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Archive | August, 2018

7 Quick Tips For Naming Your Product

A product’s name can often make the difference between best seller, and total dud.

7 Quick Tips For Naming Your Product

Here’s some tips to help you choose a name for your new product that tilts the odds of success in the marketplace in your favor.

Make it memorable – Can someone recall the name 30 minutes after hearing it? If not, you might be picking a name that’s too generic. Something that paints a visual picture works the best.

Make it meaningful – Can someone look at the name and have a good idea of what the product does? If so, you might have a winner.

Be open – Just because you don’t immediately love a name doesn’t mean it isn’t the right one.

Say it out loud – Is it a name that people like to say out loud? If so, that can only help your viral marketing.

Check the name’s history – You might think you’ve got the perfect product name, but a few years ago a scam company used the same name for their product and then took the money and ran. Do a thorough search to find out who else is using the name and what type of products it’s being used on (or was used on in the past).

Break rules – If competing products tend to have similar names, choose something that totally sets you apart from the crowd.

Make a long list of possibilities – Don’t stop on the 5th name you think of – make a list of a hundred or more and then narrow it down. Sometimes the best name is the one you think of after you’ve made your list of 100 and you’re in the shower, thinking about something else. And the longer the list, the more confident you’ll be when you make your final selection.

Now that you know some guidelines for naming your product, go out there and create a new one so you can bring it to market and experience the power of these tips yourself.

Blood Clots

You know blood clots are dangerous and that you definitely don’t want one…

But how do they form? And who is most at risk?

Put simply, blood is liquid, and when it thickens, it clots. While clotting is necessary to stop cuts and wounds from bleeding, internal clotting is very dangerous, even deadly.

There are a few different types of clots, but one of the most common and deadliest is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). DVT is a clot that forms in the deep vessels of the lower extremities. If it dislodges and travels to the lungs, it can lead to a pulmonary embolism, impairing blood flow and oxygen to the lungs resulting in stroke and, if not treated in time, death.

Symptoms of blood clots include redness, pain, swelling and heaviness in the affected area. If you are at risk and have experienced any of these symptoms, seek medical treatment immediately.

Who is at Risk?

There are several risk factors that can result in the formation of blood clots inside the blood vessels:

Pregnancy

During pregnancy, a woman has extra estrogen circulating throughout her body and this may contribute to an increase in the number of clotting factors. Additionally, pregnancy increases the pressure in the pelvic and leg veins. Also important to mention is that the risk of developing blood clots can continue for up to six weeks after giving birth, so it’s important to move your body both during and after the baby is born. Walking, prenatal yoga and other gentle exercises are a great way to decrease the risk of developing blood clots.

Prolonged Immobility

Spending long periods of time not moving your body puts a person at risk. Whether it’s traveling on a plane, driving or riding in a car, or spending long periods of time in front of a computer, it’s vitally important to get up and move around every 30 or 40 minutes to keep your venous blood flow.

An Irregular Heartbeat

Many people are unaware they have an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) as there are generally no symptoms and it goes completely undetected. But having one can increase your risk of developing blood clots. Because an irregular heartbeat hinders blood from being thoroughly pumped into the ventricles, blood can begin to pool in the upper chamber, leading to potential clots and stroke.

Surgery

Major surgery, particularly of the legs of the lower abdomen, increases the risk of DVT because it renders the patient temporarily immobile.

Smoking

Cigarettes contain many harmful chemicals, and some of these may cause blood vessel damage, which can lead to an increased risk of DVT.

Obesity

Due to decreased mobility and poor circulation, obesity puts you at a higher risk for developing blood clots.

Age

While DVT can occur at any age, the older you are, the more at risk you are. About 1 in every 1,000 people will develop DVT each year, and people over the age of 60 face the most risk.

Cancer

Several types of cancer can increase a patient’s risk of developing blood clots. With these cancers, there is an increased production of platelets and other clotting factors. And, when cancer patients undergo chemotherapy as treatment, the cancer cells that are killed release substances that may cause coagulation of blood inside the vessels. And, some chemotherapy drugs themselves may cause more clotting than others. On top of this, many patients will need to be inactive during treatment, which also puts them at a higher risk.

5 Natural Ways of Decreasing Your Risk of Blood Clots

Now that you know who’s most at risk of developing blood clots, let’s talk about some natural ways you can decrease that risk.

1. Frequent Exercise

As we’ve read, one of the risk factors in developing blood clots is obesity. It’s important that you exercise every day for at least 30 minutes. Doing so will significantly reduce your risk, provided you also eat a healthy and balanced diet consisting mostly of plant-based and whole foods.

2. Quit Smoking

Not only do smokers have difficulty exercising, causing them to be inactive, but smoking damages the inner lining of the blood vessels. If you or a loved one are a smoker, now is definitely the time to quit.

3. Eat Foods Rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Vitamin E

Besides being great for fighting inflammation, Omega 3 and vitamin E contain components that have blood thinning properties that reduce a person’s risk of forming clots. Excellent sources of Omega 3s are cold water fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Foods high in vitamin E are avocado, sweet potato, and almonds.

4. Limit Alcohol Consumption

Too much alcohol increases the risk of forming blood clots. However, limiting consumption to one drink a day, preferably a glass of red wine, reduces your risk.

5. Stay Hydrated

Water is one of the biggest components of our blood, so it is important that you drink plenty of fresh, clean water every day. This will keep your blood thin and allow it to flow smoothly and freely.

As you’ve just read, the risk of forming blood clots is greatly reduced by adopting a healthy lifestyle. This involves eating a diet consisting of plants and other whole foods, exercising, and refraining from smoking or consuming too much alcohol.

