A quote is hanging in the office of a colleague at my place of work: a building that, due to circumstances, is currently inhabited by a small percentage of our workforce.
This common quote is something a wise driving coach or a life coach might say.
“Even though there are days I wish I could change some things that happened in the past, there’s a reason the rear view mirror is so small and the windshield is so big. Where you’re headed is much more important than what you’ve left behind.”
The majority of my workmates are putting in their time remotely, sometimes passing through the building briefly to touch base, retrieve something, or peer curiously back into a world we evacuated in 2020. The rearview mirror seems so small, but the effects of yesterday have changed our courses.
How prophetic, then, as we drive forward into an uncertain future, to think of the windshield as our point of reference: Where we are headed is far more important than what we’ve left behind. Even this gradual return to “normal” will not look like the “old normal” we once knew.
That rearview mirror? It’s a handy reference tool, and we can check to see who’s following us into the unknown.
Good company or bad, we can keep an eye on them.
Look through that big windshield for the great things that await.
We’re getting some new dreams and goals to replace the old.
Let’s hang on and enjoy the ride.
Finally, whatever regrets or chaos you’ve found in the rearview mirror holding your attention, or slowing you down … let that stuff go. Keep driving forward into the next Great Adventure.
Kathy Joy writes daily for her local county government, is an experienced and popular radio DJ, and is also a guest blogger for Books For Bonding Hearts See more on her personal blog, Coffee with Kathy. She is available for speaking engagements and holiday events. Book Kathy Joy!
Coming from Captive Audiences, where highlights of passion and purpose come together, I’m your interviewing host, Laura Bartnick.
I’ll just dive right in because this discussion will include a lot of subjects and take some time and space.
First of all, CONGRATULATIONS, Meg, Mimika, Doctor Michelle, Tina, Misty, September, Michelle, and Kate! for ranking among the top 50 female podcasters list featured in the May 2020 Podcast Magazine!
I saw where the Podcast Magazine lists a significant group of editors for specializing in many diverse interests including: comedy, fiction, technology, t.v. and film, society, culture, news, history, education, music, science, religion, government, health, gadgets and gizmos, and sports. Whew! What a comprehensive list! I don’t expect these ratings to come from hosts who’ve just been reading Podcasting for Dummies, but who knows? Let’s check these gals out!
Now, your ratings came in a Mother’s Day Special Edition, so gals, are you all focused on motherhood? Will you briefly name your podcast and tagline or give us the purpose for your podcast?
Mimika Cooney: “I’m from Johannesburg to North Carolina, and places in between, I have Mimika TV Podcast an interview-chat show connecting you with today’s inspiring thought leaders. My show offers advice, inspiration, encouragement, leadership tools and tangible tips for empowering Kingdom minded leaders, entrepreneurs, authors and ministers of faith. We dive into important topics like faith, purpose, business, marketing, leadership, personal development, and mental health. Just like coffee with a friend, we get to the heart of the matter so you walk away inspired for action. I also run a boutique publishing & marketing agency at Mimika Media LLC. I connect the dots as a motivational speaker on ‘Discover Your Purpose’.”
Kate Brown Battistelli, from Franklin, Tennessee: “I’m the author of The God Dare. And, I also speak for events and I’m a mentor. You found me because I’m 1/3 of the MomtoMomPodcast.com. We’re three generations of moms who have experience nearly every season of motherhood. Our tagline is, “a podcast for every mom for every season”. We don’t have all the answers, but you can be sure that we’ll always point to the One Who does.”
Meg Glesener: At Letters From Home Podcast “Everyday Extraordinary Faith Stories”, we cover a lot of territory, from Tennessee to California to Washington. We love sending audio letters of encouragement to your doorstep! We bring you a new real faith story, every other week, from people of all ages and demographics. You will hear their dreams…their struggle…their pain…their life changing encounters and extraordinary moments. We pray that our listeners leave each episode, loving their God and their community more deeply. II Cor. 3:3. You can reach me at: email@example.com
“I’m Tina C. Smith: Raising Kids On Your Knees. I’m definitely focused on parenting and motherhood. This is a ministry dedicated to equipping parents to pray and parent life into the lives of their children.”
Michelle Bengtson: “Motivational speaker hailing from Greenville, South Carolina, I’m a board certified clinical neuropsychologist, blogger, and international speaker at Dr. Michelle Bengtson, and I speak and write about mental health and health issues, overcoming adversity, and finding hope, peace, and joy in the midst of difficult circumstances. I’m the author of three award-winning books: Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises, Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression, and the Hope Prevails Bible Study. I’m the host of the weekly podcast, Your Hope-Filled Perspective with Dr. Michelle Bengtson where we talk about every day real life issues but from a biblically-based, hope-filled perspective.”
