Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Prayer warriors

(Camy here.)

Got any prayer warriors?

Even if you don’t have any problems in your life (or you don’t think you have problems), prayer warriors are a must.

Numero uno) They keep you accountable. Newsflash—you’re the last person who thinks you’re backsliding. Trust me on this, I speak from experience.

You don’t want to be stuck in a ditch before you realize that hey, I haven’t been listening to God lately and maybe I should do something about it.

People who pray regularly for you—like once a month or once every two weeks—can sense when things aren’t well between you and God. And it’s healthy when you’re sharing a prayer request and realizing there are some things maybe you aren’t comfortable sharing, or maybe are a bit ashamed of.

Two) They encourage us. If something does happen in our lives, it tends to hit us like a pickup truck into the passenger side door—sudden, hard, and out of nowhere.

If you have a group of prayer warriors who meet regularly, then you can call an emergency meeting and get some prayer ASAP. You won’t believe how much it helps to have people pray for you as soon as something goes on.

Setting up your prayer group:

Pick people who don’t have loose lips. You want to entrust your deepest secrets and worry someone else will hear about it.

Ask first, and don’t get your panties in a wad if they say no. Not everyone has the time or the inclination to join a prayer group.

Pick a time and place to meet regularly. Preferably the same place, or a rotation of set places. Pick a time most people can meet most of the time, and don’t reschedule too often if a few people can’t meet. Meet at the set time with whoever’s free.

Finally—pray! Pray often. Pray sincerely. Pray for good life.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful


The turkey is in the oven, and in a few hours the family and friends will arrive. All 35 of them! Most of them are my husband John's family--parents, brothers, a sister, and all their spouses and kids. Also coming are friends who are far from their family and their four kids. Oh, yes, and my own family, my husband, my three kids, and Kayleigh--one of the teenage moms I've adopted as my own and her husband Nate and three kids.

This morning I was thinking back ... back to the Thanksgiving not too many years ago when I was a pregnant teen. I'd dropped out of school, my boyfriend had dropped me, my high school friends went on with the own lives, and I felt so very alone.

Yet, it was during that pregnancy that I made a decision--to give my life to Christ. To let Him fix up what I've screwed up.

Fast forward to today--a beautiful family, friends, a home to welcome them into ... these are wonderful things to be thankful for.

But mostly I'm thankful for Jesus. For being forgiven of my sins, for hope in eternity in heaven, in peace today ... and tomorrow ... because He lives inside me.

It was the best decision I every made--a decision I'm thankful for every day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What's the Difference?



So here I am bushwhacking my way toward a deadline. Well, it seems that way. You should see my house right now, in its neglected state. No, never mind—you should not see it. And if you do show up at my door, you enter at your own risk. No guarantee you’ll find me.

But I am here, and right now I’m pondering the topic of Internet use gone wild. One guy I talked to recently admitted he was completely pulled in—he would say “addicted”—to MySpace, WoW, and porn.

He told me, “You reach a certain point after a while—and it doesn’t take much—where boom! your conscience is seared and you convince yourself that what you’re doing is OK. Your innocence is drained. You can do it, and do it, and do it all day long.”

That's intense!

In trying to overcome his Internet obsessions, he said an "accountability partner" wouldn’t work for him unless that person was willing to sit next to him every time he got online—which would be a lot. Otherwise, alone he could go online and do whatever he wanted, and then it wouldn’t bother him one bit to have to confess it.

Here’s the thing that got me: He said, though an accountability partner wouldn’t work for him, a godly mentor would—someone who could pour God into his life.

After we talked some more, I realized he saw the "accountability partner" as someone who checked up on him, kept him on track with what he was supposed to do—even if he couldn't, or wouldn't, honestly aspire to their standards.

On the other hand, to him, the "mentor" would be the person who took the time to be in relationship with him and to help spur him toward being in relationship with God.

In his mind, the mentor relationship is the one that would make a difference--the one that would lead to God transforming him deeply and impacting his online choices.

Sure changes up my thinking about friendship, accountability, and mentoring. Still thinking about this one. If you have any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

Jan

http://www.choose2livefree.com/

Monday, November 19, 2007

Contaminated


As a writer I rely on and check e-mail daily. It’s not unusual for me to check it three or four times in one day, especially when communicating with one of my editors about a writing assignment.

