but it is starting to change EVERYTHING.

how will it affect your…
work…
school…
family…
church…
sport…
ministry…
"other"…


(youtube link)

i saw this today. and i consider myself pretty "connected" to the social media scene. but there's still a lot i haven't been a part of, or simply don't "get".

and then i started thinking how i've kinda been neglecting my social media "skillz" because of how busy we are with MPD* and family. and then i started to wonder, "can we really afford to let our social media presence take a back burner if it's turning out to be such an important aspect of the culture we live in?"

what are people saying about YOU?

- - - - - - - - - -
*MPD = Ministry Partner Development – that’s the name given to the process of us raising a team of supporters so we can report to Little Rock as fully funded staff missionaries with FamilyLife
Posted
AuthorAbraham Lara
in our recent podcast (itunes link) we stated that divorce sucks, on the other end of the spectrum; weddings ROCK! i came across the video below via @youcanknowgod on twitter (great twitter name btw).

i love the fact that this couple took the time to be so fun, creative and original to begin their wedding. but more importantly to begin their marriage. my prayer for them is that they would continue to put that much time, effort, creativity and fun in their marriage in the days, months, and years to come. in fact this video even made me cry because i was so overwhelmed with joy for them.



often times couple put so much effort into their wedding day and later neglect investing in to their marriage that they started on that day.

if you're a married couple i encourage you to attend a Weekend To Remember conference. these are marriage conferences put on by FamilyLife all around the country. you don't have to have "troubled" marriage to need (or want) to go to a marriage conferences, there are many couples who have great marriages that attend. (hmmm, or is it that they have great marriages because they've taken the time to attend??) consider it a tune-up for your marriage.

deb and i have been to 3 of these conferences during our 10 years of marriage and i can attest that it was time and money well spent. since we're now working to join the staff of FamilyLife we'd love to connect people even more to the ministry we will be a part of. in fact, if you're interested in attending a Weekend To Remember conference in your area we'd love to give you information on how to register at a discounted rate. send us an email at feedback@theacousticlife.com with your name and # and we'd love to share the details.

but now back to weddings…weddings are awesome because scripture states that it's a reflection of the Oneness that Christ has with his Church. they allow us to see the fulfillment of a story, a story of love. and we are privileged to celebrate with our friends and family over the joyous progression of life. but there's one more thing…

i would encourage you, whether you're happily married, married and just surviving, or on the brink of divorce, to go to as many weddings as you can with your spouse. because weddings remind us that it was once us standing up there. we were once staring into each other's eyes promising those words, "for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health". we once chose to love someone and nothing and no one would have been able to convince us that we weren't going to make it; our minds were set. and it's in those moments that sometimes those feelings are rekindled. that unshakable decision to love regardless of the circumstances is reborn. and maybe, just maybe, you look over at your spouse and realize you've already invested too much time, and too much effort, and influenced too many people to let it all crumble now.

without further ado here's the video, enjoy! *



(Youtube link)*

* not everyone will endorse all aspects of the video (or related videos linked on youtube's site). and that's okay, just enjoy the celebration of it all and don't sweat the details. :)

i've been asked several times over the last year about "what's twitter?" and "why should I use twitter?" while i'll be the first to admit that you don't really "get" twitter until you actually start using it, and you get equal value from twitter as you put into it.


so i've compiled a list of links to resources giving the various ways people are using twitter, as well as a post i wrote a while ago when i first started using the service. since then it has EXPLODED into mainstream use.


without further ado:



here's a couple links to help you learn more about twitter and whether it's for you or not:




video links:



YouTube - Twitter in Plain English



ABC News - "Tweet" like a bird



ABC News - Twitter Buzz



Evan Williams on listening to Twitter users | Video on TED.com






blog links:



Twitter is as Bad (Or as Good) as YOU Make It



Making a Difference: Should Pastors Use Social Media? | Maurilio Amorim's Blog



CHURCHSMO » Blog Archive » Using Twitter for Ministry, Church and Missions



Twitter-dee, Twitter-dum | Michael Hyatt



12 Reasons to Start Twittering | Michael Hyatt



The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter | Michael Hyatt



for the love of twitter | theacousticlife.com



probably more info than you ever wanted to know about Twitter, but this should give you a good idea about what it is, and how people use it.



enjoy,



- abe



:)



Posted
AuthorAbraham Lara

if you fast twitter or facebook and you get cravings to get online and just check is it called an "appetite being starved" or an "addiction going through withdrawals"?


a couple weeks ago i fasted Twitter/Facebook for a week and i was surprised to find out that the mental/emotional feelings were the same for me compared to times that i had fasted food.


there's many people who may have tried to fast for a day. and many of them have given up half way through the day or a couple hours before the 24hrs are over. and because they don't feel successful at this attempt at fasting, they give up on the idea of fasting altogether. (just in case any of you start thinking that i'm boasting that i'm all "holier-than-thou"; i've been one of those "give-up-before-the-day's-over" people many times; even though i know what i'm about to tell you.)


