Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Reality

I watch a couple of reality shows. As a writer, I should be supporting shows that employ actual writers but I just can't help myself. They are my guilty pleasure. I have two favorites - Amazing Race and Survivor.

Both shows just ended a few weeks ago and I was thrilled when the team my husband and I were rooting for actually wonthe Amazing Race. "The hippies", two friends who were smart and kind to the nations, pulled out a victory because they actually remembered where they went during their 59,000 mile journey around the world. One of the things I love about this show is seeing cultures in a way that the travel guides just don't talk about much.

Survivor is a very interesting study in group dynamics. Perhaps it's my psychology background, or the fact that I'm a fiction writer, but I am fascinated by the way people interact with each other. The challenges are fun to watch, and since the people who were voted out are the ones that make the final decision on who gets the million dollars, it's often hard to predict what people will end up doing.

But while they are called "reality shows", they really aren't a great look into reality. These shows tape hundreds of hours of, probably, very boring footage, and whittle it down to the 45 minutes we see on TV each week.

And I wonder - what would we look like to the world if the same thing was done to us. Imagine an entire week of your life - 175 hours was taped. And then some editors went through all the footage. They throw out all those hours you sleep, they toss the time you spend brushing your teeth, etc. What would be left? What would be the most interesting things people would find out about you? And what would be the most embarrassing things? You see, reality shows like to highlight the conflicts in people's lives. So even though you might have only had three fights with your mom that week, if they were aired back to back it would look like you did nothing else but fight with your mom.

So tell me, if an editor looked at your tapes, what kinds of conflict would they find? What kinds of wonderful things might they catch you doing? And how would those tapes look different if you knew you were being watched?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Can We Be Too Thin?

The worlds of fashion models, beauty pageant contestants, gymnastics, ballet dancers, and figure skaters are full of tales about young girls risking their health and their lives to fit into a preset standard of perfection.

Young girls, in their desire to emulate their role models—start to lose weight—by exercising excessively, restricting calories, making themselves vomit, taking appetite-control or weight-loss pills and laxatives. 60% of high-school girls are trying to lose weight.

The news program 48 Hours had a show titled, The Price of Perfection. It showed a teenage girl who had been struggling with anorexia and bulimia for years. When she was 13 years old, she weighed 28 pounds! She actually went blind in one eye from the stress that constant vomiting put on her body. She said, “The closer I get to thin, thin, thin, the closer I get to perfect.”

Is TV to blame? I read a Harvard study regarding eating disorders in girls from Fiji. It said that symptoms of eating disorders have increased fivefold among teenage girls on Fiji since television came to the Pacific Island nation. TV was widely introduced in 1995, and since then, the percentage of girls that vomit to control their weight has greatly increased.
The study went on to say that the teenage girls look to television characters as role models. The increase in eating disorders was dramatic because Fiji was traditionally a culture that had focused on the importance of eating well and looking robust.

We need to educate ourselves about the seriousness of eating disorders and realize they can have long term consequences on our bodies—and are sometimes fatal.
**If you have an eating disorder - get help!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Love Language of Gifts

Want to lavish a friend, sibling, or parent with love? In his book The Five Love Languages For Teens, Gary Chapman describes five ways people feel loved: quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, and receiving gifts. That last one is the hardest one for me, especially because we live in such a materialistic culture. I found myself wondering if Jesus ever gave gifts to his disciples. If so, how, when, why? Here are three tips from our Lord's gift-giving strategy:

Lavish people occasionally with a no-strings-attached present. After a wearisome day of feeding the 5000, the Bible tells us that each of Jesus' disciples walked away with a lavish gift-basket full of leftover bread chunks. The disciples weren't working to earn their dinner. They must have been overwhelmed and delighted by the unexpected bonus. As Chapman points out, a true gift is never earned; that's the nature of the beast. Sometimes we give the people we love a gift just ... because.

Transform a simple gift into a ceremonial event. Chapman says that "emotional messages are enhanced when attention is given to the ceremony accomanying the gift ... when we diminish the ceremony, we diminish the emotional power of the gift." During the Last Supper, we're told that Jesus had the room ready in advance, took a lot of time to wash his disciples' feet, and reclined and conversed with them at table before actually giving them the gifts of bread and wine. He planned the entire event to resonate with intimacy so that every time they saw the gifts they would feel and remember his love.

Wow them with the surprise factor. Your friend, sibling, or parent works hard all day, and sometimes they feel as discouraged and exhausted as the disciples did in John 21:1-13. What a delight it must have been to catch sight of a fire flickering on the beach and smell freshly-caught fish cooking. If Jesus used the element of surprise in his gift-giving, why not try it ourselves? Download a song of encouragement and send it as an MP3 attachment to your Dad's email address, leave a cellophane-wrapped basket of fruit and nuts on your brother's desk to discover when he trudges upstairs to do his homework, tuck a bag of Hershey's Kisses into your friend's backpack with a note. Surprising those we love with creative small gifts in their everyday schedule actually packs more emotional wallop than buying expensive, trendy big-day presents.

