Friday, October 6, 2017

7 Writing Tools to add to your desk...

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If you clicked on this link, there's a good chance you're a writer or that you have to pretend to be once in a while. You may already know of these tools but I love to share a cool resource when I find one.

Here are some of my favs when it comes to honing the craft.

Grammarly - This is an online editor that goes beyond the tools in the Microsoft Office suite. Just copy/paste text to the site. There is also a Google extension and a Microsoft add-in available. It looks for things like; spelling, overly used words, past tense, the Oxford comma, and more.

There is a free version, which you can compare to the paid version. I have found that it sometimes suggests things that aren't accurate. As with any tool, you have the ability to override the suggestion, so it's not a big deal. It's a great resource if you want to go to the next level. Plus, with the add-in features, you don't have to copy/paste text to discover the suggestions.

Hemingway Editor - Grammar is one thing. The structure is another. If you're verbose or have issues breaking down a sentence, you should consider this tool. Everything is color coded. It tells you which sentences are hard to read and which words you can omit. It also highlights passive text as well as strong/weak adverbs. There's a 'Readability' score that tells you what grade level could read your post.  --The smaller the better! There is a desktop app that can be installed or you can copy/paste text right into the site. It's about $20 but money well spent.

WriteWords - This nifty site is free. Not only does it count words, it also counts phrases! There are other writing tips on the site, but I found the counting features to be eye-opening. Especially, when you're immune to your article and voice. Just copy/paste your article right on the site.

Google Translate - I once heard that reading your document out loud, will help you detect sentences that are hard to read and words that you've missed. While this is a huge help, you can still miss some errors. Especially, if you're in a hurry or have gone over your document for the tenth time. You know what you mean to say and sometimes your mind still goes with that, even when it's different on the screen. Google Translate has a feature that will read your text back to you. It's free. Yes, it is slow and sounds like a robot. But it has helped me hear how something sounds and I found it to be more helpful in a voice other than my own.

Adobe Spark - All blog posts need a little something to look at. If you'd like to create a graphic but you don't have access to special software or know how to use it, this app is a lifesaver. It's free! There's also an app for the iPhone. You can browse a library of stock images or use your own.  You can customize the text, layout, and colors. There is also a style dial that automatically shows you different options as you turn the dial.

Now about the content-

If you're looking for classes on Digital Marketing, the 'Marketing Writers Bootcamp' by Marketing Profs has been very insightful. The sessions by Jimmy Daly have been my favorite! You have a year to take them and you can stop and start at your own pace as well as retake a class as many times as needed. If you're able to grab a pro-membership, you'll gain even more access to ongoing classes and resources.

For personal writing & speaking, check out Andy Stanley's Book 'Communicating for a Change."  Andy has a gift with getting right to the point and simplifying a lesson. In this book, he gives you tips on how you can do the same.

What about you?
I hope you found a new resource that you can't wait to try. If there is a 'go to' that you use that is not on my list, let's swap notes. I love to check out new tools myself! Comment below. :)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Turning a corner

The short version is that the blog has moved to https://purposeinthelight.wordpress.com/

I am still figuring things out so.... here are my scrambling rambling notes below... (the long version.) ;)

--

Many things are changing.

I find myself frequently in the struggle of 'is this testimony' or 'is this coming across self-absorbed'?

There is no doubt, I was born to be a writer.

Nothing frustrates me more than not getting every word right and nothing gives me a better high than nailing it in words. (Well, except hearing from our Lord or truly connecting with another being.)

But writing... I twist over it.

I love every letter and every new way to use it.

Now that I've let myself have a voice,

     -->I want to challenge myself to be a better writer. <--

and

I have been given an incredible opportunity to write as part of my living, over at blog.chesbank.com.

I'd like to do more there and on other platforms.

I am also taking a Marketing Writers Bootcamp by Marketing Profs.

Yet at the exact same time, I want to say less. Not just in a single post, but in the day-to-day.

I want to do more, without being distracted about how to describe it.

To make sure that my babies and my husband hear the passion of my heart before the keyboard.

and

My word this year was tremble.

