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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

10 Tips for Eliminating the Distraction of Your Phone


    School is in session right about now. So, how can we stay focusing on homework or classes when Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and texts are all calling?

     Our phones are big-time distractions, and so many teenagers wish they could get their homework done fast and then get on their phones to their hearts' content.

     So, we need to battle the temptation that phones present before, during, and after they call us. Get it? Call?

Before:

     Do these things before you start studying.

     1. Download and set up Forest. One of my friends told me about this super cool app that should help you remember not to get on your phone for a certain amount of time. It won't lock your phone, so you could still get on in an emergency. But if you get on, it kills a tree. Learn more and download it here. Hurrah for free tree apps!



     2. Get accountability. Study with a buddy or tell your parents or siblings that you are trying not to get on your phone until you've done x. It might seem weird at first, but our family is really good accountability.

     3. Even better, hand it over. Have your sibling hide it or your parents stash it away in a drawer until you are done. When you say you are done, they can confirm and then give you the location of your phone. (It's best to try this with non-mischievous siblings. Oh wait, is there such a thing?)

     4. Power down. If no one is around to hold you accountable and you forgot to download Forest, power down your phone. I don't mean airplane mode. I mean, power it off. I believe in you! (Note: If your parents need to get into contact with you, maybe don't do this.) :)

During:

     When the temptation comes unexpectedly, or you realize you forgot to prevent distraction beforehand, here are the emergency steps you can take. Ding-a-ling! Someone's texting you. What do you do?



     5. Don't touch your phone. Now I know you're probably thinking, "Whaaaaaaat?" This one does indeed come with some willpower required, but think about it. If you never touch your phone to turn down the volume, you will never "accidentally" check your texts. Just let it bring and ping and ding-a-ling away. Know that you're not actually missing anything. Plus, now the faster you do your homework, the faster you will get to text friends.

     So, let's take another scenario. You're minding your own business and doing your algebra homework when BAM! You just thought of the world's #1 funniest tweet. Good for you. But you're not supposed to be on your phone.

     6. Write it down. Even the world's best tweet is not an excuse to get on your phone. And when I say write it down, you know I mean with pencil and paper not the Notes section of your phone, right?

     7. Turn it into a challenge. Try to complete certain sections of your homework or studying before the next beep.


     At this point, you're probably reaching for your phone like, "Banana!!!"

     8. Turn down the sounds. If the sounds are driving you crazy, just turn them down using the buttons on the side of your phone or muffle it in a blanket.

After:

     Finally! You're done with homework. Here's what you should do.

     9. Evaluate what the hardest part was. What was distracting? Will you be able to do something in the Before section next time to prevent the struggle of the During?


     10. Celebrate! You survived. You may now get on your phone. And don't forget to type up that genius tweet.

     Tomorrow you will do it all over again.

     (Whoops. I was trying to make the top graphic all pretty and sophisticated, but then the minions invaded. So much for pretty graphics! :))

~Madeline

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sharing Others' Words When I Have None of My Own

     This blog isn't about me. I hope, more than anything, is that it points you to Jesus.

     So today I have two posts to share with you from very wise women, Kaitlyn Bouchillon and Lydia Lee. Because I want to join them in pointing you to the truth.


 
     These are my sisters in Christ, and I love them and their messages so much. Please take a few minutes to read what they have to say about the Holy Spirit's presence and putting God before anything else.
 
~Madeline

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The One Little Thing I Need From You


     October is coming! (After September, of course, but still.)

     It's an exciting month because for the last two years, I have written on one topic for 31 days as part of the Write 31 Days Challenge. This year is no different.

     But I need your help! I have some ideas, but I want to do what is most helpful to you.

     SO will you pretty please fill out the briefest survey possible (one question!).



     Thank you!

~Madeline

Friday, August 21, 2015

10 Ways to Organize Your Bookshelves


     You have a lot of books. And I mean A LOT of books. I’m writing this assuming most of you have some sort of shelves or closet space for all the books you’ve accumulated from bookstores, friends, and Goodwill.

Here are 10 ways to organize all those books.


1. Alphabetically by title: Adventures of Tom Sawyer (by Mark Twain), Black Beauty (by Anna Sewell), and then Cress (by Marissa Meyer). This way, even if you can’t remember the author’s name, you can find the book quickly (so you can loan it to your best friend of course!) This is how my books are currently organized although I’ve tried most of the below.

2. Alphabetically by author’s last name: This is how books are usually organized in bookstores and the fiction section of libraries. From Jane Austen to Mark Zusak, you’ll take comfort in knowing that pretty much anyone can figure out your system.

3. By genre: This way all your poetry is together. All your science-fiction books are together. The only problem with this is that it can get messy. If your new favorite book is a young adult, sci-fi, romance mystery, you’re going to have a hard time finding the perfect home for it using this system.

     Today I had the privilege of guest posting over on Kristin Belter's blog, Simply Bookish Things. You can read the rest of it here: Read on!