Most people would skip to the inbox and ignore the junk or “bulk” folder knowing that most of the contents are garbage anyway. I’ve found lately that I check that folder BECAUSE I know it contains garbage. I’ve been receiving a lot of really yucky stuff lately and I want it gone! Just knowing it’s there makes me feel contaminated. I can’t check off those messages and click “Delete All” fast enough.

Thinking about this new pattern of mine triggered a question. Is it possible that I’m allowing other things to sneak in and contaminate my mind and heart as well—books, movies, television show choices, and even my own words that simply aren’t as in-your-face obvious as e-mails about . . . I won’t even say it . . . bleck! Suddenly I feel a bit convicted to pay closer attention to what I allow into my mind. After all, our minds are powerful and not easily erased.

What about you? What offends you to the point of making you feel contaminated when you see or hear it? Or maybe you aren’t easily offended and wonder if that’s such a good thing? Ask God to reveal the things that have the power to muck up your mind? What lovely and glorifying things can you replace all that with?

I’d love to hear what you come up with.

Jeanette

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Straight UP!

I have seen FIVE stars this week. Five! Cinco! Before I get into last Saturday's super star sighting, let me show you who I saw today. The pictures are of course awful! She was right in front of me and my camera would NOT cooperate!


Okay, if you close your left eye and squint with the right, you will clearly see that you are looking at none other than Miss Paula Abdul. For real. She was at my high school for a dance conference and showed our girls some moves. I was not invited, which hurts my tender feelings, so along with two other teachers, had to sneak in a back door. And bust out a window. And clip a wire on the security system. And dress in camo. But we got in. When Jennifer Jones smells celebrity, you cannot keep her away!

Here she is again.

"Come on, Jen. Get down here and shake your groove thang...before security escorts you out." And I'm all like, "No, no, Paula. I don't want to show you up. We both know how sensitive you are."

Not only is she sensitive (please reference every episode ever aired of American Idol if you don't believe me), but she's also extremely short! And I don't mean maybe. Check out this photo of Paula standing next to our athletic director...

She's like, "Am I in the land of the giants? Please don't eat me!" Paula is what you call teeny tiny.

And now...drum roll please...
Saturday morning, I was at the Wal-Mart home offices at 6:35 a.m., when normally I am pillow deep in sleepy time, and ...well, BEHOLD!!!

On your left you have Denzel Washington, known for fine movies such as The Hurricane, in which he totally got the Oscar shaft. Then in the middle you have OPRAH WINFREY!!!!! Can you even believe it??? And on your far right you have Wal-Mart CEO, Lee Scott. There was also a famous producer there named Harvey Weinstein, who has produced every movie ever made apparently, but I didn't really know him. But IMDb.com says he used to weigh 300 pounds, so I don't know if he's very successful movie-wise, but apparently he has enjoyed some Jenny Craig success.

The three celebs were there to talk about their new movie, The Debaters. Oprah was a co-producer and Denzel directs and stars. You can Google it if you want the skinny on it, but the trailer was good!

But I was like FIFTEEN feet away from Lady O. Not even kidding.
Well, there are more pics and joyous moments from this event, but they will have to wait until next Monday. No, please don't email me and beg me to share before then because I won't, I tell you. But if I do run into my sixth celebrity for the week, I'll be sure and post that. Especially if they are shorter than Paula. Because that would just be freakishly weird.

Any of you guys had any celeb sightings? I'd love to hear them!

Cross posted from HERE.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Fear Monster

If I had to say the ONE thing in my life that's caused me the most trouble, it's FEAR.
Lately, I've had some scary things happen. Well, for as long as I can remember, I've had scary things happen. But recently, some of the scary stuff has been with my health, and some with things family members are going through. I had some medical tests done last week. I just had to blog about this because it was soooooooooooooo huge for me.
A couple of weeks ago I told God, "I'm sick and tired of being afraid. I want to change. For good. Please help me." And He is!
Right before being put to sleep this Wednesday, I started to have some scary thoughts try to sneak back in. Then I started to pray. It was a simple prayer--so simple a two-year-old could pray it. In my mind I said, Help me, Jesus. Help me, Jesus. I said it over and over. And guess what? The scary thoughts left me alone!
One of my daughters has been going through a hard time. She's trying to start over in life. She called me very upset close to midnight last night. The scary feelings came to me. The What If Monster.
I thought, now you won't be able to go to sleep. Guess what I did? I said, "We don't have to live in fear. There's another way. The Bible tells us that perfect LOVE casts out all fear. It tells us to cast all our anxiety on Him because He cares for us." Then I told her to ask God to help her. And I went straight to sleep. :-)
Day-by-day I'm finally, oh finally, beginning to change. I don't have to be the Scared Lady anymore. There's another way to live. To get to this new place, I think I had to go through some scary things. I had to get desperate and ready to be different. I had to get tired of doing life my way.
I had to tell you this Saturday morning that if your past includes gigantic fear like mine, with God's help (and sometimes this means talking to other people about it and being open) there's hope.
Moment-by-moment now I'm saying, "Help me, Jesus."
And He comes to me. He runs to me. He's never too busy. Actually, I'm thinking He's been here the whole time but like a gentleman, He's been waiting on me to say, "Help."
Love to you all. Especially anybody who understands this fear post.
Julie