there's an initial hump/wall/barrier that needs to be overcome when starting a fast. for food it's usually the first 2 days. you're really hungry, everything smells good, and it's on your mind constantly. but then around the middle of the 3rd day you don't feel hungry any more. no, seriously, you're not.


in the days afterwards the "thing" you're fasting will come to mind, but you don't really miss it any more. you're body/mind/spirit has become accustomed to the new routine.


but then the hunger comes back in full force towards the end of your time of fasting. i've never done a 40 day fast, but i hear after around 30-35 days is when you're body objects and says, "ok, seriously dude, feed me!" but even if you're predetermined that you're fast is a 7 days, or 15, or 20 days; you'll feel the temptation to give in to the thing you're fasting when you're close to the finish line.


i knew this about food, and was surprised to feel the same things about my twitter/facebook fast. the morning i started i had so many "really great tweets" cross my mind while i was in the shower. but soon after, i didn't even think about it much any more.


so did you fast anything for Lent this year? does your experiences mirror what i described here?

Posted
AuthorAbraham Lara

there's a little thing called twitter, have you heard of it? and on twitter there's a way to get an ongoing trend from one person or multiple people at the same time/event/place. it's called a hashtag.


a hashtag is a word, phrase, or just letters preceded by the number sign. such as: #olympics, #superbowl, #election, #christmaslist, etc.


anyone can create these hashtags either for personal use or for use by anyone that knows about it. the other day i started one such hashtag for the days leading up to Valentine's day (but i plan on continuing it past v-day).


#whyiloveyou


you can search any hashtag, or anything else, you wish by going to http://search.twitter.com and then entering the word, phrase, or hashtag. so far i'm the only one that's using this hashtag, although if you feel like starting to use it directed at the person you love, you're more than welcome to.


here's the search results page for #whyiloveyou (they're in reverse chronological order):


Realtime results for #whyiloveyou



for added fun, deb also started a hashtag called #whyiloveyou2.


i love you @deblara. my hope is that over the years i'll be able to add hundreds if not thousands more reasons #whyiloveyou to the list i started above.


Happy Valentine's Day, babe!!


Posted
AuthorAbraham Lara
the budget.png

i recently wrote on twitter about having figured out how much money we’re putting towards our debt - a whopping 45% of our net income. and then an additional 13% of our net income goes towards tithes and charity work. so essentially we’re living on only 42% of our net income.

a couple days later i got this message via twitter from our friend sarah johnson:
shocked that @abelara hasn’t replied to @lauraanna’s twitters. abe, your slipping. ;)

so what exactly did @lauraanna say?:
@abelara That’s great you’ll be debt free!

@abelara Although I don’t think it’s right to be proud of living on less when you don’t pay your own housing, food, medical expenses.

@abelara just a thought …

so then i replied to @sarahsdandelion:
@sarahsdandelion they musta slipped past me. i hadn’t seen/read them until you mentioned it. thanks for the heads up. :)

so now that i’ve given you a recap for those who don’t currently use twitter, (go ahead and sign up, i know you wanna.) or for those of you who use twitter but don’t follow either @sarahsdandelion or @lauraanna i’ll now commence with my reply to the thought about my pride and income.



[hmmm … should i be nice or mean in my reply? “nice” would be more civil and probably make my points more logical and persuasive. but “mean” is much funner to read and write. i’ll go for nice (sorry to disappoint you rabble rousers).]

i’ve made it no secret on this blog or elsewhere about our current income level, situation in life, or economic views. as a quick recap: our net income is ~$2800 - $3000 a month, we do receive food stamps, our kid’s medical is paid for (deb and i currently don’t have medical coverage), and we live in the parsonage of a church with rent and utilities paid.

and i will admit that it’s fun to spit out numbers and percentages of income we’re putting towards debt. especially when those numbers are skewed a little because initially i forgot to include our church pay. so when for the month of jan you take the $1335 we’re putting towards debt divided by $2200 then our percentage is something outrageous like 61%. but when you add in the church income that percentage drops to the 45% mentioned above.

all that said though @lauraanna’s comments got me to thinking about the motivation for me saying what i said. and what i’ve concluded is that what i’m “proud” of most isn’t the numbers, but our discipline and heart towards our money.

because the fact is that we’re still cutting back our lifestyle in order to give that $1335 a month to debt. i wouldn’t say i think about it every day, but at least every week i ponder, “deb, imagine if we were out of debt right now, what would we do with an extra $1000+ a month!” some things that have crossed my mind a Wii, a big screen LCD TV, a cruise vacation, eat out more often, new clothes more often, nicer cars, etc., etc., etc.

and in reality our minimum payments on our loans are about $200. so technically we could have much more discretionary funds to spend. and in reality there are thousands (dare i say millions) of americans who are doing just that. paying the minimums on their debts and spending all the rest and then putting even more on credit.

