Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Years weight loss

Camy here. Yup, going to try AGAIN to lose weight this year.

I have done all my preparations. I have finally forced my husband to tell me I’M FAT. No “I love you the way you are.” I need the truth or I’ll keep lying to myself that I’m as slender in form as I think of myself in my head.

(Okay, I’m not super fat, I just need to lose 30 pounds, but I’ve been carrying those 30 pounds for close onto 10 years now and haven’t lost any of it.)

New Year = new commitment to portion control.

I suck at portions. Really. So I’m going to really pay more attention to my portions and reduce them little by little.

I’ve been pretty good about walking everyday for 30 minutes with the dog, so I’m going to keep that up. I’m walking faster and faster each week and hopefully will get up to running in a few months if my bad knee can handle it. If not, I’ll just keep walking.

So, let’s go! Who’s with me?

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novel Single Sashimi is out now, and she runs the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveways!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Girls' Night Out


“I’m hosting a girls’ movie night on the 19th,” My friend Sherry told me last week. “Susan offered to pick you up. Please say you can make it.”


I thought for a second, looked at the calendar and, yay! I could give her a “Yes.”


I have no idea what we are watching and don’t really care. It’s a chance to spend an evening with my girlfriends, watching something that the guys in our lives would most likely roll their eyes at, and eating snacks that they would consider too girlie (the menu is “bring your favorite appetizer”—I’m in charge of bringing something sweet).


Face it, as much as we love our families and think guys are great, sometimes we just need to hang out with the girls. As a wife and mom of 2 boys I am constantly surrounded by testosterone, dirty socks, and bodily functions that double as entertainment (for them anyway). If I happen to have time to do my nails I usually have the dog, a cat, or my six-year-old hovering at my side. If I sneak in a chick flick I have nobody to appreciate it with me. So I have been looking forward to tonight all week long!


When is the last time that you had a girls’ night? Why not plan one during Christmas break? Watch a movie, paint each other’s nails, listen to music, or do whatever spells fun for you. To make it even more enjoyable, how about adding the following rules:


· No gossiping about people who aren’t there.
· No putting others or yourself down.
· Ban all discussion about the calorie, fat or sugar content of the snacks. If you’re health conscious bring your own food and let everyone else enjoy their junk in peace without slipping in any “do you know what you’re really eating” remarks.
· Eliminate the words “fat,” “diet,” and “weight” from all conversation.
· If one of you is going through a difficult time, has a problem to deal with, or is just having a bad day take a few minutes to make sure she is okay, pray for her, then agree to talk about anything BUT that topic for the rest of the get-together. Sometimes the best thing we can do it set our problems aside for awhile and have fun.

So that’ll make for a pretty quiet night (ha ha). Seriously, see how much fun you can have when you keep the night upbeat. I look forward to hearing your stories. Please leave a comment if you use this idea.

Have a fun-filled break and a glorious Christmas!

Jeanette

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Coffee Curiosity




What is it about meeting friends at Starbucks? Or even going alone. I love the place. Even my 17-year-old son goes to Starbucks. When I was a teenager, this didn't happen. We met at McDonald's or for pizza but never for coffee.

For some reason, I think better when surrounded by that amazing coffee smell. Conversations seem more, I guess, important. My creativity level goes up a notch--even when I'm just sitting there by myself. Ideas come to me at Starbucks.

I order the same thing--a cup of something strong, like Sumatra, and I add sugar and half-and-half. The other day I tried a French-pressed Sumatra and fell in love. Bold, strong, and even hotter.

Since it's close to Christmas, I gave in and tried a Peppermint Latte. Not me at all. And those ice coffees gross me out.

Maybe the kind of coffee we drink says something about our personalities.

Anybody have thoughts on coffee? Love it? Hate it? What's your favorite kind? Do you agree that stirring coffee helps us stir our friendships? Are you okay sitting there by yourself?


Julie

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I'm Happy

My daughter and I were driving down the street yesterday, and I realized I was happy. We had just been to the crowded UPS store, mailing gifts. We were at the UPS store because the line out the Post Office annex sent us searching for a place I wouldn't have to stand for so long. We were on our way to look for a particular present for on of my grandsons. We stopped and got coffee. She got eggnog latte, and I got peppermint mocha. The price of the coffee was outrageous. I was still happy. I picked up the cup and hot coffee spewed from the tiny hole, making a mess. I was still happy. The special nightlight/toy was expensive too, so we didn't get it. I was still happy.
We tried it online when we got home and didn't, plus read some reviews that indicated it wasn't such a great toy after all. Still happy. Woke up this morning with a sinus headache. Yep! Still happy.
Why? 
Every day has it's own measure of irritants, some of them quite substantial. The past 24 hours held more than I've even related to you.
But . . .
this is CHRISTMAS!
And I love Jesus.
I wish I could carry this glow around with me for the other 11 months of the year. 
I think I'll make that my New Year's Resolution. I LIKE being happy.
Ignoring the irritants, putting them in the bottom drawer where they belong, is healthy.
The toaster burnt my toast . . . yeah, but Jesus was born in a stable.
The car in front of me made me miss the green light . . . yeah, but Jesus told stories that make heaven more real to me.
My drink spilled all over my book . . . yeah, but Jesus forgives e.
It's a habit to remember that the nativity scene should be on top of the dresser and the junk deposited in the bottom drawer or even the trash can.
I'm happy. I have reason to be. Jesus not only came as a baby to grow up and teach me about God and heaven, he also died to make a way for me to stand in the presence of God and enjoy His Heaven. Allelujah!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Getting organized

Camy here, talking about Spring ... er, Winter cleaning.

Yes, my house is SO MESSY that I need to start in Winter to finish my Spring cleaning. Oy!

Actually, this was started because we have to enter that spider-infested domain that is THE ATTIC in order to get our Christmas decorations out. And in order to even put our Christmas decorations up, we have to clean up.

Ai-yai-yai!

I am chucking junk with a vengeance.

Do we need this anymore?

Have we ever used this? (alternate question: Have I ever worn this?)

Is there a reason this was put here or was it because we couldn’t think of anyplace else to put it?

What in the world is this?

I think the rust means it no longer works.

Ew! Ew! Ew! Spider!

After chucking junk, though, I have to organize the junk—er, stuff we do have.

Some things are easy to organize. Books, for example. They go on the shelf or in plastic bins (I have a super anal Excel spreadsheet that lists all my books and which box each one is in, and the boxes are all numbered).

Yarn is another easy thing to organize. I sort them by size and/or fiber content and put them in those nice plastic bins from Costco.

But what about all the odds and ends? Extra parts for the telephone? Extra cable for the TV? Extra dog toys and leashes? My husband’s keychain collection???

Any ideas? Right now, I am sticking things anywhere I have room that is an even halfway logical place to put them.

But the good news is that I can now see the floor! LOL

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novel Single Sashimi is out now, and she runs the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveways!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas Break!


Yes! Christmas break is coming. Lots of free time. Well, at least more than usual. What will you do with yours?

Today I spent time talking with the sixteen- to twenty-something-year-olds at the ministry where we work about their Christmas breaks. (Some are facing theirs with anticipation, some with trepidation.) Later I joined them all for dinner. After hanging out some, I started to head home to work on this post, and stopped. Hey, if anyone knows the answer to the question I want to write about, these guys do.

So I went back inside and asked for their ideas for creative ways to spend the next few weeks really enaged in life (instead of being online for most of that time).