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sick and Enjoying it!

We have strep throat, plain colds, and an allergy assault upon the house.
What do you do when you are ill?
Laughter? Here's a site I enjoy. http://www.cybersalt.org/go.php?id=community I subscribe to the newsletters and get wonderful things like: Today's CleanPun - "Pedestrians"
"A pedestrian is a person who should be seen and not hurt."


A Good Book? How about this one?
VANISHED by Kathryn Mackel

A terrorist's bomb. A rogue experiment. An impenetrable mist.

And no one is coming to help.

After a bomb explodes in a working-class neighborhood of Barcester, Massachusetts, Police sergeant Jason Logan fights to keep order and assist the injured while desperately waiting for aid to arrive. Is the mist from the bomb preventing ambulances and fire trucks from coming in? Or has something far more dire occurred?

As the hours tick by, Logan tracks the terrorist mastermind-whom he learns is not done wreaking havoc. Cut off from modern medical resources, nurse-practitioner Kaya de los Santos treats the injured and soothes the fearful, unaware that her teenaged son Ben is on the run from both the cops and the terrorist.

The vanished begin a battle for survival against enemies they've always known-and forces they've never even imagined.

To read a full chapter of this spine tingling novel go to ChapterAWeek or order it online at Amazon.com



A cup of tea!


I hope everyone in your house is healthy. If not, enjoy the time to indulge in something delightful.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bare

The other day, God told me to get nekkid.

Just kidding. Well, sort of.

I’m doing this book called Enjoy the Silence, which is teaching a Bible study practice called lectio divina. It’s a practice that monks often use, and it’s been a good book so far. I’ve been hearing God more in my quiet times.

The other day the passage was Exodus 3:1-6:

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.

So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush,
“Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are stand-
ing is holy ground.”

Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. (TNIV)


What struck me was verse five, when God tells Moses to take off his sandals. He didn’t want him to have anything manmade on him, nothing crafted by man’s hands, because the ground was holy.

Holy ground required just bare skin. Just himself.

That’s when I really felt naked. God wants me bare before Him. None of the stuff I’ve made for myself, none of the attitudes and accomplishments that make up the things around me. Just me. The girl I really am.

My life is not pretty, but He wants me bare when I come before Him. He really wants to see just me.

This, I think, is true prayer—when I’m completely, utterly, only myself before God. This is when He can speak to me, because both He and I can see me for who I really am.

The next time you pray, be bold. Be bare. Be nekkid.

Just don’t post pictures. ;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Who Are You?

Do you know who you are? I mean do you really? I thought I knew exactly who I was when I went to the post office to mail a series of packages today, but when it came time to pay the women behind the counter would not let me use my own credit card to pay. About a year ago my credit card number was stolen, so now I don't sign the back of my credit cards--I simply write "Please ask to see I.D." on the back.

So even though I could produce photo identification, and several other cards bearing my name the post office wouldn't allow me to use my credit card to pay for my packages because they said my card was not valid since it was not signed. It was insanely ridiculous. They treated me like a thief for using my own credit card because I had taken precautions that would prevent a real thief from using it!

As a stood in the post office trying to prove my identity, and my right to use my card, I couldn't help but think of the messages the world sends us as Christians. Sometimes these messages even come from other Christians.

"You're not as special as you think you are," they sneer at us when we claim we are daughters of the King of Kings. "You don't act any differently than me, so why are you going to heaven if I'm not?" Their questions jab at us over and over again. "A real Christian wouldn't behave like that," they claim when we have a bad day. The list goes on and on.

So, do you know who you are? Even though I couldn't use my credit card I didn't walk out of the post office doubting who I was. I know I am Shannon Primicerio no matter what anyone says. But are you as confident in your place in God's family?

Galatians 3:26 says, "For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus."