Try To Be A Little Weirder

There is a school of thought that says when you are choosing a niche, find something small and highly targeted. And that can be great if you end up being the big fish in a little pond. But if another big fish comes along in that same pond – or worse yet, a whole school of big fish – then you’re in trouble.
Try To Be A Little Weirder
So here’s a thought – why not be a little fish in a big pond, but do it in such a way that you stand out like a neon red fish in a school of gray boring fish?
Let’s say you want to write a marketing blog – guess what? There are a million marketing blogs (or more) and the field is darn crowded. That’s the bad news. The good news is there are plenty of people who want to read about marketing every day – you just have to stand out from the crowd so they can find you.
So maybe instead of your niche being, “Great Marketing Ideas!” Or “Super Swell Marketing Tips!” your niche could be, “Marketing for Chiropractors Who Hate Marketing.” Or perhaps, “Marketing For Cookbook Authors.” See what’s happening? You’re in a HUGE niche, but you’ve carved it down to a very specific group within that niche.
Now that’s good, but it’s still not great. After all, they’re likely to visit you, but will they remember you? Will they race to open your email each time you send them something? Maybe. Maybe not. So what we need to do is kick it up another notch.
And this is where you get weird, my friend. Don’t worry – secretly we are ALL weird. Being “weird” simply means being “different” than the crowd. And online, that’s a really, really good thing.
Mind you, this advice goes for websites and products as well as blogs. Take this idea for example…
mentalfloss.com/article/23836/weird-website-week-selleck-waterfall-sandwich
This famed website was exclusively dedicated to 3 things: Tom Selleck, Waterfalls and Sandwiches. You’ll be surprised at all the different ways those 3 things can come together.
HA! Okay, I admit, I was having a little fun with you there. While that is an ACTUAL WEBSITE, it’s best used as an illustration of perhaps taking “weird” just a bit too far.
We simply want to go one step further to make our brand sticky in the minds of our visitors. You can do that with a memorable URL, such as EatMyFrog.com. Seriously, are you likely to forget “Eat My Frog dot com?” Not likely.
Another technique to set you apart and make yourself memorable is by adding some personality to your name.
And it’s easy to do – just give yourself a nickname. Is this weird? I hope so – after all, that is what we’re going for. Remember, “weird” = memorable.
Here are ideas for nicknames – take something about yourself, be it a past profession, a hobby, a physical feature, a personality quirk or whatever, and give yourself a name centered around that. Some examples:
Farming could be “Farm Girl” Truck driving – “The Mad Truck Driver” Ex Military – “Soldier Sue” or “Sailor Sam.” Physical features – “The Redhead” Hobbies – “Ski Fanatic” Foods You Love – “Tony Bagels”
Better still, nickname yourself after your Expertise. For example:
Mr. Googlehead for an SEO expert. Now when they get an email from “The Redhead” or “Mr. Googlehead,” they’re going to remember you, which means they are much more likely to open and read your email.
Now not only is your niche properly carved down to make you an important little fish in a big pond – you’re also a more MEMORABLE fish. Think it’s silly? Really, it’s just good marketing sense. You’re branding yourself to make yourself memorable – and memorable is good!

Intimacy In Marriage

Marriage should be the most intimate relationship anybody experiences in life. It should be more intimate than a friendship, a mother-daughter relationship, a father-son relationship, a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, etc. But sadly, many couples often feel distant and alone in a marriage.

Because man is body, soul, and spirit (cf. 1 Thess 5:23, Heb 4:12), married couples must cultivate each aspect of their being in order to develop intimacy. They must cultivate their friendship (soul), their sexuality (body), and their spirituality (spirit) in marriage. If one aspect of this tri-unity is missing, couples will lack the intimacy God desires. Therefore, all three must be continually cultivated

Intimacy in Friendship
As we consider developing intimacy in friendship, we must consider Christ and his friendship with the church. Jesus said this in John 15:15:

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

What makes the difference between being Christ’s servant and his friend? It was the fact that Christ shared everything with his friends. As the church, we are both Christ’s bride (cf. Eph 5:23-27) and his friend. He has taught us his secrets, things that the world will not and cannot understand (1 Cor 2:14). Through his Word and the Holy Spirit, he has taught us truths about salvation, mankind, creation, angels and demons, and the future. As the church, we are Christ’s friends, and every day we have the privilege to grow in intimacy with him through studying his Word and speaking with him in prayer.

Similarly, this practice of communing through sharing one’s life, thoughts, fears, and concerns will cultivate a married couple’s friendship and therefore intimacy. Certainly, there is a need for discipline in this area. As life gets busy with work, managing the household, raising children, church, hobbies, etc., there will be many things (some good things) that can distract from cultivating the friendship.

Likewise, this often happens in our relationship with God. Remember the story of Mary and Martha? Martha was busy serving, while Mary quietly sat at Jesus’ feet. In the same way, we often get busy with good things, which can cause us to neglect our relationship with God. This can also happen with our spouse, causing not only a lack of intimacy but discord in the marriage.

What disciplines can couples practice to cultivate their friendship?

1. Couples should practice setting aside a period of time every day for sharing and listening to cultivate their friendship.
Activities are good, but intimate sharing should be maximized when couples are together. For most, evenings will be the best time for this, after work and other endeavors are completed.

As a couple has more children, it becomes even harder to allow time for intimate sharing, but it is still just as important. I heard one pastor’s wife, who had five children, share that in their home, the children had to be in their rooms by eight pm. She would commonly tell their kids after eight pm, “I am no longer Mom but my husband’s wife.” That’s how they managed a busy home and yet kept intimacy. It also demonstrated to the kids the priority of the marriage relationship.

2. Couples should be careful of intimacy killers to focus on cultivating their friendship.
In considering the importance of time alone, one should be aware of intimacy killers. Often watching TV, being on the Internet, playing video games, being on the phone, etc., can be ways of distracting from or avoiding intimacy.