Okay, so gifts work, but did you notice that our Lord's gift-giving was strikingly food-and-company-oriented? That's good news, as there's nothing I like better than a combo of food and conversation when it comes to a wonderful present. A picnic breakfast on a beach cooked by a friend and shared with that friend as we watch the sunrise? Now that sounds like love to me.

What Do You Say?


I missed my post day yesterday--yikes, because I was at a conference all weekend. It was two days packed with great speakers and inspiration, but one thing stood out to me most deals with the topic of our words . . .

Many people (me included) talk about abstinence when it deals with our bodies. Yet have you ever thought about abstience concerning your words?

I can't tell you the number of horror stories I've head about lately concerning "innocent communication" gone bad.

One young mother recently left her husband and caught a bus across country to move in with a man she met on the Internet. She dragged her toddler son along too, devasting the two most important men in her life.

Another mom divorced her husband, yet has a "soul mate" half way across the world with whom she's been growing closer to by the day. (A friendship she started while still married.)

Many more still in marriages, and others who are single, have emotional bonds with people they've never met.

How do these things get started? Words shared, hearts revealed. Words of friendship, compassion, and care seem innocent enough at first. But emotional bonds are easily built--and for girls and women especially, parts of our hearts are given away before we even realize it.

It is wonderful, excellent, that we keep our bodies pure. But equally important is dedicating our minds and hearts. Here are a few ways to do this:

1) Protect yourself. It's easy to let your mind and heart get wrapped up with your emotions. Protection means not letting your guard down. Ever.

2) Watch your words. Are you confessing things in private that would turn your face red in public? Are you confessing things you wouldn't want you mom to say to anyone besides your dad?

3) Find an accountability partner. If you are struggling in this area, ask a friend to help keep you accountable. Be there for each other and encourage purity.

4) Pray! Ask God to show you areas where you need a tighter reign on your words, mind, and heart. You CAN be pure on this area of your life!

Tricia Goyer
www.triciagoyer.com

Friday, May 26, 2006

Do you write poetry?

Hey, lookout, I'm a high school English teacher...but I promise not to edit your posts. I'm also a writer--children's books, juvenile mysteries, nonfiction...just about anything. So...I just finished writing a book that teaches people how to write poetry. It's VERY basic--younger kids could get it even. The whole project was really kind of crazy, because I've only ever published one poem. Ha! Now, however, I'll have a bunch of poems published, because they're in the book. Sneaky, huh?
Soooooo...I was thinking...do you write poetry? If so, what are your favorite subjects? Do you write poetry only when you're depressed or do you write it when you're happy, too? Have you shown anyone your poetry? Do you keep a journal of it? Who's your favorite poet? I like Emily Dickinson and Christina Rossetti.
This is all doubly crazy, because I've NEVER taken a poetry class--not in high school or in college. I was too scared--I figured it would be too hard to figure out. It's really not--you just have to swim around in a poem for a while. I LOVE poetry now and have a growing collection of poetry anthologies.
Blessings!
Janet Mc

God is all about rules -- or is he?


If God is all about rules, then he certainly started off the garden of Eden on the wrong foot. Coz it was a one-rule paradise. Think about it. God's ultimate world was designed to be a world of freedom. Adam and Eve were surrounded by beauty. They got to hang out with God every day. They had all the food that they needed.

They had one small rule--stay away from the tree!

But the serpent deceived them. He took their focus off of all that they did have and made them think that God was holding out on them. He adjusted their focus from all they had to the one thing they couldn't.

When they ate the fruit they got more than they bargained for. They lost their innocence. They hid from God. For the first time, they felt ashamed and embarrassed. God was walking through the garden looking to hang out and they were hiding behind some fig leaves.

This isn't about God and rules. It's about deceit. And Satan still uses that same old lie today. He tempts seekers (and believers) to focus on the "forbidden fruit". To make them think that God is holding out on them, that he's all keeping stuff away from them. That's there more out there.
I don't know how many teens I've ministered to that sit with me and cry over what they've lost.

"I thought I was missing out."

"I didn't think it would hurt me."

"Everybody else was doing it."

They cry because they've lost something--something they didn't know they had until it was gone.

Real freedom comes from knowing what you have. Reaching for God instead of forbidden fruit. Hanging out with the God of the universe and discovering what he wants to say to you about life, about your dreams, about ministry, about your passions.

That's when you discover the real fruit God intended for your life all along. . .