Misty Hinckley Phillips: By His Grace Podcast– Empowering YOU to live By His Grace. She is the author of The Struggle is Real: But so is God Bible Study, and the Spark Podcast Planner. (www.MistyPhillip.com) Misty is the founder of the Spark Christian Podcast Conference (www.SparkChristianPodcastConference.com), the first conference exclusively for Christian Podcasters. She is the Co-Founder of The Rocket Podcast Community (www.RocketPodcast.co), an online membership subscription community to coach, train podcasters. She currently serves as the Houston Connect Leader for Christian Women in Media. Misty and her family reside in the Houston, Texas area.
Laura Bartnick: How did you first characterize your audience, or how did you find out who was listening after you’d done your podcasting preparation and starting promotions?
Misty: Between analytics and social media interaction, I have access to a pretty good understanding of my target audience.
Laura Bartnick: What kind of analytics do you use, or is that a plug in or part of a software program or email platform?
Misty: I use a combination of analytics from my website, podcast, social media, and my email subscriber list.
Kate: Our audience is moms, typically from age 25 through 55.
Laura Bartnick: How did you find out who was listening?
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: I’ve found through social media, and those who leave comments and share episodes that our audience tends to be middle-aged to older women who are going through life’s struggles and want to hear from someone who has been there, made it through, and can offer a hand to one who is in the trenches now.
Michelle Diercks: My audience is primarily women 35-55. I’ve learned this through my Instagram and Facebook analytics. I also have an email list and my audience engages with me through my email and on social media.
I’m going to pose this question in a way that sounds strange to my ear because the singular form of criteria is criterion. The standard and most common plural form is criteria; less common is criterions, so with that aside, do you know what the criteria were for being listed in Podcast Magazine, what surprised you most about this listing?
Misty Phillip: Our podcasts were voted on by peers and listeners. I was happily surprised to see so many faith-based podcasters in the top 50.
Laura Bartnick: Yes! So was I. It is always surprising to learn that so many faith-based programs come floating to the top as the cream, but welcomed to know. Hey all, were you tuned into a particular podcast, whether a story podcast or a self-help podcast, before you started podcasting yourself? Which one and what was your inspiration to learn about podcasting?
Meg: For me, it’s kind of crazy, but I started my podcast having only listened to 2 podcasts, 1 episode each! I hit the search bar in Apple Podcasts, and couldn’t find what i was looking for…and this thought popped in my head…maybe i should start a podcast? And what encourages me most, is hearing real life stories. As i followed this thought in my head, 30 faces popped in my mind, of beautiful, everyday people, like you and me whose lives I consider extraordinary, and have captured so many of these stories on Letters From Home Podcast. As i began podcasting I realized, what a wealth of wonderful podcasts are out there, like all of these ladies in our conversation. One podcast, that captivated me early on is “Terrible, Thanks for Asking.” Nora McInerny, draws u into each life’s tale…as they walk through calamity, and share how their world changes. I learn so much!
Tina: Interestingly, I never listened to podcasts until I started podcasting.
Laura Bartnick: Oh. I wonder if that is because podcasting is a relatively new media form?
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: I wasn’t a big podcast listener either, prior to starting my own show. I occasionally listened to More Than Small Talk or That Sounds Fun, but not on a regular basis. Interestingly enough, I felt in my gut that I was supposed to start a podcast for over two years before I took the leap.
Laura Bartnick: Okay, so being new to public broadcasting, it couldn’t have been an easy row to hoe. Please tell us about one technical struggle you’ve had and how you surmounted it. I mean, did someone mentor you in the difficulties?
Meg: Editing has been a challenge for me. In February 2020, I went to Spark Christian Podcasting Conference, where i met Misty, one of our other Top 50. One of the speakers Misty had lined up is Thomas Umstattd Jr. His talk packed so much into my apron pockets! Since then, on his suggestion, I have upgraded to Hindenburg. It is user-friendly and has cut down 3-4 hours of editing time per episode, what a gift!
Laura Bartnick: That’s amazing. I did an interview with someone this year who was very sick and had coughing fits while we were recording, so Hindenburg editing would have been useful to delete those episodes quickly between minutes and seconds to the second her voice recovered.
Tina: Yeah, the sound of a voice is so important. I started out with the wrong kind of mic. Eric Nevins helped me to find a mic that worked well and it totally changed the sound and quality. so the amount of editing changed drastically, saving tons of time.
Laura Bartnick: Ah! Nevins has helped me with several things too, the recording equipment, editing, and introducing me to Zoom. What a great guy, and I’m also a fan of his chat-based podcast, Halfway There.