One marital counseling book I read encouraged couples to not turn on the TV for the first year of marriage. The first year of marriage is foundational for the rest of marriage. In the Old Testament, a soldier was not allowed to go to war during the first year of marriage. He was to stay home and bring his wife happiness (Deut 24:5). It is within the first year of marriage that patterns are established, both healthy and unhealthy ones. If a couple establishes early patterns of primarily watching and doing instead of being and sharing, it may reap hazardous dividends later in marriage. It is not uncommon for couples to say after years of marriage, “We realized that we really didn’t know one another.” It is very possible these couples established unhealthy patterns early in marriage of being distracted by intimacy killers, which kept them from ever truly knowing one another.

This is good to consider about marriage and especially one’s first year, which establishes a foundation for the rest of marriage. Do you want to have a marriage where your mate comes home, kisses you on the cheek, and then gets on the Internet, TV, or phone for three hours before bed? It is good to beware of these tendencies which can potentially hurt couples. Protect yourself from intimacy killers; block out daily time to focus on sharing, listening, and being together.

3. Couples should enjoy activities together to cultivate their friendship.
With all that said, balance is needed in marriage. Couples need times of just sharing and listening to one another, but they also need to enjoy activities together such as reading, working out, going to movies, traveling, etc. Sadly, many couples get married believing they have many activities they love doing together, but after the first year, they find that they really enjoy different things. While courting, the woman would watch sports with her boyfriend because she was just happy to be with him. However, soon after getting married, she would quickly decline to watch the Sunday football game to do her own thing. While courting, the man would go to the mall with his girlfriend because he was just happy to be around her. However, in marriage, he promptly declines the Saturday excursion to instead stay home. It is not uncommon for early passion to blur the reality of the person one is going to marry, and couples should be aware of this.

Whether this happens or not, it is important for couples to find activities they enjoy together, to help maintain and increase intimacy. Christ went everywhere with his infant church, the disciples, and shared everything with them (cf. Matt 17:1, John 15:15). To protect our marriages and help them grow, it is wise to think about and plan for activities that can be enjoyed together as well as setting weekly or monthly dates to share these things. “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5).

Of course, many times husbands and wives will simply not enjoy the same activities. This is normal. However, out of love for their spouse, they should participate in many of the activities their spouse enjoys. The wife should occasionally watch the football game, and the husband should occasionally watch the romantic comedy. Out of love, we should serve our mate, and one of the greatest ways to do this is by doing something he or she enjoys. This will enrich the friendship.

In addition, a wise practice for couples is to establish a weekly date night. Choose a convenient night of the week to go out and do something special. Guard this night from the rigors of busyness, and when unforeseen circumstances do not allow it, always reschedule. Date night does not have to be expensive or even cost money; the most important aspect of it is spending uninterrupted time together.

One of the great realities of marriage is that it will take a lifetime to truly know your spouse since he or she is always growing and changing. Therefore, as a discipline, wisely plan to cultivate the intimacy of friendship in marriage.

Intimacy in Sex
Next, couples must cultivate intimacy through sex. God meant sex to be a powerful means of increasing intimacy in marriage. In fact, it has often been called the “litmus test” of marriage. Couples who are angry with one another will eat together, go to the movies together, and church together but most likely will not have sex together. Sex is a gauge for a couple’s intimacy and, also, how a couple increases it.
If a married couple finds themselves going weeks without sex, it may be a good time to evaluate the relationship. “Are my spouse and I alright?” “Am I meeting his/her needs?”

In considering sex, it is also important to consider Satan’s tactics in that area of marriage. While unmarried, his energy focuses on tempting couples towards premarital sex, but in marriage, his energy focuses on tempting them to not have sex. Young married couples will often find this a paradox since their passion was hard to contain before marriage. But in the marriage union, sexual intimacy tends to become dry and stagnant. Satan wants to hinder a married couple’s intimacy through a lack of sex.

God’ Purpose For Sex.

1. God’s purpose for sex is as a means of unity and intimacy in marriage.
Genesis 2:24 says: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” When the narrator said the man and woman become “one flesh,” he was referring directly to sex. This is supported by the fact that 1 Corinthian 6:16 says a man who has sex with a harlot becomes “one flesh” with her. The sexual act was meant to be a symbol of unity and intimacy in marriage and how a couple cultivated them.

In fact, sex was used to picture God’s intimacy and covenant with the nation of Israel. Ezekiel 16:8 says:

Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of My garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you My solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became Mine.

God took Israel as his wife, as a husband took his virgin wife to himself. God meant sex in marriage to symbolize the most intimate relationship in the world, our relationship with Him. It is a powerful union. It is both a symbol of unity and intimacy and the means of how a married couple grows in them.

2. God’s purpose for sex is as a means of procreation. God desires for couples to birth and raise godly seeds. Consider these verses:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.
Genesis 1:27-38
Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit, they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.
Malachi 2:15
3. God’s purpose for sex is as a means of enjoyment and pleasure.
Consider these verses:

May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.
Proverbs 5:18-19
How beautiful you are and how pleasing, O love, with your delights! Your stature is like that of the palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit. I said, “I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit.” May your breasts be like the clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine. May the wine go straight to my lover, flowing gently over lips and teeth. I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me. Come, my lover, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages. Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded if their blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates are in bloom—there I will give you my love.
Song of Songs 7:6-12
Couples are meant to enjoy their spouse through sex. In a very real way, sex is a celebration of the relationship, a way to express pleasure in one another.