Real Question: Have you ever focused on what you are "missing out on" and missed what you do have? Talk to God about what you do have. Look long and hard and get out of your cultural box to see the blessings that are all around you.

Real Scripture: And as they ate it, they became aware of their nakedness and were embarrassed. Genesis 3:7

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Whatever


Do you ever get cranky? Yell at your parents? Slam doors? Roll your eyes and mutter, "Whatever"? Sometimes life seems to conspire against us, and we just want to turn our backs on it for a while. But too often I'm afraid we excuse our bad moods or blame them on someone or something outside ourselves.

How much control do we have over moods? Probably more than we think. We can't make other people do what we want them to. We can't regulate our hormones, but we can understand them and refuse to let them rule our lives. And meanwhile, there are lots of other areas we can control.

Music. Some music makes us want to get up and dance. Some fills our hearts with quiet worship. Some makes us want to go smash windows. I can tell a big difference in my mood based on what music I listen to. I have a choice.

TV, Movies, Video games. Our minds record visual images and replay them over and over. They can make us sad, angry, happy, lustful--what we see affects our mood. We have a choice.

Thoughts. Some people don't realize they have as much control over their thoughts as they do. If someone offends us or hurts us, it's hard to shove those stewing thoughts aside. But God gave us a remedy in Philippians 4. "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things."

Lots of "whatevers" in there, but not the roll-your-eyes kind. Next time I'm tempted to mutter under my breath or slam a door, I'm going to try to remember God's "whatevers" and maybe go listen to some praise music. Want to join me? It won't change the circumstances around us, but it will change us.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

WHITE

I can remember my father telling me that white is the absence of all color. I can remember doubting him, probably for the first time in my life. After all, Daddy was the hero of my young world, and what he said was law. Isn't it ironic that I first doubted him when the statement he made was true? Quite often people are given the truth in plain simple terms, and they can't believe it.
White plays a big part in our religious concepts. We think of angels as dressed in white. God promises to wash away our sins so we are whiter than snow.
In our society, white is a symbol of light, purity, goodness, innocence, cleanliness, and perfection. In heraldry, white represents purity and faith.
The most astonishing repetitive use of white in the Bible is in Revelation. Go to BibleGateway.com and enter white in the search window. Then read the Revelation entries.
The simple truth is the best garment we will ever wear is white, and it is not of our own making, but a gift from the Son of the Father. Amazing that so many people in our harried world do not believe.

And on a personal note: Welcome to the blog, Julie Garmon. I think you have landed in the right spot for your first blog experience.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hi I'm new

Hey y'all. I'm so glad to be invited to join you your blog. Did you catch my Southern accent with the y'all? I'm from Georgia, near Atlanta. Our latest news is our daughter married two weeks ago. I was really sweatin' it out--the weather. Katie wanted an outdoor wedding. I'll give you plenty more details later. Thursday before the wedding, it poured as we were meeting her groom's family for dinner. We looked up to see a double rainbow! What a sign. I started to let go just a little and trust God with the whole weather issue that night. Friday, more rain. But by Saturday, the chance of rain went to zero percent! Then it rained all day Sunday.

We live out in the middle of the woods in a log cabin my husband built. My son rides four-wheelers around on our property for fun. I don't know how to drive one yet but just hang on tight to Thomas.

One of my favorite kinds of writing is for teenage girls (since I've had two of my own!) I write stories for Sweet 16 magazine.

I have red hair and get burned easily. Nobody else in my family has red hair (well, not my children or husband). Sometimes I feel like such a nerd. I wear sunscreen every single day.

I can't wait to post more and to get to know you. This is my very first time to blog. I can't believe I'm really doing it! Yeah for me!

Love to you all,
Julie

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Over the Hedge


I know that Over the Hedge is an animated kid's movie. But it was cute, and funny, and well - it wasn't the DaVinci Code.

I love to write screenplays - stories that are meant to be watched, not read. I learned to write them by attending a program called Act One: Writing for Hollywood. The month that I spent learning to write movies was also a month I spent learning a great deal about the film industry in general.


One thing I learned is that Hollywood really does listen to us. Many Christians believe that Hollywood is evil and awful - the whole idea that "Nothing good can come from there" lives on in our churches. We like to boycott things - or just pout and complain about the TV shows and movies that we don't like. But boycotting isn't really an effective strategy and one of my Act One instructors came up with the idea to "othercott" the Davinci Code. The idea is this: when you go to a movie, you are essentially "casting a vote" that Hollywood counts. Your $8 movie ticket tells Hollywood what you want to see more of.

What really matters is money. So instead of plunking down money for the Davinci Code - and telling Hollywood "Yes! We'd like to see more movies that blaspheme the name of Christ." we went to see Over the Hedge and told Hollywood that "We want to see movies that are clean and fun and have something to say." (And yes, Over the Hedge had some great messages about greed, coveting, forgiveness and family). We cast five votes on Friday night and I couldn't be happier about it.