Mimika: When I first started my show in 2013, I launched it as a live broadcast. This was before the days of Facebook or YouTube live so there were more challenges. I used a company that streamed the feed of my guest and I at a cost of $350 an episode! Obviously, the cost was prohibitive, so I switched to pre-recording the interviews on Skype, editing them myself and syndicating to YouTube and iTunes. When Blab came out and allowed live broadcasting through Google+, I was excited to go back to live shows. I personally enjoy the live format because of the audience interaction. After Blab shut down, I reverted back to pre-records using Zoom, post production edits, and syndicating to all audio platforms plus YouTube and my website (since mine is a video show). Now that we are at home dealing with home schooling and other responsibilities, I decided to revert to hosting the show live on Facebook to engage the audience in real time and reduce my post production efforts. So far, I’m loving it!
Laura Bartnick: Wow, Mimika, I thought I had tenacity. Just listening to all of these redirections and stuff makes me realize how incredibly flexible you had to be, and willing to research and do the new work. You probably also had to set aside any misgivings of making yourself look foolish until you learned the ropes. I’m impressed, Mimika.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: Starting out, the editing presented my biggest challenge. It was a steep learning curve for me. Fortunately, I had a friend who was in radio who taught me some of the essential basics and then I grew from there.
Michelle Diercks: I am involved with a group called Hope*Writers. Alana Dawson who is now a Podcast coach, helped me work through the technical issues. She directed me to Pat Flynn’s Youtube channel. In the Hope*Writers group there are a number of podcasters, so I would post questions to them and they would help me.
Laura Bartnick: Michelle, that’s interesting that Hope*Writers sees the benefit of incorporating podcast hosting into a writer’s platform. Thanks, I know a lot of writers will be interested in knowing this.
Laura Bartnick: It’s interesting to me why you each have a different host platform. Can you explain for us why you chose the podcast platform host you have?
Misty: As an author and blogger too, I chose Blubrry as a host because because I have a Wordpress blog and their plugin seamlessly integrates with my site MistyPhillip.com.
Meg: I chose BuzzSprout after Googling videos on best podcast hosts, as well as consulting fellow podcasters regarding their hosts, pros and cons. BuzzSprout has been a very easy switch from Anchor. They have a nice interface, with design choices. They also have an easy plugin for websites using WordPress.
Tina: Honestly, I chose Anchor.fm because it was free and it was easy.
Michelle Diercks: I chose Libsyn because I was already using it for some audio devotionals that I had recorded.
Laura Bartnick: Thanks everybody. So tell us, what kind of personality interviews or programs pique your interest for featuring in your shows?
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: Wow! Well, I had my production calendar fairly set, and then COVID19 hit. Because I’m a neuropsychologist, speaker, and author with expertise in mental health issues, and depression and anxiety specifically, it became obvious to me that anxiety levels were escalating at unsurpassed levels. Because of that, I decided to throw my production calendar to the wind and opted instead to do an 8-week episode series about defeating anxiety during times of crisis. It has been a very popular series and a good fit for my listening audience. I’ve also had a lot of experience being interviewed on radio, so many of the questions I’ve been asked as a mental health expert have been turned into episodes on my show.
Misty Phillip: I look for interviews that both pique my interest and will also serve my audience well. On my show we center each topic around the struggles we face in life and we focus on how God gets us through.
Laura Bartnick: After you decide on a show, what kind of research do you do?
Dr. Michelle Bengston: my program is typically an interview format. Once I’ve learned of a potential guest who is interested in being on the show, I have them complete an introductory questionnaire to help determine if they are truly a good fit for my program. I research them on their website or social media, and if they’ve authored a book, I will read that ahead of time to help prepare me for the interview.
Misty: By His Grace Podcast, works with a combination of guests and friends coupled with a variety of PR firms who send me media kits for each of my guests. These media kits include biographical information, online presence, social media links and talking points. I will look for a unique angle, and research to best serve my audience. If they are an author, I will typically read their book before our interview.
Meg: A huge part of what I do at Letters From Home Podcast is personal, since it involves someone sharing their story, oftentimes difficult. Beforehand, I want to know how they are feeling about it, what they aren’t wanting to share, the major chapters of their lives, and some fun facts. Afterward, we always text or chat a couple of times. It is encouraging to hear how their families and friends are being inspired by their stories.
Laura Bartnick: How many people work on behalf of your podcast, and what are their duties?
Meg: Oh boy, it is definitely a family affair, Team Glesener! We have 8 kids, and every single one has been on the podcast, as well as all three grandkids. I love incorporating them as they are willing. Our daughter Hannah created the artwork, our teenage son Jordan has been my technical director, has created music for the intros and outros, and has done voice work. Our theater son, Josiah has also created music for the intros and outros, voice work, and was my first guest. Our daughter Eden has co-conducted interviews, & has been my millennial appeal consultant. My husband does teaching moments. In the day to day though, this Mama does 99% of everything.
