Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner

Busy moms, especially home school moms, are always searching for better time management and life organization strategies. I am no exception. I am a chronic list maker, and thrive on setting and achieving goals, "checking" things off my daily task lists. I was very interested in the opportunity to review The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner from The 7 Minute Life. 

The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner is much more than a daily planner. It is an entire life/time management system! The creator, Allyson Lewis, designed this program after a serious health situation in her own life caused her to re-evaluate her life's goals and daily priorities, examining where she wanted to spend time and what was important enough to focus on, eliminating those things that were just taking up space in her life. She used this experience, and her planner, to develop a system of life coaching to help others achieve success in time management and fulfill their life's purpose.

What is the planner like? It is a spiral bound, square shaped planner that is about 8" square, and 1" thick. There is a clear plastic cover overlaying a thick card stock cover, that includes a small pocket on the inside for storing receipts.

What is included inside? The front of the planner has nineteen pages of instructions for starting the program and making it a success in your life. The next seventeen pages are worksheets for implementing the plans, and include pages to sort out your own personal priorities, preferences, strengths, and goals. There is plenty of room to list tasks, set goals, and break down the tasks into smaller, bite size pieces so that you can actually see them move from hopes and dreams written on a page to reality. Following that introduction, there are ninety days worth of daily progress reports.

This is a short video I made to describe the planner in more detail:

What is the significance of 7 minutes? There have been studies that show an average adult's attention span is about seven minutes. Allyson Lewis also emphasizes spending seven minutes at the end of each day to assess your daily accomplishments, record your progress, and plan your priorities for the following day.

How does the system work? There are multiple videos on the 7 Minute Life website that explain the time management strategies involved in using this planner. I found them all very interesting, especially the ones that explain how to use your brain to change your habits. At the heart of this system is teaching yourself to recognize what is (or should be) a priority in your life, and then striving to organize and simplify your life so that your priorities get the attention they deserve. In fact, that is the three steps of this system: Prioritize. Organize. Simplify.

Have you ever felt like your daily task list was just too much to accomplish? I have. Sometimes my list seems so long that I don't even know where to start. It just feels so out of control.

What have I learned from using this planner? I have learned to break down huge tasks into manageable pieces. I don't ever have an uninterrupted day set aside to clean and organize an entire room. After using this planner a bit, I realized that I can take an entire room that needs organization, and instead of writing that in my planner and feeling discouraged that I couldn't accomplish it, I can actually work to see it happen, (though it will take a few weeks), by taking one small part of that room and writing one task a day in my planner. For example, instead of writing "clean & organize the sun porch" I wrote "remove one bag of unused items from the sun porch". At the end of the day, I was able to feel success and accomplishment over doing a small part, and over the course of the week, I was slowly able to see the sun porch come back to life!

What was the most valuable aspect of this planner for me? I would say that I benefited most from the "5 before 11" section of the daily progress reports. In this small section of the daily progress report, I was able to choose five things that were a priority for the next day, and as soon as I woke up and finished my daily morning routine, those were the things that I tackled. Having a goal set to have those five items accomplished before 11:00 made me much more productive. Rarely did I miss finishing my "5 before 11" items. I learned to make sure they were priority items, but not things that were big projects that would get me bogged down. For a goal setter like myself, accomplishing tasks early in the day definitely gives me a mental edge on the rest of my day and makes me much more productive.

Who is this planner for? This is definitely a planner for busy adults, or possibly college students. It is not a student planner.  I think people who are trying to balance work and family life would find this planning system most helpful.

Some adjustments: While I definitely did enjoy using this planner, there were a few things I either adjusted in it to personalize for myself, or would outright change if I could.  The main thing I adjusted was the headings on the daily progress reports. Since my main focus in life right now is home making and home schooling, I found several areas that were not really applicable to my life. I do not have many voice mails or messages to return, and I don't really have daily contacts. My thank you note writing comes in spurts, not daily, and I definitely need more "free space" to write tasks that need attention. I ended up crossing out the headings and using them in completely different ways than what they were intended for.

