Renee Johnson, The Devotional Diva’s New Book

March 22, 2010

Are you a 20-something, or do you know some 20-somethings? If so my friend and blogger Renee Johnson (the Devotional Diva) has just written a book that you will want to tell them about. Faithbook of Jesus: Connecting with Jesus Daily is an amazing devotional, especially for those going through those crazy, confusing, and transformative years that looking back we call our twenties.

Each devotional is only one page long and is packed with explanation of scripture, a prayer and that all important social aspect. You can go to the faithbookofJesus.com website and choose community to chat with others about the devotional you all just read.

This is such an important aspect to this book that I think really adds to its uniqueness, and will contribute to its success. Adding the web-group aspect to the book is like creating instant home group for 20-somethings who need a place to talk about the things they are feeling, reading and going through.

If you’ve got a 20-something in your life or perhaps a whole group of them, this book and its 317 devotionals are a great gift and resource for that 20-something in your life.


Here is a sample devotion from the book:

Throw It Off

Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

— Hebrews 12:1

What happens when a baby takes its first step? He or she stumbles and falls down, or looks for something to grab on to. Much like myself when I am learning how to walk in a new area of life; I am not very proficient.

Starting something new takes a willingness to throw off whatever is hindering me. That could be a relationship that I know I’m not supposed to be in, choosing how to spend my time, or even the way I spend my money.

Hannah Moore said, “Forgiveness is the economy of the heart . . . forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.”2

Today is the day to throw off whatever is bothering you—frustrating thoughts, negative emotions, or unrealistic demands on your time — as it says in Hebrews. Take those thoughts, crumple them up like a wad of paper, and throw them away.

Picture the wastebasket. Make the shot. Gone.

(Quote) Brandon, 25, said if he knew he couldn’t fail at trying something new, he “would own businesses, travel, and develop the largest music label and the largest network of commercial banks from the ground up.”

(Prayer) Dear Jesus Who Makes All Things New, Thank you for looking at us as mature adults when we see ourselves as growing children. You know our limitations and you see us for who we will be — complete and whole. Help us to throw off whatever hinders us so that we can see ourselves as you see us. Amen.

(Community) What’s your wastebasket story? I’d love to know how God helped you make the shot by throwing off whatever was hindering you from his best. Please visit http://www.faithbookofjesus.com and click on “Community” to share.

(Further Reading) To Read Further: Hebrews 12:1-2


What did I tell you? So get out there and order this book for all the 20-somethings in your life! And for more information, check out the faithbook website.


August 19, 2009

Picture 2If you catch this before 2:00pm CST today, then you should head on over to StoryUnfolding.com and catch the action. Ben Arment is doing a conference in October called Story and this is a promo event for that. The conference is all about how to communicate our stories better. As creatives we are story tellers, some of us with the pen or the brush, some with a song and some with photoshop and other digital tools.We can all tell our stories better. Watch today and see if it inspires you or helps you gain insight on how you can, more creatively, tell the story you are meant to tell.


Creative Outlet

August 12, 2009

CupcakesMaking your living as a creative can be draining. Most of the time you are bringing someone else’s vision to fruition or a the least you are meeting their deadlines and have input other than your own. Its the equivalent of emptying your bottle of creative juice and never pouring anything back in. If you find that you fit this category of creative its a good idea to find an outlet, outside of what you create at work, that allows you to pour juice in your bottle instead of out.

One way that I  let loose creatively is baking. I really enjoy making cupcakes. I have an entire recipe book devoted to decorating cupcakes, and I love it! This goes way beyond simple batter in paper sleeve and some icing smeared on top. No no, this is art that you can eat! It’s so much fun to find new and interesting ways to create a cupcake. There is one recipe in my book I’m not brave enough to try yet, but one day I will. Its a sheet of cupcakes all tightly packed together and iced as one to look like Starry Night. Its practically a cupcake jigsaw puzzle. One day I’ll get brave enough and have enough time to attempt it, until then it’s just out there taunting me.

So much of the art I create for a living is done on a computer that it feels good to actually create with my hands not wrapped around a mouse. Part of staying healthy as a creative is feeding your creativity. Find something that thrills you, that peaks your creative interest and carve out the time to do it. It may seem like wasted time but you will be surprised how much more productive you are  at work when you are creating out of the overflow of your creative juice bottle rather than spending the last few drops.

Do you spend time filling your creative juice bottle? If so, what things do you do. If not, why?


Shoestring Resources

August 7, 2009

I had such a great time at Echo. I love getting to talk with and be around creative people. The creatives are such an amazing community and I am glad I get to be a part of it. I know how hard it can be to accomplish your vision when you don’t have the tools and resources you need to make it happen, that’s what inspired me to come up with the class for Echo.

