Saturday, September 30, 2006

Comparing Ourselves

Okay - so I don't have as many uh-oh's as jennifer. After all, the Gilmore Girls season opener is safely recorded on my Tivo - and my computer. (So I don't trust technology). And Jen- you're welcome to come over;-) Though I did back my van into the garage one day. Still pretty mortified to admit THAT one.

Isn't it funny how even though the scriptures tell us that all sorts of evil breaks out when we compare ourselves - we still do it anyway!! i find myself reading other people's posts thinking "Man! I should have written something more serious. Or less serious...or funnier or" you get the point...

One of my other pleasures is watching Survivor and Amazing Race. I love watching the competitions but maybe because I'm a fiction writer, I'm always fascinated by people and the way they interact. (Yes, that's my excuse for never missing an eopisode and I'm sticking to it!) In shows like Survivor, you don't want to stick out too much - the ones that take control early tend to get the boot. But you don't want to fade into the scenery either. You've got to stay in the thick of the pack early on so that when the time is right you can make your move.

But i find it amazing that most people are pretty clueless about how they come off to others. One guy - Mr. Cowboy - doesn't seem to notice the blank stares as he tells yet another story - cracking himself up. Another guy works hard to convice someone to vote with him and he doesn't even notice her body language isn't buying it at all.

It honestly makes me wonder how I come off to other people too. Am I just as clueless? And it's not something that you can find out real easy either. It would be kind of cool (and horrifying) is we could be taped for a while. Then we could see the way others see us from the outside. We would be aware of our annoying little tics - the things we say over and over - and habits that we have no idea about.

My point? Let's see if I can make one. I guess it's this: We only see life from one perspective. We only see one side of other people. And they only see one side of us. Resist the urge to figure out where you stand all the time. If we just relax and focus on pleasing God, well, it will make our lives with other people that much sweeter.

ROLL WITH IT, BABY!


This week I settled in to watch the season premiere of the Gimore Girls. I turn it on and what do I get? Little House on the Prairie. Seems my cable company is mad at the CW network and not carrying it. AUGHHHHH!!!! (Read more about this monumental meltdown at http://www.jenniferbjones.blogspot.com )

I accidentally "nudged" my car with an office supply and put a six inch scratch on old "Blackie."

I showed up for work last week an hour early. Only to find the meeting I was to attend wasn't until the following day.

This morning I was in such a rush, I didn't have time to eat breakfast or do my quiet time. Two definite no-no's for me.

I could blame this on my lack of spinach lately (Hello? What does a girl have to do to get an e-coli-free bag of spinach in this country?). I could blame it all on my cable company (and might do that anyway). Maybe I could say, "It's all due to global warming." But frankly, sometimes things just go wrong. And in my life, it's pretty much the norm.

While I don't like the occassional "crud" that happens, and sometimes feel like I get more than my share (Seriously, the Gilmore Girls thig--about pushed me over the edge.), I've learned that people may not notice me putting a $300.00 scratch on my own car in the Wal-Mart parking lot. But they do notice my reactions.

I must admit, I can be a bit of a drama queen. Can I get a witness? Uh-huh, I know some of you relate. But lately, I'm working on reacting less and just rolling with it. I'm trading my ugly attitude in for biting my lip (okay, and the occassional less noticeable eye roll). The old me would've gotten ugly with the cable company Tuesday night (and yes, I did call them). The old me would've gotten ticked for wasting an hour at work last week. And it's still hard to bite back choice words when I see my sweet ride "Blackie" with that hideous ugly mark.

God says in Matthew 5:13-14 that we are to be the salt and light of the world. We are to be the beacons of Christ. No pressure, right? Yeah, it is hard. For me, it's a daily battle (okay, hourly). But what if I'm the only example of Christ someone sees today? What version of me do I want them to see? The me that can gripe someone out for every sin ever committed in 3.2 seconds? Or the me that can speak kindly, patiently, and with the love of Christ?

So I challenge you this weekend, G3'ers! Bite your tongue just once this week. Turn the other cheek just one time. Laugh something off instead of getting upset. I dare ya! We want a full report. Let us know what brave act of "Rolling With It" you achieve.
Have a great weekend!
Jennifer B. Jones

Friday, September 29, 2006

Help me, God

I don't know what's taken me so long to ask for help. Pride I guess.

I flew to Texas a few weeks ago to teach Writing with Heart at a conference. This is hard to admit in a blog, but in order to go, I had to see a counselor. Yep, I was that afraid. Here are some of my fears:

1. What if I mess up?
2. What if I get lost? (I have a bad sense of direction.)
3. Flying scares me--and I've never flown alone.
4. What if it's not perfect?
5. What if I freeze and can't say a word?
6. What if nobody comes to my classes?