One, by the way, mentioned how ironic it was that I was using the Internet to bring the topic up. Maybe not the most popular place to talk about doing something different than being online. But it's not that being online is a bad thing. It’s about making choices. Here’s a quote from Eyes Online, Eyes On Life:

The Internet—it can offer a really great experience, or for some, it can easily become an obsession. Without realizing it, we’re sucked into activities that rob us of the amazing identity, resources, and relationships God has in mind for us.
Eyes Online, Eyes On Life p. 17
Who wants to be robbed at Christmas?

So back to the creative ways to spend the break. Here are the ideas they shared:

Ask someone to coffee
Go visit a church you've never been to
Spend time with family talking, bonding, doing things together like working on a puzzle
Journal
Take a dance class
Take a walk or drive to see Christmas lights
Go to a church performance
Get into the Bible
Read a book—"like actual words on paper"
Make dinner for friends or family
Walk on the beach (or take a walk in a beautiful place)
Eat meals with family
Play board games with family
Do crafts—like beading
Jam with friends
Go to movies with friends
Bake with family or friends
Volunteer at a homeless shelter or an animal shelter (or any volunteer work)
Go to a bookstore and discover a new topic of interest
Crochet while watching a favorite chick flick
Go for a leisurely bike ride

One who offered a couple of the ideas above temporarily forgot this was specifically about alternative activities to being online all the time. She said the list goes for anything. Do these things “instead of making choices where you're messing up.”

Or, I’ll add, for those who wouldn’t think of “messing up,” do some of these to assure a really amazing break. Get together with friends or talk with your family and come up with some of your own ideas. Then take those beyond scribbles on paper. Plan them into your day--either for yourself or with friends and family. Get a few on the calendar and don't let anything stop you from making sure they happen--especially the Internet :) .

Enjoy your break!

Jan
author of the Live Free series, Standard Publishing

true stories, true hope

for teens, young adults,
and those who care about them.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Decision Making 101


Decisions …

Write down one decision you are trying to make. Now, answer these questions:

~What is behind my decision?

~Is my motivation to be liked, appreciated, or accepted?

~Who is behind my decision?

~Am I concerned about what others would think?

~Are my choices and decisions based on my relationship with God?

~Who loves me more? Do I let those who love me most have greater influence, or do I worry more about those who could care less about my heart, spirit, soul, emotions?

On another piece of paper make three columns. Pick one of the decisions you KNOW you’ll have to make. On the top of the page list any one of those decisions. In the first column write “Family.” In the second write “Friends.” In the third column write “God.”

Now, consider what type of advice you would get from your family, friends or God. Write each one’s advice under their heading.

Finally, at the bottom of the page, write that person’s motivation. (Why would he/she/they make that decision for you?) For example, your friends might push you to do certain things. And your parents might want you NOT to do those things because of the cost or the influence it has on you.

And what about God . . . how do you think He feels about these activities? If you’re not sure, go to His Word, and ask Him to guide you to the answers. Psalm 138:3 says:

When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted (NIV).

If you aren’t sure of what God’s answer would be seek out a mature Christian for advice.

There are some decisions that will make a BIG difference to your life and faith. Just think how much better your decision will turn out if you take time to think it through beforehand. When the time of decision comes . . . the work is already done. After that, you just need to follow through, allowing your service to Jesus to rule over being a slave to the opinions of others. After all, scripting your responses makes dealing with the drama 100% easier.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Creative Gift Giving


My friend Jennifer and I decided not to exchange Christmas gifts this year. We’ve been friends since we were 3 years old and have always given each other books, perfume, lip gloss, and other “stuff.” This year, however, my family has very little to spare so Jennifer was nice enough to suggest that we skip the stuff and opt for a gift of time. We plan to get together over my kids’ Christmas break and let that be our gift to each other. Jennifer will treat us to lunch and I’ll cover coffee and dessert, or one of us will buy movie tickets (matinee of course) and the other will be in charge of stuffing her purse full of snacks.


I had already accepted that my gift giving would have to be creative this year. So far I’ve gone with books that I make special by having them signed (I order them directly from my author friends) and fun things like jars of homemade cocoa mix. It’s actually fun! You might want to try. Here are a few ideas to get you started.


· Get a box of small canning jars from the grocery store (they don’t cost much). Choose one for each person on your Christmas list and fill it with their favorite candy, cocoa powder (recipes can be found on the Internet), tea bags, or gum. Cover the lid with a small piece of Christmas fabric or tissue paper and tie it with a ribbon.
· Give a gift of time by treating your best friend to coffee or ice cream.
· Offer to make dinner for your parents or grandparents, promising to do all the clean-up as well.
· Give service “gift cards” – Decorate 3x5 cards and write a service that you would like to provide on each one, such as a night of free babysitting, a manicure for your little sister, or tutoring for a friend who is struggling and wants help in a subject that you excel in. Make sure they are things you enjoy doing so you won’t dread following through.

You can do all kinds of things on very little money. So set the stress of Christmas shopping aside and have fun being creative!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

OBSESSION




Last night my husband and I got into a mini-argument. He said, "Why do you obsess over things? You get these ideas in your head and you can't let go."

"Yes, I can."

"No you can't."

I knew he was right but still, the truth can be annoying. Maybe it's because I'm a writer? Maybe it's because being a worry-wart is my natural tendency? This obsessive kind of thinking bounces around in my head during the day--sometimes it helps me write, but other times it fuels worry.

Certain nights, the Obsessive Thinking Monster pounces. Always at 4:30 a.m. I'll be sound asleep and boom! A worry hits. It happened this morning before the sun came up--yes, the same thing I'd been worried about yesterday.

Think about me, it insisted. Worry, worry, worry, it hissed. I have to admit--for a few minutes, I unfolded my concern and examined it from every angle as a physician checking out a patient. I put it under a giant magnifying glass to search for hidden clues.

Then a gentler thought eased in.

You don't have to do this, it seemed to say. I'll take it. Go back to sleep.

I formed a mental picture of Jesus trying to help me--His big strong hands reaching out.

Okay, here, I said. But the pesky worry marched right back. Pick up your worry, the thought insisted. It's yours to deal with.

But then I pictured my worry being a baby blue balloon. I pried open my fingers and let go. In my mind, my worry floated to Him. I went back to sleep.

So as I'm writing this morning, I'm thanking Him for my deep ability to think and reason with creativity. Obsessive thinking can be a blessing--especially for a writer. I've asked God to help me use my energy and thoughts only for good. I sure don't want to be that crazy-looking woman in the picture. I already have her red hair!!

How about you? Do you obsess with pesky little worries like I USED to?

Smiling,
Julie

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Goose Is Getting Fat

I'm singing Christmas carols. Are you? Here is a video that makes me think and slow down and put that goose on a diet.
I'm sorry I completely failed at embedding. Here is the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVqqj1v-ZBU

Watch it all the way through.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Season for Hope


I didn't stuff myself this year for Thanksgiving, but I made a ton of stuffing. My husband and I enjoyed the day with our family and about 95 others. We live and work at a residential ministry for at-risk youth. Thanksgiving is a big deal around here . . . as is Christmas.

Fun, exciting . . . and also, for some, extremely difficult.

I'm guessing that in similar ways that's true for many children and teens all over the world. Some do all they can to scrape together bits of hope and joy to get through their holidays. It's not easy to smile when surrounded by or feeling brokenness and pain.