The other drawback that I found with this system is that it only lasts for ninety days. I am in the habit of using my planners for a year at a time, and my kids call my planner "Mom's Brain". Everything I do is written in there, and I often have to refer back to previous months for information I need. While I love the concept, I am not sure that I could break down my life into ninety day segments like this planner suggests. My life is just more complicated than that, with medical information and school information that I need at my fingertips for the entire year.

I really enjoyed the introductory pages in the front of the planner. I found them valuable and a helpful and simple way to think through my life and choose priorities and tasks. I think it would be a wonderful idea to be able to purchase just those introductory life planning pages as an independent booklet. I would definitely use that in my own life, as goals and priorities change over time. I would also use it with young people that I mentor.

I also found many pages that I skipped over because they just weren't applicable in my life right now. For example, there were pages that had "meeting planning" strategies to write down. I currently don't run meetings. When I started, I thought perhaps I could use them for "family meetings" that we have sometimes when working through decision making, but I found it too cumbersome.

I think it would be most helpful if people could customize their planners with different sets of pages that were most useful for their own life. This planner definitely has more of a "business" tone, but there are many other walks of life that would find the system itself useful. Some pages or headings that I would love to see in future editions of this planner would include a daily devotions tracker, spiritual goals, savings goals (and possibly weekly ways to track savings), prayer lists, more free space for writing uncategorized tasks, budgeting, "screen time" for myself and the kids, and more room for homeschooling needs. I enjoy planning ahead for our home school year, and having the planning pages tailor made for schooling would be extremely helpful.

Final thoughts: Overall, I think the 7 Minute Life time management system is very thorough, and would help any user accomplish more in their life, fulfilling goals and desires. I think one must really buy in to the system and overhaul their life using the strategies included to make it work. I enjoyed the planner, but would definitely make some adjustments to make it more user-friendly for my own life personally.

What is the cost: The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner can be purchased on the website for $24.95.

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Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" - www.aclassofone.blogspot.com  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Obscure Bible Heroes {Blogging Through The Alphabet - T}

T is for Tryphena & Tryphosa

Romans 16:12 - "Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord."

Buried in the list of names at the end of Paul's letter to the Romans, is a pair of ladies that simply had a reputation as "laborers for the Lord."  Most Bible commentators have suggested that these ladies were sisters, although the Bible tells us nothing more than their names.

Paul made special mention of them, though, when writing. I like to meditate on just what type of ladies these were, that made them so special as to be recognized and 'saluted' by the Apostle Paul. I'm sure they never sought for this recognition. I'm sure they were quite content to be in the background, laboring and helping the early church.

There are several verses that come to mind when I think of special people who are in their place, doing a work for the Lord. Though man may not notice, and they may never receive earthly gratitude, God knows and I believe He is pleased by their humble efforts.

1 Corinthians 10:31 -  "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

Colossians 3:23 - "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;"

The first thing that comes to mind when laboring for the Lord is that all our work is sacred. God has assigned us a task, and doing it heartily and completely for His glory is pleasing to Him. It doesn't matter if that work is mundane household work, or homeschooling, or fixing cars. If our attitude is one to please the Lord then we will do our work thoroughly and completely for Him and to Him.

Also, God is well pleased with humility in our labors. There is plenty of work to go around, especially when you consider ministry. God has called each one of us to minister and serve others, not just the pastors. If each Christian would just do their part, look around and see the need, and try to fill it, how much more could be accomplished for the Lord? How quickly this world could be reached for Him! We do not need titles or positions - we simply need to "labor" for the Lord and look to serve others. There are plenty of people out there who need to know God's love.

Like Tryphena and Tryphosa, I would like to be a lady who is simply known as one who labors in the Lord. My wish is that all my work would be done for His glory, and be a help to those around me. That is the goal I will work towards!

Ben and Me

Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" - www.aclassofone.blogspot.com  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Safari Adventure Vacation Bible School

This past August we had the privilege of being involved in VBS at our church. Our family was able to help with planning, preparing, and then working throughout the week.  It was so much fun, and we made great memories. I would like to share some ideas of what was done. Feel free to use them if you ever plan a similar theme.

Our program was called "Safari Adventure" and we based it on traveling to Africa. Our decorating crew really outdid themselves and I am including a whole bunch of pictures of all their neat ideas.