The first morning I taught, I wanted to hide under the motel bed all day. But when your name's listed on the program, it's not really an option.

"Help me, God. I don't want to do this," I said kneeling in my room.

Right before my first class, my hands were shaking so bad I couldn't attach my microphone. The techie had to put it on.

"Help me, God. I don't want to do this," I whispered.

This is the way the entire trip went. I asked for help. He sent it. And I wouldn't trade it for anything. Everytime I asked, He was there! He didn't leave me stranded. He showed up in cool ways too--like my room was a few steps from the hotel lobby. No way to get lost. God had a friend picked out for me on the faculty staff, a writer--even a redheaded one, like me. DiAnn Mills. She asked me to ride in her car with her. We ate together.

I think I probably learned more than my students. ♥ I learned to ask for help.

♥Julie

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Why Guys Need Fur Therapy

"Get away from that animal!" my father called out. "He'll bite!"

Dogs wandered the streets in the city of my birth, Kolkata, India. They were wild, skinny, cowering, and sometimes rabid, and my thoroughly non-westernized parents taught us to fear them. When we moved to a country where some people seemed to revere dogs more than they did their aged relatives, I just didn't get the great American pet fixation.

But then, reluctantly, in response to the begging and wheedling of two four-year-olds and my husband, I agreed to acquire Strider (a lab, see photo). Over the years, I moved from keeping a distance to letting him follow me around the house with adoring eyes. And I grew more and more thankful for his presence. Immensely so, because when our boys got older and became more taciturn, still the conversations, stories, and jokes about Strider continued. Manly to the core, they jettisoned stuffed animals and squirmed away from kisses, but their affection for and cherishing of their dog intensified every year. Basically, he kept their hearts soft and open, and I became a firm believer in the power of dog therapy, expecially when it comes to teen guys.

In fact, all humans are made to be stewards -- for our own good. God's command to rule over the living creatures on the earth (Genesis 1:28b) is actually given as a blessing:

God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28, NIV).
As a vulnerable creature looks to us for food, water, companionship, exercise, and protection, or a small garden relies on our tending and watering, we glimpse a bit of God’s joyous, nurturing heart. You might not have the space or money for a pet, but you can still volunteer at an animal shelter, make a weekly visit to the city zoo to check in on some favorite residents, or even grow vegetables and flowers in pots. Animals and plants keep us human; they need us, and we need them.

As for us, with Strider's days sadly numbered, we brought Zipper home yesterday for our boys' birthday present. After all, there's nothing like the sight of a man of few words squirming and chuckling on the floor while he gets covered with puppy kisses! Not to mention the new member of the family is a major chick magnet (that's me holding Zipper so I can check out the girls coming to visit ...)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

IF ONLY LIFE WERE LIKE HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL

I finally caught up with entertainment times and watched the movie High School Musical. I simply had to find out what all the hype was about. So when a friend insisted “You’ll LOVE this movie,” and handed me a copy to borrow, I mirowaved some popcorn, wrapped up in a blanket, and kicked back for a night of mindless Disney fun. I laughed my head off over the exaggerated version of high school life. Seriously, name one school with enough funding for a gigantic mural of its hottest basketball star or a cafeteria that’s big enough for the entire student body to dance in. My school didn’t even have a cafeteria. We had to eat outside. On rainy days we could eat in the halls or, if you didn’t mind advertising your status as a band geek, huddled in the music room.

I have never seen so much clear skin, perfect hair, and natural ability to sing and dance on cue. Everyone from the jocks to the nerds to the shiest of the shy girls could belt out a tune like a Broadway star. It was like Fame without the swearing and immorality (am I dating myself by mentioning Fame? I was totally addicted to that series in the ‘80s). Actually, it was better than Fame because I could allow my kids to watch it.

You know what? I loved every minute of this cheesy, unrealistic ‘tween phenomenon known as High School Musical! Who couldn’t love spending ninety minutes in a world where all of life’s problems are answered in a spontaneous and perfectly choreographed song? Where, no matter how intense the rivalries, in the end, everyone becomes friends, proclaiming, “We’re all in this together!” And they really seem to mean it! Wouldn’t it be cool to have the guts to toss aside all the peer pressure and be that person inside who is “just dying to get out?” What if, on top of that, all of your friends, after seeing how gifted you were, supported your change in extracurricular activities and began revealing their hidden talents as well?

Ah, wouldn’t it be nice?

Being a devotional writer, I have a tendency to look for a spiritual application in just about everything. High School Musical was no exception. It dawned on me this morning that, in the body of Christ, we can find many of the wonderful things that left me thinking, wouldn’t it be nice if . . .

For example, the answers to all of life’s questions may not be found in the words of a spontaneous song, but they are available to us in the Word of God at any time—no singing or dancing ability required.