If you're new to this whole idea of voting with money, there is something important you need to know to cast your vote in Hollywood:

You have to go opening weekend. Nowadays, opening weekend votes are the ones that really matter. Some movies can pick up steam and stay steady and all that - but truly, the studios have their minds made up by Sunday of that very first weekend. They look at those numbers to decide what they will spend their money to make over the next few years.

If Christians would change their viewing habits, eventually Hollywood would change what they produce. Truly. If we actually went to see movies like Dreamer, or Akeelah and the Bee or The Island, or Over the Hedge or any number of really great films - then Hollywood would start to take notice that those movies make more money! See the trend here? Yes, it's all about how you spend your money that makes the difference. We can't just sit back and applaud that a good little movie came out - you have to plunk your $8 down. They can't see you smiling at a refreshing movie that doesn't assault your senses with violence and language. They can't hear you applauding a movie that doesn't demean our faith. You have to tell Hollywood with your money.

So this summer - think about what you're going to go see at the movies. Make your choice knowing that you are casting a vote. Knowing that Hollywood really is listening. Be a light in those dark movie theatres by choosing movies that reflect something worthwhile. You have more power than you think - use it wisely:-)

Why do I suddenly want popcorn?

For Discussion: What movies do you want to see this summer? What movies have you cast votes for in the past? What kind of movies do you think Hollywood should make?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Who Am I?

Sometimes the easiest way to discover who we are is to know who we are not.

We are not our mothers.

We are not our friends.

We are not like anyone else out there.

And we shouldn't feel like we have to "be something we're not."

It took me many years to figure this out, and I still struggle. I feel guilty when I can't please everyone. I compare myself to other women and other writers. She is thinner. She sells more books. She's a better speaker. Her blogs are always more interesting . . .

Of course, this is just crazy. Instead of appreciating my natural talents and gifts, I'm too busy studying my weak spots with a magnifying glass! I'm also leaving God out of the equation.

The Bible says, “Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without ... comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t” (Romans 12:5 – 6, The Message).

The problem with comparison is, we always measure our weaknesses against the strengths of others. Instead, we need to thank God for our strengths. We can also ask God to help us overcome our weaknesses — not because we want to compare ourselves, or look good in someone else’s eyes, but because we want to be the best person out there.

Who needs the Army . . . I need God to help me "Be All I Can Be!"

Tricia

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Are you who you want to be?


"This is your life. Are you who you want to be?"

That's a line from a Switchfoot song. And it's a good question. But I think there's an even better one.

In some ways ninth grade was the hardest year of my life. Though I loved my family, I no longer felt that being a part of it provided enough identity, and I had absolutely no idea who I was or, for that matter, who I wanted to be. I lived with a constant sense of discontent--never completely satisfied. Never 100% at home in my skin.

I had friends. I had hobbies. I had a safe, loving home. But I had no idea what my purpose for existence was. And I didn't know where to find it.

In tenth grade everything changed. And it all started with a question God seemed to ask my fearful heart. "Who made you?"

I realized something that day. God made me, and He made me with a definite plan and purpose. This is my life, but I am not my own. I've been bought with a price. The question isn't, "Are you who you want to be?" It's "Are you who God made you to be?"

Not only did I realize He designed me with pathway in mind, I also understood that he was able to reveal it to me, step by step. I didn't have to know the whole story. All I needed to do was keep my hand in His and let Him guide me.

That was thirty-two years ago. If you ask me today, "Are you who you want to be?" my answer is a resounding, "Yes!" I am His. And that's who I want to be.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

One of my gifts is a copy of Nanny McPhee. Well-acted, well-written, and thoroughly enjoyable movie. I watched it by myself with the subtitles on so I wouldn't miss any of those lovely lines. I'm a little hard of hearing.
One theme in the movie was that we often don't know what is going to work out the best. I'm not going to spoil any of the delightful twists of the plot, but over and over, what looked like a good plan backfired or produced an unsuspected profit. It reminded me of the many times I've gone down a road, thinking I knew exactly where I was going. Of course, the difference between what we think will happen and what actually does can be slightly off the mark or widely divergent. That can make life fun or miserable.

Thank you, God, for traveling this life with us. I know You are never surprised.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mom's The Word!

So, in case you haven't heard, tomorrow is Mother's Day. I've always had mixed feelings about Mother's Day. You see, I'm not close with my mom. We get along, can hold a conversation and talk regularly on the phone. But we're not close, and I wish things were different. Our relationship - apart from God working a miracle - isn't likely to change much, though.