4. God’s purpose in sex is as a means of serving one’s spouse.
In 1 Corinthians 7:3-4, Paul said:

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Paul taught the wife must give her husband the right of ownership of her body, and the husband must do the same (v. 4). They should not withhold sex as a weapon to get their way or to punish their mate. Paul explicitly said to not “deprive each other” except temporarily by “mutual consent” for spiritual reasons (v. 5).
When angry or when one didn’t desire to have sex, one would still offer oneself to the other as Scripture teaches. He or she would say to the other, “I may not feel like it now, but if you will take me like this, I want to serve you.” Married couples must learn to view sex as a ministry to one another and commit to always be available to fulfill their mate’s need.

Sadly, sex in marriage is often about fulfilling one’s lust or reaching one’s own climax instead of serving. Consequently, a spouse can still feel used and/or unsatisfied sexually in marriage. However, this was never God’s plan. Philippians 2:3-4 says this:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.

In sex, as with every relationship, nothing should be done out of selfish motivation but primarily to serve the interests of the other. In sex, the husband’s goal should be his wife’s pleasure, and the wife’s goal should be her husband’s pleasure.

How does this work when spouses have different libidos? In most marriages, one spouse desires sex more than the other. Because God’s plan for sex in marriage is for each spouse to seek the pleasure of the other, this means that one spouse will have sex more than desired, and the other will have less than desired. Each should continually seek to serve the interest of the other within the sexual relationship.

Obviously, no one should feel forced, but if a spouse is lacking the desire to serve his/her mate, the spouse should pray and ask God for grace to serve. In fact, it is a wise practice for mates to continually pray to serve their mate better in the sexual union. By serving their mate, they are honoring God and his design for marriage.

Moreover, couples should minister to one another sexually with the understanding that there is grace available (cf. James 4:6, Gal 5:22-23, John 15:5). God desires to give couples grace to love, to serve, and to bless their sexual union because this is his will for marriage. Each couple should regularly petition God for his anointing over their union.

5. God’s purpose for sex is as a means of protection from sexual immorality and other temptations.
First Corinthians 7:1-2 says, “Now for the matters, you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.”

Paul taught that marriage, and sex in marriage was meant to protect couples from temptations towards sexual immorality. In fact, Paul added this:

Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
1 Corinthians 7:5
When couples do not practice consistency in sex, it allows Satan to tempt them in various ways. In what ways does Satan tempt couples for lack of sexual consistency?

Of course, he tempts them sexually through lust, pornography, adultery, etc. But there are many other temptations, such as one or both mates feeling unloved, undesired, depressed, and/or insecure. I have found this very common for wives, especially after having children. When the sexual union is not consistent, they are tempted to feel unattractive and unloved. It becomes an open door for Satan to trample the woman in marriage. With the husband, when the sexual union is inconsistent, it seems he is more prone to be tempted sexually. This might be because the husband more commonly works outside the home around members of the opposite sex. It is wise for husbands and wives to view their sexual intimacy as a necessary protection from the evil one’s schemes.

As an example, I had one friend share that when he first got married, Satan focused his attacks on the bedroom. It became a tremendous source of insecurity, fears, and discord. Many couples would say the same thing. For this reason, couples must practice faithfulness in this area and view it, not only as a way to enhance their marriage but to guard their marriage. Some churches in recent years have developed marriage campaigns where couples commit to having sex every day for a week or a month as a spiritual discipline to increase the health of marriages. This may be over the top, but the principle behind it is very biblical.

Personally, I think it is wise for couples to establish a weekly plan to practice sexual intimacy. Satan will use busyness, tiredness, children, ministry, etc., to keep couples from the blessing of sex. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Those who plan, plan to succeed, and those who do not plan, plan to fail.

Let me add a caution about when couples have children. The birth of children adds new challenges to a couple’s intimacy. The children stage is a tremendous blessing, but it will open more doors for Satan to attack sexual intimacy in marriage. Many times children become the focus of the marriage. In some cultures, the wife will often co-sleep with the child for years. In those scenarios, couples will have to be even more strategic. Satan is not going to stop attacking the marriage because of children. In fact, his attacks will probably increase. Therefore, Christians must be wise and strategic in how they protect the sexual union.

Ways to Enrich Sex in Marriage

Openly talk about it
Set dates for it
Practice flirting throughout the day
Pray about it
Be creative
Wisely read Christian literature about it
Christian literature can offer insights without being tasteless and irreverent. For instance, God made the woman’s body differently than the man’s. The woman’s body typically takes longer to arouse, and they are stirred more emotionally than men. In order for the husband to serve the woman, it will typically start long before entering the bedroom through touch, communication, and loving service.

In summary, sex is a celebration that God created to enrich marriage. It is where intimacy and unity are cultivated, where the miracle of procreation happens, and where pure joy is stimulated. However, it is also an area where Satan commonly attacks. Couples must guard it and cultivate it to grow in intimacy with one another.

The Scary Way Your In-Laws Affect Your Marriage

Not exactly besties with your mother-in-law? It might be a good thing. Keeping your husband’s parents at arm’s length could be good for your marriage. You must draw healthy boundaries between yourself and his folks. Your marriage depends on it.

Researchers followed 373 couples since they were first wed in 1986. In each couple, both the husband and wife rated how close they felt to their in-laws on a scale of one to four. Researchers tracked the couples over time and collected data, including whether or not the couples stayed together. Marriages in which the wife reported having a close relationship with her in-laws had a 20 percent higher risk of divorce than couples where the wife didn’t report a close relationship. Conversely, marriages, where the husband reported being close with his in-laws had a 20 percent lower probability of separation than couples where the husband reported a relationship that wasn’t as close.

Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., lead researcher, and author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship says the discrepancies in gender come down to how men and women view relationships differently. “When a wife sees that her husband is really trying to bond with her family, she interprets it as a sign of love–he’s trying to be close with them because it’s important to her,” says Orbuch.