When we begin to connect with our brothers and sisters in Christ we often find that, despite our differences, we truly are “all in this together.” In good times and bad (when we need our friends the most), we have a unique bond.

No matter what others think of us or expect from us, we are loved by One who not only knows our deepest dreams, but planted them in our hearts with a plan to one day give us the confidence to let them shine.

Best of all, we have hope that one day, life will not be like High School Musical. It will be countless times better—when we reach our eternal home where everyone will have flawless skin, perfect hair, ability to sing and dance on cue, and no peer pressure to hold us back.

There may even be a cafeteria, big enough for all of us to dance in!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Homecoming Crown

This time of year makes me think of football games, and cheering for our school team, and homecoming. I went to a small high school with only about two hundred kids. And while my friend, Janie was nominated as a homecoming princess four times I never was. Not once. Ever. Not that it bothered me at all. (Okay, I'm lying, cause it really did.)

It's hard not being the one picked. Not being the prettiest or the most popular. Looking back it's easy to see why Janie was picked so often. She was pretty but never really dated. She was everybody's friend, without being exclusively paired up with one person.

My life was different. I had a steady boyfriend from the summer before my Freshman year on. As soon as I'd break up with one, I'd hook up with another. And I soon discovered that being connected with one other person seriously keeps you from having time to get to know very many people well.

I'd like to say that the type of comparisons I had with Janie stopped when I got older, but daily there is always things I compare myself with--how my friends look, how they cook, how many books they sell. It's then I have to go back to my Father God and be reminded how much I am adored for just being me. He adores me even though I was never a homecoming princess. He loves me even though I don't make pies from scratch or keep a perfectly clean house. He really does!

And He loves you too. Just like you are. And some day He has a crown waiting for you that is far more beautiful than any tiara. It will be a Homecoming Crown you'll never forget.

Imagine that.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Recharge. Revive. Renew. Arghhh.



They say idleness is the devil's workshop.

Who came up with this? Probably the same person who said a penny saved is a penny earned. (No, it's not. It's an annoying piece of change that does me no good when I'm in desperate need of a Diet Coke from the vending machine.)

Anyway, does anyone feel as crazy busy as I do? The first few weeks of school are always nuts. And I have more to do than I actually have time for. And to top that off, the new fall shows will be starting! How can I get all my stuff done AND watch Gilmore Girls? (What is up with Luke and Lorelai? I mean, seriously.) I am a wee bit stressed. And a giant zit has taken residence on my face to prove it. (Nothing like running to Wal-Mart at 10:30 at night just to get some Clearasil.)

So, no, idleness is not currently the devil's workshop. In my life, the bad dude thrives on my busyness. And he doesn't have a workshop. He has a whole factory. And all because of a lack of idleness. A lack of stillness. I'm too busy!!

I need some TV time. I need some workout time (ew). And I have got to touch up these roots. But most importantly, I need to slow down and reconnect with God. Plug in. Recharge.

Do you find that when you're way too busy, your quiet time suffers? Does your relationship with God begin to decay like stale old Cheetos? (Which are still edible, by the way.)

Yesterday was the official "Talk Like a Pirate Day." (I hope everyone participated. I know I did. I look for any chance to use the word booty or dubloons.) I am declaring today the "Hey, Stop Being So Busy and Hang Out With God Day." We could make this a national phenomenon. Sure, there's no apparent reason to say booty (though I'll probably find a reason to anyway), but I think we'll find value all the same.

Let us know how your week is going. Tell us how you are spending your time recharging your spiritual batteries. Arrrrgh!

Jennifer B. Jones
http://www.jenniferbjones.com

"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
Psalm 46:10

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Guys/Boys/Husbands

With homecoming time here, I want to blog about dating.

I think it's an incredible idea to make a list of what you want in a boyfriend before you start dating (or if you're already dating make a list for sure) . And don't settle for anything less than someone who meets all your requirements.

Also, I've heard don't date anybody you wouldn't marry.

This past week in high school Sunday school, we were studying Bad Girls of the Bible, by Liz Curtis Higgs. We're on the chapter about that amazing Joseph dude. He had it all! Young, good looking, powerful, a leader, plus he loved God. He loved God so much that he said no to a woman coming on to him. (Potiphar's wife) She was throwing herself at him begging him to sleep with her, and he still said no. Now, that's the marrying kind!

Is there anything more attractive that a guy with some self confidence plus a whole lot of God confidence? I don't think so.

Here are some things that were on my dating list:

Cute
Doesn't get sunburned like I do :-) (weird one, I agree)
Funny
Hard working
Honest
Dependable
Loves God

You know what else? The guy should love God more than he loves you. That's right. Because if he puts God first, he'll cherish, respect, and honor you.

I married my high school sweetheart who is all those things. No, he's not perfect. Neither is our marriage, but God comes first in his life.

