Guest Blogger: Lee Haskins

Lee

In the first 50 years of my life I have learned who I am, raised children, struggled through a hard life, and most importantly, learned to depend and trust in Jesus Christ along the way. I hope to live the rest of my life writing about my journey and how God has helped me through it. I am in my third marriage for over 23 years now! My husband had four kids, I had two, and we had one together, giving us a total of seven different personalities to learn to adapt to. God kept us together and our kids are raised now. We have eleven grand kids thus far (and counting). I have had many drama filled years with hardships and challenges but learned from each of them. Most importantly, I’ve learned that God was with me through each one. I hope to inspire others to look to God for guidance and to trust in Him. The world has truly abused me but my God held my hand through it all or I could not have made it thus far. He was my strength to endure and I have learned so much along the way. I feel God wants for me to write and give Him the glory for my journey through this world. I hope to show others how much He has done for me and perhaps help others to see things a little differently. My hard roads have taught me to do that. I love to travel and see and do new things with my husband. I enjoy arts and crafts, photography, and of course writing. I love helping others and making a difference in someone else’s life.

Guest Blogger: Shannon Kibler

Shannon

I’m a Midwestern girl who came to Winston Salem to be near my boyfriend…who is now my husband and the father of our sweet six year old daughter. We’ve been married since April 2008. My family is the greatest blessing God has ever given me. Even though I sometimes feel as though the South is a different planet than the Midwest, I absolutely love the people and friends I have made! Being a wife and mom keeps me busy and I also work full time in medical billing at one of the large Winston Salem medical groups. While I love my job, I actually have a BA in English and Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and also did post BA work there. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude because I was single and had nothing else to do but study! Seriously though, learning is very important to me and not a day goes by that I don’t learn something new. Having a six year old means learning a lot too.

I love to read and write in between working, shuttling my daughter to gymnastics and American Heritage Girls, and church activities. In the kitchen I am a bit of a chemist…I cook a lot of low sugar and gluten free meals for my family. Means I cook a lot! I also pretend like I know how to sew and knit. Trying counts, right? I attend a loving Moravian church where my husband is Director of Music Ministry but I came to that church by way of Episcopalian, Baptist, non-denominational, and Catholic churches. I appreciate the diversity in the Christian church very much and think it makes for wonderful conversations between Christians. The Moravians say “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love” which I take to heart.

Guest Blogger: Kara Cody

Kara

I’m a Lexington girl, with stops along the way in the Swannanoa Valley and Tennessee. I’m most at home doing things out doors. I love working in my garden, growing my own food, and learning about sustainable and self sufficient living. Spending time at the lake, camping, fishing, reading, and doing all sorts of projects are a few of my favorite things. I also love to travel, take pictures, and I’m a music junky. My background includes working in organic greenhouses and gardens and I have a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Warren Wilson College.

I feel that my faith in God is the foundation of my life and as I walk through the journey of each day I continue to learn and grow more with the strengthening of that faith. I have been blessed in so many ways, but mainly with a wonderful family and amazing friends. I’m also the proud aunt of three spectacularly wonderful nephews.

I currently work as the Assistant Director and Group Home Coordinator of a vocational training and residential program for developmentally disabled adults. I’m a lifelong member of Macedonia United Methodist Church, where I’m also an active member of the United Methodist Women. I am also a founding member and mentor of the Davidson County Civitan Club, and active supporter of Special Olympics and Adopt a US Soldier.

Feel free to email me!

Guest Blogger: Gina Webber

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I am Gina, a busy mom of two girls. I often assist my husband and brother-in-law in the office of their security business. I am a self-taught web designer and a crafter at heart! I have had a lot of non-profit work in marketing and fundraising, which has been very rewarding and has fed my need to design and be creative! I thoroughly enjoy the friends I have made and the opportunities it has presented.

Gina blogs at GiGi Designing.

Momnesia

This morning while sitting at a stoplight I observed a funny (to me) sight.  A woman was at a veterinarian office and went in with a baby carrier but no pet.  It made me giggle a little out loud thinking, is she at the wrong place, did she leave her pet at home and bring her baby to the vet?  Having two children of my own I know how scatterbrained I can be about things and end up driving right past where I was supposed to be going or forget to go at all.  I blame it on my children and say the pregnancy depleted my  brain cells!  But have you ever wondered why some mothers are like this?  I mean, think about it… what really makes us moms put the cereal box in the fridge and the milk carton in the cabinet?  Our children didn’t really suck out brain cells out, making us stupid.  So what makes us like this?