Mother's Day always makes me feel just a little lonely. I have kids of my own, and they adore me. The cards they have already given me made my heart so glad. Yet, I will only have one mother, and knowing I can do nothing to change the relationship can be tough sometimes - especially on Mother's Day. I try to bless her, seek to honor her and always invite her to be a part of our lives. Yet I have to do it with no expectation for what I might get in return - I have to love her and honor her just because I am supposed to. If I don't, then I could fall in the trap of expecting something to change - hoping she'll turn around one day and offer me a word of encouragement.

I have to love her just the way she is.

Jesus does that with us. I am definitely aware that I'm not worthy to be called His friend, yet He chooses me anyway. He loves us even when we don't love Him back. He's always with us, even when we don't give him the time of day. It kinda puts my situation in perspective. If God can do that for us, then He can help us do that for others.

Some of you probably have great relationships with your moms. Some of you probably don't. But I encourage you to do something to bless your mom tomorrow because when we bless someone else, we are also blessing God.

And that's always worth doing:-)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Can I Be Feminine, Sexy, AND Biblical?

When I was in high school, I was secretly in love with THE GUY for two years. I hid it well, pouring out my unrequited love for him into (bad) poetry and my journals. Then the miracle happened: THE GUY asked me to come with his church youth group on their trip to an amusement park. On the way home, he told me how much he liked me -- liked me liked me, I mean. (Never mind that I was a Hindu and he was a PK ... that's another story.) I'll never forget the overwhelming delight of being desired by the guy of my dreams. Talk about a natural high!

Girls are wired to want to be desirable, and God understands that. When Adam saw Eve for the first time, he uttered an exclamation of amazement that basically translates into "WOW!" That's what we girls love to hear, right? So what to do when we want to attract a guy? Do we dress and gyrate for him a la Mariah Carey or the Pussycat Dolls? No way. There's actually a better way to express our feminine sexuality, a God-designed way that works much better than public "convulsions," as my sons describe the way girls dance on MTV.

Check out this new bible study for girls and sexuality called "A Discussion Guide on the Body and Soul of a Young Woman:"
"Feminine Sexuality" aims to initiate conversation about the struggle to live as sexual human beings and also remain faithful to the truth of Scripture by addressing such topics as intimacy, desire, fear of rejection, longing, beauty and others. The first three sections (are) Redefining Sexuality; Beauty, Ideals, and Idols; and Physical Intimacy. The fourth section, Redemption, attempts to address each of the previous three sections and place them firmly in the context of the biblical narrative. Ultimately, the hope is that girls would leave these discussions knowing that God’s story is big enough to address their questions and experiences as young women, in body and soul.
These days, I still want to be appreciated, but not by THE GUY. He's long gone. But I do like to hear that "WOW!" from my husband every now and then, and always from my God, who sees me as a beautiful daughter, clothed in the sparkling loveliness of the Spirit.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ain't So


Faith is believing what you know ain't so." - Mark Twain

Mark Twain wasn't a believer, as far as history records, but there is great truth in this quote.

Does God really believe in me?

The words spoken over me in childhood say "it ain't so".

Is there something that I can do to impact my world? My limitations say "it ain't so".

Does God really care about each and every individual? The chaos in this world might suggest "it ain't so".

And yet if I look back at my history -- or perhaps when you look back at your's -- at the God moments, you and I may see clearly that it "is so".

I remember the moment I realized that there was a God. I couldn't see him. The earth didn't shake. Nothing in my circumstances changed. And yet everything on the inside of me did.

How? The Bible says that when you receive God as your Lord, light and life is now a part of you. He lives inside of you. My problems didn't swish away like water down a drain. My family was still struggling. I was still skinny and unsure -- guys weren't knocking down my door. Those things still mattered, but now they were in perspective.

Like a kalidescope, the colors of my world were centered around something beautiful and solid, a new and growing faith.

I started believing that I mattered to God. I started to grasp the fact that he knew I existed, and that he grieved over the circumstances and chaos of my life. I started one day to overflow (John 7:37-38) with something real and living, and my life's calling became a hope to impact others with life and faith.

Tell me "ain't so", and I'll show you faith and say "it is so".

Suzie Eller
http://realteenfaith.com

On a PS: Just found out yesterday that Book #5 has been contracted. I'm pumped! It will be for women in their teens and twenties. I have only one thing to say:

It's so!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

PURPLE

One of my friends is having his birthday party today. He is four. His name is Porter, and he is having a Purple Pancake Party. That's right: Porter's Purple Pancake Party. I'm sorry I wasn't invited, but I'm just his Sunday School teacher. Not one of his real buddies. He informed me on Sunday that he has never had his friends come over for breakfast before. Purple is his favorite color, and he is going to wear the purple shirt he got from his grandma at Christmas. It sounds like a fun party given by a very creative mom.
When I opened my file of color meanings a few minutes ago, I had to laugh. Surveys show that purple is the preferred color of nearly 75% of children under 13. Porter could be the poster child for that one.