When you're getting serious with a guy see if he matches EVERYTHING on your list. If he doesn't be willing to pray about the situation. Remember that blessings always follow obedience.

My love♥ I haven't forgotten what it's like. ♥
Julie



Sunday, September 17, 2006

BookCrossing.com

Two years ago I moved out of a five bedroom house into a studio basement apartment. I call it my Hobbit Hole. The problem is space. I had 24 bookcases in the old house.
I guess you might say that I love books. And I do. I have a collection of children's picture books - three bookcases full. I have coffee table books which are really adult picture books of Spanish castles, rural America, animals, etc. - only one bookcase full. I have writing craft books - three bookcases full. A collection of old comic strip books - one bookcase full. Fiction books (mostly Christian fiction) - two bookcases full. And misc. non-fiction - two bookcases full.

I have books.

And I keep getting more. People know I love books, so I often get books as gifts. And I get books for free because I am an author, and publishing houses send me books to endorse. And I have to admit I buy books as well.

But I discovered I don't need to KEEP all the books. So aside from those books that I use from time to time, or my "collections" hobby, I have found a way to share the wealth.

It is called bookcrossing.com. http://www.bookcrossing.com/

This is a fun concept, and I have enjoyed playing the game. Here is the definition:

bookcrossing n. the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise. (added to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary in August 2004)

Here's what this online book club says about itself:
"You've come to a friendly place, and we welcome you to our book-lovers' community. Our members love books enough to let them go — into the wild — to be found by others. Sharing your used books has never been more exciting, more serendipitous, than with BookCrossing. Our goal, simply, is to make the whole world a library. BookCrossing is a free online book club of infinite proportion, the first and only of its kind. Inside, you'll find millions of book reviews and hundreds of thousands of passionate readers just like you.
Let's get right down to it. You know the feeling you get after reading a book that speaks to you, that touches your life, a feeling that you want to share it with someone else? BookCrossing.com gives you a simple way to share books with the world, and follow their paths forever! "


I found this to be fun and relatively safe. (It is a good idea to check with your parents to make sure they approve of a site you visit.)
One thing I found out is that there is a small percentage of follow up on the books you register. In other words if you release ten books into the wild, you will probably only hear back on one of them. But it is still fun.
Of course you can find books listed that you don't want to read, but I trust you to be discerning and not follow the gay and lesbian or erotica list. Just like your public library, the vast majority of the books are mainstream. There are plenty of good books to learn about. So check it out.

Now, you know I am going to think of a spiritual connection, just because that is the way my mind operates. Out of the abundance of spiritual truths God has given me, I enjoy sharing. However, when I give those gems away, some may never be picked up and some may be passed from sister to sister to brother to brother. You never know what convoluted route a word you've spoken may take to reach the heart of someone God wants to bless.

Be of good cheer, THE LORD IS GOD!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A REMINDER OF WHO I’M NOT

I recently finished a novel that may never see publication. Maybe I wrote it for myself, as part of a healing process. In the story, a woman named Cassie discovers that her friend’s niece is struggling with a self-destructive problem. Cassie spends the bulk of the story in inner turmoil—part of her wanting to speak up so 19-year-old Alicia will get the help she needs, another part of her wanting to stay out of the whole mess. If she shares her suspicions she might reveal why she can recognize the danger signs—that once she battled the same disturbing desire.

At first I skated around the subject when friends asked, “What is your book about?”

“Oh, it’s kind of a female friendship story,” I told them. Not a lie. It is a story about friendship.

Then I let it slip to my friend Jane that the characters deal with an issue that I once battled myself. When she politely asked, “What’s the issue?” I felt a strong inner tug. Tell her. It’s okay. She’ll still love you. Besides, isn’t one theme of your story the freeing power of honesty?

So I told her. I told her about my years of depression and the dangerous methods that I found for dealing with the pain inside—that often, when things like anger, sadness, or rejection felt too overwhelming for words, I hurt myself, that I’d been what many refer to as a “cutter.”

Two things happened. First, Jane asked if she could read my book. I was thrilled! At least one person would read it. Second, I saw clearly that she still wanted to spend time with me. Our friendship deepened as she gained a greater understanding of me and what God freed me from, and I saw that I could trust her to both keep my story private and continue loving me.

Wonderful talks have followed. During one of them, Jane said something so profound that it echoed in my mind for days. She said, “You know, this problem that you had—yes, it was serious. Remember though, it’s not who you are. It is part of you but it doesn’t define you. Sure, you cut yourself, but you also raised two great kids, you taught, you wrote books, sang at church, and have been a good friend to people. There is so much more to you than this one thing.”