You are a daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Live like it--no matter who tells you otherwise!

Where have you been?

I can see that look on your face! Where have you been, Suzie Eller?

Let's talk about it. : ) Two months ago my house sold. We packed up all our belongings, found a temporary home for our horses, and moved about an hour away to beautiful Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
All good news so far.
I live in a new house, close to the university, and I love it. More good news.
But what I don't love is that for the last several weeks I've lived in a cyberless world. My home is just a half block from telephone service, Internet service, cable, dish, etc. Because it's a new development area, we have had to wait until the entire neighborhood was hooked up.
That didn't happen until this past week!
I've been driving to the university and snagging wireless just to stay on top of my writing assignments, and to check e-mail, but I couldn't talk to you!
So, I'm back. I'm on dial-up, which is el stinko, but it's better than living in a technological black hole.
But I'm still so happy to be exactly where I am. I'm content. Why? Because I know that God is guiding me one step at a time, and I trust that. The small inconvenience is nothing. But the fact that He guides me; that I can talk to Him every day; that He is my heart and source of life, that's such an amazing gift.
I've missed you. I really have!
And I'm excited that in my absence some really cool authors have joined GGGL.
Tell me what you've been doing this past two months. I want to hear from you. : ) What is God doing in your life? What are your challenges? Does it ever feel like you are in a black hole? Do you want us to pray with you?
Let's talk. . .
Suzie Eller
Real Teen Faith

Monday, November 12, 2007

Holding Hands

It's officially holiday time and I LOVE it!

I look forward to this time of year the rest of the 10 months. It's getting dark earlier, it's colder, the trees are changing colors and loosing leaves, it's the perfect time of year for cider or hot chocolate or coffee and I can wear my coat and scarf without getting weird looks from people.

I love when I snuggle down under the covers late at night. My toes are freezing cold, I'm pulling my Bible over and getting warm and cozy reading God's word. And with Thanksgiving around the corner, I can't help think about this: how many, many, many times I take for granted the written word of God and my relationship with Him.

Especially in this season of my life. I'm 22, I'm not married, and I'm making decisions today that will affect the rest of my life. Relationship decisions, career decisions, where my money goes decisions. Kinda scary, right? But also tons of fun as I learn to squeeze my eyes shut and just trust the Hand that holds mine.

Isaiah 41 is becoming a favorite chapter and it says this: "For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, 'do not fear, I will help you.'"

I love that. He's got our hand tucked right there in His. And just like it says in Romans 8, nothing can separate us from that.


Friday, November 09, 2007

A Rose of Sharon

My 8 year old daughter just finished up the show she has been in for the last two weeks. She played an orphan in the CYT production of "Annie". It was a lot of fun and a lot of work for us all. These kids (and their parents) work for weeks to put on an amazing show but it is an exhausting effort.

At the end of it all we always have a party and at that party they give out an award to the guy and girl from the cast that exhibits the most Christ-like behavior - it's called the Rose of Sharon award. Every kid gets a vote (and some of the adults as well).

It all got me thinking about who I would give this kind of award to in my real life. If you had to cast a vote right now, who in your life would you say exhibits the most "Christ-likeness"?

And on the flip side - do you think your behavior would get you any votes from your friends?

Actually, for me, there are days I think I exhibit some good qualities. Kindness, gentleness, even patience on a good day. But then I have what I'll call my "other days". Days where I am grumpy and impatient and well, not so gentle to be around. Some of it depends on whether I've had my coffee but I seriously doubt Jesus would accept that excuse from me - ever. I'm well aware that the Scriptures remind us to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh. To put to death the old man, and the "bad stuff". But I do fail sometimes.

The thing is, we'll never attain perfection. At least not this side of heaven. But I think we can strive to show the character of Christ as much as we can, striving for better while having grace with our shortcomings.

So if you're game, here's the question: If you were giving a Rose of Sharon award, who would you give it to, and why?

Me? Mine would go to my husband. He is an absolute saint because even with all my quirks, he loves me still.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Stand Out


I’m still spinning, even since my last post. I’m looking forward to slowing down for the holidays. Yes, compared to the rest of this year, the busyness of the holidays will feel like slow-mo.

So just one thought from me this time:

Stand out.

How?

Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant.

Matthew 23:11 The Message

Hmmm . . . Just when I think I've got that one down, I realize I don't. I've got some more "stepping down" to do.

Jan

http://www.choose2livefree.com/

Monday, November 05, 2007

We Still Had Fun!