Of course, purple combines blue and red. Blue indicates stability and red indicates energy. Does this mean that a vast majority of children can be counted on to be energetic? Since I've taught for almost 40 years, I can testify to that.

Purple is also associated with royalty, symbolizing a mixed bag: nobility, extravagance, wisdom, dignity, creativity, and mystery.

And when I think of a Biblical reference, I think of Lydia, who was a trader and dyer of purple cloth.

Purple: fully embraced by youth, a symbol of the spiritual privilege of being a joint heir with Christ, adopted into the ultimate royal family, and a color worth dealing in whether it be cloth or pancakes.

Rejoice with those who rejoice. Enjoy a purple pancake soon. Have it with a glass of grape juice.

FUEL

I love Sugar-free Red Bull drinks. In fact, when I'm under deadline I buy them by the six-pack. Wow, do my fingers fly as I type.

But I also found two other ways to fuel me. And, amazingly, both are FREE (unlike the $1.25 a can for Red Bull!)

1. I start every day by waking up and spending time reading my Bible and praying. I started with five minutes years ago, then "stretched" to ten . . . now I spend an hour or so reading God's Word and centering my spirit on Him.

2. In the past few months I've also spent 30-45 minutes a day exercising. Yesterday, I "sped-cleaning" my laundry room and dining room. (I felt my heart rate quicken as I mopped my floors.) Today, I did some "Diva" moves to an aerobic video. (Shake de' boody, girl!) And since the sun is shining, I'll most likely take my dog for a walk too.

I've discovered that both my body and my spirit needs fuel to energize me for the day. The time I spend exercising in these two areas pay off in all areas of my life. I'm a much nicer person to be around and people notice. They notice not only that my jeans fit more loosely, but that my smile is broader as God's love bubbles out of me.

Now THAT's something even a great energy drink can't do.

Tricia

Monday, May 08, 2006

Humor


Christianity is serious. It's a matter of life and death. Heaven and Hell. If we really see the people around us as eternal souls and understand that any given day might be their last, we should feel an intense urgency about sharing Jesus with others.

Yes, Christianity is serious business. But that doesn't mean we should always take ourselves seriously. Sometimes the best way to break down walls of intolerance or indifference in others is through humor. Everyone loves to laugh. And it's kind of hard to feel bitter toward someone who just cracked you up.

For a long time I've had a Points System. I give points to anyone who makes me laugh out loud, and much to my delight, lots of people work hard to earn them. Of course the points don't have any real material value. You can't exchange them for money or marvelous prizes. But that doesn't seem to matter. Laughter is a reward in itself.

This is why I love Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey. To date Jack Handey has earned about 37 gazillion points. When I hear or read his "deep thoughts," I sometimes laugh so hard tears stream down my cheeks. Here's a sample:

"If God dwells inside us like some people say, I sure hope He likes enchiladas, because that's what He's getting."

Christianity is serious, but I also believe God has a sense of humor. He created laughter and declared a merry heart to be good medicine. People may not always listen to us if we wave a Bible in their faces. But if we approach the whole thing from a wondering-if-God-likes-enchiladas perspective, we may at least get a chance to share our faith and the hope that's within us--a hope that's sure and steadfast and goes much deeper than the deepest of deep thoughts. Deeper even than that last serving of enchiladas.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

They are after you!

Seriously - not trying to freak you out or anything, but do you realize how many companies want your money? I was reading an article recently about how much money is spent by tweens & teens. Not only that, they influence their parent's spending habits as well. All told that's about fifty billion dollars that young people are spending (or getting their parents to spend).

That's a lot of dough.

And there are rooms full of fancy advertising execs all dressed up in nice suits trying to figure out how to get you to spend that money on their stuff. Commercials, clothing labels, advertising - it's so a part of our lives that we barely notice it anymore.

Yet million of dollars is not spent on advertising because it's ineffective - it's very effective. We're just not always aware of how it influences us.

And that's exactly how satan works too.

He can't be totally obvious about his ways - they are too easy to recognize. When I see a commercial that makes me mad, I'll go out of my way to avoid that product. We can spot the enemy easily sometimes and when we spot him, we're better able to resist his temptations. So satan doesn't like to be "out there".

Instead, one of the ways he likes to try to influence us is to make something "appear" to be something that it is not. He'll help you to justify your anger towards a friend (sin) because they did something really wrong to you (also sin). The enemy uses words like "deserve", "rights" and "fairness" to lure us into thinking that we're not doing anything bad. You were treated badly and therefore have a right to a little sin of your own.

And we don't always see who's influencing us and how. We are surrounded everyday by a world that has fallen from grace, where evil is done, people are selfish, and God is not always honored. And yet God has called us to holiness.