Misty: I currently have a team of three. I am the host and do all of the marketing, promotion, and communication. My husband handles all of technical side of my website, and podcast production. My son is my assistant who helps with some graphic design and data management.
Tina: My son writes the music for my podcast and he does editing when needed.
Laura Bartnick: I’m seeing a trend here. It helps to have family members who are willing to help and are knowledgeable, or at least interested enough to learn some skills.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: Yeah, three to four of us work on any one episode of the program. I’m in charge of hosting the show, researching guests, marketing and promoting the show. My husband has co-hosted with me on numerous episodes. My youngest son helps with editing. An assistant will help with the back end and create graphics.
Laura Bartnick: Hey, so at what point did you start realizing that your listeners had spiked?
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: After I had been podcasting for approximately six months, Your Hope Filled Perspective really started gaining some traction, although I don’t know what to attribute that to.
Laura Bartnick: That spike happened to one of our authors, Tonya Jewel Blessing after about two and a half years. We never knew what caused it, but it has continued to grow steadily.
Meg: Letters From Home Podcast has had a steady growing general interest audience, too.
Laura Bartnick: Maybe it’s like a new author whose content is well-written enough that it takes off through word-of-mouth.
Are you following the Podcast Magazine on Twitter https://twitter.com/ThePodcastMag/photo or some other social media, sharing the love? When I went to Twitter to follow Podcast Magazine, I mentioned this interview. How do you layer publicity or reuse content?
Meg: I have been very active on Instagram and have followed and supported Podcast Magazine there, through posts and live stories. I love celebrating fellow podcasters, and podcasting in general. It is fun to use #’s and @’s, to draw attention to great podcasts, people might not know about. Twitter is a newer social media venue for me, and Podcast Magazine is one of the first accounts i followed.
Dr. Michelle Bengston: I’m much more active on FB and IG than I am on Twitter. But I love sharing other people’s podcasts, and support Podcast Magazine there.
Laura Bartnick: Do you find that posting upcoming interviews or shows helps you stir up interest or gains you followers?
Misty: I have a very engaged and growing social media presence. I use a variety of platforms to share about the podcast, and I definitely think it helps stir up interest.
Meg: Absolutely. It can be a win-win. Posting and tagging in stories ahead of time, can alert our listeners to a new author, podcaster, story, etc.; and if the interviewee is on social media, it can also alert their followers to a whole new audience.
Tina: Yes, I use Instagram and Facebook to announce my podcasts.
Mimika: When my show was pre-recorded, I put all my marketing efforts into pushing views after the show aired. Now that my show is hosted live, I can promoted it as an event and I’ve found it garners much more attention with the live format.
Dr. Michelle Bengston: I usually share about upcoming episodes on social media a couple days before a new episode drops, and then again on the day it releases. I think it helps build interest.
Laura Bartnick: How do you let your listeners know about an upcoming podcast so that they can tune in if they are particularly interested?
Mimika: I’ve always been a big believer in nurturing an engaged email list. By having loyal followers, I can ensure that every new event, podcast interview or book launch is received well. I think email marketing is one element of the marketing mix that many podcasters dismiss and focus too much on downloads and numbers. At the end of the day, we are creating content to support, nurture and empower listeners, so if they already love what we offer, why not make it easier for them to listen by sending an email?
Michelle Diercks: I use both Social Media and my email list to let my listeners know what is going on with the podcast.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: Absolutely! It helps to remind your audience of your program because life is busy, they’ve got a lot on their mind. It also helps create conversation and learn what my listeners’ needs are.
Kate: We use Instagram and Facebook. Both of these are sharable announcements in case our listeners want to introduce someone to one of our podcasts.
Laura Bartnick: I can imagine that gaining new audience exposure is always a struggle. Do you use social media to announce your podcasts?
Misty: Yes! I use a variety of social media platforms and have found this very beneficial.
Meg: Always. On Instagram I do three posts per episode ahead of time, one with a photo of their family, one with a quote from their story, and then the episode cover. I just started using BuzzSprouts, free audio clip on my IG/FB stories, to give a sneak peek.
Mimika: Yes, utilizing my social media platforms is imperative in letting my audience know about the show. I love to repurpose content and recycle old interviews because I’m attracting new listeners on a regular basis, listeners who would enjoy past episodes too. It takes a lot of effort to create a podcast show that every piece of content I create needs to be re-usable, repurposed, or promotable on an evergreen basis.