But when wives devote time to their husbands’ parents, it doesn’t always have the same result. “If a woman is spending lots of time improving the relationship with her in-laws, she may have a difficult time setting emotional boundaries,” says Orbuch. “And often, when you get too close, you might interpret whatever your in-laws say as interference or meddling.”

Want to give your marriage a fighting chance? The key is to create healthy boundaries. These guidelines will help you lay the right foundation:

Draw the Lines (with Your Spouse) Beforehand Everyone has a different idea of what’s normal in terms of the parent-child relationship, says Andrea Syrtash, author of Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband). So make sure to discuss with your spouse what makes you uncomfortable and how much interaction with his folks you would prefer. And the rules may be different for each set of parents, Syrtash points out. Your husband may want to give his dad a spare key to your house so he can drop by to “help out” with chores. But you may prefer to live three states away from your parents and only see them on special occasions. Chances are you probably won’t be on the same page when it comes to the role you want your parents to play, but at least you’ll know where the other person stands. Also, when he knows what you’re comfortable with, he’ll be better able to help you police those lines.

Let Him Do the Dirty Work If there’s an issue with his parents, ask your husband to handle it first. This strategy has a dual benefit: It guarantees that he’s the primary guardian of the relationship with them, rather than you; and also, it helps avoid unnecessary additional conflict due to misunderstandings—he knows them best, after all, Syrtash says. To get him on board, try to position your complaint in a way where you are asking for his help without necessarily blaming his folks (for instance: “I want to be close with your parents, but sometimes I feel like they don’t understand me.”) “As long as your spouse knows that you want the relationship to improve, he’ll be more receptive to help get things on track,” she says.

Never Badmouth Him to His Folks Avoid talking about your marriage with your in-laws, Orbuch says. Especially avoid talking about troubles between you and their son, because it can open up a line of communication (either critical or “helpful”) that isn’t appropriate. If one of them baits you, make a joke to deflect the comment, Syrtash advises. Say his dad mentions something about how your husband doesn’t know how to raise kids—you can come back with a lighthearted response like, “One reason I love him is that he’s a big kid himself! We’re all learning.” Vent to your friends if you have to get something off your chest.

Prepare Your Responses If your in-laws frequently say offensive things, or make you feel as if they’re meddling or judging your lifestyle, prepare responses to their common quips in advance of seeing them. “Instead of being defensive, respond with a simple answer and move on to another topic, or shift focus to someone else at the table,” Syrtash says. “If that’s not easy to do, politely excuse yourself.” Understand that some people will just push your buttons, and it’s up to you whether you choose to rise to the bait. The more you respond, the more enmeshed you might get—and sometimes, it’s best to simply refuse to engage.

Sex In Marriage: Ecstasy or Agony?

Is sex in your marriage ecstasy or agony? Marriage is a covenant between the husband, wife, and God, and we’re to grow Spiritually as a couple to help us keep the romantic ecstasy of sex alive and avoid the agony that leads to a sexless marriage or divorce.

Is Your Sex Life Ecstasy or Agony?
Jack and Marta began their marriage romantically charged. Their sex life was electric. Within a couple of years, however, their romance was losing power, “Jack isn’t the man I thought I married,” says Marta. “He used to be so sensitive and romantic, but now all he thinks about is work.”

Jack’s response is similar, “Marta never used to complain. Our sex life was frequent and intense. Now it’s on the back burner. I really don’t know how we lost the ecstasy.” Jack and Marta’s story is not uncommon. We date for a season, fall in love, then decide to get married. But within a short time, the hot ecstasy of marital bliss slides into the lukewarm routine of a busy life. Money, job and family challenges preoccupy us and tax our emotions. We grow apart.

Does that sound familiar? Is your sex life ecstasy or agony?

Couples in Agony
It’s no wonder divorce rates hovers around 42 percent among Baby Boomers. That’s up from 20 percent back in 1953. It’s not that we don’t like the idea of marriage as nearly 85% of us marry.

According to a study by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, 94 percent of singles in their 20s who had never been married say they want nothing less than a soul mate. Though marriage is still popular some experts to believe that our desires have surpassed reality. But is it wrong to hope for a soul-mate in marriage?

Is it really possible to work through the agony in a marriage and recapture the ecstasy?

Yes, it is!

God not only created marriage, He has also given us the owner’s manual, the Bible, in order to know to make it work. And beyond that, He also desires to personally reside in each marriage.

God’s written Word and personal presence guarantee that any marriage can recover the ecstasy of those early years, even in the midst of the agony.

But first, each married couple must embrace two fundamental realities in God’s blueprint for marriage.

Marriage is a Covenant Between Husband, Wife, and God
First, marriage is a covenant relationship.

“[S]he is your companion and your wife by covenant” (Mal. 2:14).

“[She] leaves the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God” (Prov. 2:17).

When God initiates a marital covenant relationship, marriage takes on a sense of the sacred, something uniquely set apart to Him.

By God’s design, marriage becomes a binding, contractual relationship, into which He commits Himself to a nurturing role. Husbands and wives are not left alone to hack out their marriage.

In reality, marriage is not a straight line with the husband and wife merely tethered together at the two ends of the line.

No, marriage is a triangle with the husband and wife bound together at the base of the triangle as well as to God who is at the apex of the triangle. Drawing near to Him will draw them closer to each other.

In other words, marriage is not merely the two becoming one, it is actually the three becoming one: a covenant arrangement of God, the husband, and the wife.

Marriage Helps Us Grow Spiritually
Second, marriage is a transformative relationship.

Knowing that God, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, is not only a part of your marriage but wants it to succeed for the long haul is encouraging. Also important is understanding that the marital relationship is designed to help us grow spiritually.

The busyness of life can distract us from each other but our individual selfishness can drive us apart.