Last week my parents came to town to celebrate my oldest son’s birthday. We had a great time shopping for a super cool gift from Grandma and Grandpa, hanging out in their hotel room, and playing at a local pumpkin patch. All of our plans for their visit fell into place beautifully, right down to the whether.

Then Dad got bit by a dog.

No, you didn’t read that incorrectly. We were all getting ready to go out to dinner and Dad ventured down to the lobby. A vicious Scottish terrier took advantage of his owner being entranced with a call on her cell phone, snapped his leash, lunged toward Dad, and bit him on the leg. Thankfully Dad wasn’t seriously hurt, just REALLY mad. But he did have to report the bite, go to the ER to have it checked, get a tetanus shot since he hadn’t had one in decades (not fun), and fill a prescription, which pretty much blew our dinner plans.

Of course we were disappointed but you know what? We still had a fun night. We ate ribs and chicken wings from the deli, watched a silly movie, talked about what should happen to dogs that bite and why animals should not be allowed in hotels, and called both my sisters so Dad could retell his dramatic story. I expected Christian to feel jilted but he didn’t seem to mind. It gave him time to play the game he’d bought with some birthday money. Nathan had another chance to color with Grandma and sucker her into a few more rounds of Mancala (he is totally addicted to the game). Dad kept apologizing for putting a damper on the evening but we assured him, “Actually, it’s kind of nice to hang out. Besides, it’s not your fault. It’s that horrible dog’s fault!” Of course, part of our good attitude probably had to do with the knowledge that things could have been far worse! We were more concerned with him then dinner.

This reminded all of us that we never really know what a casual stroll out the door will bring. Plans can change in a split second. I can’t say that I always respond as I did last week. I can remember plenty of times when I pouted over an unforeseen illness, car trouble, or other inconvenience that kept me from doing what I’d been looking forward to. But life is much more enjoyable when I respond as we all did to Dad’s surprise attack—to thank God that it wasn’t a tragedy, find a plan B, and have a good time anyway.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Positivity and Junk Like That


I struggle with negativity. (Can a sister get an amen?)

A friend of mine (who does not struggle with negativity, though I still like her...) told me about these bracelets that people at work were wearing. Apparently on Oprah this pastor told about his campaign for a "Complaint Free World" and his mission to make the world a more positive place. The idea is that you wear this bracelet and every time you gossip or say something negative, you switch the bracelet to the other wrist. Soon you will be switching the bracelet less and less!

I tried this.
I didn't get the cool pink bracelet, but instead used a ponytail holder (because I'm negative and cheap). And every time I would say something unnecessarily snarky, the bracelet would have to move to my other wrist. Guess what...it worked.

Now I'm not totally cured (not even close), but it did work in that it has really made me think before I speak (this is a new concept for me). I have taken some time off from the bracelet, but during the weeks I wore it, I would genuinely stop and think, "Is this comment WORTH moving the bracelet?" See, the same friend who told me about it in the first place, was now my accountability and would ask for frequent progress reports. It became like a game--and I didn't want to lose.

But life got busy, and I soon forgot my bracelet in the early morning rush.
And you know what? I easily slipped back into my old ways.
This bracelet isn't magical. But it did make me more aware and more prayerful about the things that I think and say.

I dare YOU to try it. Grab a cool bracelet, a ponytail holder, a rubber band, something, and take the bracelet challenge. I'm going back to it. Come on--join me. Let's all be stinkin' positive together.
: )

Friday, November 02, 2007

Ding! Dong! The Book is Done!





Which old book? The Dragon Book! Ding! Dong! The Dragon Book is done!
I finished Wednesday morning and meant to send it in by 9:00 AM. But, I kept tweaking, changing a word here, deleting a word there, adding just a little piece here, and deleting a line there. I finally sent it in with a plea to my editor. "Take this away from me." She emailed back that it was in loving hands, and I was to go out to lunch, see a movie, and take a nap.
I have been dancing and singing ever since.
DragonLight won't hit bookstores until July 17th, and there will be a final edit, but basically this baby is done. Now I can see spiritual truth in peanut butter. It's a gift and a curse, as Monk would say.
When I went to bed that night with a book I've been wanting to read, I realized I had just done a mini-play of how God deals with things we take to Him in prayer.
Dear Lord, I've done my best. I tried to cover all the basis. It's too much. Please take this away from me.
He sends a comforting message. My cares are in His hands, go enjoy the life He has prepared.
God is good.

Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
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