16. I’ll admit, in both writing and publishing, there is a very lonely, agonizing element to the writing, the waiting and the marketing aspects. Okay, all of the phases are basically agonizing. Finding a tribe or community is helpful. In what ways do you act as a community of this female podcaster club or is this a competitive field?
Meg: Zero competition, 100% celebration. I view every female podcaster as part of my tribe. We are not alone. right? And personally, I love being surrounded by all of these wonderful women, trying to get more encouragement out to our hurting world.
Tina: Um-hmm. I find seeing other female Christian podcasters as competition is counter-productive to the calling we all have on our lives. We all have different voices and each voice is important. Our voices, together, are much louder in the grand scheme of things.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: We are better together. I don’t look at others as competition—there’s enough room for all of us. And when someone finishes reading one of my books or listening to one of my podcast episodes, they are going to look for another book to read or podcast to listen to. So, if I can help promote other podcasters, it helps my listeners, which is ultimately my goal.
Michelle Diercks: I don’t see other female Christian Podcasters as competition. Each one of us brings something different to the table through our stories and the stories we share about others.
Misty Phillip: I have created a variety of communities to celebrate other podcasters both in person and online. Locally I’ve run a Mastermind group of authors, bloggers, speakers, podcasters, and entrepreneurs to foster education and community for the past four years, and currently serve as the Houston Connect Leader for CWIMA. I also created Spark an online community and live event for Christian podcasters, and most recently Eric Nevins and I have partnered to form the Rocket Podcast Community which focuses on coaching and community. I believe all of our voices and messages are needed in our world today and I love to champion and collaborate with other women. In fact over half of the women in this article have been guests on my podcast.
Laura Bartnick: The world has been altered in the pandemic, but I’ve also seen some wonderful things come of the experience; how did Covid-19 change you, good or bad, or change your podcast?
Meg: One thing I have loved about COVID-19 is the sense that we are all in this together. A few weeks ago, i was feeling that my family was getting complacent, involved with good things-homework, cleaning, projects, but not thinking globally. So, we took a prayer drive through downtown Seattle. We stopped at 4 hospital parking lots, a jail, the police headquarters, a homeless encampment and a cemetery, and prayed in each parking lot, each family member at each stop. We prayed for the elderly, for the sick, for the front-line workers, for the cleaners, for the launderers, for the homeless, for the imprisoned, for the firemen, for the engaged, for those having to bury family, for teachers, for young moms, for families, for governments, and for the countries of the world. We went home, remembering, we are all in this together and every little bit helps.
Kate: We typically air every 2 weeks, but we added several episodes to help out since everyone had to suddenly homeschool during the pandemic. As all three of us are homeschoolers, we added extra episodes to give guidance to women who had never homeschooled before and were caught off guard and didn’t have any clue what to do now that their children were home from school.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: Covid-19 put a temporary halt on my traveling, but the positive side to that is that I’ve had more time at home with my family and it’s given me time to batch record dozens of upcoming episodes. Covid-19 has made me much more grateful for the little joys in life. It has also helped change my perspective from “I have to,” to “I get to” which lets me live from a place of peace rather than panic.
Michelle Diercks: I added on some Facebook lives and events. My audience responded well to them. I think they were looking for a better connection and more interaction during this time.
Laura Bartnick: What kind of interviews or subjects will you be featuring in this upcoming year?
Meg: Holland Web! He’s one story I look forward to sharing. He’s a Dad who adopted two boys. Holland is a single young man in his twenties, and he just put out a wonderful parenting book, “Adventures in Fatherhood.” His story is remarkable.
Laura Bartnick: Yeah, wow, that is so rare, a single young man who has such a strong sense wanting to nurture! So, usually, people ask very productive women, “How do you get all of that done?”, and in this case, I’d want to pose that question to Holland.
Meg: I also have a friend who had an affair, that nearly ruined her marriage, but didn’t, so I want to interview her regarding how they worked through all of that.
Another friend has a ministry where she and her friends bring care packages to strippers.
Laura Bartnick: Oh, love that! I have a friend whose daughter died. Then she found out through her daughter’s friends offering their condolences, that her daughter was a dancer-stripper downtown with the majority of them. What a shock. But, she turned that experience into an array of new understandings and relationships when she began inviting them over.
Meg: Auralee Arkinsly, an author, gave me one good connection awhile back. It looks like a great list. I also have a friend who lost 125 pounds and is now leading Refit classes and podcasting about health. So many inspiring stories lined up, my guest list is so full through next year.
Misty: On my podcast we talk about the struggles we face in life and how God sees us through. So everything goes through that filter. We provide content that we believe will educate or inspire my audience.