The thought of coming up with a new way to be (not that this version is bad).

-Makes me tremble.

I like that.

When I started this blog it was because I wanted to know what the good Lord had to say to me. What MY faith could look like. Not what I've been told. Not what I read about through others.

...my faith.

and so it unfolded. (like the verse states.)  Man is the Word true!

But I've been feeling like I am spinning my wheels.

I think that it's because I've gotten comfortable.

Comfortable is the scariest place to be.

Growth happens outside of comfortable.

I want that.

I may not know how two polar opposite directions can work together. -Or if one will overpower the other. But I know most certainly that I am turning a corner. The Lord will work it out in time.

--

While it may seem premature to start a new page, I know for sure that it's time to let go of this girl and this place.

So for a few reasons, I've opened the new site over on word press.

Although, I ended up changing the name altogether.

You see,  my birth name is Lucienne.

As it turns out it means 'bringer of light'.

I always wanted to be a writer. I never knew what I would write.  I always wanted to have a testimony but didn't know what I would say. And all of us are looking for our purpose.

Somehow my sole purpose in pursuing God brought the writer out in me. The light of who I am is getting brighter. --Who God is in me. Who he designed me to be.

I have realized so much about insecurity and well-

perhaps this little bit of spinning my wheels is because I've somehow still been trying to hold on.

There is nothing more that I want to be, than to completely embrace the woman God wove together.

Bolder.

I thought about keeping the name the same on a new domain.

But really, if I hadn't have sought God first and poured my heart out here... I am not sure that the next journey would take place.

But that's what He promises right - purpose in Him? -Purpose in being you. -The you that HE created.

You only get that by being submersed in Him.

So the new site is called https://purposeinthelight.wordpress.com/

Whether or not you choose to follow. Don't keep your story from yourself or to yourself.

Let it free. Let it change you. Seek his face and be blessed.

Love, Reggie



I took this picture earlier this summer while walking down a path with my kids. It seems to summarize exactly how I feel at this junction. There is a road forward, rounding a corner, leading out of sight. But first- a bench to rest on.
Yet they go hand in hand.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

A Bedtime Story | New Orleans


Hello my lovelies!
By the time you see this, I'll probably be on the plane back, or even home reading this to you myself.

As usual, I took a few shots of the trip to share with you.

This first picture is a map of the USA so that you can see where New Orleans is. It is a city in Louisiana. Just follow the black line from VA to the state that looks like an 'L'.


Remember how I had my shoe fixed just before we left? 
Well, as soon as I got in the airport past security, the other shoe broke.
In airports people tend to walk pretty quickly so they can make the next flight. 
It was kind of tricky doing that with this shoe. :) (But we made it!)



This next picture is close to home. 
Our plane just took off and we're flying over the beach by our house.  
If you zoom in, you can see the oil refinery on the river. 
Zoom in even closer and you can see our bridge way in the back toward the left.


Here are some fun clouds that we passed by.



They were really putting on a show. 


When I get home remind me to show you a video of them as they passed by. 
I took so many pictures that the man next to me thought I'd never flown before. 
I told him that I fly quite a bit but that it just never gets old. 

Maybe I don't fly enough for it to be boring yet.

Here's what they look like when you pass through. --All white, like you'd expect.
It really makes you appreciate the pilot and technology, huh?


The plane below is the first plane that I flew on. :)


Jackson, there was a restaurant in the airport that had a carousel on top that spun around. 

There were mobile planes hanging from the arms that moved, so it looked like they were flying too. I know you'd love it.



There was a problem with the lavatory on the next plane. 
So we had to sit and wait a while. 
(A lavatory is a fancy name for the bathroom.) 
You don't want to have issues on any part of the plane if you're getting in it.
It's worth the wait.


New Orleans is a city that has a lot of fun art scattered around. 
The piece below is a painted trolley car. 
(I will show you a picture of a real one in a few...)



Ethan, New Orleans is home to the NFL team, the Saints. This is their stadium.



It's right across from my hotel.