As I enter the Christmas season, I've been wondering if I could, in some small way, bring about the beginnings of a smile or some hope. The joy of a baby in a manger and knowlege of this one who now invites relationship with him? Glimpses of possibilities for a new turn in their life story? Yes, I think so. Others once did that for me.

I am challenged to ask God to help me be especially aware of at least one teen who needs that experience of hope. I can invite her to join us for one of our holiday celebrations. Show her love. Show her Christ.

Will you join me in that challenge?

To share: If you have done this during past Christmases or someone has encouraged you in this way, tell us about your experience. Plan to do something like that this year? Share your ideas.

Enjoy this season of celebrating the gift of Christ. Immanuel--God with us!

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us"
(Matthew 1:23 NIV).



Jan
author of the Live Free series, Standard Publishing

true stories, true hope

for teens, young adults,
and those who care about them.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey ... yuk!

Camy here, probably the only person on the entire planet who hates turkey.

I don’t hate Thanksgiving, but let’s just say I’m not salivating over the gigantic roast Butterball on the table.

I’m not sure why I don’t like turkey. It just has a strange taste that’s different from chicken or duck. (On a side note, I’d like to try roast goose at some point, just to try it.)

But I endure the icky smell of gobble-gobble ready to be gobbled because I love Thanksgiving dinner.

In Hawaii, we always had a family gathering (my mother’s side of the family, usually) with TONS of food. And really good food, too.

Grandma sometimes made sushi for us (I tell you, Grandma has a way with sushi that is fabulous! Whenever I try to make it, I have too much vinegar or sugar or something.)

My mom makes Chinese chicken salad. Aunty Jan brings sashimi (don’t say eeew until you’ve grown up eating it every year of your life).

The turkey ... eh. Some years we didn’t have turkey, we had something else, and that was terrific.

The best part was sitting around talking with everyone about anything. My mom’s family laughs a lot and they love to tell stories (that’s where I get my itch to write novels). It’s always fun, warm, a little loud, and comfortable. I am very thankful for my loving family.

This year, I can’t make it to Hawaii so it’s me and Captain Caffeine. It’ll still be nice—just the two of us, being thankful for the gifts God has given to us like each other, our home, our dog, our church family here in California.

But no turkey. :)

What are you thankful for today?

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novel Single Sashimi is out now, and she runs the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveways!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I don’t measure up?

Our Struggle with Comparing our Weaknesses to Others' Strengths

As believers, we all know we are special creations, unique and precious to God. Yet why do we struggle with comparing our lives, our bodies, our talents (or lack of talents) with others? In reality, we need to look past who we "dream" to be and consider God's dreams instead.



In God’s word, we read: “God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaks: ‘Exactly as I planned, it will happen. Following my blueprints, it will take shape,” says Isaiah 14:24 (The Message).

The word “planned” here is translated “compare.” [i][i] It’s as if God has weighed the different possibilities, looked at them from all angles, and then chose the best way. He makes the blueprints . . . then He constructs them into our reality.

This is the life the Lord has constructed for us. Not the life, body, health, or circumstances we wished we’d had. Or the perfect life we can never attain. But the blueprints and the form He is forming into reality.

“Remember your history, your long and rich history. I am God, the only God you’ve had or ever will have—from the beginning telling you what the ending will be, all along letting you in on what is going to happen, amazing you,” we read in Isaiah 46:10-11. “I’m in this for the long haul, I’ll do exactly what I set out to do.” (The Message)

It’s okay to have longings. But even before we worry about what we desire for our lives, the first step is to not let our dreams motivate us, but instead let His.

God has longings for us even greater than we imagine, and He’s willing to tell us these things as we seek Him out.

All of us have a problem with comparing. How do we deal with it? (Revised from Tricia’s book Generation NeXt Parenting.)

1. Discover your passion . . . and be okay with it.
“Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well,” says Galatians 6:4, “and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct” (NLT).

As long as I can stand before my Maker and see pleasure in His eyes, why do I wonder about what others think . . . or worry I don’t measure up? When I seek God, do what He asks, find joy where my passion lies, and feel His pleasure, then comparisons won’t matter.

2. Cultivate a Quiet Heart.
“God, I’m not trying to rule the roost, I don’t want to be king of the mountain. I haven’t meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans,” says Psalm 131:1-2. “I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.” (The Message)

God’s arms are open to us, and He wants nothing more than for us to be content there. We don’t need to be king of the mountain, queen of the slim and beautiful, prince of the popular, or princess of grandiose plans. Through prayer and focus on God, our quiet hearts will remind us He is enough.

3. Conform to Christ.
“Conforming to the image of God is a long and steady process of internal change as we abide in Christ. People simply do not change overnight, nor can they be forced to do so,” write Neil Anderson and Robert Saucy, authors of The Common Made Holy. “Abiding in Christ is being yoked to the gentle Jesus (Matthew 11:29).” [ii][ii]

If we are connected with Jesus, have a quiet heart, and focused on our passions … what is there to compare? God has us just where He wants us … in His hands.

What can be better than that?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Scary Patient

First, let me say thanks for the kind comments after my post about my gallbladder surgery. It went very well and I’m feeling so much better. God filled me with incredible peace through the entire process. He actually allowed the surgeon to get me in early, which never happens. Now I’m almost healed up and I’m working on getting my energy back. It’s nice to have the scariest part behind me (the scariest part being the anticipation).

Something extremely cool happened while I was waiting in the pre-op room. In addition to me, a pregnant woman who was having the same surgery, and an older woman, two prisoners were awaiting operations. One went in as I was entering the waiting area. The other came in soon after that. Let’s just say that it didn’t look like they were doing time for unpaid speeding tickets. All of us were relieved to see guards manning their bedsides.

I couldn’t help wondering how the nurses and doctors felt as they prepped these guys. Were they nervous? A part of me expected them to treat the men a little differently. Not that I thought they SHOULD, it just seemed natural to be more guarded.

I noticed that my nurse (Jenny) was also assigned to the second prisoner. It was so touching to overhear her talk to him in the same sweet caring tone that she’d used with me. She offered him extra blankets, made sure he was comfortable, and in every other way treated him like any other patient. I’d already sensed based on some things she’d said to her fellow nurses, that Jenny was most likely a Christian. Her kindness toward this man from jail showed her true Christ-like spirit.

It made me think about my attitude toward people who look rough or scary. Obviously I need to be smart and careful, but am I also kind? Do I see them as monsters or as individuals that God sent His Son for? I saw in Jenny a woman who cared for people as Jesus did—by putting fear aside and looking at the need. What impact did it have on the prisoner, I wonder?

What impact might each of us make if we looked past the surface and treated them as God does. Obviously we won’t all encounter hardened criminals, but we do deal with people who look or act strange, kids with disabilities or from different cultures, and those who are just plain annoying. Do they see any difference in how we treat them?

This is just one of those experiences that made me think. Hopefully it gave you something to think about too.

Now go be nice to someone J.
Jeanette

Monday, November 17, 2008

watch this



I shared this with my Sunday school girls yesterday. It's so full of God's Spirit, it's hard to find anything to say that adds to it.