Holiness.

I don't know about you, but just seeing that word makes me ache inside. I am so far from holiness. I mess up, I make bad decisions, I do things wrong all the time and God wants me to be holy.

But the great thing is that we are not left to become holy on our own. We don't have to get all cleaned up and scrubbed up so that we can come to God. Nope. he takes us, messes and all, and makes us more holy day by day, one decision, one step at a time.

It's not always a fun process, but when I look at all the things that can influence me each day, I'm awfully glad that God is the One I can trust.

What do you think?

What kinds of things influence you the most?
What can you do today to draw yourself just a little bit closer to God?

~Sarah~

Friday, May 05, 2006

Nickelback and Psalm 90

Here's something to try during your quiet time or small group Bible Study. Read the prayer in Psalm 90 (v.12: "Lord, teach me to number my days that I might present to Thee a heart of wisdom") and then watching Nickelback's "Savin' Me" video. How are the cries for help alike? How are they different? Why is it important to "number our days?" Here are the lyrics to Nickelback's hit song:
Prison gates won't open up for me
On these hands and knees I'm crawlin'
Oh, I reach for you
Well I'm terrified of these four walls
These iron bars can't hold my soul in
All I need is you
Come please I'm callin'
And oh I scream for you
Hurry I'm fallin', I'm fallin'

[Chorus:]
Show me what it's like
To be the last one standing
And teach me wrong from right
And I'll show you what I can be
Say it for me
Say it to me
And I'll leave this life behind me
Say it if it's worth saving me

Heaven's gates won't open up for me
With these broken wings I'm fallin'
And all I see is you
These city walls ain't got no love for me
I'm on the ledge of the eighteenth story
And oh I scream for you
Come please I'm callin'
And all I need from you
Hurry I'm fallin', I'm fallin'

[Chorus]

Hurry I'm fallin'

All I need is you
Come please I'm callin'
And oh, I scream for you
Hurry I'm fallin', I'm fallin'

[Chorus]

Hurry I'm fallin'
Do you feel like you're screaming and calling for help? Deep inside, we all sense that we're falling, running out of time, out on a ledge. Like so many pieces of art and music, this song underlines our longing to be known, loved, and rescued by the living God. May the singers and the listeners alike meet the true Lover who comes leaping and bounding over the mountains to save His beloved.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

31 Days of Prayer


Today is the National Day of Prayer. To watch this year’s theme video by Rebecca St. James, go here:

But I also encourage you to make prayer a part of EVERY day of the month. To help you do this, I’ve created a THREE-MINUTE PRAYER GUIDE.

Here is how you use the three minutes:

Minute 1: Look up the Scripture and prayerfully read it.
Minute 2: Pray for yourself, that you may listen and obey.
Minute 3: Listen. What is God speaking to your heart?

Here you go: 31 Days of Three-Minute Prayers!

1: Pray that you may be kept blameless.1 Thessalonians 5:23

2: Pray for your walk with God. Psalm 15.

3: Pray that you may be content. Proverbs 15:16

4: Pray that you will know God’s will for your life. Romans 12:2

5: Pray that you will seek God with all your heart. Psalm 119:1-2

6: Pray that you will be teachable. Proverbs 4:13

7: Pray for courage concerning your tasks. Deuteronomy 31:6

8: Pray to know God better. Ephesians 1:17-19

9: Pray that you may consider your faults more than those of others. Matthew 7:3

10: Pray that you may run God’s race with all that’s in you. 1 Corinthians 9:24

11: Pray that you will find peace through seeking God. Philippians 4:4-9

12: Pray to be strong in the Lord. Ephesians 6:10

13: Pray for spiritual maturity. 1 Corinthians 13:11

14: Pray for your willingness to be an imitator of God. Ephesians 5:1-2

15: Pray for perseverance. Hebrews 10:36

16: Pray for self-control. I Thessalonians 5:8

17: Pray your strength may be renewed as you hope in the Lord. Isaiah 40:31

18: Pray for a burden to share the Good New with others. Matthew 28:19-20

19: Pray you will choose wise friends in order to grow in wisdom. Proverbs 13:20

20: Pray that truth alone will flow from your lips. Psalms 12:2-3

21: Pray that you will stay on the path that leads to right living. Proverbs 4:26-27

22: Pray that God’s Word will multiply in your heart. Matthew 13:8-9

23: Pray that you may learn to love as God has commanded. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

24: Pray that the fruit of the Spirit might be exhibited more and more in your life. Galatians 5:22-23

25: Pray to be self-controlled and alert to danger. 1 Peter 5:8-11

26: Pray that you might grow daily in godly character. 2 Peter 1:5-8

27: Pray that you might keep a clear conscience. 1 Peter 3:15-18

28: Pray that the Lord will protect you, guarding your course as you seek His wisdom. Proverbs 2:1-8

29: Pray that you might learn to manage your time well. Ephesians 5:15-16

30: Pray that the Lord would put a song in your heart as you understand His majesty. Psalm 33:3-9

31: Pray that you may have a holy fear of God. Psalm 34:11-15

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Don't accept bologna when you were created for steak


You might like bologna. I don't. I have an aversion to mixed meats, stuff made of chicken lips, and spam--the kind that arrives in my in-box or the kind in the can.

