You can believe in yourself.  You can believe in a best friend, but it won’t do any good in determining your final resting place. Contrary to what people in the world want you to believe, there is only one way to get to heaven and it is through Jesus Christ

9. Should not perish – Only Jesus can offer salvation for those who place their faith in Him and ask Him to come into their life as Savior and Lord. When Christ assures you of deliverance from hell and misery He always delivers regardless of your background or your problems.

10. But  Have – When God gives you a gift there is no way you can lose it or have it taken away. You can be sure that whoever has Jesus has eternal life and even though you may walk through trying times in your life, you will never have to fear evil because He is with you – comforting, protecting and guiding you all the way to heaven.

11. Eternal Life – What a joy to know that the Savior allows you to set your eternal destination at the moment you invite Christ to come into your life as Savior and Lord. He will never leave you or forsake you so that you can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, what can man do to me."
 

I hope that what I have shared with you is a love worth talking about. Share this post, print a copy for someone, or simply tell someone that Jesus saves.

Question:  Have you experienced this love worth talking about?  What are some ways you share it?

 

5 Benefits of Peace and Quiet

Have you ever noticed how loud the world can be?  I'm not necessarily referring to it in an auditory sense, but moreso the constant activity.

It may be the noise of your television, your cell phone, your email, your Facebook account, your Twitter account, your boss, your clients, or it may even be your spouse, children or other relatives.

If you let them, so many of these sources of noise can fill up your day.

Old Jetty

One thing that I have learned while studying successful people is that these people value times of peace and quiet.  They know that it can be some of the most productive and enjoyable time they can experience.

Here are 5 benefits that I have experienced from peace and quiet:

1)  It gives you time for uninterrupted prayer – When you're talking to the creator of the universe, isn't it great to have time to focus and, more importantly, to listen for His voice?  Prayer is essential in the life of a Christian and it's hard to do with lots of distraction and noise.  I believe this is why so many people have times of prayer early in the morning, before the day starts racing away.

2)  It is a great time to study God's word – I have found that reading the Bible during times of peace and quiet can allow me to comprehend more and to gain a greater understand of what I have read.  Though I don't experience peace and quiet every time I'm reading, I make a concerted effort to get this done before anyone else in the house is awake.

3)  It provides time for reflection on what is important – During prayer time and reading the Bible, I often take time to think about the awesome blessings that I have been entrusted with so far in this life.  This includes my wife and children, my other family members, my friends, and even the material possessions that we have such as a house and our van.  Without the distractions of the day, I can spend time being thankful for "the little things" that show me how much God loves me.

4)  It gives time for action instead of reaction – During times when I oversleep or decide to rest for a while longer, I usually find myself reacting to everything that comes at me instead of setting the pace of the day for myself.  Think about it.  If you wake up and start checking emails, looking at social media, or have to check on a crying baby, you are in response mode.  Your email tells you a message that someone else wants you to hear – whether it's about a sale at a store, a news alert, or maybe even an event.  I find that starting out in the peace and quiet allows me to take action such as writing blog posts, working on a website project, or even writing a book.

5)  It provides time for "noticing" things – Author Andy Andrews talks about this in some of his books and sometimes on his podcast.  Becoming a "noticer" is something that anyone can do, if they just quietly observe things and look for the things most people may miss.  While enjoying peace and quiet, you may be able to hear things that you usually overlook, such as birds chirping outside.  You may also be able to hear things that allow you to take preventative measures.  Sometimes I turn off the radio in my van and put the windows down to just listen.  If you never do this, you may miss sounds that could warn you of something before you need a costly repair.  It's an intentional process, but it is one that is beneficial. 

Question:  What are some of the benefits you experience during times of peace and quiet?

 

Why I’m Wearing Red Today

I'm a pretty boring guy when it comes to fashion.  I tend to stick to some basic colors: black, brown, blue, and gray.

It's very rare that I wear something very bright that would bring more attention to myself.

Maybe some psychologist has a reasoning behind my behavior, but that's the way it is.