Dr. Michelle Bengtson: I’ve got some guests on upcoming episodes that have fascinating victory stories. I interviewed a former airline pilot, who earned the nickname “Miracle Man” because he suffered a traumatic brain injury on the job and shouldn’t be alive today but is. I also interviewed a woman who was involved in a motor vehicle accident and accidentally killed another individual and has had to live with that in her thoughts on a daily basis. I also interviewed a woman whose family went through financial devastation but has come out on the other side. So many amazing guests are coming up in the next year.
Michelle Diercks: My podcast focuses on God’s Word and helping women find Peace in God’s Presence, in all circumstances.
Laura Bartnick: Wow! This has been a special opportunity getting you all together for an interview. Thank you again for coming together for a lively and technical discussion – wait, can lively and technical be used in the same phrase? Well, it’s the definition of sparking- so thank you for coming together for a sparking conversation with the authors at Capture Books and Captive Audiences where highlights of passion and purpose come together.
Yesterday my husband and I made a concerted effort to not go anywhere.
We have enough food, enough toilet paper, enough entertainment. By the end of the day though, we were tired of lounging in our jammies saying to each other, “Isn’t this great?” The roast and potatoes and carrots tasted like Sunday dinner without the guests. Hmm. Maybe a shower and getting dressed would have helped the humor after twelve hours of forced leisure. Even our dog seemed lowly, dumped out on the carpet. I looked at his water bowl and realized that in the change of routine, we’d neglected him.
Still, I predict great things to come of this social quarantine,
Boredom births games, boredom births conversations, and silliness, and sex.
I’d already seen several programs on the T.V. and just wanted to click off the power button. It felt like the reruns after 9/11. I decided to clean a room, and I found some forgotten treasures! In that little corner of heaven and for a couple of hours, I saw why cleanliness might prove to be next to godliness.
Explorations in the bookshelf, the stored software-to-learn list, webinars held on the back burner, homeschooling and getting to know one’s kids will all take shape.
All that attention kids need and crave from their parents
will feel a little awkward at first. Arguments and fights will break out. They’ll
look each other in the eye after a few hours and think, is this really
happening? Do I even know this person in
my house?! Then, the serious
discussions will start to take place. Values,
politics, meaning, personal strengths and weaknesses, the I-never and what-if
Things you never wanted to do, you’ll do, and discover you’re pretty good at it given some time.
After we slap our foreheads, remembering to feed our pets out of routine, we’ll tire of the couch and go out to weed the garden. Who weeds the garden anymore? Lawn services are the closest thing to beautifying the landscape we see around our neighborhood.
So, we’ll go outside there, and find some twigs to tie into wreaths and furniture.
We’ll decide to whittle a piece of wood into shape. We’ll find some glue or caulk or paint and start playing around. Our faces will relax. Smiles will be found.
Families will tell stories about grandparents and ancestry and wonder whether they should plan to visit their past in another state, another country entirely. Budgets for historical discovery will be made.
Designers will remember that they enjoyed drawing at one time, and they will begin to design upgrades to their houses. Negotiators, desperate for an income, will negotiate prices for work. The economy will plunge and adjust and perhaps prices will take a turn for the more reasonable.
Inventors will grow industrious. I remember we had installed a gas fireplace with a self-lighting pilot light in our old home because, at the time, rolling electrical black-outs were an issue in winter. In this particular crisis, I’m not sure how helpful the self-lighting pilot would be to eradicate COVID-19, but I am sure that industrious minds will begin to invent heath systems, tools, and hacks for hospitals, homestays, working from home, and bartering.
Would-be authors who have always wanted to write their masterpiece will begin an outline, a first page, a rewrite.
People who fear big brother’s orchestration of society and privacy will invent new protections and products and ideas.
Lawsuits will be settled outside of courtrooms. Fences mended.
We will face our inconsistencies as human beings and personal failures won’t spiral into martyrdom into, “Yes, I’m the trash heap of humanity.” We’ll have the time to talk through specifics, and analyze behaviors, and practice improvement.
Stress factors will release their vice-grip on life, and when we take a long look at what our parent or child is capable of, we will want to form a production line in the family to make the best ideas flourish.
The wiggle worms will get in their cars and drive around to discover what is going on around them, what spring looks like, what birds congregating in gangly trees sound like in chorus.
Adult kids will remember their neighborly shut-ins, their elderly parents and grandparents, and try to do whatever they can to assist them out of loneliness and fear. Concerted efforts to meet these needs will be met with surprising rewards.
Those who enjoy singing will sing again, privately or from their balconies, together in their families, in devotion to their God and to each other. Songs will be written. Pictures painted.
Family meals prepared and eaten around a dining room table. And, someone will say, “Thank you!” “Um, this is good. Is there more?” And, someone else will decide to eat together on the sunny patio and say, “What did you learn today from this strange isolation? Did you invent something wonderful?”