I don’t know why she chose to say that, but I thank God that she did. So often, I have allowed the wrong things to define who I am. I allow the bad to outweigh the good, my failures to override God’s triumphs, and before I know it, the pieces of who have been become, in my mind anyway, the very definition of me. I walk around ashamed, thinking if my friends only knew (fill in the secret) . . ., when in reality they are waiting to embrace me, scars and all, just as God does.

What a precious gift to have a friend who could remind me who I am by reminding me who I’m not. God opened my eyes to a truth that I didn’t know I needed to grasp until her words entered my ears, my mind, and finally my heart.

How has God used your friends lately, to encourage you? When has He used one of them to remind you of your value and identity in Christ, as Jane did for me? Which of your friends knows the real you—the pretty pieces of the puzzle and the not-so-pretty pieces?

Psalm 139:1-3 says, “O LORD, You have searched me and you know me, You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thoughts from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways.”

All this and He still loves us. Take a moment to thank Him for this great love, and for the many times when He has revealed it through others.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Girls Gone Bad -- Techno Trouble

Last night I watched a documentary about girls and the Internet.

Several girls from 13 to 17 were used in a "social experiment". They were separated in small groups and given all the techno tools they could possible want and then allowed to interact.

It turned ugly. Before long text messaging, websites such as MySpace, webcams, and more were used to bully or target other girls. They made fun of the way they dressed or the makeup they wore.

Others posted pictures and messages and rumors and it got really ugly.

These girls were strangers to each other, but it was as if all social boundaries were dropped, and no one cared what was said -- until someone said something to them.

I have a Myspace and a Xanga. Why? Because I minister to teens and it's an amazing way to stay connected with teens and with my friends from the past.

But sometimes I go to a girl's site and I'm sad because I see a whole different side of them. Recently I went to a girl's site to leave a comment and the pics there blew me away. It was dangerous, dangerous, dangerous.

They brought this up on the documentary. You can be anything you want to be on the 'net. That is why so many girls are not only using the 'net and cell phones to bully each other, but why many girls are posting sexxxy videos and pics on Myspace, Facebook, Xanga, and other sites and mom and dad have no clue.

Maybe it's time that we talked about this.

It's NOT COOL. Posting sexy pics is dangerous because the guys who show up because you're posting those pics are there for the wrong reason. There are pervs who are into young girls and that is scary.

The 15 minutes of fame that you receive is for all the wrong reasons.

And it's NOT COOL to use the 'net to hurt other people. It's not right for people to damage someone's reputation or make their life miserable.

I love the Internet. As a writer, it's an amazing resource. But I believe that the enemy (satan) is trying to harm beautiful young girls, and that's not what God intended --ever.

T. Suzanne Eller (Suzie), author of Real Teens, Real Stories, Real Life
http://realteenfaith.blogspot.com

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Identity

I am me, and I don’t know anyone else that is me. So I guess in that sense I’m the one and only, but not in any kind of egotistical way.
— Elijah Wood, actor

Take a minute to think about the kids from high school. When I say jock, what image comes to mind? What about grunge, gothic, or nerdy? We all know that we choose our clothing to make a statement.

“Whether you want to accept it or not, you play a big part in the way other people respond to and treat you,” says Jay McGraw, author of Life Strategies for Teens. “It all has to do with your behavior, particularly the way you present yourself to the world through your appearance, attitude, actions, and the way you treat others.”

I started thinking about this as I was shopping the other day and I noticed all the Halloween costumes, even though Halloween is still a month away.

What we choose to wear, and how we present ourselves, also makes me think of Halloween costumes.

I remember my favorite. In the third grade I decided to be Barbie. My mom bought one of those boxed costumes that had a plastic face with holes for eyes and a mouth-slit to breathe through. (Hey, it was popular in the late 70s!) It also came with a shimmering pink “gown” that tied in back.

I thought I was beautiful . . . until my face started to sweat under the plastic. It was hard to see, not to mention breathe. I felt like I was suffocating.

After that Halloween, I never wore another plastic-mask costume. However, that didn’t stop me from trying to be something I wasn’t.

It’s easy to slip on a “mask.” To hide behind a smiling façade. But attempting to be something I’m not doesn’t feel good. Doesn’t look right. And it’s hard to breathe.

I’d like to say that as I grew older, I stopped hiding behind masks. But that wasn’t the case. As a high school cheerleader, I always felt like the odd one out. Most of the other girls were a size 0— and I was not. Needless to say, I was always the one on the bottom of the human pyramid!

I tried to make up for not being super-thin by wearing all the right clothes and dating a handsome guy. I strove to be popular, and I went to parties even though I really didn’t enjoy the atmosphere.

When I took time to think about my identity, I started asking myself questions. What do I feel comfortable wearing? Where should I focus my time and attention? How would I like to be identified as a person?

I also reconsidered my motives. Why did I go to parties or watch movies that I didn’t really care for? Why was I trying to be something I’m not?