Anyway, today I have stepped out of my usual choice of dress and I have decided to wear a red shirt.  

devin_redshirt

I'm wearing the shirt to support the American Heart Association's National Wear Red Day.

In case you didn't know, Heart Disease kills more women than all cancers combined.  This is serious business.

Since I have lots of women in my family, including a wife and two daughters, I figured that I could help in awareness.

Just take a look at these resources and I hope it saves at least one life.

1)  Check out the Heart Attack Risk Assessment calculator to determine your risk

2)  Read this to become familiar with the warning signs of a heart attack

3)  Click here to learn about Prevent and Treatment of Heart Attacks

4)  If you would like to make a donation to the cause, you can donate here

 

That's it.  Now the next step is to share this information with others.  Feel free to spread this post or a link to the Go Red Campaign via email or your social media platforms.  You could help save a life!

8 Lessons from 8 Years of Marriage

Today, my wife and I celebrate 8 years of marriage.  I am so grateful to God for bringing such a worthy vessel into my life at the moment he did.  This anniversary brings a reflection on the great things that have been done in and through out marriage.  It hasn't been the easiest journey for either of us, but it is a relationship that God has blessed abundantly and I wouldn't trade it for the world.  

rings

Since we've been married for 8 years, I want to share 8 lessons that I have learned during our time of marriage:

1)  Marriage is so much better when you work together.

One of our favorite sayings is "together is better".  We discovered early in our time together that when we worked together, the end result was usually greater than anything we could accomplish on our own.  There is just something about a united presence that is powerful.  This can apply to handling your finances, planning your meals, raising your children, facing difficult circumstances, or even serving in ministry.  Deuteronomy 32:30 says "one can chase a thousand, and two can put ten thousand to flight". 

2)  More progress is made when you work on improving yourself and not "fixing" the other person.

When we first got married, since I was already perfect (yeah, right..lol), I often tried to change things about my wife.  I was particular about certain areas of our marriage and I had all of these expectations that I had not expressed.  It didn't help us at all.  It wasn't until I began to focus on improving myself that I actually experienced greater peace and happiness in our marriage. 

3)  It is important to be proactive in protecting your marriage.

Though the number can be disputed, I've heard it said that somewhere around 50% of marriages now end in divorce.  Who knows what the reasons are, but one way to surely have marital problems is to allow intruders into the marriage.  These can come in the form of men or women who try to win your spouse's heart, friends or family members who may interfere, jobs that require unreasonable amounts of time, and even church commitments.  I have had to learn to defend my wife, to establish boundaries, and to say no and be comfortable with it since I knew it was best for my marriage.  If you don't guard your relationship and your time together, no one else will do it for you.

4)  Date nights are important.

I still have to remind myself about this, but it is important to have a night for just the two of us.  Whether money is tight or not, date nights can still happen.  It is great when we can get a babysitter and get out of the house to do something fun, but often all that is needed is to enjoy each other at home.  We usually get the kids to bed around 7:30 (yes, it's possible!) and spend some time watching a movie, playing board games or computer games, and eating some inexpensive desserts.  Mix and match a few options and there you have it!   

5)  Intimacy and compatibility take time.

I don't remember the source, but I have heard that compatibility in marriages can take nearly 10 years.  Considering the amount of time it has taken us to get to where we are, it seems valid.  Marriage takes work and if you're selfish, you won't put in the work (Tweet this).  In addition to that, intimacy can't be a instant thing either. Men are like microwaves and women are like slow cookers.  You've got to put in time and attention over the long haul to have any real success.

6)  You should be your spouse's biggest supporter.

My wife's support matters greatly to me.  I'm an "ideas" guy. I have lots of them and I sometimes just want a cheerleader to believe in me.  It goes a long way in encouraging me to actually go from idea to realization.  Sometimes, all she has to do is tell me that she believes in me and I stick my chest out and prepare to conquer.  I am also my wife's biggest supporter.  I know that no one should "fill her tank" more than me.