Love,
Julie

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Rose by Any Other Name

I'm watching my grandson's build. When I was a kid, these were called Lincoln Logs (T) and Tinkertoys (T). These are called Frontier Logs (T) and FiddleStix (T). Do you notice the (T) after the names. That means the trademark is registered, and nobody can come along and call something they make by those names. But Frontier Logs (T) look just like Lincoln Logs (T) to me. And FiddleStix (T) look like Tinkertoys (T). But the manufacturers of the second sets of toys have changed the style just enough to be able to claim they are a new toy. They tell me, (I've never been there) that there are streets in major cities like New York where you can go to venders where you can buy "Knock-offs" of famous watches, purses, shoes, clothes, and a ton of other stuff. Imitations of practically anything that costs big bucks can be purchased for a tiny portion of the original price. 
That reminds me of the verse that says the shepherd knows his sheep. 
John 10:14 "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me." 
There won't be any "knock-offs" in Heaven.
That means two things to me. 
When I am accepted by Christ, I am the real thing.
Those false religions that claim to be genuine are not, and in the end, will not provide entrance into His Presence. 
Think of the price God paid for us. I am Donita K. Paul, child of God. (T) 

Friday, November 14, 2008

Christmas presents for girlfriends

Camy here. I know, I know, I’m a freak because I’m thinking about Christmas presents and it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. But bear with me, here.

I usually end up getting something completely cruddy last minute because I can’t think of what to get my girlfriends. (Presents for parents is another problem entirely—and another blog post)

So this year, I’m starting early.

For some, I want to keep it a secret. So I try to be extra observant in the months before Christmas so that I can make an educated guess about what my friend would want or need.

Another sneaky way to go about that is to ask the friend’s parents/siblings/other friends for ideas, clarifications, sizes, favorite colors, etc.

For a lot of my friends, though, I want to make sure I get them what they’d really like. And that usually means asking them.

I decided to knit most of my gifts this year for my friends because (a) it’s cheaper and (b) they’re all the sort of people who really appreciate hand-made stuff.

To simplify things, I gave my friends a list of gifts to choose from:

Fingerless gloves
Scarf
Shawl
Cowl
Hat
Purse
Socks

Then they gave me favorite colors.

Voila! Instant happy friends who are looking forward to their Christmas presents.

Since we’re all pretty poor, why not pick something you can make or a list of small things you can get for your friends this year, and then let them choose what they’d want?

If you do beading, give them an option of jewelry or trinkets you can make for them. If you do scrapbooking, ask them for pictures you can make into a mini album for them. If you bake or cook, give them a list of yummy things to choose from.

Think out of the box this year. But do it early so you have time to make all this stuff before Christmas!

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novel Single Sashimi is out now, and she runs the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveways!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Chat


It was my first Webchat. Writing fast and furious, I fielded questions about writing the true stories of the Live Free series, about teen issues, and about my own story. At times my thoughts flew faster than my fingers. I valued the opportunity, the questions giving me glimpses of what others are thinking about and wrestling with. Hopefully, prayerfully, what I shared will encourage a few. (If you'd like, read the chat at Abunga—scroll to September 10th.)

I thought about it later. It would have been amazing to sit down and chat in person, for all to talk and share what God has been showing us about these topics, to pray together. I’m guessing some that joined—whether silently listening or participating with their questions—might have longed for some human contact, eye-to-eye knowing that people care; perhaps some honest on-our-faces prayer and gathering of hope that God really is here listening, weeping for those who are scraping the bottom for a bit of healing or direction.

He is here, listening, inviting relationship.

Challenge for this week for me . . . perhaps for you too: Ask God to help me see someone who needs the hope he gives. Sit with them. I don’t necessarily have to say much. I can pray.

I can pray for you too. Feel free to e-mail me through my site, http://www.jankern.com/

Jan
author of the Live Free series, Standard Publishing

true stories, true hope

for teens, young adults,
and those who care about them.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Nervous

I am about to leave for the hosptical to have surgery. Several weeks ago I discovered that the obdominal pain that I’d been experiencing off and on was not due to stress; it was due to gall stones. So I’m off to have my gall bladder removed. I’m so nervous! Aside from having my wisdom teeth removed many years ago, I’ve never had surgery before. Since I had to wait awhile for an opening, I had just enough time to hear other people’s horror stories, read websites that pushed alternatives to gall bladder surgery (some of which I later learned were dangerous), and let my imagination run wild. I’ve heard everything from “You’ll breeze right through this” to “There are certain things that I can’t eat anymore so be prepared. It’s a total trial and error thing” to “Gall bladder surgery feels like getting hit by a truck!”

One thing that helps me get past all the scary comments and websites that leave me wondering if I should just live with the pain for awhile longer is the idea that many people are praying for me. More friends have reassured me than frightened me half to death. I know I have a great doctor who made the right decision.

So why am I still so nervous? It would probably be weird to NOT be nervous in a situation like this. After all, they are taking one of my organs out. But I keep going back to all the prayers that have been are going up, and the reality that I have a great God looking after me.
Maybe you can pray for me too. I’ll let you know how it all goes.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Day Tomorrow



Simple post. Quick point.

I feel sorta special. I voted early and have been bragging to my husband. I went last week and only had to wait ten minutes. He plans to get off early tomorrow and vote rather than going early in the morning. I wonder how bad the lines will be?

I just saw a news statistic that said if McCain is elected 23% of the people will be very upset. If Obama is elected, 22% will be very upset.

I know that trying to understand what each candidate stands for is important. I know voting is too. Caring about our country is vital. But the bottom line is, no matter the election results--God holds the future. I can rest in that thought.

Love,
Julie

Monday, October 27, 2008

Reading the entire Bible

Camy here. Recently, our youth pastor asked the youth group who had read the entire Bible.

No one raised their hand.

Why is it important to have read your entire Bible? Because the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament.

The SAME.

And if you want to know your God, you should know ALL of your God, not just the “New Testament” events that show your God.

So, I have challenged the high school kids to read their entire Bible by June 1st.

Basically, you flip to the last page of Revelations and see what the page number is. On my Bible, it’s page 1153.

Then you divide the page number by however many days it will take until June 1st, although I would pad it with some extra days. So, from now until May 1st (I’m giving myself an extra 30 days padding) is about 210 days.

1153 pages divided by 210 days is about 6 pages a day (I rounded up). That’s not too bad, right?

The trick is to just read. There will be parts you won’t understand—don’t sweat it. Just read. If God wants you to understand something, He’ll make it known to you by His Holy Spirit.

And as you read, the Holy Spirit will convict you on what God wants you to get out of your reading.

Try it out with your Bible and take the challenge with me. You’ll be glad you did!

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novel Single Sashimi is out now, and she runs the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveways!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hey! Texas girls, do you want to help?

Do you live near North Dallas? Have you ever been part of something big? Take a look at this and see if you can round up someone to go with you and be a part of something important. And if you don't live in Texas, near Dallas, go to the website and see if the Convoy of Hope might be coming to your area.

Volunteers Still Needed
On Friday, Oct. 24 at 7 PM, Convoy of Hope will hold a volunteer rally at the event site between Burnett Jr. High and Rita & Truett Smith Library in Wylie. Also, on Oct. 23 and 24, volunteers are needed for site set-up at the same location. For information or to volunteer, please call (972) 578-9999 or (469) 441-7322.
Convoy of Hope is a nonprofit organization that provides resources to organizations and churches to meet physical and spiritual needs for the purpose of making the community a better place. This is accomplished through outreaches, supply lines, and disaster response domestically and internationally. For more information, please visit online at http://www.convoyofhope.org/.
CONVOY OF TIRELESS GIVING ROLLS INTO WYLIE
40,000 Pounds of Free Groceries Will Be Distributed to Thousands of Collin County Children and Families Dealing with Double-Digit Inflation; Convoy of Hope Galvanizes Support from Hundreds to Make a Community Difference.
Sometimes angels drive eighteen wheelers. On Sat., October 25 at 10 AM, thousands of North Dallas children and families suffering from double-digit inflation will have their prayers answered. When they attend the Collin County Convoy of Hope in Wylie, Texas, each family will receive two free bags of groceries as part of 40,000 lbs of groceries to be given on a first-come, first-served basis as supplies last.