Perhaps you can ask yourself the same questions. Taking time to evaluate your identity will help you fit life around who you are inside. Not the other way around.

When you treat yourself as a valuable person, others will catch on. You’re the one in control. It’s up to you to decide how you want to be seen and known—without pretending to be something you’re not.

(This blog was revised from my book: Life Interrupted. To read more about me and my writing, and the Christian writers I interview, also check out: www.triciagoyer.blogspot.com)

Monday, September 11, 2006

911

I read a blog today that suggested that the people in Flight 93 weren't really heroes. His thinking was that "they were going to die anyway, so they were thinking about self-survival rather than saving another building".

I have to disagree.

I watched on TV today as a few gathered around a field to honor the dead of Flight 93. I could only imagine how many more mourners there would be if that airplane had flown into yet another building.

What is a hero? It is someone who does what is necessary and what is right even in the face of fear or opposition.

The passengers on Flight 93 had received the news of the tower bombings. They knew they were part of the plot to harm not only them, but thousands of others. They could have spent their last moments rooted in fear, but instead they went into action.

What do you think? Who is your hero in this tragedy? And are you praying for our nation, our president, and for the citizens -- like you and me -- that we will keep our heart and mind on what is important?

I'd love to hear your thoughts today.

Suzie
http://realteenfaith.blogspot.com

Decision Making

Friendship with the LORD is reserved for those who fear him. With them he shares the secrets of his covenant. Psalm 25:14

When have you needed direction in some area of your life? What major decision have you had to make? Thankfully, God has promised to give you wisdom. Wisdom brings knowledge (discernment in choices of right and wrong; guidance). True wisdom is God’s perspective on things.

In the New Testament, James describes the wisdom from above being pure, peaceable, gentle, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering and without hypocrisy (James 3:17). God wants you to be like Christ. All the treasures of wisdom are found in Christ (Colossians 2:3). God wants you to be a wise woman. Many women in the Bible relied on the wisdom from God. Esther needed wisdom to know how to approach the king without offending him. Deborah needed wisdom to lead a nation. Ruth needed wisdom to know how to relate to Boaz. Your behavior reflects either the wisdom of the world or the wisdom of God. Think about your life. What choices are you making? Wisdom from God is a gift, and he gives it freely to those who ask. Stand firm in the promise that He will make you wise. When God gives you wisdom, apply it to you life.

In what situations do you need wisdom? “Should you be dating this particular guy? Would it be okay to cheat on a test just this one time? Should I say that? Should I go on that particular mission’s trip? What college should I attend?” Seek, search and apply wisdom from God. He promises to direct your path.

Blessings,
Sarah

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The "R" Word


Responsibility has been the theme of church lately.
Ugh. Sometimes I don't want to be responsible. There are definitely things to do that are more fun. Shopping. Watching a movie. Rearranging my sock drawer.

This week everyone's favorite blonde Paris Hilton got charged with D.U.I. She denied the facts and had this to say: "Everything I do is blown out of proportion. It really hurts my feelings." It may hurt her feelings, but I'm betting wrapping herself around a phone pole would hurt more. So not responsible.

Taking the easy way out is definitely easier. Brad Pitt recently blamed his lack of vows to Angelina on the current American definition of marriage, stating whenever people in this country could marry whomever they wished, then he and Angie would tie the knot. Sigh. And here I thought all this time he was just holding out for me. Still, another example of someone not accepting responsibility for his actions and their consequences.

Last week I did something stupid and had to call and apologize. It's hard. It stinks. It makes my palms sweat. But it's the right thing to do. And I like to sleep at night.

God tells us that he's searching throughout the earth to help those who are doing the right thing and totally sold out to the Lord(II Chron. 16:9). You know, being responsible and Godly. Instead of organizing the sock drawer.

I teach at a giant high school.Last week I asked my students what they had done lately in attempt to be a better human being. One responded that she had helped a student who didn't have lunch money. Another gave a teacher a hand. What about you? Let us know what you've done lately that gets you an A+ for being awesomely upright. And if you see Paris or Brad, fill them in.

Excited to be the newest new kid on the block!
Jennifer B. Jones
http://www.jenniferbjones.com

Friday, September 08, 2006

INTRODUCING, THE NEW KID




Once upon a time someone encouraged me to pursue my love of writing. In his eyes, it was a sin to neglect a gift. Next thing I knew, I sat in a workshop at my first writer’s conference, caught in a whirlwind of excitement and complete cluelessness. Now, over a decade later, here I am joining several of my author friends on Girls, God and the Good Life.

I am thrilled to be the newest writer to join Sarah Anne Sumpolec, Tricia Goyer, Suzie Eller, and the rest of this amazing blog team. I look forward to sharing with you the things that God teaches me through everyday-life moments.