According to WebMD  being pregnant doesn’t really make you stupid but it may affect how sharp you are mentally.  Some of the factors that lead us to not being so quick on our toes could be stress…..stress?! Really?! Who’s stressed with feedings, naps (or power naps if you have that kind of little angel), diaper changing, cleaning, cooking, and everything else that goes along with Motherhood!  Lack of sleep is another cause.  Yes those moms that tell you to nap when the baby naps and the laundry & dishes can wait aren’t just feeding you a bunch of bull!  Go to bed ladies!  When the kids are down for the night, DVR your favorite shows and get some sleep! You can watch them the next day. And hormones!  What?! A pregnant lady with hormones….Nooooo.  Yes, it is a fact that your body produces up to 40 times more progesterone & estrogen and those my dears affects your circuits!

So what can you do to help ease your Momnesia?  ASK FOR HELP!  Ask your spouse to take the baby so you can take a nap.  If your spouse is unavailable ask someone you trust so that you can relax and get a good nap.  Keep a notepad with you or in each room that you frequent.  Jot down things that you think of whether is what you need from the grocery store or things you remembered you need to do around the house.

If your Momnesia is getting to the point where you forget to put your clothes on or forgetting to take little Jimmy to daycare then you should probably consult with your doctor.  Otherwise get some rest, make your lists, and enjoy being a mother.  Oh and don’t forget write down some of your Momnesia moments to share…….if you can remember them!

iSpy Something with My Little Eye

What is the greatest length someone has gone to spy on you?
Online harassment is not child’s play!

Although there are frequent reports of people being tormented by stalkers, most of your “average, everyday” folks go through life without being unknowingly pursued. Or do they?

An article by Ron Gil published on About.com referenced the University of Bedfordshire’s Electronic Communication Harassment Observation Study. The results were alarming. Cyberstalking is now more common that physical abuse. So for every domestic violence case you hear about, read about, or see documented, there are MORE victims of this new form of abuse. Cyberstalking is not to be confused with cyberbullying, which has recently received more media coverage due to teen-related acts of internet aggravation.

What exactly is cyberstalking? It is defined as a very serious form of online harassment. It involves the sending of repeated annoying and unwelcome messages. But cyberstalking goes far beyond cyberbullying in terms of motivations and tactics. Cyberstalking involves a disturbed obsession with the target, and a perverse desire to control that target in some way, even by attacking the target’s family members. Cyberstalkers do not wish to just torment someone for an adolescent power rush… stalkers want to force the target into some kind of submission, and are willing to involve other targets to achieve that disturbed result.

Mr. Gil goes on to explain that most cyberstalkers commonly have four objectives, including manipulating their prey. (Their prey could include the target, the target’s family, friends, and coworkers.) Cyberstalkers range from ex-significant others or someone you went to high school with to a coworker or a complete stranger. In the end, cyberstalkers are regular people with very irregular psychological problems.

I am pretty active online. Aside from this blog, I manage several social media pages and websites as well as my personal pages. I enjoy engaging in conversations, sharing helpful tips, and using it for business marketing. I have even met some great friends through Twitter. I have always been a supporter of social communities, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I encountered my first cyberstalker. But I was completely shocked.

I know my stalkers. And they know me. What I do not know is how long this has been going on. I remember an incident that may have triggered it, which happened in 2011, but in hindsight the spying may have taken place prior to that. There were far too many ambiguous tweets and Facebook posts to count. I confronted my stalkers on multiple occasions and of course they denied that their comments were directed toward me. Over time, their disguised backtalk became so childish and bad-mannered that I decided to stop following/unfriend them. In turn, they chose to block me. I thought that my worries were over. Unfortunately, it was just the beginning.