In addition, Convoy of Hope will provide health screenings, games and activities for children, live entertainment, lunch and a job fair. And, did we mention, it’s ALL FREE of charge, and ALL are welcome to attend. No identification is required.

Rain or shine, The Collin County Convoy of Hope outreach will be held in front of Burnett Jr. High and Rita & Truett Smith Library in Wylie. Red, white and blue striped eighteen wheeler trucks parked out front will make the event site easily recognizable.

Based in Springfiled, MO, Convoy of Hope is a non-profit organization founded to reach out to children and families by meeting some of their most basic needs. Since 1994, it has served more than 22.9 million people with more than $100 million in food donations.

video

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh, Jealousy

I lead a group of high school juniors at my church and last night we talked about jealousy. Jealousy is rampant among teenagers If you were to tally all your jealous thoughts in one day, you would probably be surprised. The funny thing is that we tend to dismiss jealousy as something that is just normal. We all get jealous so it must be okay. Surely jealousy isn't as bad as drinking or drugs, right? That's what we tend to think.

Jealousy is dangerous because it can ruin your relationships. It attacks from within and corrupts your heart. Your actions flow from your heart so if you have a corrupt heart then you will have corrupt actions. We tend to get mad at the person we are jealous of. For instance, I may be jealous of the fact that someone else has longer legs or gets more attention or is funnier. My jealousy causes me to get mad at that person but in reality I should take up that issue with God because He is the one that made me 5' nothing.

In the end, we realized that the cure for jealousy is to celebrate the greatness of others. I heard my pastor, Andy Stanley, say one time to "Go out of your way to celebrate publicly whatever threatens you privately." Rather than sitting back and being jealous of the beautiful girl that I work with, I should tell her how beautiful she is. By celebrating the great things of other people, I begin to weed jealousy out of my heart.

Today, think about one person you are jealous of. Then, figure out a way this week to celebrate verbally and see if it does anything to break the power of jealousy in your heart.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Confession

This weekend I attended our church’s yearly women’s retreat. I didn’t want to go at first. For one, we couldn’t afford it and I didn’t want to admit it, knowing that I’d probably be offered a scholarship. My family has been on the receiving end of a lot of generosity lately and I just couldn’t bring myself to ask for more. Of course I didn’t admit this when friends asked if I planned to go. I used the non-stop chaos that my family has experienced lately as an excuse. With some I said that I didn’t feel right about running off for a fun weekend when life seemed so out of control. With others I came up with an elaborate speech about how emotional retreats are—that “I don’t have the energy to cry my way through a weekend right now.” When I found out that some abdominal pain that I’d been having would actually require surgery, I had another convenient reason to say, “I need to skip it this year.”

The closer that we got to the retreat the more unsettled I felt. Suddenly I felt gypped and left out.

What’s the deal? I have good reasons to skip it.

Out of nowhere I got the nagging sense that I would regret staying home. The more I tried to argue with the thought, the more I started to wonder what I might be missing out on. That’s when the truth came out. As true as all the above reasons for staying home were, they weren’t the true honest reason. The truth? I was afraid to go.

Not too long ago I had to come to grips with the fact that I have a lot of insecurities that I’ve always worked hard to cover up but am no longer so good at hiding. For some reason these hang-ups come oozing out when I’m surrounded by other women, particularly women that are slowly getting to know the real me. Retreats are the worst because I have an entire weekend to get things stirred up. This time around I didn’t want to deal with my fearful, needy, easily hurt self. I didn’t want to risk requesting a roommate only to be told that she already had one. With all the stress at home I knew that it was very likely that something would open the floodgates and I’d end up crying in front of everyone (I’d stayed strong through a lot and had been feeling a meltdown coming on for weeks). Then there were the more practical fears: What if none of my friends invited me to join them for an activity during the free time on Saturday? What if I got a roommate that I didn’t click with? On top of that I’d been fighting an inner batter regarding a relationship that I thought I’d messed up. What if I did something to make it worse?

To most of my “what if” questions something inside me replied “What if that doesn’t happen? What if you just have a really good time?”

When it came to the fears about activities and not clicking with roommate I heard a much-deserved “Oh, get a grip! When has that ever happened?”

And as far the relationship issue, I began to wonderful if God might use the weekend to bring some closure.

But in order to find out I need to go.

“Okay God,” I finally said. “Show me what you want and I’ll do it.”

The next day I was asked to sing with the worship team! The friend who was leading didn’t know that I hadn’t signed up. I dropped my pride and asked about scholarships and had a full one within 24 hours. I’d expected a partial at best.

So obviously God wanted me to go. While I was on a “what do you want, God?” roll I decided to let Him choose my roommate instead of requesting anyone specific. I prayed about all my fears of being left out, relationships that I felt uneasy about, and the possibility of falling apart. I asked a couple of friends to pray for me. Instead of going with my heart in knocks I went with a peace that God sent me to the retreat for a reason, that He truly wanted me there.

Did I have moments of insecurity? Yes! But I survived each one, even the moment that left me feeling like a complete dork who should go back to keeping her thoughts and feeling to herself. Actually, that particular experience ended up teaching me something—that I really need to stop being so mean to myself. In the process I found out that wasn’t the only insecure one at the retreat.

Did I cry? Yes! First I got teary during a group sharing time then I fell apart with some friends an hour later. It so clearly needed to happen and I was grateful that it happened with people who loved me. Then I got to comfort someone else the next day.
I had a great time with my roommate, and no, I was not left out in the cold when free time came.

And looking back, God did bring some closure regarding the friendship that I thought I came close to sabotaging.

I can see endless reasons to thank God for not letting me out of the retreat. It reminded me, once again, of the importance of being completely honest with God and with myself when it comes to why I REALLY don’t want to do something.

Are you trying to get out of something? Do you sense God nudging you in the exact direction that you want to run screaming from? Take some time to be honest about why you want out. What are your fears? What are you running from? What might happen if you let Him sign you up? What would be worse; dodging a scaring situation or missing out on an opportunity to see Him do something amazing in you?

I dare you to go for it!

Please share if He brings something really cool out of it!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Words


'Say' Music Video from Matthew Singleton on Vimeo.

Being a writer, you'd think I should be able to get my spoken words right. But sometimes I don't. Like yesterday. I was talking to my daughter who'd had a rough day at work. I responded by quoting scripture at her. There's nothing wrong with sharing scripture--in fact, we're supposed to, but at times I'm guilty of blurting out words without really listening to someone's heart.

God, help me say the right thing at the right time.

Amazing video from a great Web site I found. http://withoutwax.tv/ This one SPOKE to me big time.

Love,
Julie

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Letting Go

Now that we all know the contents of Camy's wallet, it made me wonder about all the garbage we carry around with us that maybe we can't see, but is there all the same.

Sometimes I worry.

Okay, make that "I worry".

Alright, fine! I worry a lot.

I try not to. I really do. But I stress about all sorts of things. From stuff I can control (like my schedule or the laundry or the fact that the dust is so thick in my house that my five year old is running around writing her name in it) to stuff I can't control at all (the state of the economy, my career as an author, who's going to get elected in a few weeks.)