I didn't take pictures of my room this time but here are some posters from my conference. :) It's how they decorate the halls.



We have fancy elevators here. They are clear so you can see inside and outside.


I'm in one now.



And I go a-a-a-a-l-l-l-l-l the way up to the 21st floor! 
Whew, that's high!


There's a pool here too.
I didn't get in it but I can see it from my room outside.
There are purple lights in it at night. 



I've never had a hotel room come with earplugs. They also gave me other tips on keeping the room quiet. New Orleans happens to be big on Jazz music. There was a band here on Saturday night and you could hear it in the rooms. But it wasn't too loud. I didn't need the earplugs.


Shiver me timbers! When I opened me suitcase, there was a lad's patch from vacation!
(But I saved it for you.)


Then I ordered room service because I was too tired to go out.


I realized at bedtime that I forgot my toothpaste. 
But I called the hotel clerk and she brought me some. Thank goodness! :)




The next day I started my classes. There are a lot of people that take turns teaching us things.


There was also an amazing Gospel Choir. I wish I could remember what church they were from or what they called themselves.
They had a lot of energy and spiced the place up! 
They sang songs like Wonderful World, Love Train, O Happy Day, 
and When the Saints go Marching in...


After class, I hit the street to check things out.

 Here's a funny statue out in town.


I ate dinner at the Red Fish Grill.


Jambalaya Risotto and mmm was it good!


With a pecan tart for dessert.


Then I went down to the Music Legend Park and listened to a jazz band play. 
It was an outdoor restaurant with a big patio. 




Here's another statue.
It was dark outside and hard to get pictures of the other statues.
Most of them were of musicians.
This one kind of reminds me of Wonder Woman with Maracas.


The band was called 'Steamboat Willie'.


There was even a fountain!



The streets are so packed here that a lot of the policemen ride horses.
It's easier to get through the crowd. You're allowed to pet them. :)


I went back to the hotel after I left the jazz park.

But the next day I went out again on a mission to see more things and to find a pair of shoes.

Here's an old theater that I passed along the way.


Here's that picture of the real trolley. I didn't ride it though.















Hey look, it's a hot dog stand!


Ethan, you'll have to tell me who this helmet is for. I can't remember. It reminded me of Gloucester High School. It even has our colors. Obviously, it's not them though.


I stopped by this shoe store that reminded me of old Unc-Unc. I saw this pair of boots and I thought about getting them but they were teal and well... I needed black ones. Besides, I'm not sure how often I'd wear teal shoes. If Unc-Unc were with me, he'd have said 'Get'em! Teal goes with everything!' Deep down, I suppose he's probably right.



Across the street was the best little dress shop.
I tried A LOT of them on. (And even bought a few.)



The lady next to me works there. 
The lady on the other side of her works at another shop up the street. 
They were fun. :)


Check out this dress Sophie!  
(No, I didn't get it.)
I didn't even think about trying it on!
I'm pretty sure it was just a decoration anyway.



Before cell phones, a lot of stores had pay phones. (Like the one below.)
It was a phone mounted to a wall or booth. You had to have change to make a call and the change would only last a few minutes. Then you'd have to put more money into the phone to stay on the line.
You don't really see them anymore, so I had to take a picture. 
Most of them aren't dressed up this nice. But it IS in New Orleans.



More fun art!


Oh, and hey, I did manage to find some shoes.


The next day was the last day of my classes.

This brilliant guy in the back is playing the violin. 
He was the final speaker at our event and his name is Kai Kight.

He made a lot of us cry in a really good way. 
-Not just with his words but also with his music.




When the conference was over, I walked the town again. 
This time I went with a friend named, Michelle. 
She actually lives in Virginia too and we attend meetings together in other places. She's a lot of fun! You'll see a picture of her in a minute.

Here's a horse pulling a carriage. There are a lot of these taking people through town.


This huge place is JACKSON square.
It's named after our 7th President, Andrew Jackson.



This place below is Cafe Du Monde! It's pretty old too! 
It's been around since 1862. 


It is known for amazing coffee and beignets. (Which taste kind of like funnel cakes.)