Thanks so much to everyone who showed up  for the session. I hope you think it was time well spent. Just in case you missed it or there is something you want to go back here is the session text and the slides along with the resources list that has been posted previously. Let me know what you thought of the class and if you have something to add share it with the class. We are all in this together and we are better together than alone.

Shoestring Principles Text

Shoestring Slides

Shoestring Resources


Echo Final Day

July 31, 2009

Wow, Echo has been so great this year. It has exceeded last year and makes me look forward to next year even more. Rob Thomas and his team (Kami, Scott, Jenny, Ashley….) have done an amazing job.

Thanks to everyone who came to my session yesterday. I had a blast hanging out with you all and I hope you found it worth your time. If you have questions or comments I would love to hear them. You can contact me at tiffani@istockphoto.com or on twitter @tiffanibarnes. I love helping the local church, and the people who staff it, do what they do better.

See you next year!


Shoestring Budget Resources

July 30, 2009

Here is the Shoestring Resources List from my session at the Echo Church Media Conference. This is in no way a complete list. If you have something to add leave a comment and share it with the group. Lets all learn together!

Shoestring Resources


Echo’09 day 1

July 29, 2009

Day one is about half way over. It’s been a great day so far and I’m looking forward to Phil Visher tonight. However, the best part has been getting to see friends that I only get to see at events like this. Being a creative, especially in a small-medium church often means that you are going it alone. Conferences like this are a great chance to network with other creatives and gain new insights and knowledge so that you can walk away and do your job better than before. But beyond that this is a great chance to recharge and get some perspective. You pour out your creativeness all the time and it’s important that you do some things to refill your tank.

If this is you and you want some conference suggestions contact me and I can give you some ideas, after all, I do go to conferences for a living.

My session is tomorrow at 4pm, we’ll see how it goes.


Cutting The Cable

May 21, 2009

It was march of last year (2008) and I had changed jobs and was moving into a new apartment. The apartment was a small one bedroom but well layed out and brand new (I like new). My new job meant that I’d be working from home so the place where my entertainment center would be going in the new place was suddenly the home office. My TV was a 12 year old 25″ tube TV. All the control buttons were gone off the front and the remote was begining to no longer work not to mention, the entertainment system wasn’t going to work if I moved to a flat screen TV anyway so it wasn’t hard to part with either in the subsequent garage sale. 

In addition to losing the space for my TV I had already decided to drop cable (in my case satellite) when I moved because being glued to the TV all day would be too much of a temptation when working from home 24/7. I’m the type of person who will channel surf until they find something even if they aren’t super interested in it, and there goes the whole day. 

But just because I was cutting the cable didn’t mean I was giving up my shows that I was really interested in. Three things online had made it possible to make this shift rather painless… 1. ABC.com, 2. Hulu.com, 3. iTunes. With the introduction of full episodes online of practically all my favorite shows it assured me that I would be able to see them, I just had to wait a day (or in some cases 8 days-House!) The 24 hour delay was well worth the cash I was saving. My DSL bill was half of just my cable bill and now it essentially provided both and with far fewer commercials than I’d lived with before. 

I travel a lot with my new job and so iTunes is great as well for when I need to watch last nights episode of Grey’s and be on a plane to Portland all at the same time. 

With half of my living room now a home office and my powermac and 23″ cinema display right there  in the room I in effect had a 23″ HD TV sitting right there. At night I would simply swivel the monitor and speakers to face my couch and I was there! I got a USB IR sensor so that I could control the mac with my Apple remote while sitting on the couch. It wasn’t a bad set up to say the least.

The best thing about not having cable has been that I spend less time watching TV just to fill time and more time doing other things like work and pursuing creative endeavors. 

When I moved from Longview to Nashville I got a 2 bedroom apartment so I could have an office that wasn’t right in the middle of my living space. However this meant that my “TV” just got religated to the other room. I spent several months watching all my shows on my laptop. During that time I found an insane deal on a 32″ JVC LCD but I only used it for watching DVD’s, all my shows were still showing on my laptop (generally sitting on the coffee table so I could still sit on the couch). 

Then it was Oscar time and was trying to figure out how I was going to watch it live. I knew they would have it the next day online but live broadcasts are only worth watching if you know half the country is watching with you. To watch the next day would be pointless because I’d already know the results. So I scampered off to Walmart of all places and picked up a $30 amplified digital antenna. There it was ABC in all its HD glory. It was great! Not to mention that now, if I was home and could remember, I could watch my shows in real time and on my TV instead of my laptop. 

The final piece of the puzzle came a couple weeks ago when I finally got around to purchasing a Mac mini to connect to my TV. That was the absolute point of no return for me. I will never have cable again and I don’t miss it.