     Thank you for this opportunity, Kristin!

~Madeline

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Letter | To the people who always end up behind me at baseball games


Dear people behind us,

     We can hear you.

     It's just a game. Games are played all the time without you there to comment. So you can keep your opinions to yourself please, or at least leave out the foul language.

     There's a little girl within hearing range, and she doesn't know what's going on. You're certain she's heard those words before, but not everyone was raised like you were. Let her keep her innocent mind as long as she can.

     You're entitled to your opinions, but please be respectful of others. You're taking your anger out on him, and he didn't do anything to deserve it. So I will cheer for him. I will protect him, at least in my mind. And if someone stands up to you, I'll be with them in spirit.

     I know you've had a hard life. I see it in your eyes. I see it in your set mouth and your crossed arms. You're trying to unwind, but life is chasing you to the ballgame with phone calls from your child who is at his dad's house for the weekend.

     I understand you're hurting. And you're being loud and obnoxious because of it. You think it's fun, but let me tell you that no one else thinks it is. I guarantee no one is cracking a smile because you opened your mouth. No one is wishing they were as into the game as you are. They just think you look foolish. You're affecting everyone around you, and it's getting awkward.

     You might be the one who made tears run down my face.

     So I'll give you a smile and a kind word at the beginning of the game. I'll pardon you in the middle of the game. And I'll sigh with relief at the end of the game.

     This is my word to you. Take it and run with it. Or reject it.

     I'm not hating. I'm learning. And I'm writing. And I'm trying to teach you not to hate.

     At the end of the day, it's just a game.

~Madeline

P.S. Maybe try the hot dog stand instead next time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Simply Tuesday Book Review

 
     It’s Tuesday. It’s not a Monday or a Friday. Just little old Tuesday.
     Or is it?
     Emily P. Freeman challenges us to begin embracing the ordinary days. The days where dentist appointments and grocery shopping happen. The days you go to school, do homework, watch TV, and go to bed.
     They’re not exciting, but they contain an invitation to slow down and let your soul breathe. Maybe this summer was all summer vacations and poolside parties for you. But I bet not. I bet you’re struggling with something or mourning something. Or maybe you’re scheduling too much, working too much, and going to bed too late. Maybe you’re rushing through, forgetting to enjoy every last sunshiney day.
     So today is the perfect day for you to embrace the slow, sit on a bench, and let Emily’s words simmer in your soul.

 
 
     Simply Tuesday comes out today. I really encourage you to read it, wherever you are on your journey of more vs. less and fast vs. slow.

     To be sure, there are fast days. But if those days drain your soul, this book will invite you to rest in the midst of them.
 
     If you want to hear more about this fantastic book, here is my GoodReads review of it:
Are you looking for a book to help you catch your breath? Simply Tuesday is a friendly reminder that slow is good, benches are havens, and bench-dwellers can rest there for awhile. Emily P. Freeman graciously encourages us to take no moment for granted-- to embrace even the Tuesdays of our lives. #itssimplytuesday  This book is well-worth the read!
~Madeline

Monday, August 17, 2015

6 Ways to Live Like Jesus


     I've written two "6 Ways" posts. 6 Ways to Live Like a Jane Austen Heroine and 6 Ways to Live Like Adeline Bowman. Both were wildly popular and fun to write, so I started thinking about who we should truly aspire to be like.

     If you thought of Jesus, you got it! Here are a few ways we can be more like Him.

     1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. What does loving God mean to you? Right now, I think of loving God as basking in His love for me and then honoring and obeying Him from love and gratitude, not duty.

     2. Love your neighbor as yourself. A measure of our love for God is how well we love His people. Loving others well is a sign of true maturity in your relationship with Christ. My word for 2015 is relationship, and love is the foundation of every healthy relationship. I'm finding that my former enemies can be good friends. I'm looking for people who don't care if I like them but who do care about everyone knowing and loving God.

     3. Be humble. Don't boast. Rather, be gentle and gracious. Don't flaunt yourself or list your achievements. Don't make others feel bad about themselves. Jesus is the best example of this. He truly had so many reasons to boast. He is the King, God, and Creator, but on earth He stayed humble and focused on serving others.

     4. Pray. Prayer should be our steering wheel, not our spare tire. Jesus, even though He was God, talked with His Father often. And He taught us how to pray. (This doesn't mean that those were the only words we would say to God, but it's a model for us to follow.)

     5. Know your Scripture. It is written. It is written. It is written. Jesus knew His Scripture, and He wasn't scared to quote it. Don't quote it at people to point out their sins or to show off--that won't win souls! But quote it out of love for others and respect for God's Holy Word.

     6. Reflect on God's goodness. It was Jesus who taught us communion. The practice of communion is slow and beautiful and gracious. We're thanking Jesus for His body and blood that He poured out for us on the cross.

     I hope you're inspired to live like Jesus, not to impress others, not to "be good," and not to obsess with perfection, but to live closely with Him every day.

~Madeline