Sign on the front door

When the kids entered, they walked through a cave made of butcher paper rocks.
Front entrance from outside
Spiders on the cave walls
Crates of 'live animals' by the front door

African silhouettes on the walls - made of vinyl table covers, spray paint, and poster board.
African "treasures" in crates

Plenty of jungle scenes....trees made of paper covered pool noodles, and vines made of twisted paper.

Centerpiece was Victoria Falls, made of cardboard and paper 'rocks' and vinyl tablecover waterfalls.

David Livingstone's camp site

"old" African maps

Camp fire wood

paper flowers

A real canoe docked near the camp site

Animal tracks were seen everywhere! (spray painted)

Lots of posters of animal pictures

Another shot of Victoria Falls with the full view of the rocks

Side shot of Victoria Falls

Signs marking rows for the kids to sit in

Another shot of Livingstone's camp site

Easy door decoration made of paper for the little guys class 

Cool decorations for the preschool class

The preschool class also had their own mini waterfall!

Special songs written on giant poster board

Every little corner had something special decorating it.

Snack Area

Cool Snacks 

More snacks

Fearless safari guide leader

Going on a real safari hunt....with BB guns!

Animal print balloons came in handy for many games.

Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" - www.aclassofone.blogspot.com  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Obscure Bible Heroes {Blogging Through the Alphabet - S}

S is for Simon of Cyrene

Matthew 27:32: "And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross."
Mark 15:21:  "And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross"

Simon was an innocent bystander on the day that Jesus was crucified. For whatever reason, perhaps to buy, sell, or trade, he was in Jerusalem that day, and found himself on the road when the Romans were leading the 'prisoners' to the hill of execution.

As you well know, Jesus had been 'arrested' the night before, was up all night enduring endless torture and questioning, was passed between the high priests, Herod, and Pilate, and finally led away for a public flogging and execution. His earthly body was spent. He was beaten, suffering from extreme blood loss and pain, dehydrated, hungered, and exhausted. The Romans forced the prisoners to carry their heavy wood crosses through the city streets and up to the hill of Golgotha for one last humiliation before being nailed to the crosses and left for dead.

In his fleshly body, Jesus was unable to complete this task. Sometimes I read Scriptures and ponder on them. Knowing that Jesus was also God, could He have given Himself the strength to finish? Or was He not doing so in order to allow a bystander to be drawn in to the story that day?

Not knowing all the reasons for why things played out the way they did, I gain a whole new admiration for this man named Simon. As the world would see it, he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. He really did not have a choice in the matter. The Roman guard compelled him to take the cross from Jesus and carry it the rest of the way to Golgotha. One did not refuse an order from a Roman soldier, if they valued their life at all.

Can you imagine being the one selected to finish carrying the cross of Christ? To walk side by side with Him as He takes his last steps on this earth? Even if Simon did not understand the full implications of what was taking place that he was a part of, he must have felt the holiness of the moment. To look into the eyes of the Lord Jesus and feel that love as he walked those last steps by His side.

The Bible never discusses Simon again that we know of. It never tells us a definite time that he trusted Christ as his own personal Savior. But I do find a fascinating suggestion. In Mark 15:21, the Bible lists the names of Simon's two sons: Rufus and Alexander. In another place in Scripture, a man named Rufus is listed as a follower of Christ.

Romans 16:13: "Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord"

What if the Rufus that is mentioned first was introduced to Christ as he watched his father take up the cross and walk beside Christ to the crucifixion site? One could never be the same after experiencing that!

1 Corinthians 3:9: "For we are labourers together with God"

This verse tells us that our ministry is not our own. God is doing the work, and we are the earthly 'hands and feet' that He uses. This is the verse that comes to mind when I think of Simon. He truly was in a position of being a laborer together with the Lord Jesus Christ. In our day, God also has a cross for each of us to carry. He directs us to "daily take up our cross and follow Him".

Simon was the first one to literally fulfill this command. My prayer is that I will, like Simon, take up the cross that the Lord has left for me, and walk to fulfill the Lord's command. While I am doing so, I can know that the Lord Jesus Christ is walking beside me each step of the way, giving strength and showing love, and has given me an example to follow. 