And, a kid will say, “I found the sewing machine and decided to hem my pants, but then I tried to make something else, and guess what? I can sew!”
All of these things will happen because we are not toting each other to hockey, basketball, concerts, the gym, school, our places of worship, and work. Deadlines will not rise up and press against our very bodies for closet space. Instead, Leisure will introduce herself as the new skeleton in our closets.
become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even
thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside
out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.
Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of
immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in
you.” Romans 12:2 (The Message)
“Oh, I need that!”
Advertising is ubiquitous! Indeed, it’s everywhere! The average American sees 3000-5000 ads per day. Think about it! That doesn’t mean just TV commercials… it counts every form, including signs as you are driving down the street, pop-up ads on the computer, brand names on clothing, notices on buses, upcoming event reminders in bathroom stalls, etc. Every day we’re bombarded with messages that intend to direct our buying, thinking, and actions.
And so are our children and
Our culture today is overrun with ever more invasive means of getting messages to us. In September of 2015, BBC reporter, Ben Frampton introduced the Changing Face of Journalism as clickbait from the outset of any news article. Technology is being utilized in new ways that impact our daily lives and attract our eyeballs to messages. Perhaps you have been a “victim” of clickbait.
“Clickbait consists of attention-grabbing
headlines used for Web content to lure readers into clicking on normally
uninteresting content. Many websites use clickbait as a mechanism to gain
popularity via higher click-through rates. Clickbait is characterized by a
highly enticing headline with a hyperlink that, when clicked, reveals a website
that has content that is not nearly as interesting as the headline. Clickbait
is therefore considered to be a strategy to increase the number of views to a
particular Web page.” (Techopedia.com)
read clickbait headlines such as,
20 pounds in 20 days! New miracle pill!”
Hollywood couple is giving away millions?”
“Seniors: stop paying property tax! Learn this easy strategy now!”
Sometimes these headlines immediately redirect a reader to a different domain. They are simply fishing hooks.
Buzzfeed alone regularly attracts more than 10 million
unique users in a single day.
Buzzfeed can bring strong returns for careful users, but it has also created expensive traps for the unsuspecting.
Bloggers often use clickbait to earn their influencer income through affiliate marketing. However, promoting affiliate products can easily distract not only a blogger’s readership, but also the hopeful content blogger from the central purpose of his or her blog.
Products are not the only thing being sold through clickbait.
Personal information is transferred through every click made to the collectors and analyzers of these products and services. This fact can be used positively when you are able to grow a base of contacts to use for legitimate business and kingdom purposes.
A darker morass of reasons others may use clickbait.
When a woman clicks on a piece of clothing or sleepwear, she may find herself next inundated with new ads for women of her age and size in sultry and lewd poses. When a boy or girl clicks on an ad, it is not unusual to discover advertisements for games, adventures, political ads, pornography, phishing sites to military operations, sign up sheets, edgy books and other age-monetized bait popping up on tomorrow’s online screens.
Because religious advertisements are considered a hate-speech liability to fan bases, it is not a Christian ad we can count on seeing unless the advertiser has taken pains to identify only easily recognized Christian buyers acceptable to the marketing host.
Our children need to be introduced to this marketing strategy so they are aware of the intentionality and purpose of these alluring headlines.
And then there’s location-based marketing.
Have you received a text message from a store just as you were driving near it?
marketing (LBM) typically takes advantage of the geolocation of a customer
(usually via a GPS-enabled device) and uses these techniques… to send
personalized and relevant messages at the right place, at the right time to the
Does this CEO’s statement bother you? “Augmenting location with data about user behavior patterns enables a brand to create more timely, customized user engagement.” (Laetitia Gazel Anthoine, CEO, Connecthings)
More technology, more knowledge about each person’s consumer habits
and personal preferences, more desire to sway your thinking, buying, and
actions, and lo and behold! GPS-based marketing!
We all need to raise our awareness of “Peeping Tom” marketers and
interfering corporations. If you recently looked at e-bikes on Amazon
for a possible purchase, and then you were suddenly accosted by pop-up
ads for e-bikes on Facebook, websites, and online games… it wasn’t a
Advertising has come a long way, baby! No doubt there are more
intrusive techniques being created right now, with the ultimate goal of
saturating your life with appealing hard-to-ignore ads.
God has told us to be ever vigilant. We need to be dealing with life with “eyes wide open”.
So how can we help teens become media-savvy about the culture that surrounds them?
Discussion is crucial. Talk with them about why advertising is part of our daily lives. Ask, “Where do you see ads?”
Discuss both the benefits and the downside of advertising. Ask, “Why do you think advertising works?”
Ask, “Is the accumulation of possessions enough as the purpose of a life?”