7)  Learning from couples who have been married longer and share your values can be priceless.

When we first got married, we spent time around other couples who had already been married for some time.  What we learned from most was the mistakes they had made. They were open to sharing some of their past mistakes and we figured that we should learn from their mistakes instead of going down the same path.  This continues to this day.  We learn from people who have "been there and done that" and are still very much in love.  

8)  You will make mistakes.  

In the movie Fireproof, one of the fireman discussed the process of learning his wife and studying her like it was a course.  He was determined that he needed to get a Ph.D in knowing his wife.  I believe that truly knowing someone can take a lifetime.  In a marriage relationship, we inevitably will say or do something wrong.  It is because we are imperfect people trying to walk through life together.  The most important thing is to learn from the mistakes you make and work toward not making them again. 

 

Question:  What is your best marriage advice?  What would you add to this list?

Everyone Needs Reminders

As a techie, I go through a lot of information on a daily basis.  I interact with people through email, I have conversations over the phone and in person, and I read lots of blog posts, tweets on Twitter, and Facebook posts.

Since so much information goes through my brain, I often need reminders to keep up with important dates and details.

As I was reading a candid email from author Robert D. Smith few days ago, the thought came to me that we often need reminders of lessons that we have learned in life as well.

reminder

In addition to keeping up with important dates, meetings, and obligations, we also need to be reminded of important factors in our lives.

Here are seven that I constantly have to remind myself:

1.  If God does nothing else for you in this lifetime, you are already blessed beyond measure

The #1 thing that I am grateful for at this point in my life is salvation.  After truly meeting Jesus in my early twenties, there was no experience that could compare.  It is a priceless gift and one that I hope to share with thousands of people. in my lifetime.

2.  Your wife and kids love you and they show you every day

There is not a day that goes by where I am not shown love by my wife and kids.  My wife serves us faithfully at home and the kids smile and laugh with me every day.

3.  You are gainfully employed and have never missed an important payment since you started working

With unemployment rates where they are and people struggling to get by, I have been blessed to work in an environment that I enjoy and I have been able to provide for my family as it has grown.  I have to remind myself to be grateful for "the process" when I start thinking about my career advancement and my aspirations as a business owner. 

4.  Your clients think of you as a man of integrity and they trust you to share personal information

I have been able to work with people who are known by millions of people.  I have also worked with business owners who have freely given me financial information and/or passwords because they knew that I could be trusted.  That, in itself, is an honor.  

5.  You have musical talents that have allowed you to meet some great people

Since I've played the piano for the past 21 years, I have met some interesting people.  While serving as a worship leader and music minister, I have had opportunities to interact with pastors and other people I respect.  I have also had great conversations with people while providing music and community functions.  I'm not as skilled as I want to be, but I'm in a position to use my gift, so I'll take that.

6.  You have escaped death at least once that you know of and possibly thousands of times because of God's grace

When I was in college, I was in an accident where the van I was riding in flipped over a few times.  As I approached that moment, I was almost sure that I was going to die.  Obviously (since I'm writing this post), that didn't happen, but I have to remind myself that my life has been spared – not just that time, but more than I could imagine.

7.  You may not consider yourself to be an expert in lots of things, but other people do

Until recently, I didn't think of just how many people ask my wife and I questions about a number of topics.  I get questions about computers, websites, and other technical topics.  My wife is often asked about marriage, parenting, hair care, cooking, and homemaking.  It's an honor to be thought of as a source of wisdom for some of these topics.

 

Question:  I've listed a few of the reminders that I need.  What are some of the reminders that you often need?

Are We Addicted to Sitting?

I just read an article written in the Harvard Business Review called Sitting is the Smoking of Our Generation.  

couch

Two quick observations: 

1)  Don't think I'm super smart or some sort of genius because I'm reading the Harvard Business Review.  Someone tweeted about the article and I followed the link.  If you want to think I'm incredibly intelligent though, please carry on.

2)  If you're sitting down while you're reading this article, if possible, get up and read it while standing.

(more…)