That is pretty much all that you can order here. 
If you want your coffee with milk, you said 'cafe au lait'. Otherwise, it was 'black'.

The waiters all wear little paper hats like they do at Krispy Kreme.
(That's Michelle next to the waiter.)



Man is that coffee good too!  I even put my pinkie up, just for you Sophie!


We sat outside for a while and listened to these talented fellas play their hearts out.


A lot of the windows here are decorated. (Year round, not just for Halloween.)
Here are pictures of two of them.



Now we're in the part of town called the French Quarter and there is a big outdoor market there. 
Kind of like the flea markets that we go to but with newer stuff.


This sweet fella is a Pastor and a poet named Charles. He recited several poems to us that he wrote. He was probably the highlight of my trip. He was so happy and full of kindness.  He was also pretty funny. He said we were all the same spirit but in different dirt suits. He is right.



One of his poems was about being a momma. Another was about strength from God. He's pretty talented. The good Lord knew exactly which ones I needed to hear. I bought them and will read them to you later if you'd like. Although, it would be better if you heard it from him.


Another man here made these beautiful nativities, chess boards, and other pieces out of Olive wood. It was all so stunning. He was very nice too. He even showed us a video of him making them out of piles of logs. I wish I had've gotten his picture.



Another funny art piece.


A statue of Joan of Arc.


We're back in front of Jackson square again in this picture, 
but we're actually farther away on stairs that will take you down by the water.



Can you see the boat here? This is Steamboat Nachez. You can buy a ticket to eat dinner and listen to Jazz while cruising around the river. We didn't do that this time. Although it sounds super fun! 
The bridge in the background is called the Crescent City Connection.


Then we headed back to the hotel and ate dinner on these fancy little couches in the restaurant there.


The only other time that I was in New Orleans, I was with your Daddy a long time ago. In fact, Ethan, this might be the place you got your start. ;) Haha. If you remind me, we can look at some of the pictures from the trip then too. (Maybe not on the same night that we read this though.) 

This little town has been through a lot with hurricanes and flooding.
It's good to see so many of the older buildings and businesses still around.
Of course, it's also nice to see things that you don't usually see. 

The first few days of the trip I traveled alone. 
I enjoyed going at a slow pace without having somewhere to be. 
There's also a lot of power in being quiet. -Also in disconnecting from the things you usually do and fully connecting with things that you know nothing about.

It stirred my heart to see so many things made by other artists. 
Especially the passion in my new friend Charles as his eagerly shared his gift.

There's a scripture that tells us that the Good Lord knits us together too. We're not just gobs of old clay, left over from other projects. We are His prized possession and He even calls us all by name

As I walked through the streets here marveling over things I saw, all I could think about was verses that tell us that in our spirit, believers will receive gifts of new sight and hearing. Scripture even tells us to taste and see that the Lord is good!

Sometimes we may not notice that we have these senses. We may even have to get away from our normal routines in order to experience them at first. But we can learn to recognize how they work. Eventually, we can learn how to be connected with the spirit life anywhere that we are. Doing this makes EVERYTHING so much richer. -Even boring, little things can have a big impact or significance, while spent with our Lord in prayer. We only need to believe. 

As for me, I'm praying that I make it back safe to get all of your snuggles. We have a lot to make up for and I can't wait. Love you all. Sweet dreams and goodnight.

If you're an adult that has been following along, Hooray! You're a champ!
I'd like you to consider where your faith takes you. Are you experiencing anything new as a result of it? Does the Lord show up? If not, are you stepping out alone in faith to find him? It might be kind of awkward figuring out what your walk looks like. It might even be scary at first if you don't know where you're going. -But I assure you he's there, and that wherever you are, or whatever happens when you're together, it will be exactly what you need!

Prayer
Father, I pray that all of us have a meaningful spirit life and walk with you. I know that we are always with you. You hold us by our right hand. You guide us with your counsel to your perfect peace. Teach us how to stay in step with you and to experience your goodness with all of our senses.

To read other bedtime stories, click here.