In a certain sense, every relationship is a transformative relationship, for better or for worse.

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov. 13:20).

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Cor. 15:33).

God has committed Himself to change us into nothing less than the likeness of His own Son (Rom. 8:29-30; 2 Cor. 3:18). And that likeness is the likeness of a servant(Phil. 2:5-11).

Marriage is God’s ultimate training ground for Christlike servanthood.

Most couples are not prepared for the shocking experience of meeting such selfishness in the early months and years of their marriage. Assuming that such selfishness is in their mate, and not in themselves,

They set out with a vengeance to change their mate, usually to no avail. That’s when the agony sets in.

But we can only recapture the ecstasy when we begin to realize that we need to be changed, not our mates.

You see, God uses marriage to work out our selfishness and to work in His servanthood. This is often a slow and painful process.

But God is faithful “who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20).

Moving From Agony to Ecstasy
That Jack and Marta’s sexual union faded from ecstasy to agony is not unusual. As one of the most intimate and unifying features of a Christian marriage, our sex life is often symptomatic of our spiritual life.

When we are one with each other and God, we are as close as we can be and sexual excitement is the natural expression of this. As we grow spiritually mature together factors like problems at work, family issues and the general busyness of life are easier to overcome and less likely to take a disproportionate amount of our attention and emotions.

Are your experiences ecstasy or agony in your sex life? Do you want to transform your marital agony into marital ecstasy? Then take the following steps:

Reaffirm your marital covenant relationship by committing your marriage to God and to each other in prayer and before another couple who are also living in a committed marital covenant relationship.

Confess to God that you have been trying to change your mate and that it has been a miserable failure. Also, ask your mate to forgive you for trying to play God in your marriage. Ask the Lord to transform you into a Christlike servant in your marriage, no matter what it takes

Make time to spend together in physical intimacy. Life can get busy, and we can get distracted. Plan times to block out all distractions and just focus on each other.

Finally, share your prayer requests with another couple who will not only pray for you but who will also encourage and hold you accountable to these new commitments.

How to Add 836 Million Potential Readers To Your Website or Blog

English is a very common language, but Mandarin Chinese is even more common – to the tune of 836 million people (or more, depending on which source you use.)

How to Add 836 Million Potential Readers To Your Website or Blog

And you might want to consider other languages, too, such as…

Hindi (333 million)

Spanish (332 million)

English (322 million)

Bengali (189 million)

Arabic (186 million)

Russian (170 million)

Portuguese (170 million)

Japanese (125 million)

German (98 million)

French (72 million)

And it gets even more interesting. What percentage of online shoppers speak English? Probably 80-90%, right?

Actually no. So it must be 50-75% then?

You might think so, but no. The answer is just 27% of online shoppers speak English.

Can you see now why you might want to target other languages?

So how do you translate your website into another language? You might use Google Translate http://translate.google.com/translate_tools or any of the translating plug-ins that are available. Of course, these are only machine translations, and your results may vary. Sometimes wildly.

A better course of action is to hire someone off of the freelancing sites who is fluent in English and your language of choice.

Once you’ve got your website translated, you can then offer products in that language, including your own. Naturally you’ll want to get those translated as well.

Be sure to do research into the country you are targeting, just as if you were moving there. Find out what is important to them, what is offensive, who their celebrities are, what slang is commonly used, etc.

If you are really serious about marketing in this new country, you might want to learn the language. No, you don’t need to speak it fluently, you just need to be able to read and write it (easier than speaking.)

Find people you can trust, such as freelancers and even business partners native to that country or region.

And one more thing to consider: Keywords. Unfortunately, keywords don’t necessarily translate well, and so you may want to get some help with this as well for your multi-languange search engine optimization efforts.

Is Video Blogging A Good Idea? Maybe Not…

Which would you rather do – spend two hours thinking of a great blog post idea, researching that idea, writing the post and finally editing the post… or dashing off a video post in less than half the time?

Is Video Blogging A Good Idea? Maybe Not...

Heck, let’s be honest: If you’ve got a good idea and the ideas are flowing, you can dash off a video post in the same time it takes to make the recording. Post it to your blog, and you’re done.

No wonder why so many bloggers are turning to video.

Problem is, video is not the holy grail of blogging. In fact, if taken too far it can actually lead to the downfall of your blog (notice the crickets chirping, the tumble weeds, err, tumbling, etc.)

Here are five tips for using video on your blog without totally alienating your readers or camouflaging yourself from the search engines. Or more specifically, five reasons NOT to use video exclusively.

Video is no substitute for the written word (sorry!) Users don’t just want video. Visitors want a clear idea of what they’re about to see before they hit that play button. Not to mention the fact that many of your viewers aren’t at their computer, they’re mobile users who may or may not have a speedy connection. If they can at least read your story and then decide if your video is worth downloading, you have a better shot at capturing and holding their attention.

Obvious solution? Incorporate video and writing into your blogpost, not just video.

The search engines don’t know what you’re talking about. The day has not yet arrived that search engines can figure out the words spoken in your video. Thus, if you have video only, or video and poor content from an SEO stand point, then you might as well have donned a cloak of invisibility as far as the search engines are concerned.

Instead, you want to couple good writing that incorporates your SEO terms with your video. The two paired together make a smashing team and work hand-in-hand to make your blog post even better.

Lousy videos are, well, lousy. Okay, if you’re breaking a story in front of a burning building, you’re going to use your cell phone to take the video because that’s what you happened to have handy at the time. But if you’re in your office doing “how-to” kinds of videos, PLEASE invest in an inexpensive HD camcorder. Please. Your viewers will thank you.

Also, ad-libbing is something few people can get by with. Before you begin recording, make an outline of all your major points and post it right next to the camera so you don’t get lost and you don’t forget anything. Notice I said outline – writing it out word for word and then READING it is a big (HUGE!) no-no and will make your audience fall asleep faster than two blinks of the eye.