regardless of how you may feel about our current economic status. the government would still give us food stamps regardless of whether we’re putting a big chunk of our money towards debt or spending it on TV. (btw, the amount they give us for food stamps doesn’t always cover all of our food for our family for the month; we do have to include in our budget some actual cash) and based on our current income level the government would still pay for out children’s medical expenses regardless of how we spend the income that we are required to report to them on a regular basis. and our church would still allow us to live in the parsonage rent and utility free regardless of how we spent our money.

does your job do an audit of your spending and then pay your salary depending on whether or not they deem it to be wisely spent? if you had an extra $1000/month added to your salary what would you do with it? (after reading this it’s easy to think/say you’d be responsible and put it towards your debts or savings. it’s another thing entirely when the money’s actually in your hand or in your checking account balance.)

it’s also nice to think that we don’t have any car payments, no credit card debt, and $700 in savings just for emergencies. so even if the government were to send us a letter tomorrow and say “we’re cutting all those programs you depend on. next month no food stamps or medical coverage for your kids”, we wouldn’t be freaking out. we’ve got “margin” in our lives. and the same thing for the church housing. if they were to sell the house or need to start charging us rent, we wouldn’t be living beyond our means to do so.

we would have to scale back the time frame it would take us to pay off our debt.

as a wise man once suggested, “we’re living like no one else, so later we can live like no one else.” (email, twitter, or call me if you need an explanation of that quote.)

so, yes, although numbers like 45% and $1335/month are splashy and spit out there primarily for “shock value”; that’s not what we’re proud of. we’re proud that we’ve made a commitment to live within our means, pay off our debts, and give generously.

i’d love to hear your feedback on this issue. whether you agree or disagree, sound off in the comments. has any of what i shared struck a chord with how you’re managing your finances? i’d love to share some more on how deb and i do our budgeting or point you towards good financial teaching so that you can begin your own road to financial freedom.
Posted
AuthorAbraham Lara
6 CommentsPost a comment
just wanted to let everyone know that yes, i still am participating in my twitter/facebook fast for this week. but i do have my blog automatically post a link to twitter when i write new content, and then that also gets posted to facebook. (this is 2009, after-all. the interwebs are cool like that)

i also technically get emailed whenever a comment is left in facebook, or a direct message is sent via twitter.

so i still get some twitter/facebook interaction via email, but i am not reading, posting personally, nor going to the sites at all this week.

sorry for the confusion this may have caused everyone.

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ps. oh, and yes, this post count's toward the 120-club. :)
Posted
AuthorAbraham Lara
i recently got an email from a friend asking about how to increase traffic to his blog, my response to him is what follows:
How do I get my blog more action i.e. visits?

simple answer: let people know you have one and keep them coming back by having content they want to read about.

what that means is include your blog site address in your email signature as seen below. when you write a new blog post, let people who follow you on twitter or facebook know about it. (and so you may also want to get more people to follow you on twitter and/or facebook, including people you don't know but seem to have similar interests.by posting that on twitter or facebook they know as soon after you've written it and it isn't based on when they "happen to get around to checking" your site again. and then also don't be afraid to re-promote your blog post maybe a day or two later. in case people missed your initial tweet or facebook update.
talk about it with people in person; "yeah, i wrote about that in my blog the other day …" or "that'd be a great topic for me to write about on my blog…" or even mention it either in person, or via a slide when speaking in church or otherwise.
personally, i try to keep my blog posts to under 600 words. on occasion it'll be longer, but i try not to make a habit of it. the reason is if i go to other people's blogs and see a huge long blog post i don't take the time to read it unless i really find that person or topic engaging. so i try to keep mine short.

oh and then finally, post often and choose your voice. posting often will get people who like your writing to keep coming back to check for more. (i'm not very good at the posting often part)  and by choosing your voice means to stick to a topic or theme overall for your blog. there aren't very many blogs that are popular where the author is simply giving family updates, or other random topics. and it's for this reason that i know my blog most likely won't ever become hugely popular. i tend to skip around in my writing topics.

it's the blogs that stay on one topic whether it's tech, ministry, running, fatherhood, or (fill in the blank here) that are able to gain a following of people beyond just the people who personally know the author.

oh, one last thing. encourage dialogue between you and the readers by asking a question in your blog which they can answer in the comments, or by simply writing about interesting or controversial subjects.

i hope you like my ideas. let me know if they've helped you out, or if you have more questions.

cya,
abraham lara




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ps. i think this entire email would be a good post for my blog, so i'm going to post it. :)

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so blog readers, do you have any other suggestions?  oh and if you'd like to follow the person who wrote the question you can follow them on twitter (@streubel) or find them on their blog (http://streubel.wordpress.com)

there you go jason, maybe a few more hits. :)
Posted
AuthorAbraham Lara