But even though I find myself stressing with regularity, I also know what to do when I find myself getting anxious and worried.

Do not be anxious for anything, but with prayer and thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. (paraphrase of Phil 4:6)

Do not be anxious. For anything. That's a pretty tall order. But if we step back and take a breath, then hand over all those cares and worries to God, well, it makes a difference. A big one. We have to just let those worries go and put them in God's safe hands. We can ask God to help us trust Him with all things - the big thing, the little things, and even dusty little fingers.

After all, as the Sunday School song went "He's go the whole world in Hid Hands..."

I feel better already:-)

Sarah Anne Sumpolec



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What’s in your wallet?

Camy here. Just to warn you, this is going to be a totally random post.

I just realized that my purse is a mess. Despite the fact it is tiny and I could fill a duffle bag with stuff I like to carry around with me, I have just tons of junk in it.

Okay, maybe not junk. But JICs—“Just In Case” stuff.

For example:

Floss for when I get spinach in my teeth

A mini flashlight (my husband made me carry this)

Bookmarks so I can push them on unsuspecting people

Sudafed in case I get a massive sinus headache

Advil in case I get a massive sinus headache

Dramamine in case I get massive car sickness or just really bad nausea

Nail clipper

Lavender water, which is antibacterial, for spraying and wiping down public toilet seats (let me tell you, I really used this a lot when I visited a friend in the Midwest because the public bathrooms rarely have toilet seat covers)

Handkerchief because I prefer it to tissues

Lipstick in case I see Orlando Bloom walking down the sidewalk toward me

Listerine breath strips in case I see Orlando Bloom walking down the sidewalk toward me

How about you? What’s in your purse or wallet?

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novel Single Sashimi is out now, and she runs the Story Sensei critique service. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveways!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Quote Challenges

I love quotes. Last night at a friend’s graduation I was inspired by a few I’ve heard before, but the context of the ceremony and the students’ speeches revived their challenges for me. Here are some:



“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

—Thomas Edison (who tried 10,000 alloys before discovering the filament that would work for his electric bulb)





"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

—Seneca, Roman Philospher, 1st Century AD





"The greater danger for most of us lies in not setting our aim high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark."

—Michelangelo



All of these quotes challenge me to push forward, dig deeper, and aim higher; to enjoy the process of determined attempts even when I have to start over; to see the hope in changes even when good things seem to have come to an end; to strive for goals that are, no doubt, out of reach even when I could fall short.

Just wondering. In the above quotes, do you happen to see some scriptural parallels in stories or verses you’ve read recently? Up for sharing them here? And please also feel free to share some of your favorite quotes and what they inspire for you.

Jan

New release:

Eyes Online, Eyes On Life—A Journey Out of Online Addictions

(A story of a Colin’s journey of courage and others like him—guys and girls—who've discovered a way out their traps of compulsive Internet use.)

www.jankern.com

Monday, October 06, 2008

The 410 Bridge

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya. During my time there, I was able to work with street kids, visit an amazing woman who ran a local hospital, and train youth workers. I have always had a passion for Africa but being there really sealed my love for those people.

When it comes to our faith, it think it is important to do something, to experience something. I think that action and experience really solidify our faith. On this earth, we are God's representatives to the world. We have the opportunity to help bring justice, to right the wrongs, and be a physical touch of love to those who need it most.

There is an organization called The 410 Bridge whose mission is to provide ways for people to get involved and provide a bridge to a nation in need. On their website they list a few startling facts:

Do you know...
• Every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS
• 50,000 children will die of AIDS this year
• 1,400 newborn Africans are infected with AIDS everyday
• There are 900,000 orphans in Nairobi, Kenya today, mainly due to AIDS
• More than 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1 a day
• Every 3 seconds a child dies of nutrition deprivation/starvation
• More than 300 million people in Africa do not have access to clean water
• 1 million children die of malaria each year (see The 410 Bridge website for more info

I basically wanted to do two things with this post. First of all, I wanted to bring an awareness to what is going on around the world, and hopefully encourage you to think about doing something with your faith to help a hurting people. Secondly, I wanted to invite you to attend "A Night For Africa" if you live in or around the Atlanta, GA area. This night is put on by The 410 Bridge. Jeff Foxworthy will be there! Here is a link to see the promo video.

Friday, October 03, 2008

That New Movie

Sunday night my husband Rick and I went to see Fireproof. I knew it was about marriage and firefighters. Rick wanted to go but I don't think he was ready to jump up off the sofa and go right at that moment. But he did.

This blog is for teenage girls but I think this movie might be one you'll want to see.

Cool things this movie shows:

1. The differences between men and women--and how temptations can snag us--and usually not the same temptations for guys as for ladies.

2. How marriage is worth working on. Working hard on.

3. The power of Scripture. A few snippets of the Bible are shared. These were the times I sensed God big time.

4. Friends who help you laugh are so important. I can't imagine the movie without the funny firemen. :-)

5. People who listen, pray, and don't judge are priceless.

6. Hard times in life teach us how to help others.

My husband owns a small business. The next day he gave each of the men who work for him money and challenged them to take their wives out on a date to see Fireproof.

Anybody seen it yet?

Julie

Monday, September 29, 2008

Beautiful Dependency



“Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous . . . “ Joshua 1:5-6 (NAS)


Right. I’ve had to be the strong one all my life.

Only be strong and very courageous . . ." Joshua 1:7 (NAS)


I don't want to be strong anymore.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not tremble or be
dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (NAS)


Stop telling me to be strong. Don't you get what I've been through?

The above comments were the honest responses of a young woman. During the reading of the story in Joshua, chapter 1, years of deep pain, abandonment, and lonely survival focused her hearing on the words "be strong." They were hard words to take in. She was weary.

In the weariness, God's other words were missed.

"I will be with you."

"I will not fail you or forsake you."

"Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

When we've been hurt by others we thought we could depend on, it’s hard to trust again. The heart shuts tight its doors and bars love’s attempts. The resistance sweeps wide. God’s love, so real and healing, is even suspect. Dependence on him is shrouded not only by weariness but also wariness.

Dependence. It's often shunned in our culture. We're not supposed to need anyone. When we hold tight to that and convince ourselves we have to be strong on our own, we only increase our loneliness and pain. But we are created for a beautiful dependence on Him who longs to be our strength.

I read the following in the current issue of Discipleship Journal:

"Dependence doesn't mean that I am less than something, but rather that I am made for something. That space in my soul that I have so desperately tried to eliminate is a God-shaped vacuum . . . We must believe that dependency doesn't diminish our dignity; it is our dignity."

Discipleship Journal, September/October, 2008, Declaration of Dependence, by Roger Edwards


The young woman I spoke of above is beginning to see that she doesn't have to be strong on her own, and that it isn't a weakness to embrace dependency on God. She's opening her heart and learning to trust his love for her. She's smiling and laughing more often, believing in a different future for herself.

It's beautiful to watch the petals of her life, once closed tight, unfold.

Jan

http://www.jankern.com/
http://www.choose2livefree.com/

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Worship

I've been reading a bible study with my mother for the past three weeks on intimacy and worship. This book is exactly what I need to be reading right now. Most of us think of songs and church when we think about worship, but worship is really our response to who God is and what He has done. That means, that worship can take place at any time and in any place.