Let me begin by sharing a bit about myself. My family and I make our home in Reno, Nevada, where we attend Sierra Bible Church. When I’m not writing I enjoy serving as a singer in our church’s worship ministry, reading whatever I can wrap my hands around, and spending time with my family and friends.

As far as writing goes, I have written three books for Focus on the Family, including two novels in the Brio Girls series and, most recently, Want More? Joy, Brio Devotional #3. I write regularly for Standard Publishing’s Encounter—the Magazine and have written for several other magazines, including Brio. My stories have also been included in the anthologies Encounters with God: True Stories of Teens on a Sacred Journey, and Encounters with God 2: True Stories of Teens with a Sacred Calling (Just released by Standard Publishing).

While I do some writing for adults too, I have a passion for stories aimed at teen girls. When you read my blog entries I pray that you will sense, you are hearing from one who has been there, knows what it feels like to struggle, doubt and question, and truly cares for you even if we haven’t met. I look forward to living out the truth in one of my “life verses,” Psalm 71:17, “Since my youth, O God, You have taught me, and to this day I declare Your marvelous deeds.”

Until next time,
Jeanette Hanscome

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Life on Hold

This summer has been strange for me. We were on a medical journey to uncover just what it was that was sapping my energy and keeping my mind in a muddle. Don't say old age! We considered early senility, but nah! Even with all the gray hair, no one was buying that.

So the medical detectives finally figured it out. On August 15th, I got a diagnosis of uterine cancer. On August 21st I had a hysterectomy.
The good news is they got all the cancer, and I am not even going to have chemo.
The good news is also that I had cancer (or knew about it) for only 6 days.
It was long enough to feel the hand of the BIG C touch my life. And it was reassuring to feel God's hand equally touching, no not just touching, but shielding, my life.

Six days is long enough to have cancer. It was six days that brought me back to my Savior's throne, recognizing His sovereign control over my life. Six days that reminded me of how blessed I am by family and friends. Six days to rededicate my days as HIS, whether they be few or plenty.

Do something for me. Make a C by curving one hand's fingers into the shape of the letter and look through that at the things you can see right from where you are sitting.

Cancer could take all that away. But suppose that C stood for Christ. You might still lose all that you can see with your eyes, but Christ promises us something beyond what we see.

It is a good deal to have God with you, especially in any crisis.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

It's a baby, not a money-making media machine!



Okay, you have to admit that is one pretty baby! Suri is real, and she is adorable . . . now, do you think the media will finally stop all the speculation? (Nah, there's too much money to be made with the baby . . . and she's not even six months old!)

I don't know about you, but lately it seems the media has gotten caught up in the craziest things. Instead of following the system of "innocent until proven guilty," the media blares out rumors and are allowed to do so until the rumors are proven false. Hmmm . . . that sounds a little like high school, don't you think?

I remember those days. People talking mainly to create a buzz instead of considering other people's feelings. I've been guilty of the same thing in my life (and for the record, I'm a few years beyond high school!). It's so fun to be the first to share a juicy bit of gossip, but usually I feel bad afterward. (Very bad.)

The Bible talks about this, James 3:3-5 says, "A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything--or destroy it!" (The Message).

In the case of baby Suri, I'm glad to know she's healthy and loved. In the case of rumors in my own life . . . I'm really going to stop and consider what I say before I say it. A rumor is a rumor whether there's money to be made, or simply a desire to share the latest buzzzzzzz.

The Unseen Factor

Yesterday I watched one of the most fascinating movies that I've ever seen -- The Village.

It was like riding a roller coaster. Tick, tick, tick, all the way to the top and then just when you least expect it -- whoosh, you're flying in the complete opposite direction.

That reminds me of faith. There is an unseen factor. You're plodding along. Tick, tick, tick. You know you're where you are supposed to be, but you're waiting for the "whoosh!".

This blog is a perfect example of that kind of faith. When I talked to my great friend and author, Sarah Sumpolec, about the idea of a blog where authors connect with teens, I envisioned reaching thousands of teens. I wanted to talk about life and love and faith and hear what you have to say.

It's been a slow start though several amazing authors have joined us and we get to talk to girls like Erin and Samantha and other awesome teens.

I hear the "tick, tick, tick" of steady faith as we blog and communicate with those who drop by on a daily basis. And yet I often wonder:

What next, God? Are they really there? Are we relevant? Do we need to tweak it? Will that new design EVER arrive? : )

But then God reminds me of the unseen factor. I have no clue what teen God has on his heart as I write. I have no idea of how he will speak through Julie's post on eating disorders or Sarah's post about her father's death or Mitali's post on multi-cultural life.

I realize that I live for the "whoosh" when all that God is asking is for the "tick, tick, tick" of faithfulness.