Ask, “What resources are available to create useful click ads for kingdom purposes? Do you have a service or a product for which you would like to design a click ad to help others?”
A Short Story by Tonya Jewel Blessing Author of the Big Creek Appalachian Series
He was desperate. Clem knew he wouldn’t last the winter without a woman.
Oh, he was interested in loving alright, if his health permitted, but, more importantly, he was interested in good food, lively conversation, and someone to help with the chores. If the gal played checkers and smoked a pipe, it was all the better. It’d been awhile since clean overalls hung on his tall, lean frame. His shirts and socks also needed mending.
In his younger days, some had called him handsome.
Now, old age had set in. He bones were brittle from lack of nutrition and hard work; his feet misshapen from wearing boots too small; and most of his teeth were missing. The last tooth he’d pulled himself with some worn, rusted pliers borrowed from a friend. He had washed the pliers in moonshine, and, after the painful extraction, had rinsed his mouth repeatedly with the brew. He knew the art of gnawing food but was praying for a new pair in case his new wife was good at making vitals.
He had just the gal in mind. Ruby Mae lived across the creek. Her husband had passed in the spring. It was rumored that Ruby’s mama had done him in with hemlock. He thought it might be so. Any woman, old or young, who wore a pan on her head must be crazy.
It had been awhile since he went calling on a girl but had worked out his mind just what was needed. He had shot and killed three squirrels. The varmints were cleaned and hanging on stick. He kept the pelts just in case the lady was of a mind to make him slippers. He also picked fall witch hazel flowers and tied them with twine. He knew that the flower helped with skin ailments of all types. When used topically it was fine but if ingested it could cause a person’s body to back up for several of days. He wanted the pan hatted lady to be aware of his knowledge about poison plants – just in case, she had any mischief in mind.
The creek water was running low. The fall rain showers had been brief and far between. Thunder and lightning aside, he enjoyed a good rain. His tin bathtub had a small hole, so he had taken to dancing in the rain with a small piece of soap made from lard.
The worn looking cabin was straight ahead. He could see the ladies sitting on the front porch hulling beans of some sort. He hoped it was black eye peas. They tasted mighty fine when seasoned with hog jowls.
“Gals, it’s Clem from across the creek,” he called out a greeting. It wouldn’t do any good to frighten a lady, especially since he was calling with wife finding in mind.
The younger woman, Ruby Mae, stood to greet him. Martha, the older woman stayed seated in her rocker and scowled at him.
“Clem, it’s nice to be seein’ you.”
“Ruby Mae,” he nodded and awkwardly handed her the squirrel meat.
“Well, I’m thankful. Why don’t you join me and Mama for dinner? I’ll make us a fine supper.”
True to her word, the meal was delicious. The witch hazel flowers placed in a mason jar were centered on the table. Two candles made from bee comb sat on either side of the centerpiece.
“Ruby Mae, the meal was mighty fine.” Clem hemmed and hawed. “I’m needin’ me a woman, and I’m thinkin’ you’re the gal.”
Sweet Ruby Mae blushed, and Martha made a sound similar to a growl.
“Clem, I’m honored. My Homer done passed, and I’m gettin’ scared about the snow. I’m worried that Mama and me can’t manage the farm,” she looked down at the worn floorboards. “Is you thinkin’ of movin’ here or is me and Mama coming to your place.”
It hadn’t occurred to Clem to relocate across the creek, but the idea sat well with him. Ruby Mae’s home was pleasant, clean, and well kept. He spied jars of canned fruit, vegetables, and meat in the small room off the kitchen.
“It’ll be fine to be moving here,” Clem answered. “But we’re needed to talk about Mama. I done heard that she killed Homer. If it’s true, I best be knowing before the preacher man is called.”
Ruby Mae looked toward her mother. “Mama…”
The older woman smiled a toothless grin. “I ain’t kilt nobody. There was a time or two that I was wantin’ to send Homer to his Maker, but I done feared for my eternal wellbein’. I won’t kill ya. I’m promisin’. I’ll be helping Martha to tend you. I’m knowing how to make food that you can gnaw and feed you gullet. I’ll even warsh your clothes.”
“That’s mighty fine.” Clem replied.
The wedding took place the following week. Ruby Mae looked lovely in pale blue dress with a small pocket placed over her heart. The pocket was trimmed in lace. Her message was subtle, but Clem knew that his bride’s heart now belonged to him, and his heart belonged to her. Martha stood next to her daughter wearing the old pot for a hat.
When the preacher told the newlyweds to kiss, Clem leaned in for a smooch. Before his lips touched Ruby Mae’s, he noticed a sprig of dried hemlock peeking from the lacy pocket. Ruby Mae winked and whispered in his ear, “And you thought it was Mama…”