If you want to find out how I set up my Mac mini in the living room check out my previous post here.


Cable Free: The Mac mini and Me

May 17, 2009

The Mac mini vs. the AppleTV

Many have asked why did you decide to go with a Mac mini instead of an AppleTV. The answer is simple really, dvd and the internet. 

I’m not as hostile to commercials as some especially the ones during online shows because there is usually just one per commerical break. I can deal with it and in exchange the content is free (not a bad trade). The second is that I have amassed a decent collection of films and TV shows on DVD (I’m a sucker for the $5 bin in Walmart –bought two more tonight) AppleTV is really only good at one thing- facilitating the purchase and display of content from the iTunes store. For me I only purchase TV and movies from iTunes if I need it to be portable (say if I’m going to be on a plane). So in the end the Mac mini is the better choice for me because it can function just like an AppleTV plus surf the web and display content from ABC.com and Hulu and lastly, it has a DVD player. 

The System

Mac mini 1.83Ghz Combo Drive 80gig HD

RCA Multi-Directional Flat Amplified Antenna


1/8″ Jack to RCA Audio Cable

DVI to HDMI Cable

iPodtouch with AirMouse App

My set up is pretty straight forward but it was not without some trial and error. I googled my heart out looking for someone to explain how to set one up but all anybody ever wanted to talk about was the part of the system where you get a tuner card so you can record live TV, I needed the step before that. Hopefully this post will help all those who come after me.>> 

I started out going DVI to S-Video into the TV, but no matter how I set up the display preferences the image didn’t fill the screen. I had substantial black bars on the left and right sides of the screen. The resolution was pretty low too. Only 1024 x 768 so it made the screen a bit grainy and hard to read. While discussing this with a collegue in the office we decided this was probably a limitation of the S-Video and I decided to try a DVI to HDMI cable and see if the results were any better. I expected it to be a bit better but the difference was dramatic! I was displaying in a wide format at 1920 x 1080 however it still wasn’t edge to edge. In fact the black was now on all 4 sides. Puzzled I clicked over to the Options pane in Display preferences and ticked the box for Overscan. When I did this on the S-Video connection it resulted in the loss of the Menu Bar and the Dock (not useful). However with DVI to HDMI this worked like a charm. It cut off all but a sliver of the Menu bar but I can still mouse up to it and click and the menus drop down so its still functional. The Dock is resting comfortably on the bottom bezel of the screen as it should be.

Eventually I’d like to switch from the analog audio cable to Optical Audio but since I don’t have a surround sound system and am simply relying on the built in speakers on the TV I don’t think I’d notice a difference.

Its All About Control

The Mac mini unlike the AppleTV is designed to be controlled with a mouse and keyboard. I originally had decided to go with a wireless keyboard and mouse that would live under my coffee table. I wasn’t keen on that solution nor the amount of batteries that would be used to keep them functional. Then I stumbled upon AirMouse. It is an iPhone/iPodtouch app ($5.99) that is literally a trackpad and a keyboard. It connects to the Mac mini over the wifi network in the house and it works flawlessly. There’s no lag time and becuase its Wifi instead of IR it even works through walls. With this app I can command my Mac mini while sitting comfortably on my couch. 

The Missing Link

The one component to this system is software and hardware that will imbue DVR capabilities on my Mac mini. I haven’t really had a chance to research the various offerings on the market and considering that the season finales have now all played I don’t consider it much of an issue. Perhaps by the fall I’ll feel the need to add that piece to the system. Right now I’m plenty happy with watching it live via my antenna or catching it the next day on the web. 

Cutting the Cable

If you’ve been toying with the idea of cutting the the cable on your TV service there has never been a better time to do so. In the next post I’m going to talk about my journey from the cable to the mini. 


Was just on the phone with a new friend who told me about a software called Plex that is media center software for OS X. I’m going to check it out this week and see how it goes.


5DaysInMay Starts Today

May 1, 2009


Join Me and Shawn Wood to give people clean water for life. What will it cost you?

Drinking only water for the next 5 days and then donate the money you saved to Water Missions International.

Check out these stats from Shawn Wood’s blog:

The average American drinks 420 ounces of canned soft drinks a week.
My average friend goes to Starbucks 3 times a week.
I drink at least one fountain drink every day.

What does that cost for 5 Days?

30 cans of soda = $15.00
3 trips to Starbucks = $10.00
5 fountain drink = $8.75

$43.75 could give 5 people clean drinking water for the rest of their lives.

What if we all did it?
Drank Water to Give Water?
What if for 5 days we could get 600 of our friends to join in?
That would mean an entire community of 3000 people would have clean drinking water for the rest of their lives.

Visit 5DaysInMay and join us to save lives.