Please be aware of camera positioning. I recently saw a video on a major marketing website that was positioned on a coffee table and afforded a perfect crotch shot for the entire duration. Ewww.

One last thing – forget the umms, errrs, and ahhhs. If you need to pause for a second to think of a word, then just PAUSE. You do not need to fill in every second with sound, especially when that sound (um er ah) makes you sound like a bonafide rank amateur.

Hiding your content underneath your videos is not cool. Look, you want people to spend as much time as possible on your page, right? Then begin your post with written content and place your video within the content – not ahead of it. Your headline and lead-in should capture their attention enough to get them reading, and within the first 2-4 paragraphs you can reference the video. If they’re engaged, odds are they’ll read the rest of your post and then watch the video.

On the other hand, if the video appears first, then they will either watch the video and leave (they’ve seen the video, why read your content?) Or they’ll just leave because they don’t want to watch a video without first having a clue why they should bother.

Don’t over use video – think of video as an hors d’oeuvre or side dish, not the main course. Videos should be short – under 2 minutes whenever possible, and certainly under 5 minutes unless your content is drop-dead riveting.

Bottom line: Video is an excellent supplement to your blog, but it shouldn’t be the only thing on there. Provide plenty of SEO friendly content that grabs readers’ attention and you’ll keep visitors on your website longer and visiting more frequently, as well.

What Blended Families Can Learn From God’s Family

The Art of Blending

Just like there are many ways to blend a smoothie, there are many ways to blend a family. A widower with children marries a widow with children. A divorced person with children marries someone who has never had children and the two of them has a baby. Two people who have been divorced and both have children from those marriages get married. Approximately one-third of all weddings in America today form stepfamilies. In all of these cases, people are trying to blend families – and it’s not always a smooth process.

One of the first steps to successfully blending a family is to make sure that you are healed from whatever happened in the previous relationship that caused you to remarry. If you were widowed, have you grieved that loss? If you were divorced, do you have peace about it? If you were hurt in some way by your spouse, or if you never wanted the divorce in the first place and harbor anger, it will be difficult for you to successfully navigate co-parenting. This is especially true if your spouse remarries and you don’t. And now you have to share the parenting with your ex-spouse and their new spouse! Healing doesn’t come from listening to your friend rip apart your ex-spouse or from you berating them in front of the children. It comes from seeking wholeness from God. If you’re carrying a grudge against God because your spouse died, then you need to do business with the Lord first.

It’s important that your heart is in the right place in order for a blended family situation to mix well because this kind of blending will test your patience, bruise your ego, and make you question your sanity. But, hopefully, it will also expand your ability to love in ways that you have never imagined. And, through it all, there must be a commitment to include Jesus Christ – the most important ingredient in the blending. When Jesus came on the scene more than two thousand years ago, He changed parenting forever! He brought a fresh approach of balancing grace and truth. That’s why we need to parent like Jesus parents us. And that can happen even though you aren’t parenting in the same house as the person who helped you create these children.

It may not be how you pictured it, but it can still be done. When you don’t agree on a parenting issue, it’s not necessarily because you are divorced, it’s probably something you would have disagreed on if you were still married. You still need to solve it. There also can’t be different rules at each household or different rules for her kids than his kids. There’s a risk of that happening when you are blending stepchildren who may be answering to four different people that are co-parenting. That will simply confuse the children and undermine your authority at every turn. You have to come to an agreement that is upheld regardless of who the children are with at the time.

This will occur only after some (probably) tough discussions between all of the parents who are sharing these responsibilities. This is when egos must be set aside for the sake of the children. It’s not about who walks away getting their way, but about what is the best way for the children. If you focus on God’s truth in raising the children, that will lessen the confusion, because then it’s not about what you want or how your ex-spouse thinks the children should be raised, but about how God thinks they should be raised.

This kind of family situation requires a lot of grace because there are simply more people involved, and nobody is perfect. Not only will the children mess up and need words of affirmation about your love, but as parents, you will not always respond the way you should. And that will require grace from your co-parent and your children.

Empathy is a good path to grace. If you can step back and see the situation through the eyes of others who are involved, you might see how whatever happened could have happened. When you only see with eyes of judgment or through the lens of how you would have handled a situation better than your ex-spouse, you are seeking to win at all costs. And that means that everyone loses in the long run.

In a blended family situation, it’s easy for parents to forego truth and feed their guilt instead. They change their recipe for parenting because they want to make up for what they think their children might be missing because the family unit is no longer together. Even when it’s critical to discipline their children and mix in truth, they add a lot more grace than the situation calls for. They let things slide because of their own shame. They lessen the consequences of disobedience, or they turn a blind eye when the wrong behavior occurs. However, what needs to happen is for that guilt, shame, or anger to be given to God so that you can get back to parenting like Him.

There is no such thing as an “instant family.” Forging a bond of love and trust takes time, whether the child is a biological descendant or comes to you through adoption or marriage. Just because two adults who have children fall in love and get married, that doesn’t mean that the children will fall in love too. Parents need to be patient and understand that the children are going through something as well.

As followers of Christ, we have all been adopted into God’s family, so His model of parenting is based on a blended family of sorts. If we parent by His example and in His strength, we will find hope and a future for ourselves and our children.

Covenant: The Heart Of The Marriage Mystery

Part of the understanding of the “Why?” of this mystery can be found in the understanding of covenant, which is the vehicle by which a man and a woman are to establish the lifelong, faithful relationship in which physical sexual interaction is meant to operate.

Covenant is also the fundamental tool that God has designed to construct and order His relationship with man.