So we'll keep writing. Hang tight with us as we listen to God. We are writing. We are praying for you. And we are listening to what you have to say.

After all, we are believers in God, in girls, and in the good life called faith.

Tick, tick, tick. . .

Suzie Eller
http://realteenfaith.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

All Grown Up?

It's weird. I always thought that when I grew up I wouldn't be afraid of anything. I remember trying to sleep as a child and having my mental worry list handy. If I had 20 things on my list and could only think of 19, I'd worry about that last thing I'd forgotten.

I'd worry like this: Did I get every single bit of my homework done? What if I oversleep and miss the bus? How will I ever get that term paper ready? What if I don't!

This Thursday I fly to Texas. I'm to teach "How to Write with Heart" at a writing convention. If I let myself, I could get awfully busy with a worry list. Each time the worries try and creep in, I'm fighting them with Truth.

Like, I have a horrible sense of direction. If I use the restroom in a restaurant I have a hard time finding my way back to the table. So....my worries are trying to take over about getting lost. They want me to stress about getting lost in the Dallas Airport. (I'm flying out of Atlanta.) But I know that, "Perfect love casts out all fear." And I'm believing God will have people there to help me when I need them. Surely He knows the way around the Dallas Airport.

Next, my worries want me to obsess about this--what if I get so nervous I can't think straight while I'm teaching? What if my hands shake? But then I remember that, "Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world."

One on one, I'm fine. But sometimes in a large group of people, I get scared. God says, "I will go before you and make rough places smooth. I will never leave you or forsake you."

I can't find a worry that He's not strong enough to handle.

Thank you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You are my Defender. My Deliverer. My Redeemer. My Friend. My Peace. My All-in-All. My Source. My Strong Tower. My Teacher. My Comforter.

Love to everyone today and let's give God our worries. He's SO willing to help.

♥Julie

Monday, September 04, 2006

Crikey - he's gone.


I knew my post was today so I went to bed last night with ideas rolling around in my head. Then, I woke up this morning and learned that The Crocidle Hunter himself - Steve Irwin - had died.

And that made me so sad.

Maybe it was his full-of-life personality, or the fact that he has two young kids, or that tragedy can strike in the most unexpected places. I'm not sure. But after my initial shock, I started to wonder if he knew God.

You see, in that quick, unexpected death, there probably wasn't a lot of time for much thought about eternity. Many people hardly ever consider eternity until death strikes close to home. But eternity is on the line - for everyone - even Steve Irwin.

I wonder if anyone took the time to share Jesus Christ with him.

I wonder if anyone ever talked with him about the One who created the amazing creatures he loved so much.

I wonder where he is tonight.

We can sometimes forget how much is at stake as we go about our daily lives. I call it the "urgency factor". Things like death and tragedy can make us feel more urgent about sharing the gospel with those around us. We get a big nudge that people's lives are at stake and that maybe it doesn't matter whether we are rejected for it or not. We become more willing to put our faith out there.

But we really and truly need to be willing to put our faith out there all the time. Are we talking to those around us about our faith? Are we able to give a reason for our hope?

Or are we so quiet about our faith that those around us don't even notice what we believe? If we are supposed to be salt and light, we are salt and light all the time - not just when we're feeling urgent.

I hope someone who loved God was around Steve. I hope he knew. And I pray that people of faith will speak comfort and love to his wife and children. May God surround them with His presence.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Waiting

I am working on my Masters of Arts of Biblical Studies through Dallas Theological Seminary. One of my classes this semester requires me to read through the Psalms. I came across a couple of verses that had encouraged me a couple of years ago, and I want to share them with you.

"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD." Psalm 27:13-14 (NASB)

In October 2004, I was speaking at a girls' event called Yada Yada in Atlanta. Jackie Kendall, the author of Lady in Waiting, was one of the keynote speakers. I had read that book in college, and it changed my view toward guys and dating. I was so excited to meet her and thank her.

I sat across from her and told her that I had a dream of writing books for young women, but had been discouraged because publisher after publisher rejected my idea. She opened up her Bible and read those verses to me out of Psalm 27. She encouraged me to believe and wait. Two things that sound simple, but are not. I had to believe that God had a plan for me and that He knew the desires to minister to young women. Then, the toughest thing of all...WAIT! I don't know about you, but waiting is difficult. I don't like to wait in lines. I didn't like waiting for a guy to notice me. And I certainly didn't like waiting for my dreams to come true.

But God encourages us to believe and wait. I did just that. I believed that God was involved in my life and dreams, and I waited...and waited...and waited. I would have despaired under the anxiety of uncertainty unless I believed.

What are your dreams? Do you feel discouraged? May these verses encourage you, too. Believe that God is good, and He is intimately involved in your life. Wait. Be strong and let your heart that courage.

Blessings,
Sarah

Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
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