Over the next 16 months, I made no attempt to contact these individuals but have received random text messages from one of them. It did no good to try to converse with her. The texts were far more discourteous than any public comment had been. It was obvious that she was simply trying to pick a fight or cause problems. I stopped responding, hoping the messages would stop. They didn’t. I also found out about slanderous accusations that were being made by the stalkers toward me. One stalker even attempted multiple requests to re-followed me on Twitter and I eventually had to block both of them. I would occasionally hear from other friends who still communicated with the couple on social media that the cryptic tweets continued.

Last week, I was followed by a “new Twitter user” that was pretty suspicious to me. The account had no location, no bio, a generic profile pic, and only a handful of followers. When I glanced to see how they may know me, I saw that they were following several of my friends and other accounts. I probably would have never given it a second thought, but the person responded to a tweet I had written about the new computer systems at work. Their comment was very vague and had grammatical errors that I have only seen my cyberstalkers use! Minutes later, it was confirmed that this fake account was IN FACT created by and ran by my cyberstalkers. And they weren’t just spying on me, but several of my friends as well.

I knew they had no idea that I had figured them out, but I still chose to block the account. I have been monitoring this account over the past couple of days. It is so disturbing to see my stalkers carrying on conversations WITH THEIR OWN TWITTER ACCOUNTS in an effort to hide behind this facade. I simply cannot believe the lengths to which cyberstalkers will go.

And there is a part of me that feels really sad for these stalkers and their psychological state. And I think about how much better the world would be if the time and effort taken to do bad, would be done for good instead.

My last resort to rectify this on my own is this blog. After many attempts to end this, requests to be left alone, and actions taken by me to prevent further contact, I fear legal action is the only conceivable next step. I have enough evidence to firmly stand my ground. However, I am simply asking for them to forget my friends and I ever existed. I just want this ridiculousness to end.

If you have ever been in this predicament and can share advice, please comment below publicly or email me privately.

If you are currently in this situation, please read Ron Gil’s article for more information and/or research legal actions in your state to protect yourself.

No one should be belittled, disrespected, or patronized because of someone else’s insecurities or condition.

Italicize verbiage is straight from Ron Gil’s article on About.com.

The Day I Left My iPhone at Home

Recently, I did something that I have never done before. Ever.

I walked into my office, sat down at my desk, and realized that I left my iPhone at home. I was ready to tell my supervisor that there had been an emergency and I needed to leave. How was I going to function without it? I felt anxious… and lost. But really? Leave work for a phone? (Although I realize, an iPhone is not just “a phone.”) I was too embarrassed to follow through, so I started to convince myself that I didn’t need it. After all, I’m from the generation that grew up without the internet. I would be fine.

And then… I remember I needed to run an errand at lunchtime. I wanted to fill up my car. That meant I needed to transfer money from my savings to my checking account. Eek! How is that done without an app? Had I really forgotten how to log into my bank’s website through the computer? Not long after I struggled to access my account “the old way”, I realized I had no idea where the cheapest gas prices were in town. Why? Because I didn’t have my GasBuddy app. Ugh!

I felt cut off from the world. I couldn’t communicate – no email, no texting, no telephone. I couldn’t read from my Kindle app or blog from my WordPress app on my breaks. Someone tried to make plans with me and I couldn’t check my calendar. I needed to reorder something but didn’t have my Amazon and PayPal apps… and I couldn’t remember my account passwords. I wanted to check the prices of plane tickets for an upcoming convention, but didn’t have my Kayak app handy. I couldn’t log my calories. I had no idea what time it was when I was away from my computer. I was all out of sorts. It was the closest I’ve ever been to the Twilight Zone.

How dependent are you of your smartphone? Certainly I’m not alone. Do we have an unhealthy addiction to our devices? Share your similar stories in the comment section below.

Because I’m the Mom!

Do you ever find that your parenting is self-centered? I do. A lot.

My role as a mother has a purpose. As a believer, the end goal is not to make perfect children. I forget that so easily. Lately, I’ve really felt called to check my “mommy motivation.” I frequently need to stop and examine the why in my heart. Here are some of the motives I’ve found that I want to avoid:

1. It makes me look good.

People have a tendency to be judgy, and us moms seem to have it down to a science. No mom wants to have her parenting skills called into question, and having a “bad” kid is the quickest way to come under fire. If my littles are likeable and well-behaved, then I feel like I’ve earned the mommy seal of approval.

