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.


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:

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?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Back to What You're Thinking

Well, a little discussion was stirred from my last post. Some comments were added, and I received a few e-mail responses. I think I heard mostly from moms. But what was cool was that these moms either had relationships with their moms that they highly valued, or they were determined to do everything they could to build solid relationships with their daughters and encourage good communication.

I saw common themes, partly in the direction of what a daughter wanted from a mom or what a daughter experienced and loved about her mom. Generally, daughters seem to connect well with a mom who is "never too busy," who is willing to answer even the embarrassing questions, and who would share advice from personal experience. (Feel free to add to that list! I'm sure it can be much longer.)

I received a touching e-mail from a mom who was in a dilemma and wanting to help a daughter in crisis. Sometimes it is about being willing to hit hard on the tough subjects, but even more to also be available to do a lot of listening . . . and praying.

Moms, a lot of times, are doing the best they can. They love their children and want the best for them but don’t always do things perfectly. As daughters, we can do our part in keeping the communication going, even sharing with our moms our own creative and fun ideas to strengthen our relationships with them. Caring enough to invest the time is soooooooo key. Even with the upcoming busyness of school and whatever else you’re doing in life, see where you can squeeze in some mom-daughter time. I know it's not always easy, but I betcha you won't regret it.

Jan (Check out new posts!)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Back to School

My son is a junior in high school. We live in Georgia. He started back to school on July 31st--that's LAST WEEK. Most of you haven't gone back yet, but it's not too soon to start praying for your new school year.

The Message says, "Listen for God's voice in EVERYTHING you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track." (Proverbs 3) EVERYTHING it says.

Just think. What would life be like if we prayed about everything?

Does anybody have any concerns we can pray about?

Whether or not to try out for a sport? Or club?
How you're going to handle a tough subject (like chemistry or physics--yuck!)?
Right person to date? or not date?
If you're to be a leader in a group?
College plans?
An after school job?
Hard stuff going on at home?
Problems with a friend?
Parents going through a divorce?

We'll pray.


Saturday, August 02, 2008


To have friends is a wonderful thing. To get to do something exciting with friends is beyond wonderful.

Some of these friends I have not met yet. But here is the list of Motiv8: Sharon Hinck, Bryan Davis, Christopher Hopper, Wayne Thomas Batson, Donita K. Paul, LB Graham, Jonathan Rogers, and Eric Reinhold.

These are the ones I've met fact to face:

Sharon Hinck: at various conferences and she's was once my online crit partner.

Bryan Davis: first met at DragonCon in Atlanta. We were normal (I think) surrounded by bizarre and interesting, Beyond Bizarre, and very interesting.

Christopher Hopper: a booksigning at a Barnes and Noble in Denver. Neither one of us are from Denver.

LB Graham: in the buffet line at the Christy Awards when we were both up for the Christy. Neither one of us got the gold, so we tied for the pewter.

So you see, I know four of these friends and haven't met three of them, although I feel like I know them.

So what is the exciting thing I am going to do with the Motiv8? We're doing a book tour of the West Coast.

8 Christian Fantasy Authors from 8 different publishing houses visiting 8 West Coast cities in 8 days to motivate readers to choose positive fiction.


Here's where you can find out more about the tour:

or visit any of the authors' websites. By the way, there are contests at most of the websites, so come win something!