It's not that I'm a snob. It's just that I've tasted steak (or turkey or chicken), and it's SO much better.

Lately something is very heavy on my heart.

I travel around the nation speaking to teen girls. I love and know the girls in my home church. They call me "Mama Suzie". I hear from girls on my website at realteenfaith.com and realteenfaith.blogspot.com.

And what I'm hearing and seeing is that girls are accepting way less than they should in relationships, especially girls who are 13-15.

I don't know if the cultural messages seem like the norm, or if maybe we've had so much bologna thrown at us that we've forgotten how amazing steak can be.

I received an e-mail the other day from a girl asking how she could get a guy to notice her. I went to her site to reply and my heart fell. "Tell me I'm beautiful," she said in her blog. She posted pics that were suggestive. They weren't graphic, but it was setting herself up for all the guys who would respond that would want her body, but not her heart or her mind.

I get emails that say something like this: "This guy is so hot and he's paying me attention. When we are alone it's amazing, but he acts like I'm not alive the next day at school. What can I do to make him love me?"

These girls are asking for bologna, settling for so much less than what they should. I see girls buy into the hype that to get a guy you have to give out or that sex is little more than a hookup. I watch as girls leave great friendships to be a with a guy that treats them badly.

More bologna.

I see girls mouthing words of songs that belittle women, ignoring the reality of what is really being said as they watch the dancing, prancing video images, as they sing words like:

I'll take you to the candy shop
I'll let you lick the lollypop
Go 'head girl don't you stop
Keep going 'til you hit the spot

I can see the posts right now. "Suzie, how can you write those words on a blog like this?" Those were the cleanest words I could find in the lyrics of 50 Cents' Candy Shop. The rest of the lyrics were so graphic that it's mind blowing and yet girls sing along with their IPod.

These lyrics make me angry. I hope they make you just as angry.

Coz you're not some dude's sexual toy. You are a beautiful, bright, intelligent woman in the making. You have a future. You are loved and treasured by the God of the universe.

You deserve steak.

You deserve a man who loves God, and who wants nothing but the best for you, and who would never ask anything from you that would harm your future. You deserve respect, and sometimes that comes only when we first respect ourselves, and then ask it of others.

You deserve a future that has nothing to do with regrets of the past, but hopes for what God wants for you and where he is taking you.

Don't settle for bologna. Get your knife and forks out, coz God has some steak reserved just for you.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

As much as it lies with me . . .


The world is much smaller than it used to be. A hundred years ago, most people didn't venture far from home. Communities built up around families that stayed in the same area generation after generation. Few people traveled to the next state, much less around the world.

But now. We can log onto our computers and chat with people who live in Europe or Australia or Japan. We don't have to wait for world news. It comes to us instantaneously through satellite transmissions. The world has gotten very small, and more than ever before, every man is our neighbor.

Have you noticed how most businesses and almost every person has a website or blog? If you want to find out about anyone, you can often google their name and locate some cyber-spot where they hang out. This can be a wonderful and amazing thing. Or it can open all kinds of worm-infested cans. And not just in terms of predators who lurk around the Internet looking for victims. Blogging has not only opened much of who we are to public scrutiny, it allows those people to comment on our thoughts and opinions. And sometimes this makes for hurt feelings and misunderstandings.

Many people use their blogs almost like diaries. If they're upset about something, they rant online. With private diaries, the person let off steam, felt better, and went on. But in a public blog, anyone anywhere can stop by and express an opinion on the blogger's rant. I'm sure we've all seen how that can sometimes get nasty.

I've set some rules for myself to keep my bloggerhood relationships friendly. If someone's posted thoughts upset me, I don't write a comment, especially while I'm still upset. Jesus said, "As much as it lies with you, be at peace with all men." I can't force others to be at peace with me, but I can set a guard over my own lips (and blog comments) and avoid stirring up strife. Likewise, I don't post on my blog when I'm upset. It's better to pour out that angst in prayer than to lay it open for the whole world to see.

If God judged me based on what I deserve, I would burn in hell. I desperately need grace, so who am I to deny it to someone else? When someone's post grieves me, I'm trying to remember to react by praying for that person and her situation. Not by blasting her with my words in return.

The world is awfully small. Let's love our neighbors, shall we?

Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
Designed by Munchkin Land Designs. Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.