Dr. Scott Hahn (whose research I will be sharing with you in this article) notes that a covenant is an exchange of persons, as opposed to a contract, which is an exchange of promises.

Covenants are established by making an oath—an oath that creates kinship between the two who are making the covenant.

Christ strikes a covenant with us at our baptism—one that is stronger than blood, one that establishes a divine, everlasting kinship bond. In making covenant with Him, God adopts us into His family and treats us as heirs to the family fortune.

The Hebrew word for “oath” is “shevah,” meaning “to seven oneself” (In Gen 21:27 31, Abraham makes a treaty with Abimelech using seven ewe lambs, and they called the place “Beersheva,” which means, “the place of the oath” or “the well of the sevens.”)

If you don’t have an oath, you don’t have a covenant.

Another Hebrew word for oath is “I raise my hand” (See Deut 32:40ff). When we raise our hands in worship, for example, we are swearing an oath. We lift up God’s name when we invoke God’s name in an oath.

Making an oath is to call upon the power of God to bind Satan and evil. It is a mystery of drawing down the presence of God, of engaging God for help and power so that we can do whatever it is we are pledging to do.

Hahn quotes Old Testament Prof. Barker, who noted:

The cosmic order is restored by means of the oath and the name of the Son of Man. The oath is the means of creating order. It is the means of binding the fallen spirits who operate through nature in order to make them serve a higher purpose. To be initiated into the oath, according to the Jewish outlook, gives great power. It enables the initiate to summon and bind the spirits in his service by means of the even greater name whose authority he uses. When the great oath was broken [referring to Adam’s sin and the Fall] the system began to collapse. The name of the Son of Man is the most powerful means of restoring order to a broken world.

Scott Hahn concludes Prof. Barker’s thought by saying: “Whenever you invoke the name of Jesus, you tap the power of God’s oath.” That is why God gave saints the power to bind evil and release or loose righteousness in this world.

Another Hebrew term is “to put oneself under a curse” in order to receive God’s blessing. We are therefore placing ourselves under a curse, to be damned if we don’t keep our part of the oath.

Only in Christianity does God bind Himself to man by swearing an oath. God put Himself under a curse if He didn’t keep the terms of the covenant to Abraham and his seed. Since we did not keep our part of the covenant, God became man and became a curse for us in order to make us His covenant family.

Hahn concludes:

We are sitting on a stockpile of spiritual power that we have barely begun to tap. Do not be stingy with your blessings. Do not withhold from your [loved ones] the invocation of God’s name. Whenever you give the benediction; every time you make the sign of the Cross; every time you invoke the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; every time you do anything in the name of God, you are tapping the power of creation and the great oaths that God swore when He fashioned the world; but even more, you are tapping the greater power of Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, who has brought about a new creation, having sworn a new covenant oath, having taken upon Himself the curse for our sin.

Let’s bring the concept of swearing an oath into our New Testament understanding. Guess what the Greek word for oath is? The Greek word for “oath” is “mysterion”—mystery—a concept which is found throughout the New Testament—a concept used in Eph 5:32 that describes the marital relationship between a man and woman as a type of the marriage between Christ and the Church.

When we ask for God’s blessing and submit ourselves to His curse by oath, God comes down and empowers us to do what we would otherwise not be capable of doing.

Another Greek word for “oath” is “horkia” or “horkos”—the English term “exorcism,” or “to oath out” When you exorcise demonic spirits in ministry to someone, you literally “oath out” evil. Dr. Hahn notes that “Cross my heart and hope to die” is a medieval oath formula. The martyrs in heaven before the throne with raised hands are bearing witness under oath to Christ’s faithfulness. As a result, the accuser of the brethren is cast out.

When we assemble at the Lord’s Table or Eucharist, we are engaging in spiritual warfare.

The word “sacrament” comes from the Latin word for “oath”—”Sacramentum.” And so, the sacraments of the church are oaths set in symbolic form which Christ has left us to conquer powers that exceed our meager strength. Our faith, our testimony, binds evil and conquers Satan.

It is a real war on a real battlefield, a real trial in a real courtroom. It’s also a clan struggle, a family united against forces that are determined to deface and destroy all that is good and pure and holy.

In having made our eternal covenant with God through Christ, we have united ourselves with Him and become one flesh. And because His name is now attached to our lives, to our ministries, to our words, He can use us to bind evil. We are now extensions of His very body through which He can continue to physically touch the world with His healing power.

Just as your offspring will carry on your name and legacy, so we carry on His name and legacy.

The power of Almighty God is not being released in many of our lives because we have never embraced this high calling. We have married Christ in word but have never consummated the marriage by giving ourselves to Him with the trust and abandon that we were designed to give. Rather than giving our all to Him, rather than submitting to the source of our life with joyful obedience, we have grumbled and complained and questioned Him at every turn in the road.

We have rejected the call to love, which is a call to sacrificially give ourselves to Him just as He has sacrificially given Himself to us. We have defiled the marriage bed with other gods, with other idols. We have remained fixed on ourselves, offering only periodic, emotion-laden gestures of love that only tease but never deliver.

The Lord might well think some of the same thoughts as Romeo as he waited outside Juliet’s bedroom balcony for the slightest glimmer of hope that she shared in his love for her. God may see us at a worship service, erupting with a sudden burst of romantic sentiment as we sing our love songs to Him.

“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks,” He might exclaim. “It is my lady. Oh, it is my love. Oh, that she knew she was.”

But so often, His hope is dashed as we leave the service and return to our self-involved lives without putting any of those sentiments into practice—without any change in our lives, without any deepening of our pursuit of Him, without any reality beyond the sentimental notions of those love songs that we mouthed.

Christ has made promises and sworn and faithfully executed oaths to bind Himself to us and to bind evil and cast it off if we will simply be true to Him in ways that are real.

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