Ben and Me

Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" - www.aclassofone.blogspot.com  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Review: Heirloom Audio Productions

Our family really enjoys Audio Dramas. I think they are a super alternative to TV viewing. The kids listen to them constantly when they are working on projects or doing household tasks. We usually have one playing in the car when driving. When I had the opportunity to review Under Drake's Flag from Heirloom Audio Productions I was very excited, because the reputation of G.A. Henty and his work is renowned, and it sounded like a great new adventure that would appeal to our family.

About the story: "Under Drake's Flag" is an historical fiction work by George Alfred, a Christian man who lived from 1832-1902, and authored 122 books. It is a tale of heroic deeds and adventures on the high seas, and follows the 'coming of age' journey of two young men who served under the famous Sir Francis Drake. The story highlights Ned, a young fatherless boy, and his friend Gerald, as they grow up in Britain in the 1500's. Ned's father died at sea, and his mother is terribly worried that her boy will suffer the same fate. She has devoted her life to instilling character in him, and the time comes when he must take that giant step into manhood. He proves his honor and character time and time again, by saving lives and living with integrity despite many trials. He learns that even in times of fear, his faith must carry him. Ned and Gerald are privileged to be chosen to serve on a ship under the great Captain Drake, where their faith is strengthened by the example of this Godly man. They learn the definition of true courage and heroism.

About these CD's: The story is told by a wonderful cast with authentic accents who make the story come to life. These CD's are much more than just a story being read - this is truly audio theater, complete with sound effects and musical background.  It takes about two hours to listen to the entire story on two CD's.

What else is included? There is a short study guide with vocabulary words and questions included in the CD case.  When purchased from the website, there is also a longer study guide included that could turn this into a very prolific unit study.
Sir Francis Drake

About the enhanced study guide: The 28 page long study guide breaks the story down into chapters. Each chapter includes three sections: 1) 'Listening Well' has comprehension questions, 2) 'Thinking Further' has thought provoking questions that help the student apply the principles to their life, and 3) 'Defining Words' has vocabulary words from that particular section of the story for the student to look up and define. At the end of the study guide there is a very nice "Bible Studies" section that includes principles taught in the story, with corresponding verses for the student to look up and study.

Who would this appeal to?  The company recommends the story for ages 6 to adult. I think some 6-8 year olds may have difficulty following some of the story line. It is rather fast paced. My 9 year old was able to follow most of it. I think the story would be especially appealing to boys. I have all daughters, and while they enjoyed it, it wasn't something they would listen to repeatedly like they do with some of their other audio dramas. If I had boys, I would use both the CD's and the study guides extensively with them, to instill the Christian manhood and character lessons that are prevalent throughout the story.

How we used it: We listened to the audio story while driving in the car. It was interesting enough that the kids brought it into the house when we arrived home in order to finish the story. They enjoyed the British accents! I looked over the study guide and used some of the thought provoking questions to instigate some discussion about the lessons taught through the story.

What we thought: The kids were intrigued by the story, and gained a much richer understanding of the difficult lifestyle of that time period. (1500's). Our discussions led down several different paths, including the very poignant fact that if Britain and Sir Francis Drake had not defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588, the history of our own country would be vastly different! While these thoughts and ideas are not directly taught or discussed in this particular story, we would have never taken the opportunity to discuss them if it were not for listening to this story. I was particularly pleased with the continual references to Godly character and faith building that happened throughout the story. The entire story line is built around opportunities for the listener to learn how to make responsible choices and build integrity in their own life.

How much does it cost? The electronic download is currently available to purchase on the website for $20. This includes the e-study guide and a copy of Drake's prayer. The 2 CD set that we reviewed is also available for $29.95.  There are several packages and bonuses that the company has put together that would certainly enhance your study.

Follow Heirloom Audio Productions on Facebook to get updates on new productions as they are released!

Ninety-nine other members of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed this same audio drama! Read their reviews by clicking the banner below:

Under Drake's Flag Reviews

Copyright 2012-2014 - "Be The One" - www.aclassofone.blogspot.com  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

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