One thing that hinders my ability to really worship is all the detractions and mental clutter in my life. My life seems so hectic now especially having a 4 month old baby. Finding "quiet time" is really hard these days. Often times, I sit down to pray, worship God, only to end up thinking of the grocery list, my work "to do" list and how to decorate my house. I get about one minute of worship in before my mental clutter takes over. Does that ever happen to you?

This book, Satisfy My Thirsty Soul by Linda Dillow, suggests going through the ABC's of worship when you pray. Jesus taught us to begin and end our prayers with worship. I've started doing this in the past week and it has really helped me to focus my attention of God and really worship Him for who He is and what He has done before I get around to asking for my needs and wants. Start with A and work through Z and think of words or phrases that speak of God. You can find excellent descriptions of God in the book of Psalms.

A - I ADORE Him
B - Beautiful
C - Captivated by love

I've had a hard time with Q, X and Z so if you think of any, let me know.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This was Yesterday

I didn't have Internet connection until tonight.  So I am late. But I do want you to know what I am doing. Here's what I wrote on the road: 

I’m in a car traveling on Interstate 76, headed for the northeast corner of Colorado. Then we will travel across Nebraska., then north to Minneapolis, MN. At this point in time  around, five hundred Christian writers are converging on the twin cities for the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. This is truly a wonderful bunch of people, and this is why: these people love Jesus. I’ve been to a secular writing conference and the feeling is nothing like what it is like to walk into a setting where the love of the Lord is first.

Here are some of the differences:

Secular: cussing, both profanities and vulgarities

ACFW: duh? Of course not.

Secular: liquor served in the halls in portable bars.

ACFW: duh? No

Secular: backstabbing and secrecy

ACFW: people don’t bad mouth each other and if someone finds out that a certain editor is looking for a particular genre, there is no guarding the information to keep others from taking advantage of the opportunity.

Secular: me, me, me

ACFW: all for one and one for all. Could there be the 500 Musketeers?

Secular: career advancement is the premier consideration

ACFW: fellowship is high on the list of priorities.

Now, the truth is all of these writers want contracts. They want to learn more about honing their skills as writers. They want to network and make contacts that further their careers.

But at the center of all this activity is the desire to glorify GOD. And boy, does it make a difference!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hidden Things

For years, I've read the same books to start my day. One of them, by Oswald Chambers, had a pretty cool message for me this week. I'm paraphrasing. He says envy, jealousy, and strife are attitudes/emotions that can sneak up inside us and cause trouble. He says allowing them to hang out in our hearts can cause shame.

Of the three--envy, jealousy, and strife--one catches me over and over. STRIFE.

Another day this week, he writes about "... this simplicity that is in Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:3. Chambers shares that even the smallest thought not under the control of the Holy Spirit can cause spiritual confusion.

A life of simplicity sounds pretty good to me.

If I begin to guard my heart against envy, jealousy, and especially strife would life become simpler?

I'm thinking so.

Day One. September 17, 2008. Guarding my heart and mind against strife.

Love,
Julie

www.juliegarmon.com

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

self-injury, sexual compromise, Internet obsessions

The subject line is a short list of pain and traps that teens and young adults I know have been caught in. Jackie's, Suzy's, Colin's . . . and others who have shared their stories for the Live Free series.

I feel strongly about doing all we can to invest in our teens (as friends, as children, as youth in our ministries) to let them know that we care.

Teens, young adults, parents, mentors, youth pastors, I'd love to have you join me this Wednesday for an 'author chat' where we can discuss these issues and the true stories of those who have found hope and freedom.




Details:
Author Chat with Jan Kern at Abunga.com
Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008
11 a.m. - Noon PST / 1 - 2 p.m. CST / 2 - 3 p.m. EST (LIVE)


For more information visit www.jankern.com/

How to participate in the chat:

Go to: Author's at Abunga

You can visit the site prior to the chat and submit questions ahead of time (today), even if you won't be able to participate on the day of the chat. And of course you can submit questions, if you'd like, during the chat on Wednesday, September 10th.

On the day of the chat, go to the link above and click on "Chat with Jan Kern." Join in the discussion!

Afterwards (give Abunga some time to compile), you can download a pdf file of the discussion at Abunga's site. Check out their archive section.

Hope to have you join me on Wednesday! What you have to say about these issues matter!

-Jan

Note: Eyes Online: Eyes On Life: A Journey Out of Online Addictions (Live Free) is now released. Read an excerpt at http://www.jankern.com/.

More about the story behind the story of that book in my next Girls, God, Good Life post!

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Dear God Letter


I’m supposed to write a letter this week and don’t know where to start. It’s an assignment for the Beth Moore Bible study that I just started. The point of the letter is to tell Jesus what I want. Apparently I’m supposed to just lay it out there. No holding back. It can go on for pages if that’s what it takes.


“God, this is what I want. This is what I feel like I need.”


How do you start a letter like that? Obviously God know what I want and what I need. But how do I put it into words that don’t make me sound like a whiney baby?
The more I think about what I want the more selfish I feel, the more I fear asking for something that seems very important to me only to not receive, the more I wonder if getting what I want could possibly make things worse.


The longer I consider what I need the harder it sets in that I don’t know what I need right now. There is a lot of drama in my life at the moment. Maybe what I think I need is actually a want.
In some ways my mind is too crammed full of thoughts and concerns and disappointments to sort any of it out. Maybe I can start there, with “Jesus, I don’t know what I want. How can I recognize my wants and needs when my brain is ready to explode?” Maybe that will get things flowing.


As impossible as this assignments seems today I’m glad that I have it. It’s a great reminder that I have a Heavenly Father who wants me to talk to Him, to be honest, to lay it out there even if He already knows. So I’ll just trust that the words will come and that it just might turn into a great record of how He eventually answered.


At least I’m not being graded on this.

Jeanette

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

not our plans



This is my son Thomas. He was recruited to play football this year--his first year to play. He's a BASEBALL player. To be honest, I wasn't thrilled about him playing. I blogged about it several weeks ago. I don't really get football. It doesn't look like fun to me--knocking each other down, playing in the rain and cold, and getting beaten up.

I got a call from the coach during practice August 6th. "Mrs. Garmon. Thomas has broken his leg. It's bad. We're taking him by ambulance to the hospital."

I drove to the school praying, "Help him, Jesus." I got there before they left. The ambulance driver and coaches told me to stay calm. They said they didn't want Thomas upset. So I prayed, "Help me, Jesus."

It was Thomas's 17th birthday. So, I walked up to him on the stretcher, blinked back tears and said, "Happy Birthday."

"Thanks, Mom. Don't look at it. Tell Dad I'm fine."

Talk about ripping out your heart. I rode in the ambulance with him. He'll be in a long cast for six weeks, then one to his knee for four weeks, and then a boot for four weeks. Out for the season.

I'm posting this to say sometimes we don't understand. Sometimes we just say, "Help us, Jesus. Thank you. We love you, God."

Thoughts on when things don't go as we'd planned?

Love,
Julie

www.juliegarmon.com

Monday, September 01, 2008

We're going to have our own TV Show - sort of.


I just learned that the Motiv8 tour in October is going to have a sort of TV show following our progress and interacting with Internet viewers. Do you remember the Motiv8 project? I know I've talked about it before. 8 Christian Fantasy Authors from 8 different publishing houses will be visiting 8 West Coast cities in 8 days. Goal: to motiv8 young readers to choose positive fiction.
(BTW, you can't click here and go to the site. I didn't know how to do that. But you can go to my site www.donitakpaul.com and click the same picture there and that will take you to www.fantasyfictiontour.com .)
I hope you will be praying for us. Pray for me to be healthy, and of course, the others too, but I feel like I may be the slow man in the relay race, as I am the oldest and tiredest.