2. To earn praise, respect, admiration, or even love for being a great mom.

Alas, being approved just isn’t enough! My competitive nature drives me to be the best. Cute kids get compliments, but the credit for that has to go to God. Now when my babies act right…oh wait, that glory is supposed to be His too.

3. Comfort.

Let’s be honest, being a good parent takes a lot of work. There is no room for laziness when it comes to taking care of our most precious gifts. Some days, I just want to lighten my load by slacking off. Kids become confused by inconsistency, and it’s uncomfortable for everyone else when someone’s child lives in a state of chaos.

The aforementioned pursuits are selfish, no doubt about it! But what about our good intentions? Is it wrong to want to encourage our kids to develop into well-rounded, kind, intelligent, positive contributors of society? I think the answer to that question is directly tied to the allegiance of our hearts. If I want to help them understand that they should do good for the sake of bringing glory to God…awesome! On the other hand, I can take numbers 1-3 on my list and teach my children to let those things be their driving forces as well. It is no easy task to raise up little people, but an intentional calling.

Ah motherhood, I couldn’t make it without His grace!

CoveritLive

In the day of the internet, blogging sites have taken a responsibility on their shoulders to broadcast events, announcements, news, and more to the world in real time. These live blogging events are becoming more and more popular for fast, up-to-date, play-by-play information. Sometimes, live blogging is the only way to get information in real time, as some companies (i.e., Apple) block television coverage!

Guess what? Now you can give your own live blogging a trying with the FREE app, CoveritLive!

Many times I have sat down with my iPhone and watched a live blog event, often screaming at the writer who was giving their take on the event. Why the screaming? Because I don’t care if the speaker is wearing a turtle neck, or is not wearing a belt… I just want the facts! CoveritLive is a great way to broadcast your events to your friends, family, and to the world. CoveritLive is used by ESPN, NFL, WWE, People Magazine, The Weather Channel, and Ford, to name a few.

Here is how it works:
1. Go to www.coveritlive.com and create a free account.
2. Download the mobile app (iOS and Android)
3. Log into your account on the app.
(Step one is there because there is no “create a new account” option in the app.)
4. Create a live event.
5. Once said event is created, it queues into My Upcoming Events.
6. Select Created Event, and begin the process of setting up your event.

Setting this up is easy. There are just a few steps to make sure people know that you are broadcasting and that they can come watch.
1. Select Other on the bottom task bar. Inside this menu you can choose Share Event.
Here you can email yourself (or others) an HTML code of your event so that you can embed it in your website.
2. Go back to Live Now and then choose Twitter in the bottom menu. There you can set up searches for people, hashtags, or terms so you can easily browse Twitter during your event to see what other people are also saying.
3. Back at the Live Now page, you can starting posting for your event by selecting the Write button.
4. End your event my going to Other and selecting End Event (Duh!)

Where is the catch? CoveritLive is upfront with what they “charge” for. Your account is free to set up and you are able to live blog from the moment you register. They have a tiered pricing plan based on how many people click on your live event. (Click meaning how many people are interacting with your event. It does not count how many people are viewing it.) Clicks are how many times someone refreshes your event, or comments on it. You can review the pricing chart here and see that the first 100 clicks are free. For an amateur like myself, I believe I will easily stay under 100 clicks.

So if you want to give a play-by-play to the huddled masses, CoveritLive is the app for you. I’m excited to use this for small events around my area… and maybe even for those bigger events for the few annoying people who text or email me wondering how awesome the new iPhone is.
-jw andrews

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JW can be found on Twitter at JWNoise.

The Upside of My Day

Today, our local Christian radio station hosted Chris August in concert. Chris released his sophomore album, The Upside of Down, yesterday. Thanks to my pal Bonnie – who often lets me work these type of events – I sold merchandise for Chris at this show. It was a free concert that drew a pretty large crowd, considering it was held at noon on a Wednesday. Chris is a super-talented songwriter with an incredible voice. He is also very kind and wonderfully funny. What a blessing to get to experience this today!


Merchandise Table


Jotting down his playlist before his performance.

“To the one and only and best merch girl ever!!” – I’m still giggling over this. 🙂

You can check out Chris’s website by clicking here. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.