Anyway, this is how Christopher Hopper explains this TV thingie:

"Right now I have it set to run all the Video Journals from last year interspersed with the new promo video. When we're actually on the tour, we will broadcast live, field questions from viewers through IM, and update it with that day's Video Journal. I think this will go a long way in getting people interested who don't live on the West Coast. I'm certain God invented the internet just for Christians to advance the Kingdom. How cool...You can also check out the channel here: http://www.mogulus.com/fantasyfictiontour ."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Love Moves

I lead a small group of junior girls at my church and we are currently in a series called "Love Moves." The idea behind the series is that God loved us so let's show love by doing something for others. It's really easy for me to get caught up in my own life. It's not a bad thing to be concerned with things of my life, but do I ever stop for a minute and consider how much God loves me and how much I should love others on His behalf? It reminds me of a Switchfoot song called "Love Is a Movement." Each week during this series, we are being challenged to think about what we can do to show love. The first step we took was to begin praying for Kenya. Now we are looking for ways to serve people in our local community. What about you? Do you serve anywhere?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

So Not Fair


Image: you work your whole life to compete in the Olympics, only to blow it, not just for yourself but for your entire team. Sure, most people (aside from a few mean-spirited bloggers and critical sports reporters) say it wasn’t completely your fault. Other girls on the team messed up too. But you know that you made the most glaring errors. It’s your routine that they keep replaying from every angle in slow motion, inserting the usual gasps and “That’s it. Wow. She really needs to get it together now. How DO you come back from that?”


A few days later you get a chance for redemption. The whole country is rooting for you. Although you make a couple of small mistakes you do not disappoint. When one competitor steps out of bounds and another falls those watching assume that a medal is yours. So do you. Then the unthinkable happens. Despite their blunders those girls score higher than you, sending you to the cruel 4th place position. How could this have happened? Everyone keeps repeating the phrase “higher difficulty level.” Shouldn’t that go out the window when one steps out of bounds and/or falls? Did any judges give you a high-difficulty-level break when you fell off the beam?


At least this time reporters and bloggers are all on your side, saying you’ve been robbed instead of “She single-handedly blew the gold medal for the U.S.” But how can that make up for the unfairness of it all? Sure, Google practically crashed due to the mass searches for your name. You’ve gained a few fan sites from the whole mess, and a country full of moms who wanted to hop the next plane to China so they could give you a hug. A large percentage of guys apparently think you’re hot. Still, you’ll always be remembered as that poor girl who fell off the beam, who followed it up with a tumble in her floor routine, who got cheated out of medal on vault. Snap shots of your career will always include a close-up of your feet losing contact with the beam, you biting your lip as you wait for those dreaded scores, and your tear-filled eyes as you see your goals dashed, not once but twice.


What do you do?


Comfort yourself with the idea that at least your family’s livelihood doesn’t depend on you bringing home the gold. At least your team didn't arrive at the games weighed down by the pressure that less than a certain number of golds would equal failure. At least you didn’t spend your entire childhood in a training center far from your parents. That might help for say, five minutes.


Adopt the attitude of all the non-Olympians who pat you on the shoulder and remind you that you’ve gone further than many can ever hope to—that at the end of the day you are an Olympic gymnast with a silver medal to prove it. Maybe when you’re a mom comforting your own daughter through a disappointment this will stick. For now it’s one of those truths that sounds great but doesn’t take the sting away.


Challenge the judge’s ruling and get a little trash talk going about the girls who beat you out for medals on vault in hopes that at least one will be disqualified, giving you the bronze? Not only would it be a waste of time but it wouldn’t help your reputation. All those moms out there might want to give you a swat instead of a hug.


At some point you’d have to choose to move on, hold onto the goals that you accomplished instead of dwelling on those that didn’t happen and somehow take some good from the experience, even if only “this is what I’ll do next time.” At some point you'd have to thank God for getting you as far as you got.


Watching Alicia Sacramone and so many other athletes get to the Olympics only to make a costly mistake, have to drop out due to injury, or have some strange circumstance remove all hope of gold reminds us that disappointments can come at the worst possible time, including when we’ve sacrificed and worked our hardest. The question isn’t why such crushing blows come but how we respond to them. You and I may not have to worry about losing our shot at a gold medal or making the mistake of our lives on international television, but we all have days when our best attempts fall apart, our plans fizzle for no apparent reason, or we are shoved aside thanks to sheer unfairness.


No matter what anyone says, it hurts and just doesn’t seem right. As God’s children at least we have the hope that He still loves us, that He can use it all, including the ugly snap shot reminders, for His good.


How do you handle disappointment? Consider how you would handle things if you were in Alicia’s spot. Would you show the professionalism and grace that she did? I’d love to hear from you.


Oh and just so you know I don’t always handle disappointment or failure well. I’m still beating myself up for mixing up the words in a solo three years ago and nobody noticed but me. So don’t feel bad if you have to admit to responding the same way.


Jeanette

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Let's Go to the Movies.

I've been watching movies differently lately. First, I watched a video of two men who are experts in crafting story both on paper and on film. Then I read some articles and bought some books. I have to admit I haven't read the books yet. I've been busy writing. But I'm so intrigued by this similarity between crafting a book and a movie, that I have really been paying attention.



One of my favorite versed in the Bible says, "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." I Corinthians 14:33 (NIV).

There is always order to the way things are done. For instance, washing dishes: if you don't scrape the scraps off first, you have the unpleasant experience of gross floaties in amongst the lovely cloud of bubbles on your dishwater. Taking a bath: if you don't undress first, you may have clean clothes as well as a clean body, but wringing them out is difficult and messy.

So order is a good thing.

"For God is not a God of disorder but of peace."

Stress is one thing you can designate as the opposite of peace. I get stressed when I don't know how to do something. Or, I'm not sure I know how to do something.

For instance, taking a test. I studied, but will I be able to recall all the facts. That's stress. And the test is actually there to help you determine whether or not you're proficient.

Usually it's not that big a deal. But consider if your anesthesiologist didn't study, didn't take his tests, didn't know his stuff. He'd put you under for your surgery. And your family might be putting you a different kind of under because he failed.

So what helps you keep from getting stressed. Believing God is not a God of disorder. He must be a God of order. So, be smart and pay attention. He is constantly giving me more information about how to do my job of living at peace.

And it can be the oddest things. Like the movies. I began to see corelations and applying them to my writing. Learning the new stuff is fun! And the end result is I'm not stressed when I am faced with a deadline for a 100,000 word book.

Well, I do get stressed if I procrastinate too long. But that's a different story.



Here's a fun sight run by Kathleen Kovach where she brings out facts about writing through examining movies. It's just begun, but it promises to have lots of movie reviews as well.



Craft Cinema ~ Studying the craft of writing through movies. In case the link doesn't work, here's the URL: http://craftcinema.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic Fever


Anyone else out there watching the Olympics? I have been staying up way too late at night trying to catch up on all the events I love.

My Top 3:

Gymnastics! So bummed the women didn't win the gold!
Swimming! Go Michael Phelps! (He's from Maryland, and since I am too, we're practically brother and sister;-)
Diving! I like the fancy platform stuff so I haven't caught any of that.

So in the name of "School hasn't started yet so let's have some fun" - what are your favorite three can't-miss sports?


Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
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